BJ picked up on Hawkeye's serious expression and lightly commented. "Speaking of Margaret's bed. Hawk, remember the time that we made that dummy land on Margaret just as she was going to sleep."
Hawkeye started chuckling gently. "Boy did she get mad!" He started laughing harder as he remembered her screaming in fear and anger. "Serves her right, though, for making us streak naked across the compound."
"And then camping out in the 'Swamp' with the other nurses awaiting our grand entrance." BJ added with a hearty laugh.
"What's so wrong with that?" Trapper asked mischievously. "You did it yourself once just to see if anyone would actually notice." Looking at the others he explained. "Hawk was convinced that everyone was so lost in their own little world that they wouldn't notice if he went for lunch wearing nothing."
"So what happened?" BJ asked with a deeply amused look.
"Some one noticed." Hawkeye replied with an embarrassed laugh. "That was the worst part."
"Well, it serves you right, Pierce." Henry remarked with a chuckle. "You've embarrassed the rest of us enough."
"Yeah!" Trapper exclaimed with an amused smile. "Especially Frank and 'Hot Lips'." Hawkeye bristled at Trapper's persistent use of Margaret's old nickname. He knew that he shouldn't let it bother him, but it did - greatly. And Trapper's constant reference to Margaret and Frank as a couple was really getting very annoying too. He hated to remember that there was a time that Margaret and he were enemies and that the only feelings that they had for each other was disgust and antipathy. He also hated the thought of her in the arms of another man, especially if that man was Frank Burns. The very thought made his flesh burn. He much preferred remembering times when he and Margaret were good friends, when they relied on each other for comfort and support. When the only pranks pulled between them was in harmless fun, not cruel spite.
He was brought out of his thoughts by his old friend's voice asking him. "Remember the broadcast that we made of Frank and 'Hot Lips' big 'farewell' scene after frank had requested a transfer." Trapper looked at Potter and BJ and laughed heartily. "Boy was she ever furious about that! She stormed out of her tent and into Henry's office, her head held high as she tried to hold back the angry tears in her eyes. It was hilarious watching her, wasn't it Hawk."
"Yeah, sure." Hawkeye mumbled, his heart twisting at the memory. His conscience pricked him keenly for causing her so much heartache and humiliation. But Trapper missed the pained look on his friend's face.
"You'd better believe she was furious!" Henry exclaimed loudly as he looked at the pair amusedly. "She stormed into my office and demanded to be transferred out of our unit immediately. She refused to spend another day with these two idiots."
"So what happened?" Potter asked curiously.
"I came down hard on these two jokers, told them that they'd have to pull double duty until I could find a replacement for Frank and Margaret." Henry replied, shooting a mischievous look at both culprits. "So they set about convincing them to stay."
"How did you do that?" Potter asked curiously.
"It wasn't hard, Colonel." Trapper exclaimed with a jolly chuckle. "We just preyed on Frank's two most outstanding qualities."
"Let me guess." BJ interrupted, a mischievous smile on his face. "His stupidity and his greediness."
"Give the man a cigar." Trapper exclaimed, shooting Hawkeye a slightly puzzled look. He had noticed his friend's quiet demeanor and was trying to figure out what was the matter with him. He seemed to be lost in thought, completely oblivious to what was being said around him. That struck Trapper as odd, since normally Hawkeye would be right in the middle of such a lively conversation. Looking back to the others he continued. "We convinced him that there was gold on the banks of the river just outside of camp. Hawk and I figured that if we could get Frank to stay then he would convince the Major, which he did."
"And Frank actually believed you two jokers that there was gold around camp?" Potter exclaimed with a hearty laugh. "He's dumber than I thought."
"He believed us until he saw Hawk and I drive up in a jeep painted gold." Trapper laughed. "Then he got this far off look in his eye…"
"No doubt picturing all those dollar signs flying away." Klinger commented with a laugh.
"Speaking of money." BJ piped up in an amused tone, looking at his best friend eagerly. "Hawk, remember the time that Frank was cheating people by making bets on baseball games that he'd already listened to." He was glad when he saw a smile spread across Hawkeye's face. He had also noticed his friend's unusually quiet spirit. He had a feeling that Hawkeye didn't like reminiscing about Margaret's old relationship with Frank, or the cruel jokes that he'd played on Margaret before they were friends. And he certainly didn't blame him, BJ knew that some of the stunts that Hawk had played on Margaret had been down right mean, and that he was now regretting having done them. He hoped that by bringing up other memories he could pull his friend out of his solemn mood. By the large smile on his friend's face he hoped that it was working.
"Wasn't that a great idea!" Hawkeye exclaimed enthusiastically. "Frank didn't know what was going on."
"Frank never knew what was going on." BJ laughed heartily.
"He certainly isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer." Potter chuckled in agreement.
"Where is old Ferret Face at anyway." Hawkeye asked curiously, looking around the yard for his old nemesis.
"I believe that he's inside trying to get his foot out of his mouth." B.J. commented with a laugh. "He can't seem to keep it out of there today."
"Frank's always putting his foot in his mouth." Hawkeye remarked with a laugh. "He's developed a terminal case of athlete's tongue."
"Speaking of Frank," Trapper cut in. "Remember the time that we nailed twelve cots together and placed Frank on top of them." Hawkeye nodded and chuckled in remembrance. "Or even better," Trapper continued eagerly. "Remember the time that we sawed the legs on Margaret's cot so that it would collapse when Frank and Margaret sat on it." Looking at BJ and the others he added. "We also sawed the tent pole so that one slight nudge and it would collapse." Looking back to Hawkeye he prompted. "Weren't the yells of surprise wonderful!"
"Yeah, marvelous." Hawkeye commented in a dull tone.
BJ picked up the dangling tail of the conversation. "You seem to have a fascination with Margaret's tent, Hawk." He remarked with a teasing smile.
"What do you mean?" Hawkeye asked, his tone still serious.
"Well, remember the time that you stole Margaret's tent." BJ reminded him, his eyes twinkling with fun.
Hawkeye's eye began to sparkle with amusement and a large smile spread across his face. "She was pretty steamed, wasn't she?"
"Steamed!" Charles exclaimed with a chuckle. "She was more than steamed, Pierce. She was furious."
"But don't you just love the way her eyes flash when she's annoyed!" Hawkeye exclaimed as his heart skipped at the memory. "I can still see the way they were flashing when she hit me with the pillow. I always told her she was beautiful when she was angry."
"Boy does he have it bad!" Klinger said in a stage whisper to Henry.
Hawkeye chuckled and added. "But, hey, it served her right for putting oatmeal in my boots. Those boots were uncomfortable enough without the added lumps."
"Wait a minute!" Henry exclaimed in disbelief as he looked at Hawkeye. "Margaret put oatmeal in your boots?" Hawkeye nodded, a large grin on his face. "Margaret Houlihan - Major 'Straight-laced-no-nonsense' herself?"
Hawkeye laughed harder at Henry's surprised expression. "What can I say, Henry. A lot of things changed after you left. A lot of people changed, Margaret being one of them."
"And you being another." Trapper exclaimed as he rose angrily from his chair. Looking directly at Hawkeye he spat out. "And not for the better."
After glaring at his old bunkmate for a moment he turned and stormed into the house, slamming the door angrily behind him.
"What was that all about?" Potter asked with a surprised look on his face. "That boy's has a bee in his bonnet over something."
"I know, Colonel." Hawkeye replied, a puzzled look on his face. "And beats me what it's about. I've rarely seen him so testy."
"I think I may know what's bothering him, Hawk." BJ commented, a thoughtful look on his face. At his friend's expectant look he continued. "I think that Trapper from the 'Green Monster' disease."
"Do you want to run that by me again?" Hawkeye exclaimed, his puzzled look deepening.
"I have a feeling that Trapper is jealous." BJ clarified.
"Jealous!" Hawkeye exclaimed in surprise. "What on earth could he possibly be jealous of?"
"I think he's jealous of our friendship." BJ told him.
Hawkeye chuckled in disbelief. "What? Why would he be jealous of that? It's not like he can lay claim as my only friend. We both have always had lots of friends. No, it's got to be something else."
"You guys may have had lots of friends." BJ persisted patiently. "But have you had lots of best friends?"
"No, of course not." Hawkeye replied. "I mean right now you're the only best friend that I have…" Suddenly the light donned and he finally realized what his friend was getting at. "And Trapper use to be."
"Precisely." BJ confirmed. "I mean look at it from his point of view. You come to a party, expecting to see the best friend that you left behind in Korea, only to find out that you are not that person's best friend anymore, that the man who replaced you in surgery also replaced you as your best friend's best friend."
"I see what you mean." Hawkeye looked thoughtful for a moment. "But I haven't tried to make him feel bad or left out. I've spoken with him and joked with him like the olden days."
"In some ways you have." BJ replied, then added. "But in other ways you haven't."
"What do you mean?" Hawkeye asked, again puzzled.
"When Trapper left Korea, you and Margaret, or I should say 'Hot Lips' were enemies, and Margaret and Frank were…whatever Margaret and Frank were. Basically you despised them and they despised you." BJ explained.
"True." Hawkeye nodded, his expression sad.
"But then that changed." BJ pointed out. "A lot of things changed. You changed, Margaret changed, everyone in camp changed. It's to be expected. People grow. But when Trapper came here today, he didn't know how things had changed. He was still stuck back in the time when you and Margaret were enemies and Margaret and Frank were together."
"Which is why he keeps talking about those times. Why he keeps referring to our cruel tricks and Margaret's relationship with Frank." Hawkeye bristled slightly. "Why he insists on calling her 'Hot Lips'."
"Exactly." BJ nodded. "He doesn't realize how badly those things annoy you. To him it was all fun and games. Jokes you played on the two people you detested the most."
"And you must admit, Hawk." Henry piped up. "You and Trapper sure did do a lot to those two."
"I know." Hawkeye acknowledged with a sigh. "I guess I shouldn't let Trapper's comments get to me. "It's just that I hate hearing about the cruel things that I did to Margaret during our first year in Korea."
"And you definitely hate being reminded of her relationship with Frank, right?" BJ pressed, his eyes searching his friend's face carefully.
Hawkeye nodded in confirmation. "Margaret means so much to me now that I hate remembering that there was a time that we didn't mean anything to each other."
"And that's perfectly understandable." BJ assured him gently. "It's completely natural to feel that way." He glanced quickly towards the house before adding. "But unfortunately Trapper doesn't realize this. Every time you get quiet and cooly dismiss one of his stories he thinks that it's him that you're ignoring, not the memory. Especially when you laugh heartily at a story I or somebody else brings up."
Hawkeye looked thoughtful for a moment before commenting. "When did you get to be so smart?"
"It's a talent." BJ remarked with a teasing smile. "I certainly didn't get this way from hanging around you."
"Amen to that." Charles commented with a superior smile.
Rising to his feet Hawkeye said, "I think that I'd better go and talk to him, explain to him that I didn't mean to hurt his feelings."
"I think that would be a wise idea, son." Potter agreed with a reassuring smile.
"Explain everything to him, Hawk." BJ added. "I'm sure he'll understand."
"Thanks, Beej." He squeezed his best friend's shoulder gratefully.
BJ reached up and patted his friend's hand and replied. "Anytime, Hawk."
Looking at his other friends Hawkeye admonished. "You all just continue talking amongst yourselves. I have a friendship to salvage." And with that he turned and entered the house.