Author notes: The code names given to Hogan, LeBeau, and Newkirk are all canon. Hogan, of course, is Papa Bear. I did this even though in the early seasons, Papa Bear was originally referring to London; I dismissed it as a case of inconsistent writing and gave him the code name of Papa Bear from the beginning. LeBeau's code name of Big Bad Wolf was used in episode 3, "Kommandant of the Year," and Newkirk's code name of Phantom was used in episode 157, "The Gypsy."
Blissfully unaware of the plainclothes agents searching the area, Hogan and Olsen successfully made contact with the three fliers.
"Sergeant Everett, RAF," the leader of the men said, after the password and countersign had been given to both parties' satisfaction. He saluted the Colonel, as did the corporal and private. "And over here, we've got Corporal William Gardner and Private Samuel Wheeler from your own Air Corps."
"Any problems?" Hogan asked, returning the salutes.
"To be honest, Sir," Everett replied. "There was a spot of trouble when it seemed as though we had been spotted by a civilian late last evening; he was chopping wood and surprised us as much as we surprised him. We hid, Sir, and the man went on his way."
Hogan frowned; officer's intuition told him that this did not bode well. And, almost as though to confirm his thoughts, his walkie-talkie suddenly crackled to life.
"Big Bad Wolf to Papa Bear," LeBeau's quiet but stressed voice spoke. "Big Bad Wolf to Papa Bear; come in, s'il vous plaît!"
"Go ahead, Big Bad Wolf," Hogan replied.
"Phantom and I have confirmed visual sighting of three Wicked Witches near Home Base—repeat, three Wicked Witches near Home Base, heading your way."
Hogan cursed under his breath as Olsen paled. The civilian must have reported seeing the fliers.
"Abort the mission!" LeBeau went on.
"Negative; it's too late for that," Hogan replied. "We've got to take them back to Home Base with us." He shut his eyes for a moment, determining what to do. "Listen up, Big Bad Wolf; you and Phantom get back to Home Base. We'll join you there later." Hogan frowned as he was met with an awkward silence. "Phantom is with you, isn't he?"
"Negative, Papa Bear," came the somewhat meek reply. "Phantom left to warn Guiding Light."
"If that's the case, then there's nothing more we can do for him," Hogan said, suppressing a sigh. If Newkirk was lucky enough to make it, he would likely go into hiding with the underground contact. He would probably then attempt to follow the chain to London, but would find himself cut off by the special orders that the colonel had told Kinch to relay. After that, well… he'd end up back in Stalag 13, probably more upset than ever before. But that would only happen if, by some miracle, Newkirk avoided capture—or worse—tonight.
"Understood, Papa Bear," LeBeau said, quietly.
"Good; get going," Hogan ordered. "Papa Bear over and out."
"Trouble, Sir?" Everett asked.
"Afraid so; we're going to have to dodge some goons to get back to camp," the colonel answered. "And it also means keeping you in the tunnels until we come up with a Plan B. We can't rush our retreat; stay quiet and hug the shadows."
The men nodded, following the colonel to what they hoped was safety.
Newkirk, in the meantime, had proceeded to traverse through the woods quickly rather than quietly; he was hoping to beat the three agents to the rendezvous point. His noisy approach had caused the underground agent to draw a gun on him before he had even come into view. Newkirk had expected this, and was ready to identify himself, but he had not expected their contact to be a beautiful, young woman.
"This porridge is too hot…" he said, but then trailed off as he realized that he was talking to a woman face-to-face for the first time in nearly two years. "Cor Blimey…"
The woman blinked, and gave him the countersign, finally lowering her weapon. "I am Guiding Light," she said. "You are Papa Bear? Where are the others?"
"Begging your pardon, Miss, but I'm not Papa Bear," Newkirk replied. "I'm an associate of 'is, as it were. We've got to scrap the mission; I saw three plainclothes agents in the woods, searching the place. There may be more; you can't stay 'ere."
"Nor can you," she said. "I have a car waiting, not too far from here; I can hide you in Hammelburg."
"Oh, ta," the corporal replied, with a grin.
He started to follow Guiding Light as she turned to lead him towards the car, but the both of them froze at the sound of a single gunshot originating from the direction that led towards Stalag 13.
"Who could that have been?" Guiding Light asked, her voice hardly above a whisper.
Newkirk shrugged, uncertain. It was just one shot; it could've been anyone. There didn't seem to be any return fire, either. And yet… Newkirk couldn't silence the nagging thought in his head that one or more of his colleagues was in trouble. Would LeBeau have come out all this way to find him, even though they had agreed that he return as soon as possible? Even if it wasn't LeBeau… even if it was either the colonel or Olsen, Newkirk knew he couldn't abandon them to a fate like this, no matter how much he wanted to go home.
"Quickly," Guiding Light instructed. "We must go; the shot will draw them here."
"Exactly," Newkirk murmured. He clenched a fist, not even believing the words he was about to utter. "I can't go with you; I need to check up on this."
"I understand," the young woman replied. "Good luck."
Newkirk watched her go, knowing that he was losing his chance to escape. It wasn't too late to change his mind again; he could just call out to her, and she would stop and wait for him…
But the Englishman turned back to face the direction he had come from. There wasn't a single sound, which, after the gunshot, was terrifying. Having only just caught his breath from running, he proceeded to tear back through the woods.
I'm sorry, Mavis.
The Englishman was struggling to make good time through the forest while making as little noise as possible. As he ran closer and closer towards the area where the shot had originated, the silence grew more and more maddening.
There was reason to worry; one of the plainclothes agents had been nearing the area where Hogan had been leading the others. The moon had hidden behind a cloud since the last several minutes, limiting the agent's vision, but he had heard the cracking of a stick. In an attempt to try to flush whoever was in hiding, he had fired his gun into the air, which would have the added effect of summoning the other two agents to help investigate the matter.
Hogan flinched, praying that the men would not react too much. He could see them starting slightly in fear; Olsen's heart had practically jumped in fright, and it had taken all of his self-control to keep the rest of him from following suit. But, thankfully, they had not overreacted.
Hogan silently motioned them to continue following him, ever so slowly.
"If they fire again, run, and don't look back," he whispered so quietly that he could barely hear himself.
Newkirk was now arriving from the side opposite of the solitary agent. It took him only a moment to realize that he was not alone; the other two agents were approaching from the same direction as he was, albeit, thankfully, several yards away. He could just make out their silhouettes. The corporal froze as he saw them, now trying to figure out a way to inch further away from them. He was approaching the solitary agent from the west, while the other agents were coming from the northwest; with a bit of fancy footwork, he could bank south, towards camp, and avoid all three of them.
The solitary agent across from Newkirk was now training his flashlight around the area that led southward, determined to find the source of the snapping twig. Hogan and the others were still slinking away in that direction; they had almost made it to a point far enough away to avoid being spotted when the flashlight beam fell on Everett, who had been bringing up the rear. For the briefest instant, the beam illuminated a figure in RAF blue—a sight which both the solo agent and corporal happened to see.
Newkirk's mind raced for that instant as Everett took off, running after Hogan and the others, and as the agent ordered the sergeant to stop. The corporal positioned himself to face southeast, drew his gun, and fired. He had been aiming at the flashlight, and his aim had been true; the agent swore in his own tongue as the instrument went flying out of his hand. And by facing southeast, the shot could easily be blamed upon the two arriving agents.
Newkirk now banked southward, moving to follow the path that the others had gone down as shots rang out from behind him. He hardly believed his luck as the two agents began exchanging fire with the solitary one, but his luck was short-lived as the solitary agent began to angrily yell at his colleagues.
"You fools; it's me! There's an Englishman nearby! Stop him!"
Two flashlight beams filled the area as the other agents realized that they had accidentally fired upon their own man.
"There he is! Fire!"
Newkirk tried to run faster, but his luck had now run out. A searing pain struck his leg, a couple of inches above his right knee, bringing him to the ground. Thinking quickly, he clawed at the ground to create a small hole to bury the gun he had used. He was finished just before the three agents caught up to him, and he raised his hands up in surrender, hoping that they wouldn't notice the patch of dirt in the dark.
"On your feet! Schnell!"
"I'm afraid that's impossible, on account of the bloomin' bullet you lot put in me leg."
Unsympathetic to his injury, one of the men forced Newkirk up. The corporal gritted his teeth in pain, resorting to using a branch as a crutch to help stay upright.
"Who are you! What are you doing here this late!" one of the men asked.
Newkirk was itching to reply that even a fool could tell why he was out here, but he decided that he was too injured to further tempt fate.
"Corporal Newkirk," he introduced himself, glaring at his captors. "I just broke out of Stalag 13." He jerked his head in the direction of the camp.
"I see," one of the agents said, with a smirk. "And we seemed to have spoiled your little journey, eh?"
"You might say that, yeah," Newkirk answered, flinching as the pain from his leg flared.
"Shall we take him into town for questioning?" one of the men asked the others.
"No; we will take him back to Stalag 13. The Kommandant will be able to verify his story. If he belongs there, then we will leave him there."
With the other agents agreeing to this plan, they forced Newkirk to walk back to camp, in spite of his injury. The poor Englishman resorted to both using the branch crutch and hopping forward on his good leg in order to limit the amount of pain he felt.
Long before this, though, Hogan, Olsen, and the three fliers had successfully made it back into the tunnel. LeBeau had been waiting for them, beside himself with worry for everyone. Kinch hadn't seemed surprised to see LeBeau return alone, and now the two of them, along with Hogan and Olsen, were awake in the barracks, exchanging their stories and trying to determine what to do next regarding the fliers and Newkirk's absence.
They had just decided on calling Oscar Schnitzer to make a special delivery in order to use the dog truck to get the fliers out when Newkirk was brought in through the front gates, causing a commotion outside.
His curiosity piqued, Olsen opened the door of the barracks a crack to look.
"It's Newkirk!" he exclaimed.
"Quoi?" LeBeau nearly yelled, running to take a look. Hardly daring to believe it, he froze in horror to see his friend in the hands of the three agents. Horror soon turned to physical illness as LeBeau saw the blood coming from Newkirk's wound. Unable to look any further, he sat back on the nearest bunk, covering his mouth as his stomach threatened to lurch. "They've shot him!" he rasped, when he finally dared to open his mouth.
Hogan and Kinch were already at the door before LeBeau's announcement, and Hogan quietly cursed again to see the agents forcing Newkirk to stand despite the wound.
"Looks like a fair amount of blood," Kinch said. "But I guess it could've been worse."
"I'm not sure how bad it is, but I'll find out," said Hogan, exiting the barracks.
Langenscheidt, who had opened the gates to let Newkirk and the agents in, had gone to get Schultz and Klink, the latter thoroughly displeased at being awakened at this unearthly hour. The colonel had slipped his long overcoat over his pajamas, glaring at Newkirk through his monocle.
"Is this one of your prisoners?" one of the men asked.
"Yes, he is," Klink answered, with a sigh. He then addressed Newkirk in English. "Newkirk, how many failed escape attempts does this make now?"
"To be honest, Sir, I lost count 'round twelve."
The Englishman wobbled, unsteady on his wounded leg, which prompted Klink to flinch.
"We demand that this man be seriously punished," one of the agents insisted, furious. "Because we were trying to stop him from escaping, my colleagues and I ended up opening fire on each other. Thankfully, the only damage done was to my flashlight."
"Rest assured, Gentlemen; the appropriate disciplinary reactions will be taken," Klink responded. As the satisfied agents turned to go, Klink addressed Newkirk again. "Corporal Newkirk, you are hereby sentenced to thirty days in the cooler!" He waited for the men to be out of earshot before adding, quietly, "Sentence to begin immediately after you recover from your injury." He glared at the retreating agents, biting back his disdain for them.
Newkirk gave a nod, flinching again as the pain increased.
"Schultz, take Newkirk to the infirmary," Klink ordered. "Inform the medic… What is his name again?"
"Sergeant Wilson, Colonel," Hogan informed him.
"Oh, thank you… Hogan!" Klink fumed, glaring at him. "What are you doing out of barracks?"
"One of my men has been injured; I'm here to find out what happened," Hogan replied.
Newkirk stared at the ground, not sure if he could face Hogan after what had happened.
"I'd like to know the same thing!" Klink said, stomping his foot.
"I think, of course, we should let Newkirk rest before we proceed with the questioning," Hogan said, as Newkirk noticeably winced in pain again. "And he won't get any rest with that bullet in his leg."
"First of all, 'we' are not going to be questioning him; I will be doing the questioning!" Klink said. "And secondly, I already ordered to have him sent to the infirmary! SCHULTZ!"
"At once, Herr Kommandant!" the big man replied.
Newkirk rolled his eyes as he suffered the indignity of being carried by Schultz.
"Remember, Newkirk—name, rank, and serial number!" Hogan called after him. "No need to tell them how you went over the wire!"
"Aha!" Klink exclaimed. "The wire! I will have the entire fence replaced with a better wire at once!"
Hogan snapped his fingers, pretending to be frustrated for letting it "slip out." Internally, though, he was smirking; their tunnel was safe, for now. Now, he just had to worry about Newkirk, but the corporal's fate was in Wilson's hands. There was nothing he could do.
Hogan returned to the barracks to tell the men the news, but it did nothing to alleviate their worries. LeBeau refused to go back to sleep; he paced the tunnel, praying that Newkirk would be fine. Olsen and Hogan got to work, getting Everett, Gardner, and Wheeler outfitted with the things they would need for their journey to England.
Kinch got in touch with the underground. The person he spoke with agreed to have Schnitzer come by before dawn, but also added a P.S. to "thank the British corporal who might have very well saved Guiding Light's life."
The staff sergeant pondered over this, relaying the message to Hogan.
"He made contact with Guiding Light?" the colonel asked, surprised. "When he got captured, I assumed it was because he didn't make it in time."
"He came back…" LeBeau said, stunned. "It might have been from what I said." He shuddered; if that was the case, then it was his fault that Newkirk had been shot.
"We can find out from him after Wilson gives us the okay to talk to him," Hogan said. "But first, these three will soon be on their way to London."
"Thanks to Corporal Newkirk," Everett said. "I know they had their flashlight on me for an instant, Sir; they must have mistaken him for me because of the uniform."
Hogan gave a nod. Piecing together the bits of information he had picked up, he began to get a better picture of what happened. And he somehow knew that one of those shots had been from Newkirk.
Time ticked by even more, and, finally, Wilson arrived in the barracks, looking slightly weary; his arrival prompted everyone to come aboveground.
"How is he?" LeBeau asked.
"He's going to be fine," the medic assured him. "It was only a flesh wound—looked a lot worse than it really was. The bullet's out, and he's resting now. Schultz is standing guard over the infirmary; apparently, no one is allowed to see him until he's questioned by Klink. But I expect you'll find a way around that, Sir."
"I expect we will. Good work, Wilson," Hogan said. As LeBeau uttered a prayer of thanks, the colonel found himself in full agreement. There was no need to disturb Newkirk now.
"One more thing, Sir," said Wilson. "Schnitzer is here."
Hogan nodded, and turned to Everett. "Time to move you three out of here."
"We will never forget this, Colonel," said Everett, saluting him, as did Gardner and Wheeler.
"Langenscheidt is talking to Schnitzer," Olsen said, taking a look. "I think we can overwhelm him if we all go tearing out there, inquiring about Newkirk. That'll create the diversion that Everett and the others will need."
Hogan gave a nod, the smirk returning to his face. "Let's go."
The diversion and escape went like clockwork, although Klink was beside himself with frustration for having so many prisoners out of barracks. Realizing that they were concerned for Newkirk, however, he could hardly blame them. But, still… rules were rules. He threatened the men with a loss of privileges, upon which they backed off. By that time, of course, Everett, Gardner, and Wheeler were long gone.
The apple strudel from the previous night proved to be useful in bribing Schultz to grant Hogan, LeBeau, Kinch, and Olsen access to the infirmary for ten minutes the following morning, even though Klink hadn't had a chance to question Newkirk (he was still in bed, trying to catch up on the sleep he had missed during the night).
"Mon pauvre ami…" LeBeau whispered, as he saw Newkirk lying with his eyes closed.
"I didn't want to have to wake him to get the story," Hogan sighed. "But I think I have a pretty clear picture of what happened. Newkirk warned Guiding Light and then came back; he must have been the one who shot at that agent who saw Everett. He gave us the chance to escape, getting wounded and caught in the process."
"That's about it, Guv'nor…"
"You're awake!" Olsen exclaimed, staring at the mischievous grin on the Englishman's face.
"Well, you know 'ow it is; one can only stare at the ceiling for so long."
LeBeau began to scold him in French as Hogan suppressed a laugh.
"He's going to make a full recovery, all right…" Kinch mused, with a shake of his head.
"Newkirk, you saved a lot of lives out there last night," Hogan said.
The young corporal gave a wan smile. "I suppose you know, Sir, I 'adn't really intended to; I was sore about your no-escape policy, and I wanted right out of it. I don't know what 'appened to me, Sir; I was all set to go with Guiding Light, but then I 'eard the shot…" He shrugged his shoulders again. "I couldn't go."
"Newkirk, how badly do you want to return to England?" Hogan asked. "I was against the idea at first, but we may be able to work something out; if we can get you transferred, the underground can arrange for you to escape en route to another stalag."
"Well, Sir, I won't deny that I'd like to go 'ome," said Newkirk. "But I've done some thinking while I've been lying 'ere, and… maybe I was a little too quick to make snap decisions. I think I'll stay on." He chuckled at the disbelieving look on LeBeau's face. "That's right, little mate; I actually mean it… this time."
"Glad to have you aboard, Newkirk," Kinch said.
"Yeah," Hogan agreed. "You rest up; I'll see if I can convince Klink to reduce your cooler sentence. We might be getting another assignment from London soon, and I'd like to have you aboard for it."
"You can count on me, Sir," the Englishman responded. He hesitated at first, but then raised his arm and saluted the colonel.
"At ease," Hogan said, as he always did, returning the salute. He knew, without a doubt, that Newkirk was going to be a part of the team. "All right, let's leave the man to recuperate; our ten minutes are almost up, anyway."
"Pardon, mon Colonel, but may I stay for a few more minutes?" LeBeau asked. "I'd like to get Pierre… I mean… Peter's breakfast order."
"Oh, go ahead and call me what you want," Newkirk said, with a roll of his eyes. "I wasn't serious, you know."
Hogan gave a nod, exiting with Kinch and Olsen.
"You know 'ow to make a full English breakfast?" Newkirk asked LeBeau, after the others had left.
"I'll get to your order in a moment," the Frenchman replied. "I'm curious as to your change of heart; you were about to give me a very good reason for why you were going last night. You said you weren't going for your own sake."
"That was true," Newkirk said, with a sigh. He looked around, making sure that Wilson was too preoccupied to hear him. "You've 'eard me mention me sister on occasion, right?"
"That's 'er," Newkirk agreed. "Ever since Mum died and Dad took to the bottle, I've been the only one she's got left who even cares for 'er a little bit. I know she's old enough to look after 'erself, but ever since the Blitz…" He trailed off, shaking his head. "The war's been so cruel to 'er. The building with the flat she lived in was damaged; they forced 'er to leave, and she's been moving from shelter to shelter.
"The letters I get are so 'eartbreaking, Louis. 'Peter, I don't know what to do anymore; I wish you could come back. Life wouldn't be so miserable, then. I'm so lost, Peter, and it isn't like me at all…'"
He sighed, staring at the ceiling for a moment.
"Tell me, Louis… 'ow was I supposed to read those letters and be expected to stay in this ruddy cage?"
"Je comprends, mon pote," LeBeau replied, a new respect forming for his younger friend. "Now I must ask you why you are staying."
"It's like I told the colonel; I've been doing some thinking," Newkirk replied. "Yes, it's true that Mavis is 'aving a terrible time there. But at least she survived; I've lost so many mates—people I'd known since I was a lad. And I got to thinking last night… Mavis is alive now. But what if there's another Blitz? Will she be that lucky again?
"Then it got me—the colonel's plan. Because of 'im and this operation, we're getting our lads back up in the air to fight back in case there is another one. And there's more than that; I know there wasn't enough of a chance to talk to that sergeant, but maybe I can get in touch with people who can 'elp Mavis once they get to London. So, indirectly, I can 'elp 'er in more ways than one."
"I know you will, Pierre," LeBeau said. "Just as I can help my family somehow, too."
Newkirk raised the glass of water by his bedside table.
"To our families," he said.
LeBeau raised a nonexistent glass in response. "Nos familles."
Newkirk waited for a moment before suppressing another chuckle.
"Quoi?" LeBeau asked, seeing his expression.
"Louis, were you serious about taking a breakfast order?"
"Oui; tell me."
"Well, if you could lay your 'ands on a couple of kippers, that'd be a good start," Newkirk began. "Then some fried mushrooms and tomatoes, along with some toast, of course… And I reckon you couldn't go wrong with potatoes…"
LeBeau listened patiently, shaking his head in amusement as Newkirk went on. If this breakfast order was any indication, their time with the new operation was going to be very interesting indeed.