Cultural Differences

by MicroChips

Disclaimer: Don't own MASH, want to but don't...

Summary: Two Canadian nurses go to the 4077th on an exchange, and some "cultural differences" cause trouble for everyone involved.

Notes: First MASH thing. Apologies for some badness... But it will be better... I hope.

Chapter One: What on Earth are We Doing Here Any Way?

Knock, knock, knock.

She groaned and rolled over, covering her pounding skull with the blanket.

"If you wish to keep that offending appendage where it is, you'll turn around and run off!"she growled. Someone outside the door sighed and opened the makeshift door, cracking it annoyingly.

"Alex, get your lazy derrière out of bed before I extract you with a hot fire poker." The woman said. Alex slowly felt consciousness coming back to her. She was fighting desperately for more sleep.

"Alex isn't at home right now. Please leave a note and she will burn it before getting back to you." She replied. The other woman pulled the blanket off of her head.

"That a good enough message for you?" she said, her brown eyes flashing in the light. Alex snapped her eyes shut from the light and groaned.

"Unfortunately. Can't you just honor the dead and let them rest in pieces?" she groaned rolling over.

"No I can't. That's a morticians of a bar maids job." The person moved around the room as Alex sat up. "Besides its your own fault that-"

"I got drunk last night. Yes I have heard it all before Mother Meg..." Alex rolled her eyes at Meg who was looking at the floor in disgust. She stood in an ankle deep in Alex's junk.

"How the hell do you live in this pigsty?" she asked disgusted.

"By ignoring it. I'm not a neat freak unlike thyself." Alex said simply, reaching under her cot for a hairbrush. She found it and immediately began to run it through her shoulder length wavy red hair.

"You had better clean it up. You've got twenty minutes... EEK!" Meg yelled, jumping backwards as a small rat scuttled across the floor. "Good god, even a rat calls this pigsty home!"

"Don't be mean to pigs. They are actually very clean animals, unlike humans of course." Alex put the hairbrush down. " What do you mean twenty minutes?"

"Well then even a pig could live here. This place is a bloody mess! A bomb went off in here didn't it?"

"Not to my knowledge... What's with the twenty minutes?"

"Disgusting! How can you live here?"

"The same way that you keep avoiding my question. I ignore it! Now tell me, twenty minutes till what?" Alex said, throwing a really dirty look at her.

"Oh yeah. The exchange thing..." Meg said distractedly, picking up a broom and hitting the floor to flush out any other vermin. Alex finally woke up properly.

"Oh holy maple syrup!" she said jumping out of the cot. She began to shoot around the room, packing her suitcase and getting changed at the same time. Meg grinned at her. Over the three months that they had been in Korea, she had learned more about her cousin Alex than she ever thought existed. Alex and Meg had been best friends all of their lives. They had been born on the same day and in the exact same hour, and in the same hospital as each other. Alex had never had many friends due to the fact that she was a social misfit. Meg was also in the same boat, but she had never had any friends because of her heritage. Her mother's mother had been half-Japanese and half-German. Out of the weird mix of Japanese, German, and Canadian, Megumi Lexington was 1/8 Japanese, 1/8 German and 3/4 Canadian. She had inherited her first name from said offending grandmother, and from her had also gained her strait black hair.

Alex on the other hand, always had been and always would be a tomboy. She would never be seen dead in a skirt or dress and had set fire to all the make-up that her mother had hidden in her room incase she stumbled across it and decided to try it on. The full-blooded Canadian tomboy had even attempted to apply to every medical school in the country to become a surgeon like her father. She was a very optimistic and outgoing person, always trying to get better and learn something new. Life was a game to her; you only won when you knew everything there was to know. Her only downfall was she would do anything once, and if she liked the affects, many more times after that. She had a nasty habit of drinking, smoking and gambling. She hated people who thought that they were better than her, so the fact that she even held her rank of Major for so long had astounded Meg.

"What are you smirking at Megumi?" Alex asked impertinently leaning back from behind her closet to glare at her cousin. A nasty grin spread across her face. "That grin is so sickly that it's causing your lovely lines to peel."

"Oh hardy har Alex." Meg muttered. She subconsciously ran her fingers over her collar and fiddled with her badge. The three thick yellow lines were perfectly unharmed on the green background, but knowing Alex, she wasn't going to take any chances that she might, for once in her life, be serious. Alex chuckled at her and stepped back from the closet, now wearing the formal khaki skirt and shirt of the army. She adjusted her collar, running her finger over her own stripes; two thick yellow lines around a thin one.

"Oh come on Meg, do you really think that anything would happen to them without you noticing?" she aid with a chuckle, rummaging around for a pair of shoes. She finally found them under her bed and threw them on. She quickly reached up and grabbed the formal hat on top of the dresser and the Stetson that was beside it.

"Which should I wear? The triangle or the Stetson?" she asked Meg. Meg looked at her critically for a second.

"You look better in the Stetson I'll give you that. But take the formal one too, just in case." Meg replied with a smile. Alex grinned at her.

"Always letting the rules go for me huh?" she said, throwing the formal hat in the bag and placing the Stetson back on her head. "How long till we have to go?" Meg looked at her watch.

"Ten minutes."

"Okay. Is the Jeep already here?"

"Yeah came in when I came to get you up. I sent the driver to get a drink from the mess tent." Meg grinned slightly. Alex looked at her a dumbfounded expression crossing her face.

"You murderer..." she hissed comically. Meg shrugged.

"I warned him not to eat the food. He said that he just wanted a drink!"

"You willingly fed someone food packaged in 1812..." Alex shook her head and picked up her bag. "Shall we go and save him from his fate?"

"What's left of him we shall attempt to save!" Meg exclaimed in mock righteousness as she turned to open the door. Alex bolted out past her into the sunlight but waited for her to come out of the tent.

"Why did you do that?" Meg asked, blinking in confusion.

"I like big exits." Alex replied with a shrug. She looked around for half a second. "So, where is this Jeep?"

"By the mess tent." Meg said knowing fully well what was coming next.

"What?!" Alex exclaimed. She dropped the bag on her foot and immediately began hopping around in pain. "All the way over there?"

"Yes all the way over there."

"But that is so far..." Alex put on her best whiny tone. Meg stopped and rolled her eyes at her cousin.

"Good god Alex, you are so laconic! Get your indolent ass over to that jeep, NOW!"

"Is that an order?" Alex asked meekly.

"YES!" Meg was turning slightly red.

"Okay, all you had to do was say please." Alex walked past Meg grinning evilly. Meg sighed again, hating Alex ever so slightly.

"You are so damned annoying Lex..." she snarled following Alex.

"I try." Alex replied simply.

"And you succeed." Meg groaned. After a few seconds of walking they came to the jeep. Alex threw her bag in it and leaned against the door. With the hat pulled down over her eyes, she looked pretty comical.

"Do I look mysterious?" she asked with a chuckle.

"No you look like a dork." Meg replied with a chuckle. Alex flicked the brim of her hat up with a finger and sighed at her Meg.

"Fine whatever you say." She said with a sigh. The door to the mess tent suddenly cracked open and an unfamiliar corporal walked out, chewing something rapidly. Meg and Alex looked at him weirdly.

"Corporal... did you by any chance just eat in there?" Meg asked frowning.

"Yes ma'am, you guys have better food than we do!" the corporal replied smiling. Alex just blinked slightly before pulling herself together.

"Are you taking us to the 4077th?" she asked. The corporal looked at her and blinked slightly.

"Yes Major I am. I'm, umm, Corporal O'Reilly, Company Clerk for the 4077th." He replied shyly. Alex smiled warmly at him.

"Well, well Corporal O'Reilly. I do believe that you should get a Purple Heart for eating in there. I'm amazed that you came out alive." She said in a joking tone.

"Oh no ma'am, the food here is better than ours!" he repeated slightly flabbergasted.

"I was kidding. That stuff's better than what they give to the people in the field. Heck even powder is better than the crap that they give to the civilians here." Alex was beginning to head towards a rant. Meg quickly flicked the back of her Stetson and sent it flying to the floor. She moved so fast that in mind grumble Alex had no time to find out who hit it.

"Well corporal, shall we get going? Three minutes won't make too much of a difference on travel time." Meg walked around to the back of the jeep as she spoke loudly, hoping that Alex would get the point. As she climbed in the back seat, she turned to look at Alex, who was glaring furiously at her. Suddenly a dawning of realization appeared on her cousin's face, and she gave up glaring at Meg. She quickly climbed into the jeep next to Corporal O'Reilly.

"Hi-ho Silver, away!" Alex exclaimed, mostly as a joke. As she jeep took off she turned to Meg and smiled.

"You have two hours today when I treat you as my superior. Make them last." She said quietly to her.

Twenty Minutes Later

"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'K'" Alex said in an extremely bored tone.

"Korea?" Meg asked unenthusiastically. The lack of intonation made Alex chuckle slightly.

"Bingo Meg, your turn."

"I spy with my little eye something beginning with 'S'"

"Scrub brush?" O'Reilly offered.

"Nope." Meg said with a smirk.

"The Seine River." Alex spat out without thinking.

"The Seine River is in Germany nitwit."

"Do nits have wits?"

"I don't know Alex do you?"

"What does this have to do with 'I Spy?'" O'Reilly asked himself.

"Absolutely nothing." Alex replied. She looked up at the sky and thought for half a second. A piercing whistle like air being let out of a balloon filled the air. "Shells..."

"Of course not shells Alex! If I was close enough to spy a shell I'd be-"

"No Meg, there are shells dropping from the sky as we speak!" Alex managed to exclaim before a shell hit the ground about ten feet behind the jeep. A second shell hit just in front of the moving target.

"Jesus Christ Corporal, FLOOR IT!" Meg yelled grabbing Alex's hat as it flew past her face.

"We're almost there! It's just around the bend!" he yelled back slightly jumpily. Alex blocked everything out for half a second as she took a glance at the war torn countryside.

"What the hell are we doing here anyway?" she asked herself quietly. Meg placed a hand on her shoulder.

"We're here for the exchange thing Alex." She said almost as quietly.

"You know what I mean. Why are we in Korea?"

"The person who could answer that would be the richest person in the world." Meg sighed. "A bloody rich bugger..." A shell hit the ground as the whipped around the bend into the 4077th. Various people were still running around attempting to get into one of the permanent, half shellproof buildings that the majority of MASH's had. O'Reilly barreled the jeep through the compound and parked it next to a notice board.

"Go in sirs" he said cutting the engine and almost hiding under the dash as another shell hit, " I'll get your bags."

"No thanks Corporal," Meg said with a smile," We're used to shells." She grabbed Alex's bag and threw it at her as she climbed out of the jeep. Alex had been prepared and span around as her feet touched the dirt to grab it.

"Gotta be faster Meg." She said smugly. O'Reilly glanced at them weirdly before scrambling into the building. Alex and Meg followed him attempting not to yawn. Shells weren't that threatening to them, not any more. As soon as they opened the makeshift door, another shell hit that rattled the building. A scuffle of movement and a squeak of surprise alerted them to the fact that there were other people in the room. They both looked around the small office like room to see three men and a woman crouching on the floor behind a pile of sandbags. Alex raised an eyebrow and smirked as she placed her bag down. She pulled the hat off of her head and placed it on top of the bag.

"So Radar, where did you get these two from?" one of the men asked a cheesy grin plastered all over his face. He ran a hand through his black hair as he stared at Meg with a slightly predatory look in his blue eyes. Alex quickly looked at his shirt collar. He has no pins to identify his rank, nor did he have any "V's" on his sleeve. Alex looked at Meg who was playing at the golden ring on her finger suggestively.

"They are the exchange people from the Canadian regiment sir." Radar replied.

Radar... why Radar? Alex wondered.

"Do you two angels have names?" the man asked.

"Pierce, they're a Major and a Lt. Colonel," the woman snapped, "Why would you want to know their names?" She stood up and offered her hand to Meg, smiling widely. "I'm Major Margaret Houlihan, head nurse." Meg took her hand, slightly taken aback, and shook it.

"Lt. Colonel Megumi Lexington. This is Major Alex Lexington, the head nurse at our unit," Meg gestured towards Alex. Alex only caught it out of the corner of her eye as she was looking at the one named Pierce. He had been whispering something to the man behind him and the pair of them had begun chuckling. She turned to Margaret and smiled brightly. After all, she had promised Meg that she would be nice. Margaret reached over to shake Alex's hand.

"You're the head nurse?" she asked her smile fading slightly for Alex.

"Yes I am." Alex replied shaking her hand, a slightly frosty tone entering her voice. Meg caught it and began chewing her bottom lip in anticipation of some more trouble. Another shell hit the compound and sent dust trickling down from the ceiling. Once again, everyone in the room covered their heads aside from Alex and Meg. The man who had been sitting with Margaret stood up and shot over to Meg to shake her hand.

"I'm Major Frank Burns one of the surgeons here," he said. Meg looked over at Alex, who was trying not to show that she was in fits of silent giggles, with a look of pure helplessness.

"Nice to meet you Major." She said with a severely forced smile. She had a weird feeling about Frank and it wasn't a good one. The other two men stood up and came over to Alex, who had finally managed to stop her silent giggles.

"Hawkeye Pierce at your service ma'am," Pierce said with a mock bow.

"Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, swearing my allegiance to you fair lady," the second one said. Alex smirked at them, but choked back the comment she wanted to make.

"Thank you Captain, Hawkeye," she said, "I will remember this well." She took a quick look to the two majors and Meg. The Majors were talking rapidly to Meg and looking over continuously at the other two men. "Why Hawkeye? I swear I have heard that name somewhere before..."

"It's from The Last of the Mohicans. It was my dad's favorite book, so I gained the nickname from it." Hawkeye replied the cheesy grin still plastered to his face. Alex looked thoughtful for a second. Frank began to point at Hawkeye as inconspicuously as possible.

"Does Major Burns have something against you Hawkeye?" she asked.

"Why do you say that?" Hawkeye asked.

"He's telling my cousin how much of a snot you are." Alex replied simply. Hawkeye frowned slightly.

"Major Burns, or Ferret Face as he is often called, dislikes us both intensely. Maybe its because his shorts are too tight, maybe its because his brain has had a very small leak over the past year or so. That question is completely unanswerable." He replied quietly. "How do you know that they are talking about us?"

"I can read lips." Alex said calmly.

"Right." Hawkeye said sarcastically rolling his eyes.

"No really I'm not lying. For example, the question you asked, or rather joke you told Captain Hunnicutt about my cousin is thoroughly false." Alex smiled, "She isn't that easy." Radar managed to save anyone from any further questions, jokes or personality bashing by coming out of the CO's office right then and there.

"Lt. Colonel and Major Lexington, Colonel Potter will see you now," he said quietly.

"This place sounds a lot like a doctors office now..." Alex muttered with a smirk before pushing past the Captains and walking over to Meg.

"Shall we my dear?" she asked offering Meg her elbow. Both the other Majors glared at her because they hadn't finished speaking yet.

"Just keep what I said in mind Colonel." Frank said glaring at Pierce. He muttered the word "degenerate" under his breath. As Alex and Meg walked away, Alex smirked at something.

"What are you grinning at?" Meg asked her quietly.

"Of things to come Meg, of things to come..."

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