"I can certainly understand that." Hawkeye nodded, his expression sorrowful. "And I can tell you that it definitely didn't get better after you left."
"I bet it didn't." Trapper replied, his expression serious. "How long were you there?"
"Three years." His friend replied, his expression suddenly turning worn and tired. "Three long and tiring years."
Trapper paused for a moment before asking the question that had been on his mind since he'd left Korea. "What was my replacement like? Was he an Army brat or a draftee like us?"
"He was a reluctant draftee like us." Hawkeye replied, perking up at the thought of his best friend. "His name is BJ Hunnicutt and he stayed until the end of the war."
"Was he a good surgeon?" Trapper pressed curiously, trying to get a mental picture of the man who'd become Hawkeye's bunkmate for the remainder of the war.
"Very good. He filled your shoes very nicely." Hawkeye told him honestly. "He was a good egg too. We hit it off immediately." Hawkeye fished his wallet out of his pocket and dug out the picture BJ had sent him recently. Laying it on the table in front of Trapper he said. "That's Beej and his wife, Peg and their daughter Erin. Erin was only a few months old when Beej got called up. Nothing upset him more than the fact that he missed the first two years of her life." Hawkeye chuckled slightly. "He even took a round out of me and the still once because he was so homesick."
Trapper's eyebrows shot up in surprise, then he asked. "He let you keep the still?"
Hawkeye laughed and replied. "Are you kidding, Beej drank just as much of that antifreeze as you did. It wasn't long before we had it back up and running after he destroyed it." He smiled broadly, a thoughtful look creeping over his face. "Yeah, Beej was alright."
"Do you see or hear much of him?" Trapper asked, a slight twinge of jealousy tugging at his heart.
"Yeah, we talk all the time." Hawkeye replied with a nod. "Actually he and his family are coming out from California to visit next week. They're coming for a couple of weeks. I still haven't met Peg, I dying to though. I've certainly heard a lot about her - and from her. Beej was always reading and re-reading her letters to me."
"Are they coming here?" Trapper asked curiously. "I mean are you living in Boston again? I would have thought that you'd have set up practice in Crabapple Cove the way you missed it while we were in Korea."
"Actually, I did." Hawkeye replied with a smile. "I'm just in Boston till tonight."
"I see, you came all the way into Boston to meet 'a friend'." Trapper's eyes twinkled roguishly. "So who's the 'friend' that warrants the long drive?"
Before Hawkeye could reply the waiter returned with the drinks that he and Margaret had ordered. "A scotch and water and one very dry martini complete with dusty olive." Turning to Trapper he asked. "Can I get you something, sir?"
"I'll have what he's having." Trapper replied, gesturing to the martini in front of Hawkeye.
"Another very dry martini coming up." The waiter acknowledged and headed back towards the bar.
"So tell me, Hawk." Trapper pressed eagerly. "Who's this 'friend'?"
His old buddy's grin turned mischievous as he replied. "Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester the third."
"Charles Winchester?" Trapper repeated in great surprise. "As in Chief of Thoracic Surgery Dr. Winchester?" At Hawkeye's nod he added. "How on earth do you know that pompous baffoon?"
Hawkeye chuckled at the accurateness of his friend's description. He couldn't deny that he'd had the same first, second, and even third impression of Charles when he'd first arrived in camp, but after having spent an eternity rooming with the man and having witnessed the various side of Charles' unique personality he had decided that the man wasn't as bad as he first seemed to be.
"Oh, Charles is alright." Hawkeye replied with a chuckle. "It's true that he's arrogant and conceited a lot of the times, and down right pigheaded other times, but believe it or not he does have a fun loving side that he shows very infrequently. You just have to catch him in the right mood - or when he's completely bombed."
"But how do you know? How do you even know him?" Trapper pressed curiously. "He doesn't strike me as the type of person you'd be friends with. Especially not to the degree that you'd come all the way from Crabapple Cove just to see him."
"Under normal circumstances you're right." Hawkeye readily admitted a smile filled with irony on his handsome face. "But during war times its amazing who you'll make friends with."
"War times?" His confused friend repeated, giving him a questioning look. "What are you talking about?"
Hawkeye chuckled slightly and explained. "Charles was assigned to the 4077th when Frank left or I guess I should say when Frank went A.W.O.L"
"Frank went A.W.O.L?" Trapper exclaimed in amazement. "When?"
"After Margaret got married." Hawkeye replied simply.
"'Hot Lips' Houlihan actually got married!" The other man exclaimed in profound surprise. "When? To whom? Not Frank I gather."
"No, to a Lieutenant-Colonel who was stationed in Tokyo." Hawkeye told him. "His name was Donald Penobscott."
"I don't believe it!" Trapper exclaimed, his eyes widening in surprise.
"It didn't last long." Hawkeye told him seriously. "Once she found out that he was cheating on her she divorced him."
"I don't believe it!" Trapper repeated, his eyes still wide with surprise.
Hawkeye then realized that his friend wasn't listening to him anymore. Instead he was completely focused on something behind him. He turned around to find out what had caused such a startled reaction from his friend. When he spotted Margaret walking across the back of the room he realized why Trapper looked so stunned.
"That's 'Hot Lips', isn't it?" His friend finally managed to ask.
"Yes, I believe it is." Hawkeye replied, cringing slightly at the familiar old nickname.
"This is incredible!" Trapper exclaimed. "First you, now her." He raised his hand above his head and started to wave frantically to get her attention at the same time calling. "Hey Beautiful!" Glancing at Hawkeye he said. "Let's invite her to join us. It'll be just like a mini reunion."
"Yes lets." Hawkeye agreed, his eyes twinkling mischievously as noticed Margaret spot Trapper.
"McIntyre?" She questioned as she reached the man. She gave her old nemesis a big hug, much to his surprise, and exclaimed. "I don't believe it! What are you doing here?"
"I came in for lunch and bumped into Hawkeye." Trapper replied, then gesturing to his friend he added. "You no doubt remember my bestest buddy in the whole world, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Pierce."
"Vaguely." She teased as she gave her fiancee a mischievous grin. Having caught the twinkle in his eye she quickly deduced that Trapper was about to become another victim of Hawkeye's ever ready sense of humor.
"Margaret, it's wonderful to see you again." He greeted her warmly as he rose and extended his hand to her. Then with a sly wink to Trapper he quickly pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Trapper chuckled with a mixture of amusement and surprise as Margaret wrapped her arms around his friend's neck and kissed him back. His eyes widened though when he caught sight of something glistening on Margaret's left hand.
Quickly he tapped his friend on the shoulder and lightly quipped. "Time to come up for air, Hawk." He was hoping to advert the blow up that he expected would ensue. But to his great surprise no explosion of wrath erupted. Instead the couple smiled warmly at each other, hugged briefly and then disentangled themselves from each other's arms.
"Would you like to join us, Margaret?" Hawkeye asked as he gestured
towards the chair that she had previously occupied. "There's even a drink sitting there waiting for you."
Margaret smiled at him amusedly and reclaimed her seat. Hawkeye sat down beside her.
After the three of them were settled again, Trapper gestured towards Margaret's ring. "So I see you're getting married."
Margaret smiled and unconsciously reached over to squeeze Hawkeye's hand. "That's right, I am."
Trapper frowned slightly with confusion at her gesture, but without commenting on it asked. "So when's the big day?"
Margaret looked at Hawkeye and said. "We haven't really decided on a date yet. We just got engaged last night."
"Margaret, who's your fiancee?" Trapper asked, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
Before Margaret could answer another voice greeted them warmly. "Margaret, Pierce! I see you found the place all right."
"No problem at all." Margaret assured him with a friendly smile.
"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting." The newcomer apologized. "But I had a few things that needed my immediate attention."
"No apology necessary, Charles." Margaret told him. "We were just getting caught up with Dr. McIntyre."
"Dr. McIntyre?" Charles repeated as he looked at the other man with surprise. "Ah, yes, the infamous Dr. McIntyre." Looking a Margaret he said. "This is the doctor that I was telling you about."
"The one that can't keep a Head nurse in his department." Margaret remarked with a knowing smile. "You're right, Charles. I could have handled him."
"I don't doubt it in the least." Charles gave her a knowing smile, but his expression turned questioning as he glanced back to Trapper. "You mentioned 'catching up' with him - how do you know each other?"