The POW Who Came in From the Cold
A Hogan's Heroes story by Deana Lisi

Disclaimer: I don't own anyone from the show, or the thing that I mention at the end of chapter 19, which I don't want to
say right now or I'll give it away. LOL

Continuation of the season 2 episode, 'Swing Shift'!

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New rule: never try to sneak out of the stalag with a sick team member.

Hogan winced at the ffft sound that came from Newkirk once again, as they crept through the woods. The Englishman was holding in his sneezes successfully, but couldn't completely prevent all sound. Hogan briefly turned, in time to see Carter give him a handkerchief.

Newkirk nodded his thanks, before wiping his nose, looking miserable.

Hogan sighed noiselessly, before continuing on.

Two days had passed from their successful destroying of the canon factory near Hammelburg, an incident that got Newkirk drafted into the German army when he was impersonating Foreman Mueller, an employee of the plant. He'd actually been assigned as a guard at Stalag Thirteen, and had to hide his face from Klink by pretending to sneeze into a handkerchief every time the colonel looked at him. Hogan had thankfully managed to get him out of it, but later that night, just after Klink was telling the prisoners that no one had ever been able to fool him…Newkirk sneezed. For a second, Hogan had wondered if he had done it on purpose in response to Klink's statement, but the nervous look on Newkirk's face showed that he hadn't. Hogan had quickly herded him back into the barracks, and they'd stood peeking out the door for a while, worried that Klink would realize that Mueller was really Newkirk.

If Klink figured it out, then Newkirk would be implicated in the bombing of the plant…and ultimately Hogan and the others. Their entire operation would be blown, and they'd all face the firing squad. Time passed, and Klink never came…but that didn't mean he wouldn't figure it out the next day.

Hogan and his group of men didn't get much sleep that night.

Somehow, their dear Kommandant apparently never made the connection—or if he did, he dismissed it as impossible—but from that moment on, Newkirk had continued to sneeze.

Oh, the irony…

Minutes later, they reached a tall utility pole. Oddly, there was a metal box halfway up it, with a combination lock on the front. London had radioed them the day before, telling them to find the safe, retrieve the contents, and blow it up. The contents of the safe—London didn't tell them what that was—would then be taken to England by three men that were currently hiding in stalag 13's tunnels.

All in a day's work.

Newkirk went ffft again, tried to sniff quietly, and started climbing the pole, with Carter climbing the other side.

Hogan watched them go, periodically scanning the landscape for any sign of danger.

Newkirk reached the safe and studied the lock, twisting the dial once before taking out his stethoscope and fitting it into his ears one-handed, holding onto the pole with the other arm.

Carter, facing him from the other side of the pole, had his explosives ready.

Hogan gave another noiseless sigh when he saw Newkirk with the stethoscope. He'd hoped the safe would be an easy one to crack, but when had any of their missions been quick and easy?

Newkirk needed both hands free; one to hold the stethoscope against the safe, and the other to turn the dial, so Carter had to grab a fistful of his jacket to keep the Englishman anchored to the pole. He watched as Newkirk listened expertly to the tumblers as he turned the dial.

Hogan walked a few feet away from the pole, searching the terrain. It was freezing, as usual, and he could smell snow in the air. Hold off until we're done, please? he thought to the clouds.

The tumblers inside the safe all gave easily, and with a smile at Carter, Newkirk suddenly opened the door. His smile vanished at what he saw inside…or rather, what he didn't see.

The safe was empty.

"Colonel!" he whispered. "There's nothin' in it!"

"What?" Hogan replied. "Are you sure?"

Carter cranked his neck around the pole, and took the chance of using his flashlight. He blinked with surprise. "He's right! It's empty!"

Newkirk felt around the inside of the safe, as if he thought his eyes were deceiving him. "I don't believe it," he muttered.

Suddenly, the sound of voices split the air. "Wer gibt es? Halt!"

Hogan looked back up at his men. "Blow it up and let's go!"

Carter quickly shut off his flashlight, hoping that it hadn't caught the German patrol's eyes, before reaching over to toss the explosives inside. Newkirk slammed the door shut before they both started to hurriedly descend.

Hogan held his gun ready, as the sound of voices grew louder. "Go!" he said to Carter, who reached the bottom first. He made sure both men were ahead of him before he started to run.

Bullets suddenly started flying, and each man flinched. Running made Newkirk cough, and he didn't bother to try holding it in with all the noise.

The bullets didn't really come that close to them, so Hogan resisted the urge to fire back at the Germans, not wanting to reveal their exact location.

The safe, meanwhile, suddenly went up in a tremendous explosion, the entire pole splitting and falling to the ground. The three POW's thought they were home free, but either the fireball provided one of the Germans with enough light to see, or he'd simply fired a lucky shot, they'd never know.

All Newkirk knew was that he suddenly felt a blinding pain in his left arm, and then he was tumbling down an embankment.

Hogan, behind him, was taken by surprise at Newkirk's sudden cry of pain and unexpected fall, and he reached out to grab him, but was thrown off balance and sent down the embankment with him.

Carter knew none of this, as the bullets started coming closer and he had no choice but to continue running.

Newkirk and Hogan landed heavily at the bottom of the embankment, in a tangle of limbs. Hogan, dazed from the fall but knowing that the Germans might've seen their tumble, threw himself on top of Newkirk to both protect him and prevent him from moving and giving their position away. He could see the glow of flashlights, and hoped that the rough terrain combined with their black clothing would be a good enough cover.

Newkirk made no movement, but Hogan wasn't sure if that was a good sign or a bad one. He kept his head down and his body unmoving, waiting for the noise to die down. When it finally did, he lifted his aching head and looked at the Corporal. "Newkirk? You okay?"

He received no answer.

Quickly sitting up, Hogan took out his flashlight, praying that no Germans were looking down the embankment. He shined it towards the other man, and found that a bullet had apparently hit Newkirk's left upper arm.

Hogan inwardly cursed the German's lucky shot.

Quickly, the Colonel checked Newkirk for other injuries sustained in the fall and thankfully found no broken bones. There was a good-sized lump on the back of his head—likely the cause of his unconsciousness—and Hogan sympathized, having cracked his own head a few times during their tumble.

Taking out his handkerchief, Hogan tied it around Newkirk's arm in a meager attempt to stop the bleeding, and unsteadily stood, surveying the terrain. He needed to find a place for the two of them to stay for the night…with Germans prowling around, there was no way he could risk carrying Newkirk back to the stalag.

Sighing, Hogan flipped up his collar, wishing it'd been summer rather than winter. The temperature was below freezing, and though they both wore jackets, they weren't adequate for staying out all night.

Hogan finally spied what seemed to be a rocky outcropping, and he knelt beside his unconscious man again. "Newkirk?" he said, tapping his face. "Wake up, Corporal!"

But the Englishman wouldn't have it, remaining motionless.

Sighing, Hogan crouched behind Newkirk and grabbed him under the arms, dragging him towards the ledge. It was a little further away than he thought, and when he'd almost reached it, he suddenly heard a soft moan.

Immediately, Hogan laid Newkirk back down and knelt beside him, gently putting a hand over his mouth.

Newkirk startled at that and opened his eyes, ready to panic until a flashlight clicked on and he saw Hogan's face above him.

"Shhh," Hogan whispered, removing his hand from Newkirk's mouth and shutting off the flashlight. "We're still outside near the bomb-site. Can you walk?"

Newkirk didn't answer at first; his brain was spinning, his head was aching, and his arm was mercilessly throbbing with each heartbeat. Walk? He couldn't even think.

Hogan frowned, concerned. "Newkirk? You with me?"

Hearing his Colonel's voice again cleared some of the groggy fog from Newkirk's brain, and he winced, closing his eyes again. "Y-yeah, guv," he said.

"Come on, let's get you up," Hogan whispered. "There's shelter just over there."

Newkirk let Hogan pull him to his feet where they stood for a minute while he got his bearings. He had to lean on Hogan as they walked—or rather shuffled—over to the ledge, and Hogan helped him crawl under it.

Newkirk couldn't help but groan as he sat back against the rocky wall. His arm felt like it was on fire, and his head was still spinning.

Suddenly, he sneezed, unable to hold it back.

Hogan crawled onto the ledge and winced at the sound, having forgotten all about the Corporal's cold. Oh great! he thought. This is all we need!

Newkirk closed his eyes tightly and winced, reaching his right hand to his head, the sneeze having painfully jarred it. "Ooooh, blimey…" he shakily mumbled.

Hogan listened for the sound of German guards; desperately praying that no one had heard the ill-timed sneeze. After a minute, he sighed and shined the flashlight at Newkirk's bleeding arm.

The light made Newkirk's headache worse, but he opened his eyes anyway and peered at his injury. "Wonderful," he said. "The bloody Krauts got me."

"They sure did," said Hogan, gently picking up Newkirk's arm so he could look at the back. "The bullet went all the way through."

At the touch, Newkirk's whole body flinched and he gasped, his right hand fisting.

Hogan immediately let go.

Newkirk's face turned sheet-white, and his breathing grew heavy. He looked ready to faint, and couldn't speak for a few seconds. "I think…they broke…me ruddy…arm…" he finally gasped.

After seeing what his touch had caused, Hogan was inclined to agree.

They sat on the ledge for a few minutes in silence, while Hogan gave Newkirk a chance to compose himself before he attempted to treat his arm again.

Newkirk abruptly sneezed—more quietly this time—and he fumbled for the handkerchief in his pocket. Wiping his nose, he held his hand to his forehead for a minute, before suddenly opening his eyes and looking at Hogan with a panicked expression. "Colonel! What 'appened ta Andrew?!"

Hogan shook his head. "He was ahead of you and didn't see us fall. The Germans kept chasing him, so he couldn't've stopped even if he wanted to."

"Didn't see us fall?"

"How do you think we ended up down here?" said Hogan, seeing that Newkirk didn't really notice the 'us'. "When the bullet hit you, you fell down the embankment."

"No wonder me 'ead 'urts," Newkirk said, rubbing his forehead again. He suddenly coughed, using Carter's handkerchief to muffle the sound.

Hogan sighed, reaching for his arm.

Newkirk kept his eyes closed and his body rigid, preparing for the pain that the Colonel had no choice but to inflict. When Hogan removed the blood-soaked handkerchief, Newkirk felt warm blood spill down the front and back of his arm. He heard Hogan mutter something under his breath, and suddenly, painful pressure was applied to the wounds.

Inhaling sharply, the Englishman held his breath, his fist pounding the ground almost as if it had a mind of its own.

Hogan winced at the feel of the broken bone. He hoped he wasn't doing further damage, but he had to get the bleeding stopped immediately, especially with Newkirk losing twice as much blood thanks to the addition of the exit wound.

Newkirk bore the pain almost silently, not wanting a stray German to hear them.

After a few minutes, Hogan let go, to give the Corporal some relief. He watched with concern as Newkirk's body slumped weakly against the rocky wall, eyes closed, face as pale as a ghost.

The wounds continued to bleed.

A strange fog overcame Newkirk's mind for an indeterminable amount of time, before he became aware of Hogan applying firm pressure to the wounds again. It was pure agony, and he sucked in a pained breath. "Ahh, Colonel…I don't s'pose ya could…ease off a bit, mate?" he said, squirming.

Hogan sighed. "I wish I could. You'll thank me later when you don't bleed to death."

"If I survive that long," said Newkirk, his voice strained.

A few minutes passed and Newkirk had to cough again, after failing to hold it in. Carter's handkerchief muffled the sound, but obviously not completely. It seemed evident that no Germans were in the immediate area, or the two men would've long been on the business end of rifles by now.

Newkirk squirmed again. "Colonel…" he pleaded, weakly.

Hogan let go of his arm, seeing that the Corporal couldn't take anymore. The wounds still bled, but slower now, he was relieved to see.

Newkirk exhaled shakily, breathing too fast. It was making his head spin even more, killing any desire to open his eyes.

Hogan's gloves were covered in blood. He was glad that they were leather and not cloth. Taking a second to wipe them on the ground, he had the sudden chilling thought of the Germans bringing dogs in a hunt to find them…they'd be found in record time thanks to the scent of the blood.

Newkirk coughed yet again, with a groan.

Hogan patted his shoulder in support, before once again tightly grasping the gunshot wounds. He wasn't surprised at all—in fact, he was actually relieved—when Newkirk only lasted another minute before passing out. That'll make this job much easier.

He was so intent on stopping the bleeding as fast as possible that he didn't notice the snowflake that drifted past his nose a moment later…

TBC