Another plot bunny bone tossed onto the pile.
PG for mild swearing.
"But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity." Luke 10:33 Good News Bible
"Did you hear that?" Carter asked, pausing and looking back over his shoulder.
"No, I did not hear that," Newkirk replied, shortly. He glanced back at Carter, grumbled as he saw his friend wasn't moving.
"I heard something," Carter persisted, starting to retrace their path.
"Oh, no, you don't!" Newkirk quickly snagged Carter by the arm and started pulling him along again. "We're running late as it is, mate. The guv'nor's going to have our guts for garters."
"You just want to get back to the card game in Barracks Three." Carter shook off Newkirk's hand. "I know I heard something," he said under his breath. "I know I did."
"Maybe you did and maybe you didn't. But we really are running late and we really will catch hell from the guv'nor if we don't pick up our feet and fast!" Newkirk started off again, snapping out, "Move your arse, Andrew!"
Carter chewed on his lip, torn between what he should do and what he felt compelled to do. Duty lost out. With a deep breath, already bracing himself for the future lecture, he turned back. He knew he had heard something and until he found out what, he wasn't going back to camp.
He had gone only a short distance when the moon slipped out from behind a cloud, giving him good light to see. Carter stopped, momentarily transfixed. From between some thick bushes, a trembling, blood-stained hand rose into the air as if reaching for him, then fell limp back to earth.
"Oh, boy . . ." Carter breathed. A hoarse, pain-filled moan answered him. He hurried forward and dropped to his knees, carefully took hold of the outstretched hand.
"Hang on," he said soothingly to the yet unseen man. "This may hurt, but I got to get you out of there."
"What do you think you're doing?!?"
Ignoring Newkirk, Carter started pulling the stranger out of the bushes by the hand. "Help me. He's hurt."
Newkirk watched in disbelief for a few moments, then rolled his eyes and pushed his friend out of the way. "Leave off. You'll go and strain your back again." Taking hold of the man's hand and arm, Newkirk dug his heels in and pulled. The man slid into view, head lolling limply toward one shoulder.
"Bloody hell!" Newkirk hissed, dropping the hand and backing away. Carter gasped and jumped to his feet.
It looked like the Gestapo colonel had been used as a punching bag. His face was purple and red with bruises. Both eyes were swollen shut and crusted with blood and his hair was plastered to his head by a combination of blood and dirt. His uniform was in shreds and his boots and gun belt were gone.
"What -- " Carter swallowed thickly. "What is he doing here?"
"Who cares?" Newkirk grabbed Carter by the shoulders and spun him around, away from the Gestapo officer. "Leave him!"
Carter balked. "We can't do that!"
"Oh, no?" Newkirk pointed to the unconscious man. "He would just as soon shoot us as breathe the same air we do. LEAVE HIM!"
"He could die!"
"Good riddance to bad rubbish!" Newkirk grabbed Carter again. "We're leaving!"
Carter slapped Newkirk's hands off. "What if he's not really Gestapo?"
"Eh?" Newkirk glanced down at the man and frowned. "You mean . . . what if he's . . . one of us?"
"Yeah! We wear Gestapo uniforms all the time for missions. He could be with the Underground. Maybe he got hurt on a mission. Maybe. . ." Carter stared down at the battered, bloody face. "Maybe," he whispered. "He was trying to make it to us and this was as far as he got."
Newkirk slowly moved closer, eyes narrowing in thought.
Seeing his opportunity, Carter went to the downed man. "Either way, I'm not leaving him here to die. So help me or just leave."
"Blimey, I hope we don't regret this," Newkirk groaned, moving to help.
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"Most people bring home dogs and cats," Hogan growled in disgust. "You bring home Gestapo!"
"He may not be Gestapo, sir." Carter's voice was timid, but he met his commander's glare with straightforward determination.
"Already had this argument," Newkirk said, the cigarette in his mouth bouncing with his words.
"Even if he is, that's no reason to leave him to die, just because he may be Gestapo-- "
"And a danger to us," Kinch interjected.
"He's still a person!" Carter glanced back at the man, now lying on a cot, covered by a thin blanket. "Can't you all see that even if he is German and Gestapo, he's more than that?"
LeBeau got right into his face. "Do you think he would stop to help you? Non!"
"That doesn't matter," Carter answered simply.
"What about down the line?" Kinch pointed out. "What do we do with him then?" Carter's face momentarily went blank.
"If he is Gestapo, we can't let him go once he's all better." LeBeau's slightly mocking voice turned cold. "Better you left him to die."
Newkirk paused with his cigarette at his lips, gazed at Carter in puzzlement. "We blow up Gestapo like him all the time, Andrew. Why all the fuss about this one?"
"Good question." Hogan leaned back against the wall, waited for the answer. Carter's head lowered and he appeared to gather his thoughts. Finally, he looked up and directly into Hogan's eyes again.
"He was all alone out there. He'd been beaten and he was bleeding and then we came along. In that whole woods, Colonel, with all the paths we could have taken to get back here, we walked by that exact spot." Carter paused. "I happen to believe that wasn't a coincidence, sir."
"You mean," Kinch said slowly. "You believe that you were meant to find him?"
Carter shrugged, but offered no further explanation. Newkirk mumbled around his cigarette, took great interest in the beam running across the tunnel's ceiling. The subject of their debate lay quiet, completely unaware of the battle being waged on his behalf by a compassionate young man whom he had never met.
Hogan thought for a moment, then with a half-smile smile, said, "All right, Carter, you can keep him. Just be sure to feed him, water him, and clean up after him."
Carter laughed. "Yes, sir!"
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