Author's Note:  Others own the Hogan's Heroes characters.  All others are my creations.  Please don't use them without my permission.  I would like to thank marylinusca for beta-reading this story and asking the right questions that helped me get past my writer's block on more than one occasion.

Beyond the End - Part 12

By Diane Maher

          Klink had been traveling for several days to return to Hammelburg.  He was exhausted as he carefully navigated the destroyed panzers outside of town.  Seeing their battle-scarred hulks made him wonder about Geist.  Had Karl made it back to Frankfurt? Klink stopped to stretch.  His body ached from the long days of walking, though he had managed to sneak on trains for most of his trip.  His clothes were dirty from the dust of the road, and his stubbly beard itched.

          As he trudged through Hammelburg, Klink saw the people trying to repair their damaged homes and continuing on with their daily struggle to live.  He was famished.  He had tried to keep the small amount of money Crittendon had given to him intact, so he'd scrounged for food and only paid when he absolutely had to.  Hammelburg wasn't as devastated as other places he had traveled through during his journey.  He was thankful that the Allied invaders had not destroyed everything in sight.  Although many buildings were bullet ridden, and a few showed walls blasted by tank shells, most of the buildings were as he remembered them.

          No one paid attention to him as he made his way to the address of the apartment building where Sofia Lindemann lived.  Relieved when he found it intact, he walked into the building, and upstairs to her apartment.

          Klink brushed off his dusty uniform as best he could.  He hesitated before knocking on the door.  Will Sofia want to see me? Does she still care about me or does she think I'm dead? Will she want to see this dirty and haggard remnant of a once proud German officer? Taking a deep breath, he raised his fist and knocked on her door.

          Klink heard muffled footsteps.  He stood straight with his head held high.  The door opened, and there she was, standing in front of him.  She was thin and somewhat paler than he recalled.  Her face was as beautiful as ever, and her hair was just like he remembered.

          Klink raised his hands slightly, hesitantly, toward her.  "Sofia?"

          "Wilhelm?" gasped Sofia.  She stared at him as though he was a ghost.

          He could only imagine how she saw him.  He wasn't the immaculately groomed, proud, German Oberst he had once been.  Now, he was a former POW, his pride in shreds.  Why would Sofia still want me? Klink's despair grew with every moment of silence.

          "Wilhelm!" She stepped forward, hugged him tightly and planted a tender kiss on his lips.  "Come in.  Where have you been?"

          He was too proud to answer in the hallway.  It would have been like broadcasting his shame to the world.  He walked into her apartment, Sofia closed the door and they went to the living room.  "I've been a prisoner in an Allied POW camp in France," replied Klink, ashamed.

          Sofia gasped.  "Oh my! Are you all right? Did they treat you poorly?"

          "There were a few times, yes," replied Klink.

          He looked at her face, saw a smudged spot of dirt, reached up and lightly touched it.  "I've made your lovely face dirty."

          "Don't worry about it, Wilhelm," she said quietly.  She took him in her arms again.  "I've been worried sick about you! Why didn't you send me a letter telling me what happened to Stalag 13? I went there as soon as I could after the invading forces passed through town and found it was deserted.  I was afraid you'd been killed!"

          "I wrote several, but didn't think that any letters I sent would get through to you, and that's why I never sent them.  I've missed you so much; I can't put my feelings into words."

          "Oh Wilhelm!" Sofia whispered.  She gazed at him, with tears sliding down her cheeks, and then kissed him passionately.  He felt himself relax in her arms and in that instant, felt his aching heart soothed by her welcoming him back into her life.

          Sofia stood and then stepped back.  Holding him at arm's length, she took in his grimy appearance and said, "Would you like to get cleaned up and rest? There are some of your clothes in the closet and dresser from when you were last here on furlough."

          Klink nodded, relieved and grateful.  He followed her into the bedroom and crossed through to the bathroom.  Closing the door, he shed his clothes.  As he dropped them on the floor, he noticed how dirty they - and he - looked.  And Sofia still kissed me! he marveled.  She kissed me passionately! There was a soft knock on the door.  He cracked open the door and found Sofia standing there.

          "Here's your robe, Wilhelm.  The water should be warm, I was getting ready to bathe when you arrived," Sofia said.

          Klink blushed.  "I'll try not to use all the warm water so you can bathe when I'm finished."

          "I'll heat up some more water.  You go ahead and take as long as you want," replied Sofia.

          He felt guilty taking her bath, but once he settled in the tub, the warmth of the water soothed his aching body, like her welcome had soothed his aching heart.  Life as a POW had not been fun and he realized that he wouldn't want anyone to have to go through what he endured.  For the first time since he had surrendered Stalag 13 to Hogan, he no longer felt he was a prisoner.  How did Hogan put up with being a POW for so long? Klink wondered.

          Shaking his head, he brought his mind back to the present.  The war was over; Germany was in ruins, what would he do? He loved Sofia and wanted to marry her, but he needed to get a job so he could support them.  Shrugging, he finished bathing, climbed out of the tub, dried himself off with a towel, pulled on his robe and went to stand in front of the mirror.

          Looking at his reflection, Klink ran his hand over his jawbone.  I'm surprised that Sofia wanted to kiss me with all this stubble on my face! He opened the medicine cabinet over the sink and found some of his shaving supplies.  A few minutes later, he looked at his reflection again and smiled as he saw his familiar, handsome self staring back at him.  Klink turned and left the bathroom feeling like a civilized man.

          He went to the living room where Sofia sat on the sofa reading a magazine.  She looked up and met his gaze.  Klink eased himself down next to her, leaned closer, took her in his arms and kissed her.

          A month later, in the middle of the night, Klink woke in a cold sweat.  Sofia, who was sleeping peacefully next to him stirred and mumbled, "What is it, Wilhelm?"

          "I had a nightmare, Sofia," replied Klink.  "This was the worst one yet."

          "Tell me about it," Sofia whispered.

          "I thought the dream where I killed my prisoners in Stalag 13 was bad.  In the dream I just had, I was forced to watch Crenshaw's men shoot my fellow prisoners as they walked out the gates of that awful camp we were interned in, and then I was taken away to be tried as a war criminal."

          "And these nightmares started after you returned from France last month?" Sofia asked sleepily.

          "Ja," replied Klink.

          He lay down again and looked over at Sofia next to him.  He closed his eyes, shut out the memory of that horrible dream and remembered how they first met.  He had hired her as his secretary shortly after Fräulein Hilda left for Berlin to be with her husband, Abwehr General Wehrstein, late in 1943.  Sofia lived in Hammelburg at the time and commuted via bicycle to Stalag 13.

          Klink grinned lasciviously as he remembered how he had flirted with Sofia after hiring her as his secretary.  At the time, he had thought that's all it would be to him – a flirtation.  Nothing serious.  After a few weeks, she informed him she was moving back to Leipzig to be close to her family.  He had despaired after her departure.  He could not get over how he missed her.

          Now that he thought about it, he supposed that Hogan and the prisoners had suffered more than they should have because of his mood.  Hogan must have known something was wrong, because things ran smoothly for a while.  I could never figure Hogan out, Klink mused.  He was the most irritating pest I ever knew; yet he could turn around and be the most obliging of men.

          However, when Sofia returned to Hammelburg at the beginning of 1945, their relationship had blossomed.

          Klink remembered the afternoon in March with the thunderstorm and torrential rains.  He had offered to drive Sofia home after they had a delicious French dinner in his quarters, but the storm worsened and the lights went out.  He had to ensure the prisoners didn't take advantage of the power outage to escape, and he insisted that she couldn't drive home alone safely in such appalling weather.  So, she stayed.  After he ordered his guards to see to the confinement of the prisoners, he returned to his quarters.  She had lit some candles, and after he removed his wet clothes for something more comfortable, they found that hugging and kissing on the sofa led them to spend the night together making passionate love.

          Sofia accepted him for who he was and she made him truly happy.  She had been the only woman he'd met and liked with whom he could talk.  He sighed heavily as he realized the depths of his feelings for her.  He felt tears on his cheeks, and realized he was crying from happiness.

          "Wilhelm? Are you all right?" asked Sofia, her tone gentle.

          Klink's mind returned to the present as he opened his eyes and turned to face her.  He noticed that her red hair was bathed in the light from the moon coming through the window and reached up to run his fingers through it as he whispered, "Yes, my love."

          "Why are you crying?" asked Sofia.

          "I…I love you," admitted Klink in a whisper.  He was finding it difficult to propose to the woman he loved.

          Sofia kissed him tenderly.  "I love you too."

          Klink was speechless for a moment.  When he looked into her eyes again, he knew that now was the time.  He got out of bed, pulled on his robe, went over to the dresser, pulled open one of the drawers, reached in and took out a small velvet box.  With a quick glance in the mirror over the dresser to make sure that his appearance was neat and clean, he turned and crossed the room to where Sofia now stood clad in his black and gold robe.  He noticed how it enhanced the womanly curves of her body.  Taking a deep breath, he knelt on one knee and took her hand in his.

          Opening the box, Klink asked, "Sofia, my darling, will you marry me?"

          She looked at the ring in the box and then at him.  Her expression melted into a look of joy.  "Of course, Wilhelm!" she replied.  She pulled him to his feet and hugged him tightly.

          "Oh Sofia, this is the happiest moment in my life!" Klink softly exclaimed as he held her close and hugged her.  Silently, he thanked God that she had accepted him.  He felt the press of her breasts against his chest and felt a stirring within himself.

          Sofia stepped back, pulled open his robe, unbuttoned his pajama top, and slid her hands over his hairy chest.  "What are you doing, mein Liebchen?" he nervously asked her.

          She replied sultrily, "Do you really need to ask?"

          With a smirk, Klink reached out and undid the belt that held the robe closed about her.  It fell open and he saw her negligee.  It was the filmy one that he'd given her.  Her curvaceous body was quite visible through the translucent material.  He replied huskily, "No."

          They left a trail of clothing behind them on the floor as they returned to bed.  Seating her on the mattress, Klink lifted Sofia's chin and kissed her.  He kept his lips on hers as his hands explored her body.

          "Mmmm...Wilhelm," Sofia whispered as she slowly pushed off his pajama top and robe.  Her hands continued down his chest, unbuttoned his pajama pants and pushed them down over his hips.

          Klink stroked her breasts through the fabric of the negligee.  He wanted more than the feel of fabric beneath his hands.  He wanted to feel her.  Carefully, Klink started removing her negligee and soon, she was naked next to him on the bed.  He casually tossed the negligee over his shoulder and finished removing his clothes.  Sofia giggled in delight as Klink nuzzled her neck and showered her body with kisses.

          Klink didn't rush even though he wanted to.  He felt a surge of glee as she touched him.  "Oh Sofia!" he whispered.

          Sofia stroked Klink's bald pate slowly and said, "You are a wonderful and gentle man, Wilhelm."

          Klink gazed lovingly at her and whispered, "I hope I will always be wonderful in your eyes, Sofia."

          As he moved atop her, Sofia whispered, "I'm sure that you will be."

          Klink silenced her with a gentle, sensual kiss to her lips and started to make love to her.  When they finished making love a while later, he reached down and pulled the duvet and sheets over them.  Sofia snuggled up to him and fell asleep with a tiny, satisfied smile on her face. Closing his eyes, Klink felt content, finally and completely at peace as he dozed off.