Disclaimer: I don't own Hogan's Heroes or any of the characters.
"Well, I don't care what you guys think. I like it here," said Andrew Carter.
He leaned his back against the door frame, smiling at the astonishment on the faces of Peter Newkirk and Louis LeBeau.
"Carter, you've lost your marbles," said Newkirk. "You've been locked up here too long."
LeBeau was shaking his head. "And I thought the English were crazy."
"It's not crazy," Carter insisted. "Just think about it. Sure, I know, it's a prison camp, and it's a bit rough, and not so comfortable. And not very clean. And there's fleas. And Krauts."
"I suppose you'll get to the point, eventually," murmured Newkirk, in a tired voice.
"The point is, we're all in it together. I mean, we're all buddies, right?"
"Sometimes, I don't know about that, Andrew." Newkirk folded his arms, looking as if he was wondering what he'd done to deserve being landed in the same prisoner-of-war camp as the American sergeant.
Carter wasn't at all discouraged. "Because there's a lot of guys here, and you'd think some of them wouldn't be so easy to get along with. But it's like…"
"You don't get on with all of them," interrupted LeBeau. "What about Mills?"
"Well, it's not that I don't…I mean, it's just that…" Carter floundered as he tried to explain why, of all the men who shared Barracks 2, there was only one he seemed uncomfortable with. Both LeBeau and Newkirk thought they knew the reason, but they didn't offer to help him out.
It was the only point where Carter's good nature failed. Mills was a nice guy, but as one of the other prisoners had once remarked, "Don't turn your back on him in the showers." In fact, Mills kept his leanings strictly to himself, and the general attitude, taking its cue from the senior POW officer, was one of tolerance. Colonel Hogan wouldn't allow any prejudice at Stalag 13. As far as he was concerned, Mills was a capable soldier, a useful part of the subversive operation based here, and a man who could be trusted, so that was everyone else's opinion, too.
This made Carter's attitude seem all the more surprising. He was normally pretty easy-going, but he had never been at ease with Mills, nor Mills with him, and nobody could think of any other reason to account for it. Newkirk sometimes wondered if there was something else, some past history between them, but it didn't seem possible. They'd both served in the 182nd, but not at the same time. Carter had been transferred out shortly before Mills had arrived there. Anyway, whatever the problem was, neither of them would admit there even was a problem.
Carter's present embarrassment was brought to a close by the arrival at the gate of an army truck. It drove into the compound, stopping in front of the Kommandant's office.
"Looks like we've got new residents," said Newkirk.
LeBeau pushed past Carter to get into the barracks and let Colonel Hogan know, while the other two watched the newcomers getting out of the back of the truck. There were five of them, all Americans.
"Just what we need, more Yanks," observed Newkirk. Then, as Carter made no protest at this deliberate provocation, he turned to look at him. "Carter…?"
He was shocked. Carter's usual good humor was gone. His face was white, and his eyes steely.
"I think I'll go inside," he said. "The air's not so good out here."
He vanished into the barracks, closing the door behind him. Newkirk looked again at the five new arrivals. They seemed ordinary enough. He couldn't understand Carter's reaction at all.
Colonel Hogan came out of the barracks. "What's wrong with Carter?" he asked.
"Beats me, Colonel. He took one look at those new blokes, and he just..." Newkirk shrugged.
Hogan stared at the five men, wondering what about them had affected Carter so badly. "Guess I better go and introduce myself," he said.
The senior officer among the new arrivals saluted as he approached.
Hogan introduced himself. "Colonel Hogan, senior POW officer."
"Lieutenant Simms. These men are my crew, what's left of it. Fuller, Jackson, Sharpe and Gardner. Shot down three days ago over Cologne."
Hogan looked at the other four men. There was nothing unusual about any of them.
"Welcome to Hammelburg Grand Hotel," he said, and a couple of them grinned.
Kommandant Klink had come out on to the steps of the office. He stood looking down on Hogan and the new prisoners. "Gentlemen, you have arrived at the most secure prison camp in all of Germany," he announced. "There has never been an escape from Stalag 13. You must resign yourselves to the fact that your part in this war is over. From now on, this will be your home. And make no mistake, not only are we vigilant, but we are tough. Any breach of the regulations will be punished, most severely."
"He's really a pussycat," said Hogan.
"Silence, Hogan. Now, I understand you men all belonged to the same air crew, and I'm sure you would like to remain together. For that reason," Klink's eyes gleamed, "you will each be assigned to a different barracks."
"Oh, Kommandant, that's just mean," said Hogan. He glanced at the newcomers. Four of them, including Simms, were unmoved, but he thought he could see a look of relief on one face.
"Hogan, I will leave you to explain to these men how their lives will be from now on," Klink finished up. "Schultz, take them to the barracks. Dismissed."
Sergeant Schultz came to take the men to the barracks. "Colonel Hogan, there are spare beds in Barracks 3, 4, 8, 9 and 12. Perhaps the lieutenant would be most comfortable..."
"You're quite right, Schultz. Barracks 12 is a little classier than the others. You'll like it, Simms. It has a great view of the machine gun nest," said Hogan.
He didn't know yet which of these men had caused Carter's unusual behavior, and until he did, it was better if the lieutenant was not in a barracks where he would be the senior ranked officer. Barracks 12, currently under the eye of Lieutenant Atherton of the RAF, was the only option.
Hogan watched as Schultz escorted the five newcomers to their barracks. He wasn't yet sure, but he had a feeling that there was trouble ahead, and Carter was going to be at the center of it.