A/N: This is a sequel to my story, Only in My Nightmares. I had been considering writing a sequel, and after the wonderful encouragement and enthusiasm I received from Deana, decided to go ahead and do it. Once again, there is some graphic imagery alluded to, but no worse than the previous story.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Hogan's Heroes characters. SS Major Steiger is my own creation.
Dark. It always started in the dark. So dark that he couldn't see his hand, or anything else for that matter, in front of his face. So dark that he could almost feel it, like a blanket wrapped around him, tightly, that was trying to hold him prisoner, preventing him from moving. So dark that it became suffocating, making his heart race, his breathing quicken, his body break out in a cold sweat. So dark that the fear radiating through him became almost palpable, and he found himself desperate to get away; only he couldn't.
And then the darkness would start to fade, and as his vision began to pick out objects here and there in front of him, a sound would reach his ears; a man's laugh, only not something containing mirth and happiness, but something with a darker origin; evil, malevolent, sinister. He would search with his eyes, trying to locate the source of that terrible laughter, but there was no one there. As the light grew, he could see a table in front of him, and slowly the outline of a figure would emerge, lying on top. His fear would turn into full-blown terror as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and saw someone approach the table. That someone would turn his face toward him, and his breath would catch in his throat as he recognized Major Steiger. The major would look at him, a horrible, twisted smile on his face, and then reach down to the figure on the table that had a sheet covering it. Steiger would grab the sheet and yank it off in one swift motion, revealing the body beneath. He would shut his eyes tightly, willing himself not to look, but then Steiger's demented voice would ring out, calling to him in a sickeningly sweet tone, "Newkirk, open your eyes, I have a present for you…" He would try to fight it, but as the major repeated it over and over, he would eventually give in, and as he opened his eyes, his gaze would land squarely on the body strapped to the table. It was a man, obviously dead, his insides gone, his face frozen in a mask of pain and horror. And it was Colonel Hogan.
Newkirk jerked himself awake, and sat up in bed, clutching his thin, scratchy blanket tightly in his hands. He was covered in sweat, breathing like a race horse that had just come from behind to take the win. His eyes were wide with terror, and his heart was going a mile-a-minute. He sat there, willing himself to calm down, hoping that whatever noises he might have been making hadn't woken anyone in the barracks. After a few minutes his breathing slowed, and the fear subsided. At last he was able to lie back down on his bunk, but he highly doubted he would get any more sleep that night.
* * * * * *
It had been almost a month and a half since Newkirk had been held prisoner for three days at the interrogation facility run by SS Major Steiger, and nearly a month since Steiger had been killed, and they'd rescued the Russian flyers that were at the facility where the unscrupulous major had been torturing them mercilessly. Newkirk had been terrorized by Steiger; forced to watch his brand of interrogation, and the psychological trauma that he'd suffered had caused him to temporarily forget what had happened, until it came out in his nightmares. He'd eventually recalled everything, and once they'd killed Steiger, had been so relieved the major was gone, that he had just assumed he'd be able to get back to normal, and put that whole horrible experience behind him. But it didn't take long before he started having nightmares again; only this time they weren't about what had happened to him when he was being held at that horrifying place. This time they were always the same…and they always ended with Colonel Hogan, on that table in Steiger's torture room, dead.
Newkirk had been trying to hold it together, pretending nothing was wrong, acting as near to his old self as possible, but each night he had a nightmare, it brought him closer to exhaustion…the lack of sleep plus the fear and panic he was going through was taking its toll. He didn't know how much longer he could keep the masquerade going. He didn't think anyone suspected; not yet, but he knew it was only a matter of time before someone would notice, and he had his money on the Colonel for that. Not to mention the fact that he was becoming more and more on edge. He wished for the umpteenth time that he could figure out what to do, but no solution seemed to be forthcoming. So he carried on as best he could, joking with his mates, playing cards, carrying out his orders, and acting as normal as possible.
* * * * * *
Morning arrived as it always did; too early and too noisily. The men had barely opened their eyes when Schultz came through the door, bellowing that it was time for roll call. The occupants of Barracks two groaned and shouted their disapproval, while scrambling to get dressed and out the door as quickly as possible.
Newkirk jumped down from his bunk, rubbing his eyes and pulling on his uniform. This was the fourth night in a row that he had gotten only four or five hours of sleep, and it was starting to hit him; hard. His eyes felt like they were burning, and his thoughts were becoming muddled, scrambling around in his brain, disappearing before he was fully aware of them. Hogan passed by him on the way out the door, and as he looked at him, the Colonel's face took on a look of concern. Newkirk had a strong feeling that Hogan was going to want to talk to him after roll call, and, frankly, he didn't know what to tell him. But considering the way he felt at the moment, he knew it was time to say something. He didn't think he could go on this way anymore.
After standing outside for what seemed an indeterminable amount of time, and finally being dismissed by the ever un-punctual Colonel Klink, they shuffled back into the barracks, grateful that it was over for now. LeBeau took his place at the stove, pulling out some pans and starting on breakfast, while Kinch and Carter took a seat at the common room table, still bleary-eyed from the earliness of the hour.
Hogan looked at Newkirk and, after catching the corporal's eye, motioned for him to follow him into his quarters. Newkirk, not surprised, went willingly, actually relieved to be getting it out in the open. When they were both inside the small room, Hogan shut the door and gestured to Newkirk to take a seat on the bottom bunk. The Colonel turned his chair that was near the desk, and sat down facing the corporal. He looked at him with concern, and said. "Newkirk, you haven't been looking too good lately. Aren't you getting enough sleep?"
Newkirk looked back, debating what to tell him. At last he sighed. "No, I 'aven't, Colonel; I wish I could tell you different. I've been 'avin' nightmares again, and I don't know 'ow to make them stop."
"I suspected as much, Newkirk," Hogan replied. "You know, if you're still having trouble dealing with what happened, maybe it would help to talk about it. You can always come to me, you know."
Newkirk flashed him a small smile. "I know, sir, and I appreciate it. But I'm not sure anyone can 'elp me with this. Unless…"
"Do you think Wilson might 'ave somethin' that could 'elp me sleep? Somethin' that'll keep me from dreamin'?"
Hogan frowned. "I don't know, Newkirk, and frankly, I'm not sure I want you taking something to help you sleep. You might become too dependent on it…"
"Just for one night?" Newkirk cut in. "I could really use the rest."
Hogan contemplated it. "All right," he said at last, "I'll talk to Wilson, see what he says. In the meantime, do you feel up to a little spy work tonight? I got a message from the Underground earlier; they have some valuable information to pass to us, and the operative will be leaving it in a safe in one of the rooms at the Heidelberg Hotel this evening. I'll need you to open it."
"Sure, Colonel, I can do it," Newkirk responded. Maybe having a job to do outside the camp would help get his mind off of the dreams that had been haunting him for weeks now.
After they left Hogan's quarters, they joined up with the others, who were already seated around the table, waiting with anticipation – and hunger – for LeBeau to finish making breakfast. Newkirk found his stomach rumbling at the delicious aroma coming from the stove, and sat down next to Carter, while Hogan took a seat opposite him, next to Kinch. LeBeau came over and poured some coffee into each man's mug, and then went back to preparing their morning meal.
"Hey, Newkirk, you look really tired today, buddy," Carter remarked as he got a good look at the Englishman. "Did you have trouble sleeping last night? I could have sworn I heard you making noises…"
"Well, thanks for bloody noticin'," Newkirk snapped irritably; then, seeing Carter's face fall, his voice softened. "I'm all right, Andrew, really."
Carter nodded, his expression brightening a little. "Yeah, I figured you were; I just thought maybe you were having bad dreams again, is all."
Newkirk grabbed the cup in front of him, now containing steaming hot coffee, and lifted it to his lips. Before taking a sip, he murmured, "No more than usual, mate."
His comment didn't go unnoticed by Hogan.
"Newkirk, are you sure you're up to going with me tonight?" Hogan asked, still concerned.
Newkirk made a face and shuddered a little after downing some of hot liquid in his cup. He cleared his throat, while seeming to cough at the same time, then looked at Hogan and replied, "Yes, sir, no problem." His gaze shifted back to his cup, and he added, "As long as I can 'ave some more of this 'ere coffee before we 'ead out. Blimey, Louis, 'ow strong did you make this, anyway?"
LeBeau shot him a look of surprise and mock-indignation. "I don't know what you're talking about, Newkirk. I made it the same way I always do."
Hogan smiled at the Frenchman and said, "It's fine, LeBeau. But that's not a bad idea. I think Newkirk and I could both use some coffee before we leave tonight. It might help keep us on our toes."
"Speaking of that, Colonel," Kinch interjected, "I got a message from the Underground, and they said that when you get there, to check into room 106. Their agent will have already left, but the room safe will have the information in it."
"All right, thanks, Kinch," Hogan replied. Then he took a sip of LeBeau's coffee and inwardly winced. Newkirk was right; it was unusually strong this time.
* * * * * *
That night, after the final roll call, Hogan and Newkirk went down into the tunnel and changed into civilian clothes. They climbed up the ladder to the hollowed-out tree stump; slipping silently into the surrounding woods, while easily avoiding the searchlights as they had done countless times before. The night was clear, and they made good time weaving their way through the forest. They finally reached the outskirts of town and, once the coast was clear, moved quickly onto one of the more deserted streets and slowed their gait; strolling casually to their destination. The Hotel wasn't too far, and when they reached it, they went in and approached the front desk. Hogan turned on the charm with the woman clerk, inquiring if they had room 106 available; it was his lucky number. The woman giggled, and told him that room 106 was indeed empty, and after a few more winks and smiles, and of course, money from Hogan, the woman handed over the key. As they walked away, Newkirk rolled his eyes, and the two of them walked down the hall, finding the room easily enough. Hogan unlocked the door and they entered. When they got inside, they spotted the room safe easily enough; it was in the far corner.
Newkirk went over to it and squatted down, examining the dial briefly, then put his ear up to the safe door and listened intently as he spun the dial. He gave it a few experimental turns before getting down to business. His experienced hands and keen hearing had it open in no time, and as he swung open the door, he turned his head and smiled up at Hogan.
Hogan returned his smile, and came over, leaning down to examine the contents of the safe. There was a large manila envelope inside, and he reached in and pulled it out. Upon opening it, he pulled out the papers inside. They held detailed plans and maps for an offensive that the Germans were planning in North Africa. Satisfied, Hogan stuffed the papers back into the envelope and motioned for Newkirk to close the safe.
Newkirk closed and locked the safe, and Hogan slid the envelope under his jacket. They exited the room and made their way back to the entrance, hoping to slip out of the Hotel and get back to Stalag 13 as quickly as possible. But the woman behind the front desk spotted them and asked if there was something they needed. Hogan flashed her one of his most brilliant smiles, causing her to almost visibly swoon, and inquired about someplace to get a drink and a bite to eat. She smiled sweetly and suggested the restaurant next door, to which Hogan thanked her and tipped his hat at her. She batted her eyes and blushed furiously, and before she could recover, Hogan turned to leave, grabbing Newkirk's arm as he headed towards the door.
They emerged into the cold night air, once again strolling unhurriedly down the street, retracing their steps to where they could duck into the woods and head back to camp. As they passed by the restaurant that the clerk had mentioned, they couldn't help stopping for a moment to peer in. The smell of freshly prepared food came wafting out, making both of their stomachs rumble. They glanced at each other, and then Hogan said, "I think we can spare a few minutes for a bite to eat, don't you, Newkirk?"
Newkirk smiled. "I thought you'd never ask, Colonel."
They went inside and took a seat at one of the empty tables. The place was hopping, but the service was fast; they didn't have to wait very long for the waiter to take their order. The food arrived quickly, as well, and Hogan made a mental note to remember this place, the next time they had to come here. Once they'd finished stuffing their faces, they knew they better get going. They got up and made their way to the front, and as Hogan was paying the bill, Newkirk found himself glancing around the crowded restaurant.
Hogan finished up with the cashier and tapped Newkirk on the arm to let him know it was time to go. Suddenly Newkirk gasped, and grabbed Hogan's arm, his fingers digging in hard through the jacket material. Hogan looked at Newkirk's shocked expression and, noticing he was staring toward the back of the restaurant, followed his gaze. He didn't see anything suspicious, so he leaned in a little and asked quietly, "Newkirk, what's wrong?"
Newkirk's grip tightened a little, and he whispered fiercely back, "Colonel, don't you see 'im? The man back there near the corner…it's Major Steiger!"