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Fanfiction: Sibling Rivalry - Part III

For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

Part 5


The Company holding centre was located in an industrial area on the outskirts of LA. The building looked like a warehouse from the outside but inside it was high tech with sterile corridors, white walls and bright lights.

Deputy Director Evan met them in a small observation room. One wall was a bank of monitors all showing video feed of the holding cells and interview rooms. Evan motioned for them to join him.

Hawke stuffed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. ‘Evan.’

‘Hawke.’

The two men indulged in a mutual staring match before Evan broke the gaze and turned to Michael. ‘Michael.’

‘Marshall.’

‘I don’t believe we’ve met.’ Evan said staring at Caitlin.

‘Caitlin Hawke.’ Caitlin held out her hand and he shook it frowning as he registered the surname. His quick glance at her rings had Caitlin looking over at Hawke wryly.

‘So how are we going to do this?’ Hawke asked diverting Evan’s attention from his wife. He knew Locke had reported their existence to the Company but he still didn’t like her being exposed.

‘Horn has made it clear she’ll speak to you and only you; no other people in the room.’

Caitlin folded her arms and scowled.

‘We’ll watch from here.’ Evan pointed at one of the monitors behind him. They all stared at the picture of the woman sitting at the table. Even in the plain orange jumpsuit, her long blonde hair scraped back into a ponytail and no make-up, Angelica Horn was an attractive woman.

‘She knows she’s waiting for you.’ Evan said. ‘When you go in, your objective…’

‘I know what the objective is.’ Hawke said bluntly. ‘We get information about the guy behind the two attacks on the Airwolf team.’

‘Look, I don’t want you screwing this up.’ Evan said his chest puffing out.

Hawke’s blue eyes turned to ice. ‘It’s not me who’ll screw up.’

Evan backed down under Hawke’s glare. ‘OK. Your interview with Horn will be on this monitor here. We’ll be able to see and hear everything in the room. The cameras are hidden so she should be unaware that we’ll be watching.’

‘Let’s do this.’ Hawke said.

Evan nodded. He gestured at a guard. ‘Rick will show you to the room. You can go in. You’re going to have to leave your gun. We can’t risk her getting hold of it.’

Hawke reached to the small of his back and brought out the gun. He handed it to Caitlin before he followed Rick to the interrogation room. It was a short walk down a couple of corridors on the same floor.

Rick slid a card through a reader and opened the door. ‘Knock when you want out.’

‘Right.’ Hawke entered the room.

It was cold. He noticed the chill as he entered and was glad he was wearing his jacket. The aim was obviously to make the prisoner uncomfortable.

Angelica rose from the plastic chair. ‘Hawke.’

‘Angelica.’ Hawke heard the door close behind him.

‘I can’t believe you’re here.’ Angelica said softly, her blue eyes drinking in the sight of him.

‘I’m here,’ Hawke said putting his hands back in his pockets, ‘and you’ve got thirty seconds to tell me something I want to hear or I’m gone.’

She stared at him in shock. ‘But…’

‘No game playing, Angelica.’ Hawke said holding her gaze firmly. ‘You got something to tell me, tell me or I leave. Right now.’

Angelica stared at him for a long moment although gauging his resolve. She nodded slowly and waved at the chair opposite her. ‘You should make yourself comfortable.’

Hawke took his time walking over to the chair. They sat down together and Hawke leaned back expectantly.

‘I want a guarantee,’ Angelica began, ‘that you’ll protect me.’

Hawke’s eyebrow quirked upwards. ‘If you give us information we’ll protect you.’

‘Not the Company.’ Angelica insisted. ‘You.’

‘Angelica…’ Hawke made to leave.

‘The man you’re after is very dangerous, Hawke.’ Angelica said quickly. ‘He has contacts everywhere. If I tell you everything my life is forfeit; I need that guarantee.’ She looked over at him intently. ‘I need your promise that you’ll protect me.’

Hawke considered his options as he absently rubbed his chin. He sighed. ‘You have it.’

She nodded. ‘I don’t really know where to begin. I guess when Daddy died.’ She said leaning forward and resting her arms on the table. She rubbed the fingers of one hand nervously with the fingers of the other. She looked anywhere but at Hawke. ‘I couldn’t understand why Daddy was after your…wife.’ She struggled to say the word. ‘We argued about him going to the clinic and he told me the truth; that he wasn’t my father. That my mother must have screwed some other man and I was no longer the chosen heir.’ Her lips twisted. ‘I was in shock. He sent me on ahead to the hideout in Brazil. We learned of his death from a source we had inside the FIRM.’ She gestured. ‘Daddy had made all the arrangements for the eventuality and I followed them to the letter ending up on a small Caribbean island.’

She shifted in her chair. ‘I stayed there for a while. Grieved for my father. It was a nice place and eventually for the first time in my life I realised I was free.’ She looked at him. ‘You have no idea how intoxicating that was.’

He looked back at her impassively, hiding the compassion and sympathy her words had evoked, reminding himself that she was a consummate actress.

‘I started to wonder about who my real father was and I guess I got curious.’ Angelica admitted. ‘I went looking. I tracked down my old nurse. She told me that my mother had an affair with one of my father’s business partners.’ She gestured. ‘Back when my father pretended he was just another business man. I contacted him; Val Andrews. He’s got a lot of ex-wives but no children. He welcomed me and started to get me involved with the business.’

Hawke registered the name and frowned. He’d heard the name before.

‘He owns several casinos and hotels out on the strip in Vegas.’ Angelica said seeing his confusion. ‘He’s a legit business man or at least he is on the surface.’

‘But?’ Hawke prompted.

‘He’s Mob connected.’

‘How connected?’ Hawke said.

‘He has fingers into most of the major Mob families in the country.’ Angelica said. ‘He doesn’t care about rivalries or allegiances. He’ll work with any of them.’ She kept her eyes on Hawke. ‘The Beliro’s, the Scantori’s, the Danning’s, the Cordelli’s.’

Hawke didn’t flicker, didn’t react. He knew she had thrown the last name in for a reason; to tell him she knew about his connection to the Cordelli’s. What he didn’t know was how and why.

‘And he knows a lot about their operations, about their businesses, about their latest dealings.’ Angelica said. ‘They trust him so much that he sometimes acts as facilitator to help negotiate peace when one of the relationships gets too heated or goes sour.’ She picked up the water glass on the table and took a sip. ‘Just after New Year, Val was asked to hold a summit meeting between two warring factions. I wasn’t aware of who, just that the summit was taking place. About an hour after it started, Val came up to our suite of rooms. He said that he needed me to come down and talk with them.’ She looked up at him. ‘It seems your name had come up and I’d told Val about you, about your dealings with my father so he knew I knew about you.’

Hawke felt his guard go up a little more.

‘There were two men in the room. One of them was Giovanni Cordelli, the current heir to the throne of the Cordelli family. He’s ruthless, a cold-blooded killer but he doesn’t have an interest in vengeance unless it’s to benefit the business. Unfortunately, he’s often over-ruled by his father Antonio. Antonio’s old but he still rules the family with a rod of iron.’ Angelica took a breath. ‘The other was a man named Matt Sterling.’

Hawke recognised the name; they’d come across Sterling a couple of years before during a mission to find the mother of a young boy, Le, who Hawke had thought might be his nephew. Sterling was a legitimate business man, heralded as a philanthropist and all-round American hero yet he had made his money backed by the Mob. Sterling hadn’t been the focus of the mission though; they had rescued Le’s mother and, she and Le were now living happily with the family of Le’s father in Seattle. Hawke had mainly forgotten about Sterling.

‘It seemed both men had discovered that you were a common interest.’ Angelica continued. ‘I was asked about you and my father.’

‘You told them about Airwolf.’ Hawke concluded.

‘Yes.’ Angelica didn’t see the point of denying it. ‘Cordelli wasn’t interested in Airwolf but he did consider you a threat. I believe the family have been searching for your parents for some time to take revenge for the death of Antonio’s brother, Angelo, and they have been monitoring you ever since Edward Sallis made the mistake of going after Dominic Santini. They had heard rumours that with the return of your brother you had decided to search for your family and find a way to take the Cordelli’s out of the equation. They had stepped up their own search; even asked Val to do some tracking.’

Hawke briefly wondered how the Cordelli’s had heard rumours; he had thought that their plans had been a tightly kept secret. He returned his attention to Angelica.

‘Sterling considered you to be nothing more than an annoyance; you’d ruined one of his operations one time but it had seemed an indirect consequence of another mission.’ Angelica paused and took another drink. ‘He was interested Airwolf though. They concluded their business and Sterling invited me to dinner.’ She blushed. ‘Ten days later we were married.’

‘Fast.’ Hawke commented.

‘He romanced me, made me feel special.’ Angelica looked up and pinned Hawke with her blue eyes. ‘Nobody had me feel like that since you.’

Hawke gestured at her. ‘You’re married to Sterling.’

‘Yes.’

‘And he’s behind the two attacks to grab Airwolf.’ Hawke checked.

‘Yes.’ Angelica agreed. ‘With the first attack, he was primarily after the money that’s why he had the bomb but he never intended to return Airwolf or her crew. With the second he figured the women would be easier to control if he used them to get Airwolf. But you won’t be able to link any of the attacks to him. He’s careful.’

‘Not too careful.’ Hawke commented. ‘He must have known if you got captured, there was a chance his cover would be blown.’

‘I believe I was meant to be eliminated on that last mission.’ Angelica admitted. ‘Sterling would have taken Jo Santini, and left me behind to muddy the waters of who was responsible.’ She sighed. ‘My usefulness ended the moment I’d told him everything I knew or my father knew about Airwolf and you. But he doesn’t know that I spent my time learning as much as I could about his operation. I have a lot I can tell you. That’s why I need your protection.’

As though to punctuate her point, the lights went out in the room plunging them both into darkness.

‘Hawke?’ Angelica’s voice trembled through the pitch black.

Hawke made his way around the table and grabbed her arm. He pulled her out of her chair and backed away to the far side of the room from the door.

‘Do you have a gun?’ Angelica whispered as the door began to open.

‘Stay quiet and stay down.’ Hawke hissed.

A man appeared in the doorway and Hawke launched himself at the shadowy figure. They went down with a grunt from his assailant. Something metallic scuttled across the floor. Hawke wrestled with the man assimilating his weight, height and shape; it was Rick. He managed to land one punch and another but Rick was getting his own blows in and suddenly Hawke lost his grip and found himself flying through the air. He landed with a muffled thump.

Angelica screamed but the sound was abruptly strangled.

Hawke caught his breath and got to his feet.

The lights snapped back on.

Hawke blinked at the tableau in front of him; Rick was stood over Angelica with his hands around her neck. He threw himself across the room and tried to pull Rick away from Angelica.

‘Hawke!’ Caitlin’s yell had him looking over his shoulder to see her poised, gun ready. He moved out of the way and she took her shot.

Rick jerked as the bullet hit him and lost his grip on Angelica. Hawke pulled her out from underneath him as Caitlin took a second shot and Rick slumped to the floor. Caitlin hurried across to him and felt Rick’s neck for a pulse.

‘He’s alive.’ She looked across and scowled at the sight of Angelica clinging to Hawke and sobbing pitifully.

Her husband gave a small shrug as he patted Angelica’s shoulder.

‘You see?’ Angelica gasped between sobs. ‘I’m not safe. You have to protect me.’

Michael entered the room and took in the scene with one brief glance. ‘Let’s move to another room.’

‘Yes. Let’s.’ Caitlin said dryly.

Hawke pushed Angelica ahead of him and followed Michael as some medics and other guards entered to deal with Rick.

Evan met them half-way down the corridor and directed them into another room. Hawke manoeuvred Angelica to the sofa and disentangled himself from her grasp, motioning for a medic to see to her.

Evan cleared his throat. ‘I can’t believe Rick was part of this.’

‘Obviously, Sterling’s influence is greater than we thought or could have anticipated.’ Michael commented. ‘We need to move her. She’s too much of a target here.’

‘I’m not going anywhere without Hawke.’ Angelica said determinedly. ‘I said I’ll only speak with him and I meant it.’

Hawke avoided Caitlin’s gaze and rocked back on his heels uncomfortably.

‘Agreed.’ Evan said. ‘We should move her to a safe house and continue to debrief her.’

‘What safe house?’ Hawke asked gruffly. ‘You couldn’t even protect her here.’

‘You have somewhere in mind?’ Michael asked stepping in before Evan could respond.

‘Yeah.’ Hawke said ramming his hands in the pockets of his jeans. ‘I do.’

‘Sterling is aware of the location of your cabin.’ Evan said.

‘That wasn’t the cabin I was thinking of.’ Hawke retorted.

Caitlin frowned. ‘Doc’s?’

Hawke nodded at her warily.

‘That could work as a temporary measure.’ Michael said. ‘It’s remote, isolated and only a few people know of its location.’

‘We could keep Angelica there until you could arrange something more permanent.’ Hawke replied.

‘I can make the arrangements for a new life somewhere else.’ Michael agreed.

‘I can make the arrangements.’ Evan insisted.

‘I think we established your organisation might be compromised.’ Hawke snapped impatiently.

He and Evan glared at each other.

Evan sighed. ‘Will you at least let the Airwolf team escort you and provide the protection once you’re done debriefing her?’

Hawke didn’t hide his surprise at Evan’s suggestion.

Angelica frowned as she saw Hawke waver. ‘You gave me your word you’d protect me. I won’t talk unless…’

‘I did and I will.’ Hawke bit out unhappily not looking at Caitlin or at Angelica; he missed how Angelica’s eyes flashed triumphantly at his wife.

‘Perhaps we should continue this conversation outside.’ Caitlin suggested.

They all followed her out into the corridor and they closed the door on Angelica who waited alone in the room.

‘I don’t think this is a good idea.’ Caitlin said firmly.

‘Caitlin…’ Hawke began exasperatedly.

‘She’s playing you.’ Caitlin pointed out. ‘The hints about knowing about the Cordelli’s, about your family. She was married to Sterling for what a month at most when they attacked the cabin. How much could she possibly know about his operation?’

‘We need to find out.’ Michael said authoratively.

‘He’s right, Caitlin.’ Hawke said folding his arms.

‘She’s likely to continue talking absolute nonsense if it means she gets to keep you with her.’ Caitlin said frustrated. ‘Why can’t you all see that?’

‘We have to take that risk.’ Michael insisted.

‘No, we don’t.’ Caitlin said.

‘Look, it’ll be a few days before the arrangements will be in place for her to disappear.’ Michael said. ‘Why don’t we agree that we’ll try to get as much information from her as possible in that time?’

‘And how long is a few days?’ Caitlin said furiously. ‘We have a christening.’

‘We could postpone…’ Hawke let the rest of the sentence go unspoken at the flash of anger that rippled across Caitlin’s pale face.

‘Postpone?’ She repeated incredulous. She shook her head. ‘And I can’t believe we’re just going to let her go. In case you’ve all forgotten, she’s a criminal who has aided and abetted in kidnapping, attempted murder, extortion and terrorism.’

‘And who’s providing us with valuable information.’ Evan insisted.

‘What information?’ Caitlin asked. ‘So far all she’s given us is the name of the individual behind the attacks and we only have her word on that.’

‘I don’t think she’s lying.’ Hawke said defensively.

‘No, you wouldn’t.’ Caitlin retorted.

Hawke bristled. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

She returned his glare measure for measure. ‘I mean you’ve fallen for her line of bull hook, line and sinker. She’s got exactly what she wanted; you promising to be her own personal hero, night and day.’

Hawke flushed. ‘She does need protection, Cait.’

‘Fine.’ Caitlin bit out. ‘Then let the Airwolf team protect her.’

‘I gave her my word.’ Hawke said his blue eyes glinting a warning not to push him.

‘I seem to recall you making me a promise too.’ Caitlin said angrily.

‘I don’t think we have time for marital spats.’ Evan said brusquely.

Caitlin shot him a furious look but she turned and stalked a couple of steps down the corridor.

Evan sighed. ‘We need to move quickly to secure her.’ He nodded at Hawke. ‘I think her husband will probably expect if she was moved, you’d move her by helicopter. I think we should go with a ground vehicle.’

Hawke shrugged. ‘Fine with me but I think an aerial escort would be good idea if we’re on the ground.’ He gestured at Evan. ‘Airwolf could take out any attack if we did get made.’

‘OK.’ Evan acquiesced. ‘I’ll arrange for Locke and his team to provide an escort.’ His brown eyes flickered towards Caitlin who was leaning on the wall of the corridor, her face set in an angry frown and her arms crossed tightly across her chest. ‘I also think your wife is right; it would be a good idea for them to provide the protection detail.’ He waved away the protest he could see starting on Hawke’s face. ‘I’m not suggesting you relinquish your place completely. If Angelica Horn is more likely to be cooperative when you’re around, I’m fine with that but I think it would be worthwhile having back up.’

Michael tapped his cane on the floor. ‘He has a point, Hawke.’

Hawke nodded. ‘OK. The Airwolf team can provide additional back-up at the cabin but only them. Nobody else gets the coordinates.’

Evan agreed swiftly. ‘Michael, perhaps it would be best for you and Mrs Hawke to leave and start making the long term arrangements. I’ll organise everything for the transfer of Angelica to the cabin with the Airwolf team myself.’ He walked away before Michael could argue.

‘Is that OK with you?’ Michael asked Hawke.

Hawke nodded. He rubbed the back of his neck. ‘The sooner we can get those permanent arrangements in place the better.’ He glanced up the corridor at his unhappy wife. ‘Give us a minute?’

Michael gestured at the room. ‘I’ll keep our guest company.’

Hawke waited until the door closed before he approached Caitlin. He hovered by her side and wished she’d look at him. ‘This isn’t about you and me.’ He said finally.

‘Isn’t it?’ Caitlin raised her head and he was shocked at the anger in her eyes. ‘She tried to kill me a couple of months ago…’

‘I haven’t forgotten.’ He said brusquely.

‘Haven’t you? Because it seems to me you’ve forgotten a lot.’ Caitlin said. ‘She’s always wanted you and now she has you.’

‘She doesn’t have me.’ His frustration coated his words and he thrust a hand through his short brown hair. ‘I’m just babysitting her until Michael puts her somewhere safe.’

‘Sure even if that means postponing Nicky’s christening.’ Caitlin said dryly.

‘You heard her; she might have information about the Cordelli’s, or about my family or…’

‘Or she might know nothing and used what she did know to pull you in.’ Caitlin said her own frustration raising her voice.

They stared at each other angrily.

‘You don’t trust me.’ Hawke said in disbelief.

‘I trust you.’ Caitlin said defensively. ‘This isn’t about trust.’

‘Isn’t it?’ Hawke bit out. ‘You don’t trust me being alone with her. You think I’m going to choose her over you…’

‘You just did.’ Caitlin shouted breaking into his angry spiel. She lowered her voice. ‘You just did choose her over me and she knows it.’

Hawke inwardly flinched as he acknowledged she was right.

She shook her head. ‘Tell Michael I’ll meet him at the chopper.’

‘Cait…’ Hawke reached out and caught her arm.

She jerked herself free. ‘Don’t.’ Her blue-green eyes met his briefly and he took an involuntary step back at the hurt in them. He watched her walk away from him and wondered what the hell he’d just done and if he was ever going to make it right again.

Part 6

Saint John watched Erin wipe away the ice-cream smears from Sophie’s face wistfully. They were sat outside a small café on the boulevard at Venice beach, eating ice-cream and sipping coffee while watching the world of sunshine and surf go by in front of them.

‘This is a great.’ Erin said. ‘Thanks so much for bringing us.’

‘My pleasure.’ Saint John said.

‘Did you used to do that?’ Erin asked indicating a couple of guys carrying surf boards as they passed on their way down to the beach

‘Surf? Sure.’ Saint John nodded.

‘So what’s stopping you getting back out there?’ Erin asked picking up Sophie to cuddle her.

‘Age.’ Saint John said ruefully. ‘Surfing’s a young man’s game.’

‘I think they’d be some surfers who’d disagree with you.’ Erin laughed.

‘I’m sure they are.’ Saint John said. ‘Personally, I’d quite like to settle down.’

‘So what’s stopping you doing that?’ Erin asked curious.

Saint John tried to affect a blasé expression. ‘Haven’t met the right girl yet.’ He said lightly picking up his coffee.

Erin’s green eyes narrowed on him. ‘Really? Because I could have sworn you were in love with Jo.’

He choked on his drink and she watched as he spluttered and tried to mop himself up.

‘Sorry.’ She said insincerely.

‘How did you know?’ Saint John said wiping his hands on a napkin.

‘Well, I didn’t really,’ Erin said, ‘until you confirmed it just now.’ She had guessed based on how Saint John had acted around the blonde pilot.

Saint John stared at her. ‘So you asked me…?’

‘Expecting a denial.’ Erin said cheerily.

‘Sneaky.’ Saint John commented.

‘It runs in the family.’ Erin admitted. ‘Jo seems nice.’

‘She is.’ Saint John agreed. ‘She’s great.’

‘And she’s single.’ Erin stressed.

‘Not really.’ Saint John gestured with the napkin. ‘She’s seeing Mike.’

‘Mike?’ Erin frowned. ‘Are you sure? Because I didn’t get that vibe from them at all.’

‘You didn’t?’ Saint John said surprised.

‘No. I mean they were sure flirting a lot and everything but it didn’t seem all that serious to me.’ Erin took a sip of her drink.

‘It didn’t?’ Saint John said.

‘No.’ Erin shrugged. ‘If you hadn’t told me they were together, I would never have guessed.’

Saint John considered her words thoughtfully. What if Erin was right? What if Jo wasn’t with Mike?

Erin watched the play of emotion on Saint John’s face. ‘You do know for certain that they are together, don’t you? It isn’t just some assumption you’ve made.’

Saint John didn’t answer and she read the truth in his eyes.

‘Saint John.’ Erin chided. ‘If you love her, you should ask her otherwise you’ll lose her because of something you don’t even know for certain.’

‘That’s good advice.’ Saint John said feeling a little sheepish.

‘Any time.’ Erin said.

Saint John felt his bleeper vibrate. He frowned and picked it up. ‘Excuse me a minute.’ He headed to the inside of the café where there was a phone and rang the airfield.

‘Santini Air.’ Jo answered breezily.

‘It’s me, Jo.’

‘Hi, we’re back in business with the Lady. Locke just called. He needs us to provide an escort for Hawke.’

‘Why does String need an escort?’ Saint John asked.

‘Apparently there was an attempt on Angelica Horn’s life.’ Jo answered. ‘He’s taking her to some cabin he knows in the Halynon National Park while Michael makes arrangements for her to go into protection. We’re to stay with Hawke at the cabin with Angelica.’

‘OK. I’ll bring Erin back to the airfield. Can you arrange for someone to fly her back home?’

‘Sure.’ Jo said. ‘I’ll take care of it.’

‘Thanks.’ Saint John hung up and turned back to give Erin the bad news.

They made their way back to the airfield and Saint John saw her safely into the chopper Jo had organised before he headed for the Santini Air chopper.

Jo waited until he was securely inside before she grasped the cyclic and made them airborne.

‘Where’s Mike?’ Saint John asked.

‘He went on ahead to prep Airwolf.’ Jo answered as she turned toward the Lair.

Saint John wondered whether he should ask her like Erin had suggested. The words hovered on his lips and he swallowed them. After the mission, he decided; he would ask her after the mission.

‘So what’s the deal with us protecting Angelica Horn?’ Saint John asked.

‘Don’t ask me but I doubt whether Caitlin’s too happy.’ Jo murmured.

Saint John recalled the story that String had told him and silently agreed.

‘Erin seems nice.’ Jo remarked.

‘Yeah, she is.’ Saint John said. ‘It’s a shame about her husband. He doesn’t deserve her.’

Jo registered his protectiveness over the other woman and frowned. Was Saint John falling for Erin? She couldn’t blame him; Erin was very pretty and she always seemed very nice whenever they had met before. She sighed.

‘Are you OK?’ Saint John asked.

‘Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?’ Jo searched for something to cover her moment of jealousy. ‘I was just thinking about this new arrangement Locke described.’

‘What new arrangement?’ Saint John said.

‘Sorry, I’d forgotten we hadn’t told you yet. Locke says the team is under the jurisdiction of some guy called Evan.’ Jo said. ‘Apparently he’ll be deciding the missions and whether we use Airwolf or not from now on.’

‘Seriously?’ Saint John was astounded. ‘Locke agreed to that?’

‘I don’t think he had much choice.’ Jo said. ‘I think he either agreed to it or we were out of business permanently.’

‘Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.’ Saint John said without thinking.

Jo glanced over the cockpit. ‘What do you mean?’

Saint John looked back at her. ‘Just that I’m tired of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love flying Airwolf but I never expected to be chasing around doing missions when I got out of Burma.’ He waved a hand vaguely. ‘I only really signed up to it to keep Locke from looking too closely for String and Caitlin.’

‘I know what you mean.’ Jo smiled at his surprise. ‘I’ve kinda liked not being shot at the last few weeks.’

There was a companionable silence for the rest of the journey. Jo stowed the chopper under a nearby outcropping where it wouldn’t be seen easily from the air and they made their way into the Lair. They found Locke and Mike sat despondently on the metal platform that housed a range of security and communication consoles. Airwolf stood resplendent in the centre of the cave bathed in early afternoon sunlight.

‘What’s going?’ Saint John asked.

‘We’ve been stood down.’ Locke said throwing a pen at the computer monitor.

‘Why?’ Saint John said leaning over the yellow railing.

‘Deputy Director Evan called. He said there had been a change in plan and that he’d decided to go with a regular Company escort rather than Airwolf.’ Locke elaborated.

‘Does String know?’ Saint John asked.

‘I guess he does.’ Locke said.

‘I can’t believe he would agree to the change.’ Jo said perplexed.

‘He probably didn’t have a choice.’ Locke said bitterly folding his arms over his Airwolf suit.

Mike was also dressed in the lilac uniform; part of their preparation for their anticipated departure. ‘This sucks.’

‘You got that right.’ Locke said.

‘Isn’t there anything we can do?’ Jo asked.

‘Nope.’ Locke said.

‘Let’s go anyway.’ Saint John suggested.

Mike grinned. ‘Now you’re talking.’ He sprang to his feet.

‘No!’ Locke yelled at them stopping them in their tracks as they headed to the helicopter. ‘Look, I know this sucks but we have to follow orders. If we turn up when we’ve been ordered to stand down, the Company will take it as a sign Evan can’t control us and they will shut us down.’

Saint John held Locke’s gaze before he nodded. ‘OK. We’ll try it your way.’ He absently agreed as Jo suggested they run some maintenance checks on Airwolf while they were all at the Lair and went to change into his uniform. He frowned. He had a bad feeling about being stood down and he only hoped his brother was OK.

Part 7


Caitlin stared out of Marella’s office window sightlessly. She didn’t see the majestic rock in front of her, her mind on her earlier argument with Hawke.

‘Hey.’ Marella walked over and put a comforting arm around her. ‘I made you some tea.’

Caitlin allowed herself to be led over to the seating area and accepted the tea-cup with a murmured word of thanks.

‘You want to talk about it?’ Marella asked gently. Michael had filled her in on what had happened when he and Caitlin had arrived back from the Company holding centre.

‘What’s there to talk about?’ Caitlin asked sadly.

‘Caitlin, Hawke would never cheat on you,’ Marella began.

‘I know that.’ Caitlin said quickly. ‘I trust him, Marella, I do. It’s just…’

‘Just?’ Marella prompted when Caitlin’s voice fell away.

‘He chose her over me.’ Caitlin said in a quiet voice. Tears flooded her eyes and suddenly the hurt she was feeling rolled over her. She hurriedly put the china cup down and covered her face with her hands, the tears spilling over her fingers.

Marella moved to sit next to her and put an arm around her shoulders. ‘I’m sure Hawke would never choose Angelica Horn over you.’

‘No?’ Caitlin asked brokenly. ‘Then tell me why he has to personally take her to a remote cabin and watch over her until Michael can make arrangements for her to permanently enter some kind of witness protection. Why he would miss his son’s christening?’

Marella patted her back soothingly. ‘Michael said Hawke gave his word so she’d talk to them.’

‘I know and I know how important keeping his promise is to Hawke.’ Caitlin admitted. ‘But this is Angelica Horn.’

Marella handed her a box of tissues. Caitlin pulled one free and started to rub at her nose and wet cheeks.

‘She manipulated him perfectly.’ Caitlin said. ‘Again.’

‘You mean hinting that she knew something about his search for his family and about the Cordelli’s?’ Marella sighed. ‘Yeah, Michael told me about that too.’

‘She knew just what would get his interest. Hawke always stops thinking when it comes to finding his family.’ Caitlin sighed and blew her nose. ‘And she was gleeful about him saying he would protect her, you could see it.’ She grimaced. ‘You’d think he would have learned from the first time he met her.’

‘He would never have meant to hurt you.’ Marella said softly. ‘Not deliberately.’

‘I know.’ Caitlin said. ‘But he knows how I feel about her – hell, she almost killed me a couple of months ago – and he did it anyway.’

Marella urged her to take the cup back and take a drink. ‘Are you guys going to be OK?’

Caitlin took a sip of the tea, letting the warm liquid soothe her throat. ‘I don’t know.’

Marella didn’t know what to say to comfort Caitlin. She took a deep breath.

The office door was flung open. Michael hurried in.

‘What’s wrong?’ Caitlin said putting her cup down and standing up with Marella as he came to a halt in front of them.

‘Evan cancelled Airwolf as the escort.’ Michael said.

‘Hawke would never have agreed to that.’ Caitlin said.

‘I know.’ Michael confirmed. ‘My source told me Evan’s put a normal Company escort helicopter with them. They left for the cabin thirty minutes ago.’

‘God, Michael, that crew could be compromised and if Sterling really wants to eliminate Angelica they won’t stand a chance against a gun-ship in the middle of the park.’ Caitlin was already moving past Michael and out of the door heading for the new Airwolf in the hangar below.

Michael gestured at Marella. ‘She’ll need an engineer. I’ll organise some back-up.’

Marella nodded and made to follow Caitlin.

Michael caught her arm. ‘Be safe.’

She briefly touched his hand before she was gone. He headed for Marella’s desk and sat in front of the video-phone. He dialled the Lair.

‘Locke.’ The face of the other agent filled the monitor.

‘Locke, this is Michael.’ Michael leaned forward. ‘A contact called me and told me Evan cancelled you guys as back-up.’

‘That’s right.’ Locke nodded. ‘We were stood down. Evan’s going with the usual escort set-up so Sterling won’t get alerted that it could be Angelica.’

‘Yes and did it occur to you that Hawke would never have agreed to that and he probably thinks you guys are still out there backing him up?’ Michael stated furiously.

Locke was pushed out of the way by Saint John. ‘Are you saying String didn’t agree to the change in escort?’

‘I’m saying hell would freeze over before your brother would choose any escort over Airwolf.’ Michael said. ‘Caitlin and Marella are on their way but…’

‘We’re on it.’ Saint John said.

‘I’ll send the coordinates direct to the Airwolf computer.’ Michael said and reached forward to disconnect the call.

In the Lair, the picture blinked out. Saint John whirled around to head for Airwolf.

‘Wait a minute.’ Locke said catching his arm. ‘We can’t go.’

‘Locke, my brother could be in trouble. I’m going.’ Saint John said angrily. ‘And you’re not stopping me.’

‘If you go, we might lose Airwolf completely.’ Locke said forcefully.

‘You know something Locke, I don’t care.’ Saint John said.

‘Locke, if Evan did cancel the escort without Hawke knowing, he will be in trouble because he’ll think we’re still backing him up and he’ll make decisions based on that.’ Mike added. ‘You’ve got to let us go.’

‘You know we’ve had these discussions before Locke.’ Saint John said. ‘I’m getting tired of them.’ He glanced at Jo and Mike. ‘Let’s go.’

Mike gave Locke a sympathetic look but he followed Saint John to Airwolf.

Continued in Part IV.


 

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