King and Country Part Twelve: Heaven for Everyone

".. and I think he nearly burst a blood vessel when she called him 'Darling'," chuckled Captain Blackadder over his glass of wine, as he related his story to the attentive audience back at the trench. "Although my first thought that he was another hapless victim of the dreaded Ypres food poisoning, but Nurse King said there was only enough of the lab culture for two.. you know, I do believe we could win this war in a week if we'd simply point *her* at the Germans."

"But wouldn't that be considered cruel and unusual punishment, sir?" asked George, also with a glass in his hand. He had suggested a small celebration, but it had rapidly developed into an excuse to get squiffy. He'd noticed that this often happened when soldiers got together for 'small celebrations'.

Blackadder nodded gravely. "You're probably right, lieutenant. I suppose we'll have to stick with bullets and bombs until we come up with something more destructive."

"But less destructive than Madeleine King."

Blackadder blinked in surprise. "Why George, you said her ladyship's name -- and you didn't even flinch."

The younger officer grinned sheepishly. "Well, captain, she *did* help you get rid of Lord Flasheart and get your commander back," he reminded his C.O. "Besides, she can't possibly be as nasty as she lets on. I'll bet there's a perfectly lovely person inside her, begging to be let out."

"Only if she practices cannibalism." The captain didn't look convinced. "And how lucky we are that this hypothetical perfectly lovely person stayed in hiding, while Nurse King's actual personality helped us with our little problem with Flasheart." He chuckled. "And incidentally, George, I found out something that might help you the next time you visit the field hospital."

"What's that, sir?"

"Nurse King is an agitator. She harasses you because she likes to see you jump, not because she particularly dislikes you. I asked her," he said proudly. "The higher you jump, the more she'll goad you on. Now you know."

"And knowing is half the battle," George finished, raising his glass.

Private Baldrick laughed, into his third mug of wine. "I'll bet that Captain Darling never wants to see Nurse King again, that's for sure."

"Never," agreed George, laughing.

"Yes," Blackadder said plaintively, a hand over his heart and nobility in his eyes. "How unfortunate for the poor captain that he missed his last routine physical.. and that a certain member of the hospital staff has decided to have him hauled in tomorrow for an extremely thorough examination."

"Is it true they keep all the hospital equipment on ice?" Baldrick asked impishly.

"I'm afraid so. It slows bacterial growth, or so I'm told." Blackadder reached for the wine again.

"Uh-huh," said George, more than slightly potted. He grasped at his captain's sleeve. "Sir, before you pour any more of that, I think we should have a toast. We really should," he insisted. "'Cause we got out of this without any trouble, and we got rid of an officer who didn't know what he was doing, and we got our old commander back. Those are good reasons, I think." He stuck out his chin, waiting for a response.

Blackadder nodded, then wished he hadn't because the room had begun to spin lazily around him. He smiled anyway. "All right lieutenant, propose your toast."

George giggled. "All right, now tell me if you get this.. you might not, because it's very clever, but I'll do it anyway." He pulled himself to his feet and braced himself against a support beam, and then hiccupped. "Well it's really very simple, isn't it? What we've got to toast. Considering who we are, and where we are, and what just happened, it should be obvious. Gentlemen," he raised his class. "To King and Country."

Blackadder rolled his eyes, because he knew he should have seen it coming a mile off, but he saw nothing wrong with echoing the lieutenant's cheerful words.