"Well I am, but that doesn't mean I can't have a little...recreation, in my off hours. C'mon Winchester! You can't tell me you've never even thought about a little lunch hour rendezvous with the body attached to those big green eyes?"
"No! I happen to value my marriage, not that it's any of your business. And frankly, I really don't care about the state of your marriage, but keep your salacious activities out of my hospital." Winchester glared at him as if he were a particularly abhorrent sample of army cuisine. "You, McIntyre are a truly loathsome character."
"That's me, rotten to the core! Did you want anything else, your eminence?" Trapper knew how to lay on the sarcasm.
"No, that will be all." Charles dismissed him and went back to his previous task, fuming inside. The nerve of the man to suggest that he, a Winchester, would ever even think of cheating on his wife! That, at least was one area where Pierce and Hunnicutt had the upper hand on this cretin.
10 October 1959; Boston Mercy Hospital; Boston, Massachusetts
Charles finished scrubbing and walked into the OR to observe the operation currently in progress. He was mildly surprised to find McIntyre doing the actual operation, with the scheduled doctor simply assisting. Both glanced up when he entered the room.
"Come to check up on your lackeys again, Winchester?" McIntyre asked.
"Just simple observing. Carry on." He watched for a few moments, realizing that the method being demonstrated was rather unorthodox. Very effective, but he'd only seen it done one place before, and that wasn't Boston. "Wherever did you learn that technique, McIntyre?"
Without looking up, Trapper replied, "I had the bad luck to spend several months doing meatball surgery at a M*A*S*H unit in Korea."
"Korea!" Charles exclaimed.
"Yeah, Korea. Not a nice place, but one of the best teachers I've ever had. Of course, I'm sure it wasn't quite like the cushy job your family bought for you in the states during the war. If you just take a step closer to the table there, I'll show you how this is done."
"No need, I've done it with that method several times before."
Now Trapper did look up. "You've done it before! I didn't think this was widely practiced here."
"It's not. I was at a M*A*S*H unit for over a year myself." Charles' tone was very casual, but inwardly he was pleased to have been able to one up McIntyre. He turned and left the room before anything else could be said.
Some hours later, Charles was walking down the hall when McIntyre caught up with him. "Hey Winchester!"
"Yes?" He kept walking as the other man joined him
"You were really in Korea during the war?"
"Unfortunately yes, I was."
"No kidding! Regular army or a reluctant invitee of Uncle Sam like myself?"
"A draftee, of course! You can't think I would willingly leave Boston to incarcerate myself in that foul sewer?" Charles was aghast at the thought.
"Hey, I knew you couldn't be all bad!" He slapped the other man on the back, ignoring the withering gaze he received. "Say, did you ever visit the 4077? That was my unit. Or maybe you met a doctor named Hawkeye Pierce?"
Charles stopped short as things clicked in to place. "The 4077? That's why your name sounded so familiar! You're that Trapper John maniac that Pierce used to talk about sometimes!"
"Pierce? You did meet Hawkeye?" Trapper was thrilled at the revelation.
"Meet him?! I shared a cramped, infested tent with him for over a year! It would seem that we were both at the same unit, just at different times."
"Hey! This is great! Who knew we were almost bunkies? You must have been my replacement."
"No, that would be a surgeon by the name of BJ Hunnicutt. I was the replacement for a Major Burns."
"Burns left? Man, I wish I'd been there to enjoy that!"
"I never met the man myself, but I gathered no one was sorry to see him go."
"Not even Hot Lips? Or had she finally transferred out like she was always threatening?"
"Hot Lips?" Not ever having used the nickname, it took Charles a moment to realize who he meant. "Oh, you're referring to Margaret. No, she was at the 4077th until the end of the war, but this was right after her marriage and she had ended things with Burns sometime before."
"So Hot Lips finally found a real man, did she? I pity the poor guy who has to put up with her." Trapper laughed at the thought. "Did her nickname finally wear off? I don't think I ever heard her called anything but Hot Lips or Major Houlihan."
Winchester paused for a moment, realizing that there was a lot McIntyre didn't know. Discovering that the man had been a fellow inmate of the 4077 removed at least a little of the antipathy he felt towards him, and Charles decided there was no harm in filling him in on a few basic events. However, there were definitely things McIntyre needed to be corrected on. "First of all, be careful what you say about her. She was, and still is, a very good friend. I don't think I heard the name Hot Lips more than once, and that was only to mislead a certain congressman's aide that was visiting the camp. She was always Margaret to all of us." He chuckled softly, imagining what the Pierces' reaction would be when Charles told them just whom he had working for him. "And I'd think twice before you pity her husband."
"Oh? Why, is he someone like Frank? Now the two of them were match made in hell!"
"Ah no, not quite." Although he hadn't been there to witness it, Charles had heard plenty of stories about Margaret in the early days of the war and knew things hadn't been the same when Trapper was there as they were later. Carefully he kept the smirk off his face at the thought of McIntyre's surprise when he found out just who 'Hot Lips'' husband was. "Margaret's first husband was a imbecilic jackass who cheated on her left and right and whom she divorced only a few months after their marriage. Her second husband...ah...well, that's a different story. You never did keep in touch with Pierce, did you?"
Trapper blinked at the change in subject, but then took it in stride. "Hawkeye? Nope, never did. Always meant to drop him a note sometime, but never seemed to get around to it. I really should have though. He was my best friend, you know that?"
"Is that right?" Charles hadn't quite expected that confession, knowing full well that BJ Hunnicutt was, and always would be, Pierce's closest friend. "Maybe you should think about contacting Pierce now, McIntyre."
"Now? Nah, I couldn't. It's been too long. Besides, I don't even know where he's living these days."
"Oh, he's still in that excuse for a town up in Maine. I see him from time to time."
"You do, huh? Don't take this the wrong way, but I wouldn't think you're the type Hawk'd be friends with. I can see you and Hot Lips, but not Hawkeye."
"Tact isn't your specialty, is it?" observed Charles, a little amused. "War does strange things to people, and although we certainly have never been "bosom buddies," I suppose I would consider Pierce a friend of sorts, yes. I haven't seen him since July though, when my family and I visited his."
"His family? Hawkeye's married? I never thought I'd live to see the day!"
"There was a time when I would have agreed with you, but not any longer. He and Margaret have been married for a little over four years with two children and, as far as I know, are very happy together."
"Well how about that!" Trapper chuckled. He hadn't thought much about his old friend in a long time, and was enjoying finding out what he's been up to since he'd last seen him in Korea. "Funny that he married someone with the same name as Hot Lips."
Charles had been watching McIntyre's reaction closely as he said the name of Hawkeye's wife. Clearly he wasn't getting the picture. "No, you don't understand. Pierce's wife is Margaret Houlihan. Of course she's Margaret Pierce now..." His voice trailed off at his companion's stunned expression.
Trapper was shocked into silence for a moment, but then began to laugh. "Okay Winchester, I admit it, you really had me going! The idea of Hawkeye and Hot Lips together! And married! You've got a sense of humor after all!"
"Indeed. And with children no less." Winchester added dryly. This only made McIntyre laugh harder. Obviously, this wasn't any use. "McIntyre, this has been fascinating, but I'm afraid I need to get some work done. You could do the same, if you felt so inclined." Leaving the other man gasping for breath, he walked off down the hall, pondering the strange conversation. One thing he was sure of, and that was that he needed to place a call to Maine.
10 October 1959; the Winchester home; Boston, Massachusetts & the Pierce home; Crabapple Cove, Maine
That evening while Isabelle was putting Beth to bed, Charles sat down with the phone. He dialed the number and waited for a moment as it rang.
"Pierce residence." An abrupt voice answered.
"Hello, Margaret? This is Charles."
"Charles! It's good to hear from you! I don't think I've talked to you since last summer. How are you? And Isabelle and little Beth?" Realizing who was on the phone, Margaret became much friendlier.
"We're all doing well. Beth has had some problems sleeping through the night lately, but it's nothing serious. And how are your two doing? My namesake still leaping tall buildings in a single bound?"
"Oh, little Charles is happily trying to live up to his name, driving Hawkeye and me crazy every chance he gets! And his sister's not much better. Two year old twins are a full time job!"
"You didn't quit your job, did you?"
"Oh no, I'm still working at the hospital. I think I'd very quickly go insane if I ever tried to be a housewife. Thankfully Hawkeye would never even think of asking me to do anything of the sort. Hawkeye's father, Daniel, volunteered to baby-sit them while we're both at work, so we don't have to leave them with a stranger. He's really been a godsend."
"I understand completely. I think my Beth is a bit better behaved than your two demons, but even so, there are times when Isabelle and I do need some time off. Luckily there is no shortage of adoring relatives ready to spend some time with their favorite little one."
Margaret chuckled. "And just think what they'll be like as teenagers!"
"Let's not, shall we? Anyway Margaret, there was something I wanted to discuss with you."
"You mean you didn't call just to hear my beautiful voice? I'm hurt!" She teased him.
"Very funny, Margaret. I think your husband may be having a detrimental influence on your sense of humor." Charles sighed. "Although this does concern him as well, perhaps even more than it does you."
"Yes. You see, a few weeks back I hired a new surgeon at Boston Mercy."
"Okay." Margaret waited expectantly.
"He's an excellent surgeon, but absolutely incapable of acting in a professional manner. Reminded me of Pierce, actually." This made his listener chuckle. "This afternoon I was observing as he performed an operation, and he used a technique that I had never seen outside of Korea. Naturally, I asked him where he had learned it, and imagine my surprise when he said that he had spent several months at a M*A*S*H unit."
"Really?! Who is it? Someone we know?"
"I had never met him before he walked into my office last month. However, I believe both you and Hawkeye have. Does the name John McIntyre ring a bell?"
"McIntyre!?! You're serious? You have Trapper John McIntyre working at Boston Mercy?!" Margaret reacted in surprise. "Hawkeye's going to flip when he hears this!"
"I thought the two of you might be interested."
"Of course! Hang on a minute, let me get Hawkeye over here." Margaret set down the phone and hurried over to the bottom of the stairs. "Hawkeye! Hawk! Come here, hurry!"
Hawkeye's head appeared at the top of the staircase. "Margaret, what on earth are you shouting about? Whatever it is, stop. I just got the kids to go to sleep, and I don't want them waking up."
She lowered her voice a bit, but continued urgently, "Hawkeye, get on the other phone. Charles just called, and you're going to want to hear this."
"Oh, Charles. Well, can't miss the opportunity to talk to him. That's certainly worth waking up the twins!"
"Oh shut up, you nincompoop! He has Captain McIntyre working at Boston Mercy!" she hissed in a stage whisper.
"McIntyre!! You mean Trapper?" His voice rose sharply in surprise.
"Yes! Now get on the phone in the bedroom, and for God's sake, keep your voice down. Do you want to wake the kids?" She scurried back over to the kitchen phone. "Are you still there, Charles?"
"I am, in spite of the delay. Do you two still fight over every little thing?"
"That wasn't fighting, Charles, just a lively exchange of ideas. I'd think someone as expert as you are on the subject would know the difference." Hawkeye had picked up the other receiver.
"Ah, Pierce, so good to hear your rapier wit once again. Sometimes I simply do not know how I make it through the day without a single one of your quips to sustain me." Charles' voice was absolutely deadpan.
"And it's a daily comfort to me knowing you'll never lose that pompous tone of yours. Now that we've got the greetings out of the way, would you care to explain just what my better half was raving about?"
"I thought it might interest you to learn that I have a Dr. John McIntyre working for me."
"And you're sure it's the same John McIntyre? It's a pretty common name after all."