by tag [tagwriter(at)gmail(dot)com]
Airwolf is copyright © Belisarius Productions and Universal Studios. No infringement of that copyright is intended by this story.
"Pinioned" is copyright © 2003, tag.
Author's Note: Most of the dialogue in this story is taken from scenes from the episode "Shadow of the Hawke", and is copyright © 1984, Donald P. Bellisario. The name of the agent who is with Archangel on the Enterprise (Faye) is taken from the Internet Movie Database.
Thank you to Vathara, who betaed this story and also provided me with its title.
Pinion: verb 1) to immobilize by holding or binding the arms of; to hold or to bind; 2) to hold fast or bind.
— Chambers Combined Dictionary/Thesaurus, 1995
Stringfellow Hawke kept his expression impassive as he watched the helicopter come into view. Inside he was furious. A perfectly white helicopter – only one person could be arriving in that. He felt an added touch of anger as the pilot down-drafted the eagle, and Tet glanced up at him.
"Yeah," Hawke muttered to the dog, standing up and lifting his cello and the stool as he started back toward the cabin. Looked like he was going to be getting involved in things again. Tet hesitated a moment, and then followed, probably realizing this wasn't a helicopter he should be greeting.
It had been two years since the last time Hawke had seen Michael Archangel; two years since he'd told the Deputy Director of the Firm that he wouldn't be doing any more jobs for him. Funny – for a while, he'd thought it had actually worked.
Closing the door behind him, he put the cello away and put on a record as he heard the copter land. While he knew perfectly well that music wouldn't distract Archangel – nothing distracted Michael Archangel from whatever his goal happened to be – Hawke hoped it might at least help him keep his cool.
Heading behind the bar, he pulled out a bottle of wine and three glasses, and waited. It was always best to deal with Archangel from a position of strength – or, at least, appear to be in a position of strength.
The door opened, and Archangel and his pilot walked in.
The first thing Hawke noticed was that the pilot – who had preceded Archangel into the room – wasn't Marella. That was something of a surprise; as Archangel's aide, Marella usually accompanied him everywhere. It was rare to see any other of his 'angels' with him when Marella wasn't.
The second thing – or set of things – he noticed was the blackened lens covering Archangel's left eye, the sling supporting his left arm, and the cane in his right hand.
Sometime in the past two years – most likely fairly recently, judging from the presence of the sling – someone had done some real damage to Archangel.
With any luck, he'd managed to hide his surprise at Archangel's condition, Hawke thought. He knew Archangel; the agent would seize on any surprise as a weakness. Watching the two of them walk forward, his eyes narrowed at how heavily Archangel was leaning on his cane. Whatever had damaged his eye and arm had also injured his leg – most likely his knee, judging from the stiffness of his gait.
Even as he wondered what had happened – Archangel had always struck Hawke as being too skilled in the field to get into the sort of danger that resulted in injuries that serious – he pulled the cork from the bottle and started to pour.
"Stringfellow Hawke, Gabrielle," Archangel said as an introduction, as he maneuvered himself into one of the bar chairs.
Gabrielle was quite pretty, Hawke noticed, as she also sat down and offered him a, "Hello." But then, she was one of Archangel's; of course she was pretty.
"Where's Marella?" he inquired, as he finished pouring the first glass and handed it to Gabrielle. Archangel being here meant that he wanted Hawke to do something. And if Marella wasn't here, quite likely whatever she was doing had some connection to the job Archangel intended to offer him.
"Oh, uh... sick leave," Archangel replied after a moment.
Sick leave – which likely meant she'd been hurt by the same event that had resulted in Archangel's injuries. Which in turn implied that event was why Archangel was here, despite his current condition... and that it was urgent. Hawke was almost as good as Archangel at seizing on weaknesses. He knew the agent was well aware of that – and wouldn't have risked it unless it was necessary.
"Sorry," Hawke offered. He couldn't really say that he liked Marella – he didn't have that much fondness for anyone who worked for Archangel and the Firm – but she was pleasant enough, and he did know Archangel relied on her.
Archangel nodded as Hawke finished pouring the second glass of wine and put it down by the agent's elbow. Being who and what he was, Hawke had no doubt that Archangel recognized that his sympathy, at least, was genuine.
As Hawke started to pour a glass for himself, Gabrielle said, "This is a nice wine. It's Montroché, isn't it? Seventy-nine?"
So, playing it that way, huh? Hawke thought, not even looking at her. Trying to divide my attention, Archangel? You should know better.... Two could play at that game. He kept his attention focused on Archangel. "Been a long time."
The agent put down his glass and nodded. "Two years." He paused, and Hawke didn't even have to think about it to know what was coming. "I have a job for you."
Hawke turned back to Gabrielle. "Seventy-eight," he said, answering her earlier question. He wouldn't be able to put Archangel off-balance with this, he knew, any more than Archangel could him; but he also knew Gabrielle was there as more than just Archangel's pilot, and if he kept her off-balance, it might end up helping him in the long run.
"Hmm.... I didn't know the seventy-eight was so—"
"I already have a job," Hawke interrupted, turning back to Archangel.
"This one pays a million dollars," Archangel replied calmly. "Half now, half on delivery."
A million? That surprised Hawke – and worried him. Even half that was more than Archangel had paid him for any other job. What could be so valuable? "Of what?" he demanded.
"Airwolf," Gabrielle replied. Hawke kept his eyes on Archangel – again, trying not to show the utter surprise he felt. Airwolf?! How had that happened? "Moffet stole it five weeks ago," the woman continued.
Well, that answered that – and undoubtedly explained Archangel's injuries and Marella's sick leave.
Hawke still didn't look at Gabrielle; he wanted to watch Archangel's reaction to his next statement. Not that he thought there would be much of one – the man was an agent, after all – but any hint would be useful. If Archangel were prepared to offer him a million, he might just be prepared to offer something Hawke would value a great deal more.... "You blew it."
Archangel's eyebrows rose, and then he gave a nod of acknowledgement. "Yeah."
"Hindsight's a wonderful gift, Mr. Hawke," Gabrielle spoke up immediately, in defense of her boss, and Hawke returned his gaze to her.
He knew what Archangel wanted; now he needed more information.
Moving away from the bar, he accused her, "You scared the eagle."
It was obvious Gabrielle didn't know how to take that. She started to laugh, then hesitated and said, "I what?"
"Flying in, you down-drafted an eagle," Hawke said coolly.
He'd definitely confused her. She stared at him, looked to Archangel – who apparently wasn't inclined to either help or interfere – then returned her attention to him. "I'm sorry," she offered.
Hawke's mouth twitched in the beginnings of a pleased smile, but he controlled it ruthlessly. He couldn't afford to let go of any advantage. "Tell that to the eagle."
Draining most of his glass, he put it down and started around the bar toward the door. "I wasn't expecting company. I'll get another trout." The reason was true enough; but it would also give him the benefit of a bit of time to figure out his strategy without Archangel watching him.
Michael Archangel watched as Hawke headed out the door toward the dock, accompanied by Tet. The pilot was hooked, he knew; Hawke was the only one who had flown Airwolf aside from Moffet, and for the chance to get at Moffet – who'd forced Hawke out of the Airwolf test program – Hawke would probably be willing to do a great deal. Now it would simply be a matter of agreeing on a price – judging from Hawke's reaction when he'd named the amount the Firm was willing to offer, there would definitely be some bargaining involved – and letting Gabrielle brief him.
And with Hawke, Archangel knew, would come Dominic Santini – and while he didn't care for Santini any more than Santini cared for him, he respected the old Italian's skills. Archangel had no doubt that between Hawke, Santini, Gabrielle, and Angela, they would pull Airwolf out of Moffet and Khaddafi's clutches; and perhaps even manage to grab Moffet and bring him back to be dealt with as well.
"God, he's infuriating." Gabrielle's voice cut through his musings, and he looked at her.
Hawke had been rather curt with her, and Archangel had a suspicion that it was only partially an effort to keep her off-balance. "Only because he likes you," he replied.
The look of disbelief on her face was obvious, but Archangel had no intention of explaining unless it proved to be absolutely necessary. Stringfellow Hawke was a very private man – much like himself – and Archangel was well aware that it would only provoke resentment if he were to tell Gabrielle any details about Hawke's personal life she didn't need to know that weren't listed in his file. Which wouldn't be good; provoking resentment from Hawke was the last thing he needed right now.
Archangel leaned back in the chair and adjusted the sling slightly. His arm was still weak enough to need the support during things such as helicopter flights, but with any luck that wouldn't last much longer. He'd been told that his arm would definitely regain full strength and mobility.
Under ordinary circumstances, he never would have come here in his current condition; it wasn't only his arm that needed more healing. Unfortunately, these were not ordinary circumstances. He couldn't trust this mission to someone who had never piloted Airwolf before – the helicopter was too complex and sophisticated for that – which meant Hawke was the only choice. And the only people who had a chance to persuade Hawke to take it were himself and Marella; and Marella was still in Intensive Care, much worse off than he was.
Catching Gabrielle's eye as she looked around, Archangel gestured toward the kitchen. "We might as well set things out for dinner; it won't take him long to get another fish," he commented.
As Archangel listened to the alarmed reports from the F-14s that the Enterprise had sent to escort Airwolf back to the U.S., he couldn't help but shake his head in amusement. He had warned the Committee, after all; it was about time that they actually started listening to him when he told them something about his people.
Leaning against the communications bank, he caught Faye's questioning look and gave her a slight smile.
He'd had a feeling Hawke would pull something like this – especially after the Committee had taken his art collection hostage. Undoubtedly he and Santini had already picked out a hiding place for Airwolf, far enough away from Eagle Lake that it wouldn't be obvious to searchers, but close enough to be able to reach within a certain timeframe.
This was going to cause problems, of course, Archangel reflected, as he picked up the secure phone to contact the Committee. The President certainly wasn't going to like the idea that Airwolf was in the hands of a civilian; nor would the various other alphabet soup agencies. With a bit of luck, however, Archangel was sure that he could persuade the Committee to see things his way.
If Hawke kept Airwolf, it meant that they'd be able to make a deal with him in exchange for taking it on missions for the Firm – missions that would undoubtedly be impossible if Airwolf was returned to the 'proper authorities'. In exchange... well, Hawke would, no doubt, continue to demand information on his brother.
Yes, this could work out quite well. With Hawke in control of Airwolf, he'd be able to essentially force the various agencies to work to find Sinjin – or, at least, more information on what had happened to him.
As for the problems.... For one thing, the other agencies would be after Hawke to try to entrap him; for another, Archangel would have to arrange things so that he was the one acting as liaison to Hawke, while at the same time keeping Zeus and the Committee out of things as much as possible. He'd also have to persuade Hawke to agree to this in the first place, although with the right bait, that wouldn't be too difficult....
The problems were large, but by no means insurmountable, and Archangel had a definite feeling that they would be worth it.
And now for the first step, he thought, as the connection finally rang through.
"This is Archangel," the agent said quietly.
The curtness was not unexpected, considering the situation. "The package has been extracted. Moffet is dead." Hawke had reported that to the F-14s before he'd disappeared. Archangel couldn't help but feel pleased; while he couldn't deny that Moffet had been a genius, he had also been a sociopath. He'd never been terribly happy with his superiors' insistence on having Moffet involved so directly in the Airwolf project, but there had been nothing he had been able to do. Now that the doctor was dead, however, there was no chance of him being 'paroled' again, the way he had been after Project Proteus.
The voice on the other end of the line sounded relieved. "When can we expect your man to deliver?"
Time to start playing again, Archangel reflected. "I'm afraid we've lost him."
There was a moment of silence, and then, "Lost him? Could he still be in Libya?"
"No, he definitely cleared Libyan airspace," Archangel replied, letting a mixture of impatience and irritation enter his voice. "Two F-14s from the Enterprise were escorting him back when he disappeared," he continued, shooting a quick glance at Faye, who met his eyes with a sympathetic expression. Like most of his angels, she knew how much the Committee's interference with his operations irritated him.
"The Committee is not going to like—"
Archangel had spent the past forty-six hours doing his best to co-ordinate this operation with very little sleep. His leg was killing him, and two of his best operatives were dead. Hawke had taken it into his head to grab Airwolf; something which might have been avoided if the Committee had listened to him in the first place. And now this.
"I don't give a damn what the Committee thinks," Archangel replied, his tone intense. He was going to give them no choice but to listen to him. "This time we're doing it my way, or you can kiss Airwolf goodbye permanently!" With that, he hung up the phone without waiting for a reply.
Standing up, he took a step forward, Faye rising from her seat to join him as he did so. They needed to get back to the States as quickly as possible; Archangel wanted to beat Hawke back to Eagle Lake, and he was going to have to make a few arrangements first. The captain of the Enterprise, who was ostensibly ignoring them at the moment, would probably be willing to agree to Archangel's next request, if only to get rid of them.
"Could we borrow one of your F-14s?" It would be painful for him, Archangel knew, but it was the fastest way home.
Then, before the captain had a chance to react, Archangel leaned over to whisper – he didn't want anyone else hearing this – to Faye, "When we get back to Langley, I need you to collect up all the information we've been able to pull together about St. John Hawke and get it to me."
"Yes, sir," Faye replied calmly, as the captain turned to face them.
"'Borrow' an F-14?" the captain repeated.
Archangel met the man's eyes calmly. "Yes," he replied.
They looked at each other for a moment, then the captain shrugged, surrendering the battle of wills. "Something tells me I couldn't stop you if I wanted to," he said, shaking his head. "Give me twenty minutes to arrange it."
Archangel nodded to him in acknowledgement, then turned his attention to figuring out exactly how he was going to handle both the Committee and Stringfellow Hawke.
Hawke opened the door, walked in, and stopped, frozen for a moment. Michael Archangel was leaning against the bar, two glasses of red wine in front of him.
Coming back to himself, Hawke closed the door, then noticed that his art collection was back. It surprised him somewhat; he'd expected the Firm to hold it hostage for Airwolf. He began to look around, just to make sure.
"The Committee finally saw it my way," Archangel remarked. Not looking him, Hawke started wandering slowly in the direction of the bar, checking the paintings he passed up close as he did so.
"Where'd you hide it, Hawke? Mountains? Desert? At that junkyard Santini calls an airfield?
"I knew he was with you in Libya; it'll be our little secret," the Firm agent continued, as Hawke reached the bar and met his gaze. "But you've got to return it; or they'll throw you in a hole so deep it'll take sunlight a month to reach you."
Hawke settled opposite him. "It's wired," he replied calmly. "I don't make a phone call every twenty-four hours, it's a goner."
To his surprise, Archangel laughed. "I told the Committee you'd do something like that."
"And I told you," Hawke said, letting a hint of steel enter his voice, "I want Sinjin."
The amusement faded from Archangel's face, and he sighed. "Yeah." Standing up straight, he opened the briefcase lying next to him, removed a thick folder and put it down on the bar, sliding it over in front of Hawke.
Lifting it up, Hawke quickly flipped through it, then picked up the full glass of wine and walked over to the couch to sit down.
"The President is very upset," Archangel started, walking around the bar and over to join Hawke. "To say nothing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI, the National Security Council... hell, probably the Boy Scouts." The agent stopped by the chair closest to the fire. "About the only one not upset is me."
Hawke jerked his head up in surprise at that. Admittedly, Archangel hadn't appeared upset, but if there was one thing Hawke knew without a doubt about the white-clad agent, it was that what he appeared to be – or feel – could be extremely deceiving.
Archangel met his gaze calmly, and carefully lowered himself into the chair. "We built it, lost it, recovered it," he said, as Hawke looked down at the folder and started to study its contents. "Well, sort of. You were working for us. And now we've lost it again." He paused, but Hawke didn't look up – just continued checking the file. "Hell, even if you were to give it back, there's no way the President would ever let the Firm use it," the agent added after a moment.
That was it... now Hawke knew where Archangel was going with this – especially since he'd finished checking through the folder. Closing it, he looked back up at Archangel. "Well I'm not giving it back," he replied, and held the folder up. "At least not for this." He tossed the folder on the table. The next move was Archangel's.
The agent nodded, and calmly said, "I know," before leaning forward. "But Hawke, as long as you've got Airwolf, Uncle Sam's minions have to keep looking for your brother. They also have to try to get it back from you. That's just the way the game's played."
Hawke met Archangel's gaze, then sighed. His instincts had been right – he knew what Archangel wanted. At the same time, however, the agent did have a good point about forcing the government to actually look for Sinjin. He nodded slightly, to let Archangel know he understood, then said, "So?"
What exactly was Archangel going to offer in addition to an active search for Sinjin, and what were the details of what he planned to demand in return?
"The Firm can help you," Archangel continued. "Let you know what the other agencies are doing to entrap you. Supply you with funds. Lots of things!"
Archangel sounded unusually intense, Hawke reflected, as he finished the agent's statement. "In exchange for using Airwolf on official business."
Archangel shrugged as he settled back in the chair. "Well, it's the only way we're going to get to use it," he replied. "And probably the only way you won't get caught."
The two of them looked at each other for a long, intense moment; then Hawke glanced away, his eyes falling on the photograph of himself and Sinjin. He looked at it for a second, almost drowning in the constant ache of his brother's absence, then was distracted by the sound of an approaching helicopter.
He turned back to Archangel. "Here's your ride."
Archangel listened himself, then shook his head, chuckling. "I always said you had better ears than a snooper mike," he commented, as he levered himself out of the chair with the aid of his cane, and headed back toward the bar – presumably for his briefcase. "Well, think about it," he continued, moving back toward the door. Hawke was surprised to hear him put the briefcase down on the table behind the couch, but Archangel's next words served as an explanation. "And give me a call."
Obviously, the briefcase had one of the Firm's special phones in it; one that would probably get him straight through to Archangel.
Archangel opened the door and started to walk out, but stopped before he got to the porch. Hawke wondered what was going on, but he didn't have to wait very long.
"Did... she suffer?"
The memory of finding Gabrielle flashed instantly into his mind, and Hawke barely managed to keep himself from flinching. He'd tried so hard on the flight back here to forget – had almost managed to, until Archangel asked....
Yes, she'd suffered; she'd been in the desert with Moffet for hours. The sun and dehydration had killed her, but it hadn't been quick. Should he tell that to Archangel? It would only be fair; let him suffer the way Hawke was....
He sighed heavily. "What difference does it make?"
The question apparently cut Archangel to the quick; certainly, his reaction was unexpected. "Dammit, I sent her out there; I want to know!"
There was anger and determination in Archangel's voice. The anger Hawke could understand, but the determination to know the truth, no matter how ugly, left him surprised yet again. And here he'd thought he knew Archangel reasonably well – as well as he could, at least, considering the number of jobs he'd done for the agent in the past.
At the same time, that determination made Hawke's decision easy. The burden of Gabrielle's death was his to bear, not Archangel's. Yes, it was Archangel who had sent her into danger; but it had been his job to get her out of it, and he'd failed.
He shook his head, and met Archangel's gaze. "No," Hawke said evenly, then looked away. "No, she didn't suffer."
"Thank god for that," Archangel murmured; yet there was something in his tone that suggested he wanted to believe Hawke, but didn't.
There was a moment of silence, as though Archangel was waiting for him to say something else, then Hawke heard the door close and the agent's footsteps heading down off the porch.
The eagle was going to get a very long serenade this evening.
Last modified June 17th, 2003.