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Beginning of the End

March has come and I find myself where I once have been. One year ago, a hand reached down to help me out of a car and I stood to face the very same building that looms before me now. You could call it deja vu, except that I remember the last time I was here and wish that it was the same hand reaching to help me now...

I take John's hand and step out of the van in front of Piper Air. HM is..well, bouncing. I laugh as he races past John and I only to get a few feet ahead and then come bounding back, trying to hurry us up. It's so good to see him smiling. When he's like this it almost makes up for the times when he remembers Templeton.

I turn to see BA trail off after the errant pilot as several onlookers watch him pass. I have to admit, those two certainly make an odd pair. John pats my hand and turning to him I offer a smile of reassurance. "I was thinking of the last time I was here."

"I didn't know you had been here before."

Before answering the question he hasn't asked I take another look around the small airfield. Today there are planes parked on the tarmac and crowds of people milling around them. I don't see them though, not really. I see an empty airstrip, save one helicopter..."This is where I was the first time I ever flew."

HM ran back again, mumbling something about a P51 Mustang before pointing and running off again. John and I watched as he pointed to a yellow and black checkered plane. I'm guessing that's the one he was so excited about. BA is standing by the nose watching the crowd passing by. He looks like a sentry, maybe he is. HM is in the cockpit now and I see him stand and yell something down but I can't make it out. John and I stop an arms length from the wing and he's giving me a curious look. I know what he is going to ask...

"Tell me about it? Your first flight."

I glance around and see HM talking with a man in a flight suit, must be the pilot. I don't think John knows about Templeton and HM scamming a helicopter for that 'first flight.' I'm not sure if I should say, I'm not sure what he will say...do.

"Well, actually, it was HM that took me on that flight."

"Murdock?"

"Yes and Templeton."

He straightens his shoulders at that and looks away, into the crowd. It's been so hard on him. These last months...As much as there has been the good, there has always been Templeton's tragedy overshadowing it all. He tips his head, nodding in silent agreement to a question only he knows, "Face and Murdock, eh? What'd they do? Scam a plane?"

I know that he's trying, especially today. Today he needs things to be as normal as possible. Later he's going to need everything he's got..."Helicopter, actually."

He laughs, it's a good laugh. HM, with BA in tow, comes back jabbering about Blue Angels and F-18's, he points and they're off again. John and I slowly follow and he starts to tell me about some of the wilder times the team has had in the air...

***

"...and then Face comes back from the cockpit..."

"Hannibal, we better go 'fore the fool decides to fly one of these things..."

"Ahm, good idea, BA. Ah where exactly is Murdock?"

I almost start laughing as BA looks to his side discovering that HM has already wondered off, yet again. I do laugh when he lets out a growl and then tells us to go to the van he'll find the 'crazy fool.

' I watch John watch BA as he slips into the crowd again. He turns to me, laughing at BA, and catches me watching. I wonder if he knows how much I worry about him sometimes? One look in his eyes and I know that he knows and I know that he's grateful. He reaches out a hand as he opens the door to the van, helping me inside.

Just as the door shuts, BA is back with HM and John helps settle him in the back. HM is talking non-stop about the airshow and he doesn't catch the look that passes between John and BA.

Turning to BA, I see him nod sadly. I can see the hurt in him and I wish there was some way that I could make what is coming easier for him...and for John. BA reaches out and starts the van.

***

We'd been driving for a couple hours. We'd reached the outskirts of the city perhaps fifteen minutes ago, barren hillsides now concrete jungle. HM is still chattering at John behind me, sometimes about the airshow, sometimes about things only HM knows...I spare a glance at BA and can see that he has readied himself. He looks...hard. I daren't turn around to look at John. So instead I look forward and try to remember why I'm here. I can see the outline of our destination coming into view...

***Fini***