"Dr. McIntyre was a former inmate of the good old 4077th." Margaret replied, giving her old nemesis a sly look as she added. "He was Hawk's partner-in-crime before BJ arrived. In fact BJ was his replacement."
"In more ways than one, I reckon." Charles remarked with a knowing smile. Then looking back at his colleague he added. "So you're the infamous Trapper John McIntyre that I've heard so much about. I never realized that I was working along side a legend. Now I definitely understand why there is such a turn over of nurses in the pediatrics department." He gave the other man a sly look. Trapper on the other hand was speechless.
Ever since Charles had joined them he had been watching the conversation with growing confusion. He'd thought that Margaret's presence at the restaurant had been an amazing coincidence, and even Hawkeye had appeared to think so. But Charles didn't seem to think that it was anything out of the ordinary. In fact he seemed to have expected Margaret to be with Hawkeye. Looking from one person to the other he finally managed to ask. "Would you all mind telling me what the hell is going on here?" The three of them looked at Trapper with great surprise on their faces.
"What are you talking about?" Hawkeye asked in surprise.
"What am I talking about?" Trapper repeated excitedly. "I'm talking about how you seemed to be so surprised minutes ago to see Margaret and yet Winchester here seems to have expected the two of you to be together. How when I asked Margaret about her engagement she reached over and squeezed your hand and looked to you when she said that 'we' hadn't set a date yet. Now if there isn't something odd going on here than I'll shave my head bald and paint a big dunce sign on it!"
Hawkeye couldn't help but laugh at his friend's unexpected conclusion. "Now that I'd like to see."
Trapper gave his friend an exasperated look but before he could comment Charles piped up rebukingly. "Don't tell me you're still playing those childish mind games, Pierce. I see that Margaret has her work cut out for her trying to mature you."
"What is he talking about?" Trapper exclaimed with increased exasperation.
Hawkeye and Margaret exchanged amused smiles before they let Trapper in on their little surprise. Putting his arm around Margaret's shoulders he looked at Trapper and said. "You were right, Trap, Charles was expecting both Margaret and I to meet him today. We had made plans with him last night."
"We?" Trapper questioned. "As in you and Margaret?" He looked at the pair for a moment before he ventured to ask the question that was on the tip of his tongue. "Hawkeye, are you and Margaret..." He paused slightly as he tried to digest the possible response to his question. "...engaged?"
Hawkeye couldn't help the proud smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth. Looking lovingly at Margaret for a minute he replied simply. "As a matter of fact we are." He held out Margaret's left hand as proof.
As Trapper's jaw dropped to his shoes Charles took Margaret's hand so that he could inspect he ring more closely. He gave Hawkeye a nod of approval before allowing the irresistible dig he'd thought of escape his lips. "You must have searched pawn shops all over town to find a ring like this in your price range, Pierce. Or did you sell that forged Medical diploma of yours back to the Acme School of Medicine and Ballet?"
"No, actually you paid for it Charles." Hawkeye commented slyly.
"What do you mean?" Charles asked suspiciously.
"I signed your name to the bill and told them to send it to me...at your address." Hawkeye commented slyly. "You should be receiving it in a day or two."
"You didn't!" Charles exclaimed in alarm. "You wouldn't." Hawkeye merely continued to smile. "You did!" Charles finally concluded and sighed in resignation.
Margaret looked at Hawkeye reproachfully. "You didn't, did you?"
"Why not?" Hawkeye shrugged nonchalantly. "Why should we start our married life in debt when Daddy Winchester here is extremely wealthy. Call it an early wedding present."
"We can't do that, Hawkeye." Margaret to him, her tone a mixture of anger and sadness. She started taking the ring off her finger, a look of disappointment in her eyes. She was sorry that she couldn't keep the ring, but she was even more disappointed that Hawkeye would pull such a stupid stunt. Hawkeye closed his hand around hers, stopping her from removing the ring.
"What are you doing?" He asked anxiously.
"You have to return it, Hawkeye." She told him seriously. "It's not yours to give."
"No, but it does appear to be mine, Margaret." Charles piped up, shooting a wicked look at Hawkeye as he added. "So, why don't you just keep it and marry me instead."
Margaret smiled slightly at Charles and replied. "As tempting an offer as that is, Charles, I'd rather return the ring and have a smaller one from Hawkeye than the largest, most expensive stones in the world from anyone else." She looked at Hawkeye rebukingly and added. "Even if he is a bonehead at times."
Hawkeye felt his heart melt at her words and reached up to touch her face lovingly. Trapper's eyes widened as he watched the pair, unable to believe that these were the same people he'd known three years before.
"Margaret, keep the ring, it's your. I did pay for it." He assured her. "I was only joking when I said that I charged it to Charles." She looked at him slightly distrustful. "Margaret, I swear it. I have the receipt right here if you need proof."
She shook her head, but did ask. "Where did you get the money to pay for it?"
Hawkeye looked a little sheepish as he replied. "I've been saving for a while."
"Saving?" She repeated in surprise.
He nodded his head and continued. "I set aside some of my poker winnings and bits and pieces that I won on Radar's cockroach races."
"You set aside money for a ring in particular, or just for whatever?" She pressed curiously.
Hawkeye reached out and stroked her face again before replying. "I've been saving for an engagement ring in the hopes that one day you would give me reason to need it."
Margaret felt her heart being to melt at his earnest confession. Pushing the ring back on her finger she threw her arms around his neck. "Oh, darling that is the sweetest thing I have ever heard. She planted a kiss on his cheek before pulling back to look into his eyes. "I love you." She whispered softly.
"I love you too." He told her, leaning forward to give her a kiss. When they pulled back Hawkeye suddenly received a hard slap on the back of his head. When he looked confusedly at his assailant the aggressor exclaimed.
"You creep! Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because it was more fun stringing you along." Hawkeye replied with a mischievous glint in his eye. As he rubbed the back of his head he added. "Though the other way would have been less painful."
"You certainly have violent friends, Pierce." Charles commented with a sly smile. "I seem to remember Hunnicutt clobbering you once too."
"So come on, tell me." Trapper pressed eagerly, ignoring Charles' needling of his friend. "How did Korea's worst enemies besides it's North and South end up engaged?"
"It's a long story." Hawkeye replied with a sly look at Margaret.
"Well I've got time." Trapper insisted looking at the pair excitedly.
"Well then, join us and I'll think about telling you the story." Hawkeye invited as he turned to direct his friend into the dinning room.
"You bet I will." Trapper told him eagerly. "I wouldn't miss this for all the land mines in Korea."
"You stole his clothes while he was in the shower!?" Trapper exclaimed, looking at Margaret with a look of pure astonishment on his face.
"That's right!" Margaret nodded, a mischievous smile on her pretty face. "But the best part was when he and BJ came racing into the 'Swamp' to find the entire nursing staff waiting for them."
"I can't believe you did that!" Trapper remarked, his expression showing his deep surprise. "I honestly didn't think you had it in you to be so sneaky and underhanded. I guess I underestimated you."
"Well don't give her too much credit." Hawkeye remarked pretending to be annoyed as he looked over at Charles and added. "She had help."
"You?" Trapper commented with a shocked look at Charles. He was even more amazed to find out about Charles' ability to pull a joke than he was about Margaret's. Even though he didn't know Winchester personally he knew him by reputation and the man was well known around Boston Mercy as a pompous authoritarian who seldom cracked so much as a hint of a smile and who looked down on his inferiors. Word was that a friend had pulled strings to get him his position as Chief of Thoracic surgery, but it wasn't known who that 'friend' was. Trapper was by nature slightly distrustful of anyone with 'connections', but he probably would have been no doubt astonished if he ever learned just who Charles' connection had been.
"Don't let Charles' saintly demeanor fool you." Hawkeye teased, shooting the man a sly smile. "Beneath that white coat beats a true devil's heart."
"Thank you, Pierce." Charles drawled sarcastically.
"I wouldn't talk, Hawkeye." Margaret remarked mischievously. "You have a healthy helping of devilishness yourself. You just don't keep is as well concealed as Charles does." Suddenly Margaret started to laugh heartily at something. "Remember when you two ganged up on BJ?"
The three of them exploded into riotous laughter as they recalled the incident.
"I don't think I'll ever forget the look on Hunnicutt's face when he backed out of the nurses' tent and found us all waiting for him." Charles remarked as he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes.