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Fanfiction: And They All Lived - Part I

Fandom: Airwolf
Series: Finding Family (Story 12)
Summary: Will Hawke get his happy ending? 
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Hawke/Caitlin.  Michael/Marella.  Saint John/Jo.  Mike/Sarah UST.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

And They All Lived

Part 1

Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III sat back down in his white leather chair and reached for his coffee. He took an appreciative gulp and leaned back, propping his feet on the polished wood of his desk as he settled in to read the latest intelligence report. He appeared almost relaxed having eschewed the jacket of his three-piece white suit and rolled up the sleeves of his matching crisp white shirt; the tie had joined the jacket on the back of the chair and the top button was undone revealing a tanned neck. His good eye skipped through the formal language of the report and picked out the detail with a speed born of experience and he was thoroughly immersed when the intercom buzzer sounded.

He hit it irritated at the interruption. ‘Yes?’

‘Sir, Alan Hawke is here to see you.’

Michael frowned and rubbed a finger across his moustache. He briefly wondered what Stringfellow Hawke’s father could want with him; there was only one way to find out. He swung his legs down from the desk decisively. ‘Send him in.’ He was already half-way across the room to greet his unexpected guest when his assistant knocked lightly on the office door and opened it to allow the older man entry.

‘Mr Hawke.’ Michael held out his hand. ‘It’s good to see you again.’ He was reminded anew how much Alan looked like his oldest son, Saint John. The height and build were exactly the same, the features remarkably similar. It was only in the colouring that they differed; Alan sported a thatch of grey hair cut short in an army style and his eyes were the same startling blue shared by the Hawke son Michael knew best.

Alan shook hands firmly. ‘Michael, thank you for seeing me, and please; it’s Alan.’

‘Alan.’ Michael waved him into a plush leather chair in a small seating area by the far window. ‘Can I offer you some refreshment?’

‘Ah, no, no. Thank you.’ Alan sat down a little awkwardly and took a deep breath as Michael dismissed the assistant and joined him.

‘Have you and your family settled in?’ Michael asked politely. The Hawke family had been reunited a few weeks before after years of separation following Alan’s crusade to bring the Mob gangster responsible for his father’s death to justice. Michael was aware that the elder Hawkes and their younger son, Seb, had really only made the complete move to LA the week before.

‘We’re comfortable.’ Alan said. He gestured at Michael. ‘I should thank you again. Your people have been have been very helpful finding us accommodation.’

Michael lifted a hand from the arm of the chair in a gesture of dismissal. ‘It was the least we could do.’

Alan cleared his throat. ‘You’re probably wondering why I’m here.’

‘The thought had crossed my mind.’ Michael admitted. Hawke and his wife Caitlin were currently on leave from the Airwolf project Michael ran. Caitlin had been badly injured in an attack and was recuperating; Hawke hadn’t left his wife’s side since her miraculous waking in the hospital. Hawke had asked Michael and his wife Marella to give them some space and the couple had acquiesced to their friends’ wishes. As a result, Michael was only peripherally aware of what had happened with the Hawke family reunion since.

‘It was Saint John’s suggestion.’ Alan admitted.

Michael raised an eyebrow but showed no other sign of the surprise he felt at the comment. His relationship with Hawke’s elder brother was in a state of truce but they weren’t exactly best buddies.

‘He thought you might be able to help us.’ Alan continued.

‘If I can.’ Michael allowed quietly. His words seemed to reassure Alan who nodded as though confirming something.

‘It’s about String.’ Alan said bluntly.

‘Ah.’ Michael tensed imperceptibly and he leaned back in his chair, regarding the older man thoughtfully.

Alan sighed and leaned forward restlessly. ‘How much do you know about what’s been going on since Caitlin was released from the hospital?’

‘Not much.’ Michael admitted. ‘Hawke asked us to give them some space.’ He clasped his hands together, his elbows digging into the leather arms of the chair. ‘We’ve done so.’

Alan nodded again. ‘He asked us to do the same.’ He got up suddenly and paced to the window looking out at the harsh landscape of Devil’s Anvil where Michael’s office in the Red Star complex was located. ‘At first, we figured that it wouldn’t be a problem. Jane and I had to go back and sort out the house and the business in Collway, and the kids had their own plans.’

‘But,’ prompted Michael when Alan fell silent.

‘We got back last week and discovered that nobody had heard from String since they left the hospital and went up to the cabin.’

Michael frowned.

Alan turned back to Michael. ‘We went up there last night as a family, thought we’d drop in, say hello, see if they needed anything.’ He sighed deeply. ‘String wasn’t pleased to see us.’

Michael made a sympathetic noise but didn’t comment; Hawke wasn’t known for his love of unexpected guests.

‘He made it pretty plain he wanted to be left alone.’ Alan said gruffly. ‘As you can imagine his mother’s pretty upset.’ He looked back at the vista through the window. ‘We all are. We thought we’d gotten the family back together again and now…’ he whirled back to Michael. ‘ Saint John thought that you might be able to help.’

Michael tapped his moustache thoughtfully. ‘Has Saint John told you about his and Stringfellow’s lives after you went into witness protection?’

‘He’s told me about how String believed he was MIA for a long time if that’s what you’re getting at.’ Alan retorted, his protectiveness of his eldest son gleamed in his eyes.

‘Actually that wasn’t what I was referring to.’ Michael said mildly. He leaned forward and gestured for the other man to sit. Michael waited until Alan grudgingly retook his seat before he continued. ‘You obviously know how your sons thought you and your wife were dead after the boating accident; that Alex Brannigan, their uncle, handed over custody rights to Dominic Santini and he raised the boys.’

‘Dom looked after them.’ Alan confirmed. He fervently wished his old friend was still alive. He would have preferred dealing with the no-nonsense Dom than the spy in front of him.

Michael’s lips twitched as though he had read Alan’s mind. ‘Saint John went into the army and Hawke followed. Just before he was sent to ‘Nam his fiancée died in a car accident; Hawke was driving.’ He paused. ‘It was a loss but Hawke was focused on being reunited with Saint John which he was in ‘Nam. Your sons were infamous; the best helicopter pilots we had.’

‘I know all this.’ Alan couldn’t quite keep the pride out of his voice. ‘I don’t see…’

‘And then he suddenly didn’t have Saint John at all.’ Michael talked over the older man authoratively and silenced him. ‘Did Saint John tell you the details of how they got separated?’

Alan shook his head.

‘The intel was bad. The incursion was a bust and the majority of the unit went down. Saint John insisted Hawke went out on the first wave of rescue choppers. Hawke promised to go back for his brother.’

The office was silent. Alan sat enraptured with Michael’s tale.

‘Hawke always keeps his promises.’ Michael commented wryly. ‘He went back. Only there were too many downed soldiers and the ropes filled up too quickly; there was no more room for Saint John. The reports said Saint John gave him the order to leave; waved him on. Hawke promised to go back.’

‘And he went back again?’ Alan asked quietly.

‘He went back again; against orders.’ Michael said. ‘The area was overrun by the Vietcong and there was no sign of Saint John.’

‘Saint John mentioned he had been captured before String got back.’ Alan noted settling back into the chair. Michael had caught his attention and he wanted to hear the rest of it; he had a feeling it was very important.

‘He was.’ Michael agreed. ‘But we’re not talking about Saint John; we’re talking about Stringfellow.’

Alan’s blue eyes flashed but he nodded. ‘Go on.’

‘Hawke searched from his brother without any success. His tour finished. He signed right back up.’ Michael gestured. ‘He was determined to find him. Every day, every week, every year went by with Hawke following any scrap of information, any hint, any rumour; all to no avail. Inevitably, there was another mission that went bad and he spent sometime as a POW himself but he was saved. He was in a hospital when Saigon fell.’

Michael saw the shock flare in Alan’s eyes; basic information about his own son that he hadn’t known. The spy got to his feet and headed for the drinks cabinet.

‘For a while, it seemed Hawke had decided to move on with his life. Oh, he still looked for Saint John but back in the States with so little information to go on he had to move on. He applied to NASA, went to the moon…’

‘He went to the moon?’ Alan repeated.

‘He was an excellent shuttle pilot.’ Michael confirmed as he finished pouring bourbon into crystal glasses. ‘Unfortunately, your brother-in-law decided to interfere. Brannigan, of course, used him.’ He picked up the glasses and made his way back to the seats. He handed Alan one glass and sat down holding the other. ‘I can’t be too sorry about that; it’s how Hawke and I met.’

‘What happened?’ Alan asked reluctantly eager to hear the story, to hear about his son.

‘Brannigan and I were after the same information. I got there first but I was captured on my way out. I hid the information; Brannigan wanted it.’ Michael took a sip of the fiery liquid and let the burn caress the back of his throat. ‘I was being held in a prison in Siberia with one route in and out of a very tricky runway. Brannigan used Hawke to make the trip. Hawke wouldn’t leave me behind.’ His lips twisted at the memory. ‘He got captured and locked up with me. The short story is we escaped and I invited Hawke to come work for me at the FIRM.’

‘I might have known Alex would be responsible for getting him mixed up in all this spy business.’ Alan’s distaste for his brother-in-law and for the world of espionage evident in his tone.

Michael smiled a little and raised his glass. ‘Hawke worked me for a while. He was an outstanding operative; one of the best field agents I’ve ever worked with; definitely the best pilot but he got bored and he got restless. I produced Airwolf to stop him leaving.’ He tapped his glass. ‘I knew Hawke would never resist the opportunity to fly a mach-capable helicopter and they were made for each; the perfect helicopter and the perfect pilot.’

‘And you were right.’

Michael inclined his head. ‘Only Airwolf’s creator Moffett ensured that I was temporarily replaced and Hawke was manoeuvred out of the Airwolf programme.’

‘And Moffett stole Airwolf from you.’ Alan gestured at him with his untouched drink. ‘ Saint John told me about that.’

‘Hawke never stopped looking for Saint John. He refused to believe Saint John was dead. Those of us around him thought he was mad, and the only one who seemed to believe him at all was Dominic, and then, only I think, because he knew Hawke needed for him to believe.’ Michael sighed. ‘When Hawke left, he used his intelligence experience to go undercover as a mercenary for a while, but it didn’t help him locate Saint John. He went back home; back to Dom; back to the only person who had been a constant for him all his life.’

Alan was silent for long moment.

Michael cleared his throat. ‘I engaged Hawke to retrieve Airwolf. He told me the price was the FIRM finding out what had happened to his brother. He carried out the mission successfully but he lost the woman he had fallen for; one of my assistants, Gabrielle.’ He tossed back the rest of his drink and placed the glass carefully on the coffee table in front of him. ‘Hawke kept Airwolf to force the FIRM into keeping its part of the deal. I made my own arrangement with Hawke and about six months after Hawke took control of Airwolf, he met Caitlin. She tracked him down after running across him and Airwolf in Texas.’

‘And they married.’ Alan stated.

Michael laughed shortly and rubbed his moustache. ‘Well, not immediately. They were attracted; I think we all knew that before they did but…’

‘But eventually…’

‘Eventually.’ Michael sighed. ‘Caitlin showed a great tenacity for not dying which helped.’

‘I noticed that.’ Alan remarked dryly. It was a miracle his daughter-in-law was still alive given the injuries she had sustained.

‘But then we thought she had.’ Michael commented. ‘Last year. She was kidnapped and her death faked. Hawke fell for it initially. It almost killed him until he worked it out and rescued her. They’d only just recovered from it when Dom was killed and Saint John was found.’

‘He’s been through a lot,’ Alan allowed, ‘but I’m not sure…’

‘The reason for my telling you this?’ Michael gestured. ‘Hawke has spent years of his life dealing with loss after loss after loss.’ He waited a moment for Alan to absorb the truth of that. ‘Back when Hawke and I made our deal? He was…different. He had pretty much become a hermit on the mountain. He was wary of involvement, believing it only inevitably led to loss. Dom was the only person who was close to him at all; the only person Hawke would let close.’

Alan finally took a sip of his drink.

Michael tapped his finger against his moustache. ‘Honestly, I don’t know how Caitlin did it but she managed to get close to Hawke before he seemed to realise just how close she was and then he didn’t allow her to get any closer for a long time.’ He gestured at the older man. ‘He thought he was protecting her. Everyone around him died, or so he believed.’

‘He was protecting himself.’ Alan said in quiet realisation. ‘From being hurt again.’

Michael nodded. ‘It took him a long time to work past that.’ He gestured at Alan. ‘And he still struggles with it occasionally whenever Caitlin has a close call or he gets worried that things are going too well.’

Alan sighed. ‘So I’m guessing you think this latest close call has resurrected all of that?’

‘That and one other thing.’ Michael held Alan’s questioning gaze. ‘He just lost Dom all over again.’

‘They were very close.’ Alan stated, breaking his gaze with Michael to stare into the amber depths of the bourbon he held.

‘You’re his father,’ Michael said gently, ‘but so was Dom.’

Alan set the drink aside and straightened. ‘How do I fix this?’

Michael smiled wryly. ‘You don’t. He will.’ He saw the flicker of protest begin and waved it away. ‘Hawke will work it out. You just need to give him what he asked for; space.’ He said firmly.

‘I’m not sure I can do that.’ Alan said. ‘I’m damned sure Jane won’t.’

‘You push too hard and all you’ll do is push him away.’ Michael said.

Alan nodded slowly, recognising the truth of Michael’s words. He wondered how he was going to break it to his wife. He got to his feet. ‘Thank you.’ He hesitated. ‘Look, tomorrow is the anniversary of Dom’s death. Jo thought it would be good for us all to get together in the apartment; help her clear things but remember him at the same time.’ He gestured awkwardly. ‘I think Dom would want you to come along.’

‘Thank you.’ Michael pushed himself out of the chair. ‘I’ll try to make it.’ He walked Alan over to the door. ‘Alan, one other thing…’

Alan looked at him inquisitively.

‘You have someone else on your side who’ll help.’ Michael added.

‘You…’

‘Not me.’ Michael hastily asserted. His good eye twinkled at Alan’s confusion. ‘Caitlin.’

Part 2


Caitlin closed her eyes as she leaned one shoulder against the cabin doorpost and let the cello music from the dock wash over her. Her arms wrapped around her abdomen unconsciously, providing subliminal comfort. She didn’t recognise the piece of music; it was beautiful, she thought. So melodic; so haunting…it took her a moment to realise that the music had stopped. Her blue-green eyes snapped open and collided straight into her husband’s concerned gaze.

‘You don’t have to stop.’ She called out as he got up in one smooth move; cello in one hand, the camping stool and bow in the other. Tet, Hawke’s dog, followed at his heels as Hawke made his way over to her.

‘What are you doing out of bed?’ Hawke asked gruffly as he stacked the stool against the cabin wall. ‘I thought you were napping.’ He leaned in and dropped a gentle kiss on her lips.

‘I was.’ Caitlin said as they walked back inside. ‘Nicky started fussing and once I was up, I thought I ought to get up.’ She sank onto the sofa and extended her hands out towards the smouldering fire.

Hawke finished hanging the cello and strode back over to stoke the fire to a cheerful blaze. ‘You could have gone back. The doctor said you should rest.’

‘I’ve been resting for the last month,’ Caitlin said dryly, ‘I think I’m doing OK. It’s about time I was up and doing more.’

‘You shouldn’t rush it.’ Hawke muttered.

Caitlin regarded his back with exasperation. She bit her lip. They’d been on the verge of arguing about the pace of her recovery for the last couple of days; it was brewing and she knew there was going to be a moment when it would boil over. She put it off again and settled back against the cushions. ‘I haven’t heard you play that music before.’

‘It’s new.’ Hawke straightened. He ruffled the top of Tet’s head and sat down beside her. He gently slid an arm around her shoulder and she let herself lean into his solid warmth.

‘It’s beautiful.’ Caitlin said.

He stroked a hand down her arm and interweaved their fingers. ‘It’s not finished yet.’

‘You know you should probably play it for your Mom. I’m sure she’d love it.’ Caitlin suggested gently.

Hawke stiffened a little. ‘Like I said it’s not finished yet.’

Caitlin bit her lip again. Touchy subject number two, she mused. She sighed inwardly and wondered if maybe it was the best time to tackle an argument after all. She was going to have to eventually, she knew that. She had been so weak when she’d first left the hospital that it had barely registered with her that Hawke had asked their family and friends to leave them alone for a while. She’d realised as she’d started to gain some strength that not only were Hawke’s old fears back tenfold but he’d withdrawn back to the mountain. At least it seemed he wanted her with him, she mused, but she also knew she couldn’t let it continue. ‘I thought I heard your parents visit last night.’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke said eventually. ‘They came by.’

‘They weren’t here long.’ Caitlin noted.

Hawke frowned and stared at the fire. ‘No.’

Caitlin sighed and moved to look at him fully. ‘You told them to leave, didn’t you?’ For a long moment, she didn’t think he was going to answer her.

‘I didn’t want you disturbed.’ Hawke said defensively. ‘You need your rest.’

‘I’ve had plenty of rest,’ Caitlin contradicted him, ‘and they’re your parents. Don’t you want to spend time with them?’

He got up abruptly. ‘Coffee?’

‘Don’t change the subject.’ Caitlin followed him into the kitchen. ‘Hawke, you have to talk about this.’

‘Talk about what?’ Hawke slammed the coffee pot on the stove. ‘There’s nothing to talk about.’

She leaned on the breakfast bar for support. ‘Yes, there is. You can’t keep pushing your family away.’ Caitlin said tiredly. ‘Last night was the first time you’ve seen them since we came back from the hospital and they were barely here five minutes before you asked them to leave. They don’t deserve that.’

‘I know that.’ Hawke muttered.

‘Do you?’ Caitlin asked pointedly.

She saw him flinch before he whirled away to stand with his back to her, his hands braced on the kitchen counter-top. He didn’t reply to her; he wasn’t sure he had an answer for her.

‘I know it was hell for you while I was unconscious,’ Caitlin began.

‘No.’ Hawke interrupted her brusquely. ‘You don’t.’

‘Yes, I do.’ Caitlin rejoined sharply. ‘How the hell do you think I felt all the time you were in a coma last year?’

Hawke was shocked enough to spin round to face her. His blue eyes gleamed with sudden uncertainty before they became guarded.

‘I know.’ Caitlin repeated more gently. ‘And I know what happened with Dom was hard to go through…’

His expression closed up completely like a mask falling over him. He whirled away again, unable to face the sympathy in her eyes.

Caitlin sighed and walked over to him. Her arms slid around his waist and she pressed the side of her face into his back as she hugged him. ‘I miss him too.’

Hawke felt tears prick the back of his eyes and he shut them tightly. He couldn’t give into the grief biting at him; he wasn’t sure he’d come back from it.

‘It felt like we lost him all over again,’ Caitlin said sadly, ‘and I can’t imagine how much pain it caused you to go through that but…’ she struggled to keep the tears that pressed at the back of her throat, out of her voice, ‘Dom might be gone but I’m still here and so are your family, and all we want to do is be there for you. Don’t push us away.’ Her voice broke on the last statement.

Hawke turned around abruptly. His arms tightened around so hard for a second she wondered if she could breathe. His face buried into the crook of her neck and she felt the wet shock of his tears against her skin. Her hands clung onto him; one sneaking up to stroke the back of his neck and through the short mink brown strands comfortingly as he sobbed silently. She didn’t know how long they stayed that way but eventually Hawke loosened his hold and raised his head.

He looked at Caitlin for a long moment. Her eyes were bright with the tears that were still spilling over onto her flushed cheeks. He cupped her cheek and when she leaned into him, his thumb stroked away the wetness. The evidence of the horrendous injuries she had suffered was there in the short red hair that barely covered the vivid scars of her brain surgery. Her skin was too pale; the freckles standing out in sharp relief. Her eyes were sad with more than grief for Dom; Hawke knew she mourned the loss of the baby she had miscarried, the second child they had wanted. His thumb drifted over her lips. He kissed her softly. The kiss deepened and he pressed her against him tightly. The sound of a baby crying had them breaking apart ruefully.

‘I’ll get him.’ Hawke said.

‘We’ll both get him.’ Caitlin corrected.

It took a while to get Nicky changed, fed and settled back into his crib. They stood over him, watching him. Caitlin stroked a finger over the soft baby skin, her heart swelling with maternal love.

‘You saved him.’

She glanced up at Hawke confused.

‘You saved him.’ Hawke repeated.

She looked down at Nicky. ‘I’m so sorry.’

Her words were barely a whisper but Hawke heard them. ‘What for?’ He asked softly; he believed he already knew the answer.

‘I couldn’t save them both.’ Caitlin couldn’t look at him.

‘You were badly injured, Cait.’ Hawke reminded her gently. ‘There was nothing you could do. It was a miracle you and Nicky made it out of that crash alive.’

‘I know that.’ Caitlin said. She swallowed hard against the rush of emotion. ‘I just…I think it’s going to take some time to feel it.’

Hawke rubbed her back soothingly and she turned into his embrace swiftly. She snuggled against him and sighed deeply.

‘You’re tired. You should get some rest.’ Hawke murmured.

Caitlin pulled away to look at him. ‘Stop wrapping me in cotton wool.’

He frowned and she was certain he was about to argue with her when his blue eyes suddenly lit with amusement.

‘What?’ She demanded.

‘I was just remembering…’ Hawke shook his head. ‘You remember when you got pregnant with Nicky and I got a little protective?’

‘Vaguely.’ She said wryly.

‘Dom told me if I held you too tightly I’d smother you.’ Hawke sighed. ‘I guess I’ve kinda been doing that lately.’

‘I’ve kinda liked you taking care of me.’ Caitlin said with a smile.

‘But.’ Hawke prompted.

‘But,’ Caitlin repeated, ‘I need to get back on my feet.’

He nodded ruefully. ‘You’re going to have to be patient with me.’

‘We’ve been here before.’ She reminded him. ‘We’ve got over so much; we’ll get over this.’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke kissed the tip of her nose. ‘I still think you need to rest though.’

‘I’ll make you a deal.’ Caitlin suggested. ‘I’ll go to bed if you come with me.’

Hawke raised an eyebrow but he took a step backwards towards their bed and tugged her gently.

They cuddled for a while; content to hold each other and listen to the bedroom fire crackle; Nicky murmuring in his crib.

Caitlin toyed with the buttons on Hawke’s shirt. ‘You should call Saint John.’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke allowed.

‘We should invite your family over for dinner at the weekend.’ Caitlin continued.

Hawke sighed. ‘Cait…’

She raised her head and held his gaze firmly. ‘They’re your family and…’

He placed a finger on her lips.

‘What?’ She asked.

‘They invited us to Dom’s apartment tomorrow.’ Hawke said carefully.

‘Tomorrow?’ Caitlin’s brow furrowed. ‘But, why…oh.’ She shook her head sadly. ‘I’ve just lost all track of time, haven’t I?’

‘Jo’s cleaning out the apartment apparently. She thought it would be good to make it a group event and remember Dom.’

‘Sounds like a good idea.’ Caitlin said examining his impassive expression for clues. ‘Do you want to go?’

‘Not really.’ Hawke admitted. ‘But Dom…he was family.’

‘Yes, he was.’ Caitlin agreed.

‘But only if you feel up to it.’ Hawke concluded.

Caitlin shifted back to rest her head on his shoulder. ‘I’m OK. I’m not sure I’ll be doing much when I get there but…I’d like to go.’

‘Then we’ll go.’ Hawke said.

‘Together.’ Caitlin murmured, closing her eyes on a wave of tiredness.

‘Together.’ Hawke repeated softly. He listened as Caitlin’s breathing changed signalling her slide into sleep and he clasped her a little closer.

He was so bone scared about losing her again, Hawke thought wearily. It had been so close; too close. But she was alive and he was going to have to deal with his fear again. He’d gotten it under control before; he could do it again, he determined. He wouldn’t make the same mistake of driving her away in order to protect himself. He loved her too much; hell, needed her too much for that.

His family though…he’d seen the disappointment in their eyes, the hurt in his mother’s, when he’d asked them to leave the night before. A strange mix of guilt and defiance churned uneasily in his stomach. He loved them…or at least he loved a memory of them. He didn’t know the man and woman who had visited the cabin and contrarily, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know them.

It hadn’t been their fault they’d been separated; on one level he knew that…on another, he felt angry with them for leaving him alone for so long, for deserting him just like Saint John had done eventually. And he couldn’t help feeling a little resentful at his newly found younger sister and brother, Sarah and Seb. They had grown up with his Mom and Dad. Sure, Sarah had rebelled and run off, ending up pregnant and alone until he and Saint John had tracked her down, but she still had years of parenting that he had missed out on from them. Years of parenting he had received instead from Dom.

His heart ached at the thought of the older man. The events of the day Caitlin had woken up from her coma still seemed surreal to him. He’d gone after Giovanni Cordelli, the man responsible for the attack on Caitlin, and found himself flying Airwolf again with his mentor and surrogate father. It had been a fleeting visit from a ghost who had promised him he’d always be backing him, and Dom had when it had mattered most. He still held onto the thought that Dom would always be with him; it comforted him, soothed him. He wasn’t sure he was going to manage to stand in Dom’s apartment and clear his things…he wasn’t sure he could do it.

Caitlin stirred a little in his arms before she gave a sleepy murmur and settled back. He would try for Caitlin though, Hawke thought tiredly. They needed to heal and maybe Dom’s apartment was the first step to that. His eyes closed on the thought and a moment later he joined his wife in sleep.

Part 3

Hawke put the car in neutral and frowned at the apartment building in front of them. There were a lot of cars parked out front, some he recognised; Saint John’s, the Santini Air jeep, Mike Rivers’s sports car…the urge to slam the gear on his own car into reverse and head back to the airfield, climb back in his chopper and flee back to his mountain was so strong, Hawke trembled with the effort not to give into it.

Caitlin’s hand covered his. ‘You ready?’

He sighed and turned his hand over to squeeze hers reassuringly. He didn’t know which of them was more nervous. It was Caitlin’s first trip out since her accident; the fingers of her spare hand played nervously with the edge of her sweater before drifting up to self-consciously touch the green scarf she had wrapped over her head. ‘You look beautiful.’ He said quietly.

Her lips lifted. ‘You’re biased.’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke agreed. He leaned across and kissed her. ‘Come on.’

They got out of the car and Hawke retrieved Nicky in his baby-carrier from the back of the car. They walked up to the apartment slowly. The door opened before they reached the entrance.

Jo Santini smiled at them. ‘Hey.’

‘Hey.’ Hawke answered as the blonde launched herself forward and hugged him and Caitlin briefly.

‘I’m so glad you guys could make it.’ Jo murmured as she ushered them inside. The crowded room fell silent at the sight of the couple. Hawke stiffened under everyone’s regard and Caitlin placed her hand on his shoulder comfortingly.

Chris ran across the room and Hawke immediately crouched to meet the young boy who threw himself enthusiastically at his uncle. ‘Uncle String!’

Hawke hugged Chris back and let Caitlin take Nicky’s carrier as he lifted Chris into his arms. ‘Hey! Look at you.’ Hawke commented poking Chris’s tummy. ‘You’ve grown.’

‘No, I haven’t.’ Chris said chuckling.

Mike Rivers strode across the room and reached for the baby carrier; Caitlin let him take it gratefully. He kissed her cheek. ‘You’re looking wonderful.’

‘Liar.’ Caitlin retorted but she smiled at Mike’s cheeky grin.

‘She needs somewhere to sit.’ Hawke said as he nodded an acknowledgement at his team-mate.

‘I’m fine.’ Caitlin said quickly.

‘Cait, you need…’ Hawke began.

‘To rest.’ Caitlin finished. She rolled her eyes at him and he gave her a chiding look.

‘Well, we have the perfect place.’ Mike interjected swiftly, he ushered her towards the battered sofa and cleared a place.

‘He’s right.’ Jo said, grabbing another stack of papers and shoving them aside. ‘You just sit here and rest.’

‘How about some tea?’ Jane Hawke offered, smiling nervously at her daughter-in-law.

‘That sounds good.’ Caitlin replied with a warm smile.

‘Thanks.’ Hawke said, catching his mother’s gaze.

She smiled brightly at her second son before hurrying into the kitchen.

Alan made his way across to Hawke who set Chris down to accept the manly hug of welcome. ‘Glad to see you made it.’ Alan said gruffly.

Hawke shrugged self-consciously as he accepted more hugs from his siblings. ‘So, where do you want me?’ He asked Jo finally.

‘Why don’t you stay in here with Caitlin and Nicky?’ Jo suggested. ‘Clear the sideboard?’ She headed out of the living room before he could argue.

‘OK.’ Hawke regarded the open sideboard with the packed contents spilling out onto the floor with trepidation. He looked over at Caitlin who smiled sympathetically. ‘You going to give me a hand?’

Caitlin smiled sweetly at him. ‘I’m resting.’

‘Now you’re resting.’ Hawke grumbled. ‘Typical.’

‘I’ll help.’ Sarah offered. ‘Honestly, this looks more manageable than the bedroom.’

‘Sure.’ Hawke agreed. He knelt down and started to shift through the contents. Old newspapers mixed with old letters and paraphernalia. They took out photo album after photo album. He was peripherally aware of Caitlin drinking tea with his mother, the two of them cooing over Nicky and the murmur of his father and brothers as they worked elsewhere in the apartment.

He and Sarah worked in comfortable silence for a long time, passing items back and forth, separating them into piles to keep or throw away. His hand landed on an old photo and Hawke picked it up with a frown. It showed him and Dom at his high school graduation. His finger traced over Dom’s beaming gap-toothed smile, the proud look in his eyes, the way his arm was slung around Hawke’s shoulder.

Grief hit him like a roller-coaster. His jaw clenched and he dropped the photo as he stood up. He strode out of the apartment, the door slamming shut behind him.

Sarah stared after him open-mouthed and looked over at Caitlin who was already on her feet. ‘I’ll go.’ Sarah offered.

Caitlin waved her back. ‘Just look after Nicky.’ She left the apartment before Sarah or Jane could argue.

Hawke was by the car, his back to her as he perched on the trunk and stared up at the clear blue sky. His arms were tightly folded over his chest, his legs crossed, his blue eyes guarded. She sat beside him quietly and waited.

‘Whole damn apartment is full of ghosts.’ Hawke muttered eventually. He rubbed his eyes and kept his gaze forward.

‘Why don’t you take a break?’ Caitlin suggested quietly. ‘Head over to Red Star and take the Lady out for a spin?’

He finally looked at her and found her looking back at him with sympathetic understanding.

She nodded. ‘It’s OK.’

The muscle in his jaw clenched again; the only sign of his internal struggle between wanting escape and not wanting to leave her. ‘What about you?’

‘I’ll be fine.’ Caitlin said. ‘If you don’t make it back before dark, I’m sure someone will give me and Nicky a ride up to the cabin.’ She smiled wryly. ‘It’s not like there’s a shortage of pilots in the family.’

Hawke felt the corners of his mouth lift reluctantly. He held his hand out to her and hers slid into it. He squeezed it lovingly before he released it and reached over to kiss her goodbye. ‘I’ll be back before dark.’

She watched him drive away before she made her way back into the apartment. Everyone had gathered back into the living room. Caitlin sat back down on the sofa and placed a hand over Nicky’s tummy.

‘He left?’ Jane asked, disappointed.

Caitlin nodded. ‘It’s just hard for him.’

‘It’s not exactly easy for any of us.’ Jo retorted, sitting on the coffee table. ‘We all miss Uncle Dom but it’s been a year and…’

‘Not for Hawke.’ Caitlin’s lips pressed together. ‘Y’all have to understand that Dom was the only family Hawke had for a long time and with all that business in the hospital with…with Dom’s ghost when I woke up? He just lost him all over again.’

Jo’s eyes gleamed with tears and she headed out of the living room clearly upset.

Caitlin sighed.

‘This is hard for her too.’ Saint John said mildly before he followed after his girlfriend.

‘Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea us coming.’ Caitlin murmured tiredly.

‘No,’ Jane’s hand covered Caitlin’s reassuringly, ‘we’re glad you’re here at all.’

‘We just…’ Alan sighed. He gestured at her and sat down beside his wife, ‘well, we’d hoped to spend time with String.’

‘I understand.’ Caitlin said. ‘I really do but…’ she sighed, ‘you just need to give him some time.’

‘That’s what your friend Michael said.’ Alan admitted ruefully.

‘Michael?’ Caitlin’s eyes widened in surprise.

‘I went to see him yesterday.’ Alan confessed. ‘He told me we shouldn’t push it.’

‘Well, he’s right.’ Caitlin said firmly.

‘We’ve lost so much time already though.’ Jane pointed out. ‘Is it so wrong of us not to want to lose anymore?’

‘I just don’t get why he was looking for us if he didn’t want to know us.’ Seb muttered darkly.

Caitlin looked over at him admonishingly. ‘You have to understand, Seb, it has nothing to do with you, any of you, really. Losing Dom again, almost losing me and Nicky…’

‘He’s dealing more than just us coming back into his life.’ Jane realised.

‘It’s got him a little confused, that’s all.’ Caitlin said. ‘Y’all just going to have to be patient with him.’

‘Easier said than done, huh?’ Alan sighed.

‘Believe me, I know.’ Caitlin softened the words with a smile. She glanced toward the door at the back of the living room. ‘I should probably go and see if Jo’s OK.’

‘I’d leave Saint John to it for now.’ Mike advised gently.

Caitlin nodded. ‘I guess you’re right.’

Sarah slapped Mike’s arm. ‘Why don’t you help me with this?’ She smiled as he joined her on the floor.

Mike picked up the photo Hawke had dropped. ‘Hey, look! It’s Hawke at his graduation.’

‘Really?’ Seb plucked it from Mike’s hands and handed it to his mother.

‘Oh, look at him.’ Jane’s eyes filled with tears.

‘Here we go.’ Alan said knowingly. He handed his wife a tissue.

Continued in Part II.

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