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Fanfiction: Someone to Watch Over Us

Fandom: Airwolf
Summary: Dom watches as Hawke and Caitlin shift from friends to lovers to husband and wife. 
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Hawke/Caitlin. Spoilers for Season Two/Three.  Part Three and the Epilogue are TAGs/inserts to my Lost Season and Finding Family series but you don't need to read those to understand this.   
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Someone to Watch Over Us

Part One

The Truth About Holly

If there's one thing Dominic Santini knows about Stringfellow Hawke, it's that he doesn't trust easily.

So, it's something of a shock then, to walk into his cramped office in the hangar and find String smiling at a cute redhead in a checked shirt, tight denim jeans and cowboy boots. For a moment, Dom's simply pleased and intrigued by the pretty girl who's managed to put a smile on String's face – it's not an easy task. But then, String steps up and introduces the redhead as Caitlin O'Shaunessy, the Highway Patrol cop who'd helped him out in Texas when String had gone haring off to find an old buddy and ended up in a heap of trouble with a local sheriff.

Alarm shoots through Dom's veins like the best shot of whiskey he's ever drunk. They'd been in Airwolf when they'd rescued the girl from the sheriff's clutches. She'd followed them in her own small chopper for a few minutes until String had hit the turbos and left her in the dust, but Dom remembers joking that she'd get her man eventually. In hindsight, he's wishing he hadn't.

Dom's brow lowers and he mutters a hello. There's no doubt in Dom's mind that this O'Shaunessy broad is after his Lady. Probably going to arrest String too for shooting up the town rescuing her. He's uneasy and unhappy and wondering why the hell String isn't reacting in his usual taciturn manner. Clearly, the girl has him bewitched in some way.

Dom barely holds it together until she's gone. He rounds on String before the car is out of sight. 'What's with you?'

String shoots him a bemused look. 'What?'

'She has to be here for the Lady.' Dom points out, frankly bewildered that String hasn't worked it out for himself.

'Nah.' String shakes his head and steps towards the waiting Steerman. 'She came to bring Jimmy's body back like I told ya and besides,' he shrugs and climbs back on the trolley, 'we kinda talked about it already.'

'Huh?' Dom stares at him. 'What d'ya mean you talked about it already?' Because String never talks about anything. Ever. And definitely not about Airwolf.

'She called her a black battleship with rotors.'

Dom starts smiling because that's a good a description of his Lady that he's ever heard.

'She realised I wasn't going to talk and dropped it.' String continues.

'And you think she's just going to let it go?' Dom asks incredulous, hands waving dramatically, the smile disappearing off his face because String isn't usually this naive.

'Yep.'

String drops the wing nut and Dom stoops to pick it up. He hands it back to him.

'Thanks.' String waves the nut at him. 'Hey, she's looking for work; you think we have anything we could put her way?'

'And by we I take it you mean me?' Dom says side-tracked before he realises he's being side-tracked and wrenches his attention back. He glares at String who is focused on the repair to the Steerman, and realises that the conversation is over as far as String is concerned.

Stringfellow Hawke doesn't trust easily, but apparently Caitlin O'Shaunessy is the exception to the rule. Dom huffs and heads back into the hangar.

Dom knows one thing; if String is going to trust her than Dom can't. Someone has to look out for String if the kid isn't going to do it for himself.

o-O-o

Sins of the Past

When String picks Dom up from the county lock-up, after Dom's name is completely cleared in his ex-wife's murder, Dom's prepared to admit that he might have been somewhat wrong about Caitlin.

It's not just what happened with Holly, his niece, almost killing Caitlin, and Caitlin not holding that against him.

It's not just that Caitlin's seen Airwolf again; that someone has used her to get to String – to the Lady – and she's been hurt by that but allowed String to comfort her with music and get past it.

She's stuck with them.

She's stuck by Dom throughout the past week, allowed String to go off and do what was necessary to find out the truth and save Dom. She hasn't even questioned Dom's innocence – she's accepted it unquestioningly.

Despite the fact that Dom's been less than completely welcoming to her.

Maybe Dom's still not entirely convinced that the situation where she knows about Airwolf, and they know she knows, and she knows they know she knows can continue indefinitely, but she hasn't said anything to anyone as far as Dom can tell and the Lady remains safely tucked up in her hideaway.

Dom sneaks a look at String.

Maybe his boy is right to trust Caitlin.

He's still not sure why String trusts her – why String's trusted her without question since she walked back into his life after Texas. He only knows String does and maybe that's good enough for now.

o-O-o

Fallen Angel

Dom settles his red cap back on his head and lowers himself tentatively into the wheelchair that String has ready. Dom doesn't want to use the wheelchair but one look at String's stubborn blue eyes has him subsiding with a huff.

Caitlin climbs out of Airwolf. They've allowed her to use it for privacy while she changed clothes since the Lair isn't exactly kitted out with his and her locker rooms. String's spare uniform is a neatly folded bundle in her arms, and she hands it to String solemnly. He stows it with the rest of their gear in a chest hidden behind a pile of rocks.

By the time String is finished, Caitlin is caught up staring at the sleek lines of the Lady; admiring the way the last of the late evening sun floods her in a pool of liquid red gold.

Dom takes a moment to admire the view himself; the white underbelly dirty with dust; the black body so dark and deadly; the metal rotors glinting with the last of the light. Ah, but the Lady's a stunner.

String's moved up to stand beside Caitlin. 'You ready?'

Caitlin reaches out and touches Airwolf; there's a hiss of sound. Her lips quirk upwards. 'She really is beautiful.'

'Yeah,' String says quietly, 'she is.'

Dom's bushy eyebrows rise because String isn't looking at the Lady; he's looking at Caitlin.

Huh. Interesting.

Caitlin doesn't seem aware of String's regard. When she finally turns around and looks at him, String's usual guarded expression is on his face before she sees anything.

'Thanks.' Caitlin says softly. And Dom knows she's thanking String for finally admitting the truth of the Lady's existence, for bringing her in on his secret and trusting her.

'We couldn't have done it without you.' String replies with brusque honesty. He holds aloft the blindfold and Caitlin sighs but she turns around and lets him position her so he can tie it. He gently takes her hand and wraps it around his arm. 'I'll walk you to the car first and come back for Dom.' He darts a look at Dom.

Dom nods in agreement. He watches as String leads Caitlin to the jeep. She trusts him to guide her and Dom wonders how much of that is because String's trusted her with so much more; his search for his brother, the Lady, their lives – even if it is a one-time kind of deal. He wonders whether Caitlin realises just how much String trusts her. Somehow, Dom knows Caitlin won't let String down; knows String's always known that she won't, and something in Dom eases as he accepts that String may always have trusted her but now, so does Dom.

o-O-o

Flight #093 is Missing

'I should have just flown her to Texas myself.' String says as they stare out at the endless stretch of blue water.

Dom looks up from the monitor and blinks at the back of String's head. They've been searching for Caitlin's downed plane and String has gone quiet in a way that Dom knows means his boy is hurting. They're low on fuel; low on sleep and, Goddamnit, Dom can't bear to think what it means that they haven't found the plane yet.

'Don't do this to yourself, kid.' Dom begs gently. But he can't promise they're going to find her; can't promise that Caitlin will live.

String goes quiet again.

Dom's heart aches a little. He knows how many people String's lost – too many for a boy who loves as deeply as String does. Parents, Saint John, a fiancé back before String went to 'Nam, and another girl he'd fallen in love with, Gabrielle. String's only just climbing back out of the abyss of his grief over the last.

And maybe, maybe, String's friendship with a certain feisty redhead has helped with that. Dom's stopped questioning why String trusts her; why he's accepted Caitlin into his life so readily. Dom's just been grateful that String has let someone else in. But he sees why now; sees in String's desperation to find Caitlin how much String already loves her.

Maybe he's always loved her from the very first moment. Dom's enough of a romantic that he likes the thought of that.

String will deny it, of course. He'll claim that Caitlin's a friend; a good friend; that he cares; that he's fond of her; but Dom knows. String doesn't love easily but when he does he gives his whole heart and it's that very same heart that String's been wearing on his sleeve since they've started searching the water.

String loves Caitlin.

Dom can feel the bubble of hope bouncing around inside of him because all he's ever wanted for String is happiness, and falling in love with Caitlin is a step in the right direction. He can see the future stretching out ahead of him; String and Caitlin getting together (and maybe they'll need a little nudge because both of them seem stuck on friendship), marriage and kids, a good life. But he knows he can't hope too much; can't let the hope surface and indulge in it.

Not yet. Not with Caitlin missing.

Please, God, Dom silently prays, don't let String lose Caitlin too; don't let him lose someone else he loves.

o-O-o

Short Walk to Freedom

So, Dom's plan to get Caitlin and String to move beyond friendship hasn't exactly been going well.

As in it hasn't worked at all.

It's been a helluva couple of days. He and String had come down to South America to rescue Caitlin who'd been taken hostage with a group of kids, only for the rescue to go wrong. String had been captured but just as Dom and Caitlin had been about to set off to rescue him, he'd shown up having gotten out himself. Now, they're all safely on their way home, escorting the jet carrying the kids alongside them.

Dom considers the pair sitting in the front cockpit of Airwolf with fond bemusement. String glances toward Caitlin but returns his gaze to the sky ahead before she notices. A few moments later, Caitlin sneaks a glance toward String and averts her eyes before he notices.

Dom snorts silently at the by-play.

They love each other. He's certain of it. Unfortunately, both String and Caitlin seem completely oblivious to the other's regard.

String, at least, has the excuse that for a time Caitlin did seem to be intent on match-making him with anyone but her so Dom couldn't blame String for thinking she wasn't interested. Dom still has the memory of Caitlin dragging him away to leave String and a certain country songbird alone. But he's fairly sure that Caitlin's efforts had been grounded in a belief that String couldn't possibly be interested in her.

Not that Dom can blame her for thinking that either because since String has invited Caitlin to occupy the third chair of the Airwolf cockpit, String hasn't given Caitlin any reason to think that she means more to him than any other friend. He's protecting himself from losing her. Dom knows it and sometimes he even thinks String knows it.

Sometimes, Dom is tempted to hit the two of them over the head but if his subtle match-making hasn't been successful, his less-than-subtle one-time only effort has been downright disastrous with String telling him to knock it off and…and come to think of it, Caitlin might have started on her own 'let's get String together with someone-who's-not-me kick' right around that time.

Dom sighs. They'd be good together. He knows it. String's never trusted anyone the way he's trusted Caitlin. That has to mean something, doesn't it?

The two of them glance at each other again but this time their eyes collide and hold. Dom stops breathing as they simply look at one another. But, String turns away first and Caitlin follows a heartbeat behind with nothing said. Dom shakes his head sadly and wonders what it's going to take.

Part Two

The Horn of Plenty

It takes Dom a good week after the debacle of String's brainwashing experience at the hands of John Bradley Horn to realise that Caitlin is avoiding String and String is avoiding her. It's the little things that add up: String leaves when Caitlin enters, Caitlin declines to join them for dinner with vague excuses, String hides at the cabin for a couple of days, Caitlin turns down an Airwolf mission – and it's the latter that really makes it obvious for Dom because Caitlin has never turned down an Airwolf mission before.

It occurs to him that he has no idea what happened between getting shot by String – and that had been a shock enough to Dom – and the rescue.

What Dom does know is that Caitlin has all but admitted to Dom that she loves String. If it hadn't been for the situation Dom would have whooped and said about time. But it's not Dom that she's avoiding so Dom can't help speculating whether she has said something to String himself. Or maybe String has caught a clue from the way Caitlin has called dibs on beating up Angelica Horn.

String hasn't said anything about the whole thing beyond his brief summary to Michael but that's String all over and Dom knows better than to push String into talking about something he doesn't want to talk about. Dom isn't necessarily worried about the not-talking. He is worried about his two favourite people avoiding each other.

As String lands Airwolf in the cave after their successful mission to get a device from some agent in some foreign country that Michael has wanted, Dom's had enough though. As soon as they get back to the airfield, he's locking them both in his office and demanding that they tell him what the hell is going on with them.

So, he's half-surprised that as soon as they get back, String heads straight from the jeep into the hangar, searching out Caitlin from under a chopper. He's not close enough to hear what String says but he sees Caitlin smile.

The tension in Dom's gut is gone like it was never there. He's still curious; still half-filled with the urge to ask one of them and find out. But…no. He trusts them and if they need it to remain between them, then he won't go poking his nose in.

'Hey, Dom!' String calls out, one hand pulling Caitlin to her feet and the other waving at him. 'Want to come to the cabin for dinner?'

'Nah!' Dom declines with a shake of his head. 'I'm beat. You kids go ahead though.'

He's not match-making, Dom tells himself sternly as he waves them off. It's just that they evidently need the time alone together to get past whatever it is that happened. And if they happen to be alone together to do that at String's remote cabin, well, Dom can hardly help that, can he?

o-O-o

Crossover

There are days when Dom would deeply love to strangle String.

Today is one of those days.

Lord knows Dom wouldn't normally begrudge String some fun and happiness, and Inge seems like a nice girl, but as String hugs Inge goodbye, Dom can't help glancing back at Caitlin.

She's staring at her sneakers, hands deep into the pockets of her flight suit, red hair whipping around her face and hiding her expression. But Dom knows.

He's seen the stricken look on her face when Michael had told them that String was dead; has seen her hope when Dom had reassured her that String was alive because Dom would know it if he wasn't; has seen her hurt when they'd rescued String but it had been so blatantly obvious that String and Inge were together.

He knows Caitlin's in love with String.

Dom also knows String loves Caitlin but won't do anything about it. String would rather look for female companionship elsewhere than the one woman right in front of him, who risks her life alongside his every time they fly off in the Lady on one of Michael's insane missions. It's String protecting himself from the potential hurt of losing her; String clumsily protecting Caitlin from her association with him.

Dom doesn't think String realises just how much Caitlin loves him because he likes to think String wouldn't hug Inge so openly in front of Caitlin if he did. That he wouldn't hurt her that way if he knew.

The car is gone and String turns back to the hangar. Dom sneaks another look at Caitlin and finds her looking back at them evenly; none of her previous distress showing on her face.

And Dom's heart sinks because he sees something else in the set of her shoulders and the steel in her eyes: she's giving up on String ever returning her interest, shifting back into the 'best friend but nothing more' mode that she'd adopted soon after meeting String. Dom wants to tell her that String does love her and not to give up, but he knows she won't believe him; won't thank him for interfering.

Caitlin pats String consolingly on the arm and heads back to the chopper to work on the dodgy tail rotor without any sign of her inner turmoil. String heads to the cabin apparently still oblivious that Caitlin has been hurt by his brief fling with Inge.

Dom watches them both and sighs heavily.

They trust each other with their lives but it seems they're further away than ever from trusting each other with their hearts.

o-O-o

Kingdom Comes

Caitlin is sleeping on String's old sofa. She looks impossibly young, dressed in a sweater, jeans and woolly socks. Her face is relaxed; soft and innocent. There's little sign of her ordeal. Tet, String's dog, lies just below on the floor, guarding her from harm.

They'd come so close to losing her.

Dom shudders to think about it.

Michael's description of finding her tied up with the bomb strapped to her is going to give Dom sleepless nights.

String ambles over from the kitchen. His face softens when he catches sight of Caitlin and he tugs the throw from the back of the sofa and places it over her gently.

Nobody looking at String right now would think anything other than that String is in love with Caitlin. It's in the care he takes to tuck the edges of the blanket around her, the way his hand brushes back a lock of red hair from her face.

Dom's chest tightens a little in response and he looks away because it hurts too much to watch String love Caitlin when String won't tell her; won't let Caitlin know how much she's loved and wanted.

Because there's no doubt in Dom's mind that Caitlin fell for Ken Sawyer only because she doesn't think String could possibly be interested in her.

String leaves her and stokes the fire. Dom knows String already feels guilty about what happened without adding to it. Caitlin was used to get to String, to get to Airwolf. It's not the first time and it probably won't be the last.

Caitlin murmurs unhappily in her sleep. She shifts restlessly, her brow furrowing in distress, a low hum of pain escaping her. Dom's a heartbeat from getting to his feet to comfort her when String's suddenly there.

String sits beside her and takes one of her hands in his. He doesn't say anything.

Caitlin's eyes open sleepily and rake over him. 'Hawke?'

'It's OK. I'm here.'

Caitlin nods tiredly, gives another muffled murmur and subsides back into sleep. Because she trusts String to look after her; to protect her.

Dom stands and walks over to String. He places a hand on String's shoulder. 'It's not your fault, kid.'

'Isn't it?' String says gruffly. There's pain in his blue gaze when he meets Dom's.

Dom drops his hand, knowing String won't thank him for disagreeing. He heads to the bar at the back; God knows they both need a strong drink.

o-O-o

Break-in at Santa Paula

As soon as they're out of the country, Dom radios to tell Caitlin to set down. He chooses a field in the middle of nowhere, no life signs for miles.

String is battered and bruised. Dom's angry and worried but String shrugs off his concerned query and says he's fine.

Dom mutters under his breath but knows he can never get String to do anything when he's in this kind of mood.

Caitlin doesn't bother saying anything, she just attacks String with a first aid kit. String makes one half-hearted attempt to bat her away before he subsides under the glare of her blue-green eyes and her pointed 'I can always take you back' rejoinder.

Dom's impressed and gleeful but hides it from String.

They decide that Eleanor, Terry and his friend all need to go back in Airwolf with Dom and handed over as soon as possible to Michael who can no doubt sort the whole mess out. There's only room for one pilot in Airwolf and Dom nominates himself pretty darn quick.

String looks at him suspiciously but acquiesces.

Dom turns away, hiding his smug grin from his boy. String and Caitlin have been dodging round each other for months. String's been running off with whatever woman has been nearest until Caitlin runs into trouble and then String's right there to pull her out of it. Same goes for Caitlin; she's been dating up a storm but as soon as String's in trouble, she's right there to bail him out. He wants to shake the two of them senseless but maybe he'll settle for this; the two of them forced together for the long trip back home.

Mike is shown to the engineer's chair and told not to touch anything; his friend makes himself comfortable on the jump seat. Eleanor climbs into the passenger seat and Dom helps her with the helmet before starting up the engines.

They look out on the other helicopter where Caitlin appears to be in the middle of pre-flight checks and Dom stops his own for a moment absorbing the sight of String relaxed in the seat next to her, his eyes closed. String's trusting Caitlin to fly them home; to take care of him, Dom realises; just like he's always done.

'They really love each other, don't they?' Eleanor says wistfully.

'Yes,' Dom says, deciding not to deny it for once, 'they do.'

Now, if only String and Caitlin would both admit it, Dom's life would be pretty much perfect.

o-O-o

Birds of Paradise

Dom gives a sigh of contentment as he looks across Caitlin's small den at the cramped sofa which is currently holding Caitlin, Half-pint and String as they watch a movie on Caitlin's battered television.

They look like a family and Dom can't help the warm glow that spreads through him at the thought.

It's all he's ever wanted for String; a family, some happiness. And now it's all there waiting for String to reach out and grasp it.

Caitlin reaches over and nudges String, her head motioning at the slumbering boy beside them. String's eyebrow quirks upward in a familiar smirk. He stands noiselessly and sweeps Half-pint into his arms. He takes him up the stairs to Caitlin's spare room where String and Half-pint will be staying until String finds something more child friendly than the cabin.

Dom frowns.

As much as Dom admires the sentiment, Dom doesn't think String has really thought through his offer to take care of the boy he thinks might be his nephew. Bringing up kids is hard work. Dom should know after raising Saint John and String as though they were his own when his best friend Alan had died. String's not giving up Airwolf and Dom can't help thinking that they already do enough juggling between the airfield and Michael's missions as it is. Something's going to have to give.

String comes back down and settles back on the sofa, close enough to Caitlin that they're practically snuggling.

Dom doesn't draw attention to it because he knows if he does, they'll just spring apart with muttered apologies.

Maybe, Dom considers, it'll work out. Caitlin's stepped in to help String by offering him and Half-pint a place to stay; she and String will spend lots of time together. String will have to cut back on the Airwolf missions to spend time with the boy. Maybe String really will find the family that's eluded him so far.

Maybe.

String whispers something to Caitlin. She raises an eyebrow but she changes position, resting up against String's side and stretching out her legs.

Dom watches them surreptitiously. It's about time the two of them stopped dancing around each other and got their happy ending.

Part Three

The Jade Wolf

Dom can't believe Caitlin wants to leave.

And yet, Dom can believe Caitlin wants to leave.

It's not as though String has ever given her a reason to stay, Dom thinks angrily as String discusses the mission with Michael as though he hasn't dropped a huge bombshell on Dom's lap moments before.

Dom sighs.

He can't blame Caitlin. He knows she loves String but there are limits and it seems Caitlin's reached hers. Since Half-pint had gone to live with his long lost mother and it's been confirmed that Saint John hadn't fathered the boy after all, String had pulled away from Caitlin. Caitlin, in turn, had run off to Texas to her folks ostensibly for a vacation. She'd come back the day before and apparently told String she was thinking of leaving LA after Dom had left the two of them alone the night before.

Dom can see String doesn't want her to leave. He can see String is wrestling with the thought that it might be better for Caitlin to leave; that she'll be safer away from String and Airwolf. Even though String loves her. Because String loves her.

She doesn't know that though. And Dom doesn't think Caitlin would leave if she did. If String could only tell her…

But he won't.

Dom knows his boy well enough to know that. String will let Caitlin walk out of their lives if he thinks it'll make her happy.

Maybe it's time Dom said something to both of them; for him to point out to String that Caitlin's already head over heels in love with him and it's too late to save her from loving String; for him to point out to Caitlin that String loves her and that he wouldn't be keeping her at arms' length if he didn't.

That the two of them love each other and maybe it's about time they admitted it so they can get married and get on with the business of producing some small bambinos for Dom to be a surrogate grandpappy to and bounce on his lap.

Caitlin enters and String waves her over; starts telling her about the mission and teasing her that she'll like it because of the mythology stuff. Dom would roll his eyes but he sees String's expression. String is scared. He's scared of losing her.

Oh kid, Dom thinks sadly; you don't have to give her exciting missions; all you have to do is love her and she'll stay.

o-O-o

The Truth About Caitlin/Old friends, New enemies

String comes back alone from the FIRM clinic and tells Dom that Caitlin has gone home with her parents; that they want her there to recuperate and Caitlin has decided to go through with her decision to leave LA and move on with her life.

Dom doesn't believe a word of it.

Caitlin had almost died saving String's life. For hours her own life had hung in the balance and String had kept vigil beside her. He's hardly moved from her side except for her family.

Dom spends some time berating himself for not staying and letting Caitlin's mother scare him off. But there had been Airwolf to take care of and his business and…

Dom sighs. There's really no point beating himself up about something he had no control over. He knows even if he had stayed the likelihood of stopping String from doing something when he'd made his mind up was pretty remote.

And Dom can guess at what happened; how String has realised how much he loves Caitlin; how scared he is of losing her to a bullet or a crash or something that will happen because Caitlin is in the wrong place at the wrong time because of String.

No, String's sent Caitlin away to safety because he loves her, Dom's sure of that as much as he's sure about anything because String is miserable.

Dom is angry enough at String to think that it's fair because Dom has come to love Caitlin like a daughter and he's angry that in letting her go, String has never once considered that it might hurt Dom. Dom talks with Caitlin and hears the hurt in her voice too; hears the pain that Caitlin can't hide at knowing String loves her because he's sent her away.

But Dom can't stay angry with String; not when the days pass and String grows even more taciturn; not when String is hurting so much.

It's a shock then to hear String tell him he's going to Texas. Dom can't believe it. String is going after Caitlin. But Dom quickly offers advice and encouragement. String's nerves shake his voice and it's all Dom can do not to shout out that Caitlin loves him; she'll forgive him.

Dom lowers the phone into the cradle; places his hands together in pray and sends a silent 'please' heavenward.

They love each other; they deserve some happiness.

And if String trusts Caitlin, Dom thinks, trusts her like he's always trusted her, String will be fine. Caitlin will come home.

o-O-o

Hawke's Wolf

Dom settles back in the brand new chair on the brand new equipment platform that Michael has installed in the Lair. He'd like to be more upset about it all but it's much more fun to let String glower at the spy and watch Michael pretend he's not worried about whether String is going to punch him for finding Airwolf's hideout and then taking it over.

Dom looks around in bemusement. The new security system is good; it beats the one that he and String have rigged up. He can't deny the new generator is welcome and he's sure the communication system and computer will come in handy. The lockers are a nice touch.

But mainly, Dom can't help think it'll be nice to sleep in his own bed after nights of sleeping rough hiding from the government task force set up to find Airwolf. It's all over now; the task force disbanded and its leader, General Bening, dead and gone.

String finally tires of teasing Michael with his patented glares. No matter what String says, Dom knows that String trusts that Michael hasn't compromised them; won't betray them – betray String. If String had any doubts about that at all, Dom figures they'd be in Airwolf flying around looking for a new place to hide her already. Maybe Dom thinks it's odd that the two men have become friends but they are.

Caitlin pulls String away to help her unload Airwolf of the supplies and equipment. He watches as String chides Caitlin for picking up something heavy – her shoulder is still healing from the bullet she took saving String's life. Dom's grateful that she didn't let String drive her away in an attempt to keep her safe; that she came back. Dom's even more pleased that String has embraced her return fully and finally admitted his feelings for the scrappy redhead.

He smiles as String leans over and cups Caitlin's cheek; as String kisses her gently. Caitlin's stunned but happy; a wide smile spreading across her freckled face. She beams at String and reaches across to kiss him back.

Ah, but their kids are going to be as cute as buttons. When they get round to having them that is.

Beside Dom, Michael shifts restlessly. Dom glances at him and sees the flicker of worry that lights up Michael's one good eye before the spy can hide it.

'They're good together.' Dom says firmly.

Michael slants a 'I don't know what you're talking about' look Dom's way and Dom simply returns it with a knowing smile.

Michael sighs. 'You're not worried?'

Dom grins. 'They love each other.' And they've finally admitted it. As far as Dom's concerned, that's a reason to celebrate. He clamps a hand on Michael's shoulder and smiles at the smear of grease he leaves on the pristine white suit. He winks. 'Trust me.'

o-O-o

Homecomings

'You asked her to marry you?' Dom says gleefully, rubbing his hands together. 'She said yes! She would have said yes…'

String shushes him and darts a look toward the office where Caitlin is doing paperwork and talking with Jo, Dom's niece.

'Yeah, but even though she said yes, I think she thought I wasn't serious.' String admits, rubbing the back of his neck and looking sheepish.

Dom understands that; proposing in the aftermath of escaping a plane crash is probably not the best timing.

'So?' Dom prompts.

'So, I thought I'd do it again on Christmas Day.' String says tentatively.

Dom nods eagerly. 'So you want Jo and I to stay home, leave you to it?'

String shakes his head and a determined look enters his eyes. 'You're coming for Christmas.'

Dom rolls his eyes; it's been an ongoing argument between them. 'Then…'

'I want to make it special and I was remembering the aerial tricks you used to perform when we were kids.' String admits. His arms are folded defensively over his chest.

Dom beams at him, memories of happy times flitting through his head. 'Ah, those were the days. I remember when…'

'So, Christmas morning over the lake?' String interrupts sharply. 'Just after sunrise?'

'Oh, hey! I have that sky-writing set-up that Luke Jameson gave me! I could write 'will you marry me?'' Dom suggests eagerly.

String looks sceptical. 'Sky-writing?'

'Sure,' Dom spreads his hands expressively, 'what's more romantic than having a proposal written in the blue sky above your heads?'

'I don't know, Dom.' String replies, doubt colouring his dry tone. 'It seems a bit much.'

Kids today, Dom thinks wryly; no sense of romance. He knows String's been feeling guilty and worried over Dom's run-in with Rosalind Bening and Dom isn't averse to using that, so Dom lets his face drop and sighs heavily.

'Just a thought, kid.' Dom lays his disappointment on thick. 'I think Cait would get a kick out of it but if you don't want me to…'

'OK. Do it.' String looks like he'd rather be facing off against a couple of MIGs but Dom grins and claps his hands.

'This is going to be great, String.' Dom promises.

String's face softens; his mask falling away and revealing the man who loves Caitlin behind it. Dom throws an arm over String's shoulders and leads him toward the back of the hangar to continue planning. It wouldn't do for Caitlin to overhear how String is going to propose to her a second time.

o-O-o

You Are Cordially Invited

Dom leans on the porch railing, sips champagne and watches String with Caitlin.

They're stood on the dock, looking out at the eagle chasing across the afternoon sky. String has his arms around her waist; her arms are folded over his and her head rests on his shoulder. Somewhere during the course of their wedding day, String has lost his jacket and tie; Caitlin her cream shawl. The sun sets her copper hair alight as wisps fall around her face. She hasn't stopped smiling. String shifts his weight and Dom has to stop himself from walking over and nagging the boy to sit down before he makes his injured leg worse.

They'd almost lost him. Again. If it hadn't been for Airwolf…

Dom shakes his head. He won't think of that; not today which is all about celebrating String and Cait's wedding.

Caitlin kisses String gently and slides out of his embrace, clasping his hand and tugging him toward the cabin steps to sit down again as they did earlier when Patrick, Caitlin's father, made his surprise toast.

Dom smiles. She's taken on looking after String now, that's clear. And String will look after her. It won't always be easy, he thinks, because they're both stubborn and headstrong at times, but they love each other and that will help keep things steady when the air currents get turbulent.

Michael wanders over to stand beside Dom and observe the couple. 'He really wasn't nervous at all about today, was he?'

'Nah.' Dom agrees because String hasn't been nervous – not about marrying Cait. 'You know String,' he says genially, 'he never trusts anyone but…' he waves a hand toward where String and Caitlin are sitting, each wrapped up in the other, love written all over their faces, 'but he's always trusted Caitlin.'

Michael smiles and wanders away again. Dom is content to stand and watch; just as he's stood and watched from the beginning.

Epilogue: And They All Lived

String wraps the blanket around his protesting wife, drops a kiss on the top of her head and hands her a mug of coffee. It's cold out on the porch of the cabin; the dark of the night is only beginning to give away to the first hints of Christmas morning. It's become their Christmas tradition watching the sunrise.

They've sneaked past their kids; Nicky is old enough this year to understand something about the holiday even if Amelia is still a baby. String takes the coffee back before he sets it aside and lets himself sink into a deep, hot kiss that stirs his blood. Caitlin sighs happily and settles warmly pressed up against him.

There's a sliver of light shimmering on the lake as the sun peeks over the horizon. String breathes in deeply. The scents are familiar; dirt and pine, the smell of the lake, the crisp sharpness of mountain air that hurts a little when breathed in. But over those is Caitlin; her soap, her skin, the coffee and a faint lingering smell of baby powder.

The sun is almost over the horizon; a golden crescent of yellow. The sky is shifting from grey to blue with every moment, streaks of pink and red bleeding through. The eagle wheels through the endless expanse of colour, its cry echoing across the mountain.

String turns Caitlin's wrist over and checks the time on her watch. His heart beats a little faster; aches with remembered grief. The year they'd kicked off the tradition, Dom had flown over, performed old tricks and acrobatics before writing String's proposal in the sky. But Dom's been dead for almost two years; there'll be no more aerial fly-bys.

String misses him madly.

Caitlin shifts position, inching back so she can look at him seriously. Her hands cup his face, smooth over the lines and she gently kisses him. 'He's watching, you know.'

'Yeah?' String lets out the breath he didn't even know he was holding.

'Yeah.' Caitlin says firmly.

'How'd you know?' String asks, resting his forehead against hers; his arms tight around her.

'You trust me, don't you?' Caitlin says dryly.

String's always trusted her. Even when he shouldn't have and Dom looked at him askance. Through all their ups and downs; when he thought she couldn't love him and she thought he didn't love her. Since they'd both let themselves love each other. Through their marriage and kids and losing Dom…

'I trust you.' He says.

'Then trust me on this.' Caitlin says simply.

And yeah; String can do that as he kisses her again. Trust her and know that Dom is watching over them still.

fin.

 


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