A/N: not sure if this is where you put them, sorry. In case you couldn't guess, I'm new here! So still getting the hang of formatting etcetera. Like Harry (the OC) I'm Australian, so please excuse me if my American mannerisms are a bit off. Reviews would be adored :))
It was cold, that night; an early February sort of cold, where the wind whistled through the camp and twirled in wicked dance with the rubbish and dust of the compound. It was too cold outside for anyone except a mangy dog from the village, come to sniff around for the better-quality garbage. The wind whistled and the shutters shrieked and the tin roof of the operating theatre groaned and tried to wrest itself loose from its grounding.
It was midnight, and most were asleep. Somewhere, two voices murmured together in the warm light of a small tent. A nurse made her tired rounds of the few patients in the post-operative ward, and the dog yapped at a particularly intrepid fox who sniffed around the campsite.
In the clerk's office, the clerk slept, clutching a ragged teddy bear and dreaming dreams too innocent for this cold, muddy midnight.
In the priest's quarters, the priest slept, glasses slipping down his face and Bible spread open on his chest where it had slipped as he drifted into blissfully empty dreams.
In the surgeon's tent, the surgeons slept; one dreamt of fearful things, one dreamt of golden things, and one inhabited the strange dreamscape that came to him every night that he could never explain and never quite remember.
In the commanding officer's quarters slept the commanding officer, and the nurses slept in their bunks and the head nurse slept in her cosy, rosy tent and the enlisted men slept in their enlisted-men's dorm and the resident drunk slept slumped at the bar.
And far away on the front – although not quite as far away as one might have wished – there was a hiss and a whoomph, which normally wouldn't have meant much, for it was, after all, a war zone, but tonight meant everything to the medic pacing along the dull road to nowhere, who heard a hiss and a whoomph and then felt only pain, pain and then blessed, blessed darkness.
"Hawkeye? Hawkeye, wake up."
"What are you doing, Radar?" Captain Hawkeye Pierce groaned, rolled over and covered his head with a pillow.
"Come on, Hawkeye, I'm serious. There's an injured medic in pre-op, got brought in just now from the first aid post."
Another noncommittal groan. "Well get somebody else, Radar, I'm tired." Still, he was rolling out of bed and pulling his red robe off his chair and around his shoulders. Seeing BJ stir in his sleep, Radar lowered his voice and bundled the captain out the door.
"Sorry, sir, I really am. But the guy got hit pretty bad, blood everywhere, Nurse Schneider says it's a belly wound."
Hawkeye hmm'd in response, wincing as the midnight wind hit. "Geez, it's cold out here! Radar, what did I do to deserve this?"
"Nothing, sir, I'm really sorry."
"Don't apologise; I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at this whole crummy war. Macarthur, Uncle Sam, GI Joe himself. Let's see what we've got here." He shouldered his way in through the swinging door to the scrubs room, shivering as he threw on surgical whites and scrubbed up to his elbows in freezing, stinging soap.
Lieutenant Maria Schneider, a competent nurse, was waiting for him at the door to the operation room. "Good to see you, captain."
"No, no, the pleasure's mine. What've you got on this guy?"
"His name is Lieutenant Harrison Lee, and he's been at the front – a medic, from what we know. His buddies brought him in. They said he'd caught a belly-full of shrapnel after an unexploded mine went off; they think it must have been the cold that set it off. Sometimes the cold makes the ground contract like that." The whole time she was talking, she was fussing around, tying his mask and snapping on gloves for the both of them and very conspicuously not entering the operating theatre. Finally, Hawkeye laid a hand on her shoulder.
"Schneider, relax. What's going on?"
She blinked at him, then dropped her gaze. "Oh. Well. He's a little… difficult? Won't take the anaesthetic. And it's just, it's just late and I just got a call from home and I just can't cope with this right now, doctor."
"Right." Hawkeye turned her around and pointed to the door. "Nurse Schneider, would you fetch Major Houlihan? You need to get some rest." She protested a little, but eventually left, smiling a sort of watery smile. Hawkeye entered the OR.
The kid was lying down, crossing both arms over his chest and shaking his head while the poor anaesthetist – Hawkeye couldn't remember her name at this time of night – tried to fit the mask over his mouth. The medic's bloodstained uniform jacket had been evidently wrested off, but that was as far as they'd gotten.
For Pete's sake, Hawkeye thought. There's no end to the chaos. "Whoa there, cowboy. What brings you to this part of town?" The kid wrapped his arms around his chest and tried to curl himself into the foetal position.
The nurse met his eye and looked back down. "He's not lucid, Captain. Won't talk."
The kid groaned and Hawkeye cast around for… something. If he tried to hold the kid down, he might tear that wound worse, and besides, he didn't really think he could manage to pin down anyone at this time of night – or ever, really – let alone a semi-lucid thrashing lunatic medic from the front. Oy vey. The OR doors swung open and Houlihan strode in, followed by BJ.
"Hey Hawk. Need a hand?"
For a quick second, all Hawkeye could think was thank you Father for the whole damn 4077th before he squinted his eyes (so BJ could tell he was smiling behind his mask) and gestured an elbow at the kid. "Think you could help him calm down?"
Beej nodded and crossed toward the medic quickly. "Hey there. Lieutenant…"
"Lee," the anaesthetist provided, and BJ nodded his thanks.
"Hey there, Lee. Easy now. We're trying to help you, kid." Gently, the surgeon unwrapped the medic's hands from their fists and laid them on the gurney top. "Just lie still, okay? Easy there."
For a moment, Lee stilled, and BJ nodded at the anaesthetist. "Put him under, nurse."
For the first time, the kid's eyes opened, and Hawkeye saw that they were the same warm, muddy brown as Trapper's, as Henry's, as Miller's and Jones' and all the poor kids with brown eyes that passed through this lousy neck of the war.
"Please," he whispered as the mask was lowered over his face. "Please, you don't understand…" He made one last attempt to reach up and pull off his mask, but the ether kicked in, and his hands fell to his side.
"Looks like he's already been wounded…" Major Houlihan frowned as she cut away the medic's uniform. "Look; he's got another bandage wrapped around his chest though it's hard to see through all the blood."
"Damn blood," agreed Hawkeye, trying to sound more chipper than he felt. "There's too much bloody blood in this war. I move for the abolition of blood. Anyone second the motion?"
BJ half-heartedly raised a hand, and the anaesthetist – Lucas, Hawkeye remembered at last – looked up at him and smiled a little. "Okay, Margaret, we're gonna have to cut away the old bandage too, at least to see what we're dealing with, although it looks like…" he peered into the wound, "he caught most of whatever it was in his belly."
Margaret nodded, manoeuvring her operating scissors under the older, blood-soaked bandage. When she finally peeled it away, it took a minute for what Hawkeye expected to see – a blood-stained chest, too scrawny by half, most likely – with what he actually saw. Oh for the love of Mike.
There was light. Light and… shapes. Ouch. Light hurt. Light faded again into black, and then came back, brighter and more insistent. Oh. Sounds. Far away – closer now. Was someone… no, nobody was coming. Safe. For now. Except for this damn painful light that wouldn't go away...