About twenty minutes had passed since Hawkeye had taken Margaret inside to lie down. B.J., Potter, Charles, Trapper, Radar, Klinger and Father Mulcahy were all sitting together, drinking beer and reminiscing about old times.
"I've noticed something different about you." Trapper was saying to Klinger. "I just can't put my finger on what it is." He was of course teasing. He knew exactly what it was.
Klinger smiled, knowing what the other man was referring to. "You like my new threads?" He was wearing a pair of dress pants with a crisp new shirt.
"I almost didn't recognize you without the earrings and dresses." Trapper laughed. "It was the nose that gave you away."
"Very funny." Klinger replied, shooting his old friend a mock angry glare.
"So, how did things go for you and Soon-Lee in Korea after the war?" B.J. asked. "Did she find her parents?"
"Wait a minute." Trapper interrupted, looking at Klinger in surprise. "You stayed in Korea after the war was over? Whatever for?"
"He wanted to prove once and for all that he was really crazy." Charles commented, a sly grin on his face.
"Soon-Lee wouldn't leave Korea until she'd found her family." Klinger replied.
"Who's Soon-Lee?" Trapper asked.
"Soon-Lee Klinger." B.J. replied, chuckling at the name. It sounded funny to him for some reason.
"Wait a minute." Trapper exclaimed. "I thought that you were already married, to a Lavern somebody."
"Lavern Esposito." Max replied, his eyes dimming a little. "She left me while I was still in Korea."
"You mean, you two never saw each other at all while you were married?" Trapper asked.
Klinger shook his head. "Not once."
"That kind of defeated the purpose of getting married, didn't it?" Trapper commented.
"If you don't mind, sir." Klinger replied. "I'd rather talk about something else."
"Yeah, sure." Trapper said, a little hurt by the abrupt end to the subject. He used to think that he and Klinger were buddies.
The rest of them understood Klinger's request, having been there when he went through the painful divorce from his childhood sweetheart.
"So, did Soon-Lee find her family?" B.J. asked again.
The sadness in Klinger's face spoke volumes. "Her parents were killed by enemy fire shortly before the cease fire went into effect. Her brother was badly wounded and taken to a local hospital, but there was nothing they could do. He held on for a few days. Soon-Lee sat with him the entire time. When he was awake, they talked and laughed and cried. She was with him when he finally went."
"How did she take it?" Potter asked, his eyes tearing up at the thought of the young girl's loss.
"She cried for days." Klinger's voice cracked at the memory. "I felt so helpless...and so guilty. I didn't know what to do. I could only hold her and watch her poor heart break from grief."
"When did you come back to the States?" B.J. asked, wiping at his own eyes.
"A few weeks later." Klinger replied. "After Soon-Lee felt well enough to travel, we made the trip. She decided that there was nothing left for her in Korea. She said that I was the only thing that she had left now."
"What do your folks think of her?" Potter asked curiously.
"They love her." Klinger replied. "Though, it's hard for them to get to really know each other. They don't speak English or Korean and Soon-Lee doesn't speak Arabic. So I have to acted as translator. But they seem to really like each other."
"And how old is your son?" Potter asked, looking over to where the children were playing. Paul Klinger was building a big mound of sand in the middle of the sand box.
"Paul's almost six." Klinger looked over and smiled at his son's efforts. "He's a bright little fellow."
"He's a handsome little fellow too." Potter commented with a grandfatherly smile.
"Thank you, sir." Klinger smiled proudly.
"So, what did you guys do for fun after I left?" Trapper asked, looking at Radar and Klinger curiously.
"Whatever B.J. and Hawkeye cooked up." Radar replied with a laugh.
"And believe me, there was always something." Potter replied. "I was always getting complaints from Frank about those two."
"Frank just had no sense of humor." B.J. laughed. "He refused to see the funny side of our ingenious schemes."
"One time, I left Frank in charge for a few days to find that he was trying to court martial Pierce for mutiny." Potter told Trapper, an amused smile on his face.
"Mutiny? Hawkeye?" Trapper laughed. "What did the judge say?"
"Not guilty." Potter laughed at the memory of what the General had said to Frank. "And he told Frank that if he hadn't been drafted as a doctor, then he probably would have been assigned as pastry chef."
"Then they'd have had cakes everywhere dying of malpractice." Trapper commented, laughing harder.
"Poor Frank." B.J. said when he could speak. "He was the butt of a lot of our jokes."
"Ours too." Trapper laughed. "One time Hawk and I crated him in his sleep. It was funny when he woke up and couldn't get out of bed. Another time, Hawkeye pretended to be crazy, while I tried to convince Frank to let me take him to Seoul for a little R&R." Trapper laughed.
"What did he do?" Klinger asked.
"He came into the mess tent dressed in white scrubs and a surgical gown, gloves and mask, carrying a plate that had a piece of meat on it. He sat down at the end of the table and began eating his 'liver' with surgical instruments. Frank asked him where he had gotten the liver and Hawk told him it was from the North Korean who'd croaked. Then, when Frank reached over and touched his plate, Hawk started screaming that he wasn't sterile and that he had ruined his dinner. It was one hell of a performance. Poor Frank and Margaret were scared to death. They just clung to each other in fear."
The men laughed heartily at the thought of the two Majors fearful looks.
"One time Hawk put a toe tag on Frank and somehow he ended up at the front." B.J. laughed.
"I remember that." Potter commented. "That was when I told you boys to be nice to him."
"Well, we had been." B.J. defended. "We'd taken him out for drinks. Then when we brought him back to the Swamp we put him to bed and tagged him."
"What did Hawkeye put on the tag?" Trapper asked.
"'Emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt.'" B.J. replied.
"Sounds like his style." Trapper nodded.
"Well, the 'morally bankrupt' was my idea." B.J. laughed. "He shouldn't get all the credit."
"How about the time when B.J., Klinger, Hawkeye and me fooled Major Burns with that phony baseball broadcast." Radar commented, a big grin on his face. B.J. and Klinger laughed in remembrance.
"That's right, the Major had been listening to the games late at night and then betting on them when they re-aired on the Arm Forces Radio Network." Klinger recalled. "He knew the scores already, so he took everyone for a ride."
"Boy did he get his own with our bogus broadcast." B.J. hooted. "He was in to everyone after that."
"That sounds like one of Hawk's ideas." Trapper commented.
"It was." B.J. admitted. "He was always a fountain of mischievous ideas."
"I wouldn't talk Hunnicutt." Potter exclaimed. "I believe you were just as big a fountain."
"That's right." Klinger laughed, looking at B.J. "What about the time you put cold water in the Major's foxhole and then had Sydney Freedman yell 'air raid'!"
"Frank dove in like his buns were on fire!" Potter laughed until tears were running down his face. B.J. looked at him in surprise, he hadn't realized that the Colonel had seen the prank. At B.J. look Potter explained, "I was watching you fill the foxhole and was wondering what you were doing. When I heard Sydney yell 'air raid' at the Swamp I figured out what was going on." He wiped his eyes with a handkerchief. "I laughed so hard as Burns dove in I thought my sides were going to split."
"You know what they say, Colonel." B.J. smiled impishly. "'Laughter's the best medicine.'"
When the laughter died down a bit, Trapper related the story of when he and Hawkeye had trapped Frank in a foxhole when they parked the jeep over top of it. "He just came flying out of that office after us." The doctor said, laughing at the memory. "Boy was he mad!"
"What had made him so angry?" Klinger asked curiously.
"Hawk and I had been listening in on his private phone call to Margaret." Trapper explained. "That was the time that all the nurses and wounded had been shipped out."
"I remember, that was when we were expecting that enemy attack." Radar recalled.
"Speaking of enemy attacks and Hawkeye and Margaret." Potter interrupted, "What do you think the story is with those two? He seemed pretty concerned about her fall."
"And did you catch what he said about being the guy who had 'vowed to take care of her in sickness and in health.'" Klinger added.
"You don't think..." B.J. began, looking at the group with wide eyes.
"...that they got married?" Charles finished, his eyes as wide as B.J.'s.
The group looked at each other, each one's mind trying to digest the possibility before they all replied in unison, "Naw!"
Only one voice replied. "Yes." Six pairs of eyes turned and looked at Radar with surprise.
"What do you mean 'yes', Radar?" B.J. asked. "What do you know that we don't?"
"I'm not sure," Radar replied, thoughtfully. "but when Hawkeye and Major Houlihan arrived, they came in together."
"So, maybe Hawkeye gave her a ride." Trapper shrugged, not considering it important. "After all, they're both living in Maine. And I wouldn't say she could drive in her condition."
"It's more than just that." Radar added, "After I had introduced Patty to them, Hawkeye had put his arm around the Major's waist and said that it wasn't 'Major Houlihan' anymore."
"Hot dog! I bet they've done it!" Potter exclaimed in delight. "I was kind of hoping those two would realize what a great team they made."
"'A great team'?" Trapper repeated in surprise. "Hawk and 'Hot Lips'? Are you serious? When I was there they were always at each others throats. She hated both of us with a passion."
"Things changed." Potter shrugged. "By the time we left the 4077th, Margaret had warmed up to most of the company and she and Hawkeye were great friends."
"She was even laughing at his jokes in the O.R." Klinger added. "I saw her many times looking at him admiringly as they worked together."
"And remember the kiss that they shared just before Margaret left camp when the war was over." B.J. looked at Charles and Potter with a large smile on his face. "The rest of us just got a simple hug."
"I remember." Potter laughed. "I was wondering if they were ever going to come back up for air."
"They did seem rather reluctant to let go of each other." Charles commented, thinking back to the event.
"Who started the kiss?" Trapper asked curiously, fully expecting his best friend to be the culprit.
"They both did." B.J. replied with a smile.
"Both?" Trapper exclaimed in surprise.
B.J. nodded. "They'd been standing, looking at each other, trying to figure out how to say 'Goodbye', when Hawkeye took one step towards her and reached out for her. That moment she flew into his arms and they kissed."
"And kissed." Charles added with a soft smile.
"And kissed." Potter chuckled in amusement.
"I can't believe it." Trapper exclaimed in amazement. "That's like a complete reversal. The Margaret I knew would never have kissed Hawk ever, unless he started it, and she always hated our joking in O.R. She always considered us thoroughly unmilitary and undisciplined."
"Oh, she still considered us to be thoroughly unmilitary and undisciplined." B.J. laughed. "She just loosened up a bit. She became more human, I guess you could say. She didn't hold in her feelings like she used to, especially with Hawkeye. I think in some ways, they were each others strength."
Trapper shook his head. "I still can't believe it. It's like 'Beauty and the Beast', except Hawk is 'Beauty'."
"Don't tell him you said that." B.J. laughed. "I don't think he'd appreciate it."
Trapper looked thoughtful for a minute and then looked at Radar. "And you think they're married?"
"I don't know for sure, but I think so." Radar replied.
"Now, wait a minute." B.J. objected. "I'm still not convinced that it's true either. If it is, why wouldn't he have told us...or me?"
"Have you heard much from him in the last few years?" Potter asked.
"No, not really." B.J. admitted. "We kept in touch almost everyday for about a year, and then as we both finally settled into our lives again, we sort of lost contact. I tried to contact him a few times, but his Dad said that he was either working or in Boston for the weekend."
"Did you ever leave him a message telling him to call you?" Potter asked.
"No." B.J. admitted. "I kept hoping to surprise him."
"Well, you never know." Potter commented. "He probably had the same problem with you."
"I don't know, I'm still not convinced about this. Let's think about this again." B.J. continued, thinking for a minute. "The girls. What about the girls?"
"What about the girls?" Klinger asked, not sure what B.J. was getting at.
"Who's are they?" B.J. explained. "That should help us figure this out."
"Well, when Hawkeye and the Major arrived, she introduced the girls to Patty & me as 'her' daughters." Radar replied.
Potter nodded. "When Margaret came outside, she had the oldest girl, Rebecca with her and introduced her to me as 'her' daughter."
"But," B.J. interjected, a thoughtful look on his face. "When I arrived, Hawkeye had the younger one, Beth, with him and introduced her to me as 'his' daughter."
"And look at the kid." Klinger added, "She's the spitting image of him. She's got to be his daughter."
"Poor child." Charles commented with mock sorrow.
"So, we've established that the youngest, Beth, is 'their' daughter. And from the looks of things, I'd say the baby is theirs too." Potter summed up.
"Makes sense to me." B.J. nodded, taking a sip of his beer. "But the big question is, are they actually married?"
"Well, from what Hawkeye said out here and what Radar said that Hawk said to him, I'm pretty sure that they must be." Potter concluded, looking around the group for their confirmation. Everyone nodded their heads slowly in agreement.