BJ had always talked fondly of San Francisco and his home in Mill Valley. The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz were on every tourist's agenda. Though with the year round fog and steep hills, the city was not Margaret Pierce's favorite place to visit. Not that she had much time for sightseeing before she and her new husband departed the city for the last leg of their journey home.
Hawkeye had kept good of his promise in Tokyo. He had dragged her to the courthouse as soon as the plane had landed in San Francisco. Looking back, the wedding had been an ordeal. That was to be expected though, Margaret mused. Nothing had ever gone smoothly for them during the war. Why would now be any different? Of course, their wedding misadventures could be chalked up to a considerable lack of planning. As if they were lovesick, horny teenagers, and not a couple of thirty year old professionals.
Their zany wedding mishaps started when they tried to obtain a marriage license. Somehow, Hawkeye had misplaced his birth certificate. It all went downhill fast when they discovered their driver's licenses were expired. But, in true Hawkeye fashion, the crazy galoot rambled on about the injustice of war veterans being unable to marry because of something as stupid as an expiration date. Margaret rolled her eyes at his soliloquy and lay ten dollars on the desk, convincing the clerk to overlook the expired driver's licenses and agree that Hawkeye's dog tags would suffice in place of a birth certificate.
It had been Margaret who remembered that they needed two witnesses, as they waited for their turn. Hawkeye had jumped out of his chair, digging through his pants for a quarter. He'd offered to find a payphone and call BJ, but Margaret refused and pulled him back into his seat. Because they would die waiting if they had to wait for BJ to pick his jaw up off the floor and stop laughing. Somehow, their problem had been solved when another couple wanting to marry overheard their predicament and offered to be their witnesses, if they would return the favor for them.
Leading up to ceremony, Hawkeye had thought of everything. He'd thought of surprising her in Tokyo with a proposal, and surprised her with a dress for the wedding in Hawaii. He'd even offered to call a friend to witness the ceremony for them. Hawkeye had thought of everything they needed for a wedding, except the rings. When the justice of the peace had asked for the rings, Hawkeye's eyes had gone wide. He patted his shirt pocket and his pant's pockets, hoping some would magically appear. With his quick thinking, he'd suggested exchanging dog tags for the ceremony with the promise of purchasing rings as soon as they got to Maine.
No, the wedding had not gone as smoothly as they had hoped. At least there were no incoming wounded, rushing the ceremony. Nor was the groom in a body cast. All in all, things were off to a great start.
The steam from the shower fogged up the bathroom mirror. Holding the white bath towel in place, Margaret wiped the glass to peer at her reflection. Combing her fingers through her damp hair, she stepped into their hotel room. Hawkeye sat on the edge of one of the double beds, the phone against his ear.
"No Dad," he spoke into the mouthpiece, smiling at her as she walked past. "Uh yeah. Okay. She's right here." Holding the receiver to his chest, he said, "Margaret, Dad wants to talk to you."
"Me?" Margaret mouthed. Hawkeye shrugged, holding the phone out for her. Making sure her towel was firmly in place, Margaret walked over and took a seat on the opposite bed so that she was facing him. Taking a deep breath, she took the phone from him and held it up to her ear. "Hello, Dr. Pierce," she spoke into the mouthpiece, watching Hawkeye. He was grinning at her and waved her on. "Yes sir. I can't wait to meet you either." Smiling, she spoke again. "Of course. Sorry, Dr. I mean Daniel." Hawkeye laughed as she closed her eyes, biting her lip. "Yes, I'll tell him. Thank you. Goodbye, Si-Daniel."
Hanging up the phone, she stood up and went back to where they had dropped their bags earlier. Sitting on her haunches, she started rummaging through a suitcase, pulling various items out. Mind racing, Margaret bit her lip. She hadn't had a good track record when it came to in-laws. Donald's mother had despised her and refused to believe that their marriage ever existed. She doubted Daniel Pierce was like that though. From the way Hawkeye talked of his father, she was hoping for a warm welcome. But how warm of a welcome could she expect? Daniel Pierce had been waiting over three years for his son to come home. He'd probably dreamed about and planned Hawkeye's homecoming. Only for those plans and dreams to crumble at the news of Hawkeye bringing a wife home. A wife that was a complete stranger, except for a few lines Hawkeye had wrote about her in his letters home.
Whistling appreciatively, Hawkeye watched as she raised the hem of her towel to pull a pair of panties over her hips. "I could get used to this." She rolled her eyes and huffed. Turning away from him, she grabbed a pair of shorts from her pile of clothing. "What did Dad say?" he asked, watching her dress. She ignored his question as she buttoned the grayish green shorts at her waist. "Margaret?"
Glancing at the floor, Margaret mumbled, "That if I ever call him Dr. Pierce or Sir again, he-" She was interrupted by Hawkeye's raucous laughter. Picking her head up, she watched roll on the bed in mirth. "Hawkeye!" She groaned, stomping her foot.
Rolling into a sitting position, Hawkeye stopped to watch her. Soft, small chuckles emanated from his lips. Meeting her gaze he shrugged. "Why are you so upset? He likes you!"
"He doesn't even know me," she argued, turning her back to him. Dropping the towel, she let it pool around her feet as she picked up her bra. Hawkeye was behind her in an instant, clasping it in place without a flippant remark that Margaret knew was at the tip of his tongue. He stepped back, allowing her to pull a black tank top over her head.
"I talked about you in my letters," Hawkeye admitted. Sighing, he reached for her and wrapped his strong arms around her petite waist. "A lot."
Taking a deep breath, Margaret closed her eyes. Leaving his arms, she grabbed a hairbrush. Settling down on the bed, she leaned against the headboard. She ran the brush through the damp tangles. She watched his shoulders slump the rejection. Closing her eyes, she prayed she hadn't hurt his feelings. He'd been so happy to take her to his hometown, and show her around, and introduce her to his father and his old friends. And she'd been excited to see Crabapple Cove and learn it's alluring charm that had him so infatuated with the little town. She'd also been excited to meet his father. She still was. The senior Dr. Pierce sounded to be an amicable, good natured man who had a sense humor similar to that of his son.
The mattress shifted beside her and she opened her eyes to see the cerulean blue of his own staring back at her. "What did your dad say?" He asked her. The question making her heart pound and her mind race. Her father was a capricious man, and Hawkeye would say her relationship with him was fickle at best. Howitzer Al Houlihan was a proud man. He demanded excellence in all areas of his life. Margaret had spent her entire life trying to make him proud of her, but always seemed to fall short. And maybe that was reason she so desperately wanted to be accepted by her in-laws.
Dropping her brush beside her on the bed, she leaned her head against the headboard. Fiddling her fingers in her lap, she sighed. "Well," she spoke softly. Hawkeye sat beside her, his shoulder brushing against hers as he stretched his legs out in front of him. "He said that you are the biggest disgrace to the flag, and a poor excuse for an officer." Hawkeye chuckled. Colonel Alvin Houlihan was not one sugar coat his feelings. "Then he said that I could a lot better then you-"
"Well," Hawkeye shrugged. She could do better than him.
Margaret shot him a glare and continued, "And said I was committing career suicide by associating with a no good, undisciplined draftee doctor."
"So, I guess that means we don't have to fight about where we spend Christmas," Hawkeye joked, nudging her elbow.
Glancing at him, she gave him a small smile. "My mom wants Christmas," she said, laying her head on his shoulder.
"Oh no," Hawkeye responded, intertwining her fingers through his. "Your mom gets Thanksgiving. An argument could also be made for Easter." She picked her head up to gaze at him. Raising her eyebrows, she silently questioned him. "My dad gets Christmas."
Nudging him with her elbow, Margaret grinned. "We can fight about that later," she promised. She lay her head on his shoulder again.
Resting his head atop hers, he said, "Look at us fighting like a normal couple about normal couple things."
"Nothing about us is normal," she smiled, closing her eyes as she felt him place a soft kiss to her brow. "And I wouldn't change any of it," she whispered.