Author's Notes:

The following story is a work of fiction, and is in no way intended as a reflection on any real person. No profit is being made, and no infringement on rights held by others is intended. The story contains adult themes as is intended for a mature audience.

For those not familiar with the premise of Hogan's Heroes, it was a 60's sitcom which focused on a group of five prisoners of war in a German POW camp during WWII. Led by Colonel Robert E. Hogan were Sgt. Andrew Carter (a sandy-haired, blue-eyed American who served as the explosives expert), Sgt. Baker (an African-American who served as the radio expert), Corporal Peter Newkirk (brown-haired, blue-eyed, and British, served as resident pickpocket, safecracker, etc.), Corporal Louis LeBeau (dark brown hair, brown eyes, 5'4" Frenchman who was an accomplished chef and assumed a number of "talents" and aliases to suit Hogan's schemes). Hogan himself was American, with dark brown hair and devilish brown eyes and a wonderful smile. He consistently outwitted the Nazis and invented outlandish schemes to further the Allied war effort. The "heroes" managed their operation from a remarkable network of tunnels beneath the prison camp with entrances beneath dog houses, tree stumps, old stoves, barracks bunks and various other locations. The guys assisted other prisoners and sympathizers to escape to England by providing clothing, forged papers, etc., and maintaining regular radio contact with London. They used a number of Underground contacts, which included Oscar Schnitzer, the man who delivered "fresh" guard dogs to the camp–dogs that seemed only vicious to the Germans.

The camp was run by Colonel Wilhelm Klink, generally portrayed as a vain, inept officer Hogan could easily dupe to accomplish his plans. The six-foot-tall, bald Klink's trademark was his monocle, and the riding crop he often carried tucked beneath his arm as he strode around the compound. Though he did attempt to maintain discipline, and didn't blatantly sympathize with the prisoners, he was not given to sadism or any sort of brutality with the prisoners. The Sergeant of the Guard, Schultz, was the rotund, streudel-eating, good-natured soul who made the phrase "I know *nothing*!" famous. Throughout the series, he either blatantly turned his head to the prisoners' operation, or was easily bribed with candy bars, LeBeau's cooking or other goodies to let them go about their business unhampered.

Other supporting characters included General Burkhalter, a portly man with a significant temper who was Klink's immediate superior. He had little respect for Klink as an officer, but allowed him to retain his command as he was the only kommandant who could claim he had never had a successful escape from his camp (which was due to Hogan's no-escape rule–he and his men processed other escaping prisoners through their system, but they remained behind). Major Hochstetter was the blustery Gestapo man, a bit on the short side with dark hair and a mustache, with a unique voice that is hard to describe (a little high-pitched) who had almost no patience with Klink and frequently arrived in the camp to stir things up a bit. Fraulein Hilda was Klink's secretary, a comely blonde who maintained a flirty romance with Hogan over the duration of the series, though there was never any indication that the romance was serious or destined to last beyond the war.

Though Hogan's Heroes was a comedy, given the location and the nature of the show's premise, there is considerable dramatic potential. This story is a drama.

For those readers not familiar with The Sentinel, the series ran for four seasons (1996-1999), and featured Detective James (Jim) Ellison, a former Special Ops/Covert Ops military man who also served as military liaison to the CIA.  During a mission, Jim's helicopter goes down in Peru.  He is the only survivor, and is stranded there for 18 months, during which his "sentinel" abilities resurface--all five senses are heightened far beyond normal human levels.  Once he's rescued, his senses go "offline" until an isolated stake-out reawakens them.  Through some chance circumstances, as Ellison is struggling with a condition he doesn't understand and worries about his sanity, he happens to encounter doctoral student Blair Sandburg, who is a teaching fellow at Rainier University.  His dissertation subject is Sentinels, as described in a book by Richard Burton ("the explorer, not the actor," Blair explains).  Reluctantly, Jim agrees to work with Blair, who will help him gain control of his senses in return for the opportunity to study Jim for his dissertation.  In the fourth episode, an explosion leaves Blair homeless, and he moves in with Jim for "a week at most."  The week lasts the remainder of the series, and the two men become close friends and long-term working partners, solving tough cases and honing Jim's abilities to utilize his senses.  For those of us with slash leanings, there are abundant volumes of lovely subtext to work with!

For the purposes of this story, Jim and Blair are transported back to the 1940's, to World War II Germany, and the circumstances of their first meeting is not the same as in the series.  Jim's military experience in this story does not follow the path of the series.  I primarily included it in the author's notes to provide a bit of background for the origin of the canon characters.

Important Note:  Please realize that this story is set in the 1940's.  Therefore, some of the attitudes and references to homosexuality and other social issues will be more reflective of those times.  You may hear some "good characters" pondering some pretty archaic and unacceptable ideas/terminology by today's standards.  Just remember, these characters lived when homosexual activity was a crime.  Their childhoods would have occurred in the 1920's and 1930's.  We've still got a long way to go, even now, in accepting alternative lifestyles, but at least a lot of people are moving in the right direction.  Back then, there was no such progress, and no widespread public attempt to make any.

Pairings:  Hogan/LeBeau, Jim/Blair

Summary:  After accidentally bombing Stalag 13, a pilot crash lands nearby.  The American captain soon proves to have some interesting and unusual abilities, which Hogan puts to work in his quest to determine if an unconventional visiting scientist is truly a collaborator or is in need of rescue from the Nazis.  As the pilot and the scientist forge a friendship, Hogan deals with some difficult news and some unsettling feelings for one of his men.

Warnings:  Some language and violence, explicit m/m sex.  Not a story for kids--grown-ups only, please.

Disclaimers:  The characters from Hogan's Heroes and The Sentinel aren't mine.  My original characters are.  The song lyrics aren't mine, either.  If they were, I could quit my day job and do this full time. :-)  "If Tomorrow Never Comes" is based on B*rry M*nilow's version (yes, I'm avoiding the robots with the *'s).  I believe it was written by G*rth Br**ks.  "Moonlight Serenade" is an old standard.  I got my lyrics from...yes, you guessed it...B*rry M*nilow's version of it.



Candy Apple

If tomorrow never comes
Will he know how much I love him?
Did I try in every way
To show him every day
That he's my only one?

If my time on earth were through
And he must face this world without me
Is the love I gave him in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes?

'Cause I've lost loved ones in my life
Who never knew how much I loved them
Now I live to feel regret
That my true feelings for them never were revealed
So I made a promise to myself
To say each day how much he means to me
And avoid that circumstance
Where there's no second chance
To tell him how I feel

A light snowfall dusted the grounds and clung to the roofs of the weathered wooden buildings of the prison camp. On a night like this, even the barbed wire could glisten a bit with the dampness of the elements. From an aesthetic point of view, it was quite beautiful, in an odd sort of way. When you weighed nearly three hundred pounds and had been walking guard duty for close to twelve hours, all it meant was that the ground was slipperier, the air was damper, and the snow that had lightly settled on your shoulders like a bad case of dandruff was now starting to melt from your body heat, and seep through the fabric to make you as miserable as possible.

Add to that, nothing interesting had happened for weeks. Even Hogan and his men had been fairly quiet–which, in itself, should have made Sergeant Schultz nervous–but he was too cold and tired to speculate on what that might mean. Schultz had seen enough to know that Hogan had a veritable underground maze of tunnels, and yet no one ever escaped from Stalag 13. Whatever Hogan and his men were up to down there, Schultz was of the confirmed opinion he was better off seeing, hearing, and knowing nothing.

The silence of the night was shattered by the distant but approaching sound of bombers flying overhead, and the answering roar of the anti-aircraft guns firing into the dark sky. The whole conflict was moving closer, closer than it normally did. This was a POW camp, after all, and while the Allies might bomb anything else in Germany, this was sacred ground in deference to the safety of the Allied prisoners housed there.

It was sacred ground until tonight. A single bomber was flying straight toward them, the ominous thunder of its engine coming undeniably closer. Schultz paused by the door of Hogan's barracks as the officer himself and several of his men crowded into the doorway. Men were filling the doorways of all the barracks now, craning their necks to see what was happening. Colonel Klink, the kommandant, emerged on the porch in his nightshirt, robe, and slippers, no cap on his bald head as he struggled to get his monocle in place to watch the spectacle.

In a sense, it was like watching your own impending doom, because as the bomber drew closer, apparently undeterred by the presence of Allied prisoners, there was no good place to hide. Well, Colonel Hogan probably has a spot, but he wouldn't hide while his men were blown to bits anyway, Schultz thought.

Though Hogan was the enemy, the handsome, young-for-his-rank colonel with the dark brown hair, devilish brown eyes, and impish smile was almost always nice to the portly guard, loaning him money, sharing candy, or willing to lend a listening ear. Schultz was not so naive as to ignore the fact that he usually gave Hogan more information than he should have in exchange for his kindnesses, but he still admired Hogan's concern for his men and his strong leadership of the prisoner population. It was quite a contrast from Kommandant Klink's own leadership abilities. Schultz often found himself realizing that Hogan had far more control over the daily events than Klink did. And that honestly didn't bother Schultz a bit.

But the now deafening roar of the bomber swooping overhead did, and the expected and yet shocking impact of the bomb that landed just outside the gates sent most of them sprawling to the ground. The alarms went off, though the front searchlights did not, as the two towers were now a pile of rubble, the men in them probably dead or horribly wounded. A new private, only eighteen years old, had been assigned by Schultz, as Sergeant of the Guard, to man one of the towers. In the other tower was a guard Schultz had served with for nearly three years. The losses of war never came so close in the shelter of the prison camp, but that fragile sense of safety had just been shattered into as many pieces as the guard towers and most of the front gate and fencing.

Another crash followed, presumably the misguided pilot meeting a fiery end a few miles from the camp he'd just inadvertently bombed.

As soon as he was back on his feet, Hogan was working diligently at calming his men, making sure no one took advantage of the downed fence and towers and got himself shot by the guards that remained. He sported a bloody nose and a wound on his forehead, but he merely swiped at his nose with the back of his hand and kept moving. Many of the men who'd been knocked to the ground by the blast were temporarily stunned, or moving slowly as they assessed their own injuries or lack thereof. Hogan pulled a few of his men aside and gave them brief instructions, and before long, they were moving among the decreasingly chaotic crowd of prisoners, directing those with injuries to wait outside the infirmary.

Meanwhile, Schultz had heaved his own considerable bulk off the ground, relieved that he'd only had the wind knocked out of him. Too bad he couldn't say the same for the tower guards and a couple of guards at the front gate. Klink was bustling out to the chaos now, his coat and hat pulled on over his nightclothes, riding crop under one arm, cracked monocle back in place.

"Schultz! Call the men to attention!" Klink ordered, and Schultz did his best, blowing his whistle and barking out orders. Those guards not injured in the blast joined the effort, and before long, the men were at least orderly, if not all in their usual groups. Hogan approached Klink.

"I've ordered the men with injuries to line up at the infirmary. I assumed you'd want to have Sergeant Norton and Corporal Patterson set up shop there to start treating patients," Hogan said, using his generally fool-proof technique of letting Klink feel that the idea was his. That gave it the best chance for success.

"Yes, of course. Schultz, see to it that Corporal Berger makes himself available to treat our injured men in the guards' barracks. I've called for ambulances for the men at the gates and in the towers," Klink said, explaining his brief absence from the scene immediately following the blast. "Your people, Hogan. Barbarians, all of them, bombing their own men!"

"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose, sir. The plane was obviously malfunctioning. Probably hit by one of your people's anti-aircraft guns."

"Schultz," Klink said, before dismissing the guard, "I want you to send a search party into the woods. If that pilot bailed out, I want him found!"

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," Schultz responded, saluting, before rushing off to follow orders.

"You men may think that this disaster is an opportunity for escape," Klink began, addressing the prisoners. "But I assure you, this camp is still under the iron grip of security that has made Stalag 13 the toughest POW camp in Germany!"

Hogan rolled his eyes at the pretentious little speech, regretting the motion as he head started to throb. Klink went on a bit longer, but he blocked it out, his thoughts with the pilot who barely missed killing all of them with his ill-placed bomb. Unfortunately, the krauts would get him before they could, if in fact he was even still alive.

Klink's diatribe was finally over, and the men ordered back to the barracks. Klink strode into his quarters as the sounds of sirens from the approaching ambulances drowned out the voices of the men as they filed back to their respective buildings. A few moments later, Klink emerged, fully dressed, to oversee the work of the emergency personnel at the gates.

Confident his men were either back undercover in their barracks or in the infirmary being treated by one of the their two resident medics, Hogan returned to his own barracks.

"Let me look at your head, Colonel," LeBeau said, setting a small pan of water on the table, a couple clean cloths next to it. "You should go to the infirmary."

"It's just a bump on the head, Louis, not brain damage," Hogan responded, smiling at the obvious concern in the face of the man he had to admit, if only to himself, was his favorite.

The 5'2", dark-haired French corporal was their resident gourmet chef, but he was also a capable saboteur, and very adept at mastering a number of skills at a moment's notice to make one of Hogan's schemes work. He was an expert tailor who could assemble a flawless German uniform or any number of civilian clothing items their operation might need.

His small stature was only physical. LeBeau backed down from very little, and his loyalty to Hogan and their cause was unshakable. Hogan's fondness for him was in large part due to all he could do, and routinely did, for the operation, but most of all it was for Louis' concern for Hogan's well-being and feelings that had brought him very close to the commanding officer. Despite Hogan's resilient demeanor and usual disdain for anyone fussing over him, LeBeau had a quiet but sure way of offering a kind word or a thoughtful gesture when Hogan needed it most.

Hogan sat at the table and relaxed as LeBeau did his work quickly and efficiently, cleaning and bandaging the small gash on Hogan's forehead. He wasn't even sure what he'd hit it on, but it was throbbing now.

"Here, hold this against it." LeBeau handed him an ice bag filled with snow. "It won't last long, but it might help."

"Thanks, Louis. This'll work great." Hogan smiled, and LeBeau returned it, lingering for a bare instant before cleaning up his supplies. "How bad is the damage to the tunnel system?" he asked, and LeBeau shook his head.

"We have a lot of digging ahead of us in some of the branch tunnels, and our supply of clothing and uniforms needs major cleaning, but the radio equipment is okay except for some minor damage. Kinch said it would take a few hours to get things back up and running. The main tunnel didn't cave in."

"That's good news. Well, subjectively speaking," Hogan added with a slightly frustrated smirk.


Captain James Ellison, US Army Air Corps, was still trying to figure out why his plane had gone off course, and why he'd been forced to bail out. The last thing he remembered was the roar of the bomber engines, the falling bombs, and the flashing and bombardment by the German anti-aircraft batteries. He unfastened his parachute, not thinking his chances were too good of escaping capture. Within seconds, it seemed, he was proven right. A contingent of Luftwaffe guards–a somewhat motley-looking assortment of men who didn't appear to be combat material–began shouting at him to halt. He did so, hands raised in surrender. Even though they didn't look like an efficient fighting force, he was outnumbered and had no chance of reaching his weapon.

A portly sergeant made his way to the front of the group, barking orders at the other men. In contrast to his role as the leader of this somewhat bedraggled-looking enemy contingent, he had a plump, kindly face with sparkling eyes that made Ellison think of Santa Claus without the beard.

"What are you smiling at? Are you crazy?" the big sergeant asked him, his tone holding more surprise than hostility. "Do you know you just bombed a POW camp?"

"I did what?" Ellison asked, his eyes widening, despite his resolution to give the krauts nothing but name, rank, and serial number.

"You just bombed Stalag 13! Oh, you are in a lot of trouble!" he said, shaking a pudgy finger at Ellison. "The kommandant is waiting. Raus!" The sergeant finally thought to aim his rifle at Ellison, as if it were an afterthought. With security like that, I should be stuck in this prison camp all of a few hours, Ellison thought.

"Were there any casualties?" Ellison asked, as he began the trek back to the prison camp, hands on his head, the sergeant immediately behind him with the rest of the German guards following.

"You hit the guard towers!" Schultz accused. "I don't think anyone would survive that."

"Any of the prisoners hurt?"

"Not badly, as far as I know."

Ellison was stunned that the sergeant was conversing with him. Not only was his English excellent, but he seemed to be a willing font of information, not particularly hostile even after Ellison had bombed what was supposed to be "hallowed ground," and probably killed a couple of German guards in the process.

"So there are no guard towers and no front gate now?" Ellison asked.

"You will have to talk to the kommandant. I say nothing else," he concluded.

"What's your name?" Ellison tried again, hoping to at least keep the rapport with the sergeant, even if he finally had remembered not to tell the enemy officer everything he knew.

"Sergeant Schultz. I am Sergeant of the Guard at Stalag 13. Personal aide to the kommandant," Schultz added, a bit of inflated pride in the statement.

"Captain Ellison," Ellison said, venturing a look over his shoulder.

"You are not such a good pilot for a captain," Schultz retorted, and Ellison bristled at that, but said nothing. Truthfully, if he'd dropped bombs on a POW camp, he couldn't really dispute the assessment.


Klink had ordered lights out roughly two hours after the bombing. The men who'd received minor bumps and bruises had been treated if necessary, and while the Germans in camp were still in a state of chaos over damage and casualties, the prisoners could be safely ushered off to their barracks. That gave Klink and his men more undivided attention to place on the challenge of maintaining security with no guard towers and no front gate.

Lurking in the dark, though, Hogan and a small group of his men clustered around a makeshift periscope they'd rigged up through the pipes in their sink, a large pipe ending in an old tomato soup can holding the lens. By tilting up the faucets and peering into the ends of them, one could watch almost anything worthwhile going on outside while restricted to the barracks. With his cap on backwards to keep the visor out of his way, Hogan was doing exactly that now, watching as General Burkhalter's car drove around the piles of rubble where the gate and towers used to be, and headed for Klink's office.

"Long night for the kommandant. Burkhalter just got here," Hogan said.

"Coffee pot?" Kinch suggested. A tall, handsome, mustached African American staff sergeant, Kinchloe was currently Hogan's second in command at the camp, and the resident radio and electronics expert. Most of the multitude of listening devices placed around the camp were Kinch's doing, and the bugs in Klink's office were no exception. He'd rigged them all up to work through a speaker installed in a very innocuous-looking coffee pot kept in Hogan's office.

"Coffee pot," Hogan confirmed, leading the small group back to his office, where Kinch plugged in the pot. The rest of Hogan's inner circle consisted of Corporal Peter Newkirk and Sergeant Andrew Carter. Newkirk, a handsome brown-haired, blue-eyed RAF corporal with a cockney accent, had a talent for cracking safes, picking pockets, doing card tricks, and donning any bizarre sort of disguise imaginable–including masquerading on occasion as an old woman with curiously hairy arms–and adopting a number of voices to make any sort of bogus telephone call or radio transmission Hogan might need.

An American, Carter's sandy hair, blue eyes, farm-boy innocence, and occasional bumbling belied his expertise. He was a bombardier before his capture, and hadn't lost his lust for explosions during his incarceration at Stalag 13. Carter came up with everything from exploding pencils to bombs disguised as centerpieces to explosive charges that brought down some of the key strategic targets for the group's sabotage activities. He also could play a variety of German characters, especially those that bordered on the psychotic, and had even had his finest moment masquerading as Hitler–visiting Stalag 13 and throwing terror into Klink's heart. Of course, that wasn't terribly hard to do.

"How many casualties resulted from the bombing?" General Burkhalter's voice carried over the small speaker. A rotund man with close-cut gray-brown hair, a substantial dueling scar on his right cheek, and a distinct dislike for the camp's bumbling kommandant, Burkhalter had a slightly twangy voice that was unmistakable.

"Three, sir. The guards in the towers, and one of our men at the front gate. Two other guards have been taken to the hospital in Hammelburg, but I am afraid their chances are not good.

"No casualties or serious injuries among the prisoners, though?"

"No, none, sir."

"I find that interesting," Burkhalter said, exhaling. He sounded weary, no doubt rousted out of a nice, warm bed to visit the scene of the bombing as head of the prison camp administration.

"How do you mean?" Klink asked.

"When we capture this pilot, if he is alive, I intend to find out if that strike was intentional."

"But the Allies never bomb POW camps."

"The only area damaged was the front gate and the guard towers," Burkhalter snapped. "Very convenient that not a single bit of damage was done to the barracks. Being the bombing took place late at night, they could assume prisoners would be in the barracks, and the front gate and guard towers would be safe targets. If the Allies are going to strike us at our vulnerable points, we will return the favor. This is an outrage."


"I can't believe he's trying to pin it on that pilot, like he planned it!" Carter protested.

"The krauts aren't known for giving people the benefit of the doubt," Hogan said. "He probably got off course, or had a malfunction."


"My men are combing the woods as we speak, searching for the pilot."

"Good. I would like to handle this without the Gestapo, if possible," Burkhalter said. "I will remain here to interrogate the pilot."

"If he is not dead," Klink hastened to add.

"I think it would be a bit fruitless to question him if he were, wouldn't it?" Burkhalter retorted, his tone dripping with sarcasm.

"Of course, Herr General," Klink replied, his voice almost cheerful in its deference to Burkhalter's annoyance.


"Well," Hogan said, unplugging the pot, "now we watch for the search party to come back. As long as they keep the Gestapo out of it, there's a chance they'll just end up putting him in a POW camp instead of having him shot without a trial."

"Probably this one, if they really want to punish him. I mean, living with the guys you just tried to bomb might be a little awkward," Kinch stated.

"Oui, if it was intentional, he'd have an unpleasant stay, no question," LeBeau agreed.


It had been a long, cold walk back to the prison camp, where an emergency effort was underway to construct a makeshift gate, armed guards and guard dogs patrolling the area. Ellison shuddered as he saw how close the bombs had landed to the barracks housing the Allied prisoners. He still couldn't remember veering off course so drastically...

"Looks like they got him, Colonel," Carter reported, watching the arrival of the guards and the new prisoner through the faucet-periscope.

Hogan and the others gathered around, and Hogan took over the periscope to have a look for himself.

"American, but I can't see much else, seeing as we don't have searchlights at the moment," Hogan added, stifling a slightly evil smirk. He didn't find anything amusing about the close call of the bomber swooping down on the camp, but at the same time, any damage done to the "German war machine," as Klink sometimes called it, was good for a snicker or two. "Down periscope," Hogan said, replacing the faucets to their usual position. "You guys better pretend you're sleeping. Schultz should be coming to get me, though I suspect Burkhalter will try to keep me out of this."

"You're supposed to be there for any new prisoner being questioned, right?" Carter asked.

"Andrew, how many times do we have to tell you the krauts don't always play nice, by the rules?" Newkirk asked, nudging Carter as they sat at the table. The men had kept a silent vigil in the dark waiting for just this sort of development, but now they dispersed quietly to ease into their bunks and feign sleep. Within moments, Schultz came through the door, heading for Hogan's quarters. Hogan startled him by opening the door before he could knock.

"Couldn't sleep," Hogan explained, in answer to the puzzled, startled look on Schultz's face.

"Kommandant Klink wants to see you. We captured the pilot," Schultz confided in a whisper.

"Yeah, I wanna talk to that guy myself," Hogan responded, zipping his brown leather jacket.


Klink's office was brightly lit, and a sharp contrast to the shadowy nighttime compound. The kommandant himself was behind his desk, glowering at the prisoner who stood before him. Burkhalter was seated in a nearby chair, looking as disdained as he always did in Klink's presence. Hogan greeted the two officers, and exchanged wary looks with the new prisoner. He assumed the bombing had been accidental, but if not, he had a few choice words for the new man in his command.

"Colonel Hogan, this is Captain James Ellison, the pilot from your Air Corps that tried to kill all of us earlier."

"Did he admit to trying to kill anyone?" Hogan asked.

"Not in so many words, no, but it is rather hard to do that much damage by accident," Burkhalter interjected, shifting in the stiff office chair that was apparently not comfortable for him.

"He's provided you name, rank, and serial number?"

"Yes, yes, we've been over all that," Klink said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

"Then he's not obligated to tell you anything else."

"We have the option of turning him over to the Gestapo, which would be very unpleasant for him, I am sure," Burkhalter stated grimly. "He would be wise to cooperate."

"Captain, what possessed you to bomb a POW camp?" Hogan asked Ellison, who remained at attention. "At ease," Hogan added, watching the man's stance relax only slightly, though now he was free to have eye contact with Hogan. Hogan was of the considered opinion that it was harder to look someone in the eyes and lie effectively than it was to recite a lie to the wall.

"I was off-course. It must have been an equipment malfunction, sir. I'm well aware of the policies regarding prison camps, and the last thing I would want to do is injure or kill Allied prisoners. Or take unfair advantage of the enemy in an agreed upon safe area," he added, and Hogan had to admire his touch of diplomacy in the presence of the Germans.

"The plane is not salvageable. It exploded when it hit the ground, several miles from here. I doubt we will be able to discern whether or not he is telling the truth," Klink said.

"But the Gestapo has other ways of making that determination," Burkhalter said, rising from his chair and moving closer to the prisoner. "Very effective ways," he added. "And I find it very interesting that only the front gate and the towers were damaged in your little...accident."

"Sir, I've explained to them I was on a routine mission, with no intention of involving Stalag...13?" Hogan nodded confirmation, and Ellison continued. "I thought I was carrying out my assigned duties, not bombing a POW camp."

"The munitions supply is ten miles north of here," Burkhalter said. "Your aim is very bad, Captain."

"You told them your target?" Hogan asked.

"No, sir."

"That target was bombed tonight," Klink clarified.

"He's given you name, rank, serial number, and answers to why he was off-course. He's not obligated to give you more than that, sir," Hogan said to Klink.

"You are both dismissed, for the moment," Burkhalter stated.

"Schultz, escort Colonel Hogan back to his barracks, and put Captain Ellison in the officer's quarters in Barracks 5," Klink said. Hogan offered no objections, as he had a tunnel joining the two buildings. If Ellison proved trustworthy, Hogan would want easy access to the next highest ranking officer in camp, unbeknownst to the krauts.

Hogan didn't make any attempt to talk to Ellison on the walk to the barracks. If the tunnel between the two buildings had survived the blast, he would make his way over there underground as soon as he could safely be absent from the barracks. If not, morning would be soon enough, provided Klink didn't confine them all to the barracks, which was a danger with a downed front gate and no guard towers. It concerned Hogan that the damage might be severe enough to temporarily relocate the prisoners, and if that were the case, their tunnel system would surely be discovered–and if they were all in captivity at the time, it would be certain death, after a stint of Gestapo questioning that would make execution look like an attractive option by contrast.

With that thought weighing heavily on his mind, Hogan entered the barracks, sensing many pairs of eyes on him in the darkness. When Schultz was gone, he spoke.

"He claims the bombing was accidental, and I'm inclined to believe him. They're putting him in the officer's quarters in Barracks 5. How's the tunnel in that direction?"

"We haven't been everywhere yet, Colonel. A few of the smaller tunnels have caved in," Kinch answered.

"Do you want to go tonight, Colonel?" LeBeau asked.

"We've only got an hour or so left of darkness, before roll call. If there's anything Ellison wants to tell me, I'd like to hear it as soon as possible."

"I will go with you if like," LeBeau offered, getting out of his bunk. All the men were still fully dressed, everyone wanting to be ready. For what, no one was quite sure, but it had been an eventful night.

"Fine. Let's go," Hogan agreed, and they used the tunnel entrance beneath the bunk to climb down to the underground maze.

At its largest point, the tunnel system was at least ten feet tall, and well braced. The central chamber was their masterpiece, the area they'd spend the most time excavating and reinforcing. It held the radio and the bulk of their supplies. An adjoining area housed Carter's lab. Some of the branch tunnels were equally large and comfortable, but a number of the other branches were only large enough for a man to crawl through. The tunnel leading to Barracks 5 was slightly larger than that, but not large enough to stand in.

"Looks like it's still open," LeBeau said, peering in the end with the flashlight. He started moving swiftly along the route, on his hands and knees, Hogan close behind him. An ominous rumble froze them both in their tracks.

"The bombs have probably undermined the stability of a lot of these tunnels. Look, Louis, you go back. I'm just going to spend a few minutes with Ellison and then I'm coming right back out."

"What if there's a cave-in?" LeBeau asked, his voice rising a little.

"Then only one of us will be stuck, and you won't draw the thirty days in the cooler for missing roll call." Hogan knew such an absence could only be explained as an escape attempt, and Klink generally handed out thirty-day sentences in the jail-like building known as the cooler, sometimes putting the men in solitary, which were even less habitable cells.

"I'm going with you."

"I could order you to go back," Hogan said, and the two men held each other's gaze a moment.

"We're wasting a lot of time talking about this," LeBeau said, smiling a little.

"Okay, thanks," Hogan responded, grinning before continuing his crawl.


Ellison sat on the edge of the bunk, then got up and started pacing again. The room wasn't large, but he realized it was a nice privilege to have any sort of privacy and space of one's own in such a facility. There were definite advantages to being an officer, though he figured it wouldn't be long before he'd be interrogated more stringently. The krauts wouldn't give up working on a source of information like him. Even an officer with Hogan's legendary reputation would probably not be able to stave off the Gestapo if they decided to interrogate one of his men.

The rats in this place must be huge, and there must be tons of them, Ellison thought, his sensitive hearing picking up the sounds of movement beneath his quarters. The small room contained a set of bunks, a small table that functioned as a desk, and a locker.

And the biggest damn rats in history, Ellison concluded, starting to think there was something more to the sounds he was hearing than the picking of rats. The sounds drew closer, and he watched, slack-jawed, as what he thought was an innocent footlocker swung across the floor to reveal an opening. A moment later, Hogan's head popped up through the hole in the floor.

"Sorry to drop in unannounced," Hogan quipped, climbing out of the tunnel. He turned and offered a hand to his traveling companion, and a moment later, a small Frenchman climbed out, accepting the pull.

"I thought this place had the biggest rats I ever heard," Ellison said, and Hogan chuckled.

"We have a tunnel or two in progress," Hogan said, not quite ready to trust the new man with too much information. "This is Corporal LeBeau, part of my team," Hogan introduced, and the two men exchanged greetings. "This place is clean. No microphones. Anything you want to tell me you couldn't say in Klink's office?"

"Must be very crowded down there, sir."

"Excuse me?" Hogan frowned, and exchanged a puzzled look with LeBeau.

"Before I was shot down, I was part of a sabotage and intelligence team, led by Colonel Wembley in London. It was a mixed team--both American and British officers. Your operation is legendary, sir. Over 500 people have passed through your escape system over the past few years. Your code name is Papa Bear, and your main tunnel entrance from the outside is through a tree stump. I assure, you Colonel Hogan, I'm not a spy. You can check my credentials with London, which I know you can." Ellison watched the wariness in Hogan's eyes, but he knew he was close to earning the officer's trust. "I was present when they debriefed Major Bonacelli after his last spying mission here. He visited Klink to get pictures of a new gun. You sent him a note in his weiner schnitzel," he added, smiling.

"Were you really on a bombing mission after the munitions supply?" Hogan asked.

"Yes. This was a routine mission. But now that I've been shot down, and I'm here, I would consider it an honor to assist your operation any way I can."

"No idea how you got off course tonight?"

"I didn't want to say anything in front of the krauts... I think I might have blacked out, sir."

"Have you been ill?"

"No, not that I know of. Just before I ended up over the prison camp, I remember the noise and the lights from the bombing and the AA batteries were pretty overwhelming."

"Have you been flying night missions long?"

"Yes, sir. I've never had a problem with it before. Actually, I have superior night vision, so they're usually pretty much a milk run for me. You have to believe me, sir. I never would put our own people in danger by doing something crazy like this. I could have just as easily hit the barracks. I wasn't consciously aiming at the towers or the gate."

"Then we just got lucky, I guess." Hogan crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. "We have a couple medics in camp. We'll get you looked over. No need to bring this up with Klink."

"I don't figure I'll be here too long. The Gestapo will probably come for me."

"They'll question you, that's a given considering what happened. Just stick to your story that you got off course. Don't tell them any more than you told Klink and Burkhalter."

"I don't plan to, sir."

"No one ever plans to. But giving them even a shred of extra information might actually make it worse for you. If they get the feeling you know anything worthwhile, they won't give up until they get something. So don't get creative and don't give them an inch. I'd advise holding onto any decoy information you were given, and don't let them have it unless they torture you. Otherwise, they'll only think you know more than you're telling, and they'll torture you anyway."

"Right, sir."

"Roll call is in about a half hour, Colonel," LeBeau reminded, checking his watch.

"We have to get back." Hogan paused. "If they decide to take you to Gestapo headquarters for questioning, we'll do what we can to stop that."

"Thank you, sir." Ellison paused. "What about my role in the operation here? I'd like to help."

"I appreciate that, Captain. We'll talk more after roll call."


The trip back through the tunnel was a hasty one, and the two men emerged in their own barracks just moments before roll call. As the men gathered outside, they noticed the never-welcome presence of Gestapo guards patrolling near the fallen gates. A construction crew was already hard at work, building the platforms that would hold new guard towers while other workers repaired the fencing and worked to reinstall the front gates. Klink took his place to receive the usual report from Schultz of "All present and accounted for," and then began his own little address.

"As you can see, work is already underway to replace the guard towers and the front gate. This latest effort to derail the German war machine has, as usual, failed miserably," Klink announced, more pompous than Hogan had seen him in a long while. He was performing for the Gestapo guards. On a frigid morning like this, Klink usually accepted the report from Schultz, then turned tail and ran into his warm office for coffee spiked with a little schnapps. "Captain Ellison, if you are harboring any thoughts of escape, I warn you, it will not succeed. There has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13. You are now in the toughest POW camp in Germany."

Ellison said nothing, letting the kommandant complete his speech. He felt many pairs of eyes on him, but that was to be expected. Next to Hogan, he was the highest ranking prisoner there, and he'd bombed the camp. Nothing like a splashy arrival. Stealing a glance toward where Hogan stood with the men of his barracks, his suspicions were confirmed that his superior officer was checking him out, sizing him up, and trying to decide just what to do about him. He'd obviously mentioned the right names and the right bits of information to gain Hogan's trust, but chances were good Hogan wouldn't trust him completely without confirmation from London. One thing he knew of Hogan was that he was thorough, and after stepping into one or two traps he managed to scheme his way back out of, he'd become nearly impossible to fool, and fastidious about checking and triple-checking the credentials of anyone who claimed to be a friend.

"...and so, never forget!" Klink admonished, waving an leather-gloved finger at the prisoners. "No amount of disorder or destruction will shake the iron security of this camp! Dismissed!" With that, Klink retreated to his office, and the crowd of prisoners began dispersing.


"What do you think, Colonel? You trust him?" Kinch asked.

"My gut tells me he's on the level, but I want to hear it from London. How long before you can send a message?"

"Well, I'll do the best I can, but I figure the job'll take about three hours. A lot of stuff was knocked around from the explosion. As long as the Gestapo doesn't bring in one of their radio detection units, we'll be all set."

"Okay. Get to work. And nobody say anything until we've talked to London. I don't care how good this guy sounds. He could be a kraut with top-notch intelligence."

"There is no such thing," LeBeau retorted. With Germany occupying his homeland of France, LeBeau had few good things to say about the German military or any of their personnel.

"If he knows all that and he's a kraut--"

"Then we're all in real trouble," Hogan said, finishing Carter's sentence.


James Ellison was born and raised in Cascade, Washington, a good-sized city in the US Pacific Northwest. His family was affluent, though somewhat empty as his mother had deserted them when he was a small boy. Left with Jim and his younger brother, Steven, to raise alone, Jim's father had hired a kindly housekeeper who doubled as a nanny and had thrown himself into his work. William Ellison seldom seemed like a happy man, but he was a driven one, and his drive for success and achievement did somewhat propel Jim to rise to his current rank in the army, and to land him a spot in a special intelligence operation behind enemy lines.

Jim was a police officer in civilian life. Tall, handsome, and muscular with short brown hair, cool blue eyes, and strong, chiseled features, he'd served in the army during peace time, gone home, become a cop, and risen to a detective's job just before the war broke out. Believing Hitler was a much worse mass murderer and criminal than anyone he'd bust in Cascade, he'd signed up to go to war before they could order him back into service. That was the last straw in an already shaky marriage, and his wife, Carolyn, divorced him shortly after he left for duty.

Fortunately, when he was captured, the Germans thought they'd picked up one more enemy soldier, and no more. A young officer, which was a nice find, but not a member of a spying operation. Jim knew that had saved him some unpleasant time in a Gestapo basement somewhere. He'd told Hogan the truth, though, and after Hogan checked him out, he hoped to be welcomed as part of Hogan's inner circle.

After visiting with the camp medic, who could find nothing amiss with his health, Jim Ellison wandered a bit aimlessly around the compound, shivering at the nip in the air, but reveling in a moment alone. It seemed that the environment, the close quarters, the press of other humans around him all the time, was already wearing on his nerves. There was always sound, light, scent, movement... If Hogan knew half of what plagued him, it was unlikely he'd ever gain a position of trust or purpose in the operation. There were times when Jim questioned his reliability, now that his senses seemed to be conspiring against him on occasion, but the chance to work with Hogan was one he didn't want to miss.

Colonel Robert E. Hogan had been a prisoner of war in Stalag 13 for almost three years. His antics were nothing short of legendary among the top Allied intelligence officers stationed in London, and Jim had often found himself as anxious as all of them were to find out how Hogan pulled off the latest "impossible" assignment sent his way. He'd stolen a German tank, delayed an entire SS division, obtained intelligence information that made even the most seasoned spies look unmotivated, and deftly manipulated Klink, and on occasion, other German officers, to accomplish his goals. And that wasn't even beginning to address the number of key enemy targets he'd sabotaged either directly or through some wild scheme–and what Hogan couldn't blow up himself, he talked London into blowing up for him.

Given the length of Hogan's incarceration and the lack of successful escapes, the outward impression was that either the camp security was as airtight as Klink claimed it was, or that Hogan was grossly unmotivated or incompetent to the degree that neither he nor any of his men had managed a successful escape. The truth was, security at Stalag 13 quickly proved to be almost comical in its frequent gaps, so that any prisoner with a real passion for freedom would have multiple opportunities to go over the wire. In Jim's opinion, that made Hogan a real hero--doing everything he did with little or no glory, tolerating the reputation of being either unmotivated or "soft" on the krauts.

Hogan was a man that Jim, if he'd been the enemy, would have never trusted for a second. It was obvious his mind was never completely at rest, and his face was that of a man always up to something, always waiting for another good opportunity to present itself, and always keeping his ear to the ground for any and all worthwhile activities in and around the camp.

Jim smiled as he walked over the uneven ground, wondering when the extensive maze of tunnels beneath the camp would cause the whole central yard to give way. He doubted there was a solid square foot left anywhere. A team of possessed gophers couldn't have more effectively undermined the terrain.

In those tunnels were racks of tailor-made German uniforms, civilian clothes, forgery supplies for papers for any and all occasions, a counterfeiting operation, a metal shop, Carter's chemistry lab where he conjured up all manner of explosive devices, the radio that was their pipeline to the Allied Command, food, room for hiding the many prisoners they routinely helped escape from other prison camps, and numerous other supplies. Jim didn't need Hogan to confirm or deny anything. He'd heard all the stories from Wembley and the others at headquarters. All he needed from Hogan was the chance to prove himself useful so he could become part of an operation he felt sure would be part of history someday.

That was Hogan's primary job at Stalag 13: helping other prisoners and defectors escape from

Germany to London, with the help of the German Underground. It was a job he did adeptly and in surprising volume. Well over five hundred prisoners and other deserters had passed through the Stalag 13 operation in the last few years, and more came on a routine basis.

To aid him in his cause, Hogan assembled an unlikely combination of men. Carter, Newkirk, Kinchloe, and LeBeau were drawn from America, England, and France, and each had their own unique talent. Jim was contemplating his possible niche in the operation when he noticed LeBeau approaching.

"Good morning, Capitain," LeBeau greeted, smiling. "Colonel Hogan wanted me to invite you come over to our barracks for strudel later. I have to use most of it to bribe Schultz, but I keep a little aside for the guys in our barracks."

"Strudel? That gets Schultz to turn his head to quite a few things, huh?"

"It's always good to have a way to get the guards to bend the rules a little," LeBeau replied. "The food here is not exactly gourmet quality, so we have a few extra snacks now and then, when I can get my hands on some good ingredients. During recreation period, Schultz doesn't bother us too much if we wander back into the barracks, as long as we give him a big portion of whatever we've got."

"Thanks for the invitation. I'll be there."

"You have a family back home?"

"I was married, but my wife divorced me when I re-enlisted to go to war."

"Oui, I know how that is. I was married before the war, too. Not too long after I was captured, my wife divorced me." LeBeau shrugged. "Just as well. It wasn't going to work out."

"Mine wasn't going so well, either. But then I always figured if it was, we wouldn't be getting divorced."

"I was a chef before the war. Well, I'm still a chef when I get the chance. What did you do?"

"I was a cop."

"Really? Was it exciting like it is in the American movies?" LeBeau asked, genuinely interested.

"Sometimes. But it's not all gangsters and wise-cracking dames like it is in the movies. A lot of it is just hard work. I made a few good busts in my time. I enjoy it. Busting Hitler would be the ultimate collar, so I figured the street crooks could wait until that crook was out of commission."

"He is an animal. They are all animals. Monsters."

"Sounds like first-hand experience."

"When they occupied France, they took it over, trampled it, infiltrated every corner of it. And the things they do in their Gestapo innocent is not human."

"Things aren't going so great for Hitler and his goons. He's gonna fall. It just takes time."

"You seem very certain of that."

"I am. We'll nail him. He doesn't have the substance or the sanity to last for the long haul."

"I like how you think," LeBeau said, smiling as he fell into step with Jim as they walked around the compound, just stretching their legs and killing time.

"What do you guys do around here all day?" Noticing LeBeau's reluctance to answer, Jim added, "I meant, what do the goons have you doing?"

"We have work details. Sometimes we do work outside the camp, sometimes just little things around the camp. We get paid for the big projects, since under the Geneva Convention, they can't force us to work. We have recreation periods, and exercise periods, and then just some time to kill. It helps to have some good books on hand. I am lucky I can read English, because getting good French books seems a little harder--and getting the English language books isn't easy, either. The Red Cross helps with supplies. They've sent musical instruments, our volleyball net and ball, things like that."

"The krauts seem pretty tame here, or is it as tough as Klink keeps saying it is?"

"Colonel Hogan really stays on top of things. He doesn't let them get away with anything. And Klink's idea of brutality is cancelling the ping-pong tournament."

"Not a bad set-up then," Jim said, smiling.

"It could be worse."

"You know, LeBeau, I'm not a kraut, if that's what Hogan's worried about."

"I couldn't say what Colonel Hogan is worried about. If he has more to say to you, he'll let you know."

"He really is pretty legendary back at headquarters," Jim added. LeBeau smiled, and for an unguarded moment, an expression somewhere between pride and affection passed over LeBeau's features before he remembered to keep his poker face.

"Colonel Hogan is a fine officer. He deserves any recognition he gets from the men at the top."

"You've been with him a long time here?"

"I was here when he arrived." LeBeau looked away, noticing Hogan outside the door of their barracks now, watching the exchange with great interest. "I should get back."

"You didn't ask me Ty Cobbs' batting average yet," Jim quipped, and LeBeau smiled.

"I wouldn't know it either, so why would I ask you? You happen to know who was at the Follies Bergere in 1940?"


Hogan shivered as the wind bit through the leather of his jacket, feeling as if it were cutting through to his bones. Why it was necessary to have a God-forsaken recreation period on a day with sub-zero wind chills was beyond him, but the krauts were big on order and routine. And if this was recreation period, by God, everyone was going outside to enjoy himself. Even if he froze to death in the meantime.

Schultz looked more miserable than the men, his nose and cheeks bright red from the cold. The only thought that made Hogan smile was envisioning the affable guard as Santa Claus, rosy cheeks and all. Carter and Newkirk were putting some half-hearted effort into building a snowman, and LeBeau had slipped back into the barracks for something. The other men were engaging in a slippery football game that looked more wet and awkward than it was fun.

"Lean forward," LeBeau's voice startled him. He hadn't noticed the Frenchman's return, but now, LeBeau was tossing a blanket around Hogan's shoulders, and handed him a cup of hot cocoa.

"Ah, LeBeau, you're a lifesaver," Hogan said accepting the cup with a smile.

"You should get a jacket with wool inside, like some of the others have." LeBeau referred to the sheepskin-lined leather jackets some of the fliers wore.

"I could always pull out my old parka, I guess," replied, sipping the hot liquid and feeling it warming his chilled body. "Orange just isn't my color," he quipped, referring to the ugly orange parka with the fur-trimmed hood that was among his survival gear.

"Neither is blue. The color you turn just before you freeze to death?" LeBeau added.

"Thanks, Louis, I needed that," Hogan said, laughing. "We have a few spares of those jackets in the tunnel, but Klink might notice it and wonder where it came from."

"You give him a lot of credit for being observant, Colonel," LeBeau said, taking a drink of his own hot cocoa.

"No interest in joining in the game?" Hogan nodded toward the football game.

"Why would I do a foolish thing like that? Get colder and wetter and for what?"

"Moving around might make you feel warmer."

"The cocoa is doing just fine."

"It sure is. Thanks, LeBeau."

"You're welcome. I thought I should bring you something before icicles started forming on your cap," he added. "Schultz keeps looking over at me. He's waiting for his strudel."

"You invited Ellison to join us?"

"Oui, I did. He's planning on it. I think he's okay, Colonel."

"So do I. He knows too much of the right stuff. But I can't take a chance." Hogan had no sooner said that when Kinch slipped out the door of the barracks.

"London says Ellison's A-OK. He was part of that bombing mission, and he didn't return to base. The description matches, and the word is, we should involve him in the operation. Wembley came on the line and said if you wanted to talk to him personally, he would vouch for Ellison."

"I guess that's it, then. We show him the operation."

"He also said Ellison's good with weapons, knows explosives–he can't make them but he can identify them and work with them–and he's got the highest security clearance next to Wembley and the other higher-ranking Allied officers."

"Impressive." Hogan took another drink of his cocoa. "Would be easier if he were in our barracks, but I don't want to call too much attention to it with Klink by trying to get him moved. We'll just have to use the tunnels."

"That's another thing, Colonel. The explosions really compromised the safety of a lot of the branch tunnels. We've got a lot of reinforcement work to do before those are safe, and some of them already collapsed."

"What about the tunnel to Barracks 5? It was all right last night."

"It's still open. But until it's checked out, it's risky," Kinch said solemnly. "You and LeBeau chanced it last night."

"We'll have to keep chancing it if we're going to get Ellison involved in our operation. When he comes over for strudel, we'll take him down below as soon as we get Schultz fed and on his way."


Jim watched with some interest the congenial rapport between Schultz and the prisoners as they all ate from the two pans of strudel LeBeau had made. It was obvious the German sergeant had no animosity toward enemy soldiers, and was probably just trying to put in his time until the war was over. With his belly full of strudel and coffee, Schultz took his leave. Hogan, who was sitting at his usual spot at the head of the wood table in the middle of the main room of the barracks, finally spoke the words Jim was waiting to hear.

"We got word back from London on you, Captain," Hogan said. "Colonel Wembley vouched for you personally. Can't get a much better recommendation than that. We'll give you the grand tour of our headquarters underground. Welcome to the Stalag 13 operation."

"Thank you, sir. I'm honored to be a part of it," Jim replied, and Hogan smiled.

"Keep a watch out for the goons, huh?" Hogan said to Carter, who nodded and took up his post at the door. Hogan walked over to a set of bunks and pushed a hidden button on the side of the upper bunk. The lower mattress rose until it was flush with the bottom of the upper mattress, and a ladder was revealed, leading into a subterranean chamber. "After you, Captain." Hogan waited while Jim began climbing down and then followed him.

At the bottom of the ladder, Jim found himself in a large area that was comfortable for him to stand upright, with a few feet overhead to spare. There were primitive light fixtures on the walls holding flames that gave the area an almost cozy glow.

"This is the radio room," Hogan said, leading the way into an adjoining area that housed an impressive array of equipment. "Kinch is our radio man, though most of the guys on my personal team can send and receive messages. As you can see, we've got some extra supplies down here," Hogan said, pulling back a curtain to reveal a clothes rack with various German uniforms and civilian outfits hanging neatly. "LeBeau keeps his real stash of cooking supplies for the stuff he makes for us on those shelves over there," he added, gesturing toward shelves that held a myriad of jars, boxes and other items.

"This is incredible. I was picturing a bunch of little tunnels you had to crawl through. Nothing like this," Jim admitted.

"It's taken a long time to get to this point, but then, we don't have a lot of other activities cluttering up our time. The hardest part was getting enough guys down here working without being missed by the guards. That's where feeding Schultz became a pretty regular activity. As long as we have the Sergeant of the Guard on our side, it helps when other guards spot something unusual. They report it to Schultz. For a couple of candy bars, his memory fails terribly between here and Klink's office."

"Looks like another whole barracks down here," Jim said as they rounded a corner to see several cots lining the walls.

"We sometimes have to stash people down here for a few days, and they need somewhere to sleep. The ground is pretty cold and damp, and we've even helped women escape, and I'm not putting a lady on the ground for the night."

"Women, huh?" Jim asked, raising an eyebrow.

"We had a baroness go through our operation once. We sent her out in an airplane," Hogan said, smiling mischievously. Jim's eyes widened.

"An airplane?"

"It's a long story. Sometime when we have a couple hours and a bottle of schnapps handy, I'll fill you in on the details. You'll see as we move along here that there are a number of branch tunnels. Most of these are crawl-through tunnels. A few are full-sized, but there just isn't time to make them all as good as this one. As you can see, the bombing closed up a few of them," Hogan said, indicating a few piles of dirt belching forth from openings that were partially collapsed tunnels.

"Sorry about that, sir. I know that'll put a cramp in the operation until they're fixed."

"Accidents happen. It's lucky it was just the towers and the front gates. Lucky for us, anyway," he added. "This branch of the tunnel leads to our main exit, through a tree stump in the woods not far from camp. There's a branch tunnel that goes into Klink's quarters, one that goes into the guard's barracks, another into the main kitchen–at LeBeau's insistence–one that comes out under the water tower, another that comes out beneath a dog house in the kennel–"

"Excuse me, sir, but how many prisoners are going to want to go into the kennel? Isn't that a little dangerous?"

"Not when the guy who supplies the dogs works for us," Hogan responded. "Oscar Schnitzer brings a fresh supply of dogs to camp at least once a month, supposedly to keep them from getting friendly with the prisoners. These dogs do a lot of barking, but we feed them, and they're tame. They don't much care for some of the krauts, though. We also use Schnitzer's dog truck to transport people in and out of camp on occasion."


"My guys volunteer for work in the motor pool fairly often, because it helps us get our hands on vehicles, or sabotage Klink's car when we need him to stay put, things like that. As you're involved in various missions, you'll get to know our contacts, and all our tricks."

"I know LeBeau is a chef, but what do the other guys do?"

"Louis does great things in the kitchen, but he's also trained with planting listening devices, setting explosive charges, and he's got a pretty impressive knack of role-playing that comes in handy. He's faked his way through being a French chemist and collaborator, a dance instructor, a dress designer–he handles anything I throw his way. Newkirk did a lot of work on the stage before the war. He can pick anybody's pocket, crack safes, forge documents. Newkirk and LeBeau are both damn fine tailors, too. They made most of the uniforms and clothing you saw on the rack back there."

"Kinch is the radio man–"

"And in charge of all our wiretaps, bugging devices, and so on. The others help, but Kinch is the expert. He's also a staff sergeant, so he's functioned as a second-in-command prior to your arrival."

"I hope he won't feel I'm trying to push him aside."

"Kinch is a good member of the team. He'll do what's best for the operation. Besides, before you function as second-in-command down here, you have a lot to learn, and my men are all good teachers."

"Yes, sir. I only meant–"

"I know, and I appreciate the concern, Captain. But I just want it clear that while you've been okayed by London, and you're part of the operation, you don't just walk in the first few days and have a leading role in a key mission. You'll be one of the team with no special authority until you learn the ropes, which I feel confident you will."

"I'll do my best, sir."

"Carter is our explosives expert. He can figure out a way to blow up most anything, and has an almost unnerving interest in doing so," Hogan added, chuckling. "His lab is right in here. I'd advise not touching anything you don't recognize. Carter, Newkirk, and Kinch are all excellent with German accents and voice impersonations. The Stalag 13 Theater of the Air has done everyone from enlisted men to Hitler. Carter even made an appearance here in camp one night, dressed up as old crazy eyes himself."

"Carter dressed up like Hitler and got away with it?"

"A little shoe polish in the hair, a fake mustache, the right was crazy but it worked. It was dark, and Klink hadn't seen Hitler up close in years. Plus, it's not too hard to fool this bunch."

"That's nerve, sir," Jim said, snickering.

"We aren't in short supply of that around here." Hogan moved on to another chamber. "We have a metal shop and counterfeiting operation, all handled here. The guys who do metalwork make a lot of trinkets we sell to make some extra money, and they sometimes work with Carter for disguised explosive devices or bomb casings. The counterfeit work is pretty self-explanatory."

"How many of the prisoners are involved?"

"Not everyone works down here. I'd say about a fourth of the guys directly work for the operation, and the other three-fourths are aware of it and comply with it. The no-escape policy is the biggest challenge to keep on top of. Klink is the only kommandant who can claim he's never had a successful escape. It puzzles the brass to no end, since he doesn't appear to be all that competent, let alone a security genius, but as long as he can boast of that, it keeps him here, from being transferred. I doubt we'd get another easy mark like Klink, so his welfare is definitely among our top concerns."

"Is Klink really stupid enough that you can do all this right under his nose?"

"You mean is he a collaborator?"

"The thought crossed my mind."

"I know he suspects something, and he's tried to figure it out from time to time, but Klink's biggest priority in life is Klink, so whatever it is I do that keeps the men from jumping the fence is all right with him, provided I don't cause too much of a stir. He's tried getting rid of me before, but we figured a way around it."

"Getting rid of you?" Jim's eyes widened, and Hogan noticed his shocked expression.

"Not that way," Hogan responded, laughing a little. "Klink's not that ruthless, much as he'd like everyone to think he is. He's tried getting me transferred or replaced as senior POW officer. We figured ways around it. I'm still here."

"Then he's just an idiot?"

"Funny thing about Klink. Every now and then, he has a worthwhile idea about security, and if he really paid attention to what was going on here, he could probably uncover it. But Klink has an eye for the ladies and a taste for champagne, caviar, and, God help us all, the violin," Hogan added with a smile. "Despite what he likes to make people think, he's definitely not a warrior at heart. And he's vain as hell, so a little flattery will just about get me the keys to his staff car."

"I knew this was an amazing operation, and I've heard the stories, but I had no idea it was such an...industry."

"Man does not live by sabotage alone. London sends us money and materials, but sometimes we need walking around money if we're going out in disguise, so the metal shop stuff helps bring in a few marks."

"Where do you want me to start?"

"Klink is expecting company in the next week or so. A group of German generals are using Stalag 13 as a meeting place, and intelligence sources tell us that one of them will be carrying battle plans we have to get a look at. I've already got LeBeau signed up to cook them a gourmet dinner, and Newkirk's all set to borrow the briefcase long enough for us to photograph the plans. Someone will have to take that film to one of our Underground contacts to get it to London. I'll send you out with one of the others. It should be straightforward, dull mission, barring any unforseen complications. It'll give you a chance to see how our operation works, and to meet a couple of our key contacts in town. In the meantime, you'll just be drawn in as part of the team anytime we have a job to do, and just learn by watching and doing."

"Sounds good, sir."

"Good," Hogan said, smiling. "I'm sure we can put your skills to good use, Captain. Frankly, I could use some help with a lot of the day to day stuff in camp. That's one area where it's hard for Kinch to really take the reins as second in command, because he's not that far above the rest of the men in camp in terms of rank."

"Is the fact he's black ever a problem with that?"

"Not the second time. I don't tolerate that kind of behavior in my command."

"That's commendable, sir. I hope you know I wasn't suggesting it should be. I've heard of problems in POW camps between black and white prisoners."

"There have been a few incidents, but I've dealt with them severely, and Klink doesn't have much tolerance for in-fighting among the prisoners disrupting things. That's one point we agree on, so any conflicts like that are usually settled fairly fast. Luckily, these are mostly good guys and those incidents have been rare."

"That's good to hear. But I'm not really surprised. Anybody who can do an arrow formation of prisoners with their cigarette lighters to signal bombers during night roll call has things under pretty tight control."

"That was a couple years ago," Hogan responded, snorting a laugh. "We have our moments."


Jim considered himself quite lucky to have been drawn into the inner circle with the possibility of participating in even a fairly routine mission on the horizon. He knew his keen senses of sight and hearing would make him a top-notch lookout man, and he was familiar with explosives and espionage tactics. But Hogan had made it clear that he would be going through some "on the job training before playing a key role in a major operation."

Still, the headaches were getting more frequent and more intense, and he'd blacked out temporarily on one or two occasions before inadvertently bombing the camp's guard towers. His first nights in the camp weren't really promising him much relief, either. The press of people on all sides, the noise, the smells, the search lights at night, the constant hum of life all night long–guards talking, dogs barking, Hogan's incessant subterranean activities–were all conspiring to make his life miserable. It seemed his comrades could tune it out and sleep. He could not, and figured he'd get his best sleep when he was simply too exhausted to keep his eyes open any longer.

Jim smiled as he watched Hogan lean against the exterior of the weather-beaten wooden barracks where their group and several other prisoners resided, a total of fifteen men in each of twenty barracks. As usual, Hogan had chosen the spot closest to LeBeau, and now stole fresh chunks of apple out of the bowl of them LeBeau was cutting. Since LeBeau had to keep a steady supply of strudel on hand to bribe the jovial, rotund Schultz, he spent a considerable amount of time cutting the fruit for it. Since fresh fruit was not abundant, most of them, including Jim, had gotten their hands slapped for stealing out of LeBeau's ingredients. Hogan's thieving, as well as his presence, seemed to be more than welcome. Before long, the two men were talking, smiling, and enjoying each other's company.

Hogan ran an orderly ship, an iron fist very definitely cushioned by a soft velvet glove. He had an innate kindness about him and a real concern for his men and their needs and feelings, but he could do a complete 180 at a moment's notice and snap into "command mode." When Hogan got to the point of barking an order, the men literally jumped. More often than not, though, he was relaxed around his men, chatting easily with them and treating them with the kind of respect he received back in return.


Contemplating reaching for another piece of apple, Hogan stopped to watch a Gestapo staff car driving in through the gates. Two guards, Major Hochstetter–a hyper officer who made up for his diminutive stature with an aggressive personality--who often visited the camp to shake things up a bit–and another man all got out as Klink rushed out to his porch to greet them. The black-uniformed Gestapo men were nothing remarkable or unusual, but their guest, or prisoner, depending on his identity, was another story. A tad on the short side, this man was dressed in civilian clothing topped off by a somewhat beleaguered raincoat, and sported long dark curls restrained by a band at the back of his neck. He was obviously an artist or some other Bohemian type, and that alone made it more likely he was a prisoner than an esteemed guest.

Jim wandered over to where Hogan was watching the arrival with interest.

"Coffee pot?" Jim asked, smiling. He was still amused by the bizarre locations and disguises for all the listening devices Hogan and his men had planted throughout the camp, but the coffee pot took the prize. Especially since LeBeau was still occasionally ruffled that he'd lost a perfectly good coffee pot in the process of gaining a listening device.

"Yeah, looks interesting," Hogan responded, leading the way into the barracks. In moments, Hogan, LeBeau, Ellison, Newkirk, Carter, and Kinch were gathered around the small wood table that served as a desk in Hogan's quarters, listening in to the events in Klink's office via a coffee pot that served as the speaker for their listening devices.

" as you can imagine, we need to house the professor in a location that is safe from Allied bombing. As long as the Fuhrer is interested in his research, he must be protected," Hochstetter said. "He will be using your VIP guest quarters until further notice."

"May I ask what is the nature of your work, Professor?" Klink asked. There was a slight pause before an unfamiliar voice, presumably the professor's, came over the small speaker. It was a medium voice with an American accent.

"I have been studying individuals with acute senses–extra sensitive touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing. I've encountered a number of subjects with one or two heightened senses, but according to an old monograph by Sir Richard Burton, in ancient tribal cultures, there were men who possessed all five heightened senses. He referred to them as Sentinels, and they functioned as watchmen for the tribes. They were born with these abilities, so it is my contention that if such men existed then, they may well exist now. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to locate a subject that fits the profile of a Sentinel."

"Fascinating," Klink said, sounding genuinely interested. "So these Sentinels are able to detect things others can't?"

"Exactly. For example, someone with very acute vision may be able to see with the naked eye something we need binoculars to see."

"As you can imagine, this has far-reaching implications for the German war effort, and Dr. Sanders has been...convinced to work with us. So far, we've tested the Fuhrer and his top officials, and the general's staff with no positive results."

"As I explained to Herr Hitler," Sanders interjected, "it is not unusual that a supreme leader would not have these abilities. Sentinels were watchmen, not tribal chiefs. They protected the tribe, including the chief."

"Ja, the Fuhrer was not happy with the failure of the first round of tests. But if there is a Sentinel in Germany, we will find him!" Hochstetter exclaimed, punctuating the claim with a snap of the leather gloves he carried. "The Fuhrer wants Professor Sanders to operate from a safe location. His test subjects will be brought to him here. You will offer him hospitality, but the Gestapo will handle his security."

"Major Hochstetter," Klink began, a pretentious tone to his voice, "I am the kommandant of Stalag 13, and I will not have the Gestapo taking over security for my guests."

"He is not your guest. He is the Fuhrer's guest, and my responsibility. Are you sure you want to defy the orders of the Fuhrer?"

"My stalag is your stalag, Major," Klink replied, the fawning in his tone making Hogan smile and shake his head as he unplugged the coffee pot.

"You think there's anything to what this guy's talking about, Colonel?" Carter asked. "Wow, imagine being able to see long distances without binoculars. Or hear things nobody else does..."

"If that person existed, he would be an asset to his side, and the most dangerous man in the war to the other side. But this is like something out of a science fiction story, and not a very good one," Hogan added. "I think this Sanders guy is clever enough to have found something that interests old bubblehead and is keeping himself alive with it."

"Do we help him?" LeBeau asked.

"We need to know more about him before we do anything else." Hogan frowned, rubbing his chin as he thought. "If they found one of these...Sentinels, was it? If they found one of them on the other side, among us, they'd probably be out to kill him."

"Or recruit him," Jim suggested.

"You said that your eyesight was really had great night vision, wasn't that it?" Hogan asked Ellison, who shrugged.

"That's true. My eyesight and my hearing are pretty sharp, but not on the level that guy's talking about."

"You think you could fake it enough to meet with him and get tested?"

"Maybe, but how would we get them to test a POW? Hitler's going to want his find to be German."

"Leave that to me. We just need someone to talk to the guy, get a feeling for whether or not he's happy working with the krauts, and if he's a fraud or if he really knows what he's talking about. Meanwhile, Kinch, radio London and ask them what they know about him, if anything."

"Right, sir," Kinch replied, heading for the tunnel.

"He didn't sound particularly happy working with them," Ellison said, his voice a little softer than usual. "The way Hochstetter said he'd been convinced to work with them...they've got something on him, or they've tortured him into submission."

"You seem pretty confident of that, Ellison. Any special reason?" Hogan asked.

"Just the way Hochstetter said what he said, and something in Sanders's voice. He was scared. I could hear it."

"Well, if you're right, we'll do all we can to help him. But don't go into this with your mind made up," Hogan cautioned. "I need you in there with an open mind and prepared for him to sell you a soapy story. Trusting someone like him, if he's not really on our side, could be the end of our whole operation, and put us in front of a firing squad."


Blair "Sanders" sat on the side of the bed in the guest quarters. It was a comfortable room, with a double bed, dark wood dresser and mirror, a small overstuffed chair, a desk and chair, and a wardrobe. It was spotlessly clean, and the mattress seemed like it might even be comfortable. Unable to relax, he stood again and walked to the window, looking out at the compound. The prisoners milling around, engaged now in some kind of recreation period, were a million times freer than he was.

Of all the times he'd cursed the nomadic lifestyle he'd led with his flighty, heiress mother whose lust for world travel had taken them to every corner of the universe, this was the worst. She'd met and become the mistress of a German count just before the war, and Blair had secured a teaching assistantship at a prestigious university not far from Berlin. Nadine Sanders was no more worried about the war that she was about anything else more substantial than how to spend her next trust fund check. With phony passports that hid their real surname, Sandburg, and with it, the fact they were Jewish, she had seen no reason to flee what was an overindulged lifestyle as the count's consort. In addition to his aristocratic status, the count also happened to be an SS general.

Blair prayed the count would never learn he wasn't sleeping with Nadine Sanders, but rather, Naomi Sandburg, a nice Jewish girl from a rich Jewish family in the States. His mother's reddish hair, fair complexion, and clear blue eyes set her apart from the Jewish physical stereotypes. Blair's rich, brown curls were his legacy from a father he never knew, but he didn't "look Jewish" exactly, so without the name to give him away, he could pass for just another American student in a German university.

He knew his mother had a knack for sticking her head in the sand when it came to politics. Blair, however, had seen a good friend of his rounded up and carted off to some unknown destination with a truck load of other Jews. People were being moved out of their homes, packed into trains like cattle, and sent somewhere. There were nights Blair woke screaming, images of the hopelessness on his friend's face that day flashing through his mind, and the haunting realization that but for a fake passport, he would have faced the same fate.

So now he was playing an even more dangerous game, keeping himself alive by dangling the carrot before Hitler of finding some kind of biological, living, breathing proof of a superior human being, who would, of course, be German. Part of the Master Race. Some tiny part of him took pride in keeping the madman to some extent at the end of a leash, jerking on it occasionally when he found a general with a heightened sense of smell or unusually acute hearing.

Another part of him felt as if he'd made a deal with the devil to save his own life. That he should have been courageous enough to die horribly rather than play this kind of charade. He had every faith the Allies would win, good would triumph, but would he be able to stay one step ahead of Hitler and his Gestapo that long with all these tests, many of which were contrived?

Blair went to his suitcase and opened it on the bed, unbuttoning the cuffs of his shirt and pulling its tail free of his pants. He'd been in these clothes for hours, and hopefully Hochstetter and his goon squad would leave him alone for a while. They couldn't possibly have test subjects here for him this quickly, and it was getting late to start setting up his laboratory. It was almost dinner time, and the kommandant had said something about leaving him to rest up from his journey before sending for him for the evening meal.

He was startled by the door opening just as he'd tossed his shirt on the bed and stood there naked from the waist up. Blushing profusely, the portly German sergeant he'd met in Klink's office started backing out the door, babbling apologies as he left Blair's briefcase just inside the door.

"I thought you were with the major in the barracks where your laboratory is being set up. Please forgive me," he said, pulling the door shut. Blair sighed. He knew the marks on his back, shoulders, and chest had sent the guard fleeing so nervously. They had faded in the last few days, but it would take time for them to disappear.

Suddenly, he felt much more tired that before, and pulling his shirt back on, stretched out on the bed in hopes of a few stolen moments of sleep.


"You sent for me, sir?" Hogan asked, entering Klink's office.

"Yes, Hogan. As you probably observed, we have guests, and I would like LeBeau to prepare a special meal for them tonight."

"You want LeBeau to cook for the Gestapo? I don't know if you've got enough extra bread rations in your bag of tricks to make that happen," Hogan concluded, sitting in the chair across from Klink's desk.

"I'm prepared to offer an extra ration of meat per man per day for two weeks." Klink waited while Hogan mulled that offer. Meat was at a premium, and Klink was loathe to part with extra unless he was really motivated.

"What's so special about this guest, anyway?"

"That's classified, Hogan. Now will LeBeau prepare the meal or not?"

"Throw in an extra hour of electricity every night, and you've got yourself a deal."

"Thirty minutes," Klink responded.


"Forty, and that is my final offer."

"Sold, to the man with the monocle!" Hogan replied, imitating an auctioneer.

"Very funny, Hogan. We would like dinner at seven o'clock sharp, in my quarters."

"I'll tell LeBeau." Hogan rose and headed for the door.

"Oh and, Hogan, Dr. Sanders, our guest, is an American. He asked for you to join us tonight."

"An American collaborator? No, thanks, Kommandant."

"You are hereby ordered to join us for dinner," Klink snapped back.

"This Sanders guy must have a lot of clout for a civilian. A doctor, huh? Did he discover something big?"

"That will be all, Hogan. I will expect to see you in my quarters at six-thirty for cocktails. Dismissed."


"You expect me to cook dinner for an animal like Hochstetter?" LeBeau protested, his voice rising.

"If Klink hadn't called me over there to ask, I would have volunteered you. We need to get close to this Sanders guy and find out if he's really on their side. I'm going to send Ellison with you."

"But he's an officer. Won't Klink suspect something if he's serving?"

"I thought of that. Can you teach him the basics of making something we can say is his speciality?"

"What about strawberry shortcake? Carter showed me how his mother always made it, and it's a popular American dessert. It would be logical that I might not make it, but an American could."

"Great. Have Ellison do something, even if it's just cutting up strawberries. I'll tell Klink we wanted to do something extra for the American guest. He'll buy that. I've got an idea on how to make Ellison look like one of these Sentinels Sanders is looking for." Hogan sat on his lower bunk, and LeBeau leaned against the closed door of Hogan's office.

"I hate cooking for the Gestapo. Unless I can poison them," he added, bitterly, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Look, I know how you feel, but there's no other way." Hogan stood up and walked closer to LeBeau, resting his hands on LeBeau's shoulders. "You're the key to this whole operation. We need a chance to get close to Sanders, and this gives me a chance to talk to him, maybe one on one if we play our cards right."

"Oui, I know. I better get over to Klink's quarters and start cooking."

"Schultz is waiting there for you."

"I bet he is, ready to lick the bowls before I even start!" LeBeau chuckled, shaking his head. Hogan's hands felt warm on his shoulders, and his eyes lingered a moment, taking in the fond expression Hogan usually bestowed on him.

"Thanks, Louis." Hogan broke the contact and opened his office door, sending LeBeau on his way to the kitchen.


"You want me to make strawberry shortcake?" Ellison asked, raising his eyebrows as Hogan unfolded the evening's plan.

"LeBeau'll do all the real cooking, but we're telling the krauts it's your specialty, a traditional American dessert in honor of the American guest. Now Kinch is rigging up a microphone under the dinner table, and you'll be wearing this receiver."

"Okay. What am I supposed to do?"

"Listen in on the conversation. Once in a while, if they mention wanting more of something, or needing something--anything, a napkin, more wine, extra whipped cream on their shortcake--just show up with it. If they ask how you knew, say you overheard someone mention it."

"You think this'll convince them that Sanders ought to test me?"

"I hope it does. This is big stuff. This guy has been working directly with Hitler. We have no way of knowing which side he's on, and just asking is a bit risky. Somebody has to infiltrate the project, and spend some time with him. Klink knows me well enough to know that I don't have any superhuman sensory abilities. You've got enough natural ability in a couple areas to keep Sanders busy testing you for a few days."

"I'll do my best, sir."

"A lot's riding on this, Ellison. If this Sanders character isn't a nut of some kind, we've got to get him on our side, or neutralize him somehow."

"Neutralize? You mean kill?"

"We've captured other high-profile collaborators and sent them off to prison in England. I'd prefer that to an outright assassination. That's not my style, and not the way we usually operate. But I'll do that before I'll let him identify anyone with that kind of natural surveillance ability for the krauts."

"Understood, sir. LeBeau does realize that I don't know the first thing about making strawberry shortcake, right?"

"He's ready for you," Hogan said, smiling.

"I do make a mean spaghetti sauce, though."

"Next time Major Bonacelli visits, you'll be at the top of my list."


A soft knock on the door startled Blair out of his nap. In the time he'd slept, sunlight had given way to shadows, and it was nearly time for him to go to dinner. He rubbed his eyes and called out to the person who knocked to enter.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Herr Doctor, but you are wanted in the kommandant's quarters." The same sergeant who had brought his briefcase earlier now stood in the doorway, looking distinctly uncomfortable.

"Thank you, Sergeant. Oh, about earlier," he said, stopping the man from leaving. "No harm done. It was a mistake." Blair smiled, and the guard returned it. "Blair Sanders," he said, extending his hand. The sergeant seemed a bit surprised by that at first, but then he shook Blair's hand, his jovial face breaking into a smile.

"Sergeant Schultz, Herr Doctor," he replied.

"If you want to have a seat, Sergeant, I'll be ready in just a couple minutes."

"I will be in the sitting room, sir," Schultz said, taking his leave. Blair smiled as he watched him go. Schultz was the first German military man he'd met since his capture who seemed genuinely kind. He seemed to Blair like a man who was dragged into the war the way so many men had been, on both sides, with little passion for the cause of a mad man.

He washed up quickly, shaved, splashed on a bit of aftershave, tugged his long hair back into a pony tail, and secured it with a hair band. Slipping into a clean shirt, he eyed the one tie he had with him with disdain, figuring it was probably expected of him for a dinner in the kommandant's quarters. His suit had seen better days, that much was obvious, but at the university, he'd managed to side-step most of the upscale occasions where it would not be adequate. Still, at least he looked presentable now, if not fashionable.

"Ready, Sergeant," Blair said, emerging from the bedroom to be escorted to Klink's quarters. Apparently Hochstetter didn't think he'd try to escape from this place, as this was the first time he'd been allowed to go anywhere with anything but a Gestapo escort. "What do you do in civilian life?" he asked Schultz, who seemed to tower over his own 5'7" frame.

"I run a toy company," Schultz said, smiling. "The Schotzy Toy Company."

"Really?" Blair asked, surprised. "That's the biggest toy company in Germany, isn't it?"

"One of them," Schultz said with obvious pride. "They seized the factory when the war started." He sighed. "I would like to make toys again."

"I have a feeling you will. All this can't last forever. The war, I mean."

"Ja, it has been a long one," Schultz agreed.

"I haven't been in the middle of it as long as you have, and it's already too long for me," Blair said, feeling the truth of those words wash over him. Even one day in Gestapo custody was one day too many, and he'd lived through far more than one.

"Right this way, sir," Schultz directed, leading Blair up two steps and opening the door for him to Klink's quarters, closing it behind him.

The kommandant was out of his chair immediately, moving toward the door to welcome his guest, always the perfect host. Klink appeared to be a man of some breeding, very courteous and refined in his demeanor, appearing quite fit and trim in his dark green Luftwaffe uniform. The rest of the group included Hochstetter, Burkhalter, and Hogan. The general's early arrival to join them for dinner was a surprise to all, though given the fact he himself had been tested by Sanders for his level of sensory ability, it should not have come as a shock that he would be interested in visiting while the scientist was at work at Stalag 13. Plus, he was scheduled to arrive with the group of generals meeting at the camp the next day.

The combination sitting room and dining room was brightly lit and pleasant, with modest but attractive furnishings and a table set with obviously expensive crystal and china. The other guests were seated in the sitting area, and rose when Blair entered.

"Ah, Dr. Sanders, allow me to introduce--"

"We've met, Klink," Burkhalter interrupted, then smiled in Blair's direction, though the expression seemed to hold a hint of something sinister. "Dr. Sanders, nice to see you again."

"My pleasure, General," Blair responded, shaking hands with Burkhalter. "As I recall, you had an acute taste for fine wine," he added, and Burkhalter chuckled, obviously amused.

"I prefer the finer things in life, yes."

"Dr. Sanders, this is Colonel Hogan of the US Army Air Corps. He is our Senior POW Officer."

"Always good to meet another American in the middle of Germany," Hogan said pleasantly, shaking hands with Blair. The dark-haired officer, dressed in his formal brown uniform, adorned with the medals and markings of his rank, seemed a bit young for a colonel. Most of the men of that rank Blair had met were already stodgy old men.

"Likewise, Colonel," Blair responded, returning the officer's smile. Something in the man's demeanor put him at ease, but at the same time, he couldn't help feeling Hogan's gaze right into the pit of his soul. The American officer was sizing him up, trying to determine if he was really a collaborator. Blair looked away, glancing at Hochstetter. The major smiled a little evilly.

"Good evening, Dr. Sanders. I trust you had a good rest before dinner?" he asked. Hochstetter had not overseen his torture or participated in it directly, but Blair had the uneasy feeling he wouldn't be opposed to inflicting a little if need be. Hochstetter had been in charge of his security once his work for the Germans began. Or, at least, once he'd begun playing along.

"Yes, I did, thank you."

"Shall we sit down? We have a wonderful meal planned," Klink said as Blair sat in a chair near Hogan's spot on the end of the couch, a good distance from the German officers in the room. "Carter, some wine for our guest," he ordered, and Carter, also an American prisoner, wearing a white serving jacket over his uniform shirt, handed Blair a glass and filled it from a chilled bottle he then returned to an ice bucket. Though the Americans in the room probably harbored more ill will toward him than the Germans, given his reputation as a collaborator, their presence made him feel less outnumbered.

"Dr. Sanders, Colonel Klink hasn't really told me what the nature of your research is," Hogan said, taking a sip of his wine. Blair glanced at Burkhalter, who smiled benevolently at the scientist's hesitation to blurt out the nature of his work. Blair had been "punished" more than once for saying more than he should without permission, and he didn't look forward to repeating the experience.

"I don't see any harm in sharing your theory with Hogan. It has yet to be proven," Burkhalter said, a distinct note of disdain in his voice.

"Are you familiar at all with the work of Sir Richard Burton?"

"Slightly. He was an explorer, right?" Hogan responded. Pleasantly surprised, Blair smiled, and continued.

"Yes, and among his works was a monograph about tribal watchmen--men who had heightened senses, and protected the tribe by watching for signs of danger, changes in the weather...even when it was a good time to hunt. My theory is that these watchmen had a genetic advantage. All five of their senses were heightened beyond the normal range. There is nothing to indicate that such people don't still exist today. We know some people have one or two acute senses--food tasters, for example--but I have yet to find a man with all five senses heightened."

"The Fuhrer believes that man will be found in the German armed forces," Burkhalter said. "Tests have been done on a number of officers, and Dr. Sanders will continue his work here, at Stalag 13."

"Safe from enemy bombing," Hogan added.

"That is true, until last week, of course," Burkhalter added under his breath.

"That was an accident, General. My man explained that," Hogan countered, barely veiling his annoyance in the courtesy of his tone.

"You were bombed here?" Blair asked, surprised. That was the primary reason for stashing him in a prison camp, and now, it, too, had been a target.

"An American bomber got off course, and accidentally destroyed the guard towers and the front gate. The construction's coming along nicely now, but it was a mess at the time," Hogan explained.

"The pilot claimed it was accidental," Burkhalter emphasized, letting out a long sigh.

"Actually, the pilot who flew that plane is making dessert for us tonight," Klink said, and Hochstetter merely rolled his eyes. Just then, LeBeau emerged, waiting to announce that dinner was served. "You see, strawberry shortcake is his speciality, and since we have a distinguished American guest..."

"Two," LeBeau muttered under his breath. Hogan caught the word, and he was sure the Germans had as well.

"You have something to say, Corporal?" Hochstetter challenged. Before LeBeau could open his mouth, Hogan stepped in

"To the table, dinner is served," Hogan said. "Right, LeBeau?"

"Oui, dinner is served," LeBeau said grudgingly. The guests moved to the dining table while LeBeau returned to the kitchen for the serving cart, which he wheeled in a moment later. Hogan stifled a smile as the beef stroganoff was served. It was a personal favorite of Hogan's, and its Russian origins gave LeBeau something to smile about as he served it to their captors.

When Klink wasn't looking, LeBeau managed to pilfer his napkin from the table, creating an opportunity for Ellison to "overhear" a request from the kitchen.

"The meal looks delicious," Blair said, feeling his appetite make a fleeting appearance.

"Merci, Monsieur," LeBeau responded before taking his leave.

"I seem to have misplaced my napkin," Klink complained, looking around his place at the table for the missing cloth. A moment later, Ellison emerged from the kitchen, also clad in one of the white serving jackets, and laid a rolled napkin at Klink's place.

"Your napkin, Kommandant," he said.

"But how did you know I needed a napkin?" Klink asked, frowning.

"I overheard you mention it, sir."

"From the kitchen?"

"LeBeau asked me to help him be attentive to the guests to be sure they had what they needed while he was busy with the cooking, sir."

"You heard the kommandant mention his napkin while you were still in the kitchen?" Blair asked, looking up at the handsome American who stood only a few feet away.

"Yes, I suppose I must have," Ellison responded, shrugging.

"Klink, it is obvious your quarters must be bugged," Hochstetter stated. Hogan's hand slipped under the table where he felt the small knob that was the listening device. He removed it and held it in his closed hand. He was relieved to see that Ellison had remembered to remove the small earplug he'd been wearing to listen in. He only hoped LeBeau found a good way to conceal it in the kitchen.

"I assure you, Major Hochstetter, my quarters are as secure as Gestapo Headquarters!" Klink asserted.

"If they are not, you may have the opportunity to explore that for yourself," Hochstetter warned. "I will have my men go over this room with a fine-tooth comb!"

"Major, relax and eat your dinner," Burkhalter said, annoyed. "If the enemy were bugging this room, I hardly think they would expose their activities by bringing Klink an extra napkin."

"If it isn't a listening device, must have truly remarkable hearing, Mr.--?"

"Ellison, sir. Captain James Ellison, US Army Air Corps."

"You're an officer?"

"Yes, with a very bad sense of direction," Hochstetter observed. "Captain Ellison, I would very much like to have a talk with you before I return to headquarters. I will send for you tomorrow."

"And for me. If you're interrogating one of my prisoners, under the Geneva Convention--" Hogan's protest was cut off by a wave of Hochstetter's hand and a tone of feigned friendliness.

"Interrogation is too strong a word, Colonel Hogan. Just a discussion."

"You're the flier who bombed the guard towers," Blair guessed, and Ellison looked distinctly uncomfortable.

"Yes, I was, but it was accidental."

"How did it happen?" Blair asked, genuinely curious. He wondered if perhaps one or more of Ellison's other senses were dulled in compensation for his superior hearing. Blair had tested men with inferior eyesight who had extremely sharp hearing, or perhaps these men had merely learned to maximize the use of their hearing as compensation. He was still going over some of his old data to make that determination.

"I'm not sure. There was heavy bombing, return fire from the AA batteries, it was a night mission...I apparently got off course."

"But you're not sure?"

"Excuse me, Dr. Sanders, but Captain Ellison has already been questioned by Colonel Klink and General Burkhalter," Hogan interjected. "If this isn't an official interrogation, I prefer that he not be questioned about it in this setting."

"Don't be rude to our guest, Hogan," Burkhalter retorted. "And the captain can take care of himself, I'm sure."

"If I were certain of why I bombed the guard towers, Dr. Sanders, it wouldn't have been an accident," Ellison responded flatly. "May I be excused, Kommandant?" he asked Klink, who nodded.

"Yes, you are dismissed."

"I must apologize for the lapse of courtesy, Doctor," Burkhalter said, smiling ingratiatingly at Blair, who did his best not to visibly recoil from the expression. It was only because he was the Fuhrer's weird project of the month that the German brass were treating him like a guest. That, and the fact he was finally cooperating--at least, in their eyes he was. As long as he could maintain that charade, men like Burkhalter would be smiling at him instead of shoving him in front of a firing squad or onto the back of one of the trucks carrying Jews to God-knows-what destination.

"Not at all. Actually, he was right. It was an inane question," Blair said, chuckling. He hoped the American officer would return to the room. Not only was he easy on the eyes, but his acute hearing definitely piqued Blair's interest. Still, revealing him as a Sentinel would be no favor to him under the circumstances, even if he happened to be one.

"Actually, Captain Ellison was telling me that he has superior night vision," Hogan said, eyeing Blair for a reaction.

"Really?" Blair replied, stalling. He was trying to read Hogan's expression, to figure out why he would want to expose a fellow American to prolonged study and testing by a collaborator. Worse yet, if Ellison turned out to be a Sentinel, Hitler would want him eliminated quietly and swiftly. No way would he allow an American to be the one discovered with superior sensory abilities.

"Yes, that's why he said it was so unusual he should have such difficulty staying on course," Hogan added.

"That is interesting," Blair responded, confused. What are you up to, Colonel? You want me to study this guy? "Perhaps we should test Captain Ellison."

"Ridiculous!" Hochstetter snapped. "The Fuhrer was very clear on that point. You are here to test German officers!"

"Actually, Major, I'm here to look for a Sentinel in Germany. That's my assignment from the Fuhrer. I realize he believes that person will be German, but I hardly think he would want me to ignore evidence of one's existence. After all, wouldn't he want to know if the other side had a resource like that?" Blair argued. He was terrified, wondering if contradicting Hochstetter would have dire consequences like those he had suffered at the hands of the Gestapo colonel who'd been in charge of him while he was held at Gestapo headquarters.

"He has a point," Burkhalter said, nodding. "I think he should test Ellison."

"Bah," Hochstetter dismissed. "The Fuhrer was very clear on that point–if one of these 'Sentinels' is found, he will be German."

"I said he should be tested, Major. I believe I have a better grasp of the Fuhrer's feelings about this project than you do."

"I have my orders. He is to test German officers!"

"Dr. Sanders, you said someone has to have all five of their senses unusually acute to be one of these 'Sentinels,' didn't you?" Klink clarified.

"Yes, that's true."

"Then it's obvious Captain Ellison is not a good subject. He only has two acute senses, even if what Hogan says is true about his night vision."

"Touch, taste, and smell are all very individual experiences. We can only know how something feels to our touch, tastes in our own mouth, or smells when we breathe in. It's conceivable one or more of those senses could be acute without him knowing by comparison that they are. With sight and hearing, you're more likely to hear something someone else doesn't, or be offended by light, for example, that wouldn't be bright enough to bother someone else. With the other senses, you could go through life preferring blander food, wearing softer fabrics, and avoiding fumes without attributing that to abnormally heightened senses. I would very much like to test the captain, if that's agreeable to Colonel Hogan."

"It isn't his decision," Burkhalter said.

"I have no objections, provided he isn't subjected to abuse of any kind, and that his abilities, if he has any, aren't exploited."

Blair stared at Hogan, nonplused. No one could be that naive about the Germans and their intentions for Ellison should he turn out to be a Sentinel. Blair was already trying to construct in his mind ways to help Ellison escape should the tests come out positive.

"I'm sure Dr. Sanders will merely run a few harmless tests and discover the captain simply has sharp eyesight and hearing," Klink said.

"I assure you, Colonel Hogan, none of my tests are substantially painful and I maintain the highest ethics in terms of working with human test subjects."

"Provided Captain Ellison is agreeable, I won't object to it."

"That's all settled, then," Klink announced, relieved the tension seemed to be easing among his guests.

"Where in the US are you from, Doctor?" Hogan asked.

"Actually, I've lived in several places, mostly on the West Coast."

"Captain Ellison is from Washington State."

"I studied briefly at Rainier University in Cascade, before taking the fellowship in Berlin."

"Quite a coincidence. Captain Ellison's hometown," Hogan said.

"Really? That's great. It'll give us a bit of common ground to break the ice. It's always easier to work through the tests if the subject is relaxed, and you can build a bit of a rapport." Blair found himself enjoying the meal a bit now, visiting with another American, and savoring the prospect of running tests on someone who wasn't one of Hitler's favorite windbag generals. "You haven't said where you're from, Colonel Hogan. I'm guessing East Coast."

"Really?" Hogan smiled.

"Your dialect. New England, probably."

"Connecticut," Hogan responded. "That's pretty impressive. I guess I never thought much about having an accent or dialect that was noticeable."

"People generally don't. Especially about themselves. I've studied linguistics as part of my anthropology course work, and it's a fascinating field."

"Taking a fellowship in Berlin was a little risky with a war going on," Hogan said.

"True, it was. But I had an opportunity to work with Dr. Eli Stoddard. You probably haven't heard of him–"

"Did he write something about tribes in Borneo?" Hogan asked. Blair knew his shock was plain on his face.

"Yes, actually, he did. I did some of the research with him for that book. I'm did you happen to read it?"

"One of the men had it. It looked interesting, so I borrowed it. Books are at a premium around here, and I like to read."

"You'll probably have a pretty eclectic background by the time you leave here," Blair commented, and Hogan laughed.

"That's an understatement. If I recall correctly, he had a pretty impressive background."

"He does. He's a Ph.D. in Anthropology and also in Sociology, and he's written several books. It was just too outstanding an opportunity to pass up. I worked as a teaching fellow for a while, and when I got my doctorate, I stayed on as a professor."

"How did Hitler get interested in your research?"

"He read one of my early articles on the subject, and he wanted to learn more."

LeBeau emerged then, and with Carter's help, began removing the empty plates.

"The meal was excellent," Burkhalter commented, and LeBeau managed a polite smile.

"Merci, General."

"It really was outstanding. They're lucky to have a gourmet chef in-house here," Blair said, and LeBeau smiled genuinely this time, pleased by the comment.

"Merci, Doctor. I'm glad you enjoyed the meal. Captain Ellison has prepared an outstanding American dessert I'm sure you'll enjoy as well."

As LeBeau and Carter left with the dirty dishes, Ellison entered with a serving tray bearing the five desserts, which he served to each of the guests, and then left again.

"I haven't had strawberry shortcake in years," Hogan said, eagerly sampling the dessert.

"I never had this before," Klink said, tasting it, and smiling. "Oh, that's delicious. Is this very popular in the United States, Hogan?"

"It's a classic. Kind of like apple strudel is for Germans."

"It was very thoughtful of you to serve an American dessert, Kommandant," Blair said. "I appreciate it."

"It is not every day we have a distinguished scientist conducting experiments here at the Fuhrer's direction. I hope you know we will do all we can to help you with your very important assignment," Klink concluded.

"You needn't concern yourself with his work, Klink," Hochstetter snapped. "That is a matter for the Gestapo to supervise."

Blair went back to eating his dessert, wondering why it was necessary for the Gestapo goons to be so sour all the time. Klink seemed like a harmless sort, and he didn't appear to harbor any true disdain for people from other countries or cultures. There was a comfort in his rapport with Hogan that didn't really indicate hatred or animosity on any level.

Though he had actually enjoyed the food, Blair was relieved when dinner was over, and he was finally able to retreat to his quarters. And a part of him actually looked forward to the next day's work, for the first time since the nightmare of pretending to work for Hitler had begun. Mostly, he looked forward to the chance to talk to the dashing, reserved Captain Ellison.


"Nice work, gentlemen," Hogan announced as he gathered his inner circle around the table in the barracks. Ellison had crawled through the tunnel between the barracks and joined their meeting. "So how much of that dessert did you actually make, Ellison?"

"I cut up strawberries. That was about it, sir."

"We've got our 'in' with Sanders."

"He's on our side, sir," Ellison said, as if there was no room for doubt.

"And you determined that from what, exactly?" Hogan asked, frowning. Truth be told, he had the same impression from the American scientist, but it was purely gut instinct, and there was too much at stake to trust that alone.

"It's a hunch, Colonel. I can't prove it, but–"

"I know," Hogan interrupted, then sighed. "I got that impression, too, but we have to be careful. There's too much riding on this to go on our instincts. Even if he tries to approach you, don't let him know anything about our operation. Tell him you'll let me know he wants to talk, and I'll handle it."

"Right, sir," Ellison agreed readily, in deference to Hogan's rank. Still, in his heart, he knew it would be hard if Blair Sanders turned those big blue eyes his way and asked for help. He'd felt something almost palpable between them even in the instant he'd been in the room with Sanders. It made him uneasy then, and yet made him look forward with some interest to seeing the man the next day.

"While Sanders is doing his experiments, remember as much of it as you can. I want to know everything he's up to. We don't have a bug in that empty barracks where they're setting up his lab, but we'll try to remedy that tomorrow. Kinch, what do you think the chances are of planting a microphone?"

"Not good, the way the krauts are guarding that place. A guy could get shot for just looking at it, let alone trying to get in."

"He's right, sir," Newkirk chimed in, "the ruddy Gestapo have tighter security around that building than the Bank of England."

"I've planted listening devices before, Colonel," Ellison volunteered. "I'm not as experienced as Sergeant Kinchloe, but maybe he could tell me where he thinks it should go, and I could plant it while I'm there."

"Okay, do it. Kinch, we need the best you've got. If you get caught, Ellison, it's the firing squad for everybody."

"With all due respect, Colonel, I won't get caught."

"Good. Because if you do, you'll be better off with the krauts than you will be with me." Hogan seemed a bit rankled by the arrogance of Jim's answer, but he didn't address it directly.

"Understood, sir. I'll be careful."

"He's doing work for Hitler," LeBeau said, noticing Hogan's cup was empty, and getting up to refill it from the coffee pot that was kept warm by its place on the wood-burning stove near the table. "Do you think they'd ever get complacent?" he asked as he filled Hogan's cup.

"Probably not–although we could try a diversion." Hogan's evil little grin both intrigued and unnerved his men. As the group dispersed, Hogan took LeBeau aside. "I want to talk to you."

"I know what you're going to say–"

"Humor me," Hogan replied, motioning toward his office. Once LeBeau was inside, he closed the door. "What were you thinking?"

"Burkhalter was just being rude. I couldn't help it. It just came out."

"I'm not working for the krauts, so they're not going to consider me a 'distinguished American guest.'"

"But you are. You're more distinguished than that...collaborator!"

"Look, I appreciate the thought, Louis, but you could have gotten yourself in some real trouble tonight if we hadn't talked fast."

"I know you're right," LeBeau admitted. He was impulsive and passionate by nature, and as much as Hogan admired that in him, and found himself drawn to it, truth be told, he recognized the potential danger in it.

"I'm always right. I'm an officer," Hogan responded, smiling. After the predictable French mumbling, LeBeau returned the smile.


Immediately following morning roll call, Ellison was summoned to the empty barracks that had been set up as Dr. Sanders' laboratory. When he arrived there, he found Sanders sitting on a stool behind a table strewn with books and notes, small glasses in place, his long curls tied back. After the guard closed the door behind him, Sanders started and looked up, as if this were the first time he'd realized anyone had entered.

"Good morning, Captain. Please, have a seat," he said, gesturing to a straight chair on the other side of the table. "I'll be finished here in just a moment."

Sanders fumbled a little with the book he'd been holding, and he seemed a bit nervous. Ellison sat in the chair without saying a word, quietly studying the strange man Hogan wanted investigated. The deep blue eyes behind the glasses flicked up, then back to the book. Ellison stifled a smile. There was a scent hanging heavy in the air between them, and it had nothing to do with the sauerbraten cooking in the sergeant's mess. All his life, Ellison had found it curious that his friends spent so long agonizing over whether a certain girl liked them or not. He'd always known, without question, whether she did or not just by walking past her in the hall. The scent of desire was unmistakable, and now he was picking it up from Sanders.

Guess that explains the hair. I wonder if he's got a slinky evening gown and heels in his suitcase?

Ellison found the whole concept of homosexuality more amusing than repulsive. The image of doing those things with any of his male friends usually just made him laugh. It seemed so ridiculous and unnecessarily difficult when everything with women was so easy. Still, he occasionally caught a slight whiff of desire from another man, and it was rather surprising just how many men had those thoughts about other men.

If only I could figure a way to prove it, I could retire on the blackmail proceeds alone, Ellison thought, smiling.

"What is it?" Sanders' voice cut the silence as he set his book aside.

"I was just wondering if I should take my clothes off," Ellison said, deadpan. Sanders actually flushed crimson at that and suddenly seemed to have swallowed down the wrong throat, coughing several times before responding. Taking advantage of Sanders' flustered state, Jim reached under the table and planted the small bug.

"They aren't those kinds of tests," he said finally.

"Oh," Ellison replied, nodding and smiling. Sanders actually returned the smile, seeming to forget himself a moment before he opened a beleaguered leather portfolio that held an ominous stack of handwritten notes.

"Yes, well, we'll start with some simple exercises to begin evaluating the level of your heightened sensory perception."

"Sounds like fun, Chief. What do you want me to do?"

"Let's try these eye exam charts." Sanders took the charts from the table and hung them on the wall behind his makeshift desk. "Can you read this series of numbers?" he asked, using a pointer to indicate the middle row. Even without heightened senses, Jim imagined he could read those. So he did, and smiling a little, moved on to the next level down, and the next, until he was at the smallest print size. Each time, Jim read the line effortlessly.

Sanders stopped to scribble something in his notepad.

"Did I pass?" Ellison asked, and Sanders actually laughed a little.

"With flying colors, Captain."

"Am I one of these...Sentinels you're looking for?"

"Whoa, slow down a little. We've only done one test. Making a determination like that could take weeks of testing."

"Have you done weeks of testing on all the krauts?"

"It takes weeks of testing if the subject shows promise. So far, no one has had more than one or two slightly elevated levels of sensory perception. No one has had all five, and none have been extraordinary. It's just not that statistically common."

"So now that I passed the eye exam, what's next?"

"A little taste-testing. Nothing unusual, and I promise I won't make you eat worms or anything, but you have to be blindfolded."


"Because I don't want you looking at what you're tasting."

"I'm supposed to close my eyes and let you feed me things? I don't think so, Chief."

"Look, I know the kommandant can force you to submit to certain tests, but if you don't trust me and won't cooperate with me, I won't get very far. So why would I do something to betray your trust on the first day?"

"Okay. I survived a crash landing and capture by the krauts...I guess I can chance this."

"That's the spirit."


"What's going on with the great experiments?" Hogan asked Carter, who had been posted in Hogan's office, listening in on the morning's work via the little coffee pot speaker while Hogan and the others had been watching the arriving generals and keeping tabs on their meetings via another listening device placed in the Recreation Hall, where they were meeting.

"So far, he's read an eye chart and tasted three cups of water with seasonings in them."

"That's Sanders' idea of top secret experiments?"

"That's all they did," Carter replied, shrugging. "Gosh, I was worried it was going to be some kind of weird medical experiment or something."

"Yeah, so was I. I guess that's a break for the good guys. Keep with it, and if anything unusual happens, come and get me. I'll send Newkirk in to relieve you in a while. No one can take this kind of excitement without a break," Hogan added, smiling as he left Carter there in the office, chuckling.

Hogan was just leaving the office when Schultz walked in.

"Colonel Hogan, the kommandant wants to see you."

"What does he want?" Hogan asked, pulling a chocolate bar out of his jacket pocket and opening it, suppressing a grin as Schultz eyed the candy bar with the kind of lust Hogan usually reserved for a well-endowed blonde.

"He doesn't tell me everything, you know."

"He tells you more than you're telling me, Schultz. Does it have something to do with the visiting brass?"

"I don't think so. It is a letter. He read it, and then he told me to send for you." Schultz looked at him pleadingly, and Hogan handed over the candy bar.

"That's it?"

"That is all I know. And that is the truth." Schultz began devouring the chocolate bar as he escorted Hogan to Klink's office.

"You wanted to see me, sir," Hogan said as he entered Klink's office.

"That will be all, Schultz," Klink said, dismissing the sergeant, who closed the door on his way out. "Have a seat, Hogan." Klink's voice was a little softer than usual, which puzzled Hogan but he followed the direction and sat in a chair across from the kommandant's desk.

"Is there a problem, sir?" Hogan asked, noticing that Klink was now looking back at the letter, troubled.

"As you know, the mail coming into the camp is screened."

"I thought something was going on when my mother's last letter looked like cut-out paper dolls," Hogan said, sarcasm in his tone. German intelligence always censored letters, and if Klink was bored, he'd read through them himself, priding himself that he would find something intelligence missed. Given Klink's present mood, Hogan wondered if he'd actually found something.

"There was nothing in this letter that troubled the censors," Klink said. "I was going to give it to Schultz to put with the rest of the mail, but I thought... I thought perhaps I should give it to you in person." Klink handed Hogan the letter. Frowning, Hogan took it, looking at the familiar, shaky script.

"It's from my grandmother–but you probably know that," Hogan added. He began reading the letter, and felt the bottom drop out of his stomach about midway through it. In her usual gentle way, she'd been trying to prepare him for the actual words that she would finally have to write on the page. Hogan finished the letter and took in a deep breath, folding it and tucking it in his jacket.

"You have my sympathies, Hogan."

"Thank you, sir." The part of Hogan's mind that was not consumed with what he'd read, and with the images it evoked, acknowledged that Klink had shown him not only a great courtesy, but compassion in delivering the news personally instead of allowing Schultz to simply hand it out at the next mail call. He fought the lump in his throat, not trusting himself to say anything else. For a moment, he didn't trust himself to move, his grip on his emotions seemed so tenuous.

"The delay in getting the news to you was unfortunate, but if you would like to send a reply, I will mail it personally from Hammelburg."

"You trust me not to slip some secrets into it?" Hogan asked, forcing a smile that wasn't quite successful.

"I would consider it a courtesy between officers. Your word would suffice."

"Thank you, Kommandant. I would like to send a reply." Hogan rose, moving toward the door.

"I am sorry, Hogan," Klink said, and Hogan paused by the door, the genuine statement making him smile a bit when he felt the least like doing so.

"I know you are," Hogan responded. "Thank you." He left the office, the horrible letter feeling like a live snake lurking inside his jacket. As he entered the barracks, it registered that LeBeau was cooking something, but the smell turned his stomach rather than enticing him over to the pan the way it usually did.

Walking into his office, he found Carter still there, loyally listening to the experiments taking place in Sanders' lab.

"You can take a break, Carter. I need my office for a while. I'll keep an ear on things."

"Thanks. Nothing much has happened, Colonel. It sounds like they're getting ready to knock off for the day anyway," he added, leaving the office. Hogan closed the door behind him.


LeBeau cast another furtive look in Hogan's direction as they sat around the table in the barracks, eating their evening meal. He'd served the visiting generals a feast suitable for a fine French restaurant, and Newkirk had managed to photograph the battle plans. Hogan's praise had been conservative, to say the least, and his reaction to the successful mission considerably flatter than usual. He'd instructed Kinch to send the message off to London that they had accomplished phase one of the mission, and then retreated to his quarters, where he'd spent most of the day behind the closed the door. It was very unlike him to stay in that kind of seclusion with a mission going on, but then he didn't seem like himself in any other significant way, either.

Hogan had been mostly silent once he'd emerged from his quarters in time for dinner, and now he was moving the food around on his plate with the fork, staring at it as if his mind were a million miles away. A few of the others had grunted brief words of praise for the leftover coq au vin, which LeBeau had smuggled out for their dinner from the generals' repast. It was one of Hogan's favorites, and yet he was barely eating more than a bite or two, chasing it with his coffee.

"London sends their congratulations to everyone for getting the film of those plans, Colonel," Kinch said. "They're anxious for us to get that roll of film to our contact in town. Intelligence is waiting for it, and they were pretty insistent that we get it there right away."

"What do they think we're running here? A courier service?" Hogan snapped. "I thought you told them about the heightened security since Ellison's little adventure with the guard towers."

"Yes, sir, I did, but they still insisted it was vital we get it to them as soon as possible."

"If they think they can find someone to move this stuff through faster, they're welcome to send him from headquarters. He can have the job with my blessing." Hogan threw his napkin on the table and stormed back to his office, slamming the door.

"Something's wrong," LeBeau said, shaking his head, looking at Hogan's nearly full plate.

"Officers," Newkirk grumbled, appropriating Hogan's unfinished portion, only to be challenged by Carter, who demanded a share.

"Leave it," LeBeau said, taking the plate from Newkirk in a move so swift it left even the resident pickpocket and safecracker gaping at him in surprise. "He might be hungry later, and I don't have anything worthwhile left to fix."

"Then he should have eaten his dinner," Newkirk made another reach, which LeBeau successfully dodged.

"I mean it. Leave it, or I'll really put the head of an eel in my next bouillabaisse," LeBeau countered.

"Never a good idea to get the cook mad at you, Newkirk," Kinch advised, chuckling, then becoming serious again. "Colonel Hogan's been under a lot of pressure. This situation with Ellison hitting the guard towers hasn't exactly made things more relaxed around here. I tried to tell that to London, but you know how those guys are when they want something. They want it yesterday."


In a prison camp barracks, where good food was at a premium and fifteen men, who were always just a bit hungry, even after dinner, were in easy reach of the stove, guarding the leftovers of Hogan's meal was no small task. LeBeau proved up to it, however, and what he lacked in stature, he made up for in determination. Finally, shortly before lights out, he went to Hogan's door with a tray bearing the small pan of warm food and a cup of coffee, and knocked. There was a long pause, then an abrupt "Come in."

"Sorry to bother you, Colonel, but I thought you might be hungry now." LeBeau entered the office and closed the door behind him, setting the tray on the desk. Hogan was sitting on the lower bunk, elbows on knees, staring straight ahead.

"Thanks, Louis. Maybe later."

"Do you feel ill?"

"I'm fine. Just tired."

"Coq au vin is your favorite. I've never seen you leave even a drop of the sauce–"

"I said, maybe later," Hogan retorted sharply.

"Oui, Mon Colonel. Later. Goodnight." LeBeau headed for the door.

"Wait," Hogan said, stopping him. "I'm sorry. It's not you or the food."

"I was concerned when you didn't eat. I thought you might be sick."

"I, uh, got some news from home. It's just taking me a while to..." Hogan gestured, searching for the right word. "Get on with things," he finally concluded. He looked more tired and drawn than LeBeau could ever remember seeing him look before.

"Do you want to talk about it?" He pulled up a stool not far from where Hogan sat on the bunk, then frowned. "We haven't had a mail delivery in weeks."

"Klink called me into his office, gave it to me personally." Hogan swallowed almost audibly, his throat working visibly. "My, brother is dead."

"Oh, no," LeBeau muttered, covering his mouth briefly. "I am so sorry, Colonel."

"Thanks," Hogan responded, his voice a little husky. "At the time my grandmother wrote the letter, my mother was sedated. She collapsed when they told her, and she's been...the doctor's been looking after her. The letter is almost a month old."

"Have you thought about going home? Even temporarily?"

"Of course, I thought about it. But I wouldn't do it. I guess that's why I blew up at Kinch earlier." Hogan sighed. "I get a letter like this and I want to go home and then I get a message from London that things aren't getting done fast enough...just hit me the wrong way."

"If they knew what happened--"

"This isn't their problem, and it can't impact the operation, either."

"How can something like this not impact the operation? You are only human."

"This is larger than any one person and his family troubles. I won't hold up the Allied war effort so I can...think about this."

"You mean so you can grieve? You must allow yourself to do that, Colonel."

"When? When would you suggest I do that?" Hogan snapped, standing and starting to pace. Before or after we figure out if Sanders is on the up and up or if we have to knock him off? Before or after we get that film to the Underground? Before or after we take care of that bridge job we had to put off because of the heightened security? When would I do it?" Hogan demanded, visibly frustrated at the crack in his voice and the tears that filled his eyes.

"There is no good time to lose someone you love, but death doesn't wait for us. It doesn't let us choose the best time. It just is, and then we have to cope with that." LeBeau rose, moving a bit closer to where Hogan stood, leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. Hogan reached up and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"It's my fault."

"What is?"

"What happened to John," he said. "He's a few years older than me, he's got a wife and kids. Never could really afford much by way of extras for himself." Hogan moved his hand to brush it under his eyes quickly, blinking rapidly to dispel any lingering moisture. "He always liked my motorcycle. He's kind of a klutz–you know, accident-prone--has been ever since we were kids, so I never was too glad to let him ride it. About six months ago, I got this letter from him, and he was depressed about money, bored, the new baby crying all the time was getting on his nerves. He'd asked me before if he could use the motorcycle while I was in the service."

Hogan sat on the stool near his desk, and took a drink of the coffee LeBeau had brought to him. "It wasn't until I answered that last letter that I told him to go ahead and take it out of storage and enjoy it. I figured I'd have enough back pay to buy myself a new one if he messed it up." Hogan snorted an ugly laugh. "I didn't figure out how I was gonna replace him if he killed himself on it." The words were followed by a choking sound, before Hogan put his head down on his folded arms on the desk and his whole body began shaking.

LeBeau stood there, frozen for a moment. He'd touched Hogan in friendship before, and Hogan touched him all the time–he was probably the warmest person LeBeau had ever met. But Hogan was a colonel, a commander. And this was so personal. Part of him felt he should leave the room, but the part of him that loved and valued Hogan's friendship moved him to stand close by, and then venture a hand out to rest between Hogan's shoulders. There was nothing wise he could say in the face of such grief, but one thing did stand out clearly in his mind.

"It wasn't your fault, Mon Colonel," he said gently, his hand rubbing back and forth over Hogan's shoulders now. "You were trying to make him happy. You don't like seeing people unhappy. You never have. You have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. You would never hurt your brother."

"Tell that to my sister-in-law and my niece and nephews," he said bitterly, straightening on the stool. "Tell it to my mother if she's not too sedated to understand it!"

"Are they blaming you?"

"I don't know. They should. I knew putting him together with that motorcycle was a bad idea, but the only thing that stood out in my mind was how much damage he'd do to the motorcycle. What does that say about me?"

"That your brother tended to be clumsy and you were used to him breaking things. He probably did it all the time when you were kids."

"But when you break a motorcycle it can kill you in the process. I never even thought about that."

"He was a grown man. Whether or not he could handle a motorcycle was his decision, not yours. You were just generous enough to let him use yours."

"If I hadn't done it, he'd still be alive. He can't afford to buy one." Hogan pulled out his handkerchief and wiped his nose and eyes. "Thanks for listening, Louis. I'll have a little of the coq au vin later."

LeBeau smiled at Hogan's perfect pronunciation of the French dish, and at the way he had of making LeBeau feel that his latest culinary masterpiece was truly nectar. And the way he always made his men feel good about themselves and all their accomplishments. And how little time he was allowing himself to cope with something so horrible.

"I don't think I should go yet," LeBeau said, venturing to slide his arm around Hogan's shoulders.

"When I was little, he taught me how to ride a bike. If the bullies bothered me, he'd go clean their clocks. He was the best big brother, and I never thanked him for that. For any of it. All I did was hold out on him so my motorcycle wouldn't get damaged."

"A moment ago you blamed yourself for letting him use it, and now you're punishing yourself for not letting him use it sooner. You did nothing to feel guilty for. You loved your brother and you eventually did what you thought would make him happy, even if it was against your better judgment."

"I know you're right." Hogan was quiet a moment. "I just can't talk myself into feeling that way about it."

"It's too soon," LeBeau said gently. "You should rest."

"My grandmother is almost 90. I thought for sure that one of these days, I would get a letter about her...and instead, she wrote me the letter about my brother. I wish there was something I could do for Jenny and the kids. I feel so damned...useless here."

"Could we contact your family through headquarters? We got in touch with Garlotti's father for that pizza recipe–"

"That was for a mission. I'm not asking London to get involved in my family problems." Hogan sighed. "I should explain to the men. That little outburst of mine at dinner was uncalled for."

"Relax, Mon Colonel. I will explain to the others."

"He's already buried, Louis. He's been dead almost a month. All these days I've been going on about my life like nothing happened, and he was dead and buried in the family plot back home." That thought seemed to send a new wave of pain through Hogan.

Ignoring his inhibitions and following his heart, which was something that occasionally got him in trouble, LeBeau moved closer and pulled Hogan toward him, encouraging Hogan to rest his head on LeBeau's shoulder. To his surprise, Hogan's arms wound around him, and he relaxed into the embrace, his body shaking slightly with the tremor of new tears. LeBeau rested his cheek against Hogan's hair, wishing there was some way he could make him feel better, lift some of the burden of unwarranted guilt off his shoulders. They were shoulders that bore too much burden alone as it was.

"If your brother were here, right now, what would he say to you?" LeBeau asked.

"Quit your sniveling and be a man," Hogan said through a watery chuckle. "I remember him saying that to me when I was little. I think I fell off my bike or something. He thought I was carrying on way too much."

"Besides that," LeBeau persisted, a smile in his voice. "What would he say about you taking all this guilt on yourself? Would he blame you?"

"No, no, he wouldn't."

"You were halfway around the world. You weren't even there. Mourn for your brother, but don't punish yourself this way. I won't allow it."

"You won't, huh?" Hogan seemed amused by that, and he pulled away, swallowing, looking as if he had a firmer hold on his emotions now.

"I would not let anyone else insult you, and I won't stand by and let you do it to yourself."

"Maybe you're right. I just can't forget that if I hadn't let him use the motorcycle, he'd be alive."

"And the thousands of people who die in car accidents would still be alive if they'd never ridden in a car. People who die in plane crashes would still be alive if they hadn't decided to take a trip when they did. Does that mean the people who sold the cars or the plane tickets are to blame for those deaths?"

"No, of course not, and what you're saying makes sense. In here," Hogan said, pointing at his head.

"In here will follow," LeBeau said, forgetting any boundaries between them and laying his hand over Hogan's heart. "Give it time."

Their eyes locked for a long moment, then Hogan stood and LeBeau withdrew his hand. The barriers were back, and LeBeau found himself feeling very alone on his side.

"It's almost time for lights out," Hogan said, his voice still sounding rough with emotion.

"I should go, then. If you need anything..."

"I know who to call on," Hogan said, smiling and looking at LeBeau with a love and warmth in his eyes that went straight to LeBeau's heart.


Blair took a bite of the sauerbraten he'd been served for dinner and continued to pore over his notes from his session with Captain Ellison. For the first time since he'd entered into this hellish false bargain with the Nazis, he forgot about his circumstances and concentrated more on his research. He couldn't confirm yet that Ellison had heightened senses at the level to be considered a Sentinel, or even that all five were equally heightened. But it was obvious the American captain was above average in all the test categories.

Way above average, Blair thought, smiling as he sipped his wine. Good thing he can't read my mind. Good thing I can't read my mind...I should be paying more attention to the kommandant's curvaceous secretary than to male Air Corps officer.

"Excuse the interruption of your dinner, Doctor," Hochstetter's voice startled Blair as the Gestapo major approached the table where he was eating. Somehow, the officer had slipped into his quarters and simply appeared there.

"I was just going over my notes from my tests on Captain Ellison," Blair explained, having found Hochstetter was not nearly as sadistic or given to bouts of violence as some of the other Gestapo men if he felt his prisoner was staying in line and faithful to the Fuhrer.

"Ja, I thought you might be doing that now. What do you think?"

"It's too soon to tell," Blair said honestly. He knew if Ellison was the elusive Sentinel he was searching for, he would have to protect him. Exposing him to Hochstetter was out of the question. How he would cover it up, or help Ellison, he had no idea.

"Dr. Sanders, you realize we cannot go the Fuhrer with news that you have found one of these Sentinels as you call them, among Allied POWs."

"I am aware that Herr Hitler expects it to be someone of German descent. I can't control the research, though."

"Yes, Doctor, you can. You must. If Ellison turns out to be one of these Sentinels, I expect you to turn your notes over to me and let the Gestapo deal with it. It will not be reported to the Fuhrer. Is that clear?"

"Deal with it? How?"

"That is none of your concern."

"If he's the proof of my theory, it most certainly is my concern." Some part of Blair's brain told him he was insane to antagonize a Gestapo officer over the finer principles of his research, but he persevered anyway.

"May I remind you, Doctor, that you are sitting in V.I.P. quarters and dining on fine food only at the Fuhrer's orders. You can find yourself in a Gestapo jail on the same orders. Treason is not a crime taken lightly by the Third Reich."

"I'm not talking about treason. I'm talking about the truth."

"There are times it is the same thing. You would do well to remember that. When you have finished your testing of this prisoner, you will turn over your findings to me. Is that clear?"

"Yes, it's clear," Blair said, defeat clear in his voice.

"Did you expect me to report back to Himmler that you'd found someone with all of these...special talents, and he is an American? You, Doctor, may want to die for the truth. I prefer to live just a bit longer."

"There's really no point in all this worry anyway, Major. Captain Ellison has slightly elevated readings on these preliminary tests. So did some of the other subjects who ultimately tested negative."

"Good, good. And make this as efficient as you can. I want you to get back to testing German officers."

"I could start with the kommandant," Blair stated. Hochstetter raised an eyebrow and laughed.

"Klink? Most of the time, he has taken leave of his senses. I seriously doubt they are especially acute."


Jim paced in the darkness of his quarters. His vision easily adjusted to the lack of light after lights out, and his hearing seemed to pick up each movement of the guards in the compound and every snore, sigh, and whispered conversation of the men in his barracks. He was tired, but his mind was working overtime, going over his day of tests with the American scientist.

Blair Sanders was hard to figure. He was working for the Nazis, but nothing about him supported the notion he was a true collaborator. It was inconceivable to Jim that someone as seemingly gentle, pleasant, and ethical could possibly support Hitler and his sick notions.

But then, Blair Sanders was just plain hard to figure, period. Jim had never seen a man with hair that long–at least, not in person. He'd seen pictures of men in history with long hair, but in the modern day? A part of him thought it was strange, but at the same time, he found himself compelled to look at it, to study the highlights in the long curls as the sunshine streamed in the windows of the building that was housing the temporary laboratory.

All in all, he spent entirely too much time looking at the good doctor and not enough time analyzing what his intentions were. Already he didn't feel objective. He wondered what he'd tell Hogan, who would expect a detached, analytical assessment of Sanders. Honestly, he'd been surprised not to see or hear from Hogan via the tunnel that evening. Though Sanders' lab was bugged, he expected Hogan would want a first-hand account, complete with Ellison's impressions of the man.

If Sanders was truly in league with the Nazis, and there was anything to his theories, it would be his death warrant. Hogan's operation was remarkably powerful and well-organized, and Jim knew that if he believed Sanders was a collaborator, the young scientist would probably find himself imprisoned in England at best, executed and buried in some unnamed place at worst.

Such was war, and Jim didn't understand why the mere thought of harm coming to Blair should trouble him so much. Or why he found himself thinking of Blair's face, his smile, his laugh, or the amazing blueness of his eyes.

"You've been away from home way too long, Ellison," he chided himself, stretching out on his bunk and trying to muster a dirty fantasy about Klink's beautiful secretary. He abandoned fantasy when the image kept shifting to Blair, and thoughts Ellison had never had about another man in his life.


LeBeau spent two long hours staring at the ceiling of the barracks before slipping out of his bunk and making his way stealthily to Hogan's door. Carefully, he pushed the door open a crack and peered inside. In the darkness, the most he could discern was that Hogan was in the upper bunk, where he usually slept.

"Who's there?" came the whispered question from the shadowed form on the bunk.

"Just me, Colonel. I..."

"You were checking on me," Hogan whispered.

"Oui, I was. You are still awake."

"Come in," Hogan invited, and LeBeau did, closing the door behind him. He heard Hogan moving about, and in a moment, one of the shutters was open to let in a bit of moonlight.

"I didn't mean to disturb you if you could get some sleep."

"I can't sleep. God knows I could use it, but it's not happening. What's your excuse?"

"I was...worried. I thought you could use the company, maybe."

"Thanks, Louis. It's an even longer night that I expected," Hogan admitted. "I tried writing a letter home, and the words just aren't coming together right. Klink offered to mail it for me so it would get there sooner."

"That was decent of him," LeBeau said, a little surprised by Klink's gesture.

"I appreciated it." Hogan sat on the lower bunk. LeBeau sat next to him, and both men were silent for a few moments. "I keep thinking about growing up, things John and I did together, plans we made. None of them really panned out. Well, except for me ending up in the Air Corps. I always wanted to fly planes. He wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. He tried out for it, but it didn't happen. I feel like I left him behind in so many ways. Like everything went my way and nothing went his way."

"Fate, Colonel."

"Yeah, I guess. I left home, and my family, and never really looked back. I never regretted that until now. I thought I'd have a chance, you know? The war would be over and I'd spend some time back home, playing with my brother's kids, eating my mother's cooking, going fishing on Saturday morning, just John and me, the way we used to. I thought they'd be safe there, and I'd be the one who'd be killed, if anyone was. I was totally unprepared for it to be John, back there in civilian life."

"I worry about my family a lot. Ever since the occupation. I know what the Bosch pigs do in their Gestapo jails. I wouldn't be surprised if they did it just for laughs, to innocent people."

"If your family aren't involved in politics or the Resistance, they'll probably be okay."

"I hope so." LeBeau sighed.

"You should get some shut-eye before roll call."

"I'm all right. I can take a nap later if I'm tired. Unless you'd like to be alone for a while."

"I was alone for a while, and it was overrated. I'm trying to figure out what to say to my mother. What I could possibly write in a letter that would make a difference. It's been a month."

"Tell her you love her and you're going to be as careful as you can, and that the war will be over soon."

"All but the first is kind of a stretch, Louis. We're not exactly in a cautious business, and I have no clue when the war'll be over."

"It's what she needs to hear, don't you think? With your brother gone, she is going to be even more worried about you."

"You're right."

"How about you? What do you need to hear?" LeBeau asked.

"That the letter was some kind of cruel Nazi joke to undermine my morale, and John's fine."

"Is there any danger of that? Klink did give it to you personally and there are no cuts from the censors."

"It's my grandmother's handwriting. I've been reading letters from her most of my life. Notes on greeting cards, letters since I've been away from's not a phony." Hogan swallowed, then added, "Besides, for all his bluster, Klink's not that sadistic."

"He really offered to mail a letter for you? I still can't believe it."

"Klink's got a mother and a brother back home. Maybe it just struck a chord with him. I don't know. I tried to start the letter a couple of times...the words just didn't come." Hogan rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"Maybe you should lie down and rest." LeBeau laid a hand on the back of Hogan's shoulder. "You seem exhausted, Colonel."

"I feel exhausted, but I can't sleep."

"Come on, lie down." LeBeau stood and Hogan did the same, but was surprised to see LeBeau turn back the lower bunk. "We can still talk a while, but if you feel tired, you can doze off this way." Hogan nodded a response and slid under the thin blanket, releasing a tired sigh. LeBeau sat on the edge of the bunk, and seeing how truly worn out Hogan looked, decided against engaging him in conversation. Hogan's eyes were drifting shut against his will. "Go to sleep." He laid his hand on Hogan's wrist where his arm lay on top of the covers. "I will stay." When Hogan opened his eyes and mouth to object, LeBeau held a finger up to his own lips to shush him. "Just rest. If you want to talk, I will be here. But you need sleep now."

"Thanks, Louis," Hogan said quietly, his mouth turning up slightly at the corners before he drifted off to sleep.


Before roll call the next morning, LeBeau quietly gathered the men of their barracks together and told them the news that Hogan's brother had been killed in an accident, and the colonel only now received word of it.

"That's rough," Carter said, shaking his head. "You just don't think about the folks back home being in danger," he added, echoing Hogan's sentiment of the previous night.

"How's he taking it?" Kinch asked, concerned.

"The way he usually takes things–not letting himself have any time to deal with it. He doesn't want it to affect the operation in any way, and he won't use the contact with London to get in touch with his family."

"At least Klink offered to mail a letter for him," Newkirk said. "Gotta hand it to old Klink. That's decent of him."

"He could get in some trouble for it, that's for sure. Especially if Hochstetter gets wind of it," Carter said.

"Morning, men," Hogan greeted, coming out of his quarters, donning his cap. He looked a bit paler than usual, and tired, but otherwise, Hogan had pulled himself together well, and seemed prepared to go on with business as usual.

"LeBeau told us about your brother, Colonel," Kinch spoke up. "We're all real sorry."

"Thanks," Hogan said sincerely, but crisply. "We better get out there for roll call before Schultz comes in looking for us."

"Oui, and eating our breakfast while he's at it," LeBeau agreed. If Hogan wanted to keep talk of his loss to a minimum, that's what they would do. LeBeau thrust his hands in his coat pockets to keep from reaching out and touching Hogan, even in some small way.


Immediately following roll call, Ellison was escorted back to the barracks where Dr. Sanders was doing his testing. Hogan knew he should have met with Ellison to talk about the previous day's tests, but his mind wouldn't have been on it anyway. Returning to his office, he plugged in the coffee pot, planning to eavesdrop on the morning's experiments while he wracked his brain for the right words to write to his family.

He worked on the letter, occasionally using the experiments as an escape. He assessed early on that Sanders wasn't conducting any unethical medical tests on Ellison, and it seemed they had settled in for another day of eye charts and funny little tones to test range of hearing. It was almost as fascinating as the taste and scent tests of the previous day. Hogan shrugged to himself, figuring that just might be proof Sanders truly did work for Hitler–only old scramble brains himself would bankroll this kind of nonsense for months on end while Germany was losing the war against the Allies. Instead of buying more weapons, Hitler was paying for this guy to travel around Germany testing people's smellers.


"You're awfully quiet today, Chief," Jim said, watching Blair take notes on the results of his latest vision test, which , to him, seemed like a repeat of the test they had done the previous day, just using a different chart.

"We have a lot of tests to get through," Blair responded, not looking up.

"Where are all these tests going? Call me crazy, but I feel like we just repeated yesterday's tests again today, only with some different stuff." That got Blair's attention, and his head snapped up.

"They're not the same," he said defensively.

"Could've fooled me, but you're the scientist."

"In any kind of research, you can't take one set of results from a certain type of test and consider it solid. You have to repeat the tests, using different tools, to verify your results."

"Okay, don't get so defensive, Doc. Just an observation."

"I'm sorry," Blair said, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes. "I have to justify the purpose of my work every day to people like Klink and Hochstetter, and I guess it just makes me edgy when I have to explain it to someone on my...someone else."

"Someone on your side?" Jim ventured.


"I don't believe this," Hogan muttered, throwing down his pen and abandoning his letter. "Smooth, Ellison, really smooth."


"I didn't say that," Blair responded, the color draining from his face.

"You didn't have to," Jim countered. "You're not really doing anything meaningful for them, are you?"

"You're mistaken, Captain. I am attempting to locate a Sentinel among the German officers. Testing you is merely a diversion. The Fuhrer believes if Sentinels exist, they must exist among the Master Race."

"You can't even carry it off well. You aren't a good liar, Chief."

"My name is Dr. Sanders. I would appreciate it if you would remember that. This is strictly professional."

"Oh?" Jim smiled. "That's not what I'm picking up on."


"What the hell?" Hogan rose from his chair and opened his office door. Most of the others were outside during the recreation period, but Newkirk was at the table in the main room of the barracks, repairing a torn garment with his usual tailoring expertise. "Newkirk," he said, motioning to the other man to join him in the office. "Listen to this and keep track of what they're saying. I'm going over there."

"Something happening, Colonel?"

"Something's happening, all right. Damned if I know what it is." He hurried out the door, leaving Newkirk baffled as he began to listen in to the conversation.


"I don't know what you're talking about," Blair felt his heart pounding, and it made talking in a steady voice almost impossible. "I hardly know you. You're a test subject. Why would it be anything personal?"

"You tell me, Blair," Jim said, purposely using the other man's first name, dropping his voice a bit, watching as Blair's face flushed a bit and his Adam's apple bobbed visibly. Just then, they heard voices outside, and a moment later, Klink and Hogan entered.

"Excuse the interruption of your work, Dr. Sanders, but we hoped you might give us an overview of the tests you've been running with Captain Ellison," Klink said, smiling politely.

"And I would like to know what you're asking one of my men to do. I don't have a clear idea of what types of tests you're running on him," Hogan added.

"Nothing sinister, I assure you," Blair said, relieved in one way for the interruption, but unnerved in another that his tests were being scrutinized. "We've really only begun the most preliminary level of testing–routine eye charts, hearing tests, simple stimuli for the other senses, to determine if any of Captain Ellison's responses fall outside the normal range."

"Do they?" Hogan asked. Blair hoped he wasn't shaking visibly.

"Not to an exceptional degree, no," he responded. "As I said, these are only basic tests, and many people will display results slightly outside the normal range. Which is why they are just the beginning of a very long process of testing. One test builds on the other."

"The tests have been quick and painless, sir," Jim spoke up. "Just reading eye charts and listening to tones and tasting a few things. Easier than work details or calisthenics," he added, obviously hoping to break the tension. Hogan didn't seem to have his usual sense of humor as he nodded, still straight-faced.

"Good. Thanks for your time, Doctor Sanders."

"Yes, Dr. Sanders, please carry on," Klink said, smiling and clicking his heels together before turning to leave. Hogan followed him, his gait a bit slower than usual.

"Something's not right," Jim said, still frowning after the door had closed behind the two men.

"How do you mean?" Blair asked, knowing he looked panicked but unable to hide it.

"I'm talking about Hogan," Jim said, looking at Blair. "You're not looking so hot yourself, Chief. What's the matter with you today, anyway?"

"There's nothing the matter with me. I don't know what you're talking about." Blair hoped the demeanor of the brusque scientist would put Ellison off his trail, or at least discourage him from questioning him or his motives further. "Why do you think something's wrong with Colonel Hogan? He looked all right to me. Seemed a little on the quiet side, but everybody has their off days."

"It's more than that, but I don't know what it is. But I'll figure it out. Just like I'll figure you out eventually."

"There's nothing to figure out. Now, I'd like you to put this earplug in and tell me what you hear." Blair handed Jim a small white earplug connected by a cord to radio-like box. "I promise you I'm not going to turn anything up loud. It's just more harmless tones. I want to check each ear individually."

"I don't know if I can stand the excitement." With an exasperated look, Jim put the plug in his ear.


"Hogan," Klink said, stopping Hogan from returning to the barracks. "I'm going into Hammelburg for a doctor's appointment this afternoon. I can take that letter if you like."

"I'm working on it right now. I'll have it finished by the time you're ready to leave."

"Fine." Klink turned to head back toward his office, then paused. "Do you think they're really accomplishing anything in there?" he asked, looking back at the barracks being used for Sanders' lab.

"I'm not exactly a research scientist, but I guess what he's saying makes sense," Hogan responded, crossing his arms over his chest. "Besides, all I'm worried about is whether or not he's abusing one of my men. Figuring out whether he's doing anything worthwhile is Hochstetter's problem."

"True, true," Klink agreed, nodding. "You seemed quite anxious to break in on their testing this morning when you asked me to accompany you to the lab."

"It's the second day of tests, and the guards won't let me in unless you're with me. I just wanted to pay a surprise visit. Be sure Ellison was all right."

"As you can see, he appears fine." Klink paused, as if he wanted to say something else but couldn't quite figure out how to do it.

"Was there something else, Kommandant?"

"How are you, Hogan?" The question was rapidly spoken, and Klink looked uneasy asking it, but at the same time, he seemed to badly want to address the subject of Hogan's loss.

"It was hard news to get, but I'm all right. I appreciate being able to send the letter home without waiting for it to go through the Red Cross or the censors. I know there's an element of risk in that for you."

"It's an innocent letter about a family tragedy. If the Gestapo should ask, you must tell them you gave it to me unsealed."

"I can do that if you prefer. I don't have anything to hide."

"Do as you wish, Hogan, but I don't feel the need to read it." Klink paused. "I telephoned my brother last night," he added.

"Does he have a job yet?" Hogan asked, and Klink actually smiled a little.

"Yes, he finally did get another job, much to my mother's relief. I haven't spoken to him in over a year."

"And then you get to thinking how it would be if you couldn't ever speak to him again, and you remember all the stuff you did together when you were kids, and all you want to do is pick up the phone?" Hogan said, the sadness audible in his voice.

"I didn't mean to make this more difficult, Hogan."

"It's just kind of a fresh wound, I guess. But I'm glad you called your brother."

"I know this probably sounds bizarre, but I wanted to thank you, but yet, you didn't really do anything...and I'm sure it doesn't make your loss easier to know I called my brother...maybe it was insensitive of me to mention it..."

"No, it's not. I understand," Hogan said, swallowing. "I should finish my letter."

"Of course. I'm leaving about one o'clock."

"I'll bring it to your office before that."

Hogan watched as Klink crossed the compound, then shivered at a particularly cold gust of wind. He'd felt colder since getting word of John's death, and the gray winter sky and black, rattling bones of leafless trees in the woods around the camp seemed even more desolate and hopeless than they ever had before. Suddenly the whole operation seemed more than he could handle, and the war seemed as if it would last forever. He found himself angry and frustrated with his lack of freedom in a way he never had been before. Though he was a prisoner of the Germans, he was one of the most powerful men in the Allied war effort. That thought had always kept him from feeling confined, from feeling defeated and captive. He had never truly felt like a prisoner. This was his assigned base of operations. He could escape any time he felt like it. He had that power.

And yet, he couldn't even be there for his brother's funeral, or to console his mother who, according to his grandmother, was inconsolable. In the end, he was a prisoner of both sides. The Germans had him behind barbed wire in a prison, and the Allies had him in charge of one of the biggest sabotage and intelligence operations in Germany and were not about to let him go anywhere.

"Colonel?" LeBeau's voice startled him out of his morose thoughts, and he realized it was snowing now, and the wind still blowing, and he was just standing in the middle of the compound, staring into space. "It's freezing out here. You should come inside."

"I was just thinking."

"Newkirk said you went to check on Ellison. What was happening?"

"Nothing I can put my finger on. But Ellison was moving too far too fast with probing Sanders. We don't know enough about the guy to trust him even if he claims to be on our side. Ellison could blow the whole operation. And there was something in the tone of their conversation I just didn't like. I need to talk to him tonight, find out what's going on in his head."

"You should have worn your gloves. Your hands look almost blue," LeBeau said, resting a hand in the middle of Hogan's back. "You're shivering."

"It's cold," Hogan said dismally, finally walking back to the barracks with LeBeau. "I have a letter to finish," he said quietly, and LeBeau nodded.

He closed the door to his office and sat at the desk, looking at the letter he'd started earlier. As he read over the first few lines, the emotions were back, and he couldn't stop a few tears from escaping. His body, his heart, and his soul felt frozen through. He didn't hear the door open, but somehow it didn't startle him to feel the blanket around his shoulders or to see the hot coffee in front of him, his letter moved carefully out of harm's way.


"When my aunt died, my uncle shivered so hard at night that my father put three blankets on him to keep him warm. I think when you feel cold in your heart, your body feels it, too." LeBeau rubbed his hands briskly over Hogan's shoulders, trying to create a little more warmth.

"It's a hard letter to write," Hogan admitted, taking a drink of the coffee, and not objecting to the motion of LeBeau's hands over his shoulders and back. The attention felt as good as the warmth.

"Are you writing to your mother?"

"Yeah. Or trying," Hogan added with a slight smile.

"What would you say if you were there?"

"That I was sorry about the motorcycle," Hogan responded honestly, spontaneously.

"Anything you say to her will make her feel better. Just knowing you're safe, and alive. Share your grief with her. Tell her you love her. It doesn't have to be a long letter. You can write her a long one anytime."

"I guess you're right. Thanks for the coffee and the blanket."

"Call me if you need anything. I'll be in the other room, making lunch. Maybe you will want to eat a little something today?"

"I'll give it a shot."


Jim had left the laboratory feeling oddly depressed. Before Hogan and Klink walked in, it seemed as if Blair was about to say something, to reveal his real motives. Whatever was going on, Blair was afraid, no question about that. And try as he did, Jim just couldn't picture him as truly being a Nazi collaborator. Now, staring at the water-stained ceiling of the barracks as he lay on his bunk, the hours couldn't pass fast enough until morning, until he could see Blair again and try to talk to him. After all, his mission was to get to the bottom of what Blair was up to, how worthwhile it was, and whether or not he was on their side.

And if he's not on your side, can you turn that information over to Hogan? Can you sign Blair's death warrant, if it comes to that?

Resigned to not sleeping, Jim realized he had to face the answer that was as unsettling as it was inexplicable. He knew he could never turn Blair over to a certain death, whether it be at the hands of the Nazis or at the hands of the Allies. He knew the network of tunnels now, and a part of him pondered the possibility of using them to get to Blair late at night, offer him a means of escape, and try to get him out of Germany. But doing that without Hogan and his men would be suicide. Their operation was top-notch, but an independent mad dash into the woods was too risky.


Blair turned off the shower and dried himself, looking in the mirror at his reflection. He'd lost weight in the last few months, and he looked tired, even to himself. The mirror was small, and even when he turned around, he could only see a few of the red marks that reached his shoulders. It was just as well; dwelling on the angry-looking welts only made them seem worse than they were. They would fade in time.

He put on his pajamas and climbed into bed, releasing his hair from the knot he'd tied it in to keep it out of the water. The bed was comfortable, and the big sergeant, Schultz, was on guard duty outside his quarters. While he didn't imagine Schultz was a very efficient guard, he was more humane than the Gestapo, and it was much easier to doze off knowing one of the Luftwaffe men was patrolling, and not one of the black-uniformed monsters who were likely to inflict any manner of injury on him for the slightest transgression.

Sleep was elusive, though, even under the best conditions, and thoughts of the handsome Captain Ellison plagued him. Before they were interrupted, Blair had almost blurted everything to him. Begged for his help. And yet, how could he trust Jim, even if they were building a good rapport as researcher and subject? A clumsy attempt to get him out of Germany would end in both their deaths. Unpleasant deaths, at that. And who's to say Jim would believe him anyway? Or want to lay his life on the line to help him?

And if he escaped, he'd be wanted by Hitler himself. Maybe no one could help him. Maybe he'd dug himself a hole too deep to get out of this time.


"I'm going over to have a talk with Ellison tonight," Hogan told his men, gathered at the table in their longjohns and nightshirts. Hogan was fully dressed, and ready to make a nocturnal journey through the tunnels to Barracks 5.

"The branch tunnels aren't guaranteed safe yet, Colonel," Kinch said. "Ever since Ellison hit the guard towers, security's been tighter, and we just haven't had the time we need to spend down there fixing things up again."

"I can't help that. He almost blew the ball game today. We don't know anything about this Sanders guy–not enough to start talking to him about what we have to offer by way of escape services."

"Ellison didn't tell him anything, did he?" Newkirk asked. "After you had me listen in, he didn't say anything."

"No, he didn't say anything specific, but he's moving too fast with Sanders. A lot of collaborators play both sides. We don't know enough yet to trust him. Before he gets in there for another day of testing, I need to see him."

"One of us should go, Colonel," Carter spoke up. "If anything goes wrong, we're going to be in a real pickle trying to cover it up with Klink."

"Carter's right," LeBeau agreed. "If you get stuck in the tunnel, we can't cover for you. Klink would notice you're missing right away."

"I don't want to send one of you through the tunnel when we're not sure it's safe. I'll go myself."

"I will go. I'm smaller, and lighter, so I won't disturb things so much, and you can cover for me at roll call if you have to dig me out," LeBeau offered.

"I appreciate the offers, guys, but I'm going." Hogan checked his watch. "Langenscheidt just did a bed check about half an hour ago, so the coast should be clear for a while."


Jim knew that someone was on the way to his quarters via the tunnels long before the footlocker moved to reveal the opening in the floor. Hogan made his way up into the room, and Jim got off his bunk, standing to salute the senior officer.

"At ease, Ellison," Hogan said, saluting almost as an afterthought. "You want to tell me why you were moving so fast with Sanders? Do you know something we don't know? Because unless you do, you could have blown the whole operation."

"I didn't tell him anything, sir."

"You were pushing him way too far, too fast. Do you know how easy it would have been for him to tell you what you wanted to hear and ask for your help? And as soon as you confirmed you could help him, he'd have had a ticket right through our front door? Possibly bringing Hochstetter and his goons with him?"

"Blair's not a collaborator, sir."

"I see. And just how did you determine this in a day and a half–and you're calling him by his first name now? Not to mention the fact that most of the time you were looking at eye charts or listening to tones or drinking cups of water blindfolded!" Hogan's voice rose an octave, but he kept it barely above a whisper.

"I'm sorry if I did something to compromise the operation, but I didn't tell Sanders anything about it, and if you've been listening in, you know that."

"What I know is that if Sanders had given you any indication today that he wasn't on their side, you'd have been offering him safe passage to England. I don't know what's going on here, but I do know you're getting too friendly, too fast. He may look like this innocent young scientist, but just remember that Hitler started out as an innocent young painter, too, to all outward appearances, and look where he ended up."

"I wouldn't have said anything to breach security, sir. But with all due respect, you did ask me to get to know this guy and figure out if he was for real. If I don't build a rapport with him, how am I supposed to do that? And beyond that, I'm telling you what I think of him. It's not an exact science, but I'm a pretty good judge of people. I know when they're lying."

"You do? And this is some foolproof system?"

"Truthfully, sir? Nearly foolproof." Jim was silent a moment, trying to figure out if he should tell Hogan the whole truth. "I can hear people's heartbeats, and I know that when they change in certain ways, they're lying."

"Excuse me?" Hogan stared at him, incredulous.

"When I first came here, I told you I had acute senses of hearing and sight, and that's one of the reasons you put me in this position to be tested by Sanders. The scary part is, I think I might just be the kind of...person he's looking for. I can hear heartbeats from across a room. I can hear yours. I could hear you in the tunnel before you ever got near the entrance. And if I want to know if someone's lying, all I have to do is listen–not to their words, but to their heartbeat."

"You expect me to believe that?"

"Look, I've been holding back on Sanders, on what I give him. I didn't want him to know how far off his charts my senses go. Even if he wasn't a collaborator, I didn't know that he'd die to protect me. That he'd have the nerve to defy the Gestapo. You and I both know an Allied Sentinel isn't what they want, and if they find one–"

"They'll execute him." Hogan sighed, and began pacing. "Assuming this is all true, and you really are one of these Sentinels Sanders is looking for, I need proof. Forgive me if I'm skeptical, but a lot of lives ride on my decisions, and I can't take your word for it."

"I know it's a risk, but I want to work honestly with Sanders. The night I hit those towers, dropped bombs on the camp, something happened. I blacked out. Sometimes when lights and sounds are too much, that happens."

"You realize it could cost you your life? We'd do all we could to get you out, but there's a point at which I have to pull back in situations like this. We can't let the krauts know how much we can do, how powerful this organization is. I might not be able to bail you out if you get in too deep with him and his experiments. You said yourself that you didn't want to let him know what you could really do."

"I have to take a risk here, Colonel. I have to give him something more to build a bond between us. I think we've already got a sort of friendship forming, but I have to give him something more. He has to know there's a reason to protect me, to choose sides. I think he's scared and he's playing a game to stay alive, and something has to happen to move him one way or the other."

"And you admitting how strong your senses are is that thing?"

"I believe so, yes. Because whatever Blair's politics turn out to be, he's a scientist. He loves what he does, and that's obvious. His whole face lights up when he talks about finding a Sentinel. It's what he wants most."

"If he's a Nazi at heart, I don't want to help him get out of Germany just so he can play with his new toy–a real live Sentinel who happens to be on our side. If what you're telling me is true, the implications for what you can do for the Allies is...staggering. London would have my head if they knew I was playing with a commodity like that."

"To London, I'm a commodity. To Blair, I..."

"You're what? A research subject? Look, none of my men are commodities to me. I don't think that way. But London does. And if I discover a man with an exceptional talent, I have to make sure he uses that talent to do the greatest good for our side."

"I don't even know that I'm really one of these Sentinels. And even if I am, there are times when I can't channel it. It's like a raw power that has no real direction. Yes, I can listen to heartbeats, and yes, my night vision is very acute. I've learned a few tricks by accident. But I don't think I can do it alone."

"Well, they didn't cover this one in officer's training." Hogan sat on the stool near Ellison's desk, looking more tired and worn out that he'd looked when Ellison first met him.

"Forgive my asking this, but are you all right, sir?"

"Me? I'm fine. You're the one hearing heartbeats across the room," Hogan added, smiling. "I got some bad news from home, that's all," he said, then continued, rising. "Take it to the next level with Sanders. Throw him a couple bones, do a couple tricks for him. See what happens. Don't give him all you've got. I want you to tread carefully here. Understood?"

"Understood, sir. Thank you."

"Just be sure, no matter how much of a sob story he gives you, that you check with me before you offer him anything tangible."

"Right, Colonel." Jim paused. "I'm sorry about your bad news. I hope it wasn't too serious."

"My brother was killed in a motorcycle accident about a month ago."

"I'm sorry," Jim said, thinking of his own younger brother, Steven, and wondering where he was, and if he was all right. Steven was a damn good pilot, up for a promotion to lieutenant any day now.

"Thanks. We'll talk soon about how we can put your built-in radar to work for the operation."

"I'll look forward to that, sir." As Hogan was about to climb down into the tunnel, Jim added, "About that proof you wanted, sir?"

"Yeah?" Hogan paused.

"LeBeau is the closest to you of the prisoners, and he cares about you very much."

"What would make you say that?"

"Because his heartbeat gets more rapid whenever he's near you."

"I'm an officer, and my rank has that effect on enlisted men sometimes," Hogan said, appearing distinctly uncomfortable.

"He's not afraid of you, and he's not nervous. I'm not trying to pry, Colonel, and I certainly am not asking for confirmation or comment one way or the other. I just thought it might serve as the proof you're looking for."

"It's been a long day, Ellison. Just proceed with Sanders, and don't worry about analyzing me and the men." With that, Hogan retreated into the tunnel, closing the entrance behind him.

"Guess I hit a nerve," Jim muttered to himself, smiling.


LeBeau put the finishing touches on the breakfast tray he was to take to Dr. Sanders' quarters. Colonel Hogan had asked him to volunteer for the task of making and delivering breakfast so he could spend a few moments in Sanders' company. Hogan seemed disinclined to rely solely on Ellison's judgment of the man, so he was now going to start exposing a few more of his men to Sanders to see what they thought of him, too.

"Breakfast ready yet?" Schultz asked, looking hopeful. LeBeau was using the camp kitchen to prepare this meal, and since it was on Klink's nickel anyway, he'd prepared plenty extra to make the portly guard happy.

"You better test it, Schultzie," he joked, handing Schultz his own plate. As he sampled the omelet, Schultz made the appropriate expression of ecstasy, rolling his eyes and savoring every morsel.

"Wunderbar! You made, perhaps, some potato pancakes to go with it?"

"Oui, I made potato pancakes," LeBeau replied, chuckling. He added one to Schultz's plate. "You see much of the scientist?" LeBeau asked conversationally. Schultz knew if he got a large handout of food that it came with a price tag of information, but he was usually only too happy to oblige.

"Not a lot. Sometimes I have guard duty around his quarters at night."

"You haven't talked to him at all?"

"Only a little, when I accidentally entered his room when he was dressing. He was very gracious about it, but I don't think he wanted anyone to see the marks."


"I think I should not say any more."

"I'm making strudel tonight."

"It looked like he'd taken a whipping, and a bad one."


"Ja. His back and his shoulders had all these red marks that looked very sore."

"Interesting. You think Hochstetter and his men are doing that to him?"

"Nein. The major hasn't even been here that much, and I don't think his guards have gone inside the quarters for more than a few minutes to be sure Sanders is where he's supposed to be." Schultz smiled. "You said something about strudel tonight?"

"Come by after night roll call. I will have a little treat for you."

"Make it not-so-little?"

"Oui, I know," LeBeau replied, smiling.

Still pondering what Schultz had told him, LeBeau made his way to the guest quarters with a covered tray which would hopefully keep the food warm against the elements outdoors. The Gestapo guard let him pass after checking under the lid, and he could hear Sanders in the suite's bedroom, opening and closing a drawer.

"Your breakfast is here, Monsieur," LeBeau announced, leaving it on the dining table. A moment later, the American hurried out of the bedroom, long hair loose on his shoulders.

"LeBeau, right?"

"Oui. I brought your breakfast."

"Merci," Sanders said, smiling. "I hope you prepared it. The meal the other night was spectacular. I've been hoping for another chance to eat some of your cooking."

"You are most kind. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm afraid this is just a simple omelet, but if Schultz doesn't eat it all, I'll save you some of the strudel I'm making tonight."

"That's very thoughtful of you. Thanks." Sanders sat down and removed the lid from the tray. "Looks delicious."

"I will let you enjoy your breakfast."

"Could you join me for coffee?"

"What will your guard think?" LeBeau wasn't sure why he asked, since the chance to probe Sanders a bit was just what Hogan wanted him to do. At the same time, knowing the other man had obviously suffered some abuse at the hands of the Gestapo, he didn't want to be responsible for causing him more pain or punishment.

"I suppose you're right. To some of them, sharing coffee is akin to treason."

"So, is Ellison one of those...Sentinels you're looking for?"

"It's too soon to tell," Sanders responded, trying the omelet. "This is excellent."

"Merci. What kinds of tests do you do on him?"

"Nothing sinister, I promise. Just vision and hearing tests, a few simple taste tests. We haven't worked on scent and touch yet, but we'll get to it. I have to do a minimum of two sets of each test to be sure that if I get an unusual result, it's not just a fluke."

"Fluke?" LeBeau asked, the odd English word not sounding familiar.

"To be sure it's not just a one-time thing, or a mistake."

"I see. Sounds like a lot of work."

"It is, but it would be worth it if I found someone with all five senses heightened. It would validate years of research for me."

"I hope you find one, then. What happens if he's on our side?"

"I don't know. I guess that'll be up to Hitler to decide."

"You would turn him over to Hitler?"

"LeBeau, my orders are to locate a Sentinel for the Fuhrer. That's my assignment."

"I cannot believe you would work for that animal."

"Look, you were worried about my being accused of treason for having coffee with you, and in the next breath, you expect me to call Hitler names? You must think I'm nuts."

"If you are working for him, I have to wonder," LeBeau shot back.

"That's your prerogative. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to finish my breakfast before I have to get to work in the lab."

"With pleasure," LeBeau said, thoroughly disgusted. Part of his mind told him that it could be fear talking, and Sanders would have no reason to trust him. But the other part, the part that reacted on a visceral, gut level to the insanity and tyranny of Hitler, cringed.


"That was quick," Hogan said as LeBeau stormed back to where he was sitting on a crate outside the barracks. It was cold outside, but at least it was sunny, and Hogan was taking the rare opportunity to soak up a few of the rays.

"He's planning to turn Ellison over to Hitler if he tests positive!"

"That's been the party line all along, Louis. What else did you find out?" Hogan tried not to think of what Ellison had told him the night before as LeBeau hovered close by.

"Schultz walked in on him when he was dressing, and he said Sanders had marks all over his back and shoulders, like he was whipped recently."

"That's interesting. Not very surprising, but interesting. Any ideas who did it to him?"

"Schultz didn't think it was Hochstetter or his guards, because they haven't been alone with Sanders long enough to do that much damage. Might have happened when he was still in Berlin."

"Ellison seems to think he's on our side."

"How does he figure that?"

"He claims he can listen to heartbeats and tell if someone's lying." Hogan let the statement hang there, wondering if it would sound as absurd to LeBeau as it did to him.

"He listened to Sanders' heart? Didn't he find that a little suspicious?"

"He said he can hear it across the room."

"A heartbeat?"

"Yup." Hogan nodded.

"That's ridiculous. No one could hear that."

"Unless they were a Sentinel."

"You don't believe in all that, do you? Don't you think that's something Sanders invented to keep Hitler from killing him? To keep him interested?"

"He's been doing the research for a few years now, according to him, anyway. He was living independently, studying in Germany before the war. He chose what to study before pleasing Hitler ever entered into it."

"He could still be as big a crackpot as one of Hitler's gypsy fortunetellers."

"True. You had to know he wasn't going to just trust you immediately because you made a good omelet."

"Well, it works on Schultz," LeBeau said, smiling.

"I'll tell Ellison tonight about the marks. Maybe he can pry a little more out of Sanders, earn his trust."

"Can't London find anything out about him?"

"All they know is that he's an American student who was studying in Berlin, and that he dropped out of sight about three months ago after the Gestapo picked him up at the university. They're having some difficulties tracing him back to the US, though. He has an American passport, but so far, they haven't been able to come up with information on a Blair Sanders who fits his description."

"You think he's using a fake name?"

"Maybe he's playing both sides."

"And Ellison thinks he knows this guy is on the up and up because he listened to his heartbeat from across the room?"

"Mm-hm," Hogan confirmed. "We should probably catch the morning show on the coffee pot."

"Good. We can listen while I give you a shave and a trim."

"Damn. Can't believe I forgot to shave this morning."

"You've had a few other things on your mind. Besides, the shave and hot towels will relax you."

"I don't have time–"

"Sure you do. We have to listen in to Ellison and Sanders anyway."

"That's true."


Jim watched Blair setting up a strange-looking apparatus that looked something like the machine eye doctors have patients look through to read eye charts. Yet this machine had a light bulb and some colored transparencies designed to pass in front of the bulb with the flick of a switch.

"What is that thing?" Jim finally asked, bored with just watching Blair tinker with seemingly endless adjustments to it.

"It's just another test we're going to do in a little while. Nothing to worry about."

"You're awfully quiet today," Jim commented, the absence of Blair's usual chatter and step-by-step descriptions of everything he was doing hanging heavy in the air like a fog. "Something wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. I just need to keep my mind on what I'm doing, that's all."

"Yeah, it looks pretty complicated there, Chief." Jim finally walked over for a closer look at the machine. As he leaned forward, he rested a hand in the middle of Blair's back. He was surprised when the other man flinched and moved away from him. "What is it?"

"Nothing. You just startled me."

"How could I startle you? You knew I was right next to you."

"Just drop it, Jim. Leave it alone." Blair looked away, trying to busy himself with testing the machine. Jim reached over and turned it off.

"Take off your shirt," he said, keeping his tone gentle.

"Are you insane? Why?" Blair countered, his expression a combination of panic and annoyance.

"Just do it."

"I'm not undressing in the middle of the day for no good reason."

"I want to see your back."

"You don't need to see any more of me than you're seeing now."

"Yes, I do. I think you know why."

"Because you've got some weird idea about me getting undressed."

"If you take your shirt off, I'm going to see marks of some kind. Bruises or welts or burns or something, isn't that right?"

"Why would you think that?"

"Because the Gestapo aren't known the world over for being great hosts," Jim retorted. Seeing the anguish in Blair's eyes, he softened his approach. "I know we haven't known each other very long, but...this is strange, since I don't usually make friends all that quickly...I feel like I know you better than I do. I want to help."


The razor glided over Hogan's cheek with a deft, gentle precision. Reclined in the barber's chair, he closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation. LeBeau was quietly going about his task, letting Hogan relax. His barber back home didn't do a job like this. He would definitely miss LeBeau's light, precise touch with the razor when he was back home under the blade of some ham-handed street corner barber whose only real interest in his comfort was the payment he'd receive for his services.

With a stab of sadness, he realized it would be more than LeBeau's shaving technique he would miss back home. In that moment, it seemed unthinkable to say goodbye at the gates someday when the camp was liberated and the war was over. To say goodbye and know that you wouldn't be seeing each other again. Probably never. It wasn't as if he didn't know that was the reality they would face someday–dismantling the operation, going their separate ways, back to their own lives in their own hometowns–it was just that when he allowed himself to travel there in his mind, it was becoming less and less bearable to wave Louis off to France and head back to England and then the U.S., knowing it would be unlikely he'd ever see his friend again.

He opened his eyes, as if to banish those thoughts, and his gaze locked with LeBeau's. The other man smiled, going on with his shaving task. The affection in the expression made Hogan smile back, despite his dark thoughts. The whole process of the shave and hot towels was utter luxury, a complete non-necessity that LeBeau happily did for Hogan any time he wanted, and he usually sought it out on days when he was most exhausted or worried about an operation. Times when he needed to relax.

"Ready for the towel?" LeBeau asked, setting his shaving gear aside.

"Anytime," Hogan said, closing his eyes again. The moist warmth surrounded his face, and he sighed audibly. Opening his eyes again, he saw LeBeau was smiling, though he hadn't noticed Hogan was looking at him.

"LeBeau is the closest to you of the prisoners, and he cares about you very much."

"...his heartbeat gets more rapid whenever he's near you."

Ellison's words came back to him, but he dismissed them again. LeBeau was no fairy. He was as passionate about beautiful women as he was about his love for France. He was small and he loved to cook, but he was all man. He had enormous courage and tenacity, and was brave enough–or fool enough–to defy men who outclassed him in size and strength without backing down.

And all this sob-sister thinking about the pain of parting at the end of the war was just a weird off-shoot of his grief over John's sudden death, a forced separation that would eat at his soul the rest of his life. It certainly wasn't a sign he was having odd thoughts about one of his men. He was no more light on his feet than LeBeau was. He closed his eyes again and thought of Hilda, all blonde hair and curves, and the possibility of a little messing around in the back of Klink's staff car. There was bound to be an evening when the sergeant in the motor pool could be bribed to look the other way. God knows he'd done it enough times before.

That's what he needed. A little rendezvous with Hilda to take his mind off things. To take his mind off this weird course of waxing sentimental over LeBeau, and of the feeling he had of wanting to lean into LeBeau's touch as he moved the warm towel over Hogan's face.


Blair looked at Jim for a long moment, then reached down to unbutton the front of the white shirt he wore. He had no t-shirt under it, since the tight-fitting garment seemed to irritate the welts more than the looser fitting shirt. He swallowed, then hesitantly removed the shirt.

"Which son of a bitch did this to you? Hochstetter?" Jim asked, his voice strained.

"It happened just before we left to come here. It wasn't Hochstetter. It was one of the guards at Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. I don't remember his name, and I don't know who ordered it for sure, but I know it was because I told one of the officers there that I didn't want to do this anymore, that I wanted to return to the U.S., and that I thought the chances of really finding a Sentinel were slim to none. I was still fool enough to think I could ever get away from them, or that they wanted to hear the truth about my work."

"Some of these broke the skin. Did they treat you, do anything for it?"

"I took care of it myself, the best I could. It'll heal." Blair pulled his shirt back around himself, starting to button it. Jim covered his hand, stopping the motion.

"Are you in danger of that happening again?"

"I don't know," Blair responded, fighting the lump in his throat. He'd been so alone for so long, and so afraid of every word he said, every move he made. "I think as long as I say what they want to hear, and I can come up with tests to run, they'll be happy. If you turn out to really be a Sentinel, they'll probably kill us both."

"Maybe you better tell them I'm not, then. Right now. Stop these tests."

"I have to know, Jim. I need to know if they exist, and if you have those gifts, I just...I have to know it. I have to see it. I promise you I won't compromise you or tell them the truth if you are. But please, give me the chance to find out. I think you could be the living embodiment of my thesis."

Jim paused, then took a piece of Blair's note paper and wrote a few words, handing it to Blair.

The good guys are listening. I need to talk to you somewhere else.

Blair nodded, then wrote a reply.

We'll do some tests outdoors this afternoon. Distance vision.

He handed it back to Jim with a slight smile. Jim smiled back, then wrote one last message.

I won't let them hurt you again.

Blair nodded, reading the words, keeping the slip of paper clutched in his hand as if it were a precious commodity. To him, it was better than gold.

Jim made a tearing motion with his hands, and Blair nodded, tearing up the paper into several pieces before tossing it into the wood burning stove that heated the room.


"Ellison's got some problems following orders," Hogan said, annoyed, as he unplugged the coffee pot. The early part of the morning had progressed uneventfully, but now things were getting interesting again, and Ellison seemed to be following his own agenda.

"You told him to hold back with Sanders, didn't you?" Kinch asked. The two of them had been listening to the interaction between the two men, and Hogan was not pleased.

"For all the good it did. He also wrote him something. They got too quiet for too long. Ellison's taking this into his own hands, and I don't like it. It's too soon."

"If Sanders really was whipped that way, maybe it's safe to figure he'd be on our side if he could get away."

"Or he's scared enough for his own hide to sell us all out, or the whole thing is some elaborate plot to bring down this operation. You know Hochstetter's been suspicious of me, of Stalag 13, for years now. The Gestapo wouldn't mind whipping the stuffings out of somebody and then using them for bait. Sanders could be a Gestapo agent for all we know who's just willing to really get into his role."

"I guess we can't really figure those nuts would stop at anything to set a trap. Even beating one of their own men bloody to be convincing," Kinch said, shaking his head.

"Give London an update on where we are with this. See what their orders are, if they've changed from 'play it by ear.'"

"That wasn't very helpful, was it?" Kinch asked, chuckling, thinking back of his last radio contact with London regarding how to proceed with the Sanders situation.

"There are times I wish they'd interfere just a little more," Hogan said, smiling.

As Kinch left, Carter entered Hogan's office, approaching him with a hesitant smile.

"I got together with the woodworking group this week," Carter said, referring to a group of prisoners who had learned some of the basics of woodworking and over the past few years had made various small items with scraps they either scavenged or that Klink allowed them to have when he felt benevolent. Ever since they'd built him a bookcase for his office, he'd been a reasonably willing benefactor to their wood supply.

"You guys get started building our getaway car yet?" Hogan joked.

"We were just making some little things. I thought maybe you could use this." He set a wooden letter tray on Hogan's desk. It was nicely made and finished, a plain wood tray for papers with a single, thin piece of wood with a small handle affixed to the top side to be used to cover the papers in the tray. On the underside of the lid, the initials "REH" had been burned into the finish.

"This is really a nice piece of workmanship, Carter. Thank you."

"I thought it might, you know, cheer you up," Carter said self-consciously.

"It did, and it'll be really useful," Hogan said, smiling at the thoughtfulness of the gesture. Since they'd learned of his brother's death, his men had tried little things to cheer him up or show their support. Despite the fact he was a sergeant and a demolition expert, Carter had the sweet shyness of a little boy bringing a present to his favorite teacher. "I really appreciate it, Carter. Thanks again."

"You're welcome, Colonel. We wanted to make you a bookcase like we made for Klink, but we didn't have enough wood."

"This'll be great. Besides, better to let Klink feel his is one of a kind," Hogan added, and Carter laughed.

"Yeah, I guess he likes to feel special. But then, everybody does once in a while, I s'pose."

"I s'pose you're right," Hogan agreed.


Jim and Blair walked through the compound, looking more as if they were on an afternoon stroll than evading listening devices. It was a pleasant afternoon for winter, and Jim found himself watching the play of sunlight on the bronze and red highlights in Blair's hair. He couldn't recall spending that kind of time watching the sunlight dance on another man's hair before, but then, he'd never seen another man with hair quite like Blair's, either.

Blair seemed to sense the scrutiny, because he looked up at Jim and smiled. How he could smile in the midst of the horror of his circumstances, Jim wasn't sure, but he did, and there was a look in his eyes that spoke of more than just the enjoyment of the weather.

He's scared to death, and you're offering him help. That's why he's looking up at you with this...adoring expression on his face. That's all there is to it.

"Let's stop here," Blair said, slowing down a few feet before they would have had to stop anyway, as they were approaching the fencing around the perimeter of the camp. "Look out into the woods and tell me what you see."

"Excuse me?"

"I said we were going to do some distance vision testing, didn't I?"

"I thought that was an excuse to get outside where we could talk."

"Well, it is, partly. But I also want to know what you can see."

"We should talk while we have the chance."

"If I were a kraut, you'd both be on your way to Gestapo headquarters." Hogan's voice startled them from behind. "What the hell do you think you're doing, Ellison?"

"You haven't seen his back, sir."

"I've seen a lot of things in this war. And I've seen plenty when it comes to the Gestapo. Nothing surprises me anymore."

"He's on our side," Jim said.

"I'm not having this argument with you now, but I think you remember my orders."

"Colonel Hogan, if there's any way you can help me, I would be so grateful for it." Blair took a deep breath. "My name isn't Sanders, it's Sandburg, and I'm Jewish. If they find that out, they'll probably kill me. The passport I'm using now is a forgery I got from a guy...well, it's a long story, but it's a phony. I mainly kept the cover for my mother, because she's having an affair with a count. I don't want her to be arrested or hurt. I can't leave Germany without her."

"What's your mother's name, and who is the count?" Hogan asked. At Blair's hesitation, he added, "If we're going to help you, I need more information."

"Then you can help me?"

"I might know of a tunnel we could use."

"A tunnel? We'd need more than that to get out of Germany. They'd kill me before I got five miles from this camp."

"Look, if you really want out, you're going to have to trust Colonel Hogan, and me. I wouldn't lead you into a trap, Blair. I think you know that," Jim added, and though the smile was absent, the look he'd seen before was there again in Blair's eyes.

"My mother's name is Naomi, and she's using the name of 'Nadine Sanders.' She's...seeing Count Heydrich."

"Do you think you're in any immediate danger from the krauts?" Hogan asked, repeating Jim's question of earlier.

"Not unless they suspect me. So far, Hochstetter and his men haven't done anything more than threaten me a couple times."

"Good. Go on with your tests. We'll be in touch later. Meanwhile, Ellison, topic of conversation is your testing project, and that's it, understood?"

"Understood, sir," Jim replied. Hogan nodded and then headed back across the compound toward the barracks.

"You weren't supposed to talk to me about a way out of here, is that it?"

"I have my orders, Chief. So what did you want me to look at?"

"That's it? He's not listening, Jim. You don't have to clam up on me."

"I have my orders. Hogan knows what he's doing, so we'll play it his way. Now tell me what you want me to do out here."


Newkirk fell into step with Hogan as he headed back toward the barracks.

"Sanders is using a fake name and passport. His real name is Sandburg. His mother's having an affair with Count Heydrich, and he doesn't want to leave Germany without her."

"That's lovely, that is. How are we supposed to spring a count's mistress, too?"

"One thing's for certain. If we don't get her out of Germany at the same time he goes, the Gestapo would grab her and give her a pretty good going over. I wouldn't leave my mother behind, either. But it puts us in a tough spot. You can believe if the count is messing around with an American woman, he–or the Gestapo–are already keeping a close eye on her."

"Maybe we could get word to her. She probably has some freedom to come and go as she likes," Newkirk suggested.

"We'll have to get word to her, but it would be least suspicious coming from her son," Hogan stopped near the door of the barracks, crossing his arms over his chest as he pondered the problem. "I don't like bringing them here, but I don't see another way. If she came to visit her son...she'd probably need the count to get her past Hochstetter and his goons." Hogan rubbed his hand over his face tiredly. "Tell Kinch to radio London. We need a photograph of the count, and all the information they can dig up on Blair and Naomi Sandburg, as well as Nadine Sanders, Heydrich's mistress. We also need all the intelligence they have on the count. I'm not sure how all this is coming together yet, but we need to know all we can before we can figure out a plan."

"Colonel, it's not that I don't want to see us help this guy if he's on our side, but is he worth all this? I can understand going through all this for somebody developing new rocket guns, but what he's doing is kind of..."

"Useless to the war effort? Yeah, I've thought about that, too. But he's an American, he's been tortured by the goons, and they'll probably kill him eventually. If we can get him out, I want to do it. But there's a degree of risk I can't justify for the benefit it'll bring about, so we've got to develop a plan that doesn't put the Stalag 13 operation on the line any more so than any other routine escape does."

"That's going to be tricky, bein' Hitler's watching his work."

"Nobody ever said this job was gonna be easy," Hogan responded, smirking.

"Kinch got another message from London about the film."

"I know. We'll send it out tonight. The goons are pretty relaxed. The Gestapo is more worried about making sure Sanders doesn't get out than they are watching the prisoners. This is a good chance to send Ellison out with someone, let him learn the ropes. Plus, if his hearing and night vision are all he claims they are, he should be able to spot patrols even faster than one of us."

"You think we should send a new man out with security tight as it is, sir?"

"Ellison's a good intelligence officer, he's experienced." Hogan paused. "I do think there's something to his acute senses. Might as well put them to work for us."


"I want you to focus on those two prisoners over there, next to Barracks 6?" Blair said, pointing in that general direction.

"Okay. What about them?"

"Can you hear what they're saying?"

"You're kidding, right?" Jim asked, smiling. The men were a good fifty yards away.

"No, I'm not. If you're a Sentinel, Jim, you could probably do that. You might be able to do more than you think. At best, we aren't going to have long to figure this thing out, and I want to learn as much as I can from you before...before we have to end the tests."

"Okay, Chief, you're the doctor." Jim sighed, watching the two prisoners, making a conscious effort to hear their conversation.

"Forget that you're not supposed to hear it, and just listen to them, Jim. Open your mind to the possibility that you can hear them."

Jim glanced at Blair, and saw nothing but sincerity and confidence in the deep blue eyes. He turned back to watching the men, and for a moment, let himself believe he could actually tune into their conversation. Just then, something upset the guard dogs, and they began to bark vociferously. Jim covered his ears, their barking slicing into his brain relentlessly, nearly crippling him with the pain of its resonance in his head.

"Jim, what is it?" Blair asked, panicked. As the dogs were assuaged by some food being placed in their pen, and their barking quieted, Jim cautiously removed his hands from his ears and blinked a couple times, shaking his head.

"That barking. It was so loud. I thought it was going to deafen me."

"Have you had that happen before?" Blair asked. Jim hesitated, knowing he was probably saying more than Hogan would approve.

"Noises, sometimes lights... It feels like they're...attacking me."

"That's what it felt like just then?"


"Feel up to trying again?"

"Not really, but I will." Jim tried not to worry about any other painful noise incidents and focused his hearing on the two prisoners. To his amazement, as long as he kept focused on them, he could hear bits and pieces of the conversation, but they were mingled in with so many other conversations that he found himself pulling back. It was like uncontrolled chaos; a symphony of conversation and laughter and shouts and even the clicking of Hilda's typewriter from the office nearby. "I hear all of it. It's like the whole camp is just...alive with noise."

"Okay, pull back. Just concentrate on my voice, and on retreating to normal."

"It's getting better."

"Good. You could really hear them, though?"

"Yes, I heard part of their conversation, but I couldn't concentrate on it because of all the other noise."

"So we need to figure out how to help you filter the other sounds and concentrate on what you want to hear."

"I guess so. How do you propose to do that?"

"I don't know yet. I've got to do some more reading. And thinking." Blair was nearly vibrating with energy as they walked around the compound. "Your hearing has to be way beyond anything I've encountered before. I didn't think you'd actually be able to hear those guys."

"Surprise," Jim responded, smiling. Then he became serious again. "Do you think you can help me with this?"

"Do you have a lot of instances where it seems like your senses are attacking you?"

"More than I'd like." Jim hesitated, then added, "That's why I bombed the guard towers here. The noise, the flashes...the noise from the bombing was overpowering. I don't know if I blacked out or what happened, but I have no clue how I ended up bombing guard towers in a POW camp. God, I'd never bomb our own people."

"I'll do as much as I can to help you in the time we have," Blair said, laying a hand on Jim's arm. "There's so much more testing we need to do with your taste and touch and scent yet. But I've never run into anyone with hearing as acute as yours."

"Maybe, after the war, we could...get back in touch somehow. Go on with the tests."

"I'd like that," Blair said, smiling. "I hope...I know whatever Colonel Hogan's planning is probably risky. I shouldn't ask for anyone's help. It's not going to matter what happens to me in the big picture of things."

"It matters, Blair," Jim responded, touching Blair's shoulder. "I'm not going to stand by and let you get hurt...or worse. We'll get you out of this somehow."

"Why does it matter to you? Hogan isn't even sure that I'm not a collaborator."

"I'm sure."

"How? Why? You've only known me a few days."

"I'm a good judge of character. You're no more a Nazi than Klink is a great leader of men." Jim smiled as Blair actually laughed at that.

"Burkhalter and Hochstetter don't think too highly of him, that's for sure. But that's not necessarily a bad thing in my book. I'd be more worried if they liked him."

"From what I've observed, he's more pompous than he is sadistic."

"If you have the kind of hearing to pick up on a conversation that far away, you wouldn't even need listening devices in a lot of situations."

"The background noise would get to me, and if something loud comes the dogs's really painful."

"Does Hogan know how much you can do?"

"He doesn't know as much as you do. I figured if he knew about the problems I had with my senses, he wouldn't want to use...he'd limit the kind of assignments I got, and I'm the second in command here."

"Hogan does more than dig tunnels, doesn't he?" At Jim's silence, Blair nodded. "I know, you're under orders to be careful what you say to me. I shouldn't have asked."

"Orders are orders," Jim said. "Just trust me. We'll get you out of this somehow."

"I do trust you. I just hope you know you can trust me. I won't betray you, Jim. I won't hand you over to them, no matter what. I promise. I haven't even been taking notes on the test results that were really extraordinary. It's all up here." Blair tapped his temple.

"They don't suspect anything?"

"No, not yet."

"Let's keep it that way."


Hogan's inner circle, now expanded to include Ellison, met in the main tunnel after the final roll call that night.

"Congratulations, Ellison. Tonight's your big night. I'm sending you out with LeBeau to deliver the roll of film the Underground needs."

"What about the Gestapo, sir?"

"They're complacent enough not to concern themselves with the area near our tunnel entrance in the woods. They're concentrated inside the camp, watching Sanders' quarters. Schultz is patrolling in the area of the tunnel entrance tonight, so this is the time to move."

"Yeah, if Schultz doesn't sit on our tree stump and fall asleep there," Carter groused.

"It's happened before," LeBeau explained to Jim, nodding.

"Barring such a disaster, we're all set to move. LeBeau will be in charge on this mission, because he knows the route and the procedures. This is a good chance for you to see how it works, and meet a couple of our key contacts."

"We'll rendezvous with our contact at a farm a few miles from here, give him the film, and pick up a couple radio parts from him that Kinch needs," LeBeau explained. "You'll like Otto, he's a good guy."

"Nothing fancy–just swap the film for the radio parts. They're small ones, they'll fit in your pockets," Hogan explained. Carter will be watching the tunnel entrance through this periscope right here. Have a look," Hogan invited, gesturing toward it. Ellison took a hold of the two handles and looked into it, raising it slightly, finding he was looking at a tree stump and the surrounding area.

"Quite a surveillance system," Jim said, amused.

"Better pull down. Never know who might be sneaking up behind your lens," Hogan advised, and Jim followed the suggestion. "If Carter sees any sign of trouble, we'll do our best to create some kind of diversion so you can get back in. Lay low if you see something that looks too risky. Whatever you do, though, get back before morning roll call. I don't know if we can bribe Schultz into a phony all-present. Langenscheidt is guarding your barracks, Ellison, and he's a little harder to sway than Schultz, though it can be done if push comes to shove."

"We should be back by then, Colonel," LeBeau said, heading for the ladder. Both men were dressed in all black, with black stocking hats, their faces blackened for further camouflage. Their similar outfits seemed to make their vast difference in size even more obvious.

Hogan fought the urge to send Newkirk on the mission instead. That was silly. LeBeau knew the route, and he had no problem giving orders to an officer, and making them stick. Maybe it was just the side of him that seemed to feel more sentimental toward LeBeau since John's death, and LeBeau's kindness and concern for his grief. Or maybe it was that protective streak he felt toward LeBeau. Or maybe it was what Ellison said that still nagged at him.

"LeBeau," Hogan said, and when the other man turned, he felt a little foolish even saying what he was about to say, since it was a principle they all lived by. "Be careful. We still have the Gestapo with us."

"Right, Colonel," LeBeau said. He paused though, and smiled briefly before continuing up the ladder, Ellison close behind him.


"What possessed you to give Sanders permission to test an American? That is what I want to know."

Major Hochstetter watched uneasily as his immediate superior, Colonel Detweiler, paced his office. He was a hard, cruel man with an angular face, sharp features, ice blue eyes, and a jagged dueling scar marring his left cheek. Hochstetter had watched him hand out more than a little torture in the last couple of years, on occasion, to men who disobeyed him, as well as the enemy. Detweiler had personally watched as Sanders was whipped ruthlessly for some minor transgression–for arguing with him--and actually laughed while he did. Men who enjoyed torture as a recreational activity unnerved Hochstetter. He had given a few orders for information to be extracted from prisoners at any cost, but truth be told, he'd usually declined actually watching the procedures.

Detweiler looked on torture as relaxation; a recreational activity that served as a diversion from the stress of war.

"I felt it would be wise to determine if one of the Americans had any type of exceptional talent that could help the Allied cause. If he does possess such abilities, he must be neutralized. Or convinced to use his abilities for our side."

"And Sanders has been testing him for days now?"

"Just a few days, sir. The standard tests he has given to the German officers."

"He has the rest of this week to conclude his testing of Captain Ellison. If his findings are positive, both Ellison and Sanders will be brought back here so I may interrogate them personally. If the findings are negative, you will bring Sanders back here to report personally. At that time, I will punish him for wasting our time trifling with an American." Detweiler smiled ferally. "I believe the young professor needs help maintaining his focus."

"Jawohl, Colonel," Hochstetter said, rising. "I have summarized everything in my written report."

"Very good, very good," Detweiler said, nodding as he perused the pages. "I don't mind telling you, Hochstetter, that I think our little professor is wasting our time. He has tested some of the most brilliant military minds in the German army and found nothing. The Fuhrer is not pleased. And when he is not pleased, Himmler is not pleased. And when Himmler is not pleased," Detweiler added, his voice rising, before lowering back to its usual volume, "well, I am not pleased, either. We need results from the good professor."

Any suggestions on how I might force nonexistent results out of an academic who can talk circles around me and leave me wondering what he said?

"After we settle this issue with the American," Detweiler continued, "we will give him an additional week to test a few of our remaining top candidates. If he does not identify a Sentinel we can take before the Fuhrer in that time, we will persuade the professor to confess that he is a fraud, and have him shot and be done with it. Is that clear, Major?"

"Perfectly, sir. I will report back to you as soon as he has concluded his tests on the American."

"And see to it he does so promptly." Detweiler paused. "Wasn't Ellison the one who accidentally bombed the guard towers?"

"Ja, he said it was an accident. There is no way to determine from the wreck of his plane whether or not the equipment malfunctioned. We have no reason to believe he'd bomb his own people, and General Burkhalter was satisfied to let the matter drop."

"German soldiers died at the hands of an American. That should not drop, Major. We will see to that subject, as well, when you bring Ellison and Sanders here for questioning."

"Jawohl. Heil Hilter," Hochstetter said, by way of farewell, and after being dismissed, strode out of the office. As he got into his staff car, he tried to mentally count the number of death orders he'd carried out for Detweiler. Watching the lights of Berlin pass by the car window as it carried him home for the night, he wondered how many more he would have to execute before the war was over. And how many ghosts would follow him to the end of his days.


"I thought you said you heard guards approaching," LeBeau said, annoyed. They'd been crouched behind a thicket of bushes for nearly fifteen minutes since Ellison had pulled him down and warned him to be quiet.

"They're not far away."

"They must be traveling here all the way from Berlin, then. Colonel Hogan expected us over an hour ago," he protested.

"I can hear krauts, I'm telling you. Now be quiet."

"We spent two hours hiding from the last imaginary patrol on the way to drop off the film. It takes some getting used to, traveling around in the woods at night. Knowing you could get picked up–and if you did, and you had something like that film on you, you could end up dead for your trouble. But we can't spend this kind of time hiding every time you hear a twig snap."

"You don't hear anything?"

"No, Capitain, I don't hear anything. I didn't hear anything on the way, and I don't hear anything now."

"I don't know how far away they are. I know I hear them. There are patrols in the woods."

"There are always patrols in the woods!" LeBeau protested in a breathy whisper. He paused for a moment, exasperated. "Have the sounds moved any closer?"

"No. Actually, they're a bit quieter, as if they might be moving away."

"Good. Then we have to make a run for it. The entrance to the tunnel is only a few hundred yards from here."

"I guess Hogan did put you in charge, so lead on."

"There's never a time when it's completely safe. We just have to pick a time and go. I think we should go now." LeBeau rose cautiously, only a bit, and scanned the area with his binoculars. Ellison also scanned the shadowy forest, without benefit of the binoculars. He did his best to channel his ability to see a great distance, much the way Blair had coached him to listen to the conversation of the prisoners in the compound.

"They're moving in the other direction," he said to LeBeau. "It's safe for us to move now."

"I don't see anyone." LeBeau was still checking with the binoculars.

"They're East of us, but they're moving farther East, not back this way. We should go now."

LeBeau stared at him a moment, then looked at the binoculars, then looked to the East. Completely confused now, he led the way back to the tree stump that concealed the tunnel entrance. It was nearly dawn, and they were just barely making it back to camp before roll call.


Hogan paced at the foot of the ladder leading up to the tree stump entrance. He'd been up top most of the night, just in case the krauts did a surprise bed check. With stuffed dummies replacing LeBeau in their barracks and Ellison in the officer's quarters in Barracks 5, having someone as high profile as the Senior POW Officer missing might have blown the whole thing. If Hogan was where he was supposed to be, Schultz was usually satisfied that all was right with the world. Even Klink wasn't known to poke and prod the men in every single bunk when he made a surprise bed check.

Now, though, it was nearly time for roll call, and LeBeau and Ellison weren't back yet. He checked his watch again, just as he heard movement at the tunnel entrance. In a moment, LeBeau was climbing down, followed by Ellison.

"What happened?" Hogan demanded, his voice rising. "Roll call is in less than half an hour."

"It was my fault, sir. I heard patrols. They weren't as close as I thought, so we wasted some time hiding when we could have been moving."

"How far away were they?" Hogan asked, frowning.

"I couldn't see them with the binoculars," LeBeau said. "And I never did hear them, but Captain Ellison could see them. Without the binoculars," LeBeau added, his eyes widening a bit.

"You're assuming they were really there," Hogan added, an edge in his voice. "You actually saw these patrols, with the naked eye, out there in the woods at night, when LeBeau couldn't see them with binoculars?"

Ellison hesitated, looking at Hogan for a long moment, then to LeBeau, then back to Hogan.

"Yes, sir, I saw them, and heard them. I wasn't sure how far away they were. As it turns out, they wouldn't have been a danger to us." Ellison sighed. "I'm not always accurate judging distances. I know what I can see and hear, but I'm not always sure how far away they are. Blair was working on that with me a bit earlier..." He shrugged.

"We'll talk more about this later. Meanwhile, get over to Barracks 5 and be in position for roll call."

"Yes, sir." Ellison hurried down the tunnel to the branch tunnel that led to his barracks.

"Let's go," Hogan said to LeBeau, leading the way to the ladder which came up under the bunk in their barracks.

"I did the best I could to get us back in time, Colonel. He was really insistent about those patrols."

"I shouldn't have sent him out a mission. It was too risky. I thought if he was the hot shot London said he was, we should get him going in the operation."

"If he really did see those patrols, then he's got some abilities that could win the war for us. I never did see or hear any of them, but I don't believe he was lying."

"He could be off balance, suffering from some sort of battle fatigue or hallucinations."

"Colonel, I don't think he's crazy. I think he really saw and heard something I couldn't."

"Then Sanders is really onto something with him, and if the goons find out, they're both dead."


Kinch came up from the tunnel, his expression grim. Morning roll call was over, and he'd slipped below to check the radio. While he was there, a message came in from London.

"Message from London, Colonel," Kinch said, handing Hogan the paper bearing his transcription of the coded message. Hogan was keeping one ear on the Ellison-Sanders encounter on the coffee pot while working on the next week's work assignments.

"Doesn't look like good news," Hogan said, scanning the paper. "The Underground can't get close to Nadine Sanders," he summarized, sighing. "We figured it was a long shot."

"Maybe so, but how are we supposed to get to her if they can't?"

"We won't be able to. We'll have to get her here."

"Won't it be risky to have both Sanders and his mother disappear from here?"

"Can't happen that way. I'm not sure yet how it's going to happen, but we can't do anything unless we can get word to her what's going on with her son. The only way to do that is to bring her here."

"You think Hochstetter'll allow that?"

"He won't like it, but the count can throw his weight around and get past him." Hogan paused, frowning at the odd sounds the listening device was picking up. "What the..." It dawned on him what he was hearing. "I don't believe this." He got up and stormed out of the office, leaving Kinch puzzled, staring at the coffee pot.


Blair barely looked up when Jim entered the lab. He continued making notes from a book open on the table behind which he sat. Jim sat in the chair on the other side of it and watched him a moment.

"You're quiet this morning."

"They're sending me back to Berlin at the end of the week if your tests are negative. If I can't find a Sentinel within about a week after that..." Blair said, his voice strained. He finally looked up, taking off his glasses. "They'll kill me, Jim."

"No, they won't. I won't let that happen."

"Well, just for your information, they'll probably kill you, too." Blair laughed bitterly. "I should have known better. This was just temporary."

"What happened? Who told you they were taking you back to Berlin?"

"Hochstetter. It was orders from his boss. They're taking me back there...his boss is the one who..."

"Whipped you?"

"The first time, yes. Among other things," Blair said quietly, nodding.

"What other things?" Jim demanded angrily. "They beat you that way more than once?"

"It doesn't matter now. I just wanted you to know that I'm probably going to have to wrap up our testing together this week. Hochstetter has a list of officers for me to test... I don't know if he wants to have something to take to Hitler, or if he's actually trying to help me in some weird sort of way. He didn't seem happy to deliver the news about Detweiler's orders."

"Detweiler? He's the guy?"

"Colonel Detweiler. He supervises most of the interrogations. And he really, really loves his job. He's been known to torture or execute his own men on trumped up charges if they don't obey him. Hell, if they just displease him enough."

"We have to get you out of here now."

"Not without my mother. I already told Hogan I wasn't going anywhere without her."

"Maybe you can't save her, Blair. Do you have to die, too, because of that? She chose to be a Nazi's mistress."

"She didn't choose that, Jim. She chose to be a rich aristocrat's girlfriend. She chose fancy parties and jewelry and pretty clothes and being treated like a princess. My mother's never had a great head for politics. She thinks war is silly and disgusting and a game for men who haven't grown up enough to see how useless it is."

"She's right."

"Possibly, but when you say things like that...about her choosing a Nazi... Jim, she didn't mean anything by it. She doesn't have any concept of what goes on in the Gestapo's jail cells. What men like Detweiler do for entertainment."

"My point is that if you stay, you're both in trouble anyway. If they execute you, do you think she'll stay safe for long? I'm only saying that saving your own life probably won't change what happens to her. Staying here and dying with her isn't going to solve anything."

"I won't leave without her. That's final. You can tell that to Hogan." Blair stood and began pacing.

"He knows. The room's bugged, remember?"

"Oh, right," Blair said as an afterthought. "I'm really scared, Jim."

"I know. It's going to be all right. You're not going back to Berlin. I promise." Jim rose from his chair and walked around to where Blair stood, resting a hand on Blair's shoulder. "I won't let that bastard hurt you again."

Blair turned and moved into Jim's arms, wrapping his arms around Jim's body, holding on for dear life. Jim's arms closed around him, gently, always aware of the healing welts on Blair's back.

"Do you want to tell me about the rest of it?" Jim asked gently.

"No. I don't even want to remember it."

"Okay. It's okay, Chief. Trust me. Don't worry about it anymore."

"If something goes wrong, and I don't make it through this..." Blair pulled back enough to look Jim in the eyes, though still remaining in the circle of his arms. He spoke in a low whisper even the best listening device wouldn't pick up. "I think you're the real thing, Jim. Be careful, and don't be afraid of what you are. You're capable of so much, but you're vulnerable, too, because of your abilities. I've made a lot of notes. I want you to take them, and give them to Hogan." Blair smiled. "Hey, he even read Eli Stoddard's book on tribesmen in Borneo. I think he can handle this."

"You're going to help me, Blair. You're going to be fine, and we'll get you out of Germany."

"If you don't, give the information to Hogan. He's a good man, and he's smart. He'll protect you, and he's ethical enough not to let you turn into some kind of...lab rat, even for the good guys. I've written down everything I know about Sentinels. I want you to take it, along with Burton's monograph, and give it to Hogan today. Promise me."

"Won't Hochstetter notice your book is missing?"

"He doesn't pay any attention to my books and materials. I have a lot of books. All he wants are my notes about you. I've got a fake set I give him, and I have the real set, and that's what I want you to take with you today. When we walk the compound doing tests, we'll head for Hogan's barracks."

"Okay. Whatever you say. But you're not going to die here, Blair." Jim looked into the deep blue eyes, and his eyes settled on the full, slightly parted lips. Before he realized what he was doing, he was pressing his own lips against them, feeling their softness, feeling Blair's mouth yield to his, Blair's body relaxing in his arms. He probed Blair's mouth with his tongue, kissing him more deeply, more passionately, than he could ever remember kissing anyone in his life. Some tiny part of his brain screamed that Hogan was smart enough to know what they were doing when things fell silent this way, when the listening device only picked up movement of fabric as their bodies pressed together and the little moan from deep in Blair's throat.

But he didn't care. All that mattered now was Blair, the taste of his mouth, and his heart beating against Jim's. When he broke the kiss, he had to return to the reddened lips for another, and then another, until Blair pushed away.

"I'm sorry," Jim said immediately, realizing the smaller man couldn't have fought off his advance if he'd wanted to.

"I'm not," Blair said, licking his lips. He pointed to the spot under the table where the listening device was located. Jim reached under the table and disconnected it.

"Come here," he said, pulling Blair to him and claiming his mouth again, sitting in a chair and bringing Blair with him so he straddled Jim's lap, their groins making awkward contact with one another while hungry kisses and heated caresses swept them both away. Jim's hand tugged impatiently at Blair's shirt, pulling it out of his pants so he could run his hand up the trail of silky chest hair until he could tease and pinch a nipple.

"Oh, God," Blair moaned, arching into the touch.

"I want you like I never wanted anyone else in my life," Jim admitted, breathless, both hands buried in Blair's soft curls. Then he froze. "Someone's coming." He nearly threw Blair off his lap, and Blair rushed to tuck in his shirt and resume his seat behind the table. Jim tried to catch his breath as he sat in the chair across the table from Blair. The door opened and closed. Hogan strode in, looking none too happy.

"What the hell is going on in here? Do you have any idea the diversion I had to come up with to get the goon away from the door so I could get in here?"

"Everything's under control, sir," Jim said evenly.

"Why is the listening device disconnected?"

"Is it?" Jim asked.

"Don't try that with me, Ellison. I may not be one of these Sentinels, but I wasn't born yesterday. I heard you disconnect it, and I know what you were doing before you did. What you do on your own time is entirely up to you, but on my time, and under my command, you'll act within the confines of military protocol, is that clear?"

"Perfectly, sir, but I'm not sure what you're referring to."

"Don't insult me by denying it. You might not have lipstick on your collar, but I still know what kissing sounds like over a listening device, even if I haven't had much practice lately. Do you have any idea what that goon outside would have done if he'd walked in on you two doing that? People get shot for things like that in Germany. They don't get a hero's welcome in the States, either."

"It was my fault, Colonel Hogan. I started it," Blair said.

"I don't care who started it, but I'm finishing it, right here, right now. Ellison, that listening device stays on, and you stay on topic. You've got enough trouble you need his help with that you don't need to be doing whatever the hell it is you planned on doing instead of working. If the krauts catch you doing something like that, they'll shoot you both on the spot, and not even the Allies would object."

"We got carried away, sir. It won't happen again."

"This is an escape mission, not a dating service. We've laid everything on the line for this, long before I thought we should, and I'm not going to have it screwed up now because you two have some kind of perverted little tryst going on. Is that clear?"

"Crystal, sir," Jim retorted, his jaw twitching. If it hadn't been for Hogan's superior rank and the fact he held the key to Blair's life and freedom, Jim would have decked him for that remark. And yet, he had to admit, Hogan was right. This was no time to be thinking about romance, let alone thinking about having sex with a captured male scientist with a Gestapo guard right outside the door.

"You're going to have to get your mother here to the camp," Hogan said to Blair.

"They won't let me have guests."

"You have to do it, Sandburg."

"Don't call me that. If they knew, they'd kill me."

"Then you know how serious this is. Call her and invite her here. Tell her to make the count think it's her idea. Can you make a phone call without being caught?"

"I think so. There's a phone in the guest quarters."

"They'll punish him if they catch him, Colonel."

"They're not going to give me a dinner party, Ellison. If any of us get caught, we're dead. If we're lucky they'll just shoot us." Hogan paused. "We can make sure the line isn't bugged. I'll have Kinch check it out. Wait for word from us that it's safe, and then make your call. Tell your mother it's vitally important, and that she must make it seem like her idea. Even if they want to deny you a visit from your mother, the count can get past Hochstetter and make it happen."

"How are you going to get her out?"

"I don't know that yet, but we need to get her here. We've checked, and there's no way to get a message to her."

"What about the Underground?" Jim asked, and Hogan shot him a look. Jim trusted Blair completely, but Hogan trusted no one that completely, that quickly, with his life or the lives of his men.

"As I said, we can't get close enough to her to get her a message. This is the only way."

"Isn't it dangerous to bring her here now? They're talking about taking me back to Berlin soon if the tests don't yield anything."

"There's risk involved with all of this. If we don't bring her here, we've got no way to control what happens to her when you drop out of sight."

"Just tell me when to make the call," Blair said.

"All right. Wait to hear from us. Meanwhile, I don't want any repeats of what just happened in here. Understood?"

"Understood, sir," Ellison confirmed.

"Colonel Hogan, I want you to have these notes. Just in case something happens. Put them somewhere safe, in case..."

"We all get shot at the same time?" Hogan asked, nodding as he accepted the stack of papers. He carefully hid them inside his jacket.

"Well, since you put it that way...yes." Blair looked Hogan in the eyes. "I trust you. I think you'll handle them ethically. I believe Jim has a real gift, but it's one that could be exploited." Blair paused. "I think you care about your men, and I think you'll protect him from that."

"I'll do my best. You really think Ellison's abilities are more than just a couple of sharp senses?"

"Much more. I think he could be all that Burton talked about in this book." Blair rested his hand on the aged book. "I don't think you can sneak this out of here, but you should have it to go along with the notes."

"I'll send someone for it tonight. We have a way into the guest quarters."

"Wow," Blair said, chuckling a little. "That's incredible."

"Expect to see one of us sometime tonight to get the book from you. I'm hoping we can make all this work to get you out of Germany safely, and you can have your book back."

"I just want to be sure that Jim isn't exploited, and that he gets help dealing with is abilities. I've written down everything I can think of to try to make the best use of them, get them under control and make them work to his advantage. If you think the notes are in danger, burn them. Someone unethical could really control give Jim a bad time if they had that information."

"They'll be kept with our confidential papers–the stuff that gets burned if there's any question of the safety of our operation. This makes it even more important to get you out of Germany safely. If you can help him channel this, the potential for the Allies is staggering."

"Assuming I want to spend the rest of my life in the military, or in a lab somewhere being studied and tested, " Jim spoke up.

"Something tells me that if it's the professor here who's studying you, you'll survive," Hogan concluded, the barest hint of a smile in his voice.

"I really am sorry about what happened before," Blair said.

"War does strange things to people. Just don't let it happen again, and for God's sake, don't get caught by the goons. That's one mess I can't get you out of."


Hogan turned up his collar and trudged across the snowy compound. What Ellison and Sanders were up to was not only inexcusable under the circumstances, but just plain...sick. They hadn't even been confined long enough to make it marginally understandable because of the utter absence of women. Even then, there were plenty of guys in camp who had suffered the utter absence of women for quite a while, and they weren't chasing each other around the barracks.

Well, at least, not that I know of. That thought nagged at him as he entered the barracks and poured himself a cup of coffee, surprised to notice his hand shaking slightly as he raised the cup to drink. Sanders is facing torture and probably death within the week if he's hauled back to Berlin. That can have a staggering effect on someone. He's scared to death and Ellison is stepping in to play protector. Sometimes when you're facing something enormous like your own impending death...or the death of someone close to you...feelings come out that you don't expect.

Like the feelings of closeness you've had toward LeBeau ever since John died. Then again, it seems like those feelings were always there, and now they're just stronger...

What's the matter, Hogan? A little uneasy because Ellison was doing with Sanders what you've thought of doing with LeBeau?

Hell, no. There's friendship, and then there's...whatever that is between men that makes them want to do things they should be doing with women. He took another gulp of coffee. Whatever he was feeling for LeBeau, it had nothing to do with what Ellison and Sanders were up to. Just because you like being close to Louis, like the sound of his rich, French-accented voice, his indomitable spirit and courage, and the obvious way he feels about you, the way he looks at you...the nice things he does for you...

Maybe Ellison's just a bit more honest with himself than you are...and a bit less inhibited. That thought made him choke on his coffee.

"Everything okay, Colonel?" Carter asked, looking up from his game of solitaire. Kinch was listening in on Ellison and Sanders now via the coffee pot in Hogan's office. Hogan had recruited Newkirk and LeBeau out in the compound to help with his plan of distracting the Gestapo guard while Hogan slipped into the laboratory. They were just now returning, laughing among themselves about their success in luring him over to break up their staged fight over a fake gambling debt.

"More or less. Sanders is going to call his mother and tell her she needs to visit. But the visit has to seem like her idea. He's in the hot seat now because he hasn't come up with any worthwhile results for old bubblehead. So his request probably wouldn't hold water. When he makes the call, we're going to have to make sure it runs through our switchboard and not the main switchboard."

"Shouldn't be a problem," Newkirk said, smiling. "Our operators are on duty 24 hours a day to take your call," he joked.

"That's what I like to hear," Hogan retorted, smiling as he took another sip of his coffee. He watched LeBeau removing his coat, hat, scarf and gloves, then rubbing his hands together briskly. He thought about what Ellison said. More pointedly, he thought about what Ellison had done with Sanders. He made a conscious effort not to look at LeBeau while those mental images danced across his mind.

"Schultz said the supply truck is supposed to come today," LeBeau said. "Not a moment too soon, either. I am out of most of my supplies, and with the Gestapo sniffing around, I can't even get outside the fence for a decent batch of mushrooms."

"One of the great tragedies of the war," Newkirk needled.

"You'll think it is a great tragedy when you pull up for dinner and there is nothing there but that slop the krauts serve," LeBeau shot back, indignantly checking his dwindling supplies hidden in a locker in the barracks. The majority of his goodies were in the tunnel, but even those shelves were pretty barren now.

"Things are rough all over," Hogan interjected. "As soon as we get all this business with Sanders settled, and the goons quiet down, we'll stage a midnight mushroom run," Hogan said, smiling at LeBeau. "Meanwhile, I'm sure you'll come up with something." You always do, no matter how lousy the conditions or sparse the supplies. And it has flair, and it tastes good, like the food people on the outside eat routinely without giving it a thought. Having you here is like living in Technicolor. Losing you would make everything black and white again...

"I'll do my best," LeBeau said, somewhat placated, assessing the options for lunch, apparently oblivious to the course Hogan's thoughts were taking.


"I thought those patrols were close enough to be a threat. We wasted hours on the return trip trying to avoid patrols that couldn't see or hear us," Jim explained. Blair nodded sagely, writing it all down on a notepad as they strolled the compound.

"Okay. When did you actually look for the patrols?"

"As soon as I heard them, I told LeBeau we needed to hide. We did, and I didn't want to be spotted, so we stayed down, and I never did look. But they sounded like they were right there, nearby, and I figured if we made any sudden moves, they'd see or hear us."

"So we need to work on your ability to separate what you can hear from what you need to hear and focus on, and you need to learn the difference in sounds that are really nearby, and those that are just in your range somewhere."

"I know that, Darwin. I just don't know how to do that."

"Visual cues are obviously the best. If you can scope out the area, get a feel for how far away things are."

"Even then...I can see them, so why can't they see me? And how do I know the difference between something that anyone can see, and what I can see?"

"Most of the time, you see and hear things at a normal level, right?"


"Then you have to assume when you hear or see something, that it's nearby, in normal range?"


"There's years' worth of work to be done getting your senses under control. I can't even scratch the surface."

"Is there anything about this in your book?"

"Nothing this detailed. We'd need to experiment, like we did with having you listen in on the prisoners, only more extensively, and with visual stimuli, too. So far, we've done limited testing on all of your senses except touch, but we haven't deeply explored any of them. I have to verify a heightened sense of touch before I know for sure that you're a Sentinel like Burton spoke of, and not someone with four acute senses."

"I thought we were testing touch this morning," Jim quipped, smiling a little.

"Yeah, and if we try it again, I have a feeling Hogan's going to shoot us himself. He was right. We got carried away, and the way things are..."

"We might not get many more chances. I can't go with you when you escape."

"What?" Blair stopped dead in his tracks, a horrified expression on his face.

"Hogan hasn't said anything, but the whole Stalag 13 operation is based on never having a successful escape. They need Klink here, and the way they keep him here is by letting him maintain this perfect no-escape record. So even if they get you out, I can't come with you, because they'd notice me missing. They can't just slide another guy into my place."

"Who's going to help you with your senses?"

"You'll be leaving your materials with Hogan. I'll just have to make do the best I can, and try to make my abilities work for the Allies until the war's over."

"I thought they'd get us both out. I don't want to leave you here with no one who can help you."

"There's no choice in the matter, Chief. Hogan will do all he can to get you and your mother out of Germany. But there's no way I can just take off. Klink, Burkhalter, the Gestapo...they know me on sight now. There's no way to cover my escape."

"This is so wrong. So wrong." Blair shook his head, and they resumed walking.

"War puts us in some bad situations, but all we can do is the best we can with the time we have."

"What happened earlier...I wanted it to go on. I didn't want to stop," Blair said, looking up at Jim, who smiled in response to the sentiment.

"Did I act like a man who wanted to stop?" he asked, and Blair laughed.

"Not really." He paused as if he were going to say something else, then didn't.

"What is it, Chief?"

"Why do you call me that?"

"I don't know. Someone called me that once--someone who meant a lot to me. I fits you. But you're worried about more than a nickname."

"I never did anything like that with a man before."

"Welcome to the club."

"Why me, then?"

"I don't know that, either. I'm attracted to you in a way I haven't been attracted to anyone before. Male or female."

"Is that all it is? Just a physical thing? If so, that's all right. I'll understand. I just..." Blair hesitated. "It's more than that to me. I think I'm falling in love with you. I wouldn't blame you if you laughed at me."

"Why would I do a thing like that?" Jim stopped walking, and after going a few steps alone, Blair retreated to where he stood.

"It sounds so dramatic. We haven't known each other that long, and you don't know anything about me..."

"You know my history for your little project here, but you don't know me all that well, either, Chief."

"All the more reason it sounds crazy. But when I saw you that night in Klink's quarters, when you were helping serve the meal...something inside me just...felt drawn to you."

"Probably because I'm one of these Sentinels you're looking for."

"It had nothing to do with that. I didn't know you'd test positive for any of this stuff. There was something about you...when I looked in your eyes, heard your voice. I wanted to get to know you better. Whether you were a Sentinel or not."

"I can't explain how I feel, Blair. I just know that I feel it. It was more than physical this morning. It I wanted you. Not just somebody to make me feel good. I know how I feel about losing you, saying goodbye..."

"It's got to be love if the thought of that hurts like this."

"Couldn't have said it better myself," Jim agreed. "The war can't last forever. Even if we're apart for a while, you have to know I'll find you as soon as I get out of this place."

"I want you to."

"Good, because I'd hate to travel all that way and not be welcome." Jim patted Blair's shoulder in a very platonic-looking gesture for the benefit of anyone who might be watching, but to Blair, his eyes spoke volumes more.


Hogan sat on the bottom bunk in his quarters, feet up on the bunk, back against the wall. Sanders' notes in his lap, he began reading. If even half of what Sanders thought Ellison could do was true, Ellison was probably the greatest secret weapon of the war–at least from an intelligence standpoint. There would be so many ways to use his abilities that Hogan's mind dizzied at the possibilities. Spying was a given. The man didn't need listening devices! Recognizance...he could save countless lives with surveillance and scouting abilities that exceeded what the best lookout man could accomplish with binoculars.

But there were serious problems, and for those problems, Ellison needed Sanders. Hogan had no clue how he would begin to teach someone like Ellison to sort out what stimuli was truly close to him and what was out of normal range. He had no idea how to teach him to screen out stimuli that would cause him pain, or how to overcome it in a battle situation.

Or how to overcome it when flying a night bombing mission among the noise flashing lights of anti-aircraft batteries... Suddenly, Ellison's little bombing raid on the guard towers made perfect sense, which meant his gifts came with some potentially fatal flaws. Sanders seemed to have some kind of grip on how to deal with these issues, and he certainly had a better chance of doing it than Hogan did. Ellison and Sanders were a set. They had to work together if Ellison was going to be of any real use to the Allies. It would be best to move them as partners, but there was little way to do that.

Hogan rubbed the bridge of his nose, stacking up the notes and hiding them in his footlocker for the moment. They would be moved down to the tunnel and stashed in a safe place. It was almost time for lights out, and time to send someone through the tunnels to Sanders' quarters to get the book. Sanders was right about one thing–if he didn't make it out of this alive, anything he had with him at the time would be in the hands of the Gestapo. Including Ellison himself.

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in," Hogan responded, standing up as the door opened. LeBeau entered, closing the door behind him.

"Is there anything you need, Colonel?"

"That I need? No, not really. I was just looking over Sanders' notes. Why do you ask?"

"You've been in here a long time. I thought maybe you could use some coffee, or maybe you were hungry..." LeBeau shrugged. "Maybe you could use some company," he added a bit hesitantly.

"Ellison isn't going to be much good to the Allies without Sanders. You know how he had you two hiding from patrols that were miles away? Well, that's the kind of thing that makes what he can do almost useless. Unless someone can help him channel it and use it."

"Sanders could do that?"

"Better than I could. Besides, I have a command here that needs my attention. Even if I wanted to take on that responsibility, I couldn't devote that kind of time to teaching Ellison how to tell the difference between something right next to him and something fifty yards away."

"You were just going to get Sanders out and keep Ellison here, wasn't that the plan?"

"For now. That may still have to be the plan for the time being. But it's becoming crystal clear that whatever he can do isn't going to be any good to us unless we can harness it. Sanders is the logical choice to do that. We'll have to get him to England, and then find a way to spring Ellison."

"No wonder you've been in here all evening. Not a simple plan you're cooking up."

"No, not much of a plan at all, honestly. I think Sanders better make his call to his mother tomorrow. Newkirk can man the switchboard and get him a clear line. I'll send Ellison over there tonight to check the phone for bugs and pick up the book."

"You think sending Ellison is a good idea? What if he has trouble with...hearing or seeing things?"

"He just has to take the tunnel between Barracks 5 and the guest quarters. I don't think he can get into too much trouble between here and there." Hogan wasn't exactly sure why he was sending Ellison to Sanders that night, but a part of him knew that he would want to have a chance to see LeBeau one more time if they were on the brink of a life and death mission.

"How do we get Sanders out of here?"

"We'll have to use the tunnels. I don't like it, because every kraut from here to Berlin is going to be hunting for him, but I don't see another way."

"Would they let him out of camp? To go somewhere with his mother?"

"They might. Especially if the outing included the count, and was his idea." Hogan smiled, an idea dawning on him.

"I don't know what you're thinking, but I already like it," LeBeau said, in response to the expression.

"We've got a bridge job we need to do in the next week or so. This has real possibilities. Imagine the consequences if that bridge just happened to blow while the count's car was crossing it, carrying Sanders and his mother? They would be presumed dead in the explosion–"

"But the Underground could intercept them before they reached the bridge and get them out?"

"Exactly. Let's round up the others and have a little strategy session before lights out."

With the men gathered around the table, Hogan outlined their plan of action.

"Sanders will make the call tomorrow morning, before he starts his work with Ellison. Newkirk, I need you on the switchboard. I'm sending Ellison over tonight to make sure there are no listening devices in the phone itself. It's not foolproof, but it's the best we can do to ensure he's not being recorded by the krauts. He'll tell his mother it's urgent she get here, but she must bring the count, and it must be her idea."

"Wouldn't it be better if she didn't bring the count?" Carter asked. "Then we'd just have Sanders and his mother to worry about."

"The count is necessary to get her past the Gestapo to visit with her son. He can get her past Hochstetter's goons, and he may be key to the second phase of the plan, too, which is getting all three of them out of camp."

"Hochstetter's never going to let Sanders leave here unguarded," Kinch said.

"No, but he will probably let him go with the count, assuming he is under a much higher guard. Besides, the count is also a general, and can pull rank on a major. While they're on their little outing, the Underground will stop the car, get Sanders and his mother out, and then send the car on its way. A bridge between here and Hammelburg will be wired to explode–we'll figure a way to direct them on a specific route. Everyone will assume they were all killed, while we get Sanders and his mother back to England."

"I've got just the stuff for the job, boy," Carter said, enthused. "I mean, sir," he added, smiling a little self-consciously.

"I knew I could count on our resident pyromaniac to come through in a pinch," Hogan responded, smiling back. "Get your goodies together. We'll wire the bridge tomorrow night."


After evening roll call, Hogan sent LeBeau down to the tunnel to make the trip over to Barracks 5 to share the information on the plan with Ellison and send him on to Sanders' quarters to get the book and give him instructions for making the phone call.

LeBeau wasn't terribly happy to make the long crawl through the small branch tunnel, especially considering the instability of those tunnels since Ellison bombed the guard towers. A little of the dirt had already been displaced, making it a dirtier, more unpleasant journey than usual. He was relieved to finally arrive at Ellison's quarters, and brushed himself off with a wrinkled nose when he was once standing above ground again.

"Colonel Hogan wants you to go get the book from the professor tonight," LeBeau said. "Tell Sanders to make the call to his mother early in the morning, before he starts his work for the day with you. The colonel also wants you to check the telephone for listening devices."

"What if the phone his mother uses is bugged?"

"Good point. I don't know if the colonel thought of that or if he was assuming she was in right enough with the count that it wouldn't be."

"Maybe he'd better figure out a way to lead her into coming up with the idea, even on the phone, just in case."

"You're probably right," LeBeau agreed. The ground rumbled a bit beneath them.

"Maybe you shouldn't take the tunnel back."

"I have to. There's too much open ground between here and my barracks, and some of the guards are even more trigger happy now that the main towers are under construction. I could get shot wandering around out there."

"What should I do with the book?"

"Bring it to the radio room down below. We've got a safe place to stash it there."

"Right. If I don't get buried alive on the way back," Ellison added. "I've been feeling tremors all evening, LeBeau. I'm serious about you finding another way back."

"I can't. Look, this branch tunnel is one of our most solid. It's withstood a lot of disturbance over the years. Your route to Sanders' quarters is mostly stand-up tunnels, well braced. We should be okay as long as–" LeBeau paused as the foot locker covering the entrance moved, and Hogan's head popped up.

"Have you got all the information you need to deal with Sanders tonight?" Hogan asked Ellison.

"Yes, sir, LeBeau briefed me on everything. We were discussing the tunnels. I've felt tremors, heard noises...all evening. I'm telling you, sir, I don't think you should go back the way you came."

"We don't have a choice, Ellison." Hogan looked at him for a long moment.

"I really can see and hear and feel things, Colonel. I'm not lying about that."

"Then all the more reason for us to get a move on. You should be safe once you get through the branch tunnel into the larger tunnels. Go on, you go first and keep moving. I want that book in our hands tonight, and we need to set up the phone call with Sanders."

"Yes, sir," Jim responded, not agreeing with the order, but following it anyway, crawling down into the tunnel and then moving on his hands and knees as fast as possible in the confined space.

"Go, LeBeau. I'm right behind you," Hogan said, pulling the foot locker back into place and following LeBeau along the little passageway, feeling every bit like a rat scuttling through the underground maze.

LeBeau was moving as fast as he could on his hands and knees, Hogan close behind him. Another ominous rumble filled their ears, the ground beneath them vibrating. LeBeau drew comfort from Hogan's presence nearby. He wasn't sure what he thought Hogan could do about a cave-in, but it was rare for Hogan not to come up with something, even when the situation seemed impossible.

"Keep moving, Louis!" Hogan said emphatically, giving him a little push. "This tunnel isn't going to hold much longer!"

Hogan had no sooner gotten those words out of his mouth when there was yet another rumble, and the tunnel began caving in on them. LeBeau felt himself pressed immediately under substantial weight, but he quickly realized it was not dirt or rock. Hogan's body was effectively blanketing him from that, though he could feel the earth shaking and felt sure debris had to be pummeling Hogan.

When everything went still, LeBeau swallowed, not sure if he was pinned beneath the weight of a dead man, or if Hogan was just waiting to move until he was sure it was safe. Or maybe Hogan was unconscious.

"Colonel?" LeBeau ventured, his heart pounding, reverberating in his ears.

"Ow," was the eloquent reply.

"Are you hurt?"

"Damn it."


"I'm all right," Hogan snapped. "More than I can say for the tunnel."

They were in total darkness, and now, LeBeau sought the flashlight. Turning it on, the yellow beam confirmed what was a very grim situation. Everything ahead of them was filled in, and everything behind them was solid dirt and rock. They barely had room to move, only enough for LeBeau to turn over on his back so he was not breathing in dirt. The two men were almost nose to nose with very little option to move. LeBeau could feel Hogan's heart pounding against his own. He hadn't fully panicked until he'd caught a glimpse of a fleeting moment of terror in Hogan's eyes as he assessed their predicament.

"How far do you think we are from the main tunnel?"

"Not far. If that didn't collapse," Hogan added.

"Merci, mon Colonel. I needed that."

"Sorry, Louis," Hogan added, smiling despite the potential horror of their situation. "I should have listened to Ellison about the tremors, I guess. I was worried about getting that book from Sanders, and getting the plan underway."

"The others will know what happened. When we don't come up for roll call, they'll be searching for us."

"Right," Hogan confirmed, not saying anything more.

"What are you thinking, Colonel?"

"You don't wanna know."

"Oui, I do." LeBeau waited as Hogan hesitated.

"Turn off the flashlight. We might need the light, and I don't want to waste the batteries." LeBeau followed the order, but shuddered a bit at the sudden blackness. He felt one of Hogan's hands squeeze his arm reassuringly. "We'll turn it on in spurts, but we don't know how long we'll need it."

"The batteries will last longer than the air," LeBeau said, voicing his deepest fear. It was easier to admit in the dark. He was afraid of dying, and dying horribly. And yet, at least he would not die alone. Neither of them would. He took comfort in that thought.

"I'm thinking that might not be the end of the cave-ins, and if things get worse, we could be completely buried alive in here."

"You were right. I didn't want to know that."

"Told you."

"The others will get us out in time. They know where we are. I have to believe the whole central chamber didn't collapse."

"Even if it did, they can still reach us from Ellison's quarters. It would just take a little longer and it would be harder getting around the krauts," Hogan said, his breath warm against LeBeau's face. "We just have to stay as calm as we can. The more we panic, the more air we use." Hogan was silent a moment. "I hope Ellison made it out to the main tunnel."

"Assuming it didn't collapse," LeBeau added.

"Well, yeah."

LeBeau was aware of Hogan's body against him, the scent of his leather jacket and aftershave, and the irrational calm he felt when he concentrated on those sensations. Hogan was just a man, a thin safeguard of flesh and bone between him and a fatal press of earth and rock. But Hogan had provided that safeguard instinctively, putting himself between LeBeau and harm.

"Are you hurt?" he asked Hogan. There was a brief silence.

"I don't think it's anything more than a few bruises. My leg's pinned under something, but it doesn't feel broken. A broken leg would be a little tough to explain."

"Is there anything I could do to ease the pressure on your leg?"

"I don't know, but I wouldn't recommend moving anything. I might be able to pull it free, but if something's propped up on it, and I move..."

"Are you in pain?"

"Not much. It's starting to go numb from the pressure, but it's nothing I can't handle. How about you?"

"You covered me when it happened. I'm not hurt at all."

"Good." Hogan had a definite smile in his voice. "You shouldn't be down here. I should have gone myself."

"You didn't know this would happen."

"The branch tunnels have been unstable ever since the bombing." Hogan sighed. "I should have gone alone."

"I wouldn't have let you go alone if it was that dangerous, Colonel."

"You wouldn't, huh?" Hogan asked, a smile in his voice again. Then he became serious again. "Think about what you're saying, Louis," Hogan said. "We might not make it out of here."

"No one should be trapped like this alone." LeBeau was quiet a moment. "No one should die like this alone."

"We're not going to die."

"If we were, what would be your biggest regret?" LeBeau asked.

"That I got us into this stupid mess."

"I meant besides this."

"I'm more worried about right now than I am about the past," Hogan said, moving slightly. A few more pebbles skittered about, enough to quell Hogan's motion.

"Your leg is hurting."

"It'll be fine."

"I am not so afraid to die, if it must happen."

"We all know it's a possibility. Every day we run this operation under the krauts' noses, it's a possibility."

"Let yourself relax, Colonel. I can take a bit of weight."

"I'm fine."

"You're holding yourself up to give me more room. Relax and be comfortable. We might be here a while."

Hogan did relax a little then, his body pressing more firmly against LeBeau's as he gave up on trying to keep his distance. Decorum and courtesy had no place in what might be a shared grave.

LeBeau thought back of a time when he and Hogan had traveled to France among the luggage on top of Klink's staff car. At the time, they'd been about this close, body to body for the entire journey. It was a light-hearted trip, though. Despite the seriousness of their mission, to rescue a captured Underground agent from the Gestapo, they had passed their time under the tarp and among the suitcases swapping stories and telling bad jokes.

While Hogan had the respect of his men, and the ability to flex his commanding officer muscles when need be, he wasn't so consumed with his rank and superiority that he couldn't have fun with his men. He praised them for their strengths and forgave their weaknesses. He demanded they give 110% to the operation, but he always gave as much or more himself. And he cared. A lot. Their safety was important to him, and he never used them like disposable commodities.

LeBeau thought of all the times Hogan had put an arm around his shoulders, or handled a moment of insubordination with understanding rather than censure, and how many times he'd negotiated LeBeau's expedited release from the cooler. Hogan might have been his commanding officer, but he was also LeBeau's friend. LeBeau strongly suspected it was his friend who had shielded him from the rubble, not his commander.

There were times he lingered close by for those touches, leaned into the solid warmth of that body, and felt something stir inside him that wanted more. Wanted more from a man in a way he'd never thought he could. Louis LeBeau loved women like any self-respecting Frenchman. But he couldn't think of a single one he would prefer to crawl into a tunnel and die with rather than escape to safety alone. It was crazy, but he honestly felt relief that he was here, sharing breath with Hogan, living possibly the only moments he ever could in the arms of the man he'd grown to love. The man whose sparkling brown eyes had always shone with something special when he looked at Louis, the man who looked at the little French chef as if he were the most important man in the entire Allied war effort.


"I was just thinking."

"Don't overdo it. It might use up too much oxygen," Hogan quipped.

"I don't have to die with regrets. The one thing I would regret is that there is someone I love, very much, and I never told that person how I felt." LeBeau felt more fear at what he was starting than he'd felt during the cave in. Hogan was silent, but his closeness was reassuring in the total darkness.

"I don't understand. You won't get a chance to tell anybody anything if we don't get out of here."

"I'm not alone here." He paused, and he could almost feel the questioning gaze he'd be getting from Hogan. He half expected him to grope for the flashlight and turn it on, but he didn't move. "I would rather be here with you, now, than to be out there, safe."

"But that's crazy."

"Oui, it is, I know. But...I..." He was surprised when a hand covered his mouth gently.

"You can't say it, Louis. Trust me. You don't want to say what I think you're going to say." Hogan seemed to be breathing more heavily now, and LeBeau moved the hand from his mouth.

"If we are to die in here, I must say it."

"But we might not die in here."

"Then would it be so terrible to know? To know that...that I love you?"

"We've been in this camp a long time together, been through a lot of narrow escapes..."

"This has nothing to do with that. Oh, maybe in some way it does. I felt that kind of love for you a long time ago. The love of comrades. The love I feel for all my friends. This is...not that kind of love. It's the kind that makes me happier to die with you than live without you."

There was a long silence. A moment later, something else lightly brushed his lips, but it was not a hand. Then pressure was there. Hogan's mouth was against his, their lips parting, tongues sliding together lazily, as if they had all the time in the world to drown in that kiss. If they'd spiraled into the abyss, out of this world and into the next, it wouldn't have mattered to LeBeau as long as that kiss could continue.

The flashlight flooded their little niche of the universe with light. It seemed intrusive, and the kiss ended.

"I had to know if it would be as magical with the light on," Hogan admitted, smiling self-consciously.

"Well?" LeBeau asked, feeling as if Hogan were dangling him over a cliff as he waited for the reply.

"It's real with the light on. Real and insane. This can't happen. It's because we think we're dying. We're not going to die in here."

"Even if we don't, why is it so wrong?"

"Why is it...? Good God, Louis, I can list about ten thousand reasons why this can't happen. For one thing, you're a man, I'm a man. We're both men!"

"The oxygen shortage is already affecting you, Colonel," LeBeau said, smiling sappily. He could die happy now, and nothing Hogan said could erase the sensation of those lips against his, or take the taste of Hogan out of his mouth.

"Men don't do things like this."

"I hate to break this to you, but they do. They have for centuries. The Greeks did it all the time."

"Does this look like the Parthenon? Besides, this isn't ethical. I'm your commanding officer."

"Sorry." LeBeau saluted Hogan, who stared at him for a long moment before breaking up into laughter. "This is not a disaster, mon Colonel. It's love. And we French wrote the book on it."

"I shouldn't have kissed you that way."

"No, you should not. You should have done it this way." Louis pulled Hogan's head down, claiming his mouth passionately, this kiss lasting longer, probing deeper, even than the first.

The ground rumbled and a few more pebbles were sprinkled down on them. Then something shifted and they found their lower bodies covered in a fairly heavy pile of dirt. Hogan groaned as the support that had once bolstered the tunnel pressed more aggressively on his trapped leg.

"If you don't move your leg, the pressure will probably break it," LeBeau said, worried.

"And if I do, the rest of this might come down on us even faster than it's doing now." Hogan kept the flashlight on an extra moment to look Louis in the eyes. "I love you, too."

"And if we weren't going to die?"

"I'm not convinced we are, so it stands, either way. It has for a long time."

"Sometimes when you'd look at me, or you'd smile at me like you do, I thought I saw something more in your eyes." LeBeau glanced away, smiling. "Then I thought it had to be wishful thinking. You thought it would be a dangerous trip through the tunnels, didn't you? That's why you came to get me."

"I thought there might be a cave in, and I wanted to get you moving along faster. I was worried." Hogan paused. "Hard to believe sometimes that this is all so wrong," Hogan said grimly, turning off the flashlight. "I don't feel like a degenerate."

"Maybe it isn't wrong."

"Back home, there was this guy who lived with his mother. He was about the age I am now, back then, when I was a kid. Rumor had it he dressed up in his mother's clothes, and he liked men. I think she finally put him in a home."

"That's an interesting story, Colonel, but what does it have to do with us?"

"He was the town pervert. Nobody wanted to go near that house. As kids, my mother threatened us to stay away from that house, to cross to the other side of the street and not walk near it. She was always afraid Fred would pop out a door and grab one of us, I guess."

"Did he?"

"Never gave him the chance. I crossed the street. Well, except for that one time I looked in the windows on a dare."

"What'd you see?"

"Fred, as big as life, all dolled up in a house dress and heels." Hogan started laughing. "I remember thinking it was a waste of time to cross the street to get away from him, because he couldn't have caught anybody in those heels. He could hardly walk around the living room." A few moments of silence followed. "But that's what we'd be, Louis. Freaks. Perverts. I guess that's what we are, already."

"Do you really believe that?"

"I just know that I don't want to end up like Fred, the town pervert, eventually put in a home someplace to put everyone's mind at ease that I won't jump out and attack their children."

"Did you ever feel like wearing your mother's clothes? It's not the same thing."

"No, the only time I ever dressed up like a woman was when we had to get those three girls out of camp."

"You didn't look like you particularly enjoyed it," LeBeau responded, chortling. "I know it'll be a long time before you catch me in a skirt and heels again."

"Okay, so Fred was an extreme example."

"Do you think you know for sure what everyone you know really likes to do in their bedrooms?"

"Who said anything about the bedroom?" Hogan turned on the flashlight again.

"Isn't that the ultimate goal when you're kissing a woman like we were kissing a minute ago?"

"There are no women here, Louis."

"Oui, I noticed." Louis ran his hand over Hogan's shirt, slipping beneath his jacket. "I don't miss them at the moment."

"Neither do I," Hogan said emphatically, turning off the flashlight and giving in to the sensations he knew, with every part of him, had to be wrong, but that felt so...right.


"Ellison! What happened?" Kinchloe, Newkirk and Carter were all in the main chamber of the tunnel as the cave in spilled dirt and rock fragments onto the floor from the branch tunnel leading to Barracks 5.

"Hogan and LeBeau are still in there," Jim explained, breathless. I felt the vibrations, and I called back to them, but I don't think they heard me. I just kept moving. I thought at least I could help get them out if one of us made it."

"You've got a mission from Hogan, to get that book and set up the telephone call," Kinch said. "You better go. We'll get started here."

"I should be helping to get them out."

"Sir, with all due respect," Newkirk began, "if Colonel Hogan were here, he'd be tellin' you the same thing. Go see the little professor and get his book. We'll do the digging. We're good at it," he added, smiling.

"Roll call is in three hours," Carter said, checking his watch. "You know Schultz is gonna be looking for all of us."

"We'll have to go up top long enough for roll call," Kinch said. "Once they know two prisoners are missing, they'll confine us to the barracks anyway, and we'll have more time to dig."

"We'll pass the word at roll call that we're having a digging party down here for as many as can come," Newkirk added, nodding.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," Ellison said, starting in the direction of the tunnel leading to the guest quarters.

"When you get finished, meet us down here, and you'll have to come up through our barracks for roll call. We'll try to move you back to stand with your own group. Create a diversion or something," Kinch said.



Jim carefully moved the stove aside, and came up through the floor into the guest quarters. The room was dark, and Blair was most likely in bed, making some vain effort at sleep. It couldn't be easy to sleep with kraut guards everywhere, and the knowledge that Hitler's eye was up on you to come up with results.

Stealthily, Jim tiptoed into the bedroom, and paused to take in the sight before him. Blair was indeed asleep, long curls contrasting with the crisp white pillowcase. The moonlight streamed in through a crack in the curtains, bathing the room in a bluish glow. Blair lay on his back, all but his head and one hand that lay palm up on the pillow, tucked safely beneath the blankets.

God, you're beautiful... Jim thought, approaching the bed so quietly that even if Blair had been the Sentinel, he probably wouldn't have heard his visitor. His eyes traced the full lips, perfect nose, high forehead, and frame of long hair. Resisting the urge to kiss Blair awake, Jim instead clamped his hand over Blair's mouth, hating to scare him, but wanting to ensure his silence. He was greeted with bugged eyes and a look of pure terror until Blair saw who was hunched over him. Jim pressed a finger to his own lips to gesture for silence.

"I came for the book, and to check your phone and give you instructions," Jim whispered, removing his hand from Blair's mouth. "Where is your guard?"

"He's patrolling out front," Blair whispered back. "There's no back door, so he concentrates on that. Hochstetter had the windows nailed shut, so I couldn't get out without making a lot of noise."

"When this is over, remind me to deck that guy."

"Get in line." Blair slid into a sitting position. "I'll get you the book."

"I have to check your telephone for listening devices." Jim made his way stealthily to the living room while Blair pulled the treasured book out of a drawer in the bedroom. The phone contained one bug, which was to be expected. Jim motioned to Blair to join him. "This just sets in like so," Jim said, demonstrating. "Take it out when you make your phone call, and just pop it back in when you're finished."

"What if my mother's phone is bugged?"

"You'll have to call her, and do whatever it is you have to do to get her interested in coming here."

"If I sound upset or worried or depressed, she'll want to come and check it out. I don't have to really fake it much on this one."

"Okay. Just make sure she's the one who brings up a visit. Do it tomorrow morning before you start work with me."

"That's earlier than I'd normally call her."

"All the better. She'll be worried that you're calling her at that hour."

"True." Blair nodded. "What's the plan when they get here?"

"Hogan's got some plot cooked up to fake your deaths, but I'm not sure how it's going to work yet. He didn't give me all the details. The Underground will get you to England."

"Without you?"

"I can't leave, Blair. Klink's no-escape record is a key part of Hogan's operation here. They'll know if I leave. If I can get away, it'll be later. It has to happen this way."

"They'll interrogate you. The Gestapo. You know they will."

"I'm a big boy, Chief. Besides, Hogan's not going to just sit back and let them haul me off. But we can't go together."

"This might be our last time alone together."

"We'll be together in the lab, like usual," Jim said, smiling reassuringly.

"That's not what I mean." Blair took Jim's hand in his and pulled. "Just once, in case there isn't another chance."

"There's something I didn't tell you. There was a cave in, and Hogan and LeBeau are trapped in a tunnel. The guys are digging to get them out. I should help."

"How many are digging?"

"I imagine all of Barracks 3 by now. Fourteen guys, probably."

"No more than that can get at the mouth of a filled in tunnel at once. Jim, everything could be over with one just change of plans from Hitler or his henchmen."

"Have you ever been with a man before, Blair?"

"No, but it doesn't matter. I want to be with you, now."

"We'll be rushed. We should wait. Until we're together in London, maybe after the war..."

"After the war? You'll forget about me by then and find some beautiful woman and get married. Or we won't live to see the end of the war."

"I won't forget you, Blair. And if there's any way possible, I'll find you again after the war." Jim framed Blair's face with both hands. "It's crazy, how fast this happened..." Jim smiled, looking into Blair's troubled eyes. "All I know is that if I have to go to the ends of the Earth to do it, I'll be with you when the war is over."

"Then be with me now. I love you, Jim."

"I'm a Sentinel. How long have you been looking for one of those?" Jim asked, smiling affectionately.

"This isn't about that. It's what brought us together, but it isn't what makes me love you."

Unable to resist temptation any longer, Jim pulled Blair into a fierce embrace and kissed him hard, their mouths opening and closing around each other, hands grappling with clothing as they moved back toward the bed, falling together, finally feeling the heat of skin on skin.

At first Jim thought the feel of soft chest hair, the absence of breasts, and the slight roughness of a five o'clock shadow might seem odd when it came time to touch each other this way, but it was all Blair, and it felt inexplicably right. In just a few short weeks, his ideal of beauty had shifted from curves and long legs to everything Blair: his smile, his striking blue eyes, his kindness, his concern for Jim, and that impossibly soft, long hair that twined around his fingers like a thousand silk scarves as he buried his hands in it.

Blair's hand slid down to Jim's hardening cock, tentatively squeezing and pumping it. Jim stifled a cry between Blair's neck and shoulder, Hogan's words haunting him just a bit as he sank into the swirl of erotic sensations–there would truly be nothing Hogan or anyone else could do for them if they were caught doing this. They'd be pariahs on either side, a common enemy of Germans and Allies alike. Degenerates. Perverts.

Pushing those thoughts aside, Jim reached for Blair's own rapidly hardening shaft and they pumped together, settling for the intimacy of the shared hand job. There was no time for anything more, and even if there had been more time, the risk was far too great.

Both men having been deprived of these sensations way too long, their climaxes were fast and frantic, their cries stifled in awkward kisses. As they lay there together, breathing heavily in the moonlit room, Jim pulled Blair closer and kissed him again, slowly and deeply this time.

"No matter what happens, Blair, I'll find you again after the war. There won't be anyone else."

"I don't want to leave without you. The Gestapo–"

"You have to. I'll be fine. I've got too much to live for not to make it through this war in one piece." Jim held up his hand, and Blair pressed his palm against it, their fingers twining.

"Just say the word, Jim, and I'll stay. If there's any reason that my staying is better, if I can divert the Gestapo from you, tell them you're not the real thing..."

"That won't be necessary, sweetheart. I want you out of Germany as soon as possible. Hogan and I will figure something out to keep me out of trouble." Jim leaned in for another kiss. "I have to go."

"No matter what happens, I want you to know one thing."

"What?" Jim asked, smiling softly, nudging Blair's nose with his own.

"I'll die loving you. If it's tomorrow or fifty years from now. Even if...if this is the only time we have."

"I feel the same way, Chief. But let's shoot for the fifty years, huh?"

"It's a deal."

They sealed the bargain with another kiss before Jim hastily dressed and returned to the tunnel to help the other prisoners in their rescue efforts.


"We're using up our oxygen faster than we should," Hogan said, knowing the statement would fall on deaf ears. Only the pain in his pinned leg reminded him of the grimness of their predicament. At the moment, in this dark, dank, horrible little niche in the earth, he was melting into passionate kisses and the long-absent feeling of a warm body moving against his, eager and responsive, lips traveling down his jawline to his neck, and back again.

"Would you rather stop what we're doing and save oxygen?" LeBeau asked, completely insincere. His voice held no real intention of stopping.

"Never," Hogan said, an affection in his voice that momentarily cooled the physical lust they'd been so frantically trying to sate. "If we're going to die in here, why shouldn't we do it with big smiles on our faces?" he added, smiling. LeBeau chuckled, and Hogan felt the rumble of it throughout his own body.

"What if we weren't going to die?"

"I don't believe we are, so it doesn't change anything," Hogan responded. "Do you believe we'll get out of this?"

"I don't know. I'm not as sure as you are that we will, but either way, I have no regrets for this."

"Then shut up and kiss me again." Hogan covered LeBeau's mouth with his own, and when they pulled back, he groped for the flashlight and turned it on, making them both squint a bit. "Just wanted to see you."

"I'm glad you want to see that it's me. I want to see you, too. It's been a long time since I was with someone this way, but that's not what matters most to me. No matter what happens, I'm glad you know how I feel. And nothing can take this away from us."


"Any progress?" Jim asked, returning to where about ten prisoners were working feverishly to re-open the collapsed tunnel.

"Nothing yet," Newkirk responded, visibly frustrated at the slowness of the progress.

"Is there any way to get in from overhead that would be faster?" Jim asked. "Judging by how far behind me they were, they've got to be about ten feet back in there."

"It would be nearly as deep as it is far to dig," Kinch said. The ceiling of this tunnel is a good ten feet underground, and the little tunnel is about another six feet down from that ceiling," he said, gesturing at the entrance. "Besides, I don't think we could just walk out in to the middle of the compound and start drilling without arousing Klink's suspicion."

"We could close this off, and give up the tunnel from Ellison's quarters," Carter suggested. "Get Klink and his men to help us."

"You think they'd do that to save prisoners?" Jim asked.

"Don't know. Might be worth a shot, much as I hate to say it," Newkirk said.

"Colonel Hogan would hate the idea," another prisoner, Olsen, spoke up . A dark-haired American sergeant, Olsen was a bit younger than Jim.

"I think he'd hate the idea of dying in a pile of dirt, too," Kinch said. "We don't even know they're alive in there."

"Is there a way I can get back to Barracks 5? Maybe I can do something from that end."

"They were closer to this end than that end," Newkirk said, wiping his forehead on the back of his grimy hand.

"Let's stop talking and start digging. We have better than an hour before roll call," Kinch said. "We'll let Klink think a few more of the men are in on this big escape with Hogan and LeBeau, and leave some guys down here digging non-stop."

"Count me in," Jim volunteered.

"Not you. Not with the whole plan to get Sanders out of here going on. You have to show up at roll call," Kinch said.

"We're moving forward with the plan?"

"It's what Colonel Hogan would tell us to do if he could," Kinch said. "Now let's get to work."


"Blair, sweetie! What a wonderful surprise!" Nadine Sanders, a.k.a., Naomi Sandburg, effervesced at the sound of her son's voice. "I've been so worried about you since you disappeared from the University."

"I'm fine, Mom," Blair lied, but he purposely let his fatigue and fear seep into his voice. "I'm doing some special research involving German officers. I can't say anymore."

"You're doing secret government work?"

"Something like that. I just missed talking to you. I'm probably not supposed to be calling, but I wanted to let you know I'm all right."

"You don't sound all right. I want to see you, learn more about what you're doing."

"Mom, I can't tell you about what I'm working on, or even where I am."

"That's ridiculous. I'm not a spy, for heaven's sake!" There was a pause, and Blair heard a man's voice, and his mother answering. "Konrad will get to the bottom of this, anyway, so you might as well tell me where you are. I won't rest until I know."

"Let's just say that I'm someplace safe from Allied bombing. At least that should make you feel better."

"Not really. What kind of work are you doing?"

"I told you, Mom. I'm not allowed to say."

"Allowed? Are they forcing you to do this?"

"I'm under orders from the Fuhrer. Well, more directly, from the Gestapo, but the project is one Hitler's interested in."

"Are you sure you're all right? You're eating and getting enough rest, and you have a good place to stay?"

"Yes, all that's fine, Mom. Really. I'm in a really secure location."

"I won't be happy until I see for myself, you know that, right?"

"I know, Mom. I have to go. Give my best to the count."

"I will. Love you, sweetie."

"I love you, too, Mom."

After Blair hung up, he smiled. Naomi was nothing if she wasn't persistent, and he almost pitied poor old Konrad Heydrich for the paces she would put him through until he found out where Blair was and took her there for a visit.

Mission accomplished. Blair hoped the digging was going well. Hogan and LeBeau were good men, and they didn't deserve to die in a caved-in tunnel.


"I beg to report, Herr Kommandant, six prisoners are missing!" Schultz reported, dreading Klink's reaction.

"Which prisoners?" he demanded, then his eyes widened. "Where is Hogan?"

"Colonel Hogan and Corporal LeBeau are both missing," Schultz blurted. "And Madison, Olsen, Stevens, and Newkirk!" he added, eyes wide.

"Sound the alarms, let loose the dogs!" Klink ordered. "You will find them if you have to search every inch of those woods personally!" Klink exclaimed, wagging his finger at Schultz. "Prisoners are confined to the barracks until further notice! Dismissed!" Klink turned on his heel and strode back toward his office, leaving Schultz amidst the chaos in the compound.

Colonel Hogan, what have you done this time? Schultz thought, shaking his head and hurrying off to do his duty as sergeant of the guard, organizing the search effort.


"All right men, let's get digging!" Newkirk shouted, motioning to the others to head down to the tunnel with him. They'd been dying a thousand deaths, standing there through roll call when they knew Hogan and LeBeau were still trapped somewhere between their barracks and Barracks 5, and only a handful of men had been able to stay down there and keep working.

A few men remained to watch the door and cover for those who were rejoining the digging effort. Jim, much to his frustration, had to go to the lab. The armed guards wouldn't let him go to his barracks, even though prisoners were restricted there. After checking in with Hochstetter by phone, the Gestapo guards made sure he was delivered to Sanders' lab as usual.

"How long has it been?" Carter asked, not pausing in his frantic digging.

"About three hours now," Kinch said, grimly.

"Let's just hope they had enough air to keep 'em going," Carter responded, fear plain on his face. None of them wanted to pull two bodies out of the tunnel.


"How's your leg?" LeBeau asked.

"The pressure's getting worse, Louis," Hogan said quietly. "I think whatever's bearing down on it is going the rest of the way before too much longer."

"The others will get to us. They have to."

"When they do, you get out of here as fast as you can. When I move my leg, the whole thing could cave in. I'm not sure what's resting on it. I just know the pain and pressure are getting worse."

"I'm not leaving you in here."

"It's not the same thing. If you can get out safely, do it. I can probably get out, too, but don't look back or stop. Somebody's going to have to move whatever's on my leg, so you'll have to get out of the way."

"Once they get us more air...they can dig around us until it's safe for us both to get out."

"Can you get any air? We're pressed together pretty tight here."

"Isn't it terrible?" LeBeau said, grinning in the dark, and Hogan chortled.

"I guess that answers my question. You're fine."

"It will be nice to be close like this when we aren't under twenty feet of dirt."

"At least we've got a good excuse and not much chance of someone walking in unannounced," Hogan quipped. After a brief silence, he said, "I'm most worried about my mother. After losing John, this would kill her. I accept the risk of doing these goes with the territory."

"We'll get out of it together."

"Or we won't get out of it at all, is that what you're saying, Louis?"

"I'm not going to move until I know they can get us both out safely."

"This is a weird thing to say trapped in a cave-in, but a part of me is glad it happened."

"Me, too. If we hadn't thought we might die, we probably never would have said anything. I don't think we ever would have kissed like that."

"Probably not." Hogan paused. "Have you ever thought about it before? Not with me, but with men in general?"

"A little. I have a friend who moved to Paris to pursue his art. He took a 'good friend' with him, but among his friends, we knew they were lovers. I thought about it because of him, wondered what it was like, why a man would want a man instead of a woman. It never made much sense to me until I met you, and I realized one day that I was feeling that way for you."

"Your friend didn't happen to dress up in his mother's ruffled aprons, did he?" Hogan asked, smiling as LeBeau laughed.

"Not that I know of, though he did have a fondness for jewelry that raised a few eyebrows."

"Great. I am not getting my ears pierced, and that's final."

"I'll settle for a nice string of pearls and a skirt that shows off your legs," LeBeau quipped.

"You don't seem too bothered by all this."

"I have everything I ever wanted. Even if we never see the light of day again."

Hogan didn't respond with words, but with a kiss.

"Let's hope we get both this, and the light of day again."


Blair watched Jim pacing, having given up on getting him to participate in any tests. He finally removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. His body remembered the feeling of Jim's hands, of their skin on skin lovemaking in the pre-dawn hours. It was hard enough to discipline his mind to focus on mundane sensory tests with those memories replaying continuously, but corralling Jim to sit still when he felt he should be helping with the rescue effort was impossible.

"I'm sure they're doing everything they can," Blair said.

"There might be something I could do. I just can't get near the action. There's no way to there from here, and the guards expect me to be here."

"I can fix that. Go get the guard," Blair said.


"Just do it, Jim. How you get over to Hogan's barracks is your problem, but I can get you out of staying here. Now go."

"Okay, Chief."

As Jim walked out the door and motioned to the Gestapo guard, he heard the sounds of retching from the lab. When he returned with the guard, Blair had left a very convincing mess on the tabletop.

"I'm feeling very ill. I can't work anymore today. Please, escort me back to my quarters," Blair said. The guard looked a bit nonplused, as if he weren't quite sure what to do, but given Blair's performance, he appeared convinced that the illness was real.

"I will need permission from Major Hochstetter."

"Look, I'm sick. If you don't get me back to my quarters, I may very well vomit on your nice, polished boots."

Stiffening with irritation at Blair's implied threat, the young corporal controlled his temper and nodded.

"Come. You will rest in your quarters, and I will inform Major Hochstetter."

"Danke," Blair said, rising with feigned weakness from the stool where he'd been sitting, giving a brief show of unsteadiness on his feet before falling in step with the guard.

"You, back to your barracks!" the guard barked at Jim.

"The prisoners are restricted to their barracks. He could be shot. May I ask Sergeant Schultz to take him back to his barracks?" Blair asked. The guard hesitated, but then apparently considered the Luftwaffe Sergeant of the Guard to be a trustworthy escort. The three men walked to where Schultz was giving orders to a new search party of privates and corporals, on their way out to look for Hogan and the other "missing" prisoners.

Once the search party had been dispatched and Schultz was escorting Jim back to his barracks, Jim produced two candy bars from his leather bomber jacket, handing them to Schultz.

"I'd really like to be escorted to Colonel Hogan's barracks instead."

"Nein. I must take you back to your own barracks. It would be worth my life," Schultz confided, reluctantly handing the candy bars back to Jim.

"You're on opposite sides, but you like Hogan, right?"

"He is the enemy."

"Oh, right. I've seen you two joking and laughing it up. You don't think of him as an enemy, and you know it."

"Colonel Hogan is a nice man, but I am not a traitor," Schultz protested, looking around nervously.

"Look, I'm not Gestapo, and I'm not trying to get you in trouble. Hogan's in real trouble and he needs my help. It could be life or death. Please, Schultz, take me to his barracks. No one's going to notice."

"All right. But if you get caught, I know nothing!" Schultz concluded, seizing the candy bars and hurrying toward Hogan's barracks.

Once Schultz left, the men in Hogan's barracks who were in charge of watching the door ushered him to the tunnel entrance, where he hurried down under to assist with the rescue effort. The men had made substantial gains in the last couple hours, working frantically to clear out the dirt between themselves and their comrade and commanding officer.

"Looks like things are coming pretty well. Look, I've got a strong pair of arms. Let me help with the digging for a while."

"How'd you get away from the goons?" Kinch asked, frowning.

"Sanders faked being sick–threw up all over the lab table–so the guard would take him back to his quarters and I'd be out of the tests for the day."

"That Sanders guy is all right," Carter said, chuckling. "You can take over for me, Captain. We're rotating the digging so nobody gets too tired. I'll do dirt removal for a while."

"Right." Jim crawled into position, noticing as he went that the dirt was all being gathered up into containers–buckets, bags, boxes–ready for transport out of the tunnel.

"We have to keep the area as clear as we can, and the dirt has to go up top eventually," Kinch explained. "If we let it all lie here, this part of the tunnel could be partially blocked, and we never know when we'll need it in a hurry."

"I figured there was a reason. Nobody's that neat in a crisis without a good reason." Jim froze. "Shh!"

"You hear something?" Newkirk moved closer.

"I hear heartbeats. They're alive!" Jim announced, overjoyed.

"You hear their heartbeats?" Carter stared at him as if he'd just said he was the Easter Bunny.

"We must be close." Jim and Kinch kept up their frantic digging while the others removed the dirt. No more than two of them could fit in the branch tunnel to dig. "Wait. The ground's vibrating again," Jim said, laying a hand on the soil. "We don't have much time, and when we get there, it could cave in on them. This is really unstable."

"Just keep digging. We can't leave 'em in there," Newkirk said, anxious.

"Newkirk's right. Colonel Hogan would dig us out himself if he had to, if we were in there," Carter said.

"I'm not suggesting we don't get them out. I'm just saying we have to be careful. I hear moaning. One of them might be hurt or pinned, and if so, our digging could make it worse. We just have to take it easy the closer we get."

"Suffocating won't do 'em much good, either," Newkirk argued.


Hogan felt the intense pressure on his leg, and the pain was too much. He moaned, fighting his instinct to pull at the trapped limb.

"Squeeze my hand," LeBeau said, taking one of Hogan's hands in both of his. The return pressure was tight, almost painful.

"God, it hurts like hell right now," Hogan said, between gritted teeth.

"Could you move it at all, get some relief?"

"I don't know. I don't think so."

"Maybe I could slide down farther and figure out a way to ease the pressure. Maybe I can use the flashlight and see what it is that's pressing on it."

"Don't. Don't move. It could shift things too much," Hogan said, his voice strained. The grip on LeBeau's hand tightened a bit more. LeBeau slid one hand under Hogan's shirt and t-shirt and rubbed up and down his back.

"The pain is much worse than you've been telling me. They will reach us soon, mon amour."

Hogan smiled at the endearment, soaking up the love and comfort LeBeau was giving him.

"They better. I don't think London'll let me keep this operation with one leg."

"You won't lose your leg, Colonel."

"Better that than both of us being crushed in here."

LeBeau refused to acknowledge the nightmare image of some kraut sawing off Hogan's mangled leg without regard for the possibility of saving it.

"It always works out somehow. It has to."

"Guess your image of me didn't include a missing leg," Hogan said shakily. The pain and decreasing hopefulness of their situation was making him morose, and yet making him seek assurance that if the worst happened, he would still have something to hold onto.

"It doesn't matter. If it happens, no one can question us being together after the war. I would be there to help you around the house, nothing more–at least, as far as others would know."

"You'd still want me like that?"

"I want you, not one of your legs. Your heart and soul isn't in your leg. Your beautiful smile isn't in your leg. Why would that make me not want you?"

"Because I'd be an invalid. An out of work cripple."

"Are your feelings for me that fragile that something like that happening to me would end them?"

"No, no, of course not–"

"Then why think less of my feelings for you?"

"I don't. I just..." Hogan sighed. "Maybe I'm not as ready to die as I thought I was."

"Neither of us are." LeBeau was quiet a minute. "I'm scared, too."


Jim was carefully monitoring the vibrations in the ground as he and Kinch continued to dig. The heartbeats were getting louder as they got closer, and Jim wasn't surprised, though he was ecstatic, when his hand broke through and brushed what felt like a warm, living human head.

"Colonel Hogan's leg is pinned. We can't move!" LeBeau shouted.

"I think something's resting or balancing on it," Hogan managed, still keeping his grip on LeBeau's hand. Seeing the faces of Kinchloe and Ellison looking in through the newly displaced dirt gave him the strength to overcome the pain and concentrate on getting them both out safely.

"LeBeau, can you slide out, and we'll get in there and work on getting Colonel Hogan out?" Jim asked.

"No. If I move, it could dislodge whatever is on his leg. I won't move until we can both get out."

"We've dug this far. Let's try to dig down to where the problem is," Kinch suggested.

"And we might end up with four of us buried alive in here. We should get LeBeau out, and I'll go in after Hogan."

"He's right, Louis," Hogan said, supporting Ellison's plan. "You have to go."

"You're in our way, LeBeau," Jim said firmly. "If you stay, it could make things worse."

"Louis, please. I want you to go." At LeBeau's inaction, Hogan closed his eyes and swallowed hard. "LeBeau, get out now, and that's an order," Hogan said sharply, mustering all the strength he had left to issue an authoritative command. LeBeau looked wounded, and he held Hogan's gaze a long moment before allowing Kinch and Jim to carefully pull him out of the tunnel. To their immense relief, nothing shifted, and Hogan's situation was no worse.

"Which leg, sir?" Jim asked, crawling as far as he could into the tunnel.

"My left."

"One of the braces is across it. That's what's pressing on it." Jim thought for a moment. "Any way we can get a jack in here? I need something to push up on this a little so we can ease his leg out."

"I'll get one," Carter volunteered. "I can get to the motor pool and get it without getting caught."

"Do it, Andrew, and watch your step," Newkirk said. Carter hurried off on his mission.

"What are you doing down here? Shouldn't you be working with Sanders?"

"Probably, but I wanted to help. Blair threw a real performance of being sick so he could rest in his quarters for the day. I bribed Schultz to bring me here instead of my barracks."

"I told you keeping a couple candy bars on hand at all times was a good idea," Hogan said, smiling. Just then, the ground rumbled ominously, and the brace pressed even harder on Hogan's trapped leg, eliciting a strangled moan from the officer.

"Shit. This isn't going to hold much longer," Jim said.

"Wait outside with the others, Ellison. No point in the two senior POW officers dying in here. Go on. If Carter gets back with the jack in time, you can try it. But get out here for now."

"He'll be back soon."

"Can't any of you follow a simple order anymore? I mean it, get out, and keep LeBeau away from here. Don't let him back in."

"Yes, sir. Hang on, Colonel. We'll get you out of there," Jim said, reluctantly sliding out of the narrow space, feeling like a weasel for leaving his commanding officer alone and in danger of dying a horrible death. Still, he knew the order was the right one. Killing both ranking officers, or the enlisted men, wouldn't serve any purpose.

"What are you doing out here?" LeBeau demanded, not having overheard the officers' conversation inside the tunnel.

"Colonel Hogan ordered me to wait out here, in case there was a cave-in." Jim caught LeBeau's arm and pulled him back before he could climb back in the opening to rejoin Hogan. "And he doesn't want you back in there, either. Carter's on his way with the jack, and when he gets back, I'll go back in and see if I can get the pressure off his leg enough to pull him out."

"I'll get a good hold on him and pull when you give me the word," Kinch said.

"Good plan."

"You probably shouldn't go back in there. What if something happens? How do we explain that one to the krauts?" Newkirk asked. "So far, it's just a prisoner escape, on Klink's head. But if they thought you escaped? The Gestapo will be all over this camp, tearing everything apart."

"Newkirk's right," Kinch said.

"Look, I didn't want to say this to Hogan, but I don't know that even with a jack I can move that brace. It's got a lot of dirt behind it, pressing it down. But I think I've got the best chance of budging it," Jim said. Stripped down to his undershirt, as most of them were, it was obvious he had the most developed muscles in the group.

"You're right, and isn't Colonel Hogan worth the risk?" LeBeau demanded.

"We all want him out of there alive, and in one piece, Louis," Newkirk said. "I was just worried about the Gestapo, and what Colonel Hogan would think about it if he could think of everything right now."

"Sorry I took so long," Carter gasped, running up to them with the jack in hand. "Krauts were using it. I had to wait for them to go do something else so I could swipe it."

"Great job, Carter," Jim said, smiling as he took the jack and crawled back through the narrow passage they had dug to reach Hogan and LeBeau. "Kinch! Grab hold of his wrists and be ready to pull. Colonel, just hold on and let Kinch do the pulling. I'm going to work on the brace."

"Right," Kinch agreed, crawling into position and grasping Hogan's wrists tightly.

"You better be ready to move pretty fast yourself, Ellison," Hogan said. "When that jack gives way, the whole thing'll probably give way."

"I'm not planning on lingering. I'll be right behind you."

Jim moved the jack into position and began pumping until it made contact with the wood. He exchanged a confirming nod with Kinch before starting to pump in earnest, his muscles straining to their capacity to achieve any sort of movement in the broken wall brace pinning Hogan's leg. With an ominous creak, the wood eased upward just a bit, but it wasn't enough. Kinch pulled Hogan's arms, but the brace wasn't about to let him go just yet. Jim put all his strength into the next downward push on the handle of the jack, grunting with the strain. Kinch pulled again, and this time, Hogan slid forward, his leg free of the trap of wood. Kinch kept pulling as fast as he could, and as soon as the opening was clear, Jim lurched forward and crawled rapidly through the passage just as the brace gave way, sending the jack clattering aside, and all the earth pressing on the wood filled in the tunnel.

The men helped Jim out the end of the collapsed tunnel, amid cheers and backslaps. Hogan was already laid out on a cot, LeBeau solicitously hovering around him while Kinch carefully cut away the tattered pant leg, and eased off the shoe and sock.

"I can't tell if it's broken," he said, trying to carefully probe the bloodied leg.

"Without twenty feet of dirt and a board pressing on it, it doesn't feel as bad now," Hogan responded.

"Let me try," Jim said, and at Kinch's puzzled look, he added, "I have medic training."

At that, Kinch moved aside and let Jim take over, all the men watching with concern while Jim ran his hands over the injured leg in a manner they hadn't seen used before to check for a break.

"The bone's not displaced. There's deep bruising that's causing a lot of pain in the muscle tissue, could be torn tendons or ligaments. There's no way to hide this from the krauts. This leg should be X-rayed, and he won't be walking around on it normally for a while."

"Guess I won't make the jitterbug contest next Saturday, huh?" Hogan quipped.

"I think you might want to postpone it," Jim said, smiling.

"Louis, you have any aspirin on hand?" he asked LeBeau, who was holding his hand. Hogan considered pulling away in front of the others, but since he was in pain, and he could feel the tremors in LeBeau as he hovered close by, he maintained his grip. They had a good excuse for touching, and both of them seemed to need it now. "How did you explain us not being at roll call?"

"Klink thinks six of us escaped--you, LeBeau, and four others who stayed down here to dig," Newkirk explained.

"Did anyone bother to slip out and cut the wire to make it look good?"

"I did that before dawn, sir," Carter responded.

"Good man," Hogan said, sighing. "Okay. I need an excuse for being off my feet, or foot, for a while, and we need to bring six guys total back into camp."

"You should rest, Colonel," LeBeau said.

"I hurt my leg. That doesn't stop me from thinking. The other five of you who supposedly escaped are going to give yourselves up, and you're going to do it while carrying your injured Colonel who bravely struck out after you to bring you back before Killer Klink and his ruthless guards recaptured you."

"So you didn't escape, but you went after us to bring us back?" Carter asked.

"Exactly. Klink's going to be more suspicious that something big's in the wind if he thinks I was part of this escape, and if I'm even going to get a medic or some consideration for being injured--even if they don't agree to any kind of X-rays--Hochstetter and his goons can't get wind that I escaped. He could pressure Klink into throwing me in the cooler untreated."

"We better get you into some cleaner clothes--both of you--if that story's going to fly," Kinch said, indicating the mud and dirt the tunnel had left behind on Hogan's and LeBeau's clothing.

"Do the best you can with the jacket. I've got a clean shirt in my quarters, but leave the pants. I'm supposed to have fallen, and one of you probably would have checked out my injury and torn the pant leg. I'll have to figure out where I took this tumble."

"There's a lot of hilly territory about a mile from camp, in the woods. It'd be easy to slip and loose your footing there. And it was snowing again last night," LeBeau said.

"Okay, I found you guys, was bringing you back to camp, and I fell."

"We checked your injury, couldn't tell how badly you were hurt, and decided to abort the escape attempt because you ordered us to, and you needed treatment," LeBeau embellished, and the others nodded.


"You don't have a fever, Professor, and you appear quite healthy to me," the doctor said cheerfully through a thick German accent, putting his stethoscope back in his medical bag where it sat on the beside table. Blair, who was in his pajamas, sitting propped up in bed, regarded Hochstetter carefully, trying to gauge his reaction.

"What would have caused his...illness earlier?" Hochstetter asked, his eyes never leaving Blair, though he spoke to the doctor.

"Oh, anything could have caused such an episode. Stomach upset, nervousness...but he is in good health and should be able to return to work tomorrow."

"Why not today?" Hochstetter asked, making eye contact with the doctor now. The older man looked a bit uncomfortable, but he replied promptly.

"Usually when my patients experience symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, even if it appears to be an isolated occurrence, I recommend they rest at least a few hours before returning to their regular activities. It is already one o'clock."

"Yes, yes, of course," Hochstetter said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Thank you for your time, Doctor."

"Get some rest and eat mild foods for a couple of days, young man," the doctor added, patting Blair's shoulder before taking his leave.

"What are you really up to, Sanders?" Hochstetter demanded.

"I'm not up to anything, Major. You're the one who called a doctor. I threw up. That's all. I wasn't feeling well. I'm still a little tired, but I feel better now."

"I warn you, Sanders, if you are trying to hamper this project, or get out of doing your work, you will answer for it," Hochstetter said sternly, wagging a finger at Blair.

"I couldn't help being sick. If you want me to go back to the lab now, I will."

"You will be there at the usual time tomorrow morning. And we had better start seeing some meaningful results!" With that, Hochstetter strode out the door, slamming it behind him.

Just then, Blair heard a commotion outside, alarms going off, dogs barking. He got out of bed and went to the window, where he could see guards gathering around a group of prisoners being let in through the main gate. Klink was hurrying across the compound to the scene, and Hochstetter wasn't far behind him.


"I recaptured the prisoners, Herr Kommandant!" Schultz reported, bursting with obvious pride at his achievement, which actually amounted to unlocking the gate and letting the men into the camp.

"What is the meaning of this?" Klink demanded, ignoring Schultz's boast as he often did. Five escaped prisoners stood before him, two of them on either side of the sixth man, Hogan, holding him up as he favored his left leg.

"I went out last night to follow the men who escaped and talk them out of it. The escape committee never approved this operation in the first place," Hogan said, feigned admonition in his tone. Hogan's reference to their mythical "escape committee" never ceased to annoy Klink. The kommandant didn't seem sure if the group truly existed, or was simply one more of many things Hogan created to needle him on occasion.

"When he caught up with us, the Colonel tried to talk us out of going on, but we decided to turn back when he took his little tumble and hurt his leg," Newkirk explained.

"You expect me to believe that you went running through the woods at night to recapture your own men?"

"There's never been a successful escape from Stalag 13," Hogan said by way of explanation. "I knew you'd hunt them down ruthlessly until every last one was recaptured. I didn't want anyone getting hurt."

"Thirty days in the cooler for these...tourists!" Klink ordered. "Colonel Hogan, you are confined to the barracks."

"He needs a doctor, sir," LeBeau ventured. "We don't know if his leg is broken or not."

"Maybe he won't go out on so many late night excursions that way," Hochstetter said, joining the group. LeBeau shot him a venomous look, but wisely said nothing. The doctor who had just examined Blair had not been allowed to leave during the commotion of the returning prisoners, and he now approached the group.

"With your permission, Kommandant, I would be happy to examine this man's leg, and treat him if necessary."

"You two," he instructed LeBeau and Carter, who were supporting Hogan, "take Hogan back to his quarters. Schultz, escort the doctor back to the barracks, and see to it he has any supplies he needs from the dispensary."

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant."

"Hogan, you and I will discuss this little excursion of yours later," Klink said.

"Thank you, sir," Hogan said, nodding in the direction of the doctor.

"A civilian doctor for an escaped prisoner? Bah!" With that, Hochstetter turned on his heel and strode angrily back to his staff car.


Blair smiled as he left his window, happy to see that Hogan and LeBeau were both alive and mostly well, except for whatever was wrong with Hogan's leg. He sat on the foot of the bed, relieved to have seen Hochstetter's car go out the front gate, which was now almost completely reconstructed. He was also relieved that whatever Jim had been doing to help with the rescue efforts, he apparently made it through unharmed. There was no commotion about him being out of the barracks.

When the bedroom door opened, Blair jumped a little, until he saw Jim peer around the corner.

"You're taking an awful chance coming here like this," he said. Jim smiled, closing the door behind him.

"Schultz relieved the guard who was watching your quarters, and he's having a snack, sitting on a stool by the side of the building. He won't look in on you. The excitement was the returning prisoners."

"Is Colonel Hogan all right?"

"I'm sure he'll be fine. He might have a fracture in that leg. I couldn't tell for sure. The bone wasn't displaced, so it should heal quickly. Was the doctor for you?"

"Hochstetter wanted proof I was sick."

"You weren't. He's not...they didn't do anything to you, did they?" Jim asked, sitting on the bed next to Blair.

"No. The doctor examined me, said I was okay, but that I could have thrown up for any number of reasons, and just said I should take it easy the rest of the day and then go back to work tomorrow. Hochstetter wasn't happy with it, but he accepted it."

"The doctor's going to take a look at Hogan's leg. It was trapped under part of the wooden brace when the tunnel they were in collapsed. I think he should be X-rayed."

"Maybe Klink will okay that."

"Maybe." Jim sighed. "Thanks for putting on that little performance earlier. I was able to help, and it kept the krauts busy so the guys could get out through the tunnel and show up at the front gate."

"Good. I talked to my mom. I'm sure she'll come here, but I hate involving her in this."

"There's no other way to get to her. We have to bring her here." Jim reached up and tucked a loose curl behind Blair's ear. "I love your hair loose like this."

"Most people think it's strange for a man to have hair that long."

"It is, but I still like it. You have no idea what it feels like..." Jim carded his fingers gently through the long strands, pausing to let a few curls cling to him. Then he leaned forward and inhaled deeply. "I can feel every strand, see it reflect the light. It glows with a deep reddish bronze in the sun. And it smells like the woods on a perfect summer day, after the rain makes everything fresh."

"Here I was thinking I should probably cut it," Blair said, smiling uneasily at the praise.

"To please the krauts?"

"No, but maybe before they shave my head or something, just to be spiteful."

"Did they threaten you with that?"

"More than once. I don't know why they didn't do it. Maybe they were saving it in case I didn't cooperate. Maybe it was easier to pull me around by it with it long."

"Blair, what else did they do to you?"

"It doesn't matter now. Other people have endured a lot worse. I'm lucky to have gotten through this as well as I have."

"We'll get you out of Germany, I promise. You and your mother."

"Why can't you come with us?"

"I'm a prisoner, Chief," Jim said, smiling. "They wouldn't let me out of camp to go sight-seeing."

"I can't go, Jim. What's going to happen to you?"

"Nothing. I'll be right here, working with Hogan and the Underground, and when the war's over, I'll find you and we'll pick up where we left off."

"If I'm presumed dead, they'll never know what my results were. They might keep testing you, or worse, think you really are what you are, and kill you to eliminate evidence that an Allied prisoner has the abilities Hitler is convinced can only be present in a German."

"You've got to put a little faith in Hogan and his operation. I'm valuable to the Allies, so he's going to do his best to protect me as a resource for the good guys." Jim pulled Blair into his arms. "You're supposedly resting, and no one's going to be looking me up for a while." Jim unbuttoned Blair's pajama top and pushed it off his shoulders.

"Hogan ordered you not to."

"Do you see Hogan here anywhere?"

"Hochstetter could come back?"

"He just left. I saw his staff car go out through the gates." Jim tossed his own jacket aside, and took off his shirt. "This is probably our last chance before your great escape. I know I shouldn't be here, and we shouldn't chance it, but I had to see you again. Like this." Jim tossed his t-shirt aside and reached for the drawstring on Blair's pajama pants.

"I'll lock the door. At least we'll have some warning if someone comes."

"Someone better come," Jim countered, and Blair grinned, locking the door. Then he took a quick detour to the adjoining bathroom and returned carrying the hand lotion, setting it on the bedside table.

Jim was stepping out of his pants and underwear when Blair returned, Jim's semi-erect cock rising impressively out of its nest of brown curls. Blair couldn't help staring as Jim reached down and stroked the large shaft a couple times. He followed the curve of Jim's arm to the impressive display of muscles across his shoulders and chest.

"You're amazing," he said, a little breathless.

"You're overdressed," Jim said, reaching for the drawstring on Blair's pants, opening it and letting the loose garment fall to the floor. He drew Blair into his arms and kissed him deep and hard, hoisting him by his buttocks and depositing him on the bed, following him down with barely a pause between kisses.

Jim's mouth moved from Blair's lips to his chin and his jaw, then down his neck to the hollow of his throat where his tongue swirled the beginning of the soft chest hair. He licked a path to a nipple and sucked it into his mouth, drawing hard on the little nub until Blair moaned, his hands skimming over Jim's shoulders and sliding into his hair to hold him there.

"You're in every sense, baby," Jim whispered, moving up to whisper in Blair's ear. "Your arousal and the scent of your body and your hair is all I can smell, your skin is all I taste, your voice is in my ears, you're all I see, and I feel your body against me...there's nothing else. This is everything." With one more intense kiss, Jim moved down Blair's body and engulfed the rapidly hardening cock in his mouth, making Blair stifle a scream with his fist hastily stuffed in his mouth. His other hand was on Jim's head, his legs spreading as he thrust upward into the hot mouth around him.

Jim groped toward the bedside table and grasped the bottle of hand lotion. Awkwardly squirting some on his fingers while he kept up the suction on Blair, he slid his slippery fingers along the cleft of Blair's ass, rubbing over the satiny skin of his perineum until one finger found the tight pucker it sought, circling around it with the lotion.

"Please, Jim. Put it in me," Blair gasped, pulling his knees up and apart. Jim abandoned the slick, hard shaft and tongued Blair's balls, sucking on them one at a time as he eased his finger into the tight opening. Blair gasped and arched his back, and Jim wasn't sure if it was pleasure or pain that made Blair's heartbeat skyrocket.

"How's it feel, Blair? Talk to me," Jim urged.

"You're in me," Blair responded, smiling.

"Just one finger."

"Make it work, Jim. I know it's going to hurt, but that's okay. When it's over, as long as it hurts, I have something left of this...of us."

"I don't want to hurt you. Just relax a little." Jim moved his finger around inside Blair, engulfing Blair's cock in his mouth again, licking and sucking on it, hoping the stimulation would relax Blair's muscles.

Taking them both a little by surprise, Blair stifled a cry as he came, the work of Jim's mouth too much for his body to resist. Jim gagged at first, but recovered enough to drink down some of Blair's seed.

"I'm sorry," Blair gasped. "I didn't...I couldn't hold back. Nobody ever did that to me before."

"It's relaxing you, sweetheart. Just give in to it," Jim said, stretching Blair's channel more aggressively now. "Roll over on your belly, Chief. You'll be more relaxed if you're not holding your legs up in the air." Jim moved away and Blair complied, then pulled his knees under him, lifting his ass in the air.

Jim took in the sight before him, from the sweat-damp curls clinging to Blair's back, to the swell of his smooth buttocks and the heavy balls hanging between his spread legs, and the small pucker that was slightly stretched now and slick with lotion. Jim put more lotion on his fingers and carefully eased two into Blair, pausing when he groaned and shifted on the bed. Keeping the pace slow, Jim probed deeply, finding a little nob inside Blair's body that made him jerk violently and scream into the mattress.

"Do that again!" Blair demanded, and Jim complied, watching Blair's body shudder in reaction. His lax cock was taking interest again, hardening despite the recent orgasm. Jim rubbed over the little nob again and again until Blair was writhing, wiggling his ass wantonly, burying his face in the bedclothes to stifle his cries of pleasure. When Jim finally withdrew his fingers, Blair was fully erect again, and his opening seemed well stretched and too inviting to resist.

Jim coated his own shaft with the hand lotion, and pressed the head of it against Blair's hole.

"Take a deep breath and relax, baby. I'm going to push it in. Tell me to stop if it hurts."

He pushed past the ring of muscle, and with a strangled cry from Blair, the head was inside.

"Wait," Blair gasped, moving up from his elbows until he was on all fours. "Ow."

"I can pull out, Blair–"

"No, just wait." Blair dropped back down to his elbows again, and spread his knees a bit wider apart. "More."

Jim pushed in further, ignoring the fact Blair managed to remain silent, watching instead his white-knuckled grip on the sheets, listening to his heartbeat, and watching the sheen of sweat coating his body. He stopped, waiting to feel Blair's body relax more to accept him. For a moment, he thought maybe this really had to be evil, sinful, and wrong, because it felt too damn good. No woman was this tight. He'd never felt pressure on his cock like this before, and never seen anything quite as sexy as Blair on his elbows and knees, ass in the air, open and offered to him.

Maybe a man wasn't meant to have pleasure like this on Earth. Maybe this was something reserved for Heaven, if you'd lived a perfect life and denied yourself everything waiting for it...

He slid the rest of the way into Blair, his balls finally making contact with the curve of Blair's buttocks.

"Everything okay, sweetheart?" Jim managed, finding it harder and harder to talk. He rubbed Blair's chest and belly, his hand closing around the neglected cock that had softened during the difficult part of the penetration. He stroked it firmly, reviving its interest in their lovemaking.

"Feels huge," Blair said, a smile in his voice. "Move a little." Jim did, and Blair let out a groan that was definitely pain, not pleasure.

"Relax, baby. Concentrate on the feeling of my hand on you." He kept stroking Blair's cock, keeping it hard. He pulled back again and thrust forward carefully, making Blair groan again.

"More," Blair finally said, and Jim complied, starting a gentle pace of pulling back and thrusting forward, trying not to lose himself in the sight of his cock sliding in and out of Blair's tight channel, of Blair willingly giving him what most men would never give another man. He was taking Blair's virginity in a way no one else had, and no one else would.

Blair's moans were turning to pleasure now, and Jim picked up the pace of his thrusting, allowing himself to concentrate on his own sensations, sliding in and out of Blair, using all his self control not to scream out in pleasure at the feeling of the tight passage that was squeezing him and pleasuring him the way nothing else ever had.

He was riding Blair hard now, their cries restrained but audible now as the bedsprings creaked and groaned under the pace of their lovemaking. Jim felt his climax approaching, but tried to resist it, wanting to prolong the incredible sensations of their sex. When Blair started coming, Jim had no choice. The spasms in Blair's body milked him and he came, trying to stifle the cry of Blair's name as his strokes became rapid and erratic, both of them shuddering with the force of their shared climax.

Slumping over Blair's back, Jim pulled the soft, damp curls aside and kissed Blair's flushed cheek.

"I love you."

"I love you, too," Blair whispered. "I always will, no matter what."

"Me, too, sweetheart. No matter what." Jim kissed Blair's neck, and carefully eased out of him. Blair moaned a little, shifting to bring his legs back down on the bed, lying flat on his stomach. "You must be sore, baby." Jim rubbed Blair's behind, then parted his buttocks to look at the well-stretched opening. It looked raw and sore, but he saw no signs of blood, much to his relief. He'd done everything he could to avoid hurting Blair, but the first time was bound to leave some soreness in its wake.

"You'd never hurt me. I just won't sit down any more than I have to for a while," Blair added, grinning over his shoulder at Jim. "Don't look so worried, love. I'm fine. I loved you inside me."

"It was the most amazing thing I ever felt, Blair. I never knew anything could be that intense." Jim planted a kiss over Blair's tail bone and moved up to gather him in an embrace.

"I wish we could be together again before the soreness fades."

"As soon as I can, soon as I can. I don't want to be away from you a minute longer than I have to be."

"I'll wait as long as it takes. You know that, right?"

"I know." Jim held Blair close, soaking up the feeling of their warm, damp bodies pressed against each other. "I wish I could put a ring on your finger and marry you."

"It's enough that you want to. I want that, too. If it could happen, and you asked me, I'd say yes."

"It's enough to know that you'd say yes," Jim responded, smiling and kissing Blair gently. "I need to go soon."

"We were lucky to have this time. I know it has to be quick."

"I want to stay here and make love to you all night, every which way we can think of." Jim hugged Blair tightly and the pressure was returned. They shared another long, deep kiss before Jim tore himself away and got out of the bed. He handed Blair his pajamas. "You better put these on."

"Okay." Blair eased up to sit, wincing as he did, moving gingerly to stand. "I think I need to exercise more. I need stronger muscles in some places."

"Don't exercise those muscles again until we're back together," Jim admonished, reaching back to lightly smack Blair's behind.

"I was talking about my back and legs. You know, bicycling or something?" Blair chuckled as he put his pajamas back on. "I think I need to clean up a little."

"Probably a good idea." Jim finished buttoning his shirt and tucked it into his pants, then sat down to tie his shoes. He was surprised when Blair knelt by his feet and did it for him, then looked up at him with a smouldering sensuality in his eyes, his still-flushed face framed by his bed-rumpled curls.

"Stay safe, and remember what you have to come home to."

Jim pulled Blair to his feet, and then close to him until Blair straddled his lap. They kissed again, the spark of passion threatening to send them right back to the disarrayed bed regardless of any threat to their lives or safety. Jim gave in to the urge to cup Blair's buttocks in his hands, rubbing the cheeks through the thin fabric of the pajamas. Blair's lips brushed Jim's ear with hot, moist breath.

"I wish you could pull down my pants, bend me over, and slide in and out of me long and hard until I screamed, so I would feel you inside me for weeks," Blair whispered.

"You would want to do that again, sore as you are?"

"I feel big and empty there. Like you should be in me."

"God, Blair. I have to go." Jim's words ran counter to his actions, and he found himself pushing Blair's pants down, rubbing his bare bottom while their tongues slid against each other in hungry, wild kisses.

"We have a little time, don't we?" Blair gasped, pulling back.

"Enough," Jim confirmed, watching as Blair slid off his lap, kicked his pants aside again, and bent over the bed, bracing his hands on it. Jim unzipped his fly and tugged his pants and underwear out of the way just enough to free his erection. He coated it with the hand lotion, and slid carefully into Blair's still-slick hole.

"Oooh," Blair groaned, wiggling a little and gripping the sheets. Jim reached beneath him and pumped his cock, feeling it coming to almost full hardness. Even if Blair was sore, he was enjoying this, and judging by the way he pushed back against Jim, he wanted it.

Jim began thrusting hard, repeatedly rubbing over Blair's prostate, their stifled cries mingling as he claimed Blair again. It had been years since he'd had really good sex, and he'd never felt anything this good. He'd never loved anyone this much, and wanted them this much at the same time. Love and lust and passion had never come together this way, and it was explosive.

Having come once already, he made it last longer this time, teasing and stimulating Blair, bringing him to the edge and pulling back, and then finally giving in to their shared desire, picked up the speed and force of his thrusts until they were coming again. When it was over, Jim carefully eased himself out, and wiped his lax cock with his handkerchief before tucking it back in his underwear and zipping his pants. Blair straightened, turned, and pulled Jim down for a fiery kiss.

"I love you always. Be careful."

"I will, baby. Look what I have waiting for me when I get home."


"Without an X-ray, I cannot be sure of the damage to your leg, Colonel," the doctor said. "You can put some weight on it, so it is probably not broken. I will recommend to your kommandant that you be brought to my office for the X-ray. Meanwhile, the guard is getting you crutches from the infirmary. Until your X-ray, use them. The leg is immobilized in the splint for now, just in case."

"Thanks, Doctor. I appreciate you volunteering to work on me. That probably didn't score any points with Hochstetter."

"I have been called by Major Hochstetter before. I have no real desire to win favor with him. Although, I suppose the fact he calls a doctor at all is something to his credit."

"For his prisoners, you mean?"

"I've said more than I should have now. I also know that injury was not caused by a fall, and I saw the marks on the young man he called me here to examine."

"From the whipping?"

"Whipping, yes, and other marks. Old bruises, old burns. He was tortured a few weeks ago."


"I've seen them put men's legs in devices that do this sort of damage, Colonel."

"Klink and Hochstetter had nothing to do with this."

"I didn't suspect Colonel Klink. I've known his family for years. They have always been military, never terribly influential or famous, but never fearsome or cruel, either."

"Probably why they weren't influential and famous," Hogan responded. The doctor simply smiled and shrugged.

"I won't ask more about the injury, Colonel. If you are permitted to have the X-ray, I will see you in my office in the next couple of days. If you are not X-rayed, keep the leg immobile for a few weeks to allow it to heal in case it is broken, and then slowly start putting some weight back on it."

"Right. Thanks again." Hogan sighed as the doctor left, waiting impatiently for Schultz to show up with the crutches. Crutches. Terrific. How in hell am I supposed to get in and out of the tunnel on a pair of friggin' crutches?

Hogan moved his leg a bit, and the pain flared again, but it didn't feel broken. He remembered breaking his leg when he was ten, falling out of a tree John had dared him into climbing. He couldn't help but smile as he recalled his older brother's ongoing remorse over the broken leg, and the way he'd assigned himself as little Robert's personal assistant until the cast came off and he was fully recovered.

The memory of John was a sweet one, but wholly unwelcome with the grief it brought to the surface. The wound was too fresh to be reminiscing. Swallowing and resolving not to spiral down into dwelling on his brother's death, Hogan swung his legs over the side of the cot, and groaning a little at the motion, annoyed with the awkwardness of the splint, he held onto the framework of the bunk to pull himself up on his good foot. Just then, Schultz arrived with the crutches.

"Be careful, Colonel Hogan," he admonished, hurrying over and handing Hogan the crutches.

"Thanks, Schultz." Hogan tried them tentatively, and then nodded. The wooden crutches were a fairly good fit, though not perfect.

"What did the doctor say?"

"He was going to recommend to Klink that I go into town for an X-ray. I don't think it's broken. It hurts like hell but I can step on it if I have to."

"The kommandant will approve you going into town," Schultz said, nodding. "You should prop it up on a pillow and put ice on it."

"I should, huh?"

"Ja. That is what I did when I sprained my ankle before the war. It swelled up and turned purple."

"Thanks, Schultz. I'll look forward to that. I need to see Klink."

"The kommandant is very busy. He won't want to see you now."

"Thirty days is too stiff a sentence. The guys gave themselves up, and I brought them back."

"Kommandant Klink is very angry that your men escaped while the Gestapo is watching the camp. It makes him look bad in front of the bully boys," Schultz said confidentially, lowering his voice.

"All right, I'll leave him be for now, but I still want to visit my men in the cooler. Let them see I'm in one piece."

"You shouldn't walk so far."

"I'm not walking on it, Mom," Hogan teased, smiling. "I'll put ice on it later."

"I will bring you some from the kitchen."

The two men made their slow journey across the compound, and as they approached the cooler, Hogan noticed Ellison walking toward Barracks 5, looking a bit furtive, coming from the general direction of the guest quarters. Making a mental note to pay the captain a visit on his way back, Hogan continued his awkward and tiring journey to the cooler.

Schultz exchanged a few words of explanation in German with the young private on guard duty, and then led Hogan back to the cells where his men were being held.

"Which one is LeBeau in?" Hogan asked, and Schultz took him to the second metal door and unlocked it. LeBeau was sitting on the bunk, looking as if he were vibrating with barely restrained nervousness. He was on his feet immediately when Hogan entered. "Schultz, give us a few minutes, huh?"

"Of course. I will be right outside." He closed the door behind him.

"With one ear to the door," LeBeau added, shaking his head. "How is your leg?"

"The doctor wants to X-ray it, but I don't think it's broken. I broke it when I was a kid, and it was worse than this. I couldn't step on it at all. Look, I'm going to do what I can to get you out of here sooner than thirty days."

"You always do," LeBeau said, smiling. "Sit down." He waited while Hogan awkwardly accepted the invitation, laying the crutches on the floor.

"About what happened in the tunnel–" Hogan whispered.

"It was magical," LeBeau retorted softly, cutting him off.

"It can't happen again, not above ground. You know that, right?"

"I don't understand."

"Come on, Louis. We thought we were dying. We said...and did...things that...that we'd have never done otherwise."

"You're saying you don't feel that way about me now that we're not trapped in a tunnel?"

"I'm saying that thinking you're going to die makes you feel and think and do things that...that don't make sense if you're going to live. You're a good friend and a good man in this operation, and that won't ever change. You mean a lot to me that way. But what we did in the was a mis–"

"Don't say that!" LeBeau shot back, loud enough for Schultz to hear if he truly was listening on the other side of the door.

"Keep your voice down, Louis."

"You make love to me in the dark and then reject me in the light, is that it?" he whispered bitterly, sitting on the edge of the bunk.

"The last few weeks have been difficult. I wasn't thinking clearly. I let my emotions get away from me."

"But were those emotions real, Mon Colonel?" Louis asked, his voice soft and strained, barely audible to Hogan, and certainly not loud enough to carry beyond the door.

"Yes," Hogan admitted softly, unable to go through with the rejection he'd started. He didn't want to hurt LeBeau or take advantage of him, or put either one of them in a no-win situation for the rest of the war, and the rest of their lives. But faced with the love in Louis' eyes, and the fear, and the hurt, too, he was unable to follow his better judgment.

Probably the same way Ellison can't follow orders when it comes to Sanders...

"You are afraid of what will happen to us."

"No. I know what will happen to us if anyone finds out. I'll be court-martialed, divested of my rank, probably thrown in military prison for the rest of my natural life, not to mention branded a pervert and a disgrace to my country. You'll be lucky if you aren't shot by the krauts before your own people ever deal with you. Hell, we'll probably both be shot if the krauts catch us. If our own people catch us, we'll probably only be beaten to death with crude implements available in a prison camp."

"You don't really believe that our friends would do that."

"First of all, not all of the three hundred or so men in this camp are our close friends, and second, our close friends aren't necessarily going to be our close friends if they find out about this. I'm not even touching the issue of our families."

"We can never tell anyone. But why do we have to? We'll be careful."

"God help me, Louis, if all I wanted was the physical part of this, I might risk it." Hogan glanced at the door, and satisfied it was still closed tightly, he reached over and laid a hand on LeBeau's cheek. "I love you too much to risk your life. I won't do that."

"I have a say in this. In everything else, you are my commanding officer. But in this, you are my lover. I want you to be that. And in that, you are my equal and I am yours. And I say that loving you, touching you, being with is worth any risk I must take to do it." LeBeau punctuated his words with a hand laid over Hogan's heart.

"You have it, you know." Hogan laid his hand over LeBeau's. At LeBeau's puzzled expression, he smiled, pressing a little. "My heart. I don't think it's been mine for a while now. I think you got hold of it pretty early on."

"You have had mine for years, mon amour. I just never dared say it, show it."

"You did show it, and I felt it. I didn't know what it was or what it meant, maybe I didn't want to know. But I knew who cared about me, who worried about me, who I wanted close to me when things went wrong..."

"This is worth our lives, Robert," Louis said, Hogan's name coming out somewhere between the American "Robert" and the French version, "Robaire." "This is our lives."

"I have to go. I'll get you out of here somehow, I promise. I'll try to get you all out."

"Whatever happens, I know you did your best. I will survive in here," LeBeau added, smiling.

"No longer than you have to." Hogan kissed LeBeau's forehead quickly and then was struggling to his feet, LeBeau handing him the crutches. "I'll see what I can do, LeBeau, but Klink's pretty angry," Hogan said, loud enough for Schultz to hear.

"We came back on our own. That should be worth something," LeBeau replied, playing along.

"All I can do is ask."

LeBeau grasped Hogan's jacket and pulled him forward, planting a fast, stolen kiss on his lips.

"I can do much more than that," he whispered.

Hogan finished his visits in the cooler, spending a few minutes each with Newkirk, Carter, Kinch, and Olsen. As he headed for the barracks on his crutches, he wasn't sure what kind of scheme he was going to cook up to get them out, be he had to think of something. Not only did he owe them for saving LeBeau's and his lives, but with his main team all incarcerated, the mission to rescue Sanders and his mother and get them out of Germany was going to be a lot more difficult. Plus, there was the issue of whether "Nadine Sanders" really wanted to be rescued. Sanders might take his mother's loyalty to him for granted, but Hogan was not quite so trusting.


"You asked to see me, Captain?" Schultz asked, sticking his head in the door of Jim's quarters.

"Someone should be looking after Colonel Hogan's injury. I have medic training," he added. "I'd like to see him."

"He is going to the doctor tomorrow for an X-ray, and I took him some ice after dinner."

"That was good of you, Sergeant. I'm sure he appreciated it. I still would like to see him. I'm his second in command, and if there are any assignments he has for me, like making up work details, things like that, I should see him about it tonight."

"Ja, that is true. I'll take you there now. It will have to be a short visit. Lights out at nine o'clock."

"Right. Thanks, Schultz."

When Jim arrived in Hogan's barracks, it was unnaturally quiet. A few men played cards at the table, a few others read or napped on their bunks. Hogan's door wasn't closed tightly, just to the frame.

"I will be back in fifteen minutes," Schultz said, pointing a pudgy finger at his watch.

"I'll be ready." Jim tapped on Hogan's door and pushed it open a bit. Hogan was sitting on the bottom bunk, his injured leg packed in ice bags and propped on pillows.

"I was planning on paying you a visit tomorrow," Hogan said, putting the book aside he'd been reading.

"Looks like you got someone to help take care of your leg. I thought I should check on you." Jim lowered his voice then. "I thought we should talk about how this operation to get Blair out of here is going to work with all your key men in the cooler."

"How is the good professor today, anyway?" Hogan asked, a knowing smirk on his face.

"He faked illness so I could help get you and LeBeau out of the tunnel. I wanted to be sure he was all right after the doctor was here."

"The doctor's a good man. I'm sure he didn't inflict any damage."

"No, Blair was fine. But how is tomorrow going to work with everyone in the cooler?"

"I don't know yet. If Klink gets a visiting dignitary, like the count, he'll want a decent meal. I can probably negotiate them out by having LeBeau cook a gourmet dinner for the guests. It's all in the timing. We have to wait for them to get here. We have no real solid proof they'll be here tomorrow at all."

"Blair thinks his mother will come right away."

"Yeah, well, she won't be going very far without the count, and he may not be as urgent to visit her little boy as she is." Hogan shifted on the bed with a wince, flexing the toes of his stockinged foot.

"You think there's a fracture? I couldn't feel anything."

"I broke it when I was a kid, and it hurt worse than this. I think it's probably bruised and maybe sprained." Hogan paused. "I thought I told you to cool it with Sanders."

"You did, sir."

"How did you rise to the rank of captain and end up with high-level security clearance with this inability of yours to follow orders?"

"You know how I feel about Blair. There's not much hiding that."

"Doesn't take a Sentinel to figure that out. Which is what worries me. If I can spot it a mile away, an observant kraut will, too."

"I had to be sure he was all right. And I had to see him one more time. If things don't go right with this operation, or if something happens to me after he leaves Germany...I might never see him again."

"Desperate situations lead to some ill-advised actions, no question about it," Hogan said, his mind wandering back to his own tryst with LeBeau in the tunnel. As much as he now admitted to himself that he loved LeBeau, giving in to it was potentially disastrous, ruinous, and deadly for both of them.

"Sounds like the voice of experience, sir," Jim said, and Hogan was silent a moment.

"Let's just say that I might be your commanding officer, but that doesn't mean that I can't understand how you feel, or why you keep doing what I tell you not to do. War stinks, and so does all the death and separation that goes with it."

"The real problems with my being in love with Blair have nothing to do with the war."

"No, you'll be in plenty of danger from both sides, and even after the war."

"Is that why you're worrying about your feelings for LeBeau?"

"Excuse me?" Hogan retorted, angry.

"I'm a Sentinel, Colonel. I never really understood what that meant until I met Blair, but I can sense things other people can't. When we pulled you both out of the tunnel, I could smell more than fresh dirt, if you get my drift."

"You're out of line, Captain."

"I'm not trying to be out of line or to threaten you or be insubordinate. I can't help what my senses pick up, and I know desire when I smell it. But we're both in the same boat, sir."

"Up a creek without a paddle would be more appropriate." Hogan tossed the book he'd had in his lap onto the bed with frustration.

"Did you ever think you'd fall in love with a man? I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with me. Why I feel the way I do about Blair. All my life, I've only heard people whisper about the kind of things we did–" Jim stopped, looking embarrassed.

"What? Did you think I believed you went over there to check on his health?"

"Everything we did is supposed to be dirty, sick, perverted. But it was so right. It was better than anything else...than anything I'm supposed to want."

"You shouldn't be telling me this. And if you think I'm telling you anything, you're nuts."

"Are you denying it yourself or just denying it to me?" Jim smiled. "I know that has to be a rhetorical question."

"I'm denying it because the answer could cost someone his life. You know that as well as I do."

"I never knew anyone else who was...who didn't..."

"Captain, you've never had the urge to wear your mother's house dresses, have you?" Hogan asked, and Jim stared back at him, a bit stunned.

", sir, I can't say I have," Jim replied, deadpan.

"Neither have I."

"I guess that's something to be grateful for, right, sir?" Jim prodded, the corner of his mouth twitching upward slightly. He was rewarded with the barest grin and sparkle in Hogan's devilish brown eyes.

"Among other things, yes." Hogan became more serious then. "I need you to send a message to London. Tell them what happened, and that we're still going to attempt to proceed with the plan as soon as Sanders' mother and the count arrive. Kinch showed you how to radio them, right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Contact them with the same information, and tell them to stand by. We'll be in touch when we know for sure."


"And Ellison?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Stay away from the guest quarters. In case you didn't recognize it, that's an order," Hogan added, the slight grin on his face taking the edge off his words.


Hogan hadn't bothered to advise him on how to radio London when Schultz was about to pick him up, and the tunnel was caved in between his barracks and the radio room. Jim polled the men in the outer room of the barracks and found a few who were willing to donate candy bars for bribing Schultz. He found one man who was adept with a few sleight of hand tricks, though he definitely was not of Newkirk's stature in that department. With instructions to them to keep the guard busy, Jim went below to the tunnel and sent the radio messages as ordered. Meanwhile, the men strung a clothesline in front of the bunk that concealed the entrance to the tunnel and hung a few blankets there so Jim could make his return trip without giving anything away to Schultz.

When Jim came back up top, he ducked between the blankets, ready to play along with any story they'd made up to assuage Schultz.

"Now I must take you back to your barracks, Captain. I told you fifteen minutes," he said, shaking a finger at Jim.

"You got your candy, Schultz. What more do you want?" Hogan spoke up, making his entrance on his crutches, flashing a conspiratorial look at Jim. He'd given Jim a tricky assignment spur of the moment with no guidance on how to make it happen, and Jim had managed and trusted Hogan not to give an order that couldn't be obeyed successfully. Despite the ache of being separated from Blair for the balance of the war, Jim could foresee enjoying his work with Hogan. "Look, you've got ten minutes until lights out. Plenty of time to get Ellison back to his barracks and enjoy a candy bar on the way back."

"There is some kind of monkey business going on here."

"You know what, Schultz? You're right," Hogan said, and Jim's eyes widened momentarily. "We're really plotting a secret operation–"

"Stop! I hear nothing, I see nothing!" And with that, Schultz gestured at Jim to exit, and followed him out the door.


Klink looked at the pile of paperwork on his desk and sighed heavily. It wasn't enough that Hochstetter and his goon squad were in and out of the camp on a daily basis, or that Hogan was out of camp getting X-rays taken and therefore at risk for escape. On this day, he had to receive a reprimand from Berlin for being late with his inventory and supply reports. Burkhalter would visit next if the forms didn't arrive in a timely manner, and Klink was willing to invest any amount of ink and personal time in preventing that.

A bookkeeper in civilian life, completing the mundane forms came easily to him, but was no less boring. Truthfully, he'd spent most of his professional life bored. The wars were diversions if they were nothing else. The opportunity to pretend that his life was more exciting and important than it truly was.

Stalag 13 was nothing like an orderly accounting firm or a strictly-run corporation. Hogan was always up to something, stirring the pot, scheming, and generally ensuring that Klink would remain the antacid manufacturers' star customer. Despite that, there were many times when Klink wondered how he would cope with the silence and redundancy of civilian life among other orderly bookkeepers and corporate types when Hogan was back in the States and the war was over.

There was a knock at the door, and Schultz burst in, all wide eyes and nerves. He saluted quickly before delivering his news.

"Herr Kommandant, Count Heydrich's car just came in through the gates!"

"Count Heydrich?" Klink frowned.

"He is a Gestapo general, Herr Kommandant. And he has a lady with him."

"Why was I not told he was coming? Berlin never tells me anything," Klink groused, donning his cap and tucking his riding crop beneath his arm, striding past Schultz out the door of his office and onto the front porch, just as the large, black staff car pulled up in front of the building.

A young Gestapo driver got out of the car and hurried around to the passenger side, opening the back door. A shapely leg appeared in the opening, ending in a shiny black high-heeled shoe. A moment later, a very fashionable redhead in a fur-trimmed gray suit stepped out of the car, accepting the young guard's hand to help her out, flashing him a sweet smile as she turned to wait for her traveling companion to disembark.

Tall and imposing, Count Konrad Heydrich rose to his full height as Klink and Schultz both snapped to attention and saluted. He returned the salute without a change in his rather dour expression.

"This is indeed an unexpected honor, your excellency," Klink effervesced.

"This is Nadine Sanders. I believe you have her son, Blair, lodged here at the present time?"

"Yes, sir. The young professor has been conducting his research here, at the direction of Major Hochstetter of the Gestapo. It is a pleasure to meet you, Frau Sanders."

"Fraulein," Nadine corrected, flashing the same bright smile at Klink the young guard had earned moments earlier.

"Hochstetter," Heydrich repeated. "One of Detweiler's errand boys," he said with obvious disdain. "We will be in need of your hospitality Colonel..."

"Klink, sir. I would be most honored to offer you our humble accommodations. Schultz, prepare the VIP guest quarters next to Professor Sanders' quarters. See to it that the Count and Fraulein Sanders have anything they request."

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant."

"Danke, Colonel. But what I would most like is to see my son," Nadine said.

"And I would very much like to meet Professor Sanders."

"Of course. Schultz, please escort the professor to my quarters. Right this way, please," Klink invited, ushering his VIP guests to the entrance leading to his quarters.


"Now I want you to block out all the other scents and concentrate on the scent of the rose," Blair instructed, watching as Jim obeyed, closing his eyes.

"Don't close your eyes, Jim."

"You said block everything else out."

"Right, but if you're on a mission, you can't close your eyes and stand there with this dumb look on your face with your mouth hanging open because you're smelling something."

"What dumb look?" Jim retorted, frowning.

"Forget it. The point is, you need to be able to focus your senses without shutting down the others, or...or zoning out on the subject you're concentrating on. Keeping your eyes open might not only save your life, but also keep enough other stimuli coming in that you don't lose yourself in this one."

"Okay." Jim tried for a moment. "I'm focusing on you."

"Try the rose, Jim," Blair said, grinning.

"I'd rather smell you."

"This is all about controlling your senses. Self-discipline and control. You might like the smell of something else in your environment, but if you're under orders to smell something specific, or detect something, you have to be able to put that aside."

Jim grimaced, then focused on the rose, which was across the room, and too far for a normal person to smell. Blair started drumming his fingers on the table.

"Is there some special reason you're doing that?" he asked, shooting a look at Blair.

"Because the world isn't going to fall into silence when you need to concentrate on something."

"It's pretty annoying, Chief."

"So is gunfire, but you might have to tune that out at some point, too."

"Okay." Jim was silent a few moments. "I smell it."

"What else are you smelling?"

"Nothing. You told me to focus on the rose."

"Good, that's what we wanted to happen. How about me drumming on the table? Did it get louder when you opened up your sense of smell to the rose?"


"So you were elevating that sense without affecting the others," Blair summarized, nodding and making another note. "You'll have to take these back with you after our session, give them to Hogan to keep with the others."

"I will."

"Okay. Let's try something different." Just as Blair stood to arrange a few more sample items on the table, Schultz entered the barracks that was doubling as Blair's research lab.

"Excuse me, Professor, but guests have arrived who wish to see you, and the kommandant asked me to escort you to his quarters."


"Your mother and a Gestapo general," Schultz confided in a low voice.

"Sounds pretty important," Jim said, flashing Blair a quick, knowing smile. "I guess I'll just head on out and join the others for the rest of the exercise period."

"I just need to gather up my materials," Blair said, stacking up his notebooks and supplies. Jim moved closer, ostensibly to help him, and when he was out of Schultz's view, tucked the notes inside his jacket.

"I could take these things back to your quarters if you like," Jim offered, and Schultz nodded approval.

"That would be very helpful. Thank you, Captain," Blair said, smiling and handing Jim the stack. Their hands brushed fleetingly, and both longed for a more meaningful touch.


"You seem to live quite comfortably here, Klink," Heydrich commented as a young private took their coats and disappeared into Klink's room to lay them on the bed.

"We make do, sir," Klink said, uneasy any time a visiting officer thought he had it good. "But I assure you, I run the camp budget with an iron hand, and a tight fist."

"That's quite admirable. Just see to it you don't acquire a lovely companion who is only too happy to relieve you of your surplus cash," he said, smiling indulgently at Nadine, who returned the happy expression.

"A man of your stature can't live in a glorified bunker and serve bread and water to your guests."

"I'm sure you will not allow that to happen, my dear," he replied, taking a seat on the sofa next to Nadine.

"May I offer you some refreshment? A glass of wine, a bit of schnapps to take the chill off?" Klink offered.

"Wine would be delightful. For both of us," Nadine added, raising an eyebrow at the count. "No more schnapps today."

"My superior officer," the count noted, smiling affectionately at Nadine.

Just then, Blair entered, escorted by Schultz.

"Blair, sweetie!" Nadine was out of her seat like a shot, embracing her son excitedly. "You look thin. Are you eating? Have you been ill?"

"I'm fine, Mom. Really. Just a little tired."

"You always did forget to sleep when you were working on an important project. Blair, this is my friend, Konrad. Konrad, this is my brilliant son," she enthused.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, sir," Blair said, extended his hand to shake hands with the count, who accepted the gesture with a smile.

"I've heard a lot about you, young man."

"I'm sorry about that," Blair said, and the count laughed.

"Ah, it's just a mother's pride," he conceded. "You must tell us about this fascinating research you're doing here, tucked away from the civilized world," the count said, sitting down. Nadine, Blair, and Klink followed suit. The count noticed the withered expression on Klink's face. "No offense intended, Colonel. You have created a very nice oasis here," he added, gesturing at their surroundings.

"Thank you, sir. We are not without our luxuries here, however modest they may be."

"My first night here, we had the most outstanding meal prepared by a French gourmet chef," Blair said. "LeBeau is going to be able to cook for my mother and the count while they're visiting, isn't he?"

"Of course, anything for our guests," Klink said, though he looked more than a little discomfited. LeBeau's services were in demand now, and he'd have to make a deal with the devil–namely Hogan–to get what he wanted.

"I've been continuing my research into Sentinels."

"I thought that wasn't working out?" Nadine said, an inquisitive look on her face.

"I haven't found a perfect subject yet with all five senses heightened."

"I remember hearing something about this in Berlin. I just wasn't aware that the scientist involved was Nadine's son. You've tested a good number of the top men in Germany for this...Sentinel, is it? Special sensory powers or something like that?"

"A Sentinel is someone who serves as a watchman for their community because they have heightened senses. They see, smell, and hear things before anyone else, and they are able to detect things by taste and touch that no one else could. In ancient times, they were watchmen who protected the tribes."

"Ah, yes. The Fuhrer was even tested for this, if I recall correctly," Heydrich said.

"Yes, but I explained to Herr Hitler that it would be unusual for him to have those abilities, because he is the leader. Generally, Sentinels were not chiefs. They were watchmen who protected everyone, including the chief. Like an extremely good security person."

"It's all very interesting, but it sounds a bit far-fetched."

"I've found subjects with one or more heightened senses, both before I began doing research for the Third Reich and during that time. I just haven't found one with all five, but I'm not convinced at this point that such a person doesn't exist. They're rare, so you could go a lifetime without finding one."

"Not a very profitable area of research, then, is it?"

"It is if you find one," Blair countered, and the count smiled.

"Yes, I imagine that's true."

"When you left the university, everyone was concerned. You didn't leave a forwarding address, and you didn't take your things from your apartment," Nadine said.

"That was how it had to be for security purposes. That's what I was told by the Gestapo when they a–...when they came to pick me up."

"Colonel Klink, perhaps you could take Fraulein Sanders on a tour of the camp. I would like to get to know the professor a bit better."

"But, dear, I haven't seen Blair in ages," Nadine said, touching his arm, frowning a bit.

"You'll have all the time you like, liebschen," he said, picking up and kissing the back of the hand that had rested on his arm. "But for now, this is man talk. And you've never seen a POW camp before. This will be your chance to see that we really don't chain them all up in dungeons," he added, smiling and patting her cheek.

"I can assure you, Fraulein, this camp is run in strict compliance with the Geneva Convention, and our prisoners are happy and healthy. I would be delighted to show you," Klink volunteered, springing to his feet. Nadine cast a strange look at her companion.

"You've heard all this boring stuff about my experiments before, Mom. You might like to see the camp. It's really pretty interesting."

"Well, all right. I would like to see the camp. But I want to hear more about your trip here and everything you've been doing since I saw you last," she added, caressing Blair's head lightly as she rose and passed him to join Klink, who was donning his hat and tucking his riding crop under his arm, wreathed in smiles and ready to escort the attractive redhead around the camp.

"Over dinner," Blair said, and she nodded, allowing Klink to escort her outside for their tour.

"So you were arrested by the Gestapo. Tell me, what did Detweiler and his henchmen do to you to get you to work for them?"

"What do you mean?"

"Blair, I realize sitting here in a Gestapo uniform, I'm the last person you're going to trust. That having been said, I don't support the bully tactics of my colleagues, and I am quite in love with your mother."

"I can see that. She seems pretty taken with you, too."

"Your mother, Naomi Sandburg," he stated.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You learned well from your time in Detweiler's basement, didn't you?" He shook his head regretfully. "I know that you're both Jewish, and I know that you're no Nazi supporter. I also know you wouldn't admit you'd been tortured into this in front of your mother."

"I knew if I didn't do it, they'd kill me. I figured I could do a lot of testing without giving them anything," Blair blurted, then began to fear how much he'd said. But Heydrich really did seem to be enamored with his mother, and genuine about wanting to help Blair.

"So you've been stringing Hitler along, giving him little nuggets but not the big prize, is that it?"

"There's been no big prize to give him. I haven't found anyone. The truth is, I could go my whole life without finding a Sentinel, or I could find one tomorrow." Blair was willing to risk himself at this point, but not Jim. He had no way to be sure of Heydrich. Not that sure.

"Your mother was convinced that your phone call was a plea for help. She wants me to get you out of Germany, and I'm prepared to do that."


"Hochstetter wouldn't dare question me if we all left camp together, the three of us–you, your mother, and myself. I have connections who can get us out of Germany. That's all I will tell you. What you don't know, you can't say, even under torture."

"How do I know you're not setting a trap for me?"

"Blair, why would I go through all this to set a trap for you? I could have had you shot and been done with it. If I were really on Hitler's side, I'd be turning you over to Hochstetter, along with a tape of our conversation. Or I'd just shoot you myself ."

"I guess that's true."

"Tomorrow, we'll leave the camp. You'll simply have to trust me."

"My mother...does she know about this plan of yours?"

"I agreed to come here and see you, and I told her that if you were in any real danger, I would do all I could to protect you. She is safer not knowing what I have planned until it happens."

"I need to think about this."

"Think about it? You want to stay here?"

"No. But maybe you should get my mother out of Germany and let me figure out my own salvation."

"You must be joking. I would have to drag your mother out of the country in leg irons to get her to leave you behind."

"If I agree to this, it'll be my mother's and my deaths if you're double-crossing us."

"If I were planning to double-cross you, you would already be doomed, so your answer to this would be academic."

"True," Blair said, nodding his head. "I'll cooperate with whatever you say tomorrow."

"Good boy." Heydrich rose and poured a glass of schnapps. When Blair refused it, he drank it himself in one quick gulp.


The staff car carrying Langenscheidt and Hogan rumbled through the front gates, much to the relief of the men who had witnessed the arrival of the count. With Hogan out of camp, and most of his key men in the cooler, they were ill-prepared to deal with any aspect of the planned rescue of the scientist and his mother.

"Kommandant Klink will want a full report from the doctor," Langenscheidt said as he opened the back door of the staff car for Hogan, who was still using his crutches.

"Shall we go see him together? Reassure him I didn't make a run for it in town?" Hogan quipped, gesturing with one of his crutches. "Looks like he's got big brass here."

"Count Heydrich of the Gestapo, and a lady," Schultz said, ambling over to join them. "Professor Sanders' mother." Schultz smiled devilishly. "Quite a tomato," he confided to the two men, who both chuckled.

"Watch it, Romeo. Messing with a Gestapo man's girlfriend isn't a healthy pastime," Hogan responded, still grinning.

"The kommandant took her on a tour of the camp," Schultz said. "How is your leg?"

"The doctor said there's a lot of deep bruising and a sprain, but it's not broken. He gave me some painkillers and suggested I put ice on it to keep the swelling down–I guess I should have just paid you his fee for the same advice. I only need these for a couple days."

"He said a week," Langenscheidt corrected.

"Give or take a couple days," Hogan added, smiling. "There's our beloved kommandant now," Hogan observed, spotting Klink wreathed in smiles, engaged in animated conversation with the pretty redhead on his arm.

"Ah, Fraulein Sanders, you were asking about our senior POW officer. Colonel Hogan, Fraulein Nadine Sanders. She is Professor Sanders' mother."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Colonel Hogan," she said, extending a well-manicured hand to him, which he shook.

"The pleasure is all mine. But I'm afraid I don't believe you're Professor Sanders' mother," Hogan said, drawing a look of shock from the group. "His sister, perhaps."

"Handsome and charming," Nadine commented, giving Hogan an appreciative look. "Maybe it's a good thing for the ladies in town that you have him under lock and key here, Kommandant."

"And you may rest assured that here is where he will stay. Did I tell you we've never had a single escape–"

"Yes, I think you mentioned that," she said, smiling politely and patting his arm. "Colonel Hogan, I understand you have an excellent French chef here. I adore Paris, especially the food! I hope we can convince you to share his services with us for dinner tonight–oh, and join us, of course! I haven't spoken to someone from the States in ages."

"Actually, our chef is in the cooler at the moment," Hogan said, giving Klink a meaningful look.

"The cooler? Is that like a meat locker?" Nadine asked, puzzled.

"Quite a bit, yes, only with bars and cots."

"Thank you, Hogan, that will do," Klink interrupted, smiling nervously. "I am sure Colonel Hogan will have no objections to Corporal LeBeau cooking for us tonight."

"Provided, of course, that Corporal LeBeau doesn't object."

"I will make a suitable gesture of appreciation, Hogan. I always do. Certainly you know that by now," he added, smiling again at Nadine, who was watching the exchange with wide-eyed curiosity.

"I would be honored to join you for dinner, Fraulein. I never refuse dinner invitations from beautiful women." He kissed her hand, and Nadine smiled radiantly, obviously delighted with the gesture.

"Dinner will be at seven o'clock," Klink said.

"May I ask, Colonel, are the crutches due to a battle injury?" Nadine asked.

"Not exactly. Just a clumsy fall. My leg's a little banged up, but the doctor said it wasn't broken."

"Well, that's good news" Klink said.

"Ah, Kommandant, if LeBeau is going to cook for tonight–"

"I will issue the order to release him immediately," Klink said, a bit sharply.

"And the others," Hogan added, smiling sweetly at Nadine.

"Occasionally, I am forced to take some disciplinary measures with the men," he said to Nadine. "Always very humane measures, of course."

"That's good to hear. I should get back to Konrad. Nice meeting you , Colonel."

"My pleasure," Hogan responded, watching the two of them walking arm and arm back to Klink's quarters.


Despite the fact his arms were getting tired from the use of the crutches, Hogan eschewed going back to the barracks to rest to head for the cooler and await his men's release. The guard on duty had received telephoned orders from Klink to release the prisoners, and informed Corporal LeBeau that his services, as well as the services of two of the other men as waiters, were required for that evening.

"How'd you manage getting all of us out, Colonel?" Carter asked, visibly surprised to be among the free. Hogan could sometimes negotiate one or two releases with Klink, but four was an accomplishment, even for him.

"Klink wants to impress Heydrich and Sanders' mother," he said, his movement on the crutches becoming a little slower and more labored now that he was getting tired. His men walked along at his speed. "LeBeau's doing the cooking, but we need at least one waiter. Plus, Fraulein Sanders is obviously concerned to know that there's no mistreatment going on. Having me lament over dinner about my men in the cooler wouldn't fit too well."

"I better get over to the camp kitchen and get my supplies. I hope Schultz picked up the items I told him to get in town last week," LeBeau said, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Otherwise, they'll be having leftover potato pancakes and sauerbraten from the mess hall for dinner."

"That'll teach 'em," Newkirk spoke up. "Are we still on schedule to get the professor and his mother out?"

"Absolutely. They need to take a ride tomorrow afternoon. Carter, you and Kinch will have to slip out tonight and set the timer for that bridge. Newkirk, you're our waiter for this evening."

"Bloody marvelous," Newkirk groused. Carter just smiled.

"There's some benefit to being the explosives expert, you know."

"You don't have to be an expert to set a bleedin' timer," Newkirk retorted.

"For this one, you do. We can't screw this up. Lives are depending on it. Including our own," Hogan added.


LeBeau's cooking was a hit with the guests, as they dined on brochette dijon flambee, a marinated chicken dish, and other delicacies.

"How long have you been at Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan?" Nadine asked, her obvious interest in Hogan rankling her influential lover just a bit as he arched an eyebrow in her direction. The expression went unnoticed.

"About three years," Hogan responded. LeBeau entered then, bringing a fresh bottle of wine. He began the cycle of refills with Nadine, but his eyes were mostly on Hogan. The look wasn't lost on Hogan, who couldn't help but look up to have eye contact with LeBeau, their gaze locking for a moment before the conversation necessitated breaking it.

"And you still haven't figured a way out of Klink's little hotel?" Heydrich retorted.

"Security is very tight here. The Kommandant is on top of everything," Hogan responded, and Klink visibly straightened in his chair, puffed by the praise.

"We have never had a single escape–"

"Yes, I recall you saying something about that earlier," Heydrich dismissed.

"Where are you from? My family was originally from California, but the last place Blair and I lived in the States was Seattle."

"I was born and raised in Connecticut."

"Oh, that part of the country is absolutely gorgeous in the Fall," Nadine replied. "Do you have a lot of family waiting for you back home?"

"Not a lot. Parents, my grandmother, the usual assorted relatives," Hogan added, smiling, though his thoughts immediately went to his brother.

"Any brothers or sisters? I have an older brother, but we really aren't in touch all that much."

"I had an older brother. He passed away recently," Hogan replied. As LeBeau filled his wine glass, Hogan felt a hand rest on the back of his shoulder and linger there as long as possible until LeBeau had to move away, and then return to the kitchen.

"I'm so sorry. Was he in combat?" Nadine asked.

"No, it was a motorcycle accident back home," Hogan said, taking a sip of his wine to push down the lump rising in his throat.

"I understand you are quite the traveler, Fraulein Sanders," Klink said, blatantly changing the subject with a sideways glance at Hogan. The small act of kindness didn't escape Hogan, who not only appreciated it immensely, but was quite surprised by it. Klink never seemed to mind watching Hogan squirm a bit in a tight conversational corner, but apparently, grief was something the kommandant placed in a different category.

"I traveled extensively within the United States before I came to Germany. Since I met Konrad, we've taken some wonderful European trips..."

The congenial conversation continued, and Hogan was just as happy to let the effervescent woman take the spotlight. His leg ached, his back and shoulders were fatigued from using the crutches, and the reference to his brother's death hadn't improved his mood. More so than any of that, though, he was only there to watch for his opportunity to talk to the somewhat flighty Nadine/Naomi to be sure she was on board and prepared for their rescue effort the next day.

When Sanders made a point of asking Hogan if he would like another dinner roll, holding the basket out to him with a somewhat pleading expression on his face, Hogan accepted the basket with thanks, and found a small wad of paper in the basket with the last roll. Taking both the roll and the note, he set the empty basket aside.

"Shall we adjourn to the living room for coffee?" Klink suggested.

"Of course," Nadine agreed, taking a brief break from her account of her recent trip to Paris with Heydrich.

Hogan pushed back from the table a bit wearily, reaching down next to his chair for his crutches. As he used them for extra support to stand, he was surprised to feel a strong upward pull on his arm that made completing the gesture considerably easier. Before he could even acknowledge the help, Klink had moved away, back to playing host to his influential guests.

Guess we've weathered a lot of storms together in the last few years, even if we're on opposite sides. His relationship with Klink was a bizarre partnership that wasn't really friendship–it couldn't be, not from opposite sides of a world war–but it wasn't really based on animosity, either. At least, not real, full-blown, wish-for-each-other's-demise animosity. They bickered, negotiated, argued...and yet they drank schnapps together, played chess together when things were really dull, and were the only two men of equivalent rank in the camp.

Keeping Klink from a Russian transfer was in Hogan's best interest to keep his operation running, and it was obviously in Klink's best interest to stay alive. Keeping Stalag 13 open, running, and in good standing in Berlin was also vital to both men, though for vastly different reasons. They often found themselves working toward a common purpose, strange as it seemed at times. In return, Klink was humane–he wasn't indulgent or overly generous, but no one at Stalag 13 was starving or staggering around without medical or dental care, either. His idea of torture was cancelling a ping-pong tournament, and the cooler was the worst punishment he doled out. All in all, Klink did repay his prisoners for staying put, though he had little idea of what was truly keeping them there.

Hogan took advantage of the momentary distraction of the guests to read the tiny note.

"Heydrich knows our names and that we're Jewish. He's in love with my mother and wants to help us escape tomorrow, when we all leave camp together. I agreed to go along with it. I didn't mention anything else to him but to confirm what he already knows. What do we do?


Hogan stuffed the note in his pocket, somewhat at a loss for how to answer that last question. He had to think, and he hoped the little dinner party at Klink's would break up early.


LeBeau and Newkirk finished cleaning up Klink's kitchen as the dinner party was winding down in the living room. Schultz, who was allegedly there to "guard" them, had gorged on leftovers at the small kitchen table, chasing them with gulps of wine, until he ambled out to check on the other guards he supervised.

"The scientist's mother isn't a bad-lookin' bird, is she?" Newkirk commented as he set another clean dish in the rack for LeBeau to dry.

"She must have been very young when he was born. And what do you make of her going by 'fraulein'? With a grown son, that must be raising some eyebrows. Can't believe old Heydrich would want any hint of scandal."

"I'm not sure what he wants counts for much. I think what the lady wants, she gets."

"I wonder how she'll feel about sending him over a wired bridge tomorrow."

"Probably the same way Marya used to feel–if one of her...companions got knocked off, she wasn't too worried about it," Newkirk added with a chuckle.

"You think she's just with him to stay safe during the war? They looked like they were in love to me."

"That could be a bit of a sticky wicket tomorrow, then."

"I'm sure Colonel Hogan will think of something," LeBeau said, finding it hard to speak of the man he wanted to make love to in such formal terms. Images of Hogan at dinner in his dress uniform, badges of rank and medals in place, didn't do much to stifle the interest his body was taking in thoughts of lovemaking. Grateful for his apron and the fact he was standing in front of a counter, he tried to drag his thoughts back to more mundane concerns, but his body was having none of it.

"Louis?" Newkirk's voice startled him. "You haven't heard a word I said."

"Sorry. I guess I'm just tired."

"At least we're not in the cooler anymore."

"Between being in the cooler and cooking for Gestapo animals, I think I'd pick the cooler."

"Klink probably knows that. Probably the only reason he lets you out all the time to make his fancy dinners."

"If it makes the operation work, then it's worth it. I better go make sure they don't want anything else before Schultz gets back to take us to the barracks."


"What?" LeBeau paused inside the kitchen door, his hand on the smooth surface.

"Is anything wrong?"

"Besides the fact we're about to embark on another life and death operation?" The question made Newkirk laugh.


When all the men were back in the barracks, Hogan gathered them around the table. He sat at the head of it, a grim look on his face.

"The last time you had that look on your face, London was thinking about shutting down our whole operation," Kinch said, and Hogan smiled slightly.

"Well, it's not quite that bad, but it's a problem. Heydrich knows the truth about Sanders and his mother, and Sanders thinks he might be on their side. He wants to get them out of Germany–all of them leave together–when they go out together tomorrow."

"But we have the charges all set. He can't do that to us!" Carter protested.

"He can and he has. Sanders' mother is in love with the guy, and by all outward appearances, the feeling is mutual. Apparently, he wants to take them both to safety with the help of some 'contacts' of his."

"This is awfully similar to our own operation, Colonel," LeBeau said. "Is there any danger something was leaked, or he found out what we were planning?"

"Anything's possible, but I don't think so. If Heydrich wanted to act against Sanders and his mother, he could have had them both shot or packed off to a camp. He knows they're Jewish. He wouldn't have to go through this elaborate plan to trap them."

"You believe him then?" Newkirk prodded.

"So far, Sanders agreed to go along with him on the escape, but he claims he's said nothing about our operation, and I'm assuming he's said nothing about Ellison being the real McCoy, either."

"Do we call the whole thing off, then? Let Heydrich take care of it?" Kinch asked.

"That's an attractive option at this point. I'm not interested in risking this operation to expose it to a Gestapo general I don't know any more about than I know about Heydrich. My biggest concern is Ellison. We've got to contain him to be sure he doesn't interfere if that's the route we decide to go."

"Why would he do that?" Carter asked.

"He's gotten to be friends with Sanders. He might worry about leaving the whole operation up to a kraut. Truthfully, I'd feel better if I could talk to Sanders' mother myself. Maybe she wants to get away from Heydrich, but doesn't know how."

"Maybe we could get over there tonight, get past the guards," Kinch said.

"Is she staying with the count, or are they keeping everything nice and proper?" Newkirk asked.

"I imagine they're keeping up appearances," Hogan said, running a hand over his face tiredly. "I can't go anywhere with a bum leg, and it's too risky tonight anyway. LeBeau, Klink asked you to fix breakfast in the morning, right?"

"Oui, he did."

"See if you can get a minute alone with Sanders' mother, or Sanders. Hopefully he'll have a chance to talk to her alone, and find out what she really feels about this Heydrich guy."

"Maybe his contacts are setting a trap for him," Newkirk suggested.

"Possible." Hogan was silent a moment, a pensive look on his face. "As far as London knows, Heydrich is just another big shot kraut. He obviously hasn't engaged in any blatantly treasonous activity before now. It's all chancy. I don't like it. We had a plan...but I don't like putting the operation on the line in case it's a trap. Even if Heydrich is on the up and up, we could all end up in a Gestapo jail together if something goes wrong."

"If we're not running the game, you'd rather not play?" Carter asked.

"That's about the size of it. Maybe I'm just getting cautious in my old age."

"We've worked with other operations before," Kinch said.

"And we've had a couple of close calls, too. If Sanders is going along with Heydrich, Heydrich is going to have to handle his escape. Carter, you and Newkirk go stop the timer on that bridge."

"Are you sure about this, Colonel?" LeBeau asked.

"No, that's why I'm putting everything on hold. They're planning to be here for a couple of days–at least, that's what they said at dinner. We'll try to make contact with Sanders or his mother tomorrow morning. Worst case scenario, we'll hide the two of them in the tunnel until the heat dies down."

"That'd be an awful lot of heat, sir," Carter said.

"I don't see another way to go with this that isn't way too risky. Let me know when you get back in," he said to Carter and Newkirk. "I'm going to put my leg up for a while. I'll be in my quarters." LeBeau was at his side immediately, holding the crutches for him while he stood and then positioned them under his arms.

"Would you like some help, Colonel?" he offered, and Hogan smiled gratefully, not only for the help but for the chance to spend a few minutes alone with LeBeau.

"Yeah, I could use a hand, thanks." He made the trip to his office, determined to cast the crutches aside as soon as possible and start relying on his injured leg again. The crutches were by far more tiring than walking.

"You look tired," LeBeau said as he closed the door of Hogan's office behind them.

"Reminds me I need to spend some time in the gym. My upper body strength must be slipping."

"Using crutches is like walking on your arms. Human beings aren't used to that," LeBeau said matter-of-factly, taking the crutches from Hogan as he sat on the lower bunk. Then he crouched at Hogan's feet to remove his shoes.

"Do you think I'm doing the right thing about Sanders and his mother?" Hogan asked, and LeBeau looked up at him, a bit surprised. "I'm not your commanding officer right now, Louis. I want to know what you think."

"I think that no matter what we do, it is risky. An alliance with Heydrich would be very risky," he said, setting the shoes aside and sitting on the bunk next to Hogan. "Sanders is more at risk by entrusting the escape to him, but you were right about one thing–if he wanted to shoot Sanders or his mother, he could have done it without much fuss. He doesn't have to trap them. He knows who they are. He could have just had Hochstetter arrest Sanders. He could have arrested the mother himself. He wouldn't even have to come here."

"Maybe we should go along with him, help him out. I just don't like trusting his contacts, even if I trusted him. There's no telling he won't be sold out somewhere along the line."

"I think you're doing the best thing to protect our operation."

"So do I, but I guess I wanted to hear it from someone who wasn't talking to me as an enlisted man to an officer."

"You mean you wanted the truth?" LeBeau teased, and Hogan chuckled.

"Something like that."

"Why don't you put on your pajamas and robe and then we'll prop your leg up?"

"Good idea."

Hogan did most of his changing sitting on the bunk, and gladly accepted LeBeau's help with changing into his pajama pants while favoring his bad leg. Still standing, most of his weight on his good leg, his arm around LeBeau for support, he managed to turn so they were facing each other. After a momentary shared gaze, he leaned down for a kiss, their lips touching lightly, then pressing, then lingering and opening to each other.

"I missed this after we got out of the tunnel," LeBeau admitted, his arms around Hogan, head pressed against Hogan's chest. The hold was enough to keep Hogan's balance without the crutches, and Hogan returned the embrace, resting his cheek against LeBeau's hair. "Just being close to you."

"Feels good," Hogan said, sighing and soaking up the warmth of being held close by someone who loved him the way Louis did. It almost took him by surprise when he felt his body reacting to the closeness, too. He still wasn't accustomed to that reaction from the closeness of a male body, but it was happening, and there was no denying it.

"Oui, mon amour. It feels very good," Louis teased, undulating a little against Hogan.

"You're all French, aren't you?" Hogan retorted, pulling back to look at Louis with a devilish smile on his face.

"Yes, except for that Gypsy blood I have," he joked, referring to the role he'd played in one of Hogan's many schemes.

"And we all know how hot-blooded Gypsies are," Hogan said, moving in for another kiss.

"When can we make love?" Louis asked, a little breathless, as the kiss ended.

"Newkirk and Carter will be back from disarming the bridge pretty soon. I can't get down in the tunnel with this damn leg the way it is." Hogan framed Louis' face in his hands. "I want to be with you, too. We just have to be careful." He was quiet a moment, just looking into Louis' eyes. "You have beautiful eyes. I never noticed that before."

"It's not the kind of thing you usually notice about one of the men in your command."

"I suppose not," Hogan agreed, smiling.

"I would do anything to see you smile, mon amour. To see you look at me the way you're looking at me now."

"Get used to it. That's an order."

"An order, huh?" Louis' hands roamed under Hogan's pajama shirt, fingers dancing just enough to tickle.

"Louis, dammit, stop it," he managed, laughing.

"Are you ticklish, mon Robaire?" he asked, still tickling.

"What do you think?" Hogan replied, laughing harder. "I'm gonna lose my balance and then we're both gonna be in trouble."

"When we are safe, I'll show you why the French wrote the book on love."

"Mm," Hogan smiled, stealing another kiss. "And I'll show you that the Americans are avid readers."

"I never knew international relations could be so much fun."

"Makes you long for a career in the diplomatic corps, doesn't it?"

"Your leg must be getting tired," Louis said, detecting the slightest lines of strain in Hogan's expression.

"I should probably get off it."

Once Hogan was comfortably propped up with pillows behind his back and a couple under his leg, LeBeau sat on the edge of the bunk, and moving close, began to massage the tired muscles in Hogan's shoulder, working his way slowly down his arm.

"Oh, that feels good. Almost as good as sex right now," he added, smiling and closing his eyes.

"Rest, amour. I'll wake you if anything happens you need to know about."

"Newkirk and Carter are still out there," Hogan said, not opening his eyes.

"You're worse than my mother used to be when we were out on dates," he teased, working on the other shoulder, leaning in close to Hogan to reach it. He found himself captured in two strong arms.

"I love you," Hogan whispered against Louis' ear. "I need to know that you know that."

"I do know it, Robert. Je t'adore," Louis added, then translated, "I love you."

"After John died, I guess it made me realize how important it is that the people you love know that you love them."

"He knew. You have blamed yourself so much for letting him use your motorcycle. But even were generous to him, and you loved him. And he loved you. Brothers love each other but they don't always say it to each other. That doesn't mean it doesn't count."

"I hope he knew. Since he died, I keep thinking back of all the good times we had as kids. I don't think I ever thanked him for being a great big brother," Hogan added, his voice strained.

"You were a good little brother, weren't you?"

"I don't know. Sometimes it feels like I was an incredibly selfish little brother. I don't remember ever thanking him for much of anything."

"Did he thank you, and tell you all the time that he loved you?"

"Well, no, but–"

"But nothing. You loved each other, and you both knew it, and there just wasn't a lot of reason to talk about it."

"Maybe you're right."

"Of course I am right," Louis pulled back with mock indignance.

"Sorry. I found myself questioning it for a moment," Hogan quipped.

"Once you learn that I know everything, it will make our relationship much easier," Louis said calmly, the hint of a smile on his face as he resumed massaging the shoulder and arm he'd been reaching for when Hogan embraced him.

"You should have been an officer," Hogan responded, smiling. "I served under more than one with the same delusion."

"You were never like that."

"Not every officer is. Just the dangerous ones. If you think you're infallible, you've left one potential weakness completely open to the enemy. They know you can screw up. You just don't admit it to yourself until you're face to face with them."


"Did Konrad talk to you?" Naomi asked in a hushed tone, sitting on the bed in her son's room. Blair was pacing, not having passed a peaceful moment since talking to his mother's lover.

"Yes, he talked to me. Mom, this is really, really important. Can you trust this guy?" Blair asked, pausing his pacing to have eye contact with his mother.

"He loves me, sweetie. I love him. He's asked me to marry him as soon as we leave Germany."

"And you want to marry him?"

"I know I've never had too much good to say about marriage, but...yes, I really want to marry him. He's a good man, Blair. He's not like the others."

"I've heard that story before." Blair started pacing again.

"Well, that was a little harsh," Naomi said. She held up a forestalling hand as Blair opened his mouth. "Don't apologize, Blair. I didn't say it was wrong, just harsh."

"I don't mean to hurt you, Mom, but making a mistake with Konrad will cost us our lives."

"He already knows our real names, knows we're Jewish, and that you want to get out of the country."

"You told him all that?"

"Just the last part. He came to me when he figured out the first part. I don't know how he got the information, but he's known for a few months now. No one's come for me, and he certainly hasn't turned me in. Or you, obviously. Why would he play this game? I trust him."

"I have another way out of Germany, for both of us, but it would would only be us, not Konrad."

"Why would we do that? Why would I betray him when he's trying to help us? When I love him?"

"Mom, listen to me, if you're afraid of him, if he has something over your head, if he's threatened me to make you comply, you have to tell me now, and I can get us away from him. I promise."

"Blair, I love him. We're going to be married as soon as we get to Switzerland. You'll love Switzerland, sweetie. It's a beautiful country, and it's neutral. We'll be safe there."

"Okay." Blair sat on the bed next to his mother. "We'll do it Konrad's way."

"There's something else you're not telling me," Naomi said, tucking a few curls behind Blair's ear.

"I'm just nervous, you know? This is life and death, not just an...adventure of some sort."

"Am I going to have the chance to meet your subject?"

"My subject?"

"The American pilot you've been testing. Konrad knew all about it."

"I don't know if you'll have a chance to meet him or not before we leave tomorrow."

"Maybe it's bothering you more than you might not have a chance to see him before we leave?"

"He's a good man. We've become friends. I feel strange escaping and leaving him behind, but I don't have a choice."

"Maybe we could take him along."

"Now that would make the krauts suspicious."

"Krauts? Blair, for heaven's sake, where did you learn to talk like that about the German people?"

"This has got nothing to do with the German people, Mom. It has to do with thugs and killers."

"You don't want to leave your new friend behind, do you?"

"Of course not, Mom. I don't want to leave Colonel Hogan behind, or LeBeau, or any of the other 300 or so guys who are locked up here. I want to get them all out."

"You aren't a soldier, Blair. You aren't fighting the war. You don't have an obligation to stay here and give up your life. It wouldn't make anything better for these men if you were executed."

"I know that. I just feel guilty to take off for a life of comfort and privilege in Switzerland while these men have to stay here. While Jim has to stay here, and I have no way of knowing they won't suspect that he's something special, that they should study him more. And the way they'd study him would be...horrible."

"If he's really your friend, he'll want you safe."

"He does."

"He knows you're trying to escape?"

"Yes, he knows. He urged me to go."

"Well, there you are, then." Naomi gestured with her hand, smiling brightly. "This war can't last forever, sweetie. You'll get to see Jim again. When all this is over, you can go wherever you want, study what you want...this is only temporary."

"How about for you, Mom. Is Konrad just temporary?"

"No, I think Konrad may be a little more permanent. You have to get to know him, Blair. He's a wonderful man."

"If he makes you this happy, he's got to be pretty special," Blair replied, smiling.


There was a soft knock on Hogan's door as LeBeau finished the massage and was about to leave. He opened the door to let in Newkirk and Carter, back safely from their mission, and Ellison, whose strong features bore a hard expression, his jaw set.

"We disarmed the timer on the bridge," Carter said. "Captain Ellison was down below, insisting on seeing you, sir."

"How did you get into tunnel?" Hogan asked, frowning. "The tunnel to Barracks 5 isn't cleared yet."

"I went in through Barracks 6. No one saw me outside. I had to talk to you about tomorrow."

"Yeah, it's just as well you're here. There's been a change in plans."

"We tried to explain, Colonel," Newkirk said, looking exasperated.

"You're handing Blair and his mother over to the Gestapo?" Jim demanded.

"Whoa, wait a minute. We're not handing them over to anyone," Hogan protested, shifting his leg on the pillows as he straightened his posture against the pillows behind his back. "Heydrich offered to get them out of Germany. He already knows who they are–he's known for a long time. He wants to marry Sanders' mother, and he's willing to get them out of the country. LeBeau's going to talk to either the mother or Sanders tomorrow morning at breakfast to confirm that they're confident about trusting Heydrich."

"I need to talk to Blair. This is insanity–trusting a Gestapo general."

"We've had generals defect before, Ellison, and for less compelling reasons than marrying a beautiful woman. I'm not willing to risk this whole operation to try to take charge of the escape. Sanders' mother won't go along with killing Heydrich–at least, I seriously doubt she will–and Sanders won't go without his mother. So if they can ride off into the sunset together, and we don't have to get in the middle of it, we're better off."

"What if his contacts are setting him up?"

"I suppose you think our plan was risk free?" Hogan asked. "This is a game of chance, Ellison. There's no certainty. Every time we go out on a mission that involves other contacts, we risk being sold out. This is no riskier than what we had planned. Maybe not as risky. Heydrich's aristocracy. He's rich. He can throw money around to get what he needs. He can probably buy and sell our whole operation multiple times."

"Would you send one of your men in the situation you're putting Blair in tomorrow?"

"I've sent my men into worse situations, I'm not happy to say."

"Risk goes with the territory, mate," Newkirk spoke up. "If Colonel Hogan thinks it's the way to go, I think you ought to take his word for it."

"Do you know anything about Heydrich's plan?" Jim asked.

"Not much. I know they're all going out together tomorrow, and that's when they're supposedly making their escape."

"The goons'll watch them like hawks," LeBeau said, sighing. "It's risky."

"The goons'll watch them anyway. It doesn't matter who they rendezvous with. It's risky either way. Heydrich's reputation is the only thing that will keep Hochstetter and his men at bay. Assuming Heydrich is in favor with old bubblehead, he may be able to come and go without Hochstetter worrying too much about it."

"Or send Hochstetter off on another assignment while they make a break for it," Carter suggested.

"Possibly," Hogan replied, nodding. "If LeBeau finds out something troubling from Sanders or his mother at breakfast, we'll stash them both in the tunnel and figure out how to proceed from there. If she wants to stay with Heydrich, and Blair wants to stay with her, then we have to let them all go together and hope for the best."

"Damn." Ellison ran his hand back through his hair. "I don't like this."

"I'm not crazy about it either, but one thing I learned early on in this operation was flexibility."

"I could go over tonight, talk to Blair. He'll tell me what's going on, and his mother will have told him if she wants to get away from Heydrich."

"The guards get a lot more trigger happy the later it gets, and the space between Barracks 5 and 6 is way too well lit and directly in the path of the searchlight. You need to get back to your barracks before you get your fool head blown off wandering around the compound at night." Hogan looked at Ellison's uneasy expression, and then glanced at the other three men in the room. "Give us a minute, huh?"

"Call if you need anything, Colonel," LeBeau said, leading the others out of the room. They closed the door behind them.

"Ellison, I know what you're thinking. Get one more time to see Sanders before he goes. Getting yourself shot isn't going to help matters. Plus, it'll just make the guards jumpier, and that's the last thing we want when there's an escape going on, even if it's out of camp."

"I felt better about this when it was this operation handling it."

"So did I, and I give you my word that I won't hand them over to anyone if there's the slightest hint they don't want to go with him. That's the best I can do."

"I know. Thank you, sir."

"If it's any consolation, I know how you feel, and I'd feel the same way. But the decision to let them go with Heydrich has to stand for now."

"Right, Colonel. I'll head back now."

"Be careful." Hogan paused, then added, "I'll see if I can come up with some excuse for you to meet Sanders' mother or something tomorrow. Give you a chance to see him."

"Thank you," Jim said, smiling slightly.

"Don't thank me until I pull it off," Hogan responded, returning the smile.


LeBeau put the finishing touches on the elaborate breakfast Klink had requested for his guests. These assignments of creating delicacies for the krauts were usually made less annoying by Hogan's presence at the majority of the functions, but this morning, Hogan wasn't invited and his only diners were Sanders, his mother, Heydrich, and Klink. He consoled himself that at least two of the guests were on their side, possibly three.

"Excuse me."

Sanders' voice from the kitchen door startled him.

"Without a waiter, I thought you might need help serving," he said. LeBeau stared at him a moment, stunned. Klink's guests ranged from indifferent to rude to intentionally annoying when it came to having a Frenchman and not another German serving their meals. He'd never had one offer to help out before.

"Merci, Professor. If you would like to take the fresh fruit bowl and the whipped cream, I will serve the rest."

"Genuine Belgian waffles. They look great," Blair moved closer, ostensibly to examine the plates LeBeau was preparing.

"This is your last chance to get away from Heydrich," LeBeau muttered as he decorated the plate in front of him with a carved strawberry.

"My mother's in love with him. They're getting married as soon as we get to Switzerland."

"Then you want to go with him?"

"My mother won't leave him behind, that much I know, and she isn't going to play along with anything that puts him in danger or kills him. I really believe he's on our side."

"I will tell Colonel Hogan. He wanted me to let you know there was another option, a way out, if Heydrich was threatening you or your mother."

"Tell Hogan thank you for everything, and for trying to help us, okay?"

"I will."

"Do you know where Jim is this morning?"

"Are you spending any time in your lab with him before you leave?"

"No. I'm supposed to show Heydrich and my mother the lab, spend the morning with them. Then we're going into town for lunch. At least, that's the story."

"Colonel Hogan will try to figure a way for you to see Captain Ellison one more time, but he isn't sure he can make it work."

"I see," Blair responded, his heart sinking.

"The colonel is very inventive. I'm sure he will think of something. Now you better take the fruit and cream out there unless you want Klink in here looking for you."


Hogan hoped the uncharacteristically sunny weather was a good omen as he made his way out of the barracks for the second time since morning roll call. He was experimenting with one crutch to help support his injured leg, and while it was painful, it was doable. Hogan wasn't famous for his patience with his own infirmity on the rare occasions he wasn't operating at top strength, and this was no exception.

It was still cold, and a few snow flurries swirled in the morning air. LeBeau was heading toward him, having finished serving breakfast to the guests. Hogan couldn't help the smile that spread quickly across his face at the sight of the man he loved, and the expression was returned full force.

"You are doing all right with just one crutch?" LeBeau asked as he approached, his smile giving way a bit to concern.

"I'll manage. Besides, it's better for morale if I don't look like I'm laid up too badly. What'd you find out?"

"They want to go with Heydrich. Sanders' mother is in love with him and they're getting married when they get to Switzerland."

"If they get to Switzerland. I don't mind telling you, Louis, I have a bad feeling about this."

"You think Heydrich will sell them out?"

"Not necessarily. I'd just feel better if we were doing it our way, with our people."

"But you pulled back when Heydrich entered the picture."

"Yes, I did. I still think that was the right decision for us. I'm just not so sure about Sanders and his mother. And if Sanders is tortured and he does talk, they'll be back for Ellison."

"Don't you think they might come after him anyway, since he was Sanders' last subject?"

"Possibly, but they'll know Sanders as a fraud and a traitor to the fatherland. I doubt they'll want to prove his research valid. Anyone who could fool Hitler has to be discredited. Ellison could be a dangerous weapon on their side, and if Sanders gives in and talks, it could be a disaster."

"Are you having second thoughts about not doing the escape ourselves?"

"And third and fourth thoughts," Hogan said somberly. "Once Heydrich entered the picture as part of the escape, it got too messy. A faked death on a mined bridge is one thing, but a kidnapping of someone of Heydrich's stature? No, thanks."

"We've done it before."

"Not in the same operation with a research scientist. There's a limit to how many high profile people you can grab before the goons tear the whole countryside apart, start arresting and interrogating the locals, and give this camp a going-over we wouldn't survive."

"Sanders said that he's going to show his mother and Heydrich the lab, and spend the morning with them, and then they're going into town for lunch."

"Okay. I'll have Ellison supervise a work detail in that area. Sanders is a bright boy. He can figure out a way to see him."

"When are we going to figure out a way to see each other?" LeBeau asked. When Hogan looked down, they shared a gaze that was nothing short of smouldering. Hogan felt himself blushing, because it seemed as if every romantic, excited, lustful, uneasy, nervous, or just plain carnal thought he was having was written all over his face.

"Soon. When this is over."

"I hope you mean this escape and not the whole war."

"I'd never make it that long," Hogan admitted, laughing, and LeBeau shared the laugh.

"I am French. I won't last as long as you will."

"Yeah, well, Americans aren't known for being a patient people, either." Hogan paused. "Hey, we've got company."

Hochstetter's staff car sped through the gates and came to an abrupt halt in front of Klink's office.

"He's in a hurry," LeBeau observed as the hyper Gestapo officer sprang from his car, and accompanied by two guards, strode up the steps to the door.

"I don't like this. Coffee pot," Hogan said, limping through the door LeBeau opened for him, then leading the way to his quarters as LeBeau gathered the others. With the small appliance on Hogan's desk, the men huddled around it, listening.


"You can't be serious, Major. He's a General in the Gestapo and a count–"

"I know who he is. We have evidence he is a traitor to the Third Reich and the Fuhrer. His consort is suspected of traveling under a false passport. If that is true, the good professor is most likely not who he says he is, either. The best place to sort all this out is at Gestapo Headquarters."


"Should we try to get Sanders?" LeBeau asked.

"No. We couldn't make it fast enough, and he wouldn't leave without his mother anyway," Hogan responded, leaning his chin on the heel of his hand as he listened.


"What about all the experiments he's done? Surely he must know something about his subject?" Klink stated. Hogan suspected it was less for Sanders' protection than the protection of the prestige of his visitors. Stalag 13 being chosen as the headquarters for a secret research project ordered by the Fuhrer had brought Klink some slight notoriety with his colleagues.

"Where are they, Klink?" Hochstetter demanded.

"Professor Sanders is showing his mother and Count Heydrich his research laboratory."

Hochstetter didn't say anything more, and the next sound was that of a slamming door, which was hastily reopened. Hogan envisioned Hochstetter storming out and Klink scrambling to don his hat, coat, and walking stick to hurry out behind him.


"Damn." Hogan unplugged the coffee pot.

"What do we do, Colonel?" Carter asked.

"There's only one way this is going to work. We have to intercept them once they leave camp. We're going out as a Gestapo execution squad. Everybody, down in the tunnel."

"You can't walk on that leg without support, Colonel," LeBeau stated.

"I can use a cane. The crutch would be a dead giveaway. I'm going to try to remain in the background anyway, but this is too big a mission for me not to be there."

"What about Ellison? He's a captain. He could take over," Newkirk suggested. "You're never going to get down in the tunnel with that leg, and pullin' you up and down by a rope isn't a good idea with those Gestapo goons sniffing around. We couldn't close up the entrance fast enough if they came in."

"Ellison's friends with Sanders. He's not going to be objective."

"We've rescued each other before, when we weren't objective either, sir," Kinch said.

"Okay. Go get him. Better he isn't with Sanders when they arrest him anyway. But I'm still going on this mission. I'll get down in the tunnel somehow."

"Oui, Colonel," LeBeau rushed out the door.


Ellison was near the barracks being used as Sanders' lab, supervising a group of prisoners repairing the door hinges on the barracks next door. It was a dumb job at best, but Hogan had invented it to give him a "chance" meeting with Blair one more time before the group made their escape. He'd just caught sight of Blair, his mother, and the count exiting the guest quarters when LeBeau came rushing across the compound toward him.

"Colonel Hogan needs you in our barracks. It's an emergency," LeBeau blurted.


"There is no time to talk. You must come with me now, Captain."

"All right," Jim said, a bit baffled, as he followed LeBeau toward Hogan's barracks. "Isn't that Hochstetter's car?" he asked, but LeBeau never slowed his pace. He merely shrugged, grateful that Ellison hadn't taken notice of the car until they were almost to the barracks. He ushered the larger man inside and shut the door.

"Ellison, this is going to be the fastest briefing of your life," Hogan said. "Hochstetter and his men are here to arrest Sanders, his mother, and the count–"

"We have to stop them!" Jim demanded, moving toward the door.

"Hold it, Captain. Nobody is making a direct attack here in the camp. It would be suicide all around. Are you familiar with Gestapo execution squads?"

"Is that what this is?" Jim asked, eyes widening. He suddenly felt his stomach clench, the vision of Blair being executed right there in the compound flashing across his mind.

"No, but that's what's going to save them. Are you familiar–"

"Yes, yes, I learned about them when I was working with Colonel Wembley in London."

"You're going to join me in leading one. You, Carter, Newkirk, Kinch, LeBeau, and I are going out in Gestapo uniforms with black hoods over our faces. We'll intercept Hochstetter's car, order everyone out of it, and state we're under orders to deal with the traitors. We'll be heavily armed. Hochstetter is going to back down, trust me. We take the three of them into the woods and one of us will fire a number of shots in the air. Hochstetter will be long gone by then, but in the event he's not, we're going to make a run for the tunnel entrance. The men know the drill. We did this successfully once before."

"Wait, Colonel," LeBeau interrupted. "How will you make a run for the tunnel entrance?"

"There are five of you and one of me. Unless you've gotten flabbier than I think you have in the last few years, you'll get me out," Hogan added with a grin. "Besides, chances are good they won't pursue us. They'll either believe us or they won't, right up front."

"Hochstetter's only got two guards with him," Carter remarked, peering out a crack in the barracks door.

"Arrogant little kraut, isn't he?" Newkirk commented. "Arrest three people, one of them about twice your size, and you bring two guards."

"Two of them are unarmed civilians, so he probably thinks he's got adequate security. Now let's get moving," Hogan concluded.

"I've got a uniform that should work for you, Captain. We better get down and get changed," Newkirk said.

"One more thing, Ellison–don't let your emotions get in the way of this. It's the only chance we have to save them."

"I won't, sir. I don't want to be responsible for getting Blair and his mother killed."

"Good. I'll count on that," Hogan affirmed, nodding.


"This isn't exactly like the accommodations at the university, is it?" Nadine said, running her hand lightly over the surface of the table where Blair took his notes and generally did most of his work.

"Just a barracks with some things moved around," Heydrich observed, eyes scanning the room. "What kind of experiments do you do? There's not much for equipment here."

"Mainly sensory tests. I don't need much for equipment–" Blair was cut off when the door flew open and Hochstetter strode in, flanked by two armed guards.

"You are all under arrest," he announced. Heydrich reached for his sidearm, pushing Naomi behind him, but Hochstetter's men aimed their large automatic weapons at him. "You would be smart to come quietly. I am authorized to shoot to kill if necessary."

"This is an outrage," Heydrich said, maintaining his bluster as he set his weapon on the table. "I'll have your head for this, Hochstetter."

"With all due respect, sir, I am operating under orders from Reichsfuhrer Himmler himself. You will have the opportunity to answer the charges against you at Gestapo headquarters."

"We all know how they ask questions there," Blair said bitterly. "My mother has nothing to do with any of this. You aren't seriously going to arrest her, too?"

"My orders are to arrest the three of you. You see, Professor, there is some question regarding your passports. Enough of this chatter. Escort them to my car," Hochstetter instructed his guards, who moved forward and began ushering the captives toward the staff car at the points of their guns. Once the three prisoners were loaded into the back of the car, one guard took a seat facing them in back, while Hochstetter and the second guard took seats in the front, the guard driving.

"You could at least tell us why we're being arrested," Naomi said, annoyed. "And what about our things? Our luggage?"

"We won't be needing it, liebschen," Heydrich said quietly, taking Naomi's hand in his. At Naomi's horrified expression, Blair spoke up.

"I'm sure this is a big misunderstanding, and we'll be back at Stalag 13 by tonight," he said, and Naomi eyed him suspiciously, but seemed marginally calmed by that thought.

"Colonel Detweiler will be in charge of your interrogations. I believe you made his acquaintance when you were last in Berlin, Professor," Hochstetter said, a feral smile on his face.

"We know who he is, Hochstetter. I demand to speak to Himmler. You will contact him immediately upon our arrival in Berlin," Heydrich stated firmly.

"You are in no position to make demands. You are a prisoner!" Hochstetter snapped back. "You can discuss the matter with Colonel Detweiler at headquarters."

Heydrich gave up trying to bluster his way out of the mess they were in, and kept Naomi's hand clasped in his. Their remaining time together would be short at best.


"Papa Bear to Hopscotch," Hogan said into his radio, then waited. "Any sign of the package?"

"Negative, Papa Bear," Kinch reported from his post as lookout, watching the road for the car carrying Hochstetter and his prisoners.

"Where are they?" Hogan looked at his watch, annoyed.

"It couldn't have taken them this long to get to this point in the road. Is there another route to Berlin?" Ellison asked.

"There's another road, but it's beyond this point by about a mile or two," Hogan shifted again, trying to get relief from his injured leg, which was uncomfortably tucked beneath him as they crouched in the bushes near the road.

"Maybe we should try to move back a bit, change our position?" Newkirk suggested.

"Kinch would have seen them. Something's wrong."

"Hopscotch to Papa Bear, come in, Papa Bear," Kinch's voice was urgent as it came through the small radio speaker.


"Stop the car, or your commanding officer's brains are going to be in your lap, dumkopf." The sound of Heydrich's icy voice froze the young driver, who obeyed the order without question. "Open the door and throw your weapon clear of the car. Mach Schnell!!" he bellowed, and the young man complied without hesitation, feeling the cold metal of handgun Heydrich had pressed against the back of his head.

"You are making a mistake, General. You will be caught within the hour," Hochstetter said, the barrel of the machine gun Blair now held nudging at the bottom of his hat disconcertingly.

The guard in the backseat with the captives lay wounded and dying, a knife stuck in his chest. Blair still stared at his mother in horror, unable to comprehend that she had just plunged a large kitchen knife into the heart of the Gestapo guard while the man had been momentarily glancing out the window. Amazing the things a woman hides in her purse...and the utter arrogance and chauvinism of Hochstetter and his men not to have bothered checking.

"Stop making speeches and throw your weapon out the window, Hochstetter. Do it now."

"Now you will hang for sure, General. You are defying the orders of the Fuhrer." Hochstetter tossed a handgun out the window.

"Now the other one."

"What other one?"

"Hochstetter, I've never traveled with a single sidearm in my life, and I seriously doubt that you have, either. Now I better see another gun going out that window, or you will die a very messy and unpleasant death."

"Schweinhunt," Hochstetter muttered, tossing a second gun out the window. "You didn't check him for weapons, private?" he barked at his driver.

"We thought you disarmed him in the laboratory, Herr Major," the young man answered nervously.

"Dumkopfs! I am surrounded by incompetence."

"Right now, you're surrounded by armed prisoners," Heydrich retorted. "Keep the gun on them, Blair. If either one moves, just open fire and kill them both." Heydrich got out of the car, and Blair felt his stomach clench, wondering if he would have the nerve to wreak that kind of horror and carnage. To protect his mother, he could, and the important thing was that Hochstetter and his guard believed he would. "Come on, out of the car," Heydrich said to Naomi, who scrambled out quickly.

Once she was safely hidden behind the cover of some roadside bushes, Heydrich came back for Blair, having retrieved the machine gun the driver had surrendered out the open door of the car. Holding it on Hochstetter, he motioned to Blair to get out of the car. Just when it seemed they were home free, a good-sized group of Gestapo men appeared from where they must have been hiding among the trees that lined the road. All of them wore black hoods over their faces with small holes cut for the eyes.

"What?" Blair said, noticing Heydrich's stricken expression.

"It's an execution squad, Blair," he stated grimly. "It's over."

"Surrender your weapons," one of them shouted. All were armed with machine guns. As Heydrich assessed his situation and deemed it hopeless, he laid his weapon aside, and so did Blair. He hoped Naomi would stay put in the shrubs.

"There is a woman in the bushes back there," Hochstetter barked angrily as he got out of the car an retrieved his sidearms and the weapons stolen from his guards. "They have killed one of my men and were attempting an escape!" Hochstetter shot a venomous look at Naomi as she was escorted a bit roughly by one of the Gestapo men to stand with her son and her lover.

"They are my prisoners now, Major," the Gestapo colonel in charge of the group emerged, relying heavily on a black cane as he limped in their direction. Something in that voice was familiar, but Blair didn't dare hope. This was too insane, too risky...

The limping officer handed a paper to Hochstetter.

"Jawohl, Herr Oberst," Hochstetter replied, handing the paper back to the other officer. "Heil Hitler!"

"Heil Hitler," the other man responded with an equally enthusiastic straight-armed salute to the Fuhrer. With that, Hochstetter and his men got back in the staff car and roared off down the road.

"So it has come to this. Herr Himmler is not man enough to face me with his charges. He would rather have me shot like a dog by the side of the road."

"That might be what he'd prefer, but that's not what we have in mind." The Gestapo colonel removed his hat and let the hood fall out of place. Hogan smiled at the stunned captives. "I thought you were headed for Switzerland, not Berlin. We run a good travel agency, Count."

"This is amazing! How did you manage it?" Naomi exclaimed, linking her arm through Heydrich's, visibly relieved to be reunited with her lover. Then she linked her other arm through Blair's.

"Sir, we need to fire some shots here," Jim spoke up, and Blair's eyes widened at the sound of his voice.

"Right. Go to it."

"Hochstetter'll report this in Berlin, won't he?" Blair asked.

"No. We were shot trying to escape. There's nothing official about a roadside execution, Blair," Heydrich explained. They all paused for the roar of gunfire that would signal to Hochstetter, who undoubtedly was parked somewhere up the road waiting to hear it, to know that the prisoners were dead.

"You're going to have to come with us. We can't trust your contacts, Count. We can get you to England, but not Switzerland."

"We'll cooperate with your plan, Colonel Hogan. It's obvious I was betrayed, and we can't be sure by whom."

"Precisely. At this point, you're dead, so getting you out of Germany will be a lot simpler."

Jim made his way over to stand as close to Blair as he could, tugging his hood down to smile at the man he loved.

"You okay, Chief?" he asked, and Blair beamed at him in response.

"Couldn't be better. Mom, Count, this is Jim Ellison. Captain Ellison. He's my–"

"Sentinel," Jim said, smiling and shaking hands with Heydrich and Naomi. "Blair's no fraud. He knows what he's talking about."

"You mean you really found one? Oh, sweetie, that's wonderful!" Naomi said, hugging Blair. "He's looked for one for so long, we were beginning to think it was a wild goose chase."

"If it is, I'm the wild goose," Jim replied, smiling.

"We better get moving," Hogan said, checking his watch. "We'll hide you in the tunnel until we can get you to England. Probably take a day or two, but now that you're all dead, the krauts won't be looking for you."


Blair looked at his mother as they each sat on a cot in a chamber of the tunnel where the fugitives were being hidden. Heydrich was touring the tunnels with Kinch, and looking forward to learning more about the elaborate radio set-up. Naomi was reading a book, dressed in a fresh suit of clothing drawn from the civilian wardrobe Hogan kept stashed in the tunnel. It wasn't quite as stylish as her own clothing, which had been stained with the dead guard's blood, but the blue women's dress suit still looked nice on her.

"Mom, are you okay?" Blair asked, and Naomi looked up, smiling sweetly, as if she had no idea why he would ask.

"I'm fine, Blair."

"You killed that guard. Mom, you don't have a violent bone in your body."

"Apparently I do," She said, setting the book aside. "Blair, Konrad and I have had a plan about what to do if we were arrested since he found out my name wasn't Nadine Sanders. He made a choice the moment he decided to cover for me. We had some sleepless nights and some...awful times coming to terms with what our relationship could lead to. He said that most of the Gestapo men he knew were arrogant enough not to consider a visibly unarmed civilian woman to be a worthwhile threat. At least, he doubted they would search my handbag. So he would carry a second concealed sidearm and I would carry a knife. If I ever got the opportunity, I would use it and he would use the dead guard's weapon to free us–just the way it happened today. It's not that I didn't struggle with the...horror of what I would have to do. It's just that I struggled with it a long time before today."

"It's not that what you did wasn't justified, that it wasn't necessary..."

"You just don't understand how I could possibly do it, is that it? Blair, I wasn't born yesterday. You can hide it from me all you want, but I know those people tortured you into compliance, and I know you didn't leave of your own free will when you disappeared from the university. I also know that we would have been tortured and then killed if we hadn't acted when we did today. I had no choices, and I wasn't about to let them hurt you anymore than they already have."

"You were pretty amazing, you know?" Blair sat next to her on the cot and hugged her.

"Of course I'm amazing, sweetie. How do you think I managed to land a count this time?" she asked, winking at Blair and then laughing softly at his disconcerted blush.


"Nice operation, men," Hogan said as they finally gathered around the table in the barracks, Gestapo uniforms back in storage, and everyone safely there in one piece. "Thanks for the lift, by the way," he added, and Kinch and Newkirk chuckled. They had gotten on either side of Hogan and moved him along quickly when his bad leg was slowing them all down. With a little teamwork, they'd made it out of harm's way and back under safe cover.

"How long will it be before we can move them out, Colonel?" Carter asked.

"Not long. The Gestapo think they're dead, so there won't be any search for them. Kinch, what'd London have to say?"

"They can have a sub standing by as early as tomorrow. The Underground is just waiting for the word we're ready to move."

"Good. Let's do it tomorrow night, then. I think I'll rest the bum leg here for a while before dinner. LeBeau, could you give me a hand?"

"Oui, Mon Colonel," LeBeau responded readily, and the others set up a card game while Hogan limped toward his office using a single crutch, LeBeau following close behind him.

The moment LeBeau closed the door, Hogan pressed him against it, body to body, and captured his mouth in a fiery kiss, plunging his tongue into the willing warmth. Resting his arms against the door for support, Hogan felt LeBeau's arms wrap around him, hands running up and down his back as the kiss deepened and lingered.

"You dropped your crutch, Colonel," LeBeau teased, grinning.

"Lock the door."

"The krauts have keys."

"Put the desk in front of it."

"And they say the French are passionate," LeBeau retorted, flexing his eyebrows as he carefully moved the small table that served as Hogan's desk in front of the door. It wouldn't stop anyone truly determined, but the delay might give them enough warning to get out of whatever compromising situation they might be in.

Through a combination of hopping and limping, Hogan made it to the bottom bunk, and by the time LeBeau joined him there, pounced on his lover with the same passionate enthusiasm he'd shown moments ago.

"I swore I was going to wait until we could have some time in the tunnel...until things were quieter, but I can't wait anymore."

"I don't want to wait. All I could think of on the mission today was that if something went wrong, we had never made love."

"See, then this is really for the good of the operation. Can't have you distracted out in the field, now can we?" Hogan reasoned, working on ridding himself of his clothes while LeBeau did the same.

The feeling of a naked, warm body against his was almost enough to push Hogan over the edge, but he fought the first rush of desire. This had to last at least long enough for it to be making love and not just a release of pent-up lust. Kissing was a good place to start, and something they both knew how to do, even if neither was certain what to do with a male partner instead of a female.

Louis made the first move beyond kissing, sliding his hand down to hesitantly wrap it around Hogan's hardening cock. Lost in the sensation for a moment, Hogan finally realized he was doing nothing more than enjoying it. He'd never had another man's penis in his hand, and he found himself hesitating just a bit before taking a hold of Louis that way. He knew how to make himself feel good, but the thought of doing that to another man seemed...odd. Beyond that, how would he know what Louis liked?

The pressure on his own shaft increased. Louis was working seriously at the task of pleasuring him, stroking him and pumping him as if he had somehow been hiding in a dark corner, watching Hogan when he pleasured himself to find out just what he liked. Jarred out of his momentary daze, he claimed Louis' mouth again, kissing him deeply while his hand began hesitantly stroking Louis' cock the way he liked his own stroked. They would have time to share each other's little intimate secrets, to talk about what they liked and didn't like. Right now, the stimulation of a willing, diligent hand was moving them too far, too fast, to dwell on the details.

Hogan felt his climax coming, washing over him in relentless waves, months of pent-up frustrated sexual desire pouring out with his orgasm as he buried his face in the pillow, muffling his cry of release. Breathing hard, he resumed a steadier, more aggressive pace in stroking Louis, enjoying watching his lover reach his climax, fortunately being quick-thinking enough to cover Louis' mouth with his own before the cry that was building could carry to the far corners of the camp.

When it was over, they lay there breathing heavily, wrapped around each other, just soaking up the complete closeness and intimacy. Not wanting to break the mood, Hogan surreptitiously checked his watch.

"How long until lights-out?" Louis asked, and Hogan chuckled.

"I can't get away with anything, can I?"

"I felt your arm move, and it wasn't reaching anything good on me, so I figured you must be checking your watch."

"About two hours."

"You think anyone would be suspicious if I stayed in here a while longer?"

"They might wonder what you're doing in here so long, but I doubt this is what they'd immediately think of," Hogan quipped, grinning. "It's worth a little risk," he added, kissing Louis again, lingering there, letting their mouths lazily explore each other.

"There's so much more I want us to try."

"I'd like to try it all now, but it just isn't that safe. Plus, with our guests down in the tunnel, I should be available and on-call in case there are any problems." Hogan snorted. "Like Ellison clearing that branch tunnel by himself between his barracks and Sanders. Sandburg. Whatever his name is."

"Why would he–?" Louis paused, his jaw dropping when Hogan raised an eyebrow.

"You mean they–"

"More often than we have, that's for sure."

"I don't believe it."

"We're probably not the only men who ever thought of doing things like this together."

"But Ellison seems"

"Male? What does that make us? Ballerinas?"

"No. You aren't the tutu type."

"You don't think I've got the legs for it, huh?" Hogan teased, rolling on his back and pulling Louis with him so the smaller man lay atop him, their recovering erections rubbing together.

"I've seen you dressed up like a woman. I never want to see that again."

"I suppose you think you were a candidate for Miss Dusseldorf of 1943?"

"I was a little more believable than a six-foot woman with five o'clock shadow," he retorted, humping a little. "But your legs are just fine," he added, lasciviously.

"Whatever you're doing, don't stop. That's an order," Hogan gasped, joining Louis in creating the mutual friction. They kissed again, tongues invading each other, mimicking the act they longed to perform with other parts of their anatomies.

The second climax was a bit slower in coming, but when it did, it seemed even sweeter, even more intense than the first.

"I should go," Louis said, sprawled boneless over Hogan's body, showing no signs of moving. Hogan's hands ran up and down his back in long strokes.

"I know this isn't much–no great accommodations or candlelight–hell, no time for that matter...but it was everything to me."

"And to me," Louis replied, smiling brightly, stealing another kiss. "Je t'adore, mon Robaire."

"Je t'adore, Louis," Hogan repeated, hugging his lover close one last time before they reluctantly separated.

To clean up, they used some soap and a small basin of water Hogan kept fresh in his quarters every day for occasional wash-ups between showers. The temptation to wash each other was overpowering, but both feared it would lead to more intimate activities they didn't have time for, and that would undo the purpose of washing up in the first place.

When both were dressed again, Louis solicitously propped up Hogan's leg so he could relax a while and not aggravate the injured limb.

"Ellison knows about us."

"He what?" Louis' eyes bugged.

"I didn't tell him. He figured it out."

"But how?" he demanded, looking panicked. "If he figured it out, someone else might."

"I don't think so, and you really don't want to know how he knows."

"Oui, I do want to know."

"He said he could smell it when they pulled us out of the tunnel."

"Smell it? You have to be joking."

"I think he is what Sandburg thinks he is. He has these...super senses. You know we were messing around in the tunnel, and enjoying it a little too much for our circumstances."

"That is so..." Louis shuddered. "It's intimate, it's personal. I don't want Ellison knowing what I smell like when I'm..."

"Neither do I, but you can't blame the guy for smelling what he can smell."

"Makes me feel like he watched us together."

"I hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing," Hogan quipped, shaking his head. "In any event, there's nothing we can do about it. He knows. But he's done more with Sandburg than we've had a chance to do with each other, so he's got no reason to sell us out to the krauts." Hogan paused. "I'll be out in a little while, but the men think I was going to rest a while, so I should probably stay in here by myself for a half hour or so. Check on our guests downstairs, will you?"

"Oui, I will." LeBeau grinned. "I can't stop smiling."

"Try," Hogan said, smiling himself. "You look like you just got lucky."

"I did."

"Yeah, but you're not supposed to look that way coming out of my quarters."

"You're smiling, Colonel," LeBeau commented.

"And I'm gonna sit right here and keep smiling until I have to come out front."


LeBeau didn't realize he was singing a French love song as he stirred the stew on the small stove until Newkirk teased him about it.

"If we had a wandering violinist and a couple of starving painters, this'd be a regular little sidewalk cafe."

"Is it illegal to be in a good mood? We pulled off a very dangerous mission today," LeBeau said, trying to keep his body from responding to the thoughts that really made him this happy.

"Gee, LeBeau, I haven't heard you sing that much since the last talent show," Carter said, sniffing at the stew bubbling in the pot.

"We helped three people escape torture and horrible death. That is reason enough to sing."

"Yeah, they escaped torture so now we're gettin' it instead," Newkirk retorted, unable to resist needling LeBeau about his singing, even though the Frenchman had a very good voice and was one of the big hits of most of their talent shows.

"You're just jealous of my talent," LeBeau retorted, tasting the stew from the end of the wooden spoon he'd been using to stir it.

"Mm-mm, something smells good out here," Hogan said, limping toward LeBeau, leaning on the single crutch for support. He used the opportunity of sniffing the stew to slide his arm around LeBeau's shoulders.

Making love to someone always seemed to make him feel a little sentimental about them, even if it wasn't true love. But this time, the separation from LeBeau almost physically pained him. He'd only lasted twenty minutes in his office before seeking out his lover again, if only to have such platonic and common contact with him as he was having now. LeBeau fed him a taste of the stew. Many of the men came to LeBeau's cooking pots over the years, sniffing and looking hopeful, but Hogan was the only one who consistently got a taste of whatever was cooking.

"Oh, that is good. What's in it?" Hogan asked, and LeBeau, as usual, happily gave him the summary of the ingredients, delighted with Hogan's approval and his interest. Even though everyone was grateful for LeBeau's culinary skills and his ability to make something tasty from very little, cooking for the men was often a somewhat thankless job, and one people tended to take for granted. Hogan also knew that the creative spirit of an accomplished French chef sometimes ached more for free expression than the Frenchman himself ached for freedom.

The little chat also allowed him to stay there, arm around LeBeau, for a considerably longer time than a simple taste from the spoon would have allowed. His injured leg allowed LeBeau to slide an arm around his waist and give him a surreptitious little squeeze before ostensibly helping him over to the table.

"Thanks, Louis," he said, so much love in his voice that it almost made LeBeau blush the color of his berry-colored sweater. Hogan only rarely used his first name in front of the others, but no one seemed to take any special notice of it.

"Dinner is almost ready," he said, hastily returning to the pot of stew.

"Message from London, Colonel." Kinch climbed through the bunk entrance to the tunnel, closing it behind him. "They said tomorrow night is the only opportunity for them to have the sub pick up our passengers. I notified the Underground to stand by."

"Good. After dinner, confirm with them that it's a go for tomorrow night. As good as that stew is smelling, Schultz is bound to decide to do a headcount right about dinner time."

"Right," Kinch replied, smiling.

"Klink's doing a night roll call. Get a message to Ellison during the formation to get over here in the confusion when everyone's going back into the barracks. We'll get him down in the tunnel to say good bye to Sandburg."

"They got to be pretty good friends, huh?" Carter asked. "Too bad he can't go with them. He'd probably do more good in London than he'll do here anyhow."

"Probably," Hogan said, wheels turning in his mind. "But for now, he's got to stay here."

But maybe soon, he could find a way to get Ellison out of Germany. Having a resource as unique and valuable as a Sentinel in the custody of the Germans was dangerous at best. Yes, Ellison belonged in London, but getting him there would be half the fun.


After getting the message to go to Hogan's barracks after night roll call, Jim made use of the milling prisoners who seemed to take even more time than usual returning to their respective barracks, a few of them hassling the guards that would be watching Barracks 5, while a few others joshed the good-natured Schultz and kept his mind off watching the prisoners re-enter Hogan's barracks. Once inside, LeBeau hustled him toward the tunnel entrance beneath the bunk, and he soon found himself at the foot of the ladder, waiting for LeBeau to reach the bottom also.

"We're taking Sandburg, his mother, and the count out tomorrow night. Colonel Hogan thought you might want a chance to say goodbye."

"I do. That was thoughtful of him."

"We kind of understand where you're coming from."

"He told you I know?"

"Oui, he told me. I think he was realizing what he would feel if I were leaving and there was no time to say goodbye." LeBeau pulled a small object wrapped in a handkerchief and put it in a hand Jim extended, a bit confused. "You might need this." As Jim started to unwrap it, LeBeau covered it with his hand. "Don't look at it now. I don't know if I could take the embarrassment," LeBeau admitted. He checked his watch. "I'll be back in two hours. Be here waiting for me. I'll distract Schultz with some strudel, and Higgins in your barracks will take care of creating a diversion to get your guard away from the door. But you have to be back at exactly eleven o'clock. Everything will happen a few minutes after eleven."

"What do these men think I'm doing?"

"Something for Colonel Hogan. That's all they need to know, and all they really expect to be told. We're always moving people around for one reason or another, so no one suspects you're doing anything unusual. There is another cot stored at the end of this tunnel, along with some other supplies."

"Merci, LeBeau," Jim said, and LeBeau smiled.

"Amour, amour," LeBeau quipped, grinning as he started back up the ladder.

"Where's Blair?" Jim asked.

"You are the Sentinel. You can find him." With that, LeBeau completed his journey up the ladder and the entrance closed. Jim had to chuckle. That was only too true. I could find Blair anywhere by his scent alone. Savoring that thought, Jim began a stealthy trip along the wall of the underground corridor, his senses picking up movement, and the scent and heartbeat of the man he loved. Remembering the object in his hand, he peeled back the flaps of the handkerchief and found a small bottle of hand lotion. Amour, amour, indeed.


Blair sighed and shifted on the cot. He'd been tired, exhausted, once the adrenaline rush of the day was behind him, but now he was just plain restless. He wouldn't be here much longer, and Jim was so near...and yet a world away. Even if they could find a way to see each other, the chances of making love one last time were next to nothing. Heydrich was snoring on the other cot, Naomi's sleeping quarters a short distance away, separated with a makeshift curtain hastily strung up to afford her some privacy in the otherwise all-male setting.

The lights that kept the tunnels from inky blackness still danced merrily in their holders. There were sounds from other parts of the tunnel. Hogan's operation reminded Blair of a hospital–there was no hour of the day or night when there wasn't some light, noise, or activity in the subterranean chambers.

Giving up on sleep, he got up and hastily pulled his hair back in a pony tail. He was still fully dressed, since the temperature in the tunnel didn't exactly encourage a man to strip down to his shorts for sleeping. Stepping into his shoes, he wandered out to the main chamber of the tunnel, shivering a little at the temperature and the overall spookiness of the shadowy corridors. He walked toward the sound of movement near the entrance to the tunnel that led up to Hogan's barracks. When he rounded the corner, he bumped hard into Jim, who was smiling down at him.

"Hi there, Chief. Can't sleep?"

"Jim!" Blair exclaimed in a loud whisper, pulling Jim into a desperate embrace. Jim returned the pressure, holding Blair close, savoring the stolen moment together. "I didn't know if I'd see you again. Kinch came down earlier and told us we were leaving tomorrow night, and a submarine will take us to England. I don't want to go, Jim. I don't want to leave you. What if they–"

"They won't come after me, Blair." Jim wasn't confident of that, since he was a loose end, someone who had not only worked with Blair before his "execution," but someone who had been identified as a possible Sentinel. "This is the only way. You're dead as far as they know, and before they all compare notes and figure out that something's wrong, you have to get out of the country." He pulled back. "We don't have long. I have to go back up in less than two hours."

"I wish we could go somewhere private."

"LeBeau told me there was a cot stored at the end of this tunnel."

"Why would he tell you that? Does he know about us?"

"Hogan arranged this for us. He told LeBeau."

"He arranged this? He was ready to have our heads for what we were up to."

"Well, he's had a little change of heart since he started his affair with LeBeau."

"His what?" Blair's eyes widened.

"Hogan and LeBeau are having an affair. LeBeau even sent supplies." Jim held up the lotion.

"Oh, man." Blair dropped his forehead against Jim's chest. "How am I gonna look them in the eyes knowing they know that you and I–"

"Because they either are already doing the same thing or are working their way up to it. Let's find that cot."

There was a cot folded up and stored exactly where LeBeau said it would be, surrounded by some other boxes and bags of supplies. In a moment, they had it open and waiting. Jim released Blair's hair from its confines and slid his hands into it, holding Blair's head in place for eager, desperate kisses. Hands clawed clumsily at buttons and zippers, shoes were kicked off, and the coolness of the tunnel went unnoticed as underwear was cast aside and they lay twined together on the narrow cot, trying to kiss and touch as much as they could reach. It was a stolen moment that Hogan and his men were taking a risk to give them, and the gift was appreciated for all it was worth.

"Let me get you hard," Blair whispered, pumping Jim's cock with his hand as he slid down further until he took it in his mouth, licking and sucking the already hardening organ.

"Oh, God, Blair..." Jim gasped, throwing his head back, spreading his legs to give Blair more room and freer access. The hot, wet tongue was circling the head of his cock, then tracing the underside of it, the suction making him crazy, getting him so hard, so fast, that he finally urged Blair away from him, not wanting to finish in Blair's mouth. "We need to put lotion in you."

Blair nodded, finding the little bottle on the floor by the cot and handing it to Jim, shimmying up his body so they could kiss and caress while Jim reached between Blair's cheeks and began rubbing over the little hole there with a lotion-coated finger. Sliding it inside, he rubbed the passage, making it slick and preparing it. Blair braced himself on either side of Jim's head, raising his chest up while bearing down on the probing finger.

"You still can feel last time, can't you?" Jim asked, smiling.

"Still a little sensitive. Put two fingers in me. Stretch me, Jim," Blair gasped, rotating his ass wantonly on the finger that was probing it. Jim willingly complied, groaning at the friction of Blair's cock against his where Blair was straddling him. He freed his fingers and grabbed the lotion, coating his straining erection.

"Back up a little, sweetheart. I have an idea." Jim pulled himself into a sitting position. "Sit in my lap so I can hold you," he said, guiding the head of his cock to the slick opening in Blair's body as Blair moved closed to him, holding onto his shoulders as he lowered himself gradually onto the hard shaft.

Blair moaned and squeezed his eyes shut, struggling a little with the initial penetration as it stretched him to what seemed beyond his limits. Finally, he felt his butt resting on Jim's thighs, his legs wrapping around Jim's back. The penetration was deeper than before, and the motion hurt a bit at first, as Blair was still so new to it. But it was good to feel Jim in him again, and good to know that he'd have physical reminder of their love for at least a few days after they were parted.

"I love you," Jim gasped into Blair's sweat-dampened curls, holding him tightly, relishing the feeling of their naked bodies sliding against each other while his cock slid in and out of Blair's tight channel, making him writhe and moan in Jim's arms. He covered Blair's mouth with his own, stifling a cry of pleasure as his cock rubbed firmly over Blair's prostate. Their tongues slid around each other, tasting and claiming, invading each other's mouths with passionate enthusiasm.

"I love you," Blair replied, breathless.

Blair tilted his head back and Jim licked and sucked at his throat, relieved that Blair had been wearing a turtleneck when he first saw him that night, realizing he was leaving him marked. Marked...and claimed. He lowered his head and sucked hard on a nipple, licking a path to its mate, and treating it to the same attention. Blair was leaning back now, giving Jim better access to his body. Gently moving Blair back even more, Jim briefly slipped free of the tight passage while Blair lay on his back, pulling his knees to his chest. He slid back in again, the new position giving him better leverage to thrust rapidly in and out, rubbing over Blair's prostate, one hand pumping Blair's cock firmly.

Blair had one fist in his mouth to silence his moans, his sweaty thighs wrapped around Jim, encouraging him deeper. Jim pushed Blair's hand away from his mouth so they could kiss again, pulling away from Blair's mouth to pepper his face with sloppy kisses.

The climax, when it came, was explosive and overpowering. Jim buried his face in Blair's hair, in the warmth between his neck and shoulder and stifled his scream of completion there, while Blair covered his mouth, trying desperately to muffled his shout of Jim's name.

They rolled on their sides, clinging to each other, trading little kisses and love words as their bodies recovered.

"When we're together again, you'll have to show me how it feels when things are reversed," Jim said, running his hand over Blair's ass, lingering there.

"You want me in you that way?"

"Yeah, I do. But I don't think we have time tonight. I should have asked you...if you wanted it this way again. I just couldn't help it. I wanted you so much."

"I always want you–this way or any other way. It doesn't matter. As long as we're together. I just wish it was for longer. That we could leave together tomorrow night. Why can't you just come with us?"

"Because Klink has a perfect no-escape record here, and that's about all that keeps the brass off his back. Hogan's operation depends on having a not-too-observant kraut in charge here. So they have to keep him looking good. If I left, it would be an escape."

"How long do we have left?"

"Probably forty-five minutes or so." Jim kissed Blair deeply, their tongues lingering together before they broke the kiss. "I want you safely out of Germany, but a part of me is glad you didn't make it out today," he confessed, kissing Blair's cheek, his ear, and then hugging him close again. The hand on Blair's ass pushed their groins close together again. The friction was arousing a new interest.

As they rubbed against each other, Jim slid his finger in and out of Blair's slick hole, the motion making Blair shudder and move against him with more urgency. They took their time, holding each other close, relishing the sensual friction, hands trying to memorize every inch of precious flesh before their anticipated separation. The second climax was sweet and intense, leaving them both utterly exhausted and sated in each other's arms.

"Think you can sleep now?" Jim joked, kissing Blair as the younger man's eyes drifted shut, then fluttered open again.

"I could sleep for a month in your arms," Blair responded, kissing Jim's chest.

"I don't think I could leave you be that long." Jim kissed Blair again, deeply. "I need to go soon."

"If I asked Hogan, do you think he might consider letting you come with us?"

"No. We've been over that, sweetheart. I can't come with you."

"Maybe I could just stay down here. Get my mom and the count out of Germany, and I could stay and work with you on your senses. It would be a help to Hogan's operation for you to be working at full capacity. There's so much more we need to cover–"

"Blair, even if you could stand living in a cave for God knows how long, never seeing the light of day, if you were ever found, you'd die a horrible death. I won't chance that."

"But I wouldn't have to be found. And I'd live under any conditions if it meant being with you."

"You've got one good chance to get out, and I want you to go. Look at how Hogan and LeBeau got trapped in that branch tunnel. You could be killed or buried alive down here."

"There are people who would give anything for a place like this to hide. There are thousands of people hiding from Hitler all over the country. Probably a good number in France and elsewhere. I'd be no different."

"It's out of the question."

"Let me ask Hogan. Let me talk to him. I think I could talk him into it."

"Damn it, Blair, you probably could. You could talk Hitler into wrapping himself in the American Flag and singing 'God Bless America' if you had long enough to do it."

"Then why are you so against it?" Blair sat up, his mind moving a thousand miles an hour.

"Because if Hogan decides to get me out of Germany, you could end up stuck in a cave for nothing."

"He could get us both out."

"Not necessarily! This is the time for you to go."

"I'm not going unless I have a chance to talk to Hogan about this."

"Don't give up your life for this, Chief." Jim got up and scooped up his clothes, tossing them on the foot of the cot and starting to get dressed.

"You are my life, Jim. The only part of it I care about anymore. I know my mom'll be fine. She's in love and the count is good to her. I'm sure he's got money stashed in some Swiss bank so he can make her happy and take care of her. I want to be with you."

"There's nothing I'd like better, sweetheart." Jim sat on the cot, and pushed a few curly strands of hair away from Blair's still-flushed face. "But I wouldn't like it much if you ended up getting yourself shot. I'd rather suffer the separation now and have forever together when this is over."

"We could have both."

"Saying goodbye to you is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but it still has to be done, no matter how long we put it off, or how many ways we try to wriggle out of it." Jim looked at his watch. "It's almost eleven, and I have to meet LeBeau at the tunnel entrance. They're creating a diversion so I can get back to my barracks in one piece."

"Jim, please, just let me talk to Hogan. I know I can talk him into letting me stay. I could help out here. No one knows I'm here. Think of all the stuff I could get done down here when they didn't have the time or the chance. I'm smart–I've always been a quick learner. I'll do whatever jobs he wants done. I can do most anything if you give me a chance to learn it, and–"

"Blair, slow down," Jim chided, smiling. He kissed Blair. "I love you. I want you safe in England. I'll come and get you as soon as I get out of here. I promise."

"I don't want to be safe in England. I want to be with you. I don't see why you won't even consider it," Blair added, his eyes filling. "We don't have to say goodbye."

"For now, we do. I mean it, Chief. The discussion's closed." Jim stood up, and tried to ignore the stirring in his groin when Blair did the same, not seeming to care that he was still stark naked. He held Blair's bare body against his clothed one, feeling the warmth seep through the fabric that separated them. He took advantage of the last opportunity to run his hand slowly up and down the length of Blair's back, stroking over the curve of his buttocks and thigh to his shoulder and back again as their mouths locked together in kisses that would have to last them until they were together again.

"There'll never be anyone but you," Blair said, looking into Jim's eyes. "There never was anybody before you, and there won't be anyone else but you."

"What are you saying, Blair?"

"Just what I said. You were the first. You'll be the only."

"You were the first man I ever made love with, too, Chief."

"I mean you're the first anyone I ever made love with all the way. I wanted it to be special. Anthropologists make a big deal over rituals, you know," Blair added, smiling a little self-consciously. "Sex is a ritual of love. At least, it should be. I wanted it to be. And it was."

"If something happens to me, I don't want you to live out the rest of your life with just a memory. I'd want you to be happy, to find someone, to make–" Jim stopped when Blair put a hand over his mouth.

"Nothing's going to happen to you, because I don't want to live without you. So you have to come back to me. You don't have a choice. You have to stay safe."

"Okay." Jim smiled, leaning in for another kiss. "That's why I want you to go, sweetheart. Because you're in much more danger here, and there'd be nothing for me to go home to if you're not there."

"I still don't agree with you about that," Blair said.

"I know you don't. I have to go, Chief." Jim looked at his watch regretfully. "You better get dressed. Not that I mind the view."

"When you come home, we'll spend a week naked." Blair reluctantly dressed, letting Jim contemplate that thought.

"My family has a summer's really private, very remote. We should go there."

"Maybe we should live there," Blair added, shrugging into the weathered coat that, with his hair tucked under a hat, made him look like any one of a dozen average German citizens. Except for the fact that Jim would know him anywhere, anytime, in any sort of clothing. Or out of the clothing...

"Here." Jim took off his watch. "Keep this. I don't have a ring and I can't give you my dog tags, but wear this." Jim slipped it on Blair's wrist.

"I have something for you." Blair dug in the pocket of his coat. "I've hidden it among my supplies most of the time, because I didn't want the Germans to get it." He handed Jim an odd-looking little leather necklace with a few colorful beads on it. "Not exactly the fashion for men in the States, but it's a big hit with the indigenous people of Borneo," he added, smiling. "My mentor gave me that. It's the only jewelry I have that has sentimental value."

"I'll take good care of it, sweetheart."

"I'll miss you every minute," Blair said, looking at the watch.

"I love you." Jim hugged Blair hard, holding on for long moments while Blair returned the pressure. "I have to go."

"I know. I love you, too. Be safe."

"I will. You, too." Jim kissed Blair's forehead one last time and forced himself to turn and walk away, the little beads held tightly in his hand.


Hogan was savoring the rare silence and the blessed peace of sleep, and when it was disturbed, he wasn't sure exactly how the perpetrator would be put to death, but he knew it would be slow and painful.

"Colonel Hogan," Kinch's voice came through the fog, and Hogan opened his eyes, spotting two shapes in the pre-dawn shadows. One was unmistakably Kinch, and the other looked suspiciously like Sandburg.

"What do you think you're doing out of the tunnel?" Hogan challenged Sandburg in a breathy whisper.

"He insisted on seeing you. I thought it was better to bring him in here than risk Schultz finding him."

"Yeah, you're right, Kinch."

"I'll wait outside."

"Thanks, Sergeant," Sandburg said, and Kinch nodded, smiling slightly as he pulled the door shut.

"Are you crazy? Do you want to die?" Hogan challenged, getting up with the assistance of the single crutch. It crossed his mind to put on his cap, but then he thought how ridiculous he'd look considering he was in his pajamas. "And if you do, by the way, be my guest, but don't take all of us with you while you're at it."

"I know I wasn't supposed to come up, but there's something I think we should talk about."

"And it couldn't have waited until later?"

"No, I don't think it should. It's that important."

"Okay, you've got my attention."

"I think I should stay behind, hide in the tunnel, and work with Jim on his senses so he can do better work for the operation. I wouldn't come up like this, like tonight, without your permission. I could live down there for a long time without the Germans knowing I was there, and Jim will be a lot more effective if he's got me to coach him. To guide him."

"I thought about that, Sandburg. I considered finding a way to stash you in the tunnel, or hide you out somehow with one of our Underground contacts, because I have no question that Ellison would function more effectively with you there to work with him. I read that ominous stack of notes you sent me for safekeeping, and passages from that book by Burton. This is the tip of an amazing iceberg, and I admit I don't know where to go with it–in terms of training Ellison to use the abilities he has. I also don't know what the pitfalls are, or how to avoid them."

"Exactly! That's why I should stay with Jim, and help him learn to use his abilities, and guide him when you have him going out on really important missions."

"The only flaw in all this is that your presence is going to be a major distraction. Protecting you from discovery isn't our priority here, but it would be Ellison's. If we're under fire from a bunch of krauts out on a mission, we have to concentrate on saving our own butts and getting back to camp. If you were found with us, we'd be shot for harboring a spy. And if you were captured, you'd be executed–after they tortured you for information. The risks are too great for my men and for the operation, and for you."

"What about the risks for Jim?"

"He's one of my men now, Sandburg, and his safety is just as important to me as any of the others'. London thinks of him as a prized resource. I don't expect him to be here long anyway."

"What do you mean?"

"When the furor dies down, I know that London's going to want him back at headquarters. The implications of his skills for high-level intelligence work are staggering."

"I thought what was going on here was pretty high level."

"Thanks, but we're just a branch operation," Hogan said, smiling. "I'm not saying we don't do some vitally important work, because we do, but the high-level infiltration isn't our main focus. We're a sabotage and escape unit, and we engage in some intelligence work, but Ellison could be one of the heavy hitters. My guess is I'll have to engineer a transfer for him somehow, so we can stage his escape and still keep Klink's record intact."

"Then he might be coming to England soon?"

"It's a distinct possibility. And even if he doesn't, I want you in the best possible position to advise us on using Ellison's abilities. We're in regular radio contact with London, and you can give us advice long distance. That way, you can still help Ellison and you won't be a constant source of danger and distraction to him and us."

"You really think that's best for Jim, for me to go?"

"I really do, or I wouldn't be sending you away." Hogan sighed. "I know what's going on between the two of you, and that makes every decision emotional and not strategic. But my decision is strategic, so just go to England and trust me. This is what I do–strategy. It's a job that comes with the eagles," he joked, referring to the markings of his rank.

"I can't believe you actually have me convinced that leaving Jim here is best."

"I'm sending your notes and materials under separate cover. London's sending a plane for it."

"They're sending a plane for my notes?" Blair's eyes widened.

"Absolutely. All that information supports Ellison being what Hitler wanted to find. A real live Sentinel. Those papers are his death warrant, and yours, if you were caught with them. They can't travel with you."

"You thought of everything, I guess."

"I have to. Too many lives depend on my thinking of everything."

"I have to admit, I figured since Jim was the new guy...I don't know...I guess I didn't trust that you'd be as worried about him. Or maybe that you wouldn't understand how important he is. I'm sorry is misjudged you."

"You're a scientist, Sandburg. You've got a lot of education and studying behind you, and a depth of knowledge about this whole Sentinel thing that I'll never have if I memorize Burton's book cover to cover. You aren't any more comfortable handing Ellison over to me than I would be handing this operation over to a man of lesser rank I barely knew."

"That's how I feel. Like I'm abandoning him in a place where no one will know how to help him if he loses touch with things or has trouble with his senses."

"I read your notes. I think we can keep an eye on him until the time comes to ship him back to England. I'll work on getting him moved into our barracks. We'll make sure we back him up. We back each other up around here, and cover for each other's weak spots. Ellison's no exception to that."

"You're nothing like the guys I envision when I think of high-ranking military officers," Sandburg said. "That's a compliment, by the way."

"You mean I should have a buzz cut, chew on a cigar, and bark out orders? I'm not that crazy about cigars, I look stupid with a buzz cut, and I don't have the raspy voice for barking," Hogan concluded, chuckling. "If it's any consolation, you're not my image of a scientist, either."

"It's the hair, right?"

"That's different, no question. That and your age...your whole personality. You're nothing like the researchers we've worked with before. So I guess we're both atypical."

"I feel a lot better about leaving. Like it's the right thing to do. Thanks for talking to me about it and not just laying down the law."

"We're on the same side, Sandburg. And people obey orders they understand a lot more readily than orders that are just orders with no reasoning behind them."

"Thank you for letting me...spend some time with Jim tonight. I know that wasn't easy to engineer."

"Let's just say I understand a little too well how you feel."

"There's something I want you to know about me," Blair said, pausing a moment, then continuing. "I never told the Nazis anything worthwhile. I know I did some research for them to stay alive, but I never really helped them. I mean, they know about the whole Sentinel concept, but it never came to fruition. I want you to know I'm not a traitor."

"If I thought you were a traitor, we wouldn't have risked everything to put on our Halloween costumes and go out there and rescue you, your mother, and her buddy, the count."

"I know that some people have the courage withstand...horrible torture. To die, even. I was afraid. I could have refused to work for them at all."

"And you'd be dead, Ellison would probably by now think he was nuts or had a brain tumor, and the krauts wouldn't have wasted months and substantial amounts of money keeping your little testing operation going. Blair, heroism isn't all about blood and guts and death and torture. Some of the most heroic things happen in here," Hogan said, tapping his temple with his finger. "And making the krauts chase their tails for months is a pretty damned good trick."

"You're not just being gracious about this?"

"Look, I know what the Gestapo are like, and what kind of goodies they have in their little bag of tricks to get people to cooperate."

"You've been tortured by them? I didn't think–"

"Let's just say that when I was captured, I was...vigorously interrogated. Even then, they had to be somewhat more restrained because of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross...I was a POW. My point is that you figured a way out of their torture chambers and into a laboratory. They wasted money and time on you. And while some of their top generals and strategists should have been paying attention to the war, they were busy tasting cups of water with cooking spices in them and sniffing rose petals in your lab. Where I come from, that's a neat trick. And pretty damn heroic."

"I don't feel like a hero. I feel like I should have stood up to them."

"What were you going to do if you found a kraut Sentinel anyway?"

"I hadn't figured that out yet," Blair responded honestly.

"Kill him? Turn him over to the krauts? You must have had some idea."

"Killing him would have been the thing to do because of the war. Turning him over to the krauts would have made me a real traitor. But I'm a scientist, and there are ethics involved in working with human subjects. I don't know if I could have killed him in cold blood. I probably just would have lied about his test results, told him he was ordinary, normal. I'm a pretty fair liar when I have to be."

"Unfortunately, it's a skill you need to save your life sometimes. Kinch'll take you back down below. Stay there until we come and get you from now on, okay? Schultz turns his head to a lot of things, but we only have so many candy bars on hand."


While the prisoners were in formation for morning roll call, and Schultz was reporting them all accounted for, Hochstetter's car drove through the gates. Klink cringed internally at the sight of the black staff car with its red markings and swastika flags flying, but said nothing as he waited for the energetic Gestapo man to get out of his car, flanked by two guards, and stride purposefully toward him. Visits from Hochstetter usually meant trouble, but courtesy to the Gestapo was the only way to stay healthy in Hitler's Germany.

"Major Hochstetter, what brings you here again so soon?" Klink asked with his usual feigned cordiality. He couldn't stand Hochstetter, and had hoped that the removal of Sanders, his mother, and the count from the camp would give him a respite.

"As we were transporting the prisoners from your camp yesterday, we were intercepted by a group of men claiming to be Gestapo who executed the prisoners. There was no such order issued," Hochstetter said. "We suspect the Underground, and I will find the men responsible if I have to tear this entire area apart with my bare hands!" he shouted, his fingers curling into claws as he seemed to stiffen with rage. "And I know exactly where to start." He walked away from Klink and moved in Hogan's direction. "One of the officers in this little group walked with a cane. The commanding officer, a colonel, coincidentally."

"Now, really, Major, don't tell me I'm the only man in Germany who walks with a cane. The way things are going on the Russian front, I would imagine there are quite a few of them now," Hogan added, drawing chuckles from his men.

"Silence! I am taking you back to Gestapo headquarters," Hochstetter said, moving close enough to Hogan for his breath to felt as he spoke. "You will not find that quite so humorous, I assure you." He moved away, gesturing toward Hogan. "Colonel Hogan is under arrest," he said, gesturing in Hogan's direction. The two guards grabbed Hogan by either arm, not allowing him the support of the crutch he'd been using, and began hustling him toward the staff car over the shouted protests of the men. LeBeau and Newkirk were held back from physically intervening by Klink's own guards.

The kommandant knew what Hogan's fate would be, whether he was guilty or not. Hochstetter had lost three prisoners, and someone was going to pay, and pay dearly and horribly.

"Wait!" Klink made his way over to Hochstetter, who had stopped on his way to the car, where Hogan was being shoved into the back of it. "Colonel Hogan couldn't have been part of a group who intercepted you on the road," he protested, praying fervently that he'd be blessed with a good reason why not.

"And exactly how can you be so sure of this?" Hochstetter demanded.

"Because he was in my office."

"All day?" Hochstetter challenged.

"No, not all day, but shortly after you left with your prisoners, Colonel Hogan and I conferred on camp business. He usually has a long list of complaints and demands–none of which I cave in to, of course. We have nothing but the strictest discipline here at Stalag–"

"Save the speeches, kommandant," Hochstetter said, placing and ugly emphasis on the last word. "How long was he in your office?"

"About three hours," Klink said, knowing that would cover the time, but having no clue what to tell Hochstetter they did for three hours in his office. Even a good chess game usually wrapped up faster than that.

"Three hours?" Hochstetter stared at him, his piercing dark eyes seeming to bore right into Klink's soul.

"I was interrogating him myself," Klink said. He'd tried interrogating Hogan in the early days, and they'd spent more than three hours at a time together on the project, but Klink never emerged from the sessions knowing any more than when he'd started. Questioning Hogan was pointless, like running on an endless treadmill of evasions and doubletalk.

"And what did you learn from this...interrogation?" Hochstetter challenged.

"There was a major arrest here in the camp. My guests, with whom Hogan interacted, were hauled off by the Gestapo. I wanted to be sure they hadn't passed an worthwhile information on to him."

"And you think he would tell you if they had?"

"I think he would when he was being forced to stand on one leg, the injured leg, in the corner of the room until he talked, yes." Klink smiled conspiratorially. "You see, Hochstetter, you don't need exotic devices or dark basements. A little simple persuasion can be quite painful, and quite effective."

"But he told you nothing?" Hochstetter asked, looking a bit surprised, encouraged even, that Klink might be a more worthy colleague than he'd originally judged.

Klink thought fast of the items he'd confiscated from the prisoners recently. The only thing of note was a homemade radio, which he had strong suspicions had been handed over to him to deflect his attention from something more significant. Still, it was worth a try.

"He surrendered a hidden homemade radio. It's not completely finished, but the prisoners were going to attempt to use it to tap into the BBC. He revealed its location shortly before he collapsed, unable to stand on his injured leg any longer."

"And your guards, they are aware of this...interrogation session?"

"No, of course not. They are thugs and half-wits. Why would I involve them in an intricate interrogation?"

"You know, Klink, I may have misjudged you," Hochstetter said. Klink smiled, pleased with himself. "I doubt it," Hochstetter added then, frustrated, striding toward the car. "If you are lying, Klink, you will have the opportunity to sample some of those...exotic devices, as you called them. Release the prisoner." He ordered his guards, who pulled Hogan back out of the car, giving him a shove that landed him on the ground. Despite the pain that must have plagued him from a fall that seemed to twist his bad leg, Hogan struggled to his feet, obviously determined not to let Hochstetter demean him in front of his men.

In a cloud of dust, Hochstetter's car roared toward the front gate and through it. Klink released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding until the gate closed behind it.

"What did you say to him?" Hogan asked in a hushed voice.

"I simply explained to him that I was interrogating you yesterday afternoon, and told him about you giving up that homemade radio," Klink responded. Hogan looked at him, speechless for the only time in the years Klink had known him. "You do remember being forced to stand on your injured leg until you talked?"

"I didn't before, but it's coming back to me now," Hogan quipped, limping in place a bit to relieve the pain it was causing him with no crutch or cane.

"Schultz, get the crutch," Klink ordered.

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant!" Schultz replied, beaming. He seemed genuinely relieved that Hogan had been spared the fate of a lengthy Gestapo interrogation. He handed Hogan the crutch, and he leaned gratefully on it.

"Thanks, Schultz." When the portly guard was out of earshot, Hogan looked Klink in the eyes intently. "You know that Hochstetter will have you shot as a traitor if he finds out you made all this up."

"Security at this camp is impenetrable. So I know you couldn't have been on that road," Klink retorted. "There was little point in him wasting his time while the real guilty party got away." He was uncomfortable under Hogan's intent gaze, and completely unwilling and unprepared to admit in so many words that he didn't have the heart to stand by and see Hogan tortured and likely killed as a spy. His cold exterior was a must to keep his tenuous position with Burkhalter and with the men under his command. Sympathy for an American prisoner suspected of spying would get him killed before he even realized what was happening.

"Thank you, Kommandant. I know what you just did."

"Of course you do. You just witnessed it. You should really elevate that leg and put some ice on it. We won't be catering to your escape-related injury for the rest of the war," Klink snapped, turning on his heel and striding back into his office, past his stunned secretary, who had watched through the window as the events unfolded, and into his private office, slamming the door behind him and leaning against the back of it. His heart pounded, his palms were sweaty inside his gloves, and he had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.

I lied to the Gestapo. Not just a little lie, but a big, fat, contrived, fairly tale. And for the sake of a prisoner, no less. A prisoner who would probably sell me out without hesitation if the situation were reversed. But then again, maybe not. Hogan has bailed me out of certain ruin more than once...but Hogan had to have his own reasons for doing that.

Klink took off his hat and coat, then peeled off his leather gloves. He poured himself some schnapps with a shaky hand and downed the shot in one gulp. He'd never tortured a prisoner in his life, and it had taken him some quick creative thinking to come up with how he could single-handedly torture Hogan in his office in the middle of the day without his secretary knowing, or without the help of his guards.

Fraulein Hilda was no threat. The comely blonde was so enamored with Hogan that she would probably say anything to save his neck, not to mention the rest of him. Hogan would spread the lie to his men, and they would stick to the story. That thought, and another shot of schnapps, began to calm his nerves. Hogan was still the enemy, but at this level, in a matter of life, death, and torture, it was impossible to see him that way. How could you stand by and watch the gruesome death of someone you played chess with on a number of bleak, cold winter nights? Or someone whose dynamic presence and constant scheming kept what could be a horribly dull life anything but dull? Or someone who had bartered and negotiated and in a weird sort of way, been a partner in keeping hundreds of prisoners managed and not escaping?

Hogan was the enemy by uniform, but he was a strange sort of partner in another sense. Whatever he was, Klink was glad he'd saved his life. And very happy to have sent Hochstetter away, frustrated, searching for another scapegoat.


"Are you all right, Colonel?" LeBeau asked the moment Hogan was within earshot of his men. They gathered around him, concerned, as they all made their way back to the barracks. LeBeau's hand was in the middle of his back, the small gesture of contact reassuring both of them until they could risk more intimate touches.

"I'm fine. The leg's getting better every day. It's just not a hundred percent yet. We've got a bigger problem. Hochstetter must have checked with the brass in Berlin and couldn't trace the execution order for Heydrich and the Sandburgs."

"I thought the whole point was that those things were under wraps, secret, unofficial!" LeBeau protested.

"They are. But apparently the wrong person told him no such order was given. Maybe he got the word from Himmler. Whatever happened, he knows it was a phony, and he's going to be looking for them. Most of Germany is going to be looking for them."

"What are we gonna do, sir? The sub's coming for them tonight?" Kinch asked.

"There's too much heat on the Underground. Get a message to them right now. The goons will have radio detection trucks all over the area, especially now that Hochstetter doesn't have a new toy to play with back in Berlin. Before they get set up, get a message off. We can't move tonight. I don't know exactly when or how we will move, but we won't do it tonight."

"We can hide them in the tunnel for a long time," LeBeau suggested. "We don't have a lot of food, but we have enough to keep them fed and it's better than being shot."

"Maybe once the heat dies down a little..." Hogan sat at the table, and the others followed suit. "There is one way we could handle this, but it would be pretty elaborate."

"That's never stopped us before, boy," Carter said, enthusiastically, then added, "Sir."

"Say the Gestapo execution squad were really friends of Heydrich's. We'd have to come up with names–krauts we could frame."

"They may have alibis," Newkirk said. "How could that work?"

"First of all, if Hochstetter's back is against the wall to nail someone, he'll take anybody. He doesn't care if they're guilty–he's Gestapo, remember? Second, it doesn't matter if the leads pan out. We just have to have some names to give them."

"What good would that do? The heat's off you–what did Klink say, anyway?" Kinch asked.

"He told Hochstetter he was interrogating me at the time. Actually, he was torturing me for information, and I surrendered a homemade radio" Hogan added with a smile.

"Why can't I envision that?" LeBeau asked, chuckling.

"We gave up that radio a few months ago, remember? Klink must still have it in his storage room," Hogan added, shaking his head. "I'm not sure why Klink decided to bail me out, but I'm glad he did."

"Maybe because if you were outside of camp, it means his no-escape record is a joke," Newkirk suggested.

"Yeah, maybe. Anyway, if we could convince the krauts that Heydrich and Sandburg's mother escaped to Switzerland, they'd call off the search."

"What about Sandburg?" LeBeau asked.

"Somebody has to be arrested to tell the story, and he's the logical one to do it," Hogan concluded.

"They'll kill him. We can't hand him over the goons," Carter protested.

"I don't trust Heydrich enough to use him for this, and he's got more and better resources to get Sandburg's mother out of Germany safely. Sandburg and his mother would be easy targets, but Heydrich is craftier and nastier, and he's a native. Put him in disguise and he can still speak the language fluently and blend in better than Sandburg could. They have a fighting chance to get out, but we have to give the goons something to play with in the mean time."

"I can't believe you are suggesting handing him over," LeBeau said, visibly outraged.

"Only temporarily. Once we get the other two safely on their way, we'll spring him."

"Just like that, from Gestapo headquarters?" Newkirk said, eyes widening.

"Maybe not. Maybe we can get the initial interrogation to happen here, at Stalag 13."

"Hochstetter would never go for that," Kinch said, frowning.

"If Sandburg surrendered here, to Klink and his men, and Klink could bring Burkhalter in on it, maybe Burkhalter would pull rank on Hochstetter to keep Sandburg as his prisoner. I'd rather see him in Klink's and Burkhalter's custody than the Gestapo's." Hogan paused. "Look, this is risky at best, but we're painted into a corner here. The woods are crawling with Gestapo men, and we can't even poke our noses out of the tunnel without being shot. We have to get them out of here if we're going to make this work."

"I don't like it," LeBeau said.

"Me, neither," Carter agreed.

"I'm sorry, Colonel, but I'm not crazy about it myself," Kinch said.

"It's suicide, and handing Sandburg to those krauts is the same thing as killin' 'im ourselves," Newkirk said. "We might as well shoot 'im and be done with it."

"Okay, now look, keeping them here is shutting this operation down. Things are getting hot enough to burn us. Badly. First they start combing the woods, then they bring in radio detection units, pretty soon they're tearing this place apart because it's somewhere near where it happened. We need to make a move to take the heat off ourselves and the Underground."

"So we throw an innocent man to the wolves?" LeBeau challenged, and for a split second, Hogan was more wounded that LeBeau would think he'd do such a thing than he was focused on countering the statement.

"Kinch, radio London and tell them what we're planning. Then radio the Underground. Get the names of some krauts we can set up for the execution squad."

"Yes, sir," Kinch said, giving Hogan a disappointed look, but heading for the tunnel.

"I'll go talk to Sandburg."

"They know he's a Jew, Colonel," Carter said. "They could just kill him or send him to a camp–"

"They could do a lot of things. But he's a valuable prisoner, no matter who or what he is, and Burkhalter is going to want the credit with old bubblehead for catching him and making him crack. Klink and Burkhalter are a lot less likely to hurt him to get information. All this depends on split-second timing and everyone playing his part. A lot could go wrong. But if it works, we'll rescue Sandburg on his way to Gestapo headquarters."

"Another execution squad? They'll never buy that," Carter protested.

"No, I was thinking more along the lines of sending our very own Gestapo men to pick him up. We'll just have to get around Hochstetter somehow, and the best way around him is Burkhalter, even if it's a big detour." Hogan paused. "LeBeau, go get Sandburg and bring him to my quarters."

"You know this is crazy," LeBeau said, rising to follow the order.

"If I stopped for that, we wouldn't have tried most of the operations we've tried in the last few years."


"I just can't believe we aren't leaving tonight," Naomi said, pacing. "How long are we supposed to live in this dank prison of Hogan's? We might as well have been captured."

"If you had been captured, liebschen, you would be suffering with mangled limbs and burnt flesh, if you were alive at all," Heydrich said coldly, not looking up from the book he was reading. "Sit down and relax."

"Mom, he's right. We've got to let Hogan handle this the way he thinks is best. If we go up top now, it would be suicide."

"We should have never gone along with them. We should have just run when they thought we were dead."

"Run where?" Heydrich said, laying the book aside with a chuckle. "Just set off across the countryside on foot? No maps, no food, no supplies? And those shoes are very becoming, my dear, but they are not made for a mountainous foot journey."

"Some people are in hiding in worse places than this to stay safe," Blair said. "We're warm, fed, safe–we should be grateful, not complaining."

"I am grateful we're safe. I'm just frustrated living in a cave. When I thought we were leaving tonight, it wasn't all that bad. But now that I know we're stuck here for God knows how long..."

"Nadine, please sit down and relax," Heydrich said, his patience obviously wearing thin.

"My name is not Nadine!"

"It is until we leave Germany. Now sit down and be quiet. You are behaving like a spoiled child."

Blair watched the exchange with interest, and was even more stunned when his mother actually sat down and stopped her incessant complaining. Maybe she really had met her match in Heydrich.

"When we get to England, we will plan our honeymoon. Travel to some exotic location that has no part in this war. But for now, we must be patient, careful, and quiet," he added, his tone much more gentle this time.

"Blair, you know a lot about exotic places. You can help us choose a spot! Oh, honey, you could come with us, be our tour guide. Konrad, wouldn't that be delightful? We could see some remote place with someone who knows all the best sights and–"

"Excuse moi," LeBeau interrupted as he arrived in the alcove where they were sitting. "Colonel Hogan wants to talk to you," he said to Blair.

"Okay." Blair rose to go with LeBeau.

"Is it about our leaving?" Naomi asked hopefully.

"I'm sure Colonel Hogan will explain everything," LeBeau responded.

"But you already know what's happening? Why won't you tell us?"

"Because it's up to his commanding officer to tell us, liebschen."

"You men and your protocols," Naomi groused. "Can't answer a simple question without turning it into a chain of command issue."

"I'll fill you in on everything when I get back, Mom. Just have a little patience. It's not like we've got anything else to do."

Blair took in LeBeau's dire expression and silence as he led the way to the ladder that would take them up to the barracks.

"You're awfully quiet," Blair said before starting up the ladder.

"Colonel Hogan will explain everything."

"I'm not going to like what I hear, am I?" Blair said.

"I really don't know. I wouldn't care much for it myself," LeBeau admitted as he followed Blair up the ladder.

Once LeBeau had escorted Blair to Hogan's office, and closed the door behind him, Blair looked at the commanding officer a bit nervously. Hogan wasn't an ominous persona, and they'd come to a sort of understanding when they talked, but Hogan's expression was grimmer than usual, and Blair could read people well enough to spot bad news on the horizon.

"Pull up a stool," Hogan invited, gesturing at the other stool near his desk. Once Blair was seated, he said, "Well, you already know the Gestapo found out the execution squad was a fake."

"That's why we're not moving."

"We're in a real bind here, Blair. They're not going to give up until they find you, your mother, and the count. Hochstetter's back is against the wall, and he isn't going to quit until he finds a scapegoat. It was almost me, but Klink diverted him."

"Klink diverted him? I thought you said Klink was kind of an idiot."

"Most of the time, he seems like one, but he sure managed a neat trick today. Hochstetter had me in the back of the car on the way to be interrogated. Klink claimed he'd tortured me yesterday," Hogan added, smiling to the point of almost laughing.

"Klink wouldn't torture someone?"

"He's not really bloodthirsty, despite the fact he likes to pretend he is. Old Blood and Guts."

"That's his nickname? Klink?"

"Never know it to look at him." Hogan smiled, then his expression became serious. "I'm procrastinating. I need to ask you to do something very difficult, and very risky, to get us out of this mess."

"Me? What?" Blair asked, confused.

"I need you to surrender to Klink's guards, let them capture you and bring you back into camp as a prisoner."

"They'll kill me."

"No they won't. Well, there's always a risk when you're talking about arresting someone on the Fuhrer's bad side, but my best guess is that you're all wanted alive, not dead. Especially if they grab only one of you. The plan is for Klink and Burkhalter to interrogate you, and you to feed them exactly what we want them to know. Burkhalter will call Hitler, get the credit for himself for having captured one of you, and then he'll do the questioning."

"You think he's just going to serve me tea and ask me questions? You're asking me to walk back into torture. I don't know if I can do that again."

"I'm asking you to risk it. If the plan goes well, you won't be tortured. Maybe smacked a couple of times, but nothing life threatening, because you'll give Burkhalter what he wants to hear before he really takes the gloves off or hands you over to the Gestapo. We need you to tell them the execution squad was a phony, and give them some names, and tell them they were friends of Heydrich's."

"So I should frame a bunch of people?"

"Nazis, Sandburg. Whether they qualify as people is another whole discussion. The same guys who would shoot all three of you and then go to dinner and celebrate."

"I get the point," Blair said, holding up a forestalling hand.

"You're also going to tell them that your mother and Heydrich made it to Switzerland."

"And they just left me here?"

"You never wanted to escape in the first place. You wanted to continue your work here, but you were forced into going along with the escape, and you were afraid you'd be seen as a traitor because of your association with Heydrich, so you went along with them through the actual escape. Your conscience bothered you, and as a scientist, you couldn't abandon your work, because you're just positive a Sentinel will be found among such a strong, superior people as the Germans."

"Excuse me while I throw up."

"I know it's a little hard to say, but you'll be amazed how much bullshit will flow out of you when the need arises."

"The voice of experience?"

"I've done my share of fertilizing when the situation called for it," Hogan admitted, chuckling. Then, he became serious again. "Sandburg, I'm asking a lot of you, I know that. I don't trust Heydrich to carry this off and not sell out our whole operation–he might just be arrogant enough to think he could make a deal, just like he thought his escape plan was going to work. Obviously, none of us would consider turning your mother over to the goons. I think you can do this."

"Not that I don't appreciate the vote of confidence, but it just seems like so much could go wrong."

"A lot could go wrong. Burkhalter could hand you over to Hochstetter, you could get yourself shot...there are a lot of risks. You could break under torture and tell them about our whole operation and get us all executed and our operation shut down, and your mother and Heydrich arrested and killed."

"How do you live like this? I mean, I'm frozen here. I'm scared to death of what you're suggesting, but you've been risking all that with everything you've done for us. Every time you do one of these spying missions or help someone escape. How do you deal with that? I couldn't handle it."

"You'd be amazed what you can handle when you have to. It's been a long road, and I could use a vacation," Hogan added, his smile faint and tinged with a telltale fatigue. "But I believe in what we're doing, and the value in it, so I keep doing it. I believe in defeating Hitler. If I have to give my life to do that, then I will. It's a level of risk you learn to live with. Until you get caught, of course, and then you wonder if you were nuts to get yourself into this mess."

"That's me," Blair said.

"Being a hero doesn't mean you aren't scared or you don't have doubts or you don't wish you weren't stuck in the mess you're in. Being a hero is defined by what you do about that mess. You've got the strength, and you've got the selflessness to be a hero. That's what I need to make this plan work, because frankly, it's one of the riskier ones I've tried with live bait, so to speak."

"Can I think about it?"

"I can give you a few minutes, but I need a decision. This has to be set in motion right away."

"I'll do it," Blair blurted.

"You're sure?"

"No, but if I think about it too much, I'll chicken out. I think you're doing what's best for us–at least, the best that can be done. But you're going to have to restrain my mother somehow. I'm not kidding. She'll try to give herself up or something if she thinks it'll save me, and she won't listen to you. She'll do what she wants."

"We'll keep her in check."

"You don't know my mother. I'm serious here, Colonel Hogan. You've got to keep her under some kind of watch."

"Okay, I will. I'm sure we can get volunteers. Your mother's not all that unpleasant to watch," Hogan added with a grin. "I'm more concerned about Ellison playing Lone Ranger."

"Maybe you should let me talk to him. He probably won't go along with you if he isn't sure I'm really in agreement with this."

"Tell Kinch to get him over here. I think you're right."


Jim was surprised to be summoned to Hogan's quarters, and even more surprised to see Blair there, above ground. He barely restrained himself from pulling his lover into his arms to greet him the way that seemed natural now.

"As you know, things have kind of fallen apart for the original plan to get our guests out of the tunnel and safely to England," Hogan began. "We've had to move to plan B."

"Which is?"

"Well, something has to happen to distract the goons, to convince them that finding their escaped prisoners is hopeless. I've come up with a plan, and Sandburg's agreed to it. We're going to let Klink capture Sandburg–"

"They'll kill him!" Jim protested immediately.

"No they won't. Klink is going to want to question him, make a big name for himself. I'll work on Klink to include Burkhalter in the questioning and the credit. Burkhalter can go toe to toe with Hochstetter and win. Klink might buckle. Before today, I wouldn't have given him credit for being able to hold out at all."

"You're asking him to commit suicide," Jim said, gesturing at Blair.

"Hey, I'm still here, remember? Look, Jim, it's a risk, but I think Colonel Hogan can make it work. I could hide here, but trust me, my mom would never last hiding out in a tunnel until the heat died down. This is the only way to get them out safely."

"Why can't you use Heydrich?" Jim challenged. "Let him be arrested and get Blair and his mother out of the country."

"I can't trust him not to sell us out if the going gets rough. I trust Blair to protect his mother and this operation if need be."

"So you expect this to involve torture?"

"I don't expect it to, or I wouldn't suggest it. But I acknowledge it as a risk. Besides, Heydrich might be arrogant enough to think he could strike a deal, and we all know how well his plans work out. I'm going to give Sandburg some names he can use to frame a few krauts for being part of the phony execution squad and escape. London intelligence is going to send us names–Kinch is in the radio room right now waiting to hear back from them. Sandburg can 'crack' very early in the game and tell them what they most want to know, and then he's got to sell them on the idea that he's still on their side."

"You don't have to do this, Chief," Jim said, taking a hold of Blair's shoulders. "It's asking way too much."

"No, Jim, it's not. Colonel Hogan and his men risked everything to rescue me, and even put up with me demanding they include my mother in the bargain. And then when she shows up with a Gestapo count boyfriend, they even take him in on the deal because she's in love with him. Compared to all that, it's not really asking all that much that I take some risk here."

"Ellison, I don't need your permission to move forward with this operation, but your willing compliance and participation will make it flow a lot more smoothly. I don't take Sandburg's life lightly, and we're going to rescue him before the Gestapo gets a chance to work him over."

"How?" Jim asked, barely looking away from Blair to have eye contact with Hogan.

"One of two ways. Either we send our own 'Gestapo' men here to pick him up and transport him–that's my first choice–or we make a direct assault on the vehicle carrying him to Gestapo headquarters if the bad guys pick him up first. In any event, we'll do all we can to keep him out of Gestapo custody."

"Too much could go wrong. Sandburg, you can't be serious about doing this."

"I want to do it, Jim. I want my mom out of Germany. And I want to do something that matters in this war besides doing fake tests on a bunch of fat generals on Hitler's staff."

"This isn't a game, Blair. You could end up dead–or worse. You could end up back in Detweiler's custody."

"Do this for me, Jim. Cooperate with Colonel Hogan. Help us make this work."

"You really want to do this?"

"I really do. Colonel Hogan didn't pressure me. He asked me to do it, and I had a chance to say 'no'."

Jim nodded, feeling more than a little defeated, and thoroughly terrified for Blair's fate.

"If it's what you want, you know I'll go along with it," Jim finally said.

"I wouldn't dream of assuming orders might play into this somewhere," Hogan quipped, shaking his head and smiling a little.

"They will now, sir."


Dressed in the clothing he'd worn when they escaped, Blair made his way through the woods, his heart pounding. He had to make it to the front gate of the camp to surrender to Klink's guards. If the Gestapo caught him first, his fate would be sealed. Crouching in the bushes, he could see the gate now, guards patrolling, well-trained German Shepherds at their sides. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw the distinctive and reassuring outline of Schultz. As the amiable sergeant of the guard made a rare appearance near the gate, Blair made his move.

"Don't shoot! I surrender! I'm unarmed!" he shouted, waiting while the commotion registered with Schultz, who then clumsily sprang into action, aiming his rifle at Blair.

"Halt!" he ordered Blair, then directed one of the other guards to open the gate and let the prisoner inside the camp. With his hair loose from the pony tail, dirt on his face, and his clothing slightly tattered and soiled, Blair looked the part of the bedraggled fugitive. "You have caused a lot of trouble, Professor," Schultz scolded as Blair entered the camp, his arms still raised. "Kommandant Klink will have a lot of questions for you!" he added, ushering Blair quickly toward the kommandant's quarters.

In response to the commotion, Klink emerged from his bedroom in his nightshirt, a dark blue robe, slippers...and a black fishnet hairnet. Despite the fear that nearly overpowered him at times with this whole scheme of Hogan's, Blair could barely refrain from laughing. The bald kommandant in his nightclothes and hairnet was almost too much to bear.

"Professor Sandburg! What is the meaning of this?" he demanded, and Schultz stiffened as if coming to attention.

"I captured him outside the gate, Herr Kommandant!" he announced proudly. Blair had to roll his eyes at that. He'd done all but jump into the waiting arms of the Germans, and Schultz was boasting of his capture.

"I surrendered, Kommandant," Blair spoke up, and Schultz looked distinctly nervous.

"Now that, I believe," Klink said, a bit of his bluster receding. Just then, Hogan barged in the door of Klink's quarters, joining the group in the sitting room.

"What's all the commotion? Professor Sandburg? I thought he was dead!"

"Hogan, what are you doing out of the barracks at this hour?" Klink asked.

"I heard all the commotion at the gates, and I was worried one of my men had foolishly attempted an escape. I wanted to be sure no one got hurt."

"Schultz, take Colonel Hogan back to the barracks. I must call Major Hochstetter at once."

"Hochstetter?" Hogan asked, then shrugged.

"He is Hochstetter's prisoner!"

"And wanted by the Gestapo and Hitler himself. It'd be a nice feather in the cap of the officer who actually has him in custody."

Klink seemed to inflate at that, and with a pleased smile, he agreed. "I am sure my success in recapturing the prisoner will not go unnoticed."

"It will if you turn him over to Hochstetter. You really think Hochstetter's going to admit that you recaptured his prisoner? Burkhalter won't even know the truth, let alone the Fuhrer." At Klink's troubled expression, Hogan added, "But I'm sure you've already thought of that."

"I have? Oh, yes, of course." Klink paused a moment. "What am I doing?" he finally added.

"You've probably decided to call Burkhalter instead of Hochstetter."

"That's right. Of course, I will call General Burkhalter," Klink said, nodding in agreement. "Ah, Burkhalter will get the credit for his capture anyway." Klink made a dismissive gesture with his hand.

"Maybe with the big brass, but he'll know who really captured Sandburg, and you never know when that might mean a set of general's stripes for a certain efficient and loyal kommandant."

Klink paused briefly, then picked up the phone. "Get me General Burkhalter at once!"


Blair paced the floor of the cold, dank cell. It was too much like the accommodations at Gestapo headquarters to suit him. Burkhalter had ordered him held there until he arrived, and questioning was not to begin without him. Klink had seemed disappointed by that, but in a way, it would save the time of playing the charade with two different interrogators. Finally tiring of pacing, Blair sat on the bunk and began to stew about the possibility that the Gestapo would get wind of all this and beat Burkhalter to camp. He jumped in surprise when a section of the wall slowly opened at floor level, and Hogan poked his head out, carrying a flashlight, which he turned off now that he was in the cell.

"You have tunnels leading in here, too?" Blair asked in a whisper.

"We have more tunnels than the New York subway system," Hogan said, straightening up and moving stealthily toward the metal door that separated them from the corridor.

"Schultz is guarding me. I heard him pacing out there for a while, but then it got quiet."

"He's down for the count by now," Hogan said, checking his watch. "He's found a chair somewhere and nodded off."

"Has something happened?"

"No, nothing. That's why I came. There's no sign of the Gestapo, and Burkhalter should be here any minute. He has a little chalet not too far from here, and according to Newkirk, who was tapping Klink's phone when he made the call, that's where Burkhalter was when he got the news."

"If the Gestapo doesn't know about this, how is that going to help get their extra patrols out of the area? They're still looking for us."

"Burkhalter's a good, loyal kraut when it comes to dealing wisely with the Gestapo. He'll come here, question you, get all the credit for having captured and 'cracked' you, but he'll notify the Gestapo shortly thereafter, and when they react by pulling the extra patrols, we'll process your mother and Heydrich through the system and get them out of Germany. The Underground's on standby. We've had one slight change of plans with springing you. We've wired a bridge between here and Gestapo headquarters. We'll ambush the car, get you out, and then send it across the bridge and blow it. The krauts will figure you're dead, too. Otherwise, it'll be too hot to move you."

"So you'll just blow up the guys who come to pick me up? They might be just average soldiers, doing their jobs–"

"They're the enemy, Sandburg. I can't worry about who they are or why they're doing what they're doing. I just have to stop them from doing it. Trust me, they'd shoot you in a heartbeat if you tried to escape. These aren't boy scouts we're talking about."

"I know. I just can't get used to killing people like that. They get in the way, so kill them. They have families and most of them are so young."

"Yeah, well, you're young and you have a family. So are most of the guys on our side. War is a young man's business when it comes to actual combat and action assignments. That's not my concern. Getting you out of Germany alive is."

"What about Jim? What's going to happen when I give them this spiel about being sure a Sentinel is out there?"

"You're going to tell them that Ellison isn't one. He's got a couple of acute senses, but nothing more than some of the krauts you've tested. You can say you stalled a little because of your mother's and Heydrich's visit. Just follow the plan, the way we talked about, and you'll do just fine. We'll make sure Ellison is taken care of. We don't want him in the hands of the enemy any more than you do."

"Yeah, but your reasons are different."

"I might not be in love with the guy, but he's an American, and one of us now. We'll do all we can to protect him, and if an opportunity arises, to get him out of here. You'll have to trust me on that."

Somewhere in the building, a door opened and closed, and footsteps were approaching.

"I gotta go. Hang in there, Sandburg. This'll all work out." With that, Hogan retreated swiftly back into the tunnel, pulling the mobile portion of the wall back into place just as the key was inserted in the lock to open Blair's cell door.

"Professor Sandburg," Burkhalter began, leading the contingent of himself, Klink, and two guards. "How nice of you to drop by."

"I hope you'll give me an opportunity to explain myself, General," Blair said, and Burkhalter smiled a feral grin.

"You will have ample opportunity to do that, I assure you. Bring him to the kommandant's office," Burkhalter directed the guards. "We will have a nice, long talk about your little adventure, Professor," he said to Blair before retreating out the door again.


"They just arrived in Klink's office," LeBeau updated Hogan as the officer joined his men around the coffee pot in his office to listen.

"Is the bridge all set?" Hogan asked Carter, who nodded, grinning evilly.

"All we have to do is push down that plunger, and kaboom-bang-boom–"

"I get the picture, Carter, thanks," Hogan responded.

"I hope you made it clear to Sandburg that he didn't have to hold out for torture to give up some names, sir," Ellison said.

"I'm sure Sandburg can handle the assignment," Hogan stated calmly.


"We know the Gestapo execution squad was a phony, so you should save yourself the trouble of denying that."

"I don't deny it," Blair said. "They were friends of the Count."

"Do these friends have names?"

"I didn't really catch all their names, sir," Blair said, looking down at his nervously fidgeting hands as he sat in a chair in Klink's office. The kommandant was behind his desk, watching the exchange with keen interest, while Burkhalter paced around his prisoner.

"You traveled a significant distance with these men who freed you from Gestapo custody. You don't expect me to believe that you didn't know who they were, do you?"

"They were friends of the Count. I didn't say I didn't know who they were, just that I didn't remember all their names."

"We'll go back to that question in a few moments," Burkhalter said, apparently deciding to try the charming approach, smiling at his captive. "Why are you here, and where are your mother and Count Heydrich?"

"They're in Switzerland. When we made it to the border, I couldn't do it. I couldn't go along."

"Why not?"

"This is going to sound very strange, I know, but the Fuhrer, and some of the German officers I've worked with, are the first people who have really respected my research and believed in my dream of finding a Sentinel. I couldn't betray that trust, or abandon my research."

"You are already seen as a traitor, Professor."

"I was hoping that I could somehow put myself at the Fuhrer's mercy, and ask his forgiveness. I didn't go to Switzerland with my mother and the Count. I came back. Herr Hitler put an enormous amount of trust and resources at my disposal, and I couldn't betray that. Our politics might be different, but when it comes to the search for the truth about Sentinels, we are of a single mind. He believes we will find one among the German people, and I agree. In all the behavioral research I've done, I believe that the German military men possess a superior level of intelligence and ability. It makes sense that within that context, we'd find someone with heightened sensory abilities."

"So you gave up a clean escape to Switzerland to risk your life returning to Germany as a traitor to continue your research?"

"Yes, but largely to repay the Fuhrer's faith in me, and respect for my research. I couldn't go through with betraying his trust that way."

"If you are so loyal to the Fuhrer, then you will be willing to give up the names of those who are traitors to the Third Reich."


"Come on, Sandburg, start giving him the names," Hogan said as they listened in to the exchange.

"He can't give them up too fast," Kinch said.

"He's fawning too much to hold back names," Hogan responded, drumming his fingers on the desktop.

"Shouldn't we do something?" Ellison asked. Hogan looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"What would you suggest, Captain? We have to ride this out, at least at this point. If it gets hairy, we'll create a diversion, do something to get him off the hook."


"Those people will be executed if I give their names."

"That is not your concern, Professor. You have enough to worry about for yourself."

"One of them was a real Gestapo officer," Blair began, hesitantly. "Major Hoffmeyer. The other two may or may not have been military–he never used a rank when he introduced them or addressed them. Koepler and Mueller were the other names he used. The fourth man he only addressed as 'Hans.' I have no idea what his last name was."

"Surely you have some indication who these men were, besides Hoffmeyer."

"Not really. My guess would be that Koepler and Mueller were both officers of some sort, but he seemed more familiar with them, as if they were more equal in standing. Hoffmeyer seemed more respectful, and Heydrich treated him more like someone with lower rank than himself. Hans...if I had to guess, I'd say maybe he was a former domestic of Heydrich's. He seemed to know the Count really well, and he knew who my mother was, but they weren't exactly friends. And yet there was no mention of, Hans was an older guy."

"How do you know your mother and the Count are in Switzerland?"

"Because I got away from the group right before they crossed the border. I made my decision, but I was afraid they'd stop me. I knew my mother would never go along with hurting me or killing me, but I didn't know if I could trust Heydrich not to shoot me–that maybe he'd be worried I'd sell his friends out. And I wanted my mother out of the country. She should be safe, somewhere the war won't touch her. She wouldn't have left without me."

"So why are you really here, selling Heydrich's friends out, as you say?"

"I told you. I couldn't betray the Fuhrer's trust in me, and I couldn't turn my back on what I believe is my best chance of finding a Sentinel–here, in Germany."

"But you betray the men who saw to your mother's safe passage to Switzerland?"

"They did whatever they did for the Count, and while I'm glad my mother is safe, I don't owe him any special debts. I don't pretend that I would do anything to endanger my mother's life. I would have never come forward and identified any of these men if she were not already safely out of Germany." Blair paused. "Would you sell your own mother's life easily?"

"We must notify Major Hochstetter at once. Professor Sandburg is my prisoner, but he has given us information that must be investigated immediately," Burkhalter told Klink.

"Major Hochstetter will want to take him back to Berlin for more questioning. He was operating under the orders of Colonel Detweiler," Klink said, frowning.

"Major Hochstetter and his boss, Colonel Detweiler, will do as I say. I am contacting the Fuhrer at once. This was his project, and he will make the final determination of Professor Sandburg's fate, and the future of his research." Burkhalter paused. "Professor, you will be returned to your cell, and you had better hope the Fuhrer is in a benevolent frame of mind. I assure you, his anger is not pretty. I will use your quarters for my telephone calls, Klink," Burkhalter added, striding out of the office.

"Jawohl, Herr General," Klink said, though Burkhalter was already out the door.


"Sandburg did quite well," LeBeau commented, disconnecting the coffee pot. "Kept his cool."

"He's very committed to what he's doing," Ellison said.

"That he is," Hogan agreed. "Once Hochstetter is notified, we can move Heydrich and Sandburg's mother." Hogan checked his watch. "We've got enough hours of darkness if they get moving. Burkhalter may pull those patrols out of the woods himself. Newkirk, get down to the switchboard and keep tabs on the General's phone calls."

"Right, sir." Newkirk hurried off to his assignment.

"Don't even think about it," Hogan said to Ellison, who looked at him, surprised. "It's too risky."

"I don't know what you mean, sir," Ellison responded, and Hogan just smiled. Kinch, Carter, and LeBeau left the office, heading down to the tunnel to prepare their guests for a hasty departure.

"Give me some credit, Ellison," Hogan said, smiling. "I can hear the wheels turning in your head from here. But making a trip through the tunnels to check on Sandburg isn't an option. This is a critical time."

"Hochstetter will probably torture him, and he knows it."

"Not necessarily. They've got quite a bit of information from him. There's not much more he can tell them. Besides, Burkhalter is on Hitler's staff, and he's got the principal figure in one of Hitler's pet projects in his custody. He may notify Hochstetter to call off the search, but I would be stunned if he handed Sandburg over to him."

"What if Hitler orders him executed?"

"Then he'll be transported to Berlin so they can make a big deal out of executing someone who betrayed the Fuhrer. We'll grab him before they get him there."

"I wish I could be that confident."

"I have to be that confident, or I'd be in a nuthouse by now," Hogan replied. "This isn't our most far-fetched scheme, Ellison. After you've been here a while, this'll look like a milk run."

"Nothing personal, sir, but I hope I'm not here that long."

"It's been a long war. I don't think any of us would object to going home."


Blair paced his cell, shivering at the dank atmosphere. He treasured the moments when his body was pain-free, and he wasn't feeling the immediate terror of watching a Nazi hover over him with some instrument of torture. He couldn't believe Hitler would be forgiving of his transgressions and just put him back to work on the Sentinel project as if nothing had ever happened. If his execution was ordered, he wondered if they'd just walk in and shoot him in the head, or if they'd transport him as Hogan believed they would. And if they did, would Hogan be able to pull off another rescue?

He looked at the spot in the wall near the floor where Hogan had emerged from the tunnel, and longed to see Jim make an appearance there. It would be horribly risky, and Hogan would have to be insane to permit it, but Blair couldn't help hoping. Even if all went well, he would be separated from Jim for a long time now. There was no getting around that. And not everyone was going to come home from this war alive. The sound of the cell door opening was a relief from that grim thought.


"You turned my son over to the Nazis!" Naomi accused, still sputtering despite the fact Hogan and his men were preparing to move her and Heydrich through the Underground's escape system now that Blair was keeping the Germans busy. Burkhalter had called off the extra patrols himself, and then called Hitler personally.

"We'll get him away from the krauts before anything serious happens to him," Hogan explained as Naomi adjusted the unfashionable hat that made her look more like a poor German frau traveling with her equally shabby husband. Heydrich didn't appear to care if they dressed him in an evening gown and pearls, as long as they got him out of Germany in one piece.

"They just might torture him a little!"

"They're taking Sandburg to see Hitler first thing in the morning. Burkhalter went back to headquarters tonight, but he's got Sandburg locked down in ultra heavy security in the meantime. All the extra guards are concentrating on the cooler and the area surrounding it. The tunnel entrances are clear."

"They're taking him to Hitler?" Naomi asked, incredulous.

"After Burkhalter explained the situation to Hitler on the phone, he summoned Burkhalter back to headquarters for a meeting with some of the Gestapo brass. But he was very clear that he wanted Sandburg brought to him alive for personal questioning. We'll spring him tomorrow."

"Colonel, we may have a little challenge on our hands," Kinch said, approaching them after receiving a message from London. "London wants Ellison at the same time," he added.

"Are they nuts? We can't send Ellison without blowing this whole thing!"

"You're losing control of all this, aren't you?" Naomi challenged. "You're losing control and my son is going to die!"

"Be calm, my dear," Heydrich said. "We're all still alive. This is a good operation."

"Two out of three isn't a good enough result for me! That's my son they're toying with!"

"We're not toying with anyone," Hogan said firmly, his patience wearing thin. "London didn't happen to mention how we're supposed to send them Ellison and still maintain our no-escape record here, did they?" he asked Kinch, the sarcasm plain in his voice.

"Their exact words were, 'Hogan will think of something. He always does.'"

"Swell." Hogan rubbed the bridge of his nose. "First things first. We have to get you two moving through the system right now. Mrs. Sandburg, don't worry about your son. We'll get him out of Germany."

"You don't even know how to get Ellison out. How can I be so sure you know how to save Blair?"

"Ellison was a curve we didn't expect. We've planned how to handle Blair's escape. He's doing this to give you a chance to get away, Mrs. Sandburg. You should take that chance and go now. The longer we wait, the riskier it is."

"It's time to go, liebschen," Heydrich said, guiding her toward the tunnel exit where Carter waited in civilian clothes to escort them to the next stop on the escape route.

"Colonel Hogan?" Naomi paused before ascending the ladder that would take her above ground.

"Yes?" Hogan moved closer to where she stood.

"I don't mean to be ungrateful. I know you've risked everything to save our lives. But you don't know what it's like to leave your child in the hands of those monsters."

"I have a mother back home, too. I know what the war has cost her. I might not have children of my own, but I think I have an idea of how you feel. Believe me, there's nothing about this I take lightly. Your son's safety is just as vital to us as Ellison's–maybe more, because he's a civilian entrusted to our care."

"Thank you," she said, pausing slightly before heading up the ladder.

"Colonel Hogan," Heydrich said, extending his hand. Hogan hesitated a moment, then shook it. "I never condoned Hitler's tactics. Naomi wasn't the only reason I wanted to leave Germany. Thank you for helping us."

"It's what we do," Hogan said, smiling. "Carter, keep things moving. I want you back undercover as soon as possible."

"Right, sir." Carter followed their two escapees up the ladder, and soon all three were off into the shadows of the night.

"Any ideas on how we can spring Ellison?" LeBeau asked. Tension seemed to radiate from Hogan, which was not usually the case. The resourceful officer almost always had a plan formulating in his overactive imagination instantly, but this seemed to be giving him pause.

"Did London say anything else, Kinch?" Hogan asked.

"They said Ellison was too valuable to risk keeping him here, especially if Sandburg makes nice with the krauts and they let him go back to his tests. If anything goes wrong with his rescue, and Ellison winds up in enemy hands, he could be the difference between winning and losing the war."

"We can't do a substitution. Klink knows him now, and so does Burkhalter." Hogan crossed his arms over his chest, frowning. "We have to kill him."

"What?" Newkirk's eyes bugged.

"Not literally," Hogan corrected, shaking his head. "The krauts have to think he's dead."

"Can we use the explosion that's supposed to kill off Sandburg?" LeBeau asked.

"It's about the only way I can think of. Get Ellison's jacket and make it look like it's been through an explosion. We'll take it with us when we spring Sandburg, and leave it near the site of the bridge explosion."

"How do we explain it, sir?" Kinch asked. "They'd know it if he was on the truck."

"He got to be friends with Sandburg, and made an ill-advised attempt to rescue him from being returned to Berlin. He was close to the truck when it exploded."

"You think the krauts'll buy that?" Kinch asked.

"I hope so. It's all we've got."


The click of the cell door lock was almost a relief from the pacing and uncertainty. Blair was relieved to see only Klink stride in, pretentious as ever, his riding crop tucked beneath his arm, hat askew, monocle in place.

"You are a very lucky man, Professor Sandburg," he said, and Blair still held his breath just a moment longer. "Lucky" could simply mean he was going to get a blindfold with his firing squad.

"I am, Kommandant?" he asked.

"Yes, it seems you are going to have an opportunity to convince the fuhrer of your sincerity."

"How would I do that?"

"First thing in the morning, you'll be transported to Berlin for a personal audience."

"That's a good thing?" Blair asked, then thought perhaps he should have refrained from asking Klink such a frank question.

"You're still alive, so I would say it is a good thing."

"Can't argue with that logic, I guess."

"You should get some sleep. You will be transported at dawn, and I would think you'd want to be at your best for this meeting."

"Thank you, Kommandant. You've been a very courteous host."

"Strange comment to make when you're spending the night in solitary confinement in the cooler," Klink responded.

"I wasn't really talking about tonight. You've been very courteous to me since I arrived, and offered me your best hospitality. I enjoyed being here," Blair said honestly, thinking back on his treatment here versus his treatment in the hands of the Gestapo.

"I'm pleased to hear that, Professor. Any project of the fuhrer's would receive my complete cooperation."

"I'm sure. Thank you anyway."

"Goodnight, Professor." With that, Klink left the cell, a guard closing the door behind him.

Blair sat on the cot, then finally stretched out on it, staring at the cold, gray ceiling of the cement room he occupied. At least he didn't fear being tortured here. Klink had no interest in badgering him, and it seemed like all the action was slated to take place in Berlin. Hopefully, Hogan and his men would intervene before then. As fatigue began to get the better of him, and his eyes drifted shut, he hoped Naomi and Heydrich were safely on their way.

And he dreamed of the time when he could doze off in Jim's arms, far from the war and all its ugliness.


As the men stood in the chilly morning air for roll call, a battered, well-folded note made it to Ellison. With the tunnel still filled in between his barracks and Hogan's, they were limited to primitive and not too efficient means of communicating. Flicking his eyes briefly toward where Klink was standing, giving one of his usual pompous orations, Jim carefully opened the small note.

"Meet Hogan after roll call. Urgent."

Stuffing the note in his pocket, he feigned attention through the rest of Klink's little speech. No truck had come yet for Blair, and the knowledge that the man he loved so dearly was only a few hundred feet away, locked up alone in a cell, tugged at him almost physically. He'd honored Hogan's orders not to attempt to see Blair, but it had taken every ounce of his willpower, and he'd truly only obeyed the order for Blair's safety. At least it seemed he was going to have a role in the actual rescue after all. He took some small comfort in that.

As soon as roll call ended, Ellison made his way casually toward where Hogan and his men were gathered near their barracks.

"London wants you out at the same time we spring Sandburg," Hogan said quietly, scanning the area for any guards who might overhear them.

"You mean I'm going to escape?" Jim asked in a whisper, ecstatic at the thought he might be reunited with Blair much sooner than he'd expected.

"Not exactly. You're going to be blown up."

"So that's why you wanted my jacket? I gave it to Carter last night, but he wouldn't tell me what it was all about. He said you'd fill me in," Jim said, shivering a little in the lighter jacket he'd been forced to wear in place of his fleece-lined bomber jacket.

"When Carter goes out to set off the bridge, you'll go with him. Once we've sprung Sandburg, and the bridge blows, we'll plant the jacket in an obvious spot even Klink's men will find. Then we'll send you to London with Sandburg. Which I'm sure you won't object to," Hogan added quietly, smiling knowingly.

"No, sir, I certainly stand ready to follow orders for the cause," Jim quipped.



The sharp command jolted Blair out of the fitful sleep he'd managed to achieve while awaiting his transport to Berlin. It was all he could do to keep his legs steady when Colonel Detweiler strode into the room.

"And so we meet again, Professor," Detweiler said, smiling sadistically. Blair wondered if, like any other vicious predator, Detweiler could smell his fear.

"I thought I was being taken to Berlin," Blair said.

"You are. The fuhrer wants to talk to you. But if you don't answer to his satisfaction, you will be returned to my custody," he added, obviously savoring the thought. "I insisted on handling security for your transfer."

"I came back of my own free will. I could be in Switzerland right now."

"Let us hope the fuhrer is more impressed with that story than I am."

"You mean you think you're smarter than Hitler? That I could fool him, but not you?" Blair said, loud enough so the guards in the doorway heard their conversation. Though trained to stay at attention until Detweiler said otherwise, the two men exchanged furtive glances.

"You impudent little schweinhunt!" Detweiler bellowed, moving closer. "Surely you haven't forgotten the price of disrespect," he spat, his breath hot and fowl in Blair's face.

"Fortunately, Herr Hitler values my intelligence and my research. That's why I came back. I owed it to him, to the faith he put in me, to come back and finish what I started."

Detweiler stared at him, actually dumbfounded for a moment.

"You lie very smoothly, Professor."

"You don't think I'm sincere? Why else would I be here?"

"I don't know, but as soon as the fuhrer is done with you, I intend to find out. Right before I have you shot." Detweiler stepped back, smiling as he pulled on his black leather gloves. "Now, we must not waste any more time in this place. Guards, put him in the truck," Detweiler ordered, walking briskly out of the cell.

Blair once again found himself flanked by Gestapo men, being hustled quickly out into the bright morning sunshine and shoved into the back of a German truck. He caught sight of Hogan, standing across the compound, near the barracks, with a few of his men. Hogan unobtrusively adjusted his cap, but Blair caught the gesture and the brief look in his direction. It was Hogan's way of reassuring him they were on the job.

Frantically scanning the compound for the last time as the truck's engine roared to life, Blair felt a crushing disappointment at not seeing Jim one more time, even from this distance. He'd hoped for just a quick glimpse, but maybe this was best. Seeing Jim and not touching him or saying goodbye would be too painful. He looked at the cold, unexpressive faces of the guards riding in back with him, taking some small comfort in Detweiler's decision to ride up front with the driver.


"Where are the others?" Jim asked nervously, watching the road ahead of them.

"They'll be here. Colonel Hogan knows what he's doing." Carter checked his watch.

"If they don't make it, we have to do something. We can't let them take Sandburg to Berlin."

"What do you think we should do, Captain? Just two of us?"

"Blow the bridge before the truck reaches it. Then follow my lead."

"I don't know, sir. I mean, those Gestapo guys play for keeps."

"Exactly. Would you want to be turned over to them as a traitor? If Blair can't do a convincing act for Hitler, Detweiler will have him again."

"Sandburg was tortured by him before?"

"Yeah, he was. I promised him I wouldn't let that happen to him again. I won't break that promise. I'll die keeping it if I have to."

"You got to be good friends with the professor, huh?" Carter asked, smiling. "He seems like a nice guy."

"He's the best," Jim said quietly. "I didn't like this plan from the start."

"I trust Colonel Hogan. He's never steered us wrong yet. He'll come through." Carter checked his watch again.

"I hear someone coming."

"On the road or up here?" Carter asked, referring to the thicket of shrubs on a hill where they were hiding, watching for the truck.

"Up here." Jim fell silent, picking up on the distant sounds of footsteps snapping twigs and disturbing earth and pebbles beneath their boots.

"I don't hear anything," Carter said, then smiled as Jim shot him a look. "Wow, that's pretty amazing, Captain. How far away do you think they are?"

The question made Ellison pause. It was one of the things he and Blair were just starting to work together on. His acute hearing could pick up things from vast distances, but the challenge then was to accurately estimate that distance. Without that ability, keen hearing was more of a curse than a blessing.

"I think they're just out of sight, that way," he said, pointing to a spot behind them. "It's Hogan and the others."

"How do you know that for sure?"

"Hogan still limps a bit, and that's his gait I'm hearing."


"I wish you'd quit saying that, Carter. Makes me feel like I'm putting on a magic act."

"Sorry. But it is pretty amazing. Back home, the stuff they used to do at the carnival wasn't even that amazing."

"The freak shows, you mean?" Jim said, though it was more rhetorical than anything. The thought of being a circus freak was always in the back of his mind, haunting him. Extraordinary people often wound up victims of their own uniqueness.

"I didn't mean it that way, Captain," Carter said, obviously troubled to have insulted Jim.

"It's all right. I guess it seems pretty remarkable to other people. To me, it's just who I am."

"No wonder the Allied Command wants you back home right away. You could win the war for us."

"I doubt it," Jim said, smiling. "Hogan does more in a couple days toward that than I'll do during the whole war. You don't need super senses to be a hero."

"The colonel's a pretty amazing guy. He's even turned down going home to stay here and head up this operation." Carter paused. "I don't know as I could do that."

Just then, Hogan and the others became visible over a nearby hill, stealthily moving toward them. When they arrived, Jim couldn't help asking about the time.

"What took you so long? They'll be here any second," Jim added.

"Klink called me into his office at the last minute. I couldn't very well tell him I had plans," Hogan responded. "You two stay here. After Carter sets off the bridge, we'll get Sandburg and Ellison started on the escape route," he said to the group, who all nodded.

"You sure you don't want me to come with you, Colonel? Sandburg's going to be heavily guarded."

"There's a driver, Detweiler, and a guard in back with him. We can take them," Hogan said, referring to himself, Kinch, Newkirk, LeBeau, and two other prisoners Jim didn't recognize. One word Hogan spoke stood out, and Jim seized on it.

"Detweiler's with them?"

"Don't concern yourself with him, Ellison," Hogan said, smiling a little wickedly as he checked his luger for ammo. "He'll be flying back to Berlin without a plane in about five minutes," he concluded, looking at his watch. "Okay, men, positions," he said, and they headed down the hill.

Jim wished he could have a little quality time with the Gestapo goon who had tortured Blair, but Detweiler was about to get what was coming to him. The rumble of the truck in the distance distracted him from delicious revenge fantasies, and he had to smile as Carter's hand flexed on the handle of the plunger that would set off the bridge. Carter was one of the nicest pyromaniacs he'd ever met.

"What do you think you'll do after the war, Carter?" Jim asked, smiling slightly.

"I haven't decided yet."

"You're pretty gifted with explosives. You should make use of that. Work for the government."

"These little bombs are great, but working for the government on bombs is probably going to mean working on atomic bombs. Nobody should push the plunger down on one of those."

"You're a wise man, Carter," Jim said.

"First time I've been accused of that around here," Carter replied, chuckling. "Here they come," he said, and Jim stifled a grin. He'd been tracking the truck's progress for a couple miles now, the big vehicle making enough noise to reach Sentinel ears long before it became visible from their hiding place.

Jim focused on Hogan and Newkirk as they calmly walked out into the road in front of the truck and ordered it to come to a halt. Using the skills Blair had managed to teach him in their brief time together, he concentrated on the men and filtered out the rumble of the truck's engine.

"What is the meaning of this?" Detweiler blustered.

"There has been an escape at Stalag 13. We must inspect your vehicle," Newkirk announced in a surprisingly smooth German accent. Hogan stood slightly off to the side, dressed in a Gestapo major's uniform.

"We are en route to Berlin with a very important prisoner!" Detweiler bellowed. "We just left Stalag 13, and there was no commotion there to indicate any sort of escape."

"It will only take a moment, sir, begging your pardon. We're under orders from General Burkhalter, Colonel," Hogan said, his accent a bit less fluid than Newkirk's, but obviously sufficient to convince the other officer.

Meanwhile, the rest of Hogan's contingent of prisoners disguised in their Gestapo uniforms silently overpowered the guard in the back of the truck and hustled Blair away from the road into a thicket of bushes. When Hogan saw they were clear, he gave a slight jerk of his head, and Newkirk and LeBeau aimed rifles at Detweiler and the driver.

"Drive," Hogan said, his voice cold and commanding, his gun aimed at Detweiler.

"What is the meaning of this?" Detweiler demanded.

"I can shoot you, or you can drive away from here alive. Your choice," LeBeau said, nudging the officer with the rifle he held. "Keep your hands where we can see them. Both of you!"

"You heard the man, Detweiler. I've got no problems with blowing you away right here," Hogan said, releasing the safety on his gun. "Drive. I'm not going to tell you again."

"This is an outrage!" Detweiler said, indignant. "You have come to free Sandburg, is that it?"

"You're sharp. No wonder old bubblehead made you a colonel," Hogan responded.

"I cannot face the Fuhrer without a prisoner in custody. You will hang for this!" he threatened.

"Maybe, but I won't be alone. You can die here, make a run for the border, or go back to Berlin and face the music. I don't care, but this is your last chance."

Without waiting for a cue from Detweiler, the young corporal driving the truck hit the gas and headed for the bridge. Apparently, he had no desire to die for the cause–not for Detweiler or the prisoner they'd lost.

"Plug your ears, Captain," Carter warned, and Jim smiled, complying. In the brief time he'd been here, Hogan's men were already attuned to his special needs and smoothly watched out for them in the field. A part of him regretted not working with this unit longer, but when he caught sight of Blair and the others scrambling up the hill toward them, that thought died a hasty death.

The explosion rocked the landscape, obliterating the truck and the bridge, and a certain amount of vegetation close by as fire crackled and leaped into the air, black smoke billowing over the site of the destruction.

When Blair was a few feet away from the spot where Jim and Carter were crouched, he froze, staring in shock at Jim, who was dressed in dark pants, a black leather coat, and a leather cap for their escape.

"Jim!" Blair didn't appear too good at hiding his emotions or his excitement, and he rushed at Jim, crushing him in a bear hug. Jim returned the pressure with a chuckle and plenty of manly back-slapping until Blair released him. Hogan and LeBeau exchanged a knowing grin unnoticed by the others.

"London wants us both, Chief, so I'm going with you."

"You mean we're both going to escape together?" Blair asked, his eyes bugged, his face threatening to burst into a massive grin.

"None of us are going to get out of here if we don't do it soon," Hogan said. "We're hooking you up with members of our escape network right now. You'll hide out with them until nightfall, and then get started. By then, the goons'll think you're both dead. We planted Ellison's jacket near the explosion site, nice and visible where even Klink's men can find it."

"I thought you had to stay here," Blair said, barely restraining his urge to hug Jim again with the sheer joy of the moment.

"London wanted you both, so that's what London gets," Hogan said, shrugging. "We just had to adjust the plan a little."


The elderly couple who were hiding Jim and Blair in their farmhouse for the night provided their guests with a small attic room. They apologized for the lone double bed covered with its handmade quilt, and the cramped surroundings, but Jim and Blair assured them they could make do, and appreciated their help. When the door finally closed, leaving them in the little room with the slanting ceilings and bare wood rafters, it was the first time they'd been alone since what they thought was their last goodbye in the tunnel two days before.

"I can't believe we're really together," Blair said, sitting on the side of the bed. It had been a draining couple of days, and despite his jubilation at being reunited with Jim, fatigue was beginning to take its toll.

"We'll always be together, Chief. Even if we'd had to spend some time apart, it wouldn't have been forever. I promised you that, and I meant it."

"I know. I believed you. I knew you'd do your best. But a lot can happen in wartime."

"True." Jim sat on the bed next to him. "Hogan said your mom and Heydrich were fine, that they were already in London. We'll arrange for you to see her when we get there. They're going to be keeping us at the airbase for a while, probably until they decide where they can best use us."

"I hope I didn't ruin your life, Jim," Blair said quietly.

"How could you do that?" he asked, stunned, taking Blair by the shoulders.

"If I hadn't shown up, your Sentinel abilities wouldn't have been identified for what they were, you'd have probably gotten through the war and then gone home and gotten married and had children and–"

"Enough," Jim interrupted. "First, without any work being done on my Sentinel abilities, I inadvertently bombed a POW camp full of our own men. Second, I tried marriage, and it didn't work. Third, my life with you in it is what I want, no matter how it turns out. So can we quit worrying about you ruining my life?"

"Being together isn't going to be easy out there in the real world."

"Nothing worthwhile is easy. We'll figure something out. You look exhausted, sweetheart." Jim pulled the hat off that had concealed Blair's long hair, and smiled as it fell in rumpled curls on his shoulders. He kissed Blair's cheek and then moved back to bury his nose in the warm curls. "Think you can be quiet?"

"I can do anything for you," Blair responded, moving more aggressively now to claim Jim's mouth, pushing them back on the bed. They wrestled with clothing until it lay discarded on the floor, and they were naked on the quilt, bodies entwined, mouths devouring each other hungrily.

"I'm gonna lock the door," Jim said, forcing himself to pull away from the moist lips and eager body that was pressed against him. It wouldn't do for this sweet old couple who were hiding them on the escape route to find them naked and doing "sinful" things. Might be a shortcut to being turned back over to the Nazis. Jim was pleased to find there was a lock on the door, and once he was satisfied they were secure, he turned back toward the bed. Blair had rolled onto his back, and now lay there with his knees spread wide, his feet flat on the bed.

Jim tried to control his impulse to jump back on the bed and take Blair up on his offer.

"I don't have anything...slippery to use."

"Just use spit."

"I'll hurt you."

"No, you won't. You couldn't. Not when I want you this badly."

Jim climbed back on the bed and kissed Blair deeply, drawing out their lovemaking, licking and nibbling at rapidly hardening nipples, his hands kneading Blair's buttocks, fingers dancing inside the cleft. As his tongue danced down Blair's stomach, he was conscious of the erection nudging his chin. He engulfed Blair's hard cock in his mouth, sucking it urgently, making Blair groan and grip the bedding, doing his utmost not to make a sound in the silent old house.

When Blair came, it was in shuddering waves of pleasure, his come pulsing down Jim's throat until he finally lay there, spent and boneless.

Satisfied Blair was relaxed, and knowing he'd take the penetration much more easily that way, Jim spat a mixture of his saliva and Blair's come into his hands to coat himself. Pushing Blair's legs up and open, he rested them on his shoulders as he pushed slowly but steadily into the tight opening that reluctantly welcomed him. Despite his relaxed state, the lack of a slipperier lubricant and their relative newness to his act still caused Blair to squirm a bit and wince a little as Jim's large cock stretched him uncomfortably at first.

Soon, their passion for each other and the intensity of their union made them move, and Jim began thrusting in and out of Blair's snug channel, feeling it massage his cock like nothing else ever had. Blair was groaning and biting his lip to keep from crying out, and Jim found himself emitting a few moans despite his best effort to stay silent. It felt too good, and it was such a glorious oasis, here in the middle of war-torn Germany in the attic of an old farmhouse that promised a shaky security at best. The fact what they were doing was forbidden and wrong by almost everyone's definition made it that much sweeter. Joining his body with someone he'd already committed his heart and soul to was like nothing he'd ever experienced before.

Blair could do little to participate in the lovemaking with his legs resting against Jim's shoulders, the hard cock moving rapidly in and out of his body. Even though he was starting to feel a little tender under the continuous thrusting, he met Jim's thrusts and encouraged him to move harder and faster. Luckily, Jim clapped hand over Blair's mouth as he cried out, his cock delivering spurts of completion soon after he'd come the first time in Jim's mouth.

A few more rapid thrusts into Blair brought Jim to his climax, filling Blair's body until he had no more left to give. He leaned in for a long kiss before moving back to slide out of Blair.

"You're amazing, baby," Jim gasped, rolling on his back and pulling Blair on top of him, massaging Blair's buttocks.

"Was it better without the lotion?" Blair asked, and Jim had to laugh, the rumble of it vibrating them both. "What?" Blair smiled, confused.

"Ever the researcher," Jim teased, kissing the end of Blair's nose. Blair blushed, smiling.

"I just had to know. It's not like I'm going to write it down anywhere. I just want to know."

"I felt you more directly...naturally. But I also know it was harder on you than it is with some slippery stuff, so we'll use something next time." He patted Blair's butt and kissed him again.

"I'm okay. It's a small price to pay to feel you inside me, when I thought it could be years before it happened again."

"We'll have to be careful while we're in London, while I'm working for the Allied Command. But someday, we'll have a place of our own. Maybe we'll buy some land out in the sticks somewhere. I know something about horses...maybe we could start a little ranch. It would make sense I'd need a friend to help me run it."

"I don't care where we live or what we do. As long as we do it together. But you're a police officer, Jim. A detective. You must be amazing at that."

"I could be more amazing with you by my side."

"Your friends on the force would never accept me," Blair said, smiling. "Look at me. Do you see me fitting in with the cops?"

"You have a point there. But with all these curls, it doesn't show," he teased, tugging on Blair's hair. Laughter gave way to more kisses, as their lovemaking lasted long into the night.


"You sent for me, sir?" Hogan said, walking into Klink's office and executing a quick salute. Klink returned it, but put little attention on the gesture.

"This was found near the sight of the explosion that killed Colonel Detweiler, his guards, and Professor Sandburg," he said, gesturing at a charred bomber jacket that lay on the corner of his desk. The name Capt. J. Ellison was barely visible on the damaged leather. "I've called off the search for the missing prisoner."

"Must have been some misguided attempt to rescue Sandburg," Hogan commented, fingering the lamb's wool collar.

"Why would Captain Ellison risk his life to rescue a collaborator?"

"He claimed Sandburg wasn't really a collaborator. Kept sticking up for him, said they were friends. I told him to stay out of it, that Sandburg was working for Hitler. Too bad he didn't listen."

"My no escape record remains unblemished. There has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13, and Captain Ellison is no exception," he added, tugging at the ruined jacket. "He was trouble right from the start. Bombing his own men."

"That was an accident, Kommandant."

"So he claimed. I'm not convinced."

"Guess it really doesn't matter now, does it?"

"I suppose not," Klink agreed.

"Do you think Hitler would have taken Sandburg back into the fold, or was he on his way to a firing squad?"

"Most likely the latter. The fuhrer is not a patient man," Klink said, then thinking better, he said, "He demands complete loyalty, and rightfully so."

"Loyalty is important. Was that all, Kommandant?"

"There was one other thing," Klink said, taking a letter out of his desk drawer and handing it to Hogan. "It's been opened, but I have not subjected it to any further censorship or scrutiny."

Hogan read the return address, and smiled. It was his mother's handwriting, from home.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

"You're welcome, Hogan. And you are dismissed. I have work to do," Klink said brusquely, busying himself with his work.

Hogan left the office, and as he strolled across the compound in the bright sunshine, smiled at the words his mother had written. She was still grieving, but she was doing better. John's wife and children were doing as well as could be expected. The family was pulling together to weather the storm. Everyone was praying for his safe return from war.

Everybody would be okay...and, with a smile, Hogan realized that knowing that, he would be okay, too.


"Got a message from London," Kinch said, joining Hogan, Newkirk, and Carter in the recreation hall where they were playing cards. LeBeau was at the piano, and some other guys were making use of the ping-pong table. "Sandburg and Ellison arrived safely at the airbase yesterday afternoon," he added.

"Good," Hogan replied, smiling. "I'm sure they'll be a big help working for the good guys."

"Sandburg sent a special thank you to you for sending the materials to him that he'd left with you, via that special courier flight last night. He said it saved him a lot of re-testing, and for that, Ellison thanked you."

"What do you make of all this, Colonel?" Newkirk asked. "We know he's on the up and up. We saw him do a little of his magic here and there. What do you suppose makes someone like that? How do they end up as one'a these Sentinels?"

"Sandburg said it was something biological, some kind of natural advantage. But even after reading through his notes and skimming through the books, it doesn't look like anyone knows for sure. I guess someone with all five senses acute to the level Ellison's are is extremely rare. I'm glad he's safe and sound in London. He's too valuable to risk here."

Hogan paused, watching LeBeau at the piano, listening to him playing a familiar melody that was one of Hogan's favorites.

"Excuse me. I think LeBeau needs a little help to do this right," Hogan quipped, rising from the table and walking over to where LeBeau was playing Moonlight Serenade on the piano. Hogan had always liked the song, and it was the first time he could remember hearing LeBeau play it. LeBeau played a lot of French and American favorites, and he had a lovely voice. Hogan was usually content to sit back and listen, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

While Hogan would occasionally slip behind the small drum set the Red Cross had provided and provide some accompaniment–or do a wild drum solo to work off a little energy–this time, he sat next to LeBeau on the piano bench, startling him a little with their closeness.

"I like that song," he said quietly, barely audible to LeBeau, and inaudible to the others in the recreation hall. "Do you know the words?" he asked.

"Most of them," LeBeau said, still keeping up the melody on the piano as they spoke.

"It was one of my favorites back home. When my band played dances, we did that one all the time."

"You were in a band?" LeBeau asked.

"We didn't make much money at it. Just played parties and weddings once in a while on the weekends. We got jobs by word of mouth. It was mostly for fun."

LeBeau gracefully transitioned from the end of the song to the beginning, and the two men began singing together.

I stand at your gate

And the song that I sing is of moonlight

I stand and I wait

For the touch of your hand in the June light

The roses are sighing a Moonlight Serenade

Hogan's impish grin was contagious, and LeBeau soon was smiling back at him as they sang. The other men were gathering around the piano, enjoying the duet of a popular song most of them knew. By the next verse, Kinch, Newkirk, and Carter had gathered behind them and were lending their voices.

The stars are aglow

And tonight how their light sets me dreaming'

My love, do you know

That your eyes are like stars rightly beaming?

I bring you and sing you a Moonlight Serenade

It wasn't long before the singing piqued the interest of Schultz and Langenscheidt, who slipped inside to listen.

Let us stray 'til break of day

In love's valley of dreams

Just you and I

A summer sky

A heavenly breeze

Kissing the trees

Hogan relished the closeness as they shared the small piano bench, and enjoyed the opportunity to sing a love song with his lover while their friends gathered around, singing along, oblivious to the real feelings that were behind the words for the two men who'd started the duet.

So don't let me wait

Come to me tenderly in the June night

I stand at your gate

And I sing you a song in the moonlight

A love song, my darling

A Moonlight Serenade

When the song was over, the men all applauded their own singing efforts, as did those who weren't involved in the sing along.

"You have a very good voice, Colonel," LeBeau said, trying to keep his voice light, neutral, and platonic in its tone. "I didn't know you sang."

"I usually don't," he said, smiling back. "I'm more of a drum man, myself."

"Do you know, I'm in the Mood for Love?" Schultz asked, flexing his eyebrows.

"Don't tell us, tell that little blonde down at the Hofbrau," LeBeau quipped, and they all laughed, including Schultz. "I can play that for you, Schultzie," he added, still smiling. He hoped Hogan liked this one, too, and that he'd stay pressed up against him on the piano bench.

Hogan made no move to leave his seat, and the whole group sang along from the beginning this time, including Schultz. Langenscheidt didn't appear to be as well-versed in "decadent American love songs," but he was enjoying himself, nonetheless.

Hogan closed his eyes for a few moments, and he could see himself and LeBeau in their own place somewhere, sitting at the piano on a quiet evening at home together, singing their favorite songs. Or maybe having a few friends over, laughing and singing along.

It would take some pretty fancy plotting, scheming, and twisting of the truth to get them moved into their own place together after the war, living like a couple and yet passing for bachelors who were simply sharing expenses while looking for the right girls. Hogan's face curved into a wicked little grin.

Elaborate, covert operations were his speciality, after all...