Remember Me, Chap. 2
Disclaimer—Don't own them...just having another play date.
Summary—Hawke has lost his memory due to an injury he suffered in an accident. Can Caitlin's love, along with Dom and Saint John, bring Hawke back?
A/N—This is an idea that branched off from a suggestion from Starclipper01, and this chapter, focusing on Hawke suffering a similar injury to Cait in Chap. 1, ends this little arc. Once again, italics will be used to indicate memories trying to break through, as well as other thoughts from characters. Also, bringing in Eagle, String and Caitlin's dog from Saying Goodbye. Enjoy, and please don't forget to review—robertwnielsen
What the hell happened? Stringfellow Hawke asked himself when he regained consciousness. The first thing he noticed when his eyes opened was the fact that he was in a white—what else, Hawke said to himself—hospital room. The next things he noticed were three pairs of eyes staring at him—one pair belonging to the most beautiful woman Stringfellow Hawke had seen in a long time. Finally, he felt like he could speak. "Ohh, my head! Where—where am I?"
"Thank God," Caitlin Hawke said as she saw her husband's ice-blue eyes open.
"I'll get the doctor," Dominic Santini said, hurrying out of the room.
"String?" Saint John Hawke asked. "How're you feeling, little brother?"
"Little brother?" String replied.
"I've called you that since we were kids, String," Saint John replied, even as he exchanged a worried look with Caitlin. "Do you know where you are?"
"I'm flat on my back in a hospital bed," Hawke grumbled, causing both Caitlin and Saint John to smile. Just that quick, though, their smiles were erased when Hawke said, "but who the hell are you two?"
Please, God, no. Not String, Caitlin said to herself, remembering a few months previous when she had been injured during an Airwolf mission, and lost her memory. I sure hope String gets over this as quick as I did—or we're all in BIG trouble.
"String, that's not funny," Caitlin said. "It's us—your older brother Saint John...and me, Caitlin. Your wife," she finished, showing him her wedding ring.
Wife? Hawke said to himself. Well...not that I totally dislike the idea. She is beautiful. But, the curse. I can't be married! Aloud, he said, "I'm sorry, miss. I'm not married. And, I've never seen you before in my life," he said, although it wasn't with the firmness in his voice that Caitlin knew.
Caitlin felt her heart sink right to her sneakers, especially at the last part of Hawke's statement. "String," she said, moving over to the side of his bed, "yes, you and I have been married for the last ten years." She lifted his left hand to show him the wedding band he wore, then showed him her own, matching band again.
"And I'm your older brother Saint John," Saint John replied. "I came back from duty overseas with a Special Ops Group a few months before you guys got married. Don't you remember?"
"I—I'm sorry, Saint John," Hawke replied, shaking his head, "but I don't."
Just then, Dominic came back into the room with a doctor.
"String? How're you feeling, buddy?" Dom asked.
"I'm—I'm not sure. I—I can't remember any of you. Except for you, Dominic."
Dom exchanged a concerned look with Saint John and Caitlin. Just then, the doctor turned to him. "Well, aside from the amnesia, Mr. Hawke seems to be fine. Will one of you be taking responsibility for him?"
"I will," Caitlin replied. "I am his wife, after all. No matter what he says." She smiled at him to let him know there were no hard feelings—she was merely stating the truth. Deja vu, Caitlin said to herself, recalling how Hawke had told her he'd said almost the same thing when she lost her memory a few months prior.
"I see no reason why you can't leave the hospital today...Mr. Hawke, I assume you'll be taking care of her?"
"Yes, Doctor," Hawke replied. "No matter what she says, I am her husband, so I'll take her home and take care of her there."
Now I know how it feels, Caitlin said to herself.
"Wait a minute," Hawke replied, struggling to sit up in the bed. "I've got a load of questions I need answered before I go anywhere with any strangers, even beautiful ones," he said, glancing at Caitlin, and noticing her blush slightly.
Here we go again, Caitlin said to herself sadly, remembering how hard it had been for her to believe she was married to Hawke when she'd suffered amnesia after being hurt on an Airwolf mission, six months ago. Hawke had suffered his injury while flying a movie stunt for a client, after he flew into the wrong side of a building on set—the building was supposed to be balsa wood and easily breakable, but someone put the building up backwards, and the collision had knocked Hawke unconscious. I guess...I guess it's up to me, she said to herself.
"Not completely," Dom said, seemingly reading her thoughts. "Sinj and I aren't gonna let you do this alone, Cait. Not like String did."
"Thanks, guys," Caitlin replied.
"Now," Hawke said after Dom had helped him get dressed, "would one of you mind telling me what the hell happened, and how I wound up in a hospital?"
"String," Dom said, "you were flyin' a stunt for that movie we've been working on...only, the crew put the building you flew into up backwards—you were supposed to fly into simple paper and balsa wood, but it didn't quite work out that way. We rushed you here as soon as we could." Dom's face betrayed the amount of concern he felt.
"You've been unconscious for two days, String," Caitlin continued, moving over to stand next to his bed. "I've—I've been here the whole time, hoping you'd wake up. Dom and Sinj came this morning, just before you did wake up."
"Okay," String said, not sure he believed everything he'd just heard. Then, something happened. A voice in his head, or rather, a series of voices.
I have a job for you.
I already have a job, Hawke grumbled.
This one pays a million dollars. Half now, half on delivery.
Of WHAT? Hawke demanded.
Airwolf. Moffet stole it five weeks ago, a woman's voice said. Those voices. I—I know those voices. But from where? Hawke said to himself. And what the hell is Airwolf? Then, the older man spoke again.
Stringfellow Hawke, Gabrielle, he said. Okay, now at least I know the woman's name, but who the hell is this guy? Hawke thought to himself.
"Saint John," String said, mispronouncing his brother's first name, "you say you're my older brother. That's impossible. He and I went down on the same mission, but he didn't get picked up. He's been MIA for sixteen years."
"String. First of all, my first name is pronounced 'Sin-jin,' not 'Saint John.' Secondly, yeah, we did go down on the same mission...but I got rescued shortly before the end of the war, and was approached by the CIA to form a covert strike unit...I was working under deep cover all those years. You and I had quite the argument about it when I got home, shortly before you and Cait got married," Saint John replied, hoping he'd stirred some memories in his younger brother.
"Sorry, Saint John," String replied, getting the pronunciation correct, "but I don't remember."
"That's okay, little brother. Do you remember the crash, String?" Saint John asked.
"I wish I did. Or maybe not," String replied, causing Dom and Caitlin to nod sympathetically. "It sounds like I scared you all pretty bad—especially you, Saint John," he said, nodding at the man who claimed to be his older brother. "I'm—I'm sorry."
"Don't be, little brother," Saint John replied. "And don't worry—we'll get you back to yourself in no time."
"I sure hope so," Hawke replied, as he got ready to leave the hospital.
As Caitlin took him back to Santini Air, she was already thinking of things she had to do when they got back to the cabin. First thing, I'll make up the guest room. I guess I'll be sleeping in there tonight, she said to herself sadly, remembering how Hawke had done the same for her when she'd lost her memory.
"Don't worry about it, Cait," Hawke replied. "You can have the main bedroom. I'll take the guest room, okay?"
"Okay, Hawke," Caitlin said. "But if we're married, shouldn't we...?"
"Cait," Hawke said, placing a hand on her shoulder, "it wouldn't be right for us to share a bed when you don't remember that we're in love, and that we're married. I'll be just down the hall if you need me, okay?"
"Okay, Hawke," Caitlin replied as the two of them walked upstairs and Hawke helped Caitlin pick out a nightgown. "Good night, Cait," Hawke said as he turned to walk out.
"Good night, Hawke," Caitlin replied. "And thanks."
"Anytime," Hawke replied.
Should I have Jimmy stay with Saint John and Le again? Caitlin asked herself as they pulled up to the hangar. Nah. Maybe—maybe seein' our son will help String. I—I sure hope so.
"What are we doing here?" Hawke demanded as he climbed out of the jeep.
"This is Santini Air," Dom said proudly, gesturing to the hangar. "You guys all work here with me—Saint John, Cait, and you, String. We do executive transport, movie work, all kinds of stuff."
"And my—that is—our parents?" Hawke asked. Saint John and Dom looked at each other, worriedly.
"String," Saint John said, "our parents were killed when you were twelve years old—a boat accident, out on the lake by the cabin. Dom's raised us ever since—he promised Dad that if anything ever happened to them, Dom would take care of us." Saint John smiled at the older man, who returned his smile.
"Your dad was my best friend," Dominic said. "Alan and I served together in WWII. And when he told me that Jane—your mother, and Alan's wife, of course—was pregnant, that was the least I could do."
"Okay," String replied, running one hand through his hair. "And, you say that we've been married for ten years?" He asked, turning to Caitlin.
"Yes," Caitlin replied. "We—we met down in Texas about thirteen years ago...took me forever to get you to understand how much I loved you—you always were the stubborn one, at least that's what Dom and Saint John told me—but finally, I got through to you, and we fell in love and got married. We...we have a son, Jimmy. He's eight years old, and we were thinking about another baby," Caitlin finished.
"Nicely told, Cait," Dom whispered to her, knowing that Cait didn't want to reveal everything about their time in Pope County, since Hawke had no recollection of Airwolf. He turned to String, and laughed in spite of the seriousness of the situation. "Y'know, I remember talkin' to you after you saw Cait the first time," Dom said, then noticed String getting a faraway look in his eyes.
She was kinda cute, huh, String? Dom asked.
Cute? She's a KID! Hawke retorted.
OH? I didn't know the Texas Highway Patrol let kids fly their choppers! Dom replied. Well, you know what they say—Dom stopped as Hawke interrupted him.
What? Hawke snapped rudely.
They always get their man! Dom replied, a cheerful smile in his voice.
That's the Canadian Mounties! Hawke replied.
Same principle! Dom said, then began singing "The Yellow Rose of Texas."
"String? String? Where were you just now?" Saint John asked.
"Sorry. Guess I kinda spaced out there for a second," Hawke replied, shaking his head. "I—I was hearing the strangest voices." That got Caitlin's attention, as she remembered hearing voices almost from the minute she and Hawke left the hospital the day she lost her memory. She found herself daring to hope that things would be back to normal, soon.
"What did the voices say?" Caitlin asked.
"It was my voice, and, Dom's voice," Hawke said, "he was asking me if she was cute," Hawke said, and Caitlin immediately realized she was who Dom was talking about. I remember Dom tellin' me this story about a year after Hawke and I got married, Caitlin said to herself.
"Then I said she was a kid, and Dom said that he didn't know the Texas Highway Patrol let kids fly their choppers. And he said somethin' about them always getting their man, and I said that was the Canadian Mounties," Hawke said, surprised he could remember so many details.
Caitlin felt herself growing angry at Hawke's generalization of her as a "kid," but then she said to herself, I was a kid when I first saw Hawke in that cell, and he didn't know me from Adam back then. Just like he—he doesn't now, Caitlin said sadly as she got a helicopter ready to take her and Hawke back home. Then something hit her. He's been saying 'Dom.' At least he remembers Dom, so that's something.
"Well, come on, String," Caitlin said, opening the passenger-side door of the chopper. "Time to go home."
Mom and Dad always told me never to trust strangers...Hawke said to himself...at least—I think they always told me that—but this...this feels right. Like I'm—I'm supposed to trust her.
"All right, Caitlin," Hawke replied, and looked into her eyes. "I—I trust you." Suddenly Hawke noticed something—her eyes are beautiful. A wonderful shade of blue-green.
Well, it's a beginning, Caitlin said to herself. She turned to Dom and said aloud, "Well, I'll keep you guys posted, okay?"
"You better," Dom replied, smiling at her, "or else I'll be comin' up there tonight to find out what's goin' on!" Even though he smiled when he'd said it, Caitlin knew he meant what he said. She gave Dom and Saint John both a friendly hug, then climbed into the pilot's seat of the helicopter, got clearance from the tower, started the engine, and took the patriotically-painted helicopter into the sky, pointing it towards the cabin.
The flight passed in silence for the first few minutes, until Hawke finally spoke up. "Married, huh?"
"Yeah," Caitlin sighed. "'Course, I loved you from the day I met you back in Texas, but you wouldn't let yourself love me 'cause of some curse you thought you had—that anyone you loved, or might love, would die. Guess I've proven that wrong, as many scrapes as I've been in, especially since I've known you," she said, smiling.
"Why? Why would knowing me put you in any danger?" Hawke asked.
Uh-oh, Caitlin said to herself, realizing she may have inadvertently said too much. "Oh, nothin', String," she said out loud as they approached the cabin. She expertly set the helicopter down on the dock, then helped Hawke unstrap, and the two of them walked towards the cabin.
"It's really beautiful up here," Hawke said as he glanced around at the view. "You say I've lived here all my life alone?"
"Not all your life, String," Caitlin said. "Your mom and dad lived here with you and Saint John until they were killed in that accident Saint John mentioned back at the hangar. Then, you did live alone up here until we got married." She stopped as Eagle, their dog, and their son Jimmy came running out to meet them.
"Mom! Dad!" Jimmy shouted. When Hawke didn't return Jimmy's hug, he turned to Caitlin and said, "Mom? Something's wrong, isn't it? Something with Dad?"
"Yeah," Caitlin said, laying a hand on their son's shoulder. "You remember a few months ago, when I couldn't remember you, your dad, or anybody else? Well...now your dad's got the same problem. He was flyin' a movie stunt and got hurt, and now—now, he can't remember a thing." She turned to Hawke and said, "String, this is Jimmy. Our son."
"Hello, Jimmy," Hawke said, but there was no emotion in his voice.
"Hi, Dad," Jimmy replied as he fought to keep the tears out of his voice. "Sorry you got hurt."
"Me, too," Hawke said. "Especially since it means I can't remember this place, or you, or anybody else, including this lady here," he said, nodding at Caitlin.
"That's Mom, Dad," Jimmy replied. "You can't have forgotten Mom!"
"Sorry, Jimmy. But I have," Hawke replied as they all went inside. Eagle walked over and sat down next to Hawke, whining until Hawke gave him a scratch behind the ears. "Tet?" he asked, causing Caitlin to react.
"No, String. This is Eagle. Tet—Tet died a few years ago, and I bought Eagle for you as a Christmas gift. He does look a lot like Tet, though, so I guess I understand how you got confused," she said, smiling at him.
"Sorry, Eagle," Hawke said, and Eagle just whined sympathetically at him. Caitlin went into the kitchen to start on lunch, since neither she nor String had eaten. A few minutes later, she had four tuna salad sandwiches made up.
"Eat, String," she said, handing him a plate with two sandwiches. Jimmy was a little startled, but went to the kitchen and fixed himself a sandwich too.
"Yes, ma'am," he replied, smiling at her. Just like that, another vision came into his head.
"You know, maybe your...your mommy's right," Dom was saying. "You should be lookin' out for your future. And, there's a lot of guys out there!"
"Oh, yeah?" Caitlin demanded. "WHERE?"
Dom pointed at Hawke and said, "Well?" Hawke looked up as Dom laughed, and Caitlin's jaw dropped in panic.
"Hawke? You okay?" Caitlin asked. "You were spaced out again."
"Sorry," Hawke replied around a mouthful of sandwich. "I—I was hearing Dom. He was talking to you about your future, and how there were a lot of guys out there. You said, "Where?" And Dom pointed at me and said, "Well?"
Caitlin smiled in spite of the situation. "Yeah," she said. "That was right after the plane I was on goin' home to Texas got hijacked."
"Hijacked?" Hawke asked. "What happened?"
"I was flyin' home for my sister Erin's wedding, but somebody forced the plane down in the Gulf of Mexico. But we made it," Caitlin replied. "It was touch and go for awhile, though—the plane was on the bottom of the ocean, and I didn't think we'd ever be rescued, but suddenly, we heard rescue ships and we knew things were gonna be okay. But I missed my sister's wedding, and argued with Mom about it on the phone afterward. And that's when Dom made that comment about my future," she said. She added, "I was so embarrassed when Dom did that—pointed at you, I mean...I didn't know what the heck you were thinking, and in all honesty, I hadn't figured out how I felt about you just yet—we didn't know each other that well," Caitlin said, and saw String nodding.
"Caitlin," Hawke said, "I—I wish I could remember you, and Jimmy."
"You will, String," Caitlin replied, squeezing his hand. "I promise you, you will."
Caitlin decided she needed to say something to Jimmy about what was going on. "Jimmy, I'm sorry if it seems like I'm doting on your dad and ignoring you, but under the circumstances..."
"I think I understand, Mom," Jimmy said, seeing the expression in Caitlin's eyes. "Uncle Saint John told me about what happened to you and how Dad took care of you 'til you got your memory back, so you go ahead and do the same for Dad." He smiled at Caitlin to let her know he was okay with the situation.
"Thanks, Jimmy," Caitlin replied as she turned her attention to the lunch dishes.
Later that afternoon, Hawke had decided to take a walk, to try and clear his head. As he walked, he heard the voices again.
It's in Libya. Qaddafi's got it, said an older man, dressed all in white, save a black patch over his left eye. There was also a beautiful woman standing with the strange man. He had introduced her as—what was it? Gabrielle. That was it, Hawke said to himself.
Great! That means, so do the Russians! Hawke said as he tossed the man a cigar.
Not yet. So far, he hasn't even let them take a look at it, the strange man replied. Hawke saw him awkwardly catch the cigar, then hand it to Gabrielle, who bit the end off it, and handed it back to the man in white.
What is IT? Hawke asked himself. Then he remembered something he'd heard earlier. Something about "Airwolf." That must be "it," he said to himself. Then another memory came into his head.
Gimme the chain guns and the ADF pods! Offensive weapon panel! Right rear! Hawke shouted, over the roar of the engines and the sounds of explosions and erupting gunfire.
SET! Dom shouted a few moments later.
Hey, String! I got it working! Yeah, I can see real good! Hey, I—I can see—Dom stopped as he realized exactly what he saw. Oh, my GOD!
Bring the canteen in the port storage bin! Hawke shouted after he'd landed Airwolf. He ran to Gabrielle, taking her in his arms. She spoke about wanting to see the eagle, then she was still.
Gabrielle? Gabrielle! Hawke shook her, trying to get a response, but Gabrielle was silent and still in his arms. NO! Hawke shouted. He felt Dom's hand on his shoulder as he said, She promised me, dammit! She promised me!
Then he saw Moffet, standing in front of an Army jeep, pointing a revolver at the helicopter. He seemed to be aiming for the refueling probe, but Hawke fired a missile at him. After it exploded, Hawke continued firing, over and over again, until finally he heard the click of the trigger against his hand, and Dom said, "String. It's done."
Hawke stopped in the middle of the clearing. What had he been through? And who was Gabrielle? Something tells me I better not mention her to Caitlin, Hawke said to himself. Just then, another vision came into his head.
Caitlin! Deploy the pods!
Where? Where is it?
Release the missile chamber! Top button above the fire—Hawke stopped as Caitlin interrupted him.
Oh! Got it! Got it!
Hang on! Hawke shouted as he pulled the helicopter into a steep climb. As the missile exploded below them, Caitlin shouted, Ooh!
Shaking his head at the visions he was experiencing, Hawke turned and headed back towards the cabin. A few minutes later he was back, watching Caitlin as she worked on dinner.
"Smells great," he said, taking in the aroma of the baked trout.
"Well, you taught me how to make all your favorite dishes," Caitlin replied, walking over to him with a glass of wine, which she noticed he readily accepted.
"That's—that's good," Hawke replied, and something in his expression worried Caitlin.
"Hawke? You okay?"
"Yeah. I guess so. I've been hearing the strangest voices, though, ever since I woke up in the hospital. Sometimes mine, sometimes Dom's, and sometimes, even yours. And then, there's this other man. He wore all white, except for a black eye patch, and he talked about something called Airwolf. Do you know who that man is...and what he's talking about?"
Here we go, Caitlin said to herself. "Yeah, String. I do know who he is. That man is Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III. You, Dom and I call him "Archangel." He's a member of a division of the CIA called "The FIRM," actually the Deputy Director. And they developed Airwolf. It's a helicopter, or I once called it a "black battleship with rotors," 'cause that's what she looked like when I first saw her. Anyway, the guy who built Airwolf, Charles Henry Moffet, stole her during a weapons demo, and took her to Libya. Michael recruited you and Dom to help get her back, and you've kept her hidden from Michael ever since."
"Why would I do that?" Hawke asked.
"You were usin' Airwolf as a bargaining chip," Caitlin said as they sat down to eat, along with Jimmy. "You told Michael that you wanted Saint John, so you and Michael reached an agreement—you'd fly Airwolf for Michael if he helped you either find your brother, or find proof that he was dead."
"But my brother's alive, right? That man at the hangar..."
"Yeah, he's alive, String. But you danged near gave up lookin' for him more than once, 'cause you'd hit so many dead ends," Caitlin replied, and String nodded at her.
"How long?" Hawke asked.
"Almost sixteen years," Caitlin replied. "But like Saint John told you, he came home a little before we got married. Turned out he'd been doin' special ops work for the CIA. He figured you thought he was dead anyway, so he didn't see the harm in it."
"Huh," Hawke said. "That does sound like Saint John, though. Caitlin, can I ask you something?"
"Of course, String. You can ask me anything." She stopped herself before she said, "you know that." That's the problem—he doesn't know that—or at least, he doesn't remember it, Caitlin said to herself, sadly.
"Were we happy together? Before this happened, I mean?"
Caitlin smiled at him as she said, "Yeah, String. Once you figured out how I felt about you, and decided it'd be okay to love me the same way I love you, we've been very happy."
"Why would I think otherwise? If that's what I thought?" Hawke asked. Once again, Caitlin found herself fighting a sense of deja vu. That's almost exactly what I said to String when I lost my memory, she said to herself. She fought down her emotions, which were threatening to break through again, and then spoke to String.
"String, for the longest time, you felt like you had a curse on you—that anyone you love, or might love, would die. And things kinda kept happening that made you believe that—first there was your parents getting killed...then you and your high school girlfriend Kelly were in a car accident, and she died. And then Saint John disappeared, when you and he went down on the same mission. And finally, there was Gabrielle," Caitlin finished.
"Who was Gabrielle?" Hawke asked, as her name rang a bell in his head.
Stringfellow Hawke, Gabrielle, the man Hawke now knew as Archangel was saying again. He pulled himself into the present as Caitlin continued.
"She was Archangel's pilot. She flew him up here to tell you about Moffet stealing Airwolf, and you two became lovers," Caitlin replied. "But then, Michael had to send her to Libya after Angela, their operative there who was going to help you recover Airwolf, was captured and murdered. Gabrielle wound up getting captured too, and Moffet tortured her and left her in the desert to die," Caitlin finished, as she noticed Hawke's eyes growing distant again.
I knew you played the cello well. I didn't know you serenaded eagles, Gabrielle was saying.
Tryin' to get her to trust me, Hawke said as Gabrielle moved closer to him. Make her understand I won't hurt her if she gets close. Then, he'd kissed her.
Then, Michael was standing eating what appeared to be a steak, at Hawke's cabin.
Four hours ago, an American destroyer went down in the Gulf of Sirte. The press is being told that a missile went off in the magazine, that it was an accident—it was Airwolf.
Dammit! Hawke growled.
The President used slightly stronger language. We've got 48 hours to recover Airwolf, or they're sending in the Marines. The Russians have a task force shadowing our carrier group in the Med. If we invade Libya, chances are, it'll mean World War III.
I remember that night, Hawke said to himself, even as he remembered giving Michael a right cross to the jaw. Let's see what else I can remember.
Then, Hawke saw himself in an airport in France, getting into an elevator, and a woman of Asian descent was speaking to him.
One more thing. Angela is dead.
HOW? Hawke demanded.
We don't know yet. Her family simply received a wire notifying them of her death. We're hoping it was an accident.
HOPING? Hawke asked incredulously. If the Libyans made her and she talked, they're gonna know I'm coming!
We don't think they did, the woman said.
You don't think! Hawke scoffed as the elevator door began to close.
There was no time to check, the woman said. All we could do was to send in another operative who was familiar with the situation!
Hawke jammed his hand in the door's path, causing it to re-open. WHAT OTHER OPERATIVE? he demanded, angrily.
Then, Hawke and Dom were standing listening to two other men. One said, Moffet's got that dancing girl from the Red Castle staked out to a sand dune somewhere, torturing her!
So what? She's nothing to us! The other man snapped.
Well, she is to ME! Hawke snapped back, aiming his submachine gun at both men.
"Sorry, Cait." Hawke said as he shook his head. "Spaced out there for a minute."
"So I noticed," Caitlin replied. "And you called me 'Cait.'"
"Yeah, so? It sounds like a shortened form of Caitlin," Hawke replied.
"Yeah, but you used to call me that all the time," Caitlin replied. "But it's okay. Maybe that means your memory's comin' back."
"I sure hope so," Hawke said. "The only reason I asked about Gabrielle was that I heard her voice while I was out for my walk. She was talking to Michael, and then later talked to me. I just didn't want to upset you."
That sounds like my String, Caitlin said to herself. Always thinkin' about me and my feelings. "You didn't upset me, String," Caitlin replied. "Neither one of us even knew the other existed when you knew Gabrielle, so it's okay." She smiled at him to try to let him know everything was okay.
"So I guess Airwolf's pretty valuable, huh?"
"You could say that, String," Caitlin said. "She's got more firepower than a small Army brigade...plus, she's completely bulletproof. Capable of supersonic speed, too. You were the original test pilot, from what Michael told me," Caitlin added, smiling at him.
"Impressive," Hawke said. "And we fly her?"
"Yeah, all three of us. You, me, and Dom. Sometimes, you even let Michael fly in her."
Hawke, there's 45,000 pounds of thrust in those turbines! What'll happen to the tail rotor? Michael asked from the engineering station.
IGNITION! Hawke called out, as Michael threw the switch to ignite the turbos.
The scene shifted again, and Hawke found himself and Michael confronted by a group of immigrants. They had both tried to talk to the group in Spanish, but the leader, who was holding a rifle pointed at Hawke and Michael, said, "Please, stop! Never speak Spanish to me again...your Spanish is horrible!" as he looked at Michael. Then, he looked at Hawke and said, "Yours is not as bad. But let us stick to English..."
"String? You okay?"
"Yeah. Sorry, Caitlin. Just spaced out again. Is Airwolf why I thought you'd be in danger if you knew me?" Hawke asked.
"Well, sorta...the rest was because of that curse I told you about. The one where you thought anyone you loved, or might love, would die," Caitlin said, and saw String nodding at her.
"I—I think I understand. Listen, Caitlin.. What are we going to do about...?"
"Don't worry about it, String," Caitlin replied. "I'll sleep in the guest room, and you can have the main bedroom, okay?"
"Are you sure?" Hawke asked her. "If—if we're married, shouldn't we—well, you know?"
Deja vu all over again, Caitlin said to herself, recalling having the reversed conversation with Hawke when she lost her memory. "Hawke," she said, laying a hand on his shoulder, "I'll tell you the same thing you told me when I lost my memory—it wouldn't be right for us to share a bed, with you not knowing who you are, or the fact that I'm your wife. Okay?"
"Okay," Hawke replied. "If you say so."
"I say so, Hawke," Caitlin replied, and her tone of voice left little doubt in Hawke's mind that she meant what she'd said. "Besides, this is what you did when I lost my memory—you slept in the guest room, and I slept in our bed. Maybe—maybe that's what helped my memory come back so quick, I dunno. Anyway, I hope it does the same for you." She led him up the stairs to the main bedroom, then, in spite of herself, Caitlin turned around and kissed him, a gentle, loving, yet passionate kiss that set Hawke's soul on fire. Wow, he thought to himself as they separated, she can sure kiss. Caitlin drew away quickly and headed down the hall for the guest room to go to sleep. And just like that, another vision came into Hawke's head.
You try anything, and I'll bite your lip, Caitlin told Hawke. They had just been told by the director that they were supposed to kiss, and to make it look as real as possible. Hawke had just smiled at Caitlin and kissed her when the director yelled, "Action!", and even though he sensed they were both nervous, Hawke tried to make the kiss as real as possible.
Wait a minute, Hawke said to himself as he undressed for bed. I've kissed her before? And something tells me that wasn't the only time, either.
He promised me, dammit! He promised he'd never forget! Caitlin said to herself as she got ready for bed. She remembered a few months ago, after she'd gotten her memory back, how she'd said, My name is Caitlin Hawke, smart guy. And don't you forget it.
And String said, 'I won't. I promise you, I won't,' Caitlin said to herself sadly. But now he has. Of course, he didn't count on flyin' into the wrong side of a building and losing his memory when he said that, Caitlin said to herself as she finished getting ready for bed.
Alone in the guest room, Caitlin thought about what she'd done a few moments ago. I shouldn't have done that, she said to herself. Kissed him like that. I just...I want my String back. The one who loves me. She spotted a photo of the two of them on the dresser and picked it up, as she said a silent prayer. God? I promise you that I'll never ask you for anything else as long as I live, if you'll just do me one little favor. Please bring my String back to me. She quietly sobbed as she clutched the picture to her chest, then climbed into bed and closed her eyes to try and sleep.
In their bedroom, Hawke's mind was going in a thousand different directions. Just before he closed his eyes to try to sleep, he heard Caitlin sob from the guest room, and as he debated getting up and going to her, he found a picture on one of the night tables—a picture of him and Caitlin on their wedding day, out on the dock. Suddenly, just as Hawke closed his eyes, a vision snapped into his mind.
Sawyer! That girl had better be all right!
Hero to the end, eh, Hawke? Sawyer taunted him, waving the detonator device in his face and laughing as he turned to board a B-25.
Well, he armed it, Hawke said as the bomb Sawyer had slapped onto Airwolf's center console began ticking. When that timer gets to zero, that's it. How're we doing?
I'm workin' on it! Dom said. If I can't find the detonator's radio frequency, we won't be able to block the firing mechanism.
Well, we're gonna know in 21 seconds, Hawke stated.
I'm TRYING! Dom shouted, tapping his keyboard furiously.
That's cutting it close, Dom, Hawke said as he glanced at the bomb timer, which had finally stopped. 3 seconds.
Hawke's eyes snapped open. "Cait!" he shouted, concerned. I won't be able to go back to sleep until—until I know she's okay.
"Yeah, String?" Caitlin answered him, having run from the guest room when she heard his voice.
"Did we—did we meet someone who tried to blow Airwolf up?" Hawke asked. "He—he had some kinda bomb, or something."
"Yeah," Caitlin replied as she sat on the foot of the bed. "His name was Ken Sawyer. This was a little bit before you and I got married. I mean, you and I were in love, and Sawyer came to the hangar askin' about flying lessons, at least, that was the story he told me. But that was a crock of baloney. Turned out he had a bunch of nuclear detonators he wanted to smuggle down to Mexico, and he wanted to use Airwolf. So he kidnapped me and used me as bait to convince you and Dom to help him. He had a bomb strapped around me, too. Michael and Babe couldn't do much except watch the timer until Dom got the firing mechanism jammed."
"Babe?" Hawke demanded, and just like that, he saw the man Caitlin was referring to.
Where have you guys been? Babe demanded as Hawke and Dom got out of Airwolf. You missed all the fun! Dom looked at Hawke as if to say, 'The guy's nuts,' or something like that.
"Henry was his real name, I think—he was an explosives expert the FIRM brought in to help rescue me, since the ship Sawyer was holdin' me captive on was full of booby traps," Caitlin said. "Did you remember somethin' about Sawyer?"
"Yeah, I remembered telling him that you—I called you 'that girl'—had better be all right," Hawke said, and Caitlin smiled at the memory as Hawke added, "And I think I remembered Babe, too. He said something about Dom and me missing all the fun, and then Dom looked at me like he thought Babe was nuts, or something." Hawke said, and Caitlin nodded as she recalled hearing about that.
"That's good, String," Caitlin replied, and smiled at him. "That's good." She squeezed his shoulder reassuringly, then got up to head back to bed. Just before she reached the door, Hawke said, "Cait? Did you kiss me after you got rescued?"
"Yeah, String, I did," Caitlin replied. "Michael was walking off the ship with me, and I saw you and Dom coming towards us. I let go of Michael and ran up to you and Dom, and kissed both of you...but I've gotta tell you, String. I held the kiss with you a little longer than the one with Dom. Maybe I was tryin' to tell you that I was okay. That I hadn't died, even though it looked bad for a while, I dunno. Did you remember when I kissed you?"
"Yeah," String replied. "That time, and a time on a movie set. I heard you say that if I tried anything, you were going to bite my lip."
"Yeah, I did say that," Caitlin replied, smiling as she recalled that day. The first time you ever kissed me, String. And even though that director had to practically twist your arm off to do it, once you opened up and really kissed me, I knew right then that we belonged together, Caitlin said to herself. Aloud, she said, "But only 'cause I didn't know you that well...I didn't know what you were thinkin', or if you might try somethin'. But, that's good, String," even as she stifled a yawn. "It's good that you remembered all that, but now, I—I think I'm gonna go back to the guest room and go to bed. You okay?"
"Yeah, I think so," Hawke replied. "And, Cait. Thanks." He smiled at her, and felt a sense of relief when Caitlin returned the smile.
"Any time, String," Caitlin replied, then added, "you did the same for me, when I lost my memory," she said with a smile, before turning off the light and leaving Hawke alone in the darkness again.
Hawke closed his eyes and tried to sleep again, but the memories came too fast.
I was in a WWII-era plane, diving for a barn that was supposed to be balsa wood. Only, when I smashed into it, I realized it wasn't balsa wood, and the next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, staring at Cait, Sinj, and Dom, but the only one I could remember was Dom. String suddenly realized that his memory was coming back. Let's see what else I can remember, String said to himself as another vision came into his mind.
Caitlin! Deputy Caitlin! Hawke shouted as he recognized the female form standing in front of him, where he worked on Dom's old Stearman.
I know that, Caitlin replied.
Y'know, you could wear this around your neck! Caitlin said, holding out the offending bolt to him.
I—I remember! Hawke said to himself. He tried to calm his rapid breathing, and keep from calling out for Caitlin again, even as more memories rushed through his head.
I've always found weddings kinda depressing, Hawke said. What about you, Dom?
Yeah. Depressing, Dom said.
Bachelors! Caitlin scoffed.
That was at Nguyen and Mai's wedding, Hawke thought excitedly. It's—it's all comin' back to me.
A few days, I'll be outta here, Robert Phelps was saying. I'm takin' Bobby with me up to Crystal Lake. Be a first for me—going fishing with a full-fledged hero!
You sure better not forget about me! Hawke said.
Aw, String, I won't forget you! I drew a picture for YOU! Bobby Phelps said.
What? Caitlin asked, as Bobby came over to them.
Bobby set a hand-drawn sketch of Hawke in front of him. You look good smiling, Bobby said.
Well, I'll tell you, Bobby, this is real good, Hawke said. I just don't think I'm the model type.
You look good when you smile! Bobby insisted.
Well, you know, you look great with a smile, too? Hawke asked his young friend. And since you made me such a great drawing, I tell you what, I promise you I'll smile more. Okay?
Deal! Bobby said enthusiastically, shaking Hawke's hand and then hugging him.
And Caitlin had this look on her face like she was saying, 'You're danged right he looks good!', or somethin' like that—and, I've tried to keep smiling more often, 'cause like Bobby told me, 'a Phelps never goes back on a deal!', Hawke said to himself, even as another memory rushed in.
S—Saint John? Is—is that really you? String demanded of the man standing in Archangel's office.
Yeah. Yeah, it's really me, little brother. I'm home, Saint John replied, and Marella added that DNA testing had proven his identity. String quickly hurried over and hugged his older brother.
"What the hell were you thinking, Saint John?" String demanded later that day. He, Dom, Saint John and Caitlin were at the cabin, and arguing about Saint John's decision to join that strike group.
"Little brother," Saint John began, "I know you must hate me right now...and you've got every right to. But listen to me for a sec, willya? Our group was classified under Top Secret Umbra—nobody could contact their families. And I figured—I figured you and Dom thought I was dead, and I knew if I came straight home, the shrinks were gonna drum me right outta the service on a Section 8. And I didn't want to leave. So when those agents from the CIA asked me about the operations group, I jumped at the chance. I admit, I was selfish, not thinkin' about you or Dom all those years, and I'm sorry."
Before String could say anything, Caitlin turned his face so he was looking into her eyes. "String. I dunno if this helps or not, but I understand what Saint John was trying to do. Maybe he—maybe he made a mistake, but he did what he thought was right. Don't hold that against him, okay?" She smiled hesitantly at him, wondering what was going through Hawke's head at that moment.
Finally, String said, "You're—you're right, Cait. Heck, if the roles were reversed and I'd been the one who didn't get picked up...I probably would've done the same thing." He leaned closer to her and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Thanks," he said, smiling at her. Then, he turned to his older brother.
"Okay, Sinj," String said, and Saint John brightened at his brother's use of his long time nickname, "I—I forgive you. I'm just glad you're alive, and that you're finally home!" Then the two men stood and walked over to each other, embracing in an emotional hug that Dom and Cait joined a few minutes later.
"Caitlin," Saint John said, shaking his head, "whatever you've done to my little brother, please, don't stop!"
"Don't you worry about that, Saint John," Cait replied, smiling at him, then at String. "In case you couldn't tell, I love String, and I'm not plannin' on going anywhere for a very long time!"
Then, they were all at the cabin—Saint John, his son Le, Dom, Caitlin's sister Erin, her mother Maggie, Caitlin, and String. Cait had been bugging him about what was going on practically since they climbed into the helicopter after work, but Hawke wasn't talking. It reminded Caitlin of how he'd been when they first met. Cait's mom and sister asked what was going on, but all Hawke would say was, "It's a surprise, ladies." After dinner, Hawke finally decided to spring his little surprise when he reached into the pocket of his blazer, got down on one knee in front of Caitlin and said, "Caitlin O'Shannessy...will you make me the happiest man on Earth, and marry me?"
"Yes, String! Oh, my God, yes, of course I'll marry you!" Caitlin shouted happily as he slipped the ring onto her finger, then stood up and drew her with him for a passionate kiss. Then, a few hours later, after everyone had left and they were alone, Hawke turned to her and said, "Some reason you wanted to stay here tonight, Cait?"
"String," she said as she pressed against him, "don't ask stupid questions." She kissed him, a deep, passionate kiss that left little to the imagination. And when they separated, Caitlin said, "Shut up, take me upstairs, and make love to me, Stringfellow Hawke. Now. Right now." And, after hesitating 'cause I didn't want Cait remembering anything Bogan's boys tried to do to her, I did, Hawke said to himself, smiling at the recollection. I didn't want Cait to think I was incapable of following orders, after all. Then the scene changed, to the dock, on their wedding day.
"Do you, Stringfellow Hawke, take Caitlin O'Shannessy to be your lawful wedded wife?" Judge Clevenger asked.
"I do." Hawke replied.
"And do you, Caitlin O'Shannessy, take Stringfellow Hawke to be your lawful wedded husband?"
With tears of love shining in her eyes, Caitlin proudly proclaimed, "Yes. I do."
"Then, by the power vested in me by the great state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride," Judge Clevenger said as Hawke took Caitlin into his arms for the traditional first kiss. As the small group applauded happily, Judge Clevenger announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Stringfellow Hawke!"
Goddammit, Hawke, don't you ever touch me again! You hear me? Caitlin screamed, as another contraction hit her. Hawke knew there was nothing he could say or do, so he merely gripped Caitlin's hand tighter and held on, until he heard it—the cry of their child.
It's a boy, the doctor said, as Hawke cut the umbilical cord. And, everything looks—and sounds—just fine. The doctor smiled under his mask as a nurse came and took their son to clean and measure him.
Thank you, String, Caitlin whispered, breathless. Thank you for making me a mommy.
Thank you, Caitlin, for making me a daddy, Hawke replied, smiling at her through his tears.
I REMEMBER! Hawke said to himself happily, and it was all he could do to keep himself from jumping out of bed and running to the guest room to tell Cait. She's probably been cryin' ever since she went back to the guest room, wonderin' if I'll ever get my memory back, Hawke said to himself sadly. Well...I'll just have to make it up to her in the morning. A small smile crossed his face as he fell asleep again. But just before he fell asleep, he remembered something else—from when Caitlin had lost her memory a few months prior.
Welcome back, Caitlin O'Shannessy, String said.
My name is Caitlin Hawke, smart guy, Caitlin had retorted. And don't you forget it.
I won't, String replied. I promise you, I won't. String felt a tear in his eye when he realized that Cait probably felt like he was breaking that promise. But I didn't count on flyin' into the wrong side of a set and getting knocked silly like I did. Well, he said to himself as sleep finally overtook him, like I said before, I'll just have to make it up to her in the morning. He felt himself relaxing, finally, as sleep overtook him.
As she lay alone in the guest room bed, Caitlin wiped a few tears out of her eyes. I've gotta get a hold of myself, she thought to herself sternly. Wouldn't do any good at all for me to walk into our room in the morning lookin' like I've been cryin' my eyes out all night. 'Course, if String doesn't remember yet, I guess it won't make much difference, she said to herself, allowing the tears to fall unbidden down her cheeks again. What if—what if his memory never comes back? Caitlin asked herself. Would I be able to live with Hawke, if he doesn't remember me, or our son? Dumb question, Caity girl. You know you could, if you had to. That's what bein' married means, y'know. I guess—I guess I'll see what happens in the morning, she said to herself, finally allowing her mind to quiet and allow her to slip into an uneasy sleep.
When Hawke woke early the next morning, he thought about going out for a morning swim, but decided against it. Cait's probably gonna be coming in here to check on me any minute now, Hawke said to himself, and his suspicions were confirmed a moment later when he heard footsteps coming toward the room. Boy, I hate being right all the time, Hawke said to himself as he noticed the streaks down Caitlin's cheeks as she walked closer to him. But, I've got a surprise for her, String said to himself, smiling as he wondered how Cait would react to finding out he was okay again, and had his memory back. He quickly closed his eyes again so as not to let Caitlin know he'd seen her walking in, but was unable to wipe the smile off his face.
As Caitlin walked into their bedroom, the sight of Hawke there in the bed became too much for her to bear. All the same, she wondered something when she caught sight of the expression on Hawke's face. What the heck is he smilin' about? Caitlin asked herself as she made her decision. She quickly walked over to the bed and slipped into her side, wrapping her arms around Hawke as she did so. What surprised her was when Hawke turned in her arms and kissed her, a deep, passionate, and loving kiss that threatened to become...something else, if Caitlin didn't stop it. But I—I don't want to stop it, she said to herself, especially if it means what I think—what I hope—it does. Finally, though, she knew she had to stop—for a minute. Slowly, she pulled herself away from her husband, and when she felt like she could speak, she whispered, "String? Are you okay?"
"Good morning, gorgeous," Hawke replied, smiling at her. Then, he decided he needed to ask about the tear streaks on her face. "Cait? Are you okay? You look like you've spent half the night crying."
"I—I did, String," Caitlin stammered, unsure of what was happening, and trying not to get her hopes up. All the same, his voice sounds different. More like my String. She forced herself to relax and not get too excited, even as String started speaking again.
"I'm—I'm sorry, Cait," String replied. "I know I wasn't the easiest person in the world to live with last week, especially when I got worried about that movie stunt...which it turns out, I was right to be worried about..."
"Wait a sec, String," Caitlin said, putting her hand over Hawke's lips to quiet him. "What did you say? Did you say you remembered something from last week?"
Hawke had to work to stifle his smile. "Well, yeah. I said that I know I've been real tough to live with, especially when I got worried about that movie stunt, and I was right to be worried about it. After all, I wound up knocked out when I hit that building, since some idiot put it up backwards."
"String?" Caitlin said anxiously, not wanting to believe what she had just heard, "Are you—are you saying that...?"
"I'm saying..." He paused for effect, then curled his lip into the boyish grin he knew Caitlin loved, as he tapped his forehead with his index finger, the same way he'd seen Caitlin do when she got her memory back, and said, "I'm saying that it's all there, Cait. I—I'm myself again." He hesitated, waiting for her reaction.
"String," Caitlin said, and her voice indicated her mood, "how much do you remember? Tell me about the time I was kidnapped by Sawyer," Caitlin said. I know it sounds crazy, but I wanna know he remembers it all, like he did with me, she said to herself, trying to keep the excitement from building too far.
"Everything, Caitlin," String replied. "I remember it all—you, Jimmy, Dom, Sinj, Airwolf...all of it. As for Sawyer, he came to the hangar asking about flying lessons...and flirted with you, until I got there and told him in no uncertain terms that you and I were together, and he finally left you alone—at least, I thought he did. But later, Dom and I had left you alone at the hangar for a while and Sawyer came back and kidnapped you. He called me later and was teasing me about 'losing something.' I thought I was going to kill him, and I remember how I wished to hell I'd gotten a chance to beat the hell out of him...instead of blowing him out of the sky the way I did," Hawke said. Caitlin smiled and nodded, excitement flooding through her. String kissed her again, and this time Caitlin allowed herself to be swept away by the emotion she felt. He remembers! Caitlin said to herself as she felt herself lost in the emotions generated by their contact. Even though it had only been seventy-two hours, give or take, since String had lost his memory, Caitlin felt like she'd been without him for days.
I can't believe I forgot what it feels like to kiss Cait, String said to himself as he felt the passion between them intensifying. Finally, though, Hawke realized he needed to breathe as much as he needed the physical contact with his wife, and reluctantly pulled them apart.
When they separated, Caitlin had one question. "When?" she asked after she caught her breath.
"Last night," Hawke said, "and like what happened with you, it started for me after you went back to the guest room, after I had my nightmare about Sawyer. And once they started, it was like somebody had opened a gate in my mind. I mean, the memories all came flooding back, one after the other. And the last thing I remembered was our wedding day, and the day Jimmy was born," he finished, smiling.
"Lemme guess. Saving the best for last?" Caitlin teased, grinning impishly at him.
"You got it," Hawke chuckled, drawing her to him again. "But now, I think I'd like to make some new memories, if you know what I mean." The tone of his voice and look in his eyes told Caitlin exactly what he meant.
"M mm. I think I know exactly what you mean, String," she murmured as String helped her out of her nightgown and robe. "And, we have been talkin' about another baby, so I say, let's do it!" She grinned at him as he turned them so she was laying on her backside.
As he hovered over her, Caitlin looked deep into String's eyes and said, "String, make love to me. Right now." She wrapped her arms around him as he moved into her.
Well. I'm certainly relieved this is over, Caitlin said to herself. String's amnesia, that is. She was lying next to her husband, curled in his arms with her head against his chest, and one ear just over his heart, and Caitlin finally knew that all was right in her world again. Just then, she felt Hawke beginning to move. "No," she said, with a pout in her voice.
"Cait," Hawke answered her, "we've gotta get up. Jimmy'll be in here any minute now to..." He stopped himself as he heard footsteps outside the door again.
"Mom? How's Dad doin'? Aw, geez!" Jimmy shouted when he saw his parents, the fact that the sheets were askew on the bed giving him an idea as to what had been going on when he walked in, but then he realized something. "Dad? I guess this means..."
"Yeah, Sportsfan," Hawke replied, and Jimmy brightened at Hawke's use of his long-time nickname, "it means I'm back."
"When did it happen, Dad?" Jimmy asked, trying to avert his eyes from the scene in front of him, but not make it look like that was what he was doing.
"Last night. I'd had a nightmare, kinda like the one your mom had when she lost her memory, and Caitlin came in here when I screamed—I'm kinda surprised it didn't wake you up—anyway, when she went back into the guest room, everything started coming back to me."
"That's a relief," Jimmy said as he smiled at his parents. "Mom, are we gonna have breakfast pretty soon? I'm starved." Hawke and Caitlin both laughed.
"Yeah, Jimmy," Caitlin said. "But...give us a few minutes, okay?"
"Okay, Mom. And, I'm sure glad you're feelin' better, Dad," Jimmy said, and he gave String a quick hug before he turned and walked out of the bedroom. Just as he reached the door, Caitlin said, "Jimmy, how'd you know I was in here?"
Jimmy turned around and said, "I knocked on the guest room door, but I didn't hear anything, so I came here." He smiled knowingly at his parents as he turned to leave again.
As they watched Jimmy leave, Caitlin said, "I'm glad you're feelin' better, too, String—I was so worried that you'd never remember me or Jimmy again. And it—it scared me, String."
"I know, Cait," String replied. "It—it scared me, too, thinking that I might not ever remember you, Saint John, or Jimmy again. So," he said, thinking he already knew the answer, "was I as out of it as you were?"
"Yeah, String," Cait said, and String noticed the emotion in her eyes, "you couldn't remember any of us—except Dom, of course—but you couldn't remember Jimmy, Le, Sinj, Eagle, Michael, Marella, or even—me," she said, fighting to hold back the tears. "It was like...you were here, but part of you wasn't here—so it was like part of me was missing. Now I know how you felt when it happened to me," Caitlin added, pulling String closer to her for a kiss, which she was relieved he accepted, and returned with equal passion.
Later that afternoon, Dom brought Saint John and Le up to the cabin with him. Dom was overjoyed to discover that Hawke had regained his memory, especially his memories of all his family. Dom, of course, made dinner for everyone, the same way he had the night Caitlin's memory came back.
"Well, little brother," Saint John said as they got ready to leave, "I'm glad everything worked out okay."
"You and me both, Sinj," Hawke replied as he hugged his older brother. "You and me both."
"I sure hope this doesn't happen to anybody else," Le said.
"I think we're all in agreement on that one, Le," Caitlin said in reply, and noticed Saint John, String, and Dom all nodding back at her.
"I don't know about anybody else," Jimmy said, "but I'm glad I've got both my parents back. And I agree with Le...I sure hope this never happens again!"
"Absolutely," String replied, smiling at his son.
"I agree," Dom said with a grin. "If it happened to me, at my age, I might never get my memory back!" In spite of the seriousness of Dom's statement, everyone was able to laugh.
"Well, so long, little brother," Saint John said later, as Dom was getting ready to leave, "And, I know we've said this a number of times, but I'm glad you're back. And, that there aren't any permanent effects."
"Me, too, Sinj," String replied, embracing his brother. "Me, too." Le and Saint John walked out to where Dom had parked his helicopter, since String's was in its usual place on the dock, then everyone waved to String and Caitlin, who were standing wrapped in each other's arms in the door of the cabin.
As they watched the helicopter lift off and turn toward Van Nuys, Caitlin sighed and leaned into Hawke's chest.
Thanks, God, she said to herself, remembering her prayers of the night before. Thanks for bringing my String back to me. She turned in his arms and gazed into his eyes. "String. Don't ever do that again."
"Do what, Cait?" String asked innocently.
"Don't you ever—ever—leave me alone like that again, String." Caitlin replied, then added, "and before you say, 'Cait, you weren't alone', or somethin' like that, lemme tell you something, Stringfellow Hawke: Even though you were here, physically, what made you the man I love wasn't here. And, that's why I felt so alone. My—my heart was empty, without you." She lowered her head, not wanting String to see the tears in her eyes, but Hawke gently lifted her face so she could look into his eyes, and Caitlin was surprised to find tears there, as well.
"I—I understand, Cait," Hawke said. "And, I wasn't going to say 'Cait, you weren't alone,' or whatever else you thought I might say because—well—I felt the same way when you lost your memory. You were here, but you weren't here—so, there was a part of me that was missing too. It didn't make any sense then, but it makes sense now. And, I promise you, Cait, I'll do the best I can to make sure that I never leave you alone like that again." He pulled her close to him and kissed her, a deep, longing, passionate kiss that threatened to take their breath away.
Once she felt like she could speak after they separated, Caitlin said, "And, I promise you the same, String. I'll do the best I can to make sure I never leave you feeling alone again." She smiled up at him, that special impish grin that she saved for her husband, and hoped he got the message she was trying to convey.
A few seconds later, she got her answer as String scooped her up in his arms and carried her, giggling, back into the house and up the stairs to the sleeping loft. "I hope you guys are playing it safe!" came from Jimmy's bedroom down the hall. "I don't want any brothers or sisters!"
"Good night, Jimmy!" Caitlin shouted back, then turned her full attention back to her husband. A few moments later, they were lost to the world, concentrating only on each other.
Later, still spent from the activities they had just concluded, Caitlin felt an overwhelming sense of relaxation and peace, as she felt String pulling her body tight against his own. I don't want to think about what might have happened if String's memory hadn't come back, Caitlin said to herself, so, I won't. I'm—I'm just relieved that this is all over. She allowed a few tears to escape her eyes, but she knew they were happy tears, so she didn't mind. All that matters is that I've got my String back, just like I wanted, she said to herself happily as she slipped deeper into sleep.
Meanwhile, String was finally able to relax for the first time since he had lost his memory, as he savored his wife's scent. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't gotten my memory back, Hawke said to himself, relishing in the feeling of Caitlin's body tight against his own. And I have a feeling that I don't want to know. But, we made it, just like we always have, String said to himself as sleep finally overtook him, and just like we always will.