Disclaimer - Set in the timeline originally created by Rachel500, of ten years after Dom's death in the events of the original Blackjack episode, this story utilizes characters created and owned by Belisarius and Universal from the original Airwolf series as well as USA's Airwolf II season. They are not mine and I make no claim to them or profit from them. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters of Seb, Nicky and Amelia were created by Rachel500 and belong to her. However, do be warned, as of Rachel500's last story (One of the family)and this one, the story lines have taken a divergent note. (Hey, I guess it had to happen sometime).

Introduction - "With This Ring, I Thee Wed" is the ninth story in this vein. It takes place shortly after the events of "Regrets". It is on the whole a story I hope you will like, though it took me a lot longer than I ever anticipated.

With This Ring, I Thee Wed -

For Byron, sweet dreams til we meet again

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Memories pressed in, thick and smothering. Whimpering, Jo knew she'd been here before - the familiarity wrapping itself around her even as she fought recognition.

The sun warm and soft, caressed her skin, the sand hot beneath her toes. Behind her she could hear Karen's laugh, joyous and teasing. Glancing up, blue eyes lit reassuringly on the tow-headed child at the water's edge sand pail in hand.

She smiled watching her. Turning, Bella raised a chubby hand, grinning. "Look mommy!" she called waving. "Look!"

Jo waved, watching her daughter's delight at the sea lapping at her toes, hearing her delighted squeals as the waves rolled over tiny, sandy pink-tipped toenails.

Laughing she shook her head. She'd thought Bella too young to take to the beach, wondering if she'd be scared of the limitless blue waves and roaring ocean.

Saint John in typical male fashion had rolled his eyes at her fears. "Go, Jo," he'd laughed when she'd debated going with her college friend and her kids. "String and I have a charter to Monterey Saturday. We'll be gone all day and Cait's taken the kids to visit friends. There's no need for you to be stuck up here at Santini Air all day."

"You're sure?" she'd asked doubtfully.

"Yeah," Saint john had grinned. "She'll love it, won't she String?"

"Yeah," String had smiled, his blue eyes lighting warmly on her face. "There's no reason for you to stay here, Jo. Cait's got the other chopper, Sinj and I have this one, it's not like there's a lot else to hire out except the Stearman." He nodded his head to where the bi-plane sat on the other side of the hanger, her engine in the midst of a rebuild. "Somehow, I don't think she'll be going anywhere anytime soon."

Worrying her lip, Jo turned to her husband, hopefully. "You're sure?"

Catching her around the waist, he swung his petite wife to him laughing, planting a lazy kiss on her lips. "Yeah, Jo. I'm sure."

Watching the two of them from the top of the ladder, up to his elbows in the guts of the Santini Air chopper, String had grinned. "Hey, you two get a room," he'd teased. Chuckling, Sinj had thrown a grease rag at his brother ignoring him…

"Hey, Jo…"

Startled, Jo pulled her wandering thoughts back, giving the little blonde girl at the water's edge one last glance before turning back to her friend. "Yeah, Karen?" she asked, eyeing the vivacious brunette with sparkling mocha-colored eyes.

"How 'bout giving me a hand fixing sandwiches?" she asked, grabbing the bottle of soda out of her youngest's hands before it toppled onto the beach.

Jo smiled, watching the blonde-headed imp immediately head for the bag of chips. The third of three kids and two, Charlie epitomized everything they said about the terrible two's. "Sure," she laughed, reaching for the mayonaise and egg salad.

Muttering, Jo stirred restlessly, knowing the rest of the dream wasn't so pleasant, yet unable to escape it somehow. She tossed, fingers pulling fretfully at the blankets around her.

The wind blew in off the ocean, whipping honeyed blonde hair into her eyes. Jo Santini Hawke turned, egg salad sandwich in her hands, Karen's crew momentarily appeased. Laughter lines creasing her eyes, she squinted against the sun. "Bella!" she called. "Come on sweetie, time to eat!"

There was no answer.

Frowning, Jo glanced out at the water line, trying to spot the bright pink swimsuit.

It wasn't there.

"Bella?" she called, putting the sandwich down on the cooler beside her.

Karen looked up from the sand-covered towel at her feet, Charlie squirming in her arms. "Jo? Everything okay?"

Blue eyes glancing quickly at her friend, Jo shot her a reassuring smile. "I'm sure it is, I just don't see Bella."

Karen started to rise, pushing off the towel.

Jo glanced from the beach back to her friend, her heart starting to thud in her chest. "Go ahead, eat Karen. I'm sure it's nothing."

Absently, she grabbed her hat up off the chair and headed towards the water's edge.

Behind her, she could hear Karen telling Susan, her oldest to keep an eye on Charlie and his brother, joining her from behind.

She whimpered, fingers clutching the edge of the blankets.

She kept walking. "Bella!" she called, blue eyes scanning the beach.

A group of kids building sandcastles at the water's edge, a blonde in a pink bathing suit catching her eye. Relief swelled, crashing just as soon as she turned, realizing it wasn't her daughter.

The incoming tide rolled across her feet, dropping a sand bucket in front of her. Stumbling over it, she glanced down, instantly recognizing it as the flowered one Bella had had earlier in the day. Panic clawed its way to her throat. Oh, Lord, where was she? She wondered, the frantic prayer beating at her thoughts.

A commotion up the beach had her turning, a gaggle of kids at the water's edge, the noise level rising. And stomach sinking, Jo knew. "Bella!" she whispered, a sob threatening to choke her. Feet pounding the sand beneath her, she ran. "Bella!"

A rangy teenager stumbled out of the surf, a small limp form against his chest, bedraggled blonde hair streaming over his forearm.

A woman in the crowd screamed, pointing.

The boy, no more than fifteen or sixteen shoved past the growing crowd, dropping down on the white sand with the child, frantically going through the motions of CPR.

Heart pounding, breath rasping in her lungs, Jo ran sobbing, staggering, shoving her way through the crowd, Karen on her heels.

"No!" she cried, tears choking her, a keening wail working it's way up to her throat. "No, Bella!" she screamed in desperation. "Please, no!"

And then she was on her hands and knees beside him, her horrified blue eyes meeting his tear-filled, shocky brown ones over her baby's still form.

"I'm sorry," he whispered in an anguished voice, his lips trembling. "I'm so sorry, I tried….really lady, I tried." An older woman pushed her way through the crowd, wrapping a towel around his shoulders as he shuddered in shock.

"No, Bella, no!" she sobbed, Karen's arm wrapping around her.

Jo jolted awake, her own sobbing wrenching her awake. She shoved aside the tangled, sweat-soaked sheets, lungs screaming for air. "Bella," she gasped, telling herself it was all only a nightmare, before reality came crashing back in, reminding her the reality was worse than any nightmare.

She drew in a heaving breath, nausea roiling through her stomach, cramping it, the bitter taste of bile in her throat choking her. Suddenly frantic, she flung the blankets aside as she stumbled for the bathroom praying she made it in time.

Afterwards, she sat on the cold, damp tile sobbing for a long time. Wearily leaning her head against a trembling hand she willed away the nausea, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Seated on the exam table, aviator shades on the bench beside him Stringfellow Hawke waited out Dr. Monique Branscomb's examination.

"No haloing?" she asked, shining the penlight into his sapphire blue eyes. "No problems with peripheral vision?"

"No," he sighed, shifting impatiently.

"How about floaters, unexplained blackouts, graying?"

"No," he muttered, feeling his short patience begin to fray. "It seems pretty much back to normal, Monique."

Tilting his head back, she clicked the penlight brighter, watching his pupils constrict as he winced.

"Light sensitive, huh?" she asked sympathetically, stepping down from the stool.

"Yeah," he admitted, knuckling his right eye, wondering anxiously if he'd just blown his chances of getting his pilot's certification back.

"Stop that," she muttered, whacking him with the file.

Jerking his hand away, he scowled. "Well?"

"Well, what?" she murmured, chewing on her pen thoughtfully as she made some notes in his chart.

He huffed in exasperation. "So, what's the verdict? Do I get my certification back or not? Can I fly?"

Startled brown eyes met his across the clipboard, as she realized she'd been so busy taking notes she'd forgotten to tell him. A wicked grin started to tug at her mouth. He was like a little kid at Christmas, the suspense and anticipation killing him, she thought vaguely amused.

For a moment, she toyed with teasing him, before tossing the thought aside as cruel. Hawke lived to fly, nobody knew better than her how hard these past few weeks had been on him.

"Yeah, String," she murmured, her warm sherry brown eyes twinkling. "You've got your certification back."

Whooping, he hopped down from the exam bench, grabbing her, swinging her around and thoroughly bussing her on the cheek.

Laughing, Monique Branscomb grabbed for her chignon before he finished tumbling it down.

Turning the handle, Caitlin Hawke stepped through the doorway, arching her eyebrow at her husband and the rather flustered doctor. "Something I should know, Hawke?" she asked archly, trying to hide her own grin, knowing there'd been only one reason he'd acquiesced to the check-up today, and she'd been hoping against hope the news would be good.

He released Monique Branscomb, reaching for his wife, his own eyes more than a little devilish as his fingers locked with hers. "Yeah," he grinned, hauling her to him. "I'll be flying us home when we leave here today, woman." He planted an enthusiastic kiss on her lips.

"Really?" Cait teased, looking up at him as Monique Branscomb slipped silently from the room.

"Yeah, really," Hawke whispered, his blue eyes searching her blue-green ones. He cuddled her closer in his arms, her arms wrapping around his lean waist.

"Anybody ever tell you how beautiful you are?" he rasped huskily, appreciating her beauty all the more after the last few weeks.

She shrugged. "Maybe once or twice?" she replied, feeling the blush climb up her neck.

"Only once or twice?" he murmured, watching her face. "Then your husband ought to be shot."

Devilment teased her own expression momentarily. "I think maybe he was," she retorted.

Groaning, String chuckled, his own eyes crinkling around the corners as he tilted her head back, tenderly kissing her. "Guess we're going to have to work on that," he muttered. "Right after I fly us home."