Chapter 10

The crisp morning air nipped at Lucy's face. The ground was covered with a light snow and it was colder than the night before. Three nurses huddled around a bin fire. Why they were outside, Lucy didn't know. They saw her and smiled while shivering. She smiled back and waved. Oh. Wait. She was supposed to be cold as well. She forced a shiver and ducked her head, making way for Potter's office as he had called a meeting. Hawkeye left before her, so as to not call attention.

"Ah, Lieutenant Colonel. Good of you to join us," the Colonel smiled lightly.

"Took you long enough," Hawkeye mumbled. Without hesitation, Lucy flicked him on the ear and heard BJ snicker.

Lucy smiled and nodded at the Colonel as if she hadn't done anything. "Sir. Guys and Major." She grinned at Margaret who was still smirking at Hawkeye. Lucy stood behind the Captain who was rubbing his ear, resting her hands on his shoulders.

"Now that the gang is all here, as you all know, it's Christmas and Klinger already has another dinner for us. I called you here because I need a Santa."

Voices whispered.

"Colonel, I refuse to dress up as some fat man with a white beard," Margaret retorted, her features defiant.

"I wasn't going to ask you. But I wanted you to be here for it."

Last year, Hawkeye had taken the job, not because he wanted to, but because he got the shortest stick.

No one else spoke up. Lucy would do it, but she was a girl— she'd rather play Santa's elf, but only if Hawkeye was Santa and she knew he wouldn't do it again... Unless...

She leaned down and whispered in his ear, her warm breath tickling his neck. Hawkeye juped out of his chair and said with his chest puffed out, "I'll do it."

Everyone just looked at him, surprised. Lucy leaned back with the widest grin she could possibly manage. Colonel Potter just raised his eyebrow at her and she shrugged.

"All right, then. it's settled. Hawkeye, you'll be Santa again this year. Dismissed."

As the gang split up and Hawkeye was walking out with Father Mulchahy, asking him about Christmas carols, Potter placed his hand on Lucy's shoulder.

"Lieutenant, I don't know what you told him, but if I could get a reaction like that out of him all the time, I'd pay you to do whatever you just did."

Lucy simply laughed. "Oh, I just told him I'd be Santa's elf."

"Ah, say no more. Thank you again, Lucy."

"It's no problem, Colonel. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some... elfing to do."

Lucy left to her tent to look for some stripped red and white stockings she just so happened to bring along with her to Korea. While she was bent over her chest, Klinger walked in with a package from her brother.

"Whatever's in there is breakable! Says so on the box," he showed her and nodded, tossing her some letters as well. "One from your brother and one from.. Whoever Heathcliff is." An old friendly vampire she once knew. How the hell did he find her? Cole, she thought. She pulled a smile and nodded at him.

"Thanks, Klinger. Hey— you don't happen to have a green tutu, do you?"

"A green tutu? You're not planning on wearing it to the party, are you?"

"I have to. I'm going to be Santa's Elf."

A sly grin spread across Klinger's face and he got that twinkle in his eye that showed he knew something. "Ohoho. Say no more, Lieutenant, say no more!"

Lucy merely rolled her eyes but couldn't hide the smile that was coming on her face. "Mind your business, Klinger and just get me the damn tutu... Please."

"Anything for one of Santa's Elf's~"

Lucy threw a t-shirt at him while he stepped back out into the cold air and laughed at him.

It started getting later in the day and the sun began to set. It was almost time to put on a show for the orphans that Sister Teresa brought around every once in a while. Meanwhile, BJ was in the Swamp with Hawkeye, helping him put on the entire getup.

"Ouch! Beej, would you stop poking me! I'd like to not be bleeding out on the kids, thank you!"

"Well, hold still then! You're like a worm in a can!"

Lucy heard the bickering from her tent and chuckled to herself. Dressed up in her own elf getup, complete with the red and white stripped stockings, a green tutu, a red long sleeve, a green pointy hat and forged elf ears from clay and a bit of coverup, she decided it best to head on over to the two Captain's before they chewed each other's head off— and almost forgot her jacket. She was supposed to be cold— freezing, even. She grabbed her coat, put it on and held it tight against her body while she scurried on over to the Swamp.

She knocked once and before being invited in, she barged in, visibly and audibly shivering (she had to be freezing, remember?). The bantering between the two Captains had stopped as they turned their heads to see who it was.

"Sh-sh-sh-shit. It'sss f-f-f-freezing."

"Jesus, Lucy, what the hell—" Hawkeye pulled away from BJ, placing his own jacket over her.

"Hey, come back here! I'm not done with you!" BJ waved a needle around.

"Lucy, what the hell are you wearing? You're going to freeze to death!" Hawkeye frowned, ignoring BJ for the moment.

Lucy laughed breathlessly and opened the two jackets to reveal her outfit. "Santa's Elf, remember?"

"You didn't have to torture yourself just to—"

"Hawk, I'll be fine. I'm going to be inside most of the time anyway. Go get suited up, you can scold me later," she said with a quick wink, sitting down on his bed. A knock came from outside.

"The Colonel is waiting for you guys. He says to hurry it up."

"Thank you Radar. Tell him we'll be out momen— OW!"

"Well stop moving, damnit and let me sew this up!"

Lucy just chuckled and stood. "I'm going to the mess tent to entertain the little ones while you two hug it out." She left with both hers and Hawkeye's jackets pulled tight around her frame, following Radar to the back of the mess tent. She gave him the jackets and rubbed her arms up and down while wearing her fingerless gloves.

"Thanks, Radar."

A child saw Lucy and pointed, saying something in Korean. The rest of the kids' heads followed suit and their eyes lit up. Their heart beats quickened as they got excited and Lucy had to ignore the sound— and the smell of young blood. She forced the hunger down and put on a big smile for the kids.

"Merry Christmas, little ones!" She grinned, picking one up.

"I'm Santa's special elf! I help him with presents and picking out who's naughty or nice. Have you all been good boys and girls this year?" They all nodded, all with the same childish smile on their faces. It warmed her damned cold heart and all she could do was smile and tell them stories, entertaining them and the rest of the unit who came to the party until Hawkeye got there.

She heard Hawkeye coming to the back, where she had walked in and set the child that was on her lap down. "Ohp! Listen, kids. You hear that?" Someone in the crowd shook a few bells and the kids' heart rates accelerated again. "It's Santa's sleigh! He must be real close!" Hawkeye burst through the back of the tent.

"Ho, ho, ho! Meeeerrrrrry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho, ho!" The kids began screaming.

"Look over there, it's Santa Claus!" One of the nurses explained to a 5 year old.

Hawkeye went around the mess tent, handing out presents to the children while Lucy helped him, holding the sack open and talking to the children.

"I hope you've been a good girl!" Hawkeye kneeled, handing a present to a shy little girl who just took the present and scurried back into Klinger's arms. Klinger laughed while Hawkeye gave his Santa laugh.

Seeing Hawkeye with the children, even if he was dressed up and playing someone else, brought a warm smile to her face. He was great with kids and seeing Hawkeye interact with them wasn't something she got to see every day. Suddenly, the thought of him being a father crossed her mind. It was a lovely thought and it was certainly something she could get used to. Better not get ahead of myself, she thought with pursed lips.

After handing out the presents, everyone mingled with the kids and played with them with the toys they received. Hawkeye was sitting on a bench, talking to a little boy when Lucy appeared behind him, resting her hands on his shoulders. She leaned down, whispering in his ear, "You did great, Hawk." Then she pecked his temple, grinning at him. But he only pulled her back down for another kiss, this time on the lips. The kids all squawked out an 'ew', causing the couple to laugh.

"Hey! Not in front of the kids, you two!" Klinger yelled, tossing popcorn at them. They both made faces and agreed to stop until the children and everyone else were gone.

"Hey, how about some Christmas carols!" Someone shouted.

"Yeah, yeah!" Everyone else chimed in.

"All right, all right. Let's see, let's start with... Ah! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!" Hawkeye started to sing, everyone else joining in after the first few words. Lucy sat back, watching the scene unfold. Thousands of miles away from home and these people were still finding ways to keep happy on Christmas night.

Sometime after singing carols, Sister Teresa had to take them back to the orphanage, as she said it was way past their bed time. Reluctantly, everyone, including Lucy herself, said goodbye to the children.

Lucy had become quickly attached to a young boy, about the age of 4. He reminded her of a son she once had. Outside, in the freezing cold, she kneeled and took his small hands in hers.

"I know you probably can't understand me, but.. believe me when I say this won't last for long. The war. Things'll get better and.. And you'll grow up happy and with a wonderful family." She spoke softly and ruffled his hair. "You're going to grow up a real smart, real nice kid. And hey, I'll see you around. Merry Christmas, kid." She kissed his forehead and placed him in the truck, stepping back. The unit waved their goodbyes and hurried back inside, where there was still warm cider.

The mood had calmed down and there were slow tunes being played in the background. Lucy checked her watch. It was nearly ten o'clock. Christmas was almost over. She walked over to Hawkeye and leaned into his ear again, asking if he could get their attention and tell them that she wanted to sing something for them. He nodded, getting everyone to quiet down and turn off the music.

"Everyone, everyone. I want you to thank you for coming tonight— you're all a bunch of great folks. And before everyone turns in for the night, our very special Lieutenant Colonel Monroe would like to sing something for us."

It was quiet. Hawkeye helped Lucy stand on one of the benches, so she could be heard better. She swallowed.

"Right.. before Christmas ended... My family and I would always stand outside and we would sing. It's a tradition that's been in my family for decades and now I want to pass it down to all of you. So... Here you go."

She cleared her throat and closed her eyes.

"Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds first saw the sight
Glorious steaming from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts singing Alleluia,
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

She opened her eyes and saw tears in a few sets of eyes, including Colonel Potter's and BJ's.

"That was beautiful, Lucy," Father stated quietly, wiping some tears of his own away.

"Agreed. Thank you for that, Lucy."

Lucy turned red and looked down, feeling Hawkeye's arm slide around her legs.

"Merry Christmas," she said shyly.

"Merry Christmas," Margaret said.

Ironically, Auld Lang Syne began to play while everyone wished everyone a Merry Christmas and exchanged hugs, tears of both joy and sadness and kind words. Hawkeye helped Lucy down and she immediately threw her arms around him. He smiled and hugged her back, mumbling in her hair, "Merry Christmas, Lucy."

"Merry Christmas, Hawkeye."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

They shared a kiss and then exchanged hugs with the rest.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

[Author's Note: Sorry I couldn't get this in sooner. Well, it's still Christmas here in California, so... Consider this my present to you. Hope you all had a wonderful day. Merry Christmas! :') ]