The B Team



All characters that appear in this chapter of B-Team are my own. This story is a continuation of the original four part "B-Team". My special thanks to Tigermark for his continued assistance, participation, and encouragement in the crafting of this story.

The B Team is copyright The Silver Coyote
2003




Goin' Home

Annie stood at the end of a row of hangars on the east end of Jefferson County Airport, a small paw in each of her own. The late afternoon sun was still above the Rocky Mountains behind her, warming her fur as it's light streamed between the broken clouds in the west. She knew there was forty five minutes, perhaps an hour before the sun touched the ridges behind her, after which time the temperature would begin to drop quickly with the onset of night. She was glad she had remembered jackets for them all.

On her right, her daughter Marie kept fidgeting, moving from one foot to the other, squirming slightly, her tail wagging sporadically. Marie kept shifting her attention between her mother's face and the runways a hundred or so yards away from them. She didn't really know what she was looking for, she only knew that she'd recognize her father's aircraft when she saw it.

Joshua Latrans held his mother's left paw. He was quite still, ears erect, nose twitching occasionally, staring steadily at the sky to the southeast. He knew exactly what he was looking for, and with his keen vision was confident that he would see the aircraft before either his mother or his sister would. He smiled quietly in anticipation.

Around them the hustle and bustle of Jeffco had begun to wind down for the evening. The last of the general aviation flight instruction aircraft were returning with the approaching dusk. The automobile traffic into and out of the airport was light. Jefferson County Airport was settling in for the evening. From their position on the edge of the hangar row, Annie and her children had a relatively unobstructed view of the main runways of the airport.

"Mommie, when will he be here?" Marie asked wistfully, looking up to her mother.

Annie smiled down at her youngest pup. "I don't know exactly, sweetie. Any minute, I would think."

Marie smiled. "I'm gonna give him a big hug when he gets here!" she said confidently.

Annie grinned back at her daughter. "Me too," she said happily as her tail swished side to side. She let go of Marie's paw just long enough to restore some of Marie's auburn hair to it's proper place, the light breeze coming down out of the mountains to the northwest had pushed some of it in front of her eyes.

"Thank you, mommie," Marie said sweetly.

"You're welcome, sweetie," Annie replied, taking Marie's small paw in hers once again.

###

"Jeffco tower, Duke eight zero seven Sierra Charlie is at Mile High Stadium at seven thousand with Victor for landing, over."

Joe could just see the big stadium sliding under the nose of his Beechcraft Duke as he flew northbound and just west of Interstate 25. Denver Approach Control had just handed him off to Jeffco Tower.

"Duke seven Sierra Charlie, Jeffco Tower, ident. Expect modified straight-in to runway two niner left."

Joe pressed the IDENT button on his transponder. Denver Center had assigned him a squawk code quite some time ago, apparently they had sent his flight information along to Denver Approach, who in turn passed him off to Jeffco. It was great when controllers had the time to handle the little guys as professionally as they did the carriers.

"Duke seven Sierra Charlie, radar contact ten southeast of Jeffco. Continue present course, report turning final for sequencing."

"Three five five degrees, looking for the turn to final, seven Sierra Charlie." This was now the standard approach for him when returning home from the east. These days Denver Approach almost always brought him down south to around Castle Rock, from there to fly almost due north up I-25 to the Jeffco traffic area. Under VFR conditions they would almost always cancel any IFR flight plan he had filed as he passed through 12,000 feet to the east of Centennial Airport, otherwise he would accept vectors to the final approach course of the ILS about eight or nine miles off the airport. Today was exceptionally clear except for the scattered cumulonimbus over the mountains to the west, and he had been given a VFR approach with flight following by the approach controller.

Joe double checked to make sure he had the Jeffco ILS for runway two nine right dialed up on the MFD in front of him. The navigation radio head displayed a frequency of 111.700, 293 degrees dialed in for the localizer. The glideslope and localizer indications were already alive, showing him very much to the south of and below the approach path, normal indications for his present position and altitude.

Joe ran through his approach checklist and secured everything. Reaching to the panel just to the right of the control yolk he flipped two toggles. On each wingtip a brilliant landing light illuminated.

###

Annie felt a little jolt of electricity course through her son's body. As she turned to look at him he exclaimed "There he is!" Joshua raised his left paw to point into the sky to the southeast.

Annie looked. She saw two aircraft, a single engine Cessna less than a mile from touchdown and, beyond that, another single engine, low wing aircraft about three miles away. "I don't see him, Joshua."

Joshua trembled ever so slightly. "The lights, mom. See the second airplane, the Cherokee? Look past that to the two lights. That's dad."

Annie did see the two lights twinkling in the distance, but could not discern the aircraft they were attached to. "How can you tell, son?"

"I just can," Joshua replied confidently, smiling.

Annie looked at her son, pride filling her heart. She believed him completely. She glanced at Marie, who was looking calmly at her brother. Annie turned her attention back to the lights. Her daughter was now stock still, and Joshua was the one who seemed to be fidgeting ever so slightly. Together the three of them watched as the twin lights approached the airport.

###

Everything was set. Landing checklists completed, everything in the green, everything secure. The approach end of runway two nine left was growing larger in his windshield. The traffic that had landed ahead of him, a New Piper 6X, was just now exiting the active at the west end of the field.

"Duke seven Sierra Charlie, cleared to land two niner left," the controller called, "wind from three zero five degrees at seven knots."

"Seven Sierra Charlie," Joe acknowledged. He reached for the toggles with his right paw again and cycled the left wingtip light off, then back on, and then repeated the same with the switch for the right wingtip light. Returning his right paw to the throttles he reduced power slightly. Touchdown was moments away.

###

"Did you see that, mom?" Joshua asked excitedly.

"Yes, sweetie, I did." Annie replied, looking at him.

"That's the code, isn't it?" Marie asked Joshua in her small voice.

Annie looked at her daughter. "The Code?"

Joshua explained. "Dad told me that he would always do that before he landed so that we would know for sure it was him. It's our secret code." He grinned big, showing his sharp little fangs. As Annie looked to him she could see Marie nodding in her peripheral vision.

She looked back to the southeast in time to see the familiar aircraft, white with black and gold trim, touch down on the farthest runway. They had a quick glimpse of Joe as the twin-engine plane rolled by.

Annie looked down to her children. "Let's go meet him at the hangar." They turned, paws in paws, and began walking up the hangar row towards one with the sliding doors opened a few feet. Annie had parked their Cadillac STS in their hangar while they were waiting for Joe's return.

###

"Jeffco ground, Duke seven Sierra Charlie off two niner left at taxiway G, taxi for the east hangars." Joe was flipping toggles, turning off various lights and systems as he began to secure from flight.

"Seven Sierra Charlie," a familiar female voice sounded in his earphones, "welcome home. Hold short of runway two niner right for departing traffic."

Joe looked east towards the approach end of the long runway he had just landed next to. A cloud of exhaust was building behind a Lear 35, which seemed to suddenly leap forward towards him as he watched. Joe keyed his push to talk switch. "Thank you ground, I have the Lear in sight."

In no time at all the business jet roared by him, filling the cabin of his aircraft with sound and vibration. As the sound died down with the Lear's recession in the northwest the ground controller called again. "Seven Sierra Charlie, cross two niner right, taxi to the east hangars via taxiway A. No hold at runway two two zero required. Caution ramp activity in the vicinity of Denver Air Center."

###

Annie and her pups had finished pushing the sliding hangar doors fully open, and were standing in the center of the hangar when a low rumble permeated the structure. As the rumble grew louder they looked out towards the open doors in time to see the stiletto shape of their Beechcraft Duke come into view and then swing away from the hangar, presenting them a view of it's swept tail surfaces to accompany the blast of propwash.

Annie looked quickly for her children, to take them by the paws and step to the side of the hangar, next to their car. She smiled at the sight of her son Joshua, he already had Marie by the paw and was closer to their car than Annie was. When she joined them at the car she kissed her son on the head between his ears.

"Thank you, Joshua." She stood with her children, watching as the props of the Duke windmilled to a stop. All was silent and still for a few moments, only the faint whine of gyros spinning down and the soft pops and clicks from the cooling engines were to be heard.

The cabin door popped open, and Joe's flight bag preceded Joe's feet to the asphalt. As Joe straightened and looked around his pups rocketed away from Annie.

"Daddeeee..."

Annie smiled as Joe tried to remain standing while being attacked by two small, fast moving balls of fur. Joe dropped to his knees, arms wide, for the hugs he could not, and did not want to, resist. For a brief period of time it was difficult to determine which fur belonged to... well, which fur. Her children attempted to cover all parts of Joe at once. It rapidly devolved into a rough-and-tumble tickle match right there on the asphalt next to the Duke. There was much giggling and scuffling and brief glimpses of fang-edged grins and smiles. Annie was touched not only by Joe's horseplay with their children, but also by how quickly their son Joshua had ceased to be the coyote of the house and had once again become the nine year old pup.

As quickly as it had started, the commotion stopped. Joe handed each of his pups a small cardboard box and stood, slowly turning to face his wife. Annie strolled across the hangar, her tail gently swishing with her steps, a soft smile on her muzzle. As Joe turned she could see the sunlight glittering off the frames and lenses of his Raybans, and also from something he held in his left paw. She concentrated on his face as he removed his sunglasses. Joe looked happy standing there, ears up, smiling broadly as his tail wagged slightly.

"Hello, my love."

Annie moved into his arms, hugging him. "Hi lover," she mumbled quietly into his chest as his arms encircled her. They stood like that, in a gentle moment of eternity, just holding each other, until there was a commotion from behind them.

"Aw, cool!" they heard Joshua's voice exclaim in accompaniment to the sound of cardboard ripping.

"Look, it does red, too!" Marie said excitedly.

Annie leaned back slightly in Joe's arms to look briefly at her children. "What...," she started to ask.

"Mom, look at these cool flashlights dad got us!" Joshua yelled, not looking up. He was manipulating the switch and focus control of a Mini Pilot Lite, a small, machined aluminum flashlight of excellent quality designed especially for use on board aircraft. The Pilot Lite used high intensity LEDs for illumination, and they could change from a brilliant white to a gentle red color with the flip of a switch. The flashlight also had a lens and focusing mechanism so the illumination could be focused from a wide angle flood pattern of light to a pencil beam.

"Ah, toys." Annie purred, returning her full attention to her husband. She looked up at him, their noses perhaps a millimeter apart. "You always bring them some goodie from your trips." Her mouth was slightly open, the invitation plain enough.

Joshua held up his prize and turned towards his parents.

"Oh..." Seeing them in a familiar pose, Joshua realized that his parents would be "busy" for a minute or two. Stuffing his prize in a pocket, he stepped up next to his sister and quietly asked "Marie, can you help me for a minute?"

Marie looked up from her flashlight. "How does it work, Josh?" she asked her brother. She had figured out the on-off and color change functions, but hadn't seen or figured out how to focus the beam. She examined the flashlight carefully.

Joshua took his sister gently by the arm and walked towards the opposite side of the hangar with her. "I'll show you," he told her as they walked, "but you need to help me with some stuff." Joshua led her towards a tow bar and some wheel chocks hanging on the side of a cabinet at the far wall.

Annie and Joe must have passed a hundred messages between each other about how they had missed each other and how glad each was to be with the other during their kiss. Upon parting lips, neither said a word, they just stared into each other's eyes for long moments, muzzles side by side, content.

The distant roar of a single engine aircraft departing nearby seemed to pull Joe back to an awareness of his larger surroundings. "We ought to get SC into the hangar," he said quietly to Annie. He regretfully let his paws drop to his sides.

"If you insist," she said quietly. She leaned in close to his ear just before letting go of him and whispered "We'll continue this later." The look she gave him as she let her arms fall to her sides left no doubt as to her intent.

Joe smiled, just a hint of tiredness in his eyes. "You bet, my love," he replied. "In the meantime, I've got a little goodie for you, too." His right paw came up open. Curled up in it was a small, golden necklace with a small diamond pendant attached to it.

Annie's eyes went wide. "Joe!" She took the necklace carefully from him and examined the diamond. "It's beautiful!" she breathed, staring at it.

"It's not much, but I wanted you to have something to remember this day by."

She looked quizzically at him. He was full of baloney, that much was certain. Annie wasn't an expert, but she knew her way around diamonds, and this one was no piece of glass. She looked again at it, carefully. It looked to be at least VVS quality with minimal color, she'd be able to tell more at home with her loupe and some good light. She looked up to her husband's grinning face, her eyes a touch glassy.

"Put it on me?" she asked quietly.

Joe was only too happy to do so. He took the necklace from her wordlessly and opened the clasp. Annie turned her back to him and lifted her blonde hair up, exposing the back of her neck to him. She felt his paws partially encircle her neck from behind as he placed the necklace around her neck. A moment or two later he patted her shoulder gently and said "You're good to go."

She turned to face him again as she released her hair. She shook her head gently and spent a few seconds patting her hair back in place, and a couple more seconds making sure the necklace hung properly at the base of her throat.

"Now that diamond has a little class and beauty behind it." Joe commented favorably. Even in the subdued afternoon light of the hangar it glittered softly, almost imitating the glittery look of Annie's eyes.

She hugged him suddenly, burying her nose in his chest, and held him for long seconds. Joe finally heard a whispered "Thank you," muffled as it was by his own fur.

Joe also heard a loud click from out on the ramp. Looking towards the Duke he saw Joshua standing by the nose of the aircraft, the tow bar connected to the Duke's nose wheel, the other end of it in his paws. His daughter stood by the port wingtip with two sets of wheel chocks in her paws. Joe felt Annie's head pull away from his chest and turn towards the aircraft as well.

"Time to put SC away," he said quietly to his wife.

"I'll help," she offered quietly back to him. Paw in paw they strolled across the hangar and outside, towards their aircraft and children, smiles wide.

As they pushed the Duke into the hangar the sun touched the ridges to the west, and a gentle but persistent breeze sprang up, brisk and cool.

 



To Chapter Twelve: The New Deal.

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