18

She hadn't told anyone at the 4077th, after all she'd barely admitted it to herself, but she'd been in love with Hawkeye for months maybe even years. She loved his sense of humor, the way he cared about people even the enemy. If it hadn't been for him, she didn't know if she'd have made it through the last three years. She'd lost a lot of herself in the war, but thanks to Hawkeye, she'd found even more. Thoughts and feelings she didn't know she had had slowly begun to emerge during those three horrible years, she'd found a part of herself that she'd thought she'd lost long ago. In a corny sort of way, Hawkeye had become her 'knight in shining armor' saving her from her biggest enemy herself. He had caused her to open up and to enjoy life, to realize that it was okay to laugh, to let her guard down and have some fun. That nobody was going to think less of her or her position if she eased up some. She said a silent prayer, deeply grateful for having found Hawkeye in the first place and then even more thankful for having been reunited with him again.

She smiled again as she thought back to the rest of the weekend. She still couldn't help but chuckle at the memory of Daniel Pierce's face when Hawkeye had first introduced her to him. His look of pure astonishment was one she knew that she would never forget. Neither would she quickly forget the look of joy that he had when he realized who she was and that she and Hawkeye were really getting married. He looked like he'd just won a big prize.

Dinner that night had been a really interesting affair but not as entertaining as the following night. As promised Daniel had taken her and Hawkeye to 'the Resort' for supper. The Lakeshore Resort was a fancy hotel just outside of town with a really expensive restaurant. They had a meal fit for a king and his court lobster, mussels, salad, imported French wine and a fresh fruit trifle - all of which was out of season in Maine in January. Margaret enjoyed every bite of it, but what she enjoyed even more was watching Daniel jump up every time he recognized someone and call them over to meet 'Hawkeye's beautiful fiancee'. They all greeted her with warm smiles and hearty handshakes, making her feel right at home in her new little town. Hawkeye's face beamed the entire time. He looked so proud to show off the 'amazing' woman he'd met abroad.

Margaret sighed tiredly and finally threw the covers back. Slipping on her housecoat she opened her bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway.

As she descended the stairs she was surprised to find the living room aglow with a soft light. Sticking her head inside she found Hawkeye sitting on the couch, his back to the door. She couldn't tell for sure what he was doing, but every so often she heard a slight noise that sounded like pages turning.

After standing and watching him for a few minutes she silently crept up behind him and put her arms around his neck. At unexpected touch he jumped slightly, but then smiled as he turned his head to look at her out of the corner of his eye.

"I didn't wake you did I?" He asked in a concerned tone.

Margaret shook her blond head. "No, I couldn't sleep either. Too much on my mind."

Hawkeye reached up and touched her face gently. "I know what you mean." He pulled her head down and planted a kiss on her smiling lips.

When they pulled away Margaret looked at the photo album that was sitting open on his lap. "What are you looking at?"

Hawkeye looked back to the open album and smiled. "Just some snaps Klinger sent me from Korea. After he got home he a box full of negatives in his footlocker. He went through them and made copies of some of the better ones." He gestured to a shot of him and BJ clowning around. BJ had him in a fireman's carry and was running towards a big barrel of water. "He had just found the toad that I had left in his bed."

"Did he actually throw you in?" Margaret asked as she moved around the couch to sit down beside him.

"No, I was saved by the choppers." Hawkeye remarked, his tone sobering a little. "I think I would have rather been dunked than have to go into surgery."

Margaret gestured to another photo. It was one of her, Hawkeye and BJ trying to fly a kite that the two men had made from toilet tissue, tape and splints. It had made it off the ground, but one good gust of wind had completely shredded the tissue, sending the frame hurtling to the ground, dive bombing Radar as he crossed the compound. The shocked Corporal had thrown himself to the dirt as the splint frame pinned his fallen wool cap to the ground just inches away. "Remember the look on Radar's face when he looked up and saw his hat pinned to the ground by the kite."

Hawkeye laughed as he said. "If it hadn't been for Military protocol I think we would have been three dead officers. He looked ready to skin us alive."

"It had been a nice afternoon." Margaret commented, remembering the day vividly. "Remember the picnic the three of us had."

"How could I forget." He replied. "Spam sandwiches on World War II surplus bread, cold coffee and stale cookies."

"Not to mention some of your rat poison." She added with a mischievous smile.

"You never did appreciate a good antifreeze when you tasted it." He poked her lightly in the ribs.

"You just didn't have any taste." She shot back, returning the poking.

"I had enough taste to pick you didn't I." He told her warmly.

She smiled back at him and teased. "It was the only sensible thing you did in your life."

"I can't argue with that." He replied as he put his arm around her shoulders. As she snuggled closer to him he ventured to ask the question he'd been pondering for hours. "So, when do you think we should set the date for?"

Margaret wrapped her arms around his waist as she replied. "I've been wondering that myself. I've been thinking that we should do it soon."

"Really?" He exclaimed eagerly as he looked at her. "I've been thinking the same thing. How soon were you thinking?"

"Well, you said that BJ and Peg were coming tomorrow and are staying for two weeks, right?" She asked, pausing for him to reply.

"That's right." Hawkeye confirmed with a nod. "They fly out two weeks from tomorrow."

"Well, how about we set the date for two weeks from today." Margaret suggested. "We'll get married the day before they leave, that way they definitely be able to make it to the wedding."

Hawkeye turned so that he could look into her face. "Are you sure you want to plan it so soon? Are you sure you'll be happy with a wedding that's thrown together in such short order?"

Margaret looked into his blue eyes and gave him a tender smile. Reaching up she brushed back a stray lock of hair that had dropped across his forehead. "The only thing I care about is being your wife. I don't care about a grandiose wedding, something nice and simple will suit me just fine."

Hawkeye reached over and pulled her to him. "I love you, Margaret. I love you very much."

"I love you too, Hawkeye." She whispered back.

He pulled back slightly and looked at her. "Will you do me a favor?"

"Anything." She vowed eagerly.

"Call me Ben." He said softly.

"Ben?" She questioned in surprise. She knew that his first name was really Benjamin, but he was always telling everyone to call him 'Hawkeye', so his request caught her by surprise.

He nodded his head and explained his request. "The only ones that call me 'Ben' are my Dad on occasion and my mother when I was young. As you know, everyone else calls me 'Hawk' or 'Hawkeye'." He dropped his head for a moment before looking at her again and saying. "I'd like you to call me 'Ben' too."

"I'd love to." She told him as she gave him a warm smile. After a moment she added. "And you can call me 'Meg'."

"'Meg'?" He questioned in surprise.

She nodded and said. "I've always liked 'Meg' as a short form for Margaret, but I've never felt close enough to anyone to allow them to call me that."

"Not even Frank or Donald?" Hawkeye asked seriously.

Margaret shook her head. "Even though Frank and I were...'friendly'...I never felt really close to him. The fact that he was married and was constantly referring to his wife probably kept that barrier there. And Donald...even though we were married I still kept that protective shell of mine firmly in place. I think that's what kept me from getting crushed when I first found out he'd cheated on me." She reached up and touched his face again. "You're the only one that managed to get past my invisible barrier, the only one that I feel completely open to."

Hawkeye put his hand over the one on his cheek and looked deeply into her eyes. "I feel the same way about you...my darling Meg." She smiled at him as he leaned forward to kiss her tenderly.

When the pair finally came up for air they were both breathless. They leaned back against the back of the couch, their arms firmly around each other. They sat like that in silence for several minutes, each one lost in their own thoughts.

Finally Hawkeye spoke. "Do you think that Potter and Radar and the others would make a sudden trip to Crabapple Cove to watch two of their friends unite together in wedded bliss?"

Margaret sat up slightly, a look of excitement on her beautiful face. "I'm sure they would! Why don't we call them and ask them!"

"Now?" Hawkeye questioned in surprise. Glancing at the clock on the wall he said. "It's the middle of the night, they'd all be sleeping!"

"So!" Margaret persisted eagerly. "They won't mind." She jumped to her feet and pulled on his hand. "Let's call them."

Hawkeye smiled at her enthusiasm and pushed himself off the couch. "Why not." He said as he let her lead him into the kitchen.


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