Characters: Hauptmann Dietrich and Hauptmann Arnulf Rosenthal
Author's Note: "Romantisch" is not a category I readily post stories for, but one of my friends really encouraged me to post it. It's a mixture of romance and drama as well as some dark comedy. Most of the inspiration came from watching "Bert Rigby You're a Fool" which reminded me of all the musicals I grew up on. I've been wanting to write something romantic for some time now and after listening to Rudi Schurike's "Komm Zurück" over and over I had to respond to it.
Summary: With the summer of 1942 proving to be as hot as it is deadly, Dietrich clings to memories of happier times in order to sustain himself through the agonizing flight back to the hospital.
"Hans, wach auf!" Arnulf shouted as he glanced behind him at his patient resting behind the pilot's seat. "Your men will be very disappointed if the report reads that you died before you could get help!"
Dietrich opened his eyes and immediately winced against the sunlight that streamed through the glass cabin roof. The flight in the Fieseler Storch had been quite pleasant and the turbulence so slight that it actually rocked the captain into a light slumber. But now he was awake. No more could he rest in the comfort of his dreams, instead he had to endure the realities of his torment. The throbbing in his head was minor compared to the burning sensation that ran along his left leg and into his side. He was fortunate that he had been able to find cover behind in his Kübelwagen when the building exploded, however, what remained of his prized vehicle couldn't shield him from when the second explosion occurred.
It wasn't a complete failure, Dietrich noted with some satisfaction. Though the Rat Patrol had managed to infiltrate and destroy another ammo cache, the death toll was miraculously low.
"They're worried about you, Hans," Arnulf continued. "It was touching actually, the way that Feldwebel wished us a safe and quick flight."
Dietrich groaned and touched the damp cloth covering his forehead. "It might please you to know that I am not dying."
"Ich freue mich!" Arnulf chuckled happily. "I never doubted that for a minute?"
Amusement crept onto Dietrich's lips as he let his eyes rest once more. He asked smoothly, "Is that why your voice choked when you first saw me?"
"Nee… it was all that smoke, it got into my eyes!"
"What smoke? The medics had moved me out of that area all together by the time you showed up."
"Well then it was my allergies."
"You actually have allergies, more than just to paperwork, SS officers, and saluting?"
Arnulf's mouth twisted in a frown and for a moment Arnulf was tempted to push the plane into a brief nose-dive, but quickly thought against it. It wasn't as if the hardy aircraft couldn't handle it. It was the fact that it was so slow that the dive would hardly be noticed. How much fun would that be?
Giving an indignant sniff, Arnulf replied, "It's the desert. We share a mutual feeling with one another."
Dietrich chuckled but a sharp pain in his side caused him to inhale sharply.
Arnulf glanced behind him, wishing that he could see his friend more clearly. "You're going to be all right Hans. You're pretty fortunate actually, you'll be down a few days. No more battles for you to fight in."
"Ja, no more losses for command to blame me for…"
"Well, there is one battle that you'll get to continue once we get you back to that hospital."
Dietrich groaned and ran a hand through his hair absently. Whatever moisture was left in the cloth was systematically getting evaporated by the sun and soon, Dietrich knew, would serve as a tool to soak up his sweat.
"I told you once and I will keep telling you, Arnulf, I am not dying. I do not have to fight for my,"
"No, that fraulein."
"…my life…" Dietrich's hand rested on his brow and he sighed. "They won't let her tend to me."
"I could talk to them."
"Untersteh dich!" Dietrich drew in an anxious breath and wiped the cloth across his brow. To his displeasure, he found that the evaporation rate was faster than he had anticipated and in despair, he let his hand go back to resting on his chest. He licked his lips and said, "She has enough to worry about without having to see me like this."
"Aha, but that is what nurses do, look after patients. That's what you are though…" Arnulf smirked a little, "I wouldn't call you a very patient-patient. More of a moody casualty resisting being treated by a beautiful woman he danced with only last night."
Dietrich smiled softly. The melody of the dance played gently in his ears and pulled him into the safety of his memories, and there she was, that bringer of life! She stayed in his arms, her one hand on his shoulder and the other, wrapped in his hand. Those eyes, inviting and warm, made looking away rather difficult, but it wasn't as if Dietrich really minded. Memories of times forgotten blossomed in the warming atmosphere and it wasn't long before Dietrich had forgotten the war entirely.
Softly he sang, "Ich warte auf Dich… Denn Du bist für mich… all mein Glück... Komm zurück…"
Holding in her in his arms, to which she seemed to nestle perfectly in, Dietrich couldn't have been happier. With every step he was reminded of his home, of his parents and of his brother and sister. He remembered the city; the lights and the music, the beer and food.
Everything was brighter now and Dietrich could feel his heart aching over the song, yearning to recapture the moments that had been taken from him. "Komm zurück... Ruft mein Herz immerzu nun erfulle Du... mein Geschick."
Indeed love had returned to Dietrich; a love for life that he would embrace with all that was in him. He had all but forgotten it up until now. Memories that had been kept back out of obligation to serving his superiors with the steadfast readiness that was expected of any officer had been released.
"Komm zurück," he whispered as fingers slid across his cheek and into his hair. Dietrich did not complain for he had first delivered that invitation of her affection by way of gentle caresses to her hair. Drawing her near, Dietrich swept her hair to the side, thanking her silently with the joy in his bright eyes. Maybe it wasn't love. Perhaps it was just a renewing of his soul. Dietrich smiled, then leaned forward. Life wasn't meant to be lived as death walking.
"Hans…" cried a voice, distant and full of worry. "Hans! Bitte, wach auf! Nein, nein!"
At the controls of his aircraft, Arnulf felt helpless. Battlefield injuries might appear formulaic, but real instances weren't. Complications arouse and sometimes someone who was appearing fine could suddenly go into shock and die within minutes.
"Hans!" Arnulf tried to look behind him and felt the Storch dip as he shifted his grip on the control stick. Immediately he righted the plane, taking it out of its bank. There was no response from behind him.
"Scheiße! Hans, wach auf! Talk to me, bitte!" Arnulf shook his head and tried to clear his thoughts from his worst fears. Only two people in the entire German military mattered to Arnulf, both of whom he considered kin. Death had obliterated all of his dreams of a family before the war had even started. Arnulf didn't want to face his grief again, should death come back for a second helping.
There was just no telling whether or not his friend was simply unconscious or if he had slipped away forever.