Series - M*A*S*H Rating - TV14 Like an episode of M*A*S*H. Warnings - Wounded soldiers, a nudist magazine, use of the word "hell" and a mentioning of Margaret's leopard print underwear. Nothing here that wouldn't make it into a TV episode for general audiences. Disclaimer - I don't own anything and am making no profit from this. Summary - Major Winchester receives an unexpected but welcome gift. Author's Note - None. Word Count - 4,594
"Excuse me, Major Houlihan, may I please come in?" Father Mulcahy asked politely as he stood in front of Margaret's tent.
"Of course, Father, just a moment," Margaret said as she rose from her chair. She scrambled to straighten up the stack of inventory supply lists and hide the pile of sweat drenched rags that littered her desk before opening the door to her tent and welcoming Father Mulcahy inside.
"Good morning Major! Oh, I uh, hope I wasn't interrupting you or anything," Francis said as he took off his hat and folded his hands in front of him.
"Oh it's nothing," Margaret said as she smoothed down her khaki shirt. "I was just going over the inventory lists for the supply tent, It seems that with the all the hot weather we have been having lately, even the bugs are looking for a place to keep cool and they just so happened to have picked our supply tent, I am having my nurses move the supplies into Klinger's office and the Swamp until we can eliminate the infestation," Margaret said as she straightened out her shirt.
"Oh, well, it is a particularly hot day today, isn't it?" Father Mulcahy began as he looked at Margaret and noticed that she too was suffering from the heat wave that had been bearing down upon the camp for the last couple of weeks.
"I don't know how much longer I can stand this heat, Father, just once, you would think that Klinger could keep up with the supply requisition orders, I could kill for some camphor menthol lotion." Margaret said, shaking her fists in the air in an attempt to release her ever building frustrations when it came to Klinger and his lack of organizational skills.
"Well, I'm afraid there isn't anything I can do about that," Francis said as he wondered how to best broach his dillemma with the major.
"I'm sorry, Father, I didn't mean to take it out on you, It's just the heat talking that's all," Margaret said as she straightened her back in an effort to return to her usual authoritative nature. "What can I do for you?"
"Ah, well, Nurse Baker was scheduled to help me administer some antihistamine medication that the 8063rd has so graciously donated to the orphans," Francis said, building up to the purpose of his visit. "Unfortunately, it appears that when she agreed to help me that she forgot that she was scheduled to work in post-op, that doesn't change the fact that I still need someone to help me care for the children, so I am looking for a last minute volunteer," He finished, rocking gently on his feet as he glanced at Margaret, waiting to see if the major would answer his plea or give him the bums rush out of her tent door.
"Sure thing Father," Margaret smiled in an attempt to stay cheerful amid the humidity. "We're not expecting any casualties until later tonight so I might as well make myself useful, after all it isn't like I won't be any less hot down at the orphanage than here in my tent, just give me a minute to freshen up and let my nurses know I will be checking their work when I get back." Margaret said as she held open the door to her tent, bidding the priest on his way. "I'll meet you outside down by the motor pool,"
"Thanks, Major," Francis said as he headed out the door before stopping and turning back to Margaret, "The orphans thank you too, of course," he finished before setting his hat back on his head.
"Of course," Margaret said before closing the door to her tent and preparing for another hard day's work.
"When will this heat ever end?!" B.J. said as he paced back and forth in the Swamp. More than anything, he wished for the sun to set and the night to bring what mild relief it could to the endless blaze of the Korean sun. Working up a sweat to keep cool had become more bearable than laying down in his cot and fanning himself, as the heat building up against his back as he rested against his covers had become too much in recent weeks.
"God, Beej," Hawkeye said as he wiped at the sweat on his brow. "Don't even mention the heat again, I can't take it anymore! If this heat wave keeps up much longer I think I'm gonna go crazy!" .
"It would be far more bearable if the nurses didn't have the entire supply tent stacked up in our quarters," Charles groused from his corner of the tent.
"Mail call!" Klinger said as he took a firm stride into the Swamp. "Today we have last months copy of Nudists Monthly for our voyeuristic chief surgeon."
"Finally! Something you can actually read, Pierce, considering that there are no words in it," Charles quipped as he watched Hawkeye take his magazine from the olive-skinned sergeant.
"Come now, Charles," Hawkeye said as his eyes roamed over his mail piece, "Even you know that instructional photographs are of the highest importance to us doctors." he finished, grinning ear to ear, half at the lady before him and half at driving Charles into momentary silence.
"Two letters from Mill Valley,California for everyone's favorite family man," Klinger said as B.J. leaned over the stove and grabbed his letters from the company clerk.
"Chanel No.5 and Crayola Crayons," B.J. sighed as he held the letters up to his mustache and inhaled. "I would know that scent half way around the world."
"I call first dibs to read those letters after you, Beej," Hawkeye said as he glanced over at his big footed friend. "At least the one from Peg."
"Dream on, Hawk," BJ smirked playfully as he ripped open the letter from his daughter, Erin. "If you want to read a racy love letter, go read one of Margaret's. The last thing I need is for my best friend to be thinking about my wife while I'm away from home."
"Point well taken," Hawkeye smiled in return before turning back to his own mail.
"Finally, for the major I have a package from Boston, judging by the size and weight of it I'm guessing that Mr. and Mrs. Winchester have sent our very own little boy blue blood here more than just his usual stash of goodies!" Klinger sang as he opened the door and pushed in a rather bulky-looking brown box with much difficulty.
"What's this?" Charles asked as he dabbed at the nape of his neck with a silk handkerchief.
"I don't know, Major, but whatever it is, can you ask your folks not to send whatever it is again? I nearly broke my back getting this thing over here! Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more letters to deliver; that is if my sweating all over them hasn't made them illegible." Having spoken his peace, Klinger headed off to finish the rest of the mail delivery.
"Ah ha!" Charles said as Hawkeye and B.J. looked up from their own mail to take a gander at what luxury the high society surgeon had imported from home this time.
"What is it, Charles?" B.J. asked as he looked on with a vague interest.
"A fan!" Hawkeye cheered as he bounded from his corner of the tent and took a seat needlessly close to the major on his cot. "Charles, your parents shouldn't have, I mean they should. Do you know what this means? The heat wave is over!" Hawkeye grinned with gratitude as he and B.J. rushed to inspect their brand new fan.
"At least for me, gentlemen," Charles said as he began to unbox the most welcome piece of machinery. "I don't know what you two plan on doing to escape this dreadful sweatshop but rest assured that neither of you will be getting any use out of this glorious invention!"
"Oh no," Hawkeye said, closed his eyes as if to will away the incoming nightmare, as everyone in the tent let out a long and exhausted groan at the announcement of choppers landing in the compound.
"I thought they said we wouldn't have any casualties until tonight," Charles groused as he followed Hawkeye and B.J. out the door.
"Don't these boys know it is rude to get shot before their scheduled?" Hawkeye quipped sarcastically as he and B.J. began checking over the nearest wounded soldier in their way.
"Looks like a subdural hematoma. I'll take him first. Get him prepped right away Kellye," Hawkeye said as he moved to examine the next man.
"Yes, Captain," Kellye said as she helped Klinger move the patient into Pre-Op.
"What do you think,Hawk?" B.J. asked, beckoning the more experienced surgeon over to him as he examined the pressure compress of a man who looked like he couldn't have been old enough to have graduated high school.
"Compound leg fracture." Hawkeye said as he glanced around, surveying the wounded soldiers littering the ground around them. "Lots of shrapnel, but it looks like he will hold until we can take care of some of the more serious cases." he finished as he looked around for Major Houlihan. "Where's Margaret?" He yelled out as he saw Colonel Potter heading towards him.
"She isn't here, she's with the Padre gone down at the orphanage" The Colonel said as he motioned for Nurse Able to attend to their patient. "This is a hell of a time for her to be missing, but we don't have time to send out a search party. Right now we gotta get these boys into the O.R., Come on you two," he commanded before heading to scrub with Hawkeye and B.J. in tow.
"Ah, Winchester! There you are," Colonel Potter said as he took his place at the scrub station next to the major.
"Good afternoon, Colonel," Charles said crisply, a hint of a smile curling at his lips as he gently picked up a towel to dry his hands.
Potter said as he scrubbed at his nails with a scrub brush, looking over at B.J., who had taken a spot at the sink that Charles had just finished using. "What has got the major in such bright spirits in the middle of this blistering midday heat?"
"Our own Major Windbag was shipped a portable fan straight from Boston," B.J. mentioned as he squeezed a liberal amount of soap into one hand.
"As if he wasn't full of hot air before," Hawkeye said, replacing Colonel Potter at the scrub station.
"Shut your mouth, Pierce." Charles said as he toweled his hands. "You're just jealous that for all of your wind blowing, you could never even hope to become half the surgeon I am now, and that after this session is done, I shall be delighting in the crisp breeze generated by my thoughtful gift from home." He finished, smirking as he backed into the O.R..
"You know something, Beej," Hawkeye said as Nurse Baker tied his gown firmly behind him, "Just between you and me, I can't stand that guy."
"You don't have to like him you just have to work with him," Potter said as he tied on his mask. "Now if you two boys can put this nonsense aside, there is work that needs doing." He finished as he held open the door with his back, allowing the two younger surgeons to enter the O.R.
"So begins another summer afternoon in Korea," B.J. said before following Hawkeye and Colonel Potter into the O.R.
"Gloves," Charles called as he watched the three other surgeons enter into the room. "What have we here?"
"Bad chest wound." Colonel Potter said as he waited for the corpsmen to set his patient down and for the anesthetist to do her work. "Shrapnel near the heart. Your specialty, if I recall, Major."
"Indeed you are wise to utilize my expertise in this matter," Charles said as he waited for his patient to be put under. "Being the skilled surgeon that I am, it shouldn't take too long before our patient is up and running again."
"What am I chopped liver? I'm chief surgeon!" Hawkeye said with a tone that clearly indicated his resentment that Potter would give Charles that case instead of him.
"Klinger!" Colonel Potter shouted from his operating table.
"You called, your Colonelness?" Klinger said as he lifted a patient onto the C.O's operating table.
"Head over to the Swamp and pick up some more 3-0 silk sutures. The last thing this boy needs is for me to run out half way though his surgery."
"Yes Sir." Klinger said before disappearing off to the Swamp.
"There are no words for what you are, Pierce," Charles said, smiling behind his mask over at the scowling surgeon.
"Watch it, Charles," B.J. said as Nurse Able slid a glove over his waiting hand. "We have plenty of words for what you are."
"That's enough you three!" Colonel Potter bellowed, "I would like just once to have an OR session where I don't have to listen to you all bicker like a bunch of school girls!" he concluded, smiling as the O.R. became silent. "There! Nothing like the peace and quiet of an operating room."
Charles smiled as he sat down at his usual table in the mess tent next to Margaret. "My, my, aren't we looking lovely this evening, Major?"
"Why, thank you, Charles," Margaret said as she poured some sugar into her coffee in an attempt to make it drinkable. "I'm glad someone takes notice when a lady freshens up." She smiled, taking a spoon to her beverage to dissolve the crystals. "I heard you got some casualties while I was away. How bad was it?"
"Nothing we couldn't handle," Charles said as he looked over at his present company, smiling as he took in the sight of someone who wasn't named Hawkeye or B.J. for a change. "May I ask where you were earlier, Major?"
"That's none of your business," Margaret stated before taking a sip of her coffee and grimacing at the bitter flavor. "This coffee is worse than usual."
"Dear Margaret, that would imply that it could possibly be worse than usual." Charles smiled as he shuffled some carrots around on his tray. "Which, of course, it can't be."
"Well, look at you, Margaret." Hawkeye said and he and B.J. took their seats.
"Looks like the major had herself a majorly good time," BJ added as he moved a slice of bread on his tray. "All clean and refreshed."
"How would you like to have a refreshing time with a good looking doctor tonight?" Hawkeye smiled.
"Captain, I wouldn't want to have a 'refreshing' time with you if you were a cold drink of water and I was out in the middle of a desert, dying of thirst!" Margaret said in disgust as she got up and left the mess tent.
"Was it something I said?" Hawkeye feigned innocence with a shrug, turning his attention to Father Mulcahy, who had just approached their table.
"May I join you?" Mulcahy asked politely.
"Of course, Father, have a seat." B.J. said, gesturing to where Major Houlihan had been sitting just moments prior.
"How did it go at the orphanage today?" Hawkeye asked, pushing some peas around on his tray, as if a more visually pleasing arrangement would make them go down easier.
"It went very well I must say," Francis said, "Some of the nurses and I were able to see that the orphans got a much needed dose of allergy medication today," smiling before bowing his head and saying grace.
"Glad to hear it, Father," Charles chimed in, "High time those poor and under privileged souls experienced some proper medical treatment, Now, if you will be so kind as to excuse me I think I shall go line up for a shower, Gentlemen," nodding before taking his leave.
"What's with him?" Mulcahy asked, a bit lost at the Major's almost jovial comments. "I've never seen Major Winchester in such high spirits,"
"Well, Father, Charles got a package from home," Hawkeye said as he gently pushed his tray away from him.
"A portable fan straight from Boston," B.J. added helpfully as he looked over at Mulcahy.
"A portable fan!" Francis said with a hint of disbelief, "Here? In this heat? The major must be blessed indeed." before he returned his attention to forcing down the latest meal that the mess tent had to offer.
"Mind if I join you all?" Colonel Potter said as he looked down at a few members of his medical staff.
"Not at all, Colonel, please sit down," Francis said as he scooted down the bench to make room.
"How are we today, Padre? If you don't mind me saying so, Father, I think it's mighty nice of you getting that medicine to those little boys and girls. I just wish I had your energy. Heaven knows I have a hard enough time keeping up with my grandson, let alone forty other children." Colonel Potter smiled fondly as he thought of his grandson back home.
"Ah well, thank you, Colonel, but I didn't do it alone" Father Mulcahy said before gathering a bit of mashed potatoes onto his fork. "The 8063rd was kind enough to donate the medicine to the orphanage, and I had plenty of help from our own staff to administer it all. I couldn't have done it without them."
"You're too modest, Father." B.J. said as he and Hawkeye rose from their bench to dump their trays.
"Lord knows I try," Francis said, smiling.
"Hey, Colonel," Klinger said as he approached their table.
"What is it, Klinger?" Colonel Potter asked as he took a sip of his coffee.
"It's the patients in Post-O.P.!" Klinger replied, swinging his mail bag over his shoulder. "Every one of them has broken out in some sort of weird rash."
"Oh boy," Colonel Potter said as he rose from the bench.
"You know what it is,Colonel?" Klinger asked, wondering how the Colonel could know the cause without even looking at one of the patients yet.
"Not yet, but I have a hunch." Potter said as he rose from his seat, "Let's go." saying his goodbyes to Father Mulcahy before making his way over to Post O.P..
"All right!" Charles fumed as Hawkeye and BJ entered the Swamp, shoving a hand in one pocket and brandishing the other at the troublemaking duo in righteous indignation. "Which one of you did it?"
"Did what, Charles?" Hawkeye asked as he sat down on his cot and started pouring B.J. and himself some homebrewed gin.
"You know very well what," Charles spat as he loomed above his two bunkmates. "A when I find out what you two did with my new fan, I assure you that I will have you both court-martialed!"
"We didn't take your fan, Charles." B.J. said as he took a sip of rot gut.
"Oh really? You expect me to believe that?" Charles sneered.
"How could we have stolen your fan? We were with you in the O.R. and we followed you into the mess tent straight after," Hawkeye reasoned.
"Oh yes, that's right," Charles said as he straightened up and took a seat on his own cot. "Well, then, who do you suppose could have taken it..." Charles paused as a new thought took shape, "Wait a minute, gentlemen." opening his eyes in revelation. "Margaret was looking awfully cool and cozy in the mess tent earlier."
"I never noticed, Charles," Hawkeye said, taking a swig from his martini glass. "I'm only interested in her mind."
"That manipulative woman!" Charles stood and began to thunder down upon cellmates, "To think that she had the gall to sit next to me and chat as if she were my friend after she had finished robbing me blind!" beginning to pace around, unsure of what to do next.
"Wait just a minute there, Charles," B.J. asked as he looked up from Peg's letter to the raving Major. "Do you really think Margaret stole your fan?"
"Who else could have taken it?" Charles blared as he looked to the pair, seeking to solicit their agreement and confirm his suspicions. "Everyone else was in the O.R. except for Father Mulcahy who was down at the orphanage!" He stated matter of factly. "I'm gonna catch her in the act and when I do I am going to have her hanged!" Charles finished before storming out the tent, intending to make a beeline toward Major Houlihan's quarters and bumping right into Corporal Klinger.
"Watch where you're going!" Charles shouted down at the Company Clerk before carrying on his way.
"Good evening, sirs," Klinger said as he entered the swamp. "Colonel Potter would like to see you in Post-O.P. right away."
"Is it anything serious?" B.J. asked as he and Hawkeye followed Klinger out of their tent and over to Post-O.P.
"See for yourselves," Klinger said as held open the door for the two Captains.
"There you two are. Come and have a look at this." Colonel Potter waved the two younger surgeons over to where he was standing. "All of these patients are having a reaction to the antihistamine medication the army issued to them. The medicine combined with the extreme heat we have been having lately has resulted in a bad case of heat stroke. Lucky for us that Major Winchester received that fan earlier today, or these boys might have been in for a rough ride."
BJ's eyes widened as he exchanged nervous looks with Hawkeye. "Would that be the same antihistamine that the 8063rd donated to the orphanage?"
"Lucky for us, no," Colonel Potter said as he looked down at the patient.
"Thank goodness," Hawkeye said as he spoke for B.J. and himself.
"So wait a minute. That's what happened to Major Windbag's fan!" B.J. said as he smiled over at Hawkeye, suddenly imagining the trouble that Charles was getting himself into at that very moment.
Hawkeye grinned back at B.J. "Ooh, Charles is in for it now!"
"What do you mean?" Colonel Potter asked.
"Charles was livid when we got back from the mess tent," B.J. explained. "His fan was missing and he thinks that Margaret stole it from him."
"He's headed over to her tent right now to confront her about it," Hawkeye added.
"Good grief!" Potter said with shake of his head. "Margaret? A thief? Nonsense! I had Klinger commandeer Winchester's fan after our session in O.R. He's in his office right now putting the thing together." He said as he replaced the clipboard he had been holding in it's proper place at the end of bed. "Winchester, Harvard educated he may be, but he sure draws some of the most hair-brained conclusions I have ever heard of!"
"This should be fun," Hawkeye said as the trio shared a good laugh.
"It has got to be around here somewhere! No telling where that temptress may have hidden it!" Charles brooded moodily as he finished checking under the bed and ducked under the lines of laundry that were hanging in Major Houlihan's tent. He proceeded to rummage through her footlocker, unaware of her coming approach.
"Oh people let's start prayin', as we never prayed before," Margaret sang sweetly on her way from the supply tent, having finished with checking her nurses' work. "We need the hand of God, to lead us through this war, Give us vic'try in Korea, and save our boys so fine, God please protect America in this troubled... CHARLES!" She screamed as she returned from the supply tent to her quarters to find Charles rummaging through her personal belongings. "What are you doing in my tent?"
"I am taking back what you stole from me, Major!" Charles said tersely. "You were desperate to get out of this heat, admit it!"
He whirled around and found himself entangled in the blond nurses' clothesline. Before he knew it, he found himself stumbling backwards and out of Margaret's tent, finally landing on his backside.
"Get out! Get out you crumb!" Margaret yelled as Hawkeye, B.J. and Colonel Potter ran up to see the show.
"This creep was in my tent, looking through all of my personal belongings, Colonel!" Margaret yelled as she gestured towards Charles, who was beginning to stand up, unwinding himself from the line of garments that had become wrapped around him.
"I was not," Charles said as he batted away a clothespin that had found it's way inside his bathrobe. "I was not, Colonel, I was looking for my fan! Major Houlihan here is the only person who could have taken it!" Charles shouted down at the head nurse.
"Fan? What on earth are you talking about?" Margaret yelled back at him, not backing down in the slightest.
"All right now Majors, just calm down a tad and let me explain," Colonel Potter began. "Major Winchester here got a portable fan shipped to him from home. I had Klinger take it after our session in O.R. to use for some of our patients who have developed a bad case of heat stroke due to the antihistamine medication they received recently. With you absent from camp this afternoon, he assumed that you were the culprit who had nicked it." He looked pointedly at Major Winchester. "It never occurred to him that yours truly, might have commandeered it."
"Me? A thief?" Margaret gasped, outrage at Charles' accusation apparent. "How could you even dare think such a thing! I was out with Father Mulcahy this afternoon, giving out medication to the orphans!"
"Major Winchester, I think you owe Major Houlihan here an apology now, don't you?" Potter said.
"Indeed," Charles began as he looked rather sheepishly down at Margaret. "It would seem that I have made a rather foolish, yet perfectly understandable, error." He said, handing a pair of leopard print underwear out to Margaret.
"Give me those!" Margaret yelled, snatching her unmentionables from the Major who was looking at her rather sheepishly. She stuffed them rather quickly into a pocket of her lab coat, embarrassed.
"Oh, don't worry, Margaret." Hawkeye smiled at B.J. as they turned around and headed for the Swamp. "Like I was telling Charles earlier, I'm only interested in your mind."
"Coming, Colonel? Don't wanna be late for the game," B.J. yelled back to his C.O. as he brushed past a rather confused looking Father Mulcahy.
"I'll meet you there in five minutes, boys." Colonel Potter said before he left to gather his things for their weekly game.
"What was all that yelling about?" Mulcahy asked as he approached the two Majors. "Are you all right, Margaret?"
"I'm fine, Father. Major Winchester here was just leaving." Margaret smirked pointedly at Charles as she folded her arms across her chest.
Giving a glance at his wristwatch Charles quickly came up with an excuse. "Well, would you look at the time," He said, hoping that his shameful exploit would somehow remain unknown to the rest of the camp. "I'm due in Post-O.P.. Good evening, Margaret, Father." Making a hasty retreat to begin his evening shift, while Margaret and Father Mulcahy made their way to the Swamp to join in the poker game.