Controling the Savages


This was suppose to be another Control story, but I guess Frank Savage didn't get that memo. He was only cast as a support character, but I turned by back for one minute and Control was standing aside and letting Frank take the lead. Who was I to argue with an unstoppable force and an immovable object, I let them have their way. Thank goes to TAE for beta reading and getting me hooked on RL, and Liz who got me curious about Frank Savage.


The tall, lean, dark haired man sighed contentedly. He was actually having a fairly good day for a change; which was surprising because, as Control, he was the terror of the intelligence community. There were fires in the world, but none of them were of his creating or had anything to do with the parts of the globe he was responsible for; that meant they were headaches, but not his. He knew where all of his agents were and that they were all relatively safe. The committee, for once, was pleased with him and so busy with Jason Masur and his latest fiasco that it would likely be some weeks before they had time to get upset with him again. Life was good.

"Sir?" His secretary inquired as she rapped on the door, reminding him of one of the best reasons life was good; China Berry was in it.

"Something you need, China?" He asked as the tall willowy mulatto woman came in. She was looking a little haggard, but then the phone had been ringing off the hook today and she was already swamped with paperwork. Anything he could do to help her day he would be happy to do.

"There was a call from accounting while you were out, I forgot to mention it until now," she apologized and braced herself for a storm.

"That's all right, I'm sure the delay hasn't hurt anything, what did they want to know?" He asked. If it was accounting it would not be something life and death so no damage done by the slight delay. Besides, China had only once before in two years failed to get his messages to him promptly. He had not been pleased and she got the message; it was also one of the few times he had ever yelled at her.

"There were several questions about your expenses from the trip to Pakistan that you and Robert went on. I managed to clear up two of them but I wasn't certain about the others."

"Oh? What were the ones you cleared up, just out of curiosity?" He asked, light blue eyes dancing with amusement under bushy eyebrows. With China's intelligence she was perfectly capable of straightening out misunderstandings and had more than once, but, due to her sense of humor, it was usually done in an unorthodox manner.

"They were uncertain what to do about the Kaffiyeh and Hookah. It seems they didn't know what either one was. I told them the Kaffiyeh was a type of head gear worn by Arab men and that you had undoubtedly found yourself having to go into the desert and, not wanting to get heat stroke, you had purchased the appropriate protection. I would love to see a photo of you in it, but I seriously doubt that one exists," she sighed. Control no doubt had looked quite handsome in his new accessory.

"Sorry, there wasn't anyone around to take the picture," Control smiled. "What about the Hookah?"

She started shaking her head and smiled broadly. "That was the funny one. Evidently, they though a hookah was a fancy word for a bong."

He stared at her in disbelief. "They thought I had gone into a drug house and not only used illegal and addictive substances, but put them on my expense report?"

Still laughing, she merely nodded her head. Stifling her giggles finally, she managed to answer. "I explained that it was a type of smoking pipe using water to cool the smoke and that if you went into a hookah house you were probably meeting an informant and were smoking to fit in. I told them that if they wanted to see some I would be happy to conduct a field trip to a new Mediterranean restaurant that I know of, but they would have to buy lunch."

"I appreciate your getting that straightened out, I hope the other questions were a little less fantastic," he growled. It had not been that many months ago that China herself had been on suspension after being set up on charges of drug possession. And, he admitted to himself, there was the fact that HE was planning on taking her to that restaurant!

"They were also wondering about the camels on your expense report from the trip," she replied.

"What about the camels?"

"According to them the camels were never authorized. You were, however, authorized to buy two elephants and they need to know where those are," she explained.

"I had to buy the camels to replace the elephants because somebody stole them. I have no idea where the elephants are and there wasn't time to get permission to buy the camels," Control replied straight faced while China goggled at him.

"Where are the camels then, that might appease the accountants."

"I had to use the camels as a distraction to get Robert and me out of there," the senior spook replied.

China looked at him in disbelief. "Makes perfect sense, on behalf of the number crunchers I thank you."

"Go back to your reports, I'll call accounting and explain the whole thing," he offered.

"Bless you, I would never have been able to get them to understand that," she chuckled, shaking her head. There were a lot of reasons she was not a field agent; situations involving elephants, camels, and distractions was one of them.

"Oh, one other thing," she said as she left. "They're also not happy about your upgrading to a three star hotel."

"Not my fault, Robert wanted bathrooms instead of an outhouse and in that region that means three star accommodations. I'll explain that as well," he said, smiling at her as he shooed her out of the office.

He was reaching for the phone to call the accounting department and explain when his personal line rang. Only a handful of people knew that number and none of them would be calling him here if it was good news.

"Hello?" He inquired picking up the line.

"John?" A familiar voice, similar to his own rumble, came through the instrument.

"Uncle Frank, it's good to hear from you," he answered, wondering why his uncle, General Frank Savage, was calling him at this number. They talked about once a week or so but Control usually called him and that was done from his apartment, not the office.

"Good to hear you as well, son. If this is a bad time I can call you back," the older man offered. While he didn't know exactly what it was his nephew did he knew it probably involved national defense or security in someway; having spent his life in the military he knew how jobs like that could be.

"No, no this is fine; things are actually going smoothly right now. Is there something I can do for you?" It wasn't like the older man to hem and haw; but then it wasn't like him to sound this unsure of himself, either. All of Control's flags were going up.

"I...I need a favor," came the sound of a proud man asking for help. Control never before could recall his uncle asking for assistance from anyone.

"Weren't you the one that taught me that between family members there is no such thing as a favor because helping one another is part of being family?" Control asked, leaning back in his chair, twirling a pencil between long fingers.

"Believe me, what I need will be a favor," the retired general sighed.

"What is it?" Control inquired. If his uncle was hesitating to ask him, then one thing for certain was that the task was not going not be easy; and that it was very important to the older man.

"I want you to try and find Nancy for me," came the soft reply.

Control swore under his breath. His cousin had walked away from her father and his family years earlier. She and her father had always clashed, to put it mildly and almost as soon as she was able, the girl had left. The general, still reeling from his wife's death, had been crushed that his daughter had left as well.

"John?" His uncle asked after minutes of silence.

"I'm here; can you tell me anything at all that might be a lead on her?" He asked.

"Mary's maiden name was Wilson; Nan might be going by that. And I know in sixty-five she was living in Cincinnati with that bum she took off with," the general responded.

"Okay, that gives me a start. Can I ask why you are asking this now?" Control asked hesitantly; it was personal but it was a question Nancy would be asking him and he wanted the answer for her.

"I was at Wiley Crowe's funeral last week, got me to thinking, I guess," came the quiet answer.

"I didn't know he had passed away, I'm sorry to hear about that," Control sympathized. He knew what it was to lose a friend, though not one as close as the two generals had been. Robert Mccall was as close as he came to that and the dark haired spy shuddered to think about losing his friend and senior agent. Control was a man with few real friends and Robert was that rare treasure; he was a true friend as well as an old one.

"Thanks, it got me to thinking, though, about the fact that I'm not young any more." There was a long silence and Control was a wise enough man not to interrupt it. "The only regret I have is Nancy; I want to make peace with her before I pass on, whenever that might be."

"I understand, I'll see what I can do. Did you see her in Cincinnati or just her boyfriend?" Control asked, sitting back and preparing to hear the details. Nancy may have been annoying and irritating, as he remembered her, but she was family and so was the general.


He cringed when he saw the apartment house. He knew she was in the low rent district, so he had prepared himself for about just anything, but this was unbelievable. No self-respecting cockroach would live in this building, much less the neighborhood, and yet this was where his cousin lived. He was glad the general wasn't seeing the slums his daughter was reduced to living in.

It was a house that had been converted into multiple small apartments, a lot of the neighboring houses looked like they had as well. None of the buildings had been cared for and the yards, such as they were, got no attention either. There were hookers on the corners and he was fairly certain he didn't want to know what was going on in the alleys between the buildings. What he did know was that this was no place for Nancy; hopefully she would let him and the general help her out. As stubborn as she could be, though, there was no guarantee of that.

Shivering in the early December cold he decided to go and wait someplace warm for her to get home from work. There was a bar across from her building, he could wait in there and see when her living room light came on so he would know when she was home. Not to mention that he was getting a bit hungry and could probably grab something to eat there, he never had been able to eat airline food, unless he flew first class, and he hadn't this time.

A short drive and a dash through some snowflakes got him into the bar. Since following orders was not a new habit, though the committee might disagree, and the sign upfront said to seat himself, he did so. He found a booth seat with his back to a wall and with windows facing Nancy's apartment; it was perfect.

He tried to remember what he knew of his much younger cousin. She had been more than ten years his junior and to be honest they had only meet a handful of times and he hadn't spent a great deal of time with her. By the time she was old enough to do anything with he had been in his teens and, like most teenage boys, had better things to do then entertaining a child. What he remembered more was the excitement of his uncle when he had found out he was going to be a father and the near panic when the baby had come early and they had nearly lost her and her mother. He also had strong memories of his uncle frequently holding the little girl who would nestle in his arm and go to sleep. In fact, it had come to be a kind of joke that his strong, quiet uncle could get his girl to sleep far easier then his more high-strung wife could. Nancy, he suddenly realized, had in fact, very much been a daddy's girl until her teens had hit.

His waitress was approaching. She was a bit short, but appeared taller than she was due to her lean build. She was a handsome woman with dark red, curly hair and light blue eyes. Control smiled.

"What can I get..." the woman stopped mid question and stared at him.

"Coffee and maybe if there's a sandwich you can recommend?" He smiled at her.

"Did HE send you?" She sighed.

"Excuse me?" He asked, slightly confused.

`My father, the general? The man you look like?" she snarled quietly.

"Not exactly, he asked me to try and find you, he didn't ask me to come and see you; that was my decision," Control responded. This was not looking to be a good beginning.

"And of course, you had to come here," she growled.

"I didn't know you worked here, I was just looking for some food and a place in out of the cold while I waited until you got home. I though you worked a place called Gilly's," he replied.

"I did until their license got pulled, but that was almost two years ago," she explained, her eyes showing the barest hint of amusement at his expression of surprise.

"I have got to get a better research team, if they couldn't let me know something as simple as where you work," he grumbled. "Could I have hot coffee and a sandwich? And a chance to talk with you?" He asked her. Obviously she was already in a hard place; the last thing he wanted to do was make things worse for her.

"Here's your coffee, and the barbeque chicken sandwich is pretty good. I'll let you know about us talking," she informed him, while pouring a cup of black coffee for him.

He smiled and nodded as she went quickly to the other tables that had already been waiting longer than they should have. He watched as a group of young kids obviously just out of school for the day came down the road in little groups. One boy was separate from the others and didn't seem to be in any of the groups. The kid was one of a small group that went in at Nancy's building. He raised his eyebrow a bit when he saw the solitary boy through the window in his cousin's apartment. It would appear the general was a grandfather!

Sipping his coffee, he smiled as watched the youngster get a snack from the kitchen and settle in to watch cartoons. His uncle would be sorry if he missed out on any more of the lad's childhood, it was unfortunate he had missed out on this much of it; the general would have loved playing the doting grandfather.

"There's not time for me to talk now, but if you come by the apartment tomorrow around ten we'll talk, then I'll decide then if I want to talk to daddy or not," Nancy informed him as she set a plate in front of him.

"I appreciate that," he told her, smiling. She might not have agreed to talk to her father, but she was willing to discuss it, and she still referred to him as daddy. This might not be as difficult as he had thought; she still seemed to have some regard for the general. If she wasn't willing to let her father help, maybe she would at least allow him to be involved in her and her son`s life. Even if she wasn't letting him help, he could at least offer support that way.

She nodded an acknowledgement and left to serve other customers. Taking a bite of his sandwich, he looked at the boy again. Evidently there were time limits on the television watching, since the kid had turned off the machine and was taking papers out of a beat up backpack. It looked like he was working on math, since he was counting on his fingers. The man smiled, remembering so many afternoons spent at another kitchen table doing homework after a quick snack and, if they were lucky, the radio would be allowed to play in the background. He couldn't remember off hand if math had been a problem or not; probably not or he would have remembered it. History and geography had been his best subjects, since he found them interesting with their tales of far off places that were a lot more interesting than a farm in Pennsylvania. He had been so certain at the time that he was never going to get off that farm; now, he never seemed able to spend enough time there. Time, or maybe God, certainly did have a perverse sense of humor.


Swearing under his breath about winter driving on the snow, he carefully pulled up outside his cousin's house the next morning. The main roads were plowed, but there was ice under the snow that still made it difficult driving. Getting to the house had been a real joy, since it appeared that no one was in a hurry to get the plowing done on these roads.

Looking at the house, something seemed off to him somehow. He stared at them, wondering what it was that didn't seem right. He swore again as it clicked. There was no steam coming out of the vents, so evidently there was no heat in the building. What kind of landlord would keep his properties in this state? He rented out apartments in his house, but it was kept in pristine condition and excellent repair. He had done that even when he himself had not lived there. No one should be forced to live in these conditions.

Getting out, he pulled the fur collar on his coat up as he headed for the stairs that led to his cousin's apartment. He was less then shocked to find the stairs were outside and covered in ice. It was a minor miracle, in his estimation, that he got up after only two near falls. He couldn't imagine a child on these or what it must be like to take them in the dark like Nancy did every night after work. He made a mental note to call the building inspectors, health inspectors and anyone else he could think of when he had the general's family out of here.

A dark haired, blue eyed boy answered his smart rap on the door. Control had to smile; he had seen a thousand pictures of this lad. He was in every photo ever taken of his grandfather, as well as the general as a child, not to mention Paul, his cousin and adopted brother, or himself. It would seem that the dominant Savage family genes were at work in yet another generation.

"Hi, is your mom home?" He asked, smiling down at the tall slender child. Once grown, Nancy son was probably going to be at least six-foot; but then none of the men in the family were known for being short.

"One moment," the boy said politely. "MOM, SOME GUY IS HERE TO SEE YOU!" He bellowed, turning his head to the inside of the apartment so his guest was only partially deafened.

"Frankie, don't yell in the house. Let him in and close the door, we don't want the heat getting out," his mother instructed, coming over.

Control came in at his young cousin's bidding. At least he supposed that the son of his cousin would be his cousin.

"Nancy, it's freezing in here and you don't have heat, pack up a bag for you and Frankie and you can come stay at the hotel with me for a couple of days," Control instructed.

The child looked skeptically from the tall stranger to his uncertain mother.

"John, I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet," she half snarled. There was no way she was going to be pressured into a decision.

"Nan, this has nothing to do with you and the general. It's cold and you don't have heat, I'm offering you a place to go that's warm; accepting it doesn't mean you have to agree to working things out with your dad." He assured her. "You'll be in the room adjoining mine; you don't have to even see me if you don't want to."

"Why? What are you possibly going to get by paying for us to spend the weekend in a hotel room if we don't have to have anything to do with you?" Nancy asked quietly.

"I may not get anything out of it except the satisfaction of knowing that for a few days at least you're living in a warm, decent place. If I'm lucky, I'll get to know the two of you better and maybe the general will get to make peace with you like he wants," Control answered easily.

"Mom?" The boy asked, totally confused by the conversation the adults were having.

"Frankie, this is my cousin, John Smith. John, this is my son Frank," She introduced the two.

"I didn't know my mom had any cousins," Frankie smiled, relaxed now that he knew the man was safe.

"She has two, me and my brother Paul," the dark haired man smiled down.

"Can we go to the hotel, mom?" The youngster pleaded, turning to his mother with a snuffle.

Nancy sighed and shook her head. "Okay, go get a bag together, Frankie," she instructed.

The child dashed off.

"Frankie?" Control raised an eyebrow.

"I happen to like the name Frank; he is not named after daddy!" She snapped.

"Sure, Nan, whatever you say," he smiled, his mouth compressing momentarily as he tried not to laugh.

"I still don't understand why you're doing this, but thank you. A weekend someplace warm might get him over that cold before it really gets started," Nancy smiled slightly.

"You're family," he shrugged.

Giving him a final look of non-comprehension, she retreated to her own room to pack a bag. She didn't have to understand to accept.


Control knocked lightly on the door separating the adjoining room from the one he was staying in. He was glad that he was able to get this room for Nancy and Frankie. The thought of them in that roach and rodent infested dump with no heat didn't bear thinking about.

Nancy opened the door and let him in.

"Settled in here?" He inquired. Looking in he could see that Frankie was happily laying on the bed reading a book about an Irish Setter and a boy, if the cover was any indication.

"Yes, thank you. Since you're in town to talk to me about the general, why don't we go in your room and talk? I'll let Frankie know where I am and he'll be fine," she assured him.

They told Frankie they were going in the other room and adjourned to talk; it couldn't be put off any longer.

Nancy Wilson, as she was calling herself, chuckled. "I still can't get over how much you look like daddy."

"It looks like I'm not the only one that resembles him," John Smith answered, chuckling with her.

"Well, considering that his father has never given him anything, it seems fitting somehow that he didn't give him any genetic traits either," Nancy responded somewhat bitterly.

"I'm sorry," Control offered sympathetically. He didn't know what else to say. The odds were that if Frankie's father had been as young as Nancy had been when she had the boy, then he had not been ready for the responsibilities of being a father. Situations like this seemed to be getting more and more common.

"Thanks, but you wanted to talk about my father, not Frankie's," she reminded him, sitting in one of the chairs.

He stared out the balcony door and watched the snow falling, not certain where to start. "He wants to make peace with you, Nancy."

"We've ignored one another for over a decade, why does he suddenly want peace?" She asked, with a sarcastic tone.

Control bit off the stinging reply he wanted to make; antagonizing her would not help his goal, here.

"His friend Wiley Crowe died recently, and it suddenly occurred to him that he isn't a young man any more, himself. He did a little soul searching and the only thing he regrets is that the two of you had a falling out. He'd like to mend his fences, but it's up to you. He won't try and force his way back into your life," he replied, answering her question, turning to face her after he`d answered her question.

"So basically, he needs me to tell him all is fine and dandy so that he can feel good about himself?" She snorted.

"Hardly. He wants to talk to you because you are his only child and he loves you," he replied, confused by the bitterness in her voice. Whatever had caused the split a decade earlier had not healed at all, and had, apparently, only worsened over the years.

"Right," she sneered, "He's all goodness and light and all he needs is to fix his daughter to get a halo."

He shifted back as if he had been slapped with her last comment and his lips tightened. "I've never known any argument to be the fault of only one of the participants." He wanted desperately to slap or spank her, but it wouldn't help the situation. "Besides, the only one that ever wanted to put a halo on the general's head was your mother."

"Yeah, well he was a better soldier than he was a husband or father," she shot back, getting to her feet.

"What makes you think that?" He asked, watching her.

"My mother was dying and he left me and her to go serve in a war like a good soldier," Nancy responded bitterly.

"She may have been your mother, but remember that she was also his wife, Nancy! He was at least as hurt by her death as you were. He didn't want to leave you two, but not going to Korea was not an option. Serving in that war was his job, Nan. And as I recollect, he didn't leave you two alone; you both came and stayed with my folks. Something that I'm guessing was done so that you wouldn't be dealing with your sick mother alone. He might not have been able to stay, but he did the best he could to make arrangements for you," Control offered by way of an explanation.

"If he knew she was sick then the best arrangement would have been if he had not left!" Nancy almost screamed in frustration.

"And how could he have taken care of the two of you if he had left the Air Force?" Control asked, maintaining his calm reasonable tone.

"There was the farm," she argued.

Control looked at her in disbelief. "How do you think he would have managed the farm? He would have been miserable. He's no more a farmer than Paul or I am."

"But he would have been there when mom died!" She howled.

Control looked at her sympathetically, his parents weren't young and he knew it was going to hurt to lose either of them. He couldn't imagine growing up without both of his parents. That had to be every child's nightmare and then to not have the other parent available would make it that much worse.

"Yes, he probably would have, and he also would have made it in time if your mother had allowed your father to be contacted and told how bad she really was but she wouldn't hear of it. She was convinced she was getting better, so didn't want him troubled," he argued.

"Mom, mom didn't want him troubled?" Nancy asked quietly. Evidently this was news to her.

"That's right. Dad told me about it once. He had never felt right about not telling Uncle Frank just how sick Aunt Mary was, but she was adamant that he not be told so they abided by her decision. If they hadn't decided in the end to ignore her wishes, then he wouldn't have even made it back in time for her funeral," he explained. He felt for her and understood her grief, and had a feeling that at last they were getting to the real reasons for her separation from the general.

"Then the least he could have done would have been to stay with me after mom died instead of going back," She said angrily as she sat on the bed.

"Nan, there was a war going on that no one was calling a war, the Air Corps had been the Air Force less than five years and was still in transition. And to top those stresses off, Uncle Frank was called out of combat to bury his very much loved wife who he had been told was getting better. I don't think it was that he didn't want to stay there with you; I think it was that he had nothing left to give and no idea what you wanted or needed from him. One thing I know, though, is that he loves you," Control said soothingly as he sat next to his cousin on the bed and put an arm around her.

"All I wanted or needed from him was HIM! I just wanted him to love me!" She wailed, sobbing now with tears that had not been shed in more than twenty years. " Why couldn't he ever see that?"

"Because I was blind," came a rumbling voice that was the duplicate of Control's thickened a little with age and emotion.

"Daddy!" Nancy Wilson looked up and seeing her father for the first time since she was a teenager, she ran into his open and waiting arms.

"I've missed you so much, baby," he said, his eyes wet with unshed tears as he enfolded his daughter in his embrace. He hadn't known she was here or he wouldn't have intruded, as it was he had not been sure if he should say anything, but her questions needed answers only he had.

Frankie Wilson stood next to this new person, whom he had just let in, and looked, from him to his mother to his new cousin. Maybe it had been wrong to let the man in? He had heard the man at the door and assumed that mom couldn't hear it since she was crying and Mr. Smith couldn't answer the door because he was taking care of mom. It was amazing how much the older man resembled mom's cousin. Of course, mom seemed happy to see the old man, in fact she called him... "Is he my grandpa?"

She nodded and sniffed. "Yes, honey, this is your grandpa."

The general gave the child a smile as he continued holding his own child, and guiding her towards the bed where they both sat down. The second that youngster had opened the door to him, he had known who he was. He had missed out on so much in the boy's life, not to mention his mother's; maybe he could start to change some of that, now.

"Nan, why don't I take him and we can catch lunch and do some shopping while you and the general catch up?" Control asked. He had a feeling emotions were going to be running high in this reunion and not all of them would be good, but at least they would be out in the open and dealt with.

The only response he got was a nod from the head that was resting on the general's shoulder. Motioning Frankie out the door, Control quietly collected his coat and followed him.

"He seems like a good boy," Frank offered a few moments later, as he and Nancy were left alone and her crying was subsiding to the occasional sniffle or hiccup.

"Frankie's a great kid!" She gushed, smiling up at her dad. Her son was the only accomplishment she had in her life that she felt good about. He was a good, clean, honest, respectful and well behaved boy. The few times he had gotten into trouble it had been the kind of minor offenses that every healthy growing boy got into at times.

"You, you named your son after me?" The general asked, surprised. He hadn't known that Nancy thought that highly of him.

"I liked the name Frank, and it certainly gave him a better namesake than his father`s name would have," She said with a derisive snort.

"I take it his dad isn't in the picture then?" Frank asked, hesitantly. The child looked to be about ten, and that would be about the right time. He really hoped he hadn't made things worse by what he did that day in Cincinnati.

"No, he left before I even had a chance to tell him I was pregnant. I had just begun to suspect myself that I might be." She snorted "He didn't even tell me good bye, he just never came home one day."

"I'm sorry, sweetheart," he said. He was sorry for the pain that was evidently still there, but to be honest, not sorry that the bum he had talked to that day had opted not to return and hurt her more. If he had known she was in the family way, he might have acted differently, but all he had seen was the guy leaving their flea trap of a house and the fresh bruises his baby was sporting. At least she had been rid of her abusive boyfriend, and her son had never had to live with an abusive father.

"Not your fault," she said, and looking into his face, pulled back a bit. "Or did you have something to do with it?"

"I might have had something to do with it. I was worried about you so I went to Cincinnati looking for you," he began slowly, she might resent his interference.

"I remember you came to the door wanting to talk to me, but I wouldn't see you. I, well, I wasn't looking too good just then," she said, ashamed. "And I was still pretty angry with you."

"Well, baby girl, I saw you. I was waiting for him to leave so I could talk to you alone, and I saw the bruises on you when he left. I couldn't get you to come home, so I protected you the only other way I knew of. I explained to that hoodlum exactly what would happen to him if he ever hurt you again. I'm sorry that it made things so hard for you and Frankie, I had no idea you were expecting. And don't you ever be embarrassed about what that man did to you; it was not your fault!" He instructed, holding her close again.

"If I had known what you had done at the time I would have been furious," she admitted. "But looking back on that whole mess; thank you. And don't worry about making things harder for us, I`m not sure that you did. If he had stayed I would still have been working full time and struggling to make ends met, and what little I saved he would have drunk so it's better that he left."

"I was just taking care of my little girl, all I ever wanted was what was best for you, I just never seemed to be able to figure out what that was," he confessed. He had never been certain what to do with a daughter and he always seemed to end up doing the wrong things, based on her reactions.

"All I needed was to know that you loved me," she told him with sniffle as she tried not to cry.

"Honey, I do love you, I've always loved you. From the moment your mom told me you were coming I loved you," he assured her.

"But you left me," she said, starting to cry again.

"There was a war on."

"I know, daddy, but I needed you so badly. I can't even remember mom, but I remember you not being there when she died and your leaving again after she had been buried."

"I thought I was doing what was best for you, honey. I thought you would be better off with your Aunt Becca than with me. She knew about raising kids, I had no idea what to do with you or for you."

"I was five years old! Just being there would have been enough," She said in a slightly raised tone of voice.

"I know that now, back then I didn't get it. I tried to make up for it by being there for you when I got home. I know it wasn't the same as if I had stayed after mom died, but I really did try," he said, his eyes again damp.

"You were certainly there every time I had a boyfriend you didn't approve of, which was most of them," she said with a snort of laughter.

"It's not my fault if none of them were good enough for my baby," he said in a voice of mock indignation.

"Like mom's family never thought you were good enough for her?" Nancy asked, hesitantly. Her mother was a subject that had not been brought up since she had passed away.

"They were certain that she could do a lot better than some Yankee pilot," he growled.

"And you were always convinced that I could do better than those pacifist hippies or biker hoodlums," she answered.

"I think I proved that I did all right by your mother. I certainly took better care of her than any of those men did of you," he shot back, and instantly regretted where this looked to be going.

There was a long silence as the two looked at one another, both recognizing the old fight starting again.

"Dad, do you remember mom?" Nancy asked. Her mother was a topic that had never been talked about. When asked about her, the general would give short curt answers or simply go silent.

"Yes, I remember her. Do you remember her? You were really young when she passed on," he said, realizing suddenly that Nancy evidently remembered nothing of her mother. He had never meant to not tell her about her mother, but thinking of her had hurt so much that he hadn't been able to talk about her.

"Not really, would you tell me about her?"

"Now that I can, I'd be happy to. Why don't we get something to eat and I'll tell you about your mother and you can tell me about my grandson?" He offered.

Biting her lip, Nancy stared at the floor.

"My treat," Frank offered, realizing the position he had put her in. His girl had every bit of the Savage family pride and if his guess was right, she was not doing well. Hopefully she would let him help, whenever he had tried in the past it had backfired on him.

"Thanks, can we do room service in case I start crying again?" She asked, smiling.

"Whatever you want, baby," he assured her, leaning over and fishing a menu out of an end table drawer.

A few moments later, two lunch orders had been called in and they were seated at the table by the window.

"Let's see, Frankie stories..." she said thoughtfully. "Well, the first week he was in school he got in a fight with three fourth graders."

"Does he fight as a habit, or was there a reason for it?" Frank asked. The boy hadn't seemed like the fighting kind, if anything he seemed kind of quiet and shy.

"It seems that they were taking the little kids lunch money, and when they got to him, he decided he would rather fight them than give them his money. I told him next time to give them the money and then tell the teacher or me what was going on. He said that he couldn't because the next boy was even smaller than he was," she related, shaking her head at the memory.

He chuckled, that sounded too much like something he or his nephews would do. "Sorry, honey but it sounds like you've got a Savage there."

"Oh, don't I know it, and truth be told I couldn't be happier," she smiled.

Lunch arrived and they retired to the table to eat.

"Tell me how you and mom met?" She asked.

"Well, It was about a year before I became a POW..." he began.

"YOU were a POW, Daddy?" Nancy asked in shocked amazement.

"Yes, it was in 43, I had crashed in France ..." he began telling a story that he tried to tell as little as possible, but if anyone had the right to hear it, it was his daughter.


Control looked down at the boy with him, what did you do with a ten year old boy? He had mentioned shopping and eating, so he supposed that was as good a place to start as any. "What`s your favorite food?"

"Chicken," came an uncertain answer from the youngster looking up at him.

"Chicken it is, then," he smiled down "Better go get your jacket."

"Okay, do you think we could go to Walgreens on the way?" The child asked, cautiously.

"I'm sure we can find one while we're out," Control assured him, as they quickly went in the second room.

The jacket was retrieved while the book about the boy and his dog was tossed in a battered backpack and a handful of change gotten out of one of the pockets. "Thanks, I want to pick up mom's Christmas present, she's really going to like it."

"Then we had best make sure and do that next," the man smiled down at his companion as they left the room.

The drive to the drug store was quiet, with Control concentrating on driving in a city he was not familiar with and Frankie looking out the window.

When they got to the store, Frankie was out almost before the car had stopped. His cousin John followed a little more leisurely. The boy had evidently been taught well, since he waited at the door for the tall man. They entered and the youngster went over to a counter of cheap plastic jewelry. He picked a necklace of pastel stones and took it, smiling.

"Got what you came for?" he asked, as Frankie trotted back over to him holding the gift.

"Yep, can we look at the models since we're here?" He asked hopefully.

Control nodded, and was led into the toys and hobby section where boxes of model planes resided. "Do you have a favorite?" He asked.

"They're all really cool, but I like the planes more than the jets," Frankie responded.

"Well, that one there is a B-17 like your grandpa flew in the Second World War. He called her the Piccadilly Lily," Control pointed out, smiling at the memories of the stories his uncle told of his exploits in that plane.

"Really? That's too cool," the child explained, picking up the box to look more closely at the picture on the cover. His grandfather had actually flown in one of those.

"Would you like that as a kind of early Christmas present?" The man asked, smiling.

"Can I really?" Frankie looked up in amazement. He had never actually been able to afford one of the models.

"I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't ready to get it for you," he assured him as they headed to the checkout line.

"Do, do you think grandpa will tell me about his Piccadilly Lily?" Frankie asked, hopefully.

"If you asked him, I don't see why he wouldn't, he told Paul and me stories about his war years when we were your age."

"What kind of stories?" Frankie probed, looking for information on his unknown grandparent.

"The one that comes to mind is actually something that happened while he was between the Second World War and Korea. It was the only time he was late to a meeting, he claims," Control chuckled, as they got in the car and headed for lunch.

"What happened?"

"Well, he was on his way to the base and as he came around a corner, a little brown blur made a dash to cross the road."

"Did he hit it?" The boy looked over at his cousin, appalled.

"He tried really hard not to, but yes, he did end up hitting it. He pulled over and got out to see what the blur was and if he could help the little creature. He ran back and there was a little brown terrier dog."

"Was the doggie all right?" The child asked, distressed

"Well, he was limping and hopping around and crying like he was in pain. The general felt bad, so he took..."

"Grandpa's a general?" Frankie interrupted, goggling. That was even better than Sam, whose dad was a policeman, or Adam's, whoes grandfather had been a fireman.

"Yep, he was a one star during WWII, got his second right after the war, and retired in the sixties with his third. In fact the meeting he was late to on the day he hit the dog was the ceremony to award him his second star," Control enlightened the youngster.

"Was he late because he helped the puppy?"

"The dog looked bad, but the general put him in a spare blanket he had in the trunk and took him to the vet. After helping the dog he arrived at his own promotion ceremony late," Control related.

"What happened to the dog? Did he make it?" Frankie asked, as they headed into a Denny's. Control had chosen that place because since it was a national chain and he knew the menu, and it had chicken on it. Not to mention that the food was generally not bad.

"Well, Uncle Frank had just gotten back to his office after the promotion ceremony when he got a call from the vet saying that the dog would be fine with a little work on his leg, but since he didn't have an owner they were going to put him to sleep."

"That's mean," the little boy sulked. "I bet if they had looked someone would have wanted the dog!"

"The general happens to agree with you, so he said for them to go ahead and patch up the dog's leg, and he would take the dog home and find a home for him," Control grinned at Frankie's smile.

"He found a home for the dog?"

"He certainly did, Joey owned the general for almost twenty years, or at least thought he did," Control chuckled remembering the feisty little terrier that had been his uncle's companion and friend for so many years.

"He kept him?" Frankie laughed.

"Yep, that dog was a terrorist in a little fur coat, but he and grandpa got along fine. I seem to remember that your mom loved him a lot, too."

"I would love to have a dog, but mom says we can't in the city. When I get big enough to have a job I'm going to see if she'll let me have a kitty if I pay for everything it needs." Frankie, evidently an animal lover, sighed.

"I have cat at home, myself. A black one named Isis," Control told his companion, while taking a bite of his steak.

"That's kind of a weird name for a cat, isn't Isis from a story or something?" Frankie asked, trying to remember where he had heard that name before.

"Well, I got her in Egypt, and Isis is a Goddess from Egyptian mythology so it seemed to fit," the man explained.

"I remember I read about her once, she was pretty cool. She was married to Osiris and when he got killed by another god she went and collected all of the pieces so they could have a son, but I never figured out exactly how that would work if he was dead," Frankie answered in a confused tone.

"That would certainly be difficult," Control agreed, amused.

"Do you think that my mom and grandpa will like each other again?" Frankie inquired, chewing on his lip worriedly.

"Well, they're both Savages, which means they tend to be, ah... firm minded, when they decide something or feel they've been wronged in any way, but since they both seem to want to like each other again, I think the odds are good that they'll figure out a way to get past their problems," Control assured the child without lying to him. The things that had annoyed him most when he asked questions as a child were being lied to or being told he was too young to understand; luckily his parents had rarely done the first and never the second.

"Savage is a bad name for an Indian and they're not Indians."

"Savage is also the general and your mother's last name," he informed the child.

"Mom's last name is Wilson, not Savage," Frankie corrected him, eating the last of his fries.

"She was born with the last name Savage," Control informed him.

"Wilson must have been my dad's last name, I guess, I didn't think he and mom had ever gotten married, though."

"They might have married, I don't know, but I think your mom goes by Wilson because it was her mother's last name," he explained, finishing his steak.

"I thought grandma`s family didn`t like mom?" Frankie asked seriously.

"I don't think they had anything against your mother, they just didn't like your grandpa particularly," he explained, setting money on the table for the bill as they got up. He wasn't about to go into the fact that Aunt Mary's family, who had never thought General Frank Savage to be a great catch for their daughter, also blamed him for her death.

"Okay, I guess I can see that," the boy responded slowly and thoughtfully as he followed his mom's cousin.

Light blue looked down, but weren't met by a matching pair. He hadn't intended this outing to end on such a somber note and he didn't like that his young cousin couldn't seem to meet his eyes at the moment.

"There's a pet store over there, son, should we go see if they have puppies or kittens?" He asked spying the place on the other side of the parking lot.

"Yeah! Hey, that store next to it looks cool too, can we see what's in there?" he asked looking up pleadingly.

"Sure, Frankie, this is your outing, we can go where you would like," Control smiled down, thankful for the resilience of youth.

The bell over the door tinkled as they entered the small and rather dingy pawn shop. Frankie went up and down the aisles fascinated by the variety of things he saw. Control went with him, giving the name and use for the things Frankie had never seen before.

"Lady, we can't sell those things, we`re not buying them; who ever heard of pearls being this weird color and sorta wrinkly?" a voice snarled nastily from up front.

Always on alert for potential trouble, the man looked from his cousin over to the altercation. There was a little old white haired lady in front of the counter, being told off, evidently, by a large burly man behind the counter.

"They're a special kind of pearl called a Black Pearl, and they `re supposed to look like this. My late husband brought them back from Tahiti for me after the Second World War. You won't have trouble selling them, please," she asked.

"Listen, I ain't never seen anything like them and I say they won't sell," the shopkeeper retorted menacingly.

"May I see them?" Control asked quietly, as he approached the two people. He glared at the other man, and then smiled reassuringly at the old woman. He was still trying to find the right gift for China, and Black Pearls might be just the thing. Besides, you never, ever spoke to the elderly like that!

The woman smiled at him as she handed him two earrings and a necklace to inspect. The stones were a silvery-blue, and had a beautiful silver setting. "These were hand made weren't they?"

"Yes they were, Harold brought them home to me after the war. He's gone now and, well ..." She trailed off.

"Listen, If you're looking for jewelry for your old lady, we've got some nicer stuff over here I can show you," the huge man running the store said.

"No thank you, my lady is a unique and extraordinary woman and needs accessorizes that show that. What I saw over there would only detract from her beauty," Control informed the man coldly.

"Do, do you think she might like those?" the senior citizen asked.

"Yes, she would; she would like them a lot I think," he smiled at her. "Would you be willing to sell them? I know you said they were from your late husband, so they must be very dear to you," he said, compassion in his voice for the reduced state that must have brought her to selling her jewelry.

"If life has taught me anything, it's that stuff is just stuff, it's the memories that count. I would like to be able to keep those, but I have the memories so I can stand parting with them. And this way another young woman will have memories, of her beloved bringing her back something from a trip," she smiled at him, and patted his hand to assure him that he was not doing wrong by buying her keepsakes.

The other man glared angrily as the dark haired man and the old woman agreed on a price. Frankie had come up beside his cousin and beamed at the jewelry.

"Those are pretty," the child commented as they left.

"I have a friend at home who will like these for Christmas," he explained, smiling.

"I bet your friend's a lady. Look they do have puppies!" Frankie exclaimed almost pulling his companion into the pet store, all thoughts about his cousin's friend gone. Smiling, Control let himself be led.


General Frank Savage took a deep breath. "How are you really doing, baby?"

"We're doing all right, dad. Not great, but we're getting by," She answered after a moment.

"I would like to help you out, if I can," he said, choosing his words carefully. He didn't want to offend her pride, but he had a hunch she was not really doing all that well.

"Dad, I said we were getting by and we are. I admit things are a little tight, but I was unemployed for nearly a year. I've had my job for almost a year and a half, I'm off welfare, and I was able to get a couple of Christmas gifts for my son that were not charity donations, not to mention that I have been able to start saving a few dollars for Frankie's future. That might not sound like a lot to you, but it's better than I've ever done!"

"I'm not saying that you can't make it on your own. I just want to help, is all." He gazed at her earnestly for a moment, but then looked down and away, "If you'll let me, that is."

"What did you have in mind?" she asked, reminding herself to hear him out with an open mind. Somehow, when she was with him she ended up reacting to things like a spoiled brat, and her father had raised her better than that.

The last few hours had brought up painful and difficult subject for both of them, but they had managed to get a lot of issues talked through without resorting to yelling, slamming door or walking out. He had been more flexible and tolerant than she remembered him being, and she had honestly tried to see things from his point of view. Maybe, just maybe, they were both ready to try being a family again.

"I didn't have anything particular in mind, I thought you might be able to tell me what I could do," He responded. "I'm proud of what you've done to get back on your feet again, honey, and I don't want to take that away from you, I want to add to it if I can."

She looked at him, pleasantly surprised. Her father had never been one for asking how he could help; he was more likely to, with the best of intentions, tell you what to do and what it was he was going to do to help.

"The biggest help would just to be around, be part of my life and Frankie`s. That`s all I ever wanted from you daddy, just to be part of your life," she smiled, giving him a hug.

"I promise, I'm not going to be a stranger," he assured her, returning the embrace.

"I'm glad, I'm just sorry it's taken this long for us to find each other again," she answered, looking away. He had evidently been looking for her but she hadn't been looking for him, having convinced herself that she didn't want to see him. Hopefully she could start making up for her foolishness now.

"I'm sorry, too. Do, do you think that maybe you and Frankie could spend Christmas with me?" He asked, looking at her with hope in his eyes.

"Do you still do the big family get together?" She inquired, smiling as she remembered the wonderful time they would spend at Christmas with her aunt and uncle and cousins.

"Yep, but we could do it just us if you rather," he offered, leaving it once more up to her to decide. "If you're not quite ready for that I'll understand, I just thought it would be nice. I know the rest of the family has missed you as well."

"I know I can probably get a few days off work, and I would love to spend them with you; speaking of work..." she tailed off with a smile.

"Just let me get my coat and I'll be happy to take you," the general offered.

"Thanks dad, and not just for the ride," she answered, hugging him tightly as they headed out.

"You're welcome, and not just for the ride," he answered, smiling. This was one Christmas he had never thought he would live to see, one with his own family.


"Nothing like a nice quite night at home with family, is there?" The general commented with a slight smile while looking at his cards.

"Nothing like it, I don't get nearly enough of them myself," Control answered, almost chuckling. "Do you have any eights?"

"None, Go fish."

Control drew a card, and both men waited for their young companion to play. They were seated at the table in Control's hotel room that he was now sharing with his uncle.

"You really flew here in your own plane?" Frankie asked in amazement as he looked at his grandpa.

"I really did, the one I came in is called a Cessna; she's not the Lily but she's pretty good," the older man smiled down at his grandson. It still amazed him that he was a grandfather!

"Could I see it sometime?" The boy asked timidly, not daring to look at his grandfather.

"As long as it's all right with your mother, I would love to show her to you. Maybe we could even go up for a ride; I'll ask her," he promised, ruffling the boy's hair as he reached over and hugged him.

"That would be great! I've never gotten to ride in a plane before," Frankie gushed, beaming up at his grandpa.

The metallic ringing of the phone interrupted as the card game was resumed. Reaching over, Control took the instrument. "Hello?"

"John? It's Nancy could you or dad come and get me?" A tired voice asked.

"Of course we can come, are you all right?" He asked, concerned. Her shift wouldn't be over for hours, so why did she need a ride home this early?

There was silence on the other end of the line. "I'm fine, but I got fired, so if I could get a ride back I would really appreciate it."

"We'll leave right now," he assured her as Frankie and the general listened in silence.

"Hang on for a minute, one of the officers wants to ask me something," she said in a tone devoid of emotion.

"Frankie, I need to talk to the general for a minute alone, so I need you to go into you and your mom's room," Control instructed.

"Is mom in trouble?" A small voice asked, as the child looked uncertainly from one adult to the other. They were nice men and he liked them, but he didn't really know them all that well.

"No, not in trouble, she just needs a little help and we have to figure out the best way to do that," he assured the boy, while the general got up and walked with him to the adjoining door.

Crouching down, the older man squatted in front of the boy. "Listen, everything will be fine, whatever happened we'll find a way to take care of it," he reassured the boy, giving him a hug before sending him into the other room.

"What happened, John?" He asked, turning immediately to his nephew, who was still on the phone.

"I don't know; she called and said she had been fired and could one of us come and get her. I told her we would be right there and she said that one of the cops wanted to talk to her and I should hold on for a minute."

"Cops?" the general asked sharply.

"Nancy," Control said, returning to his call, "don't worry and you'll explain everything when you get here?"

Hearing that, the general began pacing like an expectant father. His girl was in trouble of some kind, and all he was hearing as a series of sound of understanding punctuated with occasional `ah's', `I see's' and `that makes sense'. A lifetime in the military might have taught him to wait, but it hadn't taught him to like it.

Frank Savage snatched up his jacket as his nephew laid the receiver in the phone cradle.

"Sir, why don't you stay here with Frankie; I have contacts in law enforcement that might be able to help here," the younger man suggested. He understood why his uncle wanted to go, but someone had to stay with Frankie and his contacts as Northern Control might help out here.

"John, that's my little girl out there, and I may not have been there for her when she was growing up, but I'm going to be now!"

"Mom lost her job again didn't she?" Came a shaky voice from the door that neither man had heard opening.

"I'm sorry son, but, yes it looks like she did. Like I told you earlier, though, it'll be okay, we'll get through this together," The older man said, pulling his grandson in for a hug. Normally he would have corrected the child for listening in, but he was already distraught enough.

"Can I come with you to get her? Then we can all go instead of one of you having to stay here with me," Frankie asked, looking at the two men.

They looked at one another as the child looked from one to the other. "Your call, general," John Smith said, doing something some people thought he didn't know how to do, giving control to someone else.

"Get your jacket, son," he instructed, sending the boy off at a run.

"I sure hope our new apartment is going to nicer than the one we have now," Frankie commented from the back seat, as the trio went to retrieve the clan's absent member.

"What makes you think you're going to have to move?" The general asked, turning to look in back. Control was driving, so couldn't look at them, but he was listening with rapt attention.

There was silence, as the boy chewed his lower lip nervously.

"Son?" the older man asked quietly in a gentle tone.

"Well, it took mom a long time to find this job, and I overheard one of her friends say after what she did she was lucky to get it because it was the only place around here that would hire her. If they fired her too, then there aren't any places around here for mom to work, and we don't have a car so we'll have to move to someplace where mom can get a job," Frankie explained.

"If you were going someplace better would you mind moving?" The general asked after a couple of minutes.

"No, I don't really have any friends so I wouldn't be leaving anything behind, but I know mom can barely afford where we are now, so there's no way she could afford anywhere nicer," Frankie sighed. He had really hated some of the places they had lived before.

"Why don't you have any friends?" Control asked. Frankie seemed like a nice boy so it seemed odd that he hadn't made any friends.

"The only kids I meet are the ones at school, and I guess I just never wanted to make friends with them. Besides mom's kind of, well, she wouldn't like a lot of the kids. A lot of them get in trouble and stuff, so mom probably wouldn't let me play with them if I wanted to."

"You're right, she probably wouldn't want you being friends with kids that get in trouble. I'm really proud of you for not getting in trouble like the other kids do, Frankie," the general praised the boy.

In the rearview mirror John could see his cousin turning several shades of red, while beaming at the praise. He couldn't remember his grandfather, really, but he knew that at that age, he had lived for praise from his uncle and father. Hearing one of them praise him for something still had him beaming, just like a word of correction from either man still hurt.

"Frankie, I want you to stay in the car while we go get your mother," the general instructed, as they pulled up to the bar. The cops were still around, but for the most part things seemed to have quieted down.

"Nan," the retired officer called as the two men walked toward the building.

"John, Daddy, if you're both here who's with Frankie?" She asked, hoping they hadn't left him alone. He was okay home alone for a few hours but not in a hotel room that he wasn't familiar with.

"We brought him along," Control admitted, bracing himself for the storm he saw building.

"You brought my son here?" She growled, glaring at her cousin.

"Honey, he was with us when you called and heard you were in trouble, he wanted to come with us," Frank explained. "Besides, there was no way I was going to leave a child alone in a hotel room worrying." Well, his daughter obviously had ever inch of his temper; what a surprise.

"So I guess that you told him I lost my job, too," she sighed, calming down, but now looking tired and defeated.

"I'm sorry Nancy, he heard everything on my end of the conversation and figured it out," Control explained apologetically.

"How did he take it?" She asked, looking for information so she would know what to prepare for, and how best to prepare her son for the hard times ahead.

"Well, he mostly seemed worried; he thinks you won't be able to get a job around here again and you'll have to move and you'll end up in a worse place than where you are," her father answered, bringing her up to speed on what Frankie had told them.

"Yeah, well he's had to live some pretty crappy places, but we'll find a way to get by, we always have," she said, sighing tiredly.

"John, why don't you go check on Frankie," the general suggested.

Nodding, the younger man headed back to the boy and the car. Evidently they were in need of some privacy.

"Nancy, I want you to think about something, okay?" He asked, sounding almost nervous.

"What is it, and I'll tell you if I'll think about it," she responded.

"I was wondering if, maybe, you and Frankie would come and live with me. Just until you get back on your feet," he added quickly, seeing her bristling. "I know I wasn't a very good father, but maybe I can be a better grandfather. You could get a job in town, I've got two working vehicles and only need one so you could use the other. You could stay as long as you wanted, or needed to. Like I said earlier, I'm not going to force my way back in your life, this is just an offer I want you to think about. Please," he said, not looking at her, and worrying his lip, like his grandson had done earlier. It had been a lifetime since he had given in to the nervous habit, but then he couldn't remember the last time he had risked this much.

"It's a very nice and very generous offer; I'll think about it, dad, I promise," She smiled at him reassuringly.

"Ma'am, none of the underage customers at your tables had alcohol, so you're free to go," a young officer said as he approached them.

"Thank you, is there anything else I can do?" she asked.

"I think we have everything, but if you could leave a number where we can reach you if we have any more questions, I would appreciate it," he answered, moving unconsciously away from the intense man she was talking to. Something told him that, senior citizen or not, that was not a man he wanted angry with him.

"This is the number of the hotel I'm at for the weekend, and this is my home phone number where I'll be after that," she said, handing him a slip of paper with two phone numbers on it.

"Thank you very much ma'am, you've been a big help tonight," he said, taking the paper and smiling at her.

"Let's get you home, you're starting to shiver standing out here in the cold," he mock scolded, leading his daughter towards the car.

Nancy took a deep breath, he may as well know just how bad things were. "Daddy, home for me is the right hand side of the third floor on that house over there," she said, pointing at a converted house that had no outside lights and still had no steam coming from it.

Frank Savage looked at it and cringed. There was no way he wanted his baby in that wreck of a fire hazard. "You will consider my offer, right?"

"I'm considering it. You understand that Frankie is my responsibility, and that I have the final say on raising him, right?" She asked.

"He's your son, of course he's your responsibility and you will definitely have the final say. I just want to help out a bit, but only as much and as far as you want my help," he assured her quickly. It sounded like she was leaning towards taking him up on the offer.

"And we agree that this is temporary. If I agree to this, it isn't me moving back home and living off of you. I get a job in town as quickly as possible and help with the bills and such and while we're there," she stated firmly.

"Absolutely; you get a job, and when you have one, you can help out with the bills if you insist," he told her. "You're not coming home, and you're not living off me, you're just coming to stay with me while you get back on your feet, however long that takes," he replied, assuring her that she would not be losing her independence.

"Thanks, daddy, I just wanted to make sure we understood one another while I think about your offer," she said, giving him a hug. "It really is sweet of you to offer," she continued softly, with a teary sniff.

Hugging her back, the general helped her into the back seat, next to her son.

"Mom!" Frankie just about leaped into her arms.

"Hi, sweetheart," she said, hugging him tightly.

"Hi, did you lose your job?" He asked nervously.

"I'm afraid so, but it'll be okay," she assured him, smiling.

"We're going to have to move, aren't we?" He asked, swallowing hard.

"I'm afraid so, what you think about moving near Dayton and living with grandpa?" She asked.

"We can live with Grandpa?" he asked excitedly.

"Well, It's a possibility," she responded, mentally taking note of how excited her son was about that idea.

"Living with grandpa gets my vote!" he stated emphatically.

"I'll keep that in mind," she said, reassuring him with a hug.


"Morning, Nancy," Control greeted her the next morning as she came into their room after a knock to be certain both men were up and decent.

"Yes, it is," she answered sleepily, while taking the mug of coffee her dad was holding out, having gotten up and poured it for her. "Thanks, daddy."

"You've never been a morning person," he chuckled.

"I don't remember you ever sleeping past dawn," she grumbled.

"Growing up on a farm and then going into the military, I was expected to have half a day's work done by breakfast," he chuckled.

"Better you than me." she snorted.

"So, what's the plan for today?" Control asked, sipping his coffee and putting his current paper down with the other three newspapers he had finished reading. Luckily, he had already called China and gotten updates on everything, as well as connecting with Robert and having him run a few errands.

"Well, I've been thinking about your offer, daddy," she said, joining her cousin at the table.

"I'd love to have you come and stay if you want to," Frank reiterated, sending a silent prayer that she would accept his offer.

"Thank you, we accept," she said, laughing as the general scooped her into a hug when they had both put their mugs down.

"Are we really going to go and live with grandpa?" Frankie asked, bursting into the room and joining in the hug.

"You sure are, son," the general beamed.

"What exactly happened last night, Nan?" Control asked, after Frankie was sent to take a shower and get dressed before they all headed out to breakfast.

"Well, I was serving my tables and one of them ordered a round of beers. They looked a bit young so I asked for ID's. I make it a habit to card anyone who is not obviously over twenty-one. The guys raised a fuss, but I told them no beer until I saw legal ID's from all of them. That was when my boss took me aside and told me to quit chasing away customers. I told him that I didn't want to get in trouble with the law so I was not going to serve alcohol without checking ID's. He said if they ordered I was being paid to serve. When I told him that anyone underage would have to be served by someone other than me, he fired me," she explained.

"You did the right thing, baby," Frank said, beaming with pride.

"I just did what you would have," she smiled, basking in her father's approval; something she remembered as a rarely when she was child and was finding she still wanted.

"He can't legally fire you for refusing to break the law, Nan," Control informed her.

"I know that, but right now, whether I was legally fired or not is the least of Mike's problems. Seems he apologized for my behavior and served the group himself. At which point he was arrested for serving to minors. They raided the whole place, and Mike lost his license. I got off Scott free because I refused to serve them without ID's and because none of the minors in my area had been served alcohol," she laughed.

Control chuckled at the story.

"It sounds like that man had it coming," The general commented, snickering at the ironic justice.

"Did you call the cops like you did last time?" Frankie asked uncertainly from the door.

"No, I didn't call the cops, and how did you know about last time I lost my job?" She asked, looking pointedly at her son.

"I didn't mean to, but I overhead Hazel telling you that you were lucky to get a job at the bar after calling the cops last time, and since there were cops this time I thought you might have called them again," he answered, not looking at any of the adults.

"Honey, laws are made to protect people, and my last boss was breaking some of them and endangering other people because of it, I had to call the police and tell them. Mike wasn't endangering anyone with what he did, but he was helping some people hurt themselves, and I wasn't going to help him do that," She explained.

"I take it your last boss served minors as well and you called the police on him?" Control inquired.

"I didn't know he was until I saw the kids leaving and the next morning they were in the paper after a drunk driving accident. I called the police and told them where the kids had gotten the drinks. They looked into it and pulled Sam's license."

"Good for you, Nancy," Frank said, proud of his daughter for doing the right thing even when it meant her job.

"Mom, is the school bus going to come and get me from here?" Frankie asked suddenly looking nervous.

"Well, I called your school and talked to your teacher and since there is nothing important on the schedule today, you get to stay with us," Nancy informed the boy.

"Then can we have pancakes for breakfast?" Frankie asked, beaming that he was going to be spending time with the grandpa and cousin instead of going to school.

"Sure we can, sport; you still like everything omelets, Nan?" The graying man asked his daughter.

"Yes, Daddy, I still like those, although I'm surprised you remembered that I like them," she replied with surprise.

"I remember a lot of things, baby," the general smiled, wishing that he had let her know when she was a child just how much he made a habit of knowing about her.

"Your friend, Josh! He was the one you told about grandpa being a general!" Frankie said out of the blue as the group headed out.

"Actually it was his mother I mentioned it to, and how on earth did you know that?" Nancy asked in shock. She hadn't seen Josh for a couple of years probably, and had only met his mother a few times.

"I overheard the two of you talking," Frankie admitted sheepishly.

"You overhear more than you should," Nancy chided him gently.

"I don't mean to, but it's hard not to hear all of the conversations at home, and at Josh's I was coming in the room to ask you something when I heard you mention a general," Frankie explained, not wanting his mom, worse grandpa, to think he had been eavesdropping.

"Well, you remembered most of the conversation right," Nancy said, smiling and hugging her son who was in back with her.

"What brought about your mentioning Uncle Frank?" Control asked, his insatiable curiosity aroused.

"We'll I was meeting a boyfriend's mother. She had never liked me because in her opinion I was not in their class. But, Josh really wanted me to meet her, so I agreed to come to his house for the day and meet her," Nancy began.

"Doesn't sound like a very pleasant woman," The general commented, as they entered a Perkins restaurant.

"She wasn't. We were having coffee in the kitchen, trying to make polite conversation, and I saw a picture on the wall. I commented that it was a good picture of her husband in front of a B-52. She was amazed that I knew what kind of plane it was and asked me how I knew. I figure that we had finally hit on something in common and commented that my father had been in the military before he retired," Nancy continued, while buttering her toast.

Control muttered something under his breath at that, that he had heard China use for Jason Masur more than once.

"She snorted and said that her husband was a major who flew bombers, not some airman who picked up airstrips and did guard duty. I told her that was all right, because my Daddy wasn't an airman he was a three star general who not only flew bombers, but led the missions the bombers were on," Nancy laughed at the memory.

"I bet she didn't like hearing that," Frank chortled, before taking a bite of his scrambled eggs.

"Actually she didn't believe her," Frankie added sullenly while eating his pancakes.

"She did in the end, sweetheart. Josh's dad had come in and heard me say my dad was a general. He asked who my dad was, so I told him your name, Daddy. Well, it seems that he remembered you. I guess you had flown a mission with him once and he was very impressed. He had always been nice to me, and after that he really thought I was great," Nancy finished.

"I take it things didn't work out with Josh?" Frank asked. He hadn't seen evidence of a boyfriend, but that didn't mean there wasn't one in the picture somewhere. If there was, she would probably not have a been so quick to want to leave the area though, he reasoned.

"No, his mother never liked me much and he always did what she told him to," she explained. "I haven't really tried dating again since then," she replied in a tone decisive enough for there not to be any more questions about it.

"I'm sorry, honey," the general sympathized.

"Mom, when are we going to move?" Frankie asked a few moments later, breaking the silence that had descended like a fog over the table.

"How soon can you be ready for us, Daddy?" she asked.

"As soon as you can come, I'll be ready for you. Do you have a lot of things to wrap up here?" He asked.

"I rent by the month so I have until the thirty-first there. Other than Frankie's school, there's nothing that needs to be done here," she said, suddenly aware of how empty her life must seem.

"Well, If Frankie can start Christmas break a week early, you could come home with me now," the general offered quietly, hoping that she wouldn't think he was pushing.

"I could hire a moving company to follow with your furniture and things," Control offered.

"Not a whole lot of what we have is worth taking," Nancy admitted with a sigh.

"Well, if you want to come now, John and I can arrange for the Salvation Army to come and get the furniture, while you pack up what you want to take.

"Okay, let me make a few calls and we might be ready to go tomorrow," Nancy smiled, suddenly realizing just how possible it would be to move that fast.

"Does this mean that I can go in the plane?" Frankie asked excitedly.

The three adults chuckled at the child's enthusiasm.

"Yes, when we move we'll be flying to our new home," Nancy assured him.

"Since you and I have calls to make, Nancy, why don't we go back to the hotel and make our calls and Uncle Frank and Frankie can go find boxes. Then after lunch you and Frankie can pack while we haul the furniture downstairs for the Salvation Army?" Control offered, taking a last sip of his coffee.

"Sounds like a good plan," she agreed.

Having received their marching orders, the troops filed out to tackle the day. Or rather, three walked out while the youngest bounced out begging his grandfather for another story, and the oldest happily complied, telling one of his well known stories to a new audience.

"Between having you back in his life and having Frankie around, Nan, I think the general is about fifteen years younger than when he arrived here," Control chuckled.

"I think he's going into his second childhood or something," she smirked.

"Considering some of the tales my mother has told me about things he did as a child, I certainly hope he isn't going into a second childhood," Control responded with a snort, his eyes dancing.

"I have no idea what he was like as a child," Nancy said sadly. She had always wondered what he had been like when a youngster, but simply could not imagine her father as anything but a three start general.

"Well," the spy began once he saw that the odd couple were far enough ahead not to hear, "The story I remember most was about the time that Uncle Frank and some neighbor boys were playing together. They got the great idea of playing some kind of war game. Of course to do that they had to have a hostage, and my mother was chosen. I don't know if she was aware that she was chosen or not, but at any rate she became the hostage and was properly tied up so she couldn't get away."

"Why does it not surprise me that he would, even as a child have been playing a game like that," Nancy said, shaking her head.

"I got the impression that the other boys picked the game, and war is anything but a game to the general. He has lost far too many friends and seen too many people die to think of war as anything glamorous or fun," Control responded rather sharply.

"You're right, I'm sorry;" She apologized contritely,

"The boys continued playing and were finally called in to lunch. Granddad looked around the table and saw he was short one daughter. He very calmly asked Uncle Frank if he had seen Becca anywhere that morning. The three boys all went white as they realized that they had forgotten their hostage back in her jail. The boys were informed that lunch was not going to be served until they were ALL at the table so they had best go and rescue the hostage immediately. The problem was when they went to get her, the boys couldn't remember exactly where it was they had stashed her."

"Daddy had lost aunt Becca?" Nancy asked, doubled over laughing.

"We hadn't lost her, just temporarily misplaced her," came a growl from in front of them.

"Sounds to me like you lost her, Daddy," Nancy countered, still laughing.

"She was eventually found and no damage was done," the general responded, maintaining his dignity in spite of his nephew and daughter laughing while his grandson looked at him in shock.

"Five men from neighboring farms had to be called in to help search, before mom eventually decided that she would not be in trouble for wandering off the farm and climbed out of the hayloft where she was hiding, to tell grandma exactly what had happened," the younger man remarked.

"They had to call in help, and she was in the hayloft the entire time?" Frankie laughed.

"The farm is a big place, and she was a little girl, so they had to have help if they were going to find her," Control explained.

"Everything would've been fine if she'd stayed where we put her," the general complained, winking at the boy next to him and enjoying the laughter of his family.

"Why hadn't anyone looked in the barn for her?" Frankie asked, slightly confused; that seemed the first place to look.

"They had looked there, sport, but mom was afraid she would have been in trouble, so she hid from the people who looked in," Control illuminated.

The general snorted, sending his daughter and grandson into peals of laughter again.

"Why did she think she would be in trouble?" Frankie asked, still confused.

"She wasn't allowed out of the fenced yard, and we had taken her out of the yard, so she thought if mom knew she had been out she would get in trouble," Frank explained, coughing slightly.

"Oh, I bet you were popular once the entire story was known," Nancy chuckled.

"I admit that I was opting to eat meals standing for a bit after that," Frank confessed, smirking.

"I can imagine," John retorted, smiling.

"If Becca saw fit to share that memory, I just bet she didn't tell you about the time that she was coming home late from a date she wasn't suppose to be on in the first place," Frank began as the group piled into his nephew's rental and headed to the hotel, now laughing at the story about a young lady trying to sneak in a window that was now locked. It was a good morning.


"Mom, we're home!" Frankie called as he and his grandfather entered the boy and his mother's apartment.

"How did the calls go?" Frank asked, looking around and trying not to think about his daughter and her son living in this place.

"The Salvation Army will be here around two, we just have to have the things that are going, downstairs," Control informed the group.

"With the ice on the stairs, it'll be a trick, but we'll figure out a way get it done," Nancy assured him. "After school lets out, Frankie and I need to go to the school and get his desk cleared out and return his school books. I said I would call from the farm and let them know what school to send his records to."

"Nan, we've got the boxes, so you and Frankie work on packing, and John and I'll get the furniture down," the general informed her, not wanting to think about her on that ice carrying heavy furniture. He and John would find away to get the stuff down.

"Most of what we're taking is clothes and knickknack things. Frankie, why don't you get your clothes together and we can use our clothes to wrap the breakables in," she instructed.

The child excitedly ran off to get his clothes. They were really going to do this. He and mom were going to go and live on a farm with his grandpa, and they were flying there in grandpa's plane!

"Nan, do you want to keep any of the furniture?" Her cousin asked.

"No, I got it all at the Salvation Army and none of it's worth hauling it across the state," she stated.

"How about your kitchen things?" Frank asked. The women he had known could be very particular about their kitchen equipment.

"Unless there are things you don't have, may as well send those with the furniture."

"If we want to get it done, we had best get at it," the general informed his nephew, as he went to prop the front door open.

As he returned to his daughter's apartment he saw a young woman in front of the other apartment door. She was in her early twenties and balancing a baby on her hip, while holding a bag and trying to fish her keys out of her purse. Smiling he took the bag for her, freeing her to get the keys.

"Thanks," she said timidly as she dropped her purse inside the door and took the bag. As he handed her the bag, he saw that there was nothing in the apartment. It struck him that at one time this had probably Nancy as well; young, alone with a baby, and no money for anything.

"Honey, the woman across the hall is a young single mother and doesn't have anything. I was thinking maybe we could see if she would like the furniture we're getting rid of," he asked. The stuff was Nancy's so it would be her call.

"That's a good idea, daddy, I'll go over and ask her," she agreed, heading across the hall. It would be nice to help out her neighbor, she had been in that position when she had first moved here.

A few moments later she came back. "She would love to have anything we can offer."

The woman shyly smiled at Frank and John a few moments later as they hauled a couch over. Half an hour later she had two beds, a table and chairs, and a television, as well as two bookcases. Nancy had brought over one of the boxes full of the kitchen supplies.

Tears in her eyes, the young mother thanked them for their kindness in giving her the desperately needed items.

"Thanks for thinking of that Daddy, it was a really good idea," Nancy said, hugging her father. John smiled at them from the phone where he was canceling the Salvation Army pick up.

"She got what she needed, and I didn't have to kill myself moving furniture down those stairs," the general chuckled.

"We all won," John agreed, helping Frankie get his things together.

"Um, Nan, these are Frankie's clothes?" The General asked quietly, seeing the badly warn and too small clothes the boy was bringing out.

"Dad, he's a tall boy and good will is all I can afford," she responded, embarrassed. She knew that Frankie needed better clothes, but she couldn't do any better right now.

"I'd like to get him some new clothes, if you don't mind," he asked, knowing how it might sound, and hoping she wouldn't be offended. He was proud of how well she had done, but living paycheck to paycheck was hard at best. "I'm really proud of how well you've done, I know it isn't easy living check to check and I would like to do that for him."

"If you want to, that would be great," she agreed, her smile assured the older man that he had not offended her.

On the counter next to her, waiting to be carefully wrapped, was a photo of a young man in a bomber jacket with a cap on, standing in front of a bomber. He still remembered the day that Mary had taken that picture. It had been a nice summer day and he had actually been able to get away. He had checked on the Lily's repairs before they headed out and she got a picture of him in front of his beloved plane. It had been a good day. Neither one had known that he would be shot down on his next mission, resulting in his being a POW. So many times, the memory of that day had gotten him through until his release.

"I didn't know you kept a photo of me," he said as she took the picture and wrapped it in a towel.

"I got this one from Aunt Becca when I was a child. I liked it, so she gave it to me, and when I left I took it with me. I don't know why I did, but I'm glad I brought it along," she explained.

Another photo caught his eye; walking over, he picked it up. A short, red haired woman in shorts and a t-shirt smiled back at him. She was sitting on a log outside of a tent. He had forgotten how much they loved camping before Nancy came along.

Biting his lip, he brushed his finger against her cheek. "I still miss her, Nancy."

"I know dad, I loved her too," Nancy responded, hugging her father. Only a few short days ago she would have laughed if you had told her she and her father would be sharing their grief over her dead mother.

He handed her the photo, after one more look, and she lovingly wrapped it and placed it next to the first.

"Daddy, could you hand me my cigarettes?" Nancy asked as she picked up a picture of Frankie as a baby and wrapped it.

"When did you pick up this vice?" Frank asked, a slight look of disappointment. Hopefully she hadn't learned it from him, he had been smoking most of his adult life.

"About the same time I left home, but at least everything I smoke now is legal," she quipped back.

Balling his hands and closing his eyes, the general turned slowly around. "You lied to me. I trusted you and you lied to me," he stated in a soft, chilled voice.

"Nancy, Uncle Frank, why don't I take Frankie out for his clothes and to do his errands at school while you two discuses this in private?" Control offered. He had lied to his uncle once as a child, the results had not been good. His parents had found out and after they had finished with him, had handed him over to his uncle.

"Thanks, that's a good idea," Nancy thanked her cousin. She and her dad had best have this out now, and there was no reason for Frankie to be a witness to it. She hadn't thought about what she was saying before offering her flip answer, but this was probably for the best.

"Does this mean that we're not going to live with grandpa?" Frankie asked, sniffing. He had really, really wanted to go and live on a farm and get to know his grandpa who was a three star general and a war hero.

"No," came his answer in two part harmony.

"Looks like you're stuck with me, sport," Frank smiled down, ruffling his grandson's hair. Frankie beamed up at him, reassured.

"I did something bad when I was younger, and grandpa and I have to work it out, sweetheart, that's all," Nancy told her son, hugging him as he got his jacket on.

Reassured that his family was staying together, the boy followed his cousin out the door.

"You. Promised. Me. You. Were. Not. Doing. Drugs!" the general bit off each word, never getting louder, but with each one getting colder.

"Yes, I did," Nancy admitted, not looking at her father. She had always known his zero tolerance for drugs, but as a teenager hadn't cared and hadn't figured he cared much what she was doing. As a parent herself, she knew how wrong she had been.

"Why? Why did you..." he began, stopping as he saw tears in her eyes. He had seen her defiant, angry, hurt, he had even seen her happy a few times, but this was the first time he had ever seen her cry. At least the first time since her mother had died.

"Why did I use? I don't know, I was hurting and it made the pain go away for a while, I guess," she answered quietly.

"You did drugs, and I used scotch; neither one of us handled it well. What I was wondering, though, was why you lied to me," He told her as he laid a hand on her shoulder, uncertain if she would welcome a hug right now.

"With the way you felt about drugs? You would have ranted and raved at me for all night and grounded me for a month at least; but you would not have been interested in why," she explained, surprised at his having so easily accepted that she had used and even more surprised that he had asked why.

"You're right that I would have ranted and raved, and punished you; but I also would have asked why. And pain, sweetheart, is something I would have understood," he corrected her.

She had never heard her father sounding as tired, and as old as he did right now. Turning to him, she saw how hard her absence had been on him. Wordlessly, she turned and hugged him.

"I'm sorry I lied to you, daddy," She said, unable to think of anything else, and unaware that she didn't need to say anything else.

"I'm sorry that you didn't think I would listen or understand," he replied, hugging her back, relieved that she was part of his life again.

They stood holding one another. Instead of the anticipated fight they had found forgiveness, peace, and a brighter future.



John Smith smiled and soaked the morning in. He really and truly enjoyed time with his family. He tried not to think about the fact that in only a few days he would be heading to Prague with Robert, and at the very least would be gone for a couple of months.

The women were in the kitchen getting ready for the huge dinner they would be eating that afternoon. Becca, Annie, and China were all great cooks, and Nancy was eagerly learning from the trio. China's offerings to the table were unpronounceable to anyone but her, but were evidently a traditional holiday meal in the islands where her mother was from.

Frankie was still in shock from all his gifts, but could not have been happier. He had gotten a train set from Paul and his family. He had to wait to get home to set it up, but that was fine, since at the moment he was busy playing with a black puppy that had been a gift from hid grandfather.

All the women had ohhed and aaahed over the black pearl earrings and matching necklace China had received from Control, who had been properly kissed in thanks, even if the whole family was watching.

All in all a good Christmas.

"Thanks for your help," came a rumble from behind him.

"You're welcome, Uncle Frank, all I did was find her, though; you were the one who convinced her to rejoin the family," Control said, accepting with gratitude the cup of coffee the older man was holding out.

The two men sat in quiet companionship, enjoying the day and watching the kids out playing with the puppy.

"How are they doing?" Control asked.

"Well, she's got a part time job as a file clerk and is also working part time in the local diner. She's really liking both jobs," Frank answered, his voice radiating joy.

"I'm glad to hear it, How's Frankie adjusting?"

"Like a duck to water. He's already made friends with the sons of one of the men I board horses for," the general replied.

"You gave me my family back, son, you have any plans on getting one for yourself?" the older man asked with a slight smile, as he thought about hte looks his nephew and Chia nhad been sharing

"Actually I am planning on it. I have to go on a trip for a while but when I get back, I'm going to see just how insane China is. Hopefully she's crazy enough for take me," Control admitted.

"Good man," the general responded, clasping his nephew on the shoulder. He was glad that John had found someone who was as well suited to him as Mary had been to him before her death.

`"Looks like the youngsters are starting a snowball fight," Control commented.

"So they are, not very good at it though, are they," the older man agreed, smiling evilly.

Not saying a word, Control followed his uncle out to the hall, and into his outerwear.

Moments later, the kids were squealing and running with the pup yipping and chasing everyone about in a four way free for all snow war. Before long, the other men were joining in as well, while the women watched chuckling in the house, commenting on the `big kids' who were as bad as the little ones.

It was a merry Christmas, indeed.

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