The Best-Laid Plans

Chapter Six: Moving Towards Something


He sprinted down two flights of stairs when he heard Margaret shout. "What? What is it?"

"Come here!" She grabbed his hand and pulled him towards where she sat on the couch, bringing that hand to rest on her rounded, four-months-pregnant belly. "Feel this."

"Feel -" but Hawkeye trailed off as he felt something hit his hand. "Is that..."

"One of them is kicking." Her blue eyes were wide with wonder. "They're really in there, Hawkeye. There are real little people in there."

He pulled her close and kissed her, lifting her clear off the ground in his joy. If he had thought of the babies as his when Margaret had first told him she was pregnant, they had only become his more as they had grown, as he had watched Margaret's flat belly start to round out, laid beside her with his hand on the slowly-expanding bump that held the two tiny babies.

This was exactly, he knew now, what he had needed. This was the piece he had been missing. Margaret and the rest of the 4077 staff had been such a part of his daily life for almost three years that suddenly being thrust into a world where no one understood his experiences and few even bothered to try had been more traumatic than he had realized. Leaving some of the closest friends he had ever had behind and returning to a place where he had no true friends had been more of an adjustment than he was able to make easily.

He had seen even less of Toby and Dickie since Margaret's arrival, both by his choice and theirs, and that was fine by him. He had no desire to spend time with them when he could be with Margaret instead, and they had been put off when he had bluntly told them that the circumstances of her pregnancy were none of their business.

He had run into Serena again, and though he hadn't really paid attention to her it had brought up the painful feelings that had come with the experience he had had with her. It had, predictably, been Margaret he had spoken to.

Margaret hadn't taken her eyes off Hawkeye, who hadn't looked anywhere but the blanket, the whole time he was telling her what had happened with Serena. A few tears sparkled in her eyes as she placed her hands on his back.

"Forget her, Hawkeye. She's not worth your pain."

"What's wrong with me?" he asked. "I used to be the Casanova of the 4077, now I can't even be touched there without having a panic attack."

"Nothing's wrong with you," she whispered, scooting closer so that only the small bump of her ten-week belly separated them. "You were hurt. It's not your fault. And it's not your fault she couldn't be sensitive to you."

Her lips found his, a gentle kiss, but he deepened it. Before she really knew what she was doing, she was deepening it further, responding to him. His hands started to unbutton her shirt.

"Hawkeye," she gasped, reluctantly pulling away, "are you sure?"

"I'm sure," he whispered back. "You'll take care of me, won't you?"

"You know I will."

It had been even more wonderful than the night they had spent together in that abandoned hut, and not just because shells weren't falling around him and he wasn't injured. That first night had been a mistake - the most wonderful mistake of his life, but a mistake nonetheless. She had belonged to another man, and while she wasn't the first married woman he had ever slept with (that dubious honor belonged to Carleye) that didn't change the fact that it had been wrong. Now she was his. There wasn't a single thing wrong with what he had done that night, and he knew there would probably be no one else, ever. And, as he thought with a smile, it wasn't like he could get her pregnant.

"Have you given any more thought to what I asked you?" He wasn't exactly sure why that came out, except that he had just fallen even more in love with her than he had been, if that was even possible.

A puzzled look crossed her face. "What you asked me when?"

He shouldn't have been surprised. It had been months ago that he had asked. "About marriage." Keeping one hand cupped over her belly, he pulled her into him. "It's not about the babies, Margaret. It's about you. It's about how much I love you."

"Hawkeye -" her blue eyes met his. "I can't. Not yet."

"Why?" he asked. "What's holding you back?"

She blinked hard, and he could see tears starting to form in her eyes. He sat down next to her, drawing her back into his chest. "What is it, Margaret? What's wrong?"

"I'm scared," she whispered.

"Of what?"

"Of marriage. After what happened last time -"

"I know it was bad," he soothed, "but this wouldn't be anything like that."

"You don't know the half of it," she replied bitterly.

"What are you talking about?"

"There are things I never told you about my first marriage."

His eyes clouded with worry. "Worse than when he drugged and raped you?"

She shook her head and felt him relax against her. "But more," she added. "That was just the end result."

"What are you talking about?" The concern he'd momentarily let fade away was back full force.

"I told you about how he changed suddenly on my honeymoon - but it wasn't quite true that he stopped doing everything." She shut her eyes hard against her tears and because she didn't want to see his reaction. "As soon as we got home from the party, he slapped me. For the next day, his hands and fists did all the talking. That's why I left early - but he only got worse the next time I saw him because I left. He wanted to make it clear who was in control."

"Margaret." His voice was strained.

"I was relieved when he ran out on me. Upset that he hadn't given me a chance, but relieved that now I had a reason to divorce him.

"Him beating you wasn't enough?"

"Hawkeye -" she stopped, sighing. "It sounds so stupid now, but at the time I felt like it was something I was doing wrong. I felt like if I could just be the wife he wanted, he would stop hurting me." She leaned back into his chest. "For weeks after every vacation I had to make sure there was no one in the showers before I went in because there were bruises and marks all over me, and I thought it was my fault."

"It wasn't," he told her bluntly, resting his cheek on the top of her head "I would never hurt you, Margaret. You know that, right?"

She burrowed her head into his shoulder, finally opening her eyes. "I do. I know. But I'm scared all the same."

"I won't push you." He cuddled her close. "I never want you to be afraid of me."

She turned a little. "Oh, Hawkeye, you have nothing to worry about. You reached out a hand to help me out of a dark place, and you made me feel safe when I thought no one gave a damn. When I didn't know where to turn, when Donald finally took things too far, I knew I could turn to you. I just - I'm not ready yet, not after what happened my first time around."

"That's okay." He held her close, struggling not to cry himself.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you."

"Don't," he whispered into her hair. "It just hurts to know someone hurt you."

They sat there, holding each other, for a long time. Hawkeye's hand was resting on her belly, feeling the baby, his baby, move inside her.

He looked down to see that she had fallen asleep in his arms, her head resting on his chest. He had no desire to disturb her. He leaned back further, bringing her to rest against him more fully. He felt another gentle kick against his hand.

"Shh," he whispered to his baby. "Mommy needs to sleep now."

His eyelids grew heavy, and he laid his head on top of hers. Surely it couldn't hurt to close his eyes for a few minutes.


Daniel frowned a little when he realized the lights were still on in the living room. Hawkeye really needed to learn to turn it off before he went to bed.

He walked into the living room and stopped suddenly when he saw his son and Margaret asleep on the couch. He smiled, picking up a blanket from a nearby chair to cover them both.

As he tucked it around them, he gently patted Hawkeye's back and ran his fingers through Margaret's hair. His family might not be a normal one, but it was all he needed.


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