"That's true." Margaret nodded with a laugh. "How many times did he get into trouble for treating the enemy just because he viewed all people equal and deserving of medical attention if they were injured." She laughed, giving him a sly look. "He even helped save Frank's life once or twice."
"For that I should have been court-martialed and hanged." He stated with a laugh.
"Frank would have been very happy to have seen to that." B.J. laughed. "It would have saved him all the trouble of trying to think up reasons himself."
"Oh, shut up, Mr. Wiseapple." Frank spat angrily, glaring at B.J. angrily.
"So, you two got married the weekend after Hawkeye proposed." Peg commented, trying to head off the argument that Frank was obviously picking for. "That wouldn't have given you much time to prepare."
Margaret shrugged gently. "We didn't need to do much. We didn't want a big, fancy wedding. It was just small and simple. Just Ben's father, my parents, the minister and a few other people." The couple smiled at each other, love burning in their eyes. "We decided that we'd wasted enough time, we just wanted to be together. So, we got the license, called my parents and made the arrangements."
"What did your parents think?" Patty asked Margaret curiously.
"They were very surprised at first." Margaret replied with a soft chuckle.
"Actually, your mother was surprised." Hawkeye laughed gently looking at his wife with amusement. "Your father was furious."
"True." Margaret laughed at the recollection.
"Why was your dad so mad?" Louise McIntyre asked Margaret with a surprised tone in her voice.
"He didn't like Ben." Margaret replied simply than added. "Dad's a very tough Colonel. He's very military. He didn't think that I should marry anybody who didn't have a solid military background. He'd pulled Ben's record and was appalled by the number of reprimands given him for unmilitary behavior."
"Don't look at me." Colonel Potter exclaimed, throwing his hands up in surrender. "I never wrote a word of it. If I had of tried, I would have gotten writer's cramp and my entire cabinet would have been labeled 'Pierce'...and 'Hunnicutt' too, I suppose." He shot both men an amused smile.
"Don't worry, Colonel." B.J. laughed good-naturedly. "We all know who was responsible for all the charges and reprimands." He shot Frank a deadly look.
"You'd better believe it buddy." Frank piped up with sneer. "I wasn't going to let you goldbricks walk all over me like you did Colonel Blake and Colonel Potter. Sorry, sir." He looked at Colonel Potter apologetically.
"Oh, stuff it, Burns." Potter commented in annoyance.
"Dad was also afraid that I was rushing into things like I did with Donald." Margaret commented, continuing her explanation. "But, one thing he didn't take into account was the fact that I'd know Ben a lot longer than I'd known Donald. We'd interacted with each other everyday for the entire war, we knew each others good and bad points, each others strengths and failings. And in a way, we complimented each other." She shot him a teasing look. "He's the joker and I'm the sensible one." Hawkeye shot her a mock injured look as everyone laughed.
"So what happened?" Peg pressed eagerly.
"Well, Dad did his best to talk me out of marrying Ben." Margaret replied. "He told me that I was making the biggest mistake of my life and that I would regret it sooner or later. I told him the biggest mistake I'd ever made was not letting myself realize sooner how much Ben meant to me. If I hadn't been trying so hard to be tough 'Major Houlihan' and follow in my father's footsteps then I might have allowed myself to act upon the feelings that I'd had for him while we were still in Korea. I would have saved myself the heartache of believing I was in love with Donald when the whole time I was actually in love with Ben."
"What did your Dad say to that?" B.J. asked. "Did he relent?"
"No, he didn't back down." Margaret shook her head sadly. "And neither did I. So, then he went after Ben."
"He tried to convince me that I wasn't good enough for her." Hawkeye said, continuing the story. "He told me that I'd never be able to care for a wife and a family, if 'God forbid we had any children' to quote Alvin Houlihan directly, because I wasn't disciplined enough." He looked at B.J. and smiled. "And I'm sure you remember how forcefully he gets his point across.
B.J. laughed and nodded. "What did you do?"
"I tried the tactful approach, which worked about as well then as it had in Korea." Hawkeye laughed. "So, then I used his approach - firm and angry."
"So, what happened?" B.J. pressed, his tone concerned.
"Same as before." Hawk smiled. "He left in a huff."
"So, what finally changed his mind?" Trapper asked trying to get in on what was quickly turning into a solitary conversation between Hawkeye and B.J.
"Later on that night he heard us talking out on the porch." Hawkeye replied. "We were sitting together on the porch swing, talking about Korea and all the funny and horrible things that we'd been through together."
"He was telling me that during those horrible years, I was the strength that kept him going." Margaret added. "He said he knew that he would get through everything alright as long as I was there. And that if I stuck by him now, we could make it through anything that life threw at us. Then he told me how much he had loved me in Korea and how much more he loved me now."
"I had realized during those five months that we'd been seeing each other why I hadn't gotten close to anyone after leaving Korea." Hawkeye continued putting his arms around his wife. "It was because I had already given my heart to Margaret. She was always in the back of my mind. She was the only woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."
"What did your father think of what he heard?" Peg asked, her eyes wet with unshed tears.
"When we went back inside, Dad called both of us into the living room." Margaret explained. "He told us very sternly that he had done some serious thinking and that he had changed his mind about our wanting to get married. He said that after much thought and consideration he realized that even though Ben doesn't have the brightest military record he was obviously a wonderful doctor and a very loving human being, and that if we loved each other as much as we say we do, then that should be all that really mattered."
"Oh, that's so wonderful." Patty sighed happily.
"And ever since then, we've gotten along fine." Hawkeye concluded with a smile.
"Oh, I'm so happy for you both." Patty exclaimed with a warm smile.
"Thanks." Margaret smiled back at their hostess.
"And what about you two." Hawkeye commented, looking at Patty and Radar with a big smile. "I can't believe our little Radar is married with two little girls."
"It seems like only yesterday we were tucking him and his teddy bear in at night." B.J. teased.
"Ah, come on." Radar objected.
"And here he is a grown man, a husband and a father." Hawkeye pronounced, his smile widening. "I'm very proud of you Radar."
Radar smiled broadly. "Thank you, Hawk. I really appreciate you saying that."
"I think you've all made very good lives for yourselves." Potter added. "I'm prouder than a peacock."
"Who would have thought that the children you raised would have turned out so well, aye Colonel." Hawkeye joked.
"Hey, I'd like to take some of that credit too." Daniel Pierce piped up, a mock hurt look in his eyes.
"I'd like to propose a toast." Hawkeye lifted his lemonade glass to his father and his former C.O. "To the two greatest fathers a doctor could ever have."
"Here. Here." Everyone echoed, except Frank, who huffily muttered:
"Don't get all mushy." "Frank, why don't you button up before I permanently rearrange your teeth." Hawkeye threatened angrily.
"I'd do it if I were you, Frank." Trapper advised. "He's already nailed you once today."
"Oh, shut up you butt-in-ski." Frank replied with hostility. "I didn't ask you."
"You're just lucky that there are children present, Frank or you'd get what I've been wanting to give you since the day we met." Hawkeye warned, his eyes flashing with anger.
"Your threats don't scare me, Pierce." Frank shot back. "I could take you with two hands tied behind my back."
"Now, that's not a back idea." Trapper commented to B.J. The two men smiled in amusement.
"Will you two stop this." Margaret exclaimed, a tone of annoyance in her voice. "You both sound like a couple of spoiled children." She looked at her husband and added. "If you heard the girls saying things like that you'd spank them."
Hawkeye hung his head slightly. He knew she was right. He was behaving like a spoiled child. He knew he shouldn't let old 'Ferret Face Burns' get to him, but he did. And his irritation with the man seemed greater today than ever before and he couldn't figure out why. He had always disliked Frank Burns, but today it was almost bordering on hatred.
Movement beside Hawkeye brought him out of him revelry. Margaret was struggling to stand up. With a puzzled look he helped her to her feet and held her hand as she stepped off the swing.
"I'll be right back." She said tersely as she walked around the group that had gathered beside the swing.
"Do you need me to help you?" He asked, his hand still on her arm.
Shaking her head she replied. "No, thank you, I can handle things myself." She walked towards the house, her head held high and her expression stony. Hawkeye recognized the body language immediately, she was clearly very upset. He sat down with a sigh. He hated it when he made her mad, the outcome was always unpleasant for both of them.
"Trouble in paradise, huh Pierce?" Frank jabbed, a triumphant look on his face. "I knew things weren't as happy as you made them appear to be."
"Come on, ladies." Patty rose, sensing the tension between the two men. "Why don't we go and finish getting supper ready? Everyone must be about starved." The ladies all rose and followed Patty into the house.
Hawkeye, who had been glaring at Frank, also rose from his seat. "I'm going to go for a walk." He informed the rest of the group. "I'll be back in a while."
"Hawk, do you want some company?" B.J. asked, concern in his voice. Hawkeye looked at him for a moment. The look in his eyes nearly broke B.J.'s heart. "No, I'll be okay Beej." He finally replied. "You guys just carry on with your conversation. I'll be back later. I just have to cool off a little."
"You sure, Hawk?" B.J. pressed, his tone still full of concern.
"I'm sure." He turned and started walking, then after a couple of steps stopped and turned his head. "Hey, Beej."
"Yeah, Hawk." B.J. looked at him with mild surprise.
"Thanks." He smiled warmly at his friend.
B.J. smiled back. "Your welcome." He continued to watch his friend as he turned and walked towards the front of the house.
"What's his problem?" Frank asked in a puzzled tone as he watched his old nemesis walk away.
"You and your big mouth." B.J. exclaimed in annoyance. "Why can't you leave the poor guy alone?"
"I didn't do anything." Frank protested in a whiny voice. "He's the one who's in a snit."
"He's not in a snit, Frank." B.J. warned. "He's trying not to give into the urge he has to beat you up again. And trust me, its an extremely powerful urge."
"And its very contagious one as well." Trapper added seriously.
"Oh, sure, take Pierce's side." Frank complained. "You always do. Everyone always liked him better, he was always 'Mr. Hotshot'. Well, I don't have to stand here and listen to you all praising and defending him." He straightened up and faced Trapper and B.J. "If you need me I'll be inside - waiting for an apology."
"I'm afraid you'll be waiting an awful long time." B.J. called after him.