The screams stopped, the room going eerily quiet around him...
Michael ignored all of it now, just looking at the gun in his hand, his finger continuing to pull the trigger even though the bullets were all gone...
Why was he pulling the trigger? he thought slowly to himself, and frowned in confusion.
Movement to his right, he felt a body against his back, the left arm across the center of his back as though in a sling... The right arm entered his field of view, stretching along his own until the hand reached his. "Michael, give me the gun," murmured a voice soothingly in his ear. "It's okay, just give me the gun."
Why had he fired?
"Michael, give me the gun, okay?" Hawke asked again.
Michael nodded, turning his hand to drop the empty gun into Hawke's waiting hand. He looked up, blinking at the Committee, who were all still and staring at him, waiting to see what happened next. His eye shifted to Hawke as the man set the gun aside, someone out of his sight quickly drawing it away. "Hawke?" he croaked, his voice hoarse.
"I'm here, Michael, it's okay..." Hawke assured him, his voice still low, soothing.
Michael half turned, looking directly at the young pilot. "Was it something I said?" he asked, clearly confused.
A moment later, his knees gave out, and Michael felt Hawke grab him as well as he could with only one arm, someone else catching him from his blind side as the world went gray.
"I got him," Kinsey assured Hawke, helping the one armed man lower Archangel to the floor, his arm cushioning the unconscious man's head as the few men with him drew chairs back out of their way. "You called that one right on the money. What tipped you off, Hawke?"
"Fifteen years of pick ups and rescues, what should have been the hardest one was actually the easiest. Either the Russians got a hell of a batch of idiots over East Germany, or they weren't really after us." His fingers closed around Michael's wrist, feeling for his pulse. "He's out, but his pulse is strong. I don't think they put in a self destruct on him, more likely they left him high and dry and figured these guys will take him out for them."
Kinsey agreed as medical came in with a gurney, several of their people splitting off to help Dominic into a wheelchair and taking him off somewhere where he could rest, one of Archangel's white ladies taking charge of the unknown young lady who was with the old pilot. At a nod from Kinsey, one of his guards followed after the red haired woman. She was a complete unknown at this point, and a discrete guard was called for to keep her out of any sort of possible trouble. "You going to stay with him? Or catch up with us?"
Hawke gave his head a jerk at the waiting Committee members. "Need to sort some things out with these guys, then I'll come down. Medical?"
"Medical," Kinsey assured him, helping to lift the unconscious man to the gurney to take him out, then following the medical staff.
Hawke watched them go, then turned back to the group that were taking their seats again at the long table. He didn't know most of the nine very well, only two were really familiar to him, and only one could actually be considered a friend. He traded nods with the old man everyone simply called 'Admiral', then turned his attention to Zeus, the chairman.
"Thank you, Mr. Hawke, for catching that. You prevented a major issue from getting out of control today," Zeus told him.
"What's going to happen to Michael?" Hawke questioned, his blue eyes intent on picking up every little nuance of information he could get from this group of spies. Most of them hadn't worked in the field, they all had different areas of expertise, but together they handled one of the most clandestine organizations in the world.
"The blood drawn when he was checked by medical on your return shows an unknown compound. As soon as his blood screens show he's clear of it, he'll be questioned, then released from the doctor's custody. At that point we have another mission for him, one that I very much believe he'll need your help for."
"You're going to send him back to get whatever was used to turn him," Hawke stated. "What about after that?"
Zeus' pale eyes slid past Hawke to where Marella was standing against the far wall. "Ms. Marella, your two week suspension will begin one week from the time Archangel and Mr. Hawke return from their trip to East Germany. You'll be in charge of Archangel's division until that point, to give him some time to get his mental equilibrium back." His eyes shifted back to Hawke. "Does this satisfy you, Mr. Hawke?"
Hawke nodded. A week up in the peace and quiet of his cabin would do a lot to help Michael out, and they could talk. "Thank you," he stated.
Zeus motioned towards the door in a dismissal, and Hawke headed out, leaving Marella behind to sit in Michael's place. He went down to the medical area to find his team and check on the staff's latest patient.
Medical had efficiently gotten Michael out of his usual, three piece white suit and into hospital scrubs. He was laying on his left side, a fold of gauze taped down over his left eye socket to protect it, and the doctor was getting an IV into his arm. His face was pale under his tan, and Hawke thought he saw a tinge of blue around his lips that hadn't been there before.
Hawke winced at the sight. "Done more blood work?" he asked, slipping his arm from the sling to remove his jacket, which one of the nurses took for him and hung as he joined the two bedside.
"It's in the works," the doctor assured him. "How's your arm?"
"Aches a bit, but not bad," Hawke reported. "He started stirring at all?"
"Not yet," Kinsey stated. "He had a seizure on the way down, though, scared the hell out of some people. He's going to be hurting when he wakes up. I'm just glad we didn't have to jump him upstairs to get him down, that could have turned into one hell of a mess if he'd gone violent on us."
Hawke agreed. He had worked out with Michael more than once in the past, and was pretty sure that even with the permanent injuries he'd suffered the year before, the spy was more than capable of dealing with a half dozen strong men. "Makes you wonder how bad the casualties were when the East German's took him down," he mused. "Where's Cait and Dom?"
The doctor answered him at once. "Mr. Santini is resting comfortably two rooms down, said he was going to get a nap and one of my specialists was checking his back brace. He's fine, Hawke, don't worry. Ms. Caitlin is talking with Lauren, I believe they were getting info from her for her background check."
"I sent Knight with her, Hawke, she's fine," Kinsey stated. "He won't let anyone harass her, but the FIRM needs to know more about her if she's going to be flying with you."
He had to admit the security chief was right. "Wasn't planning on her joining up, going to keep her out of it if I can," he told them. "I have the feeling she won't let it rest, though, she followed me here from Texas. Ex-cop, Texas highway patrol."
"They get their teeth into something... Yeah, you're probably right," Kinsey stated with a chuckle. "Well, that bird of yours takes three for optimum performance, right?"
"We do fine, Dom and I," Hawke stated, watching the doctor hook up a monitor to several leads he placed at Michael's temples and around his head. "Brain damage?" he asked, growing concerned.
"I don't think so," the doctor assured him. "Just want to be sure, though, after that seizure, since it probably wasn't the only one he's had lately. If he's having them coming off the drug, then he likely had them going onto it."
Kinsey and Hawke both winced at the thought. "There was a tank where I found him," Hawke told them. "Slanted, wires for holding his head up, I think. They had him out of it and dressed by the time I got in there, all ready to go."
"Jesus, could they have been any more obvious?" Kinsey exclaimed. "They practically shoved him at you then?"
"Yeah," Hawke returned.
Kinsey shook his head, glad all over all again that it had been Hawke doing that pick up, even if the younger pilot was flying injured. Most men he knew would have taken the situation as a blessing in disguise, dropped the package off and left without a second thought. Instead, Hawke had stayed glued to Michael's side, reloading the spy's gun with blanks when he was in the shower and getting word out that something was definitely off.
He could more than appreciate Hawke's dedication; he hated cleaning up after a blood bath.
God, he hurt...
Michael drew his hands up his face, feeling like his head was about to fly apart. Before he could jerk to full wakefulness, however, a familiar hand came down onto his forearm, the grip firm and somehow comforting. "Take it easy, Michael," came Hawke's voice from in front of him. "Doc's don't want you taking a swing at anyone after what happened."
Michael opened his eye, blinking several times to clear his vision. Hawke was sitting on a tall chair beside his bed, the Zebra Squad Commander, Kinsey, holding up a piece of wall just behind him, the man's arms crossed over his chest as he watched the pair. The officer straightened up after a moment. "I'll let the doc know he's awake," he told Hawke, stepping out.
Dr Warner, Michael's physician, came in a moment later with a nurse, and Hawke stepped back as they checked him over and got him comfortable, the nurse wiping his face carefully with a cool cloth and offering him some juice with a straw when he wheezed in answer to the doctor's questions. Their work took only a few minutes, Warner doing another blood draw and assuring his patient that things were fine, before the pair left Hawke and Kinsey returned to chat with him.
"What happened?" Michael asked, not quite able to put together why he was there. "My head is swimming..."
"Good question," Hawke told him. "I know part of it, let's see if we can piece together the rest. Back on Monday, you remember heading into Germany?"
"Germany? Oh, East Germany, yeah, needed to find... to find Maria," Michael told them. "Didn't get far, they passed me through customs, but I barely got out of the building and they had me surrounded. A good dozen of them, I may have put a couple in the hospital, not sure."
"Who did they take you to?" Kinsey questioned. "Someone had to be in charge."
Michael nodded, closing his eye. "Kinskov... He's hated me for years. He was working with Hans Kruger; that was a surprise," Michael admitted.
"Thought you killed Kruger about ten years ago?" Kinsey questioned, familiar with his boss' past record.
"I thought so too," Michael admitted. "Wasn't happy to learn I was wrong, that's for sure. Maria wasn't there, though, didn't see her until after Hawke got me out..." Suddenly his eye flooded with tears of remembered pain. "She didn't make it, did she?" he asked Hawke. "It's... starting to come back now. I saw Kruger shoot her..."
"Yeah," Hawke told him gently, hand tightening in a silent support on Michael's forearm.
Slowly the last twenty-four hours pieced itself together in Michael's mind. Hawke pushing him into Airwolf's back seat... A strange red-head pulling him in beside her... His reaching for Maria to pull her in after him... Kruger shooting and Maria's fall... The long trip home, most of which he'd slept through. The red-head... Caitlin, she'd called herself, he recalled now... She'd blindfolded him, careful to be sure to keep his glasses in place, though the dark cloth had been more than enough to keep him from seeing where they were landing. She'd been the one to remove it later as well once they were in the Santini Air chopper and well away from where ever Hawke had left Airwolf...
Hawke and Kinsey stayed silent, watching him sift though his memories, and both of them knew when he hit what they were waiting for. Michael's breathing abruptly increased as panic set in between one heartbeat and another. "I... I killed them?" he asked, eye flying open as he struggled to try to sit up. He remembered now, getting angry with Zeus over Marella, standing up and pulling his gun...
Then nothing, until now.
Hawke rose as Kinsey moved forward, the door opening to let Warner come back in to help ease him back flat into the bed, Warner calling over his shoulder for what Michael recognized as a sedative...
Michael's jaw was caught in a strong grip, his head turned until his eye found Hawke's face. "No, you didn't do it," he told him sternly. "I knew something was off. You fired blanks; everyone is fine."
It took a bit to sink in, and he started to listen again as his sluggish brain sorted this out. Warner was urging him down again, pressing an air mask over his nose and mouth and telling him to slow down his breathing. Michael tried, slowly getting his panic under control as the doctor used the mask to keep him from hyperventilating. Michael closed his eye again.
Oh, he was in so much trouble...
Hawke stayed back out of the doctor's way as they got Michael settled again, blowing out a breathe of relief when the doctor nodded to him reassuringly, motioning the nurse with the waiting sedative out of the room. "He's all right," Warner told the waiting men. "Michael, you with us again?"
"Yeah," came the muffled reply. "Kinsey?"
"Sir?" the security guard responded.
"What's your orders?" Michael asked. "Questioning, then termination?"
"We have no termination orders, Sir," Kinsey assured him. "Hawke warned us what might be happening. My orders are to find out what you can remember, then turn you lose as soon as medical says you're clear." He chuckled. "I figured I'd give you over into Hawke's custody."
"Hawke's custody?" was the surprised reply. Michael opened his eye again as the doctor went to talk to someone at the door. "What?"
"We're going back to get the stuff they used on you as soon as the doc's say you're clear," Hawke told him with a shrug. "Then you're going to spend a week at my cabin before you come relieve Marella of duty so she can enjoy her unplanned vacation."
"A suspension isn't a vacation, Hawke," Michael pointed out with a glare.
"Actually, after holding down your office for a week, it could be," the doctor pointed out dryly, coming back to the bedside and removing the air mask, then taking out an IV that Michael hadn't even noticed before. "That final blood draw says you're clear, we can turn you lose."
Hawke stepped back as Kinsey moved to help him, and in just a few minutes they were able to lower the bedside rail and help Michael to sit up. "Any last directions, doc?" Hawke asked him.
"He's dehydrated, and I wasn't really happy with his blood sugar levels when he arrived, so be sure he eats before you guys go flying off to the other side of the world," the doctor directed. "No alcohol this next week, and I'll want to see you before you return to duty," he told Michael directly. "If you need to talk to a councilor, call..."
"I know, I know," Michael assured him, and they all knew that was a call that wouldn't be made. "Not to change the subject, but... Hawke, who was the red-headed lady?"
"Caitlin O'Shannessey," Hawke supplied as an intern came in with Michael's white shirt and pants. "She already knew about the Lady, and with Dom and I banged up, if we were going to go after you, we had to bring her in."
Michael nodded, motioning to Hawke's arm. "Stunt go wrong?" he asked, slipping carefully off the bed. Kinsey's hand under his elbow discretely steadied him until he got his balance.
"Yeah," Hawke told him dryly. "Another stunt master we won't be working with again, he put the balsa wood on the wrong side of the barn..."
After the tension of the last few days, the laughter was a welcome relief to all.