The other man took the offered hand and replied. "Dr. Henry Blake, original commanding officer of the 4077th."
Three more jaws dropped in surprise. Shaking his head slightly as if to clear it Potter repeated, his tone echoing the surprise on his face. "Henry Blake? The 'late' Henry Blake?"
"Well, I guess I'm a little late for dinner, sir." Henry remarked with a nervous laugh, trying to thaw out the group of people around him.
Beth looked at her father curiously. He hadn't moved since the other man had arrived. He was still hugging her to him, his face just inches from her neck, which he had been jokingly nibbling at. "Daddy?" She whispered loudly, looking back to the other man. "Daddy, who is that?"
"Daddy?" Henry raised his eyebrows in profound surprise. "Don't tell me that this is your daughter, Pierce."
"Um, yeah my daughter." Hawkeye stammered his brain still in shock from Henry's completely unexpected arrival. "Ah, yes, my daughter...this is my daughter...Shortcake, I mean Beth...Elizabeth actually...Elizabeth Jane...Elizabeth Jane Pierce...my daughter."
Henry laughed in amusement at the other man's rambling and reached over to shake the little girl's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you Miss Elizabeth Jane 'Shortcake' Pierce. My name is Henry Blake. I'm an old friend of your Daddy's."
"Are you a doctor like my Daddy?" She asked the man seriously.
"Yes I am." Henry smiled at her.
"Good." She said, glancing at her father with a concerned look on her sweet young face. "Because I thing that there is something wrong with him. He hasn't moved for a long time. And he's talking really funny."
Henry chuckled at her childish concern and then assured her. "Don't worry, Miss Elizabeth. I have a feeling it's temporary. For the first time in his life your Daddy seems to have lost his tongue."
Little Elizabeth glanced at her father again, her brow puckering with worry. "I hope that he finds it really soon." She looked back to Henry as she added. "He talks very funny without it."
Henry laughed heartily at her precious comments and soon Hawkeye thawed out enough to join in. He gave his little daughter a loving hug before he set her down on the ground and turned to face the other man a large, goofy grin spread across his face.
"Henry!" He exclaimed in disbelief. "I can't believe that it's you...you're alive!" He reached out and gave the other man a hug. "I can't believe it, you're alive!"
"It's good to see you too, Hawk." Henry laughed as his old friend gave him a big bear hug. "How have you been?"
"Great! Wonderful!" Hawkeye exclaimed enthusiastically as he released his friend. Looking at him again he started laughing in disbelief. "I still can't believe you're here! What happened? We heard that you were dead. Shot down over the Sea of Japan. We thought we'd never see you again."
"Never say never, Hawk." Henry replied with a chuckle. "Actually, it's a long story."
"Well, I'm dying to hear it!" Another voice piped up from behind Henry. The two men turned to see Trapper coming towards them, the others not far behind.
"Hi ya, Trap." Henry greeted, giving the other man a warm hug. "How've ya been?"
"Great!" Trapper replied excitedly. "How have you been? You look pretty good for a man who's suppose to have been dead for 12 years."
"I have a good tailor." Henry joked as he turned to the other members of the unit. "Father Mulcahy. Good to see you again."
"It's good to see you too, sir." Mulcahy replied, a big smile on his face as he eagerly shook the other man's hand. "It's like a miracle."
"Nothing miraculous about it." Henry commented. "Just at the wrong place at the right time, I guess." He turned to the next person and introduced himself.
"So, you're the infamous Henry Blake that I've heard so much about." B.J. greeted with a warm smile. "Hawk and Radar use to mention you quite often."
"They did?" Henry replied with surprise as he shook the man's hand. "And who are you?"
"B.J. Hunnicutt." B.J. replied with a soft chuckle. "I replaced Trapper when he went home."
"You mean they actually broke up the 'Pierce-McIntyre' prankster set?" Henry looked at Hawkeye mischievously and asked. "What did you ever do without your co-conspirator?"
Hawkeye grinned and looked at B.J. mischievously. "I found a new co-conspirator who was just as devious as the old one."
"Another one like McIntyre?" Henry remarked with a laugh. "I didn't think there was such an animal."
"Oh, trust me, Colonel, there was." A female voice replied, shooting her husband and his friend a sly look.
"Why, Major, is that you?" Henry exclaimed in disbelief as he took in the very pregnant woman standing before him.
"The one and only." She smiled and then leaned over to give him a warm hug. The look on Henry's face as he hugged her back was one of pure astonishment. When the pair pulled apart she looked at him and asked warmly. "How have you been?"
"I've been fine Major." He replied a little nervously. Was this the same woman who was always yelling at him and treating everyone like dirt? He looked her up and down before asking curiously. "So, who's the lucky fellow?" He missed the amused looks that his old friends were currently exchanging. He looked up and shot Frank a questioning look.
"Don't look at me, Colonel." Frank replied in an appalled tone. "I'm a married man and I do not chase married woman." He started to storm off in a huff until he reached Hawkeye. Stopping behind in his nemesis he spat out. "That's Pierce's department." Then the angry man kept walking until he reached the banquet table. Picking up a celery stick he watched with a combination of interest and disgust as the rest of the group waited for Margaret to inform Henry of the identity of her baby's father.
"Henry, I think that you are in for a big surprise." Trapper commented, glancing sideways at Hawkeye, who was slowly sauntering towards Margaret.
"Henry." Hawkeye said as he came up behind his wife, a big grin on his face. Putting his hands on her shoulders he looked at their former Commanding Officer and in a serious tone added. "I'd like you to meet my beautiful wife and the mother of my children, Mrs. Margaret Pierce."
The look on Henry's face when Hawkeye presented Margaret as his wife was absolutely priceless. His jaw dropped and his eyes opened so wide that the entire group thought that they were going to come popping out of his head.
"I told you that you were in for a big surprise." Trapper commented, slapping Henry on the back enthusiastically.
"You...you and ...and ...Margaret?" Henry stammered his eyes still wide with amazement.
"That's right, Henry." Hawkeye nodded with a smile. "Me and Margaret."
"How...how...HOW?" Henry exclaimed the last 'how' loudly since he couldn't get any other word out.
"How?" Hawkeye repeated, his eyes twinkling in amusement. "How what? How did we end up married? How did Margaret end up pregnant? How could Clark Gable leave Vivian Lee at the end of 'Gone With the Wind'?" Henry nodded dumbly, unable to say or do anything else. "Well, it's really quite simple, Henry. You see, Clark Gable didn't realize that Vivian Lee was really in love with him and not that Ashley Wilks character she had been fawning over through the whole movie."
Henry gave him an impatient look and exclaimed in an annoyed tone. "Pierce!"
Hawkeye chuckled and said. "Well, the truth is Margaret just couldn't resist my whimsical charm, just like Scarlet O'Hara couldn't resist Rhett Butler, and before I knew it she was putty in my hands."
"What Hawkeye is trying to say, Henry." Margaret replied, shooting her husband a look of amusement. "Is that we fell in love." She smiled as Hawk slipped his arms around her and pulled her to him.
"You...you fell in...in love?" Henry repeated in surprise. "The two greatest enemies that this country has ever seen, beside North and South Korea..."
"Or North and South Dakota." Trapper added, his mouth twitching with mischief.
"Or North and South Carolina." Hawkeye continued, shooting Trapper a sly smile.
"How about just plain North and South." B.J. concluded a broad smile on his face.
Henry looked at the three in exasperation and commented to B.J. "You're right, you are just like McIntyre." The three jokers laughed heartily at each other. Henry looked back to Margaret, who was smiling at the trio, amusement written all over her face. "How do you put up with Hawkeye's overabundant sense of humor? I thought you hated his jokes."
She looked at Henry and replied. "I use to, but now I love his sense of humor. It was his humor that kept all of us from going nuts in Korea." She lifted her head and looked at her husband for a moment before adding. "Besides, I can't really fault him for having such a highly developed sense of humor since he comes by it naturally." She shot her father-in-law a teasing smile. "He comes from a long line of practical jokers."
"And I don't think that line is going to be broken anytime soon." Daniel remarked as he glanced at his youngest granddaughter who was now standing beside him.
"That's very true." Margaret agreed with an affectionate glance at her daughter. "Beth has definitely inherited some of the traditional 'Pierce Humor' and so has Rebecca. But then again, we Houlihans can pull a good joke or two ourselves."
"Wait a minute." Henry exclaimed looking at Margaret in surprise. Pointing to the little girl that was standing beside the older gentleman he asked. "This is your daughter?"
Margaret nodded. "That's right. She's our youngest, well second youngest I guess soon." She rubbed her stomach gently. "Our oldest daughter is over there with the other children. She's the blond-haired girl in the blue dress sitting with the dark-haired girl in the green dress."
"Well, if that don't beat all." Henry commented, staring at the children, a look of surprise still on his face. "You and Pierce have children. Three of them even. Who would have ever thought." After watching the kids playing for a few moments he asked. "Who do the rest of the children belong to?"
Hawkeye looked towards the group of young ones and replied. "Well, we have a mix of families over there. The blond-haired boy in the brown overalls, who just happens to be my namesake..."
"You mean someone else named their son 'Hawkeye'?" Henry stated in disbelief.
Hawkeye looked at Henry and smiled in amusement. He forgot how incredibly dense Henry could be at times. "No Henry, actually his name is Benjamin, just like mine."
"Oh, right." Henry nodded. "So whose child is he?"
"Well he and Erin, the tall blond girl in the light blue dress, belong to my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Dr. B.J. Hunnicutt and his beautiful wife, Peg." Hawkeye explained, gesturing towards his best friend and his wife.
"And the little girl with the dark hair and the green dress sitting with our daughter Rebecca is Charles and Ellie Winchester's daughter, Clara." Margaret continued, picking up the explanation.
Leaning closer to Henry Hawkeye gestured to their oldest daughter and asked. "Isn't Rebecca just the picture of Margaret." He kissed the side of Margaret head lovingly, causing Henry's eyes to widen in shock again.
"Charles replaced Frank when he was sent home. " Margaret added, giving her husband an amused smile.
"After he lost what was left of his marbles." Hawkeye remarked.
"Well, Hawk, he didn't have many left to loose." B.J. joked, shooting a look over to the buffet table where Frank was still standing.
"Are you trying to say that Frank Burns was discharged with a Section Eight?" Henry asked, a look of surprise on his face.
B.J. and Hawkeye laughed heartily. "Not quite, though he came very close." B.J. replied.
"Yeah, and I was going to beat the stuffing out of him if he had of." Klinger threatened in a mock angry tone.
"But if you'd have done that you would have killed him." Hawkeye remarked. "The stuffing was the only thing keeping him upright."
"And most of it was in his head." B.J. added with a laugh. "To make up for the lack of brains."
Hawkeye laughed heartily in agreement. "That's good." He told his friend approvingly. "That's very good." He shot a sly look at Frank who was still standing across the yard and then looked back to the children and continued his introductions. "The mischievous dark-haired boy sitting with our equally devilish Ben Hunnicutt belongs to none other than our beloved Sergeant Maxwell Q. Klinger and his lovely wife, Soon-Lee."
"Sergeant?" Henry repeated in surprise. "You were promoted? " He shook his head in disbelief. "Now I really know that the army is crazy!"
"Speaking of crazy, ask Klinger what he did after the war was over." Hawkeye commented, giving Klinger a sly smile.
"Okay, I'll bite. What did you do after the war, Klinger?" Henry asked, accepting the bait. "Open up a ladies clothing boutique? Chez Klinger?"
Everyone exchanged amused glances as Klinger answered. "No, I stayed in Korea. "
Henry's jaw dropped again. "You stayed in Korea?" He repeated his eyes wider than before.
Trapper leaned over to B.J. and remarked. "If we don't stop giving him surprises, his eyes are going to pop right out of his head." B.J. chuckled in agreement as Hawkeye commented to Henry.
"He wanted to prove once and for all that he should have gotten that Section Eight discharge." He laughed heartily at his joke and shot a mischievous glance at Klinger, who merely chuckled in reply.
"I wouldn't laugh about it Pierce if I were you." Frank sneered in disgust as he rejoined the group. "I understand that you almost got slapped with one yourself."