Every day Major Hochstetter visited was a day that Colonel Hogan personally wanted to take the man and hang him with a cord made from Klink's violin strings tied together. He was cruel, vile, a slinking bully who was too well-armed and too-well connected for Hogan to just bump off without kicking off an investigation that would ruin their operation.

The day he dragged, with an entire entourage of guards with their weapons aimed properly, a tall man wearing desert fatigues, an Australian bush hat, and with a lean, tormented look about him, meant that Hogan had to struggle with the instinct to arrange a fatal car crash.

It was clear that the man had been put through some sort of hell, his face bore bruises that hadn't faded, and he was holding his right arm to his side carefully. His dark brown eyes skipped over the camp and landed on Hogan for a second before the tiny, shrieking major dragged the man toward Klink's office.

"Wow," Carter ambled up to him, "that's a lot of guards." There were a dozen S.S. soldiers, and the truck they'd dragged the prisoner out of was otherwise empty.

"Coffee pot," he ordered, and as soon as he slunk into his office Kinch was already waiting. Hochstetter's voice was already blaring through the speaker.

"THIS is your newest prisoner, Klink!" Hochstetter exclaimed, "considered dangerous. If he escapes, you are to blame for it and will be shot alongside him! Do you understand?"

"Major! I do not understand! This is a Luftstalag! This man is not with the American Air Corp and!"

"It does not matter if he is a pilot or not!" Hochstetter screamed.

"So who is he?" Carter asked.

"He is a commando from the Long Range Desert Patrol and he is dangerous! Do you understand?"

They exchanged a series of glances as Klink blustered for a few minutes. Spouting things about the man not being air-corp, the Geneva convention, and a few other things that the furious major ignored.

"You must understand," Hochsetter's smile was clear through mike. His voice cold and cruel. "This man is a special prisoner, Klink. I am certain the prisoners will find him...interesting."

"Major," Klink tried to bluster, "this is against."

"The orders come from BERLIN ITSELF!" The man was shouting now. "YOU WILL HOLD THE MAN HERE UNTIL HE DIES!"

"We aren't going to be here that long," Hogan muttered. There was something wrong about this whole thing.

"I...I'll have to...of course," Klink muttered. "We'll have to. Paperwork," his voice died away, and there was a hopeful silence during which Klink was probably quivering beneath the man's beady-eyed stare. "Who is he?" He finally asked.

"His name is," the agent sounded far too amused for Hogan's taste. "Hauptmann Hans Dietrich."

"A kraut!" Newkrik exclaimed.

"Formerly of the Deutsches Afrikakorps and a traitor!" Both Klink's office and Hogan's office fell silent. All eyes were on the coffee pot. "A traitor, who contrived to work with the Allies!'

"Then why bring him here?" Klink sputtered, "he's a traitor then shouldn't he be brought up on charges?'

"No, unfortunately this must be handled carefully. He still has favor with Field Marshal Rommel, and his family is well-connected. Obstinately he is on assignment with the Gestapo, but."

"But?" Klink asked, terrified and excited at once.

"But he is a traitor, and as soon as the prisoners realize that he is a German officer undercover, then they will kill him!"

"You're right, "Lebeau agreed, snapping. "We will."

"Major! My prisoners would never! Murder!"

"Yes!" The major shouted, "and then he can be a dead hero, and we can be rid of Hogan!"

"Don't kill him," Hogan ordered, "not until we know how to fix this."

"And your job is to keep him alive until they kill him, so do not let him escape!"

"There has never been a successful escape attempt from."

"I KNOW!" Shouted the shorter man. "Call in Colonel Hogan and have the captain brought in! This will be his first test!"

"He never wants to see me," Hogan mused, "This is skrewy. Everyone, pretend that he's American, even if he's got the lousiest accent you've ever heard."

"What if he doesn't speak English?" Carter asked.

"Then ask him why he's speaking French," Hogan ordered and pulled on his coat and yanked on his cap and was just opening the door when Shultz puffed up to the door, and blinked.

"Kammandant Klink wants to see you!" Shultz exclaimed, he looked nervously around. "And the major, Colonel Hogan. He is here too. Please, please try to be nice!"

"To a Gestapo agent?" Hogan scoffed, leading the man across the compound. "Not on your life." He ambled up the stairs, past the guards, and into Klink's office after passing a wink to Hilda. As soon as he was Klink's office, the man straightened and favored him with a pleading look.

"Colonel Hogan!" His assessment of Hochstetter had been right. The man looked too-pleased, and his face was pinched with malicious glee.

"Hochstetter!" He gave his sloppiest salute, "how have you been? Been a while since you've sniffed around here!"

"Hogan!" The man seethed, his temper going from cold to hot in less time it took to light a match.

"A new prisoner, I see." He turned toward the man, taller than Hogan and just a hair shorter than Klink. Dark brown eyes, one heavily bruised, but both keen. His hair was brown as well, and Hogan noted a few flecks of blood still across his temple. The Australian bush cap was still on his head, and he didn't seem inclined to remove it. Tension, worry, and fear lined the man's body. Which Hogan expected, but there was an entire new layer that seemed to delight Hochstetter. "Captain."

"Colonel," the man saluted, it was sharp, practiced, and Hogan knew several drill sergeants who would have swooned at the sight. "Hogan." He almost swooned.

"This is Captain Sam Troy, formerly a commando with the Long Range Desert Patrol."

"Not exactly regulation," Hogan mused, and settled for crossing his arms and giving the tall man an appraising glance. He was lean, almost skinny, but there was character and a personality tucked away beneath the worry and nerves. Despite the fact that he was holding himself together, he looked ready to either burst into tears or rip someone's throat out with his teeth. He was a visibly proud man, and he held himself still under Hogan's inspection. So far his English was smooth, with not even a hint of an accent. "But that's alright, I'm Colonel Hogan, Senior POW officer. Remember, name, rank, and serial number only."

Hochstetter laughed with delight. Even Klink cringed at the laugh, and the captain looked downright murderous for all of two seconds. The look vanished, and Hogan had to admire his courage.

"I am sure he will fit in well here," Hochstetter continued to look too-happy for Hogan's peace of mind. "Keep an eye on him, Klink. He is a known escape artist. I am certain his stay here will be...amusing!"

"Major!" Klink bleated at the man's retreating back. "There has never." the man was gone, slamming the door behind him with such force a picture fell off the wall. With a sigh, Klink bent to retrieve it and set it back on its hook. "There is something terribly wrong with that man," he muttered in German.

"Kommandant," Hogan beamed, "if you're not needing us, we need to break the new-guy in."

"Wait," Klink said firmly, and with his riding crop firmly tucked under his arms, he still-walked his way over to Captain Dietrich and peered through his monocle at the man's face. "That is blood," he barked, "have him see your medic."

"Good idea," Hogan plucked at the man's sleeve, "follow me, Captain. You'll love the scenic view the barracks offer. Full bed, they deliver breakfast you know. "

"Hoooogan!" Klink shouted at him, but they were out of the office and down the stair before they could be recalled.

"You're a long way from the desert, Captain." Hogan told him, zipping up his jacket. He was cold, and the man looked as if he was freezing even with his regulation jacket. His hands were stuffed into his pockets, and he looked bemused. "And it looked like Hochstetter got you good."

"I thought they were supposed to follow the Geneva convention," he mused, and in the weak afternoon sun, the bruise looked even worse. There were probably a lot more bruises under those clothes.

"The Gestapo?" Hogan chuckled, "don't kid. If you've got a sense of humor then you'll fit right in."

"Yes, sir."

"Alright, boys!" He opened the door, and ushered the tall man inside. "This is Captain Sam Troy! Formerly of the Long Range Desert Patrol! Captain Troy, these are the boys. That's Kinch, Newkirk, the one glaring at you his Lebeau, and the one to your left is Carter. Olsen and Wilson are over there, and you know me."

"Hi!" Carter bounced up, surprising the captain with his enthusiasm. He held out a hand, and shook Dietrich's furiously. "Boy! I bet you've got great stories! A desert guy! Why'd they bring you here!"

"Carter!" Newkirk called, looking up from his deck of cards. "Leave him be. Sorry, Captain. He's one of those easily excited types."

"Ah, no problem," Dietrich said, and he paused, "Sergeant Carter."

"Just call me Carter! Lebeau, stop glaring at him! He's a nice guy! I can tell!" The man looked confused.

"Sit down!" Lebeau ordered, and when the captain visibly tensed, Hogan stepped in.

"He's the cook."

"Ah," Captain Dietrich blinked a few times and took a seat at the table, and blinked again when Lebeau handed him a cup of coffee and one of the last cookies from the Red Cross packages. "Corporal."

"He's too skinny! What have you been eating? Desert Rats?" Hogan's eyebrows rose as the man snorted into his coffee. A brief uptick of his lips that vanished a moment later.

"No, Corporal Lebeau. I do not eat rats."

"You might have to," Newkirk muttered, "if they're late with supplies again."

"So, Captain," and Hogan waited to see what would happen.

"Sergeant?"

"How'd you end up here?" Kinch asked, and the captain stared briefly at Kinch before sighing faintly.

"A cruel twist. For the amusement of the Gestapo."

"Said he was an escape artist," Hogan told his team.

"I suppose...they thought it would be easier to contain me here...the only prison camps with no escapes." He was frozen, looking almost aggrieved.

"What's the desert like?" Carter asked. "Are the palm trees really like in the movies?"

"Carter!" Newkirk scoffed, and Hogan watched the man's eyes carefully. He was observing the dynamic between the men. If Hogan weren't their commanding officer he never would have noticed how tense they were. "Hot during the day and freezing at night," he said, cutting of their argument mid-stream.

"Did you see anything wild?" Carter's eyes shot wide open. "Did you see a camel?"

The man's mouth twisted reluctantly into a smile. Carter often had that affect, his curiosity and boisterous good mood could melt the hardest of men.

"Many."

"Wow! Did you get to ride one?"

"A few."

"Wowee!" Carter turned around to Hogan. "I want to ride a camel!"

"We'll rent one of your birthday," he told Carter, and the man still beamed. "Commando, huh?"

"Yes, sir." The man tensed, and Hogan squinted at him. They had a way of getting rid of spies, but something else was bothering him. Dietrich slowly removed the bush hat, and seemed to cradle it carefully between his hands.

"Well, Lebeau will get you fed and Carter will give you the penny tour. It's not much, but it's home."

"For now," Newkirk said, and the captain nodded. He seemed...far away. His thoughts were focused on something else. Making eye contact with Kinch, he jerked his head and the man followed.

When they were in his office, Hogan nodded to the door. "When you can, radio London and ask about Sam Troy from the Long Range Desert Patrol. I want to know what's going on here. Anything on Hans Dietrich too."

"I'm not an assassin...usually. I'm sure not going to give Hochstetter that satisfaction of killing someone for him."

"Yeah," Hogan, the best place to keep a spy was right on hand. But he wasn't a spy, he was a prisoner, and he was doing his best to survive. "Tell the men that they don't have to put him through the usual tests. Give him lowball answers, and to look the other way if he slips. As far as Klink and the others are concerned, we're all trying to get him to marry our sisters."

"Yes, sir." Kinch was smiling. "He seems polite. I like a polite spy."

"We all do, but they're always the most dangerous."

#$#$#

Dietrich felt grief, fury, and pride all warring with each other as he tried to focus on the prison camp and the other prisoners. He had been betrayed by his own officers, but his own country, and no matter how he had explained his situation, they had dismissed him.

They thought he was a traitor, and even though Dietrich was not one, he was now in one of the most dangerous places he could be. Dying at the hands of a firing squad would be easier, being murdered by allied fliers in the dirty prison camp was unacceptable. He was prepared for a screening process, for suspicious glances, for anything, but so far the prisoners had been friendly, almost oblivious.

It made him feel sick, knowing that he was only a few words away from being hated. So he chose to keep quiet.

"So where'd you get that hat?" Carter asked, and Dietrich blinked a few times. They were walking around the camp, getting the "penny tour' and so far he'd been keeping his answers short and to the point.

"The hat?" He never knew where Sergeant Troy had gotten it, but he'd gotten it from the mocking Gestapo agent who'd retrieved it from an unconscious Troy. They'd jammed it on his head, and he'd made sure to keep with him since Africa. It had significant value to Sergeant Troy, and Dietrich intended to survive until he could return it. "I won it in a poker game."

"Oh," Carter blinked, "oh boy. You should play Newkirk. He's really good, and if you win do you think you can get my pens back?"

"I...I can certainly try."

"Thanks," Carter beamed, and the longer he toured the camp the more his stomach sank. It was pathetic, cold, the buildings were run-down, and the prisoners looked scrawny. "Say, did you get enough to eat out there in the desert?"

"I….I got enough."

"Okay," Carter stared at him, "you know, if you need extra rations then we can scrounge some up. It's no problem."

"It's," Dietrich took a deep breath, and closed his eyes against the onslaught of guilt. "It is not necessary."

"Captain."

"I am a captain," he said a tad sharply, and the younger man flinched but didn't waver. "It would be….wrong to deprive the men of what they might need simply because of rank."

"It's not because of rank, Captain Troy," Carter told him, blithe and cheerful. "It's 'cause you're skinny and we're all just trying to help. Ranks got nothing to do with it."

"I see," Dietrich swallowed his pride. "Thank you for the offer, Sergeant Carter. It is not necessary."

"Sure thing, Cap." He looked over. "Captain?"

"Captain will do, thank you." He knew the Americans were lax, and irreverent, but it always surprised him. "Do...how long have you been here?"

"About two years or so. Not really sure anymore." Carter fiddled with his cap. "Hopefully we'll be home soon enough, eh, captain?"

"Home," Bitterness swelled in his heart and he tried his best to keep it off his face.

"Where's home for you, sir?"

"Wyoming." That was in Sergeant Troy's file. Dietrich knew that the sergeant had a younger brother, a sister who regularly sent him letters, and more family beyond that.

"Hey! That's a nice place! I've got family up there!"

"Really?" His first test? Would he be required to have some in depth knowledge of the state? He only knew what could be found in almanacs.

"Oh, yeah! It's a great place! I've never been, but my aunt sends me socks all the time. Hey, do you want me to ask her to send you some?"

"I don't think," the generosity astounded him. The man didn't even know him! "That will not be necessary, Sergeant Carter. Thank you."

"Okay!" Carter beamed up at him, "don't worry, sir. You'll get used to it."

"Used to what?"

"People! I bet that since you were a commando you were out alot, right? Bouncing from one mission to the next?"

"We were...busy." Always busy, Troy and his band of Rat had been a near relentless force in the desert. Constantly underfoot and always on his nerves. He and the others could hardly take a breath and there they were, shooting up convoys and stealing maps. "I hardly returned to base but for a day at a time."

"Even for the world series!" Carter looked aghast, and as they passed by a group of prisoners working on repairing clothes, he paused. "Hey, guys! This is Captain Troy! He's new! Captain, this is Barracks 5! You'll be taking the officers quarters there."

"Gentlemen," he offered a sharp salute, and they all returned it. A few looked stunned, and even more looked confused.

"Captain, I'm Seargent Thomas, that's Chuck, Beaner, that's Corporal Water, and the others are somewhere," he turned around, "they'll turn up for roll call. We'll introduce everyone."

"Very good," he nodded, wondering what he was going to do with Americans under him. He turned around to see that Carter had wandered over to another prisoner and turned his attention back to the circle.

"That's a pretty neat hat, Captain. Where'd you get it?"

"It was a trade," he told them, and smiled faintly. It was meant to mock him, but he knew the sort of man who had owned it previously and he was not about to allow himself to be a coward as long as they thought he was the real Sam Troy.

"Nice, what did you trade for it?"

"Nothing of consequence," he lied, and the men were staring at him.

"Hey! On with the tour!" Carter returned, still beaming.

"Of course," he gave the men a nod, and followed him across the compound.

"Here's the thing about the guards, that one there is Corporal Karl Langenscheidt. He's a regular guard, but he's pretty nice. Don't let anyone else catch onto that. His English is pretty good, but not as good as the Kommandants. That fat one," Dietrich's mouth flattened into a thin, furious line as he caught sight of the enormous guard. He was aware of Carter pausing, and he tried to hide his ire as the man lumbered over. "He's not all that bad," Carter said hastily and Dietrich frowned mightily as the man approached.

"Carter!"

"Hiya, Shultz," Carter beamed.

"Carter, Carter, ah! I see you are showing the new man around. He squinted at Dietrich's collar.

"Captain Samuel Troy," he told the man with a tone that could have frozen an engine block solid in the heat of the afternoon sun.

"Captain!" Hastily, sensing the dislike, Shultz saluted hastily. "Captain, Welcome to Stalag 13!"

"I see." Dietrich wished for a cigarette, anything to hide his ire. He stared silently at the man for several minutes.

"Excuse me," the fat man said after a long moment. "I am needed at the guardhouse." he turned and waddled away, and Carter stared up at Dietrich.

"He's not all bad you know. Just fat."

"That is the problem." Dietrich pointed out, and he glanced down at Carter. The shorter man only shrugged, and gave him an introduction to the rest of the camp. It was not the place he'd expected. It was dingy, miserable, and cold certainly, but there was a cheerful game of volleyball happening, the guards weren't attentive, and even the prisoners didn't seem too afraid of the guards. That didn't mean that the Americans, Frenchmen, and Englishmen weren't willing to kill him for being German in an American uniform. "Germans would often attack supply chains and convoys for basic supplies, Sergeant. Food, Water, gas, and medicine. Many men died for these….simple needs and such disasters could have been prevented."

"Oh," the man looked a little shamefaced. "I don't know, captain. We've been here for a while. It's not like they share what's going on at the front with us. What's the situation in North Africa?"

"Excellent," if you were Allied.

"They're retreating?"

"They don't have the men or the supplies to keep their hold on North Africa," he felt tired. "Politics."

"Yuck," Carter said with feeling. "But Colonel Hogan wants to see you after chow."

"Of course," the American was keenly intelligent. It was worrying to Dietrich, and if he couldn't deceive or convince Hogan that he was who he wasn't, then he was as good as dead.

"Don't worry about it, the Colonel is great! You'll like him."

"He is a good commander?"

"The best," Carter enthused, "he's real great! Don't worry. I know you're a long way from your unit, and I bet you've never been in Germany, but colonel Hogan takes care of everyone."

"That is good to hear." He replied, and wondered what would come of it.

#$#$#

"What do you think, Carter?" Hogan and the collection of usual suspects were packed into his office, and Carter shrugged.

"He looked a bit nervous, but he was polite. He doesn't like Shultz."

"Shultz? The ole blighters fat, but he's harmless."

"It's because he's fat."

"That would do it," Hogan mused, "with the supply trouble they've been having down there. Coming to Germany and seeing a fat, happy sergeant would make him a little bitter."

"He said they lost a lot of men just trying steal basic supplies from American convoys," Carter said, "seems American, but a little military for us. He's really good, English, slang, and he even mentioned a sister in Wyoming. I'd say that he's going to blend it in pretty well."

"What did Barracks five think of him?"

"They got a bit of a chance to meet him. They said they were surprised by how military he was, he's got sharp salutes."

"Sharp enough to make a drill sergeant cry." Hogan agreed.

"But the guys in five are the most calm out of the camp."

"We need them to keep an eye on him, and to not kill him."

"You're meeting with him later, sir?" Kinch asked. "What are you going to tell him?"

"I'm going to see if he cracks, and then I'm going to make sure he doesn't cross any lines."

"Good idea, sir."

"Newkirk, make sure he gets issued enough gear and an extra blanket. Carter, keep an eye around the men and make sure they don't get any big ideas."

"I don't get it," Newkirk mused, gesturing with his cigarette. "Why go through the effort, sir?"

"First, the gestapo think he's a traitor and I don't. Second, as far as we can tell, Hochstetter has a personal hatred of him, which means he can't be too bad and we've handled defected officers before. Third, there's something more to him. He's a regular soldier, not a fanatic. I can tell. As soon as Kinch gets a reply from London, we'll be golden and we can figure out what to do. Have everyone behave."

"I'm not sure that that'll work," Carter told him, "he's pretty smart. I'm not sure what he noticed, but I'll give the word."

"Good, alright. Everyone, places."

#$#$#

Dietrich settled into the cramped officers quarters of barracks five, carefully hanging the bush hat on the hook before surveying the room that would be his until liberation or death. He'd been issued the standard prison kit, along with a pad of papers, a pen, and a few pencils. He could write, but the only person he could even consider devising a letter for would be Sergeant Troy.

The brave, intelligent, and idiotic seargent from the Rat Patrol. He sincerely hoped he had survived that last encounter and didn't blame Dietrich for the loss of his precious hat.

"Sir?" A knock came at the door.

"Enter," it was Sergeant Thomas. The man entered with a polite salute that Dietrich returned. "Yes, sergeant?"

"We figured that I ought to give you a rundown about the basics, sir. Heating, routine, that sort of thing so you don't get lost.

"Thank you, Sergeant." He had to fold himself up at the small desk, and took careful notes as the man explained what the usual camp regulations were, how they rationed the wood for the stove, and which men were good at which chores.

"Washing laundry with water," he smiled at his notes, "that is certainly a luxury."

"Really, sir?" Thomas was leaning against the door, watching him. "Did you guys get water?"

"Enough to keep the...jeeps running and my team hydrated, and for wounds. Water was not to be wasted on something like laundry."

"Really?" The man sounded shocked, and a little aghast. It was only natural. "How'd you clean your clothes?"

"The worst could be washed out with gasoline or something else, especially when on assignment."

"Wow, I can't even imagine. Boy, so you had the whole desert?"

"Not the whole desert," but he'd enjoyed a great freedom of movement. He realized that being confined to the small camp would likely drive him mad.

"Don't worry, sir," Thomas said, surprising Dietrich with his perceptiveness. "It's really not...that bad. Probably not the free-range you're used to, but."

"I will adjust, thank you, sergeant."

"Yes, sir. Do you have any more questions?"

"No," he mused, "I don't think so. Thank you, Sergeant Thomas."

"Oh, sir, what do you drink. Coffee or tea?"

"Coffee," he tilted his head to the side, and wondered how he had come to be in this situation. "Black."

"That's no problem, we don't have much sugar for coffee."

"I see, thank you."

"If you need help, just yell. Don't forget about your meeting with the Colonel."

"Thank you, Sergeant Thomas." He focused on his notes,not noticing how the man left with a shrug, calculating backward to get the total numbers for the various rations. The camp was well-run, but years in the desert had taught him that there were always ways to make things run more smoothly. "Ach!" He threw his pen down.

Why was he considering aiding them? They were his enemy! He was an enemy officer in their midst...but if he didn't help them perhaps they would think he was a spy. They were loyal to their colonel, and he was an interloper. He wasn't a flyer. As far as they knew he was a commando, and he knew enough of the American and British operations in the desert to pass muster under their scrutiny, but these men knew nothing of the desert.

They wouldn't know the men, they wouldn't know the operations, the conditions, officers, and they'd have nothing to compare his information to. Still, that would make them more suspicious, and he had to play to this carefully.

He would not give the Gestapo or that snivelling Colonel Klink that satisfaction of having his corpse being made by American prisoners.

He began to run the calculations.

#$#$#

Captain Detrich's hat suited him well. It perched on his head as if it had been made for him, the strap hanging from the right side was just the right amount of roguish to round out how well he kept his uniform.

Hogan almost felt a little insecure, he would have to be crazy to miss how Hilda has stared approvingly at the tall, lean captain.

"Colonel Hogan,sir."

"Sit down, captain." He suggested, and offered one of the only other chairs that the barracks offered. "It's been a long couple of days. How's your eye feel?"

"I am fine, sir."

"Huh," Hogan crossed his arms. "As you can guess, the last thing we expected was to have a commando get dropped into our lap. A desert commando too, why does Hochstetter hate you?"

"He is Gestapo," Dietrich said simply. "They don't like anyone."

"True enough, but why you in particular?"

Dietrich frowned, doubtlessly trying to make this into something that a captured American colonel would believe. "He held me responsible for the death of another Gestapo agent."

"And he took it personally?"

"Yes."

"Did you kill the other agent?"

"Yes," the admission took Hogan by surprise. "I did."

"What happened?"

"They cannot prove that I killed Wannsee, but they are desperate to blame it on someone. He was a mad dog who had killed two red-cross representatives and was withholding a serum necessary to prevent an outbreak of typhus." Hogan sucked in a quick breath. "The town was under a temporary truce with the nearby German commander, signed and approved by both armies."

"He broke the truce?"

"He demanded my...second in return for the serum."

"Your second?"

"Sergeant Jack Moffit of the Scots Grays."

"And Englishman?" Hogan leaned against his desk, amazed.

"Yes, unconventional but," Dietrich's shrug was calm, but Hogan had a feeling that Jack Moffit had been a pain in his behind. "We work well together. He is invaluable, with desert experience that predates the war, and connections with local tribes and he is familiar with their language and customs." After a long minute of silence, the man continued. "He was captured by an officer...and I was able to follow the necessary clues. To relocate him. By that time, the mutt had ordered his men to start beating one of the remaining Red-Cross representatives, and he had plans to interrogate the nurse."

Hogan shivered at the cool delivery, the calm words belaying the hideous crime that the man in front of him had managed to prevent.

"In the confusion of my attack, I killed him before he could shoot my second."

Hogan scrubbed at his non-existent beard. The man in front of his had admitted to killing a Gestapo agent. Not that the man hadn't had it coming, but for a regular German officer to take that kind of action, it was a wonder that he was still alive.

"So as far as anyone can tell….your only crime was being a good soldier?"

"My second was unarmed and caught by unawares. It would not have been...it would have been murder. He had already killed several in cold-blood, Colonel Hogan. If that serum had not been distributed, my own men could have contracted the illness and died. It would have been an epidemic, and thousands of locals would have died as well."

That was...a lot to unpack. Dietrich was spinning it as if he was the commander of the LRDP, but it was clear that he was the officer who had kidnapped the commando in exchange for the serum. When Moffits men came for him, he'd escaped and killed the Gestapo agent.

"That's an impressive bit of work. Your superiors must have been pleased."

"I believe they were."

That was a little less honest. "Well, there's a lot going on out in the desert. I'm afraid you should watch out for Carter."

"Sergeant Carter?"

"He's been dying to ask you questions about the desert. He's harmless, but if he gets annoying then just send him on his way."

"I see," Dietrich was smiling faintly. "Yes, sir."

"And for the moment we have a pretty quiet camp. We need to keep an eye out for infiltrators and spies. Some of the guys who haven't been here that long are still being stalked by Luftwaffe intelligence. I can't imagine that the Gestapo might want anything more from you, but if something happens then you're not under the protection of Klink."

"How much is that man's protection worth?" He asked, looking half-infuriated already. Dietrich was a soldier, and probably a good one, and seeing someone with so little backbone was probably and insult and pitiable.

"Depends, but it's usually worth something. It's better than nothing. You shouldn't have to deal with him very much."

"That would be preferable," Dietrich told him. "Colonel Hogan, I am experienced with logistics and calculations dealing with rations and schedules. I do not know if these skills would be necessary or required."

"We'll see what we can do to keep you busy," Hogan promised. "But I'd say to write your sister...a lot. They censor those letters, so keep an eye on what you write. You know the routine."

"Yes, sir."

"And," Hogan beamed, falling back into a slump, "it'll be nice to have another officer around. Tell me about your men. If you were willing to shoot a Gestapo agent for them."

"They are...the best in the desert," Captain Dietrich told him, accepting a cigarette and breathing in the first lungful with a satisfied sigh. "Brave, inventive, loyal, dedicated, and unwavering in the face of death."

Hogan raised his eyebrows, gesturing for him to continue.

"With two jeeps we managed to reign untold chaos across the desert. Convoys, missions, raids, one assignment after another with only a few hiccups." Dietrich leaned back, smoking and staring blankly at the wall.

"You miss them?"

"If I could escape and rejoin them," Dietrich said honestly, "I would."

"England is closer."

"England is even colder than Germany, sir."

"Well, this is the only camp in German that hasn't had an escape." Hogan grimaced, even though he knew they were stationed at Stalag 13. "How do you feel about digging?"

Dietrich grimaced, "I was caught in a partial cave-in in a cave that doubled as a weapons depot. I only just managed to escape before my men blew the charges."

"That's a no then," Hogan mused. The real Sam Try must have escaped certain doom, but how did Dietrich tie into it? How could he tie into it.

He needed to read that report from Kinch.

"Sounds like it got wild."

"The desert...it is a different type of war," Dietrich said, the thousand yard stare still glazing his eyes over. "I'm certain it isn't as exciting as flying."

"I don't know, how fast could you get those jeeps?"

"Tully could get them faster than anything else in the desert. Careful maintenance, not regulation, but they were perfect for our brand of...chaos."

"No kidding," despite himself, Hogan liked Captain Dietrich. He was good at telling when others were lying, and aside from a few choice details, it was clear that he was being pretty honest. He really did admire the men he'd fought, and he knew an alarming amount of details about them. It was a curiosity and he willed the intelligence units to move quickly as possible.

3$#$#$

Sergeant Sam Troy was not happy to have his hat missing, and given that he was currently wearing enough head bandages to function as a helmet, it wouldn't have fit anyway if someone had found it.

Hitch seemed sympathetic, telling him that he'd keep an eye out for it, and Tully had just brought him a helmet.

"Sergeant," the door opened, and he blinked in the dim light as Captain Boggs appeared. "Good, you're awake. How's your head?"

"I'm fine, sir." He said, and like every other time, he was ignored.

"You need to rest and not get up, but there's some men here to see you."

"Sir?" He blinked and Boggs was replaced by a tall, impossibly skinny man with fiery red hair, a million freckles, and spotless uniform that denoted him as a man from British intelligence.

"Sergeant Troy," the man gave a polite nod, "I am sorry to disturb your recovery, but I'm afraid that this cannot wait." His accent was smooth, clipped, and not nearly as forced as Moffits. "I am Captain Scamander." He handed over his identification and sat down in the chair that Tully had left just two hours ago.

"I'll leave you two to it," Boggs shot Troy a warning glare, and cleared out. The door shut behind him with a snap, and Captain Scamander stared calmly at Troy with a quizzical stare.

"What can I help you with, Captain?" He handed the wallet back and the captain accepted it with a nod.

"Captain Dietrich is missing," Scamander said, "and while I wouldn't ordinarily be telling you this, or even involving you, this does involve you."

"He's got my hat?"

"He does indeed," Troy's mild sarcasm was ignored. "And he's in trouble. I flew in from London for this. One of our best operatives brought information that Captain Dietrich was sighted."

"Where?"

"Germany."

"I don't understand, he's German."

"He was arrested by the Gestapo," Captain Scamander said, opening the folder in his head. "Accused of being a traitor and they can't actually execute him without upsetting his father, his friends, or his commanding officer. Now, what follows...if you ever discuss with another person who is not cleared, I will have you court martialed and shot in every single military I can, Sergeant Troy. American, British, French, Danish, Peruvian, Canadian, and I will see if I can get you tried in the German army. ARe we clear?"

Troy's jaw clenched, he didn't like being threatened by a paper-pusher, but it was men like this who both made and broke whole units. He gave a jerky nod. "Yes, sir."

"Good, I hate paperwork and I'm not certain I could have swung the Pervuian court-martial." Troy stared, he hated British humor. "Well, he was moved into a Luft Stalag."

"A...a pilots camp?"

"A prison camp run by the Luftwaffe for down Allied pilots, this one has the reputation of being inescapable."

"Then...why...they want?"

"They sent him to Stalag 13 to die, Sergeant Troy. He's in an American uniform and he's been given the identity of Captain Sam Troy."

"You're kidding!" Troy tried to sit up, and groaned as his vision swam. "What?"

"We're not clear on the details yet, but apparently they're going with the hope that the prisoners will find out that he is not American and kill him."

"Dietrich has passed as American before, he can do it." Troy knew he could, he'd seen it more than a few times himself. Still, this was long term. "But how could they do this to him? He's one of their best officers...and to pass him off as me?"

"It's politics in Germany I'm afraid. An honorable soldier is in just as much danger as a resistance fighter."

Troy stared, a sick feeling in his stomach. Dietrich was his enemy, but he was also the man who had saved Moffits life. He was clever, but not cruel. He'd saved Troy not too long ago. "They gave him my hat?" He couldn't focus on the idea that Dietrich could be murdered, because it was a distinct possibility.

"Can't imagine why, but that Hochstetter fellow is a nasty piece of work."

"He was," Troy agreed. "Sir, this doesn't explain why you're here."

"Jolly good, Sergeant Troy. You're correct, you've tangled with the man more than once, correct?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you've been very politic in our reports, but now is not the time to appease the tender feelings of your superiors. I need your honest opinion of the captain."

"Why?"

"You're trending in insubordinate waters, sergeant."

"Why?"

"That is top secret, and I'm afraid that it is above your paygrade for now."

Troy stared at him and nodded as much as he could without his head aching too badly. "Dietrich's a fair man. He's honest, dangerous, and clever."

"What about his character?"

"That is his character, he's an honorable man. He's got…" It was dangerous to praise the enemy like this, but Dietrich had saved his life a few times over. "A sense of justice."

"Would he be a danger to the other prisoners?"

"He's probably trying to keep himself from getting killed."

"Do you think he would defect?"

"Dietrich…" he thought carefully. "Maybe."

"Maybe isn't good enough."

"He's not a Nazi, but he is loyal. Loyal to his men, loyal to his country, and if he's been betrayed by it...then it might be shaken. If he were to defect...it wouldn't be like anyone else. He's sure not loyal to anyone else, and if he does it's for the good of his country."

"You believe he can be convinced."

"He'd really have to be convinced."

"You seem rather worried," Captain Scamander tilted his head to the side.

"He's a soldier. It ain't right for him to be murdered by a bunch of prisoners who lost their minds. I still can't believe he was arrested." He gestured to his head. "Can I get my hat back?"

"Not at the moment. Now, Sergeant, this is very important, if he was offered an opportunity to spy within the camp...would he take it?"

"Dietrich is a soldier, not a spy. He's as proud as hell and he isn't the type to grovel. I'd say that he'd spit in their eye if they asked, because he's not a traitor."

"I see, this is fascinating. How did you get to know him so well?"

"Not sure when it happened, sir." He could pinpoint a few instances, but nothing concrete.

"Of course, war and whatnot. Right, Sergeant, you've been very helpful. Now, you must realize that this puts you and your men in an awkward position, correct?"

"Yes, sir. "

"We'd like to move your Rat Patrol to England. We've gotten word that your team is one of the best, and we'd like you for some mischief we plan on stirring up in Europe."

"Transfer us?"

"Certainly. Your men have skill, and it's only a matter of time before the entire desert is under our control."

"We're a Long Range Desert Patrol."

"You are, I hope you recover well, Sergeant Troy. I think you'll like England."

"We're getting orders?"

"About as soon as we can arrange it. Your reputation speaks for itself, Sergeant Troy. Remember, not a word."

"I have had the."

"Ta-ta, Sergeant!" Captain Scamander ignored him. "Recover well, and I'll see you in England." With that, the skinny man with too much cheer in his voice was gone. Troy leaned back against his pillow and hoped to hell that Dietrich was taking care of his hat.

#$#$#$3

"You seem nervous, Kommandant." Hogan blew a ring of smoke toward the nervous Prussian. Klink was pretending to work on paperwork, and shooting glances at the door, the window, and then at Hogan.

"That new prisoner,...Captain Troy...is he settling in well?"

"No trouble, no trouble. He's a little too tall for our tunnels, so don't worry about his uniform being dirty."

"Hooogan!" The man looked too distracted. "Hogan, are you certain he is...on the level?"

"Oh sure!" Hogan hadn't received anything from London except orders to keep Dietrich alive and protect the Stalag 13 operation. It was tense with all missions on hold, and they had to keep their mischief out of the eyes of man who had definitely noticed when Newkirk had tried to pick his pocket.

Hogan never thought he'd see the day when Newkirk would have his own wallet snagged. It had been a bit amusing to see the corporal sulking over it. Dietrich, to his credit, hadn't rubbed it in and had offered stern warning in private that the man never attempt to do it again. There was a stern, very intense quality about Dietrich that Newkirk answered to and only partly resented. Since it hadn't been showy, broadcast, and handled between the two of them, Hogan was willing to overlook it. He desperately wanted to know where a German officer like Dietrich picked up pickpocketing skills like that.

The general consensus was that Newkirk had had it coming for a while now, and Carter thought it was hilarious. Hogan only knew about it because Newkirk had slunk into Barracks two after bargaining for his wallet, deeply recultant to report the incident.

"We could use more blankets, and a few more winter supplies for him. You know, he's used to the desert."

"Hogan!" Klink surprisingly shifted. He was torn between groveling for the Gestapo and the older, and much ignored part of him that was a real soldier. "If there is any trouble, I expect you to handle it properly, Colonel Hogan."

"Have I ever let you down, Kommandant?" He shot the man a grin. Klink glowered, and refocused on his paperwork.

"These commandos, they are nothing but trouble."

"Oh, sure. He's trouble, but you salute Hochstetter."

"Hogan! You know that those are very different!"

"I'm not too sure," Hogan didn't want to start down any path until he knew what London wanted. It was tricky, but he was confident he could pull it off. He excused himself, and ambled back to his barracks to find Kinch standing just beside the stove looking grim-faced.

"Word from London," he said, passing over the notepad and the scribbles he'd written down. Hogan took it with a low whistle. Three pages of notes, and he sat at the table to absorb the information by the time he was finished, he understood why Kinch looked so worried.

"Well, the word is that Dietrich is quote, "too damn clever." Dangerous, clever, about everything the Germans want but keep shooting because they aren't political enough. At the admission of the real Sam Troy, who is a Sergeant Dietrich is honorable and loyal. They want us to flip him."

"How? If he's that loyal then how do you flip him?"

'Well, he's not a Nazi. His record that London has on him is pretty extensive. Good man, good officer, loyal to his men."

"Boy, no wonder he hates Shutlz."

"And," Hogan nodded at Carter, "he'd have to be convinced carefully. Alright, make sure everyone knows to ease up on him and to make friends. Don't be showy about it. Start dropping hints about how terrible Germany has become."

"Shouldn't be too hard," Newkirk muttered, "it's ruddy awful these days."

"Good, everyone we have orders to cease most operations until we can be sure that Dietrich won't start reporting us."

The expected grumbles came, but Hogan waved them down. They had a job to do so they would do it.

#$#$#

Dietrich didn't like Stalag 13 for more than the fact that he was here under false pretenses. It felt off. Not in the fact that the prisoners were sussing out if he was a spy, that sort of activity was oddly absent, but it felt as if it was holding its breath. From the guards to the Kommandant, to the other prisoners, he felt the camp shifting strangely. It wasn't a normal POW camp, he was sure of it. The security was too lax, the guards were too friendly with the prisoners, and the Kommandant didn't seem to mind Hogan waltzing in and out of his office when he pleased.

Since nothing had come from him scolding Corporal Newkirk, he had decided to think that Hogan didn't mind or wasn't going to interfere.

Newkirk was amusing too, so at odds with the usually reserved Brits he met in the desert ,and almost the exact opposite of Sgt. Moffit.

"Captain," Sgt Thomas knocked on his door and entered when he called. "Do you want to join us?"

"Join you?"

"Letter writing and a card game. We've got matchstick poker."

"Yes," he could play poker very well. It had been a while since he'd practiced.

"We'll float you a loan, sir. See how you do." Thomas shot him a quick grin. An hour later, he was no longer grinning, and the entire barracks was crowded around the table as the poker game reached its zenith. "You know."

"What's going on here?" Sgt. Shultz bustled into the barracks, and froze at Dietrich's frown, and then focused on the card game. "Ah! Lights out, gentleman."

"Just a minute, Shultz." Thomas smirked, "I'm about to win the pot." With a smile, he laid down his cards and reached for the tin cup with the matchsticks.

"Not so fast," Dietrich corrected him, and he set down his cards to the chorus of echoing whistles and hoots of laughter.

"What? NO!"

"I'll float you a loan for the next game," he told the confused sergeant. "See how you do." Thomas, aggrieved, buried his head in his hands.

"What will I tell my wife! What can I do? My children need shoes for school! The car needs to be sent into the shop." Laughter erupted, and Dietrich felt himself chuckling. "My life savings!"

"In one game of poker?" It was a good thing they weren't playing with money. Not that it would do him any good here.

"Yeah, well," he rested his head on his fist. "Good game, Captain. Where'd you learn to bluff like that."

"I once walked onto a German base and off again to rescue my men without being stopped or questioned once, Sgt. Thomas."

"Damn!"

"Monkey business," Shultz muttered, "very naughty. Lights out, gentlemen! Lights out!"

Grumblings, the other prisoners did as ordered, and Dietrich watched Shultz carefully as he checked the barracks over once more. When the lights were out, he then moved to retreat to his minimal quarters.

"You don't like Shultz, do you?" Thomas poked his head up from his pillow and watched Dietrich check the fire in the heater.

"If I do or do not it is of little consequence."

"If you think he's fat, you should see Burkhalter."

"Who?" He looked up from the fire, it almost reminded him of sitting beside the fire while they made camp in the desert.

"General Burkhalter," someone piped up. "He's even bigger than Shultz and twice as mean."

"Everyone is twice as mean as Shultz, but Burkhalter and his buddies love to come by just to make fun of us."

"Really?" That made his anger burn.

"Yeah, remember that test they wanted to do?"

"I remember that, ugh. All German planes, and they had a hell of a party afterwards."

"Does this happen often?" Dietrich asked, and one of the men hummed.

"Often enough. I guess we're close enough that the trip isn't too far for most of them, and Klink is a bootlicker." Dietrich smiled faintly at the assessment. "And for some of them they get a little thrilled at seeing the enemy all brought low and stuff."

"And you are now nearly as cowed as Kommandant Klink thinks you are."

"Of course not, but it's mostly Lebeau I feel bad for. He's French you know, he hates Klink and guys like him. But they get French cooking in the middle of a war."

While men starve, Dietrich thought, turning his head away from the fire long enough to glance at the door. He shut the stove with a snap, and made sure everything was as close to working order as he could get it. Retreating to his quarters he seethed with quiet anger.

Few supplies, little water, being harried across the desert by the Rat Patrol and the British forces, and he remembered eating those tins of food that were hardly adequate.

He fell asleep with his anger still swirling around in his chest.

#$#$3

It was a few more weeks before anything serious happened. Hogan resumed his espionage, now bending his considerable wit and intelligence into distracting Captain Dietrich while they went about on their sabotage. It was difficult, and Hogan had a feeling that Dietrich was catching on that something was different.

Of course, it was just their luck when Hochstetter and Burkhalter rolled up to camp right after the successful demotion of a fuel-refinery. The gestapo agent was seething again, and Burkhalter looked equally annoyed.

"Where's Troy?" Hogan asked Thomas as the man wandered by. They kept an eye on the shrieking Germans as they stormed toward the Kommandant's office.

"He was washing clothes, but he's right there." Thomas nodded to the other end of the barracks. Dietrich's sleeves were rolled to his elbows, and he was wearing an apron that was spotted with water. It was so bizarre that Hogan squinted at him.

"He's an officer."

"I think he just likes being able to have his hands in that much water. Seriously, I think the desert shortages are affecting him, but he's doing a great job and it's nice to have the time off. Do you want me to get him?"

"No, we'll see how this plays out. Go keep him company and if they come for him, come get me."

Yes, sir." Thomas nodded, and scurried off. Dietrich stared at Burkhalter, his brown eyes flinty, and with a shallow nod and lips pressed so thin they were a white line, he eventually turned his back on the mounting spectacle.

"You never join in on the washing," Carter pointed out as soon as Thomas was gone, and Hogan sighed.

"I do a lot of everything else," he pointed out.

"Yeah...but he can do laundry for his enemies...I don't see why you can't take a turn at the board for your friends," Carter was shrewd at the most in-oppertune moments. Lebeau and Newkirk were grinning, and Kinch wandered up.

"What's up? I saw Burkhalter and Hochstetter arrive."

"Captain Troy is doing laundry," Newkirk said, and Kinch paused.

"He's an officer...and…"

" 'e's doing it! Apron and all, looked mighty fine while at it."

"How come you never do laundry?" Kinch asked, and Hogan rolled his eyes. "Ah, there goes Karl."

"Shutz is too scared to fetch him," Hogan smirked, "perfect." He nodded to Thomas who popped his head around the corner and nodded. "Time for the coffee pot."

$#$#

Dietrich was enjoying the feeling of water on his hands, even if he had enemy shirts in his hands. Most of them desperately needed to be replaced, and some of them were verging on threadbare.

Carefully, he wrung out an undershirt, and raised his eyes as Corporal Langenscheidt marched around the corner. His weapon was still shouldered, and he looked nervously at Dietrich.

"Herr Hauptmann!" He saluted. "Please...Kommandant Klink wants to see you."

"I am not the senior prisoner of war," Dietrich pointed out as Private Charles looked up from his threadbare book.

"Hey, Langenscheidt, what does hauptmann mean?"

"It means captain."

"I thought that was just Kapitan?"

"No, that is for the captain of a ship."

"Ohhhh," Dietrich focused on the water, privately relieved. It was nice to hear his old form of address, but not at the expense of rousing the men's curiosity. "Does that mean we can call you," he caught Dietrich's quiet stare, neither angry or irritable, but it was enough. "Nevermind."

"Please, Herr Hauptmann. He wishes to speak with you."

"Would this have anything to do with the general and the gestapo agent?" He asked, finally deeming the shirt wrung out enough to hang. He carefully secured it to the line, and the corporal looked faintly uncomfortable.

"I think so, Herr Hauptmann." The corporal looked awfully shifty, and Dietrich sighed.

"Private Charles, please finish these clothes." He dried his hand on the apron, untied it, and handed it over to the surprised private. "Please do not widen any of the holes."

"I'll do my best, sir."

Adjusting his sleeves, and assuring himself that looked presentable, he said, "see that you do," and followed the corporal to the office.

Inside was Kommandant Klink puffed up like a chicken and trembling from head to toe. Hochtstter was shaking, but from an entirely different feeling, his rage was propelling his face through a series of interesting shades, and General Burkhalter was indeed twice as large as Shultz.

"Sirs," he said in English, and gave a very American salute.

"Hauptmann Dietrich," Hochstetter stomped closer to him, but Dietrich held his ground. Refusing to budge and inch, he watched the short man storm up to him and pause just before he bowled him over. "You are still alive, how fortunate."

"I cannot see how, Major, as you yourself anticipate my death."

"Your death would be convenient," the agent agreed, "but there is another opportunity here." Dietrich said nothing, he only removed his hat and tucked it under his arm.

"What did you hear about the oil refinery's explosion?" Burkhalter asked, and Dietrich considered his answer.

"Two nights ago, I heard an explosion. I have heard nothing of it since."

"You didn't know what caused it?"

"No, sir."

"Then," Burkhalter continued in German, "you know nothing of how it started or who it could have been?"

"How could I have learned such news?" He asked, his jaw clenching slightly. "This is a POW camp and there are no radios."

"No, there are not!" Klink assured the group. "There has never been a successful escape."

"Shut up, Klink," the general ordered, and the man clamped his mouth shut.

"There exists," Hochstetter said, "in this area, a band of sabetoures whose leader goes by the code name "Papa Bear." Dietrich remained silent, wondering what this could have to do with him. "I suspect Hogan is this Papa Bear, if you bring me evidence that Colonel Hogan is operating a spy ring out of Stalag 13, the charges against you will be dropped. You will be reinstated, and promoted."

Dietrich stared steadily at the man, realizing that he really believed that there was a spy ring in the camp and Colonel Hogan was in charge of it. "Before we met, Major," Dietrich said when Hochstetter finally lost steam. "I was assured that you were one of the best investigators." the man puffed up, pleased. "That you would seek the truth and discover who was responsible for the man's death."

"Thank you, Hauptmann," Hochstetter smiled, it came out like a grimace.

"And yet," Dietrich said coldly, "you stand before me, after having falsely accused me of the murder of a fellow officer, collusion with the enemy, and treason...and you tell me that a prisoner of war is operating a spy ring out of a camp even I can't conceive an escape from?" That was a lie, he had already calculated a dozen escape routes but none of them were viable so long as the Gestapo had his family watched. "Either your skills were exaggerated or the idiocy goes to the core!"

"You got too far!" Hochstetter screamed. "No one dares question my!"

"Perhaps that is your problem, Major Hochstetter. I have been here nearly two months and have seen nothing." Dietrich wasn't exactly trembling from the adrenaline, but kicking the Gestapo off his high horse was dangerous. "The very notion is absurd."

"I always thought so," Bulkhalter agreed, eyeing Dietrich with interest and Klinks mouth had flopped open with surprise. "But many strange things happen around Hogan, and not all of it can be explained."

"There is nothing to explain, Herr General. There is nothing to see." Burkhalter sighed, and the captain seethed as he casually sipped at a glass of schnapps.

"You are a traitor!" Hochstetter exclaimed. "And you will die in disgrace! Here! Surrounded by your enemies, and if they do not figure you out, I will out you!"

That...that was..Dietrich's eyes widened and his breath caught in his chest. This was beyond good taste, beyond what he could have imagined, and Hochstetter was vibrating with bitter hatred.

Burkhalter, and Klink both stared on in surprise and Dietrich felt himself teetering over a precipice, the world was holding its breath and Dietrich's hands tightened over the slouch cap in his hands as he stepped over the edge.

"I am confident in my abilities, Major." He said coolly.

"Summon Colonel Hogan!" Hochstetter screamed, but General Burkhalter held up a hand.

"Why, Hauptmann? You have an opportunity to return to your command."

"It would make no difference if I accepted the offer, Herr General. I would never have anything to report as there is nothing happening. That you have indulged this madness is information enough. I am not a spy, I am a soldier. I can find a commandos jeep in hundreds of kilometers of empty desert and you think that I cannot see sabotage in a camp I am held prisoner in?"

"Well," the fat general shifted in his seat, "when you put it like that."

The door slammed opened, and Colonel Hogan waltzed in, looking cheerful. "Why wasn't I notified that one of my men was taken in for questioning?" He demanded with a nod to Dietrich and then a well-practiced frown at the other Germans. "This is a protest, sirs.'

"WHAT IS THIS MAN DOING HERE!?" Screamed Hochstetter, and Dietrich grimaced at the noise.

"Colonel Hogan, senior POW officer reporting."

"I know, Hogan," he snarled, and Dietrich watched in amazement that he couldn't show as Colonel Hogan led the men through a merry maze of insanity formed only with words. Managing to re-phrase everything Dietrich had just said, implying that the general had better things to do with his time, and threatening all of them with the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention. It was a masterful weaving of words, and if Dietrich weren't so sure of himself he might have been bamboozled alongside them.

"Now," Hogan leaned back, personally satisfied, "if you have no further questions for the captain?"

"We do have one for you, Colonel Hogan," Hochstetter stalked toward Hogan. "What makes you think you can trust him? He could be a spy."

"He could be, but why would the Gestapo try to out their own man?" Hogan shrugged, "and besides, he looks good in our uniform. That's how you catch a German spy, ours are more comfortable."

"Out, Hogan." Burkhalter snapped, and Dietrich gave a sharp salute and retreated with the colonel. He was still on thin ice, and he heard arguing continue behind the door. Hilda stared at him, and tutted.

"Are you alright?" She asked kindly, and Dietrich nodded. It was only a matter of time. Burkhalter might be reluctant to out him to Hogan and his men from the kinship of them both being soldiers, but Hochstetter was evil.

"Come on, Burkhalter should do what needs to be done. We can go settled down for a nice little panic in the barracks."

"I am fine, sir." Dietrich told the American.

"Sure, and Dunkirk was a wonderful stay. Let's go, Captain."

#$#

Dietrich wasn't sure if he was imagining the prisoners being kinder to him, or if this was how they acted with all of the men who had been interrogated by the Gestapo. His bruise had faded, but the memory of being tired to a chair and beaten still lingered.

These Americans were...sentimental and soft. He found more blankets on his bed than he really needed.

He wasn't sure what would happen. Kommandant Klink avoided looking at him, his shiftiness not having gone unnoticed. But the charade would be up. The official paperwork would alert Colonel Hogan, something was bound to happen. He just needed the other shoe to drop.

ERERE

Hogan grinned, trying to do his best to not beam as the mail truck came rumbling into the compound.

"You're in a good mood, sir."

"Do you know what today is?" He asked Carter.

"Mail day?"

"Exactly, and do you know what's on that truck?

"Mail?"

"A package for Captain Deitrich," he told the young man.

"I don't remember sending him a bomb." Carter's face screwed up in concentration.

"Not a bomb," Hogan told him. "A present from London."

"Oh….I wonder what it is."

#$#$#

"Mail call!" Corporal Langenscheidt appeared at the door, and tossed the packages of letters toward Sgt. Thomas. Delivering mail was always a little dangerous, and he held a stiff package in his arms carefully.

"What's that?" Thomas asked, passing out letters to the eager men, and he cleared his throat.

"A package for Captain Troy."

"A package?" The man appeared at the door from his office, clearing his face of shaving cream and curious.

"Yes, Herr Hauptmann." The corporal passed it over, and Dietrich eyed the postmark and the warnings to handle it with care.

"Ah," he untied the strings, and before the entire curious barracks, he opened it to find a uniform folded neatly inside. "What?"

"Oh, you're an officer. Colonel Hogan sometimes has to put on his dress uniform, so that makes sense."

Dietrich was floundering internally. The uniform was perfect, a little worse for wear given the journey and it was the uniform that belonged to an enemy officer. How it had gotten delivered here, he had no idea. Certainly the allies knew that Sgt. Troy was alive...unless he had died and the Rat Patrol hadn't recovered his body. It was troubling enough that he nearly missed the letters passed toward him.

"Letters too, a good first mail call." Dietrich nodded, and noticed that this uniform had a pair of shoes….his size...a hat...his size...and he was sure that if he put it on it would be in his size. And beneath the folds of the uniform, wrapped in paper was a new set of dog-tags. Still stamped with Sam Troy name, serial number...but with his blood type.

How? Why?

One letter he recognized from Helen Troy, the sergeant's older sister, and the second was addressed from Dan Troy...but in Sam Troy's handwriting.

"Thank you, Corporal." He closed the box again, intending to never wear the uniform within. He might be considered a traitor...but he wasn't a traitor.

"Spiffy uniform, sir." Charles admired. "I miss mine, all the girls used to admire it."

"Women love a man in uniform," someone called, and Dietrich retreated to his quarters to stare at the letters.

Something wasn't right. He shouldn't be receiving Sgt. Troy's mail. With great trepidation he opened the letter from the man himself.

Sam, the letter read, I don't know what German air will do to that hat so you had better be careful with it! Ma won't be happy if you ruin it. Dietrich smiled faintly. Sam's attachment to this hat was a continued mystery, but it tracked. Don't make it look bad either. Did Sam know it was Dietrich wearing the hat? How? They were in a prison camp, and Dietrich was...Dietrich was supposed to die here and he wasn't important enough to be the object of a spies attention...an allied spy at least. Anyway, I told Hel to send you some socks, don't forget to write her and don't forget to keep your feet dry. That was just good advice, letting anything linger on your feet was a disaster, even in the desert. There was a pause in the writing, the Sergeant had had to think about what to say. I'll send a book, because prison is pretty boring. Good job, Captain. The letter ended abruptly, and while a censor might have read the last part as sarcasm, Dietrich could feel the honesty.

Somehow, wherever Sam Troy was, he knew what was happening or he had an idea of what was happening. He had faith in Dietrich, the sort of faith that he wasn't sure he'd earned...but something was strange.

He leaned back in his seat and considered everything he knew.

The camp was easy to break out of, that much was clear. Shultz was not a threat or even an enemy to these pilots...he was a pet and Dietrich's open hostility was new. Colonel Hogan hadn't given him a side-eye when Hochsttetter had implied that Dietrich was a spy or undercover. His reasons for dismissing such an accusation were absurd...but American uniforms were more comfortable.

He had received a uniform in his size, dog tags with his blood type on them, a letter from the sergeants own sister, and a letter from the sergeant himself.

So, the allies knew he was in Stalag 13. They knew his size, blood-type, and even knowing that he was an enemy officers...they were aiding his deception of the other prisoners. Which meant they wanted him alive...but what for?

He might have dismissed some of this as a clerical error, but a letter from Sam Troy had put all of the facts into a new light.

Ducking out of his office and into the courtyard, he whistled to Langenscheidt. The corporal paused, and Dietrich smiled faintly. "Corporal, I need to speak with the Kommandant."

"I am not sure," the corporal fell silent under his stare. "Yes, Herr Hauptmann. Follow me." He moved purposefully up the steps to the office building feelling the stares of the prisoners on his back. Through the building and into Kommandant Klinks office, he stared at the man's watery eyes and saluted.

"Captain...what are you doing here? This is."

"Outside regulation," Dietrich told him softly, his eyes skipping around the office. "Isn't it, Herr Kommandant."

"Captain Dietrich...I assure you. I will not."

"Do you know what the desert is like?" He might not be Sergeant Troy with the practiced ease of causing trouble and dramatics, but he had seen enough American cinema to figure out how to fake this. "Every moment hinging on your men, your trucks, the shaking supply lines...every danger amplified ten-fold where the allies have less of a chance to kill you than dehydration, scorpions, local tribes, your own men by friendly fire."

"I...I...I.."

"I have no intention of surviving the relentless assault of commandos, the desert, and betrayal by my own nation to be murdered in my bed."

"I...I...of course."

Dietrich moved from one end of the office to the other, surveying a place where a bug might or could be placed. It was no coincidence that Hogan had come in when he had, he was sure of it. But his pace and observation had the bonus of making the kommandant nervous.

"I am a soldier, Kommandant."

"And a traitor." Klink bleated.

"Do you truly believe that?" He asked, and Klink stared up at him, his mouth flopping open.

"I...I…"

"I wonder what the Field Marshall will say," he mused, and paused right in front of the Kommandant's desk and stared over his head at the picture behind his head….and planted right where the microphone would be...was a microphone.

Dietrich closed his eyes. If any of them spoke German...then they knew. They had to know...and...and.

"Good day, Herr Kommandant," he saluted and dismissed himself.

It couldn't be true...but it had to be true. There was nothing else that made sense. They knew what was said in the office..and they could arrange his uniform and the dog-tags and the letters.

He smiled as Carter popped up next to him. The cheerful, disarming young pilot who was just innocent enough to be overlooked, but part of Colonel Hogan's main crew. Him, alongside Kinch, Newkirk, and Lebeau.

Troulemakers on par with Troy and his Rats.

"Captain," Carter beamed, "what's up? You get anything in the mail today?"

"My uniform," he reported, "and a few letters."

"A uniform! I miss mine, used to make the girls go crazy."

"Agreed," it was a nice uniform, not that he'd have the chance to wear it. He'd probably get shot by the Gestapo before then. He honestly wasn't sure anymore.

"Well, as long as it's not too important. Colonel Hogan usually handles everything, so don't worry about it."

"I won't, Colonel Hogan seems perfectly capable."

"He's great, hey, can I ask you about the desert? Was it always sunny? Did you guys ever get clouds?" The conversation carried on as Dietrich ambled back to his barracks, answering Carter's lighting fast questions with quiet, slow ones of his own.

The letter from Helen Troy was charming, full of insults of the sibling variety, and news of the ranch back home. It was also full of vivid, fascinating details and information that granted him an insight beyond the Sergeant Troy that Dietrich knew. She wrote with a vivid style, capturing the cold of the mornings, the sounds of chickens, and the nonsense the local children were up to. She was interesting, intelligent, and she clearly knew what she was doing. Going by some of her choice wording, he could guess that she knew she wasn't actually writing her brother...and again he had to wonder how a rancher could have found out about this.

Papa Bear. He'd belittled Hochstetter not too long ago about his assumption, but if the assumption was correct?

It was the only thing that made sense. Like the old Sherlock Holmes quote that he could never admit to reading, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

He would keep his head down, he could hide...or he could observe.

#$#$3

"Colonel," Newkirk was peering at his cards just before lights out. "What are we going to do with the captain? He's really put a damper on our work. We're hiding from krauts inside and out!"

"Oui," Lebeau muttered as he stirred something at the stove, "and he is clever too. He knows something is up."

"Maybe the uniform was a little too far," Hogan agreed, "but giving him a cover story is the first part of securing his safety. London wants him alive and they won't tell us why. We pretend he's American and there are no questions asked."

"What if he figures us out, Colonel," Carter asked.

"He might, but he won't say anything. We were all listening to that argument in the office, so...we're going to have to say that he isn't a Nazi, but he's not a traitor either, and he's probably going to keep his head down."

But Captain Dietrich didn't keep his head down. Not compared to the rest of them. He was tall, proud, and he wore a hat so unique that even visiting brass asked about it. The men made it into a game to see how often he might slip up, and so far there were only two marks on the board. He was good, and if he were actually a spy he would have been terrifyingly good.

#$#$3

Dietrich noticed when the security increased and the conversations that quited and died when he approached, and pretended not to.

Something was up, it could have had something to do with the attempted escape last night. It could have had something to do with with the way all of the men were watching him.

Shultz muttered about monkey-business and not seeing anything or knowing anything, but Dietrich noticed.

Private Webber had come down with a fever, and was making a decent enough recovery, which gave Dietrich the perfect excuse he needed to visit Barracks two. It wasn't as if he was avoiding the colonel, but he had taken up a fair amount of clerical duties and soothing over the smaller spats between the men that Hogan was too busy to handle or they didn't want to bring to Hogan.

Apparently his side-business of espionage meant he did miss parts of the not-espionage of commanding prisoners.

"Colonel Hogan," he said, and opened the door to hear an awful racket and scuffle. The distinct click of heels against the ground made him pause, and he only finished opening the door when he thought they might have covered everything up. Staring determinedly down at his paper, he moved into the barracks. "I have." He paused as a familiar scent tickled his nose. Perfume...delicate and heady, the sort that was popular in North Africa...and a distinct mixture that he hadn't smelled in over a year.

He knew the woman who wore this perfume...she was the one who had created it...she was the one who mixed it...she was the one who had tried to seduce him while he was grieving for the loss of a friend. They had stayed up an entire night, talking and laughing, and during that time he'd learned the secret behind her perfume and she'd learned that he enjoyed baklava too much.

In retrospect she was a spy, but at the time he'd been charmed by her easy going nature and exceptional beauty.

"Captain?" Colonel Hogan was leaning against the sink with exaggerated carelessness. "What's on your mind?"

"Private Webber is recovering, his fever broke this morning."

"That's great news," Hogan looked genuinely relieved. He was a good officer, and Dietrich was amazed at the lengths he went to for his men. "Did you need anything else?"

"Yes, tea. The old leaves."

"I have some saved up, what's the problem, guv'na?"

"I am simply testing a recipe I learned out in North Africa," he said, taking in another lungful of air, the perfume was still intoxicating even like this. No wonder Hogan's men all looked a little starry-eyed.

"I'll get them," Newkirk moved to his bunk, and Hogan stared at Dietrich.

"Anything else, Captain?"

"Yes...am I not supposed to notice the perfume?"

Kinch smiled, and Carter grinned. "The other krauts usually don't."

The room came to a freezing halt. Newkirk's hands came from beneath his bunk, a pistol at the ready, and Dietrich raised his chin as Hogan's eyes slid shut.

"Carter," he admonished, and the younger man had the grace to look shamefaced. "Sorry, Herr Hauptmann, he only gets this stupid when he's around a pretty girl."

"Madam Dupain is a beautiful woman," Dietrich agreed, and was gratified when Hogan's eyes bugged out of his face. The door to his quarters opened, and Madam Dupain herself appeared, eyes wide with shock.

"That man is a German!" She exclaimed, trembling from head to foot. She was dressed for Germany's cold weather, but looked miserable in the freezing temperatures.

"We know," Hogan grimaced, "you two know each other?"

"We met at an officers club," Dietrich said, gamely ignoring the pistol aimed his direction.

"I tried to seduce information out of him for an entire evening," she reported, looking only faintly admiringly at him. "I failed."

"It was still a lovely evening," he told her in Arabic, and her face cleared. Hogan glanced between them. "I have always remembered it fondly."

"Yes," she agreed, "are you going to sell us out?"

"I am not," he ignored the curious stares of the others. "I am a prisoner as well."

"Did you defect?"

Dietrich shrugged, he hadn't and since this was the first time they were going to openly acknowledge his heritage then he'd have to wait and see what happened. "I am no danger to you."

"You," she smiled, "I remember our evening fondly...you were the only officer who wasn't pawing at me."

"I apologize for their behavior," he bowed faintly. "Are you being taken care of?"

"Yes," she glanced at Hogan, "they are very helpful."

"I am pleased to hear that," the knot in his chest loosened as Hogan laughed.

"Good, old friends meeting up. Captain, care to share with the class?"

"Hauptmann Dietrich was the only officer who did not crack under my attention," Madam Dupain might not have been wearing her usual dancers ensemble, but the way she moved across the room removed any need for it. "The only officer to suspect my intentions."

"I was naturally suspicious," he smiled, and when she paused right in front of him, her dark eyes sparkling with mischief he could almost forget that they were in the middle of Germany, that he had been betrayed...that there were prisoners watching them. He could imagine his leave ending in a few hours and that he'd be back out in the desert to hunt the Rat Patrol...that he would see the few friends he'd managed to make...that he could be back in command.

"Well," Kinch's voice broke through his reverie, and they were back in the freezing barracks, surrounded by barbed-wire, and he was in his enemies uniform. "I guess that settles it."

"I like this uniform more," she said, and tilted the brim of Troy's slouch cap down. "I like the hat."

"Thank you," he gave her a toothy smile, and she winked. "Are you moving her out soon?"

"We're moving her out as soon as we can," Hogan looked a little peeved, Dietrich couldn't imagine why. "The gestapo want her dead."

"Welcome to the club," Dietrich told her, and she giggled.

"It is a club that I am proud to be a member of."

"Agreed."

She threaded her fingers with his. "Are you going to make tea?"

"Yes."

"Would you bring me some?"

"Of course," he lifted her hand, pressing a delicate kiss to her knuckles. When he glanced over at Hogan, the man's jaw was tight but he had a game smile on his face. "Excuse me." With a nod, he accepted the tea-leaves from Newkirk and vanished through the door. Out in the weak sunlight, he suppressed a smile and retreated to his barracks where Sgt. Thomas was preparing the teapot.

"What," given away by the faint smear of lipstick and the scent of perfume, Dietrich pretended not to notice when his new second turn away to cough into his sleeve. "Congrats, Captain."

#$#$#

"We just let him walk out of here!" Newkirk exclaimed, stowing the pistol hastily. "Guv'na!"

"Relax, Newkirk. He's not going to do anything," Hogan grimaced, but his grin was wide. "Thank you, Madam Dupain."

"I always liked Dietrich," she admitted, taking her hastily abandoned seat at the barracks, looking calmer than before. "A good officer and a good man...very good with his hands."

"Ah," Carter made an aborted noise and hid his red face in his hands. The rest of them looked red as well.

"I mean was that he managed to pick my pockets as well."

" "e's good at that," Newkirk complained. "Damn good. So what now?"

"We continue as if nothing happened, we keep quiet and if Klink asks us."

"Know nothing, see nothing!" They chorused.

"We'll take you out through the emergency tunnel tonight, don't worry. We'll have a diversion ready."

"Not before my tea with the captain, I hope? Not that your tea wasn't wonderful, Corporal," she graced Newkirk with a smile, "but it is not the tea I am used to. Maybe use your office?"

"Of course," Hogan did his best to not look peeved, "it's nice when old friends can get together again."

"They sure looked friendly," Carter beamed, "I hope they have a nice tea party. "

"Is that what they're calling it now?" Kinch grinned, his slow smile prompting the colonel to roll his eyes .

Before Madam Dupain left for England, her safety too compromised to let her keep working, she wrapped her arms around Dietrich's neck and stared into his eyes. "We might not see each other again," she told him. He knew the others were looking, but couldn't bring himself to care.

"I know...and I am sorry."

"You don't need to apologize to me," she said, and smiled faintly when grief flickered across his eyes. "I wish that you had not have to find out this way, Captain Dietrich...but the war."

"The war," he agreed, and his hands fit neatly over the small over her back. He drew her close, and sighed. "I wish we had met under different circumstances. Take care in London...it is a cold city...they are not used to your heat."

"Take care here, Hans," she whispered, "and do not hate me."

"I couldn't, even if I wanted to," he admitted.

"Another time," she told him.

"Another place." he said, and was only partly surprised when she pulled him down into a kiss that would have seared the paint off the trucks. "Farewell, Madam Dupain...safe travels." He glanced to the side where Carter and Newkirk were busy staring at the wall and pretending to ignore their conversation. "They will protect you."

"Who will protect you?" Madam Dupain stepped away and in English asked, "Will you behave?"

"Scouts honor," he smirked, giving the three fingered salute he'd seen Private Hitchcock give Sgt. Troy when he wanted to annoy the man.

"Somehow I doubt it," she winked and vanished up the ladder, followed by her escorts. He turned around to see Kinch grinning widely, and Colonel Hogan giving him a shrewd glance.

"You speak Arabic?"

"French, English, several dialects of Arabic, as well as basic Swahili."

"That's impressive," Kinchloe said, his French was smooth, "mind teaching me a bit?"

"How is your German?" He asked in German.

"Passable," Kinch responded in kind, his accent near flawless. Dietrich wanted to yank on his hair and curse, but he was an officer and had an image to maintain.

"Near perfect," he set his hands on his hips. "You knew from the beginning?"

"We did," Hogan told him, "and we have to check up on your story." The radio set up was impressive, and Dietrich marvelled at the tunnels and the sheer audacity it took to pull an operation off like this. "When did you make us?"

"After Hochsteter accused you of being Papa Bear," he confessed. "I had considered it to be impossible, but nothing else made sense. When my uniform came in...with new dog tags, then I knew. Why does London want me alive?"

"Because you're an asset," Hogan told him, "and we've received reports from your friends and enemies alive that you're a good man and a good soldier. Those are in short supply right now, and according to the real Sam Troy, you're going to be needed eventually. He also said to not ruin his hat."

"I will do my best." How could London want him alive? How had so many decisions about his future been made without him.

"You're to be kept here, and if it looks like the Gestapo plans on killing you, then we get you out. But," Hogan's genial attitude vanished. It always started Dietrich when Americans switched from being friendly to deadly in a single heart-beat. Private Hitchcock had been the best at it. "If you leak any information about this operation, the men, the jobs, or my identity."

"We have a way of handling leaks," Kinch continued, "and you won't like 'em."

"Not to worry...but I will not give up information on my men."

"You won't have to, high command guesses that it's not long before the whole Africa Korps surrenders, their supplies slowed to a trickle and their best captain is here, and not even the old Desert Fox can fight with nothing for long."

Dietrich cursed lowly and furiously and for several minutes.

"That is why you hate Shultz isn't it?" Kinch asked, and Hogan excused himself. "And Burkhalter?"

"My men starved," he hissed bitterly and shaking with minute rage. "They went hungry, with the pitiful Italian rations. We were reduced to raiding American and British convoys for supplies and medicine. I had to turn several of my wounded men over to the Americans just to receive decent medical care. I…." he clenched his fists and sat down heavily. "And that fat animal dares questions my loyalty. "He could not ever understand...he would not even try." It took several moments for him to wrangle his temper under control, and he finally looked up. "What nonsense have you heard of me, Sgt. Kinchloe? What do the allies have on a mere hauptmann?"

"A hell of a file, Captain, and most of it is them cursing your name."

"If you knew from the beginning then why not kill me?"

"Because Hochstetter wanted you dead," Kinchloe told him honestly, holding out a cigarette, "and that was good enough for us to see what kind of fella you were. You impressed me with how well you handled Newkirk when he snagged your wallet."

"I see," puffing smoke into the air, he eyed Kinchloe.

"And when you gave Hochstetter the smack down? Oh boy, did we get a laugh out of that. According to some spies, he's in trouble for harassing prisoners and wasting resources. I can respect an officer who goes to bat for his men, even if they aren't his men."

"Thank you," Dietrich said honestly. "Having the respect of a good man is better than any award a vile one can give." Kinch smiled faintly.

"So, Madam Dupain, quite the lady."

"You've never seen one of her performances?"

"Never had the chance."

"She commands excellent stage presence," he savored the cigarette and the feeling of calm and the promise of safety that had been lacking since his arrival. "Serargent.'

"Captain?"

"If you had not have a bug in the office...and did not know that I was a herre...would you have known I was not American."

"We might have suspected," Kinch told him, "but we would have had a hell of time proving it. You're good, who trained you?"

"Sergeant Troy." Dietrich scoffed faintly.

"You're kidding."

"Nein, he often outsmarted me and the only time I got the upper hand was when I employed his own underhanded tactics. I had plenty of time to observe the Rats over the years, and they taught more than you would have liked."

"Incredible, most officers wouldn't admit to learning something from their enemies."

"I had no choice if I wanted to get my supplies through. Sgt Troy and his rats could pull off tricks that would not work if you tried to think about how they would work. They had absurd plans, and I cannot imagine how they were allowed to operate the way they did."

"Sounds like you've got some stories."

"I am the butt of most of them."

"Not as Captain Troy," Kinch winked, "save them for story night and you might win the pot."

"Story night?"

"We all tell a story and whoever had the most unbelievable story that's true wins the cookie."

"Ah," Dietrich brightened, "this could be easy to win."

"You might be surprised, Herr Hauptmann."

"As might you be." Dietrich wondered which story he would use first...there were so many to choose from.

#$#$#

"We're being reassigned?" Private Mark Hitchcock blurted as soon as Captain Boggs repeated the news. He didn't have have the grace to look ashamed when the captain pinned him with a glare.

"Yes, Pirate Hitchcock. You're being reassigned. Apparently the army knows when they've got a good thing. They don't want anything to disrupt your team, so you're all being reassigned. You're all due for a plane that leaves in two days, so pack your bags and say goodbye to the desert, Rats."

"Yes, sir." Sgt. Jack Moffit considered the older man briefly. He knew exactly how much insubordination he could get away with with him. "Do you know where we're being assigned?"

Captain Boggs glared at him and then at the two privates. "Yes, but you're not actually going to get the information until you're on the plane. I'm sorry, but orders came down from on high."

"Of course, sir," Moffit saluted. "And what about Sgt. Troy?"

"Help him pack his bags, and I expect you to be at the airport on time, Moffit. Any questions...Private Pettigrew?"

Tully Pettigrew, quiet and steady, only asked questions when he really needed to. If he didn't voice any objections, Captain Boggs knew it would be that much easier to get through the day.

"No, sir." Pettigrew said.

"Good, you Rats get going and...luck be with you."

#$#$#

Captain Dietrich was bored. After spending the entire war busy, on the front lines, or recovering, sitting in a POW camp was tedious, even with the added dangers. True the Gestapo could roll in and shoot him at any point, and certainly he could get beaten up by some of the disgruntled prisoners, but this was boring.

Hogan and his crew had elected to keep him from interfering with their work, and he was offered a polite dismissal, so he started drawing again. Scenes from desert, his aide, the locals, the supplies, the weather, and most damningly of all, the Rat Patrol.

A fine, handsome portrait of Sam Troy, bush hat included, lounging over his 50 caliber. Sgt Jack Moffit leaning against a jeep, a faint smile on his face. Private Pettigrew and Hitchcock with their respective headgear and leaning over the wheels of their jeeps. He sketched his aide, the men that he'd been ripped away from by the sham of a trial.

He sketched everything he could remember from the desert, and illustrated some of his worse encounters with the Rat Patrol, leaving his failings out in the open. It was...too personal...and it was evidence. So, carting a now-full sketch-pad to Barracks 2, he asked to see Colonel Hogan.

"What is it?" The man eyed the sketch pad.

"Evidence," he handed the sketchbook over. "I cannot...keep it in my quarters for fear of discovery."

"We'll stick it below," Hogan said, flipping it open. "You've got skill, Captain...is this the real Troy?" He turned sketchbook around and the intense eyes of Sam Troy peered out.

"Yes," Dietrich nodded, "Sergeant Troy and his men."

"We'll get you a new sketchpad, or somet paper at least," Hogan mused, "alright, Captain."

"Thank you," he nodded and let himself out, as he opened the door, Shultz bustled in.

"Hogan!" He called, and catching sight of Dietrich, stuttered to a terrified halt. "Captain Troy!"

"What is it, Shutlz?" Hogan ambled out of his office. "You look nervous? Did Klink catch you dipping into his booze again?"

"Nein! Colonel Hogan, there is….there is a party. "

"A party?" Dietrich watched Hogan's face twist into a frown.

"Yes," Shultz looked around. "Colonel, I should not be telling you this...but they wish to invite…" he gestured at Dietrich.

"Absolutely not," Dietrich said automatically.

"What's the shindig?"

"A party thrown by General Burkhaulter for the local officers," Shutlz's expression was miserable, "and he insists that Captain Troy come."

"I am ill," Dietrich replied stiffly, "I cannot attend."

Shutlz glanced at Hogan and then at Dietrich. It was a rare day that he saw an American argue with Colonel Hogan.

"We'll wait for our invitation," Hogan told him, ushering him out of the barracks. "Alright, see you. Bye."

"But Colonel Hogan!" Shutlz protested, and the door slammed shut behind him. All eyes were on Dietrich as he raised his chin and stared Colonel Hogan down.

"My office, please, Captain." Hogan said, with a faint, false smile that did more to set Dietrich on edge than anything else. The other prisoners were dead silent, and as the door shut behind them, he heard the mad rattle of boots on wood as they rushed to escape. "Captain." the colonel rarely wore a firm expression, or anything resembling seriousness, but there was an unfamiliar edge to his voice.

"It is inappropriate to invite a prisoner of war."

"Two prisoners of war, as far as they are concerned."

"I was only invited so that the general and the others could jerk me around on a string," keeping his voice level and cool was almost too much. "This mockery of a party is only for their amusement, Herr Colonel, it is beneath me."

"What about me," Hogan's tone was cooler than Dietrich had ever heard it.

"It is...rediculous that they would invite a high profile prisoner to this party." Dietrich continued. "It is clear that they only wish to…."

"Rub it in? Gloat? Oh yes, that usually happens, but these parties are tradeoffs."

"They do not realize that they have Papa Bear in their midst," rage, fury, and shame all but coursing through his body. It was humiliating. "Their arrogance…"

"Works for us, and London didn't send you that uniform just to go to waste. Press your pants and put on your dancing shoes, we're going to that party. You'll do your best to pretend to be American, and I'll get what I need."

"Colonel."

"That's an order, Captain." Dietrich raised his chin, staring down at the shorter man with something like venom in his eyes. "I don't like it more than you do, but you get to pull of the acting job of a lifetime and."

"Do not bring me into your schemes, Colonel. The gestapo is still watching my family. Any indication that I am not doing my best to keep my identity secret will result in their deaths."

"I understand that, Captain, which is why you're not going to be involved. You're going to look pretty, talk pretty, and follow my lead. If you're as clever as they say, then we should have no problem."

"Sir."

"This isn't a request, Captain."

"Then if I should see an officer I recognize?"

"As far as they need to know, you're a spy in the camp."

"I am not a spy."

"We know that, but if you want to keep your head, then you're going to be one."

It was insulting, for himself and for Colonel Hogan. The only reason either of them was invited was to provide the evening's entertainment. He paused and wondered how many times Hogan had been subjected to this, and he winced. "Yes, sir."

"Good," Hogan relaxed a fraction. "Try not to seeth too visibly, I've got a reputation."

Dietrich saluted, and excused himself a moment later. He marched back to his barracks and ignored the curious glances from the men as he set about his work. It was humiliating, infuriating, and he hated the notion that his fellow officers had sunk so slow.

"Uh...Captain?" He stood in his cramped, slightly damp, and freezing quarters, and turned his flinty glare on his second. "Your invite is here."

"Thank you," his stiff reply was rewarded with a grimace.

"Sorry, sir."

"I take some small comfort," he accepted the invitation, "that it is not taking place here."

"Why is that?"

"To spare the men from the humiliation of being mocked by men who should know better." The party was being held in a haufbrau. He hadn't been to one in almost five years, and instead of returning to one as a triumphant soldier, he was visiting as a spy.

"Don't worry, sir," Sgt Thomas said quietly, "it could be worse."

"How?"

"It doesn't seem likely that he would invite Hochstetter….they hate each other."

"That is good." Seeing that little man again would only propel him to do what he had done to Major Wansee. "Very good."

$#$#$#

Klink managed to keep himself calm on the day of the party by re-doing his tie, polishing his monocle, and fussing over the security arrangements. Dragging Hogan to one of these parties always filled him with second-hand embarrassment. General, Colonels, and Captains who should have known better took pleasure in rubbing Hogan's prisoner status in his face. It was also a security nightmare to bring him to parties. So far, none of his escapes had been successful.

He was the first to admit that he didn't like Hogan very much, the man was too clever and too slippery, and too many inexplicable things went on around him. Still, Hogan was an officer and a gentleman and he was an excellent leader.

"Herr Kommandant," Hilda stepped into his office, "Colonel Hogan and Captan Troy here to see you."

"Are they ready?" He demanded, sticking his monocle back in place and he watched as Colonel Hogan sauntered into the room and followed by a stiff Captain Dietrich. The man wore the American uniform well, his ranks and medals were pinned in place, and his broad shoulders filled out his jacket so well that Fraulein Helga gave him a swift once-over before excusing herself. "That hat is not regulation!" He pointed to the bush cap, and then he sighed. "What does it matter? Gentleman, tonight's party is given in honor of General Burkhualter. You will not make a nuisance of yourselves, you will not embarrass myself or Stalag 13 and you can keep your clever Americanism to yourself!"

"I'll do my best," Dietrich promised, and Klink closed his eyes and tried to gather strength as Hogan's smirk made a return.

"And no attitude!" Klink barked.

"Is this not a security issue?" Dietrich asked, and Klink waved a hand about.

"I am only a colonel! He is a General! As far as I am concerned, he may invite anyone he pleases!"

"I for one, am flattered." Hogan grinned, "It's nice for the general to notice the little guy."

"Your personality makes up for your lack of height, sir," Dietrich said, startling both colonels. Klink smiled and Hogan narrowed his eyes.

"Let's go, let's go!" Klink exclaimed, ushering them from his office and toward the staff car. He glared at Shultz, who was leaning against the car and talking to Lebeau. "Shultz!'"

"Herr Kommandant!" The man saluted, and his eyes fell on a stern-faced Dietrich and a cheerful Hogan.

"Captain!" Lebeau sprang up, "mon Colonel! You both look so handsome!"

"Perfectly 'andsome!" Corporal Newkirk agreed, coming around the car. "Cars ship-shape, sirs. Don't need to worry about a thing."

That did nothing to calm Klink, who had had to deal with a long series of neverending car troubles stemming from Hogan and his men.

"Good job, Newkirk," Hogan said, and Klink took heart that the prisoners would never hurt their CO.

"You both made a great pair," Sergeant Carter agreed, "like a proper mom and dad."

"You know the rules, Carter." Klink never understood why Hogan let his men get away with so much cheek. "Lights out on time, don't go sticking your hand in the cookie jar."

"Do not touch my liquor either," Dietrich said, adjusting his hat.

"Well, gee, Pops," Carter was grinning guilelessly. "I guess there go my plans for the night."

"Yeah, we were going to invite the Andrew sisters over for drinks and cookies," Sergeant Kinchloe appeared, and Hogan laughed.

"It is time to go!" Klink exclaimed trying to keep control of the situation. "Shultz! Ensure that there are no escapes! "Let's go!" He joined the American and the not-spy in the staff car, and winced as they drove out of the gates. One dangerous prisoner, and the other was a man in a situation so complex and absurd that Klink got a headache thinking about it.

He watched Dietrich closely, the man was watching the countryside with wide eyes, and as they drove to town, Klink felt even smaller as the soldiers eyes fell on bombed out buildings, signs warning of rationing, enormous flags, and the waning, thin crowds of people.

"Your first time in Germany?" Hogan asked, and Dietrich nodded. His eyes were on a work detail of prisoners from the local jail.

"It's different than what I imagined," the man said slowly, glancing back at Klink, who gave a grimacing smile.

"The war," Klink tried to explain to the man who probably didn't recognize much of his homeland. "Allied bombers." Dietrich glanced at Hogan, and there was a moment of silent communication.

"Not all of this is our fault," Hogan shrugged, looking unrepentant.

"I see," the man leaned back in his seat. Even in an enemy uniform, his life balancing on a wire, he looked composed and calm and Klink was thankful when they pulled up to the haufbrau.

"If we're lucky his wife's not here," Hogan muttered, and Klink had to nod in agreement.

The venue was decorated, filled with laughing officers and beautiful women who were carrying trays and flirting. As soon as Hogan entered, he gave a wink to the woman who was serving as his contact tonight. She blinked but gave no indication that she noticed him.

"Colonel Klink!" General Burkhaulter ambled over! "You are late!"

"My apologies, General." Klink gulped. "It seems to be an excellent party!"

"My wife is in Berlin!" The general blew a kiss at a pretty barmaid. "Ah! Captain Troy! This is your first time in a haufbrau?"

"Yes, general," Dietrich's eyes bounced around the hall and then settled on the beautiful woman pulling beers.

"What do you think?" Burkahutlers eyes glittered and Hogan held his breath.

"I think I prefer saloons," Dietrich replied, and Hogan felt humor bubble up his chest. Dietrich was funny, even if it wasn't obvious.

"Cowboys," Hogan shrugged, "thanks for inviting us, Genera, what's the occasion?"

"Should there be an occasion?" Burkhaulter demanded and Hogan shrugged.

"Of course not! It's always nice to share a party!" Information, this was an information gathering party for both Dietrich and Hogan, which was clearer by the minute as a woman in a gown approached. "This is Frau Beckmann!"

Ah, this old trick. The beautiful agent, the lonely soldier, and vital information between them. It was excellent, and going by the expression on Dietrich's face, he had figured it out too.

"Frau Beckmann," General Burkhaulter continued, ignoring the salivating look on Klinks face, "this is Kommandant Klink, Colonel Hogan, and this is Captain Troy."

"Of the Long Range Desert Patrol," the woman beamed, holding out a hand to Dietrich. Instead of bending over it, or giving it a kiss, Dietrich took her up in a firm, solid handshake. Her face twisted about, and Hogan had to admit that that man knew what he was doing. "I've heard of you. My husband wrote about your exploits when he wrote me. He said you pulled off," she moved closer, the jewelry sparkling off her ears and neck. She blinked up at him alluringly. "Fantastic exploits."

"I suppose they could be," Dietrich's eyes never dipped below her collarbone, and he met her eyes evenly. "They're just the usual things for us." The general winced faintly.

"I wish you could meet my husband properly," the woman pressed herself into his side. Hogan wondered if they'd carved Dietrich out of granite. "He was in North Africa too, but he was captured. But enough about my husband, you must tell me about your exploits," Frau Beckmann cooed, winding her delicate hands around his arm. "I have friends you must meet." She guided the captain over to the crowd of glittering women, and Hogan sighed deeply.

"And Colonel Hogan!" It seemed that Hogan was going to get an agent assigned to him too. "This is Fraulein Becker!" The woman who appeared at the generals' side was young, almost too young. She had a soft face, and gentle blue eyes that reminded him of Carter.

"Hi there," he smiled.

"Hello," she gave a faint curtsey, and Hogan grimaced to himself.

He loved a night of romancing spies and leaving them twice as confused as when they arrived, but he had Dietrich to look after and to make sure that the man didn't get into a fight or an argument he couldn't get out of.

That was probably the point.

It turned out that even if Hogan could command the attention of a dozen German generals at once, Dietrich could command the attention of their wives. His American accent was flawless, he didn't look or sound like the German gentleman and officer he was. From Hogan's glances at Klink and Burkhalter, he knew the men were equally impressed. If it hadn't been for the listening devices then it was possible that he and his men would have never known that Dietrich was a German officer.

He needed to write the real Sam Troy and either promote him or berate him. London was going to hear all about this.

The information trade off went well, and Hogan couldn't even bring himself to flirt too seriously with his spy, she was too damn young and General Burkhaulter kept looking over with a wide grin on his fat face.

By the time Klink was making noises about returning to camp, the party was winding down and Hogan needed to extract his reluctant second.

"Captain," Hogan grinned at the women, some of whom where eyeing Dietrich with undisguised lust, "it's time to go."

"It's not that late, is it?"

"No, no, but you know how I feel about leaving the kids with a new babysitter." Dietrich's eyebrows rose and women stifled their giggles.

Dietrich stood, giving a nod to the ladies. "She has to afford her gown for the prom somehow, Colonel."

"I wanted the neighbor girl," as they moved over to their coats, he caught Klink and Burkhaulter whispering frantically to each other. "She knows the kids the best and I'm not sure about this new one."

"You worry far too much," at the door they donned their coats and hats just a step behind Klink who didn't look amused by the by-play. "One is as reliable as the other, and she doesn't know what she's getting into. She charges less because of it."

Hogan fought back a grin, "which means that her prices might go up quicker if she wants that dress."

"We'll see," Dietrich pulled on the bush cap, and gave a shockingly roguish smirk. Hogan, despite knowing better, felt a little weak at the knees.

It wasn't until they were back at camp, Hogan passing Kinch the information they'd gotten, that he really saw Captain Dietrich. He came down the ladder from his barracks, changed into his regular uniform, and wearing a thunderous expression that caught the attention of every man in the tunnel.

"Captain?" Hogan leaned over Newkirk's shoulders, and Dietrich jerked his head to the side.

"Colonel Hogan, a word please."

"Sure," he patted Kinch's back, "send those off to London. I'll be back." Down the tunnel and into Carter's laboratory, he faced the man. "You are impressive, Captain. I'll give you that, thoughts?"

"Frau Beckmann," his accent unfurled the longer he spoke. "Is married to Colonel Backmann. He fought in North Africa, but was captured by Sergeant Troy. He was infamous for torturing prisoners." Hogan peered at the man, he was shaking with something like rage.

"Does his wife know you?"

"I have never met her before today, but I have reliable intelligence that Colonel Beckmann was responsible for torturing Sgt. Troy, one of the reasons that he was the one to capture him."

"Does Berlin know this?" They could have a potential problem on their hands.

"No, the issue was hushed up until Colonel Beckmann was captured."

"Then you look like you need a drink." Hogan eyed the bottles in the lab. Carter kept everything neat and organized, but there was always a danger. "Carters got some hooch still."

"Moonshine?" Dietrich asked, and he closed his eyes and gave a slight huff of breath. "Of course you have a still."

"We'd steal some from the Kommandant, but he's been keeping a close eye on his liquor since some of the guards pinched some. I don't suppose you picked up anything from the women you were charming all evening, Herr Hauptmann?"

"Nothing that shouldn't be verified," Dietrich said after a long moment. "It is often said that military wives often know more than their husbands, and in this case it is true. I presume we were separated so that Frau Beckmann's...interrogation could proceed unencumbered."

"It's an old trick, they know that regular agents and interrogators aren't going to work and since you've been away for a few years they're hoping beautiful women will loosen your tongue."

"And the young woman you were with?" Dietrich watched him shrug.

"Didn't give me anything I didn't already know," Hogan admitted, "and you don't seem surprised."

"I have learned to not underestimate my enemies, Colonel."

"Are we enemies?" Hogan asked, and the man nodded. "We're pretty close for enemies. It could be that your situation is a little too strange for just enemies or allies, Captain."

"I am still a German officer," Dietrich told him, "our work is temporarily aligned."

"You were betrayed by your own side," the colonel found a promising looking flask labeled "Newkirk! This is my booze!" He handed it to the captain. The man sniffed it and took a short drink and passed it back. That explained where the rest of his cognac had gone.

"I am not a spy."

"No one said you were a spy, but you've only got a few choices here, Captain. You can keep pretending to be Sam Troy to make Kommandant thing you're fooling us and staying here under our protection or you can tell them everything you know, including the fact that I'm Papa Bear." Hogan leaned across the table, "why didn't you tell them. Beckmann was there to get your information and you didn't say anything." He watched the man take another sip carefully.

"What has Germany become?" Dietrich asked, his voice getting bleaker.

"There are a lot of people who want Hitler out, not just regular people, but officers too." Hogan watched Dietrich turn away, looking more tired than his young years should have allowed.

"My family."

"If we pull this off, no one will know.. We have orders to keep you alive and out of Gestapo hands, but I'm not putting my whole operation and my men at risk just for you."

"Ruthlessly pragmatic," the man agreed, "I will not betray you and your men, Colonel Hogan." It was cruel to some degree, with the man's own life hanging by a thread and even surrounded by the friendliest of enemies, he was still balancing on a knife's edge. Hogan had figured that Dietrich had already subconsciously defected, but getting him to face the facts would take more time. "I believe that the allied command in North Africa wished for either my sudden death or my defection."

That was true enough.

"We'll keep an ear out for Beckmann," he promised the man.

"She is a vile woman," Dietrich said after a moment, replacing the lid to the drink. "She knew what her husband had done, and she didn't care that he had been captured."

"You'll find that these ladies of the Gestapo can be a lot meaner than the men, they just have nice perfume, and lipstick."

"I will keep that in mind," Dietrich agreed.

"Not all of them are as wonderful as Madam Dupain," and he marvelled at Dietrich's smirk, and utterly shameless tilt of the head.

"No, not all spies can be Madam Dupain."

#$#$3

Learning German was a trick and a half, and learning the in and out of German culture was more boring that Troy expected it to be. He, Tully, and Hitch spent more hours of their days pouring over books and repeating phrases with Moffit than anything else as their ship transported them to England. It was slow going, but he wasn't prone to seasickness. Riding around in a jeep the way Hitch drove usually killed the concept of motion sickness.

He didn't want to admit it to anyone, even himself, but he was worried about Dietrich. The man could pass as American when he wanted or needed to, and he probably knew enough about their operations to keep undercover, but if he was in as much danger as Scamander seemed to think he was...then he couldn't help but be worried.

The man had risked his neck to keep Troy alive, even knowing how dangerous he was.

He almost hoped that they could meet up...then he could get his hat back.

#$#$#$

Waking up one morning, not longer after the party where Dietrich had blended so well that Newkirk had intercepted a call from Klink's office recommending the man for an award, Hogan had an unpleasant feeling in his stomach.

It wasn't the food, but a feeling that everything was going to go horribly wrong soon enough. He ordered the men to button down and to blend, and when he went to talk to Dietrich he could see the man had an identical expression on his face.

"There is a sandstorm coming," he said, in lieu of an actual greeting.

"Sandstorm? In Germany?"

"Not a sandstorm...a storm," Dietrich eyed the guard towers and then Kommandant's office.

"Something's going to happen, but so far it's been quiet." Hogan was beginning to appreciate Dietrich, not just as a guy making the best of a terrible situation, but as an officer of high caliber too. He was a solid second-in-command when it came to prisoners, Kinch was his second when it came to sabotage, and he was clever enough to cover for their slip ups. Though, he had apologized for scolding the camp priest to near tears as a distraction technique while they had to smuggle microfilm out. Because of this, the Germans were giving him a wide berth. No one wanted to mess with someone willing to scold a priest. "I have the strangest feeling that." The rumble of approaching cars caught their attention, and Hogan felt his head throb as he recognized the woman who emerged from the gleaming staff car that was ushered in a moment later.

"Oh, God."

"Colonel?"

"The storm is here," Hogan reported grimly, "go to Barracks two and tell them that the White Russian is here and to button up the fort, clear the tunnels, and turn off all radios, get Kinch on the coffee pot. Then get yourself to Barracks five. I have a feeling that this is going to involve you."

"Yes, sir." Nodding, the man beat a hasty retreat as Kommandant Klink clambered down his steps.

"Kommandant Klink!" Marya threw her arms open, beaming at the man. "I have returned!"