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Fanfiction: Prime Suspect - Part III

For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

Part 5

‘Where the hell have you been?’ Hawke snapped as Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III limped into the police station. The spy was wearing his usual white three-piece suit, black eye-patch and wire-frame glasses. He had only just stopped using crutches after surgery to repair his knee after a mission and he was leaning heavily on a beautiful rosewood cane. He was also glaring at Hawke.

‘I was in Washington, Hawke.’ Michael snapped as he handed his white coat and hat to his aide, Lauren. ‘Do I need to explain to you the effort involved in getting back to LA in any kind of timely manner?’

Hawke gestured at the station desk. ‘She’s been held for hours now.’

‘Easy, kid.’ Dom put a steadying hand on Hawke’s shoulder.

Michael took a deep breath at the evident worry in the pilot’s usually guarded blue eyes. ‘Leave it to me.’ He patted Hawke’s shoulder and went to the desk. It took only a few moments after Michael had spoken with the desk sergeant for the Captain to make an appearance. Hawke watched as Michael spoke with the man who turned sharply and both men disappeared into the station. A few minutes later, Michael reappeared and walked back over to Hawke.

‘Well?’ Hawke demanded.

Michael pointed back towards the door. A second later Caitlin was escorted through it. Hawke left Michael’s side and crossed the room to hug his wife. She embraced him tightly. He eased back and brushed her red hair away from her tired and pale face.

‘You OK?’ Hawke asked.

‘I am now.’ Caitlin hugged him again and caught sight of Michael over his shoulder. She gave Hawke another hug before she slipped out of his arms and went over to hug their friend.

‘Thanks, Michael.’ Caitlin said.

‘Hey, got one of those for me?’ Dom laughed.

Caitlin smiled and flung her arms around Dom’s expansive middle to give him a squeeze.

‘How are you?’ Michael asked as she pulled away and returned to her husband’s side.

‘I’m OK. I was kept in an interrogation room most of time whilst they kept asking me the same questions over and over.’ Caitlin rubbed her arms and leaned into Hawke. ‘To be honest, all I want to do is go home.’

Michael brushed a finger over his moustache. ‘Then shall we adjourn to the cabin?’

‘Good idea, Michael.’ Hawke smoothed a hand down Caitlin’s back. ‘Let’s get home.’

‘Home, huh?’ Marin’s voice stopped them in their tracks as they took a step towards the door. ‘I wouldn’t get too comfortable.’ He stuck his hands in his pockets. ‘When I have the proof I need, you’re going away for a long time, lady.’

‘Exactly what is your problem?’ Hawke bit out taking a step toward the dark haired detective.

‘Leave it, String.’ Caitlin caught hold of him.

‘Yeah, come on, kid.’ Dom took hold of his other arm and they left.

An hour later and they were gathered around the fire at the cabin. Hawke and Dom told Michael what they had discovered about Hardy and his manager as Caitlin took a warm bubble bath. They were just finishing when she rejoined them.

‘So,’ Michael said stroking his moustache, ‘the FBI thinks either Hardy, Muldrow or this guitarist…’

‘Harness.’ Hawke supplied.

‘Harness,’ Michael repeated, ‘so the FBI thinks one of these men is a serial rapist who might have taken their first step into being a murderer.’

‘Looks like it.’ Hawke said.

‘And you think Toby was killed because he knew something.’ Michael summarised.

‘Yeah,’ Caitlin curled up next to Hawke on the settee, ‘and finding out who did it just went to the top of my to-do list.’ She said rubbing her hair with a towel. ‘Marin believes I did it and he’s determined to find the evidence to put me away.’

‘I don’t understand why he’s so set on proving you’re responsible.’ Dom said puzzled. ‘It doesn’t make any sense.’

‘Maybe we should have run the background check on Marin.’ Michael suggested.

‘That’s not a bad idea.’ Hawke murmured, putting his arm around his wife and tucking her closer to him.

‘He kept suggesting that it was me Toby had threatened with a gun and not Kyle Hardy.’ Caitlin sighed. ‘I think he’s trying to establish a pre-existing link between Toby and I in Texas.’

‘Is there a link?’ Michael asked.

Caitlin yanked Hawke back as he started to rise out of his seat angrily. ‘If there is I’m not aware of it.’

‘But there could be?’ Michael checked.

Caitlin shrugged. ‘It’s possible I gave him a ticket when I was a cop that I don’t remember or lived in the same place as him without knowing it. The world’s a real small place sometimes, Michael. I can’t be sure that there isn’t some weird connection like that.’

‘I guess not.’ Michael agreed unhappily. He pointed at her. ‘If there is, you’re going to end up being arrested again.’

‘I know.’ Caitlin grimaced.

‘We have to find out who did murder Toby before that happens.’ Hawke said.

‘Easier said than done, kid.’ Dom said. ‘We don’t have anything to go on.’

Michael tapped his cane on the floor. ‘I’ll have Lauren get hold of the FBI agent in charge of the investigation. If they have Hardy and his band under surveillance they may have some evidence that will be useful.’

‘Maybe,’ Caitlin said, ‘or maybe we can set a trap.’

Hawke stiffened beside her. ‘I have a feeling I’m not going to like this.’

‘Look, we think the person who killed Toby, killed him because he had seen something, right?’ Caitlin said.

‘Right.’ Michael cautiously agreed.

‘So,’ Caitlin said gesturing, ‘what if we go to the concert tomorrow and in front of Hardy, his manager and the guitarist guy I let it be known that I saw something when we discovered the body…something incriminating…’

‘And bait the murderer into coming after you?’ Michael concluded. ‘It might work.’

‘Over my dead body.’ Hawke said.

‘It’s a good plan, Hawke.’ Caitlin said shifting to look at him fully.

Hawke considered her for a long moment. ‘You’re baiting a man we think is a serial rapist who’s killed two people.’

‘I’m aware of the risk.’ Caitlin said.

‘I agree with String, honey.’ Dom said. ‘It’s just too risky.’

‘Unless…’ interrupted Michael.

The eyes of the Airwolf team turned in unison to look at him.

‘Unless?’ prompted Hawke impatiently.

‘Unless it’s not Caitlin who does it but either you or Dominic.’ Michael said. ‘Dominic would work better as the murderer would probably consider him more vulnerable.’

‘Thanks a lot.’ Dom laughed uneasily.

Caitlin chewed her lip thoughtfully. ‘I guess the plan could still work if one of the guys did it instead.’

‘That’s the only way we’re doing this.’ Hawke said firmly.

Caitlin rolled her eyes. ‘OK.’

Hawke looked over at Dom. ‘Are you OK with that?’

Dom shrugged. ‘Hey, if it gets Caitlin in the clear, I’m good with anything.’ He smiled at her before he sighed resignedly. ‘I guess I’m the new bait.’

‘I could…’ Hawke began.

‘Nah, kid.’ Dom said. ‘Michael’s right and besides, you’ll be able to respond quicker if I need back up.’

Hawke nodded. ‘So how are we going to do this?’

‘Well, we’re still on the job as far as I know.’ Dom said. ‘We could just turn up for the rehearsal tomorrow as planned.’

‘That makes sense.’ Caitlin said.

‘I don’t think you should come to the park tomorrow.’ Hawke said. He quickly held up a hand as her eyes flashed at him. ‘You should back us up in the Lady.’

Caitlin subsided mollified. ‘You want me in Airwolf?’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke brushed her hair over her shoulder. ‘Just in case.’

‘OK.’ Caitlin said still a little suspicious.

Michael brushed a finger over his moustache to hide his amusement at the interplay between the couple. He cleared his throat. ‘Maybe we should still bring the FBI in and let them know what we’re doing. It’ll help trump Marin if they take the real murderer into custody.’

‘Sounds good.’ Hawke said.

Michael got to his feet. ‘I’d better head out and get the ball rolling.’

‘I’ll come with you.’ Dom said as he got up. ‘We can work out the details tomorrow morning.’

There were a frantic couple of minutes as goodbyes were said and the older men left the younger couple alone. Hawke settled back on the sofa and cuddled Caitlin closer; his arm was around her shoulders and her head rested on his.

‘Are you OK?’ He asked gently.

‘I’m fine.’ Caitlin assured him. ‘I’m just a little worried about Marin.’

‘Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to do that check on him tomorrow morning before we head over to the park.’ Hawke said stroking her hair.

‘Maybe.’ Caitlin’s arm tightened around his waist. ‘I don’t really want to end up in an interrogation room for another day.’

‘We’ll get the guy who’s really responsible tomorrow and it’ll be over.’ Hawke comforted her.

‘Let’s hope so.’ Caitlin said.

The fire crackled in the silence of the cabin as both of them contemplated the next day. It dawned as a beautiful sunny morning. The sky was a crystal blue as they took the chopper back to the Lair.

Hawke felt a sense of déjà vu as he took one of the chairs on the steel platform and waited for Caitlin to access the police database for their background check on Marin. Dom hovered nearby.

Caitlin tapped another instruction into the computer and rolled her shoulders. ‘Here’s Marin’s personnel file.’

They all read the information on the monitor with a frown.

‘He’s clean.’ Dom said disappointed.

‘Yeah.’ Caitlin sighed and bit her lip. ‘Maybe there’s another reason why he’s coming after me so hard.’ She came out of Marin’s file and searched the database for the witness statements from the music store. She found the folder and frowned. There were over forty statements. ‘This could take a while.’ She murmured.

Hawke made a face. ‘We’ll do the flight check on the Lady.’

‘Yeah.’ Dom agreed happily as he backed off the platform. ‘Yell if you find anything.’

Caitlin scowled at them. ‘Thanks, guys.’ She called at their retreating backs. She turned back to the monitor and began to plough her way through them. The murmur of the guys’ voices in the background provided a comforting backdrop and she moved on from the witness statements to the other police reports about Toby’s murder without consciously deciding it. She closed the last file and realised with some surprise that she’d been sat reading for over an hour. She stood up and stretched.

‘Anything?’ Hawke leaned over the yellow railing, one of his feet propped up on the lower rung.

Caitlin sighed and turned to look at him. ‘I can see why Marin’s come after me.’

‘Oh?’ Dom came to stand by Hawke wiping his hands on a rag.

‘Almost a quarter of the witness statements suggested that I was the person Toby threatened.’ Caitlin explained.

‘Why would they think that?’ Dom asked astounded.

‘Because, Dom, they were at the back of the store, or their view was obstructed, or they assumed as I was the one who reacted that it was me.’ Caitlin sighed and sat back down in the chair. ‘Witness statements are notoriously unreliable. One woman says in her statement that she thought Toby was Asian.’

‘You said a quarter of the statements have you as the person this guy threatened?’ Hawke asked.

Caitlin nodded. ‘From Marin’s perspective, I can how my behaviour looked suspicious.’ She gestured. ‘Toby threatens me; I attack him and run from the store. The next day, I find his body.’

‘But there must be witness statements agreeing with your version of events?’ Dom said.

‘Yeah, over half.’ Caitlin said. ‘But I think I found out why Marin’s keen to put me on the hook for it rather than Toby.’ She pointed at the computer. ‘I went back through his personnel file. Two years ago, Marin arrested a celebrity in a gang-shooting downtown. The celebrity turned out to have nothing to do with the shooting, complained he’d been victimised because he was famous and Marin was held back from promotion.’

‘So he’s shy of looking at Hardy because he doesn’t want to jeopardise his career.’ Hawke stated quietly.

‘Looks like it.’ Caitlin said. ‘If he can pin it on me, so much the better.’

‘I’d like to have a few words with him…’ began Dom angrily, shaking a fist.

Hawke laid a hand on the older man’s shoulder, his own blue eyes glittering dangerously. ‘Me too.’

‘As much as I appreciate the show of support, fellas, I think the best thing would be for us to catch the real murderer.’ Caitlin said.

Hawke and Dom exchanged a quick look; neither of them was going to drop it but it would wait.

‘OK,’ Dom said, ‘I think we need to plan how we’re going to get the murderer to come after us real careful.’

‘Agreed.’ Hawke said.

‘You’re going to have to get all three men somewhere together.’ Caitlin said.

‘They should all be there for the sound check.’ Dom said. ‘I agreed with Frank I’d go over some plans for the shoot of the actual concert with him.’

‘We need to be subtle.’ Hawke added his fingers rapping the yellow railing. ‘If we make it too obvious the fish won’t bite.’

‘Subtle.’ Dom agreed nodding. His eyes met Hawke’s. ‘How?’

‘I don’t know exactly,’ Hawke said defensively, ‘just don’t blurt it out.’

Dom’s brow lowered.

‘Maybe you can lead the murderer back to the spot where Toby was killed.’ Caitlin interrupted.

‘What do you mean?’ Dom asked.

‘When you’re talking to Frank, as you go over the plans of the park, you might want to stop suddenly at the crime scene as if you’ve just remembered something. Suggest you have to leave quickly as you need to go check something before you go to the police…’

‘Suggesting to them that they left something or there’s some clue for the police to find.’ Hawke completed.

Caitlin nodded.

‘OK. I can do that.’ Dom agreed.

‘That should make the murderer return to the scene of the crime to stop you and find whatever it is you’ve hinted at.’ Caitlin continued.

‘Where we’ll be waiting for him.’ Hawke finished.

Caitlin nodded at her husband. ‘You’ll be on the ground…’

‘…and you’ll be in Airwolf.’ Hawke gestured at the helicopter behind them.

‘And I’ll be waiting for someone to attack me.’ Dom said glumly.

Hawke slapped his shoulder. ‘We’ll be backing you, Dom.’

‘Yeah, kid.’ Dom sighed. ‘Well, we’d better get this show on the road, huh?’

‘We’d better call, Michael and fill him in on the plan.’ Hawke said.

‘I can do that from Airwolf whilst you guys make your way to the concert.’ Caitlin confirmed.

Hawke and Dom left Caitlin in the Lair and made their way out to the Santini Air chopper. A few minutes later they were flying toward the park.

‘You really think this plan is going to work?’ Dom asked.

‘I hope so.’ Hawke said his eyes steady on the sky ahead. ‘It could be the only way to stop Marin pinning this on Caitlin.’

‘I tell ya, I’d like to get my hands on that cop.’ Dom said.

Hawke silently agreed with the older man.

‘Are you two OK?’ Dom asked.

Hawke shrugged. ‘We’re fine.’

‘It’s just…’ Dom hesitated before he continued on determinedly, ‘it’s just you’ve both seemed a little quiet even before we discovered that guy’s body.’

Hawke glanced across the cockpit at Dom’s concerned expression. He sighed and returned his attention to the sky. Although Hawke had confided his and Caitlin’s attempt to start their family in the other man, he didn’t feel comfortable explaining their recent disappointment and he was certain Caitlin wouldn’t appreciate her husband telling the older man the finer details of her biological cycle. He shrugged knowing Dom was waiting for a reply.

‘We’re fine,’ he repeated. ‘There’s just been a lot to deal with lately. Cait’s still getting over shooting those guys.’

‘Yeah, I know what you mean, kid.’ Dom gave a short laugh. ‘I think that’s why I was looking forward to this gig.’

‘We could all do with a break.’ Hawke murmured.

‘You’re not wrong.’ Dom sighed. ‘I just hope things settle down before Jo moves back.’

Hawke tensed at the mention of Dom’s niece. ‘Dom, about Jo…’

‘I know you don’t want her involved with Airwolf…’ Dom began.

‘No, it’s not that.’ Hawke sighed.

‘Then what?’

Hawke searched for an easy way to deliver the news and failed. ‘Michael found out that Jo is working for the Company.’ He said bluntly.

Dom’s eyebrows lowered ominously. ‘What?’

‘The FIRM compiled a list of all the current Company operatives. Jo was on the list.’

‘No, I don’t believe it.’ Dom said firmly in a dismissive tone. ‘That information has to be wrong.’

‘She’s been providing them with translation services, Dom.’ Hawke said.

‘Jo would never…’

‘Think, Dom.’ Hawke said insistently. ‘It makes sense of all her travelling.’

Dom was quiet for a long while. ‘What are you going to do?’ He asked eventually.

Hawke glanced over at him. ‘Talk to her when she gets back.’ He said. ‘See what she says.’

Dom nodded slowly. He knew Hawke’s response was tempered by his fondness for himself and he appreciated the younger man’s gesture. ‘I’m sure she’ll have an explanation, String. I just know it.’

‘I hope so, Dom.’

‘When did Michael find this out anyway?’ Dom asked.

Hawke shifted uncomfortably. ‘About the time Marella got shot.’

‘About…’ Dom scowled and gestured angrily. ‘And you’re only telling me now?’

‘I didn’t want to worry you.’ Hawke glanced over at him. ‘You’ve been a little…down lately since the kidnapping.’

It was Dom’s turn to squirm in his seat. The kidnapping had been traumatic but he knew the real reason for his quietness wasn’t the kidnapping but the questions it had prompted about whether Hawke’s parents were still alive. The hit man who had kidnapped certainly thought they were and Dom had been through the past so many times in his head trying to make sense of it, it was driving him crazy. He looked over at the younger man. He couldn’t tell Hawke about his theory that Alan and Jane Hawke were not lost at sea but had been placed in a witness protection program believing their two boys had died; Hawke was finding happiness for the first time in a long while and Dom wouldn’t risk ruining that for the world.

Dom knew it was time to change the subject. He cast about for a topic and finally settled on Airwolf. ‘At least Airwolf hasn’t been acting up.’ He commented.

‘Yeah.’ Hawke was relieved that the helicopter hadn’t shown any further indications of the intelligence they thought she was developing. He liked that Airwolf had chosen him as her pilot when she’d rewritten her self-preservation code but he preferred to feel he had complete control of the machine.

Dom gestured at the park below them. ‘Set her down by the trailers. We’ll have to set up the equipment.’

Hawke nodded. He switched the radio frequency. ‘Airwolf, come in.’

‘Airwolf here.’ Caitlin’s Texan drawl crackled through the headset.

‘All set?’ Hawke asked.

‘All set. Michael’s confirmed the sting with the FBI. They’ll be in place,’ Caitlin confirmed, ‘and I’m right behind you.’

‘They know it might take a while to get things set up?’ Dom checked.

‘They know.’ She said.

‘OK.’ Hawke radioed. ‘Let’s do this.’ He took the chopper down and landed.

It was a chaotic morning as everyone involved with the concert ran around making sure everything was in place for the rehearsal. Costume makers darted from trailer to trailer; the band sat practising on stage; the crew wrestled with the last pieces of the stage to get them in place and the equipment set up properly.

It was late afternoon before Dom could get his meeting with Frank on the stage. Hawke dropped him off and took the chopper back up; Dom would walk over to the murder scene allowing the murderer to follow him. The band was sat to one side taking a break and discussing the set with Kyle. The country singer was stood in front of them trying to make a point about the rhythm of some song from what Dom could hear.

The manager greeted him with a grumpy frown. ‘I thought you guys had bailed?’

Dom gave a nervous gap-toothed smile and shook his head. ‘Nah. Just a little trouble with the police yesterday, that’s all.’

‘I heard they made your girl for Toby’s murder.’ Frank’s dark eyes bore into Dom’s.

‘That detective couldn’t solve a murder if someone had the word murderer tattooed to their forehead.’ Dom muttered.

Frank gave a humourless laugh and took off his hat to push his fingers through the oily dark hair. ‘You won’t get an argument from me.’

‘So I just wanted to go through the running order and the type of shots you want again. Just in case you changed your mind about anything.’ Dom said. He held up the ground plan of the park and made sure he was talking a little too loudly. He explained one aerial shot of the park where they would zoom in slowly to the stage itself and took Frank through another couple of options.

Frank relaxed and started to work through the list with Dom. The older pilot noticed out of the corner of his eye when the band began to reassemble on the centre of the stage and he knew he was running out of time.

‘Now,’ he said hurriedly, ‘would you like any shots of the park itself?’ Dom gestured at the plan. ‘The trees and woodland around here…’ his finger stopped at the place where they had found the body. ‘I’m guessing you don’t want any shots of the…of there.’

‘Where Toby was found?’ Frank checked. ‘No. No shots.’ He glanced at Dom. ‘What were you doing shooting that spot the other night?’

Dom shrugged. ‘We were adjusting the angle and checking the focus. It was really pure chance that…’ he stopped suddenly as though something had occurred to him.

‘What’s the matter?’ Frank demanded.

Dom looked at him. ‘Ah, nothing. It’s probably nothing. I just remembered…’ he took a step away from the manager. ‘Look, I think we’re done and I just have to…’ he gestured vaguely with the plan, the paper flapping wildly in the air, ‘I just have to go and check something.’

‘Check what?’ Frank asked.

‘Something.’ Dom muttered. ‘I’ll see you guys later.’ He gave a salute and hurried off the stage.

Dom walked at a fast pace to a spot by the sound equipment off to the side of the stage but still in view of the suspects checked the plan. He folded it hastily and bundled it into the inner pocket of his shiny blue jacket. He adjusted his red baseball cap and set off. His direction was very clearly toward the area where Toby’s body had been found.

Dom kept his pace steady although he hurried along. He couldn’t tell if anyone was following him but there was an eerie chill working its way down his spine. His heart was beating a little too fast as he entered a clearing. It looked different in the daylight, he thought as he looked around. Trees lined the area and provided dense foliage for his back-up. He couldn’t tell if Hawke, Caitlin or even the FBI guys were in place and he swallowed hard wishing they had thought to hook him up with an earpiece and wire. It would have been good to have had some reassurance. He walked slowly over to where he thought they’d found the body and peered at the empty ground.

A twig cracking behind him had him whirling around.

Frank stared back at him.

‘Hi,’ Dom said nervously.

‘Why’d d’ya come out here?’ Frank demanded.

Dom blinked at the harsh tone. ‘Eh…no reason.’ He gestured and took a step back. ‘Just thought I’d come and pay my respects where I found the body that’s all.’

‘No.’ Frank contradicted him. ‘You came out here for a reason and I want to know what it was.’

‘It was nothing.’ Dom said taking another step back. ‘Just an idea.’

‘I see.’ Frank reached behind him and took out a knife.

Dom’s eyes widened at the sharp glint of the ragged blade.

‘I’m afraid I can’t allow you to share it with anyone else.’ Frank said. He took a step forward.

Dom took another step back. ‘Now hold on a minute.’ He met the other man’s determined eyes. ‘It was you. You killed that young boy.’

‘Toby was going to ruin everything.’ Frank said. ‘I’ve worked too hard at building this up to see it fall to crap.’

‘So you killed him.’ Dom said sadly.

‘I didn’t mean to.’ Frank confessed suddenly. ‘All I wanted to do was shut the kid up. I didn’t mean to kill him.’

‘You had a knife.’ Dom pointed out.

‘I was going to scare the life out of him.’ Frank said. ‘I wanted him to just go back to Texas. He couldn’t handle it out here on the road with us. He was too young.’

‘But he argued…’

‘He came at me and I…’ Frank’s eyes glazed momentarily with the memory, ‘and I just slid the knife into him. He was so surprised.’

‘I’m sure he was,’ muttered Dom his own eyes glued to the blade.

Frank shook himself and his eyes refocused on Dom; narrowed. ‘I can’t allow you to live. You have to see that.’

‘I see it.’ Dom glanced around. Where was String? Airwolf? Dammit, where was the FBI? He took a step sideways and Frank matched him. Dom turned and raced for the nearest tree line.

Frank was on him in a heartbeat. They fell to the ground with a thump and Dom struggled to get a breath as they wrestled. Frank struck but the knife hit the wedge of paper in Dom’s jacket and he had to make a second attempt. Dom managed to get his hands around Frank’s wrists and he barely kept the knife from his body. He heaved and Frank was thrown backwards. Dom scrabbled to his feet.

There was a shriek of engines and Airwolf descended into the clearing between the two men. A burst of fire from her chain guns had Frank running in the opposite direction. Hawke burst through the trees and into the clearing. He tackled Frank. They were rolling on the ground when two FBI agents ran up to pull Frank up.

‘You’re under arrest.’ The first agent gasped; his face was suffused with colour and sweating.

‘You have the right to remain silent…’ his partner panted as they marched the hapless Frank out of the clearing.

Hawke climbed gingerly to his feet as Caitlin landed Airwolf behind him.

Dom stalked over. ‘Where the hell have you been?’

Hawke glared at the older man. ‘This is the wrong clearing.’

‘No.’ Dom denied. ‘I followed the map exactly.’

‘Then where’s the crime scene, Dom?’ Hawke snapped and gestured wildly. ‘Don’t you think the police would have taped the scene off?’

Dom opened his mouth to reply angrily but the logic of Hawke’s argument seeped through the remaining adrenaline from the fight and the fear he’d felt. He met Hawke’s blue eyes with rueful ones of his own. ‘This is the wrong clearing?’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke sighed.

‘You guys OK?’ Caitlin asked as she ran over to them.

‘I’m OK, honey.’ Dom reassured her.

Caitlin gave him a quick hug before she stepped back and pinned him with a furious stare. ‘You ever do that again…’

‘I know, I know.’ Dom waved away her admonishment. ‘How did ya find me?’

‘Airwolf picked you up on a scan.’ She said as Hawke slipped his arm around her waist.

Dom sighed and took his cap off to rub a hand through the grey curls and glanced back at the helicopter. ‘Guess I owe our Lady a thank you.’

Hawke’s blue eyes narrowed at the group of people heading their way and gave his wife a quick squeeze. ‘You’d better get going.’

‘Right.’ Caitlin kissed him and headed back to the helicopter.

Hawke folded his arms and turned to greet Michael and the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, Agent Kelly.

Michael’s good eye went to Dom. ‘Did you get lost?’ He bit out.

‘Now you…’ Dom began heatedly.

‘Can we go?’ Hawke asked talking over Dom.

Michael pushed his glasses back up his nose and glanced at the FBI agent with him.

Special Agent Kelly pulled his curious gaze away from the unusual black and white helicopter. ‘We’re headed to the local police station. I need to take your statement, Mr Santini, in case the dirt-bag doesn’t confess.’

‘Sure.’ Dom agreed with sigh.

Hawke patted his shoulder. ‘I’ll come with you.’ He frowned suddenly realising Airwolf hadn’t taken off – the engines hadn’t even started. ‘You guys go head, I’ll catch you up.’

He watched as the three men headed back out of the clearing before he made his way to Airwolf. He opened the cockpit door and found Caitlin peering at an electronics panel on the top console.

‘What’s the problem?’ Hawke asked.

‘She’s not starting.’ Caitlin muttered. Her eyes flickered briefly to his. ‘I think some of the wires have shaken loose from the starter electronics. I’ll have it fixed in a little while.’

‘I told Dom I’d go down to the station with him whilst they take his statement.’ Hawke said unhappily torn between helping his wife and supporting the man who was a father to him.

‘That’s OK.’ Caitlin said. ‘It doesn’t need two of us to stay and do this.’ She shrugged. ‘This place is secluded so I shouldn’t get too much traffic to bother me whilst I get her sorted and now the murderer is caught, I should be OK here.’

Hawke frowned.

‘Really.’ She said picking up on his unease. ‘I’ll be fine.’

‘OK.’ Hawke said reluctantly. He reached into the cockpit and kissed her again. ‘Take off as soon as you have her fixed.’

‘I will.’ Caitlin promised.

Hawke closed the cockpit door and headed out of the clearing. He paused at the tree line and looked back at Airwolf. The machine was sat in a patch of fading light with the armour glinting dully; her opaque windows gave her an eerie appearance. Hawke shivered and zipped up his leather jacket. His reluctance to leave had him hovering uncertainly for a moment.

‘Hawke!’ Michael’s shout jolted him out of his indecision and he turned away from Airwolf and left.

Part 6


Hawke stood up and chucked the polystyrene cup in the trash as Dom came through from the interview rooms.

‘You done?’ Hawke asked taking in the tiredness that had deepened the lines on Dom’s craggy face and the stiff way the other man was walking.

‘Yeah.’ Dom rubbed his back.

‘You OK?’ Hawke asked.

‘Just my back playing up.’ Dom shook his head. ‘I’m getting too old for this, String.’

Hawke rubbed his own ribs a little ruefully. ‘Me too.’

‘Make that me three.’ Michael said as he limped over. His good eye met Dom’s. ‘Kelly told me they were finished with you.’

‘They sure went through it with a fine toothcomb.’ Dom said.

‘Are they having any luck cracking Muldrow?’ Hawke asked.

‘They were still at it.’ Michael collapsed into a chair and rubbed his bad knee. It was still recovering after surgery to realign a pin.

Dom laughed and sat down beside the spy. ‘Will you look at the three of us?’ He shook his head. ‘It’s just as well Caitlin isn’t here otherwise we’d all be getting hauled to the hospital for first aid treatment.’

‘Where is she?’ Michael asked. ‘I thought she would have joined us after she’d taken the Lady back.’

Hawke retook his seat and crossed his arms tightly over his chest. ‘Airwolf’s starter system was playing up. I left her fixing it back at the park.’ His unhappiness at leaving his wife seeped through the impassive tone.

‘Maybe we should give her a call, huh?’ Dom said. ‘See how she’s getting on?’

‘Or we could head back.’ Hawke said glancing at the clock.

‘I guess there’s nothing keeping us here.’ Dom said cheerily.

They stood up in unison and were about to take toward the door when Detective Marin walked through it. There was a furious scowl on his face and when he caught sight of the three men his face went red. He marched over to them.

‘I’m going to see all of you are brought up on charges.’ He spat out.

Michael withdrew a handkerchief and dabbed at the ball of spittle that had landed on the bright white lapel of his suit. ‘On what grounds?’ He asked mildly.

‘Obstructing a police investigation.’ Marin said forcefully. ‘Your little entrapment act with the FBI won’t stop me from pursuing my investigation.’

‘Why you…’

Dom caught hold of Hawke’s arm. ‘Ignore him, kid.’

‘Your wife is guilty and I will prove it.’ The detective yelled.

‘You’re an idiot, Marin.’ Hawke bit out. ‘You just want Caitlin to be guilty so you won’t have to deal with another celebrity and get your promotion halted again.’

Marin went purple.

Michael stepped in between the detective and Hawke before the cop could take a swing at the pilot. He stabbed a finger at Marin. ‘If you harass Caitlin, Hawke or Dominic Santini in any way, I will personally make sure you’re not only barred from promotion but I’ll have you reduced in rank. You understand me?’

Marin spun on his heel and stormed into the inner offices of the police station.

‘Thanks, Michael.’ Hawke said.

Michael nodded. ‘Let’s get back to Caitlin.’

They had taken a step toward the door when there was a furious commotion behind them. They all turned back round. Kelly was practically running, pulling on his overcoat hurriedly.

‘What’s going on?’ Michael asked stopping the Special Agent in his tracks.

‘Muldrow gave up Hardy.’ Kelly explained.

‘What do you mean?’ Dom demanded. ‘I told you; Muldrow admitted he killed Toby.’

‘He killed the boy,’ Kelly agreed quickly, ‘but because Toby had seen Hardy raping a girl. Hardy had promised Toby he’d stop but then Toby saw the news article about the girl in Ferlindo…’

‘And realised Hardy had raped and killed her.’ Michael deduced. ‘Damn.’

‘Sorry, I got to go and arrest this guy.’ Kelly swept out with a dozen agents following him.

‘Michael…’ Hawke’s throat closed on a sudden wave of fear as his blue eyes met the spy’s. ‘Caitlin’s still at the concert park. If Hardy found her…’

‘Oh God.’ Dom’s quiet prayer gave away his own horrified realisation.

‘Let’s go.’ Michael said.

Hawke hastily followed his friend out to where they had left the Santini Air chopper in the car park. Dom’s hand rested on his shoulder trying to offer him some comfort. Hawke climbed into the chopper; his face was an impassive mask covering the churning emotions. He swallowed hard and tried to push the rising panic away as Dom started the engines.

Hawke folded his arms and stared out of the darkening sky. His heart was beating too loudly; he couldn’t catch his breath. He knew he shouldn’t have left her alone, he thought wildly. If something had happened, it was his fault. He hoped to God they weren’t going to be too late.

Part 7

Caitlin pressed the start button and breathed a sigh of relief as the engines caught and the rotors started to whir.

‘Thank you God.’ She muttered before she switched it all back off.

She slid back out of the cockpit and went to close the external panel she’d left open by the right turbo. She replaced the armour with a swift efficiency, screwing it down tightly with the electric tool she had taken from the box on the ground. She threw it back in and eyed the section critically in the semi-darkness. It was secure.

There was a rustling noise behind her and she spun around. There was no-one there.

‘Hello?’ She called cautiously.

No reply.

Silence blanketed the clearing.

Caitlin shrugged away her unease. The clearing was a little spooky in the gathering dark. The trees loomed like grotesque shadows and there were patches where no light seemed to break through the darkness. She shivered and wished she was wearing a coat over the form-fitting lilac uniform. She turned back to the tool box and crouched down to pack it up quickly.

A clattering sound had her rising swiftly. She took a step away from the helicopter into the clearing and peered into the darkness.

No-one was there.

Her heart was beating a little too fast and the hair at the back of her neck stood up in atavistic warning. It was definitely time to leave, she thought. She turned to pick up the tool box and froze.

Kyle Hardy stood between her and Airwolf. He was lounging up against the wing, wearing jeans and a t-shirt along with his cowboy hat. He smiled at her. ‘One of the guys said he thought he saw you out here.’

Caitlin made a move towards the cockpit and Kyle countered it.

She took a deep breath and wished she hadn’t unholstered her gun; it was lying on the passenger seat in the cockpit. ‘I was just about to leave.’

‘This is some machine.’ Hardy said patting Airwolf.

‘Specialised equipment.’ Caitlin said. ‘I’m sorry but I really have to go.’

‘No.’ Kyle took a step toward her and she instinctively took one back. ‘That’s what I like about you, Caitlin. You don’t give it up easy.’ He reached behind him and she heard the swish of a switchblade clicking into place. Her eyes barely made out the shining metal edge of the blade in his hand. ‘You’re not like all the other women.’

‘You’re the rapist.’ Caitlin deduced. ‘Frank might have killed Toby but you were always the rapist.’

‘Rapist is such an ugly word.’ Kyle said and his eyes gleamed darkly at her. ‘You know you want it.’

‘You have a real problem with women saying no to you, don’t you, Hardy?’ Caitlin took a side-step; he stayed with her. She had to keep him talking, she thought furiously, anything that would give her time to escape or get to Airwolf. ‘I’m betting all those girls you raped, they were like me. They didn’t want to have sex with you.’

‘No. You want to have it, you’re just good girls.’ Kyle smiled. ‘All I ever get are whores; always willing to spread their legs for me but you…you’re like the others. You have ethics.’

‘And somewhere in your twisted mind, you’re giving me what I want?’ Caitlin took another step back. ‘You’re insane. I don’t want to have sex with you.’

‘Yes, you do.’ He took a step toward her.

‘No, I don’t.’ She took a step back.

His eyes were intent on hers and she knew she had very little time left before he would attack. ‘What happened Kyle? What happened with Toby? Did he see something?’

‘He saw me with one of the girls.’ Kyle shook his head. ‘He wanted me to stop but he couldn’t see this was the only way…then when I had to kill that girl he freaked.’

‘Frank knew all along, didn’t he?’ Caitlin added desperately. ‘He tried to stop Toby from telling the police.’

‘Frank said he killed Toby by accident but it solved our problem.’ Kyle sighed. ‘But you had to go and get Frank arrested.’

‘You know Frank’s going to give you up.’ Caitlin said.

‘I know.’ Kyle gestured. ‘But you’re going to get me out of here,’ he smiled; a flash of white in the dark, ‘after we’ve had some fun.’

‘I don’t think so.’ Caitlin ran.

She’d taken two, three strides when he was on her, throwing her to the ground. She punched him and heard the sound of his nose crunching with satisfaction. She struggled to her feet but he lashed out and she lost her balance.

She hit the grass, landing badly on her hip and she had barely caught her breath when he was on her again. He caught her hands in one of his and smacked her with the other. Her head rang with the force of the blow; he did it again and she felt her vision blur. All her martial arts training, all her police training seemed in vain as he overpowered her with brute strength.

She was still struggling, her breaths coming in sobs as he moved between her legs. She could dimly hear something in the background…engines starting…but her focus was on her fight with the singer as she resisted his efforts to restrain her. He shoved her zipper downwards and ripped at her underclothing. She managed to kick him and he hit her again. His hand left her and she heard the scrape of his zipper. Her struggles became more frantic and she heard a grunt as her knee caught his rib. It earned her a blow to hers that drove the breath from her body. Her body tensed, bracing...

Airwolf screamed across the clearing heading directly at them. Kyle looked up in shock and Caitlin scrabbled away from under him, careful to stay down.

Airwolf hit him and sent him flying across the clearing. She hovered between his unmoving body and Caitlin.

Caitlin pulled her zip up with shaking fingers and got to her feet on legs that weren’t quite steady. She took a couple of faltering steps towards Airwolf and the chopper landed on the grass beside her. Caitlin climbed into the cockpit and curled into a ball in the pilot’s seat, hugging her middle tightly. Her shocked blue-green eyes remained on the still form of Kyle Hardy. She’d come close to being raped before; in a jail cell by a group of cowboys when she’d first met Hawke; the previous year when a rapist had caught her alone at the airfield but what had just happened…she shuddered. If Airwolf hadn’t acted…

She was barely aware of the arrival of the Santini Air chopper which came into land next to Airwolf; of Hawke climbing out before its props were fully on the ground.

Hawke wrenched open Airwolf’s door. The light in the cockpit exposed Caitlin’s pale bruised face with smudges of blood across her cheeks; her hair fell in disarray around her shoulders, tangled and dirty from the grass. He could see her uniform was ripped at the zip.

He swallowed hard as all his worst fears crawled through his head again. ‘Cait?’ He reached out a hand to touch her shoulder and his heart seized when she flinched away from him.

Her blue-green eyes focused on his. ‘String?’

‘It’s me, honey.’ Hawke didn’t know if he should try and touch her again but she was already reaching for him and he held her tightly as she slid from the cockpit and into his arms. She was shaking badly. ‘I’ve got you.’

Michael limped over and raised a questioning eyebrow. Hawke just shook his head. He didn’t know.

Dom glanced anxiously at the couple before he made his way over to Kyle. His eyes widened in shock at the terrible mess of the body and the undone clothing. He hurried back to Airwolf.

Hawke eased away from Caitlin and framed her face in his hands. His blue eyes searched hers. ‘Cait,’ he took a deep breath and forced himself to ask the question, ‘did he…?’ He found he couldn’t complete it.

Caitlin shook her head; tears spilling over onto her cheeks. ‘No. He tried though and he almost…’ Her voice broke and Hawke stroked a hand down her back as she burrowed into him.

‘He’s dead.’ Dom stated quietly.

‘Good.’ Hawke bit out. For a brief moment, he wanted Hardy alive again just so he could personally throttle the life out of the man. His wife shifted in his arms and his anger drained away abruptly as his concern for her overrode every other thought.

‘He’s a mess.’ Dom continued.

Caitlin swiped at her face and raised her head from Hawke’s shoulder. She met Dom’s concerned eyes. ‘Airwolf…she hit him right across the clearing.’

‘She what?’ Michael asked.

‘He was…’ Caitlin shook her head. ‘He had me on the ground and I…I was trapped.’

Hawke’s grip on his wife tightened.

‘Airwolf came across the clearing.’ Caitlin took a hitching breath. ‘She caught him at chest level with her nose and he just went…’ she gestured at the body, ‘flying.’

Dom sighed; it explained why Hardy’s torso was caved in. Hawke’s eyes flickered to the helicopter; he’d never been so glad that Airwolf was developing some intelligence; her independent action had undoubtedly saved Caitlin from being raped and murdered.

There were shouts and Kelly and the other FBI agents suddenly ran into the clearing. They slowed at the tableau.

‘What the hell happened?’ The Special Agent asked as one of his men ran to Hardy’s body.

The Airwolf team looked at each other. What had happened was going to be difficult to explain.

Michael cleared his throat. ‘Caitlin was fixing the helicopter when Hardy attacked her.’ Michael said. ‘She managed to get away and get to the chopper but Hardy came after her. He got in the way of the machine and…’ he gestured at the body.

Kelly’s eyes raked over Caitlin’s battered appearance. ‘Are you alright?’

Caitlin nodded. ‘I just want to go home.’

‘If you could give me a statement, I would appreciate it.’ Kelly said.

‘How about tomorrow?’ Michael suggested. ‘I think she’s been through enough for one night.’

Kelly looked as though he was about to argue but then sighed and nodded. ‘I’d better get forensics in here.’

Michael nodded. He waited until the FBI agent had moved away before turning back to Hawke and Caitlin. ‘You’d better leave now. I’ll stay here and make sure they don’t ask too many questions.’

‘I’ll follow you to the Lair.’ Dom offered.

‘Thanks, Dom.’ Hawke helped Caitlin into Airwolf before he took his own seat. He smoothed a hand over the front console. He owed the helicopter a great deal, he thought as he grasped the cyclic and took Airwolf up into the night sky.

The journey home was made in almost total silence. Dom dropped the couple at the cabin with a worried frown on his craggy face. Hawke was unsure what to say so he kept quiet; unsure whether to touch Caitlin so he kept his distance. Guilt ate into him with each silent step into the cabin.

They stood awkwardly in the centre of the living room for a moment.

Caitlin pulled at her torn uniform. ‘I need a shower.’

‘Take your time,’ said Hawke, knowing she needed the shower to wash away more than the dirt. He watched her head up the stairs and the bathroom door closed with a soft click.

He pushed a hand through his short brown hair. How could he make it right? How could he have let it happen? He shuddered. He’d almost lost his wife to assassins the week before and now this…his old fear reached up and choked him. He shook it off. He had to focus on Caitlin; she was alive and more importantly, she would need a lot of support after what she had been through. He set about building a fire and making a meal. He made it back to the bedroom with the first aid kit as Caitlin stepped out of the bathroom.

She was wrapped in a pink bath-towel, her hair hung in a sleek, wet red sliver over her shoulder.

‘I brought the first aid kit.’ He said needlessly and lifted it.

She shook her head. ‘Would you,’ her eyes filled with tears again, ‘would you hold me? Just for a…’

He gathered her to him before she could finish the question. His chin rested on the top of her head as she buried her face in his chest. She was shaking, tears running noiselessly down her cheeks, seeping into the red flannel shirt he wore. Hawke didn’t know how long they stood there but eventually, her trembling stopped.

He stroked a hand down her back. ‘I’m so sorry, Caitlin. I should…’

‘Don’t.’ Her voice was raw from crying. She eased back to look at him with pink and swollen eyes. ‘It’s not your fault. What happened...,’ she tried a smile, ‘you weren’t to know.’

‘But…’

Caitlin shook her head. ‘No buts. I needed the crying jag but I’m really OK.’ She slipped out of his hold. ‘I’d better get dressed. I’ll meet you downstairs.’

Hawke hesitated considering whether to argue and then nodded his agreement. He was stirring the pot on the stove and was contemplating whether to go back up to the bedroom when Caitlin walked into the kitchen. She had dressed in one of his old shirts over her jeans.

She was still pale; her lower lip was cut and swollen and a bruise was forming across her left cheek but she looked calm.

‘How are you doing?’ Hawke asked uncertainly.

Caitlin wrapped her arms around his waist. ‘Like I said I’m OK.’ She eyed the broth he had cooked. She wasn’t really hungry, but she knew if she didn’t eat, it would deepen the concern in Hawke’s blue eyes.

They sat down at the table with bowls filled to the brim and began to eat.

Hawke took a couple of bites and looked across at Caitlin who was listlessly stirring the soup. ‘Maybe if you talked about what happened…’

‘No.’ Caitlin said quickly. She met his eyes firmly. ‘Not yet. It’s all a little too…too soon. If Airwolf hadn’t…’ She shook her head. ‘She saved my life out there.’

‘I don’t think I’ve been so pleased that she’s developed some independent control.’ Hawke admitted. He stretched out a hand toward Caitlin who slipped her own hand over his. Their fingers tangled.

‘Hardy admitted he was the rapist.’ Caitlin said.

Hawke nodded.

‘It was because I turned him down.’ Caitlin rubbed her fingers against his. ‘In his head I wanted to have sex with him but I was good and wouldn’t. So the only way he could get a good girl was to rape them.’ She sighed. ‘But his thinking was twisted so badly.’

‘He was a creep.’ Hawke stated.

‘I keep thinking maybe I said something or did something…’ Caitlin admitted in a quiet voice, looking at the table.

Hawke felt his heart clench at her words. ‘You didn’t do anything.’ He said gruffly. ‘Hardy made it all up in his head. You have to remember that.’

‘I know.’ Caitlin put her spoon down; the bowl was still full. ‘I just can’t seem to get it out of my head. It’s just replaying like a bad nightmare and he didn’t even actually…actually rape me.’

‘It’s still a hell of a trauma.’ Hawke said. ‘You’re not going to get over it just like that.’

Caitlin sighed. ‘I guess not.’ Her smile was bittersweet. ‘I’m kinda wishing I could go back a couple of days and just have shooting those guys to worry about again.’

‘We can get through anything, Cait.’ Hawke said. ‘That, this. So long as we’re together.’

Caitlin slipped out of her chair and went to him. She settled in his lap, their arms around each other. She breathed in the scent of him and snuggled closer. ‘I love you.’

‘I love you.’ Hawke kissed the top of her head. They held each other for a while, taking simple comfort in holding each other.

‘You know,’ Hawke said eventually, ‘it’s our anniversary next week.’

‘Anniversary?’ Caitlin raised her head and looked at him quizzically.

‘We’ll have been married two months next Tuesday.’ Hawke explained.

‘Our two month anniversary?’ Caitlin smiled. Hawke was surprisingly sweet about things like that. ‘You had something planned for that?’

‘Well,’ Hawke shifted her a little, ‘I was thinking we should take some time off. Go away for a few days. Just the two of us.’

Caitlin nodded. ‘Sounds good.’ She bit her lip. ‘Where do you want to go?’

‘Why don’t I make it a surprise?’ Hawke suggested with a gleam in his blue eyes.

Caitlin gave a small laugh. ‘OK. Surprise me.’ Her fingers played with the buttons on his shirt. ‘You’re a great husband,’ she commented holding his warm blue gaze with her own, ‘but I’m telling you now; I’m never buying you another music album ever.’

Hawke smiled and brushed a lock of red hair back over her ear. ‘I can live with that.’

fin.


 

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