15

Frauline Helga looked up from her paperwork and smiled as Colonel Hogan entered the outer office of the Kommandantur. Her blue eyes sparkled at the handsome American officer.

"Good morning, Colonel Hogan."

"Morning, honey." He walked over to her desk, resting both hands on the side of the desk and murmuring seductively. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you."

She coyly pretended to busy herself with swapping out a used up typewriter ribbon. "Oh, and what is that?"

Hogan smiled to himself and leaned close enough to smell her perfume. "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"

Helga laughed quietly and gave up all pretense of being busy with paperwork. She inclined her head towards Hogan's lips, hoping that he had come to the office in search of information. A search which, as per usual, would require that the two of them spend quite some time kissing. "I'm trying to earn some money for my family. It was this, or work as a waitress in a café trying to fend off drunken patrons."

One of Hogan's hands migrated from the desk to Helga's elbow. "Why did you choose to work here?" His voice was warm, deep, and full of curiosity.

She sighed, replying lightly, "I don't have to be on my feet all the time, and there's only one drunken fool who I ever need to deal with." She nodded in the direction of Klink's private office.

Hogan smiled at that, pressing a kiss to her ear. "But at the Hofbrau, you don't have to listen to Klink playing his violin."

Helga muffled another laugh. Colonel Hogan always made her laugh. Between his schemes, his sense of humor, and the marathon kissing sessions, he made her time at Stalag 13 seem to pass more quickly. He was the real reason she was glad to have decided on this job. "Thanks to you hiding his violin strings, nobodyhas to listen to that wretched sound anymore."

Hogan reluctantly straightened up, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Well, I've gotta talk to our fearless leader. Would you be a love and tell Klink I need to see him?"

Helga pouted a little, standing up and stepping closer so she could rest a hand on his arm. She also positioned herself so that she was blocking the doorway to Klink's office. "Kiss me first," she demanded softly.

"Is that all?" A happy twinkle lit in Hogan's eyes and he pushed his crush cap back on his head before taking Klink's secretary in his arms. "Y'know, this is a part of the job I could really get used to."

Helga's happy giggle was swallowed up by the kiss. When they parted, she took out a small cloth and wiped off the smudges which her rose-colored lipstick had left on his face. "There, no evidence."

Hogan grinned, patiently waiting until she was done. "Someday, you're gonna make somebody a great wife."

"Don't get your hopes up, colonel." She smirked, her hand poised above the doorknob. "You have to buy me a ring first."

She knocked on Klink's door before Hogan had a chance to answer, and stepped into the kommandant's office when she heard a wood-muffled voice say "come in."

"Colonel Hogan to see you, herr Kommandant."

Klink raised his head, fixing her with an unhappy look. "I don't have time for Hogan right now," he said irritably. "I just got off the phone with Major Hochstetter. Something about coming here to investigate sabotage in the area, and I'm supposed to let him use my camp as his base of operations. Nhuh!" He made a silly gesture with his hand to accompany the similarly silly noise.

Hogan had done this dance a thousand times before. He could play Klink like a violin. Hogan winced at the analogy, involuntarily remembering the sound of Klink's attempts at being a musician.

He shook off the memory of Klink's violin bow grating out an out-of tune version of Mozart's D-Major quartet, thinking that it made a sick kind of sense that Klink's rendition of "Into The Wild Blue Yonder" was actually half-way decent (1). He stepped past Helga into the office, holding his crush cap in both hands and wearing his best expression of earnest concern. "I just wanted to ask you if everything was all right, Kommandant. You seemed upset at roll call, and I was hoping it wasn't because of something that I did."

Helga slipped out, fighting a smile and softly closing the door behind herself.

Klink glared at Hogan for a moment with his lips pressed into a thin line. Then his shoulders slumped and he shook his head, motioning for Hogan to sit in one of the chairs opposite his desk. "No, Hogan. For once you are not the reason for my foul mood."

Hogan smiled briefly in thanks as he took a seat, and then resumed looking worried. "May I ask what is the matter, sir?" He rested his cap on top of Klink's Pickelhaube, the spiked helmet Klink kept on his desk from the first world war. Klink scowled, grabbed Hogan's cap and put it on top of the humidor instead.

Klink got up and moved out from behind his desk, pacing over to a side table covered with a lace runner and graced with a crystal decanter full of schnapps. "Last night, your foolish Underground tried to destroy two targets of vital importance to the war effort of the Third Reich." He sighed, turning to see Hogan's reaction.

Hogan smiled wide, knowing that baiting Klink would be a good way to keep him off balance. "Hey that's great news!"

"Ah, ah, ah!" Klink wagged a finger at the American Colonel. "I didn't say they were successful." He smirked triumphantly, satisfied that he had crushed Hogan's optimism.

Hogan wiped the grin from his face and looked appropriately crestfallen, keeping up the charade of believing Klink's lie. He knew that Klink was just trying to perpetuate the party line and he didn't really blame the Kommandant for doing it. Considering the fact that General Burkhalter was no fan of Klink's and he almost always had a ticket for the Stalingrad Express in his pocket, Hogan knew that Klink didn't really have a choice. Hell, he'd gotten a taste of how it felt to be treated like scum by one of his own generals. When General Barton had accused him of being a sell-out and a 'crummy traitor' (2) Hogan had been furious. There he was, risking his neck for a general who knew nothing about their operation at Stalag 13, who didn't know that Hogan and his men put their lives on the line all the time without more than a long distance pat on the back from London in return, a man whose life he was trying to save, calling him a traitor? Barton might as well have kicked him in the stomach.

While Klink was barely half the officer that Hogan was, the American hated to think what it would be like to constantly be berated and threatened by his superiors. Klink had even told Hogan once that he knew that he was a failure. Hogan felt bad for the kommandant sometimes, at least when the man wasn't being insufferable. Klink wasn't a great mind and he was greedy, petty, vain, and sometimes vindictive, but he wasn't an evil man. When he sentenced someone to thirty days in the cooler, as the regulations required for an attempted escape, Hogan truly doubted that the German colonel understood what a harsh punishment it was. He was pretty sure that if Klink did know, and if he wasn't such a coward, he would try to bend the rules and be more lenient. Considering what kind of man Klink was and how he was treated by his own superiors, his vindictiveness made sense. So did the fact that he was drinking before noon.

"Oh. Well, you win some, you lose some." Hogan said brightly, trying to bait Klink again. It worked for his plans, but he also enjoyed the verbal judo with Klink. The fact that he had to not just play dumb, but pretend that Klink was a few steps ahead of him a lot of the time was more than a little wearing on his ego, so proving to himself time and again that he could manipulate Klink like a marionette was good fun. He also suspected that sometimes Klink enjoyed their exchanges, especially when Hogan was praising his intellect or appearance, and when he was feeling bad for the kommandant he would try that approach. Tossing the guy a few crumbs of self-esteem every once in a great while couldn't hurt.

Klink shook his head. "Naturally, the saboteurs were no match for the brave soldiers of the wehrmacht." Klink turned back to the schnapps, sighing, and removed the decanter's knobby stopper. "But in any case, Major Hochstetter will be coming here in a few days to set up a command post." Here he glanced over his shoulder at Hogan while pouring himself a drink. Hogan had paled slightly, and Klink smiled to himself, returning his focus to the alcohol. He finished pouring, put the decanter down and replaced it's stopper, talking all the while.

"He will also be investigating his suspicions that you were connected in some way to these activities." Klink lifted his glass of schnapps, gently swirling the liquid around so it caught the light before downing the liquor.

Hogan took the opportunity to slide the hinge out of Klink's humidor, grab a few cigars which he stashed in his jacket pocket, and replace the hinge all before Klink turned around again.

"Colonel Klink, how could I have done that? I was here all night, and if I'd had something to do with sabotage, why would I come back here?"

Klink held up a hand, shaking his head and pacing back over to his desk. "I know you had nothing to do with it, Hogan. After all, there has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13, but Hochstetter is convinced." He sat down. "Of course, I am not worried!" He clearly was, but Hogan didn't point that out.

He continued, "Everything here is in perfect order, so when Hochstetter comes here there will be nothing for him to find."

Hogan shifted in his chair, frowning half to himself. "Well, that's not really true."

Klink sat forward, leaning both elbows on his blotter and canting his head to one side, looking scared and confused. "What? What do you mean?"

Hogan quickly backpedaled, clearing his throat and shrugging. "Well sir, I just meant that he'll find no evidence here of any sabotage because no one here would be involved in that sort of thing. Now sir, if you don't mind," he rose, putting his cap back on and standing at ease, "I'm gonna go tell the guys to make the barracks shine. We wouldn't want Hochstetter to have any reason to give you a hard time while he's here."

"Thank you, Hogan, but him being here is going to be a hard time," Klink said glumly, his eyes darting back to the schnapps bottle.

Hogan gave his head a tiny shake. "Sir, if you want my advice, lay off the sauce until after he leaves."

Klink nodded, his gaze still riveted on the decanter. "Yes, you're probably right. Dismissed, Hogan."

Hogan returned his salute and headed for the door. When he was almost there he turned. "I was just wondering, sir, will you be inspecting the barracks before Hochstetter gets here?"

Klink had removed his monocle and was polishing it when Hogan posed the question. He put it back in place and leveled a suspicious look at the POW. "Why do you want to know?"

Hogan shrugged, wearing his best disarming smile. "I just wondered whether the men should start cleaning up the barracks before they got to work on the compound."

Klink's suspicious expression disappeared and the German nodded, seeming genuinely touched by the gesture. "I have paperwork from Berlin to catch up on, requisitions, inventory, personnel files... and everything in triplicate!" He threw up his hands, staring woefully at the stacks of paper on his desk. "I won't have time to do an inspection."

Klink narrowed his eyes at Hogan. "The barracks will be ready by the time he arrives?"

Hogan opened the office door. "I'll see to it, Kommandant."

Klink stood up again, beaming at Hogan, and joined him at the door, clapping the other man on the arm. "You know, Colonel Hogan, with an enemy like you, I really don't need friends."

Hogan stepped back into the outer office and Klink closed the door. His foot steps trailed back towards his desk, the chair creaked when he sat down, and soon Hogan could hear papers being shuffled and a pen scratching across the blotter. Hogan gave Helga a kiss on the cheek and stepped out the front door of the Kommandantur, zipping up his jacket as the wind hit him full in the face.

"Yeah," he said to no one, stepping down off the porch and jamming his hands deep into the jacket pockets. "With a friend like me, he doesn't need enemies, either."


(1) see my other HH story 'You Can't Win 'Em All'

(1) 6x09 "The Big Record"

(2) 2x17 "The General Swap"