"I promise you that it will be hard," he responded quietly. "But I also promise you that if you and your wife truly have a solid, loving relationship, that everything will turn out okay. When I got back, Peg-that's my wife- and my daughter Erin were practically strangers. Erin didn't even know who I was. I went to Korea when she was less than a year old. She probably only saw me as a tall man that mommy knew. Your daughter may be old enough that she remembers you, even if only a little. But it will end up all right in the end." BJ felt Henry's torn emotions; half joy at being home, half grief at the thought of the troubles he knew were coming. He knew that Henry wasn't sure that BJ was right. He decided to change the subject.
"Back to the Hawkeye and Margaret thing..." he said. Henry perked up with interest at that. "After my first year there (I arrived not long after you left) the tricks that had been Hawkeye's, and Trapper's and to a point, mine, idea of a joke gradually just became a method of keeping ourselves and everyone else sane."
"Are you telling me that you became Hawkeye's cohort after Trapper left? When did he leave, anyway?"
"Oh yes," BJ grinned. "And I have to admit, we pulled some great gags together! I arrived the same day that Trapper left, which, as I understand, was just after you left. I'm not sure how long, but it was within a matter of days. But anyway, what had been Hawkeye's pointless tricks became a game. Margaret, she really mellowed over time. She lost the whole 'rules-and-regulations' persona and became more easygoing. I think at this point, she and Hawk had already become friends. He comforted her after her divorce, and they had quite an evening together in an abandoned hut." Here, BJ had a roguish twinkle in his eye. "Margaret started playing the revenge game with Hawk's jokes. Pretty soon, it was Hawk and me against Margaret and whoever she could find to help. It was the other war we were involved in. The prank war. Margaret pulled some pretty clever things of her own."
"Margaret Houlihan, playing tricks. I can't see it. I just can't see it," Henry said incredulously.
"UH-huh. The 'top of the list' prank was when she walked into the shower one day and took our clothes. Hawk and I had to make a mad dash for the 'Swamp.' As if that wasn't enough, we got there to discover Margaret and the rest of the nurses waiting for us inside! But we got her back good for that one." He grinned. Henry laughed.
"What did you do?" he asked in anticipation.
"We stole her tent."
"Uh-huh. We took the tent and left everything inside exactly as it was. Margaret was horrified to see that her quarters had no walls." BJ and Henry both burst out laughing.
"And even with all that, they still fell in love?" Henry queried.
"If only you had seen that goodbye kiss!" BJ said. "It was unbelievable. On the last day, the two of them, Col. Potter, Major Winchester, myself, and the enlisted men who were tearing down the camp were the only ones left. The five of us were saying our goodbyes. Hawk and Margaret said theirs last. They stood there for a second not saying anything. Then without a word, they just flew to each other and kissed for what seemed like hours."
"I remember the first time they kissed. It was all Hawkeye's doing, really. It was around Christmas, the first one for the 4077th, and Margaret and Frank were walking together. Hawkeye walked up to them, dipped Margaret back, and kissed her soundly. She seemed to be enjoying it. Then when they stopped, Hawkeye told Frank it was a Christmas present. Margaret watched him walk away with a silly smile on her face. And that was when they hated each other! I can't imagine what they're like when they're in love!" Henry laughed.
"It still came as something of a surprise to me," BJ admitted, " But I was glad that they told me, at least. They were planning to keep it a secret, but Hawkeye is my best friend. He couldn't resist telling me."
"When are they planning to spill the secret?"
"Keep quiet about this-I probably shouldn't tell you, but they're getting married next month. There's already a five-year reunion plan in the makings, I think they'll announce it then, probably by presenting us with a couple of kids." BJ looked steadily at Henry. "I guess that we'll have to add 'Henry Blake and family' to the list, eh Colonel?"
"Thanks, Hunnicutt. I needed that talk."
"Any time. And please, call me BJ."
"Only if you'll call me Henry. Everyone except Radar always did anyway."
As they walked out in the yard, Henry saw his wife standing a little apart from the others. he studied her. Lorraine had looked ten years older when he saw her in the house that day. But now, within a period of mere minutes, she looked as if a heavy weight had lifted off her shoulders. She stood straighter, and her eyes sparkled and danced. Just seeing her again made Henry realize just how much he loved her. True, he had made a jest about their marriage one day to Hawkeye, but he hadn't really meant it. He thought back to that day.
*"You know what we're worth without love? Eighty-nine cents. Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely!" Hawkeye said in anger.
"Oh great," Henry had replied. "You mean my marriage is only worth a dollar seventy-eight?"*
Henry wished that he hadn't joked about that. He knew that he loved Lorraine. Had always loved Lorraine. And he was pretty sure that she loved him, too. But that moment, she turned and saw him. She smiled, and Henry saw that there was love in her eyes, directed at him. He knew it all along. He knew that she loved him. She came to him, and he wrapped his arms around her again.
"I love you, Lorraine," he whispered into her ear. She looked up at him, eyes shining.
"I love you too, Colonel Blake." He looked startled at her use of his title, but then realized she was teasing him. He laughed out loud, a hearty laugh of true happiness that none of his friends had heard and that Lorraine had nearly forgotten. Suddenly, Henry stopped laughing. He looked anxiously at his wife.
"Where's Molly? I haven't seen Molly. And Janie, and little Andrew. Where's my kids?"
"I sent the kids to stay with Molly's friend, Carol. Oh, Henry, you should see your son! He looks just like you." Lorraine said seriously. Henry just stared at her. God, she was still beautiful! He had missed her more that he realized in the year that he had been at the 4077th. Lorraine excused herself and went into the house. She emerged with a bottle of champagne and a tray of glasses. Henry helped her distribute the drink to everyone, and then Lorraine proposed a toast in her quiet voice. Smiling at her husband lovingly, she said, "A toast to love, old and new. That's what I found today. My husband, my old love, returned to me, and I discovered that I love him every bit as much as I did when our love was new." Henry felt tears in his eyes again. Was he ever going to stop crying?
"A toast to our dead host, for turning up alive!" Hawkeye piped up.
"A toast to the others in the clinic," Henry said sadly. "May they all find themselves returning to as happy a place as I have."
"A toast to peace,"Father Mulcahy put in. "May it last throughout time and beyond."
"Hear, hear!" they all called, and clinked their glasses together. Henry smiled out at all his old friends as they cheered for themselves, for their loved ones, and for him, their friend Henry, who they never thought they'd see again.
He was crying again.