21 November 1959; Paul Revere Park; Boston, Massachusetts
"So what ended up happening?" Isabelle Winchester glanced at the woman sitting on the park bench beside her, curious to hear the answer.
"As it turned out, Trapper called us the next day, before Hawkeye could get a chance to call him. I'd given Louise McIntyre our phone number at the same time I got theirs. I think it really pleased Hawkeye that Trapper was the one to make contact again." Margaret Pierce answered easily. It was a Saturday afternoon and, lacking anything more compelling to do, she'd brought the twins down to Boston to visit little Beth Winchester. Over the past few years, she and Isabelle had gotten to be quite good friends, and Margaret welcomed the chance to catch up with her as well. Both women had waited until their late thirties to marry and have children. This was something of a rarity in New England in the fifties and it was this link as well as Margaret's past connection with Charles that helped them to form a bond despite the hurdle of living in different states.
"They did work things out then?"
"I think they did, yes. And for my husband's sake, I'm very glad. Oh, maybe they'll never be as close as they once were but I think they'll learn to deal with the differences. I admit, for a while I thought Hawk might not be able to get past his hang-ups…"
"Yes, I thought things seemed a little tense when Charles and I went for drinks with you all that day." Isabelle continued the conversation while keeping a watchful eye on her daughter who was playing in the sandbox with the Pierce twins. It was a balmy day for late November, and since the kids were turning the house upside-down, the two women had bundled them up and brought them to the park to play.
"They were too. You have to remember, they hadn't seen each other in eight years, and even for two close friends, that's a long time. It's like, well, do you remember the first time you and I met? I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time and Charles had me visiting Boston?"
"Yes, of course. When he and BJ Hunnicutt were trying to set you and Hawkeye up."
"Right. But remember how uneasy Hawkeye and I were around each other for a while before things got sorted out and back to the way they're supposed to be?"
Isabelle cast an amused look at her. "The way they're supposed to be, with you and Hawkeye together?"
Margaret smiled sheepishly. "Okay, so it sounds a little funny. But essentially yes; Hawkeye and I needed a bit of time to remember that we were in love with each other, and Trapper and Hawkeye needed a little bit of time to remember their friendship. Or at least that's the most sense I can make out of it."
"Sounds like as good an assessment as any. You might be amused…" Breaking off in the middle of a sentence, she had to hurry over to rescue Beth who was happily toddling off into the grass surrounding the play area. Plopping her back in the sand with B-Jane and Charlie, Isabelle returned to the bench and picked up where she had left off. "…to know that Charles considers Hawkeye's friendship with McIntyre to be, and I quote, 'a clear indication that Pierce is still the puerile moron he was back when I first joined the 4077'."
Margaret laughed out loud, knowing better by now than to take any of Charles' virulent comments to heart. "Charles never fails! I take it then, that he doesn't approve of Trapper?"
"That's putting it mildly. I have to admit that Louise McIntyre didn't overly impress me, but McIntyre himself didn't seem quite so bad. Of course, I've hardly had a chance to talk with him much so I have little more than Charles' opinion, and yours too, to go on."
"Well, I'm sure Charles will come around. He couldn't stand Hawkeye, or BJ either for that matter, when they first met, but eventually there was a good deal of mutual respect as well as friendship, however unspoken, built up. Once he gets used to Trapper things will work themselves out."
Isabelle only smiled her agreement, privately having doubts about Margaret's optimistic view. She knew her husband and had a hard time believing that working in the same hospital could ever prompt the same developments between people that sharing quarters in a war zone had done. And to her way of thinking, McIntyre was hardly a Pierce or a Hunnicutt, to give Charles any opportunity to show his less abrasive side. She would be very surprised if she and Charles ever socialized with the McIntyres, but wasn't going to rain on her friend's parade right at the moment. Changing the subject, she asked, "Did BJ ever meet McIntyre?"
If the question startled Margaret, she didn't show it, answering without missing a beat. "No. BJ came right after Trapper left. It will be interesting to have the two of them meet, Hawkeye's former best friend and his current. It's our turn next to go out to Mill Valley, so BJ and Peg won't be here again for over a year. Plenty of time to get things in order." She stopped, not sure how much of her husband's uncertainty on the issue she wanted to reveal.
Sensing her friend's reticence, Isabelle stood. "The wind feels like it's picking up. We should probably get the kids inside."
"You know, I think you're right." Margaret also stood, glad to leave the subject to be worried about another day. The two gathered up their respective children and returned to the comfort of the Winchesters' lavish apartment. 8 December 1959; Bob's Bar; Portland, Maine
"He had a heart attack!?"
"That's what it looked like! Scared the hell out of all of us. All we'd wanted to do was teach Colonel Daniel Webster Tucker a little lesson and actually deserve the court martial he was threatening us with, not kill the guy!"
"So what happened? Was he dead?"
"I'm getting there, hold your horses." Hawkeye reproved the other man, making him wait. "So there he was, soaking wet, gasping on the floor like a dying fish, Potter's face was so red I was afraid his head was going to explode, Margaret, BJ, Charles, and I are all horrified, and then Colonel Tucker whispers my name sounding like it's his dying breath. So I get down on the floor by him to hear, he pulls my ear closer and says in this amazingly strong voice, 'April Fools!'"
"April Fools! It was a set-up!?" Trapper exclaimed so loudly that the bar's other patrons turned their heads to look.
"All a set-up from the very beginning!" confirmed Hawkeye. "Colonel Potter had set the whole thing up with him months before, just to get all of us. And get us all, he did."
"I'll say he did! I just wish I'd been there to see it!"
"Oh, no you don't. If you'd been there, you'd have been right there with the rest of us, dumbfounded look on your face and all."
"Well, maybe so." Trapper yielded the point. "But hey, let me tell you a story. Do you remember that prank I worked out back when we were in residency?"
"Which one?" Hawkeye flashed him a sarcastic grin.
"You know, the one with the skull, the candle…"
"The jar of Vaseline and three plastic gloves." Hawkeye finished for him. "That one I'll never forget!" As they were talking, the bartender came over and replaced their depleted drinks with fresh ones. "So, what should we drink to this time?"
Trapper paused a moment, seemingly slipping into a thoughtful mood. Then he smiled and met Hawkeye's eyes, lifting his martini in a toast. "To friends."
The glasses clinked as Hawkeye echoed the words. "To friends."
As quickly as the moment came, it passed. Trapper set down his glass. "So anyway, I figured out that it works much better if you only use two plastic gloves…."