The Good Samaritan
Zoey Traner

Papa Bear Awards 20052005 Papa Bear Awards - Second Place
Best Drama

Papa Bear Awards 20052005 Papa Bear Awards - Second Place
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Sergeant Andrew Carter

Papa Bear Awards 20052005 Papa Bear Awards - Second Place
Best Overall Story

Papa Bear Awards 20072007 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Lifetime Getaway Award


Another plot bunny bone tossed onto the pile.




PG for swearing.


“But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity.”

Luke 10:33 Good News Bible




“Did you hear that?” Carter asked, pausing and looking back over his shoulder.


“No, I did not hear that,” Newkirk replied, shortly. He glanced back at Carter, grumbled as he saw his friend wasn’t moving.


“I heard something,” Carter persisted, starting to retrace their path.


“Oh, no, you don’t!” Newkirk snagged Carter by the arm and started pulling him along again. “We’re running late as it is, mate. The guv’nor’s going to have our guts for garters.”


“You just want to get back to the card game in Barracks Three.” Carter shook off Newkirk’s hand. “I know I heard something,” he said under his breath. “I know I did.”


“Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t. But we really are running late and we really will catch hell from the guv’nor if we don’t pick up our feet and fast!” Newkirk started off again, snapping out, “Move your arse, Andrew!”


Carter chewed on his lip, torn between what he should do and what he felt compelled to do. Duty lost out. With a deep breath, already bracing himself for the future lecture, he turned back. He knew he had heard something and until he found out what, he wasn’t going back to camp.


He had gone only a short distance when the moon slipped out from behind a cloud, giving him good light to see by. Carter stopped, momentarily transfixed. From between some thick bushes, a trembling, blood-stained hand rose into the air as if reaching for him, then fell limp back to earth.


“Oh, boy . . .” Carter breathed. A hoarse, pain-filled moan answered him. He hurried forward and dropped to his knees, carefully took hold of the outstretched hand.


“Hang on,” he said soothingly to the yet unseen man. “This is probably going to hurt, but I got to get you out of there.”

“What do you think you’re doing?!?”


Ignoring Newkirk, Carter started pulling the stranger out of the bushes by the hand. “Help me. He’s hurt.”


Newkirk watched in disbelief for a few moments, then rolled his eyes and pushed his friend out of the way. “Leave off. You’ll go and strain your back again.” Taking hold of the man’s hand and arm, Newkirk dug his heels in and pulled. The man slid into view, head lolling limply toward one shoulder.


“Bloody hell!” Newkirk hissed, dropping the hand and backing away. Carter gasped and jumped to his feet.


It looked like the Gestapo colonel had been used as a punching bag. His face was purple and red with bruises. Both eyes were swollen shut and crusted with blood and his hair was plastered to his head by a combination of blood and dirt. His uniform was in shreds and his boots and gun belt were gone.


“What -- ” Carter swallowed thickly. “What is he doing here?”


“Who cares?” Newkirk grabbed Carter by the shoulders and spun him around, away from the Gestapo officer. “Leave him!”


Carter balked. “We can’t do that!”

“Oh, no?” Newkirk pointed to the unconscious man. “He would just as soon shoot us as breathe the same air we do. LEAVE HIM!”


“He could die!”


“Good riddance to bad rubbish!” Newkirk grabbed Carter again. “We’re leaving!”


Carter slapped Newkirk’s hands off. “What if he’s not really Gestapo?”


“Eh?” Newkirk glanced down at the man and frowned. “You mean . . . what if he’s . . . one of us?”


“Yeah! We wear Gestapo uniforms all the time for missions. He could be with the Underground. Maybe he got hurt on a mission. Maybe. . .” Carter stared down at the battered, bloody face. “Maybe,” he whispered. “He was trying to make it to us and this was as far as he got.”


Newkirk slowly moved closer, eyes narrowing in thought.


Seeing his opportunity, Carter went to the downed man. “Either way, I’m not leaving him here to die. So help me or just leave.”


“Blimey, I hope we don’t regret this,” Newkirk groaned, moving to help.



* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


“Most people bring home dogs and cats,” Hogan growled in disgust. “You bring home Gestapo!”


“He may not be Gestapo, sir.” Carter’s voice was timid, but he met his commander’s glare with straightforward determination.


“Already had this argument,” Newkirk said, the cigarette in his mouth bouncing with his words.


“Even if he is, that’s no reason to leave him to die, just because he may be Gestapo-- ”


“And a danger to us,” Kinch interjected.


“He’s still a person!” Carter glanced back at the man, now lying on a cot, covered by a thin blanket. “Can’t you all see that even if he is German and Gestapo, he’s more than that?”


LeBeau got right in his face. “Do you think he would stop to help you? Non!”


“That doesn’t matter,” Carter answered simply.


“What about down the line?” Kinch pointed out. “What do we do with him then?” Carter’s face momentarily went blank.


“If he is Gestapo, we can’t let him go once he’s all better.” LeBeau’s slightly mocking voice turned cold. “Better you left him to die.”


Newkirk paused with his cigarette at his lips, gazed at Carter in puzzlement. “We blow up Gestapo like him all the time, Andrew. Why all the fuss about this one?”


“Good question.” Hogan leaned back against the wall, waited for the answer. Carter’s head lowered and he appeared to gather his thoughts. Finally, he looked up and directly into Hogan’s eyes again.


“He was all alone out there. He’d been beaten and he was bleeding and then we came along. In that whole woods, Colonel, with all the paths we could have taken to get back here, we walked by that exact spot.” Carter paused. “I happen to believe that wasn’t a coincidence, sir.”


“You mean,” Kinch said slowly. “You believe that you were meant to find him?”


Carter shrugged, but offered no further explanation. Newkirk mumbled around his cigarette, took great interest in the beam running across the tunnel’s ceiling. The subject of their debate lay quiet, completely unaware of the battle being waged on his behalf by a compassionate young man whom he had never met.


Hogan thought for a moment, then with a half-smile smile, said, “All right, Carter, you can keep him. Just be sure to feed him, water him, and clean up after him.”


Carter laughed. “Yes, sir!”


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


“Well? Is he or isn’t he?” Newkirk leaned a shoulder against the doorframe, watched Carter watch the man they had brought back with them.


“Is he what?” Carter gently worked at the blood crusted around the man’s fingernails.


“Ruddy Gestapo, that’s what!” Newkirk snapped.


Carter threw a quick look in his direction, then returned to his self-appointed task. “I don’t know. He hasn’t woken up yet.”


Newkirk sullenly eyed the recumbent form on the cot. O’Malley, their camp medic, had been by, had checked the man over and declared he would live. Their unexpected guest appeared better than when they had found him – but not by much. The swelling around his eyes seemed to have worsened and the bruises had darkened to an ugly black. The man’s breathing was slightly labored, but O’Malley had assured Carter that none of the broken ribs had punctured a lung.


“It’s probably just the pain,” O’Malley said, patting Carter on the back before gathering his supplies and leaving the room.


“What are you going on about there?” Newkirk demanded, fed up with watching his friend wait hand and foot on a man Newkirk fully believed to be a threat. “You going to wash his feet next, Andrew? Give him a pedicure or such?”


“Stop it, Newkirk,” Carter said in a low voice.


Carter suddenly froze in horror. Two of the man’s fingernails were gone. The exposed nail beds were raw, inflamed, looked like raw meat. He felt a moment of anger that O’Malley had not caught the injury in his quick examination. It had almost seemed to Carter that the Irishman had not wanted to spend any more time on the man than necessary. Swallowing hard, Carter gently laid the cleaned hand on the bed and moved on to the next. He glanced at Newkirk, disappointed that his friend was acting so callously.


“Why are you here, anyway?”


Newkirk came off the door post like a shot. “I’m here to make certain that he hasn’t bloody well wrung your scrawny neck, that’s why! Why are you here? You don’t even know the --”


Carter slowly shook his head, kept his eyes fastened upon his task. “It doesn’t matter.”


“Why do you keep saying that?” Newkirk snapped.


“Because it’s true,” Carter calmly replied.


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *



Hogan and Kinch stood in the tunnel, shamelessly listening to the argument.


“That’s our Carter,” Kinch said with evident fondness. “Always ready to believe the best of everyone until proven wrong.”


“Why couldn’t it have been a frog?” Hogan plaintively asked. “Or a raccoon? Or even one of those ratty-things we saw the other night?”


Kinch grinned. “That was an opossum. You aren’t into nature very much, are you sir?”


“Oh, I don’t know,” Hogan leered. “I like the birds and bees.”


Chuckling, Kinch leaned forward slightly, peeked down the tunnel past Benson, who was standing guard, and into the room. Looking back at Hogan, he said, “I checked around like you asked, sir.”


“Anybody missing?”


“Not so far as we know at this point. Some of Tiger’s people are out of contact for a few days, but she’ll talk with them when they get back.”


“A few days,” Hogan grumbled, somber now.


Neither said anything for a few moments, then in a quiet voice, Kinch asked, “Would you have left him?”


“I’ve been asking myself the same question.” Hogan’s gaze became distant. Enough time passed that Kinch realized an answer was not coming. Clearing his throat, he pulled Hogan’s attention back to the tunnel.


“You know, I hope Carter’s right and he is with the Underground. It would sure neatly tie up our problem.”


“Well,” Hogan drawled, his sense of humor coming out again. “If he is with the Underground, they’ll have to identify him. Otherwise, we won’t give him back. After all the trouble Carter went to for him, we wouldn’t want him going to a bad home.”


Kinch laughed, was about to comment, when Carter’s cry caused them both to tense and turn toward the room.


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *



Carter was just picking himself off the floor when Hogan and Kinch ran into the room.  Newkirk was hunched over the cot, struggling to keep the now awake and fighting man under control.


“ ~It’s all right! ~” Carter called out as he rushed back to the cot. “~ We won’t hurt you! ~”


Even with his arms trapped against his sides by Newkirk’s unrelenting grip, the man kept trying to strike out. His body bucked and twisted, grunts of pain peppering his incoherent raving. His legs randomly kicked out, rocking Newkirk and sending the blanket billowing to the floor. Kinch jumped forward and using his weight, pinned the flailing legs down. Breathing heavily from the effort of maintaining his hold, Newkirk took a moment to throw a look of disgust in Carter’s direction. 


“Still think he’s on our side?”


The man’s head suddenly flew back and with a gasp, he went limp. Wary of a trick, Newkirk and Kinch kept their positions a few moments longer, then cautiously released their grips and eased back.


“He’s out again,” Newkirk muttered, wiping the back of his hand across his forehead.


Absently rubbing the side of his face, Carter retrieved his cap from the floor and placed it back on his head. Hogan picked up the blanket and threw it back over the man, tugged it down to cover the stocking feet.


Taking Carter by the chin, Kinch turned his head to the side. One cheekbone bore a reddened scrape. “That’s going to hurt.”


“He didn’t mean to hit me,” Carter murmured, pulling back.


Newkirk paused in the act of smoothing his hair into place. “Oh, he bloody well meant to, all right!”


“He’s been beaten and tortured and he doesn’t know where he is!” Carter fired back with rare exasperation. “Wouldn’t you come up fighting?”


Hogan casually put himself between Carter and Newkirk, forcing both men to take a step back. “What’s this about torture?”


Carter carefully lifted the man’s hand off the blanket and held it out for them to see. “Look.” He pointed out the two fingers missing nails. The others gathered closer and Newkirk could not help wincing in sympathy. LeBeau entered the room, leaned toward the cot and took a brief look at the ravaged fingers.


“That could have happened in a fight.”


Carter sighed, then went still when the man moaned and restlessly tossed his head. Seconds passed without further response and Carter returned the limp hand to the blanket.


LeBeau started to speak, but Hogan held up his hand, cutting him off. With a nod toward the door, he drew everyone out of the room, past Benson and further down the tunnel.


“Carter said it himself,” Hogan told them, lowering his voice. “He doesn’t know where he is. Let’s keep it that way until we know who we’re dealing with here. No names in his presence, and say nothing that might give away our operation.” He turned to LeBeau. “Has Baker heard from London?” 


“Oui. They are still waiting to hear from a few of their agents, but none of them fit his description anyway. The rest of their agents in this area are accounted for or made their scheduled check-ins.”


Hope bloomed on Carter’s face. “What about the ones out of this area who might have come into this area for some reason and who might have been on their way back out of the area?”


“I must be tired,” Newkirk muttered, grimacing. “I almost followed that.”


“How about the Gestapo?” Kinch tossed out. “Any unusual activity?”


LeBeau shrugged. “None has been reported, but who can tell with them?”


“No talk from anyone about beating up one of Hitler’s goons?” Newkirk asked, pulling out a cigarette. “Anyone bragging?”


“It’s not exactly something I’d want to brag about,” Kinch noted. Grimly, he added, “That kind of talk could have terminal consequences.”


“As in getting dead as an ever-loving doornail,” Newkirk commented, striking a match with a flick of his thumbnail.


A thoughtful expression came over Kinch’s face. “If this guy is Gestapo, suppose one of us --”


“Hey, now,” Newkirk protested, hurriedly shaking out the match before it could burn his fingers. “Don’t include me in this supposing you’re doing.”


Kinch made a sour face. “Hypothetically speaking; with ‘us’ being any member of the underground.”


Newkirk shook his head, took a long drag of the cigarette. “Wouldn’t catch me doing anything so stupid.”


“We wouldn’t?” Hogan asked, eyebrows raised. “Think about it. In the heat of the moment, aren’t any of us capable of doing something we normally wouldn’t?”


Kinch slowly nodded. “Given the right circumstances.”


“I could.” The low, harsh tone of LeBeau’s voice momentarily drew everyone’s attention to him. He gazed back, stone-faced.


“The same could be said of me,” Hogan admitted. “Passion can drive us beyond normal boundaries. Even to something we wouldn’t normally dream of doing. Reason can go right out the window. Maybe that’s what happened with this guy.”


“A mob, you mean?” Newkirk asked.


“Or someone with a whole lot of anger. LeBeau, given enough anger and adrenaline, could take down someone Kinch’s size barehanded.”


LeBeau put up his hands in fighting stance and playfully danced back and forth in front of Kinch, who parried a mock blow, then deftly took him in a headlock. LeBeau laughed from beneath Kinch’s arm, slapped at his friend’s stomach.


“I feel like Goliath taking on David,” Kinch chuckled, barely moving from LeBeau’s attempts to get free. Relenting, he let up and LeBeau mock-bowed to him in defeat.


“That wasn’t even a fight,” Carter suddenly spoke up. “David had God on his side. Goliath never had a chance.”


“Well,” Hogan said, serious once more. “By the look of this guy, he could have ended up like Goliath if Carter hadn’t found him.” He looked in the direction of the room. “Better get him tied up while he’s still out, Kinch.”


“But, Colonel--” Carter protested.


“Standard procedure. You wouldn’t have gotten decked if he’d been tied in the first place.”


Carter’s shoulders sagged and his gaze lowered to the floor. “Yes, sir.”


Hogan considered Carter’s bowed head, then silently indicated the other men should leave. After they had gone, Hogan gripped the back of Carter’s neck, gently squeezed until he looked up.


“If this guy really is Gestapo, Carter, he gets shipped off just like everybody else. There will be no trying to make friends with him. No trying to convince him of the evils of the German empire to bring him over to our side. We treat him just like any other German P.O.W. He goes. As soon as possible. End of story. No arguments.”


“But --”


“That’s an order, Carter. Be satisfied that you saved his life.”


“Yes, sir,” Carter agreed softly. His gaze suddenly fastened upon Hogan with unusual intensity. “Would you have let him die, Colonel?”


Hogan gave a soft huff of laughter, crossed his arms. “The question of the day. I really can’t give you an answer, Carter. What matters is that you couldn’t. And we’ll deal with your decision one way or the other. Okay?”




Hogan put an arm around his shoulders. “Come on, let’s get some sleep.” He let out a sigh when Carter’s gaze slid back toward the room. “He’ll be okay.”


“But what if he wakes up again?”


“Benson will be there if he needs anything.”


“With all due respect, Colonel? No one around here has been even a little concerned about what he needs.”


Hogan studied him a moment, then in a dry tone, asked, “You wouldn’t sleep even if I did manage to get you out of here, would you?”


Carter gave him a small grin. “No, sir.”


“All right,” Hogan said with sudden conviction. “How about I get you some pillows and a blanket, and you promise to try and get some sleep down here. Deal?”


Carter’s grin turned full-blown. “Deal.”


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


Hogan rolled over, muttered furiously into the darkness. His treacherous mind would let him get to the very edge of sleep, only to jerk him back with thoughts of Carter sleeping in a chair in the tunnel. Throwing off the blanket, Hogan left the warmth of his bed, got dressed and walked out of his quarters.


His men’s breathing and assorted sleep sounds lent a peaceful atmosphere to the barracks. He paused for a moment, savoring the knowledge that on this night, every one of his men was safe. His hand touched the shirt over his chest, automatically searching out the crucifix that hung on a separate chain from his dog tags. The crucifix was the only piece of a rosary that had been destroyed beyond repair, dumped into a waste can during a moment of rage and overwhelming grief. Months ago, something had sent him digging into the bottom of his foot locker for the crucifix. He found it where he had banished it, buried deep beneath clothing and other personal affects. The first sight of it had caught him by surprise. The crucifix should have been dull from tarnish and disuse. Instead, it gleamed in the lamplight and as he held it higher, appeared to wink at him. He had sat on the floor beside his open footlocker long into the night, staring at the crucifix, lost in thought.


“Can’t sleep?”


The whispered question had come from his left, in Kinch’s distinctive voice.




“Going to check on him?”


“Yup. Go back to sleep.”


“Can’t go back to a place I haven’t been yet.”


“I hear you, buddy.”


Padding across the room on the balls of his feet, Hogan quietly opened the bunk entrance and went below.


Benson was still on watch outside of the German’s room, seated to one side of the doorway. Upon seeing Hogan, the look of boredom on his face changed to surprise and he jumped to his feet. Hogan hurriedly silenced him with a shushing gesture and peeked into the room holding the Gestapo officer. Carter was sound asleep in a chair beside the cot. His feet were sprawled out in front of him, his head was tilted back and soft, gurgling snores came from his open mouth. The pillow that Hogan had given him earlier lay crumpled on the floor beside the chair, having obviously fallen there.


“Ooh, that’s going to hurt,” Benson whispered as he peered past Hogan’s shoulder.


“Ooh, yeah,” Hogan whispered back, unconsciously rubbing his own neck in sympathy. He turned away from the scene. “I’ll be right back,” he told Benson, still keeping his voice down.


When he returned, he held two blankets. He spread one; let it drift to rest upon the blanket already covering Carter’s spare frame. Carter snuffled, gave a brief, rumbling snort, and went back to snoring. Hogan shared a grin with Benson, then went to the cot. The German’s sleep was an uneasy one, his bound hands twitching restlessly beneath his blanket. Hogan spread the other blanket upon him, performing the act as gently as he had with Carter. Satisfied that both men would be warmer now, Hogan went back into the tunnel.


“You all right?” he asked Benson. Before the other man could speak, Hogan put a finger to his own lips, reminding Benson to keep his voice down.


“Yes, sir. It’s just a little boring.” Benson considered a moment, then said, “A lot boring, actually.”


Hogan patted him on the shoulder. “How about some of LeBeau’s cookies to help ease the tedium?”


“Schultz didn’t get them all?”


“Nope. It pays to have a secret stash.”


Benson’s eyebrows went up. “Where could you have a secret stash around here?”


Hogan smiled. “If I told you, it wouldn’t be secret.”


After plundering his stash, Hogan gave Benson the cookies, wished him good night, and returned to his bed.



* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


“Hey!” hissed a voice into Carter’s ear, startling him awake.


He bolted to his feet and came eye to eye with Benson. The other man pointed urgently to his watch, then to the ceiling and mouthed, Roll call!


Carter nodded and immediately grabbed his neck, letting out a soft, “Ouch!” After working the painful kink out, he scrubbed his hands over his face, wincing at the thick feeling in his head. Sleeping in the tunnel always clogged his sinuses for days afterward. At least the numbness in his backside would fade in a few minutes – he hoped. Yawning, he stepped over the blankets puddled at his feet and shuffled to the cot. The German was still unconscious, head lolled to one side, face still swollen and painful looking. Carter put the back of his hand to the bruised forehead and was dismayed to find a fever.


A loud smacking sound made him jump and spin toward the door. Benson’s open hand was poised inches from the tunnel brace, ready to slap it again. His thunderous expression and exaggerated ‘hurry-up’ gesture emphasized time was short.


Carter quickly checked the ropes binding the German, then dashed into the tunnel.


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


“Nice of you to join us,” Newkirk grumbled as Carter fell into rank beside him. At the end of the first rank, Hogan glanced Carter’s way, said ‘Good morning’ by way of a wide smile. A sudden yawn interrupted Carter’s answering smile, but he was still able to wave, and at the yawn’s end, smiled back.


Ignoring the usual chatter, catcalls, and tomfoolery that accompanied roll calls, Carter let his thoughts return to the injured German - his responsibility. At least, that was the way he felt. Since he had brought the German into their midst, he would take care of him until there was no longer the need.


It’s only right, Carter thought, yawning so wide and for so long that his eyes watered.


Following roll call, everyone gathered in the barracks and LeBeau started serving breakfast. Carter stared at the double-portion on his plate. It was much more than he usually ate and he looked up at LeBeau in confusion.


“I have no extra plates,” LeBeau explained with a shrug. As he moved past Carter with another plate, he softly said, “Take whatever you don’t want to the Bosche.”


A grin spread across Carter’s face. Working with the same precision he used in making bombs, he divided the food into separate, equal portions, then tucked into his with gusto. LeBeau sat down to his own plate, affection softening his gaze as he watched Carter. 


“Who’s up next for guard duty?” Hogan asked, taking a bite of his meal.


Kinch consulted his notebook, drew his finger down the list until he reached a name. “Perkins.”


“All right. Have him take over from Benson.” He looked the length of the table at Carter. “Anything new to report?”


Carter hurriedly swallowed his mouthful, wiped his mouth. “No, sir. I’d feel a lot better if he’d wake up again.”


Hogan smiled. “He will when he’s ready.”


“Be nice if he’d get around to being ready soon,” Newkirk grumbled, stabbing at his food. “Might get some answers then.”


Kinch slowly shook his head. “Don’t count on it. You know how talkative Gestapo aren’t.”


Carter’s head jerked up. “We still don’t --”


“-- know if he’s bloody Gestapo,” Newkirk finished heavily. He put his elbow upon the table, raised that hand in the air. “Let’s take a vote, eh? Who here believes we are ruddy well coddling Gestapo? Who believes that we wouldn’t even be having this conversation if we had just left the bugger to die like we should have?”


The silence that dropped over the room was thick with tension and disapproval. Carter suddenly stood.


“If you’ll excuse me,” he said softly, eyes downcast. “He might be awake now. He should have this before it gets cold.” With that, he picked up the half-full plate of food and went below.


Roughly a dozen pairs of fixed upon Newkirk, the silence turning accusatory.


“Why did you do that?” LeBeau hissed, standing up from the table with a jerk. Newkirk’s mouth fell open in surprise, then his eyes narrowed and he stabbed a finger in LeBeau’s direction.


“You don’t want that Kraut here anymore than I do! Or was that some other short Frenchman that just last night was saying Carter should have left that Kraut to die?”


LeBeau tossed his metal plate into the washtub, sending water splashing onto the floor. “I still think he should not be here, but now that he is, we should support Carter.”


“Andrew’s the most compassionate guy I’ve ever met,” Olsen added from his bunk. “Asking him to ignore somebody in trouble is like asking the sun not to shine.”


Kinch nodded. “He did what he thought was right. Whether we would have made the same decision is beside the point. He’s our friend. And friends,” Kinch said, emphasizing the latter word by tapping his finger upon the table’s top. “stand by each other.”


Newkirk’s gaze flicked to the end of the table, seeking out his C.O.’s opinion. Hogan met his eyes squarely for a long moment, then got up from the table, walked into his quarters and closed the door.


“Oh, bloody hell,” Newkirk sighed, staring at the closed tunnel entrance.


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *



Carter stopped dead in the doorway, unknowingly letting out a gasp of surprise. Panic twisted the German’s sweaty face and he jerked and twisted even harder against the ropes binding him to the cot.


{  Stop!  } Carter cried, dropping the plate of food in his rush to the bed. { You’ll hurt yourself! }


It was if he had not spoken. The cot rocked with the German’s struggles, threatening to fall apart and toss him to the floor. Carter hesitated, then jammed his hands down on the heaving shoulders.


{ If I tell you where you are, will you stop? }


Gasping and pale, the German fell back on the cot. After a moment’s silence, he gave a single nod. Carter sighed in relief and straightened.


{ We found you in the woods. } Carter cleared his throat, put a little more strength into his voice. { We brought you here . . . and . . . I can’t really tell where ‘here’ is, but it’s safe. . . and we tied you down . . . well, because we thought it best. For everyone. You, included. } He sighed, touched his fingers to the bruise on his cheek. { But you’re safe here. We’re the good guys. }


The split lips twisted into a sneer, clearly expressing the man’s belief in that claim.


{ Really! } Carter protested. { We’re not the ones who did this to you. We -- } Carter stopped. For one brief instant, the German had appeared genuinely surprised. Carter’s stomach did a queasy lurch and roll as he contemplated what the other man must have endured. 


{ It must have been awful. }


The ravaged lips pressed tightly together, tension returning to the German’s body.


Carter winced, kicking himself for bringing up obviously painful reminders.


{ I’m sorry. }


The German did a full body twitch, as if hearing the apology had actually hurt. Carter’s jaw dropped in a soundless gasp of realization. Not a word had passed from the German’s mouth, yet he was still talking – with his body! Carter nibbled on his thumbnail, carefully thought out his next words. It was about time he found out who they were dealing with -- if only to settle the matter and his friend’s apprehension.


{ My friends think it’s dangerous for us that you’re here. I’m not so sure. Still, I understand why we can’t let you know exactly who we are or where you’re at. But we couldn’t leave you out there . . .  } Carter’s eyes narrowed. { . . . even if you are Gestapo. }


A stillness settled over the other man and Carter shook his head. So, the other man was Gestapo.


Carter sighed. Now, more than ever, it was unlikely the Gestapo officer would ever give his name. Yet Carter wanted to grant him the respect of at least calling him something. Tipping his head to the side, he squinted, trying to picture the German’s face without injuries.


{ What am I going to call you? How about . . . Frank? } He waited, hoping for some kind of response. { No? I didn’t think so, either. You don’t look like a Frank. Paul’s a good name. Nice and strong. Not Paul, either? Okay. What about Harry? Melvin? That was the name of the little boy down the street from us. He had red hair and thick glasses, but he was a really good speller, and . . . you don’t look a thing like him. Nope. You’re not a Melvin. }


The man remained stubbornly silent, though a slight tremor ran the length of his body again.


{ Jack! } Carter blurted, surprising himself. { Jack, } he repeated, feeling suddenly weighted down by sadness. { That was my brother’s name, } he softly explained. { It’s a good one, don’t you think?  } 


A convulsive swallow was the only answer he received. Carter decided to take that as a ‘yes’ and smiled broadly, leaving the melancholy behind.


{ Jack, it is! }


There was no answer to that, either, and Carter shrugged to himself. Silence had never bothered him.


{ Do you feel like sitting up? }


Knowing his C.O. and friends would give him grief for doing so, Carter nevertheless loosened the ropes binding Jack’s upper body to the cot. Moving slowly, he eased Jack upright and put some pillows behind him, bracing his back. Not a sound passed the German’s lips, but his face grew drawn and beaded with fresh sweat. Carter noticed the signs of distress and sat back, biting his lip.


{ I’m sorry I hurt you, Jack. }


The strain gradually faded from Jack’s face and his breath -- which had grown slightly ragged – grew quieter. Carter took hold of a damp cloth and leaned toward him.


{ I’m just going to wipe off your face, } he warned.


At the first touch of the cloth, Jack’s head jerked back and Carter jerked his hand back in sympathetic reaction. He waited a few moments for Jack to get used to the idea, then tried again. A muscle in the bruised jaw bunched and Jack’s breath quickened, but he submitted to the care.


Carter gently sponged the cloth over the bruises, doing his best not to wet the bandage on Jack’s cheekbone. The skin there had split wide open, directly along the bone. He swallowed, imagining the force behind a blow that would inflict such damage.


{ Gosh, that must hurt something fierce. }  


Jack licked his cracked lips and his hands clenched upon the blanket at his waist.


{ You must be thirsty, } Carter murmured. Laying the cloth aside, he picked up a cup of water and held it to Jack’s lips. { Here, this should taste good. }


Jack’s lips clamped together and he turned his head away. Carter glanced down at the cup.


{ It’s just water. I promise. }


Jack’s head stayed turned away.


It suddenly dawned upon Carter how galling the situation must be for the Gestapo officer. Not wanting to injure the other man’s pride any more than necessary, Carter sought a way around the problem.


{ How about this? } He nudged the cup between the bound, battered hands. { You can do it yourself, okay? }


The cup was accepted and Carter grinned. In the next moment, he had to lunge to his left to keep from getting beaned as the cup was thrown – hard. It crashed against the far wall, fell to the floor in a shower of liquid.


Perkins jumped through the doorway, gun drawn in a two-handed grip. Carter frantically waved him off, slipped back into English without thinking.


“It’s okay!”


Clearly thinking otherwise, Perkins’ took in Carter’s crumpled position on the floor and the overturned chair next to the bed. His hard eyes swung to Jack and narrowed.


“I’m not hurt!” Carter insisted, pushing up on one elbow. Perkins glanced in his direction, skewered Jack with another cold stare, then slowly backed out of the room.


Releasing his breath in a quiet ‘whoosh’, Carter pushed himself upright against the wall and laid his arms on his knees. “Guess you’re not thirsty after all,” he sighed. “Gosh, I wish you could see. Things would probably be a lot less scary for you.”


Jack’s brows slowly drew down and his head turned just a bit toward Carter.


“Hey,” Carter said in the soft tone of wonder. “You understood what I said.”


Instantly, the bruised face went blank. Carter grinned and sat up straighter.


“It’s okay to be scared. I get scared all the time. My friends do, too. They don’t say so, but I know they do. Everybody gets scared.” His grin slowly faded.  “There’s sure a lot to be scared about nowadays.” He sat back against the wall, shifted a little get comfortable. “Gosh. It seems like years and years since the worst thing I had to be scared about was whether Mom and Dad were going to tan my hide for not being home on time.” He thought a moment, then chuckled. “I guess it has been years and years.”


Carter righted his chair and sat down near the cot again.


“Do you have family?” He suddenly frowned to himself. “Oh. You probably don’t want to tell me anything about that, do you? That’s okay. You want to protect your friends and family. I would, too. I mean – I do, too. Protect my friends and family. When I can.” Carter sighed, looked down at the floor. “I can’t, always.” He glanced back up and grinned again. There was a definite tilt to Jack’s head now, as if he was trying to catch every word.


“My friends protect me, too,” Carter said, then his voice turned slightly wistful. “But sometimes, they try too hard. Like now.”


Jack’s frown returned, deeper than before.


“They think you’re going to hurt me.” Carter touched a finger to his scraped cheek, chuckled. “Well, technically, you already have, but you didn’t mean to. You can’t even see me, so it was just luck or bad timing, however you want to look at it.” He gave a one-shouldered shrug. “Even if you had meant to hit me, I wouldn’t hold it against you. You’ve been through a lot already.”


Jack’s head snapped toward Carter, his lips parting as if he were about to speak. Carter unconsciously leaned closer, but Jack was already settling back against the pillows, his expression once more closed. Carter breathed a sigh of disappointment and leaned back again.


“It always helps me to talk things out with my friends. Talking it out is like sharing the burden. What’s left afterward is lighter, easier to handle.”


Jack swallowed and his expression shifted. The bruises made it difficult to tell for certain, but Carter thought the battered face suddenly held a longing. He held his breath, sensing he was on the verge of a breakthrough.



* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


Someone cleared their throat. 


Instantly, the vulnerability vanished from Jack’s expression and he pressed back into the pillows, withdrawing again. Schooling the disappointment from his face, Carter looked toward the door. Newkirk impatiently motioned him into the tunnel.


Carter rolled his head on his shoulders, stood up and stretched his arms out to the side. “I’ll be right back.” He took a couple of steps, turned back. “You can call me Andrew.”


Jack raised his head, blindly looked in Carter’s direction and after a moment’s hesitation, nodded. It was a small gain in the battle to communicate with the officer, but it put a smile back on Carter’s face. The smile died when he turned and noticed the splattered remains of Jack’s breakfast near the door. Making a mental note to get more food, Carter stepped over the mess and into the tunnel.


“What is going through that head of yours telling Herr Kraut your name?!” Newkirk demanded once they had gone a short distance from Jack’s room.


The anger took Carter by surprise. “It was only my first name.”


Newkirk pointed in the general direction of Kinch’s radio room. “Gestapo is swarming over Hammelburg like black bees after honey. Seems one of their officers has gone missing. Two guesses who that must be and the first don’t count!” Newkirk suddenly stopped. “What are you looking so smug about?”


“I already knew he was Gestapo,” Carter said, stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets.


Newkirk’s face went slack with surprise. “How did you find out?”


Carter shrugged. “Jack told me.”


“Oh, then --” Newkirk did a double-take. “Jack tol — Jack?!” He braced his hands on his hips. “Who in the name of Samuel P. Hill is Jack?”


Carter took one hand from his pocket and pointed over his shoulder, in the direction of the room. “He is. Is Samuel P. Hill that new guy transferred in from Stalag 9?”


Newkirk gave him a long look through half-lidded eyes. “He told you his name.”


“The new guy?”


“Forget the new guy!” Newkirk ranted. “Did the ruddy Gestapo tell you his name!?”


“Well . . .” Carter waffled, wagging his head back and forth.


“Jack’s his name, then?”


“Yes.” Carter nodded. “And no.”


Newkirk’s eyes closed and he drew in a deep breath through gritted teeth. Carter scratched the bridge of his nose, shrugged again.


“Jack isn’t his real name. Well, it could be his real name, but I don’t think it is. He really didn’t say.”


That earned him another long look. “There’s an answer in here somewhere,” Newkirk muttered. “If I don’t go ‘round the twist, I may figure out what it is.”


“He wouldn’t tell me his name, so I gave him one,” Carter explained, thinking he was stating the obvious.


“Why?” Newkirk asked with forced patience.


“Well, what was I supposed to call him?” Mild irritation put an edge to Carter’s voice. “He needed a name so I gave him one because if he was me and I was him I’d want him to give me a name rather than calling me, ‘American soldier with no-name.’ ”


“You take the cake, mate,” Newkirk sighed, wearily shaking his head. “You really take the cake.”


That reminded Carter that Jack had not eaten. “Hey, could you ask Louis to bring down some more food? I dropped the plate.”


Newkirk blinked. “You dropped . . . you want me to . . .”


“Hey, guys . . .” Perkins calm, flat voice called in the distance. “Jack/not Jack is about to get himself loose.”



* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


Jack threw off the last rope binding his legs to the cot just as Carter and Newkirk ran into the room. Holding his still-tied hands before him, Jack swung his feet to the floor, lurched upright, swayed, and fell face to the floor. Carter carefully rolled him over and grimaced. The fall had bloodied Jack’s nose and the bandage over his cheek showed fresh spotting.


“Determined, I’ll give him that.” Newkirk helped Carter get their prisoner back to the cot. Unconscious, Jack offered no resistance while they tied him down again.


Newkirk gave each of the knots an experimental tug. Finding them secure, he turned a glare upon Carter. “We had the bugger tied up for a reason, you know.”


Carter dabbed at the blood on Jack’s face and said nothing. Newkirk’s glare intensified.


“Have a care, mate! This isn’t some rabbit to try and tame!”


Carter tossed the blood-stained cloth aside. “Look, New—Peter,” he corrected himself, remembering not to use his friend’s last name in Jack’s presence, even though the German was unconscious.


“And you!” Newkirk sharply called to Perkins. The other man stuck his head into the room, gave Newkirk an arched look. “What’s the idea of you just standing by while he’s getting loose in the first place?”


Perkins bristled. “So what if he had? I mean . . . look at the guy. My little sister could take him down with one punch.”


Suspicion sparked in Newkirk’s eyes. “That it, then?” he pressed. “You just looking for an excuse to get in a punch or two?”


Olsen suddenly appeared in the doorway behind Perkins. “What’s going on?” His gaze flashed past Newkirk and Carter to Jack and his face brightened with a grin. “Hey! So that’s him?” Turning sideways, he slipped past Perkins’ bulk and into the room. “Whoa! Pretty messed up, isn’t he?”


Tivoli and Maddux from Barracks Four came in after him, strode up to the cot. Tivoli’s beefy arms folded tight across his barrel chest and he glared down at Jack. “He doesn’t look like much.”


A look of unease passed between Carter and Newkirk. Tivoli was one of the camp’s biggest troublemakers – a perpetual thorn in Hogan’s side.


Jones from Barracks Three and Broughton from Barracks Nine – two of Tivoli’s friends -- entered the room and elbowed Newkirk to one side. Carter tried to intercept them, only to get knocked to the other side by Pasternak. Muttered comments flew fast and thick, an ugly mood building with each one. Tivoli’s voice rose above the others, inciting the other men further.


“You ask me, the only good Kraut is a dead Kraut.”


“That’s right. They’re all bloodthirsty bastards!”


“Gestapo’s the worst of them!”


“They should all die!”


Carter looked around in disbelief. Hate and rage had warped the faces of the men he knew and served with each day. Even happy-go-lucky Olsen seemed caught up in the swelling tide of ugliness.


Carter peered through the shifting crowd and managed to make eye contact with Newkirk. The situation was teetering on the brink of being completely out of control. Swallowing, Carter prepared to go against the tide of hatred.


Newkirk launched himself into the midst of the crowd. “What’s with you lot?!”


“What’s with you?” Tivoli’s black eyes raked him from head to toe in a scathing glare. “You protecting this Kraut now, too?”


“This is wrong,” Newkirk rasped, not backing down even though Tivoli had him by three inches and fifty pounds. “He’s down and defenseless. Bloody hell, he can’t even see the hand in front of his face right now!”


Broughton surged forward, his face an angry mask. “We haven’t laid a finger on him.”


“Not yet,” Carter pointed out in a shaky voice, feeling cold and hot at the same time. He took a stand beside Newkirk. Together, they formed a protective barrier between Jack and the angry mob.


“I’d believe this of you,” snarled Maddux, brandishing a blunt finger in Carter’s face. “You and your bleeding heart.”


Jones’ lips curled. “Gestapo put a bullet in Perry’s head without a second thought! Have you forgotten that?”

Carter blanched at the reminder of their fallen friend. “No!”


“We’ve got a couple of Kraut lovers,” Tivoli sneered, taking a menacing step toward Carter and Newkirk.


Olsen jammed a shoulder between Broughton and Maddux, forcing himself between them. His head swiveled back and forth as he tried to keep an eye on everyone’s position. “Hey, everybody calm down!”


“Problem, fellas?”


A hush fell upon the room and everyone turned to face the door. Hogan’s hipshot stance was as casual as his question, but his expression was guarded.


Newkirk smiled. “No problem here, guv’nor. The lads were just visiting, is all.”


Hogan’s wintery gaze lingered briefly upon each man’s face. “That’s nice.” His tone was neutral. “Kind of crowded in here, though.”


“Yeah.” Head down, Tivoli broke from the group, moved toward the door. Hogan casually shifted position, partially blocking the doorway. Tivoli bumped into him, flinched, mumbled an apology and hurried out. Once he was gone, Hogan stepped aside, leaving the doorway free and clear. One by one, the other men marched from the room until only Hogan, Newkirk and Carter remained with Jack.


Hogan’s eyes met Carter’s. “You heard?” Hogan quietly asked him.


Carter slowly nodded. “Yes, sir.”


“He goes out tomorrow night.”

“Sir --”


“Tomorrow night,” Hogan repeated. “The arrangements have already been made.”


Carter persisted anyway, in rare show of rebellion. “Can’t we wait until the bruising and swelling go down and he can see again?”


“It’s better for us that he can’t.”


“But --” Carter sighed. “Yes, sir.”


Hogan’s expression softened. “It’s the best we can make of the situation.”


Carter only nodded again.


Concern suddenly sharpened Hogan’s gaze. “If those bags under your eyes get any bigger, you’ll need help carrying them around. Get some sleep in a regular bed.” He put up a hand as Carter’s mouth opened, obviously to voice another protest. “Don’t push it, Sergeant.”


“Shove off, mate.” Newkirk rested a hand on Carter’s shoulder. “I’ve got him. He so much as gives a sniffle, I’ll come and get you.”


“No, you won’t,” Hogan countered. “You’re leaving, too.” When they gave him puzzled looks, he reached around the doorframe and pulled Perkins into view. “See to our guest. He gets the same consideration any of us would. And the same protection. Is that clear?”


Perkins’ closed his gaping mouth, gave a single, sharp nod. Hogan’s eyes narrowed and he tilted his head forward, cupping a hand to his ear.


“Clear, sir!” Perkins answered crisply.


“He speaks English,” Carter told Perkins. “So you might try talking to him.”


After a second’s hesitation, Perkins nodded again.


“His name is Jack,” Carter added, then had to step lively as Newkirk shoved him out the door.


“Don’t ask!” Newkirk warned as he passed out of sight. Perkins shuffled back to his post, leaving Hogan alone with Jack.


Hogan slowly turned to face the German.  After studying the swollen face for several moments, he went to the cot, bent down and in low voice, said, “How does it feel to have someone you don’t even know fight so hard for you?” Without waiting for an answer, Hogan walked out.


Several minutes passed. And then, Jack’s head slowly turned toward the door.


* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


Later that evening, Hogan’s door flew open and his men poured into his quarters. The unexpected intrusion startled him, causing him to inadvertently scrawl a jagged line across the letter he was writing to his mother.






“You got to . . .”


Their voices trailed off as his scowl registered upon them. With a slow, deep breath, Hogan sat back, put down his pencil and wordlessly beckoned them all the way inside. Carter surged forward first, unable to contain his excitement.


“We know who he is! We know his name and how he got so beat up and how he got where we found him and --”


“Whoa, Carter!” Hogan stood, his irritation already forgotten. “How did you get him to talk?”


“Oh, he’s still not talking, Guv’nor.” Newkirk’s blue eyes were dancing with good humor.


Hogan’s gaze slid past him to Kinch. His friend grinned back at him, while LeBeau practically bounced from foot to foot beside Carter.


“All right,” Hogan chuckled. “Quit dragging out the suspense, fellas. Start at the beginnin     g.insrsid7685280'94insrsid13319019


“Sorry, sir,” Kinch said, still grinning. “Hochstetter called Klink to add a widow’s name to the list for the Widows and Orphans Fund--”


“Jack’s, I assume.”


“His name’s Colonel Niklas Cullen,” Carter blurted. “His wife’s name is Lea and his kids’ names are Paul, Lukas, and Maria.”


“He wasn’t beaten up,” LeBeau said, picking up the story next. “Hochstetter told Klink that Cullen’s staff car went over the side of the Reinhard bridge into the river. It looked like the driver lost control for some reason.”


“The car ended up on its roof, with only the tires peeking out of the water,” Newkirk went on. “They found the driver’s body downstream, hung up in some tree roots. Hochstetter thought he must have died in the accident and the current washed him out of the car.”


“They think Cullen died in the accident, too, and that his body was taken further downstream cause they never found it. Hochstetter doubts they ever will.” Kinch’s smile was gone now. The other men were just as serious, their mood a sharp contrast to their earlier jubilation. Hogan waited, already knowing what was coming.


“Colonel,” Carter hesitantly began. “Jack’s car fell off that bridge and then he almost drowned. But he survived them both and even as smashed up as he was –as he is – he made it out of the river and nearly two whole clicks before he passed out where we found him.”


“Blind,” Kinch murmured. “He got that far totally blind.”


Newkirk’s gaze lost focus, as if he were visualizing the laborious journey. “Can’t imagine it,” he muttered, shaking his head. His gaze sharpened and slid to meet Hogan’s. “Can’t imagine after all that turning him over to London, either. There’s got to be a way to get him back to his wife and little ones, Guv’nor.”


LeBeau softly cleared his throat. “I agree, mon colonel.”


Kinch said nothing, simply cast his vote with a nod.


With an arched eyebrow and the faintest of grins, Hogan quoted, “ ‘In that whole woods, with all the paths we could have taken to get back here, we walked by that exact spot.’ ”


Carter’s smile could have lit all of Hammelburg. “And we found him.”


Hogan suddenly went to his bunk and pulled off the false top to one the bunk’s posts. He reached inside, pulled out a rolled up map and spread it upon his desk. The men joined him, pressing close to see the map.


“Okay,” Hogan said, skimming his finger over the map’s surface to a particular spot. “the accident happened here, right?”


LeBeau folded his arms upon the desk and leaned in. “Oui.”


Carter slid his finger from that spot across the map to another. “We found Jack – Colonel Cullen -- right here. Or thereabouts.”


Kinch shook his head as he stared down at the map. “Lucky son of a gun.”


Newkirk’s gaze slid the distance between Hogan’s finger and Carter’s. “Probably his middle name.”


Carter’s nose wrinkled. “Niklas ‘Lucky’ Cullen? Doesn’t sound like something a German would name their kid.”


Newkirk reached over and cuffed Carter on the back of the head.


Hogan braced his elbow on the desk and rested his chin in his hand. Only his eyes moved as he studied the map, his gaze sweeping back and forth from one spot to another. He brought his finger to rest over a dark spot on the map. “Look at this.”


Kinch cocked his head to get a better look. “The cave we found a couple of months ago?”


“Yeah. We knock Cullen out, take him there and leave him. We make it look like the cave had been our temporary base, and that we abandoned it in a hurry. When he wakes up, he’ll think that’s where he’s been the whole time.”


“It’s perfect!” Carter cried, grinning ear to ear.


Newkirk slapped him on the back. “Made to order, mate.”


Kinch took a deep breath and rocked back on his heels. “It’ll take quite a bit of stuff to pull it off.”


“We’ll need Schnitzer’s truck.” Hogan started rolling up the map. “Let’s get going. We need to do this fast and we need to do it right. But our first order of business . . .” Hogan paused, sharing a smile with his men. “is to tell London the pick up is off.”



* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


Hogan unfolded the cot and set it up near a slight depression in the cave wall. Satisfied that the cot was level and steady, he looked back and nodded. “Bring him on over.”


Kinch and Newkirk, carrying Cullen’s limp body between them, came forward and carefully laid him on the cot. Hogan tied him down, making certain the ropes were tight, but not so tight that Cullen couldn’t free himself with a few hours of work. Once he was done, Carter covered Cullen with several blankets and tucked a pillow beneath his head. Under the influence of O’Malley’s sedative, Cullen slept through the whole process, as he had during the trip from Stalag 13 to the cave. 


Carter stared down at him, worry wrinkling his brow. “You’re sure he’ll be okay?”


“He’ll be right as rain,” Newkirk sighed, not hiding his irritation at hearing the question for the fourth time.


Carter glanced around, chewed at his lower lip. The cave was, as Newkirk had said, ‘made to order’. The entrance was a low, shallow cut in the rockface, hidden by a thick screen of carefully woven branches. Once past the narrow opening, the cave widened into a chamber big enough to hold a tank. Beyond that, the ceiling gradually lowered while the floor dropped in a series of natural terraces, creating a stair-case effect. At the base of the rock stairs, the cave sent out three fingers of varying sizes. The largest finger was the first from the right. It was approximately ten feet wide, with a generous seven foot ceiling, and traveled over one hundred feet before ending in a small, oval-shaped cavern. This was where they had brought Cullen. The middle finger was the smallest. Only three feet wide by four feet tall at its mouth, it rapidly narrowed down to a claustrophobic two feet wide by foot and a half tall. No one knew how far it went from that point or if it got any larger, since no one had the desire to explore it any further to find out. The remaining finger was only twenty feet long, but it was four feet wide and boasted a fairly comfortable six foot ceiling.


“Get to work, fellas,” Hogan ordered. “Remember, make it look like we got spooked and didn’t have a chance to take everything.” He placed a small stool next to the cot, then kicked it over and let it roll to rest against the cot.


Carter put a wooden bucket against the wall and pulled a canteen from his jacket. The water went into the bucket. A dampened rag draped over the bucket’s edge completed the illusion.


Kinch soon returned from another part of the cave. Cobwebs adorned his shoulders and clung to his knit cap like a fine, gray mist. “We cleared out everything important and scattered some false papers all along this passage. It looks like we dropped them as we ran out. Newkirk’s leaving some of broken ammo cases around and LeBeau’s setting up the food and water cache.”


Hogan finished his final task by dumping a cup, plate and some food just inside the room’s entrance. “Good.”


Kinch sneezed and brushed the cobwebs from his shoulders. “Seems kind of a shame we won’t be able to use this place like we’d planned.”


“Yeah,” Hogan agreed, then looked over at Cullen, sleeping peacefully under Carter’s watchful gaze. “But it’s worth it.” He turned as Newkirk and LeBeau walked back into the room. Both were empty-handed and wore self-satisfied expressions.


“Done,” Newkirk proclaimed, slapping dirt from his clothing. LeBeau coughed, waved at the dust.


“All right, then.” Hogan nodded toward the tunnel beyond. “Let’s get out of here.”


Carter slowly brought up the rear. Hogan fell back and gently pushed him onward.


“Our work’s done here, Carter. Time for his other guardian angel to pick up the reins again.”


A grin erased the tension from Carter’s face. “Yes, sir.”




* <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> * <<HH>> *


One month later.


“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Carter protested. Newkirk merely gave him one of his sunnier smiles, winked, and pushed open the door to the Hofbrau. “This isn’t a good idea.” Carter repeated in a weary tone to the stars. Pulling his cap down tighter on his head, he followed his friend inside.


Loud accordion music battered at Carter’s ears, making him wince. Squinting from both the noise and the smoke making his eyes burn, he sought out Newkirk’s distinct brown cap. The crowd a smoke made it hard to see. He moved further into the crowd and breathed a sigh of relief when Newkirk leaned out of a booth and waved to get his attention. Carter wondered how Newkirk had managed to get one of the booths. With their high-backed benches, each one formed a cozy little nook, offering a semblance of privacy. Carter waved back and gingerly started moving again, taking care not to step on any toes along the way.


“This is NOT a good idea!” Carter huffed, sliding across the bench and into the booth.


“It’s only one beer.” Newkirk drank deeply from his stein and came up with a foamy mustache. He licked the foam away with obvious enjoyment and lightly thumped his chest with his fist, releasing a belch. “That’s the trouble with you lately. You haven’t had any fun. Not a smidge. Just work, work, work. Got to take some time off to unwind, Andrew.” He looked toward the bar, got the buxom barmaid’s attention, and raised his stein into the air. Her eyes flicked to Carter, noting the additional customer. A few moments later, she set a stein down in front of Carter.


{ I didn’t ask for this, } Carter called after her, pointing to the frothy beer.


“Have at it.” Newkirk pushed the stein closer to Carter, leaving a trail of moisture on the table. “Do you some good.”


There was no dealing with Newkirk when he set his mind to something. Carter carefully picked up the overly full stein and slurped off the foam. Newkirk beamed at him from across the table, produced another wet belch.


“It’s a marvelous thing, isn’t it?”


“What --” Carter coughed into his fist as some of the foam went down the wrong way. “What’s marvelous?”


Newkirk waved his stein through the air. “This. It’s nice getting away for a time.”


Carter gave the room a quick glance. “It’d be nicer if the fellas were here, too.”


Newkirk’s happy smile fell away. “Ah, now don’t go ruining the mood.”


Carter drank his beer, kept a wary eye on the part of the crowd that he could see. Newkirk settled down to his own beer and a comfortable silence fell between them. A few minutes went by and then Newkirk set his empty stein down on the table with a thump and gave Carter a narrow look.


“What’s going on in that head of yours?”


“Nothing.” Carter finished off his beer, grimaced as a belch snuck past his manners. “S’cuse me.”


“Don’t be telling me ‘nothing.’ You’ve been moping about for the last week now, quiet as a church mouse.”


“I have not,” Carter shot back, absently toying with his stein’s handle.




“Have not!”


They glared at each other across the table and burst into laughter at the exact same moment.


“Couple of adults, we are,” Newkirk chuckled, absently tracing water rings on the table.


Carter studied the table’s top. “You’re right.”


Newkirk looked up, one eyebrow raised, silently encouraging him on. His finger continued tracing the water rings, spreading the moisture into fat, donut shapes.


“I can’t help wondering . . .” Carter shook his head and sighed. “I hope he’s okay and that he got back to his family.”


“Bank on both.” Newkirk smiled. “Had an iron will to live, that one did.”


Carter grinned, feeling almost proud of all Cullen had overcome to survive. “He did, didn’t he?”


Newkirk’s expression suddenly went blank, his gaze fixing upon something behind and to Carter’s right. A black sleeve slid into in Carter’s side vision and he nervously licked his lips. There was no mistaking that particular uniform. His gaze traveled slowly up the arm and past the shoulder to the face above. A pair of brown eyes locked with his and the Gestapo colonel nodded politely.


{ Gentlemen.}  The smooth, cultured voice gave away no hint of emotion.


Something in the way the German was staring at him made Carter take a hard look at the man’s face. With dawning hope, he tried picturing the youthful features swollen and bruised. His gaze suddenly fixed upon a scar running along one of the officer’s cheekbones. It was slightly shiny, leading Carter to believe it was fairly new.


Newkirk respectfully tipped his cap. { Good evening, Colonel. }


A hard kick to Carter’s shin broke his focus; Newkirk’s warning to say something or risk offending the Gestapo officer.


{ Sir, } Carter nodded, going so far as to remove his cap.


{ Would you like this booth, Colonel? } Newkirk started to get out.


The officer’s hand went up in a halting gesture. { Stay and enjoy yourselves. } He hesitated, adding, { Everyone should have the chance to relax. }


Carter and Newkirk clearly heard the slight emphasis the German put upon the last word. Stunned, they watched a faint smile warm his expression. Carter’s gaze fastened upon a second, thinner scar. It bisected one of the officer’s dark eyebrows, very near the bridge of his slightly crooked nose.


{ I was also enjoying a beer, } the colonel continued, indicating the booth behind Carter. { when I overheard your voices and thought you were someone I knew. I see now that I was wrong. I’ll leave you to your business and return home to my family. I apologize for interrupting. Good evening. } He took a few steps away from the table, halted, and looked back over his shoulder. Carter’s breath caught as the brown eyes bore into his own with startling intensity.


{ It was a pleasure visiting with you. Should we ever have the chance to meet again. . . } a brilliant smile broke upon the German’s face and Carter found himself returning it in full. { My friends call me . . . Jack. }



“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

                                                                                                --Aesop (620 BC), The Lion and the Mouse




Thank you for reading.


Written in memory of Larry Hovis (Feb. 20, 1936 - Sept. 9, 2003), and for Marilyn Penner.



Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Zoey Traner

This copyright covers only  original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.