Margaret stirred slightly as a sharp pain hit her back. "Ben." She moaned, reaching over to where he had been laying when she fell asleep. Opening her eyes she noticed that he was no longer there. He must have gone downstairs. She mused. Slowly she rose and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Then, easing herself up she went downstairs in search of her husband.
When she reached the downstairs hallway she heard voices and laughter coming from the kitchen. She was just going to keep going when something was said that caught her attention.
"I can't believe that Hawkeye Pierce's boldness at kissing Margaret Houlihan." One of the women was saying, a strong tone of annoyance in her voice. "She's obviously a married woman." Margaret smiled as a couple other ladies voiced their agreement.
Another voice however piped up in Hawkeye's defense. "Before you all have Hawkeye Pierce tarred and feathered, I think there's something you ladies should know."
"What's that, Patty?" one voice asked.
"Hawkeye Pierce and Margaret Houlihan are married." Patty replied.
"Are you sure?" An older voice asked.
"Positive, Mrs. Potter." Patty assured her. "Hawkeye and Margaret told Radar and I the news themselves when they arrived."
"They're married." The first voice exclaimed in surprise. "I wonder if B.J. knows."
"He probably does by now." Another voice commented. "I'm sure John gave him the third degree after that kiss."
"Speaking of that kiss." Patty exclaimed, "Wasn't it incredible? Hawkeye obviously loves Margaret very much. It almost made me jealous to watch them."
"Jealous? Why?" A voice Margaret now figured belonged to Peg Hunnicutt asked in surprise.
"Don't tell me you wish that Hawkeye would kiss you too." Another voice asked teasingly. Margaret decided that it must be Trapper's wife, Louise.
"Oh, no." Patty quickly insisted, "I mean Hawkeye is good looking and all, but he's a married man. Actually, what I would really like is Radar to kiss me the way that Hawkeye kissed Margaret. He looks like he puts all his love and feeling into his kisses. Radar is more reserved, shyer."
Margaret smiled at Patty's comment. She was right. Hawk did show his love for her and the girls very freely. The way he smiled at her when she walked into the room, the way he read bedtime stories to the girls, the way he lovingly massaged her aching back and swollen feet during all three pregnancies. There was nothing he wouldn't do for her. He was so supportive. She thought back to when she had told him that she wanted to be more than just a housewife and mother that she missed her nursing, missed the opportunity to help people. She had been very upset and frustrated at the time and had told him rather harshly that she wanted more in her life than just him and Rebecca. Smiling to herself, she remembered his reaction. He had simply smiled, put his arms around her and had lovingly told her that if she felt she needed to work, then he would support her. He also told her that he thought that she was the best nurse he'd ever had the honor of working with. And that any hospital would be lucky to have her. But instead of working in a hospital, she'd opted to work in a senior's building. The shifts were more regular and better hours. After all, Margaret didn't want to abandon her family altogether, she just needed something more in her life. She loved being a wife and mother and she loved Hawkeye and the girls very much. She smiled at the thought of Hawkeye. He was such a wonderful husband and father. Even now it amazed her that the man that she used to get so angry and frustrated with in Korea was the man she loved more than anything else in the world. Margaret felt that there was no way she could have done any better. She was happy, she was healthy and she was so in love with Hawkeye that she couldn't imagine a time when he wasn't an important part of her life. She was so glad that she had gone to that Medical Conference in Chicago all those years ago. She shuddered to think what her life would be like if she hadn't.
"Excuse me, bub, but I think you have the wrong address. This is a private BBQ." Margaret turned at the sound of Frank's voice. Looking around the corner and she saw the former M*A*S*H surgeon blocking the front doorway of the O'Reilly home, evidently trying to keep someone from entering.
"This is where the M*A*S*H 4077th staff BBQ is, isn't it?" An older sounding voice asked calmly. Margaret recognized the gentle voice instantly.
"What is it to you, buddy?" Frank replied snottily.
"Let him in, Frank." Margaret stated firmly, walking towards her old comrade, an annoyed look on her face.
"You know this old coot?" Frank asked in surprise, stepping to the side to let the other man in.
"Yes, I do." She replied as she reached a hand out to the newcomer. The older man grabbed her hand as she reached up to give him a kiss on the cheek. "Hi Dad." She greeted with a smile.
"Hi Margaret." He smiled, hugging her tightly to him and kissing the side of her head lovingly. "How's my little angel doing?"
"Fine." She replied, returning the embrace. "I just had a bit of a nap."
"That's good. I'm sure you could use it." He commented, his arms still around her.
"How was your rest?" She asked, concern in her voice. "Are you feeling better?"
"I'm feeling just dandy." He assured her. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about me, my dear Margaret. I'm just fine."
"I can't help but worry about you, Dad." Margaret protested, looking at him warmly. "You mean a lot to me. I love you very much. You know that."
"I know." He smiled. He knew how hard it was for her, even now, to express her deepest feelings. When he had first met her, she had been very reluctant to show any form of affection, especially toward him. Hawkeye faired a little better. It wasn't until she was pregnant with Rebecca and they had worked together for hours on the nursery, that she finally opened up to him. She had told him all about her past, some of which Hawkeye had already told him, and about her memories of Korea and Hawkeye. They had spent hours talking and laughing while they worked away on the room. Finally, when they had finished, Margaret had leaned over and kissed him on the cheek for the first time and told him that she loved him and appreciated his continuing kindness towards her. He had been so pleased to hear her say that because he had always thought the world of her. Anyone that could make his son so happy was instantly loved and appreciated by him. He hugged her again. "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere soon." He looked her up and down and smiled broader. "After all, I have to meet my new grandbaby don't I." He laid a hand gently against her stomach. She covered his hand with hers and smiled softly up at him. After a moment he asked, "So, where's that wonderful husband of yours?"
"I believe he's outside with the rest of the men." Margaret laughed. "All the women seem to be in the kitchen."
"Well, why don't we go outside and see what kind of trouble they are getting themselves into." The older man suggested, offering his daughter-in-law his arm.
"Sounds good." Margaret nodded and looped her arm through his. "With Ben, B.J. and Trapper together I'm sure things will be very interesting."
"Trapper and B.J. are both here?" The older man commented, a delighted smile on his face. Margaret nodded. "Excellent. I'm dying to meet those two characters. Hawkeye's told me so much about them."
"Well, I have no doubt that they'll live up to your expectations." Margaret laughed.
As the pair passed the kitchen on their way outside, a young voice suddenly exclaimed excitedly. "Mommy!" Then spotting the older gentleman with her mother, she cried happily. "Grampy!"
"Ah, my Bethy!" He exclaimed with a laugh as the young child ran towards him, her arms outstretched. When she reached him he caught her and swung her up into his arms and gave her a big hug. "How's my Shortcake?" He asked lovingly.
"Good." She replied, hugging him tightly.
"What have you been up to?" He asked, then looking her up and down he added with a laugh. "Have you been baking?" The child's face and the makeshift apron that covered her dress was coated in flour.
Beth nodded, an enormous grin on her face. "I was helping Aunt Peg make some cookies for supper."
"Cookies, eh? What kind?" Her grandfather asked with a grin, looking at Peg, who had followed Beth out of the kitchen.
"Chocolate chip." Beth replied, licking her lips. "And they were yummy."
"I can tell." Margaret laughed, pointing to the chocolate in the corners of her daughter's mouth. Peg, Margaret and Daniel Pierce all laughed gaily at the child's dirty face. Beth smiled and wiped at her mouth with the sleeve of her dress.
"Oh, Beth, don't do that!" Margaret exclaimed in alarm. "You'll ruin your dress." She fished into the pocket of her maternity pants and pulled out a tissue. Wiping the little girl's mouth, she commented to Peg. "I hope she's been behaving herself."
"Oh, she's been a perfect little doll, Margaret." Peg replied. "We've loved her company."
"Why don't you come with me, Bethy and we'll go outside and find your father. How does that sound?" Her grandfather asked.
Beth smiled and nodded. "Yes. Let's go."
"Why don't we get rid of this apron first." Margaret commented, untying the towel that had been wrapped around her daughter's dress. "You're getting flour all over your grandfather." She removed the towel and handed it to Peg. "Thank you for doing that. She has the tendency to ruin a lot of her clothes."
"Trust me, I know. Ben and Erin were the same way." Peg laughed. "Ben still can't go through a day without getting filthy."
Margaret laughed, then remembering that Peg and her father-in-law hadn't been introduced she said, "Dad, I'd like you to meet B.J.'s wife, Peg Hunnicutt. Peg, this is my father-in-law, Daniel Pierce."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Pierce." Peg smiled, shaking hands with the older man.
"Please, call me Daniel." He replied, returning the smile. "So, you're the lovely wife that Hawkeye told me that B.J. was always pining for while he was in Korea."
"I guess I am." Peg blushed hotly at the comment.
"Well, I can't say as I blame him." He added.
"Thank you." She replied.
"Actually, I was just saying to Margaret how anxious I am to meet that husband of yours." Daniel told her. "After hearing so much about him from my son, I feel like I should have known him for years."
"I felt that same way about Hawkeye." Peg commented. "When B.J. first came home from Korea, he spoke of very little besides your son. I know he meant a great deal to B.J. I'm so glad that they were able to get together again. I know B.J. has been looking forward to this reunion for months."
"So were we." Margaret told her. "Ben was very excited about seeing B.J. and everyone else as well. But especially B.J. Those two were very close in Korea."
"So I understand." Peg stated with a smile. "I've heard a few interesting stories about their exploits."
"Well, come see me later and I'll tell you some more." Margaret laughed. "One's I bet B.J. would never tell."
"I'll be sure to do that." Peg laughed.
"It's been a pleasure meeting you." Daniel told Peg, with a warm smile.
"You too." Peg smiled in return. "Go and find B.J., I know he'll be very glad to finally meet you. He said that Hawkeye use to talk to him about you about as much as B.J. would talk to him about me."
"We will." Daniel assured her. Then looking at Margaret he encouraged, "Come on, my dear. You look like you could use a seat."
"Yes, I believe that would be very nice." She nodded and smiled at her father-in-law as he warmly put his arm around her and started to guide her out. Margaret looked back over her shoulder at Peg and said, "Don't forget that 'talk' we have to have."
"I won't." Peg laughed gaily. "I'll come look for you later."
Margaret nodded and then putting her arm around her father-in-law's waist allowed him to direct her out. She smiled at him as he reached to open the door for her. She had learned very early on in their acquaintance where Hawkeye had gotten his gentle, caring nature from. She loved her father-in-law very much. He was such a sweet tempered man, who had the same loving nature that his son had. She had never felt so safe or so loved as she had these last seven years with Hawkeye and his father. To her they were the greatest men in the world.