"Trapper and his wife are over there." He pointed. "Come on, I'll introduce you." Still laughing softly, they crossed the room.
"Hey, Trap, how are you?" Hawkeye asked.
"Terriffic. Boy, I've missed you, you knucklehead." Hawkeye hugged the man who had been his friend for so long during some of the most difficult times of his life. Then turning to BJ and Peg he introduced his friends.
"Trapper John McIntyre, this is BJ Hunnicutt. He came in after you went home."
BJ extended his hand and Trapper shook it. Then Trapper laughed. "No, that just won't do it. Somebody who took care of this guy for two whole years in a place like Korea deserves a hug." He embraced the taller man. "What does BJ stand for, anyway?"
BJ laughed. "Anything you want it to."
"You're kidding, right?"
"Boy, you and Hawk must've been two peas in a pod. So, was he as nuts after I left?"
"Probably more. I don't know, I wasn't there before to make a comparison. Anyway, I'm assuming you don't know my wife Peg?"
"Not a bit. Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Hunnicutt." He extended his hand.
"Call me Peg," she smiled.
"And I suppose neither of you knows my wife Louise. My two girls are off with Nurse Cutler's daughter."
Peg turned to the other woman. "If your husband's anything like mine, we both need hugs," she said cheerfully. The two embraced like old friends. "Come on, let's let these wackos catch up." Peg and Louise walked off together.
Trapper jumped slightly as he suddenly noticed Margaret. "Major Houlihan, is that you?"
"Of course it's me. I think. Hawkeye, did anyone take over my consciousness when I wasn't looking?" Hawkeye just laughed.
"Boy, you've changed since I left, Major," Trapper said, amazement in his voice.
"Yeah, I guess I have. And it's just Margaret now. I gave up the ‘major' at the end of the war."
"Really? I thought the army was your career."
"I changed to nursing. Nurses don't have to mess with being closed off and stuck up all the time. And I'm sorry I didn't realize it sooner."
"Me too. Hey, this seems to be a night when everyone hugs people they never thought they would."
"It certainly does." Margaret hugged Trapper right then and there.
Trapper turned to BJ. "What'd you do to her, anyway?"
"It was all Hawk. Well, anyway, it wasn't me, so it had to be him, right?"
"Well, I'm glad. She's gone from ‘Major Hot Lips Houlihan' to ‘it's just Margaret now.' I can't say I ever cared much for Hot Lips. Is Margaret any better?" Trapper asked hopefully.
"Definitely. I knew both." BJ looked at Trapper. He could see why Trapper and Hawkeye had been so close. "Hey, if you left before I got there, you haven't met Charles and Colonel Potter yet, have you?"
"Well, as I have no idea who you're talking about, let's assume that I haven't."
"Colonel Potter replaced uh, Henry. I wish I'd known him."
"Henry was a great guy. I really miss him," Trapper said.
"I'm not surprised. Colonel Potter's great too, though. Actually, he's not a colonel anymore, but it's hard to think of him as anything else. Charles replaced Frank when he went nuts. Oh, sorry, Margaret. I should have used a different word."
Margaret shook her head. "Don't worry about it. That's what he did."
Trapper looked at them. "You're kidding me. Did old Ferret Face get Klinger's section eight?"
Margaret laughed. "No, the army in its infinite insanity decided to promote him to Lieutenant Colonel and assign him a stateside position."
"Where have I heard those words before?" asked Hawkeye with a laugh.
"Oh, sure, take all the credit. But I wasn't there, I was on my honeymoon. I didn't hear about it until much later."
Trapper looked surprised at this news. "Margaret, you're married?"
"Not anymore. He was the highly divorce-able type, and I don't care if that isn't a word."
"Oh. Sorry, I didn't know."
"Don't worry. I'm glad about that, too. You'll also be surprised to hear that later the army promoted Klinger to seargeant. Everyone agrees that that's just nuts." Trapper was indeed surprised. He just stood there and blinked. Margaret laughed. "See what I mean? Anyway, aside from being pompous, arrogant, and forty other words for egotistical, Charles is okay when he wants to be. Hawkeye, are Charles and Colonel Potter here yet?"
"Yeah, they're around somewhere. I think you guys should meet Lorraine Blake first, though. She's an incredible woman, and besides that I know where she is."
"Well, that's a plus," Trapper laughed. "Let's do that." The four made their way across the room again, this time to where a good-looking young woman stood with her three children. The oldest, a girl, looked about twelve. The youngest was a boy who was six or seven. The middle one was somewhere in between. She held her little brother's hand.
Hawkeye spoke to the woman. "I seem to be the one doing all the introducing tonight. Lorraine Blake, this is Trapper, Margaret, and BJ." He indicated them with his hand as he introduced them. Lorraine shook each hand warmly.
"Let's see, from talking to Hawkeye, I know that BJ is the one who came later, right?" BJ nodded. Lorraine continued, "I'm so glad to meet people who knew Henry and people who knew his friends."
Margaret looked at the woman. "Your husband was an incredible man. I'm sorry I never told him so."
"He understood. He mentioned you in his letters. He said you had a hard wall built up around you, but somewhere underneath there had to be a wonderful woman because you were really nice when you were either too tired to think or drunk." Lorraine turned to the children. "I bet you guys would like to find some other kids to play with, huh?" The children nodded. "Well, go ahead."
Watching the children run off, Margaret spoke to Lorraine again. "I'm sorry I wasn't nice more often."
Hawkeye laid his hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Margaret. You're you now, and that's all that matters." Margaret smiled. Then she turned to Lorraine again, not minding somehow if Hawkeye left his hand on her shoulder.
"The boy is the one Henry never got to meet, huh?"
"Yeah," Lorraine replied sadly. "He's the spitting image of his father. I even named him Henry. Nothing else seemed to work right."
"Come on, you guys, this is a party. Let's not get too depressing," Hawkeye interrupted. Margaret and Lorraine both smiled. Everyone who had ever met Hawkeye knew that he used humor to diffuse tense situations. At the moment they didn't mind. He wasn't being disrespectful to Henry, he was just being a good friend. "Come on, I know a great joke," he continued. Turning to BJ he said, "I'll admit that BJ tells it well, but it's my joke just the same. Don't interrupt, Beej. Okay, there's this guy, and he owns a circus, and one day this scrawny little guy comes in . . ."
"Know what, Hawkeye? That was the most fun I've had in years." Margaret and Hawkeye sat together having a late dinner after the reunion party.
"Me too." Hawkeye smiled happily. It was good to see Margaret laugh--before she'd let her sense of humor show far too rarely, but she'd been making jokes all night.
"Do you know, I cried when we toasted Henry?" Margaret asked.
"I did too. Henry was a really great guy. Gosh, I miss him."
"I was so wrapped up in calling him ‘unfit to command' in Korea that it wasn't until he was gone that I realized how special he was. Then there was Frank . . ."
"You know, I really think you were a nicer person after Frank left."
"I was. You know, I think everyone misses Henry."
"I don't know how Radar stood it, you know? Henry was practically his dad." He sighed deeply. "You know, even Hawkeye Pierce gets sad sometimes?"
"You've got someone here for you now, when you're sad and when you're not." Margaret smiled. Hawkeye looked her in the eye. They were beautiful eyes, he thought. But then, Margaret was beautiful all over; it wasn't just her eyes. He smiled back at her.
"You know, people have feelings sometimes that they never even know about." Hawkeye said.
"Yeah." Margaret blinked. Her own strange feeling was back. "Hawkeye? What is it, really?"
Hawkeye didn't ask her what she meant by ‘it.' He didn't look at her like she was crazy. He just smiled. "It's love, Margaret." He looked at her. "I love you so much. I have since I met you. I love you more than anything--even medicine. I hated being in Korea, but I'm glad I got sent there. I couldn't live without you. I love you, Margaret." Hawkeye reached across the table and took her hand. He just held it for a moment.
"I love you too, Hawkeye . . . Ben. I love you . . . Hawkeye."
"Margaret, will you marry me?"
Margaret looked straight at Hawkeye. There was only one word that she could say with those deep blue eyes looking at her, a reflection of the love she felt. There was only one word that she could even think. "Yes."
Hawkeye moved around the table to sit next to her instead of across from her. He still held her hand. He didn't ever want to let it go. "That's what it is," he told her, "and that's what it will always be."