"I don't think I'm the one who has to worry about being kicked out of the wedding party," Klinger joked quietly as Hawkeye properly introduced Trapper to Potter, Daniel, and Winchester.
"So Trap, did you bring a suit?" Hawkeye asked, studying his friend's casual dress.
"Of course I did. It's downstairs."
"Great. I can always use another usher."
"Are you serious?" For Trapper, this was too good to be true. Showing up at his best friend's wedding at the last minute, and he still had a chance to be in the wedding party.
"Of course I am," Hawkeye assured him. "Margaret had to cut back on her bridesmaids because I didn't have enough ushers to go around. I'm sure there's a spare girl we can pair you with, isn't there Dad?"
"Yeah, I think so," Daniel agreed with a nod of his head.
"Go get your suit then come back up here and put it on," Hawkeye instructed Trapper.
Trapper disappeared out the door, then Potter said, "If you'll excuse me, I better go see how the bride's doing."
Potter knocked softly on the door of small room just down the hall from the room he had left moments earlier. "Is it alright if I came in and see the bride?" he asked through the heavy oak door.
"Hang on a minute Sherm," came Mildred Potter's melodic voice. "No Peg, pin it right there," Potter heard his wife tell B.J.'s wife. "There, that's it. Soon Lee, hand me that bow. There. Perfect. Alright Margaret, I think that's about it. Stand still a minute. There you go."
"Alright Colonel, you can come in now," Margaret called, and Potter promptly swung the door open and stepped into the room. Seeing Margaret dressed in her flowing dress, he was breathless.
"My God Margaret, you look beautiful," he declared softly.
"You like it?" she asked as she turned around to model the dress.
"Do I like it? You're the most beautiful bride I've ever seen. Next to you, Soon Lee," he added, smiling at the young Korean woman who was Klinger's wife.
Soon Lee smiled shyly. "Thank you Colonel, but Margaret's much prettier than I was. After all, Max couldn't have a dress this elegant just so he could get out of the army with it."
"Well anyway, you're beautiful Margaret," Potter repeated.
"Beautiful enough for you to walk down the aisle?" she asked. When Margaret had announced her wedding plans to her father, he had outright refused to come to the states all the way from Europe just for his daughter's wedding to an insubordinate, undisciplined doctor like Hawkeye. So the job of giving away the bride had been bestowed upon Potter.
"I've given a lot of brides away," the former C.O. of the 4077th said slowly, "but you are by far the most beautiful of any of them. I just wish your father had agreed to do it. He should be standing here, not me."
"It's okay Colonel," Margaret said with a sad smile and a tear in her eye. "He hasn't been half the father to me that you have. I know he loves me, but it seems like unless I do exactly as he asks he isn't happy with me. You're not like that. I know it seems strange, but when he told me he wouldn't give me away to the likes of Hawkeye, I was sad for a spit second, but then I was overcome with happiness. His refusal gave me the chance to offer you the job, and of the two of you I would rather it be you who walked me down the aisle."
Potter tried to smile as he endeavored to dam up the tears he felt building in his eyes. "You don't know how much that means to me Margaret. It's the greatest honor any man could receive. But your father should still be here, even if he wasn't here to give you away."
"I wish he was here too Colonel."
The five of them stood in silence for a moment, then Potter announced, "Hawkeye's added another usher at the last minute. Do we have an extra bridesmaid?"
Margaret frowned as she thought. "So far I've got my sister, my two closest friends from nursing school, and Soon Lee. That covers B.J., Charles, Radar, and Klinger. Let's see, who else is there? Peg! How about you?"
Peg Hunnicutt looked at Margaret in shock. "You mean you want me to be bridesmaid? Are you serious?"
"Of course I am," Margaret laughed. She had met Peg for the first time about a month earlier, and the two women had taken an instant liking to each other. Over the past few weeks a strong friendship had begun to blossom between them. "We've got that extra dress that the bridal shop sent us by mistake, and it's just your size. There's no one else here I would rather have."
"Oh, Margaret. I'd love it," Peg said excitedly as she carefully gave her friend a hug, making sure she didn't damage the dress.
"Then go get ready," Margaret instructed. "This thing will start any minute."
Hawkeye and his half of the wedding party milled nervously about in the backyard of Hawkeye's house, waiting for the bridesmaids to join them and for Margaret and Potter to come out of the house. Then Daniel came rushing up to them. "The girls are coming out right now. Margaret and Sherm are right behind them. You two sure look ridiculous," he commented with a disapproving frown as he stared at Hawkeye and Trapper. The groom was still wearing his old blue Hawaiian shirt under his tux, and Trapper sported his Korean-made pinstriped suit, with the stripes running horizontally.
"Hey, I wasn't planning on being in the wedding party, I thought I was just going to be an observer," Trapper declared defensively.
"And my shirt pays homage to the place that brought Margaret and I together," Hawkeye added. "She's got a sense of humor. Trust me, she'll like it."
"We'll see," B.J. murmured skeptically, and the amused smiles on the faces of Klinger, Radar, Charles Potter and Daniel showed their agreement.
Just then the bridesmaids and the maid of honor walked up to the rest of the wedding party. "Peg?" B.J. asked in surprise as he saw his wife along with the other women, wearing a bridesmaids gown.
"I'm the spare bridesmaid to go along with the spare usher," she told her husband. "So who do I go down the aisle with?"
"Peg, meet Trapper McIntyre, who B.J. replaced in Korea," Hawkeye announced. "He'll be your escort for the afternoon."
"Pleased to meet you Trapper," Peg said as he shook the tall, curly haired man's hand.
"Same here Peg."
Then Father Mulcahy appeared out of nowhere. "Pair up everyone, Margaret and the Colonel are ready. Come on Hawkeye. Up here."
"See you all at the other end," Hawkeye told the members of his wedding party as he followed the priest, who's hearing had miraculously improved to near it's original strength in the past couple of months. Father Mulcahy took his place behind the pulpit, and the ushers and bridesmaids followed the best man and maid of honor down the aisle. First came B.J. with Margaret's best friend from nursing school, then Charles with Margaret's other friend from her days at nurse's training, then Radar and Margaret's sister, Klinger and Soon Lee, and finally Trapper and Peg. Once they were all lined up beside the pulpit - the guys beside Hawkeye and the girls on the opposite side of Mulcahy - an elderly lady from the nearby church began to play the Wedding March and Margaret started down the aisle in all her beautiful glory, led by Colonel Potter. Potter handed off his surrogate daughter to his surrogate son, and took his front row seat beside Daniel.
"You look ridiculous in that shirt," Margaret whispered to Hawkeye as they took their place before the alter.
"You look so amazing, no one will be paying any attention to me," Hawkeye whispered back.
Then Margaret noticed Trapper standing just to the right of Klinger. "Hawkeye, is that Trap-"
"Later. We've got more important things to do now," Hawkeye hushed his wife as he noticed the impatient, yet amused grin on Mulcahy's face.
"Are you two done talking?" Mulcahy asked quietly, and the couple nodded in reply. "Then I guess I can begin uninterrupted." Then, in a louder voice, he began, "We are gathered here today to witness the holy union between this two people, Benjamin Pierce and Margaret Houlihan. Margaret, do you take this man Benjamin to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and cherish, to have and to hold, in sickness and health, till death do you part?"
"I do, despite all his crazy quirks."
"And do you Benjamin take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?"
"I do - as long as you never call me Benjamin again"
Mulcahy shot his friend a reprimanding smile, and Hawkeye knew exactly what the priest would say if it had been appropriate - 'This is hardly the time for jocularity, Hawkeye.' But Father Mulcahy remained silent and promptly continued with the ceremony. "If anyone sees any reason why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace." The small crowd of people was deadly silent, though both Hawkeye and Margaret were expecting to her Frank's whiny voice shout out the bride's name - fortunately Margaret's former lust was not present to do any such thing. 'The rings please," Mulcahy asked of B.J. and Margaret, satisfied that everyone was content with Hawkeye and Margaret's union. B.J. reached into his pocket for the ring, then a worried expression came over his face. As he checked more and more of his various pockets for the small object, the confusion on his face quickly turned to panic. The entire crowd had been infected with B.J.'s frantic worry before the best man pulled the ring out of the breast pocket of his jacket, a teasing grin upon his face. "Gotcha Hawk," he whispered as he handed the groom the ring with a broad grin.
"Moron," Hawkeye whispered back as he slipped the diamond ring on Margaret's finger, and as Margaret placed a broad gold band on Hawkeye's hand.