Disclaimer—Don't own anything, except the idea, as per usual.
A/N—Writing this kind of as a sequel to Resolutions, using some of the situations that were left open. Enjoy, and as always, please review—robertwnielsen
Summary—After the events of Resolutions, Hawke decides to take things to the next level...or, does he?
"Mom? Mom, it's me, Cait," Caitlin O'Shannessy said excitedly on New Year's Day. She had thought about calling her mother as soon as she got back from the FIRM's New Year's Eve party, but realized that it was after 2:00 in the morning in Texas, and her mom was probably sound asleep. Caitlin went to bed and dreamed of the day that she and Hawke were finally married, but as soon as she woke up, she called her mother. If I don't tell Mom about this soon, I'm just gonna bust, Caitlin said to herself before her mother picked up the phone.
"Cait?" Her mother Maggie reacted anxiously. "You okay, sweetheart? What are you doin' callin' me like this?"
Get ready, Mom, Caitlin said to herself. "Mom, I'm fine. In fact, I've never been better. But first, Happy New Year."
"Happy New Year to you, too, Cait," Maggie said, somewhat less nervously. "But you still haven't told me why you're callin' me like this. You're...you're not hurt, are ya, Caity girl?"
"No, Mom, I'm not hurt," Caitlin said, trying to control her emotions, "in fact, like I said, I've never been better in my whole life. I hope you're sittin' down, Mom, 'cause you're not gonna believe this. Somethin' happened at Dom's New Year's Eve party last night. Something wonderful." Caitlin hoped her mom could forgive her for calling the party Dom's, instead of the FIRM's, but, she thought to herself, Mom doesn't know about the FIRM, and I want to keep it that way for as long as I possibly can.
"Well, don't just stand there flappin' your gums, Caity girl," Maggie said, growing a little annoyed at Caitlin, "just tell me, already!"
Okay, Mom. You asked for it, Caitlin said to herself. Aloud, she said, "Well, Mom, you know how I've been complaining about Hawke, and how he's been ignoring how I feel about him? Well—he's not ignoring it anymore. Last night—at midnight, he kissed me—I mean, really kissed me. I figured it was just the tradition—y'know, New Year's Eve kiss and all that, but then...then, Hawke told me he loves me." Caitlin suddenly jerked the phone away from her ear as her mother let out a blood-curdling scream. Once her mother had calmed down, Caitlin said, "Mom? "Mom? You okay?"
"Yeah, Caity, I—I'm fine," Maggie said. "I—I just can't believe what you just said. You mean to tell me that this danged fool Hawke fella you've been so bent outta shape over for so long finally got his head out of his rear end about you?" Caitlin stifled a chuckle at her mother's words. Somehow, I had a feelin' you'd say somethin' like that, Mom, she said to herself.
"Yeah, Mom," Caitlin said, blinking back happy tears. "He did. First, he kissed me, then he told me he loves me."
"Well, I'll be danged," Maggie said, and Caitlin heard the happiness in her mother's voice, "maybe that Hawke fella ain't as dumb as I thought he was. Hope you don't mind that I said that."
"No, I don't mind, Mom," Caitlin replied. "After all, I've felt like Hawke was pretty dumb, too...up until last night, that is."
"Glory be, and the saints be praised! Now, Caity girl, you be sure and tell your Hawke fella—hope you don't mind I said that, either—that I'm real happy he got some sense in his head about you—and that I didn't have to beat that sense into him. Okay?"
"Okay, Mom. And I don't mind that you said that. Not at all. And I'll tell him."
"Well, Happy New Year, Caitlin! 'Bye now!" Maggie said joyfully.
"Happy New Year, Mom. 'Bye," Caitlin replied, smiling as she thought of "her Hawke fella," and wondered what he was thinking this morning. Maybe—nah. I'm gonna do it, she said to herself, hurrying to her bedroom to get dressed. Once she'd thrown on a T-shirt and jeans, she slipped on a pair of sneakers and then called the airport, letting the security guard on duty know that she was coming, and would be taking one of Dom's helicopters. Probably don't need to do that, but since the hangar's closed today, better safe than sorry, Caitlin said to herself as she locked up the house, got into her car, and drove off.
As she took the patriotically-painted chopper into the sky and pointed it toward the cabin, Caitlin thought about something her mother had said on the phone—that I didn't have to beat that sense into him—and smiled. You'd been sayin' that for a while, Mom, Cait said to herself as she remembered hearing her mother threaten to fly to California, find String, and beat some sense about Caitlin into his head. Well, now you don't have to, Caitlin said to herself, smiling.
An hour later, Caitlin set the patriotically-painted Santini Air helicopter down on String's dock. Hope he's not too angry that I came up unannounced, she said to herself when she saw Hawke coming towards her.
"Cait? What are you doin' here?" String asked.
"I wanted to come up and see you, String," Caitlin said, smiling at him as she wrapped her arms around his waist. "You—you don't mind, do you?"
"Of course, I don't mind," Hawke replied, smiling as he slipped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him. "I just wondered why you came up here, that's all."
"I came up here to see you, because I love you, String," she said, smiling at him as they walked towards the cabin. "And, I wanted to tell you about what Mom said earlier."
"What did she say?" String asked, worried. He remembered Caitlin warning him that she'd be calling her mother as soon as she got home from the New Year's Eve party. I bet her mother was really surprised to hear Cait's news, Hawke said to himself.
"Just that she's real happy you finally pulled your head out of your rear end about me," Caitlin said. "But, she's not nearly as happy as I am."
"Well, I'm glad to hear that," String said. "Because, I'm happy, too." He smiled again just before he pulled Caitlin close and kissed her. For the first time in a long time, I'm happy, String said to himself as his arms tightened around Caitlin, and her arms tightened around him in return.
When they separated, Cait said, "By the way, String. Mom called you "my Hawke fella" on the phone. She said, 'you be sure and tell your Hawke fella that I'm real happy he got some sense about you.' Hope you don't mind."
"Why would I mind?" Hawke asked, grinning at her. "I think I can safely say that I'm 'your Hawke fella,'" he said, smiling down at Caitlin. Phew. I was hopin' you'd feel that way, String, Caitlin said to herself, relieved.
"M mm. I love the sound of that," Caitlin said, pulling him closer again for another deep and loving kiss.
Six Months Later, at Santini Air
"Hey, Dom, c'mere a sec," String said, motioning towards the office. Caitlin was running an errand, but String figured she was due to come back any minute, and what he wanted to say, he wanted to keep a secret for as long as possible.
"What's up, String?" Dom said after String closed, and locked, the office door behind them.
"I wanted to tell you something, Dom. I'm...I'm thinkin' about asking Cait to marry me."
"ALL RIGHT!" Dom shouted happily, grabbing String in a friendly embrace. "Finally gonna make that New Year's resolution come true, huh? Oh, String. I never thought I'd see this day, but damn, it's about time!" String smiled as he remembered telling Dom about his resolution that "before the end of the year, Cait and I are going to be married."
"Yeah," String said after Dom released him, and he caught his breath. "Especially now, with Saint John home." Saint John had, indeed, come home late last year, not long before the FIRM's New Years Eve party. It turned out that Saint John had been rescued shortly before the war ended, and then was recruited by the CIA to form a top-secret strike force, capable of multiple missions. When String heard about it, he felt like what Saint John had described wasn't too different than what he, Cait, and Dom did with Airwolf. He'd been angry, especially about the fact that Saint John had been alive, and free for all these years, and never told String or Dom where he was. But, String finally reasoned, I guess I can understand. After all, they were classified Special Ops...top security, and all that. It had taken a while, but String had finally been able to forgive his older brother. After all, if the roles had been reversed, I probably would've done the same thing, String said to himself. He also thought about the group Saint John had said he was a part of, and the missions they conducted—actually, String said to himself, we do do the same thing—that group sounds a lot like what Cait, Dom, and I do with Airwolf. String knew he couldn't hold a grudge against Saint John for doing basically the same thing he was doing for Michael and the FIRM.
String had also received some news regarding his arrangement with Archangel, and the FIRM. After Saint John had come home, Michael had discussed their arrangement with Zeus, and convinced him that forcing Hawke to turn Airwolf over to them would be operational suicide. Zeus had resisted at first, but eventually, he'd been able to see Michael's point of view, and relented. "So," Michael had told Hawke, Dom, and Caitlin, "for our purposes, she's all yours." String had been shocked, but relieved at this turn of events as well.
"Hey, String," Dom said, forcing Hawke back into the moment, "I just thought of something—did you notice what happened when you told Cait you loved her?"
Puzzled, Hawke replied, "Whataya mean, Dom? Nothing happened. At least, nothing bad"—Hawke suddenly stopped himself, as he realized what Dom was saying.
"That's my point, String!" Dom shouted, smiling. "Nothing bad happened. And, nothing bad has happened to you guys in the six months you've been together. I guess that busts that 'curse' you think you have pretty much wide open, huh?"
"Yeah, Dom," String replied, understanding what Dom was talking about. "And, you're right. I shoulda told Cait how I felt a lot sooner." String drew Dom into a warm, friendly embrace.
"String, I've gotta tell ya—I've been praying this day would come!" Dom said excitedly. "Give any thoughts as to when you're gonna actually do it?"
"I—I dunno, Dom," String said hesitantly. "But, I'll think of something. I always do," he said with a smile as he noticed a Santini Air jeep pulling into the parking lot. He saw Caitlin step out and walked over to her, smiling as he wrapped her in his arms and kissed her.
Ah, that does my heart a world of good, Dom said to himself as he watched his younger surrogate son embrace Caitlin, who he'd come to love like his own daughter. And from what String just said, she'll be my daughter-in-law—figuratively speaking, anyway—pretty soon, Dom said to himself happily.
"What's got you in such a good mood, String?" Caitlin asked.
"Just thinking," String replied, hoping he hadn't given too much away.
Aha, right, Caitlin said to herself, smiling as she linked her arm through Hawke's. If you think I believe that, then buddy, you've got another think coming!
A few days later, String decided it was time. He had sent plane tickets for Caitlin's mother Maggie, and her older sister Erin, and when Dom asked why, String said, "Simple, Dom. I want them both to be here when I ask Cait to marry me tonight." Dom was overjoyed at this turn of events, of course, and they decided to invite Le, Saint John, Michael and Marella, and Dom's friend Megan Ravenson to come also. "After all," Dom said, "Saint John and Le are family, and Megan, Michael and Marella are good friends of ours, too." String had agreed, so Dom called Saint John, then Michael and Marella, and invited them out for dinner after they closed up the hangar. "Is everything okay, Dominic?" Michael had asked.
"Everything's fine, Michael," Dom answered him. "And, if what I hope happens tonight actually does happen, it'll be even better."
"Ah. You're hoping Hawke finally gets up the nerve to ask Cait to marry him, aren't you?" Michael said, and Dom could almost hear the smile in his voice.
"You got it," Dominic said. "String told me he's gonna ask Cait tonight, and he wanted you and Marella to be there—after all," Dom said, "besides the fact that we work with you, String, Cait and I think of you and Marella as friends, y'know."
"Thank you, Dominic," Michael said, surprised. "We'll definitely be there." Next, Dom called Megan Ravenson, the psychic who'd helped them locate Archangel, and who Dom had formed a friendship with.
"Meg? Hi, it's Dom."
"Hi, Dom! What's up out there at that hangar?"
"I just got some news that I thought you might want to hear—String told me he's gonna ask Cait to marry him tonight, and I was wondering if"—Megan suddenly interrupted him.
"Of course, I'll go with you!" Megan shouted, ecstatic. "I've been hoping String would do this practically since the New Year's Eve party!" Dom smiled as he recalled the events of that night.
"So, I'll meet you at your place, around 6:00, and then we'll head over to the restaurant, okay? But, Meg—it's a secret. I probably shouldn't even be tellin' you, but, you are our friend, and I thought you'd want to know."
"Of course, I want to know, silly," Megan said, then added, "and don't worry. Your secret's safe with me."
"Thanks, Megan. I owe you one," Dom said, smiling.
Yes, you do, Dominic Santini, Megan said to herself. Aloud, she said, "Well, I'll see you later, then! 'Bye, Dom!"
"'Bye, Megan. And, thanks," Dom said before he hung up the phone.
Later that evening, Hawke and Caitlin met Dom, Megan Ravenson, Saint John, Le, Michael and Marella at a local restaurant for dinner. Dom had told Saint John what String was planning to do, and Saint John was almost as enthusiastic as Dom when he heard.
"Well, Sinj," Dom had said on the phone, "just try to keep it a secret, all right?"
"I'll try, Dom," Saint John replied, "but I'm like you in situations like this. Sometimes, I just get too excited for my own good!" Dom had laughed, especially since he knew it was true.
"Cait, how are you doing?" Megan asked as they sat down at their table. Like I need to ask, Megan said to herself. I don't even need to be a psychic to know she's curious about tonight—what we're all doing here.
"Just great," Caitlin said, beaming. "I don't think I've ever been happier, Megan," she said, smiling at String, who was admiring how the lights at their table caught both Caitlin's dress and her red hair.
"I can see that," Megan said, grinning. But I know what will make you even happier, Cait, Megan said to herself. And I've got a feeling you're going to get your wish tonight. Just be patient.
"Hey, Uncle String," Le said, "I'm sure glad you decided to get together with Aunt Caitlin. I think you guys look real good together." The group around the table nodded affirmatively.
"Le," Saint John said, "Cait's not really your aunt, you know." At least, Saint John said to himself, not yet. But if she says 'yes' tonight, she'll be that much closer to really being your aunt, Le. Saint John said to himself, struggling to hide his smile.
"I know, I know, Dad," Le replied. "But Aunt Cait doesn't mind, do ya?" He glanced up at Caitlin nervously. He'd been referring to Cait as his 'Aunt Cait' for several weeks after the New Year's Eve party, mostly when String was around.
"Nah, Half-Pint, I don't mind," Cait replied, smiling at him. After all, Sinj and I talked about that a couple of weeks ago. Maybe that'll give your uncle String the last push he needs to ask me to marry him. "Actually," she said, glancing at String, "I kinda like the way that sounds."
"Okay, Aunt Cait," Le said, smiling. Just then, two other women walked towards their table.
"Mom? Erin? What the heck are you two doin' here?" Caitlin demanded as Hawke grabbed chairs for the two new arrivals.
"We would've been here sooner, Cait," Erin said, shaking her head, "but we had to rent a car, and then, traffic from the airport was a mess. By the way, Mr. Hawke," Erin said, turning to String, "thank you for flying us out here...and for leaving a note at the hangar to tell us where you were."
"You're welcome, Erin," String replied, noticing the glare that Caitlin suddenly gave him. "And please, call me 'String.' Erin, Maggie, this is my brother Saint John, his son Le, and our friends, Michael and Marella Coldsmith-Briggs. Michael is an old friend of my parents," Hawke added, not wanting to reveal his real relationship with Michael. Glad we discussed that beforehand, String said to himself.
"Mrs. O'Shannessy," Saint John began, but Caitlin's mother cut him off.
"Now, you listen here, Mr. Saint John Hawke! I'll tell you the same thing I told your brother the first time he called me that—don't you be callin' me 'Mrs. O'Shannessy,' for Pete's sake! And, that goes for the rest of you, too—any friend of String's, or Cait's, is a friend of ours—so all of you can call me 'Maggie,' you hear me?"
"Okay, Maggie," Saint John replied, chastened, and the rest of the group nodded affirmatively. The conversation during dinner was lively, with Erin and Maggie getting filled in on how Caitlin's life had changed since New Year's Eve, now that she and Hawke were together. Finally, a few hours later, Michael stood up with Marella and said, "Well, everyone, it's been a lovely evening—but, I think we need to be heading out." Everyone else nodded affirmatively as they finished their drinks and prepared to leave.
"Good luck, little brother," Saint John whispered as he and Le stood up. The small group walked away from the table, pausing in the lobby to turn back and enjoy the show. When Caitlin stood to leave, Hawke placed his hand gently on her arm and said, "Not yet, Cait. There's—something I want to talk to you about."
Oh, my God, Caitlin said to herself as she sat back down, wondering if she knew what Hawke meant. Is—is he finally gonna ask me—the question? She pulled herself into the present when she felt Hawke take hold of one of her hands, and he began to speak.
"Cait," Hawke began nervously, "you know how much I love you, and I know we haven't been...together that long. But we know each other so well...and, when I think about everything we've been through together..."
"String?" Cait asked, but Hawke shook his head as if to indicate he wasn't finished. Meanwhile, out in the lobby, Dom muttered, "C'mon, String! Spit it out, willya?" Michael and Marella smiled at each other, knowing String was probably more nervous than he'd ever been.
"Cait, I'm—I'm tryin' to ask you something—important. I mean, like I said, we haven't been...together that long...but we've known each other for three years...and I like to think we know each other pretty well...and..."
"String, what on Earth are you trying to say?" Caitlin asked him, relieved that she'd been able to get a full sentence out.
Why am I so tongue-tied? String asked himself. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm his racing nerves, then continued, "Well, I mean...when people love each other the way we do...I just think...that maybe..."
Oh, my God! Caitlin thought to herself excitedly as she realized what was going on. Now—now I get it. Why else would Mom and Erin be here? He—String's tryin' to ask me to marry him! She squeezed his hand and smiled lovingly at him, to let him know she was there for him.
"I'm—I'm sorry, Cait. I'm not usually this tongue-tied," String stammered, and Caitlin finally decided she'd had enough.
"String?" Caitlin interrupted, then blurted out, "Why don't we get married?"
String paused, glancing up into Caitlin's eyes. "What?" he asked, surprised.
"I said, 'String, why don't we get married?'. That is what you're tryin' to do, isn't it?" Caitlin asked, smiling at him. "You're tryin' to ask me to marry you, aren't you?"
Sighing, String smiled and said, "Yeah. I—I just got so nervous. But," he said as he reached into his pocket and got down on one knee, holding the ring out to her, "Caitlin O'Shannessy, will you marry me?"
By rights, I should wait to tell him...after what he did dragging this out like that, and then makin' me suggest it. But, I just can't, Caitlin said to herself as she wiped a few tears out of her eyes. "Yes, String. Yes, yes, of course, I'll marry you!" She smiled as he slipped the ring onto the third finger of her left hand, then the two of them stood up and shared a deep, passionate kiss as everyone came over to congratulate the couple, and the other patrons around them applauded.
"Congratulations, you guys!" Dom said excitedly, as he embraced Cait and String.
"String, welcome to our family!" Maggie exulted. "You don't know how long I've been waitin' to say that!"
"Thank you, Maggie," String replied, embracing her, then Erin. String thought Erin looked concerned about something, and was wondering what he might have said, or done, to upset her. Fortunately for him, he didn't have to wait long to find out.
"String," Erin began, "I just wanted to tell you—I'm real happy you saw sense about my kid sister...and I'm even happier you two are getting married. But—I'm only gonna tell you this one time. You ever do anything to hurt Cait, and so help me, I'm gonna come back here and beat the crud outta you myself! I'll have you know, I taught Cait most of what she knows about fightin'!" She smiled when she said it, but the seriousness of her statement was not lost on Hawke, especially since Caitlin had told Hawke about what happened between Erin and her now ex-husband.
"I understand, Erin. And just so you know, if I ever did anything to hurt Cait, I wouldn't stop you from doing whatever you felt like you had to do. But," he said, smiling at Caitlin, "I wouldn't worry too much about that. I love Caitlin very much, and I don't intend to do anything to hurt her. You have my word on that, Erin," he said, gazing intently into Erin's green eyes.
Erin stared back at String for a moment. Now I see what Cait fell for. Those eyes are almost—hypnotic. But, somethin' tells me he's tellin' me the truth, she said to herself. Finally, she smiled and said, "I'm glad we understand each other, String. And, like Mom said, welcome to our family!" She finally smiled broadly and embraced String. Caitlin breathed a sigh of relief next to him. Thank goodness Erin's okay with this, she said to herself.
"Thanks, Erin," Caitlin said after she embraced her older sister. "I—I was getting kinda worried there for a minute!"
"Cait," Erin said, smiling at her, "It wasn't anything against String. He's a great guy, not to mention great-looking. I just—I just don't want you to have to go through what I did." Erin had written and told Caitlin what had happened with her now ex-husband a few weeks ago.
"I understand, Erin," Caitlin said as she smiled back at her older sister. "And, if String ever did anything that stupid, there might not be much left for you to beat the crud out of, after I finished with him!" She smiled at String, but both String and Erin sensed the truth in her statement.
"Well, folks, it's been a wonderful evening," Michael said, "but now, we really have to get going." He and Marella exchanged farewells with everyone, then left to go home.
"Yeah, we need to be shoving off, too," Saint John replied. Le came over and hugged Caitlin, saying, "Congratulations, Aunt Cait! And pretty soon, you'll be my 'Aunt Cait' for real!"
"Yeah, Half-Pint," Caitlin said, smiling as she hugged him, "Once I marry your Uncle String, that'll make me your Aunt Cait, for real." She remembered the talk she and Saint John had about Le's decision a few weeks ago.
"Sinj? Why is Le callin' me 'Aunt Cait' all the time, especially when String's around? Doesn't he get it? I'm not really his aunt—just a good friend—make that a real good friend—of String's."
"Oh, he gets it, Cait," Saint John had said, then added, "I think Le's just hoping that...maybe callin' you 'Aunt Cait' when String's around will give String a push to make it official, you know?"
"Aha," Caitlin had said, smiling understandingly.
"Hope you're not too mad at him," Saint John said anxiously.
"Mad at Le? I could never be mad at him," Caitlin had said, causing Saint John to relax considerably. "I was just wonderin' about it, that's all. And besides—I kinda like the sound of it." Her smile at Saint John had been all the reassurance he'd needed.
When String took Caitlin back to the hangar to get her car to go home, she embraced him again and said, "String...thank you. This—tonight—it was perfect. And," she added, looking straight into his eyes, "I even forgive you for not tellin' me that you'd invited Mom and Erin out here. I—I guess you really couldn't tell me that part, could you?"
"Not exactly, Cait," String said, smiling. "I wanted this to be a surprise, after all, so I couldn't very well tell you that your mom and sister were coming. It would've ruined the surprise. Well," he said, smiling at her again, "Good-night, Cait." He kissed her again, but when he turned to head for the helicopter, she tightened her hold on him. "String...I—I want to come with you tonight." She arched an eyebrow suggestively at him.
"Cait, are you sure?" Hawke asked hesitantly. Caitlin's answer came in the form of a deep, passionate kiss, even more intense than the one she'd given him back at the restaurant when he'd proposed. When she released him, once she'd caught her breath, she said, "Yes, String. I'm sure. Now that we're engaged, I don't want to be away from you tonight. Okay?"
"Okay, Cait," String replied as he led her over to the helicopter. Glad she brought some things with her not too long ago, Hawke said to himself as he got clearance from the tower, then lifted the helicopter into the night sky. He remembered how Caitlin had brought a couple of overnight bags with her one night when Hawke had taken her to the cabin for dinner and a romantic evening. When he'd asked her about them, she said, "Oh, just in case." And, something about her expression that night told Hawke that she was thinking about taking their relationship to another level.
When they arrived at the cabin, String and Cait wasted little time, going straight up to the sleeping loft, but suddenly, String hesitated. Caitlin was concerned about String's reluctance to move forward, but suddenly, his reason hit her like a Hellfire missile fired from Airwolf—He's worried that if he comes on too strong, it'll bring back bad memories—'cause I told him about what Bogan's boys tried to do to me. She felt herself fighting back tears again. The fact that String's takin' my feelings into consideration like that just makes me love him—and want him—all the more. Finally, Caitlin said, "Hey, String, there's no red lights in sight here, okay? Please...I want you. Make love to me, String. Now." Smiling, Hawke proceeded to do exactly as he'd been told.
The next morning, Caitlin asked String why he'd hesitated, and he confirmed her suspicions—he didn't want to bring back any bad memories from what Bogan's boys had tried to do. Caitlin said, "String, what happened back then, it's over, and those memories are dead and buried—just like Bogan and the rest of his boys. Now," she said, grinning suggestively at him, "I'm only thinkin' about makin' a whole new batch of memories, with you, for the rest of our lives." String smiled, relieved, then pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
Six Weeks Later...
"Do you, Stringfellow Hawke, take Caitlin O'Shannessy to be your lawful wedded wife?"
"I do." String answered the judge, smiling at Caitlin as he slipped the ring onto her finger.
"Do you, Caitlin O'Shannessy, take Stringfellow Hawke to be your lawful wedded husband?"
"Yes. I do," Caitlin replied her eyes shining with tears of love and happiness as she slipped the ring onto Hawke's finger.
"Then by the power vested in me by the great State of California, I now pronounce that you are husband and wife. You may..." Judge Ronald Clevenger hesitated as String pulled Caitlin close to him and took her lips with his in a passionate kiss, but Judge Clevenger didn't miss a beat, saying, "continue kissing the bride." Everyone gathered on String's dock began laughing and applauding as the judge announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Stringfellow Hawke!" The applause increased in volume as Hawke and Caitlin separated. Suddenly, Le shouted, "Congratulations, Aunt Cait and Uncle String!" Everybody laughed again as Caitlin kissed String again.
"Congratulations, you two!" Dom exulted, embracing first String, then Caitlin. "I'm sure happy for both of you."
"Thanks, Dom," Caitlin said, blushing slightly. She leaned closer to String and said, "I couldn't have asked for a better wedding." String smiled at her before he kissed her again.
"Thanks, Dom, and you, too, Michael," Hawke added, knowing that the two of them had collaborated to make all the arrangements for the wedding.
"You know, Mr. Hawke," Judge Clevenger was saying, "I remember when you and Caitlin walked into my retirement ceremony last year. I don't think I ever saw a woman look more in love than Cait did that night. At least," he said, grinning at Cait, then at String, "until I saw Cait again today. And, it was an honor to marry you two today." Judge Clevenger exchanged a subtle nod of recognition with Michael. Michael had told him how Caitlin's mom and sister didn't know about her work with the FIRM, and Michael's desire to keep it that way. "No problem, Michael," Judge Clevenger had told him, and Michael was relieved that everything had gone smoothly.
Dom made dinner for the small group, and the conversation was lively, centered around String and Caitlin's plans for the future. Even though she didn't say it specifically, String got the impression that Maggie was already thinking about grandchildren. Not that I'm opposed to the idea, Hawke said to himself, but we're still young. We've got time.
Finally, Michael and Marella said their goodbyes. "Congratulations, Hawke, Cait," Michael said. "And you know something, Mrs. Hawke?" Michael added, smiling at her, "I don't think I've ever seen you happier."
"Thanks, Michael," Caitlin said, blushing slightly. "I don't think I've ever been happier than I am right now." She smiled up at String, and String smiled in return.
"I can see that," Michael said, smiling at Caitlin, then at Hawke, "and personally, I hope I never stop seeing it." He smiled at them and shook Hawke's hand, then gave Caitlin a friendly embrace. Marella gave String a friendly peck on the cheek, then embraced Caitlin warmly and said, "Congratulations, Cait."
"Thanks, Marella," Caitlin said. String said, "Thank you, Marella." They moved outside to their helicopter as Saint John and Le came up to them.
"Congratulations, little brother," Saint John said. "I've gotta say, I think Caitlin looks good with you."
"Thanks, Sinj," String said, embracing his older brother. "I think she and I are good together."
"Me, too," Saint John replied, smiling at String and Cait.
"Congratulations, Aunt Cait," Le said, hugging her. "Now, it's official—finally."
"Thanks, Le," Caitlin replied, smiling at him. "Now I'm officially your Aunt Cait." She hugged Le again as Saint John and String smiled at them.
"Well, you two, I guess there's nothing else I can say," Dom said after he embraced both Cait and String. "Other than congratulations...and, I wish you both 'Godspeed, and good tailwinds.'" String smiled as he recalled the old pilot's prayer that Dom often referenced.
"Thanks, Dom," String said as he hugged Dom again.
"Yeah, thanks, Dom," Caitlin echoed her husband as she embraced Dom.
He and Caitlin walked out to the porch and watched as Dom's helicopter left the dock, leaving them alone at last. As soon as the helicopter was out of sight, Caitlin turned in String's arms and kissed him with everything she had, pouring all the love she felt for String into the kiss, and feeling String returning her passions with his own. Finally, she felt him pick her up in his arms and head for the sleeping loft, pausing only to set her back on her feet once they were upstairs.
Later, as Caitlin snuggled close against her husband, she thought about everything that had happened. I wouldn't change a thing, she said to herself, knowing she was exactly where she wanted to be, and with the man she was supposed to be with. And I'm the happiest gal on the face of the Earth. She sighed as she felt String pull her body tight against his, relaxing in the arms of the man she loved—now, finally, we belong to each other...for now, and for always, Caitlin said to herself.
I never thought I could feel like this, String said to himself as he luxuriated in the feeling of Caitlin's body against his own. But now, I know I've found the one—the woman I'll spend the rest of my life with. He knew his life would never be the same. It's only going to get better, he said to himself as he pulled Caitlin's body tight against his. He thought he felt something change in the air around them as he fell asleep, and pondered their future—our future, Hawke said to himself, together.