"I was just remembering the time that Major Houlihan and Major Burns..." At Hawkeye's pointed look the young man corrected. "I mean Margaret and Frank..."
"Who said that you could use my first name, you little creep!" Frank objected in a hostile tone as he glared at Radar.
"I'm sorry, Major..." Radar apologized nervously, his eyes wide with fear.
"That's Lieutenant Colonel to you, Bub!" Frank corrected rudely. "And don't you forget it!"
"Yes sir, Major...I mean Colonel." Radar stumbled awkwardly as he tried to make amends.
"Oh, Frank, why don't you get off your high horse!" B.J. exclaimed in disgust. "We're not in the army any more!"
"That's right Frank." Hawkeye agreed. "You're not second in command anymore. We don't have to listen to your sickening patriotism anymore."
"Okay, lay off you two." Potter remarked, looking at the pair sternly. "We don't need another World War to erupt during dinner. I've been through two already and I don't care to see a third."
"I agree Colonel." Hawkeye shot his old CO a chastised smile. Turning back to Radar he prompted. "So Radar, what was Margaret and Major Disaster over there trying to do to me?"
"Well Hawk, they were trying to get rid of you." Radar replied, looking cautiously at Margaret from the corner of his eye.
"Which time was that, Radar?" Hawkeye laughed as he glanced slyly at his wife. "I'm sure there were numerous times that Margaret and her moronic cohort wanted to get rid of me."
"Colonel!" Frank exclaimed in protest. "I object to being referred to as a 'moronic cohort'."
"Well, that's okay, Frank." Hawkeye piped up in reply. "I object to having to refer to you at all!" Then looking back to Radar he prompted again. "So, come one, Radar. Which time was it?"
"It was when you were pretending to be crazy because you couldn't get a pass to Tokyo for some R&R." Radar explained. "Remember Major...I mean Colonel Burns sent for that psychiatrist to examine you."
Hawkeye laughed. "Oh, yeah. The one that we, ah, set up with Margaret as revenge." He shot his wife a sly smile.
"That was you? You set that up!" She exclaimed in surprise as she turned to face him. "It thought it was all Stuart's doing! You little creep!"
"You tell him, Margaret!" Frank exclaimed in a low tone, eagerly watching the Pierces for signs of severe discord.
"Hey, at least I didn't try to get rid of you!" Hawkeye pointed out, flashing her a mischievous smile. Margaret's quick annoyance vanished as she remembered what she had tried to do to him.
"So, what did do to try to get rid of Hawk, Margaret?" Trapper asked curiously.
"Stuart wanted to take Hawkeye away for observation." Margaret explained.
Trapper laughed heartily. "You were a little too convincing in your craziness, Hawk."
"I should have taken lessons from him instead of wasting my time on trying to keep up with changing fashions." Klinger joked good-naturedly causing the others to laugh heartily.
"Anyway, Henry tried to get Frank and I to convince Stuart that Hawkeye really wasn't crazy, just a highly skilled practical joker." Margaret glanced at her husband and chuckled. "But at the time I would have done anything to get him out of our unit, so I went on about our 'poor sick Hawkeye' . I was such a little fool!"
"Ah, it's okay, my darling Major." Hawkeye put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. "I'll forgive you - in time." He kissed the side of her head and released her.
"Actually Margaret your wish almost came true at one point." B.J. remarked with a laugh. "You did come very close to loosing Hawkeye, though at the time I don't think you would have been too concerned."
"I did? When was that?" She asked, looking at B.J. in surprise, unconsciously reaching over and squeezing Hawkeye's hand.
"Remember not too long after I arrived in Korea, Hawk was listed as dead." The other man replied with a sly chuckle.
"Remember Beej, they even sent the wagon for me and everything." Hawkeye commented, then looking at Peg he added with a chuckle. "The undertaker even came looking for me in the shower." She smiled at him, catching the reference to their previous conversation.
"That's awful!" Trapper commented with a horrified look on his face.
"That's not the worst part." Hawkeye added with a suddenly sober look on his face. "The worst part was that they notified Dad that I had been 'killed' and then they put tight security on all forms of communication because Eisenhower was suppose to be coming over. No calls, no telegrams, nothing."
"Hawk was so desperate to tell his father that he was alive that he grabbed the first hearse home." B.J. laughed, looking mischievously at his friend. "And nothing I said would change his mind."
"So what happened?" Trapper asked. "I'm assuming you didn't get home since I know that you were there until the end of the war."
"That's right." Hawkeye stated with a deep sigh. "I was all packed up and ready to go, but unfortunately the war stopped me. Lots of wounded were coming in and, even though I told B.J. that I didn't care, I couldn't with a clear conscience leave, no matter what the army said."
"I gather that you finally got through to your father." Trapper remarked glancing at the older Dr. Pierce and then back to Hawkeye.
Hawkeye looked at his father, who gave him a reassuring smile before replying. "After a couple of days of pure torture. By the time I had reached him it had been a week since he'd received the telegram from the army. Crabapple Cove had even given me a Memorial Service already."
"What did you think when you heard Hawkeye's voice on the other end of the line?" Trapper asked Dr. Pierce, concern in his eyes.
Daniel's eyes teared up as he thought back to the phone call. "At first I thought that it was a sick joke that some twisted person was playing on me. I figured that there was no way that Hawkeye could be alive, the army had informed me that he was dead."
"And the army never makes a mistake." Hawkeye commented sarcastically to B.J. "Remember the ice cream makers and mosquito netting they sent us one winter when we were low on heating fuel and warm clothes. "
"Or the time they sent us five thousand athletic supporters in place of turkeys. " Trapper replied with a chuckle.
"Oh, yeah, you can never have too many of those!" Hawkeye replied sarcastically.
"Once they sent us spark plugs instead of rectal thermometers." Radar added with a laugh. "The Colonel was very upset about that. He had me use three exclamation points in his letter of complaint. "
"Wow, Colonel, three exclamation points!" Hawkeye exclaimed in mock shock. "We should have washed Radar's pen out with soap!"
"Funny Pierce." Potter replied his tone serious, but his eyes dancing.
"My favorite example of army stupidity is when they sent us five hundred thousand tongue depressors instead of only the five thousand that we requested." Hawkeye commented with an amused chuckle. "I mean, come on. What did Supply think we were going to do with five hundred thousand tongue depressors?"
"Build thousands of little rafts and have a regatta in the cesspool." B.J. suggested with a mischievous smile.
"But, Hawkeye, sending a unit summer equipment in the middle of winter or five hundred thousand tongue depressors isn't exactly the same things as notifying someone that their son is dead when he isn't." Potter pointed out, his tone serious.
"I know that Colonel." Hawkeye nodded in agreement. "I'm just illustrating that the army is very good at making snafoos."
"Trust me, Pierce, I know it well." Potter replied with a big smile. "After 35 years in the army I believe I've seen it all."
"That's what you said before you met us, Colonel." Hawkeye reminded him.
"That's what he said before you went up to the Peace Talks in Pan'mun'juan and some how managed to talk your way in. " B.J. added, shooting his best friend a sly smile.
"That's true, but after spending two years with you two jokers around I'm sure that I've seen it all." The former CO remarked with a teasing smile. "In fact I KNOW I've seen it all!"
"So, Dr. Pierce, once you finally realized that it really was Hawk on the phone, what did you do?" B.J. asked curiously, steering the conversation back to its previous direction.
"Well at first I cried." The older man admitted. "I never thought that I would ever hear his voice again." He smiled affectionately at his son. "Then he told me what had happened, how it was all a clerical mix up. I told him how glad I was to hear his voice and then I apologized for giving away his golf clubs and some of his other belongings. "
"And then I cried." Hawkeye teased with a laugh.
"Well, look on the bright side, Hawk." B.J. piped up in a mischievous tone. "We had one great wake to celebrate your demise."
"You threw him a wake?" Trapper repeated in surprise.
B.J. nodded and smiled mischievously. "I figured I wouldn't be much of a friend if I let him pass away without a party."
Trapper frowned slightly. "And I thought that I had a twisted sense of humor."
"It's okay, Trap." Hawk assured his old bunkmate, coming to B.J.'s defense. "I'm sure I would have wanted it that way. " Trapper's expression sobered slightly as Hawkeye shot a warm smile to B.J. and reached over to clasp his arm.
"Speaking of parties." Peg chimed in with a bright smile. "Remember that wonderful reunion that you all arranged while you were in Korea."
"You had a reunion while you were still in Korea?" Trapper asked, a surprised look on his face. "Wasn't that kind of redundant considering you were all still together at the 4077th."
"It wasn't a reunion for us." B.J. explained. "It was a reunion for all our families in the States."
"They all got together in Manhattan for a big dinner and spent a weekend getting to know each other. " Hawkeye added, shooting B.J. a big smile.
"It was such a wonderful party." Peg exclaimed eagerly. "It was so nice to get to meet the families of everyone that were close to B.J. in Korea. It was such a wonderful feeling to know that we all understood what the other was going through." She smiled warmly at Dr. Pierce. "I especially enjoyed meeting you, Daniel. Knowing how close your son and my husband were, it meant a lot to me to get to know you."
"And I you, my dear." Daniel smiled back. "Hawk spoke of B.J. constantly and how B.J. spoke of you constantly. I was glad to meet you too. To learn what kind of a man my son was hanging around with."
"Whose idea was the reunion?" Trapper asked looking at Hawkeye curiously.
"Beej here was the mastermind behind the whole affair." Hawkeye replied, slapping his buddy on the back enthusiastically. "And it was a wonderful idea!"
"You didn't think it was at first." B.J. pointed out with an amused smile.
"Well, Beej, the first time you brought it up it was a quarter past dead and all I wanted to do was sleep." Hawkeye pointed out, and then looking at the group he replied. "We had just spent 16 hours in surgery and suddenly B.J. gets this idea for a reunion."
"Actually Hawk you're the one that gave me the idea." B.J. informed him. "You were the one that was muttering on about a ten year reunion and how the war would have been over for a month and we'd all have gray hair, except Charles who would by then be keeping his in a box."
Hawkeye glanced at Charles and his still skimpy hairline. "I'm not too far off." He remarked with a sly smile. Charles chuckled sarcastically.
"Anyway, Hawk, I can't take all the credit for the party." B.J. continued. "Besides giving me the idea, you were the one that help carry it through."
"I did?" His friend looked at him in surprise. "How?"
"Radar told me that you were the one that encouraged everyone to write their families about the reunion." B.J. replied, shooting his friend a warm smile. "I have a feeling that if you hadn't done that the reunion idea wouldn't have happened. I really appreciated your support."
"Hey, it was nothing." Hawk brushed it off with a casual shrug of his shoulders. "I knew how important the reunion was to you and I hated to see you do down and out."
"You're a great friend, Hawk." B.J. smiled. "I'm so lucky to have met you. You're one of a kind."
"The finest kind, of course. " Hawkeye commented with teasing smile.
"I'll drink to that." B.J. held up his glass and then took a sip. Some of the others followed suit.