9:00 "MASH M7"
Follow the humorous exploits of these madcap surgeons as they save lives and cause chaos while the Korean War explodes around them. In this episode, a new doctor is arriving....
(Note: the original characters were not the best fit, so I took some liberties. Also, unlike the others, this one is more serious. I tried to capture the humor, but it sort of got lost in the story. It just goes to show how amazing the writers and actors of the original were. Still, I think it sort of works as an AU. You tell me!)
"Yeah, thanks Sparky. Yeah...you too. See ya."
Corporal JD Dunne lifted the heavy headphones off his ears and pushed away the microphone. He stared at his desk for a moment, then perked up, as if he'd just heard something. Looking towards his COs office, he quickly got up, grabbed a file from off his desk then went to stand by the door. True to form, he heard the familiar call just moments later.
"JD! Get in here!"
Before Colonel Chris Larabee had even finished the word "here," JD was in his office and handing him a file.
"I need the file on the new...doctor," Chris looked down at the file in his hands. Then he frowned, "Ah, I see you've already brought it. And call HQ and see...."
"When he's arriving. Yes sir. Already did it, sir. Captain Nathan Jackson should be arriving in the next half an hour or so, sir. He left the 4077th several hours ago after being choppered in there."
"Ah, right, okay. Have you spoken to...."
"Captains Buck and Vin and Major Standish about him? Yes sir. Buck and Vin have already set up his bunk and a stand in their tent. I think Buck is looking forward to having someone new to pick on."
"Good, and Major Standish...."
"Is still in the OR. He won't be there to greet the Captain. But I will get the others outside."
Chris frowned at JD, annoyed, as usual, that the kid had predicted almost his every word.
JD shifted slightly under the scrutiny, "At the moment, Major Travis is assisting Major Standish, sir. If you like, I can get Lieutenant Rescillos or Lieutenant Perkins to...."
"Do so. I want her there to greet him."
"Oh, and JD?" Chris was looking through the file again, and his brow was furrowed.
Chris looked at him a moment, then sighed. He was looking through the file, and he seemed puzzled.
"Is this all we have on him? Seems like we're missing some personal information here. Besides knowing his medical background, we know nothing except his age and rank."
"I asked, sir. I even called Radar over at the 4077th and he just said that Nathan was a nice guy. Young. Straight-laced. Said there wasn't much else to him, other than the obvious."
"Yeah, that's what I said too, sir." JD looked nonplussed, "But all Radar would say was that I should be prepared to be impressed." He shrugged.
"Impressed, huh? Well, with this bunch, it's going to take something pretty remarkable. Dismissed, corporal."
JD nodded and backed out of the office.
Captains Buck Wilmington and Vin Tanner jostled for position, joking around, as they waited for the jeep bearing the new doctor to arrive. Buck was the perennial joker of the group - easy going, witty, and an inveterate prankster. Vin was his straight man, always in the background, ready with a cutting remark when needed, but otherwise Buck's wing-man. Both were excellent doctors, sometimes unorthodox, but in a war, unorthodox was orthodox.
Major Mary Travis, head nurse and one of the most stiff lipped women ever to grace this man's army, stood on their right, rolling her eyes occasionally at the captain's jokes. It annoyed her to no end that the men in this outfit seemed so willing to forego army rules and procedure. They were representatives of the United States in this poor country, and it embarrassed her that their representation suggested that everyone at home wore dirty Hawaiian shirts (Buck) and wore their hair in a dirty, shaggy mane (Vin). Sure, they were excellent doctors but....
Mary instantly stood up a little straighter. Chris, with that annoying corporal of his, came striding into the area. Colonel Larabee, like the others was not exactly a strict follower of the rules either, but he had an aura that everyone, even Mary, had come to respect. Well, maybe she respected it a bit more than the others. After all, Chris did fill out that uniform very well, even if it always looked a shade darker than the green the others wore...
"Major Travis," Chris came to a stop right in front of her, "What's the status on Standish's patient."
"Still alive sir," she replied quickly. Then she frowned slightly, "Though don't know for how much longer. It'll take a miracle...."
"Thank you, major. That's all I wanted to know." He turned away, moving to stand a few feet in front of the others.
Mary tried not to be too annoyed at having been cut off.
"How is it, really," Buck asked, watching her keenly. Mary was about to harshly reply that if he planned to make a joke, he'd better change his mind, but then she saw he was serious. You could always tell with Buck when he was serious. The man wore his heart on his sleeve. Unlike Major
Standish. That man wore a mask of indifference as if he'd been born with it.
"It's not going so well," she said, her tone soft. "The boy's insides are shredded, and even if Standish could find every bleeder..." She shook her head. Major Ezra Standish was an arrogant, over-privileged snob who got along with the others only when he wanted to, which wasn't often unless a
poker game was happening. He kept to himself mostly. Buck and Vin had both tried to draw him out since he was drafted and sent hear a month ago, but it had been like pulling teeth. All he would say was that he wouldn't be here long, so he didn't want to form any "attachments." It had surprised him when the month had passed without his discharge papers from her father, General Orrin Travis, and he had withdrawn even more. He was, though, an excellent surgeon. Of all of them, he was perhaps the best.
Buck frowned, and glanced over at the tent. "Well, if anyone can manage it, I suppose it's him."
"Ezra needs to learn he's not God," a low voice rumbled from behind them. "As much as I hate to say it, as much as I too wish for a miracle to occur, perhaps it is for the best if he does lose this young man. I understand that, even should the boy survive, it is likely he would be paralyzed."
They turned to look at the unit's chaplain, Josiah Sanchez. He'd appeared out of nowhere like a ghost, something the man was very good at. Of course, he was an officer and required to be here like the rest, but it still unnerved them when he just appeared like that without warning.
"Hey padre," Vin greeted. "Did you check up on them in there?"
"Just through the windows in the partition. A lot of blood." Josiah sighed, and put his hands together behind his back. "I wonder, colonel, if maybe you shouldn't go check on him yourself?"
Chris had kept his back to the others, but JD had been watching and listening. Now the kid turned to look up at Chris' face. After a moment, he looked back at them and shook his head. Colonel Larabee and Major Standish did not get along. Most of the time, now, they stayed out of each other's way.
Josiah sighed again and looked up towards heaven.
Just then, the sound of a jeep trundling down the dirt road became audible, and all six people stepped forward into a line around Chris. Everyone was curious to see the new doctor. They'd needed one for a long time, being such a large unit and so close to the front, but they'd despaired of getting
one. Then, out of the blue, the army had called with the news that they had someone new.
"How green do you think he is?" Vin whispered to Buck. The older captain shrugged.
JD stood up slightly on his toes, his eyes squinting slightly. There were two men in the jeep, and both appeared to be soldiers...although....
The jeep rolled to a stop, and a tall black man stepped out. He smiled slightly and saluted Chris.
"Captain Nathan Jackson reporting, colonel," he then lowered the hand and held it out to be shaken as he stepped forward. "Looking forward to working with you, sir."
Chris, for his part, was very smooth. He only hesitated briefly as he returned the salute then took the hand.
"Likewise, captain. I've read some amazing things about your career. Harvard Medical, I saw."
"You're black!" JD blurted out, then blushed furiously. Nathan looked at him.
"Last time I checked, corporal. Those are pretty sharp eyes you have; ever thought of becoming a surgeon?" Nathan's smile was genuine. Obviously, he'd heard this before. While the idea of a black man becoming a doctor was not something totally unusual, there were no other black surgeons serving in the war. (Note: in reality, no African American surgeons served in the war at all, despite there being a number of well known African American surgeons at the time. The original MASH movie got that wrong).
JD coughed into his hand, "No, no, I'm sorry, captain. I just...I mean...we weren't expecting...." He stopped talking, stepping a little behind Chris.
"We apologize for Corporal Dunne, captain," Buck said, smiling. "He always gets excited around new people. We've haven't finished training him yet." He pointed a finger at JD, "Sit, JD, sit!"
Understandably, JD glared at him.
Buck sighed heavily. "As you can see, we've got work to do. And don't even get me started on the status of the shoe closet! Why, the major's slippers are in a terrible state." On Chris's other side, Mary jumped and instantly turned a glare of her own on Buck.
"What have you done to my slippers!" she demanded. Buck just opened his eyes wide.
"You don't know?" he asked, the words pregnant with the possibilities.
"Wilmington!" Chris barked, not even bothering to turn, and the captain immediately backed off, though the mischief was still bright in his eyes. Nathan risked giving him a half smile before Chris spoke again.
Chris sighed, "And this is one of their better days," he said quietly to Nathan, his voice suggestive of long suffering. Then, standing a little straighter, he indicated the two captains. "These two rather slovenly men to my left are captains Buck Wilmington and Vin Tanner. Both excellent surgeons. You'll be bunking with them."
"Nice to meetcha," Vin said, shaking Nathan's hand. "We have your queen sized bed and after dinner mints all ready."
Nathan grinned, and turned to Buck.
"Do you like whiskey, Nate?" the older captain asked. Nathan shrugged.
Nathan just grinned in response. Buck gave a mock sigh and muttered "nuts" under his breath.
"This is Major Travis, our head nurse," Chris continued, pointing to Mary. She stood up straight and saluted.
"Welcome to the 8071, captain," she intoned formally, not meeting his eyes. Nathan smiled.
"Thank you, Major. I look forward to working with your nurses."
She grimaced and lowered her salute, her eyes narrowing. "I assume you mean in the operating room, sir."
"Of course," Nathan frowned, confused. A very uncouth snort came from Vin at the same time.
"Good, because if either one of them had said that...," she shook her head, eyeing Buck and Vin. Both men were now looking in other directions, masks of innocence on their faces as they pretended they hadn't heard a thing.
"I assure you," Nathan said calmly, "that I would never...." He trailed off, his eyes catching something in the background. Mary turned with him, catching sight of the very pretty nurse walking past arm in arm with another, the two women giggling when Nathan grinned stupidly at them.
Mary sighed heavily, and Nathan blushed.
"Her name is Raine, Nate," Buck said, waggling his eyebrows. "I think you and I are going to get along just fine." Again, Nathan blushed, and Mary harrumphed.
"Captain," Chris cleared his throat, and Nathan looked back. The colonel turned to his right, "If I may interrupt? Thank you. This is our chaplain, Josiah Sanchez."
Josiah held out his hand to the older man, "Have we met before, sir?"
Nathan paused, them shook his head, "No, I don't think so."
"Perhaps in another life," Josiah smiled. "I have a feeling we're going to be old friends, very quickly."
Nathan chuckled, "very possibly." Still grinning, he looked back at Chris.
"And finally, corporal JD Dunne. He's our eyes and ears outside of this camp, though he was a little lacking today in that department."
JD grinned and stuck his hand out. "I'm sorry, captain. I promise to make it up to you."
"No harm done, corporal," Nathan replied, taking the hand. Then he looked around at the others.
"Correct me if I'm wrong," he said, "but I thought there were supposed to be four doctors at this camp. Unless the padre has some side career you haven't informed me of..." he left the question dangling.
"Major Standish is in the OR still," Chris replied. "We got a handful of casualties early this morning, and he is still operating on one of them."
"This morning? But it's well into afternoon," Nathan glanced at his watch.
"Yes, well, Major Standish may be the laziest officer in this army when it comes to protocol and other work, but when it comes to his work as a surgeon..."
"Like a dog with a bone, Nate," Vin finished for the colonel. "He hasn't figured out how to let go yet."
Nathan looked into his eyes, amazed at how old they looked, then he looked at the others. They wore similar expressions of those who have seen too much, too quickly. He could also see they were worried for the major, whoever he was. He smiled.
"Well, I'd like to see him at work. May I, colonel?"
"Be my guest. He can be a bit gruff, though, so watch out for yourself."
"Don't worry, I've had a lot of practice," Nathan replied.
"Follow me, then, captain," Mary said, leading the way. After a moment, the others followed.
Nathan quietly put on a pair of gloves, then had Mary tie a mask around his face. Otherwise, he didn't change except to take off his dusty jacket. Chris also put on gloves, but he merely pressed the mask to his face. With a nod to the new man, the colonel pushed his way into the operating room with his shoulder to the door, and through the heavy curtains separating the outside and the inside.
Five tables were set up inside, four of which were empty. In the middle, a young surgeon, younger than Nathan expected, was working on a soldier. As Josiah had said earlier, there was blood everywhere. The bright light set over the table garishly lit the white, red and metal that surrounded the poor boy on the table. One nurse was standing next to the major, quietly handing him instruments as he asked for them, and another nurse sat at the boy's head, bagging him while she checked his vitals and kept him anaesthetized.
Chris walked up to the table, looking down at the patient, then at Ezra. The major glanced up only briefly from his work at the intrusion.
"How is it going?" Chris asked. Truth was, he could see how it was going. It would be a miracle if the boy survived the surgery.
Ezra shook his head. He knew too.
"May I ask, colonel," he asked quietly, "why you have brought a soldier into my operating room?"
"This is not a soldier, major. This is Captain Nathan Jackson, our new doctor."
Ezra's eyes flicked up again, fixing on Nathan. The newcomer was impressed by their sharpness. Then Ezra's eyes fell again to his work.
"Drafted?" he asked, curiously.
"No, I volunteered," Nathan replied for himself. "And yourself?"
"You volunteered?" Ezra replied, giving the other man the same sharp look again, "Why?"
"Because I have been told that the greatest leaps in medical science happen in the theatre of war. I wanted to be a part of that."
"Ah," Ezra held out his hand to the nurse. Without a word, she slapped another clamp into his hand.
"And yourself?" Nathan asked again, stepping forward and taking Chris's place opposite Ezra. He looked down at the work he was doing.
"Is there some reason why you are in here now? I'm a little busy. However, I'd be more than happy to regale you with my life choices at a later time." He finished sewing an artery, and after handing the instrument back to the nurse, gently released the clamp. The artery pumped up...and didn't bleed. Ezra released a pent up breath.
So did Chris, Nathan, and the nurse. He glared at them anew.
"Could you use a hand?" Nathan said. Behind him, Chris glanced curiously at Nathan, then at Ezra, interested in the response.
"If I needed help, I would have sent for it. Besides, I doubt I would have asked for help from you." Ezra felt along the rest of the colon, looking for any more shrapnel.
In front of him, Nathan stood up a little straighter, his brow furrowing slightly. Chris's eyes narrowed, not hiding his displeasure.
"Why is that?"
"If you must know, Doctor Jackson, it is because you just arrived, are covered in filth and I know nothing about you other than the fact that I find you extremely annoying."
Oddly, this answer relaxed the captain, and he smiled beneath his mask. Ezra didn't notice. He finished his search and started looking around for any other bleeders he might have missed. He was tired. Chris had dropped into the background, and was simply watching now.
"Perhaps someone else could close for you. You look like you could use a rest." Nathan was appraising the patient again.
"Do you enjoy being irritating, or is it just a character flaw? Scalpel."
The nurse put the instrument in Ezra's hand. He'd found another piece of shrapnel above the stomach, embedded in the esophageal tube. He took a deep breath, then started the work of getting it out.
"There's another piece above it," Nathan pointed out helpfully. Ezra's eyes flicked up, then back down.
"Do you know the game of solitaire, Doctor Jackson?" he asked.
Nathan shrugged, "Sure."
"Do you know what I hate most about that game?"
Another smile grew on Nathan's face beneath the mask, "Having someone else tell you that you can put the red eight on the black nine?"
"You are astute, Doctor Jackson. Now if you would please...."
"Major! His pressure is failing!" The nurse at the boy's head looked up
"What? Damn!" Ezra lifted his hands out, his eyes searching for the reason why.
"There," Nathan said, "the small colon."
"I just checked the damn colon!" Ezra bent over, peeling back the tissue. He saw the piece he missed. He looked up at Nathan, then shook his head. "Damn it. Clamp!"
The nurse was way ahead of him. Before he said the word, she put a new clamp in his hand.
"Still dropping," the other warned. "His pulse is fading."
Both doctors turned to look up at the heart.
"No, no," Ezra whispered, watching as it struggled to keep working.
"Let me help," Nathan said suddenly.
"Help with what! Where the hell else is he bleeding!" Ezra started looking around, feeling gently along all the major organs, searching for the elusive piece.
"His heart's stopped," the nurse said, almost too quietly.
"No! Not yet," Ezra hissed.
"Keep looking!" Nathan said suddenly, reaching in to the boy's chest.
"What are you..."
"Just keep looking!" Slowly, methodically, Nathan started massaging the heart, pumping it manually. Ezra just stared at him wise eyed, then, desperately, started searching again.
In the background, Chris turned to the side and looked out to the doors to the recovery room. He could see the others standing there, watching. He shook his head at them, and they all lowered their gaze.
Buck nudged Vin, and looked over at Josiah. "Come on. I'll buy you guys a drink." He looked at Mary, who was still staring into the room. "You too major."
She looked at him, then back into the room. After a moment, she nodded and followed them out of the Surgery.
Half an hour later, Chris walked into the officer's club and walked up to the bar. The four others sat watching as he ordered a beer, drank it like a shot, then ordered another. When it was served, he took a sip then placed it down, hiding his eyes behind his hand.
"Is he dead?" Mary asked, her fingers drumming on the glass of water in front of her.
Chris started chuckling.
The others all looked at each other. They couldn't quite tell if he was laughing or....
"The kid's alive," Chris turned to face them, his face graced by an uncommon smile. "I've never seen anything like it. Nathan Jackson got the boy's heart going again, by massaging it. If it works, and it stays beating...." he shook his head. "Amazing."
"He massaged his heart?" Vin asked, sitting up straighter.
"Can you do that?" Mary asked.
"Apparently," Chris took another sip.
"How exactly," Buck asked, leaning forward.
"Well, from what I could see...."
Just then, the doors opened to reveal a very tired but unusually exuberant Ezra Standish with his arm around the shoulders of the new doctor. Nathan smiled disarmingly, and they all smiled back.
"Barkeep!" Ezra said, walking forward, "a bottle of your best champagne for my friends here! And for this man," he patted Nathan on the chest, "whatever sustenance he requires, be it lobster or filet mignon! Nothing is too good and cost is not an option!"
The bartender shook his head and placed two bottles of beer on the counter, then a bowl of stale nuts. Ezra smiled and Nathan laughed.
"Ah yes, Korea's finest," Ezra picked up the bottle and pretended to examine the label. "A very good year, I believe. The current one from the looks of it."
Nathan took a handful of nuts and shoved them into his mouth, "Hmmm, delicious. Must be from the New England coast," he said, laughing. Ezra patted him on the shoulder.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Ezra said, walking over and pulling up a chair to their table. "Today is a day of firsts! I think a celebration is in order."
"How's the kid."
"Alive!" Ezra grinned, "and he reacted to stimulus all down his body."
"Good on ya, Ez," Vin cheered, slapping him on the shoulder. "And you!" the long haired captain pointed at Nathan, "you have to tell me about that thing you did with his heart! Where did you learn that?"
"The 4077th," Nathan said. "I picked a good time to visit. Someone I used to work with at Mass Gen was there, a Major Charles...."
"No, no, no! We're not going to talk about work for at least fifteen minutes," Ezra said, waving a hand in front of Vin.
"Why not?" Buck asked.
"Because, in fifteen minutes, I plan to be drunk and passed out. Until that time, all I want to do is play some cards!" He snapped his fingers, and the bartender dutifully tossed him a deck. "Who's with me?"
"Aw hell," Buck said, "I need to win some of my money back."
"I don't have any...."
"I'll spot you."
"Yeah, you would wouldn't you," Vin's eyes narrowed. Then he shook his head, "Oh what the hell. It's not like I can spend it anyways."
"Sure, why not."
Ezra grinned, and started shuffling.
Exactly fifteen minutes later, his head fell forward onto his chest and he started to snore.
"Impressive," Nathan noted, looking at his watch. "That's the most precisely timed black out I've ever seen."
"We all have our gifts," Buck said, standing and stretching. "Well, I'd best go have a look in the recovery room. Major Travis?"
Mary sighed and nodded, leading the way.
Vin look at Nathan, and grinned. A wicked gleam came into his eye.
"So, Doctor Jackson," he said, leaning forward, "have you ever stolen a jeep?"
Tune in next week, when General Orin Travis arrives to shake things up a little.
Now stay tuned for 9:30....TBA