Chapter 4 - A Toast to the Bride and Groom

The Pierce's living room was quickly cleared to make room for dancing. As his contribution to the wedding, Charles had insisted on hiring a live quartet for the music. "It's the least I can do...it's what friends do...Pierce please allow me to be a friend."

Hawkeye found that he couldn't argue with that logic.

The newly married couple moved to the dance floor for the first song as their guests looked on. Hawkeye held Margaret close. She, in turn, melted into his arms.

"Hawkeye," she smiled through her tears, "I'm finally home!"

He kissed her forehead and said, "Welcome home, Mrs. Pierce."

The second song was "Sentimental Journey." The 4077 veterans in the room smiled, knowing that it was their erstwhile CO who had been the one to request it.

"May I have the pleasure of this dance, Mrs. Pierce?" asked Sherman. "I don't think Mildred will mind."

Margaret's heart skipped a beat as she heard herself addressed by her new title.

"I'd love to dance with you Colonel..."

"Ah-ah-ah," he stopped her. "It's simply Sherman to you, Margaret. We're not in the army any more."

The crowd began to thin a bit, leaving a more intimate, subdued group. Margaret sat beside Hawkeye resting her head on his shoulder. After all the months of planning and anticipation the day had come and she was now Margaret Pierce. Patty O'Reilly and Rivka Freedman had both excused themselves early, still being in the throes of early pregnancy exhaustion.

Aaron and Erin had been put to bed after literally collapsing in a corner. The two children had worn themselves out entertaining the guests with their antics.

Sidney laughed and asked BJ when they should draw up the betrothal papers. "They make a cute couple."

BJ smiled and said he thought they could wait a couple of years. He turned to Peg who looked like she was ready to fall off of her chair.

"Honey, don't you think you should go put yourself to bed? Your eyes are at half mast."

"It takes too much effort to get up," she said softly. "Besides I've waited so long to meet your friends I hate to miss anything."

BJ laughed and stood, "Can I get everyone's attention? I'd like to propose a toast to the new Dr. and Mrs. Hawkeye Pierce."

Charles had procured two bottles of one hundred-year-old brandy for the occasion. He decided that now that their palettes had been cleared of that kerosene from Pierce's still in Korea it was time for something with class.

"To my best friend who helped me survive the worst time of my life. I enjoyed terrorizing the 4077th with you. We had our quarrels..." said BJ.

"Yeah," said Hawkeye rubbing his eye, "I remember the time you slugged me."

"We shared our triumphs, too. May you and Margaret enjoy many happy years together. May life bring you joy and happiness," continued BJ.

Hawkeye stood and the two friends embraced as they had already many times since Thursday.

Lorraine was next; "Margaret, you and I shared our teenage years as army brats. That's quite a legacy! I feel privileged to be your maid of honor. You deserve to be happy. And, Hawkeye, if you don't treat her right, you'll be wearing my foot print you know where!"

Charles stood next and said, "Pierce...you were often an irritation and one of the most obnoxious persons I ever had the displeasure of being acquainted with. You are also one of the most...and it pains me to say it...highly skilled surgeons I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Since we've been home I've come to know you as...a friend. The war does make for strange bedfellows indeed."

"Why thank you, Charles," said Hawkeye. "You damn me with faint praise."

"Margaret, you are a dear person. I know we haven't always gotten along. But I wish you and your new husband every happiness. May the two of you have many years of joy together," said Charles.

"Well, I'm next," said Sherman. "Dr. and Mrs. Pierce, you always made life interesting at the four oh double seven. I can't think of two people I'd rather see have happiness in their lives. May your saddle bags continually be filled with joy."

Finally everyone had toasted the bride and groom. Hawkeye stood to say a few words.

"I want to thank all of you for coming and making this the happiest day of my life. Who would have ever thought I'd be marrying 'Hot Lips' Houlihan?" At this Margaret hit his arm.

"Ouch! You saw that, already she's becoming violent!

"Seriously folks. Who would have thought that any good would have come from that blood bath we were forced to be a part of? I am grateful to all of you for the parts you've played in my life. I raise my glass to all of you. We've been together through some of the darkest of days of our lives and I am looking forward to sharing the bright days with you. Now as the evening is drawing to a close...bottoms up everyone!"

Hawkeye laughed and scooped Margaret up in his arms, "Goodnight everyone! I don't know about you, but I'm...no we're heading for bed!" He carried her up the stairs, nibbling her neck as the remaining guests laughed. Margaret's screams of laughter could be heard until the bedroom door closed behind them.

"Are you going to carry me up the stairs, too, BJ?" asked Peg coyly.

BJ looked at his very rounded wife and smiled, "No my love, but I'll hold your hand." He laughed and hugged her. "I love you!" he whispered in her ear.

Rose turned to Daniel and said, "Look at this mess! And another thing, if your son doesn't treat my daughter right I'll..."

Before she could get another word out Daniel leaned over and kissed her square on the mouth. "Welcome to the Pierce family, Mrs. Houlihan. And if you'll excuse me I'm going to retire for the evening. The mess can wait until morning! Goodnight!"

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