ODDS AGAINST, PART 3
After taking turns cleaning themselves up in the small bathroom, the British agents hustled the Americans out of the cottage. The four men squeezed into the cramped car Bodie had brought up the driveway after he and Hutch had disposed of the bodies--the car's appearance going unnoticed, since Hutch was being sick in the bushes along the driveway. The car was barely adequate for the four men, but thoughts of the situation stilled any complaints.
Once in the car Starsky leaned his head against Hutch's shoulder in exhaustion. The evening's events had him reeling. Hutch shifted his long legs the best he could and took Starsky gently in his arms, not caring what the two agents thought.
Bodie started the clattering engine, which seemed unnaturally loud in light of the recent events. Slipping the clutch, he backed the car around and began to drive back to the main road. Thus occupied he began to outline the plan for slipping out of Germany.
"We'll go north and cross the Rhine at Mannheim then make for Belgium preferably -but Luxembourg will do. From Belgium we should have no trouble getting to Calais where MI6 should have transport waiting for us. The tricky part is simply getting to Belgium."
"Isn't there a more direct route into France from here?" questioned Hutch.
"Yeah, but it goes directly through the Siegfried Line and then the Maginot Line. Considering the current political situation, I don't imagine either Germany nor France would welcome us waltzing through their defenses," Bodie laughed with bitter humor.
"But I need to get to Paris as fast as I can," Starsky whispered, leaning toward the dark head in front of him.
"Paris! This tour only goes back to London."
"But Elise..." Starsky's voice trailed off in hopelessness.
"His sister," Doyle answered, "Seems our Nazi friends were threatening grievous bodily harm to his family if he fucked up. Especially `is sister, her being so convenient and all. We've made him fuck up and I suppose he'd like to try his hand at rescuing her."
Hutch looked at Starsky in quiet awe. That explained the conversation at the beer hall. That explained a lot of things Hutch had not been able to understand. He squeezed the thin shoulders in sympathy.
"As soon as we can, we'll notify the French Surété. They'll protect your sister," Bodie answered, not liking his own response at all. Unfortunately he had his orders.
Starsky slumped back against the blond, drained. His body ached, but his heart hurt even more. He had endured the worst that Kurt and Hermann could hand out in hopes of preventing a similar fate for his sister. Now all that endurance seemed for nothing. He sighed, thinking how once more he seemed to have no control over his fate.
Reaching into an inside jacket pocket, Doyle extracted a folder of papers which he passed to Starsky over the top of his seat. "Here are your visas and a British passport. We didn't have time to forge an American one. The beauty of this one is that it isn't forged, but the genuine article. The visas are a bit of a mixed bag, however. You entered the country with Bodie and me, and you're leaving with us. You are now David Hyde-White, an old school chum of Bodie's." He paused to smile grimly at the huddled figure in the back seat. "One thing. You've got laryngitis. You can only whisper. Your accent stinks!"
"If you can't remember to keep shut, I'll give you a sore throat for real," Bodie supplied. "As we said earlier, this is not a kid's game. It can get us all killed."
Bodie's driving was the most subdued that Hutch had seen so far this night. He was therefore startled when the man yanked the wheel, killed the lights, and pulled to the side of the road.
"What's going on, mate?" Doyle asked, voicing everyone's question.
"Think there's a road block on the other side of this rise. I gotta glimpse of something from the top of the last hill."
"Couldn't have found the bodies back at the house and blocked the road this quickly," Doyle murmured speculatively. "Must be something else."
"Yeah, but what?"
"There's only one way to find out," Doyle answered as he handed the metal-framed Sten gun over his seat to Hutch. "Put that under your feet and leave it there." He then loosened the gun in his shoulder holster.
"Guess we'll try out the Professor's cover a bit sooner than anticipated," Bodie said, letting out on the clutch and maneuvering the car back onto the road while turning on the headlights.
"Put that gun away, Yank," Doyle ordered when he saw Hutch had the Luger in his fist. "Get it out of sight. You'll know when you need it. And so far you don't know if you need it or not."
The Volkswagen was fast approaching the blocked road. Both British agents heaved a quiet sigh of relief as it became evident that the road was blocked by the Wehrmacht, regular German Army, not the SS or Gestapo. Stopping beside a young corporal with a pimply face, Bodie rolled down his window and began making inquiries in excellent German. As the explanations continued, he finally shrugged his shoulders and pulled out his papers.
"He wants to see our passports and visas," Bodie said, reaching for the forthcoming folders from the other three men.
After examining the papers for what seemed an eternity, the young corporal carried them to the officer resting in the staff car at the side of the road. He examined them carefully and handed them back to the corporal. Bodie casually passed them back to his comrades. The pimply corporal snapped his heels and saluted, "Heil Hitler."
"Yeah, Heil Hitler," Bodie muttered, backing the car around and returning down the road. He drove carefully, not wanting to call attention to them.
All were trying to stop the adrenalin pumping into their systems. Bodie noticed that his hands were actually quivering on the steering wheel. He grasped it harder before one of his Yank charges could notice that he was as human as anyone else.
"What's the story?" Doyle questioned when he thought he could trust his voice.
"Actually it's bloody tragic and humorous at the same time," Bodie quipped. "The Wehrmacht has chosen this weekend for maneuvers. They have all roads blocked from Mannheim and beyond. They are doing tank exercises. Nothing to do with us. But it could bugger our whole plan for getting out of the country. I think they've closed the border, as well. This could be a cover for something and the quicker we get outta this effing place the better I'll like it."
"I imagine that makes about four of us," Doyle said wryly.
"Have another contingency plan?" Hutch questioned. He felt Starsky stiffen under his hands.
"It's getting a bit late. We'll go back to your hotel and get out the maps and see what routes are available," Bodie answered wearily. He didn't like it when a plan wasn't working. "We have a few hours until daylight. I think the Professor could use some rest. We probably still have a couple of days before the bodies are discovered."
Looking at Starsky, Doyle asked, "Did you have much company on weekends?"
"No, there was only an SS corporal who would occasionally come around and get drunk with Kurt and Hermann," Starsky replied, not wanting to remember those rare weekends. It had usually been a rough two days for him. "They didn't have any friends in the area. And didn't seem to want to make any."
The outskirts of Stuttgart were beginning to come into view. Still driving a bit subdued, Bodie set as rapid a pace as he dared in the circumstances. He parked the car on a side street, off the busier boulevard that the hotel fronted. He reached into the glove box and drew out a small bottle of scotch.
"Was saving this for something else entirely," he said as he applied it to his face like after shave. He handed it to Doyle who did likewise. Starsky and Hutch complied with the unspoken command. It wouldn't take a whole lot to act drunk, Hutch decided as they got out of the car. Bodie paused and threw his jacket over the Sten gun on the floor of the car. Then all of them began staggering up the street.
The night clerk silently handed Hutch's room key to him as he disapprovingly frowned at the foreigner's display of bad manners. Once in the sitting room of the suite all four men slouched into chairs or divans. After a few minutes Hutch noticed Starsky's pale face. He rose, pulled Starsky to his feet, and shoved him toward the ensuite bathroom. He followed closely and sat his lover on the john while he removed his shoes and ran a hot bath. Starsky stood and removed the rest of his garments. He looked at the highly polished tile floor unable to look Hutch in the eye.
Hutch had been leaning over the tub testing the temperature and did not notice the attitude of the man quietly standing beside him. He raised up and drew in a sharp breath. Bodie had tried to fill him in on the condition of the scientist, but still Hutch was not prepared for the reality of it. Starsky was thin to the point of emaciation, and the stripes both old and new on his back, ass, and chest startled him. Starsky stood there as if he was terribly ashamed...as if it was all his fault.
Hutch grabbed him and held the seemingly fragile body close to him. "Oh God, Starsk," he murmured. "How could anyone do this to you?"
Starsky flinched in the embrace as the roving hands rushed over his bruises wincing as Hutch rubbed his ass. The blond abruptly stopped and pulled back.
"Shit, I'm hurting you. Damn, I'm sorry. It's just I can't seem to touch you enough."
"No, never stop touching," Starsky whispered, pressing further into the embrace. "I just thought you might not want to look at me. I was never a candidate for Mr. Universe, but I'm not sure if anyone would want to look at me now."
"I can't get enough of looking at you, you idiot." Hutch hugged him then began moving him toward the tub. "I'm gonna wash you, hold you, and make you understand that you are the most wonderful thing in my life." Gently, he helped Starsky into the tub. "Lay back. I'm going to do everything. First thing, I'll wash your hair. Why's it so short?" Hutch asked as he dampened the dark head and began massaging in shampoo.
"Better than it was," Starsky answered. "They shaved it off the day I arrived on board the Hamburg." He nearly shuddered, but controlled the reflex. He still remembered crying uncontrollably as Kurt applied the shears and snickered the whole time. It had been a lesson in humiliation he would long remember. It was best that Hutch not know all the details. No, he didn't regret the British agents killing the two Nazis. Not at all.
Hutch listened to the inflexible voice. He continued his washing and scrubbing, trying to incorporate a slight massage. He noticed that there were old bruises and new ones. Now was not the time to question him, Hutch knew. It was all too close, and Hutch was afraid of his own tenuous control.
The water was becoming tepid and his charge was showing grogginess. Hutch opened the drain and helped the scientist to his feet. He gently toweled the hair and body as the smaller and now, much slighter, man leaned into him. He led his companion to the large, soft bed. With no resistance Starsky allowed himself to be put under the covers and tucked in like a four-year old. It felt nice, and he mumbled that to his lover. Hutch stood long moments as his charge dropped off into an exhausted sleep.
He turned and started out to the sitting room, but was halted in the doorway by what he saw. Bodie lay with his head thrown back on the top of the couch, while in his lap Doyle was quite busy. Hutch slipped away unseen, he was sure, back into the bedroom, silently closing the door. He got out of his clothes and slid under the covers with Starsky. Gathering up the sleeping man in his arms, he settled in for some rest, knowing the British agents were not planning on working on their contingency plan at the moment. He smiled as he went gently into the realm of Morpheus.
It seemed as though it was only a moment later he heard water running in the bathroom. He nearly groaned as abused muscles from the previous night made themselves known. He hadn't thought he had worked that hard. Probably he was stiff from riding in the cramped car.
"It's getting late. You'd better rise and shine," Bodie said from the bedroom doorway. He obviously had just had a shower. His hair was shining, and he was wearing Hutch's robe. "I've ordered room service. Be here in a few minutes." He turned back to the sitting room.
Hutch reached for the mound beside him, smiling as Starsky groaned and gave an involuntary shiver. Hutch stroked the closely cropped black silk hair. Rolling over, Starsky looked into the loving blue eyes. "Thought it was all a dream. One that I didn't want to wake up from," said Starsky, pulling the rumpled blond head to him. "Love you, you know."
"I know. Can't tell you how much I love you and how I've missed you."
Reluctantly they broke their clinch when there came a discreet knock at the door of the bedroom. Remembering the precariousness of their situation, Hutch rolled off the bed and pulled Starsky after him. They cleaned up, shaved, and dressed hurriedly with Hutch managing some slacks for Starsky that weren't inconveniently large. He rolled the cuffs since nothing could be done about the length. The few clothes they had packed were worn and wrinkled and Starsky seem disinclined to wear them. Then they went out to the living area to find the two British agents demolishing breakfast.
"Better get a move on or the human dust bin `ere won't leave a thing," Doyle said, motioning toward his partner. Hutch thought the intake of food was pretty evenly matched, but Bodie had been lavish in his order. There was plenty for all four with a bit left over. The two Americans did their part to uphold the honor of their country in the eating department at least. For the first time in weeks, Starsky felt like eating and he did the hotel chef justice.
"Now to business," Doyle said as he began clearing the low table of the remains of their meal.
Bodie began shaking out some maps. All four men gathered around to watch and listen. None of the routes left seemed very direct to Hutch. The crossing of the Rhine River was a major stumbling block as it could only be crossed at so many places. It was logical many of these bridges would be in use by the military this weekend. Hutch wondered distractedly what could be up within the military establishment, though he actually didn't care. All he wanted was to get himself and Starsky out of the country. It seemed to be a difficult undertaking at this moment.
Then it hit Hutch as he studied the map. Something on the map seemed familiar. There was an air base at Esslingen. His young Luftwaffe oberleutnant in Berlin had given the name of a friend...Damn, what was his name? He searched through his wallet and found the scrap of paper. Yeah, Leutnant Georg Helwig, and there was even a phone number. Why couldn't he contact this leutnant and try to get on the base or at least near it? He could take the man to a meal or drinks and then see if he could pick his brain. After all, they were both airmen.
As Doyle and Bodie discussed the various roads, Hutch thought more and more on his plan, deciding it just might work. With the help of the two British agents, they might sneak onto the base, get a plane, and fly the relatively short hop to France. He could see the political complications, but at this point getting out of Germany seemed the first order of business. He had a hunch that the wily fox in London would come to their rescue in that situation. He might not back them on government orders while on German sovereign soil, but possibly he wouldn't let the French hang them out to dry. He knew that getting onto the base might be costly. The Brits seemed to kill so easily, but then he thought of Starsky back in the hands of the sadists and was quite glad that the British agents were so competent in that area.
There was a lull in the conversation going on around him. Bodie rose and went to the phone to order lunch. Hutch discovered he was hungry again. Tension was burning calories in all of them.
When Bodie returned to the table, Hutch took a deep breath and then plunged in, "What about this?" He explained about his contact at the Esslingen base. Both agents thought it over and his reasoning that Cowley might back them once on French soil.
"Might work. Just might work at that," Doyle mused.
"If you can locate and fly the bird, we'll take care of the details of getting on the base," Bodie volunteered. "But I think I might give London a bit of warning."
Bodie rose and walked around the room picking up and putting down items. His whole concentration seemed to be on the various sundries adorning the room.
"I'll go back to the PCO and see if a message can be got through to London while you take your new friend to dinner," Bodie remarked, trying to sound very casual.
"Not by yourself, mate," Doyle interjected. "That whole operation is probably compromised since the Huns ordered Murph home."
"But the Cow should know that some birds might be landing in a foreign country."
"Yeah, but not that way." Doyle thought for a few minutes. "We'll simply telephone him and try a bit of double talk. As far as we know, we aren't compromised. Hutchinson's cover is still intact, as well. Actually all of us except the Professor can pretty well come and go as we like."
"You've made your point, Ray. We'll go check the equipment in the car and see if we can make a phone call." Turning to Hutch, he said, "You try your contact. Don't leave the Professor alone, though. Once we're back you can go out on the town with the young leutnant. Pick his brain as much as you can about security, times when they change the guard. If there are dogs and so forth. As well as placement of the planes...what kinds..."
"Leave the planes to me," Hutch returned. "That's something I understand."
"Right," Doyle said, pushing Bodie toward the door.
The two agents quit the room, leaving Starsky and Hutch really alone for the first time in months. Each appeared slightly uneasy with the other. The night before they had been alone all night, but exhaustion had claimed them so that there had been very little intimacy.
Not knowing what to say, Hutch simply opened his arms and Starsky nearly flew into them. They moved to the sofa and held each other, savoring the few minutes of peace and quiet. "We'll get to Paris and get Elise," Hutch murmured in Starsky's ear.
"If you would have asked me even last night if it was possible, I would not have believed you. But now I'm sure we will."
But holding each other was a luxury there was no time for right now, and finally Hutch rose and went to the phone. Using his limited German, he managed to get the call through, learning Leutnant Helwig was in his quarters and would call back. It took only a few minutes for him to get back to Hutch, but the blond had spent his time pacing the floor. Starsky looked pale and drawn as he reclined on the divan.
When the phone finally rang, both Americans flinched. After being in Germany for over a week, Hutch's German was improving to the point he could understand limited conversation though his speaking ability was still weak. But even with this handicap, he managed to set up a meeting with the young officer, who had spoken English with a distinct British twist. Being fliers they had a lot in common and Helwig seemed distinctly bored with his duty on the small facility. He seemed very glad to meet the American flier.
After getting off the phone, Hutch looked at his pale companion and suggested he rest for a while.
"I'll lie down here now, then rest more while you're out on the town with your pilot friend."
"Right. And I can rest with you." Hutch had the feeling Starsky simply didn't want him to get too far away. He sat on the sofa and held the dark head in his lap, and before long a slight snore was heard from the man he held. Hutch stretched his legs and leaned his head back against the cushions, surprising himself by falling asleep until the door opened to admit the two agents. Starsky didn't even stir when Hutch put his head on a pillow and went over to the table to talk.
"We didn't get hold of Uncle George, but we did make contact with Aunt Sally," Doyle said. "There just might be some back-up in France for us, if we get that far."
"Did you catch up with the Luftwaffe?" Bodie asked Hutch.
"Yeah. I'm meeting him in the hotel bar tonight."
"You find out all you can about that base," Doyle ordered.
"I fully intend to. It's my head as well as yours, as you keep pointing out."
"We all need some rest," Bodie observed reasonably as the two began sniping at each other.
"Yeah, and we'll take the bed this time. a night on that couch nearly ruined me back," Doyle muttered, standing up, grabbing Bodie's hand, and pulling him toward the bedroom.
Hutch smiled. Subtlety was not exactly Doyle's style, but Hutch was beginning to like him more and more. Hutch went back to the couch, gently lifted Starsk's head, replaced it on his lap, then drifted into that limbo somewhere between sleep and waking.
* * *
Once the bedroom door was closed, Doyle turned to Bodie, shoving him against the door frame, attacking the willing mouth with his own. He pulled his head back and licked his lips as he began rubbing the darker man's chest with one hand. His other hand was busily engaged in slipping buttons out of small holes.
Meanwhile, Bodie was making free with the slender torso in front of him. He was running his hands up and down the knobbed spine, settling finally to slip his hands under the belt to find the taut buttocks. He massaged the straining muscles as he reveled in Doyle's hands on his own body.
"Gotta have you," Doyle whispered as his hands found the other man's trouser buttons and swiftly popped them open. He kneaded the hardening flesh that he found. "Bed -now," he gasped.
Forestalling his partner, Bodie pulled Doyle's head up and gently kissed the upturned features one by one. He licked his eyelids and moved down to the misshapen cheekbone that gave Doyle's face character. He then centered his attentions on the soft lips, where with gentle insistence, he inserted his tongue between Doyle's teeth and ran it over the chipped tooth.
Doyle growled and began to assert his dominance. He turned Bodie toward the bed while working on the fastenings of his own clothes. There was no reluctance as Bodie stripped on his way to the over-sized bed. He relaxed back against the elaborate headboard and enjoyed the view of Doyle's back side as he slipped out of the tight-fitting cords he had been wearing.
Then Doyle turned to face him, feasting his eyes hungrily as his partner leisurely rubbed his own genitals. "Like that," Doyle murmured. "Like watching you get yourself off." He sauntered closer, but only to observe while Bodie rubbed himself with more enthusiasm. Doyle sat on the edge of the bed while Bodie paused in his masturbation to make room on the soft mattress for the eager voyeur.
Bodie started to return to his manipulations when Doyle reached out and held his hand away from his hard, weeping cock. Doyle took his other hand and lightly ran a fingertip down the underside of Bodie's eager penis, smiling as Bodie's hips lifted involuntarily, seeking the source of pleasure. Doyle reclined back on his elbow and continued tantalizing Bodie, using light touches to enthrall his willing victim.
"Ray, please." Bodie moaned his frustration while trying to remove his hand from Doyle's gentle restraint. But Doyle clamped down on it, and continued his lazy tickling of Bodie's genitals, moving on down to the furry sac that was drawing up tighter. Then his head swooped down to the penis which was arched over the flat belly and, though he didn't do more than delicately lick the glans and sip from the slit on the crown of the cock, Bodie was soon thrashing and panting as his frustration increased. Doyle sat back with satisfaction.
"Bloody hell, what are you doing to me?" Bodie panted. He was at the point of whimpering when Doyle finally reached for the tube of cream left on the bedside table earlier in the day.
"On your belly, sunshine!" Doyle said, gently massaging his own neglected manhood with the white cream. Then he ran a hand down the other man's flank to direct him onto his knees. He admired the tight buttocks and lavished attention on them with his mouth and hands. Then unable to wait any longer, he parted the cheeks and knelt behind his partner. With one smooth thrust he entered the white hot tunnel. Bodie yipped softly at the sudden sharp pain which was quickly masked by pleasure as Doyle's penis found his prostate. Doyle couldn't contain himself long only delaying a few brief moments...then simply hoping that Bodie was ready, for he could no longer deny his own needs. He began pumping in a steady rhythm as old as time itself.
Eventually he remembered his partner and reached one hand around to the other's pulsing cock. He found Bodie's hand already frantically rubbing and pulling, leaving Doyle to concentrate on his own pleasure. He quickened his pace since he was now sure that his mate was enjoying the process. It didn't take long until he was shooting his wad deep in Bodie's body, and he momentarily froze while his nerves resounded with pleasure. Then he felt the muscles contract around him as Bodie came. He rested on the broad back, trying to bring the spinning world back into focus.
Both agents collapsed down on the bed, each panting and exulting in their private universe. In their own way, each felt he had been taken over the top and dropped in a breathtaking dive. There were no words to describe the sensation.
As the panting gradually subsided, Doyle managed to stagger to his feet to retrieve the washcloths and pitcher of water left on the washstand by the window. He gingerly dabbed at his tender privates, then carried the damp cloth to his mate and performed the same ritual for Bodie, whose eyes only fluttered briefly during the intimate attention. He tossed the cloth in the general direction of the washstand before he slid onto the bed.
Pulling up a light blanket, he covered them both as he wrapped himself around his partner. Nothing was said for several long moments as both relaxed and dozed in the afterglow of sex.
"Think this wild-haired scheme of Hutchinson's has a chance?" Doyle asked, unconsciously running his hand down Bodie's arm.
"Might. Just have to see, won't we?"
"Thought of any other options?"
"Only a hard run for Switzerland. I'm not sure what is going on around here. But having the Wehrmacht on the move bothers me. I have a bad feeling about all of it. I want outta this bleeding country as soon as possible."
Doyle rolled over onto his elbow and looked down at Bodie. "You know we can't let the Nazis get the Professor back."
"Yeah," Bodie sighed despondently. "Our Yank lieutenant will have to be taken care of as well." Bodie sat up abruptly and pulled Doyle to him. "I hate these missions."
"Starsky would be better off dead than back in their hands. Remember that. If caught after this escape attempt, I think he'd probably end up in one of those camps we keep hearing about. Think of that." Doyle paused and pulled his troubled partner closer. He had grown to like and admire the tough scientist, who had coped well with a situation that might well have broken a lesser man. To have to murder him would be difficult, indeed. "Hell, the plan will simply have to work. Or we'll make that run for Switzerland."
Bodie smiled and began adjusting the covers and pillows for them to relax back down in the bed. "You're right, Ray. We'll make it work." He didn't want to think about eliminating the Americans, either. The plan would work...it had to.
Both agents had tried to avoid liking the Americans, knowing what the outcome of the mission could be, however, they had not been successful. They couldn't help but admire the guts and determination of the scientist nor could they condemn the flier's devotion to his mate. The loyalty of the pair to each other had struck an empathetic cord in the MI6 agents.
Returning late to his hotel suite after a "night on the town" with members of the Luftwaffe, Hutch found his three companions scattered through the three-room suite either asleep or just dozing. Bodie was untidily sprawled on the four poster bed, while Starsky was stretched out on the couch with one leg thrown over the back.
Strangest of all, however, was Doyle sprawled on the floor beside the couch with one arm pillowing his head and the other holding Starsky's hand. Doyle was the first to stir as the door snicked shut behind Hutch, freeing his hand as he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Hutch felt a momentary flash of jealousy as Doyle patted the sleeping man's shoulder--he was unable to cover his anger as Doyle looked up at him.
"It's not what you may imagine," Doyle said quickly. "`E's been having a few nightmares. Not surprising, of course. Considering..."
"I'm sorry for even thinking anything," Hutch sighed, relaxing. "It's just that I feel so...so...."
"Yeah, kin imagine," Doyle said, involuntarily glancing toward the bedroom. "So how did your meeting with Helwig go?"
"Yeah, fill us in." Bodie was yawning as he emerged from the bedroom, stretching like a large black cat.
"Helwig's base seems to be a refitting and repair depot. He's absolutely thrilled with the duty," Hutch reported sarcastically, his empathy for the frustration of the other flier evident in his voice. "He says all types of planes are coming or going all the time, which is both to our advantage and disadvantage, as I see it. It may work to our advantage in that a missing plane may not be so noticeable. But finding one fueled up and ready to go may not be as easy as I thought."
"What about security?" Bodie questioned.
"Just getting to that," Hutch answered, rummaging through the desk by the window. He finally came up with some hotel stationery and a pencil, then sat down at the table where he began to sketch on the back of a sheet of paper. Doyle and Bodie seated themselves around him and watched silently.
"This is the main gate," Hutch explained pointing to the top of his paper and marking a small "n" for north. "Now the interesting part is that the repaired or refitted aircraft are pulled off to the perimeters of the base to get them out of the way."
"We sure as hell can't walk in the main gate," Doyle snapped, looking at the crudely drawn map.
"I think there is a main road on the south side of the base. On the east is woodland, I believe. On the west I have no idea."
"Anything on the guards?" Bodie questioned.
"Not a whole lot. These young officers didn't seem too security conscious. Not a high priority installation, so security might be a bit lax. Did find out that some of the guards had dogs, though."
"Damn, I hate dogs," Bodie moaned.
"Not much information to go on," Doyle commented, "but I've been looking at the map. Crossing the Rhine and avoiding the Army on maneuvers may be more of a problem, and we'd have to go quite a bit out of our way to cross anywhere else. So this seems to be our best option."
"Yeah, and we're a little short on time before our friends at the cottage will be missed." Bodie added, "It'll have to be just before dawn. If we leave it until tomorrow night, we run the risk of someone finding the bodies at the cottage. But damn--dogs."
"Relax, Bodie, I'll handle the dogs," Doyle answered soothingly.
"See that you do."
At the sound of muffled stirring from the couch. Hutch got up and went over to sit on the edge beside his friend. He stroked the downy soft head. The curls were missing, but the nearly black hair was wavy and still tactilely satisfying to Hutch.
"Mmm..." the sprawled man muttered, swinging his leg off the back of the couch. "`Tis you."
Hutch tenderly helped his lover to an upright position, then briskly turned Starsky around and began lightly massaging his neck and upper shoulders. Starsky leaned into the gentle hands.
"Love you," Hutch whispered, into the closest ear.
"Get the information the Brits need?"
"Hope so," Hutch said as he continued his impromptu massage.
"What I wouldn't give to see that base in daylight," came from the dark-haired figure bent over the table.
"Yeah, but ya might as well wish for the moon. I don't think we can take the chance of staying in town another day."
"I think we have to. We need to recce that woods." Bodie pointed to the square of paper on the table. "What are the chances the Gestapo will trace the Professor to this posh hotel?"
"Depends on whether our American flyboy was noticed."
"Yeah, and there's still the chance that the bodies will go undiscovered until late Monday when no one shows up for work."
"Guess we'll have to take that chance."
"We're not going tonight?" Hutch interrupted.
"I think not, mate," Bodie answered. "We need to get a look into those woods. See where we can get through the wire and the position of the guards. This information is simply too sketchy."
"We'll take a bit of a sightseeing tour out that way in the morning. Bodie and I are supposed to be hiking so that's exactly what we'll do."
Turning his attention to Starsky, Hutch said, "Let's go to bed for the rest of the night." He grabbed Starsky's hand and led him to the bedroom where he quietly but firmly closed the door. It was obvious he wanted some privacy.
Gently he began stripping his lover of the ill-fitting clothes. They had taken a few things from the cottage, but not a lot. They didn't want the Gestapo to get the idea the scientist had gone willingly. Getting some breathing space for Elise had been Starsky's unvoiced thought when he packed.
Hutch gentled the revealed torso with its scars, carefully touching all the small white or red marks. He wanted Starsky to know that he was not repulsed by anything that had been done. He finished stripping his lover by removing slacks, shoes and socks. When the last items put him kneeling at Starsky's feet, he gently touched the quiescent cock in front of him, doing nothing in any kind of hurry. Starsky's sharp indrawn breath was his only clue he wasn't touching a statue.
"Please, lover," Hutch murmured, rubbing Starsky's legs. "Just let me touch you, nothing else."
Leaning over, Starsky grabbed Hutch under the arms and raised him to his feet. "Touch me all you like. I love you touching me." He leaned forward and softly kissed the pilot on the lips. It was not a reaming of tonsils, but a soft touching that gradually expanded into a deeper kiss. Starsky did not break the kiss as he began fumbling with the buttons of the man's shirt in front of him. Without looking, he made a respectable dent in the buttons and finally managed to slip the shirt off Hutch's shoulders. Pulling back from the kiss, Hutch wrenched off his undershirt then fumbled with his fly as nervousness made his fingers thicken.
Between the two of them, they finally managed to disrobe the pilot. Both men were unwilling to let go of the other so getting down to the level of the bed was somewhat awkward...but they accomplished the task with only a few muttered oaths.
Once there, Starsky began an elaborate exploration of the upper torso of the man he loved. He kissed and licked the nipples presented to him. He entwined his fingers in the light hairs of Hutch's armpit, then licked and sucked his way down to the flaming erection the airman sported. With gentle fingers and grunts, he kept Hutch from reciprocating.
He licked and nibbled gently at the straining cock, working his way down to the tightly drawn up balls. He moved back to the cock as he felt the man under him begin to strain. Covering the erection with his mouth, he took in as much as was comfortable. He sucked harder and stopped to lick his way up and down the rock-hard member. He took it into his mouth again and worked on it diligently until he felt the spasms of orgasm. He waited quietly, drinking in all the cum Hutch had to offer. Then he licked him clean and didn't neglect the now-relaxed balls. Starsky was amazed that he could still perform this small task. He had been forced so often he had wondered if he could willingly touch another man. Having accomplished that, he felt much relieved. There were other things he might have trouble with, he knew, but this was a start on his way to freedom-freedom from intimidation and fear.
Starsky drew back and looked at the blissful expression on his lover's face. The expression made his efforts seem very worthwhile. Hutch's eyes were still closed as he reached for the scientist, pulling the smaller man down on top of him as he began to massage the man's genitals. As much as he tried to avoid flinching, it still happened, and Hutch stopped immediately. It was not going to be that easy, Starsky realized, wondering what he could possibly tell Hutch.
"No," Starsky whispered, holding the long-fingered hand away from his body. "Shit, I thought I could stand you doing it." Starsky almost sobbed as he pulled away. "I can't stand being touched there any more. They ruined me, I was afraid of that. But I thought if anyone could touch me it would be you. Oh God, no...no..." The involuntary crawling of his skin as Hutch had tried to stroke his manhood had been more than he could control. Hutch's other touches were welcome, and perhaps these touches would be later. Perhaps there was hope for intimacy later--perhaps it was just too soon.
"Let me try again," Hutch begged. "Please, Starsk?"
"No, just let it be. It's wonderful to hold you and love you. I just can't let anyone touch me there if I have a choice," Starsky said flatly. "I miscalculated, that's all, I thought if it was you, it would be different, but it isn't, Damn it!" He pounded the inoffensive pillow in frustration.
Hutch pulled away and looked at the implacable face above him. "If that's what you want, okay. But later I want to try and erase those memories. We'll work it out, you'll see." Hutch mourned their lost innocence, yearning to go back and murder those two in the cottage all over again--very slowly this time. He wished that he had had a hand in their demise. The Brits had made it too easy for the Nazis by half.
Starsky settled down on Hutch's chest and nodded. He didn't quite believe it, but he wanted to remove the miserable, frozen look from Hutch's face.
They shifted around until both were comfortable and he pulled covers up over them. Hutch was dismayed by Starsky's actions, but thought he could understand. Now, in a foreign hotel, was not the time or place to thrash it all out. Both men finally turned on their sides and settled in for the night, spoon fashion, though Hutch was awake a long time contemplating how to handle the fears inhibiting his lover. He was sure it could be worked out...it had to be, didn't it?
* * *
The two Americans spent a restless few hours until they were awakened by splashing water from the nearby bathroom. Hutch was trying to push from his mind what must have been done to Starsky to inhibit his once so uninhibited lover. Starsky moaned and woke suddenly as though he was reliving some very bad old memories. Thus it was a relief for both men to hear a soft tap on the door that heralded the entrance of Doyle.
"Breakfast will be up shortly," the curly-haired man announced leaning through the doorway. "Bodie and I will probably spend the day on our hiking tour."
With an effort Hutch got up from the bed and helped his friend to his feet. Together they staggered to the bathroom to clean up for the day. It was Sunday, hopefully their last day on German soil. Watching Starsky use his razor, Hutch was troubled. He, probably unrealistically, hoped their relationship would survive the trauma of the past few months. But Starsky was scarred in mind as well as body, and Hutch hoped that he had the patience to help him through the rough times ahead. Yet he still mourned the laughing lover of the past year in L.A. There was a knock on the hall door so Hutch hurried his own toilette.
Bodie and Doyle were setting up room service on the small table that had held the maps yesterday. Again Bodie had been very generous in his order, and three of the four men ate a great deal with little chatter. From beneath lowered lashes, Hutch noticed that Starsky seemed to be merely pushing food around on his plate, occasionally nibbling here and there. Hutch was sure the incident during the night was the cause of his lack of appetite. Perhaps after the British agents were gone for the day, he thought, he could reassure his lover.
"I think it would be best if the Professor didn't leave the hotel," Doyle said around a mouthful of food. "You, Hutchinson, on the other hand, could move about a bit. Someone might wonder about an American tourist spending all his time in a hotel room."
"I think I'll stay in," Hutch decided, "I'll call the hotel doctor for something for an upset stomach."
"Yeah, that'd be all right," Bodie said, "Doyle and I will take a little walk in the woods, have a bit of a picnic, then be back here around midnight. I think we've spent all the time in your hotel room that we should. So far, I imagine, the staff thinks we're getting over a monumental drunk. But I don't think it will work for another day."
"Meet us in the alley behind the hotel around midnight," Doyle instructed, "If you have any problems, get out of the hotel and wander. But still be behind the hotel at midnight."
"Something comes up and you can't make it," Bodie paused and thought for a moment, "go back to that pub at 11 p.m. the next night and every night thereafter. If we can't meet you, someone will eventually."
"As we've said, I think Hutchinson's cover is good. Just don't do anything to break it and draw suspicion to yourselves." Doyle put on his leather jacket as he rose from the table. Bodie got up as well and hunted for his jacket, then seemed to remember he had left it in the car.
The two agents left the hotel room in silence after their speeches regarding security. Hutch hoped that it would not come to using the contingency plans outlined by the two agents, a quiet day in the hotel room might be just the ticket to getting Starsky rested up for the flight back to reality. The whole situation seemed to be so unreal it was taking on the aspect of a bad melodrama.
"I'm going to take a bath and get some rest," Starsky announced, almost as if suddenly he didn't want to be alone with Hutch. Hutch could almost understand. He was a little uncomfortable with the situation after the problems of the previous night too. He nodded, and said he would call the front desk to have the bellman bring up something for an upset stomach. If the staff thought there was someone else in the room, they would likely think he had brought back a woman.
He made the call and was assured there would be a remedy brought up immediately. He paced the tiny sitting room waiting for the bellman. He didn't quite know what to do about the problem in the next room, but he had a hunch that he couldn't leave it until later as he had first thought. Some of it had to be brought out in the open or it would fester like an untreated boil. When the bellman arrived with his stomach remedy, he had made the decision that he had to talk to Starsky...he just wasn't sure what to say.
He sat the bottle on the desk and waited until the shower quit running. He heard some rummaging in the drawers in the bedroom, then silence after bedsprings stopped creaking. Hutch knocked softly on the door before he went in.
Starsky lay on the bed fully dressed with his arm thrown over his face hiding any reaction to the man coming across the room. Hutch paused and looked at the terribly thin figure, then settled himself on the edge of the bed. He put his hands on either side of the reclining figure.
"No matter what happened last night, I just want you to know that I love you," Hutch said softly. "I want you sexually, but if that's not possible. I can handle that. Please, don't shut me out, Starsk. That would be worse for me than if you had been murdered by those bastards." Hutch paused waiting for a sign...anything that would let him know there was still hope for the two of them.
"You don't know," Starsky murmured, sounding far away, "I thought that it was all over when the English guys killed those bastards. Now I find that they're still with me, still haunting me. Christ, don't you think I want everything like it was? I feel so unclean! I know it's all my fault. But...if I hadn't destroyed those notes, if I had turned them over to Stannick, if I had agreed...."
"Starsky, shut up!" Hutch interrupted. "What was done to you wasn't any more your fault than that earthquake a while back. Damn it, you listen to me, I LOVE YOU. I want you, And you are not guilty of anything. You made all the right decisions for the right reasons and it's nearly over now. Those bastards haven't won. I won't let them." Hutch was leaning over his lover, eyes furious.
Reaching out his arms, Starsky drew Hutch down on top of him, snuggling his face into his strong shoulder. "Oh God, perhaps you're right. In fact, intellectually I know you're right, but I can't seem to feel it. Does that make sense to you?"
"More than you can imagine," the blond responded, leaning down and gently pressing his lips to the darker man, "We'll make it right somehow. Just don't shut me out like you started to a few minutes ago."
"Perhaps after you hear the whole story you'll prefer to be shut out,'" Starsky muttered bitterly.
"No," Hutch responded flatly, "I want you to tell me everything."
"I can't. At least not right now."
"Fine, but I don't think anything will be right until you do. But I'll wait until you're ready. Just remember I love you and no matter what, I want to stay with you, even if that means never touching you again. I won't like it, but if that's what it takes to be with you. I'll manage somehow."
"You mean that, don't you, babe?" Starsky asked, looking into the intense blue eyes, "God, I'm not sure how I've come to deserve you."
"Damned right I mean it. And don't you forget it. Now, since we will probably have a big night tonight, why don't I order us something nice from the restaurant? And one more thing..." Hutch paused.
"Not one more word about you not deserving anything. You're a wonderful, beautiful, brilliant person, You didn't deserve these past three months, but you do deserve all the good we can find together," Hutch said forcefully, "And that's the end of the Hutchinson Lecture. Now I'm going to call room service. Anything special you want?"
"Yeah, a hot dog, but I'll settle for whatever the chef thinks is appropriate for today." There was the hint of a twinkle in Starsky's sapphire eyes for the first time in too long.
* * *
Doyle leaned his head back against the frame of the door of the Volkswagen. It was lightly misting and he felt vaguely damp from his foray into the woods. Bodie would be back shortly with the report on his section of the base perimeter. He wasn't too sure he liked the idea of being dependent on an amateur to fly them out of the country, but it looked as though that might be the only reasonable solution. Their exploration of the roads leading out of Stuttgart in most directions had led them to various roadblocks by the Wehrmacht. The flap wasn't big, but seemed to include most of the surrounding countryside. He had watched tanks moving toward the east and some toward the west. The predicted invasion of Poland might or might not be starting. It was hard to tell. One would reasonably expect a huge build-up before the invasion, but so far it didn't seem that this was it.
HE never heard his partner approach until Bodie tapped lightly on the window--but then he hadn't expected to, Bodie was good when he was in the countryside. He wasn't as handy on the streets of London, but he was catching on fast. The two agents were well matched--Doyle had come from the back streets of London and Bodie from the foreign brigades of Spain.
"I think we'll manage to get on the base," the dark-haired Bodie commented as he slid into the seat beside his partner. "There's bloody little security on this side of the base. Quite a few airplanes just sitting there. I hope our hotshot pilot can fly one of them. Of course, there are the bloody guard dogs...." He paused and looked at the tousle-haired Doyle, "Your job, right, mate?
"Yeah, no problem there. Some day you'll have to tell me why you hate dogs so much."
"Not just any of the brutes, just the ones that are trained to attack you and chew off yer balls."
"Naw, they don't teach `em to do that."
"Damned Hun does. Saw a mate get mauled by one in Spain. He wasn't any good for women or boys after. Just a kid he was too." Bodie shuddered. "He finally hung himself."
Doyle decided that it was too soon in their relationship to push the man beside him. "Back to the city and find a quiet pub to pass the time?" he asked.
"Yeah, I think we got everything we need this afternoon. If the plan works, we won't need much in the way of supplies. But it's better to have a few things that we never use."
"Think we ought ta get some petrol for the car?"
"Yeah, we might have to use it more than for wandering out here. Our playboy pilot might not be able to get one of the Hun planes off the ground. Or whatever."
Doyle started the car, backed it quietly out of the woods, and drove carefully back toward the brightly lit city. After fueling the car, he found a quiet beer hall and parked nearby. The two agents checked the time. They still had a few hours until they had to rendezvous with the Americans, and took the opportunity to enjoy a hearty meal and a couple of beers.
Hutch had considered very briefly checking out of his hotel, but common sense told him checking out late at night without his luggage would tend to rouse suspicions. The niceties of civilization were not for a spy, he mourned silently.
He had put on the heavy clothes provided by the English agents, insisting that Starsky put on an extra shirt and his leather jacket with the fur collar he had bought somewhere on his trip across Germany. It could be cold flying at night, depending on the altitude, even in the balmy summer of Europe.
The two Americans had gone down the back stairs to the alley behind the hotel. Earlier in the day Hutch had checked to make sure that the back stairs did indeed lead to the alley. He didn't want to miss the British agents simply because he had gotten lost on the way to the rendezvous.
Once in the dank alley, Hutch pulled out his pocket watch and verified the time by the dim bulb over the doorway. They were a few minutes early. As if of one thought, he and Starsky moved away from the lighted doorway and waited behind some fragrant garbage can outside the entrance to the kitchen. It was late enough that the kitchen was empty of even dishwashers and busboys.
"It's hard to believe that we're actually gonna get away," Starsky whispered. There was no obvious reason to whisper, but the circumstances made both men jumpy. Time progressed at a snails pace as in all waiting situations, but this seemed interminable. Hutch couldn't check his watch since this area was not illuminated. He thought with bleak humor it would be just their luck some criminal would try to knock them on the head for their cash. He still had plenty of money and hoped that he would no÷ have a use for the French Francs stowed in his money belt. The diamonds he had naively pinned his hopes on to bribe the guards rested in the same belt as well.
Starsky punched him in the ribs as a shadowy figure appeared at the end of the alley. Both Americans shifted farther back into the meager cover provided by the garbage can and wall. Watching the slowly advancing man, Hutch was relieved to recognize Doyle's slender form and distinctive hair style. Reminiscent of Harpo Marx at times, Hutch thought wryly.
He nodded at Starsky and they slipped out of their hiding place. Doyle notice the movement at once and motioned them to him. He nodded approvingly at their mode of dress and lack of encumbrances. "Bodie's parked the car at the end of the alley. You two all set?"
At their affirming nods, he quickly led them back to the waiting motor. Bodie had the car idling and it took only moments before the four men were scooting down the street in the small bug.
"We've found a place in the woods to leave our faithful steed. And I think there are a few places in the wire where we can slip through," commented Bodie as he turned down another narrow street. "As you guessed, the security seems to be a bit lax. I'm not complaining, ya understand." Bodie seemed to have chosen an untraveled route to leave the city. Hutch fully approved since their time could be running out. The bodies at the house could be discovered at any time, though somehow he kept forgetting the two murders.
"Nowhere's the plan," Bodie stated. "Doyle and I will cut the wire and if there are any guards, we'll take them out. You, Hutchinson, concentrate on getting to a plane and doing whatever pilots do before takeoff. Doyle and I will cover you. You, Professor, stick with your mate and get on that bloody plane. That's about as detailed a plan as we can have. Things may happen fast."
"And Hutchinson," Doyle interjected, "you are to get the Professor out of here tonight. If something happens, you're to go without us. We have other contacts in Germany and can make our way to them. But your first job is to get the Professor out of Germany. Understand?"
Hutch nodded and echoed, "I'm to see that Starsky gets out of Germany tonight, no matter what."
"Yeah, that's the drill. All of the rest of us are expendable except him," Bodie said grimly, knowing if the tables were turned the pilot would be left behind.
It seemed there was nothing more to be said as the cramped car continued its journey through the quiet streets and into the countryside. Each man had his own concerns and thoughts regarding forthcoming events. Starsky was especially upset that getting him out would take precedence over the escape of the British agents. He didn't like it, but then had set down the rules. It was their game.
The small German car skittered roughly down a sharply inclined dirt lane, then Bodie maneuvered it off the road and through the underbrush. He stopped after about fifty feet, and all four men extracted themselves from their crowded quarters. Bodie opened the boot and brought out his kit bag. The other three men blackened their faces and hands at his direction, as he did his own, then he issued out the guns. Hutch had his Luger weighing down his pocket, Doyle had his Webley plus the Sten gun. Bodie just had the revolver he had been carrying the two previous nights, and was stowing other items around and on his person. Doyle checked his knife in the sheath at the nape of his neck. Starsky wasn't too upset not to be armed as he had never had any experience with weapons of any kind.
Doyle began tearing loose branches from the bushes in the area and covering the car. Hutch saw what he was doing and began to help. As Bodie finished stashing objects on his person, he adjusted the straps on his bag to slip it on his shoulders, leaving his hands free. Starsky made himself useful helping Bodie lift and settle the pack comfortably. When the car was hidden as well as it could be, the three men turned back to Bodie who nodded toward the deeper forest.
"About half a mile that way is the wire. Doyle and I will go first and take out the sentries. Hutchinson, you get in fast and see about a plane; one close to where we go through might be nice. But use your best judgment."
Hutch nodded and followed as the two British agents began leading the way through the trees. The light rain of the day had dissipated, but the clouds hung low to the ground, making it a great night for breaking and entering. Hutch simply hoped he could get the plane off the ground on an unfamiliar airstrip. He knew the overall layout of the runways, but not having seen them would make it a bit difficult. He could only hope there were few trees and power lines. Bodie might not like moonlit nights, but pilots loved them.
The hike was a pleasant diversion for Starsky. He hadn't been out and felt free for the first time since he had hiked in the hill above LA in March. He watched his three companions and tried to be as relaxed and casual as the two English agents seemed to be. There was no chatter between the four of them. The clouds that were worrying Hutch seemed to be lifting more each moment. The front that had obscured the area seemed to be slowly leaving so at least they might luck out and have a break when he was trying to take off.
Eventually the trees became wider spaced and the forest opened up into a clearing, with a few sparse bushes and occasional trees dotting the landscape up to the barbed wire of the airbase compound. All four men instinctively hunched over as they covered the short distance to the wire. Doyle and Bodie brought out their wire cutters and went to work on it. Everyone froze as steps were heard. Doyle nodded at Bodie and then both slipped through the hole in the wire. Two sentries were making their patrol sans dogs.
Crouched down in the shadows provided by the sparse trees that lined the compound just outside the wire barrier, both agents checked their preferred weapons. Doyle had his knife in his hand, but Bodie was empty--handed. For very quiet operations he liked to use his bare hands. As the two sentries moved past, the agents silently rose. The Germans weren't looking at the area they were patrolling, but foolishly chatting quietly. Bodie grabbed one around the neck while Doyle grabbed the other. There was a soft sigh as Doyle dropped his with a quick knife across the throat. Bodie put his other hand on the back of the head of his guard and jerked quickly. This German also died quietly. Bodie took the Nazi's rifle and with ease levered a shell into the chamber. He moved farther onto the tarmac and scanned the area, then nodded to his partner.
Doyle, who had stationed himself close to the wire, motioned for the Americans to move onto the base. Hutch took the lead and began looking for the planes that were supposed to be stored on the perimeters of the base. The only likely looking one was about a hundred yards down the fence. It was a three-engine job vaguely reminiscent of a Ford Tri-motor. Hutch notice a fuel truck sitting near it and hoped it had been fueled.
The four men started toward the plane as Hutch indicate with a wave of his hand that was the one he would like to try. The men jogged down the runway apron, Bodie leading the way with the German rifle held across his chest, his finger on the trigger. Hutch and Starsky loped between the agents while Doyle ran easily a few feet behind the others. Periodically he stopped and trotted backwards scanning the area to their rear.
"I'll check it out," Hutch puffed as he wrestled the small door behind the wing open and brought the steps down to the tarmac. Everyone flinched and looked around nervously as the metallic sounds rang loudly in the now clearing night. All were aware that sounds could either travel quite far in such weather conditions or that the diminishing cloud cover could muffle them.
Hutch boarded the tri-motor and went forward to the cockpit. Doyle unstrap the Sten gun from his shoulder and cautiously scanned the area around that side of the plane. Bodie crouched down, holding the sentry's weapon at the ready, and slipped around the tail section to observe that area.
Hutch emerged from the plane a short time later, announcing. "It's about outta fuel. Can you two work the pump while I put it in the tanks?" Both English agents nodded. Doyle handed the Sten gun to Starsky, quickly demonstrating how it worked, and adding that the safety was off and a round chambered. Bodie slipped out of his pack and set it on the ground near the tail section. He carried the Nazi's rifle to the tank truck where he leaned it carefully against a rear fender. It would be hand there in case of trouble.
Hutch took the hose and climbed up onto the wing of the plane. The agents moved over to the tank truck and began pumping the mechanism in turns. While Doyle pumped, Bodie would hold the rifle at the ready and paced around the truck. When Doyle tired, Bodie would take over the pump and Doyle, the rifle. The process was long and nerve racking until Hutch was finally satisfied there was enough fuel in that wing tank. Then he climbed down and made for the other wing, dragging the hose. Doyle protested, but Hutch explained that for take off the plane would have to be balanced in weight on both wings and he wasn't sure he could do it from the cockpit. The two agents again began their turn and turn again pumping and watching.
In the meantime Starsky paced around the plane, hoping against hope no one would notice the activity at the bomber. He tried to remember all he knew of guns, but his mind was a blank. All he could think of was that one pulled the trigger and bullets came out of the barrel, and he hoped that was all he had to know. He occasionally glanced at the pumping process, wondering when it would be finished. He shifted the awkward, to him, machine gun in his arms and continued his pacing to the other side of the plane.
An eternity later Hutch climbed down from the wing and carried the hose back to the truck. He was sweating from his efforts as were the two agents who had been doing the work.
"Now I'll go do the pre-flight check," he said to his three companions. He ran quickly behind the wing and climbed up the short ladder into the body of the plane.
Starsky handed the Sten to Doyle, who began patrolling the other side of the plane away from the door to the cargo/passenger hold. Bodie grabbed up his pack and tossed it in through the open doorway. At that moment one of the three engines of the tri-motor coughed and spluttered, then fired up raggedly. This distraction caused the three men at the back of the plane to flinch then glance around at the enormously loud noise.
Bodie motioned for Starsky to enter the plane as Doyle came around from the other side. At that moment Bodie was struck hard above the waist by a large black dog. The dog was silent except for a few low growls as he went for the agent's throat. The impact of the dog took the agent down to the tarmac with the dog on top. He had managed to get one arm up to protect his throat and the other hand was pulling at the dog's head. He couldn't grab the animal's neck because of the heavy spiked collar it wore.
Doyle started toward his partner as a heavy caliber gun went off. He staggered and burned off a heavy burst of fire as he was falling. The dog's handler continued coming, but his shots were going wild for he was dying as he fell. Even with a wound in the leg, Doyle's fire had laced a neat pattern across the man's chest. Doyle heard the snarls of the dog increase in volume and knew he had failed his mate--he had promised to take care of the dogs for him.
Starsky saw the fallen German rifle and dashed for it. He thought of firing at the dog, but was afraid of hitting the struggling agent. He grabbed the gun by its muzzle and stock then swung the butt in a short arc, connecting with the dog's ribs and scraping along its head. The animal yelped and switched its attention to Starsky. He righted the gun and lunged with the bayonet in an unconscious but classic thrust. The razor--sharp knife entered the dog's chest and it howled briefly as the bayonet pierced the pericardial cavity and finally the heart. Starsky dropped the weapon in shock as the animal continued to quiver and shudder before it finally lay still.
In the meantime, Doyle was struggling against pain and unconsciousness as his leg throbbed in an icy fire. Bodie was moaning on the ground as he rolled to his knees, trying to get up without touching his hands to the rough surface of the runway apron. He knew at least one pair of fangs had punctured his right hand all the way through between thumb and forefinger.
Starsky rushed to Bodie and helped him to his feet. The first thing he noticed was the man's hands and arms were bleeding, and there was a long gash on his cheek where a tooth had traced a bloody path. from eye to mouth.
The engine on the other wing, then one on the nose began firing up as Starsky silently cheered. Bodie had moved to Doyle and was struggling to lift his partner toward the lowered ladder to the cargo hold of the plane. Starsky grabbed Doyle's other arm and the three made their way up to the door. Doyle climbed in first, favoring his bleeding leg. Bodie couldn't grab anything with his mangled hands, so Starsky lifted him as gently as he could under the arms. Vaguely he thought he heard Doyle shouting at Hutch to get the hell outta there.
As the doorway cleared of bodies, he climbed inside. It took him a few moments to figure out how to put the steps up and swing the heavy door closed. As the steps finally moved into their slot, the big plane turned onto the runway and began moving. With more effort he managed the door before the plane picked up too much speed. Starsky wasn't sure he could have closed it if Hutch had gotten going much faster.
Doyle looked up at the panting scientist and slumped on the floor. As he had thought, there was more to the man than first appeared. He had handled the dog very well. "Thanks, Dr. Starsky," Doyle said with respect clear in his tone. Starsky looked up and nodded, still trying to regain his breath. He was badly out of condition, he decided, if that effort had made him breathless.
"Damn it, Doyle, you said you'd take care of the dogs," Bodie moaned, cradling his lacerated hands. His complexion was chalky under the smeared, black make-up.
"Looks like the Professor did it for me," the curly-haired Brit retorted.
"Yeah. Thanks, Doc," Bodie said, turning his attention to the pale--faced American still sitting by the door.
"I never did anything like that before," Starsky responded. "I never knowingly killed anything before." His voice was shaking with emotion.
"Don't worry about it," Bodie returned. "Those dogs are trained killers. I lost a mate in Spain to one. The damned things are as much soldiers of the Reich as the sentries we killed."
The plane was moving faster down some unseen runway. At least unseen to the passengers. Then there was the strange near weightless sensation as the wheels almost left the ground. Then with a whisper of effort from the three straining engines, the plane was truly airborne. All three men sat quietly as if in awe that it really had happenedº They were in the air over Germany. They might make it back to England. There was almost a collective sigh released from the three men.
The spell was broken as Doyle crawled, favoring his wound, across the narrow fuselage and helped the quivering American take a seat beside Bodie. Both men were pale and shaky. Refusing to worry about his own throbbing wound, Doyle began rummaging through the knapsack Bodie had dropped on the floor before.
Ah, there it was. And unbroken. Seven-year-old pure malt scotch--some of the Cow's private reserve Bodie had snatched a few weeks ago on a dare from Anson after sharing a stake-out of the Japanese Embassy.
"Doyle, you are a lifesaver," Bodie said gleefully, as Doyle handed him the bottle. Gingerly, in deference to his mangled hands, Bodie took the bottle and lifted it to his lips for a heavy swig before passing it to Starsky. He momentarily stared at it then he, too, took a long swallow before handing it to the other agent. Doyle sipped a more moderate amount.
"There's a small first aid kit in the pack. If you wouldn't mind, mate," Bodie said to Starsky.
Starsky began shuffling through the pack and finally found the small case. There were a few bandages and some aspirin, but not a whole lot more. He took out the bandages and notice some small packets underneath, which he thought might contain some sort of powder for a wound. He looked up to see Doyle slitting his own trousers with his knife, sweating rather heavily. He must be in shock, thought Starsk, chiding himself for having been worried about killing a dog when one of his companions had taken a bullet. He shook himself and moved over to check out the large purplish hole in Doyle's leg from which blood sluggishly pulsed out. He felt underneath and found a larger exit wound. He was relieved. From what little he knew of bullet wounds, he was sure it was best that the bullet had passed through the limb.
"What's this powder?" he questioned the sweating man in front of him.
"Sulfa powder, I think. There's some hypos of morphine there too."
Starsky nodded in comprehension and reached once more for the pack. He found the case with the drug ampules.
He hoped the yellowish stuff was that new wonder drug, sulfa. He would hate for the Brit to get an infected leg and maybe lose it because of the necessity of rescuing him. He sprinkled on the powder and then wrapped the leg firmly in the gauze. Doyle nodded his thanks and leaned back against the thin wall of the bird as it thrummed into the night.
Starsky wanted more than anything to go up and be comforted by Hutch, but he saw the misery in Bodie's eyes as he leaned into his partner and knew Bodie needed some attention, too. He took each hand and gently sprinkled the powder, then bandaged the whole hand into a mitten-like configuration. Then he worked on the agent's arms and lastly his face. Bodie was terribly pale and had whimpered a few times during the process. He knew some of the shock was mental from facing the raging dog, as the wounds were mostly quite shallow. Starsky had distracted the animal before it had managed to do more than slash except for the puncture wound. He gave that area special attention.
Starsky loaded one of the syringes, leaned over and showed it to Bodie who nodded resignedly. He was not fond of drugs, but this time the ragged wounds in his arms and hands were a burning fire and he needed relief.
"How do I do this?" Starsky asked Doyle, who was watching the tender ministrations of the American quietly.
"In any large muscle, such as the arm or hip," he replied. Usually he would have had some remark to make about his mate's well-padded rear at this kind of moment, but the look in Bodie's eyes forestalled any such attempt at humor.
Starsky nodded and bared Bodie's well-muscled upper arm. Bodie flinched and screwed his eyes shut before the scientist struck. Starsky had given shots to laboratory animals on occasion, but never to a human before, and he shook as he quickly stuck the needle into the flesh. Bodie froze until the needle was removed. Starsky looked over at Doyle and lifted the needle questioningly Doyle shook his head. "Not yet, anyway." He reached for the pack, shook a handful of aspirins out of the glass bottle and swallowed them with a swig of scotch.
"Think I'll go check on Hutch," Starsky remarked as he repacked the knapsack of the agent. "Holler if you need anything."
Doyle nodded. Bodie's eyes were closed and he slumped heavily against his mate. Either he was unconscious from the drug or had fallen asleep. Doyle shifted and slid his arm around the other agent. Bodie slid down to rest his head on Doyle's shoulder.
Grimacing at the stiffness from his unaccustomed squatting position, Starsky rose and grabbed for an overhead stanchion as the plane's tail wiggled in the air like a cheap hooker's. Holding the bar, he staggered upward toward the cockpit. He slipped gratefully into the right-hand seat next to Hutch who was busily checking gauges and holding the yoke of the craft. He fumbled a little as he buckled the unfamiliar harness when the plane side-slipped in the dissipating weather front.
"What happened back there?" Hutch shouted over the noise of the three motors.
"Another guard with a dog this time," succinctly replied the scientist, leaning back against the copilot's seat.
"Yeah, but Bodie got chewed up some by the dog, and Doyle took a bullet in the leg."
Hutch noted the whiff of liquor on his lover's breath as he leaned close to hear and silently approved, knowing it should relax him somewhat. Perhaps he would even sleep there in the copilot's chair.
Hutch glanced over at the tight expression on Starsky's face. He knew there was more to the story than he was letting on. Time to wheedle it out of him when then didn't have to shout, he decided. He turned back to his controls and checked the compass. It wouldn't do to fly the wrong direction after all the trouble of getting the plane. He thought the fuel gauge said something like half full. Then hadn't gotten as much gas on the plane as he had hoped, but there was nothing he could do about it now. He had found some maps in the cockpit and tried to figure the best route to the west, avoiding the most traveled routes shown. He was flying a southwesterly course and wanted to turn dead west before he ran into the Alps. He had no idea what the ceiling was on this bird and he had no wish to fly into the jagged peaks that made up the Alps.
He pulled up on the stick as he figured he was far enough away from the base now not to be noticed. He hoped the plane had the ability to get above the clouds. He wanted to check the stars and compass to set his course. Like all flyers he used the stars and landmarks on the ground to navigate, or radio beacons. But he was completely unfamiliar with any landmarks so he would have to use the stars and compass. The clouds began to thin then diminished rapidly. The clear night sky was a welcome relief, but he felt a bit naked and exposed.
He checked his position. Basically all this kind of navigation could give him was the proper direction and he was still flying southwest. He computed his airspeed and approximate length of time in the air to determine the rough distance that they had traveled. Hmm...might just be time to turn west. No, best to drop below the clouds to get a look at the ground configuration now that he had confirmation from the stars of his direction bearing. He would do that in a few minutes. He gave them a bit more time to be well away from the base.
Starsky dropped his head back and watched Hutch fiddle with some instruments. The noise of the pounding engines was beginning to bother him just as Hutch tapped him on the knee and held out a set of headphones. He fit them to his head and sighed at the relief. Hutch settled back, as he was satisfied with their course for the moment.
Hutch pulled out a pack of German cigarettes he had found on the pilot's seat. He coughed softly as he lit one with his eyes closed. Starsky knew he was trying to keep his night vision reasonable as well as his nerves calm. He closed his eyes and hoped for some rest. He must have dozed some because his next conscious thought was to wonder why the plane was falling out of the sky. He looked over at Hutch and saw that the pilot was pushing the yoke forward, with the bomber angling down through the thin clouds. During his sleep the plane had traveled out of the front that had been socking in the Stuttgart area.
"What cha doin'?" he shouted at Hutch, trying to make himself heard over the roar of the engines.
"Dropping down to see if I can find any landmarks," Hutch answered, watching the clouds seemingly roll out of his way. It was nearly hypnotic, but pilots learned early to keep the clouds from mesmerizing them. The sky was lightening behind them, the false dawn giving him a bit of help in finding something to navigate by. He was looking for rivers or cities, hoping the river he would find would be the Rhine. He knew once he crossed the Rhine he would be close to being home free. Coming out of the now sparse clouds, he thought he could see a silver ribbon that could be the river. He turned the plane in that direction.
Both men in the cockpit were startled as a small plane dived across their path. Hutch instinctively pulled back on the yoke, bringing the nose of the bomber up. He reached forward to the dash and flipped some switches. There was garbled static from his headphones that Starsky had no chance to understand. The smaller plane again buzzed the nose of the bomber and waggled its wings as it snarled upward in its climb.
"What's he want?" Starsky questioned as Hutch busily worked with the flight controls and the radio.
"Think then want us to identify ourselves."
"Damn! Whatta ya gonna do?"
"I'm heading back for the clouds. Maybe I can lose them. My German isn't good enough to bluff them."
"But perhaps mind is." Both Americans turned to find the British agents standing at the doorway of the cockpit. Doyle was leaning heavily on Bodie's shoulder in deference to his throbbing leg. Bodie was gingerly palming the door frame as the bomber bucked in the slipstream of the fighter as it made another pass.
Hutch yanked off his headphones and mike. He handed them to Bodie as the agent moved up between the seats. Doyle hobbled forward and grabbed the back of Hutch's seat.
"Tell `em she's just been repaired and we're making a test flight," Hutch instructed. "And that we have been having radio problems. I'll fiddle with the sender so there's a lot of static."
"Right. Any thing about their jargon I should know?"
"Probably. But we'll have to chance it."
Bodie began speaking into the mike as the Messerschmidt made another pass in front of the aging bomber. There was a garbled answer as Hutch quickly cut off the radio at the throat-cutting motion of Bodie.
"I don't think I completely convinced him."
"I'm heading for that front just ahead. Maybe we can lose them in the clouds long enough to cross the frontier. I was reasonably sure that I saw the Rhine before the 109 spotted us."
Doyle settled with a sigh to the floor of the crowded cockpit. Bodie continued to lean over the two shoulders and watch the upcoming clouds. Hutch had switched the radio to receive only. Bodie listened to the radio traffic between the 109 and its base. Dawn was definitely lightening the sky.
"Think they're a bit suspicious," Bodie commented as the radio traffic continued. "Better get into those clouds as soon as possible."
Hutch advanced the throttle of the old bomber to the maximum. He no longer was worried about fuel economy. No use saving fuel if then were to be shot down momentarily. The plane began to vibrate somewhat as her engines extended themselves. The weather front was coming up fast, but Hutch could see that the fighter was shadowing them closely. He wasn't sure the clouds were dense enough to shelter them.
"Bloody hell!" Bodie snarled. "They've twigged to the missing plane and that this might be it." The clouds were growing into slightly heavy wisps around the cockpit windows. Hutch could see the fighter changing course and heading directly for them. Then the clouds obscured it. Hutch changed altitude and direction rapidly, not choosy as to where he went. His course was now more south than west and his altitude 1,000 feet higher. He was still pushing the old bird, and her engines were beginning to vibrate worse. He wondered if her mechanical problems had really been solved back at the base. He turned again toward the west, and changed altitude once more, hoping he was still headed toward the French border. If his maps and charts had been right, it wasn't far from the Rhine to the border in this area.
Time stood still in the cockpit. No one said anything or even tried to speak over the noise of the straining motors. The plane bucked and yawed in the heavy clouds as lightning flashed through the gray masses. The wind began tossing the plane like a chip of wood on a summer breeze.
"Gonna haveta go down and get out of this if I can," Hutch shouted. The others nodded.
Hutch pushed down on the yoke and the bomber responded almost in relief. The wind died a bit and suddenly the plane was out of the clouds and into a graying dawn. The fighter wasn't in sight. Hutch took another reading on his compass and adjusted his course. All four men scanned the overhead clouds and the area beside and below the ship. The bomber droned on as the light expanded from the horizon behind them.
Again time moved at a snails pace as Hutch scanned the ground for any Landmark. He could only keep on the westerly heading, hoping France was somewhere close.
Bodie lowered himself to the deck, but continued scanning the sky around and behind the bomber. Hutch was fighting the controls as the vibration continued to build in the starboard engine. He kept glancing out the window, hoping that the engine wouldn't fall off. He checked the other engines and they seemed to be performing sturdily. It was just the one on the starboard side that seemed determined to cause trouble.
"Aw, shit! Fighter at two o'clock high, I think," Doyle snarled as he spotted a shadow coming toward them.
"Fucking hell!" was all the breath Hutch wasted as he began pulling back on the stick, heading for the thunderstorm raging in the clouds above. The elderly bomber was maddeningly slow in a climb and the pitch change on the starboard engine though Hutch couldn't take the time to worry about it. He just pulled harder on the yoke, praying that he didn't cause a stall.
"Son of a bitch! I think they're shooting at us," Doyle yelled as he saw red flashes from the wings of the oncoming craft. Then the bomber shuddered as the machine guns made a neat row of holes in the fuselage. The bomber seemed to hesitate in its climb. The starboard motor stuttered and missed. Hutch tried to adjust the fuel mixture to the engine, but everything was happening too fast. The engine coughed and made one more attempt to continue firing, then died. The propeller blade began to slow and a blackish streak was sputtering out from behind the big rotary engine.
The fighter had made its turn and was coming back toward them. Heavy caliber wing guns were spurting fire in the emerging sunlight. Hutch tried evasive zigs and zags, but the ME109 stuck like glue to the bomber's tail. The other wing engine began spouting flames back from its prop as the bullets from the fighter disabled it. Hutch quickly cut the fuel mixture off to that engine and the bomber began a slow descent toward the earth. The plane could maintain its flight on two engines, but was never designed to fly on one. The fighter strafed the falling bomber. Bullets laced the wings, but the tanks were so nearly empty no fire started immediately.
The fighter made a lazy turn in front of them and started to fire its machine guns again. All four men watched in horrified fascination as the ME109 dived toward them...suddenly it pulled up and broke off its dive. It circled above them then turned back toward the rising sun.
The ground was rushing up rather quickly as the men in the plane turned their attention away from the departing plane. Hutch was fighting the craft with all his strength, trying desperately to keep the nose up on the bird. Starsky reached for the control in front of him and grabbed it, lending his strength to his lover.
"Hand on! I think this won't be one of my better landings," Hutch yelled as the ground rushed up to meet them. The British agents settled down on the floor and braced themselves as best they could.
* * *
In Starsky's returning consciousness, he became aware of a strong odor of high test gasoline and outrageous pain. He thought he had climbed the height of his pain threshold in the hands of the Nazi agents; however, he discovered at this moment he had barely scratched the surface. Without opening his eyes he catalogued his aches and pains -his chest had a knife sharp pain with each breath he took and his head felt like someone had ripped his scalp off just above his eyes. He opened his eyes at last to a red haze and instinctively wiped his hands over foggy eyes, relieved to see immediate clearing. He glanced down at his hand and saw that the back of it was bloody. He must be bleeding into his eyes.
He wondered how rational he really was, his last memory of pulling for dear life on the yoke that was now pressing painfully into his abdomen. He wiped his eyes again, this time on his sleeve as his vision blurred once more. Part of his last memory had been a kaleidoscope of brown and green rushing up at him. He glanced up at the windshield of the cockpit to find it was no longer there. There were shards of glass all over him. He looked over at Hutch who lay unmoving, draped over the yoke of the plane.
Bright sunlight glared in at the unprotected figures in the plane. He could see without straining much that one of the two English agents was jammed between Hutch's seat and the outside wall of the cockpit. Again he became aware of the heavy odor of gasoline. Damn, then had to get out of there. The plane might go up like a bomb any minute. He struggled with the straps of his seat belt. Glancing over again, he saw that Hutch was breathing shallowly, but showing no signs of consciousness. He shoved hard on the yoke, and it groaned as it moved away from his body, no longer pinning him to the seat.
Gingerly testing his limbs, he found that all of them seemed to function, more or less. He unbuckled his harness and clambered out between the seats. He saw that Bodie was blinking his eyes and looking around the shattered ship. Bodie went through the process of testing his own limbs, and seemed to be surprised everything was working. He looked up at the nearly standing Starsky. "Gotta get outta here," he muttered. "That's petrol I smell."
"Yeah," Starsky nodded, extending his hand to Bodie who grabbed it, then swore as he tried to stand.
"Think me leg's a bit tricky," he murmured. "But there's no help for that now." He paused and leaned on Starsky and the seat in front of him. He nodded toward Hutch. "Is our pilot alive?"
"I think so."
Moving crabwise, Bodie held onto the seat and leaned toward Doyle, feeling under his chin for the large vein that flowed in the neck. He turned back to Starsky and nodded with relief. "So's Ray. Let's see if we can get `em outta here."
Starsky and Bodie gently pulled Doyle's legs out straight. The curly-haired agent moaned and threshed his arms briefly. He didn't regain consciousness, but he was feeling the tug on his limbs.
"Must have a broken leg," Bodie commented, leaning down to get a different grip on the man, this time in his belt. Starsky couldn't be of much help until Bodie got Doyle out into the aisle. With much grunting effort, Bodie managed to get Doyle into the area directly behind the cockpit.
"I'll manage him. See what you can do with Hutchinson," Bodie ordered, trying to gently drag the unconscious Doyle down the narrow fuselage toward the hatch which had popped open on impact with the ground.
Starsky tugged on Hutch's arm without much success, then saw the chair Hutch was still strapped to had broken when the plane crashed. He moved around behind the seat, then pulled Hutch and the seat away from the mangled controls of the ship. Then he went back, unbuckled the harness, and pulled Hutch as gently as he could down onto the floor of the plane. He checked him for broken limbs. Bodie shouted at him.
"Hurry up, Professor. I think this plane is getting touchy. It might go up any minute. Get your mate outta there. We'll check him over later." Starsky nodded at the sense of the order.
He took Hutch under the shoulders and began backing down the narrow aisle of the bomber, wincing as his head bumped various unidentifiable piece of the craft hanging from the ceiling. He struggled on down the long passageway which seemed like a long black tunnel that was getting longer and blacker by the minute. He stopped, panting, raised one arm, and wiped it over his eyes. Without looking, he knew his scalp wound was bleeding again, at the same time aware he was nearly at the door. Bending down and fighting the ensuing dizziness, he began tugging on his burden again. The effort of staggering into the door frame made his vision flutter red and black, and he leaned drunkenly against the door frame. Bodie appeared at his side and together they managed to slide the unconscious blond from the plane.
"Let's get as far away from here as we can," Bodie said, taking up his partner. He tried to carry Doyle over his shoulders, but finally had to set him down and drag him.
Starsky stumbled behind, dragging Hutch and not noticing much about where the agent was leading. Blindly he followed until his feet went out from under him and he tumbled down a slight incline, the whole world slipping away. He distantly heard Bodie curse lividly--then there wasn't much at all until a heavy weight shoved him down into something soft and squishy.
* * *
Bodie watched as Hutch rolled into the drainage ditch on top of the now unconscious scientist. The death grip the Professor had had on his friend as he passed out assured that Hutch came down on top of him.
Bodie slipped down the slope to throw himself on top of the moaning, half-conscious Doyle as he heard the unmistakable whoosh of petrol alighting. Then there was the artificial thunder of the remaining wing tank exploding--one wing had been completely dismembered on impact. He ducked his head into Ray's shoulder as bits of debris pelted the figures in the ditch. The crackling of the burning plane continued as he rolled over and watched black smoke begin to obscure the cobalt blue of the morning sky.
They wouldn't go undiscovered long, he knew. But who would discover them was anybody's guess. The American pilot had done his best with the unarmed, awkward plane, but the old bomber hadn't ever been much of a challenge for the modern ME109. It had swooped and fired its machine guns at leisure. He wasn't sure who it had broken off the engagement before finishing off them off.
As the burning plane continued to snap and pop, Bodie watched the sky above him. He had thought of trying to wake up his companions and get them marching somewhere, but he knew the condition of his ankle wasn't going to allow anything like that. He was reasonably sure Doyle had at least one broken leg plus the bullet wound. The Professor must have a severe concussion considering the scalp wound and the way it bled. He wasn't sure about the pilot, but guessed he probably had a concussion as well.
They had given it their best shot. If they were still in Germany, Bodie hoped for a quick execution. He pulled Doyle around and held him in his arms before succumbing to the ever-encroaching blackness. He vaguely heard a clanging as he slipped down deeper, and wondered what the bell was. Perhaps it was a nearby church. At that point he didn't care.