"You knew each other in Korea?" Toby exclaimed in surprise. "How did you meet?"
"We served at the same M*A*S*H unit for the whole three years we were over there." Margaret explained. "I was the Head Nurse and he was the Chief Surgeon. We worked together a lot."
"So, during that working together you got to know each other and fell in love." Toby speculated, a large smile spreading across his face as he looked at his old friend and teased. "I bet all the single girls in Crabapple Cove will sigh in relief knowing that the biggest Romeo in town has now found his Juliet." Hawkeye gave him a mock indignant look but Margaret laughed and said.
"Let's just hope this 'Romeo' and 'Juliet' have a happier future than the originals did."
The others voiced their agreement.
"Well, how about we blow this pop stand?" Hawkeye suggested to his friends. "There's a nice little coffee shop next door that serves the nicest apple pie in town."
"Nicer than my apple pie?" Margaret asked seriously, giving him a sly look.
"Oh, no." He quickly assured her. "Nobody's is nicer than yours, yours is the best there is." He felt very proud of his quick and diplomatic reply, so his face turned a few shades of red when Margaret sidled closer to him and in a stage whisper said.
"You've never tasted my apple pie."
BJ, Peg, Toby and Margaret all began to laugh in amusement at the embarrassed expression on his face.
"Come on." Margaret encouraged her deflated fiancee. "I'll buy you a piece of the 'nicest apple pie in town'." Grabbing his hand she led him down the hall. BJ and Peg followed after them, waving goodbye to Toby who was chuckling at his friend.
As the small group made their way down the hallway they suddenly heard a voice exclaim loudly. "Hey you young scallywag, get your butt in here!"
Hawkeye stopped and peaked around the corner of the last room they'd past. Inside he saw his father sitting beside the bed belonging to an older man. "What makes you think I want to stop and talk to an old geezer like you?" Hawkeye replied as he entered the room his friends following hesitantly behind.
The old man in the bed looked at Daniel Pierce and commented. "Didn't you ever teach this brat of yours some manners?"
"I've tried." Daniel replied with a sigh. "But you know how boys are."
"And Pierce boys are even worst." The older man replied, his eyes starting to twinkle with mischief.
"And you would know, wouldn't you Sam." Daniel laughed lightly as he looked at his friend teasingly.
"Well, it looks like you must be feeling better." Hawkeye remarked giving the older man a warm smile. "I mean if you can grouch and complain like you are then you must be on the mend."
Ignoring the younger man's comments he remarked. "Dan tells me that you're finally getting married."
"That's right." Hawkeye smiled proudly at the other man.
Looking at Peg and Margaret he asked. "So which one of you unfortunate young ladies did this scallywag convince to marry him - and how did he manage to do it? Hypnotism? Drugs? Bribery?"
"Nothing of the sort." Hawkeye retorted in a mock angry tone. "I didn't drug her, hypnotize her or bribe her - I just blackmailed her."
"Oh?" Sam queried curiously.
"I told her that I couldn't live without her." The young man replied simply. "And that if she didn't agree to marry me, I might to something drastic."
"And she fell for that?" The older man asked in a surprised tone.
"That and the fact that I told her that I'm head over heels in love with her." Hawkeye concluded, smiling at Margaret lovingly. Margaret returned the smile and reached up to squeeze the hand that was still resting on her shoulder.
"Well, no matter how he managed to convince you to marry him, it's a pleasure to meet you all the same, my dear." Sam said, giving Margaret a friendly smile.
"It's a pleasure to meet you too." Margaret returned the smile.
"Well, now that you've met, how about I introduce you?" Hawkeye quipped as he looked his father's old friend teasingly. "Margaret, this is Mr. Samuel Lawrence, Dad's oldest and dearest friend and my honorary uncle. Uncle Sam, I'd like you meet the most special woman in the world to me, Margaret Houlihan."
Sam reached out a hand to Margaret and pulled her closer to his bedside when she took it. "So you really mean to marry this rascal do you?"
Margaret glanced over to Hawkeye and smiled. "I sure do."
"Well, that being the case I'd be honored if you would call me 'Uncle Sam' too." The older gentleman told her warmly. "Ben's been calling me that since he could talk."
"I'd be glad to." Margaret assured him, giving him a bright smile.
Sam gave her hand a squeeze and released it. Looking over to BJ and Peg he asked. "And who are these lovely people?"
"Uncle Sam, I'd like you to meet my old tentmate and best friend, Dr. BJ Hunnicutt and his charming wife, Peg." Hawkeye introduced and then swinging Erin up into his arms he added. "And this little cutie is my honor niece Erin." Hawkeye's proud smile widened as Erin threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
"I would say that Miss Erin loves her honorary Uncle very much." Daniel Pierce commented with a soft smile.
Meanwhile Sam extended his hand to BJ and said. "So you're the unlucky doctor that had to put up with Hawkeye all those months. How did you ever manage to live with him and not kill him?"
"Oh, it was a challenge." BJ commented, shooting his best friend a mischievous look. "But at least I only had to put up with him for two years. Margaret's got to put up with him for a lifetime."
"Sometimes it feels like I already have." Margaret joked, giving her fiancee a sly glance. "After all, I met him before you did."
"Yeah but it's your choice to put up with him." BJ pointed out then with a martyr's tone he added. "I had no choice in the matter. When they incarcerated me in that hellhole I wasn't given a choice of cell mates."
"Maybe not." Margaret replied. "But I think you lucked out pretty good."
BJ shook his head slightly and chuckled. "You certainly didn't feel that way when I first arrived. At that time you would have as soon shot him as look at him."
Margaret looked sheepishly at Hawkeye before looking back to BJ. "Maybe I was a little too harsh in my judgment."
"Maybe." BJ repeated with a teasing tone.
"Well, we should get going." Hawkeye commented, interrupting the playful banter between his best friend and his fiancee. "I was going to show these guys a few more sights before supper."
"Are you cooking again tonight, Margaret?" Daniel asked in a mild hopeful tone.
"If leftovers are considered cooking." She replied a little wickedly. "I warned you last night not to get too use to my cooking skills cause I'm not going to use them every night."
"Shucks." Daniel snapped his fingers in disappointment.
"Come on lets get out of here." Hawkeye urged as he pointed his friends towards the door. "We'll see you later Uncle Sam. See you at home Dad."
"See you kids later." Daniel called after the group. Echoed by Sam's farewell.
Hawkeye couldn't help smiling to himself as he heard Sam tell his father as they exited the room. "I think Ben's finally found himself a real gem in Margaret."
"You guys feel like some coffee and cake?" Margaret offered the group as they all relaxed in the Pierce's living room later that evening. It was about ten o'clock and they had just spent another enjoyable evening talking and laughing. Erin had already been put to bed and even Daniel had taken to his study early and left the four friends to their pleasant chatter.
"Sounds wonderful, Margaret." BJ replied eagerly from his spot on the couch.
"I second the idea." Hawkeye echoed, a broad smile on his face.
"Motion carried." BJ exclaimed, slapping his hand on his knee as if to conclude the matter.
"Coming right up then." Margaret chuckled in amusement as she rose from her spot beside Hawkeye.
"I'll give you a hand." Peg offered, rising from beside BJ. Before leaving the room she turned and admonished the two men. "Make sure you two play nice now. No fighting or carrying on."
"Now there's an idea." Hawkeye clapped his hands together and sat up in his chair. "How 'bout it, Beej? While these two lovely ladies get dessert why don't we indulge in a few rounds of something."
"Sounds good." BJ replied, sitting up in his seat as well. "What should we play? Chess? Checkers? Cards?"
"How about all of the above." Hawkeye replied with a chuckle.
"Great." BJ exclaimed eagerly as he rose to his feet. "You get the games, I'll get the drinks."
"Just like old times." Hawkeye remarked as he left the room.
Peg shook her head and entered the kitchen where Margaret was already preparing the coffee. "Those two really do get along well don't they?"
"That's the understatement of the century." The other woman chuckled as she pulled some dessert plates out of the cupboard. "I have never seen two people, especially in the Army, get along as well as those two. For two people who spent an inordinate amount of time together they got along amazingly well. They had very few quarrels and even the ones they did have didn't last very long."
"I'm glad." Peg replied with much feeling. "I was so worried when BJ got sent to Korea. Not being regular Army I was afraid he'd have a hard time adjusting to Army life. All those rules and regulations and saluting."
Margaret chuckled slightly, trying to picture BJ following rules and regulations. Though not as much of a maverick as Hawkeye who blatantly refused to mold himself into typical Army life, BJ had gladly followed Hawkeye's lead soon after arriving in camp, which made him a total disappointment to Frank...and herself at the time. Smiling at Peg she said. "Well, fortunately for BJ he landed where he did. Army rules and regulations pretty much when out the window at the good old 4077th. What between Hawkeye's childish antics and Colonel Blake's spineless command the unit was doomed from the start in living up to any military protocol."
"That was good though, wasn't it?" Peg remarked as she moved to the cupboard and started pulling out some mugs. "I mean it must have made life a little easier to deal with then if there was nothing but discipline and orders."
"You're right, it was." Margaret agreed, then with a wry smile admitted. "Though it took me two years to discover that."
Peg chuckled knowingly. "So I understand. I seem to remember BJ's first letter home mentioning how much you loved rules and regulations and everything military."
"So I did." Margaret nodded, then with a chuckle added. "But then things change."
Both women jumped slightly as a loud cracking sound came from the other room. Looking out the kitchen door into the living room they both started to chuckle when they heard BJ exclaim in mild annoyance. "You're cheating!"
"How can I cheat, there are no rules!" Hawkeye retorted undeterred.
"Oh, yeah." BJ sighed slightly, as if he had truly forgotten the fact. "In that case, knight to knight seven." He announced as he moved a chess piece across the board. "Full house, you hustler."
"Oh, really." His friend drawled as he laid his cards down on the table. "Gin."
"Gin it is." BJ accommodated as he picked up a gin bottle and added more to his friend's glass.
"And then again, some things never change." Margaret remarked to Peg with an amused shake of her head as they returned to their task of getting dessert.