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Fanfiction: New Beginnings - Part I

Fandom: Airwolf
Series: Finding Family (Story 8)
Summary: The Hawkes race to save their sister. 
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Hawke/Caitlin.  Michael/Marella.  Saint John/Jo.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

New Beginnings

Part 1


The cave was empty. All that remained was dust and rock. Stringfellow Hawke stared out at the empty space and leaned forward over the controls of the original Airwolf helicopter. It was strange to see the space looking so devoid of equipment. His blue eyes glanced off the far side where seven days before a steel platform had sat with an array of consoles; communication and security equipment vital to running operations from ostensibly the middle of nowhere. It was all gone. He breathed in deeply and got out, leaving the door open.

He walked around trying to find any evidence that the Lair had once been home to Airwolf; anything. He found nothing. The Airwolf team had moved out and the clean up team had moved in. They had been good, Hawke mused as he crouched and ran a hand through the trackless soil. They had left no sign of any kind; not a screw, scrap of paper or even a tell-tale footprint. The Lair had returned to being simply an unusual cave in the Valley of the Gods. Hawke remembered when it had last been just a cave; remembered searching it out with his late mentor Dominic Santini and being pleased because he had known that it would be the perfect place to hide the world’s most technologically advanced and, at the time, only mach capable helicopter while he forced the FIRM, the intelligence agency that had built her to search for his missing brother. The wave of nostalgia caught him off guard. So much had happened since that moment. He rose and looked back at the helicopter that was standing centre stage.

Airwolf.

The original. She was as beautiful as ever. The years hadn’t diminished her sleek lines with the dark, gleaming black body armour and white underbelly or the way the sunlight cascading down the funnel glinted off her rotors and cast shadows on the walls. Time hadn’t eroded the predatory feel of her or the way she called to him; one creature of the air to another. Hawke walked back to her and laid a hand on her nose. The hiss of hydraulics brought a reluctant smile to his face. He headed back to his seat but leaned back, folding his arms as he continued to look out at the Lair, not quite ready to leave.

He couldn’t believe so much time had passed, he considered thoughtfully. His initial mission to retrieve Airwolf from Libya, after she had been stolen by her twisted creator Moffett, seemed like a distant memory yet the events spilled into his mind as sharply clear as though they had taken place only the day before. He’d brought Airwolf home, but he’d brought her to the Lair. The only person he didn’t think he’d surprised at all with the move was Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III. The former deputy director of the FIRM had actually seemed understanding of Hawke’s decision; pleased even. Michael had suggested another deal; his protection or as much as he could give at least, a continuation of the search for Hawke’s brother and in return, Hawke would fly Airwolf missions for Michael.

Dom had not been pleased. Apoplectic was a better description, Hawke thought back fondly. The older man with his gruff demeanour hadn’t trusted Michael at all when they had first started; had argued against performing missions and putting themselves in danger, flying a temperamental machine and potentially getting killed for the trouble. But Dom had come round. He’d loved flying Airwolf who he considered was his Lady. Hawke’s blue eyes blurred a little. His grief at losing Dom in a helicopter explosion caused by a bomb the year before was still raw, still apt to creep up on him and catch him unawares. He rubbed his eyes and his fingers came back wet with the tears he’d been unable to prevent. He sighed.

Those first few months of flying Airwolf had been exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure. The excitement of the missions offset against his continued fruitless search for Saint John. They had come to a sudden halt after an attempt was made by the government to recover her and by mutual agreement Airwolf remained dormant in the Lair for months. Until an unexpected phone call had sent Hawke to Texas. Hawke shifted in his seat. He’d flown Airwolf to Texas and straight to Caitlin O’Shaunessy.

His lips tugged upward as he thought of his wife. He could remember exactly how she looked in the Pope County jail cell; her red hair had been short back then, the freckles that liberally covered her delicate features evident even in the dim lighting and her blue-green eyes had been as honest and open as she was. He had fallen immensely, hugely, impossibly in like, Hawke mused. The falling in love had come later, much later, after Caitlin had become the third member of the small Airwolf crew and after they’d saved each other’s lives more times than he liked to remember. He wasn’t sure of the exact moment that it had happened, only that it had. He’d tried to run from it, scared he would lose her like so many others in his life but in the end he hadn’t let his fear rule him and they had celebrated their first year of marriage only a couple of months before. He couldn’t imagine his life without her or their first child, a son they had named after Dominic and had nicknamed Nicky. He had been christened only a week before.

A smile spread slowly across his face; he and Cait had begun trying for their second child. The memory of a dream seeped back to him; Dom telling him he would have a daughter. He hoped it would come true like his dream of Dom telling him he was having a son had come true. His smile faded. That last dream had been more of a goodbye. God but he missed him. ‘I’ll always be backing you, kid.’ Dom’s words came back to him and he took a shaky breath. He still held onto those words like a talisman.

He shook himself a little. He might have lost Dom but he had regained his brother. Saint John had been found the year before, alive and well, after spending his life working undercover. That he hadn’t contacted Hawke for all those years despite being alive and well was still a source of tension between the brothers but they were getting past it, Hawke thought determinedly. He knew Saint John regretted staying away so long and they couldn’t turn back time after all. Nicky was helping to rebuild the bonds between them and so was the search for their parents and two more siblings; a brother and a sister.

Hawke sighed and shifted his position a little, staring sightlessly out at the Lair. He had never thought once he had found Saint John that he would ever need to search for family again but an unexpected encounter with a vengeful Japanese pilot from the Second World War had prompted the brothers to look closer at the boating accident that had allegedly killed their parents.

They had worked out that the accident had been a ruse for their parents to enter witness protection following their father’s success at bringing Angelo Cordelli, the killer of his father, to justice. The FBI had lied and told Alan and Jane Hawke that Hawke and Saint John had perished when they had been unexpectedly swept overboard. They knew from the FBI file that their parents had ultimately skipped the witness protection following another attempt on their lives, taking with them a baby daughter. It had taken them forever to find that much out and Hawke wondered whether they really would ever track down the rest of their family. He was slowly coming to the realisation that he no longer needed to find them; he had his own family in Caitlin and Nicky and they came first.

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. They did have a slim lead; a name for their sister; Sarah Hardy. Michael was tracking her down. Hawke frowned. The name had been supplied by Angelica Horn, the daughter of his one-time nemesis John Bradford Horn. Angelica had given Hawke the information practically with her dying breath. Her biological father had apparently been a business man with Mafia connections; he had introduced her to the Cordelli family and to another Mafia man called Matt Sterling. They believed Sterling had been behind two attempts to grab the original Airwolf helicopter but they had no proof. Angelica was dead following an ambush organised by a deputy director of the Company, Marshall Evan, who they believed was working on behalf of Sterling. Evan had disappeared along with the video of her evidence. His betrayal had major ramifications for the Company’s control of Airwolf.

The Company had run two Airwolf teams; one under the purview of an agent called Jason Locke and the other under the purview of Michael. Locke had taken control of the original Airwolf file. Saint John had assumed command of Airwolf while Hawke and Caitlin had been in hiding. An air force major called Mike Rivers and Dom’s niece Jo Santini had made up the rest of the crew. The second project run by Michael was focused on building the next generation of the Airwolf craft. Hawke and Caitlin worked for Michael testing the new helicopter which benefited from having Airwolf’s artificial intelligence. The intelligence had developed in the old ship, been transferred to the new ship but had found a way of transferring between them both. Whichever ship Hawke flew, she flew with him and as time went by he was thinking more and more of the intelligence as Airwolf regardless of the ship he flew. The Company had never known about the intelligence and Evan’s betrayal had endangered both projects.

Luckily Michael had been working on another plan which had happily come to fruition; all aspects of both Airwolf projects were ordered by the President to be turned over by the Company to the Department of Defence. A new division was being created under its auspice to house both Airwolf projects. An ex-NSA agent called Robert Delaney would liaise with the President himself over missions and Michael would run day-to-day operations from Red Star. The new set-up had caused some major decisions to be made by the various team members; while Mike Rivers had happily transferred to Michael’s project, Locke was staying with the Company ostensibly to weed out the corruption that had led to Evan’s betrayal; Saint John and Jo had begun a relationship and opted out, deciding instead to focus on Santini Air, Dom’s old air service business.

All things considered, Hawke was pleased with how things had turned out. He truly didn’t mind Locke’s absence; he and Locke had barely tolerated each other at best and, if he was honest, he was relieved that Saint John had decided not to continue with Airwolf. He loved his brother but working together day in, day out might have ruined the tenuous bond they had managed to rebuild. Hawke enjoyed working with Mike, not that he was letting him know how much. The other man was a good pilot, learned quickly and although seemingly laid back was a perfectionist when it came to his flying; Hawke appreciated that and Mike’s irreverent humour especially as he could see it irked Michael occasionally in the same way Dom’s humour always had.

Hawke’s friendship with Michael still surprised him in many ways but Hawke appreciated it and relied on it more than he would ever admit. Michael, and his fiancée Marella, had been there for Caitlin and himself through some tough times. The two couples were close; Caitlin was spending the day shopping with Marella along with Michael’s eleven year old daughter, Angelina. Caitlin had taken Nicky with her so it had left Hawke at a loose end. He had wandered into Red Star, the home of the Airwolf project, and found a chagrined Michael seemingly equally at a loose end and bizarrely out of his usual all-white uniform. It had been Michael’s suggestion that Hawke take out the original Airwolf; she had been put through a battery of maintenance and upgrade sessions and needed testing. Hawke had a sneaking suspicion Michael knew Hawke had needed to fly something.

Airwolf had been as keen as her pilot to get airborne and within a split second he had felt the invisible click between them like always. He had sent her flying across the California landscape and found himself over the Valley of the Gods with some bemusement. Maybe it wasn’t too surprising he’d found his way to the Lair, Hawke mused. There had been a lot of changes in a short space of time; maybe he’d instinctively needed to come back to something familiar. Maybe they both had, he thought looking around the cockpit. His eyes narrowed on his watch. He probably should head back before Michael got cranky…

The incoming communication alarm sounded.

Hawke allowed a rueful smile; it looked like he was too late. He closed the cockpit door and hit the receive button, reaching for the heavy helmet even as Michael appeared on the video screen.

‘Hawke, where the hell are you?’ Michael snapped. His one good eye seemed to burn with angry intensity down the transmission, the other was covered by its habitual black eye-patch and both guarded behind his wire-frame glasses.

Hawke bristled at the tone. ‘I’m on my way, Michael.’

‘Good,’ Michael leaned forward, ‘because I have a lead on your sister.’

Hawke froze in the act of putting the helmet on before he continued hurriedly. ‘I’ll be there shortly.’

Michael sat back, the picture of smug satisfaction. ‘Try not to break any records; we’ve only just realigned her turbos.’

Hawke’s only answer was a scowl before he disconnected the call.

Part 2


The sound of giggling coming from the office was the first thing Mike heard when he entered the hangar. He grimaced a little and hoped he wasn’t interrupting something; it had been bad enough almost walking in on Jo and Saint John in the shower that morning in the apartment he shared with the other man. Jo had stunned them all by planting a kiss on Saint John at Nicky’s christening and the couple were very much still in the first sappy phase of romance. He decided that he should give them some warning and banged the outer door firmly behind him. He was rewarded by the abrupt cessation of the giggling. He walked with more confidence into the office and stopped short in the doorway as he suddenly understood why the giggling had ceased; the couple were wrapped up in each other’s arms in the midst of a very passionate kiss.

He coughed politely.

No reaction.

He coughed louder.

Still nothing.

‘Hey guys!’ Mike yelled and slammed the office door.

The couple stumbled out of their embrace.

Saint John put a hand dramatically to his chest. ‘God, Mike, you almost gave me a heart attack.’

‘Good.’ Mike said with his usual humour. ‘I might have been a customer, you know.’

‘We were celebrating.’ Jo said defensively. Her hand went to blonde bob and quickly rearranged it back into place.

Saint John picked up a document from the desk and waved it. ‘I’m now a proud half-owner of Santini Air.’

‘Wow’ Mike held out his hand for Saint John to shake enthusiastically before he wrapped Jo in a platonic hug under Saint John’s watchful eye.

‘Coffee?’ Saint John asked holding up the pot.

Mike nodded and slumped into a chair opposite one of the desks. He waited until Saint John handed him a mug. ‘So I guess you guys are really doing this?’

Saint John’s lips twitched in amusement as he leaned back against the desk and took a sip of his own coffee. ‘You thought we’d change our minds?’

‘Well, not about each other, no.’ Mike clarified. His green eyes twinkled mischievously. ‘It took you long enough to work it out though.’

Jo stuck her tongue at him and he grinned as Saint John rolled his eyes.

‘No,’ Mike said keeping his tone light, ‘I thought you might have had a change of heart about the career plans.’

Jo and Saint John exchanged an amused glance.

‘You missing us already?’ Saint John quipped.

Mike gestured with his mug. ‘Well, it’s not the same without you.’ And it wasn’t. He missed flying Airwolf with his friends. He pulled a face to lighten the moment. ‘Your brother doesn’t let me eat candy in the cockpit.’

Saint John smiled; he’d seen his brother training other pilots and knew he was a hard taskmaster. ‘He was always serious about his flying.’

‘So am I.’ Mike said defensively. ‘But seriously; banning candy?’

‘I bet there’s an upside.’ Jo said perching on the second desk across the room. ‘Have you had a chance to fly that new ship yet?’

The team had been stunned to see a new version of Airwolf in the skies the week before; stunned and, as pilots, envious. The new Airwolf helicopter had the same basic design as the original but looked sleeker, sharper and deadlier.

Mike nodded enthusiastically. ‘Actually, that’s all I’ve flown this last week. They’ve been upgrading the old ship. You should see the new one; she’s incredible. You should fly her. Her balance is beautiful and she’s fast; real fast. You have to experience it.’

Saint John looked over at Jo amused at Mike’s almost reverential tone. ‘There’s the upside.’ He commented wryly.

Jo grinned.

Mike smiled good-naturedly at the teasing. ‘They’re training me to fly her.’

‘Training you?’ Jo asked curious.

‘Apparently your brother thinks I have bad habits.’ Mike sighed dramatically. ‘And,’ he added, ‘she is a different ship especially with the intelligence.’

‘How is that?’ Saint John asked. When String had told him about the artificial intelligence he’d been shocked and he wasn’t afraid to admit the idea freaked him out a little.

‘Weird.’ Mike shook his head and gestured with the mug. ‘The first time your brother spoke to her and she responded…’ he shrugged, ‘I admit it scared the hell out of me.’ He grinned suddenly. ‘She’s beginning to respond to me now though.’

‘Well, of course,’ Jo said rolling her eyes, ‘she’s a lady; how could she resist your charms?’

‘Exactly.’ Mike responded breezily ignoring the hint of sarcasm in Jo’s voice. ‘Apparently she has a favourites list which I’m not on yet.’ He smiled. ‘But I will be.’

Saint John shook his head. ‘I think I’m just pleased she wasn’t in our ship.’

Mike hesitated a moment before he replied. ‘Actually, she was.’

‘She was?’ Jo shot back before Saint John could reply. ‘How?’

‘Apparently, she can link to the old computer using the telecommunications network.’ He shook his head. ‘She’s been with us most of the time we had her.’

‘OK. That’s just creepy.’ Saint John said.

Mike nodded. ‘She saved our lives too. You remember that time in the Balkans when we thought we’d lost her and found her a field over?’

‘Yeah,’ Saint John replied slowly, ‘you forgot where you parked her.’

‘No,’ Mike pointed at him, ‘ten minutes before we got there she’d moved position to avoid being detected by an army patrol.’

Saint John assimilated the new information in disbelief. If an army patrol had discovered Airwolf, the team would have been ambushed on their arrival back; they would have all been captured probably killed.

‘And that’s not the only time.’ Mike said. He looked down briefly into the dark contents of his mug. ‘She’s balanced systems, lined up missiles, ran scans; all to make up for what we didn’t know we needed to do.’

‘We all barely got any training.’ Jo said defensively. ‘You learned in that simulator; I only had about a few weeks of training with Caitlin and Saint John had even less than that. I think we did OK.’

‘You’re right.’ Mike cheerfully agreed. ‘We did OK.’

Saint John smiled knowingly. ‘But Caitlin and String do better.’

‘I didn’t say that.’ Mike said his voice bubbling with restrained laughter.

‘You don’t have to.’ Saint John commented.

‘We’ve both flown with them, remember?’ Jo shook her head and folded her arms across the blue overalls she wore. ‘I remember the first time I flew with them in Airwolf. They just have this rhythm.’

‘They do.’ Saint John agreed.

‘They are amazing.’ Mike added.

There was a moment’s silence.

‘OK, well, I’m depressed.’ Jo said with a sigh.

Saint John crossed the room and slid an arm around her. ‘They’ve been doing this for a long time, Jo.’

‘It’s just a little galling to admit they’re better than us.’ Jo said easily.

‘String’s always been the best pilot I know.’ Saint John said, hugging her gently.

‘Thanks.’ Mike laughed.

Saint John smiled apologetically. ‘Sorry, Mike.’

‘Nope, you’re right.’ Mike acknowledged. He sighed. ‘Although I’m with Jo; it’s galling to have to admit it when someone’s better than you.’ And as much as his own healthy ego hated to admit it, Stringfellow Hawke was better than him. He’d felt more of an equal with Saint John.

‘You’re enjoying flying with String though.’ Saint John deduced.

Mike nodded feeling a little guilty admitting it. Flying with Saint John’s brother was like having a master class every time they were in the air. The way Hawke flew was pure poetry. ‘What’s not to like?’ He quipped to cover the awkwardness.

‘So you guys are getting on OK?’ Saint John probed.

Mike shrugged, his eyes twinkling. ‘He hasn’t used the eject button yet.’

They laughed.

‘Your brother’s a hard man to read.’ Mike commented when they sobered.

Saint John’s lips twitched at the hint of insecurity. ‘Relax, Mike. He likes you and if he didn’t think you were a good pilot, he wouldn’t let you in the cockpit at all.’

‘I’ll keep that in mind the next time he refuses to let me eat candy.’ Mike retorted pleased at the peek Saint John had allowed into his brother’s thoughts. He lifted his feet up onto the desk and decided they needed a change in subject. ‘Have you guys heard from Locke?’

Saint John shook his head. ‘Not since we all said goodbye.’ They’d gone out for dinner as a team a few days before to celebrate their time together and effectively say goodbye. ‘You?’

‘He was at Red Star yesterday.’ Mike said.

Jo and Saint John exchanged a concerned look at the serious look in Mike’s eyes.

‘So what’s going on?’ Saint John asked.

‘I thought you weren’t interested anymore.’ Mike teased.

‘Hey, watch it!’ Saint John said. He gestured at Jo. ‘Or she’ll punch you.’

Jo slapped Saint John’s arm playfully as Mike held up his free hand in surrender.

‘OK, OK.’ Mike drank some of his coffee. ‘Locke’s managed to identify two more people who were involved with the ambush on Hawke and Angelica Horn last week. They’re now in custody. Both of them admit they were recruited by Evan just over two months ago, shortly before the second attempt by Sterling to take Airwolf.’

‘If it was Sterling.’ Jo pointed out. ‘We only have Angelica Horn’s word that it was.’

‘True.’ Mike conceded. ‘Anyway, Evan’s still at large but Locke is heading for New York to follow up some leads there.’

‘Sterling’s home city.’ Saint John commented.

Mike nodded. ‘I offered to give him some back-up but…’

‘He wouldn’t accept it, huh?’ Saint John shook his head.

‘He can be so stubborn.’ Jo sighed.

Mike drained his mug. ‘Which is why I thought you guys might be interested in a little vacation…’

Saint John and Jo looked at each other.

‘I guess a little vacation couldn’t hurt.’ Saint John said mildly.

‘I’ve always wanted to see New York.’ Jo added.

‘Great.’ Mike swung his feet off the desk and stood up. ‘There’s one more thing.’

‘Oh?’ Saint John asked amused.

Mike stuffed his hands in the pockets of his denim jacket. ‘I’m going to move into quarters at Red Star.’

‘Mike…’

‘You don’t have to do that.’

The couple spoke simultaneously in protest and Mike waved away their words firmly.

‘Look, I think it’s great you guys are together and you don’t need me hanging around cramping your style.’ Mike said. ‘I’ve checked with Marella and there’s accommodation available with the job so…’ he shrugged to complete the sentence.

‘I’ll miss you.’ Saint John said but Mike knew it was an acceptance not another attempt to get him to change his mind.

‘I’ll miss you too.’

‘Thanks.’ Saint John held his out and they did a manly handshake-hug that Jo watched a little tearfully.

The phone rang breaking the moment.

Jo picked up hurriedly. ‘Santini Air.’ She paused. ‘Michael, hi.’

Saint John rolled his eyes and mouthed the words ‘what does he want?’ at her. She sent him an exasperated look as she tried to remain focused on her conversation.

‘Right. No, we’ll be right there.’ She hung up.

‘What?’ Saint John demanded as she passed him his jacket.

‘Michael has a lead on your sister.’ Jo said succinctly. ‘He wants us to meet him at Red Star.’

‘Well, what are we waiting for?’ Saint John grabbed his coat and the keys to the Santini Air chopper. ‘Let’s move.’ He was out of the office in the blink of an eye leaving behind a bemused Jo and Mike.

Jo shook her head, torn between understanding and annoyance.

Mike slung his arm around her and gave her a quick comforting squeeze before he started out of the room. ‘Come on.’ He grinned over his shoulder. ‘Or he’s likely to leave without us.’

The sad thing was he was right, Jo mused as she locked up the office and headed out after the guys.

Continued in Part II.


 

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