"What about the back pay that the army gave him?" Margaret pressed after thinking for a moment. "All the money that he donated to the orphanage? The army would have made him sign for that, they wouldn't have just handed it over to anyone."
Hawkeye's eye twinkled with mischief as he said. "Oh, when there's a will, there's a way."
"You!" Margaret exclaimed as she looked accusingly at her husband. "You made up Tuttle's file, you signed his documents, so you were the one that signed for the money!"
Her husband looked at his cohort and remarked. "She's as smart as she is beautiful, isn't she."
Trapper didn't comment, he merely watched Margaret carefully, fully expecting an explosion of wrath directed at himself and Hawkeye for pulling such a deceptive stunt. The reaction that he witnessed was therefore a complete surprise.
A laughing smile broke across Margaret's beautiful face as she started chuckling and shaking her head in disbelief. "I don't know what I'm going to do with you. You're an absolutely uncontrollable prankster." Then she leaned forward, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him lightly on the lips before adding. "But you're MY uncontrollable prankster." Hawkeye chuckled and kissed her back.
"I love you too." He replied.
Trapper merely stared at the pair in wide-eyed disbelief. Addressing Margaret he asked. "You're not mad? You're not going to chew his head off - or mine for that matter- for pulling such a stunt? Or for deceiving you? You know he planted that attractive description of Tuttle for your benefit."
"He did, did he?" Margaret chuckled as she looked at her husband affectionately. Then addressing Trapper again she added. "So what if he deceived me a little bit, it wasn't he first time, and it probably wasn't the last. As long as it's only in fun, who cares. Besides, he didn't just deceive me, he deceived the whole camp." She chuckled again as she added. "He even managed to deceive General Clayton. His niece was supposedly engaged...wait a minute!" She paused for a moment and then looked at her husband accusingly. "That wasn't General Clayton, that was you!"
"What was me?" Hawkeye repeated in a puzzled tone.
"When I called General Clayton to check up on Tuttle credibility." Margaret replied, a serious look on her face. "It wasn't him I was talking to, it was you. You had that Sparky character patch the call back to you."
"Guilty as charged." Hawkeye confessed, his eyes twinkling with fun. Then he added, gesturing towards Radar. "Though I couldn't have done it without my loyal minion."
"Thanks, Hawk." Radar commented sarcastically. He was still a little nervous of Margaret's final reaction to the prank. But, he too was pleasantly surprised by the final outcome.
Margaret merely shook her head and chuckled in amusement. Lovingly she looked at her husband, who she knew was the ring leader of the entire affair and said. "What am I going to do with you?"
"Whatever you want." Hawkeye teased as he put his arms around her shoulders affectionately. The couple kissed, laughter in both their eyes.
Frank, who had been listening to the little exchange in silence, couldn't believe Margaret's casual dismissal of the whole infuriating affair. Voicing his disbelief he said. "Margaret, how can you just sit there and shrug off this...this...person's blatant confession to lying to his fellow comrades, defrauding the US army of funds and impersonating an officer who doesn't exist! What's the matter with you?"
Margaret waved off Frank's angry protests and replied. "Frank, if you look at it honestly, we were all responsible for creating Tuttle. We all claimed to know him and to being his friend. You yourself proved that fact only minutes ago. Hawkeye can't be held solely responsible."
"I can't believe you, Margaret!" Frank exclaimed reproachfully. "You've changed. You're not the same Margaret that I use to know in Korea. That Margaret wouldn't put up with horseplay or deception of any kind."
"You're right, Frank, I did change." She admitted readily. "I changed for the better. I learned that there was more to life then rules and regulations. I learned that it's important to enjoy life, to have fun, to 'let your hair down' as it were. And because of that knowledge I have had a wonderful decade, the best one of my entire life." She smiled at her husband and reached over to squeeze her hand lovingly.
"But Margaret!" Frank began in a whining tone.
"Frank, why don't you just forget about it." Margaret interrupted him in a sharp tone as another painful contraction seized her. Mistaking the pained look in her eyes for one of anger, Frank remained silent. When Margaret could speak again she added. "Frank, we are talking about something that happened over a decade ago, in a place far, far away. There is absolutely no sense getting upset about it. It's just water under the bridge now."
Frank opened his mouth to object, but was cut off by Potter who quickly asked. "So, what other goodies do you boys have in that projector?" In response Klinger changed the picture on the screen.
"I don't believe it!" Margaret exclaimed in profound surprise. "How did you guys ever get a picture of that?" She laughed heartily at the photo of herself and Hawkeye kissing right under Frank's beady little eyes, their arms wrapped tightly around each other.
The rest of the group chuckled gently as Klinger explained the picture's origin. "One of the nurses had been taking some shots around camp to send how to her family for Christmas and she had seen Hawkeye grab you and kiss you. She said that she couldn't resist taking the picture. She thought it might be good black mail material in the future." Hawkeye and Margaret both chuckled at that thought.
"I'm glad you like it, Major." Radar added a little hesitantly. "We weren't sure whether or not to include it, not knowing about your present marital state and all. We weren't sure if either one of you would like it or not."
"It's wonderful!" Margaret assured them with delight as her eyes took in the picture once more. Nudging her husband she remarked. "That was the first time that you ever kissed me, remember."
"Of course, I remember." He nodded as he reached over and gave her hand a loving squeeze. He then leaned over and whispered in her ear. "I also remember Frank's reaction." Margaret chuckled in remembrance and shot the other man an amused look. Frank refused to look at either one of them, but focused his attention on the setting sun outside.
"I remember teasing Hawk afterwards about kissing you." Trapper commented with a chuckle. Then he shook his head in amazement as he added. "I never would have dreamed that you two would make a match of it. You seemed so different, so opposite...and you fought all the time!"
The Pierces exchanged gentle smiles before Hawkeye replied. "To tell the truth, Trap, if Margaret and I had of stayed the way we were when we first arrived in Korea then we probably wouldn't have ended up together. But we both did a lot of growing and changing during those three years, and I think we owe a lot of it to each other."
"What do you mean?" Trapper asked curiously as he watched them eagerly.
"For example," Margaret began, glancing at her husband and then back to their friend. "Ben taught me that it was okay to be afraid at times, to admit my feelings and turn to someone else for comfort and support." She looked back to Hawkeye and smiled. "I found myself relying on him a lot."
"I think that's what made you two such a wonderful team in OR." Potter commented with a gentle smile. "Once you two got past the hostilities, you worked very well together."
"Thank you, Colonel." Hawkeye replied, giving their friend a large smile.
"'You're such a wonderful team, you worked very well together.'" Frank mimicked in a mocking tone. "You guys are positively sickening. All you talk about is them, them, them. What about the rest of us? We were good doctors too."
"Well, some of us anyway." BJ quipped, shooting a disgusted look at the other man.
"Oh, blow it out your ear." Frank remarked, turning his back again on the group.
"It's true, though." Potter commented with a proud smile. "We had the best staff around. The doctors were tops and the nurses were aces. By the time the war was over we had a better staff then I'd seen in any Stateside hospital."
"That's what we should have done after the war!" Hawkeye exclaimed excitedly. At everyone's expectant look he added. "We should have opened our own hospital! We could have had the same chain of command we had in Korea, striking the fancy titles, of course."
"We could have called it '4077th P*A*S*H' or something." BJ suggested, giving his friend a teasing look.
"'P*A*S*H'?" Hawkeye questioned curiously.
"Yeah." BJ nodded. "You know, 'Permanent American Surgical Hospital'." The rest of the gang laughed at the idea.
"Sorry, Pierce, but I don't think you're little hospital scheme would have worked." Charles commented with a superior tone.
"And why's that?" Hawkeye asked, accepting the bait that Winchester dangled in front of him.
"Because your specialty is hardly needed here." Charles replied with a sarcastic chuckle. "Very few people here in civilization need a surgeon who specializes in meatball surgery."
"Or one who's ego is too large for him to fit through the OR doors." Hawkeye retorted with a mock annoyed tone. During the two years that he'd spent with Charles he'd learn to ignore Charles' attempts at pomposity. Beneath the superior attitude that the other man attempted to maintain was a fine doctor and an acceptable human being. Hawkeye wouldn't go so far as to say that he was really fond of the man, but he did have a healthy measure of respect for him and for his skill as a doctor. That being the case he was willing to tolerate his high-fluetent airs, and enjoyed the odd wit-sparring match with him.