Margaret drove aimlessly down a busy street in Boston. She had gone to Ben's house, just down the street but it was deserted. Now she was driving down the icy streets, searching for his car. After almost an hour of searching, she gave up that tactic and began to drive around to the bars she knew of. Finally, at nine o'clock she pulled up to a run down, shack, with a neon sign reading bar and grill. She stepped out into a pile of slush, cursing as the dirty liquid sloshed into her shoes.
Margaret tentatively approached the door, as sounds of breaking wood and glass reached her ears. She slipped inside and found herself in the middle of a large brawl. Someone grabbed her shoulders and pushed her down to the floor, just as a heavy bottle smashed against the wall where she had been standing.
"You alright?" a young man asked, walking back behind the bar. Margaret nervously smiled her thanks and stood on her tiptoes, searching for any sign of Ben.
"Can I help you Ma'm?" the man asked.
"Have you seen a man around fifty come in here? He's tall, around five three, thin, grey hair, blue eyes."
The man shrugged. "Sorry ma'm, just about every man that came in here tonight could fit that description."
Margaret decided to try one last time. "He probably ordered a martini," she added hopefully. "A very dry martini."
The man smiled cynically, "Oh sure, he's in the back, he hasn't even touched his drink." The man pointed to the back corner of the room and Margaret quickly and cautiously made her way across the room. She pulled the present out of her purse when she saw him. He was sitting at the corner table, slumped down in the chair, playing absent-mindedly with a full martini glass.
"What's this?" she asked quietly, sliding the box in front of him. Hawkeye's head jerked up and he looked straight into Margaret's eyes. He looked down at the box and picked it up, chuckling cynically to himself.
He stood up, taking the box with him. "Well it was your Christmas present."
Hawkeye turned to her, his blue eyes, dull and flat. "It's not an appropriate gift for a coward, a selfish pig, and an irresponsible asshole to be giving a woman."
Margaret blushed and looked down at the floor. When she looked up again Hawkeye was gone, she barely caught a glimpse of his back disappearing out the door. She ran after him, buttoning up her coat as she went.
"Ben please wait," she called. He ignored her and headed down the street, Margaret running after him. Margaret was watching Hawkeye so intently she wasn't watching where she was going and her foot slipped on a patch of ice. As if she were in slow motion, Margaret felt her feet slip out from underneath her and for a few moments she felt as if she were flying. Her head hit firmly onto the concrete sidewalk and she blacked out.
"Margaret, Margaret wake up," Margaret felt her shoulder being shook gently. She opened her eyes and saw Hawkeye kneeling over her.
"Come on," he said, standing up and holding out his hand. Margaret accepted his help and he pulled her upward. She groaned and put a hand to the back of her head.
"Here let me see," Hawkeye pulled her hand down and parted her hair, feeling along the back of her head.
"I'm fine," she said, stepping away from him, wincing in pain as she did.
Margaret nodded reluctantly and Hawkeye helped her hobble over to a small, brick planter and had her sit down.
"It's just a slight sprain," he announced after a moment. He looked up at her, "Where did you park your car; I'll go get it."
Margaret stood up. "I can make it there," she mumbled. Hawkeye rolled his eyes and slipped his arm around her waist, supporting her.
The two began to make their way slowly back to Margaret's car.
"I really am sorry Ben; I didn't mean what I said." Hawkeye sighed and nodded, remaining silent.
Margaret frowned in frustration. Why wasn't he saying anything? She felt tears welling up in her eyes and she sniffed. Hawkeye stopped and looked down at her.
Margaret shook her head, staring at the ground. "The cold just makes my nose run," she replied flippantly, her voice husky.
Hawkeye smiled and tilted her chin up. "Your eyes too?"
Margaret bit her lip and shrugged, trying to decide what to tell him. "Why do I always have to ruin everything?" she asked quietly.
"What are you talking about?"
"Lizzy told me what she told you to give me." Margaret confessed quietly, her voice barely above a whisper. Hawkeye raised his eyebrows but said nothing, trying to determine Margaret's thoughts.
"Well since you already know what it is, maybe I shouldn't give it to you." He teased. Margaret looked at him hopefully and he smiled, handing her the small box.
Margaret nervously stripped the paper off the box and opened it, dumping a velvet box into her hand. She stroked the box gently with her gloved fingers.
Hawkeye took the box from her and opened it, revealing a silver band with three glittering diamonds.
"I love you Margaret, I have for the past twenty years and I'm tired of pretending that I don't." He paused and laughed nervously. "Will you marry me?"
He looked down at Margaret and saw her shoulders shaking, he worriedly put his hands on her shoulders and she lifted her head and realized that her shoulder weren't shaking from sobs but from laughter.
She smiled and nodded, "Yes, Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce, I will marry you."
"Elizabeth, the gravy is boiling, what should I do?" Lizzy groaned at her grandfather's voice and pulled herself away from the window. She was worried, it was almost ten o'clock, and her parents still weren't back. Alvin had already managed to get a semi-confession from her. Lizzy was a little worried about that.
"But how can they blame me?" She asked herself. No one in their right mind would think it would take six hours for two people to buy some broth.
"Lizzy it's splashing onto the counter." Lizzy hurried into the kitchen and quickly took the pan off the flame.
As she was cleaning the mess up Alvin placed a gentle hand on his granddaughter's shoulder.
"Don't worry honey, they'll be home soon."
Elizabeth nodded absent-mindedly and began to stir the pan of gravy slowly. Her head jerked up as she heard a car door slam. She began to hurry towards the door but Alvin held her back. Elizabeth turned back to the gravy, trying her hardest to appear calm.
Someone kicked on the door, "Will somebody open this damn door?" It was her father. Lizzy practically flew into the adjoining room and quickly flung open the door.
Hawkeye walked in, carrying Margaret. "She sprained her ankle," he explained quickly. He sat her down on the couch and proceeded to the kitchen to get some ice.
Lizzy nervously approached her mother. "Mom did you tell…"
Margaret cut her daughter off with a large smile and a flash of her left hand. Lizzy squealed excitedly and threw her arms around her mother. Margaret laughed gaily and pushed her daughter back slightly.
"Are you really happy Lizzy?" Elizabeth nodded exuberantly and turned as Hawkeye walked back into the room.
She looked at the floor, ashamed of her previous words.
"Do you think I did a nice job of picking out a gift?" he asked. Elizabeth looked up and saw her father's eyes twinkling brightly; there was no sign of hurt feelings.
She quickly closed the gap between them, wrapping her arms around his neck, settling her head on his chest. "It's perfect," she whispered. "It's the perfect Christmas present."
Alvin cleared his throat nervously behind them and Hawkeye turned. Margaret closed her eyes, praying her father wouldn't do anything to make thing difficult. Alvin steadily approached Hawkeye and then laid a friendly hand on his shoulder.
"You're a fine man Ben." He said gruffly. "I'm glad you finally decided to marry my daughter, I couldn't think of anyone better for her." Margaret looked up and caught her father's gaze.
"Thank you," she mouthed. He winked at her and then held his arm out for Lizzy.
"Well why don't we make our way into the dinning room, I'm starving."
Hawkeye walked over to Margaret and helped her wobble into the next room. Soon they were all gathered around the table, plates crowded in beside the food. Lizzy looked around the table and wiped a small tear from the corner of her eye.
It had been such a long time since she had been this happy. She swore this was a Christmas she would never forget.