"You know now, I really understand why Ben pulled all those pranks on him at the 4077th." Daniel commented, watching the other man stumble towards the house. "He didn't just do it because Frank's a prime target, he did it to keep from killing him."
"You don't know the half of it." B.J. added with a chuckle.
"What do you mean?" Daniel asked.
"Frank Burns was a burr in everyone's side." Colonel Potter commented. "But especially Hawkeye's."
"They have a mutual dislike for each other." B.J. added.
"Why does Frank dislike Hawkeye so much?" Daniel asked, a puzzled look on his face. "I mean the rest of you all seem to like him."
"We do." Potter commented. "He's just like a son to me."
Daniel smiled at that.
"He's the best friend I ever had." B.J. added causing Trapper to cringe slightly. B.J. then felt bad for making the comment. He'd stated the truth, but he forgot how unwelcome the truth might have been to Trapper.
Trapper continued on seemingly unaffected. "There's a few different reasons why Frank doesn't like Hawk." He stated, looking at Daniel Pierce.
"For one thing, Pierce is a far better surgeon." Potter commented.
"Hawkeye could operate better than Frank blindfolded." Trapper stated with a laugh.
"And he did too." B.J. laughed. At everyone's puzzled look he explained. "Remember when Hawk got flash burns when he was trying to lit the nurses' stove." Some of the group nodded. "Remember he came into O.R., bandaged eyes and all."
"I remember." Klinger grinned. "Just after Major Burns had commented how wonderful it was to work in the O.R. without him there."
B.J. nodded and continued. "Well, I was working on a belly wound and was just about to close when Hawk asked if I had perforated the intestine. He said he had gotten a whiff of bowel. I checked it and found a small nick."
Colonel Potter nodded and looked at Daniel. "Your son is one hell of a doctor."
"I agree." Daniel smiled. "But it's nice to hear someone else say it."
"I remember when Hawk was made Chief Surgeon." Trapper commented. "Boy was Frank sore, and 'Hot Lips'...I mean, Margaret." He corrected himself when he noticed Beth sitting on her grandfather's knee, listening intently to the conversation. He continued. "They felt that Frank should have gotten it, especially since he was of higher rank."
"Fortunately rank has nothing to do with it." Potter commented. "Pierce is 200 times the surgeon Burns could even dream of being."
"He's very gifted." Daniel acknowledged. "He takes his work very seriously."
"I use to worry that he took it too seriously." Potter commented, his tone gentle.
"What do you mean?" Daniel asked.
"One of the reasons that the 4077th had such a high survival rate was due to everyone's dedication and skill." Potter commented. "But in my opinion, the backbone of the operation was Hawkeye. He cared about each and every patient that walked through the door and he took it personally when he lost one. Because of that he did everything he could to save a life."
"A lot of times, it was because of him that we introduced new methods in treatment." Trapper stated, looking at Daniel. "I remember the first time Hawkeye did a heart massage. He saved the kid's life. Unfortunately he only lived for another few hours. Hawk took that very hard."
"Hawkeye cares about people." B.J. added his expression thoughtful. "He saved every life he could in Korea, even those of the enemy. To him a life was a life."
"To Frank on the other hand, a life was only something you had to give for your country." Trapper commented. "He couldn't think of a greater thing you could do."
"It's a good job he wasn't on a draft board." Klinger remarked. "He'd probably have sent them back up to the front after death."
Trapper laughed. "No, that honor was reserved for dead Generals."
"Excuse me?" B.J. asked, a puzzled look on his face.
"Once a General died while 'keeping company' with Margaret." Trapper explained. "So his aid arranged for him to go to the front where there was some fighting so that it would look like he died 'more meaningfully'."
"I remember that." Radar commented. "He had me phoning various areas looking for where there was fighting going on." He looked around the group. "That Colonel was very weird."
"Which is a prerequisite for most Colonels." Trapper commented, then added. "Present Colonel excepted."
"Don't worry, McIntyre." Potter laughed. "I thoroughly agree. I've never met a Colonel yet that can be trusted."
The group laughed heartily.
"Going back to Frank's hatred of Hawk." B.J. commented, shifting the conversation back to the previous topic. "I think that the biggest thing that's gotten Frank's goat is the fact that Margaret is happily married to Hawk."
"I can understand that." Trapper nodded, an amused smile on his face. "It must really bug him to see that ht woman he loved an who he thought loved him in love with and married to the man he despised the most in the whole outfit. I mean I'm Hawk's closest friend and I'm in shock myself. I never would have dreamed that I'd have seen them married - with kids even!"
"Well, I think that it's the greatest thing in the world." B.J. exclaimed heartily. He didn't make any reference to Trapper's claim of being Hawk's 'closest friend'. He knew how jealous Trapper was feeling of his friendship with Hawkeye and he didn't figure it was something to make a big deal about. B.J. knew that Hawkeye considered him to be his best friend, but there was no need to make Trapper feel badly about it, especially in front of his old buddies.
"I agree." Potter nodded in agreement. "I always thought they made a great team - both as professionals and as friends."
"I think that Margaret is the best thing that could have ever happened to Hawkeye." Daniel Pierce remarked in agreement as she smiled loving at his young granddaughter. "She's made him so happy these last eight years." He chuckled softly at some memory. "I remember when he came home from the Medical conference in Chicago. He was almost floating off the ground. When he told me that he'd run into Margaret after the conference, I had a feeling that there was something more than friendship between them. I had always suspected that, actually. Hawkeye's letters from Korea were always filled with stories and comments about her. A lot of times he was complaining about her stricter methods, but reading between the lines I could always tell that he admired her greatly. Then when I saw them together for the first time, that week that Margaret had come to stay with us for the Lobster Festival, I knew for sure that they were perfect for each other."
Trapper snickered loudly. "If you had have seen those two in Korea, you would have never thought that. The way those two went at it sometimes I thought that they were going to kill each other."
Daniel chuckled. "Oh, I'm not surprised. They both have incredibly stubborn natures and they're both very opinionated. But they are also very loving and caring people. And the love that they have for each other is absolutely incredible. I haven't seen anything like it since Hawkeye's mother passed away. She and I use to look at each other with the same expression of love and respect that I see in Hawk and Margaret's faces."
"Hawk said that Margaret reminded you of Mrs. Pierce." B.J. commented, looking at the other man with a warm smile.
Daniel nodded. "My wife was just as warm and loving as Margaret with the same stubborn streak that Margaret has. I think that's where Hawk gets it from, though he's not near as stubborn as his mother."
"How do you like having Hawkeye and Margaret living with you?" Potter asked curiously. "Was is hard for you all to adjust?"
"I don't know." Daniel replied, a thoughtful expression on his face. "I think that its working out very well. Hawkeye and I have always been very close. When he was growing up we only had each other, so we use to do a lot of things together. I really missed him when he was in Korea. It was very lonely living alone in that big old house. I use to think of selling it and moving into an apartment closer to my office, but then I would think ahead to when Hawkeye would come back and hopefully settle down and have a family. I use to picture us all gathered around the fireplace in the living room, talking and laughing, reading stories to my grandchildren, things like that. Thoughts like that didn't make the house seem so big and empty." He looked at his granddaughter again and smiled. "When Hawkeye told me that he was in love with Margaret and wanted to marry her I was thrilled. But then, after they got engaged, he told me that he and Margaret were going to live with me, I was beside myself with joy. The house was going to be alive again."
"Did Margaret take a long time to adjust to the new living arrangements?" Colonel Potter asked, his eyes showing his concern. "How did she feel about the new arrangement."
"She seemed to handle it fine." Daniel replied with a soft smile. "It took her a little while to adjust. When they were first married, I use to spend as many evenings out that I could. I'd go visit some of my old chums, play a few hands of poker or a few rounds of Bingo. I wanted to give them time to be alone and adjust to their new relationship. We all took turns doing various chores since we were all working. Things went fairly smoothly. I was just so glad to have Hawkeye back that I would have done anything to make sure that he and Margaret were happy and comfortable."
"Were you and Margaret always as close as you seem to be now?" B.J. asked, smiling at the older man.
"Not really at first." Daniel admitted. "She was friendly, but fairly distant. She didn't open up to me really. I mean, she'd talk to me and we'd joke around a little bit. We've always had some pretty insane dinner conversation between the three of us, but she didn't really tell me much about herself. And she always called me 'Dr. Pierce'."
"So what happened?" Trapper asked. "How long did it take her to settle in?"
"When she was about seven months pregnant with Rebecca, which was about ten months after they'd gotten married, I was helping her set up the nursery." Daniel related. "We spent hours and hours a day for weeks working on that room and the entire time we'd talk and laugh. I told her stories about Hawkeye's childhood and when he was a baby and some stories about my own life, and she started tell me some stories about her past. She told me about growing up in the army, moving from post to post with her family and how she loved being a nurse. She also told me about her experiences in Korea with Hawkeye and you all. She told me how frustrated he use to make her with his constant joking manner and disregard for anything military, yet how proud he was of his amazing surgical skills and his loving bedside manner. She also told me of her short marriage to that Lieutenant Colonel fellow and how supportive Hawk had been during and after her divorce. She told me many different things, things she said that she'd only shared with Hawkeye before. By the time we were finished the nursery we were very close. For the first time since we'd met, she reached over and gave me a big hug and then with tears in her eyes she said, 'I love you, Dad'. I was never so touched in my life."
"That's wonderful." B.J. commented with a big smile. "I can't tell you have happy I am for Hawk. He is such a terrific guy and he deserves to be happy. And so does Margaret."
"Well, I can assure you, they are very happy." Daniel replied, looking down at his granddaughter again. "I mean, they've had their rough times, but what marriage hasn't. But they've made it through and if you ask me, have come out stronger and closer as a result of it. All you have to do is look in their eyes to see how much love they have for each other."
"They certainly do seem like they're happy." Potter agreed with a gentle smile. "Though I wonder at Margaret's sudden cool departure a few minutes ago."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry too much about that, Sherman." Daniel assured the other man. "After eight years and three pregnancies I can assure you its just normal 'pregnant woman' mood swings."
"But what about Hawkeye?" Trapper asked an amused smirk on his face. "His mood turned pretty quickly too."
"Like I said." Daniel replied with a laugh. "Just normal 'pregnant woman' mood swings." All the experienced fathers in the group laughed heartily in understanding.