Winchester reluctantly followed Margaret into the mess tent, and she filled two coffee cups for them. "So how was your ride here?" she asked as they sat down, a knowing smile upon her face.
"How do you think it was?" he snapped back. "I came in a garbage truck, for God's sake! Imagine, a Winchester riding around Korea of all places in an army garbage truck. Despicable. I'm ashamed of myself."
"Oh, come now Charles, it couldn't have been all that bad. You're lucky actually. Just think, you could have been driven by someone worse than Rizzo."
"There is no one worse than Rizzo," Charles answered slowly. "That hog farmer is the most degenerate person I have ever had the misfortune of meeting."
"Frog farmer," Margaret corrected. "Remember, he said that when he got home he was going into the frog business."
"And I hope the detestable amphibians gang up and attack him ruthlessly. Now was there any particular reason for you wanting me to have coffee with you, or was Rizzo the only thing you wanted to discuss with me?"
"Actually, there was something else I wanted to talk to you about, now that you mention it." Margaret paused mysteriously, and Charles grew impatient.
"Well, what is it?"
"Do you miss anyone from the 4077 yet?" she asked, although she knew the answer and knew what Charles would say.
"Are you kidding?" he exclaimed in disbelief. "I've already started to eradicate those people from my memory as completely as possible."
"Charles, don't try to fool me, I know that's not true. If it was you wouldn't have given me this." Margaret held up a book that had been the cause of a big argument between her and Charles.
He sighed, knowing that he had been caught and there was no way out. "I suppose you're right," he admitted. "I wouldn't have given you that if I wanted to forget you and everyone else. And to be perfectly honest with you Margaret, I do miss everyone. Those two moronic cell-mates of mine, the Colonel, even that idiot Klinger." He shook his head in disbelief. "I never thought I would give any of them a second thought after I left this hell hole, but I realize now that they've become a part of me, and I'm never going to forget them. There, are you satisfied? I've told you what you wanted to hear, now will you let me go on my way?"
Margaret shook her head. "No Charles, you can't go. In fact, you're going to help me. You know that Captain Pierce and I haven't always gotten along, but...."
"But I also saw that goodbye kiss the two of you shared," Winchester broke in. "I think I know what you're getting at."
"You do?" Margaret had never seen Charles as a very perceptive man when it came to matters of the heart.
"Yes, I do. And if you want me to somehow help you and Pierce get together for a meeting or something..."
"Yes! Yes, that's it Charles! I guess I didn't realize till I was halfway here how much he means to me. I can't believe I just walked away from him like that. I've been kicking myself for doing it ever since we said goodbye. I'd do anything to get another chance to see him. Do you think you..."
"Margaret, do they need you here any longer?"
"No, I don't think so. Some other men just showed up to help, I think they can spare me."
"Then come on. I'm sure the CO still has time to call the airport and have Pierce detained at Seoul."
"Charles, you're a genius. How can I ever thank you?"
"Hold off thanking me until we know if this crazy little plan will even work."
Hawkeye was no more than three steps away from boarding his flight when a scrawny young corporal rushed up to him. "Captain Pierce?" he asked urgently in a high-pitched nasal voice. "Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce?"
Hawkeye sighed deeply as he turned to face the newcomer. What now? he thought. Did the war start again? Did the 8063rd or one of the other units get one last load of wounded and they can't handle it without me? Did something happen to someone from the 4077? B.J.? Margaret? Potter?
"What do you want, Corporal?" Hawkeye's tone was very impatient.
"Orders from the C.O. of the 8063rd MASH, sir," the young man replied. "You're not to board the plane for San Francisco. Wait here for further instructions." The corporal saluted and walked away.
"Wait a minute, Corporal!" Hawkeye called after him. "Can't you tell me anything else? Can't you tell me why the 8063rd's C.O. doesn't want me to leave?"
The young soldier shook his head. "No sir. I wasn't told anything more than what I just told you. You're to wait here, that's all I know."
Hawkeye shook his head as he watched the younger man disappear. It figured that one of the army's hands wouldn't know what the other was doing, and Hawkeye of all people was caught in the middle of the lack of communication. He was strongly tempted to board the plane anyway, but then he thought of the possibility of there being wounded men who needed his help, and decided to stay.
"Charles, you are a genius," Margaret shouted once again over the howling wind as she clung frantically to the Jeep Charles was rather recklessly racing toward Seoul.
"Don't think of it that way," Winchester yelled back as he swerved to avoid a pothole. "You helped me to secure that position at Boston Mercy, now I'm returning the gesture by helping you meet up with Pierce again before he leaves the country."
Margaret shot her friend a grateful, affectionate smile. "You know Charles, under that arrogant skin of yours there's a decent charitable guy trying to get out. It's very refreshing to see that side of you; I wish you'd let it show more often."
Winchester smiled, pleased with the new side of himself he was beginning to discover and the affect it had on those around him. "I'll try to do that, Margaret, I will wholeheartedly strive to accomplish that. Now let's get to Seoul and find Hawkeye."
B.J. stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the Seoul airport, pleasantly surprised at what, or rather who, he had just spotted. There, in a chair no more than thirty feet away, was slumped the familiar form of his best friend. Hawkeye was obviously asleep, but the last thing B.J. was concerned with right then was courtesy. He rushed up to Hawkeye, practically screaming. "Hawk! What are you still doing here?"
Hawkeye's eyes flew open as he leapt to his feet, startled at the sound of his friend's voice. "Beej? How did you get here?"
"On my bike, Einstein. You saw me leave camp. And you thought we'd never see each other again. What are you still hanging around here for?"
Hawkeye groaned at B.J.'s inquiry. "You're never going to believe this Beej. About 20 minutes ago I was three steps away from getting on my plane, I was that close, when this teenaged corporal comes up to me and says the C.O. of the 8063rd has ordered me to stay here. Can you believe that? Three steps from my ride home, and they tell me I have to stay."
B.J. frowned, puzzled at Hawkeye's story. "Well, I don't have any idea why they want you to stay," he said as he let his duffel bag fall to the floor, "but I know that I'm going to hang around to find out."
Hawkeye's eyes widened in surprise. "Are you crazy? Are you insane? The war's over, not even Klinger needs a section eight now. When does your flight leave?"
B.J. glanced at his watch. " 'bout five minutes."
"Well what are you waiting for? Get out of here, you idiot!" Hawkeye demanded as he slapped B.J. on the shoulder.
B.J. shook his head adamantly. "Don't think so Hawk. What if there're wounded? What if they're trying to track me down too, or trying to track someone else down who's already caught a flight out? Or what if something happened to Potter or Margaret or Charles or Father Mulcahy? No, I'm staying here. There'll be another flight, and I can wait a little while longer to see my family. Besides, I'm not sure how badly I want to leave here."
"You too, huh?" Hawkeye asked with a small grin that conveyed his thoughts.
"Yeah," replied B.J. with an equally communicative expression.
After a moment of silence, Hawkeye said softly, "Hey, thanks for the note Beej."
B.J. smiled at his best friend. "Well, what can I say? Both Trapper and I have terrible manners. I wasn't about to leave without leaving a note - again. You probably would never have spoken to me again."
Hawkeye was about to make a witty reply, but a familiar female voice sounded behind him, and he spun around to find Margaret rushing towards him, Charles in tow. As the former Chief Surgeon and Head Nurse of the 4077 flew into each other's arms, B.J. edged his way to Charles' side. Noticing a smug smile upon the Major's face, B.J. asked, "You wouldn't have anything to do with this, would you? You wouldn't happen to know if this has anything to do with Hawkeye being ordered not to board his flight, would you?"
Winchester silently continued to smile, and B.J.'s suspicions increased. "Charles?"
"Well, let's just say that I chanced to meet Major Houlihan at the 8063rd, she treated me to a cup of coffee and we talked, and by the time we were done talking I had consented to aiding her in seeing Pierce one more time before he left Korea," Winchester replied, still grinning.
"Well you little matchmaker you!" B.J. teased as he placed a hand upon Winchester's shoulder. "I'm sure that the young couple will be forever in your debt."
Charles laughed his characteristic chuckle. "Indeed they will."
Hawkeye and Margaret were too busy with each other to pay notice to the hushed conversation taking place between their two friends a few feet away. "I never thought I'd see you again Margaret," Hawkeye whispered. "I thought I'd lost you forever."
"Me too," she smiled.
"This, uh... this wouldn't have anything to do with me being ordered not to leave, would it? From the way you and Charles came rushing up, I'm guessing our meeting isn't simply coincidental."
"This has everything to do with you being asked to stay," Margaret confirmed. "I met Charles at the 8063rd and he suggested that we call here and try to have you detained. It worked, fortunately."