"Well, we weren't the best of friends by any means." Hawkeye admitted. "Even then. At least we didn't think we were until that night."
"What happened?" B.J. prompted curiously.
Hawkeye smiled and then started chuckling as he remembered the next morning. "When I woke up I was a little confused as to where I was, I was even more surprised to find Margaret asleep in my arms with her head on my chest. Then I remembered what had happened the day and night before. When I remembered our kiss I began to feel afraid of what Margaret would say when she woke up. I fully expected to receive a severe a tongue lashing for 'taking advantage' of her or something. But, to my surprise, when she did wake up she was anything but angry."
"What did she say?" Klinger asked curiously.
"She asked if I'd slept well, then she offered to get breakfast, placing a kiss on my lips with her finger before she got up and pursed her lips for me to do it back." Hawkeye smirked, looking at his friends to see their reaction.
"Margaret?" Trapper asked in disbelief.
"That's not all." Hawkeye continued, "While we ate breakfast, she proceeded to tell me how much she loved my sense of humor, and how she wished that she'd realized her feelings before she met Donald. She even started calling me 'darling'."
"Margaret?" B.J. couldn't believe it. "The same Margaret who decked you in the mess tent in front of everybody after you returned home?"
"The same." Hawkeye nodded, a grin on his face. "I'm afraid that I said something that she didn't appreciate. I didn't mean it the way it sounded, I just didn't know how to deal with the way she was treating me."
"What did you say?" Trapper asked curiously.
"We had left the hut because there were North Korean soldiers in the area." Hawkeye explained.
"The ones Doug and I saw from the chopper." B.J. commented. "They had one of our jeeps."
"They had OUR jeep." Hawkeye added. "Anyway, we hid in the woods. It was raining and we were snuggled together under my coat trying to keep dry. I was reading a map, trying to figure out where we were, and she's straightening my shirt, going on about how she likes her men neat and such things, when she suddenly asked what we were going to tell Donald about us." Hawkeye replied, glancing at his friends, watching their reactions. "I was so surprised - by everything. By her comments, her obvious feelings for me...my feelings for her that I didn't realize I had, etc. that I stupidly asked what she usually told him."
The others laughed and shook their heads in disbelief.
"Bad answer." Trapper commented.
"Tell me about it." Hawkeye nodded. "And believe me, she was mad!"
"So, what happened?" Klinger pressed. "If I remember correctly, she wasn't mad at you the next day."
Hawkeye smiled. "No, we had a talk. We decided to be friends. We had both realized during that trip that we cared more for each other than we thought we did."
"And if I recollect correctly, " Potter commented, "you didn't want Margaret to go on that trip with you. In fact you were very adamant about it. You wanted to take some other nurse with you. For reasons we can only guess." He shot Pierce a sly look.
Hawkeye smiled almost sheepishly. "I remember." He replied, and then chuckled good-naturedly. "In fact Margaret likes to remind me of that from time to time."
"So, is that when you realized that you loved her?" Trapper asked.
Hawkeye looked thoughtful for a moment before replying. "I think that was when it started. I realized then that she was a very special person to me. That I wanted to be friends with her instead of enemies."
"So what made you finally realize that you did love her?" Trapper persisted. He was dying to know.
"It was many things." Hawkeye replied. "Her strength when she was facing problems. The closer we got, the more she opened up to me. I was the first person she told when she'd decided to divorce Donald. I was the one she told of her dreadful fear of loud noises and how she wants to run and hide anytime she hears a shell go off. Things like that."
"I remember that." B.J. commented. "That was when we were evacuated to that cave and you were having trouble coping with claustrophobia. You were sitting in the mouth of the cave and she was sitting with you. I remember catching you too clinging to each other, fearful looks on your faces. You said you were sharing your favorite irrational fears."
Hawkeye smiled and nodded. "That's right. Poor Margaret. You should have seen her when we went back to camp to operate on that private. She was so afraid. I'd never seen her so vocal about her fear."
"She only did that around you." B.J. acknowledged. "Around everyone else she was always 'Miss Tough Nut'. She had a soft spot for you, even then."
"Well, how could she not." Hawkeye laughed, "I'm just such a wonderful guy."
"Getting back to the subject." Trapper commented, with a sly glance at his friend. "What else made you realize your feelings for her?"
"I don't know." Hawkeye looked thoughtful again. "Her sense of humor, I guess. Believe it or not, she has a terrific sense of humor when she lets her guard down..." He started laughing very hard at some funny memory. "...or when she's tired."
"That's true." B.J. agreed, chuckling in agreement. "Like in the supply room."
"What happened in the supply room?" Trapper asked, wanting to be part of the secret joke the other two men seemed to be sharing.
Hawkeye had told B.J. the story about Margaret and the sulfa years before. They had both rolled on their cots laughing heartily over it for ages. Even now the two of them went into peals of laughter. Hawkeye had to wait until he could speak before he could fill the others in. "One night Margaret and I were doing inventory in the supply room. It was very late and we were exhausted. Margaret was listing off different medicines and I was looking for them to see what we'd need to request. We came to sulfa. I was looking up and down the shelves trying to find it, asking, to no one really, 'where's the sulfa?'. Margaret very sleepily replied, 'The sulfa is in the living room.' I couldn't believe my ears. I looked at her and she repeated, 'the sulfa is in the living room between the end tables'." I stood directly in front of her and repeated it. I couldn't believe she'd made a joke. We started laughing. Then she listed off 'morphine'. I replied, 'no thanks, I've had enough' and we started laughing again. Then I spotted a box of digitalis and said the name. She responded, 'no, I'm keeping it a secret'. We both laughed so hard, it was wonderful. I loved it so much when she was silly like that. It made her seem much more human."
"I wish the rest of us could have see that side of her." Klinger commented. "She didn't show it to too many people."
"Sure she did, just not so straightforward." He looked at B.J. and laughed. "Remember when she started playing those practical jokes on us."
"You mean when the two of you had that food fight in the mess tent after she put about 20 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee." B.J. laughed.
Rebecca looked up at her father with a look of surprise. "You and Mommy had a food fight?" Then her tone turned reproachful. "You told Beth and me that it wasn't nice to have a food fight."
Everyone laughed at the childish reprimand. "Ah, Hawk." B.J. commented teasingly, "The joys of parenthood. You can't get away with anything anymore."
"Tell me about it." Hawkeye rolled his eyes in mock exasperation. Then looking at his daughter he explained, "When Mommy and I had that food fight we were in Korea. The rules there were a little different than here. Sometimes you did things that would be considered 'not nice' or crazy just to keep from going crazy. Understand?"
"I think so." Rebecca nodded, thinking carefully for a moment, then she added. "If you want to have a food fight, go to Korea."
Hawkeye and his friends laughed heartily at his daughter's reply. Hugging her to him, Hawkeye agreed. "That's right, sweetheart. Only in Korea."
"Wait a minute." Trapper exclaimed, his face registering great surprise. "Margaret started a food fight in the mess tent?"
"Yup." Hawkeye nodded.
"Major Margaret 'No Nonsense' Houlihan?" Trapper added, disbelief written all over his face.
"The one and only." Hawkeye replied.
"I can't believe it." Trapper said. "I never would have guessed that she'd have the sense of humor, let alone the imagination to come up with any real jokes."
Hawkeye, B.J., Charles and Potter laughed heartily. "Trust me." Hawkeye assured his friend. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with Margaret's sense of humor or her imagination. It was just a little rusty from long disuse."
"But, you know," B.J. added when he could speak, "if I remember correctly, there was someone else responsible for a lot of those jokes." He shot a mock hostile look at Charles.
"Like giving Margaret the idea to steal our clothes while we were in the shower." Hawkeye replied.
"And then camping out with the other nurses in our tent awaiting our grand entrance." B.J. added.
"Waiting for you in your tent was her idea." Charles protested. "I had nothing to do with that."
"But the shower part was yours." Hawkeye pressed. "And don't bother denying it. Margaret already told me that you were the one that set it up."
"Well, it was all in fun, gentlemen." Charles smiled defensively. "A little diversion to relieve the boredom."
"Yeah, but it doesn't sound like you were playing by the rules, Winchester." Potter commented.
"He wasn't." B.J. agreed. "He was trying to be an allie on both sides."
"It's okay, Colonel." Hawkeye assured. "We got him back."
"I bet you did." Potter laughed knowingly. "What did you do?"
"Margaret came into the Swamp the morning after we pulled a prank on her, with Charles eager assistance of course." Hawkeye shot Charles a mischievous look. "She was upset that we had gotten her so good the night before, and said that she'd upped the anti. Then she proceeds to tell us how she'd sent a letter to Peg, telling her about the year long love affair that she and Beej had been having, and how he'd been too afraid to tell Peg that it was over between them. She had also told Peg that 'I' was the one that had brought them together."
Everyone's face dropped. "What happened?" Klinger exclaimed. "Peg must have been upset when she got the letter. That's a sick joke."
Hawkeye laughed. "No, Klinger, you don't understand."
"Margaret just SAID that she'd sent the letter." B.J. explained. "There was no letter. It was all a stunt for Charles benefit."
"So, what happened after that?" Potter prompted.
Hawkeye laughed. "B.J. suddenly attacks Margaret and throws her down on my bunk, pretending to strangle her in his anger."
"Well Charles jumps up crying, 'It was me, it was all me.'" B.J. added. "He confessed to the whole thing, which we'd all figured out already."
"I'd never seen Charles eat humble pie before." Hawkeye laughed. "It was a sight to be seen and then forgotten."
Charles laughed nervously. "Well, of course you know that I could see through your little scheme. I was just going along with it."
"Sure, Charles." Hawkeye smiled slyly. "Whatever you say."
"But, whatever the results were," Charles looked at his two old bunkmates and smiled, "I really enjoyed baiting you all. You should have known better than to try to match wits with me."
"Nice try, Chuckles." Hawkeye taunted, a mischievous grin on his face. "But I think that the award for the best practical joke should be awarded with honors to our beloved Colonel Sherman T. Potter."
"I agree." B.J. nodded his head. "He certainly got the last laugh."
"What did he do?" Radar asked curiously.
"He nailed B.J., Margaret, Charles and me with a dozy." Hawkeye replied, looking at the Colonel admiringly. "And we were none the wiser."
"We had been playing some practical jokes on each other in celebration of April Fools." B.J. explained. "Things like a can of Pralines with a snake that popped out when you opened the lid, minnows in Margaret's pocket, switching Father Mulcahy's robe for a frilly frock while he was in the shower, oatmeal in Hawk's boot..."
"...stealing Margaret's tent." Hawkeye laughed. "That was the best. Boy, did she get mad!"
"What did she do?" Trapper asked, a smile on his face.
"She beat the stuffing out of us with a pillow." B.J. laughed.
"Actually she beat the stuffing out of that poor pillow with us." Charles commented.