Title: How To Win Friends
Chapter Title: Around The Corner
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: All things Buffy belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The television show M*A*S*H, belongs to Hornberger (tv creator), Larry Gelbart (developer) and CBS.
Rating: PG-13 (at most)
Pairing: Joyce/ Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H)
Series Summary: Cordy presents Buffy with a Seventeenth birthday gift that keeps going and going…
Chapter Summary: A useful new neighbor moves in.
Time line: BtVS Season Two Post series for M*A*S*H
Feedback: Always welcome!
Distribution: Various, ask before taking.
A/N: This fiction was written in part for the TtH FfA. The pairing was Joyce and Hawkeye, but it came off a little more as Buffy Hawkeye, at the end of it.
A/N2: The book discussed on this fiction is a real book. While the book and author are mentioned, none of the contents are included in this fiction.
Around The Corner
If ever there was a time that he regretted not marrying and having a family, Hawkeye decided, it was now.
He glanced around the living room of the tiny one bedroom house he had recently purchased. It wasn't exactly what he had wanted out of life, but there was no shame in the life he had lived. Regrets yes, but at seventy five (plus a few months) years, it was bound to happen.
As it was, he had had to pay a moving company and packers to box up the belongings that he couldn't bear to part with, as well as the more mundane items that were necessary to living life, such as his furniture. The Realtor that he had dealt with had already assured him that it was possible to have daily help in and had provided him with a list of numbers for local businesses. But then they had moved him in, assembled what furniture needed it and disappeared in their bright yellow truck. Off on their next trip.
"What I need are some nice neighbors, with strong backs," Hawkeye murmured to himself, bracing one hand on his own lower spine. Even just faced with the daunting prospect of unpacking the rest of the boxes the movers had left pushed into corners and against walls so that he wouldn't be hampered by them, was causing his lumbago to act up. With a sigh, Hawkeye Pierce, retired doctor and Army Captain shuffled over to the box closest to the inlaid book shelves of the wall that separated the living room from the kitchen. Amazed that the imbeciles that had been appointed the task of delivering his belongings had actually ordered the boxes where they would make the most sense, Hawkeye deftly, for his age, opened the folded flaps and begun to remove his fairly extensive collection of medical tombs, journals and murder mysteries.
It was when he was about a third of the way down the first box that he found it. He lifted the copy of Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People from the box and stared a long moment at it. Hadn't he already placed that? And wasn't his copy sporting a brown cover and not a green one? Hawkeye glanced up at the top shelf, eye level, which wasn't quite as tall as he used to be, now that he was older and his bones were losing a little of their mass.
Yes, there as he had thought, was the slightly tattered copy that his mother, God rest her soul, had gifted him with when he had left for college. Hawkeye smiled at the memory. Hard to believe there was a time when he had been a shy young man. College had definitely changed that. He reached for the book, convinced that the perfume that she had worn all her adult life still clung to the leaves of the book. Holding that beloved copy in his hand, he lifted it to his nose and inhaled deeply. The smile that touched his weathered face was wistful and sad.
"Well now," he finally murmured, turning his attention to the newer copy, "let's see where you came from." Settling his gifted copy back on the shelf, he turned slightly to open the cover of the new book. Squinting a little, he sighed before reaching to the breast pocket of his short sleeved shirt to retrieve the dreaded glasses. Shaking them open with one hand, he slid them onto his face and then looked again.
The front cover opened and the first page fluttered up. Hawkeye could see script there and read it quickly. 'Dear Buffy,' (it read) Happy Birthday. I wanted to find you something useful that you wouldn't totally mangle with your challenged sense of fashion. From Cordelia Chase. Frowning, the older man looked to the left, flipping that page back down and saw more information written there.
If found, please return to Buffy Summers
1630 Revello Drive
Frowning slightly, Hawkeye adjusted his glasses and then glanced up, looking through the window with the vacant stare of one not seeing what was before of them as he thought a little. Revello? Wasn't that the street they had come down before turning onto Elmer, where Hawkeye's house was? He was almost certain it was. Gently shutting the book cover, he set it on the small end table closest to him. How that book got mixed in with his own, he had no clue. And as he reached for more of his own familiar books, he thought about this new little conundrum to pop up.
Well, he finally decided, after he was done with his current task, he could certainly take a walk and start to get to know his new neighborhood. After all, he had chosen California as opposed to Florida or Arizona to retire to because he liked to defy convention. No way was he going to be the crotchety old man that holed up in his house, only coming out to retrieve his mail, water the lawn and yell at the neighborhood children.
Revello wasn't all that far, he discovered. Half a block down to the corner from where his house was, and then turn to count the house number and it was about mid way down the street. Hefting the book that he was returning, Hawkeye continued on, noting that the sun was lowering rapidly in the sky. Hopefully someone would be home, he decided, as he had noted that the neighborhood was fairly quiet. He had seen some children here and there, and just like his fondest memories of childhood, the distant cries of mother's calling their children in for an evening meal.
Happily, when he made it to number 1630, he saw that there was a vehicle in the driveway, though these days, with large families, that single vehicle didn't mean much. But as he rounded the end of the vehicle where the walk way up to the front door was, he saw a woman, about middle age, swinging and humming, on a front porch swing. She held a basket of something in her lap that kept her hands busy, though she did pause to lean forward and take up a glass of something. She glanced up and smiled, offering him a wave as he neared.
"Hullo there," he called back, offering his own wave as he turned up the woman's walk. She paused for a moment and then set the basket beside herself, reaching for a towel that she wiped her hands on before standing to greet him.
"Good afternoon," she smiled, her voice low and melodic sounding to her ears.
"Hello," Hawkeye greeted once more as he ascended the steps. "I'm new to the neighborhood. Benjamin Pierce is my name."
"Oh goodness, how wonderful to meet you," the woman responded, taking his hand to shake. "I'm Joyce Summers. Welcome to the area. Have you been settled long yet?"
"Not at all," Hawkeye chuckled. "I was just doing some unpacking when I came across something very puzzling."
"Please, have a seat," Joyce offered, gesturing to the swing, as well as the wicker chairs that were spread around the porch. Feeling the need for stationary support, Hawkeye chose one of the wicker seats, resting the book in his lap. "Would you care for some lemonade?" she asked next, and Hawkeye saw that there was another glass, empty, resting next to the pitcher. "I was waiting for my daughter Buffy to get home from her after school activities."
"I'd love some, thank you," Hawkeye nodded, feeling pleased. One little mystery solved. "And that at least answers one of my questions."
"Oh?" Joyce glanced up from where she was pouring, looking intrigued. "And what question would that be?"
"If Buffy was your nickname," he cackled only slightly as he held the book up for her to behold. He held it out to her, in exchange for the lemonade. "I found that," he declared, pointing at the book she had opened and was staring at with furrowed brow, "when I was unpacking my books to put away."
"How strange," Joyce murmured, running her hand over it, much like Hawkeye had earlier. "I wonder..." she began but trailed off. She shut the cover gently and laid it across her lap before regarding the older man across from her. "It's the strangest thing," she began and Hawkeye set his glass on the table between them, anticipation of hearing a little story upon him. "As you can see from the inscription, Buffy's well, sort of friend gave her this for her last birthday. But not long after that, it just disappeared. Ended up in Denver of all places. Well, a very kind gentleman brought it back." She paused and flipped the book open, reading something. "Casey Ryback. Very polite. And then, not too long after, a young woman from Wisconsin brought it back when her family was on vacation here."
"Well, that book certainly gets around, hmm?" Hawkeye chuckled. "But I can't see how it would end up in my box of books when I had just moved in."
"Well perhaps it's where you moved from that might be the clue," Joyce chuckled, closing the cover once more and settling it beside her. She reached for her own lemonade and settled back in the porch swing.
"That would be Crab Apple Cove, Maine," Hawkeye nodded. "Lived there most of my life. Served a while in the Army and made it my mission in life to survive the war and get back home. I'd still be there," he sighed, "if there were any there left."
Joyce listened quietly and nodded in apparent sympathy as Hawkeye talked on about how all the children and young people seemed to yearn for the bright lights of the bigger cities and how eventually his beloved Crab Apple Cove became little more than a retirement community. And of course with little to no revenue present, people were packing up their businesses and moving on. The place was no more than a ghost town now.
"And so you decided to start over in Sunnydale," Joyce surmised when Hawkeye was silent for a few minutes. There was a question in her voice and Hawkeye nodded.
"I wasn't really looking forward to moving to Florida," he smiled widely. "I've no love for shuffle boarding and eating my dinner at four o'clock and driving at ten miles an hour to get anywhere," he spoke deprecatingly, enjoying how Joyce, a lovely young woman laughed richly at his descriptions.
"Well, I could only wish that Buffy would drive that slow," she commented at last. "As for the rest, I can't imagine I would enjoy that either." She paused to glance up over Hawkeye's shoulders and the older man turned in his seat to see three even younger people moving up the sidewalk at a fast clip, excited teen babble spilling from their lips. "And speaking of, that's my daughter with her school friends, coming now," Joyce smiled.
It wasn't Hawkeye's imagination that when the trio caught sight of him, they picked up their pace and the blond girl, as opposed to the redheaded girl, vaulted up the steps to greet her mother with a hug and then turn to the stranger there. Hawkeye pasted on his most charming smile and held out his arms, as if he expected a great big hug as well. The girl looked confused and he chuckled, even as Joyce smirked.
"Don't mind him, honey," Joyce instructed her daughter. "I've already noticed that he's quite the flirt."
"And never did I see three more charming young ladies to practice on," he quipped and then turned to the young man that was bringing up the rear. "Which I'm sure has occurred to your young man as well."
"You got that right," the boy quipped and then turned to look at the tray that was on the table. "Ah, no cookies?"
"Told you Xan," the girl, Buffy grinned. "Mom made them for the new neighbor. Which," she turned back to Hawkeye, "I'm guessing you would be."
"Buffy, this is Mr. Benjamin Pierce, our new neighbor," Joyce introduced. "This is my daughter Buffy, owner of that mysterious little book. And her friends, Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris."
"Pleased to meet you," Hawkeye grinned while the children took up lounging positions around the porch. All except Buffy. She glanced at the table as well, then to her mother.
"Can I get you guys a refill on the lemonade?" she asked. Joyce nodded and the girl bounded away into the house. The group stared after her and then Xander sighed loudly.
"I swear, I don't know where she gets her energy," he half complained. "School all day, party all night, training with Giles-!" he stopped abruptly as the girl, Willow smacked his leg lightly. He turned his attention to the adults. "Ah... learning... what's it called again Wills?" The redhead seemed unstartled that the boy had turned to her. She shrugged one shoulder.
"Hapkido," she said with an important nod. "It's a type of martial arts that originated in-!"
"Korea!" Hawkeye interrupted with a happy nod. "I was stationed there in the war. I actually got to see a little of it performed."
"Oh, how interesting," Joyce piped up.
"It's a good skill for a young woman to learn," Hawkeye nodded. The others agreed, though Xander and Willow looked relieved, where Joyce just looked slightly puzzled.
"I think they were just concentrating on working with a bo staff though," she explained. "I think Buffy gets extra points in gym for it."
Joyce's expression smoothed out almost immediately after Willow announced that and Hawkeye quickly filled in the awkward pause that followed with some of the antics they got up to in Korea. At least, the more child friendly versions, which produced some laughter from his audience. It didn't take too long before Buffy had returned, full lemonade pitcher with a plate of cookies balanced atop it, along with several plastic cups stacked together in the other hand.
"So what are we giggling over?" she asked as she settled the goodies on the table before serving up for everyone.
"Mr. Pierce was just telling us about how they cheated to win a boxing match," Willow giggled.
"Hey now," Hawkeye protested as he took one of the softer looking cookies from the plate Buffy held before him. "Thank you," he murmured, then used to the cookie to point at Willow. "No where in the rules of boxing did it say that you couldn't soak your gloves in ether to make your opponent pass out."
"Huh, there's an idea Buff," Xander grinned. Buffy served him last and Hawkeye could see why as the young man, still growing surely, scooped up an entire handful of the treats.
"Believe me," Buffy grinned. "If I was ever in a fight, I don't think I'd have time to break out a bottle of ether. If I even knew where to find any."
"Science lab at school," Willow volunteered and then looked around at the adults wide eyed. "Um, cause they have it for experiments. Or-or maybe the hospital."
"Probably," Joyce agreed mildly. She turned to her daughter as she took a seat beside her mother on the swing. "How come you didn't tell me that Mr. Giles was teaching you this martial art?" she wondered quietly and Buffy stilled and then shrugged one shoulder.
"Didn't know if I'd be any good at it," she defended herself. "Plus why tell you if I didn't like it and decided not to continue?"
"So did you like it?" Joyce pressed. "Willow said you can use it for extra credit in gym class."
Buffy nodded enthusiastically enough. "It was cool. Giles had to dress up in all this padding and I got to hit him! What's not to like?" Everyone laughed at that one.
"So Mr. Pierce," the redheaded girl, Willow, turned to the newcomer, "have you just moved in? I remember Mrs. Summers said something about the house around the corner selling."
"Just arrived today in fact," Hawkeye nodded. "I was unpacking and found Miss Buffy's book in my library. Since I already have a copy, I had a look. You youngin's wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?" he asked teasingly and then laughed uproariously when all eyes swung Xander's way and the young man froze under their stares.
"Hey, I admit I like my pranks and jokey jokes," he defended himself, holding his hands up, "but it wasn't me!"
"It's a little like those book lovers clubs, isn't it?" Willow commented innocuously and attention turned her way, this time puzzled. She swallowed a drink of lemonade and then grinned. "You know, those ones where you read any book, whatever you want really and then leave it for someone to find and pass it on. Then when it gets found again, you can post about it on the message board."
"The message board?" Buffy asked, picking up the basket that Joyce had been preoccupied with when Hawkeye first appeared. Her hands had gotten busy shelling peas, as it turned out.
"On the Internet," Willow responded, sounding slightly defensive. "My mom saw it when she was working and made a study about it." She turned to Hawkeye and offered, a little deprecatingly, "my parents are psychiatrists. But my mom is always looking for new case studies."
"She made a study about reading books?" Joyce smiled indulgently as Willow shrugged one shoulder.
"It was more about the type of person that would pick up a book that was left in public," she explained. "There was an invitation in the book to participate remotely in the study. I think she got about three people before she moved on to something else."
"Probably too many variables in the project," Hawkeye nodded, thinking of the many psychiatrists that he had known professionally, a few personally.
"That's what Dad thought," Willow agreed. "I would have said, but well, I'm just a teenager," she sighed.
"And thus have your own books to read and science projects to help your bestest of best buds out on?" Xander added, wheedling. The girl laughed and nodded.
"I told you we'd set it up this weekend Xander," she promised. "The lab is being used this week. But getting permission shouldn't be a problem."
"If you haven't noticed already, Wills is the big brains of our group," Buffy grinned at Hawkeye. She then turned and showed the basket to her mother. "Is this enough?"
"Well, I was hoping to invite Mr. Pierce to dine with us," Joyce smiled warmly once more at their guest who started to protest, but then thought better of it. A home cooked meal beat one out of his freezer or a restaurant any day.
"That would be very lovely and kind of you," he accepted. "Thank you. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Some company in the kitchen would be nice," Joyce nodded. "Because if I know Buffy, she probably still has some homework she needs to complete." She turned her gracious face on the youngsters. "Would it be all right for you two to stay to dinner as well?" Both of the invited teens were nodding. "All right, go call your parents."
The amazingly well behaved teens jumped to their feet and instead of just leaving their glasses, instead gathered up those as well as the extras they had, bags and the rest, so that Joyce's hand were empty as she led Hawkeye into her nicely decorated house. She directed the children in where to put things, giving Hawkeye time to look around, before leading him to the kitchen. Buffy joined them, putting the peas on the counter. Hawkeye, seeing his chance to help, since arthritis hadn't bogged him down as it had his parents, pulled the bowl closer.
"The rest of these?" he asked. He enjoyed fresh peas after many years of the Army's canned mush offerings, though it took some time before he could look them in the eye as it were.
"Please," Joyce nodded as she washed her hands at the sink before pulling things from the refrigerator. She asked after any food concerns, and Hawkeye told her that he could and would eat pretty much anything.
Talk continued in the other room, the dining room, the children's voices rising and falling as they shared secrets and whispers and help with one another's work. Neither Wilow nor Xander's parents seemed to have a problem with their children staying to dinner. And while they were occupied, Joyce told Hawkeye that her impression was that the Rosenberg's and Harris' were much less restrictive with their teens than might be good.
There was a small lull in their conversation as Joyce was concentrating on something on the stove, that Hawkeye's ears caught the whispered conversation in the other room.
"I like him," Willow was whispering. "He reminds me of my grandpa, on my mom's side."
"Me too," Buffy agreed. "Which is funny, 'cause Mom's Dad is all gruff and "hey you miscreants, get off my lawn!"
"Your grandpa actually says miscreants?" Xander asked with a chuckle.
"Well no," Buffy admitted. "But it's on our vocab list this week."
"Good job Buff," Willow complimented as Hawkeye had to put his hand over his mouth to hold his own chuckle in. "You used it exactly right."
"I kinda figured that," Buffy returned dryly. There was a silence for a few more minutes before Willow piped up again.
"I think Mr. Pierce might be lonely," she sighed.
"Lonely how Wills?" Xander wondered, sounding slightly distracted, which was obvious as he grunted and asked for help with a math problem. The whispered conversation continued between problem solving.
"Well, I don't think he moved with a family. That house was just one bedroom, right?" Buffy murmured her agreement, mentioning that her mother had looked at it before they settled on this house, because the Realtor had mentioned that the study on the main floor cold be used as a bedroom. "And he didn't call or go get a wife."
"Maybe he's a widow," Xander commented. "Er. Widower?" He seemed confused.
"Male, second one Xand," Buffy corrected. "But that would be totally rude to ask."
"It would," Willow concurred. "You know, if he just moved in today, he can't have gotten much unpacking done." There was more agreement and Hawkeye noted that Joyce had turned from the stove to begin slicing something at the island counter he was seated at. She was smiling as she worked quietly, and as she looked up and caught his glance, her eyes twinkling merrily, she was just as aware of the children's chatter.
"You wanna offer to help Wills?" Xander asked.
"Well, I just remember Buffy sayin' how unsettled she and her mom felt when they still had boxes everywhere," Willow defended and Joyce was nodding to that thought.
"I think it's a good idea," Buffy agreed suddenly. "It's a nice thing to do. We can offer. I mean, we didn't have plans tonight, aside from the usual, I mean. Did we?"
"Just homework and mocking of la television Espagnol," Xander added in a cheesy Spanish accent.
"So why don't we?" Willow perked up a little. "We can ask at dinner. I bet we could get loads done in a few hours."
"Sure," the other two agreed in tandem.
"You sure Xand," Willow pressed. "I know you're not big on the lifting of boxes and stuff."
"Nah, it's cool," Xander reassured her and unknowingly, Hawkeye. "I like Mr. Pierce. He's got funny stories. And if I'm right, I might be able to wheedle some new prank ideas out of him."
"I'll bet," Buffy murmured with a small laugh. That was about the end of that conversation and their attention turned back to their homework.
In the kitchen, Hawkeye turned to Joyce, his eyes just slightly misty. "Those are some real good kids in there."
"I've always thought so," Joyce agreed.
Dinner turned out as delicious as Hawkeye thought it would be. The offer to help him unpack was made and accepted with alacrity. The group was stuffed with all the offerings Joyce put on the table and clean up was done quickly, as the children helped load the dishwasher. Hawkeye was looking forward to the walk home to work off some of the calories that he had eaten. While always pretty much a beanpole, since he'd hit fifty and started slowing down a little, he'd managed to gain a slight paunch in the midsection.
Joyce promised that as soon as she finished a few other chores, she would be along to help. The rest of the group headed out, Hawkeye in the lead. Leading up to the front of the house, he noted that he should have turned his porch light on, but he hadn't thought he'd be gone until sundown or later. Opening the front door that he hadn't bothered to lock, he flipped the switch inside, but there was no response.
"Huh, must be burned out," Xander commented, peering up from under the naked bulb. "Do you have any spares? I could change that real quick like."
"Let me check," Hawkeye mused, trying to think, remember if he had thought ahead to purchase some extra. They did find some, in the top of a box in the kitchen and while Xander engaged in that self appointed task, Hawkeye was able to direct the girls in unpacking some more of the kitchen ware.
They were all laughing and joking around when Joyce showed up half an hour later, having moved on to the living room. It was an excellent evening and by the time Joyce decided that the children needed to get home because they had school the next day, Hawkeye was looking around in wonder, at how much more was accomplished than he thought would have been.
"Would you like us to come back Mr. Pierce?" Willow asked as they gathered at the front door. "We could this weekend, after Xander and I do that lab at school. It won't take too long."
"Well now," Hawkeye was nodding, "that would be very nice. I'll even provide the cookies and lemonade."
"And if you want," Xander threw in, "I can do the lawn for you. It'll need it again soon."
"If you want," Hawkeye nodded, realizing that he wouldn't have to look far for outside help as he had been thinking. "I would pay you for that, though. Young man like you, probably could use a little extra pocket change for wooing the young ladies, hmm?"
"It would be appreciated," Xander nodded. They all agreed upon a time and then the kids spilled out the front door as Joyce made her good byes.
"Thank you so much for loaning me the children," Hawkeye thanked her as enthusiastically as he could. "I think their youth rubbed off on me a little. I haven't felt so energized for years."
"But it takes it's toll," Joyce chuckled. "Just watching them wipes me out some days.
"Too true," Hawkeye agreed. "I'll sleep well tonight," he added, rubbing at his lower back again as he saw Joyce off. "Especially as someone was kind enough to make up the bed for me."
"I've always thought that it's the little things that keep us happy, making us better able to weather the big things," Joyce nodded. Hawkeye smiled at that very true witticism. They said their final good nights and Hawkeye waited until after the lot of them had ambled half way down the block before he shut the door completely and turned off the porch light that already attracted a good share of moths.
Unpacking the rest of his belongings went slowly after that, comparatively speaking. He truly intended to get as much done as possible. But age and memories had a way of interrupting. Not that Hawkeye minded too much. They'd unpacked the essentials and he dealt with his clothes and shoes and personals himself. And instead of memories overwhelming, with each thing he removed to dust and glance over before finding a place in his home, he would think how one or the others of that little group would enjoy hearing how he had come by it, or some related story.
Willow had quite an impressive, thirsty mind, Such as he had when he was young and to some degree, still did. Xander, now that young man was definitely a class clown. Hawkeye wondered if it got him into as much trouble as he imagined it might. Buffy and her mother were harder to peg into a hole, but Hawkeye didn't mind. They were both generous of nature, the younger having a good role model, it seemed in the elder. But Buffy was still young and learning about herself. But Hawkeye had no doubt she'd grow up into a fine young woman and were he almost sixty years younger...
He laughed aloud at that thought. He wasn't and there was no use in wishing. He'd settle instead, he decided, for friendship. It was truly, what he always hungered for.
Disappointingly though, it was something he didn't find when the official welcome wagon committee came in the guise of what seemed the local busybody. She brought a small offering of goods and products, mostly coupons from local businesses that Hawkeye had no interest in and would not use. He had produced tea, it was already too late in the afternoon for coffee, had been his excuse and they'd had a half hour of stilted conversation with him dancing around the subject of why he had moved to Sunnydale, his previous occupation and why he'd never married and produced a family.
Thankfully, though he didn't suffer from arthritis, his fingers still weren't strong enough to strangle the woman. He ushered her out of his house as quickly as he could and wished that Saturday would arrive sooner rather than later.
But at last it did. And Buffy and her mother showed up in work clothes at the acceptable hour of ten o'clock, ready to help out where they could. Hawkeye, enjoying some coffee cake he'd gotten from the super market, had offered to share and they'd had a small meal before diving into some cleaning and unpacking.
The sound of a lawnmower starting up, the noise extremely close, brought Hawkeye to the front living room window. He pulled back the sheer drapes to see Xander starting on his promised work. He smiled as he watched Willow standing on the walk shouting something that couldn't be heard over the motor. Then the redheaded girl shook her head in defeat and continued up to the house.
Hawkeye met her at the door, prepared to take her load for her, but she held it up with a grin.
"Cookies and casserole on me today," she chirped and when Hawkeye stepped back to grant her entry, the girl made a beeline to the kitchen with it, calling greetings to her friend and Joyce as she went. Hawkeye waved out to Xander as the boy turned to make another pass and received an enthusiastic wave back. Shutting the door, he wondered if he'd have what he needed for some lemonade or juice. The teen boy, if he remembered his own teen years correctly, would be ravenous before he was even half done.
"Where would you like this statue, Mr. Pierce?" Buffy asked as he moved back into the living room. She was hefting a little carving that had been a gift from an appreciative patient many years ago.
"You know," Hawkeye grunted, though the grin on his face belied his apparent grumpiness, "if you're going to be around this much, you should call me Hawkeye."
"Hawkeye?" the girl repeated and then nodded, a large smile gracing her face. "That's cool. Did'ja get that nickname in the Army?"
Hawkeye motioned for the girl to follow him, while he moved to the nook by the dining room where he had been placing those such items. While his hands rearranged and cleared he shook his head a little. "Actually, my father gave me that name from the book Last of the Mohican's. Have you read it?"
"Unh," Buffy frowned. "No." She shook her head then a little and brightened. "Saw the movie though. Daniel Day Lewis was kinda hot."
Hawkeye's full bodied laughter rang through the room. "The book is much better, trust me" he assured her when the laughter faded. "But then, I usually think that about all book to movie adaptations."
"Well, I know Willow would agree with you," Buffy chirped before she set the statuette down and then dashed off to retrieve more. Hawkeye continued on to the kitchen and chatted with Willow, who received the same invitation, especially as she had heard their conversation. She helped him make up a pitcher of fruit punch that he had in his freezer as he regaled her and Joyce with tales of the local gossipmonger that had stopped by.
Several hours and a meal later, they were all strewn about Hawkeye's living room. The unpacking was nearly complete and they were ceremoniously going through the very last box, aside from the ones that were to be relegated to storage in the study. As he had imagined, the group was receptive to the fertile store of tales that he had and Hawkeye knew he hadn't had such an enjoyable afternoon in decades. It was quite on par with the other night.
With a sigh, the last piece removed, he turned the box over to Joyce to be broken down and bundled up for the trash men to pick up come Tuesday morning. "Well," he announced, clapping his hands on his thighs before pushing himself up from his seat, "we never did discuss a price on the lawn mowing, did we Xander?"
The youth glanced up, a little startled. "No, ah, we didn't. I... what's the going rate even?" he asked of his friends quickly. Both girls shrugged. Joyce smirked.
"Well, I pay my lawn boy twenty dollars every two weeks for service," Joyce shared as she manipulated the cardboard. "But my lawn's about twice the size and a little more landscaping to be done with the trees and bushes." Both Hawkeye and Xander nodded.
"Ten?" the older man offered quietly and Xander grinned.
"And that's ten more than I make at home, so I say deal," he nodded once and happily, Hawkeye turned over the bill before returning his wallet to his other shirt pocket.
"Well, let's say we get these boxes moved," Buffy piped up, gesturing to the boxes still on the floor. "Then we can let Hawkeye enjoy his new box free, or well, at least not box cluttered home." The older man smiled at the girl's enthusiasm, not for performing manual labor, but her eagerness in using his nickname. He had wondered once or twice if Buffy might be a nickname for something else, perhaps Elizabeth which seemed to have fallen off the popularity charts for names. Whatever the case, Buffy suited this California sun kissed girl.
Xander, also on his feet, nodded and turned to one of the boxes filled with broken bits of things that Hawkeye was holding onto, mostly for sentimentality and no other reason. But as Xander hefted one of the boxes, several things happened at once. Hawkeye realized that the bottom corner was coming apart, probably from one too many uses, Xander didn't quite have the grip he thought he did and Buffy, noticing too apparently, had rushed to help. Just as Hawkeye was about to warn them of impending upending, Buffy let out a muffled yelp as her hand came into contact with the very corner broken open.
"Buffy!" they heard Joyce call from across the room, the cardboard in her hands dropping to the floor as the rest of the group rushed to assemble around her. Together, Buffy and Xander eased the box back to the floor and they could all see the blood rushing down the girls hand. "Oh dear!" Joyce groaned.
"Oh Buff," Xander babbled out quickly. "I'm so sorry. Thought I had it. But it was heavier-!"
"No prob Xander," Buffy hastily assured him before she began to inspect the cut. Hawkeye noticed that Willow had run off, in the direction of the kitchen. She returned swiftly with a clean towel, assuring Hawkeye that it was one she had brought. He was about to tell her that he had medical supplies in the kitchen as well as the bathroom, but Joyce was gasping and wincing as she held Buffy's hand aloft.
"Oh Buffy," she sighed. "That looks bad. I think it's going to need stitches."
The girl's reaction was swift and very familiar, especially to one of Hawkeye's line of work.
"Nuh uh," Buffy shook her head, cradling her hand as best as she was able as Joyce took the towel from Willow to begin applying pressure. "It's fine Mom. Barely a cut. You know me, I just... bleed easily. And fast. Very fastly with the bleeding. It's nothing."
"Now Buffy," Joyce began and Hawkeye had to repress the smile on his lips at the still familiar sound of a mother taking charge of her young and not at all about to back down.
"Here, here," he interrupted gently, using the children's own politeness against the elderly to squirm his way in. He lifted both Buffy and Joyce's arms. "You want to elevate it above your heart. Keep pressure on it for at least fifteen minutes and then we'll assess it."
"Oh yes, yes, that's right," Joyce agreed, sounding relieved that someone at least was backing her up. Hawkeye smiled kindly at her and then turned to Willow.
"Willow, honey, could you go into the kitchen and get the black bag in the lower cupboard next to the sink?" he asked and she was already dashing off. He turned back to the possible patient. "It has all my medical supplies," he informed them.
"Wow," Xander grinned, a little unsteadily. "So, didja get like first aid training when you were in the army?" he wondered, as Hawkeye deftly held the towel and watched Buffy's eyes. Her color was still good, though her eyes were a bit panicky. Shock could still creep up on her though, he knew.
"No," he answered absentmindedly of Xander. "I got my medical training at Androscoggin College and did my residency in Boston. I was an actual doctor in the Army, not field med personnel."
"Oh wow, so you're a real doctor," Xander chuckled.
"As opposed to a head shrink, huh?" he chuckled and then glanced at Willow. "No offense honey."
"Oh, none taken," she waved off the concern, though her eyes were still wide.
"But you're retired now, right?" Buffy wondered quietly. Hawkeye simply nodded, his eyes straying to the wall clock with the large numbers that he had purchased many years ago. "So you... you couldn't well..."
"Patch you up myself, hmm?" he asked cannily. And then threw her a winning grin. "If we were in Florida still, certainly. My medical license doesn't expire until the end of the year. Here though, it's a different matter."
"Drat!" she groaned. Hawkeye didn't bother hiding his chuckle.
"Don't like doctors?" he guessed.
"As a rule, meh," she replied. "I guess I like them just fine when they aren't in hospitals, trying to poke and prod around."
"Well, I won't be doing that," he assured her. "Although we should check and see what you cut yourself on. Are you up to date on your tetanus?"
It was Joyce that answered for her. "Two years ago was her last shot." Hawkeye nodded.
"That's fine then," he decided and then with another glance at the clock, eased her hand down. "Okay, let's take a peek. Just breath in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth." She began doing as he instructed and before he peeled the towel back, he retrieved his glasses from his pocket.
Placing them onto his face, he then proceeded to remove the bloodied towel and peer down at the wound, manipulating Buffy's hand and wrist to turn it as needed to view the wound. "Alright, I need to see how deep it went. Take a deep breath."
The girl did as instructed again and winced heavily when he pressed gentle fingers over the wound. "Good thing I just washed up, hmm?" There were a few chuckles. And then he was able to settle her hand down. "All right, from what I can tell the cut is going to need stitches, but just a few. You haven't seemed to have severed any arteries in there."
"There are arteries in your hand!" came Xander's surprised exclamation. Hawkeye didn't bother to respond because Willow was already quietly explaining that there were, though much smaller than one would associate with the word.
"So my advice is to go to the hospital and have them sew you up, or-!"
But his next suggestion was cut off by her instant whining protest. "Do I haveta! I heal fast. Stitches would just be annoying. Are they really necessary? I mean, come on."
"Buffy Anne!" Joyce's quiet, authoritative voice broke through the self-centered griping the girl was doing, the first sign of bad behavior that Hawk had seen in her. But one that was understandable, under difficult situations he was sure.
"Sorry Mom, Hawkeye," she apologized instantly and somewhat contritely. He waved it away.
"Or, as I was about to say, I can seal it up with some liquid adhesive I have," he offered, gesturing to his bag. "It's what the professionals are using now for the minor wounds."
"I think I have some of that at home," Joyce mused, but Hawkeye shook his head.
"That would be a skin sealant that you can buy over the counter," he explained. "This is actual suture replacement, very closely related, but for different uses. What you have is more for scrapes and slight cuts. But in a pinch, it would do. Especially if your patient hates hospitals as much as Buffy seems too." He gestured to her and Buffy, looking miserable and now a little shocky, nodded.
"Well..." Joyce hedged, her eyes darting between the two. "If it wouldn't put you in an awkward or difficult position Mr... sorry, I mean Dr. Pierce, then perhaps it would be for the best."
"All right, that's what we'll do, on certain conditions," Hawkeye announced. Buffy's eyes narrowed, but then brightened as he outlined said conditions. Such as Buffy promising to see a doctor, one licensed in the State of California, if she developed an infection or the adhesive came off too early. She agreed with all of the condition's with alacrity and only then, when he had her promise, did he move them to the kitchen counter to remedy the cut that his belonging's had caused.
It was perhaps five days after that, that Buffy had showed up at his house, by herself this time. Hawkeye had seen the girl walking with her friends on some evenings, and had talked with Joyce another afternoon, and on that day, had learned why Buffy so dreaded hospitals. As he had assumed, there had been trauma associated with the hospital or doctors, aside from illness or injury. The discovery of Buffy being in the room when her cousin had died had drastically colored the way the teen looked at the medical profession. But this was the first time it was just her. She was carrying something in her hands, as she waited on his porch.
Hawkeye shuffled to the door, having just woken some fifteen minutes earlier from an unintended nap in his easy chair. He pulled the door open to her perky little face. "Hello Buffy, come in, come in. What can I do for you today? Got another little cut for me to cuddle up to?"
The girl giggled. "No, thankfully. And the one I do have seems to be just fine," she announced, holding her hand up. "All healed. That liquid stuff came off this morning just after my shower."
"You didn't let it get too wet, did you?" Hawkeye asked, catching her hand to study it for himself. "Hmm, nope. You're right. Barely even a mark. You do heal fast young lady."
"Probably thanks to your quick work," she nodded. "And Wi-willow told me how much trouble you could get in. For not making me go to the ER," she added with a quiet frown. Hawkeye smirked slightly.
"Or making you sign a refusal of care form, or any of the myriad other things that frankly my dear, I'm too old and tired to care about," Hawkeye added, still smirking. "You'll find," he added as he gestured at her to come all the way in, "that I've always been a bit of a rebel. Rules are made to be broken and such."
"Well, Mom and I aren't going to rat you out," she grinned cheekily. It was then that she held up the book she was carrying. "You know, I don't know what Mom told you about this book of mine."
"Oh just a little," Hawkeye grunted as Buffy shut the door behind herself and he led the way into the living room. He reseated himself in his arm chair while Buffy seated herself on the sofa, holding the book on her lap. "Mostly that some prankster in your life keeps nabbing it. Sounds like a lark."
"I guess," Buffy grinned. "At least I get to meet really cool people, or they sounded cool enough," she grumbled suddenly. But then seemed to recall herself. "See, the first guy, Mr. Ryback, he put his name in here so that I would know who had it. And then this Karen Foster girl put her name in so I could send her a thank you. So I guess it's kind of, I don't know, tradition? Or whatever to put the names of people who find it, in the front. And I was wondering..."
"If I'd throw in my John Handcock?" Hawkeye chuckled. "Sure, why not." With a brilliant grin, Buffy jumped up from her seat and hurried to his side. She already had a pen and with another small laugh, Hawkeye took both instruments from her and quickly scribbled out his missive. He closed the book with a snap and handed it back to her. With the eagerness, curiosity and impatience of youth, Buffy took a peek at what he had deemed acceptable to write. And then with a sigh, happy, he hoped, read it out loud.
"To my pseudo-granddaughter,
The prescription to life is simple. Find something that makes you happy and practice it often. It may not always be the same thing, but the happiness should be.
With love and laughter,
Doctor Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce.
"Oh, that's great," she enthused and Hawkeye was moved to see a tear gather at the corner of her eye. "Pseudo granddaughter? Really?"
"Well, I figure that if I remind you of your grandpa," he teased, letting her know that he had overheard her and the other children that first night, "then why can't you remind me of the granddaughter I wished I'd had?"
"No reason that I can see," she finally decided. Hawkeye nodded as she returned to her seat.
"And did I ever tell you that the whole reason I looked in that book was because I already had a copy?"
"I didn't know that," Buffy smiled. Hawkeye nodded and then gestured to the book case.
"Yes, right up there," he explained. "My mother gave it to me before I went off to college. And what I wrote, was almost verbatim of what she wrote for me."
"Really? That's... cool," she finally decided in a genuine tone. "And my mom got this book too when she was in college. It's really neat to think that some things endure..." Hawkeye was sure that he wasn't mistaken at the sudden sadness in her eyes and wondered what among a number of things could have caused it. There was no question though that he didn't like it. So he forced himself to chuckle.
"And quite a lot of trouble it landed me in too," he grinned, thinking back to those long ago golden days of going away from his sleepy little town, to study, meet people, begin to really live. Something Buffy would probably be doing soon too. It wasn't so different, those days and these. And by the way she perked up, she wouldn't mind another sleepy little story from the still sleepy old man who needed a friend as much as she needed someone else to show her a little love that expected nothing in return.
It was the beginning of a very happy, if strange friendship.
A/N3: Please note that in any state, that without licensing from the State Medical Board a doctor is not qualified to do anything! Basic first aid, such as you'd find in the home is about it. In this fiction, Hawkeye broke a ton of rules, but then, that's what he does. Plus, he's old, retired, what are they gonna do, take his license away? Somehow, I don't think Dr. Pierce would let that bother him too much at this point. Hope you liked!