"The Girl Next Door"

by SaRa, Lilith, Megan, Nsalem

Authors' note: In this story we switch from Hawkeye's to Margaret's POV. It starts with Margaret's. When we switch we use "~" at the beginning of the switch.

Okay, I did manage to move to Crabapple cove, but how do I tell Hawk ? Call him? Write to..... hey! I know he always reads the personal ads in the paper. Today's addition is gonna catch his attention. I'll just go get some paper and a pencil so I can write this down. What should it say ?

Single white female, blonde, looking for male. Must be faithful.

I wrote it down and read it out loud. "Hmm....This doesn't sound right." I've got it!

There's a single white female looking for that special lover. To put it in a nutshell, a one-woman-man who doesn't want no other. You never can tell, she just might be your dream come true. There's a single white female looking for a man like you.

I'll call the paper and see if they will put it in.

*Later on*

I cannot believe I just did that! My ad is in the newspaper with my phone number after it. Gee, I was up all night trying to write that and now I'm exhausted! I might as well take a nap.

*At 2:00 p.m.*

"Huh?!?" I sat bolt upright on my bed. Oh. It's the phone. "Answer it, Einstein!" I said to myself. I grab the phone. "Hello?" Geeze, that didn't sound like me at all. "Uh, hi," spoke up a voice. That voice is unmistakable. "Hawkeye!" I shriek into the phone. "Uh, could you speak up? I'm a little deaf in this ear. Wait a sec - Magg - er, Margaret?!? " he yells just as loud. "Did you almost call me 'Maggie'? " I ask. "Yeah. Sorry." "That's okay, I kinda like it," I admit. "Did you write that ad ?" he asks.

"Yup." "Tonight. Seven o'clock. My place. Three-ten Country Cove Road. Be there," he says. Whoa. I wasn't expecting this. "Hawk, you live next door," I say as I look out my bedroom window. I just notice that his window is right across from mine. " Hawk, look out your window," I tell him. "From now on I'm being careful what I do in here," I tell him. " By tomorrow I will have seen it all." I can almost hear him grinning as he says that. " By the way, don't expect anything special tonight, all I own are blue jeans and T-shirts," I warn. " Good. Same here," he replies.

What am I going to wear? I know I told him nothing special, but I do want to look good. Ah ha! Tight blue jeans and a tighter white tank top with a black leather jacket over the top of it. It was cold in Maine this time of year. This late in October the leaves were falling, and the temperature was about forty degrees. I wonder what we'll do tonight.

He was still handsome--very handsome! He looks great dressed like that, just a pair of jeans and a black sweatshirt with what must have been two hundred names scrawled all over it in white, all written in the unmistakable hand of a small child.

"Hi, Hawk. Where are we going?" I leaned on his chest, content to just stand with him.

"It's a surprise. Come on," he said, grabbing my hand and leading me toward a well-worn path through the trees lining the lake just a few feet from his porch.

We emerged from the tree-lined dirt path at an open field, where there were dozens of people and a huge cart, filled with hay. I adore hay rides.

"A hay ride?!" I exclaimed. "I love hay rides!"

He smiled at me and curved an arm around my shoulders. Pumpkins and little children were scattered all over the grass.

A man in a pair of jeans and a sweater stood up on the hay- filled wagon and raised a hand for quiet. As the din of talking died down, he explained what would be going on. "We'll do a hay ride through the field and through the trees and stuff by the lake. Then, we'll stop at the church for spiced cider. The ride may be a bit cramped, but I think we'll manage. Okay?"

The children all cheered, and people began to scramble for good seats.

"Come on, Hawk!" I cried, dragging him by the hand to the cart. he laughed as we moved to the cart. We were the last on, and the cart was almost completely full. People shifted until there was room for one person. Hawkeye quickly sat and pulled me into his lap. The horses attached to the wagon started walking, and we almost fell out the back.

The ride was wonderful. We talked in low whispers the whole time, looking out at the water and holding hands the whole time. The moon reflected off the water, giving it a yellow glow, as Hawkeye and I caught the other up on our lives in the last five years.

It was a lot of fun, to say the least. Around eight-thirty we got back from the hay ride. "Do you wanna come to my house and meet my dad?" Hawk asked. He didn't seem to sure about it. "I think that would be wonderful." I hadn't a clue as to what Daniel Pierce would be like and was dying to find out. We walked back to his house and when we got there he yelled, "DAD! THERE'S SOMEONE HERE I WANT YOU TO MEET!"

I wasn't sure what I expected, but somehow, Daniel was it. He was the personification of a country doc. White hair, with a face almost identical to his son's, including the bright blue eyes, and gentle-looking hands marked him as Hawkeye's father. I held out my hand. "I'm..." I started.

"Hot Lips Houlihan!" He grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously.

"Some call me that," I said, glancing at Hawkeye through playfully narrowed eyes. "Some call me Margaret. Your choice." I smiled. He either recognized me from the picture we sent for the 4077 family party that BJ had organized, or Hawkeye had described me to his dad. I rather hoped for the latter.

"I'd have known you anywhere. Let's see, blonde, check. Rather magnificent blue eyes, check. About 5'4", check. And a body that doesn't quit...well, I'll leave that last part out. It's wonderful to meet you, Margaret Hot Lips. My son's told me a ton about you. You were right son, she's a looker!" Daniel kidded. He laughed, Hawkeye grinned and I blushed. "Its great to finally meet you. He talked about you all the time........literally.....constantly." He smiled with genuine warmth.

I couldn't help but grin. The words were Hawkeye's, I could tell, and there was no mistaking that Daniel had received his information from something other than a picture. "Likewise. I heard so much about you and Crabapple Cove that I just had to come and see for myself."

Hawkeye butted in. "Oh, so HE was the only drawing card?! What am I, chopped liver?" he joked.

I winked at Daniel. "Well, I mentioned Crabapple Cove, too." He looked crestfallen. "Oh, okay, I guess you had something to do with it!"

"Dad," Hawkeye said, "I need to talk to you." I took the hint and said goodnight and that I needed to get going because I work tomorrow.

~ "Was Mickey on the hay ride?"

"No. I have to tell her about him. I don't want to mess this up dad. I know that after next week, I have full custody of him, but Margaret probably will never speak to me."

"Then she isn't worth it. Mickey is your 3 year old."

"Dad- I know."

"Then tell her!"

"But I love her! I don't want to lose her!"

~ Geeze. I could hear them screaming back and forth from my living room. I wonder exactly what this is about... If he wants you to know he'll tell you tomorrow.

The next day, we walked along the same path in the woods and went around the lake. After that we rode bicycles in to town. It was such a beautiful day and he didn't want to use the car. I love how he looks in blue jeans. They bring out the color of his eyes. We had lunch at this nice little cafe on Maine Street (cute name for a street too). We laughed and talked for an hours we sipped hot chocolate.

"Margaret, I really like how you look with marshmallow on your nose!" I wiped the foam from my nose as a little boy ran to him.

"Dadda!" I felt my mouth go dry.

"Hi Mickey! Margaret, this is Mitchell. Mickey for short. He's my 3 year old."

"Benjamin, its your weekend with him, but since next week, he is completely yours, can I have him this weekend?"

"No. See you Monday when we sign. Goodbye." He pulled the boy on to his lap.

"Bye Mama." The woman left.

"Care to explain, or do you want me to guess?"

"Margaret, Julia and I have been divorced for 6 months and she isn't responsible enough for Mickey to stay with her. My uncle is a lawyer and got me full custody."

"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked. I fought tears. I excused myself, and got on my bike and left.

~ I ran up the stairs. Margaret hadn't been outside or answering the phone in two days. I opened the door to her bedroom. Margaret was awake, but not well.

"Margaret, whats wrong."

~ "Hawkeye?" I said weakly. I felt his cool hand on my forehead.

"Jesus!" I felt him lift me up and carry me down the stairs and to his house. "DAD!"

"You kidnapped her?!" He joked.

"She's got a really high fever. Lets get her to the hospital. Where is Mickey?"

"I'll stay with him. Its Monday, when do you sign?"

"In about four hours. Stay with Mickey, I'll have her checked out, I'll make some phone calls and see about getting things delayed an hour or two."

"No, I'll bring Mickey to the hospital in 2 hours, you sign and I'll take care of her."

"Thanks Dad."

~ I was so scared on the way, but I tried not to let Margaret see it. It would make things even worse for both of us. She had a raging fever, and was sweating profusely. She was completely disoriented and delirious. I wondered when the nausea/vomiting would start. I was driving, certain that I could get to the hospital faster than the paramedics could. I remembered that her neck had seemed stiff the other day when we'd been on the hay ride, but I'd thought then that it had just been an uncomfortable ride. I glanced over at her and sucked in a breath. There was a slight redness on her hands and forearms. "Shit!" I muttered, and stepped on the gas harder.

I burned rubber into the ER and pulled up the ambulance ramp. I carried her inside, calling for a nurse and a bed. "I've got a probable meningitis here! Get me a nurse, a bed, and set me up for a spinal tap! STAT, damn it!" Why did they seem extremely slow today? I wondered.

I sighed. When would she wake up? It had turned out to be bacterial meningitis, or a bacterial infection of the cerebral spinal fluid. Once a culture had been done, and the pathogen had been isolated, she's been treated with vancomyecin, an extremely strong antibiotic. She'd been monitored twenty-four hours a day to make sure that the pressure on her brain didn't rise because of the infection, and she had done fine. She just needed to wake up! I wanted to talk to her.

~ Oh, I felt lousy. What had happened? I wondered. Other than a stiff neck and a weird rash, I'd been fine. I looked around my room, my gaze lighting on a sleeping Hawkeye. What was he doing there?

~ Huh?!? I must have fallen asleep. I cannot believe I did that... Oh! Margaret's awake! Terrific!

~"What's going on? Where am I? This looks like a hospital. Am I sick?" I stared at him. He looked terrible. Rough stubble covered his unshaven cheeks, and he had dark circles under his eyes. "You had spinal meningitis. Apparently it was in late stages. How long had you had symptoms?" He looked worried, but I couldn't feel bad--I was still irritated with him for neglecting to tell me about something as important as a child.

"Oh," I said flatly.

"Margaret, please don't hate me. I didn't want to lose you. I love you."

"Do you now? You love me so much that you have a baby, and you don't bother to tell me. You don't trust me enough to think I'd stay with you if you had a kid? Let me tell you something, Hawkeye Pierce. Love is nothing without trust." I turned away. I knew I was hurting him, but I was angry and very hurt.

His blue eyes filled with pain and regret. "I'm sorry, Margaret. I'm so sorry." He got up and headed for the door. I almost called for him to stay. I almost. I couldn't. Not after the way he kept Mickey a secret from me. I want things to go back to normal, but I know that's not possible.

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