Thanksgiving Surprises

Disclaimer – Don't own 'em, just taking them out for one of my non-profit playdates.

Summary – After the events of Christmas Matchmaking, Hawke and Caitlin plan a Thanksgiving celebration for their friends...and surprises abound.

A/N – This story is somewhat of a sequel to Christmas Matchmaking, set around eleven months after the events of that story, by request of one of my readers. The character of Megan Ravenson is, of course, from the S3 episode Fortune Teller. Thank you to Sirius7, OldSFfan, and Ms. Anonymous for their reviews of Christmas Matchmaking...I hope this story lives up to the previous one. - robertwnielsen

Michael and Marella Coldsmith-Briggs' Home

"Marella...what are you thinking?" Michael Coldsmith-Briggs asked his wife of six months, Marella.

"Just...looking through the mail, sweetheart," Marella replied. "Looks like we've got something from Hawke." She opened an envelope and found a small card. Opening it, she read it quickly and shook her head.

"I can't believe this," Marella said as she passed the card to Michael.

Michael took the card from his wife and read it over. "You're not the only one, Marella. Am I reading this right?" He asked, incredulous. "Hawke is throwing a party for Thanksgiving?"

"That's the way it looks, Michael," Marella acknowledged. "I have to admit, I have noticed a change in him ever since last Christmas," she said, and Michael had to agree with her, even as he noticed Marella was losing herself in a memory, and Michael had a pretty good idea what she was recalling. Hawke and Caitlin's first real kiss. She had heard about their kiss on a movie set a year ago, of course, but felt like that one didn't count, since it was at the behest of a movie director.

"String," Caitlin began, unsure what he wanted to do. "I know it's tradition and all, but..." She didn't want Hawke doing anything he wasn't comfortable doing. Hawke glanced over Caitlin's left shoulder and saw Dom and Michael talking, and Marella talking to Megan.

"No, Cait," Hawke replied, slipping his arms around her waist and drawing her close to him. Caitlin's expression was decidedly confused as she felt his arms encircle her body, but she slipped hers around his neck, her heart hammering in her throat. What is he doing? Caitlin asked herself, confused.

Finally, she felt Hawke's lips gently brush hers, then the kiss quickly intensified, and Caitlin swore to herself she felt her brain short-circuiting and her toes were curling inside her high heeled pumps. God...if I'm dreaming...please don't ever wake me up, she said to herself as the kiss intensified. I have wanted this...for so long. She finally felt Hawke pull back, almost embarrassed at the intensity of the kiss.

"Cait," Hawke began, not sure what he was going to say, "I..."

"Hawke, don't," Caitlin replied, as soon as she felt her voice come back to her. "Don't apologize. You know...you know how I feel about you...I've just been so frustrated...because I didn't know how you feel about me. But," she continued, "if that kiss was any indication..." Caitlin felt her nerves get the best of her, and she couldn't finish her sentence.

"Cait," String replied, unsure how he was going to answer her, "I..." At that moment, he heard a voice in his head again, the same voice he'd heard a few days ago. String...don't blow it now. As he glanced down and saw the feelings...the love, he corrected himself, in the blue-green orbs in front of him, and also considering the four other pairs of eyes that he felt on him, Hawke took a deep breath and said, "Yeah, Cait...it was. I'm...I'm tired of running from my feelings...about you. Caitlin...I love you."

"That mistletoe worked like a charm," Michael said, bringing Marella out of her reverie. "From what Dom tells me, things are going well with him and Megan, also."

"That's good to know, Michael," Marella said with a smile. "I think Megan's good for Dom...just like Caitlin is good for Hawke."

"I'd have to agree with that," Michael said to himself, as he thought about his relationship with Dominic. "Dom seems to be happier than I've seen him in a long time...and I know Hawke is." Michael also knew that Hawke had a second reason that he was happy – about two weeks after New Year's, Archangel informed String that his brother Saint John was alive, and had been rescued.

"Hawke...Dom," Michael said, "don't worry...this isn't a mission. This...well...there's someone here...you need to see," Michael had said, as the outer door to his office opened, and Marella came in with another man.

"Hey there, little brother," a voice String and Dom both had begun to suspect they would never hear again rang in their ears. "You've got some friends in high places, don't you?"

"S—Saint John?" Hawke had stammered. His eyes weren't working right, due to the fact they had suddenly filled with tears, and he wasn't sure he could trust his ears.

"Yeah, little brother...it's me. I'm home, String," Saint John replied, and String and Dom both ran over and embraced him. "And, I'm sorry about everything." Saint John had gone on to explain that after he'd been rescued from his NVA captors, another intelligence agency had recruited him for missions in hostile areas around the world...and given that String and Dom probably thought he was dead, at the time, Saint John couldn't see the harm in it. It had taken some time, but String had eventually forgiven his older brother for his decision.

"Between Saint John, and finally admitting his feelings for Cait, Stringfellow's almost a whole different person," Marella said with a smile.

"You can say that again," Michael said, nodding. "I've definitely noticed an improvement in his attitude this past year...so...do you want to go to this party?" Zeus even mentioned it to me not long ago, Michael said to himself, remembering the conversation they'd had.

"Michael...have you noticed a change in Stringfellow Hawke's attitude recently?" Zeus had asked him.

"Yes, I have, Zeus," Michael replied as he thought back to the Christmas party. "And I know why. Two reasons, really—number one, he's finally admitted how he feels about Caitlin, and number two, now that Saint John is home, he's not nearly as consumed with that "curse" he thought he had."

"Well, I'm just glad Hawke is easier to deal with," Zeus told Michael. "He's...almost like a whole different person."

"I know exactly what you mean, Zeus," Michael replied just before he left Zeus' office.

Marella stared at Michael as if he had suddenly grown another head. "You're kidding me, right? Wild horses couldn't keep me away from this party!" Marella grinned widely. Because I've got a funny feeling about that party. Something might happen on Thanksgiving...something wonderful. Maybe even two wonderful somethings.

Hawke's Cabin

"Hawke, are you sure about this?" Caitlin O'Shannessy asked.

"Of course I'm sure, Caitlin," Hawke replied, pulling her close to him on the couch. "Why wouldn't we have Thanksgiving dinner here for our friends, the way Michael and Marella did on Christmas last year?"

"I guess you're right, Hawke," Caitlin replied as she snuggled into his side. "That was one of the happiest nights of my life," she said with a smile as she remembered hearing Hawke admit his feelings for her.

"Yeah," Hawke agreed, then added, "Mine, too." He remembered Caitlin's expression when he said, "I'm...I'm tired of running from my feelings...about you. Caitlin...I love you." He could honestly say that he hadn't seen Caitlin ever look happier than she did right at that moment. At least, String said to himself, recalling something he was planning to do during Thanksgiving dinner, until Thanksgiving night.

"Hawke? Why do I think you're planning something other than Thanksgiving dinner?" Caitlin asked.

"Caitlin, I'm hurt," Hawke said, shaking his head. "Why would you think I had some ulterior motive?"

"Because I know you, Stringfellow Hawke," Caitlin said with a suggestive smile. "And, if I know anything about you, it's that you don't do something like throw a dinner party without an ulterior motive." Of course, I know what I wish he was planning...to ask me to marry him. But...that's just dreaming, I guess.

"Well, Cait, I guess if you think wanting to do something nice for Marella and Michael, the way they did for us last year, is having an 'ulterior motive,' then I'm guilty as charged. But that's the only motive I have," Hawke replied. "What?" He asked, noticing Caitlin's expression. "You don't believe me?"

"I...I guess I do," Caitlin replied, not wanting to start an argument. "It's just so...unlike you."

Hawke had to admit to himself, Caitlin was getting a little too close to the truth. But, that tenacity is one of the things I love about her, he said to himself.

Dom's Apartment

"Megan?" Dom said into the phone.

"Hi, Dom," Megan Ravenson replied, her face brightening when she heard his voice. I never thought this would happen...but I love him, she said to herself. And I still remember the kiss he gave me at Michael and Marella's party last year...I swear my toes curled in my shoes...just like Caitlin's did. "What's happening?"

"Nothing," Dom replied. "So, you get String's invitation?"

"Yeah, Dom, I did," Megan said, smiling, even though Dom couldn't see it. "You going?"

"Of course, I'm going," Dom said, keeping the sarcasm out of his voice. "Would you..."

"Dumb question, Dom," Megan said with a chuckle. "Of course, I'll go with you. I love you, in case you've forgotten. Just like Caitlin loves Hawke. Listen, Dom," Megan continued, "you think Hawke might...?"

"Pop the question to Cait?" Dom asked with a smile. "I'm counting on it," Dom replied, remembering the ring he was keeping for Megan. "I'm surprised he hasn't already, to be honest, but if he doesn't during this party, I'm gonna be real disappointed." But, I'll have a proposal of my own, Dom said to himself. I don't want to spend the rest of my life...however long that is...alone. And, Megan and I love each other...so why wouldn't I ask her to marry me?

"You'll be disappointed? How on Earth do you think Cait would feel, if String doesn't ask her to marry him soon?" Meg asked.

"Yeah. I gotta admit, you're right," Dom replied, even as he thought about his own plans to ask Megan to marry him.

Dom...if only you had something like that on your mind, Megan said to herself, unaware that Dom was thinking exactly that. I mean, ever since you kissed me at Michael and Marella's last year, I have loved you. And even though we're dating...I just...want so much more. She remembered what had happened at Michael and Marella's party the year before.

"Hi, String...Cait," Dom said, and Megan smiled at both of them. Hawke and Caitlin moved into the living room, and Dom looked up as they followed String and Caitlin. "Uh-oh," Dom said, and Hawke glanced back at him and then followed Dom's gaze upward, seeing the sprig of mistletoe hanging from the entryway.

"You know what that means, String," Dom said, even as he took Megan into his arms and kissed her, a deep and loving kiss that took Megan's breath away. Dom gave Hawke a look as they walked away together, almost as if he were saying, And that, son, is how you do that.

And we started dating the day after that, Megan recalled. "Yeah," Megan replied, picturing Dom on his knee in front of her, holding an engagement ring. "I'd be disappointed too, especially if..." She caught herself before she expressed the feelings she was hiding. Cut it a little closer next time, why don'cha? Megan asked herself, even as she breathed a silent sigh of relief.

Especially if...what? Dom asked himself, but he had a feeling he knew what Megan was thinking. She's thinking she'd be disappointed if I don't ask her to marry me. Well...she won't be. "Meg?"

"Sorry, Dom, just spaced out there for a second," Megan admitted, glad Dom couldn't see her cheeks turn a dark shade of red.

"That's okay, Meg," Dom replied, knowing he'd been off in his own little world, planning how he was going to ask her to marry him. "I kinda did, too."

"So, you'll pick me up, and then fly me up there?" Megan asked.

"Of course," Dom said, reading over his invitation. "String said dinner would be at 7:30, so I think we ought to be there at least by 6:30...time for talking, drinks...you know."

"Yeah," Megan said dreamily.

"Meg? You okay?" Dom asked, concerned about Meg's tone of voice.

"Yeah...sorry, Dom," Megan replied, snapping herself back to reality. "Just spaced out again. See you Thursday, then."

"Yeah, Meg...see you then," Dom replied as he hung up.

The Cabin

When is Hawke gonna do it? Caitlin asked herself, frustrated. She and Hawke had been discussing marriage for the past couple of months, but Hawke always seemed to hesitate just before the clinching question came up. I'm getting mighty frustrated about that...not that I'd leave...after everything I've been through to get to this point...but I still wonder. She remembered how, a few weeks after Saint John had come home, Hawke had suggested she move into the cabin with him.

"Caitlin," Hawke had said as he dropped her off at home after a date, "don't you think this is getting ridiculous?"

"What?" Caitlin had asked.

"This," Hawke repeated. "I drop you off here every night, and leave you alone...and I go back to an empty cabin...not to mention..."

"An empty bed...right, String?" Caitlin had asked him, a familiar impish grin crossing her face. She couldn't deny she'd had similar thoughts, especially since they had already slept together.

"Yeah," Hawke replied. "I've been...thinking a lot about it, Cait, and I was hoping that...maybe...you'd consider coming to live at the cabin with..." He felt her lips press against his, and knew what the answer would be. And, they'd moved her up to the cabin the next day. Now, as Hawke remembered the ring he was keeping, he wondered how much longer he could keep the surprise a secret.

Hang in there, Cait, Hawke said to himself as he caught Caitlin's expression. He knew what she was thinking about...he just wasn't quite ready yet. But on Thanksgiving...I will be. I promise.

"Hawke?"

"Yeah, Cait," Hawke answered, seeing she had brought herself out of her daydream.

"You think Dom might...you know..."

"Ask Megan to marry him?" Hawke grinned, knowing this was a subtle way to try to steer him back to the question of marrying Caitlin. "I have a feeling he might...just a question of when. They sure seemed cozy enough last Christmas at Michael and Marella's party."

"Yeah, String," Caitlin replied, and her tone of voice confirmed to Hawke what he already suspected. "I just...hope he doesn't disappoint her," she said as she headed out the door for a walk, Hawke's dog Tet following close behind.

As he watched her leave, Hawke chuckled to himself. And you hope I don't disappoint you, Caitlin. Well...don't worry. Dom isn't going to disappoint Megan...and I sure don't intend to disappoint you.

Even though she knew Tet couldn't answer her, Caitlin felt compelled to talk when she reached her favorite clearing, and sat down.

"Tet," she began, giving him a perfunctory scratch behind the ears, "do you think Hawke wants to marry me? Sometimes, I think he does...but then other times..." She caught her breath as she felt a wave of tears threaten to overcome her, and Tet, sensing his friend's distress, moved closer, resting his head in her lap.

"I mean, don't take this wrong...I love String, you know that...but sometimes, he just makes me so mad." Caitlin swore she saw Tet nod in understanding at that statement. But he couldn't have...he's a dog. "I just don't know, Tet," she said sadly, cradling the dog's head and leaning her own against him. Tet whined softly, attempting to make her feel better. Finally, after she'd sat there for what turned out to be three hours, Caitlin stood up, dusted off her jeans, and headed back to the cabin, Tet following close behind.

Michael and Marella's home, Wednesday afternoon

"Michael...do you think we ought to bring anything for tomorrow?" Marella asked him on Wednesday after they had returned from Knightsbridge.

"I doubt it," Michael replied, shaking his head. "If I know Caitlin, she'll have a veritable feast ready for us tomorrow evening. She's probably already working on it," Michael added.

"I suppose you're right, Michael," Marella said with a smile.

Santini Air, the same time

"String? You guys all ready for tomorrow?" Dom asked as they began shutting down the hangar.

"Yeah," String replied, smiling. "Cait's got the turkey ready to go in the oven when we get home, and she'll have everything else ready when you, Megan, Michael and Marella arrive." Hawke thought he noticed something wrong with his surrogate father. "Dom? You okay?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, String...just...thinking about Megan, that's all," Dom said, hoping he'd thrown his younger surrogate son off the line of questioning he felt was coming.

He hadn't. "Dom," Hawke said as he led his surrogate father into the office, then closed the door behind them. Caitlin was running an errand, so the two men were alone. "What are you planning to do about Megan?"

"Simple, String," Dom said, reaching into his blue satin jacket pocket and pulling out a small maroon, velvet box. He opened the box to reveal a stunning 2-carat diamond engagement ring. "I'm gonna ask her to marry me. I figure...for whatever time I have left, it might be nice to have somebody...y'know?"

Hawke's grin told Dom that yes, he did know what his surrogate father was thinking. "Funny you should put it that way, Dom," Hawke said, reaching into the pocket of his bomber jacket and pulling out his own small, maroon velvet box. Dom recognized it before Hawke had opened it, revealing his own 2-carat engagement ring. "'Cause I had the same thoughts about Cait. And, I'm gonna ask her to marry me tomorrow during dinner. I figure, we can each ask what the other is thankful for...and when it gets to be my turn..." Dom grinned as he saw where Hawke was taking his train of thought.

"I like it, String," Dom said. "I think I'll do the same for Megan...if you don't mind, that is."

"Why would I mind?" Hawke asked as he slapped his long-time friend and surrogate father on the shoulder. "I think it's a wonderful idea. In fact...I had another idea..."

"A double wedding?" Dom grinned.

"You wouldn't mind? You, Megan, me, Cait, and a justice of the peace...back at the cabin?"

"I think it's a great idea, String," Dom said as they walked out of the office, then his mood turned serious. "Better put that away, String...Cait's comin'." He'd seen the Jeep pull in as he and Hawke were discussing plans for their surprise proposals.

"Hey, guys," Caitlin said with her traditional "million-dollar smile" as she walked up to them, giving Hawke a friendly, yet loving kiss on the cheek.

"Hey yourself, beautiful," Hawke replied, grinning as he kissed Caitlin back.

"Okay, what's with the serious faces?" Caitlin demanded, noting both Hawke and Dom's expressions.

"Nothing, Cait," Hawke replied, thankful he'd had just enough warning to hide the ring box before Caitlin saw it.

"If you say so, String," Caitlin replied with a dismissive shake of her head.

"Cait," Dom began, glancing over at String, "I told String, so I might as well tell you...tomorrow, I'm gonna ask Megan..."

Caitlin cut him off. "You're gonna ask her to marry you, aren't you, Dom?" His ear-to-ear grin gave Caitlin all the answer she needed. "Dom, that's wonderful! And don't you worry – she'd be a fool to say 'no,' you know that, right?"

"Yeah, Cait...I do know," Dom replied, smiling back at her. Then, he noticed her expression turn downcast. "Somethin' wrong, Cait?"

"Oh, it's nothin,' Dom," Cait said, even as she hoped against hope that Dom wouldn't figure out she was lying to him. "Just...thinking."

Aha...right. And I'm Luciano Pavarotti. Don't sweat it, Cait. I already know what String's plannin' – you won't be disappointed.

Thanksgiving, at the cabin

"Well, I think we've just about got everything set up," Hawke said as he glanced around the dining room. The turkey was roasting in the oven, and the rest of the dinner dishes were ready to be served up when the guests arrived, which, according to Caitlin's watch, should be any moment.

"Yeah," Caitlin said, allowing herself a moment to relax. She'd been up since 6:00 AM getting things ready, and now, at 6:25 PM, she finally allowed herself a moment. "I'm sure glad this only happens once a year," she joked as she leaned into Hawke.

"Me, too," Hawke agreed, wrapping his arms around her. But, if our friends enjoy themselves, it's all worth it, Hawke said to himself, even as he turned his head at a sound only he could hear.

"String?" Caitlin asked, noticing his reaction. Then, a few seconds later, she heard the helicopter approaching. "Promise me you'll show me how to do that, someday," she teased him.

"I promise, Cait," Hawke said, then added, "besides, we'll have the rest of our lives to..." He cut himself off hurriedly, and hoped she hadn't noticed.

The rest of 'our' lives, Hawke? What, exactly, do you mean by that? Caitlin asked herself, remembering how he'd said the same thing last Christmas, after Michael and Marella's party. She knew what she hoped he meant...but sometimes I think that's just...too much to hope for, she added wistfully as she heard Dominic and Megan's voices.

"Hi, String! Hi, Cait!" Megan called out to her friends as she and Dom stepped through the door. "So good to see you both...and, Happy Thanksgiving."

"Same to you and Dom," String replied with a welcoming smile. "How have you been, Megan?"

"Oh, I can't complain," Megan said, smiling at Dom. "Especially since last Christmas...you remember, Michael and Marella's party?"

"Of course, I remember," Hawke said with a smile. "Kinda hard to forget a night like that, you know." And if Dom and I have anything to say about it, Hawke said to himself, you and Cait won't forget tonight, either. He suppressed a grin, even as he heard another helicopter approaching the cabin. This one, he knew, would be carrying Michael and Marella. A few minutes later, Michael and Marella stepped into the cabin.

"Hello, Hawke, Cait...Dom...Megan," Michael said, smiling. "And, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you."

"Same to you, Michael, Marella," Hawke replied, smiling as he ushered them into the cabin.

"Good to see you again, Megan," Michael said with a smile directed towards her. "You keeping Dom here in line?"

She grinned at him. "Trying to, Michael...but, you know Dom better than I do. It's not easy keepin' a guy like that in line!" She smiled up at Dom to let him know there were no hard feelings.

"Oh, I know that for a fact, Megan," Michael said, laughing. He exchanged a friendly glance with Dominic, then the three ladies went into the kitchen to work on dinner.

Almost twenty minutes later, everyone was seated around Hawke's dinner table, enjoying the turkey dinner that Caitlin had worked so hard on.

"Caitlin," Megan was saying around a mouth full of food, "You must tell me what you did with this turkey...it is delicious!" Nods were exchanged all around, then Megan noticed something.

"Hawke, I thought you were a vegetarian. What are you doing?"

"Megan, it wouldn't be right to refuse anything that Caitlin cooks," Hawke said with a grin. "Besides, Cait would probably beat the snot out of me if I did." He grinned at Caitlin and saw the expression of recognition she returned.

"Well, Megan, I'll be glad to share my secrets with you," Caitlin said, smiling.

Finally, Hawke stood up and said, "Ladies and gentlemen...I think it's only right tonight that each of us tells everyone what we're thankful for this year...and, if no one minds, I'd like to start," Hawke said. When no one spoke up, Hawke continued, "For myself, I'm thankful for my brother being home, and for having good friends like you. Most of all," String said, turning and smiling at Caitlin, "I'm thankful for the love of this wonderful woman...and, that she stayed in California long enough for me to get my head on straight about my feelings last Christmas," Hawke continued, then he turned and took Caitlin by the hand, pulling her out of her chair, and walked a short distance away from the table. Caitlin's expression was puzzled as Hawke sat her down on the couch, then her eyes flooded with tears as Hawke continued, and Caitlin realized what was happening.

"And," Hawke said, reaching into his pocket as he got down on one knee, "the only thing that would make me happier, and more thankful, would be if this wonderful woman would agree to spend the rest of her life with me. Caitlin O'Shannessy," he said, gazing into her eyes as he opened the box containing the engagement ring, "Will you marry me?"

The silence that ensued made everyone, especially Hawke, nervous. Finally, Caitlin whispered, "Yes, String. Yes, of course, I'll marry you!" She wiped her eyes with her right hand, as Hawke slipped the engagement ring onto her left hand, then stood and drew her to him for a passionate kiss as the rest of the guests applauded. When Caitlin found her voice completely, she said, "Well...I guess we all know what I'm thankful for...I'm thankful that Hawke finally came to his senses about me! And thankful to Michael and Marella for the mistletoe at their Christmas party last year!" Everyone else laughed as Hawke and Caitlin kissed again, then Hawke turned to his surrogate father. "Dom?"

"Well, String," Dominic replied, turning to Megan, "I have to say I'm also thankful to Michael for bringing Saint John back to us, and even though you'll probably disagree with me, String, I'm thankful to God for allowing me to live long enough to see you come to your senses about Cait," Caitlin smiled at Dom as he stood up and pulled Megan to her feet with him. Michael and Marella glanced at Hawke and Caitlin, and Hawke simply smiled as Dom continued, "and most of all, I'm thankful that this wonderful woman has made herself a part of my life...and, I'd like to ask her something," Dom continued, reaching into his own jacket pocket as he slowly lowered himself to one knee.

"Megan Ravenson, will you marry me?" Dom asked, and like Caitlin a moment ago, Dom saw Megan's eyes flood with tears.

"Yes, Dom...yes, I'll marry you!" Megan stated proudly as Dom slipped the ring onto her finger, then pulled her to her feet and kissed her passionately as everyone else applauded. When they separated, Megan said, "I'm thankful for Michael and Marella's party last year...we might not ever have gotten to this point, if Dom hadn't kissed me like he did that night!" Everyone laughed as Dom and Megan returned to the table.

"Well, Marella and I are already married, so there's no proposal here," Michael said, grinning, "but, I'm definitely thankful that she decided to share her life with me...and, I'm thankful for good friends like you—Stringfellow, Cait, Dom, and Megan. You've been the best friends anybody could ever ask for...and I owe you my life," Michael said, and Dom was convinced he saw a tear in Michael's good eye.

"And I'm also thankful for my good friends," Marella said, smiling at Caitlin and Hawke. "And for the way they helped bring Michael back to us...and, to me. And...I do have a surprise for everyone...I'm pregnant." Dom and Stringfellow's jaws dropped, even as Caitlin and Megan smiled.

"You...you're pregnant?" Michael demanded, shocked. "When did you find out...and why didn't you tell me?"

"As to when I found out, Michael, remember when I went to the doctor last week? I was there for a pregnancy test...I'm sure you've noticed I haven't exactly been feeling like myself lately." Michael had to nod at that statement. "Well, it's confirmed—you and I are going to have our own little family," Marella said, smiling at her husband as Hawke, Caitlin, Megan and Dom applauded the news. "And, as to why I didn't tell you," she grinned mischievously at her husband, "I figured when we got the invitations to this little party, that it would make the perfect time."

"You know, I thought you had a secret on your mind these past few days," Michael said, shaking his head. "I just can't believe you kept it from me until tonight." Everyone laughed as they resumed dinner, and the conversation became more lively as wedding plans were discussed.

"Well, this has certainly been a night we'll never forget," Hawke said to Michael, Marella, Megan and Dom several hours later. "And, may I say congratulations to you, Michael and Marella, along with Megan and Dom."

"Thanks, String...Cait," Dom said, and Megan nodded her agreement.

"Thank you, Hawke," Michael said, as he and Marella prepared to leave. A few moments later, Dom led Megan back to his chopper, and the two of them left, as Caitlin and Hawke stood there, watching them depart.

As they walked back inside, Caitlin stopped and turned Hawke towards her, kissing him for all she was worth. When she pulled them apart, after giving himself a few seconds to catch his breath, Hawke asked her, "Cait? Are you all right?"

"Yes, String," Caitlin said with a smile, "I'm fine. I'm...I'm just very happy right now, you know? Thank you for tonight, String...it was...perfect." She snuggled into his arms again, her head resting on his chest.

"You're welcome, Cait," Hawke replied, smiling.

"Now, I know what you meant this morning," Caitlin said, tears glistening in her eyes again. "When you said 'the rest of our lives...' I hoped this was what you meant." She sighed and snuggled into his warm embrace. I should be mad as all get out that he fibbed about not havin' another motive...pulling what Daddy woulda called a "shuck and jive" on me...but...I just can't be, Caitlin said to herself.

"I know, Cait," Hawke said with a smile, then the two of them went upstairs for the night. Before they reached the stairs to the sleeping loft, though, Hawke stopped and turned Caitlin in his arms to face him. "Cait...I do have a small confession to make—remember a few days ago, when you asked if I had an ulterior motive about tonight? Well..." He hesitated, but Caitlin's expression told him she knew what he was talking about.

"I knew it," Caitlin replied. "And I should be annoyed as all get out at you...but I...I just can't, String."

That's a relief, Hawke said to himself. Aloud, he said, "Well, I am sorry I had to do that...but I couldn't very well say what I was really planning to do, could I?"

"I guess not," Caitlin replied. "Just...don't do somethin' like that again, okay?"

"Okay, Cait," String said. "I don't think I'll have to do something like that again...after all, we're only going to get married once."

"That's true, String," Caitlin replied as they headed up the stairs. I'm not plannin' on letting you go, Stringfellow Hawke. And I'll tell you exactly that on our wedding day, Caitlin said to herself.

As they reached the sleeping loft, Caitlin reached for Hawke and began unbuttoning his shirt. "String...please, make love to me. Now. Right now."

Hawke gave her his best boyish grin, and proceeded to do precisely as he had been told.