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War-Crossed

Chapter Text

The Prelude ~ Winter

"...snow."

The woman stopped mid-walking on the sidewalk, just to look at the little flakes of winter as they had started to fall. A small, but sad, smile formed on her face as she watched the flurries fluttering about her. A deep breath, and she resumed walking at a slow pace from her apartment building.

River Bend, Missouri.

She did not imagine moving here after the Korean War. But circumstances back home in New York were nothing short of hectic and had only changed for the worse since when she joined the United States Army. Life in Korea became a welcomed escape from home; and while there were a few incidents that brought about some pain for her, the friends she made at the MASH unit she was assigned to more than made up for the broken family that she would have to return to. Once home, however, her father threatened to disown her--now that man was a raging alcoholic, with a horrid temper. And how the wife and children survive for so long, was God's miracle and one of many.

But the ill-fated night in which the father threatened disownment, he took the girl's mother and two sisters for a ride. Supposedly to their grandparents' so to relate his decision. That never happened however--

He crashed their car over a bridge. The family was killed.

Two days since the funerals, and the woman no longer felt at home in New York. There were neighbors who would keep talking about the accident, the father, the abuse, the alcoholism, and... and she had had enough. Because they wouldn't ask if she was okay. If she needed help. So... so she left. For some place in Missouri. A change of pace, scenery. Everything.

Because the scars of back home still lingered. She didn't really have anyone to talk to since coming home from Korea. Her best friend, whom she loved dearly, was no longer with her. She would write to the Chief Surgeon from her MASH unit once or twice, but... it wasn't quite the same. Now at River Bend, perhaps, she could start again. She had some money left to her from her mother, and it would be enough for her to move, find a place, fill the fridge a trite. But she would also waste no time finding work. Hell, it wouldn't be too difficult finding work as a Nurse...

But as she stepped out of the building and began making her walk she felt... alone... all over again. And the more she walked, the more she felt it. It almost made her begin to cry, her eyes fixed on the sidewalk as her walking pace slowed...

Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy had stepped out of the Veterans Hospital just about a couple of blocks away. He had just finished his shift and was on his way back to his little home a few blocks off--because home was a small simple house, nothing too major, and quaint enough for Francis to call it his rectory. It was enough. It was home. The first one wasn't working... Sherman saw that this one did.

But as the Chaplain turned a corner he stopped in his tracks... his eyes catching sight of a woman with her head down, dark blue overcoat and a bright yellow scarf. And he smiled. He knew that scarf. The woman walking towards him and not even realising that she was going to walk right into him.

He took a few more steps towards her and waited... as memories of their adventures together at the MASH unit in Korea began to replay in his head. This was the nurse he did not expect to fall in love with, but Aurora Davenport was no ordinary woman either. She was Spitfire, the unit's noble rebel whose kindness exceeded a normal human's own. And Spitfire too had come to love the Padre--hell, he saved her life.

His smile faded when he saw that beneath the warmth of the scarf... she was crying. Eyes shut tightly.

"Rory..." he sighed quietly.

Aurora kept walking until she stopped... when she ran into Francis, who by then had his arms open to wrap her into a hug. And she sobbed against his chest. Francis smiled and hugged her still, and stayed. He hadn't expected to see her in River Bend... he didn't think he'd see her again and in fact, he had missed her. And he was happy to see her once again...

...and heartbroken the reunion was of this sort of circumstance.

Aurora did not notice right away but as her sobbing calmed down a bit, she took a deep breath and--and... the man holding her smelled of hope. Of roses in bloom on the brightest of winter days, when the sun shone and the sky was its deepest hue. Of holy courage and patience and love. She knew that scent. And it was then that she knew whose arms were around her. She wrapped her arms around her best friend's waist and, hugging him tightly, began to cry all over again.

Francis took a deep breath. Perhaps it was best he got her out of the snow and back to the rectory. Some tea, some tears and some hope, and Spitfire would be right as rain. Not a word was needed as he held her and led the way to his home. There would be plenty to say once she was warm and calmed down some...

Chapter Text

Chapter 1 ~ Warmth

Francis was quite the sight when he made his way to the rectoty with Aurora still a crying mess and hugging him at the waist. But when once the two were in and the priest went through the awkward hilarity of removing coats and scarves, by the time he was getting her to the couch so they could sit, she had calmed down in her sobbing. Not enough to calm down from crying, and not enough to completely let go of him. Quietly he resorted to lying down because her head had rested against his heart--the calmest sound she knew--and pulled her to lie down against him until she either calmed down to speak or fell asleep...

Whichever came first.

She had cried herself into exhaustion and before too long, fell into a nap. Francis watched Aurora sleep and for a moment, he recalled everything beautiful he saw in her. She wasn't Gail, and it wasn't love at first sight. But he loved Aurora, and fell in love with her all over again, for all the right reasons. But why was she here? And how?

His eyes then fixed to the right wrist peeking from her long sleeved blouse. And he sighed, seeing a sight he hoped he wouldn't have to see again...

Aurora woke up from her nap to see Francis running the thumb of his left hand against the scars on her wrist. She caught her breath, recalling the hand that held her to him, and fell in love with her best friend all over again. Her eyes went to those of Francis, who in turn were fixed upon her.

"Hello, my dear Nurse" he whispered.

"H-hello... my dear Chaplain" she whispered back.

Seconds later they were sitting up and in an embrace that had a warmth to it that neither could otherwise explain. "I have missed you, Spitfire" Francis said with a kiss to the top of her head as he pulled away to look at her. "You are a sight for sore eyes. But... how... how'd you end up in River Bend!?" He brushed a curled bang from her forehead as she took a deep breath and answered.

"Well... remember my alcoholic father?" she asked. He nodded hesitantly in reply before she continued. "Well, after I got home from Korea, he threatened to disown me. He then got Mother, Audrey and Mary and... they were heading to my Grandparents' house and..." She took another deep breath, then spoke further. "He drove the car off a bridge... no one survived..."

Francis gasped lightly in shock as she continued. "The town kept talking about the accident... I couldn't handle it anymore. Mother left me some money so I used that to move here. I needed to start again..." More tears fell down her cheeks as she smiled sadly. "I have been here almost two weeks now, but last night I felt the most alone in so long and so I..." --but she fell silent, and looked to her wrists.

"Rory..." Francis spoke, but she couldn't face him. "Do you think I would be upset because you had cut yourself again?" She nodded in shame before he spoke further. "No... I am somewhat disappointed, but not upset. You didn't know I was here... so it's not like you broke the promise you had made."

"I know" she sighed. "But... I guess I just wasn't as strong as I--"

"Aurora Lyndsey, you are a lot stronger than you think you are!" Francis interrupted. "And... sometimes it's easy to have to be strong for too long." He took her by the wrists, a firm but loving grip on each, before nudging his forehead against hers so she could look him in the eye. "My promise still remains. If you ever..." But he took a deep breath. He didn't need to remind her of the promise he made her commit to.

Her brown eyes fixed on his angelic blue own and, she remembered. And she nodded. Now that they were in the same town, she had no further excuse. The promise would be kept, come what may. And that meant that she would do her best to keep from ever having another relapse.

And then... tears. But it was Francis that was crying now, and it always broke her heart to see him this way. She opened her mouth to speak... but, couldn't. Words failed her. Words weren't necessary.

There was a memory that came to mind. One she would often smile to herself warmly when she remembered it. It was the first time around... when he made her promise him. And it was this memory all over again. Except it was now in a rectory and not a tent. Adjusting to civilian life and not a war. But the way life was...

"John" Aurora whispered, "don't cry... please..." Smiling sadly, she reached to take off his glasses. He blinked curiously as she took them off and started to wipe them off against her skirt. "You'll get salt on the lenses again..."

"Lyndsey?" Francis asked, but then recalled the memory himself. How she always worried about the little things... like salt from dried tears on glasses.

Not another word was said as he tilted her head up to fix his eyes on her own and smiled. And leaned... and kissed her for the first time since their farewell in Korea. Because he missed her dearly. Because he loved her--not in a sexual way, but the kind that sang of innocence, hope, and respect.

Tea could wait a moment.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 ~ Tea and Conversation

"...thank you, John."

"Of course, Lyndsey" Francis answered as he poured Aurora a cup of her favorite tea blend. "I figured you could use a cup of the good stuff." He then poured himself a cupful and sat down next to her on the couch once again. "You look lovely, Rory-Lynn."

"Of course I do, Francis" she chuckled in reply. "I'm a lovely mess of tears and snow!"

"Rory" the priest sighed, rolling his eyes. "I see not much has changed in regards to your humor."

Aurora winked at him. "I wouldn't be me if I did change that now, would I?"

Francis grinned. "Nope" he replied, "and that would be quite a shame if you did too, my dear." He then took a sip of the tea. "Every time I make this tea... I'm always whispering a prayer for you" he then said, smiling at her. "I wonder to myself about how you are doing all this time."

The nurse blushed modestly, a humble smile gracing her features. "Francis, you dear, dear man" she said. And that was when it hit her--her eyes widened.

Wait a second.

"Wait" she gasped. "The last time I saw you, you had damaged your hearing--!?" Her eyes widened. "Can you hear me just fine or--?"

"Oh, yes!" Francis replied. "I guess I should explain myself!" He grinned and adjusted his glasses before speaking further. "After I got home to Philadelphia, I ended up worse than better. Ended up with no parish of my own because I could not hear. I ended up an alcoholic because of that, and depressed in the process." He sighed, looking to his tea cup in shame. "Definitely not my finest hour."

He then turned to look at Aurora, who rested her head against his heart again, sharing in his grief. Wrapping an arm around her tightly, he continued. "My sister the sister got a hold of Sherman and he got me to St. Louis for a surgery which restored my hearing. He then had me moved here to River Bend, where I now work at General General as a Chaplain!"

"...wait" Aurora answered, now puzzled. "Sherman... you mean, are we talking Colonel Potter??"

Francis grinned. "Yes!" he replied. "Sherman is the Chief of Staff there. It's a Veterans Hospital. And Klinger is there as well as his Administrative Assistant!"

"Oh my goodness, Klinger!" Aurora chimed in, laughing. "I am guessing he and Soon-Lee are here in River Bend as well?"

"Oh, absolutely!" the Chaplain answered. "And you know what... I bet Sherman would be most delighted to know you're in town. He would hire you as a Nurse on the spot!" He chuckled. "Plus, I could use a Chaplain's Companion, just as I know you'd appreciate a Nurse's Assistant."

The Nurse nodded. "Just like back at the 4077th, dear heart."

"Somewhat" Francis answered. "The Secretary... you'll need to watch out for her. But we do have great doctors and surgeons to work with."

"Well then" Aurora said, "give Colonel--erm, Sherman... the news that I'm here, and see what he says." She rarely ever addressed the Colonel by his first name, but he was like an adoptive Grandfather to her. And sometimes, when the occasion called for it, she would address him as Grand'Potter, a term of endearment indeed. He always encouraged her to follow her heart while at the 4077th... he, and the Surgeons, the fellow Nurses and even the Company Clerk!

They were her family.

"Consider it done" Francis said with a wink. "I'll deliver the good news first thing in the morning." He then took another sip of tea, smiling. "I'm thankful I can hear again. And I'm happy you are here. I look forward to finishing the Bible study we had started but never finished" he added with a chuckle.

Aurora blushed... then giggled... which turned into a laugh... which was joined by Francis. Because back in Korea they had started a study on the Gospel of John together. But thanks to circumstances beyond their control, they never did finish it.

Maybe this time around...

Another hour passed between them before the Chaplain felt it was time to get his dear Nurse back to her apartment. Back on went the coats and scarves, and back out into the wintery weather they went. Arm in arm, the conversation continued--about life in Pennsylvania. About life in New York. About not being able to hear. About broken homes. About past hopes and lost dreams. About the future, and all of its uncertainties. About being able to spend time together again.

Together.

Aurora hadn't really given it much thought about relationships, and of course the one she had with Francis was nothing short of interesting. It was more of an "unexpected fairy tale" as she herself had put it, unexpected because of their circumstances. But prior to him, her last romance had almost broken her, and she would have fallen apart fairly quickly if not for her best friend. Who was now with her outside her apartment door. Phone numbers were exchanged, because now in the same town, there was no... excuse.

"I'll give you a call later and let you know what Sherman says" Francis spoke up, before planting a tender kiss on her forehead. "Oh, and I'll also call you as soon as I am home!" --which he did, too.

"Sounds great to me" Aurora replied, blushing at the forehead kiss. "I'm looking forward to it."

"Great!" Francis answered. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, Spitfire."

Aurora grinned with a wink. "You got it, Padre!"

One more forehead kiss farewell, and Aurora made her way inside the apartment, while Francis made his way back to his home. The next day was full of much promise already.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 ~ In the Beginning...

Korea, 1951...

"Steady, steady..."

Aurora had arrived at the MASH unit in Korea and already, got right to work. But not without meeting the Chaplain within the first ten minutes and having a chatter...

"Ah--hello there!!" Francis greeted the new arrival. "Welcome to the 4077th."

"Thank you!" Aurora answered as he helped her off the jeep. "Captain Aurora Davenport, Nurse. And you are?"

"Captain Francis Mulcahy" he replied. "Or rather, Father. I'm the Chaplain." He extended his hand to her.

"Ah lovely!" she exclaimed in joy. "An honor to meet you, Father Francis!" Her hand in his, a firm handshake was exchanged before the priest spoke further.

"How about I help you get your stuff to the Nurses' Tent, Captain Davenport?" he asked.

"That would be great, please" she replied. "And please, Aurora or Rory is fine. Or even Spitfire!" And she smiled, because while she was indeed a Captain in the United States Army, she was still the kind of person that would rather break formalities for humility and humanity. She wasn't the most formal of people, despite being in her dress uniform.

"Very well then, Aurora!" Francis laughed as he helped her with her belongings. It wasn't very long however before the announcement over the P.A. called all to order with arriving wounded.

"And so it begins" chuckled Aurora as the two stepped out of the Nurses Tent after placing her belongings in the tent. "I take it it's a borderline-daily thing, Father Francis?"

Francis nodded in reply. "Well, we *are* a MASH unit here so..." he said with a light shrug. "I had better hurry, lots to do with the wounded coming in."

"I'll go with you" Aurora answered. "I can worry about changing later."

"Y-you sure!?" Francis asked with concern.

"Positive" the Nurse replied with a nod. "Priorities. Changing can wait."

Francis was impressed with her work ethic already as the two made their way to Triage. Aurora went right to work helping to check the wounded and their severities, and met some of the doctors and nurses in the process. One of the wounded needed to be carried in, and Aurora went right to task, with Francis following her. "Need a hand, Rory?"

"Yes, please!"

"Alright. I've got one side, when you're ready."

"Got it, Francis--now, steady, steady..."

The two teamed up to carry a wounded soldier off an ambulance to the Triage area. Setting the young man down gently, Francis called out to one of the doctors. "Hawkeye! One more here!"

Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce hurried over to the Chaplain and Nurse. "Alright, this one doesn't look too bad" the man said after checking the soldier's wounds. He then glanced to Aurora. "By the way, are you new to the Unit or are you just new to me?"

Aurora chuckled. "I am very new to the Unit" she replied. "Captain Aurora Davenport. I'm the new arrival."

"Welcome to hell, Davenport" Hawkeye greeted with a smirk. "In all seriousness, best care anywhere, that's us."

Francis chuckled as Aurora nodded and answered. "Pleased to meet you, uhm..."

"Pierce" Hawkeye noted, realising he had not introduced himself. "Hawkeye Pierce, Captain of the loony bin! Father Mulcahy will tell ya." With a wink he stood back up and hurried inside the Pre-Op Ward to prepare for operating.

Aurora raised a brow to Francis, who simply smiled. "Captain Pierce is our Chief Surgeon" he explained as he stood up and extended a hand to her. "Brilliant surgeon, but also a brilliant jokester." Aurora nodded as she placed her hand in his and he helped her up. "I suppose you will want to help out in the Op Room as well."

"I don't see why not" Aurora replied with a shrug. With that Francis led the way to the Pre-Op Ward, giving introductions as they went along.

"I just want to apologise for your working in your dress uniform, Davenport" Sherman said while in the Operating Room. "My Company Clerk had his hands full trying to get an order done and before I knew any better, we had wounded in and Padre basically became your welcoming party."

"It's quite alright, Colonel" Aurora laughed in reply. "I would rather get to work helping out than simply stand around looking cute."

Francis chuckled as Major Margaret Houlihan smiled behind her mask. "Well you've certainly shown your stripes already, Miss Davenport" she remarked. "I think we will have quite an excellent Nurse here, don't you think?" she then asked, looking to another surgeon, who replied.

"I am simply impressed by the fact that she got to work just after getting here, Margaret" Major Charles Emerson Winchester III said, continuing his work on a young soldier who had some serious shrapnel in his intestines.

"Suction" Captain BJ Hunnicutt said, glancing to Aurora, who stood opposite him as they worked on a soldier who took a couple of bullets to the chest and stomach. Aurora nodded and got the suction, as Hawkeye glanced over from his patient.

"I take it this is quite common for you, Davenport?" he asked.

"One, Hawkeye, this isn't my first rodeo" Aurora answered. "And two, everyone, by all means, Rory or Aurora or even Spitfire." She sighed quietly. "I know this is the Army but formalities aren't necessarily my best friend all the time." She glanced across the patient to BJ, "I think this soldier should be alright. We just need to get the bullets out." She glanced over at the patient; "It's not as bad as it looks."

BJ nodded as he concentrated on operating, while Aurora quieted down.

After operating on a handful of patients and helping them get adjusted in the Post-Op Ward, Aurora finally got a chance to sit down... with the fellow officers... at the Mess Tent. "Whew" she sighed. "That was a fun couple of hours."

"And in your dressies, no less!" Hawkeye remarked.

"You did very well, Miss Aurora" Charles added.

"Didn't miss a beat, Spitfire" BJ said.

"Thank you most kindly, gentlemen" Aurora said with a grin to them.

Sherman smiled. "You're a good addition to the Unit, Spitfire" he stated. "But get the chance to change out of your dress uniform when you can. You've made a hell of an impression already, kiddo."

"And as Head Nurse, I'm quite pleased" Margaret remarked. "Great job on your first day, Rory."

"And they're not just saying that, either!" Francis chimed in.

Aurora blushed, smiling. "Thank you, everyone!"

And in came the Company Clerk!! "Colonel Potter! There's talk about the new Nurse here, how she helped out in her dress uniform and--"

"Klinger, she's right here" Sherman interrupted. "This brilliant Miss is Captain Aurora 'Spitfire' Davenport and she's a damn good Nurse too!"

"Sergeant Max Klinger" the Clerk introduced himself, extending a hand to Aurora, who gave it a firm handshake.

"Pleased to meet you, Klinger" she said.

As the chatter continued about the wounded and the days prior, Aurora kept to herself. She could get used to this... life abroad in Korea. At war. At a MASH unit. She would need to write a letter home to Mother and her boyfriend James, but that could wait for a little while. She turned to glance to Francis.

"Father Francis?"

"Yes, Aurora?"

"Do you by chance... uhm... ever hold a Bible study?"

The Chaplain blinked. "Ah, well... no... hardly anyone comes to services anyway so..."

Aurora made a face. "Hm... maybe we can do a Bible study together? I've wanted to study the Gospel of John for some time now. Back home my rector holds a study and we had just finished Luke's Gospel."

"Well... I don't see why not, actually" Francis replied with a smile. "I've always wanted to do a Bible study!"

"Wonderful!" Aurora exclaimed. "Well then, whatever is convenient for you, we can get started on it!"

"I tell you what" Francis replied, "how about you get yourself situated. Find your Bible and bring that and a notebook and we'll get that study going this evening!"

"Sounds like a good idea to me!" Aurora answered.

Because, heck. The letters home could wait...

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 ~ Some New Bugle Tune

"Spitfire!? In River Bend!?"

Sherman T. Potter's face lit up as Francis met with his Chief of Staff to report about the run-in with Aurora the day prior. "She certainly is, Sherman" the Chaplain confirmed. "And I'm sure she would love to work here. We could use a good Nurse 'round General General."

"How quickly can you get her here, Padre?" Sherman asked.

"I'll call her right away if you want" Francis replied with a hopeful smile.

"Well I say better you than a bugle" the Colonel chuckled. "Wake the good sport up. I'm sure she'll be happy to hear from you for a wake-up call."

Francis grinned as he took the phone inside Sherman's office and dailed the number. Sherman watched the Chaplain's face as the phone ringed and...

"...ah, Rory!" Francis greeted. "Good morning, my dear... Yes, yes I am actually in his office right now and... oh, Aurora!" he laughed. "You're fine, here... here, I'll hand the phone to Sherman now." Sherman shook his head as Francis noted to him, "I think I woke her up."

"Hello. Spitfire?... yes, dear, this is Grand'Potter," Sherman spoke with a warm smile. "Good morning to you as well, kiddo... I'm doing great, Rory. How are you?... Ah, excellent! Listen, the good Padre told me you're now in the area, how would you like to work here at General General as a Nurse?... Yes, yes, I am now Chief of Staff here... It's a Veterans Hospital, kiddo. I think you'd fit in perfectly here. Padre could use his sidekick 'round here as well... Ah well yes, I agree" Sherman then laughed. "But don't worry, we are *all* adjusting to civilian life but with us working here I think we'll all do just fine."

Francis grinned from ear to ear as Sherman continued talking with Aurora. "Listen, how quickly can you get here?... Ah, well, true. I forgot Francis gave you a different bugle-tune this morning... I tell you what, Rory. Get here when you can and when you get there, go to the Secretary and let her know you're here to see me. I'll send word to her post-haste... I don't see why you can't wear your favorite Nurse uniform, kiddo" Sherman chuckled. "I'll stop keeping you. Here's Francis and I look forward to seeing you when you get here." He grinned, handing the phone to the Chaplain.

"Rory!" Francis greeted again, "I'm so excited for you to come work here!" With me... again... like we used to. The Chaplain and his Nurse, as we were meant to be. How he desperately wanted to tell her all of that, but he just... couldn't. Not while this would be a different situation as the setting sure showed to be. But he missed the more hilarious times in Korea, and how they would cause positive mischief in Post-Op for the wounded's sake. But who knows what the current situation would allow?

"Well, I'll let you go so you can get ready" the Chaplain then said, as Aurora noted that today wasn't going to be a stay-in-bed day and that she needed to get up and get going. "If the Secretary gives you any problems just have her send for me. And if Klinger shows up before I do, have him send for myself or Sherman." Because in the back of his mind, Alma Cox would more than likely give the good Nurse some grief... and that was the last thing Francis needed.

Sherman watched as Francis finished the call, "Alright, Lyndsey... be careful, keep warm... I will, my dear! Thank you... Very well! We will see you when you get here!! ...alright, my dear. Farewell for now." The Chaplain grinned again as he hung up the phone.

"You miss that little brat, don't you, Padre?" Sherman asked with a chuckle.

"Always, Sherman" Francis replied with a smile. "There is still a heart that holds her warm within me... despite who... what... I am." He sighed sadly, shaking his head. "I suppose that much has never changed."

"You never forgot her, Francis."

"I couldn't. I can't. I won't. God won't allow me to... I wouldn't forgive myself if I did."

"Is it enough to say perhaps that you..."

But Francis took a deep breath and looked down. "Sherman" he confessed, "no matter how dearly I feel for her, I can't say it." He then looked up at the Colonel, fear reflected in his blue eyes. "I... I can't. Not right now anyway but..." He looked down again, smiling sadly. "Maybe... maybe someday..."

Sherman nodded. "Understood, Padre" he said, patting his long-time friend on his shoulder. "When the time comes, you'll know what to do." He gave Francis a reassuring smile. "God will make it all work out, Francis. He always does."

• • • • • • •

"Aha, so you're Miss Davenport" the Secretary spoke up as Aurora introduced herself. "Mr. Potter has put a file together on you and it honestly looks great on paper." Alma Cox smiled up at the Nurse after glancing in the file. "If you'll give me just a moment, I'll call him over."

"Thankful you, Ma'am" Aurora answered with a smile.

"Mr. Potter?" Alma called on the hospital phone. "Miss Davenport has arrived... yes, I'll send her right over." She then hung up, just in time to see Francis. "Father Mulcahy" she spoke up.

The Chaplain blinked and smiled, seeing Aurora as he made his way to the Secretary's desk. "Yes, Miss Cox?" he then said as he looked to the woman.

"Would you see your Assistant of Cheer to Mr. Potter's office, please?" Alma asked, placing the file in the file of Personnel. It made Aurora blush slightly in embarrassment.

Francis grinned. "I'll gladly escort Rory over, yes."

"Thank you, Father."

"You're welcome, Miss Cox." He glanced to Aurora. "Come along, Spitfire!" The Nurse chuckled as he started on his way to the office. "Pleased to meet you, Miss Cox" she then said to the woman at the desk before taking off after the Chaplain.

Alma raised a brow at the Nurse. "Ah, pleased indeed" she replied to herself sarcastically. "If you're anything like Klinger I'll gladly like you too."

• • • • • • •

"Grand'Potter!" Aurora exclaimed as she hugged her former Commanding Officer-now-Chief of Staff. "What an honor!"

Sherman hugged the Nurse. "The honor is mine, Spitfire" he replied with a laugh. "It's great to see you again."

After letting go of Sherman, Aurora turned to hug Francis as Sherman closed the door to his office. The Chaplain smiled warmly, hugging the Nurse. "Always good to see you, my dear" he whispered. Aurora could not help but grin.

"Likewise, dear heart" she replied, before giving Sherman her full attention as he began to speak.

"So as you know I'm getting you hired here post-haste" the elder veteran said. "When Francis told me you were in town I refused to let an opportunity to have you here slip past. You're a damn good Nurse and we need you here. I need you here. Francis needs you here." He glanced to the Chaplain, who blushed mildly but smiled regardless. "How soon can you start working, Rory?"

Aurora smiled with a light shrug. "How soon are we talking, Colonel Potter?" she asked, tilting her head slightly.

Sherman smiled back at her. "One, Sherman will do, kiddo" he replied, realising she was used to addressing him by rank. "And two, how does 'right away' sound?"

"Sounds great to me, Sherman" the Nurse replied, her smile broadening into a grin.

"Excellent!" Sherman exclaimed. "Well then, welcome to General General, Aurora Davenport!" He pulled her and Francis into a big hug, and perfect timing too as a knock on the door sounded. "Who is it??"

"Sherman!" Maxwell Klinger's voice replied at the other side.

"Max!!" Sherman called back, "Get in here and welcome Spitfire to General General!"

Maxwell could hardly believe his ears but when he opened the door and saw the group hug, he happily joined in. "Welcome aboard, Rory!!" he greeted as Francis smiled at the Nurse... who was happier than a bird with a French fry.

Today was a new bugle tune. A new beginning.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5 ~ Dear Home...

10 August 1951

Dear Mother,

It is the 10th of August, 1951 here in Korea as I write to you. According to the nearest watch, almost 9PM... I just finished a Post-Op shift watch just a few minutes ago. I also (finally) changed out of my Class A's...

Today was my first day and I worked it all in my Class A's... I had no time to change because just moments after I arrived, I went straight to work helping out at Triage and the OR.

I already made an impression on the Commanding Officer, Colonel Potter; and on Major Houlihan, the Head Nurse. (I guess it's not every day a new arrival gets to work dilligently in their Class A's at the first start of things!) And I also have found a new spiritual friend and mentor in the unit Chaplain, Father Francis Mulcahy. He's a brilliant human being and already we have started a Bible study on the Gospel of John. (We got that started during my Post-Op watch. Some of the recovering wounded were intrigued by our study. That's a good thing, I think.)

I am exhausted and am ready to rest up for the night. You can't imagine how relieved I am to be out of those Class A's (inasmuch as I love wearing it)!!

You, Papa, Audrey and Mary are on my mind... I love and miss you all very much. Pray that this war ends... soon. I'm already ready to go home.

Until the next letter, with love,
Rory-Lynn

• • • • • • •

5 September 1951

Dear Mother,

Thank you so much for the handmade card!! I'm surprised it got to me as quickly as it did, but maybe I'm just surprised it's here. Nevertheless the card is adorable and it is very special to me.

I sent a letter to James, but I have not heard from him yet. Perhaps he himself is busy... well with the war going on, I guess I don't blame him. But... it'd be nice to hear from him. I guess I'm just worried about him and... ah well.

How is Father Timothy doing? I got a letter from his wife Helen, they both have been ill and I have been praying for them. I'll be sending a letter their way after I finish writing this one.

How are Father and the sisters? How are you doing? Please tell me you are hiding those unholy bruises... I worry too much about you, Mama.

Give Audrey and Mary my love.
~ Rory-Lynn

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17 November 1951

Dear Mother,

Thank you so much for sending me my Book of Common Prayer, I missed that terribly and forgot to pack that with me before leaving for Korea! I am going to show this to Father Francis after I finish writing this.

The shifts lately have been long and exhausting with the incoming wounded. There are days when it seems like there would be no end to the intake of wounded. Triage gets hectic. The OR can get quite insane. 16 hours turns into 24 or more sometimes. Sometimes I'm half-asleep during roll call. And sometimes I fall asleep in the middle of Bible study with Father Francis.

I hate this bloody war.

Father Francis has become my best friend here at the unit. Hawkeye, BJ and Charles are like older brothers to me, and Margaret--Major Houlihan, reminds me of you. Colonel Potter is like a Grandpa, and Klinger--Mother, you should meet him, he is a laugh and a half! Always trying for a Section 8, yet still does his job!

I still have not heard from James and I almost wonder if I will. Have you heard from him? If so, how is he doing? Let him know that I love and miss him dearly. Please.

Well, I must go for now. I'm going to try to get a nap in before the next shift, or before we get more incoming wounded. Whichever happens first.

I wish I was home for Thanksgiving... I love and miss you all so much.
~ Rory-Lynn

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4 December 1951

Dearest James,

I hope this finds you well. You are all I want for Christmas (besides coming back home).

I miss you. I love you.
~ Rory-Lynn

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4 December 1951

Dear Mother,

I'll be home for Christmas,
You can count on me...

I pray we all are home for Christmas. I miss you all so much.
~ Rory-Lynn