A/N: Once again, a huge thank you to Gib and MarenMary for lending me the boys and for sharing some of Pete's family with me. It's just so much fun to play in their sandbox!

More Mail Call

Chapter 2

After the paper stopped flying, Mac took his seat again and reached for the next package on the pile. This one was a bit smaller, but sloshed heavily to one side when Mac shook it slightly.

"Who's it from?" Duncan asked, anxious to see who was next. The delta operators settled down and gave Mac their attention once again. Each friend was excited, not only because their team mate was finally getting to open something, but because each of their families had sent a package special for Mac-and anything from home was a welcome distraction—a reminder of what they were fighting for, of the people they loved and who loved and missed them.

A bit confused, Mac smiled as he read off the return address.

"O'Malley, Arthur Ave, New York, New York". He looked around the circle of friends, hoping someone would recognize the name.

Sitting next to him, Pete perked up and smiled. "Hey—that's Auntie Gi—you'd love her. She is just the best. She's the reason why I love to read—"

Mac looked at him, pointing to the hand written name on the box. "O'Malley? I thought you said your family was Italian?"

Boxer rolled his eyes. Leaning over, he whispered in Coop's ear. "For crying out loud—he had to ask. We're gonna be here for awhile."

Coop rocked back in his chair and smiled. "The kid doesn't know what he just started…"

Pete laughed and took the box from Mac. Staring at her name lovingly, he gently ran his finger over the words 'Arthur Avenue'. "Autie G married her high school sweetheart, who happened to be Irish. Uncle George was a great guy—but the family never really accepted him, which was a shame, because she really loved him. Aunt Giola was heartbroken when he died…." His eyes drifted a bit, lost in a memory. He quickly pulled himself back and smiling, handed the box back to Mac. Accepting the package, Mac pulled out his knife and slit the sides open while Pete continued.

"She never remarried, so she kinda threw herself into the Pastry shop where she's been working for years. My mom's family owns it, and she and Nona Rosa are tight. Aunt Lucia works there too, so the three of them…." He laughed, shaking his head slowly from side to side. It was then that he looked up and noticed his audience. Each operator was feigning sleep, legs outstretched, arms crossed, head flopped to the side. A collective snore rose from the circle.

Mac laughed and pulled some of the stuffing out of the box. Looking around the circle of sleeping Deltas, he removed a tin and shook it gently. "I guess all these awesome Italian Pastries are for you and me, Pete." He said loudly. Jack's eyes flew open as he bolted upright, the rest of the guys doing the same.

"Did she send Biscotti this time? Or Pizzelle?"

"Oh man, those Biscotti are to die for."

"Maybe there's a Panettone in there….That stuff is good even if it's stale."

"I'd take stale Panettone over mess hall crap any day."

Mac smiled listening to the comments as he opened the tin. "Looks like….Pizzelle and Biscotti."

Pete leaned over and nodded his head. "Yup. Kinda broken up, but I bet it still tastes amazing." Reaching in, he took a large broken piece of golden pastry and motioned with his head for Mac to take some too. Mac gave him a side long look and huffed.

"Remember who Aunt Gi sent these to, man." Pulling the tin out of Pete's reach, he took a handful of broken Biscotti and passed the tin to Jack. Jack's eyes lit up as he smelled the tasty confections.

"Mmmmmm. La Zia Giola fa le migliori pasticcerie" he said casually. Taking some treats he passed the tin to Duncan.

"What?" Mac said, choking on his cookie. Boxer eyed him from the other side of the circle and started to laugh.

"Wyatt buddy, you are a man of mystery—where did you EVER learn to speak Italian?"

"I taugh 'im" Pete offered, spitting cookie crumbs at Mac. The EOD specialist leaned out of the line of fire and brushed the crumbs from his shirt.

Pete chewed and swallowed what was in his mouth and continued. "It was on that op a few months back when we were stuck on that mountain, just me and him for 3 days. We didn't have much else to do so I taught him some Italian. He's a quick learner." Jack smiled proudly as he munched on his cookies.

"Never thought I'd hear 'Jack' and 'quick learner' in the same sentence" Coop added, selecting his cookie and passing the tin back to Pete. That earned him a face full of package stuffing thrown from across the circle. He ducked and covered, shielding his precious cookies from the live fire.

"I'm impressed, Jack. Really" Mac said as he reached around inside the box. Pulling out another smaller package he turned it to read the address. "Here's one from Becky Santorro". Looking over at Pete, he smiled a sly smile. "Maybe there's cards in there for me? Pink ones?" he said sheepishly.

Pete punched him hard in the arm and took the smaller package from his friend and shook it. "Fat chance. She's my girl, end of story. I'm sure it's just some candy bars or something. "

Rubbing his wounded arm, Mac grabbed the package away from him and flipped it over. Noticing a pink sticker on the bottom, he smiled and squinted to see the fancy emblem. "Wow. Pete. Victoria's Secret. What HAS she been up to while you've been away?"

Pete lunged for the box as Mac pulled it away. The circle of guys didn't miss a beat, all adding their 'whoops' and 'whoa's' to the chorus of loud Delta ribbing.

"Hey. She's just being environmentally responsible, reusing the box that I'm sure she got when she….ordered a wedding gift for her sister….."

Jack smiled and leaned over and around Mac to look Pete in the eye. "You're reaching, bud. It's ok—I'm sure whatever you sent her was…..tasteful. Victoria has classy stuff."

Mac threw Jack a nervous glare as his cheeks turned a lovely shade of pink. "I don't think I really want to know how you know that."

"Don't worry. I won't tell you." Jack answered, grinning like a cheshire cat. Leaning back and crossing his arms across his chest, he motioned, "Open it up and see what she sent already."

Mac was all too happy to move on, cutting the tape on the small box and opening the flaps. Inside was a camo colored bandana wrapped around a stack of something. Mac pulled it out of the box and looked at the odd package.

"Here, let me help you—" Pete offered, only to have his hand swiped away by Mac. "I got it—thanks" he said smiling. "I'm sure she'll send YOU something in the next mail run."

Pete pulled back and slid down his chair, crossing his arms and pouting like a little boy.

"I think our boy is jealous!" Duncan teased, throwing a wadded up piece of packing paper at Pete. The medic just pouted more.

Mac untied the knot at the top of the make shift package and let it flop open on his lap. It was then that he noticed that the bandana was covered by hand written messages, written in different colored sharpie markers. The writing looked to be from kids. Pete leaned over and, seeing the writing, grinned from ear to ear.

"Becky's a third grade teacher. I bet that's from her class." A collective "Awwww" rose from the circle.

"What does it say?" Jack asked, leaning over to see the bandana. Mac lifted out a pile of hand drawn pictures, all done in crayon with the caption, "To Mac, from_" He held up the bandana and turned it from side to side. Squinting at the different words, he read "Be safe, thank you for protecting us, Dear Mac do you get to blow things up? Dear Mac I hope the sun isn't too hot, I hope you can come home soon". He smiled when he saw a message from Becky written along the perimeter of the bandana.

"This one's from Becky. Dear Mac—thank you for keeping my Pete safe. Hope this keeps the sun off your head. The kids picked it out themselves. God bless and stay safe. From Miss Santorro's 3rd grade class, PS 105, New York."

Mac smiled as he gently laid the bandana over his knee and picked up the pile of drawings. Pete and Jack leaned over and looked on as Mac thumbed thru the pile.

"Now you have something to decorate the barracks" Jack joked. Duncan hit him broadside with a paper ball just as Mac stopped at a picture drawn by a girl named Taylor. It was a picture of three soldiers in uniform, one with a red cross on his sleeve, the other standing in front of a helicopter holding his helmut and another soldier kneeling over a large black box with wires sticking out in all directions. The kneeling soldier was labeled "Mac", the medic was labeled "Mr. DeLusio" and the other soldier was labeled "Daddy". Across the bottom it said in different colored letters, "Thank you Mr. Mac".

Mac stared at the drawing with a sad smile. Pete reached over and ruffled the kid's hair, giving him a playful push.

"See? We're not the only ones who appreciate what you do." He craned his neck, trying to read the name of the artist. "I bet….Taylor…..misses her Dad."

Jack noticed Mac's lack of response and looked over at the drawing. He smiled and put a calloused hand on the kid's shoulder. "Hey, bud. Anything else in that box? You still have a few left to open."

Mac sighed, placing the drawings back on his lap. He reached back in the box, feeling around thru the packing paper to see if there was anything left. Pete looked over, smiling as he waited patiently for something he evidently knew Mac would find at the bottom. Finally, amid packing peanuts and paper, Mac pulled out a real Italian sausage. He held it up and Pete cheered.

"Oh man, they pulled out all the stops! Sopresetta!" he said, reaching for the tasty snack.

"No way, buddy." Mac pulled the box away, reaching around in the box again and pulling out a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a small box of crackers.

"Send it all over here!" Duncan yelled, getting up to inspect the spicy treasure and its tasty companions. Mac quickly dropped them back in the box and held it tightly to his chest.

Duncan stopped mid circle. "Hey! When Pete gets one of those he always shares it with us! That's not fair!" The disgruntled Delta trudged back to his chair, eliciting a kick from Coop sitting next to him. "You know Mac-He'll share it all. Just let him have his moment."

Coop smiled knowingly at the young EOD, watching him take the cheese and salami back out of the bag and inspect the wrapping. Pete looked it over and smiled.

"Yup. That's the best Pop has in the shop. Dry aged to perfection. That and the cheese together…..all we need is a loaf of crusty bread and some wine and we're back on Arthur Avenue!"

Mac smiled at his enthusiasm and the fond memories Pete had of his home and family. Taking out his pocket knife, he sliced open the salami's wrapper and, cutting off a chunk, savored its spicy goodness.

"That's awesome, man. All of it. Thank you—" Mac said shyly, cutting off another piece and passing the meat to Pete. Grabbing his knife from his boot, the medic licked his lips and sliced off a small piece, popping it in his mouth.

"Mmmmmm. Molto bene…." He said, chewing slowly to savor the treat. Passing it to Coop, Pete leaned around Mac to say something to Jack, but realized he was gone.

"Where'd our fearless leader get to? I didn't even see him go."

Mac laughed. "Ya, Jack's good at that. It must be a Delta thing…" Looking into the box, he made sure he didn't miss anything and put the drawings, cookie tin and bandana back in with the cheese and crackers. Just as the salami was getting to Duncan, Jack burst into the room in full gear.

"Hate to ruin the party but we just got called up. Got some guys in trouble. Wheels up in 10. Let's go ladies!" Immediately everyone jumped up and went for the door. Duncan tried to slip the salami in his shirt, but Mac grabbed it from him before he could hide it.

"Oh, man! I didn't get any!"

Mac quickly stuffed it in the box. "I'll save you some, Dunc. And some cheese. It'll give you something to look forward to when we get back."

Duncan pouted but wrapped an arm around Mac's shoulders as they pushed thru the door. "Thanks bud" He said, taking off at a run to the tac room. Mac caught up to Pete just as they got to the barracks and grabbed his arm.

"Hey, thank you—that was really kind of your family and I appreciate it."

Pete grinned as he opened the door for his team mate. "Maybe when all this is over we can meet in New York. Becky and I can show you around. We'll eat at the deli, you can meet my folks and we'll do the city in style!"

Mac smiled and shrugged. "Sure. Sounds great." As he made his way over to his bunk to gear up, Pete yelled from the other side of the room.

"I've got this cousin—Donna Fran—you guys would be perfect together! She works with Becky at the school…."

Coop threw a sock ball at Pete and turned to Mac, shaking his head. "He'll go on all day, bud. Before you know it, you'll be part of the family!"

Mac smiled, glancing at Pete fondly. "That actually sounds like a lot of fun."

The end…until next time!