Put On Your Dancing Shoes
In which Colonel Potter's surprise is ruined by Hawkeye and BJ.
"Is this even meat?" Hawkeye asked, suspiciously inspecting the lump of brown stuff on his plate that was supposed to be beef. "I think it moved!" He exclaimed, elbowing BJ Hunnicutt.
BJ snickered in a half-hearted way, tired of eating the same old slop every day and half sharing Hawkeye's suspicion that this was not really meat. BJ sighed and pushed his plate away, "I can't eat...whatever this is."
Hawkeye nodded in agreement. The pair left the mess hall. They weren't the only ones feeling stuck in a rut. The whole camp was getting restless. The past few months had been brutal: back to back days of surgery followed by long stretches of no casualties that were so excruciatingly boring that everyone half wished they did have surgery just to give them something to occupy their minds and their hands.
The morose mood was interrupted by two trucks pulling into the compound and stopping outside Potter's office. From them came four unfamiliar figures: two men and two women. "Now there's a way to take your mind off things!" exclaimed Hawkeye, looking the two women up and down while elbowing BJ and wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. BJ smiled indulgently back. The four newcomers had headed into Potter's office, so Hawkeye and BJ followed.
With his usual sense of decorum and dignity, Hawkeye burst into Colonel Potter's office with BJ on his heels. "Don't you ever knock?" Potter asked, looking annoyed.
"You know us better than that," said BJ, grinning.
"Well, as long as you're here, you might as well know since you've just spoiled my secret," said Potter, sighing with resignation. "I'd like you to meet Cassie, Hannah, Jay, and Russ." Each person nodded in turn. "These four are an acting troupe that I convinced the General to let come and provide some entertainment since all of you are going stir crazy and you're about to drive me crazy!" Cassie smirked at this statement.
Hawkeye and BJ whooped with glee at the prospect of some entertainment and some new people at the base. Colonel Potter, who rubbed the bridge of his nose in a way that indicated a coming migraine, turned to the four visitors and said, "You kids must be tired. Go settle in, take a nap, take a shower, get some food, or whatever else you need to do and then we can talk more tonight about how long you're staying and what type of entertainment you have in mind."
The four nodded gratefully and stood to leave. They seemed to look at each other for a moment until Cassie finally said, "I'll take care of it. The rest of you get outta here." The remaining three left and Cassie, hands in her pockets, turned to Colonel Potter and said, "We're supposed to call our manager and tell him that we got here in one piece."
"Oh, of course," he said, politely and then yelled, "RADAR!" The diminutive clerk appeared in less than half a second, the swinging doors narrowly missing a chance to clock Cassie solidly in the head.
Radar said, "I'll get Tokyo on the horn, sir," at the same time that Colonel Potter said, "Get Tokyo for me, will you?"
Cassie looked between Colonel Potter and Radar perplexed. Hawkeye saw his chance for a graceful entrance and took it, "That's why we call him Radar. He always knows things before they happen."
"Oh," Cassie said, peering curiously at the clerk, who blushed furiously and headed off to the phone with Colonel Potter. She stared after him for a second, then turned to the two surgeons, extended her hand in greeting, and said, "Cassie."
"Hawkeye," said Hawkeye. "I'm the finest surgeon at this camp, capable of meeting all your needs." He gave a suggestive look and his trademark boyish smile. Hawkeye shook her hand and held it a little bit too long while their eyes lingered on each other before Hawkeye said, "This is BJ. He has the misfortune to be my roommate."
"You're right," BJ nodded. "He's always trying to steal my socks." Cassie smiled, shaking his hand too.
"You look tired," he observed, taking in her dusty fatigues and dark circles under her eyes. As if to prove his point, she stifled a yawn with a fist.
She gestured that the two men should follow her out into the main office where Radar was trying to get through to Tokyo. "You look pretty played out," said Colonel Potter, looking at her critically.
"So I hear," she said, with a smirk at Hawkeye and BJ, leaning against Radar's desk. She sighed and said, "I am tired. We've been on the road for about 36 hours."
"36 hours?" asked BJ looking incredulous. "It doesn't take that long to get from here to Tokyo."
"True," she said. "But all the delays took that long! We had been in Tokyo before this entertaining some VIPs. The flight from Tokyo to Seoul is only about two hours...but we got bumped three times from flights due to some 'urgent' matters. You know...higher-ups who are too impatient to wait their turn. Then, our flight was delayed by bad weather. When we finally got to Seoul, we got sent to the wrong base the first time and we had to head back to Seoul while they figured things out. Then, they sent us here but our truck broke down on the way. So, we had to head back to Seoul again while they tried to find us another transport to get here. Then...we actually got here."
Hawkeye groaned and said, "That only sounds slightly less uncomfortable than a root canal without anesthesia." Cassie nodded and sighed deeply.
"The lines are a little jammed," Radar said, looking frustrated and pulled the plugs out of jacks and pushed them into new ones, listening intently with a look of frustration. "This is gonna take awhile."
She nodded and walked over to Radar's bunk. "Mind if I sit?" she asked. He shrugged indifferently. She sat down and Hawkeye took the opportunity to sit next to her.
"So," he said, as she adjusted herself so that she was leaning against the wall with her feet dangling over the edge, "what type of acting do you do?"
"Well," she said, shrugging, "Calling us an acting troupe is kind of misleading. We were all trained in lots of different types of performing arts, so everyone has a little something that's their specialty. Like the circus. We do more than just acting." Hawkeye nodded.
"And what's your specialty?" BJ asked, standing next to the bed.
"Guess you'll find out, won't you?" she replied with a smirk. "I don't want to spoil any surprises any more than you two have already spoiled Colonel Potter's surprise. But in general, I'll tell you that we can sing and dance. We can all play at least one instrument. Some of us have a few other odd skills that we picked up along the way."
For a few minutes, BJ and Hawkeye were distracted by Nurse Able coming in to say that some supplies were running low. The three stood around a supply sheet conferring about a few things while Radar was still trying to reach Tokyo through scrambled lines with Potter waiting behind his shoulder.
Radar crowed with success when he finally got through to Sparky. "Hey," he said, turning around, "Who were you trying to reach?"
Colonel Potter put a finger to his lips and tapped Radar on the shoulder when he realized that Cassie had fallen asleep sitting up. Head tilted slightly to the side, arms crossed, chest lightly rising and falling, the long trip to the 4077th had finally caught up with her.
"Poor kid," Potter said, to Hawkeye and BJ, who had just finished the supply order, "Looks to me like she could use some R&R too!" They nodded. "C'mon, Radar," he said, over his shoulder. "I think I have the manager's contact information on file in my office."
Radar put Sparky on hold and followed Potter into his office. BJ and Hawkeye stood for a moment, watching Cassie sleep. Hawkeye took in her short, light brown hair, long eyelashes, and slim physique. Eyeing her critically - this time as a doctor, not as a man on the prowl - Hawkeye said, "She's too pale."
BJ nodded and said, "But nothing that a good night's sleep, some solid food, and a warm shower couldn't take care of."
Hawkeye walked briefly into post-op and pulled a blanket from the supply closet. He came back in to find BJ gently moving Cassie so that she was fully lying down. She mumbled something incoherent, but didn't wake. Hawkeye put the blanket over her and tucked in the edges.
"Sweet dreams, beautiful," Hawkeye said before walking into Potter's office with BJ.
"She's still asleep," BJ said to Colonel Potter.
"Best thing for her," Potter said, looking over the tops of his glasses. "That was one tuckered out kid if ever I saw one. Radar, if you need to sleep, just leave her there and go sleep in post-op. All the beds are empty and you can take your pick."
"Yessir," the clerk said. "I gotta get back to Sparky," he said, carrying out a piece of paper with something scribbled on it. "Want me to let you know when I get through?" he asked. Potter nodded and Radar scurried out.
Potter sighed and sat down. "So what do you know about these performers?" BJ asked, curious.
"Truth be told," Potter said, "not much. I've heard from some of the higher ups that they're some of the best entertainment they've seen in awhile. I know they travel around the camps here and sometimes in Seoul and Tokyo doing this kind of thing. But beyond that, I haven't heard much."
BJ nodded. Radar opened the door just long enough to say, "He's waiting to talk to you, sir."
Colonel Potter followed Radar into the office and picked up the phone. "Mr. Reynolds?" he asked. "Yes, just wanted to let you know that your troupe got here just fine...after quite a few delays, I understand." There was silence for a moment and Colonel Potter's brow furrowed. "I see," he said, tone changing to concern. He looked across the room at Cassie sleeping silently on Radar's bed. "I'll be sure to keep an eye on them."
He stood, thanked Radar, and headed back into his office. BJ and Hawkeye had made themselves comfortable, their long limbs lounging haphazardly all over the office. Lost in thought, Potter stepped over their legs and sat down heavily at his desk.
"Something wrong?" BJ asked, sitting up, looking concerned.
"I'm not sure," Potter said, quietly. "I spoke with their manager on the phone to let him know that everyone arrived safely. He was pleased to hear it...but then he asked me to keep an eye on them."
"An eye? Why?" Hawkeye asked, shifting himself so that he too was sitting upright.
Potter shrugged. "He wasn't in the mood to say much. He just said that they'd had a real rough time of it lately and that he had been glad to get them somewhere with doctors."
"Rather cryptic," BJ said, looking thoughtful.
Potter nodded and said, "Well, whatever it is, just do me a favor and keep an eye on them. I'm not sure what he thinks will happen, but whatever it is, just be on the lookout."
"Maybe we should call in Sidney Freeman," Hawkeye suggested.
Potter looked thoughtful for a moment and said, "Not a bad idea. It'll take him a few days to get here. In the meantime we can monitor things to see if anything unusual shows up. And even if they don't, Sidney always enjoys spending time here anyway."
BJ and Hawkeye nodded in agreement. The two stood to leave and Potter warned, "Do me a favor and try not to be a pair of blabber mouths about this," he said sternly, looking particularly at Hawkeye. The raven-haired surgeon did have a tendency to be a bit of gossip.
"My lips are sealed," he announced dramatically. "Shall we pinky swear on it?"
Colonel Potter rolled his eyes and BJ & Hawkeye left.
Cassie slowly opened her eyes. The surroundings around her were unfamiliar. It took her a moment to remember the end of the troupe's hazy journey to the 4077th. "Well, welcome back to the land of the living!" someone said, sarcastically yet cheerfully. She realized it was one of the doctors she had met before. What was his name again? ...Hawkeye, wasn't it?
Cassie eased up so that she was leaning on one elbow. She yawned. She looked around the room and saw Radar, sitting at his desk. Something clicked. Her free hand flew to her mouth in embarrassment as she exclaimed, "Radar! I took your bed! I'm so sorry!"
He shrugged, looking somewhat embarrassed himself and said, "Don't worry about it. You were tired."
Hawkeye came over and perched on the edge of the bed. He stared at her critically for a moment until Cassie finally said, "What?"
He put his hand to her forehead, testing her temperature, and finally said, "You could use some more sleep." Cassie shrugged and said, "Maybe. But right now I'm hungry...and dirty. Where's everyone else?"
"They all went to sleep too," Hawkeye said, "You're the first to emerge from slumberland," Cassie yawned again and then swung her legs back and around Hawkeye so that the two were sitting side by side. "So," she began, "Will you escort me to the mess tent? I'm starving!"
Hawkeye stood and offered his hand with a flourish. He exclaimed dramatically, "Of course, my fair lady! I shall escort you to the mess tent, fighting off rogue knights and dragons...even if it cost my very life!" She grinned, took his hand, and stood. He leaned in conspiratorially and said, "But I can't protect you from whatever they might be serving for lunch!" She laughed.
After a mostly palatable lunch, Cassie along with Hannah, Jay, and Russ, were sitting in Colonel Potter's office. The three had awoken only shortly before whereas Cassie had been awake for hours, taking the time to eat some lunch, shower, change, and get herself settled into the guest tent that she was sharing with Hannah. Colonel Potter privately thought that she must be the leader of the group because she always took it upon herself to do things when really anyone could have done them.
Hawkeye and BJ burst in through the doors and settled in, leaning themselves against the filing cabinets. "Can I help you?" asked Potter, looking annoyed at the two surgeons invading his small and already very full office.
"Just being neighborly," Hawkeye teased. Potter sighed and chose to ignore that remark. Turning to the four, he said, "So fill me in here. What are your plans?"
Cassie said, "We're all yours. We're here for six days and we're happy to do a performance every night, if that's what everyone would be interested in." Colonel Potter glanced at the other three, who all quickly nodded their agreement.
"If you're up to that, that'd be great. It's been a rough time lately. Lots of wounded, lots of long days and nights, everyone's been kind of restless lately. It'd be nice for them to have something for them to look forward to!" Hawkeye and BJ nodded.
A look passed between the four before Jay said, "In that case, we'd like to start tonight with a dance! Everyone loves dancing. One of the best ways to shake off the blues! We'll provide the music and offer some dance numbers and the rest of the time everyone can dance. It'll be like a party."
Hannah nodded and said, "That mess tent looked like it'd be big enough. We could set up some food, move around some furniture, and hold it there." Russ bobbed his head in agreement.
Colonel Potter nodded approvingly and said, "Works for me. What time tonight? Radar can make the announcement."
"How about 7 pm?" Cassie suggested. "And tell them put on their dancing shoes!"