Margaret stepped into the lab. It was a bit intimidating to be in the same place where just a couple of days ago, she found out the news she's about to tell him. She wasn't going to flee, although, the urge was overwhelming and was glad his back was to her. With a deep breath, she put on a courageous front.
"Charles," Margaret began, coming closer, and hoping she sounded more confident that she felt. "Are you terribly busy?"
"I thought I heard someone come in," he faced her. Her heart racing, she gasped. "What's the matter? Why so jumpy?"
"I need to.. ahh.. what are you working on?"
"Oh, examining the cultures we took from the virus that came through here last week."
"Can I see?"
"Sure," Charles answered, puzzled at her interested behavior. He slid the microscope over to her. "Margaret, what is this? If you do not need me or the microscope, I'd like to get back to my research."
"Oh, yes, sure," she flinched away like the instrument had burned her. "I can see I've interrupted." He returned to his work, and she headed for the door, stopping herself as she got just beyond it. It took all she had to go back through it.
"Charles!" She fairly shouted.
"What now? Do you want to check all the data I've recorded?" He picked up the clipboard, handing it in her direction.
"Take a walk with me," Margaret felt the sudden need to get out of the confines of this room.
"What in the world?" He gave her a most bewildered glance. "No, Margaret, I haven't got the time for such... " Charles didn't get to finish, for Margaret had him by the arm, nearly dragging him away from hospital. He protested this bold action, of course, but didn't put up too much of a resistance.
Once out of sight of the camp, she spoke about their work, the nurses, the weather, things happening with her father.
"All right, we are out here. Now I know there has to be something more important than the things you have mentioned," he stopped walking and she became quiet, "for you to behave in this manner, or has our situation here driven you completely mad?" She almost laughed at the irony in his statement, but her demeanor remained solemn. "What is this all about?"
"I'm sure about this. I had a test a day or two ago, but if you think we should.. I should go to Tokyo for further testing, I guess I might do that. Maybe I should anyhow. I don't know." Margaret paused, catching the total confused expression on his face. "What?"
"I am trying to figure out where this conversation began, and how it ends, and the meaning in the center of it." He had not a clue. "First, tests? Are you ill?"
"No, pregnant." She breathlessly waited for it to register with him.
"Oh? I.. ", it hit, "pregnant? Absolutely positive?"
Margaret nodded, waiting for something, anything. Raving, patronization, rationality, anything but silence. Charles rubbed a hand down his face, and stood looking at her for the moment.
"I'm sorry, doctor," she spat. "If this doesn't fit into your life," said while stomping off. "We'll be fine, just fine without you!"
"No!" He caught up to her and spun her around. "You cannot do this."
"Do what? Have this child? Well, I am. It might be my only time to have one, and.. I shouldn't have told you. At least like this. Right now." She went full throttle. "But Col. Potter insisted, and if you don't want any part of it, or doubting that you're the one, that's your problem!"
"Margaret, wait a minute," Charles was a calm in the storm, spoiling her thunder. "First, that 'doubt' never entered my mind. I saw how you were after meeting with Penobscott, I did believe you and he didn't do anything." He paused a bit, "Col. Potter knows of this?"
"Yes, I needed someone to talk to."
"The most obvious person would have been me."
"Easier said than done," she hinted at how unapproachable he was most of the time. "After the test, Hawkeye sent the colonel to talk with me."
"Pierce knows of this?" This was getting better by the minute. "What about Hunnicutt? The nurses?"
"No, no," she stopped him. "Pierce only knows that I'm pregnant, that it isn't Donald's. He's sure not to say anything, as is Potter, so your impeccable reputation will remain intact."
"Would you believe me if I told you I don't care about that? I am concerned for you?"
They stood out on the desolate road for over two hours, talking, discussing, and just remaining silent, taking in all of this.
"Marry you?" Margaret gasped. "I don't know."
"First off, I'm not ready for another marriage, I think, and I don't want one based on pregnancy." This wasn't what she expected him to offer. With all of her brave fronts she put up, she couldn't stop the little flutter of hope inside. Although, she disliked the idea of having a child and not being wed, she found the hope was based on more than just that.
"And I won't marry for you to save face."
"It will not be like that, on both of those counts," he reasoned. "I just found out I am going to become a father soon, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to be a strong presence in the child's life. As father and as husband."
"I don't.." was as far as Margaret got before a big hand clamped over her mouth.
"Listen to me for a moment, all right?" When she nodded, he let go. "As you know, family and family tradition is of utmost importance to me, but I am not doing this, offering this to you out of my sense of duty. I am not."
"What are you saying? You are proposing out of love?" She couldn't help but throw that into the mix, expecting him to come back with a hefty dose of sarcasm. He disappointed her, or did he?
"Yes," Charles answered her after a thoughtful pause. "I do. I have loved you for quite a while."
"Before Tokyo?" Margaret was in a state of disbelief, to good to be true, all of it, when replied that he had. "On the trip back from Tokyo, you were so silent."
"Well, you acted so cold, after what happened. I got the feeling you regretted it."
"I didn't regret it. I didn't," she prayed she wouldn't start crying. "I felt a little ashamed, for at that time, I was a married woman, and not regretting it at all, I felt worse."
Charles felt confident after those two hours, he had convinced her of his love, and his sincerity of wanting to marry. Now, it was up to her.
"So, you've loved me for awhile?" As tough as she was, Margaret couldn't help adoring to hear those words. They had started to return to camp.
"Yes," he replied. "We weren't inebriated that night, we knew what we were doing. I sure did."
"So, we played the martyr, and shut each other out, afterward."
"Something like that," he took her hand as they continued on. "That is all behind us. Now, we can move forward."
"That's us getting married?"
"Yes." They walked, and Margaret tried to sort this whole thing out. Quite soon, they had come to her tent door. "I'll give you to dinnertime tonight for your answer." He left her with a nod, and was headed for the Swamp.
'Dinnertime'?! She fumed in her tent. The gall, the nerve, the downright arrogance! The sweet feeling coming through for him. Oh goodness. Why do men make things so complicated?
When the evening mealtime came, Margaret enjoyed sitting with the nurses, enjoyed the conversation, and mostly enjoyed the fierce, questioning stares upon her, coming from the surgeons' table. Especially from one surgeon in particular.
A knock she was expecting came on her door. After she had finished dinner, she walked by that table to mention to Col. Potter about the short supply of AB negative blood. Well, he had to know of it. Then, she promptly left the mess tent.
"Who is it?" She couldn't resist the greeting.
"I think you know," came the reply. He sounded impatient.
"It's you!" Opening the door.
"Okay, enough of this," Charles came on in. "Are you going to marry me?"
"Sure of this? No regrets?"
"Yes, and none."
"Now, something I'd like to ask you," he said, mystifying her. "Are you just marrying me because of the child?"
"No. No, I'm not. For I've loved you ever since that first time I saw you in surgery. The time the doctor had the ventricular aneurysm."
They planned for a small ceremony with Father Mulcahy conducting and just a handful of personnel in attendance. B.J., Hawkeye, Radar, a few of the nurses, and the rest present were shocked at the news of this event, but remained cordial. After this war was over, they were going to have a big wedding, where Margaret's dad could finally give her away at one wedding. Margaret's mother and sister were more happy for her than 'Howitzer' Al Houlihan, but he wished them both well. Even though he was disappointed at the fate of her Army career, he was glad to be getting a grandchild out of it. He wrote that he would see her soon in the States. As soon as Margaret had accepted his proposal, Charles made a request for her to live in Boston, with his family upon leaving Korea. At first, this terrified Margaret, but the overwhelming sense of having a home, and being with his family, feeling closer to him, she slowly began to warm to the idea.
Three days before the wedding, Margaret received a dreaded letter from her soon-to-be in-laws. She waited until the night before the ceremony to even consider opening it. Still a bit on edge about it, she took it to Father Mulcahy.
"Getting cold feet?" He jested when she entered at his request.
"No, I'm not. It's not that." She tried to laugh. "This.."
"Oh," the Father took the envelope she was handing him."From Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Winchester, the second. I wonder why it's not 'junior'," he read the return address. "Oh, well, now what about this? What do they say?"
"I don't know," Margaret confessed. "I haven't read it yet. I was hoping you would read it first."
"Margaret, I shouldn't"
"All right," he opened the letter and began. "Dear Margaret. That's a good sign. Anyhow, let's see. They extend their warmest regards, and are looking forward to meeting you when you get to Boston. Want to make sure you are taking care of yourself, and the baby. They trust you are. They have already picked out a room for the nursery, although, if you prefer, you can change it when you arrive."
"What? They're welcoming me?"
"Seems that way."
"Oh goodness," she exclaimed, snatching the letter back, and quickly scanning it. "Happy to hear Charles has found someone, and it's me. He's told them a lot about me, and oh my, his grandmother also extends warm regards. This is too much. It's a dream."
"Perhaps you underestimated the Winchesters, we all did."
"I guess I did," Margaret was rushing out the door. "Excuse me, Father, I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yes, of course, major," he smiled.