Characters: Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John McIntyre
Spoilers: Nothing specific.
Summary: No matter how good Hawkeye and Trapper John are as surgeons, they can’t save every patient.
Word Count: 426
Written For: todeskun’s prompt ‘M*A*S*H, Hawkeye Pierce/Trapper John, sometimes not even the moonshine was enough to help them escape reality,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own M*A*S*H, or the characters. They belong to their creators.
Every night they party like there’s no tomorrow, knocking back the homemade booze, all the while knowing that for some of the kids who come under their knives, there really won’t be a tomorrow.
Hawkeye and Trapper John are both damned good surgeons, two of the best, but a mobile army surgical unit is limited in what it can do, even with the best surgeons in the world. There’s always a shortage of drugs, they go through antibiotics and painkillers like they’re water, and often have to resort to using ether to anaesthetize their patients. They do their best with hygiene, but their operating theatre is a tent, not a purpose-built, state-of-the-art, sterile room with excellent lighting and everything they need on hand. There’s always a risk of post-operative infection and other complications.
Half the time they don’t have the equipment they need and are forced to improvise, cobbling together a workable alternative from whatever odds and ends they can scrounge. It’s all make do and mend, and sometimes the mending part is beyond even their impressive skills. Bullets and landmines and mortar fire can mangle a human body more completely than either of them would have believed possible before being conscripted and sent to this hellhole. They do the best they can every time, even knowing that their best might not be good enough.
When the last of the latest round of casualties has been patched up as well as circumstances allow, they pull off their bloodstained gowns, toss them in the laundry hamper with all the others, and wend their weary way back to the Swamp, where they’ll try to drown their sorrows, drinking martinis that are mostly raw alcohol in an attempt to dull the pain in their bodies from hours of standing in one place, and the pain in their hearts from seeing young bodies ripped to shreds.
It’s not always enough.
There are nights when no amount of moonshine will wash away the memories, when they close their eyes and try to sleep only to be confronted by the faces of every kid they tried and failed to save. It’s enough to make them want to fall asleep and never wake up again, but what good would that do? It wouldn’t end the so-called police action, nor would it save a single life.
So when the sirens blare, they abandon their fruitless attempt at sleep, summon what strength they can muster, and get back to work, trying to save as many lives as they can. They don’t have any other choice.