"True." Hawkeye nodded in agreement, glancing lovingly at his wife. "I guess you never know who will make a happy couple." He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss.
Margaret smiled at him and then turned to address the older woman who was still standing before them, watching them curiously. "How are you doing, Mrs. Potter?" She noted the tired look on the older woman's face.
"Here, pull up a chair." B.J. offered, getting up to retrieve a chair for the woman so she could sit down.
"Thank you, B.J. dear." Mildred Potter gave him a warm smile and then turned back to Margaret.
"I'm doing fine, dear." She assured the younger woman. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay." Margaret replied, giving the woman a soft smile. "I feel bad though, I should be helping you all with supper."
"She's been given doctor's and hostess' orders to take it easy." Hawkeye explained. "Unfortunately she's not very good at obeying them."
"Well, it's hard for a woman who's use to being up and about and doing things to just sit idle." Mrs. Potter commented, giving Margaret an understanding smile. "It would do you well to remember that, my boy." Hawkeye and Margaret exchanged amused smiles as she continued. "Now, if I'm not mistaken you are that rapscallion that Sherm was always telling me about. Hawkeye Pierce, right?"
"The one and only." Hawkeye replied with a hearty chuckle. "And you must be his charming wife. I've seen your picture a thousand times I'm sure."
"Yeah, every time he was called to the Colonel's office." Margaret teased, shooting her husband a mischievous smile.
"Sherman spoke very highly of you, of all of you. Said that you were the best medical team that he'd ever had the honor of working with. " Mildred commented with a warm smile. "He is very fond of all of you. In all the years that he's been in the service I've never heard him speak so affectionately about any other unit as he does about this one. In a lot of ways you are like his extended family. "
"Thank you, Mrs. Potter." Hawkeye smiled warmly at her. "That means a lot to us. We think the world of him too."
"I know he's especially proud of you two." Mildred commented, looking at Hawkeye and Margaret. "He is tickled pink about your marriage and your family. He thinks it's the greatest thing in the world. It makes him happy to know that something good came out of all the horror that you all had to go through."
"That's how I feel." Hawkeye remarked, tightening his arm around his wife and putting the other one around his daughter. He leaned forward and kissed his daughter on the head and then his wife on the lips.
Rebecca smiled at her parents for a moment and then looking at B.J. and Mrs. Potter remarked, "They're always doing that."
Margaret and Hawkeye laughed at their daughter's observation. "Tattle tale." Her father teased as he began to tickle her gently. Rebecca began to laugh and squirm, trying to get away from her father's hand. After a few moments, he stopped so that she could catch her breath. She leaned against his knee and smiled up at him, a mischievous look on her face. Hawkeye returned the smile with one of his own.
"Daddy?" She said after a few moments.
"Yes, Peanut." He replied, putting his arm around her shoulders again.
"I was wondering when Clara can come and visit us." She looked at him hopefully and added. "Next week?"
Hawkeye glanced at his wife, who was frowning slightly. He could tell by her look that she must have already given an answer to that very question. One that Rebecca obviously didn't like.
"Please, Daddy, can she come?" Rebecca pleaded. Hawkeye looked back to his oldest daughter and smiled broadly when he saw her expression. She was giving him her famous 'puppy dog' eyes, the ones she always used when she really wanted something. Hawkeye and Margaret exchanged amused smiles. They both knew how hard it was for Hawkeye to resist that look, it always managed to melt his heart and made it hard for his to remain firm in his decision.
Laughing gently, Hawkeye reached down and picked up his daughter, setting her on his knee and giving her a quick hug. Clara watched the pair carefully, a mild look of envy on her young face. Margaret caught the look and felt her heart twist with sympathy. She doubted very much that Charles had ever picked her up and held her on his knee while he talked to her. Hawkeye did that with the girls all the time, he'd hold them while he listened to how their day went, while he explained to them why something they did was wrong, while listening to their problems. Margaret sometimes wondered how he would take it when they got too big to want to cuddle on their father's knee.
"Did Mommy say when Clara could come and visit?" Hawkeye was asking their daughter, a serious expression on her face. Rebecca looked at her mother and nodded slowly. "When did she say?" He pressed.
"Mommy said she could come after the baby came." She replied truthfully, though not very happily.
"Well, then as soon as the baby is born and settled and we've all adjusted to the change then Clara is more than welcome to come for a visit. Okay." Hawkeye replied, giving both girls a warm smile.
"Okay." Rebecca nodded, giving her father a small smile.
"And you know better than to try to get what you want from me when Mommy told you the answer already." Hawkeye gently reprimanded. "Right."
"Yes, Daddy." The little girl replied, lowering her eyes guiltily.
"Good, so that means that you won't do it again, right?" He pressed firmly, but kindly.
"Yes, Daddy." She replied.
"That's my girl." He said, hugging her tightly to him. Rebecca lifted her head and planted a loving kiss on his cheek.
"Thank you, Daddy." She said. Then she leaned over and kissed her mother's cheek. "Thank you, Mommy." Wrapping an arm around each of their necks she added. "I love you." Her parents smiled at her lovingly.
"We love you too, Peanut." Hawkeye replied, wrapping an arm around both of them.
B.J. smiled as he watched the trio. They looked so happy, they seemed to have a very strong bond between them.
"Why don't you girls go inside and wash up for supper." Margaret suggested after a few minutes. She was really beginning to feel bad for Clara. The intense look of longing in her eyes as she watched Hawkeye and Rebecca nearly broke Margaret's heart. She was so glad that Hawkeye had turned out to be such a loving father. He absolutely adored his girls and was very free about showing it. "We'll be eating supper shortly." Margaret added, smiling at both girls warmly.
"Okay, Mommy." Rebecca replied, jumping down off her father's knee. "Come on, Clara." She encouraged as she grabbed her new friend's hand. "Let's go wash our hands so we can eat." The two girls took off for the house at a run, nearly colliding into Sydney and Klinger who were heading their way.
"Careful girls!" Margaret called after them. "Watch where you're going!"
"I'll go with them." Mrs. Potter volunteered, rising from her chair. With a mischievous look at Hawkeye. "I'll go make sure that Rebecca doesn't let any of that Pierce mischief she no doubt inherited get her into trouble."
Margaret chuckled and gratefully replied. "Thank you, Mrs. Potter. I really appreciate it."
Klinger and Sydney both chuckled in amusement as they sat down to join the Pierces and B.J.
"I wish I had their energy." Sydney commented glancing at the young pair as they entered the house.
"I'd settle for half." Klinger added, his eyes dancing with amusement. The others chuckled in agreement.
"How have you guys been?" Margaret asked, smiling warmly at her two old comrades.
"Fine. Just fine." Sydney smiled a big jovial smile. "How have you been?"
"Great!" Margaret replied, her eyes dancing with excitement.
"I can tell!" He exclaimed with a merry chuckle. "You're absolutely glowing."
"It's pregnancy, does it to her every time." Hawkeye teased, giving his wife a mischievous smile.
"Actually it's the excitement of seeing everyone again." Margaret replied, giving her husband a mock annoyed smile. Then she glanced around the yard where everyone was scattered, talking in various sized groups. "Since we left Korea I've missed everyone so much."
"Some people more than others." Sydney teased, glancing pointedly at Hawkeye.
Margaret smiled at her husband as he put his arm around her shoulders. "I guess you could say that." She commented.
Sydney glanced at the two of them and smiled. "I still can't believe it. I never would have imagined that you two would end up together."
The couple smiled at each other in amusement. "That seems to be the general reaction." Hawkeye laughed, looking at Sydney mischievously. "I don't understand why, though. After all we got along so well while we were there." He turned his mischievous grin on his wife. The others laughed in amusement.
"So, Major, what do you think of the famous Crabapple Cove?" Klinger asked curiously, looking at Margaret. "Is it as beautiful as Hawkeye always said it was?"
Margaret nodded and replied. "Even more so." She smiled broadly and added. "Crabapple Cove is absolutely perfect!"
Klinger smiled softly and remarked. "You're just saying that because its your hometown."
Margaret looked at Klinger with mild surprise, then gave him a soft smile. She hadn't thought about it before, but she supposed that he was right. After years of being an 'army brat', drifting from one post to another without roots, without connections, she had finally found herself a true home. One where she had her family and where she had roots firmly planted in love. She was no longer an outcast, a drifter. She had a home in Crabapple Cove where she was surrounded by her family and by love.
"You know, Klinger." She looked at him and replied. "I think you might be right."
Klinger's smile deepened as he reached over and gave her hand a squeeze. "Congratulations...Margaret." He said her name softly, almost hesitatingly.
She smiled back. "Thank you, Max." She gave his hand a squeeze in return.
Suddenly a horrible shriek filled the air. "That sounds like Beth!" Hawkeye exclaimed, jumping out of his chair in alarm. Before he could take a step, he saw his youngest daughter come flying across the yard, tears streaming down her red cheeks. Behind her was Ben Hunnicutt and Paul Klinger, hot on her heels. The two boys chased after her until they realized where she was headed. When they spotted their fathers standing anxiously beside Beth's worried father they veered to the right and ducked behind the big oak tree that was growing in the middle of the backyard. Beth ran straight for her father's arms.
"Shortcake, what's the matter?" Hawkeye asked as he gathered his daughter to him. Beth only wrapped her arms around his neck and continued to sob on his shoulder.
"What's the matter, Sweetheart?" Margaret asked as she began to stroke her daughter's back when Hawkeye sat down in the chair he had just abandoned. Beth didn't reply, she only continued to sob uncontrollably.
"Hawk is she okay?" Daniel Pierce asked anxiously as he rushed up to them. He was more than slightly winded from his quick walk across the yard. B.J. jumped back out of the chair that he had just reclaimed and offered it to the older man. Daniel sat down, flashed B.J. a grateful smile and then turned his attention back to family. "Is she hurt? What happened?"
"I don't know." Hawkeye replied, examining his daughter carefully. "She doesn't seem to be hurt."
"I wonder what happened." Margaret exclaimed, an anxious look on her face as she reached over to brush the hair off her daughter's wet face. "Sweetheart, what's wrong? Did somebody hurt you?"
"She's not hurt, just scared." A young voice replied. Margaret looked up to see one of Radar's daughters standing a couple of feet away. "Ben and Paul locked her in the little playhouse." Margaret glanced over to the play area and noticed the small little house sitting beside the slide. It was a very cute little building with a window that had shutters closed over it and a small little door in the front. "I tried to stop them from locking the door, but they wouldn't listen."
"How did she get out?" Hawkeye exclaimed in horror as he patted his youngest daughter's back reassuringly. He had also looked at the little house across the yard.
"They let her out as soon as she started screaming." The young girl told him. "And boy, can she sure scream!"
"She has claustrophobia. She can't stand small confined places." Margaret explained, looking at her daughter sympathetically. "She takes after her father."