Finally Hawkeye found his tongue. "Carley?" He questioned, still not believing his eyes.
"Hawkeye?" She too asked, unable to believe who was standing before her.
"What are you doing here?" They both asked in unison. They chuckled slightly, their tension beginning to slowly seep away.
"You look wonderful!" Hawkeye told her truthfully. Looking her up and down his expression turned mischievous as he added. "I see that you and Mr. Walton finally figured out that more than talking is involved if you're going to have kids."
"Yeah, I guess we did." Carley laughed good-naturedly as she placed a hand on her rounding belly. Then in a curious tone she repeated her earlier question. "What are you doing here? A Bridal shop is the last place I ever expected to find you."
Before Hawkeye could reply the door to the change room opened and out stepped Margaret, beautifully arrayed in the white gown, a lacy veil covering her face.
At first sight of her Hawkeye couldn't help but give a little gasp. It seemed almost a dream that Margaret was standing before him wearing a wedding gown. And what seemed even more dream-like was that she was wearing it for him - not Frank, not Donald but him. He couldn't take his eyes off her for fear that it was a dream and she'd suddenly disappear if he so much as blinked.
Carley looked from the veiled woman to Hawkeye, quickly noting the deep love and admiration written on every feature of his handsome face. As she watched her old boyfriend reach out and take the mystery woman's hands in his she felt a pang of jealousy rise up in her heart. Fighting it down she managed to ask the question that was on the tip of her tongue since she first saw him. "Hawk, are you getting married?"
Hawkeye couldn't help the proud smile that spread across his face at Carley's question. Putting his arm around Margaret's waist he pulled her to him and replied. "As a matter of fact, I am." Glancing at Margaret for a moment he looked back to Carley and added slyly. "I'm marrying the store mannequin. She may not have much upstairs, but what a body!" He grinned mischievously at Margaret who responded with a playful slap to the back of his head. "She's very violent too." He remarked, rubbing the back of his head and giving Margaret a look of mock pain.
Carley managed to produce a warm smile and paste it on her face as she extended her hand to the veiled woman. "It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Carley Walton. Hawkeye and I are old friends."
"So I remember." Margaret replied as she shook the other woman's offered hand. At Carley's surprised look she lifted her veil and added. "Actually, if I remember correctly, you two were more than just 'old friends'."
"Major Houlihan?" Carley paused mid-handshake and stared at her former superior officer. "I don't believe my eyes!" She looked from Margaret to Hawkeye and then back to Margaret. "I thought…I thought you two hated each other!" Hawkeye and Margaret looked at each other, sheepish smiles on both their faces.
"I have to admit that I use to think so too." Margaret commented honestly, looking at Carley. Then turning to look at Hawkeye her expression turned to one of such love that Carley had no doubt of the depth of feeling that this woman had for her old friend. "But that was before I discovered what a truly wonderful man he is."
"I still can't believe it!" Carley exclaimed her expression reflecting her profound disbelief. Looking at Hawkeye she admitted. "I never thought you'd ever get married. I always thought that medicine would be the number one thing in your life."
"So did I." Hawkeye told her truthfully. Then tightening his arm around Margaret again he said he looked at her and added. "But that was before I found someone that I love more than medicine." He leaned down and planted a gentle kiss on Margaret's smiling lips.
"I love you too." She whispered softly as she kissed him back.
Without taking his eyes off Margaret he continued. "And in the very near future our beloved Major Houlihan will become Mrs. Margaret Houlihan-Pierce."
Margaret couldn't but smile when he said 'Houlihan-Pierce'. She realized that he was giving her the freedom to keep her own name if she wanted - the sweet wonderful man. Giving him a tender look she said. "Mrs. Margaret Pierce will be just fine." Hawkeye gave her a pleased smile and dropped another kiss on her rosy lips.
"I think it will too." He whispered softly, his eyes looking deeply into hers.
Carley watched the pair for a minute, noting again with the same twinge of jealousy the love that passed between the couple. It certainly seemed, much to her surprise and amazement, that Hawkeye had indeed found a woman that he could put first in his life. The love that Hawkeye had once felt for her paled greatly in comparison to the love that he obviously felt for Margaret and that she felt for him. Carley was very happy that her old friend had finally found himself someone to love, but it also made her feel sad. It was as if the door on that part of her life had finally closed for good.
"Well, congratulations to both of you." She finally said to the pair as she pasted another warm smile on her face. "I'm very happy for you."
"Thank you, Carley." Margaret acknowledged, giving Hawkeye's old girlfriend a genuine smile of friendship. She could tell that Carley still cared very much for her fiancé, and she couldn't blame her. She had learned over the years what a special man Hawkeye Pierce was and she would hate to have seen him snatched up by some other woman. She couldn't be happier knowing that they now belonged to each other and that they would continue to belong to each other for the rest of their lives. Continuing to smile she assured the other woman. "I promise to take good care of him."
Carley shifted her gaze to Hawkeye for a moment before looking back to Margaret and saying. "You'd better. You've gotten yourself a wonderful prize, Major. I hope you appreciate him more than I did." With that she headed for the other change room, a surprised Lilith in tow.
Margaret turned to face the man that she loved more than anything else in the world and gave him a loving smile. "You know, she's right, I have gotten myself a wonderful prize." Hawkeye smiled at her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tightly to him.
"I love you, Margaret." He whispered into her hair. "I love you very much."
"I love you too." She replied as she hugged him back.
"What do you say we get out of here?" Hawkeye commented as he glanced at the clock on the wall. "It's almost one and we're suppose to meet Charles at that little restaurant of his."
"Sounds good." Margaret nodded in agreement. "Just let me get changed." She disentangled herself from his arms and headed back to the change room she had exited a few minutes earlier.
Just before she closed the door Hawkeye called her name. When she looked at him expectantly he said. "By the way, you look absolutely beautiful in that dress."
Margaret gave him a warm smile and shut the change room door.
A little after one o'clock they arrived at the restaurant where they were to meet Charles. They gave their names to the Maitre 'D who informed them that Dr. Winchester had left a message saying that he would be a little late and would meet them at the bar. They thanked the man and headed for the bar. After they had settled into a corner table a waiter came over to ask them what they wanted to drink.
"I'll have a scotch and water." Margaret requested, giving the man a friendly smile.
"And I'll have a very dry martini." Hawkeye told him. "So dry that there's dust on the olive."
"Yes, sir." The waiter nodded and left the table.
"While he gets our drinks I'm going to go freshen up a little bit." Margaret commented, picking her purse back up and pushing her chair back.
Hawkeye rose with her and commented. "Don't be long." He took one of her hands in his and kissed it before adding, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "I might get lonely."
"I won't." She returned the smile before turning and heading for the washrooms.
Hawkeye sat back down in his seat as he watched her wade her way across the room. He was unable to take his eyes off her for a minute for fear that she would disappear as suddenly as he had found her again. He still couldn't believe that she finally was his - no more longing, no more dreaming, no more endless wishing. After years of keeping his love for her a secret he was finally able to show her how deep and how strong his feelings were for her and it made his heart soar even more to know that she felt the same way about him.
"Well, I'll be damned!" A voice suddenly exclaimed, jolting Hawkeye out of his musings.
At the sound of the familiar voice Hawkeye turned, his eyes wide with surprise. "I don't believe it!" He exclaimed his eyes widening even more at the sight of the man who belonged to the voice. After the initial shock wore off he jumped up and grabbed the newcomer in a tight embrace. "Trapper! What on earth are you doing here?"
"I'm on my lunch break." Trapper replied as the two men released each other. "What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for a friend." Hawkeye replied as he motioned for his old buddy to sit down. "So how are you? Where are you working?"
"Just down the street at Boston Mercy." Trapper replied with a broad smile. "I'm head of Pediatrics there."
"Pediatrics?" Hawkeye questioned, his eyebrows raising in surprise. "When did you go into Pediatrics?"
"I changed specialties after I returned home from the war." Trapper replied. "I decided I had enough of trauma surgery in Korea."