Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: The MASH characters belong to FOX, I only own them in my heart. Louise Anderson was a character during the first season in the episode "Love Story." Lorraine Anderson was on an episode called "Temporary Duty" in the sixth season. This is a sequel to "Implosion"

Strange Bedfellows
A Year to Remember

by Bigelow

Chapter 1 - Preparing to Wed

"Mrs. Rose Houlihan
Requests the honor
Of your presence to witness the marriage
Of her daughter
Margaret Elizabeth
Benjamin Franklin Pierce,
Son of Dr. Daniel D. Pierce
Saturday, April 17, 1954
At 4:00 PM
at the Home of Daniel Pierce
Crabapple Cove, Maine"

"Peg, are you sure you're up to the trip?" asked BJ watching as his pregnant wife picked up their young daughter. "Honey, she's getting kind of big for you to be carrying around."

"BJ, you worry too much. My mom had five of us. She carried us around when she was in a family way and never lost a one. You forget I'm a farmer's daughter." Peg smiled at his concern. Erin wriggled out of her arms and ran out of the room.

Peg had enjoyed the time they'd had getting reacquainted. The two years BJ had been overseas had been difficult for her. She'd missed him so. She loved watching Erin getting to know her daddy. At one point Peg had to ask him to let the child walk so she wouldn't forget how. BJ had missed her so much that he didn't want to put her down.

"I'm sorry; honey, but you know how much I worry about you. Maine is a long trip." BJ said.

"BJ! Stop it! We're not walking to Crabapple Cove. We're flying! Besides I will have my personal physician at my disposal."

"I love you, Peg!" BJ leaned over and kissed her. He'd been back now for nine months and still couldn't seem to get over the joy of being home. He knew that he carried Erin around too much but he'd missed out on her infancy and it was hard for him to remember sometimes that she was an active toddler.

"You would never forgive yourself if you were to miss your best friend's wedding," said Peg, between kisses.

"That's true, I just wish they hadn't scheduled it so close to your due date. Anything could happen," sighed BJ

"You know what Hawkeye said. They didn't want to schedule the wedding when there might be a risk of being snowed in, or worse yet, the planes not being able to make it through. Can you blame them for not wanting to wait a moment more after the threat of snow?"

BJ grinned. He thought about how he'd tried to convince Hawkeye to not let Margaret get away before they left Korea. It frustrated him to see the two of them in love and each of them was unwilling to make a move. BJ was beside himself when Hawkeye had called in November to tell him that Margaret had shown up on his doorstep.

BJ could only imagine how difficult it was for Hawkeye and Margaret to wait from November until April. According to Hawkeye they were waiting until the wedding to fall into bed with each other. BJ smiled to himself.

"You're right, Peg. I have to be there. I wouldn't miss this wedding for the world. Besides I'm the best man."

"You're the best man I've ever known," she laughed.

Erin came running back into the bedroom giggling, "Erin go wedding...Erin fwower girl." She was two months shy of her 3rd birthday and growing fast, BJ observed as he caught her up in his arms and tickled her neck with his moustache.

"Dagnabbit!" yelled Sherman. "Now where did I put my tie?"

"It's in your top drawer, left hand side, dear," said Mildred Potter. "Please calm down, Sherman, dear. You have to be careful of your blood pressure. You know what Dr. Kendall said."

"That young smart aleck, I fought my first war before he filled his first diaper! I'm a doctor. I know how to take care of myself," he said as bit off the tip of a cigar.

"So I see," said Mildred raising an eyebrow. She loved hearing the gruff voice of the man she'd been married to for over 30 years. It was hard to believe that after so many years of separation she wouldn't have to wait for the mail for a word from him. Mrs. Potter's Mr. Potter was home to stay.

"I can't tell you how thrilled I am to go to this wedding, Mother. I can't wait to show you off to my 4077 family. They're the best darned group of people I've ever worked with. I know you're going to love 'em," he said.

"I'm sure I will," she smiled.

Sherman opened the invitation and read it one more time and shook his head, "It's a cryin' shame about Colonel Houlihan. It's bound to be tough on Margaret not having her dad there. She set great store by him. He visited her at the 4077th once. Ha! She nearly drove us all loco trying to make everything ship shape so he'd be proud of her. That old buzzard..."

Mildred asked, "What did happen to him? Did you tell me?"

"It happened in September...Margaret wrote and said that he was in Germany. The way she put it is that he was barking orders at a young corporal when he suffered a heart attack. Died right there on the spot. She said she thought he probably died happy because he was doing what he loved best. That would be a hell of an epitaph, 'He left orders...then he left.'"

Mildred tried not to laugh unsuccessfully, "Oh, Sherm! You're terrible. Now are we packed and ready to go?"

"Yes, Mother," said Sherman, offering her his arm. "Let's shake a leg and get to this little wingding, shall we? I have a bride to give away. I wouldn't miss this wedding for all the horses at the OK Corral!"

Walter O'Reilly checked to make sure he had the airline tickets in his pocket. He read the invitation one more time before handing it to Patty to put in her purse.

"I still can't believe it," he said. "Hawkeye Pierce and Margaret Houlihan getting married. Wow!"

"Why is that so hard to believe?" asked Patty O'Reilly.

"If you'd known them back in Korea you'd understand. They hated each other. Major Houlihan was regular army and she could be really....she could be a...a...well you know what I mean. She could be nice though...but when she got mad you didn't want to stand in her way. One time she got so mad she kicked my office door over!"

"What about Hawkeye?" asked Patty "What was he like?"

"He was the best doctor and a real swell guy. But as much as Major Houlihan was regular army...that's how much Hawkeye hated the army. He made fun of the army and its rules every chance he got and that would make Major Houlihan real mad.

"What's even stranger about them getting married is that Hawkeye...um...dated a different nurse almost every night. For him to settle down with one...and that one being Major Houlihan...well...it makes me woozy to think about it."

Patty laughed. She felt lucky to be married to such a sweet man as Walter. She loved the way he cared for all the animals on the farm. It was sweet to hear him talk to the cow when he milked her. There was a wide-eyed innocence about him. He seemed to be awed by life in general. Yet there was an inner strength to him that made Patty feel safe with him. She knew it was that inner strength that kept him sane through the horror that he saw in Korea.

"Ma! What's taking you so long? We have to get to the airport. The plane won't wait for us, y'know!" Radar yelled.

"I'm moving as quickly as I can, dearie," yelled Mary O'Reilly from upstairs. "You worry too much. We have plenty of time. I wouldn't miss meeting your friends for anything."

Radar looked at his watch and sighed, "Okay, Ma, Patty and I will wait for you on the porch."

"It looks like it's going to rain," said Margaret looking up at the sky. "I hope it doesn't rain or snow on Saturday."

Hawkeye stood behind her on the porch, holding the newspaper.

"The weather report says that it's supposed to be sunny on Saturday and with any luck there will be some truth to that," laughed Hawkeye. "Margaret, it's going to be wonderful, no matter what the weather is like." He put his arms around her and nibbled at her neck.

"Benjamin Pierce! Stop that! You'll have your way with me Saturday night and not a minute before!" She laughed at him as he pouted.

She had been living in the Pierce home since November. It was now Sunday April 11. There were only six more days until she'd be Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Pierce. The two of them had agreed to stay out of each other's beds until after the wedding. Both Hawkeye and Margaret felt that this was a sign of a new beginning for the both of them. It hadn't been easy for either of them, but for the first time in her life, Margaret felt respected for the woman she was and not for her rank.

"Okay, Margaret," said Hawkeye acting dejected. "But you'd better prepare yourself for Saturday night! I am a lion on the make, I am the love call of the wolf at night, a predator on the prowl...I am sex itself! I am appetite! Roaaar!" he growled.

Laughing, Margaret grabbed his newspaper, rolled it up and hit him on the nose.

She said, "Down boy! Don't make me put you back in your cage!"

Margaret looked back up at the sky and sighed. A year and a half ago she thought she had her life neatly planned. The army was her life...she was going to go as far as she could in 'this man's army.' She remembered delivering that speech to Max Klinger of all people.

Her life had taken some unexpected twists and turns over the last year. She never expected to fall in love with Hawkeye Pierce, the most unmilitary officer in the army.

Her father had died unexpectedly. She was in Tokyo with her friend Lorraine when she got the news that her father had had a heart attack in Germany. She had gone to attend his funeral and then spent the month of October with her mother tying up loose ends.

"Mom, I'm thinking of resigning my commission," said Margaret as she packed the last of "Howitzer Al's" personal effects.

"Margaret, dear, what brought this on? I thought you loved the army. I don't understand. You've always said it was your life."

"I-I think I've had enough of army life..."

"I don't need to tell you what your father would say," said Rose Houlihan.

"No, you don't," answered Margaret.

"So...who is he?"

Margaret's looked up at her mother, surprised by the question. "What do you mean 'who is he?' What makes you think this has to do with a man?"

"Call it woman's intuition...and I know my daughter."

"Hawkeye Pierce."

"That name sounds familiar. Wasn't he one of the doctors in your MASH unit? Seems to me I remember you writing some unfavorable things about him in some of your letters. I also remember your dad having a lot to say about a doctor who behaved in a very unmilitary manner....something about being a disgrace to the army."

Margaret smiled and said, "That's the one."

"So he's asked you to give up your career for him?"

"No, he didn't. In fact he said that he would never ask that of me. This is my choice. He only gave me his address and phone number in Maine and said, 'keep in touch.'"

"Keep in touch? Margaret, this sounds very irresponsible. You're going to resign your commission and go running after him because he says 'keep in touch?' I hope you know what you're doing."

"I hope so, too," said Margaret.

"Margaret? Are you in there or have you flown off into the wild blue yonder?"

"Oh, sorry...I was just thinking...Mom's flight comes in tonight. She hasn't met you yet, so please be on your best behavior. Not like..."

"Not like I behaved when your dad came to the 4077th? Margaret, don't you think you went just a little overboard then. I mean you drove everybody nuts trying to impress him..." he stopped, seeing the tears welling up in her eyes. "You miss him, don't you?"

"He was my father. I-I'm not sure how I feel, Hawkeye. He was so proud of me when I made major..."

Hawkeye felt a lump forming in his throat, "Are you sorry you left the army?"

Margaret reached up, pulled his head down to hers and kissed him, "No...I'm just trying to sort out my feelings. I don't remember Daddy every loving me for who I am...it seems that it was always about what I did or didn't do. You're so lucky to have your dad..."

Hawkeye smiled and hugged her, "I know. Now my dad is your dad..."

Margaret smiled up at him, "Yeah."

Daniel had welcomed her into his home as a daughter. She understood why this man was her fiancÚ's hero. He reminded her of Colonel Potter in the way he understood and knew just what to say at the right time. He had a commanding presence. He was tall like his son, with the same twinkle in his eye. He even had the same sense of humor. She understood how Hawkeye had been influenced to become a doctor. Daniel treated each of his patients as if they were members of his own family. She saw that Hawkeye came by his compassionate side honestly.

Being a civilian was a new experience for Margaret. Hawkeye was doing his best to help her make the transition. He helped her secure a job at the hospital in Portland. He'd hoped that she would work in the trauma center but she opted for a position in obstetrics. She told him she'd had enough of broken and bleeding bodies. She wanted to be a part of the miracle of new life. Even though he had been disappointed that they wouldn't be working directly together he understood.

Father Mulcahy hadn't been home from Korea long when he received the wedding invitation from Maine. He smiled as he read it and said a silent prayer that God would bless the marriage. He knew that Hawkeye and Margaret were highly passionate individuals which could make for a very....interesting...marriage. He smiled and looked up. The heavenly Father would have his work cut out for him.

The priest felt honored that the couple had asked him to come and officiate over their wedding. He was looking forward to the trip from Philadelphia.

He adjusted his hearing aids. His hearing had improved some since he'd returned from Korea and the hearing aids helped considerably, but his hearing would never be what it had been. He was adjusting though and had become adept at reading lips. He sighed as he remembered the explosion that had damaged his eardrums. He'd been angry with God at first but had come to realize that there were those who came back from the war who had suffered much greater losses.

Father Mulcahy didn't miss the war and devastation in Korea but had to admit that he desperately missed the orphans. He'd never felt more needed than he had at Sister Theresa's orphanage.

He sighed. This wasn't a time to count his losses. This was a time of rejoicing. He looked forward to seeing his 4077 family. He picked up his pencil, opened his Bible and began to work on his discourse for the wedding.

Sidney Freedman smiled as he read the wedding invitation from Crabapple Cove. He'd spent some time with Hawkeye and Margaret over the past six months. He had high hopes for their marriage.

Sidney was pleased with Hawkeye's progress since his breakdown last year. He'd been concerned when the surgeon took a job in a hospital emergency room in November, but he seemed to be doing well.

He laughed to himself; life in the Pierce home would never be dull with those two headstrong, opinionated people.

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