Author's Note: The usual disclaimers apply.
The opening line for this story came from "Brother's Keeper" by wordybirds
"What seems to be the problem, Colonel?" Colonel Hogan asked, smirking insolently at his German counterpart sitting behind the desk. "What's the matter? Too much paperwork again?"
"I wish it were something that simple." Heaving a dramatic sigh, Klink continued, "Then, at least, I could delegate most of the work to Fräulein Hilda."
Rising from the desk, he did not speak for a long moment as he went to the schnapps decanter.
"Is Schultz sleeping on duty again?" Hogan prodded, leaning over to swipe several cigars out of Klink's humidor, while the man had his back turned. "Got a flat tire on your staff car?"
"Laugh all you want, Hogan, but I, for one, don't find the situation at all amusing." He handed Hogan a glass of schnapps before returning to the desk.
Looking up at the younger man with a woebegone expression, he said, "It's General Burkhalter. He's coming for the weekend and bringing his sister with him."
"Another inspection?" Hogan guessed. "We just had an inspection three weeks ago." Pouring himself more schnapps, he added, "No wonder you Germans are losing the war; all you people do is go around inspecting each other. It's a wonder you ever find time to fight."
"This time, I suspect, it will just be me who is inspected," Klink said miserably, holding out his glass for Hogan to refill. "By Gertrude Linkmeyer. Why else would they come on the weekend?" Sighing again, he added, "Why does General Burkhalter hate me so much?"
"He doesn't hate you," Hogan pointed out reasonably. "What man would want his sister to marry a man he hated?"
"Hmm, I suppose you have a point," Klink conceded. "I never really thought about it that way before."
"Maybe you should let her catch you this time," Hogan suggested. "You could do a lot worse than Frau Linkmeyer."
"I know we're enemies, Hogan, but this time you're gone too far!" Klink slammed down the cover of his humidor, narrowly missing Hogan's fingers as he tried to take another cigar, this time openly.
"Think about it," Hogan persisted. "It's really not a bad idea..."
His words were interrupted by a knock at the door.
Klink was relieved, for once, to see Sgt. Schultz enter the room.
"Pardon me, Herr Kommandant, but you asked me to remind you when it was time to leave to go see the dentist," Schultz explained. "I have already ordered the staff car to be brought around."
"Thank you, Schultz. Go out to the car and I'll join you momentarily."
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant." Schultz snapped off a salute, then left the office.
Rising from the desk, Klink put on his cap, then placed his riding crop in its usual spot under his arm. Turning to Hogan, he said, "Be back here promptly at 7. Remember, you promised to play chess with me this evening."
"How could I forget?" Hogan replied, setting the empty schnapps glass down on Klink's desk with an audible click.
Hogan sauntered lazily back to Barracks 2 after Klink had left to go to the dentist. There had been a recent lull in underground activity and the men had not processed any downed fliers in over a week. He knew the lull would not last long, so he intended to enjoy the rare time off while he could.
As he entered the barracks a short time later, he found yet another card game beginning, with Newkirk still dealing the cards. Kinch had just shut the door coming out of Hogan's quarters, no doubt having stayed behind to put the coffee pot away.
Pausing from his activity, Newkirk turned to Hogan, with one eyebrow raised. "Have you gone 'round the bend, Guv'nor, telling Klink he ought to let that old bird Linkmeyer catch him? Crackers is what you are, beggin' your pardon, sir."
"Yes, even Klink doesn't deserve a fate like that," LeBeau put in, pouring a cup of ersatz coffee at the stove.
"I bet Colonel Hogan is cooking up a good plan," Carter offered hopefully. "But I can't imagine what it could be."
"Wait a minute, guys!" Kinch said, with a hint of impatience in his voice. "Don't you see? Don't you remember what Schnitzer told us the other day?"
Oskar Schnitzer had been in Düsseldorf the previous Monday bringing radio parts to an underground operative, code named Juno, in the guise of treating her sick Weimaraner. No sooner had Juno safely hidden the parts, than her neighbor, Gertrude Linkmeyer, had burst in through the back door, warning them that the Gestapo was on the way to arrest Juno. As it was, Schnitzer had barely had time to get her out of there and to safety.
Once Schnitzer had delivered Juno to the safe house, she'd told him that Frau Linkmeyer had been feeding her small bits of useful information for the last few months, always when they gossiped over coffee, without either woman ever openly acknowledging what was really going on.
"So, you're thinking we could get her to help us by marrying Klink, is that it, Guv'nor?" Newkirk guessed.
"Either that or keep Klink and her brother sufficiently distracted and misdirected to allow us to work in peace," Kinch speculated.
"You're both right," Hogan confirmed. "Even if she does no more than keep the Krauts off balance, she'll be a great help."
"How are you going to sell her to Klink?" LeBeau asked. "Nobody could be that stupid."
"Want to bet?" Newkirk quipped.
"Don't worry," Carter said. "The Colonel will think of something. He always does."
"I'm going to work on him tonight when we play chess," Hogan told them. "He'll be putty in my hands before the night is over."
Several hours later, Hogan sat in Klink's office, enduring yet another game of chess with the Kommandant, who was, at best, a mediocre player.
"Have you given any more thought about what I said this afternoon?" Hogan asked suddenly, when Klink was taking an especially long time considering his next move.
"Thought to what?" Klink replied absently. "You are always talking, Hogan."
"Gertrude Linkmeyer," Hogan said. "The more I think about it, the more I think you've been going about it all wrong with her."
"If I want your opinion, Hogan, I'll ask for it," Klink told him. "And I haven't asked for it."
"Think about it, Colonel," Hogan persisted. "You want to be a general, but you're never going to get there on your own, at the rate you're going. Burkhalter has made that quite clear to you on more than one occasion. But if you married his sister..."
"I don't know if it's worth making general if that's what I have to do," Klink said. "Besides, I like women to be younger and prettier."
"Let's face it, Klink, you're past your prime and you're not getting any younger," Hogan told him. "Think of the kind of luck you've had with the girls you've been chasing since I've been at Stalag 13. Once they realize you don't have any money and aren't going to get promoted any time soon, it's been pffft, auf wiedersehen, Wilhelm! Every time."
"I suppose you're right," Klink conceded, frowning.
"I know I'm right," Hogan said. "Young women may date an older man, but for one to marry you, you have to have either money or power for her to overlook the fact that you're bald and old enough to be her father." After a pause, he added, "And young women want children. Do you seriously want to be dealing with smelly diapers and crying babies in the middle of the night at your age? Be honest."
"No, I don't," Klink admitted. "But I enjoy my freedom."
"You may enjoy it now, but when this war is over, you'll be out of a job and, sooner than you realize, you'll end up an old man living alone in a one room apartment eating canned soup all by yourself. Is that what you really want?"
"I hadn't ever thought that far ahead." Klink was looking more miserable by the moment. "You have a point."
"And Gertrude isn't all that bad looking," Hogan said. "She's just middle aged, that's all. Like you."
After getting up to pour both himself and Klink a glass of schnapps, he continued, "She'll be a good companion; she grew up when you did, so you'll have plenty in common to talk about. And she's a good cook, you must admit. You certainly won't starve being married to her."
"That's true," Klink said, taking the glass Hogan offered him.
"Gertrude would also be loyal to you and look out for your interests," Hogan pointed out. "She would need you as much as you would need her and would never take you for granted. But a young woman would leave you as soon as something better came along, trust me on that."
"I should be offended, but I know you're absolutely right, Hogan," Klink finally admitted, beginning to warm to the idea. "You've given me much to think about."
Late the next afternoon, Wilhelm Klink stood to greet the Burkhalter siblings as Schultz ushered them into his office.
Turning to Gertrude Linkmeyer, he smiled to welcome her. "It's so good to see you again, Gertrude. We have so much to talk about."