The hospital room was dark when Dom woke next. There were shadows in the corners; a single lamp on a table by the door lit the room.
Dom managed to grasp the plastic glass of water that had been left on his hospital table, glad no one was around to see his hand shaking. He sipped it, easing his sore, dry throat gratefully. He was alone but a glance at the clock told him he could probably expect Hawke and Caitlin or Jo to come by before too long. He eased back against the pillows and closed his heavy eyes.
The sound of the door opening had his eyes snapping open again. He scowled. 'I was wondering when you'd show up.'
Dawson lumbered into the room and closed the door behind him. 'Sallis was last seen in Arizona. We've got a team looking for him.' He grunted. 'Half the law enforcement organisations in the country are looking for him.' His brown eyes met Dom's curiously. 'You didn't tell me you'd gotten tangled up with the FIRM.' He gestured and sat down in the chair nearest the door. 'Sallis' son died in a shoot out with their people.'
Dom sniffed. 'I know.'
'Guess the boy told you.' Dawson pulled his crumpled overcoat around his rounded stomach.
'If you mean String, yes.' Dom said. 'He told me he tracked you down.'
'He's a lot like his father.' Dawson said. 'Has the look of his mother, but his heart's all his father's.'
'He's a good man.' Dom said defensively not sure Dawson was complimenting Hawke with his statement; the agent and Alan had always had a strained relationship.
'No argument, Santini.' Dawson held up a hand in supplication. 'I could put some protection on you whilst Sallis is on the loose.'
Dom shook his head. 'I didn't need protection back then and I don't need it now.' He paused. 'And I don't think I would have needed it yesterday when Sallis grabbed me if Sallis had actually believed Jane and Alan were really dead.'
'But that's what you told him?'
'Of course.' Dom said evenly. 'Because yesterday that's what I believed.'
Dawson stared at him and stood up slowly. 'Well, if you don't want protection, my work here is done so…'
'They're alive, aren't they?' Dom said harshly. 'Alan and Jane are alive.'
'What really happened the day of the boat accident?' Dom asked. 'Hmmm?'
'Drop it, Santini.' Dawson said angrily.
'Shall I tell you what I think happened?' Dom said ignoring the other man. 'I think you arranged with Alan to meet like you said you did. I even think it was going to happen the way you said it was going to; they would rendezvous with you, you'd scupper their boat, send the entire family on their way to a new life and then when the storm came in, report them missing at sea.' He paused and Dawson looked steadily back at him.
'Only the storm came early,' Dom continued, 'and String's line broke and he got washed overboard. Saint John dived in after his brother to save him and the storm carried them away from the boat. Alan made that frantic call to the coastguard who responded and rescued the boys.' He stopped and took a breath. 'But you'd caught up with the boat and you followed your original plan, telling Alan that it all just added to making the disappearance authentic.'
'What did you do?' Dom carried on as though Dawson hadn't tried to speak. 'Tell him if the boys were alive you'd find someway of making sure they joined Alan and Jane as soon as it was possible?' His hands curled into fists. 'But then, but then, you had to have told them the boys didn't survive going overboard; had never been rescued because that's the only way Alan and Jane would ever have left them behind.'
'That's a nice fantasy, Santini.'
'I don't think so.' Dom said. 'I think I've figured out the truth and Sallis already knew. There must be some kinda leak in your organisation; he knew they were alive.'
'And what if it is the truth, Santini?' Dawson said harshly. 'Who are you going to tell? The boy?'
'He deserves to know…'
'If you tell him what do you think he'll do?' Dawson said taking a step toward the bed. 'He'll start looking for his family and if they were still alive, which I'm not saying they are, he'll lead Sallis and Cordelli right to them.'
Dom fell silent.
'If you were right and if you told him, you'd kill them all.' Dawson said in a calmer voice.
'How could you do that to them?' Dom asked angrily. 'How could you do that?'
'I always did what had to be done so that I got the best result for everybody.'
'How was that the best result?' Dom demanded. 'Do you have any idea of the damage you caused?'
'I haven't said it was true.' Dawson said.
'You haven't exactly denied it either.' Dom pointed out.
Dawson sighed. 'If you want to do what's best for the boy, you should drop this theory, Santini. That's the truth.' He left before Dom could say anything more.
Dom thumped the bed in helpless frustration and shook his head. He knew in his heart he was right whether Dawson admitted it or not. The question was…did he tell Hawke his theory?
Hawke had so much pain from that day; he had never stopped blaming himself for the boat accident; for losing his parents. The storm wasn't a factor in Hawke's head. He had gone overboard and deserted his parents; caused his brother to desert them too; had caused the coast-guard to desert them in favour of rescuing two small boys from the sea rather than helping the storm-tossed boat. If he knew his parents might still be alive...it would become an obsession, Dom realised with a sinking heart.
Just as jailing Sallis for Elijah's murder had obsessed Al; just as the search for Saint John obsessed Hawke now…it would become another obsession and Hawke might very well end up leading Sallis and the Cordelli's to his parents. Dawson could be right. They could all end up dead.
Dom pressed his lips together. Surely Hawke deserved to know the truth? Surely Alan and Jane deserved to be reunited with their boys, see their grandchildren when Hawke and Caitlin finally got around to it? But he'd promised Al he'd look after the boys and Hawke was happy; for the first time in years, Hawke was happy. His marriage to Caitlin had settled him. Did he want to destroy that? Dom sighed and rubbed his face.
The question came down to whether he revealed what he believed to be the truth and ran the risk of hurting everybody he loved or whether he lied to Hawke and protected everyone he loved. Dom sighed. If he told Hawke…Hawke was the best strategist Dom knew, better than his father even. Michael would help out too…they would have the weight of the FIRM behind them and Airwolf; they had Airwolf. She was an advantage in any situation. Hawke and Caitlin could take care of themselves and with them putting a family on hold for a while they wouldn't worry about a little one getting hurt in all of it. Surely they would be able to come up with a plan that enabled them to win against Sallis and the Cordelli family? Surely it was better to go with the truth? Dom closed his eyes wearily. He wasn't sure he could keep it from Hawke in any case. Dom nodded to himself. He would tell Hawke and they would figure out what to do next. That was the best thing. Hawke wouldn't thank him for trying to protect him not over this…
A soft knock on the door had his eyes flying open and he gave a gap-toothed smile as Hawke and Caitlin entered. There was a flurry of hugs and kisses; another couple of lamps were switched onto brighten the room; chairs were pulled up to the bed.
'So how are you feeling?' asked Caitlin. She and Hawke were sat next to each other and Dom noted they were holding hands with a pleased satisfaction.
'Like I got knocked around a bit.' Dom's rueful smile softened the truth of it. 'I'll be back on my feet before you know it.'
'Jo called just before we left the office.' Caitlin said. 'She's going to be by in another hour or so. She said to tell you she's gone shopping to buy groceries as you had nothing in your fridge but beer.'
Dom ignored the slight hint of heat on his cheeks. 'She's moving home, did she tell ya?'
The couple nodded.
'She's got a couple of jobs lined up that'll keep her out of the country for the next couple of months but she should be able to move home around mid-June.' Dom said happily.
'We're going to have to discuss what we're going to do about her and the Lady.' Hawke said frankly.
'Might not be a bad idea to get her involved.' Caitlin said. 'An extra pilot might be handy in case one of us gets…incapacitated.' She gave Hawke a meaningful look.
Dom saw the by-play and wondered at it briefly as he agreed with her. 'It would make a lot of sense and it would mean we don't have to keep worrying about her saying something in front of Michael or us saying something in front of her…'
'Maybe.' Hawke said. He wasn't sure involving someone else was a good idea even if it was Jo but then if Caitlin did get pregnant…he jerked his attention back to the conversation. 'Michael said to tell you he'll stop in with Angelina tomorrow.'
Dom's face brightened. 'Ah. That'll be nice. To see Angelina, I mean.' he said to clarify in case there was any misunderstanding that he might have meant Michael.
Hawke wagged a finger at him. 'You owe Michael a thank you.'
'It was him who tracked down the warehouse you were at.'
Dom sighed. 'I guess I do owe him a thank you for that…speaking of which.' He swallowed with difficulty in a suddenly dry mouth. 'I…uh…I have something to say to you both.' He reached for the water glass and saw it was empty, as was the jug on the table. He missed the puzzled look that Hawke and Caitlin exchanged at his serious tone.
Caitlin looked back at Dom and caught the end of his drinks search. She reached for the jug. 'Why don't I get us all a drink?'
'Thanks, Cait.' Dom smiled at her, grateful too for the delay.
Hawke tugged her arm and she leaned down to kiss him before she left. Dom looked at them speculatively. They were a close couple but there was something else about them all of a sudden…
'OK. What's going on?' He asked once the door was closed behind Caitlin.
'What?' Hawke tried for a blank expression but the corners of his lips couldn't help but curve up a little.
'You and Cait.' Dom said and gestured vaguely. 'You two seem…different.'
Hawke rubbed his chin; he was practically bursting with the news of their decision and decided it wouldn't hurt to let Dom in on the secret. He leaned forward in his chair. 'You can't tell anyone and you can't tell Cait I've told you either.'
Dom mimed zipping his lip.
Hawke started grinning. 'We've decided to try for a baby.'
'You…you're…' Dom beamed at him. 'That's great, kid. Really great.'
'Cait doesn't want anybody to know.' Hawke repeated. 'I think she's a little worried that if it doesn't happen straight away then people start wondering and…'
'I can appreciate that.' Dom said. 'Don't worry. I won't say anything.' He looked at Hawke's evident happiness. 'You're real sure about this, huh?'
'Real sure.' Hawke agreed. 'It feels right, Dom.'
'I can see that, String.' Dom looked at his boy, no, not his - Al's boy; so happy and excited. His certainty about his decision wavered. 'Well,' he said brightly, 'I can't say I'm unhappy. I was a little disappointed you know when you said you were waiting.'
'Really, Dom.' Hawke said blandly. 'We never would have guessed.'
Dom sent him a sharp look.
'You know,' Hawke said, 'Cait's framed that old photo you took of my family that was in Dad's file on Sallis. She thought we might hang it in the office.'
'That's not a bad idea.' Dom said.
Hawke nodded. 'Seeing that picture, it made me realise how much of the past I've been clinging onto; made me realise how much of my life I've spent looking back and trying to recreate something like it.'
'And now?' Dom asked.
'And now I've realised I can move on. I don't need the old picture anymore; Cait and I can create our own.' Hawke smiled. 'I kinda like that.' He quirked an eyebrow at Dom. 'Maybe you can take a photo of us with our baby in another year.'
'Maybe.' Dom said softly as Caitlin came back into the room. She put the jug and two plastic cups of coffee she was juggling down before she refilled the plastic glass and handed it to Dom. He took it gratefully and gulped down the water.
Caitlin sat back down and took Hawke's hand. He lifted hers and kissed the palm of her hand. She smiled at him. Dom gazed at them thoughtfully. Truth or protecting their happiness? What was more important?
'Sorry, Dom.' Hawke said breaking into Dom's reverie. 'You wanted to say something?'
Dom took a deep breath and looked Hawke squarely in the eyes. 'I guess…I just wanted to say…I love you both very much.' Forgive me, Al, he thought briefly, but I think I'm doing the right thing. He nodded firmly at his decision and at the couple who smiled back at him. 'That's all. I love you both very much.'