Summer in Maine was a favourite of the Pierces. The Hunnicutts had flown in for a few weeks, which meant the house was busy and bustling more than usual with the family of six. Peg was pregnant with their third child, which meant it was a good time to visit prior to the birth of number three.
Summer meant that the kids could be outside, and not cooped up indoors. It was something Margaret was grateful for. Summers in Maine had to be her favourite, green grass, warm breeze, sunny days mixed with summer rains. Laura's second birthday was just over two weeks away, Daisy was now four and had taken up to bossing her little sisters around. Summer also meant that Daisy and Hawkeye would go fishing, and Dianna in returned would only sleep with the moon.
"Are you sure fishing is a good idea?" Margaret asked as she finished placing sandwiches in the basket.
Hawkeye grinned brightly, Dianna on his hip, "It'll be great! Erin and Daisy will love it. The fresh air, the water, we'll bring back supper. We can bbq it!"
Margaret sighed and shook her head. "You could put Dianna down you know."
"Nope. She's my favourite!" He winked as he playfully nibbled the redhead's neck. Dianna giggled in glee, as Daisy yawned from her spot at the kitchen table.
With Dianna's health problems since the day she was born, she had spent more time with her father than mother. Out of all three girls, Dianna was her Daddy's girl. Hawkeye could calm her, and often the two laid skin to skin when she was sick. At almost seven months, she was just starting to show her own personality. She was happy and liked to be moving, she was happiest in the arms of her parents, or grandfather, so she could see everything and everyone.
Daisy was still clung to Margaret, as she always was. She liked being an older sister, and referred to Laura and Dianna as her babies. At four she was chatting up a storm, and was kind, sensitive, and generally stubborn.
Laura on the other hand was quiet, liked to keep to herself, and was all about being alone with her puzzles and blocks. She didn't cling to either Margaret or Hawkeye, but was happy to be with either at bedtime.
One thing all three girls had in common was their adoration to Daniel. He doted on them and the three girls loved every moment of it.
"Hawk!" BJ called as he sauntered into the kitchen, followed by Erin who was already dressed for the fishing expedition. "4am comes early."
"We want to get on the water soon," Hawkeye explained. "Best fish are morning fish." Margaret listened to the two men discuss fishing techniques, as she finished packing their lunch. Hawkeye still had Dianna in his arms, this time now on his lap as he held a teething biscuit as she gummed it and he ate one handed. Margaret could tell by Dianna's clinging to Hawkeye that she was either getting sick or about to cut more teeth.
"All done mommy," Daisy stated as she put her spoon into her half eaten oatmeal, with a yawn.
"Would you like some oatmeal Erin?" Margaret asked as the little girl nodded. "Come sit sweetheart."
"You got some of that for me Margaret?" BJ asked as he grinned ear to ear. Margaret chuckled and nodded handing him a bowl. BJ leaned and placed a kiss on her forehead as he scooped himself a bowl of oatmeal.
"Hey, I don't kiss your wife," Hawkeye jabbed as he pulled his coffee mug away from Dianna who was trying to reach for it. "No coffee for you little red."
"Lies." BJ proclaimed.
Margaret laughed as she moved and reached for Dianna. "No no, I got her," he dismissed.
"If you insist," Margaret shook her head, and kissed her daughter's head. "Daisy come darling, let's get you dressed so you and Daddy can take Uncle BJ and Erin fishing."
Yawning Daisy crawled from the table and towards Margaret, taking her hand Margaret and Daisy moved out of the kitchen. The house was still quiet, with Peg, James, Laura, and Daniel still sleeping. 4:30 in the morning was not her ideal time to be awake, but luckily for her, Dianna wanted to be up that early, as the sun was starting to rise. Margaret was sure she got more sleep in Korea than in the 6 months since Dianna came into their life.
Fishing was something Hawkeye and Daisy did often, only every once in a while did he bring Laura with them, but it was one on one time with Daisy, which Hawkeye adored. She was getting to be quite a little fisher, and although they put back 90% of the fish they caught, they always tried to bring back enough fish for supper.
"Make sure she has a sweater," Hawkeye moved Dianna to his other knee, and pulled his bowl of oatmeal closer, letting her take the spoon into her mouth. Fishing mornings were the only mornings when he would eat oatmeal. Dianna would eat it morning, noon, or night.
"Yes sire," Margaret saluted, as the two left the kitchen.
"Uncle Hawk, is Dianna coming with us?"
"No, this little pumpkin is staying home with Auntie Margaret and mom. Just us out on the lake," sliding a bowl of teething biscuits towards Dianna he smiled at Erin, and took the spoon out of Dianna's mouth. "Did you want some more oatmeal?"
"Everytime I see you, I can't believe it," BJ shook his head with a smile. "You a father. With more kids that I have!"
"I think we're done," Hawkeye chuckled. "Three is definitely our number."
"I seem to remember you said you would love a large family," BJ said as he scooped the oatmeal into his mouth.
"That was before I had to get through this girl's infancy," he laughed. "Overdue, colic, ear infection, tonsillitis, and at least two head colds." He kissed Dianna's head, no matter what he still loved the little girl with everything he had.
"I hear you," BJ laughed, just as Margaret and Daisy entered the kitchen. "Daisy-Lou you look bee-utiful!"
"Thank you," Daisy smiled as she looked at her father. "Daddy, we go fishing?"
"Yes, we'll go fishing," Hawkeye smiled, as BJ picked up his and Erin's bowls, placing them in the sink. Margaret reached for Dianna who looked between her mother and father and laid her head on Hawkeye's shoulder. "Okay pumpkin, head to Mommy," he kissed the mess of red curls and passed Dianna off to Margaret. "Daise, let's go!"
"Bye darling," Margaret smiled bending down to kiss Daisy. "Be good for Daddy."
"She's always good fishing," Hawkeye grinned as he kissed Margaret's cheek. "Have a good day. We'll probably be back by nap time."
"Don't come home empty handed," Margaret shot a look at her husband and BJ.
"Hey don't look at me, he's the fisherman! Okay Erin, let's go!" Margaret waved as the men and their eldest daughters walked out of the kitchen, and she looked at the baby on her hip.
"What do you say we make some biscuits?" Dianna smiled at Margaret and laid her head on her shoulder. Margaret kissed her daughter's forehead and moved skillfully to pull out her ingredients single handedly.
"You do this," Daisy explained showing Erin how to put the lure on the line. "Just on."
Hawkeye watched his daughter instruct the older girl on the ways of fishing. They were on the opposite side of the boat and were being watched carefully by their fathers. The summer day was slightly overcasted, warm but with a summer wind. Perfect fishing conditions. Both girls were wearing life vests, as Hawkeye insisted that any one of his children were in the boat they were going to be safe from drowning.
"Thanks for taking us Hawk, Erin was so excited to be going fishing in the ocean. She would not stop talking about it," BJ remarked as Hawkeye handed him a pole. They weren't really on the ocean, but a Hawkeye's favourite fishing lake, the fish were always biting and the water calm.
"That's what Uncles are for. Besides, what childhood is complete without some fishing. They won't catch anything big."
"Pass me the rod will ya?" BJ asked as he took the rod handed to him from his best friend. "Still enjoying the ER?"
"You know what, yeah," Hawkeye said as he cast his lure into the water. "After I left Dad's practice and took the job I thought it was just going to be a surgery here or there, a nice appendix here or there. In a day I could see an appendix, or broken bones, to crash victims that remind me too much of the 4077th."
"Yeah," BJ agreed. "Did I tell you I accepted the otolaryngology fellowship?"
"Ears, nose and throat now? Klinger's snoz inspired you?"
"What can I say, I always wanted to sink a scalpel into it," BJ laughed heartily. "I think being an ENT is just up my alley. It's a bit more office than clinic work, and I'm not in the OR every day, but general surgery isn't really up my alley anymore," the younger of the two men explained. "Peggy thinks it's a great idea, especially with the baby on the way."
"You know what Beej, Korea changed all of us," Hawkeye explained. "I thought maybe being a GP would be enough, and it wasn't."
"I'm not bored, just not challenged," BJ sighed. "Surgery is not the same. I'm quick, skilled, and performing general surgery is not keeping my skills sharpened."
"That I understand," Hawkeye nodded. Trauma surgery had been a welcome change in his life, it was familiar, he was good at it, and it was often different every single day. He loved going into work every day, it was never the same. Some days he'd pull out a hot appendix, or it would be busy and he'd be in the OR for hours patching someone back together after an accident. It offered him everything he needed, busy days and slow. He'd set bones, perform emergency c-sections, and even take care of colds when he rotated as the ER attending. The surprise, he needed it in life.
"I did a rotation in the ER at the hospital," BJ explained. "Too close." Hawkeye nodded, knowing the feel of the first gunshot wound he treated coming home. He stood there, scrubbed, holding his hands in the air and stared. Every boy he ever operated on flashed in front of his eyes, and he could feel his fear radiating through his body. He was frozen cold, and m
"Daddy!" Daisy called as her fishing line started to pull. Hawkeye slid his pole into its holder and stepped over to his little blonde girl reaching around and taking a hold of the line. "It's big!"
"It is," Hawkeye chuckled as he started to help stabilize the pole so Daisy could reel him in. "Okay Daise, you reel him in."
"He's very heavy," the four year old announced as she reeled as hard as she could. "Daddy I need help."
"Good thing that Super Daddy is here," Hawkeye grinned as he reached to help her reel. "Ready little girl?"
"Ready!" Daisy announced proudly as in a few short reels a flapping fish appeared out of the water. "I get the net!" reaching for the net to grab her fish, Hawkeye put the fish in. "I did it!"
"You did," Hawkeye chuckled. "Did you want to keep him, or are we putting him back to swim more?"
Daisy looked thoughtfully at the fish, cocking her head to the side. "We keep him."
"Good idea," Hawkeye winked. Daisy smiled brightly as she looked at Erin.
"See, that's how we catch fish," Daisy explained as she let her father take the fish off the hook.
"Do you feel a tug yet sweetheart?" BJ asked Erin.
"No," she replied. "Not yet." BJ smiled at Erin who moved her rod a bit in the water to see if it would attract any fish.
"You'll get a bite soon," Hawkeye pipped in as he handed Daisy back her rod. "Be careful with the lure."
The rest of the morning was spent catching fish, and when they had enough for supper, and yawns were abundant from the little girls, they made their way back to the house. It was quiet, Daniel was sitting in the den working on his charts when the four pushed through the front door.
"Hey Dad," Hawkeye greeted.
"Grampy! I caught fish!" Daisy exclaimed excitedly seeing Daniel.
"I knew I raised you well," Daniel smirked as he caught his eldest granddaughter who charged into his arms. "Did Daddy help?"
"Only with the heavy ones," Daisy replied. "Erin caught some too. Her daddy helped too."
"That's good," Daniel chuckled as he smoothed down the flyaways from her braids. "Now why don't you go change."
"Erin come with me," Daisy grinned as she grabbed Erin's hand and dragged her towards the stairs. The seven year old smiled as she followed her cousin, as the adults chuckled.
"Where's Margaret?" Hawkeye asked as he handed Daniel the fish, and the three men walked into the kitchen.
"Your lovely wife went down for a nap, about an hour ago. Margaret went to put Di down a little while ago, but hasn't returned." Hakweye nodded, figuring Margaret had fallen asleep while nursing Dianna. "Laura and James went down for a nap around the same time as Peggy."
"Good, that little man is a bear without his nap," BJ remarked. "Here let me help," he moved to reach for the bucket Margaret had left in the kitchen.
"Thanks son," Daniel smiled.
"I'll go get Margaret, she hates sleeping in the rocking chair," Hawkeye winked as he bounded out of the kitchen. In reality, he hated gutting fish, and always found excuses to leave the room.
"Want to know a secret BJ?" Daniel asked, looking at his son's best friend.
"In his entire life, he's never gutted a fish. Always finds something to do to avoid it," Daniel laughed, as BJ laughed loudly shaking his head.
"No really?" BJ laughed as he heard his friend bound up the stairs.
Hawkeye walked into the nursery and looked around, not seeing Margaret in the chair, or Dianna in her crib. Moving next door he opened Laura's room, and saw both Laura and James sleeping soundly. Laura had always been the best sleeper, and would go bed, and sleep whenever given the chance. At first he was a little worried about her, but she was hitting her milestones and growing like a weed. She was already as tall if not taller than Daisy.
Shaking his head he walked across the hall and opened their bedroom door. The sight brought a smile to his face. Margaret was sound asleep on her side, one hand under her head, the other placed on Dianna, as her small chest rose and fell with each breath.
Margaret was a wonder to him. She was strong willed, passionate, and probably the bossiest woman he'd ever met. But she was amazing with their daughters. Kind, understanding, she held each with such love and devotion. No girl was the same, and she made sure she was whatever each one needed. For Daisy she was as strong and disciplined to match Daisy's growing independence and stubbornness. Laura got soft Margaret, who rocked her softly and read her stories and played dolls with. Dianna got the best of Margaret-in his opinion- loving and nurturing.
He walked over and carefully sat on the bed, pulling his pillow and placing it on the opposite side of Dianna, running his fingers over her head, filled with red curls. Pushing Margaret's hair behind her ear, he smiled as her eyes fluttered up.
"Hey," he whispered.
"Hi," she sighed, blinking a few times. "What time is it?"
"Shortly after 1," Hawkeye replied quietly. "Dad said you never returned after putting the girls down."
"Dianna didn't want to be in her room," Margaret replied as she moved to pull herself from her spot. "She calmed down and slept when I placed her in our bed."
"She loves me," Hawkeye winked. "Daisy caught her biggest fish today."
"Did she?" Margaret smiled proudly, she loved how much Daisy loved fishing with Hawkeye, and loved cooking with her. She was truly a beautiful mix of the two of them. Placing her pillow on the other side of Dianna, to prevent her from rolling out of bed, "How heavy?"
"7lbs," Hawkeye chuckled as the two walked out of the bedroom.
"Mommy!" Daisy shrieked seeing Margaret from her bedroom door.
"Daisy," Margaret chuckled, "Daddy said you caught a fish!"
"It was so big," Daisy replied seriously. "Daddy had to help, cause it was so big."
"Wow," Margaret smiled. "Did you want to help Mommy make supper?" Daisy took a breath in thought.
"No," shaking her head she looked at her parents. "I'm going to play."
"You go play," Margaret encouraged with a smile as Daisy skipped off. "Dad gutting the fish?"
"Probably," Hawkeye shrugged. "Think he's done?"
"Not nearly," she replied as they made their way down the stairs just as Peg walked out of the play room that was converted into the guest room when they arrived. "Good afternoon." Daisy loved it, because she got to keep her toys in her bedroom.
"Good afternoon. Sorry for resting so long, it's just that this little one really wears me out."
"Tell me about it. With Dianna all I would do was nap, as much as I could with a toddler and an infant," Margaret replied as she gently touched Peg's arm. "James and Laura are still down."
"That's good, he's a bear without a nap," Peg smiled.
"You know what, I'm going to check on them," Hawkeye said before he bounded up the stairs. Margaret chuckled and shook her head, as Peg looked at her.
"Gutting fish, he's never done it. Takes Daisy fishing all the time, and mysteriously always finds something to do as to not to gut the fish he catches."
Peg laughed as they two women walked into the kitchen, where Daniel and BJ were skinning and gutting fish. "Looks like you were fruitful," Peg observed.
"Oh yes, we caught enough for supper that's for sure," BJ grinned. "Erin caught a few, but the little flower child was really the fishing champion."
"She usually is," Margaret replied, walking to the refrigerator and pulling out the fixing for the coleslaw that was accompanying the fish. Peg moved to the cupboards and pulled what she needed to make the strawberry shortcake. "They tend to swim to her."
"Where's my son?" Daniel asked, knowing already where he was.
"He went to 'check' on Laura and James," Margaret smirked. "So he's most likely mowing the lawn." The occupants of the kitchen laughed at Hawkeye as they heard the sound of the lawn mower start.
"So is Charles and the family coming into town this weekend?" BJ asked, it was the fourth of July weekend, and Hawkeye invited the Winchesters to join them, for a good ole fashion Swamp Reunion.
"Yes," Margaret confirmed. "They should be here tomorrow."
"Just in time for lobster tail season," Daniel added. "Best part about the good ole fourth of July."
"Yeah?" BJ asked as he continued to gut the fish.
"Oh yes," Daniel nodded. "Best lobster you'll ever eat. The entire town gets together for a BBQ down on the waterfront. There is a baking cook off, pie eating contest. We boil fresh lobster, the kids play. We have fireworks, tug of war, it's our signature weekend. Apart from maple syrup season."
"It's truly a fantastic day," Margaret replied, in fact she had been attending the festivities since arriving in Maine, and every year as the girls grew, so did their enjoyment.
"Peggy you should enter the baking contest," BJ piped in, as his wife was kneading the dough for her strawberry shortcake.
"Oh, I don't think so," Peg chuckled. "Margaret, the butter is in the fridge?"
"Oh yes," Margaret quickly moved to the fridge to retrieve the butter dish.
"MOMMY THE BABY IS AWAKE," came Daisy's yelling voice from the stop of the stairs. Margaret groaned, and rolled her eyes, before exiting the kitchen. "MOMMY!"
"Daisy, I can hear you, you do not need to yell," Margaret scolded softly. "Where's Daddy?"
"I don't know," Daisy shrugged. "But the baby is crying."
"I will get the baby," placing a hand lovingly on Daisy's head, she moved the child softly towards her bedroom, as she moved to their bedroom where the crying was coming from. "Hello baby girl," she whispered as Dianna was trying to get on her knees. She had rolled over, a trick she'd been perfecting, but was now working on crawling. "Did you have a good nap?" Margaret asked as she reached for Dianna who went willingly, her bright eyes wide and red from tears. "Mommy wishes you'd sleep longer," kissing Dianna's head as she walked out of the bedroom. Daisy was standing in the hallway, hands on her hips looking at her mother.
"Laura and the little boy are awake too," she said firmly. "The baby woke them up."
Sighing, Margaret shook her head, knowing that Daisy was probably the one to wake up the two, but now that the kids were awake, it was going to be a busy afternoon. "Can you do Mommy a favour?"
"Can you and Erin go find Daddy?" Daisy nodded and bolted into her bedroom to get Erin, as Margaret walked into Dianna's nursery. After changing her diaper she placed Dianna back on her hip before walking to Laura's room. They had moved Laura to a bed when they moved Dianna out of the bassinet and into the crib. "Did you have a good nap bug?" Laura looked up and nodded from where she and James were building a puzzle. "Why don't we go have a snack?"
"Yes!" James replied loudly.
The rest of the afternoon was spent outside, as the kids played in the sprinkler with Daniel on the BBQ. Margaret, Peg and Stacey sat on the porch swing as they watched the children play. Dianna had taken her usual position on her father's hip, as Hawkeye, BJ and Tom played mini golf. Both parents had gotten rather adept at being able to do almost everything one handed. Laura and Stephen were sitting on the porch colouring together. The two were inseparable. Erin, Mary, Daisy and James were playing ring toss, after running around in the sprinkler.
"Those two are basically married," Margaret laughed as Laura and Stephen laid curled up and sleeping on the patio swing after supper.
"I know," Stacey agreed, as she stepped up onto the porch carrying the dishes. "What are we going to do when they get older?"
"I have no idea," Margaret sighed. "Let's leave them for a little while. It'll make the separation easier."
"Those two really are attached, aren't they?" Peg asked as she came outside from the kitchen to finish bringing in the dishes.
"Like there is no other person alive," Stacey replied. "They have been like this since, what, Laura was a month old?"
"About that," Margaret agreed. She caught the eye of her husband and pointed to the porch swing, as he nodded. "It's a good thing we like each other," she added to Stacey
"Could you imagine, we'd have a regular Romeo and Juliet on our hands," Stacey laughed as the three women moved into the house. It was getting to the hour that the kids should be put down, the women knew the longer they wore themselves out the better they'd sleep, so listening to Erin read a story to Mary, Daisy and James made their hearts swell. (Hawkeye had put Dianna down after she fell asleep as everyone ate - and laughed when her head bobbed into his macaroni salad).
The next day was filled with more laughs and a few meltdowns. The Winchesters had arrived in town mid morning, and Dianna who was refusing to sleep or be with anyone other than her father was glued to his hip. Margaret had tried to relieve him by trying to take her, but she melted down every single time. Margaret was glad that the Pierce's were even numbered - one baby per adult. She had let the girls sleep as much as they wanted into the morning, knowing that today was going to be long, and naps unlikely.
It was the first time Margaret and BJ had met Charles' youngest daughter, Alexandra, who was only a day older than Dianna. The reunion was filled with more children than any of them ever anticipated.
"So I feel the last time we met, we never heard the story of how you and Charles met?" Peg asked as the three women stood in the kitchen packing up the snacks for the afternoon adventures in town.
Elizabeth smiled as she placed the brownies she had baked into the tin. "I used to play in the symphony, Cello, and Charles and his family came one night to a donor banquet. I remember looking at this regal man who kissed my hand upon meeting me, and thought he'd have a story of private practice and a love of classical music. I was shocked when he said he hadn't been to a symphony in years and had no plans to ever attend again, and was merely at the banquet out of obligation. We spoke all evening, about everything. He told me he was in the war, and it had changed him." Margaret nodded her head knowing the reason Charles separated himself from music. "The next day he paid me a call, and three months later proposed marriage. We were blessed with Victoria two weeks shy of our one year anniversary."
"Sounds lovely," Peg smiled as she placed the tin of brownies into the basket.
"Charles is," Elizabeth smiled, glancing out the window where the three men were loading the red wagon with children.
"We should get going," Margaret announced as she heard the giggles of children. Walking out the front door she beamed brightly at the sight, Laura, Victoria and James were seated in the red wagon, while Hawkeye held Dianna-as per usual- and Daniel holding Alexandra. Erin stood holding BJ's hand as she stood waiting. "I'll take Dianna," she reached for the red headed girl, who whimpered slightly at the exchange of parents. "Come to Mama."
"Let us go!" Hawkeye declared, as he grabbed the handle of the wagon. "Okay ladies and gentleman, keep your hands and feet securely in the wagon at all times. Potty breaks will be permitted upon request. No pushing or shoving or anything in between. And march!"
"Pierce," Charles groaned as he followed his friend.
"Dr. Pierce, I can take Alexandra," Elizabeth offered, as she walked with Daniel, holding the basket.
"Nonsense," Daniel brushed off. "She's such a calm one."
"She is," Elizabeth smiled touching her daughter's cheek. Not 10 minutes later the group arrived at the site of the town's celebration. It was already in full swing, as children were running around, playing baseball and dodgeball, skipping rope, and playing tag. The beach was busy and buzzing. Daisy let go of the hand she was holding and bolted it to the water.
"Daisy! Stay where we can see you!" Hawkeye bellowed as the little girl stopped.
"Erin come!" she ran back pulling at the older girl's hand. Erin looked up at BJ and Peg, who both nodded as she ran with Daisy. There were plenty of people at the beach, including Stacey and the kids. Stacey waved as she accepted the two girls running towards her.
"Ah ha," Daniel declared as he walked to an empty picnic table. "Perfect spot." Margaret smiled as she watched her growing family. Life may not have been what she imagined, it was better. She got to be a mother of three daughters, married to a man who she never once pictured to be the man she needed. With friends that were met in the worst of times, but became her greatest strength.