21

Hawkeye looked at Margaret for a moment and then wagered. "I bet you the honeymoon of your dreams that by the time we get in this elevator and reach the third floor, the doctors and nurses on that floor will be congratulating us on our engagement."

"But that'll be only a couple of minutes." Margaret protested as the doors to the elevator opened. "Surely Rachel can't spread the news that fast."

"By the time we reach the third floor." He repeated his eyes challenging her.

"You're on." She extended her hand and they shook on it.


It turns out that Hawkeye was right. As soon as the pair stepped out of the elevator on the third floor they were surrounded by anxious well wishers who wanted to congratulate the happy couple. Poor Margaret was hugged and kissed and introduced all around. By the time the pair made it through the excited group and to the office belonging to the hospital's Chief of Staff she felt a little light headed and out of breath.

Hawkeye merely gave her a look that said 'I told you so' and knocked on the office door. Without waiting for a reply he stuck his head in and greeted. "Morning, Jake. Got a couple of minutes?"

"Hawkeye!" Margaret heard a voice exclaim eagerly. "Just the person I wanted to see. Come in, come in." Hawkeye opened the door wider and stepped into the office. Margaret followed mutely behind. "I just heard the wonderful news!" The man said as he came around his desk and shook Hawkeye's hand profusely. "Congratulations."

"Thanks." Hawkeye smiled broadly in return.

Jake glanced over at Margaret and said. "I gather this is the future Mrs. Hawkeye Pierce."

"That's right." Hawkeye replied proudly. Putting his arm around Margaret's shoulders he introduced. "Jake, I'd like you to meet Margaret Houlihan. Margaret, this is our diligent leader, Dr. Jake Smith."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Smith." Margaret shook hands with the older man and gave him a warm smile.

"It's a pleasure to meet you too, my dear." Dr. Smith took her hand in both of his as he returned her warm smile with one of his own. "Any woman that's able to get this old boy to settle down is definitely worthy to know." Then gesturing to the chairs in front of his desk he urged. "Please, make yourselves comfortable."

"Thank you." Margaret acknowledged as she and Hawkeye sat down in the chairs.

As he rounded his desk Jake looked at Hawkeye and accused. "I didn't even know you were seeing anybody. You never said a word about it."

"Well, actually..." Hawkeye paused as he looked at Margaret for a moment. "We haven't really been seeing each other."

"Oh?" Jake questioned as he sat down.

Hawkeye chuckled slightly. "Not formally anyway." At Jake's puzzled look he explained. "Margaret and I served together in Korea. We were stationed at the same field hospital for the last three years."

"The 4077th." Jake put in.

"Right." Hawkeye nodded in confirmation. "While we were there we became good friends, but after the war I came back home and she stayed to help close down some of the other M*A*S*H units. After that we basically lost contact."

"So when did you meet up again?" Jake pressed, greatly intrigued by this romantic tale.

"Friday night." The storyteller continued. "Brad Millar asked me to escort Carrie's cousin to a charity banquet in Boston and I agreed to do it." He paused as he reached over and squeezed Margaret's hand lovingly. "Little did I know that Margaret was Carrie's cousin."

Jake's eyebrows raised in surprise at this unexpected conclusion. Pointing to Margaret he exclaimed. "You mean she turned out to be your date Friday night? That's an amazing coincidence."

Hawkeye nodded his agreement. "Yes it is, but one that I'm very grateful for." He looked at Margaret with such love in his eyes that Jake, who caught the look, shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

"Well, I'm very happy for both of you." Jake remarked, trying to break the awkward moment. "So, when's the big day?"

"Next Sunday." Hawkeye told him. "Will you come?"

"Next Sunday?" Jake repeated, his eyebrows jumping skyward again. "That's an awfully fast engagement, isn't it?"

Hawkeye looked at Margaret again as he replied. "I think that we've wasted enough time." He paused for a minute before adding, more to Margaret then to Jake. "If I hadn't been so cowardly we might have been married with Klinger and Soon-Lee before we all left Korea." Margaret smiled at him and squeezed his hand tightly. Breaking his eyes from her face, he looked to his boss and pressed. "So will you and Janet come?"

"We'd love to." Jake told him eagerly.

"Great!" Hawkeye exclaimed excitedly. "Five o'clock next Sunday evening at the house. Then we'll have a simple supper afterwards."

"At the house?" Jake exclaimed in surprise. "How many people are you having?"

"Not many." Hawkeye admitted. "Just our closest friends and a few from here."

"You know Crabapple Cove won't forgive you if you don't have a big bash." Jake teased mischievously.

"Well, we don't want a 'big bash'." Hawkeye told him giving him a slight smile. "Just something small and simple."

"Well, in that case, I'm honored to be among the few chosen to attend this small and simple affair." Jake told him, his smile widening. Then looking at Margaret he said. "And if there is anything I can do to help you settle in to our quiet little town, please don't hesitate to ask."

"Well, now that you mention it..." Hawkeye began slowly, giving Margaret a quick look. "Margaret's looking for a job."

"What kind of job are you looking for, Margaret?" Jake asked, looking at her kindly.

"I'm looking for a nursing position." She replied seriously.

Jake's expression perked up when he heard that. "You're a nurse."

"Yes, I've been nursing for over ten years and I was also Head Nurse at the 4077th for the last three years." She told the man eagerly.

"Have you had much experience working in the OR?" Jake questioned curiously.

"Yes, the last three years at the 4077th it was almost all OR work, plus whatever Post Operative care was needed after." She informed him.

Looking at Hawkeye Jake asked. "Is she a good nurse." His eyes dancing he added. "All prejudice aside of course."

"Well, to be completely honest..." Hawkeye began, shooting Margaret a sly look. "...I would have to say that Margaret is, without a doubt, the finest nurse I've ever had the privilege of scrubbing with."

"And you'd still think that even if you two weren't engaged." Jake asked seriously. "I need the truth."

"Well, truth is..." Hawkeye again looked slyly at Margaret. "I thought that even when Margaret and I hated each other."

"Hated each other?" Jake exclaimed in surprise. "What do you mean you 'hated each other'?" The couple smiled at each other in amusement as they thought back to the early days of their acquaintance.

"Let's just say that when Margaret and I first met we didn't see things eye to eye." Hawkeye replied with a slight smile.

Margaret chuckled slightly and said. "That's the understatement of the century."

"Oh?" Jake pressed his eyebrows raising with curiosity.

Looking at Jake Margaret explained. "I grew up in the Army, my dad is a very strict Colonel who strongly believes in rules and regulations and I took after him. When I first arrived at the 4077th I was full of the conviction that everything the Army said was right and that everyone should live by their rules. Hawkeye on the other hand had other ideas. As you're probably aware, he doesn't have a disciplined bone in his body."

"Yeah, I've noticed that on occasion." He shot his Chief Surgeon a teasing look.

"Anyway, we clashed on many issues mostly military protocol." Margaret continued. "I tried to do everything by the book while he went by his own book one that usually had pictures of naked people in it." She paused for a minute and looked at her fiancee. "I hope you've given those up."

Hawkeye smiled mischievously for a moment before assuring her. "I left them all in Korea."

Margaret smiled for a moment before continuing her story. "Anyway, as time went on I began to appreciate his sense of humor and his kind and caring nature. His deviant behavior rubbed off on me and I loosened up some."

"Some!" Hawkeye exclaimed as he looked at Jake. "She went from Attila the Hun who frowned at anything mildly amusing to a peeping Tom who caused me and my best friend to streak across the compound in our birthday suits because she stole our clothes while we were in the shower."

"She didn't!" Jake started laughing heartily at the mental picture Hawkeye's story had evoked.

"And if that wasn't bad enough." Hawkeye continued, "She and the entire nursing staff camped out in our tent awaiting our grand entrance!"

Jake started laughing harder at his friend's conclusion. When he could finally speak he commented to Margaret. "You're right, his deviant behavior did rub off on you." He paused for a moment and then asked, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "I trust that they'll be none of that here at the hospital if you two work together."

"Don't worry, sir." Margaret assured him. "I would never pull anything like that while on duty. Off duty..." She gave her fiancee a sly look.

Jake chuckled again and rose from his chair. Extending his hand to her he said. "Welcome aboard, Margaret. I have a feeling that you're going to make a invaluable addition to our nursing staff."

"Thank you, Dr. Smith." She rose and shook his hand.

"Please, call me Jake." He told her. "When would you like to start?"

"Whenever you want me to." She told.


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