Well-intentioned older brothers regardless, the old Chevy did stall twice on the way to Portland. By the time it arrived at the airport, a bickering couple was already standing outside the first gate watching anxiously for any sign of "a car old enough to collect Social Security," as Hawkeye had described it.
"Who did you say he was sending again?" Louise Burns asked her husband in a tone that implied Frank's old "war buddy" might have bungled the arrangements.
"He didn't say, exactly," Frank replied in a nervous tone that hadn't improved with age. "He just said there would be a lot of young people around and one of them would take the Pierces' old car and come for us."
"Hmph," said Louise definitively.
"Hey, I think that's it!" her husband exclaimed in relief. "See, I told you I had it all arranged."
"Hmph," Louise said again.
With an angry roar the old Chevy pulled up in front of the gate and the driver yelled through the open window, "Burns?"
"Yeah!" Frank replied. "Did Hawkeye send you?"
Maggie had been coached well on her role in this little intrigue and didn't let on that she and "Hawkeye" had any special relationship. "Sure did," she called, getting out of the car. "Come on and throw your bags in - we still have to meet the O'Reillys at the next gate and I can't turn the car off."
Maggie knew that she resembled her mother and was therefore not terribly surprised when the funny thin-faced older man stared dumbly at her. "What did you say your name was?" he stammered after a moment.
"I didn't," she replied cheerfully, "but it's Maggie - Margaret."
"Of course," he said, shaking her hand. He seemed a bit dazed, but snapped out of it quickly when Louise realized what was going on.
"You're her daughter, are you?" she asked. Louise had never been able to confirm that her husband had had an affair with Major Houlihan while in Korea, but she certainly had enough circumstantial evidence.
Maggie smiled noncommittally. "I'm Margaret Houlihan's daughter, yes. I didn't realize you'd met."
"We haven't," Louise replied somewhat sharply.
"It really is remarkable," Frank said, not quite smart enough to change the subject. "But wherever did you get that hair?"
"The Houlihans are Irish, you know," Maggie replied. "If that's everything - careful getting in, if you close the back door too hard the handle falls off."
They pulled away from the gate with Frank casting alarmed looks at the door beside him.
Radar - who had eventually gone back to being called Walter, but not by his friends from the 4077th - and Patty O'Reilly were waiting patiently outside their gate with their two children, a son and daughter aged roughly twenty-five and twenty-two. Radar, who like BJ had seen pictures of the Pierce children, recognized Maggie immediately and came rushing over to her car.
"You know, I bet Henry could fix that for you," he said, gesturing from his son to the now smoking engine.
"Ben's been trying for years," Maggie replied, "with very little success."
"I've heard stories about Pierce men and cars," Patty O'Reilly joked with a smile.
"They're all true," Maggie laughed.
"Pierce?" Frank asked as Radar and his son and daughter climbed into the backseat with him and Louise. "So Hawkeye has a son?"
"A few," Maggie replied, trying to hide her amusement. In the rearview mirror she caught Radar's eye and winked.
"Did someone actually marry him?" Frank continued.
Maggie had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "Indeed," she managed to reply with some composure.
"So, Maggie," Radar said, instinctively steering the subject away from Hawkeye and marriage, "your dad tells me you're in your last year at Harvard."
Maggie paled for a moment at this hint that Radar should know her father, but Frank seemed to have missed the slip. "Yes, I'm a third-year law student. I'll be taking the bar this time next year."
"You'll be running into Mike Hunnicutt, I bet," Radar continued. "You know he's starting his residency at Boston Mercy this fall."
"No, I didn't know that," Maggie replied, steering the car onto the highway. "I've actually only met him for a moment. But I think I did know that he and Dan were the same age."
"Your boyfriend?" Louise Burns asked with a faintly discernible note of hostility in her voice.
"No, my brother," Maggie replied cheerfully. "He's just starting his residency in Portland this year, actually."
"And Ben is a doctor, too," Radar said, carefully not hinting too much. "Maggie, where did you come from?"
"Dad says the milkman," she teased for the second time that day. For the first time, Frank Burns laughed heartily.
He was no longer laughing, however, when the car pulled up in front of the Pierce house and he was faced with a younger duplicate of Hawkeye Pierce. He was rather startled.
"Mags," Ben called as he came toward the car, "how'd it go?"
"Fabulous," she said enthusiastically. "It only stalled twice."
"No need for sarcasm," Ben replied, holding out his hand for the keys.
"Isn't he being awfully familiar?" Frank whispered to Radar as they pulled bags out of the trunk. Radar only smiled.
Then he smiled even wider. "Hawkeye!" he exclaimed.
The man himself was headed in their direction. He clapped his son on the back as he passed and came to embrace Radar. "How was the trip?" he asked.
"Fine, until we hit that death-trap you let Maggie drive around in," Patty replied. "Hi, Hawkeye."
"Patty," he said with a smile. They'd only met twice, but he was gallant as always. "Maggie," he said, turning his attention to his daughter, "why don't you get Henry and Ellen to help you take this stuff inside?"
"Giving orders, Pierce?" Frank asked snidely.
Hawkeye turned on his former nemesis with a joke gleaming in his eyes. "Hello, Frank," he said cheerfully. "Don't worry about Maggie, she's used to my orders. How was your flight?"
Slightly disturbed at the idea that Hawkeye should know Margaret's daughter well enough for her to be "used to him," Frank wasn't quite ready to respond.
His wife did it for him. "It was just fine, Dr. Pierce," she said, holding out her hand to be introduced to the rather dashing doctor.
It was then that BJ's son Mike, trying to be a helpful guest, fetched the mail at Margaret's request from the box at the end of the driveway. He flipped through the letters, sorting out which ones needed to go to people who were inside, and as he walked past Hawkeye he asked, "Hawkeye? There are letters for a Margaret A. and a Margaret J. Pierce. Which one is which?"
Hawkeye didn't glance at Frank, knowing this must tip him off. "Maggie is Margaret Alice," he answered evenly.
"Thanks," Mike replied, unaware of the havoc he had just caused within one of the newly arrived guests. Frank Burns was standing in the driveway with his mouth open like an oversized guppy.
To be continued...