18

"What about the time Hawkeye moved out of the Swamp?" Margaret asked curiously.

"Hawkeye moved out of the 'Swamp'?" Peg repeated, her face showing her surprise. "What happened?"

"B.J. hated the way I brush my teeth." Hawk piped up, his eyes dancing in fun.

"Excuse me?" Peg asked, looking at her husband for confirmation.

B.J. smiled in amusement. "Well, it was extremely annoying, especially when I had to watch him morning and night, every endless day of every endless week." Looking at Margaret he asked, "Does he still brush only up and down?"

Margaret laughed. "Each and every tooth. And now he has the girls doing the same thing."

"Oh, great!" B.J. rolled his eyes in mock exasperation. "More tooth brushing freaks!"

"Wait a minute." Peg broke in, looking from her husband to Hawkeye and back again. "You had a fight over how Hawkeye brushed his teeth?" The two men grinned. "That sounds pretty childish to me."

"It was." B.J. nodded. "But at the time, it was very serious."

"And it wasn't just my dental habits that he objected to." Hawkeye added. "He thought I was too competitive, that I always had to get the last word. Oh, and he really hated the way I sniffed my food."

"'The way you sniffed your food'?" Peg repeated, her nose curling slightly in disgust.

"It was a little habit Hawkeye picked up in Korea." Margaret laughed. "He'd sniff each and every bite before eating or rejecting it. And that wasn't the worst part. Once in a while, when he was particularly disgusted with the fare he'd even give us a commentary on what he thought the food looked or smelt like. It was not very appealing." She looked at him slyly and remarked. "It took me months to break him of it. He was still doing it when we started seeing each other - two years after Korea."

"Well after all the horrible food I was forced to eat in Korea, I wanted to savor the aroma of decent meals." Hawkeye protested with a smile.

B.J. laughed. "That's our Hawkeye, he's just full of quirks and weird idiosyncrasies." His look turned serious as he smiled warmly at his friend. "And I love each and every one of them." Hawkeye returned the smile. "I can't tell you the scare that you gave me that time you went to the front to help out when they'd lost one of their surgeons."

"Which time?" Hawkeye asked, looking at his friend seriously. "If I recall correctly, we were always replacing someone at the front."

"That time that you went in my place because I'd gone to Seoul for a haircut." B.J. reminded him.

"Oh, yeah." Hawk nodded with a small smile. "I remember."

"One of the casualties that came in had said that a doctor had been killed at Battalion Aid." B.J. explained, his eyes full of feeling. "My heart leaped into my throat. I thought for sure that it was you. I was absolutely beside myself with worry."

"He was driving the rest of us absolutely crazy in O.R." Margaret replied, shooting B.J. a teasing glance. "He wouldn't stop fretting. We were all worried, but we weren't as vocal about it as B.J. was. He was on Klinger's back to find out what he could about Ben, but the phones were out at the Aid station."

"Well, when I found your 'fingerprints' all over one of my patients I was so happy." B.J. commented, his face brightening with a smile.

"My fingerprints?" Hawk asked, a puzzled look on his face. "What do you mean 'my fingerprints'?"

"The way he was sewed up had your signature all over it." B.J. explained. "I'd watched you do it a thousand times before."

Margaret laughed. "I remember B.J. started to hoot and holler at the top of his voice. I thought his aftershave had gone to his head." She shot him a teasing smile. "Then he announced to everyone in the O.R. that 'Hawkeye Pierce was alive and well and living at Battalion Aid'. The Colonel asked him how he knew, and B.J. explained the sutures. We all cheered, recognizing Hawk's handiwork."

"It's nice to know I was so missed." Hawkeye commented with a smile.

"I gather your previous fight didn't last." Peg replied looking at both men with a smile.

"No." B.J. laughed. "And to be fair, it wasn't really Hawk I was upset with. I was worried about one of my patients and started taking my frustrations out on Hawk. I used his many quirks as a vent for my anger." He looked at his friend and smiled. "But when Hawk told me that my patient was going to recover, we cheered and hugged and I told him that he might as well move back in since we'd be celebrating for a month anyway."

"I'm glad you made up." Peg smiled. "I'd hate to see your friendship ruined due to such childishness."

B.J. smiled at Hawkeye and commented, "How could I stay mad at the man who only hours after we met, kindly held my head as I lost my breakfast, lunch and supper after getting my first glimpse of war inflicted injuries. And then tried to make me feel better by telling me I'd get used to it." B.J. smiled a little sadly. "Unfortunately he was right." The three war vets looked somberly at each other. Each one was remembering the horrors that they had seen. The awful sight of young men, their bodies having been assaulted by shell fragments and bullets. Women and young children who'd been hit by bombs and shells when their villages had been destroyed. The complete and senseless destruction totally surrounding them.

"I'm glad you guys turned out to be such good friends." Peg commented, trying to lighten the mood again. She noted the sorrowful looks on all their faces, and figured they had started remembering some of the horrors that they had seen.

Hawkeye was the first to come out of his torturous thoughts. He looked at Peg and smiled, "Which is totally amazing considering we worked, ate, relaxed, slept and showered together."

"We even wore each other's underwear." B.J. laughed with a teasing look at Hawkeye.

"And socks." Hawkeye added, looking pointedly at B.J.

"Ah, yes." B.J. commented laughing harder. "And if I'm not mistaken that was what caused you to move out of the 'Swamp' the second time."

"That's right!" Hawkeye exclaimed, his tone serious but his eyes were dancing. "And I'd do it again! After all, you had no right stealing my last pair of clean socks! You...you...socknapper you." The two men were unable to contain their laughter any longer and began to chuckle.

"And don't forget what you two did the most together." Margaret commented with a laugh. "Besides get into trouble that is."

"What's that?" Hawkeye asked, his eyes dancing merrily.

"Drink." Margaret reminded him with a smile.

"Ah, who could forget that." B.J. laughed. "Sometimes I can still taste that antifreeze we use to drink."

"I can't believe you guys used to actually drink that rat poison." Margaret looked at Peg and screwing up her face said. "It was horrible stuff. It tasted like a gasoline, antifreeze and rat poison all mixed together."

"Margaret, when was the last time that you actually tasted gasoline, antifreeze and rat poison all mixed together?" B.J. asked teasingly, his eyes twinkling with fun.

"Each and every time you gave me a drink from your still." Margaret retorted with a laugh. "I'm surprised that either of you have any stomach or taste buds left after the amount of that stuff you guys consumed."

"What surprises me is that you actually had a still in your tent!" Peg exclaimed in surprise. "I'm surprised that Colonel Potter allowed it. Or did he know about it?"

"He knew." Hawkeye nodded and laughed. "In fact he drank almost as much of the gasoline that we got from it as we did. He liked to come over to drowned his sorrows and cauterize his liver, as he put it."

"It's a good job he approved, too." B.J. laughed. "Hawkeye threatened to get into one of Klinger's dresses if Potter made him get rid of it."

Everyone laughed at the mental picture that invoked.

"Now I would have paid good money to see that." Margaret exclaimed.

"You know, I use to think you were kidding when you said there was a corporal in the unit that dressed in women's clothes." Peg confessed. "I thought you were just trying to make up some interesting stories to tell me so that you wouldn't have to talk about what things were really like."

B.J., Hawkeye and Margaret laughed. "Trust me." Hawkeye assured her. "You didn't have to make up interesting stories to tell from our unit. M*A*S*H 4077th reality was far more amusing than any fiction story could be."

"Especially with these two jokers around." Margaret laughed, looking at both men affectionately. "But you still had to love them."

"Margaret used to have a thing for B.J." Hawkeye commented casually to Peg in a not so confidential whisper. Peg's eyes widened slightly as she glanced at Margaret.

Margaret slapped Hawkeye viciously, a semi annoyed look on her face. "I did not!" She exclaimed adamantly. Then wickedly she added. "I only wish I had, then maybe I would have ended up with a decent, adorable, sensitive guy like him instead of the likes of you."

"The likes of me?" Hawkeye repeated, pretending to be insulted. "Well, I never. Can you believe her Beej."

"Well, like I said before Hawk." B.J. gave his friend a devilish smile. "She was hoping to find the best, but when she found out I was taken she settled for you."

Peg and Margaret chuckled as the two men eyed each other as if sizing one another up for another good natured attack. Margaret was still curious about one thing. Looking to Peg she asked. "So, what made you believe B.J. about Klinger?"

"That picture that he sent me for the 'M*A*S*H 4077th Families Reunion' we had at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan." Peg replied. "Klinger was wearing a dress in the picture." She looked thoughtful for a minute, then added. "The thing that surprised me the most, was that none of his family seemed the least bit shocked at his attire. It didn't seem to bother them that he wore dresses."

"Apparently it's a traditional family dodge." B.J. laughed. "His uncle got out of World War II for dressing like a woman and even sent him some of his wardrobe."

"Did he actually go around camp wearing dresses, or was it something he did only during special occasions?" Peg asked, curiously.

"Nope," Hawk laughed, remembering Klinger's many different and unique outfits. "He wore dresses all the time. He also wore ladies underwear."

"As well as hats, earrings, high heels and purses." B.J. added.

"He even had a nurses uniform that he wore in O.R. and Post-Op." Margaret commented.

"And a wedding dress!" Hawkeye began laughing hard at some memory. "I remember one time he delivered some X-rays to me in the 'Swamp' dressed in it. I had never seen anything so foolish in my life."

"That's what he was hoping for." B.J. commented with a laugh. "He hoped that more than you would think that it was foolish."

"Remember when he got married." Margaret laughed heartily. "The first wedding he had, to Lavern What's-her-name. The one he did over the radio."

"Lavern Esposito." Hawkeye nodded with a huge laugh. "I remember." Looking at B.J. and Peg he explained. "Klinger got married dressed in full bridal array, veil and everything. I was quite the site. I think Trapper took some pictures."

"I'm surprised that Colonel Potter allowed it!" Peg commented in surprise. "Being an army man I would have thought he would have been a lot stricter."

"He was for the first day or so." B.J. commented with a chuckle. "He told Klinger to get into a uniform and to stay in uniform."

"Poor Klinger developed such a terrible rash." Hawkeye added with an amused look. "It was completely psychosomatic, but extremely painful none the less. But after his first day, Beej and I had a little talk with him and he eased up on Klinger."

"He even began to refer to Klinger's dresses as his 'uniform'." B.J. laughed. "If he ever saw him wearing army fatigues he'd ask him why he was 'out of uniform'."

"Sounds like he mellowed some." Peg commented.

"He did." B.J. nodded with smile.

"He had us worried at first though." Hawkeye commented, looking at B.J. slyly.

"What you mean is he had 'you' worried." Margaret laughed, shooting both men a mischievous smile. "After reading their service records, Colonel Potter also came down hard on Hawk and B.J. and told them to keep their noses clean. Something that was extremely difficult for them, if not down right impossible." She gave B.J. a sly smirk as she continued. "B.J. had been in camp not even a week when he and Hawkeye were reprimanded by Frank for setting fire to the latrine."

Peg looked at her husband, a surprised look on her face. "What on earth ever possessed you to set fire to the latrine?"

"It was an accident." Hawkeye defended, a mischievous smile creeping across his face.

"We were having a weenie roast." B.J. explained with a soft smile.

"In the latrine?" Peg asked, her brows furrowing.

"We weren't allowed to cook in our tents." Hawk laughed. Then looking at Margaret and B.J. he added. "Boy, does this conversation ever sound familiar." His friends laughed in agreement.

"So, what happened? What changed Colonel Potter's attitude?" Peg asked curiously.

"Hawk won him over with his charm, his skill, his wit, and his still." B.J. laughed.

"Once Colonel Potter realized that in the O.R. we all took our jobs very seriously he began to overlook and even appreciate the loose military standard that the camp had adopted." Margaret added. "No matter how much trouble those two caused."

"Cause trouble, us?" Hawkeye commented, an innocent look on his handsome face. "We never caused any trouble."

Peg laughed and looked at the two men in amusement. "No sense hiding it fellows, I've already heard the truth and Margaret witnessed it."

"Ah, shucks." Hawkeye exclaimed, snapping his fingers and sighing in despair. "I was hoping we could fool them into thinking we were little angels."

"Angels!" Margaret raised an eyebrow in amusement. "Ha! I don't think the Colonel would have described you as 'angels' the time you two refused to take a shower because Charles wouldn't stop playing his French horn. Little devils, maybe."

Hawkeye and B.J. looked at each other and laughed. "I guess we did cause a 'small' uproar that time." B.J. remarked with a mischievous look.

"Small?" Margaret exclaimed in disbelief. She turned to Peg and explained, "Charles had a French horn that he insisted on playing, much to the pain of everyone in camp, especially these two. They hated it so much that they refused to bathe until Charles agreed to give it up."

"So, what happened?" Peg asked laughing.

"After a couple of days these two reeked so bad that that they were even banished from the mess then because they smelled worse than the food itself." Margaret replied, shooting both men a teasing look. "And that's going a far."

"We must have been bad if we smelled worse than the food." Hawkeye remarked to B.J. "Even a skunk didn't smell as bad as the food they served us."

"Trust me." Margaret assured him. "You were both pretty ripe. That skunk would have run for cover." She looked at Peg and laughed. "I can't tell you how thankful I as for my surgical mask in O.R. They made the room smell worse than a stable."

"So what did you do about it?" Peg asked, her eyes sparkling in expectation. "I have a feeling that you did something you to the argument."

Margaret laughed heartily. "Well, when it got to the point that Hawk and B.J. were banging on a steel tub and playing a kazoo in the middle of the camp, while Charles screeched away on his horn, the rest of the camp got involved." Margaret replied. "First, we sprayed Hawk and B.J. with the hose, then we dumped soapy water on them and scrubbed them down. Then I relieved Charles of his devilish instrument and had a corporal run it over with a jeep."

"Well, I guess that would solve the problem." Peg laughed heartily, looking at the pair.

Margaret laughed just as heartily at the memory. "You should have seen our husbands, Peg. It was hilarious." She said between spasm of laughter. "When Klinger sprayed them with the hose they started falling all over each other to get out of the way of the water. Then, they started protesting between fits of laughter as they were being sponged. They were quite a sight to behold."

"I can imagine." Peg looked at B.J. with a mischievous grin.

"Remember what Potter did?" B.J. laughed, looking at his old friends, his eyes twinkling.

"Oh, yeah!" Hawkeye laughed a little harder.

"What?" Peg asked.

"He came outside, his face deadly serious, picked up Charles' flattened horn and gave it back to him and then grimly asked who was responsible." Margaret replied. "Everyone put their hand up and he looked around the group, a stern look on his face. He then ordered that as of 2200 hours we were all to be confinedů"

"Oh, dear." Peg exclaimed in dismay, her face sobering up.


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