Author's note:  Others own the Hogan's Heroes characters.  This was written for fun, not profit.

Now and Then:  A Christmas Story

By Diane Maher

            Karla Hoffman had just finished cleaning up the remnants of the first Christmas dinner she'd cooked since the end of the war.  She knew that there was so much that she was thankful for as she pulled off the apron that kept her forest green Christmas dress clean and hung it on the hook behind the kitchen door.  Leaving the kitchen, she saw the man she loved sitting in the couch in front of the window watching the snow falling.  She went over and sat next to him.

            "A penny for them?" Karla asked.

            Hogan seemed not to hear her.  He was engrossed in the falling snow.  She turned her attention to the winter scene outside the window.  The moonlight reflected off several inches of newly fallen snow.  Everything was quiet, no more bombs were falling in the city of London; what more could anyone ask for?

            "It's so peaceful," Karla whispered as she looked at him several minutes later.

            "Yes.  Last year at this time, the men and I were having Christmas dinner in the barracks with Schultz," Hogan replied, finally breaking his silence.  He continued staring out the window at the quarter-sized flakes.

            Karla understood why he hadn't said anything until now.  What could she say to him? His time at Stalag 13 was mostly a closed book to her.  She knew the details of how he had been captured and what the Gestapo had suspected him of doing, but not how he felt about his internment there.  That she had met him at all had been a million to one chance.

            So much had happened to Hogan while he was there and Karla knew that it still affected him.  He woke often with nightmares that sometimes he remembered the details of and other times not.  At first, she wanted to know what the nightmares were about so she could comfort him.  After hearing the details about the one time he was transferred out of Stalag 13, she realized that he was deeply affected by these events.  As a psychologist, she had seen many people go through periods where they were just not focused.  She knew that it bothered him to be this way and she hated seeing him hurt on the inside.

            Karla's arm snaked around his sweater-covered torso and she felt his do the same.  "Karla, what was the last Christmas like for you before the war?" Hogan asked as he finally turned his dark gaze towards her.

            Karla sighed quietly and remembered her last peaceful Christmas.  "I spent it with my family and Johann in Hamburg.  We had a nice Christmas dinner similar to that which we had tonight, only on a larger scale."

            Staring out the window, Karla continued, "It was 1938 and the night was very similar to this one we're sharing.  My brothers were home for the holidays and it was the last time I saw them alive.  Johann proposed to me on Christmas night as we sat in the room staring out at the snow," Karla replied.  She felt tears start to roll down her cheeks as she remembered.  Wiping her tears away with the back of her hand, she continued, "I had been with the SS for several years and with the help of the government funding I received for joining, finished my education just prior to Christmas.  After the New Year arrived, I was recruited into the SD.  Sadly, I didn't get to spend much time with my family after that.  It was also hard to see Johann, as he was in the Waffen SS.  It was the last quiet Christmas I remember before tonight."

            Hogan handed her a handkerchief and she dabbed at her tear-filled eyes.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you," he whispered.

            Karla snuggled closer to Hogan and he held her close.  "You didn't, really."

            "I know you're not joyous; so you're trying to tell me that you cry when you're not upset? Don't give me that, I know better."

            Karla changed the direction of the conversation then by asking, "What about you?"

            "My last peaceful Christmas was spent moving my unit across the Atlantic.  Sounds like fun, huh?" Hogan replied.

            "No," Karla said.  "It sounds incredibly boring."

            "Yes, and it was a lonely one," Hogan replied.  "Seriously, the one good thing about the Christmases I spent at Stalag 13 was that I wasn't alone.  The prisoners kept each other company and from going mad in that place.  I couldn't have made it out of there without them."

            "I'll bet it was lonely.  The first Christmas I spent here in London was also lonely," she said as she turned away and looked out at the snow.

            Hogan looked at her inquisitively.  "It was?"

            Karla nodded.  When her blue-gray eyes met his, they were moist with tears again as she whispered, "I was lonely and missed not having you with me."

            "I thought that you spent it with Robbie and Susan?" Hogan asked.

            "I did.  It just wasn't the same without you.  I missed you so much during those two years after you helped me to escape from Germany," Karla replied.

            Hogan stroked her arm and held her even closer.  "I missed you too.  I hope that we're never separated on Christmas again."

            "Me either," Karla replied as she pulled her legs up on the couch and covered them with a blanket.

            "It's beautiful outside," Karla said.

            "Yeah," he sighed and then looked at her.  "And inside too."  They giggled at that comment.

            "Are you cold?" Hogan asked, noticing the blanket covering her legs.

            Karla laid her head on his shoulder and replied, "I guess I am."

            "Would you like me to start a fire in a bit?" Hogan asked.

            Karla replied, "No, I'm fine here with you."  There was a pause before she asked, "Do you miss them?"

            "Do I miss the men and Schultz?" Hogan paused for a moment and whispered, "Yes, I do."