While B.J. and Hawkeye had been talking about the reunion, Beth had come up beside her mother and quietly asked. "Mommy, can I have another bun?"
Margaret turned her attention from the two men to her daughter and asked. "Have you eaten your dinner?"
"Most of it." The little girl replied with a small nod. "But can I have another bun to go with the rest?"
Margaret smiled and nodded her head. "Go and see if Daddy will give you some of his." Beth moved around her mother's chair and came up beside her father.
"Daddy." She said as she tugged on the sleeve of his beloved Hawaiian shirt.
Hawkeye turned his head and smiled at his little girl. "Can I help you, little lady?" Without a word, Beth reached up and grabbed half of his bun off his plate. "What do you think your doing, my little monkey?" His daughter merely gave him a mischievous grin. "Did I say you could have that?" He tried to sound stern, but his eyes were dancing with merriment.
Beth shook her head hard enough to make her dark hair bounce around her shoulders. She always reminded Hawkeye of Margaret when she did that. "Mommy did." Was Beth's simple reply.
"Mommy did, eh?" He glanced at his wife with a mischievous smile causing Beth to giggle when she saw the look. Hawkeye set his plate on the ground beside his chair and leaned forward, supporting his weight with his arms on the arms of the chair. Lacing his fingers together he looked at her with mock seriousness as he commented in a gentle tone. "The least you can do is give me a bite of it before you eat it all up."
Beth looked thoughtful for a second and then held the bun out to him, giving him a broad smile as he leaned over to take a bite. Just as his mouth was about to close over it, she pulled it away and giggled mischievously.
"Oh, you want to play do you?" He cried in amusement as she ducked behind his seat and took off at a run around the group, glancing tauntingly at him as she went. Her father laughed and started after her. "I'm going to get that bite!" He called after her. Beth continued to run, giggling the entire time. The group of adults started laughing heartily as they watched Hawkeye chasing Beth around the yard.
"You know there was a time that I didn't think I would ever see Hawkeye this relaxed around little kids again." Sydney commented to Margaret, a serious look on his face as he watched the pair. "I was really worried about him."
"So was I." Margaret replied with a thoughtful look on her face. "It wasn't until after I found out that I was pregnant with Rebecca that he told me about what had been responsible for his break down in Korea. After that I was scared stiff about how he would handle being a father. I was scared that having a baby would cause some sort of relapse or something."
"He waited until after you were pregnant to tell you the reason for his breakdown?" Sydney repeated in surprise. He looked thoughtful for a minute. "I wonder why he waited so long to tell you."
"I think he tried to tell me before." Margaret told the psychiatrist seriously. "But, I think that he found it very difficult to talk about. He felt so responsible for that baby's death."
"But what happened wasn't Hawkeye's fault." Sydney protested earnestly. "He didn't want it to happen, and he didn't cause it. It was the baby's mother that smothered it."
"Because Hawkeye told her to keep it quiet." Margaret remarked with a sad look. "I know it wasn't his fault, and part of him knows that it wasn't his fault either. "But there's another part that can't seem to accept that he's not at least partially responsible. Fortunately, he has learned to deal with his feelings of guilt." She laughed as she watched her husband who was now crawling under the buffet table as Beth darted in and out from under it. "He certainly hasn't let it affect his relationship with his girls. He's very close to them and loves them very much."
"I can tell." Sydney laughed as he watched the pair. "They certainly do seem very close."
"They are." Margaret nodded. "They are like two peas in a pod those two."
"I believe it!" The psychiatrist smiled as he watched Hawkeye brush off his knees and then take off after Beth again. "He seems to be a wonderful father."
"He is." She nodded and looked lovingly at her husband. "He's a wonderful father and a terrific husband."
"I'm glad." Their old friend smiled warmly. "And you do seem like a very happy family."
"Thank you, Sydney." Margaret returned the smile. "We certainly are."
"Margaret, I can't tell you how delighted I was when Hawkeye finally told us that you two were married." B.J. piped up, also giving his old friend a warm smile. "I am so glad that two of my dearest friends have found true love and happiness." He chuckled as he watched his best friend continue to tease his young daughter. "You two are both very special. You deserve each other, you deserve to be happy."
"Thank you, B.J." Margaret smiled at him. "That's very sweet of you to say."
"Well, I mean it." He assured her sincerely. Then with a mischievous grin added, "And I'm glad to hear that you haven't had the same unpleasant experience with Hawk that you had with that Penobscott idiot."
She chuckled gently at B.J.'s description of Donald. She knew that both he and Hawk were very indignant over the way that Donald had treated her. They had both supported her decision when she had decided to file for a divorce. Of course Hawkeye's pleasure over it was more than just friendly, he had other reasons to cheer besides the fact that she was detaching herself from a good for nothing louse. He had admitted to her several years later that by that time he was deeply in love with her. "I gather Hawk has told you about Carley Walton." She commented in response to his remark.
"Just in passing." B.J. replied. "He told me that she'd showed up again a little while ago."
Margaret nodded. "About six months ago." She looked over to Hawkeye and Beth and laughed as her husband finally grabbed their daughter around the waist and lifted her off her feet. The little girl squealed with laughter. "Did he tell you about my conversation with her after she'd left the hospital?"
B.J. shook his head, a look of surprise on his handsome face. "No, he didn't. But like I said, he only mentioned her in passing."
"After seeing her at the hospital the girls and I bumped into her at the coffee shop across the street." Margaret explained, still watching the teasing pair. "The girls and I had stopped at the hospital hoping to catch Ben in time to get him to join us for a coffee break. I had just been to my obstetrician and found out that I was pregnant with 'Junior' here and wanted to tell Ben before the whole town got wind of it. That's one thing about a small town, news travels fast, especially good news. Unfortunately, he had just taken his break with Carley, but he promised to try to duck out for a few minutes as soon as he could. We told him that we'd wait for him across the street at the coffee shop. While we were waiting, Carley walked in. She looked very upset and was so lost in her own little world that she didn't even notice us as she walked to the back of the little shop. I felt rather sorry for her, I could tell by her posture that she felt rather dejected, so I left the girls to eat their treats and joined her at her table. It was rather awkward at first, for both of us, but we ended up having a pleasant conversation. She seemed very interested in how Hawk and I had gotten together, especially about how he reacted to things while we were dating and how he proposed. She told me that Hawkeye had proposed to her once, while we were in Korea, but that he had sounded so unsure about it that she couldn't accept, despite the fact that she really wanted to. I think she was really in love with him, and to be honest, I think she still is." She glanced at her husband and daughter for a moment before looking back to B.J. "Anyway, things were going fine until Ike, the coffee shop owner came over to the table to congratulate me on the coming baby." At B.J.'s surprised expression she laughed. "My obstetrician's secretary is Ike's sister-in-law's second cousin."
"You're right, news does travel fast in a small town." B.J. chuckled.
"What did Carley say?" Peg asked curiously. She had been listening quietly to the conversation, but she was dying to know what had happened.
"She looked at me with a surprised look on her face and quietly asked, 'You're pregnant?' I nodded and her face turned more sorrowful. I felt like I had just told her someone had died. Then she asked me if Hawkeye knew yet. I told her that I had just found out about an hour ago and was waiting for Hawk to meet me as soon as he could get away so that I could tell him. Just as I said that the door opened and in he came. Carley quickly excused herself and bolted for the bathroom. Hawkeye had stopped to talk to the girls, so he didn't see her go. Then he saw me and came over to join me. I told him about my conversation with Carley and how she'd bolted for the washroom when he'd come in, clearly very upset. He asked me what she was so upset about and I told him that it was because Ike had just congratulated me on our coming baby."
B.J. chuckled in amusement and asked. "What did Hawk say when you told him that?"
Margaret smiled at the memory. "His eyes widened and he reached over and grabbed my hands as he asked softly, 'Do you mean what I think you mean?'. I nodded my head and then he jumped up and lifted me up into his arms and started twirling me around excitedly as he hollered to the half full room. 'We're having a baby!' All the customers laughed and applauded as he kissed me right there in front of everyone. The girls came running over yelling excitedly, 'Mommy's having a baby!'. In the midst of all the excitement I noticed Carley watching us from the hallway that lead to the bathrooms. She caught my eye and gave me a sad smile and then silently made her way out. Just as Hawkeye leaned forward to kiss me again I noticed her stop at the door and watch us for a moment. Then she turned and left and we haven't seen or heard from her since. I felt so sorry for her. I think that she still really cared for him."
"That may be." B.J. replied, giving her a warm smile. "But it's obvious to me that Hawkeye cares for someone else a lot more."
Margaret glanced over to her husband who was pretending to nibble on their youngest daughter's neck. She laughed as she watched her daughter laugh and squirm, trying to get away from him. The group sitting around her was also thoroughly enjoying the show.
"Pierce, don't tell me that you're still chasing the girls!" A voice commented teasingly from behind the pair. At the sound of the new voice everyone turned to look at the man who had just stepped out of the house. Six pairs of astonished eyes opened wide and six jaws dropped open when they realized who it was that was standing before them. The rest of the group was puzzled by the completely astonished looks on their friends' faces.
"What am I missing, Margaret?" B.J. asked, leaning towards her curiously.
Margaret was in too much shock to speak properly. All she could say was. "That's...that's...he's..."
Potter, deciding that he'd better try to rescue the situation, rose to his feet and moved to greet the newcomer. "Welcome to the M*A*S*H 4077th ten year reunion. I'm Colonel Sherman Potter. Former CO of the outfit."