First Date Series: Giving an Answer Title: First Date Series: Giving an Answer
Author: DebC
Email: debchilson@yahoo.com
Rating: PG-PG13
Keywords: D/P Relationship potential, UST
Disclaimers: Declan and Peggy belong to the creative minds of Carl Binder, Peter O'Fallon, Lions Gate and PAX. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for giving the world such wonderful characters.
Summary: Peggy gives Declan an answer.
Spoilers: This contains a brief visit from Peggy's mentor from "Crystal Clear" and refers to the first in this series, "Popping the Question." If you haven't read it yet, you can find it in the eGroups archives, or by going to the fic archive http://www.crosswinds.net/~mystwaysfanfic

Dedicated to Ash. She knows why.

Additional notes: Since the series refuses to give Peggy's late husband a first name, I decided to follow Ash's lead and call him "Adam."

"First Date Series: Giving an Answer"

Peggy Fowler could scarcely believe her hears. Was Declan honestly asking her out on a date? A *real* date, not just Chinese while they investigate one of his miracles or lunch at the hospital because he just happened to be there? So, she asked him.

"Yes," he said hesitantly… and a little hopefully.

He was… he really was. When Declan had mentioned it before--in a kind of half joking, "gee, I wonder what" sort of manner--Peggy had brushed it off with a joke and a smile. At the time, she barely knew this man who was quickly becoming her best friend. And she hadn't thought him serious.

Peggy knew Declan a little better now. A * lot* better, in fact. Peggy blushed as she recalled telling him so off-handedly about the freckles on her thigh. And his reaction… she should have known then that he still harbored part of that old crush.

"Declan, I…" she began, and his face fell.

"That's okay," he said. "I didn't really expect"

"I'll think about it," she blurted out, unable to bear seeing the obvious pain in his eyes.

"Really?" His face lit up again, filled with renewed hope.

"Really." Peggy smiled back at him

~*~*~*~

Peggy thought about it… his invitation and so much more. All week long, she thought about the look on Declan's face when he thought she was going to turn him down.

Then she thought about the night she broke down and was going to show him pictures of he late husband…

Impulsively, she pulled out her photo albums, leafing through images of her wedding day. He'd been so handsome, and she had been a little nervous. Maybe even a little scared…

Like she was now, she realized. It was one thing to share pizza or hot dogs from the hospital cafeteria, but a date? A real date? A date implied something more than friendship… thing she wasn't sure she wanted to think about right now.

Especially not with a man she barely knew, Peggy rationalized, settling the matter with a firm, logical stance. It was illogical for her to get emotionally involved with a man she barely knew. That night, Peggy slept soundly, but not without dreaming. She dreamt she was back in junior college, seated in the front row of Dr. Hess's philosophy class. And she was waiting for someone.

At first, she thought it was just Dr. Hess she was waiting for, but his late arrival did not ease her anxiety. All through the professor's, Peggy continued to steal glances at the door and the seats behind her… as if trying to catch a glimpse of someone who was not there.

And then she saw him… a scruffy boy wearing a t-shirt and a disarranged, wrinkled flannel shirt. He smiled when she caught his eye. It was a shy, lopsided smile, but for some reason it warmed her to her very soul.

And then the bell rang to signal the end of class…

Or, rather, it was Peggy's alarm clock, signaling that Dr. Peggy Fowler needed to be getting dressed for work.

~*~*~

"… and that's when the alarm clock woke me up," Peggy told her mentor, Ruth Barber, as they sat in the hospital cafeteria drinking coffee. "I just wish I knew what it all meant," she said with a sigh.

"Don't you?" Ruth inquired cryptically. "You really haven't heard yourself lately, have you, dear?"

"I don't know what you mean."

Her mentor patted her hand in a consolatory fashion. "Of course you don't, dear," she said, chuckling softly. "You don't understand it because you choose not to understand. Understanding what your heart has been trying to tell you would be unnatural to a logical mind like yours."

"What my heart…?" Ruth's words struck a cord. "I'm not in love with Declan Dunn," she said flatly. The instant she said the words, however, a knot formed in the pit of her stomach. Peggy tried to ignore it.

"Peggy, the way you talk about him… are you sure of your feelings?" asked Ruth.

"We… we're friends. We have fun together, is all." The knot in her stomach tightened, and Peggy knew her words weren't exactly accurate. She and Declan * were* friends… and maybe a little bit more.

Ruth Barber patted her former student's hand again. "Maybe a little fun is what you need, Peggy. A breath of freshness to cleanse your soul after having mourned for so long."

~*~*~

Peggy waited nervously outside Declan's office. For once, he wasn't goofing off with Miranda and Warren or browsing one of the many tabloid magazines which littered his desk and floor. Declan Dunn was grading homework. Given the rarity with which he did "real work," Peggy told herself she didn't want to disturb him.

At least, that's what she told herself as she turned, walked down the hall and out of the building. It was also what she told herself when she went to her car, which as it turned out, was parked next to Declan's Ford truck. But she couldn't bring herself to leave, no matter what her logical mind told her to do. Her mind wasn't in charge for once; her heart was.

And after talking to Ruth Barber, her heart was more insistent than ever that she accept Declan's date.

A date. The very thought of going on a date now that Adam was dead scared her nearly to death. When she married him, she never expected to have to date again. But it wasn't just that--the awkwardness of dating--that she was afraid of. A part of her still mourned for her husband, still wished that he would return to her, and therefore wanted her to hold onto him forever. But Ruth had pointed something out today at lunch--that by hanging onto her grief, she would never move on and be truly happy again. Ruth said that Adam wouldn't want her to live an unhappy life, and Peggy knew she was right. Adam would have wanted her to be happy, even if that dating again. Peggy knew in her heart that Adam would have approved of Dec--

"Declan!" she exclaimed, breaking away from her thoughts as Declan approached her.

"Hey, Peg! Why are you standing out here all alone?" Declan asked.

"Thinking… " she replied. "…and waiting for you."

"Really?" Declan's friendly smiled brighten some more.

"Really! I have something you should know," she told him, returning his smile.

"It wouldn't have anything to do with that question I asked you the other day, would it?"

"Actually, yes, it would," Peggy said. Declan stopped putting his briefcase and folders into his truck, and turning, stared at her in anticipatory awe.

"Really?" he said again, this time in a tiny whisper of a voice.

"Declan," Peggy said, reaching out to touch the sleeve of his shirt. "I would love to go out with you this weekend... as friends."

Continued in…"Getting Ready."