Airwolf Fanfic - typical disclosures. I don't own them, I just take them out to play occasionally.
"I'm just saying. Landing an aircraft on the same spot, fourteen times in a row, doesn't constitute a stunt."
"Don't forget sitting there while Paullina Prince got in and out of the helicopter over and over again," Caitlin said from behind his shoulder shouting slightly over the roar of the engines and the churning blades above.
Hawke sighed, shot a sidelong glance at his nominal boss, who shrugged.
"Man hires us for a stunt and pays for a stunt, he can call it whatever he wants," Santini said firmly. "A full day's pay for landing a chopper on the same two-foot mark ain't nothing to complain about, String."
"Fourteen times in a row," Hawke muttered as he adjusted the collective.
"Thomakoles got his shot. He's happy with us and he's not easy to please."
Fourteen times in a row to get a two-second shot of Paullina Prince exiting the helicopter. Yeah, that would count as something of a perfectionist, Hawke thought sourly. Definitely not his idea of flying.
"Hey, you didn't have to wear the wig," Caitlin complained. "You have any idea how hot it is with one of those things on?"
Hawke turned his head sharply towards Santini, who grimaced and nodded towards the hangar.
"We got company."
Hawke regarded the white stretch Lincoln for a second and then the corner of his mouth twitched decidedly upward. Whatever job the Firm might have for them definitely beat the flying Thomakoles had planned for them tomorrow.
"Oh no you don't," Santini warned, all too familiar with that look. "We got a contract."
"You do," Hawke said.
"Do I have to remind you that movie stunts pay the bills?"
Hawke settled the helicopter in the LZ outside the hangar, unbuckled his harness and carefully shut her down, all the time watching the white Lincoln out of the corner of his eye. They weren't inside -- the hangar was locked up – so that meant they were waiting him out inside the car.
He grinned and started fussing with the controls, running system checks that weren't entirely necessary. He drew it out as long as possible, ignoring Santini's snort. Sure enough, as soon as he cracked the hatch door open a scant inch, the Lincoln's driver popped out, scurried around the car and opened the back door.
"The two of you are like eight-year olds," Santini complained as he carefully shut the port hatch.
A sleek long leg swung out of the back of the Lincoln, followed immediately by its mate, and then a swirl of white silk. Caitlin's scramble out of the back of the helicopter was not nearly the graceful event of Marella's emergence from the car.
"Sorry, he'll be just a moment." Marella nodded towards the car's interior. "He's on the phone."
"Guess he wins this one," Caitlin whispered and then bounced out of reach.
Marella had the most expressive set of eyes Hawke had ever seen. They sparkled, they danced, they eviscerated, they caressed, they reflected in their deep brown depths whatever emotion she felt, but only when she chose to show it. Right now, her eyes were shuttered, she was closed down and Hawke felt his mood swing back towards foul. He stuck his hands in the back pockets of his jeans and leaned back on his heels.
Briggs climbed out a minute later. From the tight set of his jaw, the Firm wasn't going to offer a pleasant alternative to movie flying. Briggs jerked his head towards the hangar and Hawke set off towards the building, not waiting for the contingent in white.
He waited, briefly, while Santini unlocked the doors, and then strode in, suddenly edgy. He waited until the rest of the group was inside and then glared at Briggs who'd stopped abruptly less than ten feet inside the hangar.
"I need to see Airwolf," Briggs said, flatly, unemotionally.
Hawke didn't like his tone; he bit back an automatic baiting retort and studied the other man. Based on the tension rolling off the two Firm officers, he decided upon a more cautious approach than came naturally.
"You going to tell me why?"
"Can you tell us where you were at approximately fourteen hundred hours today?" Marella asked.
Hawke's gaze swung to her and then back to Briggs, brow crinkling in puzzlement.
"Flying stunts for a movie at the Paramount Studio lot," Santini said loudly, coming to stand next to Hawke. "Why? What's this about?"
"All of you?"
Marella was disconcertingly intense. Her total stillness standing rigidly next to Briggs somehow intensified her penetrating stare.
"What happened?" Hawke asked, needing but not wanting to know. He felt the answer in the pit of his stomach, even before Briggs answered.
"Same thing that happened last week, only this time with a CHP helicopter."
"Now wait a second…."
Hawke interrupted Santini. "It buzzed them?"
Briggs shook his head slowly, almost imperceptibly, and Hawke felt acid rise in his throat. Archangel that grim was a rare and unwelcome sight.
"Blew the doors off, figuratively speaking," Marella said. "The CHP chopper came down hard. The pilot was a little banged up."
"It wasn't Airwolf," Hawke said, quickly, trying to force the acid back down to his stomach.
"Two separate occasions," Briggs said slowly, shifting his weight onto his right leg. "This time, the description is coming from a police officer."
"You really think someone would steal Airwolf so they can joyride and scare some weekend pilots and the Highway Patrol?" Hawke asked.
"No," Briggs answered. "But it doesn't matter what I think. I can explain away one freak incident as dentists sampling their own nitrous oxide." He blew out a breath of frustration. "A California Highway Patrol officer I can't explain away. And the description is detailed."
"What if I say no?"
He knew it was a defensive reaction, knew that it wouldn't help the situation, but couldn't quite stop himself.
"You're not helping," Briggs warned.
"There was nothing in the paper about those dentists." Hawke felt his hands clench into fists, shoved them into his jeans pockets to hide his obvious distress. "Tell me why I should think this isn't just a ploy to steal her back."
Briggs pushed his hand through his hair. Momentarily disheveled, it fell back perfectly into place.
"Of course it's an attempt to flush her out," he said . "The first time, I was able to bury the story, discredit the dentists. It's going to be harder to do that with the cop, not to mention that it's now a criminal investigation."
Hawke stepped back, waiting for the argument he knew was coming.
"I'm under orders to get her back, damn the consequences," Briggs said. "I need something to give Zeus, to buy some time to figure out who's behind this play."
"You just want to see her?" Hawke let his skepticism show.
"No," Briggs sighed. "I… we need to examine her, in her hiding spot, to determine whether or not she was involved in these two incidents."
Hawke scowled. "That's too simple."
"And I want to leave one of my people there to stand guard as a witness that Airwolf isn't used in any further incidents."
A number of answers crossed Hawke's mind. He went with his instinct. "No." Then he turned his back and walked away from Briggs and Marella.
"Hawke," Briggs called. "This isn't optional."
"The hell it isn't," Hawke said over his shoulder. "I said 'no,' Michael."
He walked into Santini's office and slammed the door, taking fierce satisfaction in the way it rattled in its frame.
Five, four, three, two …..
The door swung open again and Hawke was only surprised that it was Santini opening it, not Briggs.
"You want to tell me what's going on here?"
Stepping across the threshold into the office, Santini crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. He'd left the door open and Hawke could see Marella talking to Caitlin with an occasional glance in the direction of the office.
Hawke shrugged. "I don't know much more than you."
"Now why don't I believe you?" Grizzled eyebrows threatened to meet in the center of Santini's face.
"Let me enlighten you." Briggs stepped carefully around Santini, inserting himself into the discussion. "An aircraft with the same distinctive markings and profile of Airwolf has encroached upon and damn near assaulted two other helicopters in the past two weeks." His eyebrows rose. "In broad daylight."
Santini's eyes flicked between Hawke's simmering anger and Briggs' cagey stillness.
"I don't get it. Who's doing it? What's the point?"
Hawke could see Caitlin's head tilt, her forehead furrow as she listened to whatever Marella was telling her, just outside his hearing range. The Firm was splitting its attack.
"Habeas Corpus," Briggs answered, leaning up against Santini's desk.
Hawke rolled his eyes "She's hardly in jail, Michael." He turned to Dominic. "They can't prove it wasn't Airwolf because they don't have control over her."
Santini was nodding. "So we're supposed to give the Lady back to the Firm to prove she had nothing to do with these attacks?" His scowl announced his opinion of that idea.
"We built her. The Feds are holding us liable," Briggs said. "You know, of course, that in the event that the Firm did regain control…."
"The attacks would stop."
Briggs nodded. "Which would get the Feds off our back, but the Firm wouldn't hold onto Airwolf more than forty-eight hours after this series of public embarrassments. We're not behind this."
"But you're supposed to get her back anyway?"
Briggs exhaled slowly. "I think I can buy us some time if I can prove that she's secure."
"You're not leaving someone in the Lair."
"How about you try working with me for a change?" Briggs said, exasperated. "I'm not trying to steal her away from you."
"I am working with you." Hawke said, vibrating with anger. "I'm keeping my half of the deal. You find St. John and then you get her back."
Briggs pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eye for a moment. "I can't prove that it wasn't Airwolf because I don't have control over her, but more immediately, I can't even prove that you have control or possession of Airwolf."
Hawke shrugged. "So I'll take you to see her."
He could see Briggs evaluating the offer, considering what he could reasonably expect to achieve against what he'd been charged to do.
"We go now."
Challenge and concession in the same three words. Hawke nodded, wondering as he did so what Briggs planned to spring on him once they were at the Lair.
Briggs sent Marella back to the car; she returned quickly with his briefcase while Santini checked the fuel gauge in the Jet Ranger. Hawke scrounged around the hangar looking for material that would serve as blindfolds for the two Firm officers, found an old, faded black tee shirt and ripped it apart at the seams. Acid roiled within his stomach. He knew with a certainty born not of logic but of instinct that Airwolf lay waiting in her Lair, that she wasn't the helicopter used to bait the Firm into responding, but one corner of his mind asked the question he refused to consider. What if she was gone?
"I hope that tee shirt was clean," Marella murmured as Hawke tied it around her face.
Sitting in the cabin of the Jet Ranger, Briggs and Marella looked uncomfortable, as if they were held against their will, or at least their better judgment. Marella sat on Briggs' left and she pushed up against him until their shoulders touched. Hawke grimaced; he'd forgotten for a moment how much complete loss of sight, even temporarily, upset Archangel, not that he'd ever admit it. Hawke knew only by the carefully controlled breaths the other man took when, for one reason or another, he couldn't see.
Hawke swallowed down the rage that still festered, had never completely died. Moffet was dead at Hawke's own hand, the aircraft he'd designed turned against him, the Firm's investment paying off in the coordinated deployment of automated and frighteningly effective systems of death. But Moffet's death was small recompense for the harm that sociopath had committed in pursuit of his own desires. Briggs' partial blindness was only a small piece of the assessed damage.
"Sit tight," he said, confident in his passengers' ability to adjust.
Hawke flew a very indirect route to the Lair, deliberately flying twenty minutes out of his way to throw off any attempt by the Firm officers to calculate a range between Van Nuys Airport and Airwolf's hiding place. If he'd had sufficient fuel, he would have flown halfway to Mexico. He settled for following the flight plan he'd filed for a route to San Diego before turning back.
Heart in his throat, he landed outside the Lair. He helped the still blindfolded Firm officers out of the helicopter and inside the echoing cavern whose open chimney allowed Airwolf to descend into and ascend from what appeared to be a solid rock formation from the outside. He didn't realize he'd been holding his breath until the sight of her sitting in the streaming light from the chimney took it away.
"As beautiful as the fresh blush of a young girl's smile," Santini said, almost reverently as they entered the cavern.
"A poet, Dominic?" Marella said, looking blindly around as she tried to place him by hearing alone.
"All men in love are poets," Briggs said, a smile curving his moustache.
"She is a lovely Lady, indeed," Santini agreed.
"If you don't mind your ladies with a fine coat of dust," Hawke countered.
He heard Briggs' sigh of relief. Apparently he hadn't been the only one keeping the panic at bay at the thought that it was just possible that it had actually been Airwolf engaged in the public taunting of the US government, and in particular, its Intelligence Agencies.
"Don't touch it," Briggs barked.
"Wasn't planning to," Hawke said, amused at Briggs' immediate assumption of authority.
"Can I….?" Briggs raised a hand to the black cotton material covering his upper face.
In three quick strides, Hawke was beside him, untying the blindfold and tucking it into his own pocket for reuse on the journey home. Santini was trying to do the same for Marella, fending off complaints about what the blindfold had done to her hair.
Briggs rubbed his face, squinting into the light. "My briefcase?"
Grumbling, Hawke headed back to the helicopter outside. As he returned, he saw Marella and Briggs squatting next to Airwolf's forward landing gear, Briggs pointing at something in particular and looking pleased. Hawke dropped the briefcase a few feet away and Marella immediately retrieved it.
Hawke stepped back, settled against a rock next to Santini and watched with tolerant amusement as Briggs and Marella got their white suits dirty taking photos of the dust on Airwolf's wing, the way the dirt was settled around her landing gear, and more than a few photos of her gauges, especially the fuel gauge.
"That's enough," Hawke said suddenly into the muted silence.
Inside the cabin, Briggs looked up in surprise, gaze shifting from Hawke to Marella, his eye lighting with understanding.
Marella lowered the camera, shrugged. "I just wanted to get a photo of the entire aircraft."
"You wanted a photo of the background of the cavern," Hawke corrected.
Marella sighed. "There's no backdrop, Hawke. I can't take a picture of Airwolf without getting some background in the picture."
"I see trust is still an issue," Briggs said as he climbed out of the flight deck.
Hawke studied him, gaze looking past the dust-smeared white suit and resigned expression to the calculating man underneath.
"You're planning on leaving something here, aren't you?"
Briggs' smile was a slight thing, just a twitch at the corner of his mouth.
"That's why I prefer having you on my side," he declared. "But I wouldn't leave anything without discussing it with you first."
Hawke had his doubts about that. "Uh-huh."
Briggs nodded to Marella who retrieved a small bit of electronics from Briggs' briefcase. Hawke studied it dispassionately. No bigger than a travel alarm clock, it looked relatively innocuous. Considering the source, Hawke knew it was anything but.
"What's it do?" Santini asked, rotating the object cautiously in his hand.
"Properly installed," Briggs said, reaching for the device, "it prevents any unauthorized parties from starting either engine of the helicopter."
Hawke took it out of Briggs' hands and looked at it more closely. "No way, Michael."
Briggs looked surprised. "I would have thought you would want some means of securing her."
"She's plenty secure right now. No one knows where she is and I plan to keep it that way," Hawke replied. Scowling at the small black box, he handed it back to Briggs. "You can keep your locator device, or whatever it is."
Briggs pushed it back at him. "Keep it. Take it apart. Do whatever it takes to convince yourself that it's not what you think. Just give me some means of guaranteeing that Airwolf isn't going to fall into the wrong hands."
"Not with one of your toys."
"Then pull a circuit board," Marella urged. "Something we can use to show that she's inoperative."
Hawke paused. If this was an act, it was a lot more convincing than any he'd seen from either of them in the past.
"We're done here," he decided.
"Hawke…" a chorus of voices protested.
"I said we're done," Hawke growled. "If I pull a circuit board, I won't do it in front of you so that you know which one it is and I sure as hell won't give it to you."
Briggs stared at him, a hard, unwavering stare that Hawke met without flinching. Briggs shook his head.
"You stubborn son-of-a-bitch. You're not giving me enough to convince my own mother that Airwolf isn't a threat, much less the Committee."
Hawke shrugged. Though he'd rather live in the center of Los Angeles than admit it, he was pretty sure Briggs could convince the Committee that the Earth rotated around the moon when he was truly motivated. And he was truly motivated right now.
"You took a lot of pictures. Convince them with that."
Briggs turned away in disgust and walked around the other side of Airwolf. Marella turned on Hawke.
"You know we haven't really looked for Airwolf up until this point," she said rhetorically. "If you force our hand, we'll pull out all the stops…"
"And hand her over to the DOD hours after you find her," Hawke concluded.
"Then we both lose," Marella said, brown eyes seething with frustration.
"Then we both lose," Hawke agreed. "Hope you're a good photographer."