If it wasn't for the fact that they were in the middle of a posh hotel ballroom Hawkeye would have let out a cry of joy. Instead he managed to contain his excitement and content himself with kissing his adored fiancee tenderly. After a moment he pulled back slightly and said.
"How about I take you shopping for an engagement ring tomorrow?" He asked.
"You're going to take me with you?" Margaret asked in surprise. "You're not going to surprise me?"
"You're the one that's going to be wearing it for the next fifty or sixty years." He reasoned. "Might as well be something that you like."
Margaret couldn't help but smile at his comment. "Sound good to me."
"Good." Her fiancée said and then punctuated his feelings with another kiss.
Meanwhile, back at their table Brad and Carrie were watching the couple with growing annoyance.
"I still don't understand either one of them." Carrie exclaimed in exasperation. "Look at them. They're disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful."
"Well, what are you going to do about it, Carrie?" Brad asked impatiently. He had just spent the last fifteen minutes listening to her rant about the other couple's behavior. "After all, they are both adults. If they want to ruin their lives, that's up to them."
"I just don't understand Margaret." Carried persisted in raving. "She's never acted like this before. Look at her, she's all over Hawkeye. You'd swear she'd never seen a man before."
"Take it easy, sweetheart." Brad reached over and placed a hand on her arm. "If you're not careful you're going to cause worse of a scene then you're accusing them of causing. We're the only ones that know the true nature of their relationship. To anyone else they simply look like a couple in love, nothing more than that. So please, try to control your anger until we get home, then we'll get to the bottom of all this."
Carrie unwillingly agreed and turned her back on the offending couple. "I tell you, when I get my hands on them..."
Her threat was cut off by another voice that cheerily greeted. "Ah, Miss Graham. How wonderful to see you tonight."
Carrie's expression brightened somewhat at the other person's arrival. "Dr. Winchester. It's a pleasure to see you again. Please, won't you join us."
"Thank you." Dr. Winchester replied as he pulled out a chair and sat down.
Realizing that Brad hadn't met the esteemed doctor before them she introduced. "Dr. Winchester I'd like you to meet my boyfriend, Dr. Brad Millar. Brad, this is Dr. Charles Winchester the third, Chief of Thoracic surgery at Boston Mercy."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Winchester." Brad extended his hand warmly.
"Likewise." Charles replied as he accepted the offered hand. "I trust that you are both enjoying yourselves."
"Oh, yes. It's a very nice dinner." Carrie replied eagerly, a broad smile on her face. "I noticed a lot of important people here this evening."
"Yes, most of Boston society is here." Charles replied non-chalantly.
"Is your lovely sister with you this evening?" Carrie asked curiously.
"Yes, she is." Charles nodded, casting a glance to where his family was sitting talking with another well-to-do family they knew. Looking at Brad he asked curiously. "Where do you practice, Dr. Millar?"
"Crabapple Cove." Brad replied. "It's a small town in Maine."
Charles visibly cringed at the familiar name. "Yes, I'm all too familiar with it. That being the case I'm sure you must know Dr...."
"We're back!" A voice exclaimed from behind the group. Charles' eyes widened at the familiar voice. "Did you miss us?" Hawkeye asked as he and Margaret rejoined the group. Not noticing the newcomer to the table, he helped Margaret into her chair and then claimed the one beside her. Afterwards he reached over and gently grabbed her hand in his and intertwined his fingers through hers. It was then that he looked up and, with great surprise, noticed the other person seated at the table. Leaning over he pretended to plant a kiss on Margaret's cheek. "Well I'll be." He whispered into her ear. "Look who's here."
Margaret followed his gaze and did a double take when she saw whom he was referring to. "Well I'll be." She repeated under her breath.
"Margaret, Hawkeye. I'd like you to meet the Chief of Thoracic surgery at Boston Mercy, Dr. Charles Winchester the third." Carrie introduced. "Dr. Winchester, please allow me to present my cousin, Margaret Houlihan and her escort, Dr. Hawkeye Pierce."
At sight of the couple Charles' face registered just as much shock as Hawkeye and Margaret's did. Rising from his chair he walked over to them, his eyes never leaving Margaret's face. Reaching out a hand he took one of Margaret's in both of his.
"Margaret, it's a pleasure." At the intense look in Charles' face, Hawkeye stretched out his hand towards the other man and greeted.
"Charles, isn't this wonderful. I should have expected that you'd be here hobnobbing with the rich and snobby."
With a surprised look, Charles released Margaret's hand and accepted Hawkeye's. "Pierce, isn't this a surprise..." Looking from one to the other he commented, a trifle envious. "So you have been bestowed with the great honor of being Margaret's escort for the evening. I do hope she had the forethought to bring along a leash and a muzzle for you. After all we wouldn't want your middle class manners to taint her first impression on Boston society. It might make it hard for her the next time."
Margaret chuckled with amusement at Charles high-fluent airs but corrected. "Don't worry Charles, I have no intention on joining Boston society. Tonight is just a stopover."
"On your way where, Margaret?" Charles asked curiously. "Have you decided where you're going to settle? Boston I hope, for we have the finest hospitals in all of New England."
Margaret looked over her shoulder at Hawkeye before answering Charles question. "No, I'm not settling in Boston." With a broad smile spreading across her face she added. "Actually, I'm on my way to Maine."
"M-Maine?" Charles choked slightly on the name, then glancing at Hawkeye he asked in a whisper. "With him?"
"That's right, Chuckles." Hawkeye replied a broad grin on his face as he placed his hands on Margaret's shoulders. "May I present to you the future 'Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Pierce - the first'." Charles' jaw dropped at the revelation.
Leaning forward to kiss Margaret's cheek Hawkeye whispered in her ear. "This is so much fun." Margaret reached up and squeezed one of his hands in agreement.
"You two are engaged?" Charles managed to comment his tone barely above a whisper. "To each other?"
"Why is that so astonishing, Charles?" Hawkeye asked innocently. "Don't you think that we make a cute couple."
"Margaret you can't be serious!" Charles addressed her earnestly. "Are you actually going to marry this moronic bore?"
"As a matter of fact I am, Charles." Margaret confirmed, looking up at Hawkeye for a moment before turning back to her old friend.
"But why?" Charles asked, his tone a mixture of anger and pleading.
"Because I love him." Margaret confessed. She smiled as she felt Hawkeye squeeze her shoulders lovingly.
"So stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, Winchester!" Hawkeye retorted, his eyes twinkling with glee as he watched the other man's face.
"How dare you!" Carrie's voice suddenly exploded in an indignant whisper. Brad looked around them anxiously to see if anyone had heard her. Fortunately the other guests were all involved in their own conversations. "How dare you speak that way to one of the most highly respected surgeons in all of Boston. I'm absolutely appalled!" Looking up at Charles she added, her tone apologetic. "Dr. Winchester, please forgive them. I don't know what they were thinking. I really don't."
"It's okay, Miss Graham." Charles assured her, greatly surprised by her outburst and her apology.
"No, it's not okay." Carrie insisted in agitation. "Normally Margaret is much more sensible, more level headed, but tonight she's allowed this...this...person." She regarded Hawkeye with disgust. "...To influence her. I don't know what's come over her. They've been acting like juveniles all evening, and I don't understand them. They've only just met this evening." Margaret and Hawkeye exchanged looks and tried to suppress their building laughter.