Margaret and Hawkeye exchanged another exasperated look. "At least he's getting closer." Hawkeye commented with a small grin. Looking back to the O'Reillys he smiled pleasantly and said. "Radar, Mrs. O'Reilly, please allow me to introduce Margaret to you properly."
"But Hawkeye." Radar protested, looking at his old friend with surprise. "I already know the Major."
"That's right, Radar, you do know 'the Major'." Hawkeye replied with a mischievous smile. "That is you know 'Major Margaret Houlihan who was Head Nurse of the 4077th. But who you don't know is this beautiful woman before you." He reached over and put his arm around Margaret's shoulders.
"Huh?" Radar exclaimed, his face registering his profound confusion. "I don't understand, Hawkeye. Isn't she the same person that she was when she was the Head Nurse of the 4077th? I mean, she's Major Houlihan isn't she?"
"Not anymore, Radar." Hawkeye replied, his grin broadening.
"You mean she's not who she was when she was Major Houlihan who was the Head Nurse at the 4077th?" The younger man asked, his puzzled look deepening.
"That's right." Hawk nodded with a mischievous smile. "She is."
"But, if she is who she was when she was Major Houlihan, then why did you say she isn't the same person that she was when she was Head Nurse Major Houlihan. I mean, if she is who when was when she was Major Houlihan, then who is she now that she's who she is?" Radar rambled in exasperated confusion.
"She still is who she was when she was Major Houlihan, but now she is also who she is now." Hawkeye looked at Margaret with a sarcastic smile on his face. "I think I need a map to follow this conversation." Shaking his head slightly he looked back at Radar and continued. "What I'm trying to say, Radar is that she is more than just the Margaret Houlihan that you knew in Korea. She is now also Mrs. Margaret 'Pierce' - nurse, mother and my dearly beloved wife." Hawkeye finally explained, his eyes dancing with fun at the other man's confused look.
Margaret smiled in amusement at the amount of emphasis he had put on the 'Pierce'. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Mrs. O'Reilly." She greeted the other woman warmly.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, too, Mrs. Pierce." The older woman smiled warmly at her. "I'm so glad to finally get the chance the meet all of Walter's friends from Korea. He use to talk about you all the time. He was really very fond of all of you."
"Well, we were very fond of him, too." Hawkeye smiled warmly at their old company clerk. "We missed him very much after he went home. " He shot an amused look at B.J., Potter and Klinger who were joining the small group. "Didn't we Colonel?"
"Didn't we what, Pierce?" The Colonel questioned curiously as he sat down across from Hawkeye.
"Didn't we miss Radar after he left Korea?" Hawkeye replied, shooting his best friend and Radar's replacement a mischievous look.
"That we did!" Potter exclaimed and gave Radar a fatherly smile. "Your departure left quite a void in camp."
"And quite an upheaval of emotions." Hawkeye added, glancing at B.J. slyly.
Potter smiled mischievously at the pair that were most affected by Radar's leaving Korea and then back to Radar as he commented. "Your leaving caused Hunnicutt to use poor Pierce here as a punching bag."
Radar's hand flew to him face as he looked at the pair in surprise. "I was the reason that B.J. decked you? Wow!" Looking at his former mentor he said sincerely. "I'm sorry, Hawk! If I'd known I would cause problems between you and B.J. I would never have left."
Hawkeye and B.J. looked at each other and chuckled heartily. "It's not your fault, Radar." B.J. assured him with a soft smile. "It was mine."
"It wasn't even yours, Beej." Hawkeye told his best friend. "You couldn't help feeling homesick, it's just natural when you've been so far away from home for that long." B.J. smiled warmly at his friend, grateful that he was so understanding. But then having been stuck in Korea for longer than most of them he was bound to know what it was like to be severely homesick.
"How did Klinger settle into my job?" Radar asked the Colonel curiously, glancing at his replacement.
Potter also looked over at the other man, giving him a broad smile. "It took quite a while for Klinger to fit into your old job." Paused for a moment and then chuckled. "But I think it took the rest of us longer to allow him the room to fit into your job. We kept expecting him to instantly be as efficient as you were at the job. In time he did a very good job." He shot Klinger a sly look as he added. "Of course he never did do the job exactly the same way that you did it. He found his own way, one that I don't think anyone could have ever imitated."
"He became quite the little shyster." B.J. teased, giving Klinger a mischievous smile. "He even managed to get us the supplies needed to rebuild the still. I don't know how he did it, but he did it."
"It was that Lebanese tongue of his." Hawkeye teased, shooting his old friend a mischievous look. "I believe Colonel Potter once said that 'it could fertilize forty acres."
Everyone chuckled and settled down to eat and visit. Before too long the adults were slowly gathering together in a large circle while the kids ate together on a blanket under the big oak tree. Erin Hunnicutt and Radar and Patty's oldest daughter, Jacqueline had volunteered to look after the younger children while the parents visited.
"This food is wonderful ladies." Hawkeye exclaimed after eating a few bites. "It's absolutely delicious."
"It's a good thing they didn't try to make this reunion really authentic and get some recipes from our old chef." Trapper laughed as he and his wife joined the group.
Hawkeye nodded in agreement. "That's what I said to Beej and Margaret when Radar announced that supper was ready. I think they had a lot of nerve calling that garbage they use to serve us 'food'."
Trapper began to chuckle. "I don't think my stomach will ever recover."
"At least you only had to eat it for a year." Hawkeye protested eagerly. "Margaret, Klinger, Father Mulcahy and I had to endure it for three years. Do you know how many meals that adds up to? Three years at three meals a day, that's over three thousand meals! No wonder my stomach nearly dropped out of my body when it had its first Stateside meal. It had forgotten what real food looked like!"
Trapper laughed harder at his friend's food related tantrum. He had heard such ravings on many occasions. One in particular came to mind. "Hey, Hawk, remember the riot that you started in the Mess Tent when they were only serving us liver or fish."
Hawkeye laughed at the memory. "I remember."
"So do I!" Klinger piped up. "During his little tantrum he got succotash all over my stole!"
"Hey, don't complain." Hawkeye exclaimed between fits of laughter. "I got your skunk cleaned for you."
"I know, but the indignity of it all was overwhelming!" Klinger exclaimed a mock offended tone. "How could you do that to a soldier?"
"Oh, I'd never think of doing such a thing to a soldier." Hawkeye protested in a righteous tone. "But you're a different story." Klinger smiled and began to chuckle heartily along with his friend.
"Hawk, remember the trouble that we went to to get those BBQ spare ribs sent over from Chicago?" Trapper chuckled.
"Yeah, and then just as we were about to eat them the wounded arrived." Hawkeye added, a slightly annoyed tone in his voice.
Looking at B.J. Trapper laughed in amusement. "You should have seen how disappointed Hawk was when we had to leave the ribs behind. Henry and I had to literally drag him out of the Mess Tent and into OR."
"That would be quite the sight!" B.J. agreed. "Usually we had to drag him INTO the Mess Tent!" Shooting his buddy a mischievous smile he asked. "So, what happened to the ribs?"
"We ate them later, after we finished up in OR." Hawkeye replied, a big smile on his face as he remembered the meal.
"You should have seen Hawkeye devour them." Trapper laughed at the memory. "You would have sworn that he hadn't eaten in months."
"Well, I figured that if I didn't eat them fast, I may not get a chance to eat them at all." Hawkeye remarked with a small grin. "That crummy war messed up more than one good party!"
"Ah, but we certainly had some great parties, didn't we, Hawk?" B.J. remarked, a large smile on his face.
"Did we ever!" Hawkeye nodded in agreement.
"Remember the party that we had after Henry appointed you Chief Surgeon?" Trapper asked causing Hawkeye to laugh at the memory. "Remember your little acceptance speech?"
Hawkeye laughed harder and then remarked. "You never did tell me what I got on the 'humble meter'."
"Ten." Trapper replied with a laugh. "No, make that eleven. You get an extra point for lying with a straight face." The others laughed in amusement.
"I wish I had have been there." Margaret commented, looking at Hawkeye with a proud smile. "I wish I had have realized then what a terrific doctor Ben is and what a wonderful man he is. Now I feel so proud that he was appointed Chief Surgeon of our unit."
"Of course you do." Frank mumbled under his breath. "You little back stabber." Fortunately nobody heard his self pitying comment.
"Hey, Hawk, speaking of parties!" B.J. exclaimed excitedly. "Remember the 'Anti-Green' party that we had for you to celebrate your bone-headed trip to the peace talks?"
"I remember." Hawkeye laughed heartily. "I returned home from Pan' Mon' Juan to find that everyone had turned an appealing shade of red while I was gone."
"Red?" Trapper repeated, a puzzled look on his face. Hawkeye nodded in confirmation.
"We took red dye and dyed everything red." B.J. explained with an amused laugh. "We dyed our clothes, our hair, the decorations. It was very vibrant!" Everyone who had been there laughed at the memory, even Charles.
"Where did you ever get that idea from?" Trapper asked, a deeply amused look on his face. "It's positively crazy!"
"Hawk." B.J. smirked and gestured to his best friend with a hearty laugh. "He had been complaining that he was sick of green. Everything was green. He said he wanted something different to liven up things and red was the color that he suggested that he would like to see more of. So, in his honor we designed a new uniform - right down to the hair."
"It was the most insane party that the 4077th ever saw!" Hawkeye remarked as he and the rest laughed heartily at the memory. "Wouldn't you agree, Margaret?" He asked, giving her a mischievous smile.
She smiled at him and nodded in agreement. "And I actually got to enjoy that one." She laughed heartily. "And boy did I enjoy it!"
"Remember when that Major came down from the Peace Talks to deliver that message from that General?" B.J. commented, beginning to laugh harder. "He didn't know what to think of our little shindig."
"That Major had me majorly worried at first." Margaret admitted, looking warmly at Hawkeye. "I thought for sure that Ben was in serious trouble. I fully expected the MPs to come in and haul him away."
"I remember you were concerned." B.J. commented with a mischievous grin. "I believe you came to Hawk's defense and were clinging to him rather protectively."
"Well, I was quite literally scared that he was going to be hauled off to the stockade." She replied, reaching over to squeeze Hawkeye's hand lovingly. "And I couldn't bear the thought of that happening. I had come to rely on him too much to lose him." Radar chuckled loudly at her comment. Margaret looked at him in surprise. "What's so funny, Radar?" Her tone was bordering curt, but her face showed it was more from surprise then anger.
"Oh, nothing Ma'am." Radar apologized sheepishly. He was still very nervous of her, even though he was no longer a young Corporal under her stiff military authority.
"Come on, Radar." Hawkeye encouraged with a mischievous smile. "Out with it. What's so funny."