"So where is your dad then?"
Hawkeye laughed. The rich sound she had loved in Korea. "Probably down at *Aunt* Corrine's. He swears she is just a friend, but I think something might be going on."
She laughed. "The apple never falls very far from the tree, I guess."
"I guess not." She did not resist when his arms pulled her back into his arms. "We like to fool around when we're young, but once we've found the right woman, we don't let her go." His lips confirmed the sentiment.
"All this time I thought you didn't care about me."
"I thought the same thing. We were both wrong."
"So we owe this all to BJ?"
He nodded. "Yep."
"We're going to have to do something nice for him." She laughed as he tickled her ear. "Really, really nice."
Hawkeye helped his dad cook dinner. Margaret sat at the kitchen table and watched them work. Whenever he looked over at her she smiled at him. A slow, seductive smile that made his knees weak and his fantasies work overtime. She was more beautiful than he remembered. Being in her arms was like coming home. Finally.
As he set the table she rose to help him. Once he had deposited the plates safely on the dining room table he pulled her to him and stole a quick kiss. That turned into a longer kiss. Then a longer one.
"If you're going to do that you need to warn me," Daniel's voice was warm with approval. "Old man like me seeing such carrying on?"
"Sorry," Margaret whispered trying not to laugh.
"Yeah, sorry Dad." Hawkeye refused to let go of her. He just pulled her closer to him and smiled at his father.
"Well as long as you're both sorry. Now get back in here and get some silverware and napkins."
Dinner passed quickly as they ate and caught up. Margaret loved the warm rapport between the two Pierces. She contrasted their obviously loving relationship to the one she had with her own father. She decided she already felt closer to Daniel than she ever had to *Howitzer* Houlihan. When the elder Pierce caught her staring at him she gave him a small smile. He smiled back and she felt warm all through.
Hawkeye turned to her. "I took some time off from the hospital. Thought I'd show you around some. We can catch up."
She caught his eye, nearly chuckled at the mischief in his expression. "Sounds good."
"Son, I've been meaning to talk to you about the hospital. You don't seem too happy there."
She wondered what he was getting at.
Hawkeye brushed his concern away. "Now that Margaret's here I'll be fine."
"I repeat, Hawkeye, you don't seem too happy there. Are you sure that surgery is what you really want to do now?"
"It's what I'm trained to do. It's what I know."
She rose to his defense. "He's a brilliant surgeon, Daniel. The best I've ever worked with."
He patted her hand. "Simmer down, Tiger. I'm not saying he isn't. I'm just saying maybe he has had enough saving and dying for one man. Maybe it's time to think about something a little quieter?"
"While I was in town today, visiting your Aunt Corrine," he didn't miss the wink Hawkeye threw Margaret, "now cut that out. Anyway, she said Doc Grady is looking to sell the practice. He and Sally want to retire. See the world. So maybe someone, or a couple of someone's, that have already seen the world, might want to buy it?"
"Doc Grady is selling?"
"Just something to think about." Daniel turned to Margaret. "You can decide once you've seen the town."
She laughed uncomfortably. "It's not my decision."
He laughed back. "I have a feeling it will be, Sweetheart. I don't see my son ever letting you go. And if he does, he'll have to answer to me."
She smiled at his enthusiasm for her. "Well, I appreciate that. Always nice to know I have a champion."
The next day Hawkeye and Margaret strolled through the town. He was pleased to see that she did not seem disconcerted by its size or lack thereof. He put his hand on her elbow to steer her into Doc Grady's office. So far he had behaved himself and he did not want to scandalize the residents of his hometown. But if they could have seen them last night, after he snuck into her room, they would be very shocked.
As if reading his mind, Margaret looked up at him. She took in his expression and shot him one of her own devilish smiles. He didn't look away until he heard Sally Grady calling to him. "So, Benjamin Franklin Pierce, who is your lovely new friend?"
He introduced Margaret. When Doc Grady came out with his patient he did it again, pleased at the way Margaret had already settled in to this space in his life. Without realizing he had wanted to ask, he found himself questioning Grady about the practice.
"You thinking of buying it, Hawkeye?" The older man grinned. "I wish you would. Can't stomach the thought of some city MD getting it. I'll make you a fair deal."
Hawkeye put his arm around Margaret. "We'll have to discuss it and get back to you. Just don't sell it to anyone else in the meantime."
As he and Margaret walked back to the house he stopped. "What do you think? Could you live here? I know we were going to work in town, but this would be so much closer and I wouldn't have to be away from Dad so much and..." He hushed as he felt her fingers go over his lips.
"As long as I'm with you, it doesn't matter. And I like it here. I think it would be a good place to put down roots. I haven't had much experience with that."
"Are you sure you could stand working with me and living with me?"
She smiled wickedly. "Who says I'm going to live with you? That Mr. Parsons down at the general store was giving me the eye. Maybe I want to live with him."
"He's 78 years old. Besides, you have to live with me."
He pulled her off the path, into the trees and kissed her soundly. She kissed him right back. "Because Margaret Houlihan, I want you to be my wife. And that works best if you live in the same house as your husband."
He felt her pull away, saw surprise rush across her face, then happiness, then finally fear. "Are you proposing?"
"Well, no. But only because I don't have a ring. Consider it a practice proposal." He saw her face lighten as she realized he was serious. "So what would your practice answer be?"
"Hmmm. Well let's see. You or Mr. Parsons. I don't know. It's a tough choice." She squealed as he pulled her back to him. "Ok. You. I'll pick you."
"Good answer, Margaret." Their lips met and he pulled her farther back into the foliage. "If we're careful..."
"We're never careful, Pierce. That's why we're so good together." She laughed as he pulled her back to him and they once again found their way home.