Disclaimer: These characters and original scenario belong to the copyright holders. I'm just getting them off the shelf to visit with them for a while. Chapter 3 of "Finding the Way."
Dom Flying High
Dom walked into the office at Santini Air with Toni Donatelli, handling his cane with a jaunty air. Cait and Hawke stood up. "Well?" Cait asked.
Dom's grin nearly split his face. "Got my ticket back," he said. "Makes me feel like a whole man again."
"You are a whole man. You always have been," Cait assured him. She kissed his lined cheek. "Congratulations."
"Well, I'm taking everyone out to Luigi's for dinner. My treat." He rested his hand on Hawke's shoulder. "You're next."
Hawke closed his eyes. "It's been too long. I haven't been grounded this long since I got hurt in the war. The doctor says she'll give me a clean bill of health in a week or two. Take me up, Dom?"
Dom's smile, if anything, got wider. "Been disappointed if you asked anyone else."
Hawke shrugged. "I wasn't going to ask Saint John. He would have had too much fun at my expense."
"Well, I hear he had a few false starts there, himself, when Jo gave him a refresher and helped him with his license. Sixteen years is a lot longer than six months, and his confidence took as much of a beating as his skills."
"Jo is his cousin, not his younger brother," Hawke pointed out. "If he picked on her, she'd dump him out of the chopper. He sees it as his duty to ride herd on me."
"Yeah, well, some things don't change. Do you want them to?"
Hawke admitted, "Nah. I'm so happy to have him back that I get a kick out of it when he goes all big brother on me. Drives him crazy. Besides, I can hold my own, now."
Cait took both their arms. "I know Jo and Saint John will be pleased you're back up to speed. But let me point out that it's your female pilots who have kept Santini Air in the black these last few months."
"And don't think the studios haven't noticed," Dom told her. "Did I tell you that Bellisarius is thinking of developing a new show with a continuing character who is a woman pilot?"
"Wow! That's great," Cait said.
Hawke grinned. "Dom, maybe you and me, we'll just fly for fun, take care of the helicopters for our lady pilots, let the ladies make all the deadlines, fly all the retakes, wear all the weird costumes, while we crack a beer, fish, watch football…"
The din of a chopper coming in outside the hangar made talking impossible for a moment. "Saved by the Bell," Cait quipped.
They were surprised when Jason Locke followed Saint John, Mike, and Jo into the hangar. Hawke, Dom, and Cait were still grinning when the newcomers walked in. "Are we missing something?" Jo asked.
"I can fly again," Dom reported.
"Uncle Dom, that's wonderful!" Jo threw her arms around Dominic and kissed him. She turned to Hawke. "I assume you'll be able to, soon?"
"Maybe next week."
She kissed him too. "Good. We need you. It's high time you stopped goofing off."
"So much for our master plan," Hawke stage-whispered to Dom.
Jason cleared his throat. "I'm happy for you. But I have news."
"Good or bad?" Cait asked.
"Interesting. Let's go into the office." He dropped his voice. "Have you swept it recently?"
"Do it again."
Troubled, Mike and Hawke rushed into the office. Mike swept it while Hawke unscrewed the speaker on the phones and the office radio. Mike climbed up on a chair to check the lights. "Clean," he reported.
Hawke shook his head and opened his palm to show the bug he had found in one of the phones. He limped over to Jason and dropped it into his hand. Jason walked into the hangar and grabbed a rag. He wrapped the bug, then pulled an empty coffee can from the trash and dropped it in. He snapped the lid on, then dumped that in a cardboard box filled with packing material in which some radio parts had been delivered that morning. He sealed it up and stuck it outside the hangar door. "Remind me to pick that up when I go back to the office. I want our techs to figure out what they can from it."
The festive mood was dampened by the find. "Let's lock up and have the meeting somewhere else," Jo suggested.
"I was going to treat all of you to pizza at Luigi's," Dom said. "Why don't we meet there?"
"Did you say that out loud in the office this afternoon?"
"Yeah." He looked around. "Oh, damn."
"Let's close the office and check your cars. You can pick the place once we're on the road."
Sobered, Dom and Jo locked up the office. They ended up at a Chinese place a couple miles from the airfield, sitting at a large round table at the back of the restaurant. Over eggrolls, Jason reported, "I think we have a lead on who was Bouchard's collaborator. He hired the man who set the bomb in the Jet Ranger."
"Who was it?" Dom asked.
"Who?" Saint John demanded.
"He was, probably still is, a businessman. Very, very rich. String and Dom flew a witness to Washington in Airwolf to report to a Congressional hearing on his plot to take control of the economies of several key countries. They succeeded in getting her to the hearing, despite several attacks on Airwolf and a leak in the Firm. The Mexican Federales arrested Dixon, but he escaped, or was allowed to escape."
"So what was his motive for attacking Santini Air?" Jo broke in.
"We think it was revenge. Pure, simple revenge. Dixon probably found Bouchard first and gave him the idea of seizing Airwolf. Initially, Dixon really had no idea that Bouchard had the real Saint John and Bouchard initially hadn't any special interest in Saint John. I don't like coincidences, but it was one. We know that Dixon used his contacts stateside to set up the bombing, in order to kill Dom and isolate Hawke."
"So this Dixon is still out there?" Saint John asked. It was a rhetorical question.
Hawke asked the obvious. "How can we protect ourselves, Jason?"
"That's the problem. We don't know where Dixon is, and right now, we don't know how to stop him. His criminal enterprises are active again, too. I don't suppose you, String and Dom, and I guess, Cait, too, would consider going into the witness protection program?"
"No way!" Dom declared.
Jason raised his hands. "I had to ask." He smiled and shook his head. "Hiding three helicopter pilots, two men of particular ages and a woman who is a beautiful redhead, along with a half-Asian kid, would be a challenge."
Hawke reached out and took Caitlin's hand. "We have to stop him, or live looking over our shoulders. Jason, you're a spy. Isn't this the kind of thing you do?"
"It's part of what we do. Let me do some brainstorming. But I'll have to ask you. Are you willing to act as bait?"
Dominic spoke for all of them. "With safeguards, we'll have to."
"All right. I'll see what I can put together. I think we'll have to disrupt some of Dixon's businesses in such a way that he knows the Company is behind it, if possible, using Airwolf. Since some of those businesses are legitimate, we want to avoid harming innocents. But for now, I want you to take very serious precautions. No one goes anywhere alone or without telling someone where you're going. Keep the hangar locked down when you're not here, or even if you're busy with something. Pay attention. I'll see if we can assign you some discreet security. Drive Le back and forth to school and let the school authorities know that they are responsible for his safety when he's on school grounds."
Dom said, "Thanks. We'll let you know if we think of anything. It's a pain in the neck, but we'll watch our step for now."
Conversation stopped while the entrees were placed on the turntable in the middle of the table.
When they were private again, Hawke asked, "Jason, is Tess safe?"
"We checked. She is in the witness protection program and as near as we can tell, no one knows where she is besides her handler in the U.S. Marshalls Service. We've made a point of staying far, far away, after the mess the Firm made of your flight with her."
"Do you know if she had her baby? Is it all right? Was it a girl or boy?"
"I'm sorry. There is no way I can get that information."
Hawke sat back in his chair. "Well, if you ever hear anything…"
Dom opened his mouth to argue, but tact stopped him. Jason, after all, had proved himself to be one of the good guys. Another thought intruded. "Have you warned Archangel?"
"Both Archangel and Marella. We have assigned extra security to them. We did limit Dixon's reach in the U.S., but he has quite a network in some third world countries. Damn shame he got away in Mexico, but that's what we mean by his network."
Chinese dishes were passed around. Hawke carefully skipped anything with meat in it. Two shrimp dishes with vegetables and rice made it an easy meal for him. Cait gave his arm a quick hug, then dug into mu shu pork and Szechuan chicken.
When the meal was over, Dominic pushed back and tapped his water glass with his spoon. "Jason, we appreciate knowing what, or at least, who we're up against. Let's set up another meeting to discuss your plan."
Jason nodded. "I know we have to get this settled. It's Monday. Let's shoot for Thursday, say late afternoon at my office? I'll try to have more information and a plan of action by then."
Dom accepted for all of them. "We don't want him to have another crack at any of us. We have to bring this to a close."
"Yes we do," Jason agreed.
Hawke said softly, so his voice would not carry to the few diners at the front of the restaurant.. "We have the beginnings of a plan. We're not on the run anymore; we're on the hunt. Jason, thank you."
Jason shrugged. "We're a team," he said. "Let's see what the fortune cookies have to say."
Caitlin held hers up. "How's this, everybody: 'Your endeavor will find success.'"
"To success," Dom said, teacup raised.
And they all raised their teacup, and echoed Dom, "Success."