B.J. nodded in recollection. "We talked for about four hours that night. I was so glad to hear your voice I didn't want to let you go. And then I missed you so much that I phoned you the next night and we talked for another four hours."
"And if I recall correctly you guys phoned each other every night for about a year." Peg laughed. She looked at Margaret and added. "You should have seen our phone bills, they were outrageous! But I didn't have the heart to ask him not to make them when I saw how much those calls meant to B.J. He always seemed so much happier and more relaxed after he'd spoken to Hawkeye. Fortunately they took turns calling." She chuckled slightly and commented. "I didn't think it was possible for two people to have so much to talk about that they could spend four or five hours a day on the phone together."
Margaret smiled at her. "If you'd have seen these two characters in camp together, you'd have no trouble understanding why they have so much to talk about. They were basically inseparable from the moment B.J. arrived in Korea."
Hawkeye's eyes twinkled as he looked at B.J. "Remember that day, Beej?" He asked his friend.
B.J. laughed. "I'm not likely to forget it - ever."
"It was that memorable?" Peg asked curiously, looking from on man to the other and back.
"Oh, yes! My arrival in Korea was quite the experience." B.J. replied with a laugh looking mischievously at Hawk. "I hope I never have a day like that again!"
"What did happen on your way to camp?" Margaret asked, looking at her husband expectantly. "I never did hear the story, I just saw the results."
"Oh, that's right." Hawkeye laughed, looking at her with amusement, "At that time you were too busy being 'First Lady' to our inept Commanding officer, Major Frank Burns to be in on our little secrets." Margaret shot him a dirty look, but then gave him a soft smile.
Hawkeye smiled warmly at B.J., then looked back to Margaret and explained. "Radar and I met Beej at Kimpo airport."
"You weren't even suppose to be there." Margaret pointed out with an amused chuckle. "Frank had ordered you to stay in camp."
"Well, since when did I ever listen to any orders that Frank Burns gave me." Hawkeye laughed. "Besides I wanted to catch Trapper before he left for the States. I didn't have any idea that he was going home until I came back from R&R and Radar told me that he had left for the airport in Kimpo. After being bunkmates together for over a year I really wanted the chance to say 'goodbye' to him before he left and I never saw him again."
"Did you manage to catch him?" Margaret asked, her eyes searching his face seriously. She'd never heard if he'd actually gotten to tell his old friend goodbye.
"No." Hawkeye shook his head sadly. "I'd missed his plane by ten lousy minutes."
"Did you talk to him after he left?" Peg asked softly, feeling sorry for him. It had obviously hurt him that his friend had left without saying 'goodbye' to him.
"Actually, to tell the truth, I haven't seen or spoken to Trapper since the day I left for R&R over twelve years ago." Hawkeye replied, glancing over to where his old buddy was sitting talking to Charles and Colonel Potter. After watching him for a few minutes he looked back to B.J. a thoughtful look on his face.
"Hawk?" B.J. questioned, looking at his friend curiously. "Hawk, what is it?"
"I was just thinking." Hawkeye replied, still looking at B.J. thoughtfully. "I was just realizing something. It's been twelve years since I've seen or spoken to Trapper, but I haven't missed him as much as I've missed you. It hurt me more when you had left without saying 'goodbye' than when Trapper left."
B.J. smiled at him sadly. "I felt so awful about leaving without writing you a note. I wanted to say so much to you, but there wasn't time to write it down. I had five minutes to catch the chopper." He looked at Hawkeye for a minute then chuckled softly. "I never thought I'd get hauled back before I even left the continent. But I was glad that I got a chance to say goodbye to you. I wanted to have the chance to tell you how special you were to me."
"And you're special to me. You're the most special friend I've ever had." Hawkeye returned the warm smile that B.J. was giving him. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I still consider Trapper to be a good friend and I'm really glad to see him again. But I've missed your friendship a lot more than I've missed his."
"Well, your life is so different now, Hawk." B.J. commented. "You're not the same foot loose and fancy free Hawkeye that he used to know and chase nurses with."
"That's true." Hawkeye nodded thoughtfully. "When we were in Korea together I never used to mind his cavalier attitude towards his wife and his marriage. I used to laugh whenever he'd joke about saving money for his wife's Private Detective fund for when he got back to the States and he was always romancing one nurse or another."
"And you used to do the same." B.J. replied, giving Hawkeye a mischievous look. "But that was before you discovered the definition of the word 'commitment'."
"That's true." Hawkeye nodded. "And do you know who taught me the definition of the word 'commitment'?" B.J. shook his head causing Hawkeye to smile. "You."
"Me?" B.J. exclaimed in surprise.
Hawkeye nodded. "The way you spoke about Peg, the love in your face and your tone when you talked about them. I used to envy you your family, I desperately wished that I had what you had." B.J. smiled warmly at his friend. "I know that having to live so far away from them made you miserable at times, but you had something very special, something that none of us, except maybe Colonel Potter, had ever had." He looked at Margaret and put his arm around her. Smiling lovingly at her he said. "I think that's why you and the girls mean so much to me."
Margaret smiled back at him, her eyes shinning with deep love. "And you mean a lot to me too." She leaned forward and kissed him gently on the lips. B.J. couldn't help but chuckle.
"What's so funny, Beej?" Hawkeye asked, a puzzled look on his face. He couldn't imagine what his old friend could be laughing at with such amusement.
"I was just remembering Margaret's expression when you first introduced me to her and Frank." B.J. replied between fits of laughter.
Hawkeye's laugh joined his as he thought of the memory. "Complete and utter shock." He managed to choke out.
"Do you blame me?" Margaret asked, chuckling herself at the memory. "I'd never seen anyone arrive in camp in such an undignified, utterly disgraceful condition." She looked at Peg and explained. "He was filthy, missing half his uniform, and completely bombed."
"Oh, don't use that word." Hawkeye cringed noticeably. "That's a very frightening word."
"And a very accurate one too." B.J. added, looking at Hawkeye mischievously. "In more ways than one."
"Well, I have absolutely no doubt that you were the one responsible for his undignified condition." Margaret accused, smiling at her husband with amusement.
"Me?" Hawkeye repeated, a forced tone of innocence in his voice. "I'm very sorry, Major, but I claim no responsibility for Beej's conduct. He acts of his own free will, completely unaided by anybody."
"Though with a little help from your corrupting influence, no doubt, Captain." She laughed teasingly.
"Well, maybe a teeny tiny little bit." Hawkeye admitted, indicating a small space with his thumb and index finger.
Margaret grabbed his hands and made a bigger space. "A really big huge bit is more like it." She teased.
"So what happened on your way to camp?" Peg asked, looking at B.J. curiously.
"What didn't happen." B.J. laughed, looking at Hawkeye mischievously. "Hawk really gave me a thorough introduction to Korea, I must say."
"The first thing that happened was that our jeep was stolen." Hawkeye explained, laughing at the memory. "Poor Radar was just beside himself. He was sure that the army was going to make him pay for it since he'd signed it out." Suddenly he started laughing as another thought struck him. "I wonder if he ever got his other jeep put back together."
"What other jeep?" Margaret asked, a puzzled look on her face.
Hawkeye's smile broadened and he started laughing heartily. When he could talk he explained. "Trapper and I discovered that Radar was mailing home a jeep, part by part. I don't know if he ever got the whole thing sent, but he was sure diligent at it for a while."
Margaret looked horrified. "He stole an army jeep? By...by MAILING it?" She suddenly started chuckling at the thought. "The poor mailman. I wonder if his back ever recovered." The four of them chuckled at the thought of a poor Ottumwa mailman carrying bits and pieces of a jeep to the O'Reilly homestead.
"Anyway, when we discovered that the jeep was missing, I persuaded Beej and Radar to join me for a drink in the Officer's Club." Hawkeye continued.
"Big surprise. I should have known that." Margaret rolled her eyes in mock disgust. Then she looked at him, a frown on her face. "Wait a minute. How did you get Radar into the Officer's Club? He was just a Corporal."
B.J. and Hawkeye looked at each other and laughed. "Hawk used some of my new costume jewelry and gave him a 'field promotion'." B.J. explained, his eyes dancing with fun. "I had only known Hawk for about five minutes and I was already learning just how good he is at being sneaky and devious." He shot his friend an amused smile.
"You better believe it." Hawkeye laughed. "Besides, Radar's promotion fit. It was for being 'brave and near sighted above and beyond the call'."
"For that you made him a Captain?" Margaret gaped in surprise, then looking at Peg she added. "If that's all it took, no wonder you guys were made Captains when you were drafted. All the other ranks required more a bit more skill and intelligence."
"Very funny, Major." He shot her a mock hurt look, but then continued. "Actually, we didn't make Radar a Captain per say. We made him a 'Corporal Captain'."
"A 'Corporal-Captain'?" Margaret exclaimed in surprise. "There's no such thing as a 'Corporal-Captain'."
"Yes, I know." He looked at B.J. and sighed in disappointment. "I guess too many people in Seoul were opposed to it."
"Maybe that Colonel had a lot of friends in high places." B.J. commented seriously. "It's such a shame Hawk, you tried so hard." The two men looked at each other and then broke into a fit of hearty laughter.
Margaret looked at Peg and commented. "I'm guessing that this is another story about them getting into trouble that I didn't know about."
"Oh, we didn't actually get into trouble." B.J. replied, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.
"Naw, we just had fun confusing a Colonel." Hawkeye replied, his eyes dancing in merriment. "The poor man didn't know what to think."
"So what happened after you left the bar?" Peg asked curiously, looking from one man to the other.
"Everything." B.J. exclaimed. "By the time I finally saw the 4077th for the first time we had rushed an injured Korean girl to one of the local hospitals, fixed a flat tire on the jeep, been shot at by North Korean guerillas, caught in enemy mortar fire and patched up some GI's who had been wounded in that mortar fire."
"I'd also introduced you to 'Rosie's'." Hawkeye laughed gently.
"Rosie's?" Peg's brows furrowed in puzzlement. "Who's Rosie?"
"Rosie's was the bar across the road from camp." B.J. replied, smiling at her. "I mentioned it to you before."
"Was that the bar that was owned by a South Korean woman?" Peg asked, her expression turning thoughtful.
"That's the one." B.J. nodded.