"Which one was the culprit?" Peg asked, looking at both men, an amused smile on her face.
"Hawkeye, of course." She shot her husband a knowing glance. "It was just his style, the crumb." The last word was said with affection and followed by a soft smile.
Hawkeye laughed. "That's me, Dr. 'Crumb.' And meet my accomplish Dr. 'Schmo'. Or were you Dr. 'Idiot'?"
"I was Dr. 'Idiot', Charles was the 'Schmo'." B.J. laughed.
"Anyway, I barged into 'the Swamp' looking for Hawk and found a lump in his cot resembling a human form." Margaret continued. "Pulling back the covers I found a skeleton laying in his bed."
"How disgusting." Peg exclaimed looking at Hawkeye in horror. "That's so sick."
"Don't worry, Peg, it wasn't a real one. It was one of the kind you find in Medical labs." Margaret assured her to which Peg's eyes showed profound relief. She was beginning to worry that Hawkeye was truly strange instead of just a harmless prankster. "Anyway, I heard laughing coming from outside and saw the three of them watching me through the tent screen. So, grabbing a pillow I went to find out where on earth they had put my tent."
"And boy, was she vicious!" B.J. laughed. "She knocked the stuffing out of that poor pillow! We had feathers flying everywhere."
"What about what she did to me!" Hawkeye exclaimed. "She ripped my housecoat right off me! Left me in the middle of camp in just my T-shirt and underwear."
"Anyway," Margaret continued, "while we were in the middle of our little pillow fight, who drives up but General Daniel Webster Tucker and he was not the least bit impressed by our little free for all."
"Neither was Colonel Potter." B.J. added.
"Boy did he sure come tearing out!" Hawkeye laughed. "His blood must have been hitting the boiling point. His temper sure was!"
"That's awful!" Peg exclaimed. "The poor Colonel."
"Don't worry, Peg." Margaret smiled. "There's more to this story than meets the eye." "The next day, we did our best to make amends and impress the General, but he did nothing but bust our butts. Nothing we could do got the least bit of an acknowledgement from him." B.J. continued, a hint of frustration in his tone. "We were all getting fed up, especially Hawk, who has very little respect for Generals to start with. When the General started questioning one of the nurses about the treatment of one of Hawk's patients that really burned him. Hawk asked him to step outside for a little 'four letter word.' and there Margaret, Charles, Hawk and I confronted him about his unfair treatment of us. His reply was that he was going to charge us all with 'gross insubordination, conduct unbecoming an officer' and a court martial."
"That is so unfair." Peg exclaimed in surprise. "What happened? I mean, I know you obviously didn't get court martialed, but how did you get out of it?"
"We nailed him with a bucket of beer." B.J. replied, watching his wife's reaction and then laughed when her face registered shock.
"What?" She exclaimed in disbelief. "You did what!"
Hawkeye shrugged and smiled mischievously. "We figured we had nothing to loose. If we were going to be court martialed, might as well let the crime fit the punishment."
"So, what happened?" Peg asked, looking from each person, waiting for a reply.
"When Colonel Potter and General Tucker came into the Officer's club after dinner, we were all waiting for them there." B.J. explained. "We set up a special table for them to take and then after the General was seated called the Colonel over to get him out of the way. The General's favorite drink was a shot and a beer. So we had Igor bring him his whiskey, and then when he demanded his beer, Hawkeye dumped an entire bucket of beer on him."
"It was so funny watching him sputter and spit." Hawkeye laughed at the memory.
"But then in the middle of his sputtering and spitting, he suddenly gasped and collapsed on the bar." Margaret told Peg. The other woman's face fell in horror.
"We all tried to help him." B.J. related. "Then he started gasping for Hawkeye. Hawk fell down beside him and the General looked at him and in a clear, strong voice exclaimed, 'April Fool'." Peg's face registered surprise, just as Hawkeye's had when it had originally happened.
"It turns out that the entire thing was an elaborate April Fools joke set up by Potter and Tucker weeks before." Margaret explained. "The Colonel said he knew that if General Tucker pushed Hawkeye enough that he would try some prank like he had."
"Like I said before." Hawkeye exclaimed. "We were royally had." The four of them laughed loudly and heartily, until Margaret suddenly gasped in pain.
"Margaret, are you alright?" Hawkeye instantly asked, his expression turning from complete amusement to deep worry in a matter of moments.
She took a deep breath and nodded. "I'm okay. I think I've been laughing too much. I must have pulled something."
"Do you want to go lay down again?" He asked, concern in his tone.
She shook her head, and shifted positions. "No, I'm fine. It was just a little pain. I don't have to lay down every time I feel a little discomfort. If I did I'd never get out of bed while I'm pregnant."
"Alright, if you're sure." He said, a little hesitant.
"I'm sure. Now stop worrying about me." Margaret replied, a little annoyance in her voice. She appreciated Hawkeye's concern, but she didn't want to be pampered. Especially not today. She had too many memories to talk about and share, too many years to catch up on to be confined to bed.
"So, were all your practical jokes so elaborate?" Peg asked, trying to shift the attention off of Margaret. She completely understood how the other woman was feeling. She had been in the same situation herself and knew what it felt like to be smothered by a concerned husband. Not that she'd minded the attention, it was just sometimes she didn't want or need it.
"No, sometimes they were simple." B.J. replied, "Like that time Margaret put the sugar in Hawk's coffee and he retaliated by flicking coffee in her face with his fingers. She then threw a 'man hole cover' at him..."
"Man hole cover?" Peg interrupted, an alarmed look on her face. "Wouldn't that have hurt?"
"Sometimes." Hawkeye replied with a teasing smile. "But only if taken internally."
At Peg's confused expression B.J. explained. "That's what we called pancakes in Korea. They were about as hard and just as tasteless." Peg nodded.
"So, what did Hawkeye do?" She asked, looking at him curiously.
"He started a food fight." Margaret replied, looking at him slyly.
"Ah, no." Hawkeye objected. "I didn't start it, I only continued it. You threw the first piece of food, if you can call it that."
"And then Hawk threw the second, a glob of oatmeal, smack dab in the middle of Margaret's forehead." B.J. chuckled. "I can still see you with that blob stuck to your hair."
"I can't believe you started a food fight." Peg exclaimed, looking at them in surprise.
"Yeah, a food fight that I got a severe reprimand for." Hawk replied, looking at his wife with an amused smile.
"From who?" Margaret asked in surprise. "I never heard about that. When did that happen?"
"Today, by your daughter." Hawkeye laughed. "A bunch of us were talking earlier about some of the practical jokes that were played in camp and we'd mentioned the food fight. Rebecca looked at me reproachfully and told me that food fights weren't nice."
The four adults laughed at the childish reprimand. "I've taught her well." Margaret teased, shooting her husband a mischievous look. "At least she listens to her mother. Her sister hardly does. The only one she seems to listen to is her father."
"Daddy's girl." Peg commented with a smile.
"Most definitely." Margaret nodded in agreement.
"Well, your daughters are really very sweet." Peg told her new friends. "I haven't had a chance to meet Rebecca yet, but she looks like a little angel, and little Beth of yours is as cute as a button. She is such a great little storyteller. She had us all in stitches earlier in the kitchen."
Margaret laughed. "Oh, she does tell some great tales." She looked at her husband and added. "She's very much like her father."
"Which probably explains why she's such a 'Daddy's girl'." Peg commented.
"No doubt." Margaret agreed. "She just adores Ben." Laughing, she added. "One time she told me, very seriously, that she was going to marry him when she grew up."
Peg laughed. "Erin use to say the same thing about B.J."
"Well, at least we know that they have great taste in men." Margaret commented, putting her arm through her husband's.
"That's true." Peg agreed, doing the same with B.J. "So, Margaret, tell me, how did you and Hawkeye end up together? Since B.J. never told me about it, I gather it happened after you all left Korea."
"Yes." Margaret nodded. "It was about two years after. I was working at a Veteran's hospital in Boston at the time." She looked at Hawkeye lovingly. "Even though I thought about him frequently, I never thought I'd ever see him again."
"So, where did you meet up again?" Peg asked, looking at the couple curiously, a warm smile on her face.
"Are you four having a private little party, or can we join you?" A voice suddenly asked in a rather curt tone. The two couples looked up to see Trapper and his wife standing beside the swing, each with a chair in hand.
"Please, join us." B.J. invited with a friendly smile as the other couple settled in their chairs. He'd immediately noted the abrupt tone in the other man's voice. He wasn't sure the reason for it, but he began to wonder if Trapper had noticed Hawk's less friendly manner towards him. B.J. felt a little sorry for him. He knew that if their places were reversed that he'd feel more than a little jealous to know that someone else had taken his place as Hawkeye's best friend. He decided to try to ease the tension by being as warm and friendly as possible. Reaching out a hand to Trapper's wife he introduced himself and Peg.
"This was the unlucky surgeon who took my place." Trapper commented to his wife. B.J. couldn't help but wonder if there was a double meaning to that remark. Shooting his old bunkmate a sly look Trapper added. "He was unlucky because he got stuck with Hawkeye for a roommate." Hawkeye merely shot him a mock deadly glare.
Reaching out his hand to Louise McIntyre he said, "Dr. Benjamin Franklin Pierce at your service, ma'am." He bent down slightly to kiss her hand, shooting his old friend a mischievous smile. Trapper's wife merely smiled at him.
Another hand reached out beside Hawkeye towards Louise. Louise shook it as Margaret introduced herself. "I'm Margaret Pierce. Please excuse my husband, I forgot to bring his leash today." She shot Hawkeye a mock angry glance, but the corners of her lips were twitching.
"It's a pleasure to meet you all." Louise said with a warm smile. Then looking at Hawk and Margaret added, "I've heard a lot about you two. John use to talk about you all the time."
"Trap...I mean John use to tell me a lot about you, too." Hawkeye said, shooting his friend an amused smile.
"So, what have you guys been talking about?" Trapper asked curiously.
"Margaret was about to tell us 'her' side of how she and Hawk ended up in wedded bliss." B.J. replied.
"Oh, good." Another voice cried delightedly. The group turned to see Radar and Patty coming up behind them. It was Patty who'd spoken. "I'm in the mood for a good love story."
"Which reminds me." Hawkeye commented, shooting Radar a mischievous smile. "We haven't heard the story of how you and your lovely wife met."
"One story at a time." B.J. announced, with a teasing smile.
"But you've already heard our story." Hawkeye protested, looking at his friend and returning the smile. "We haven't heard Radar and Patty's yet."
"Yes, I know, but I've only heard 'your' side of 'your' story." B.J. pointed out. "Now it's time to hear Margaret's."
"Besides, I haven't heard the story at all." Peg exclaimed. Patty and Louise expressed their agreement.
"What stories are B.J. and Hawkeye telling this time?" Another voice asked with a teasing tone.
"Actually, Sidney, it's Hawk and Margaret telling the stories this time." B.J. replied, smiling warmly at the newcomer. "It's the story of how Margaret became 'Margaret Pierce'."
"Great!" Sidney exclaimed in delight, pulling up a chair. "I must admit I've been very curious about that." "Come on, Margaret. Tell us the story." Patty encouraged.
"Well, like I said before, it happened about two years after we left Korea." She smiled lovingly at her husband. "I had attended a three day Medical conference in Chicago and was just getting ready to leave when who do I happen to bump into - literally, but Dr. Benjamin Franklin Pierce himself. You couldn't imagine my surprise when I turned to confront whoever it was that had crashed into me and found his familiar face. We hugged and then went out and grabbed a cup of coffee at a coffee shop around the corner before he had to leave to catch his plane. When we learned that we were living so close together, we decided to keep in touch. We started visiting back and forth, then we started writing letters and phoning. Every once in a while I'd come out of O.R. or off rounds and find a bouquet of flowers waiting for me at the nurse's station with a little note from Hawkeye."
"That is so sweet." Peg sighed, a soft smile on her face.
Margaret smiled a soft smile of her own. "I remember when the flowers first started to arrive. The nurses' on my floor were all curious to know who this 'Hawkeye' was. They were constantly teasing me about him and asking me questions. I remember the first time that he came to the hospital, all the nurses came scampering from every which way to meet him. You'd think they'd never seen a man before." The group chuckled in amusement.
"They'd just never seen you with a man before." Hawkeye replied, giving his wife a teasing smile.
"Anyway," Margaret continued, ignoring the comment. "about five months after we had been reunited, I came out of O.R. to find an enormous bouquet of flowers and a very sentimental card."
"What did the card say?" Peg asked eagerly, then added. "If you don't mind my asking, that is."
"It said that he was so glad that we had found each other again and that the last five months had been the happiest months he'd ever had." She smiled up at him and placed her hand over his. "It said that he loved me very much that he had loved me for a long time. He said that he had fallen in love with me long before we'd said goodbye in Korea, but that he hadn't been prepared then to do anything about it, but now he was ready to see where our relationship would go. It was such a touching card. I had tears in my eyes when I finished it. I had never heard him be so straightforward or honest about his feelings before."
"I always hid my feelings behind jokes and wisecracks." Hawkeye explained. "I found it hard to tell the people that I loved the most how much I cared for them."
"So, what happened?" Louise asked curiously.
"After I finished reading the letter I felt someone come up behind me." She replied, a soft smile on her face as she looked at the others. "Turning, I found Ben, who wasn't suppose to be in Boston at all that weekend. I was so glad to see him, and so moved by the wonderful card he had written, that I just threw my arms around him and kissed him in front of everyone. Then, that night he took me out to a really fancy restaurant and then we went dancing and then we topped it off with a walk along the water. It was such a gorgeous evening, so we stopped on a bridge and talked. It was there that he asked me to marry him. I was so happy, I cried as he slipped the ring he had on my finger. It was the best moment in my life." She looked at her husband. "And it just kept getting better and better after that."
"When did you get married?" Patty asked curiously.
"The next weekend." Margaret replied. "I flew to Crabapple Cove and we got married in the backyard of Ben's home."
"The next weekend!" Peg exclaimed in surprise. "That was fast!"