Hello, I've finally taken "The Mission Field" and cleaned it up a little -- took down the excerpt thing and fixed a couple things. . .the chapters will be one off now, but the story reads the same. I'll leave the other A/N's in place in case people are reading this for the first time.
This is a story that takes place after the episode "La Bizca" – maybe a year later? It doesn't really matter, Hanson and Penhall end up back in Central/South America because Penhall needs to return there to take care of some things in order to keep custody of Clavo, etc. He and Hanson (who agrees reluctantly to go along because, well, we know how well things went the first time he agreed to go there) have been there about 3 weeks when the story begins, and I'm starting at the point where they're trying to get out of the country. The stuff that happened in the previous 3 weeks – don't have any of that, mainly because I haven't written it yet. I may or may not write itat some future date, I'll just have to wait and see on that.
While I allude to the fact that the story takes place in El Salvador, I'm deliberately vague about where they actually are when they board the plane to Mexico. I've done that on purpose because I needed a mountain range, and I'm pretty sure there are no mountains in El Salvador – though I could be wrong, I really should research that. Anyway, just know that they have been in El Salvador at some point, everything that needed to be taken care of they took care of (albeit with many twists and turns that has brought them to where they are now). In other words, a little creative license was used in giving certain details.
SUMMARY: Hanson/Penhall. Plane crash. Mountains. No slash but possible suggestions (very mild) of pre-slash IF you want there to be, it that's what gets you going. All else applies: don't own Jump Street, Penhall, Hanson (thought I'd be great at it if I did) or anything else involving the show. Don't sue, not unless all you want in return is a whole lot of nothing. Comments welcome and appreciated, but I'm nervous so go easy on me. Thanks to all who already commented – what a marvelous group of people you are!
"This is it? This is the plane we're supposed to fly in? It looks like it won't even make it off the ground!"
"Aw, c'mon, Tom, it looks fine – a little older maybe but it seems roomy enough -- it's not like one of those puddle jumpers we had to take into Las Cruces. This looks like a 747 compared to that."
Tom Hanson sighed and slowly pulled his sunglasses off, his brown eyes squinting at the cargo plane parked in front of them. Not exactly a white-knuckle flier, he did like his air transportation to be a little more, well – modern. Or at least to look it. This thing was large, but looked like it'd been built in the 1950's. "I guess," he said uncertainly. He put his sunglasses back on, mainly so he didn't have to see exactly how old and rundown the plane actually was. "If it's the only way we can get out of here –"
"Great! That's the spirit." His work partner and best friend, Doug Penhall, clapped his hands together. He turned to a man beside him, a dark Hispanic Indian who wore a suitcoat over his grimed and sweaty clothes. It was impossible not to be grimey and sweaty in this hellhole; Hanson mentally gave him an "A" for trying. "Let me see," Penhall mused. "How do I go about negotiating a good price? I wonder what would be fair but not insulting? Or maybe I shouldn't worry about insult –"
"Cuanto lo hace costo para volarnos a Mexico?" Hanson interrupted impatiently. His Spanish was lousy, but he was exhausted from traipsing through jungle villages the past three weeks, without benefit of an interpreter or government protection, and sick of standing on this baking tarmac. As long as they'd decided that this was the plane they were going to take, all he wanted to do was get on it and at least start heading in the general direction of the United States.
The man in the suitcoat fired off a rapid stream of Spanish, the only word recognizable to Hanson being, "Cincuenta." "Fifty?" He asked. "Cincuenta dolares?"
The man replied something, of which, again, Hanson understood nothing. He reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a fifty dollar bill. Holding it up to the man's face, Hanson said again, "Cincuenta dolares? Para el pilato volarnos a Mexico?"
"Si, si," the man said eagerly, reaching for the money. But Hanson was three weeks educated in the ways of the people, and was quicker. "Ah, ah," he said. "Yo se lo dare al pilato cuando el consigue aqui."
He spoke the last words haltingly, his rudimentary Spanish beginning to desert him. Apparently, it was good enough to secure them the flight, because the man held his hands up and nodded.
"Si. El pilato. Espere aqui."
It was also apparently better than Penhall's Spanish knowledge.
"Where's he going? What'd he say?"
"What do you mean, what did he say?" Hanson said. "Aren't you supposed to be the Spanish expert?" He dropped his back pack and sat down on it.
"Something about fifty bucks," Penhall answered, following his friend's example and plopping down next to him. "What do you mean, I'm the Spanish expert? I hardly ever speak it anymore, other than when I'm here. Clavo speaks better English than I do."
"Not hard to do," Hanson said. He pulled his baseball cap off and fanned himself with it. He'd learned two weeks ago that complaining about the blazing heat didn't make it less hot, so he amused himself with finding little ways to distract himself from it.
"I wonder how long we're going to have to sit here."
"Awhile," Penhall said. But his tone was calm, his face peaceful. Despite his larger size, he seemed to revel in the continual heat, seemed to have fallen into the rhythm of the lackadaisical pace of a native people trying to survive the edginess of a government constantly being overtaken by one group or another. It's like he's adapted to this way of life, Hanson thought , looking at his friend's contented face. Almost like he wants to honor Clavo's – and Marta's – birthplace, by somehow soaking it up so he can bring it back with him.
Not Tom Hanson. He wouldn't lose any sleep if he never saw this place again. He liked his bed, his air conditioning, shoes that fit his feet right, ice in his drinks – and he wasn't ashamed to admit it.
And right now, he couldn't wait to get on that plane – beastly as it was – and get back to the good old U.S of A.
It was nearly forty-five minutes later, Penhall dozing beside him in the blanketing heat, when Hanson saw the suit-coated man, and another man whom he assumed was the pilot, returning to the plane. With them was another man and woman, the man carrying some luggage and the woman very obviously pregnant. Hanson rose and nudged Penhall with his foot. Penhall snapped awake instantly, another trick learned from too many nights spent hearing the sound of gunfire mere feet from where they slept. "The pilot," Hanson said, as Penhall stood stiffly beside him. "I hope."
The foursome made their way over to Hanson and Penhall, the couple lagging behind a bit. "Cincuenta dolares," the suit-coatedman said eagerly. "Tu pilato. A Mexico."
Hanson stared at him but didn't move. "Who are they?" he asked in English, jerking his head toward the couple. He was suddenly wary of their plane ride home being pulled from beneath them.
The man stepped forward. "I am Michael Salazar," he said, stretching his hand out toward Hanson. "This is my wife, Marilinda. We are missionaries. We were told that you might be willing to let us fly out of here with you."
They were obviously American, though Hanson thought he detected a slight Spanish lilt in the man's voice. "You're American!" Penhall exclaimed enthusiastically. "Of course you can come with us. I think you're the first Americans we've seen in three weeks." He shook the man's hand "This is great."
"You are sure?" the wife, Marilinda, asked. Again, no accent, but the way she put her words together told Hanson she spent a lot of time with the native people. He also noticed she looked quite young, almost too young to be a missionary wife getting ready to have a baby.
Of course, many could – and did – say the same thing about him.
That he looked much younger than his twenty-four years.
"I'm Doug," Penhall was saying. "Penhall. This is my friend, Thomas Hanson."
The Salazars shook his hand. "It's just Tom," Hanson said, frowning a bit at Penhall's use of his formal name. Of course, everywhere they'd gone the past three weeks, they'd had to give first, last and middle names with spellings and a whole bunch of other information, so maybe that was where the "Thomas" was coming from; yet, he hadn't introduced himself as "Douglas Penhall." And then again, what did it really matter? It wasn't as if they were going to see these people once they got off the plane.
The inside of the plane was roomy, but set up in a way Hanson had never seen before. There were four seats, two in the very rear section and two near the front. In between were stacks of boxes and crates – it was, after all, a cargo plane. The pilot sat up front, separated from the passengers by a thin curtain.
So much for the accommodations, Hanson thought. He looked at the young couple, who seemed less fazed about the situation than he was.
"Hey – which seats would you like?" Penhall asked.
"You choose," Salazar said to his wife, gently touching her arm.
"Wherever you think you will be most comfortable. I just want a couple words with the pilot."
"It does not matter," the woman. . .girl. . .Marilinda said to Penhall.
"Perhaps you should sit up front since you did make the arrangements and you may need to speak with the pilot."
They could hear her husband doing just that – all in flawless Spanish. "That is music to my ears after all the Spanish we've butchered these last few weeks," Penhall enthused. "Do you speak Spanish, too?"
"Si," Marilinda smiled. "I would say we speak Spanish better than English. It comes from living here as long as we have."
"Isn't that something, Hanson?" Penhall said, nudging the silent Hanson with his elbow. "All this time, we could've really used you and your husband as translators. Wish we would've met up with you earlier."
Penhall was downright jovial. Hanson was barely listening, the heat and the stress and his exhaustion finally catching up with him in this rickety structure that was supposed to pass for an airplane. When he didn't respond, Penhall nudged him in the side again. Hard. "Oh, right," Hanson said, shooting a glare at his friend.
"Don't know much Spanish. Or even much English at this point."
Salazar came back, put his arm around his wife. "Everything is well," he assured them. "It is exactly as we were told – we will be in Mexico sometime tonight."
"I said we would take the back seats," Marilinda said to her husband. "After all, they are generously allowing us to tag along with them at the last minute." The man smiled at his wife, pulled her closer to him, and Hanson found himself liking both of them and wondering how they could seem so – happy – in such a place, in such circumstances.
"Sure," Penhall said. "Maybe we can switch later, give you guys a chance to take in the view."
"What view?" asked Hanson, unable to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. Being a cargo plane and an ancient one at that, the only windows visible were the ones in the cockpit.
"Come on." Penhall none-too-gently pushed Hanson into their seats. Once the Salazars were out of earshot, Penhall gave him a punch on the arm. "Why the cranky attitude?" he said in a low voice. "They seem like nice people."
"Yeah, I'm sure they are." Hanson sighed. "And I'm not cranky. I'm just – anxious to get back. It's been a long three weeks, in case you haven't noticed."
"Oh, I noticed," Penhall said. "I was there, remember?" His tone softened a little as he observed the dark circles of exhaustion ringing his friend's brown eyes. "Thanks again for coming with me. I mean it. I couldn't have done this without you."
"Yeah, well," Hanson said. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the back of the rock-hard seat as the pilot began taxiing down the narrow runway. "Don't count on having me make a third trip down here. Two is more than enough to last me a lifetime."
Penhall smiled but didn't say anything. He didn't have to. He knew if he needed Hanson to make a third, fourth, or fifth trip down here – or anywhere else, for that matter – Hanson would protest long and loud.
But end up going with him.
Hanson kept his eyes closed. It felt good just to sit and do nothing, or worry that, even when nothing was happening, something was about to. He didn't think he'd sleep, not with how loud the engines were roaring and how cramped he was next to Penhall, but despite the noise and the discomfort he did sleep, the deep, dreamless kind of sleep that only comes to the truly exhausted, and he fell into it willingly, gladly, unaware that the nightmare he was about to experience would come upon wakening rather than in his sleep.
Just one quick note -- my God, this is almost embarrassing for me to read again. . .so a million thank you's to those of you who've so faithfully read and reread this story -- I honor all of you.