I do not own any of the characters from the series Hogan's Heroes.
This story is a postscript to "Operation Tiger" (Series 6). It has been posted previously, but was taken down for further editing.
"Do you believe impossible things happen sometimes?"
She had been silent for some time before she came out with this. It was rare to see her so quiet; in fact, he could never remember a time when she'd appeared so relaxed. For so long, Tiger's life had depended on remaining alert, keeping her guard up, never quite closing her eyes. Now all that was over, or soon would be, once she reached England safely. Not that she wanted to go, but now she was known to the Gestapo, she knew she could no longer play an active part in the war on the Continent. She had accepted it, and with acceptance came a kind of stillness.
Hogan was fascinated by the change in her. She had always been beautiful, but this unfamiliar serenity brought out something more, a kind of radiance. He leaned back against the wall, next to the window of his private quarters, feeling unusually at peace himself. Neither of them needed to speak; it was enough that they were together, for a short time.
He considered the question she had asked, and smiled. "Well, you're here, aren't you?"
"I still hardly believe it," she whispered.
Nor did Hogan. When he considered what would have happened to her, had the Gestapo got her to Berlin...no, it didn't bear thinking about. He and his men had got her off that train, and brought her to safety, but the thought of what might have been was still at the back of his consciousness, and would stay there until he knew she had reached London safely. Possibly until the day he died.
"Tiger..." Hogan's voice was lower than usual.
"I know. We may never see each other again." She gazed at him, a gentle, loving smile softening the corners of her mouth. Then she lowered her eyes; when had she ever done that? It was her directness, her forthright spirit, which had first drawn him past the fact that she was a woman where no woman should be. If he had fallen for her - and in times like these, a man had to be sure before he admitted that - it had started when, frustrated by his hostility, she had turned on him and spoken her mind.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked.
She sighed. "This war. It seems as if it's been going on forever. So many years lost. So many lives changed. We did what we had to, but...Do you know what I planned to do with my life, before the invasion changed everything?"
He didn't. In fact, he realised, he knew virtually nothing about Tiger's life before it had first come into contact with his own.
She held out her hands; very beautiful hands, with long elegant fingers. "From when I was six, I studied music," she said. "The violin. I was very good. Do you know how hard it is for a woman to gain a position with a big orchestra? But I succeeded. Just before Paris fell, I was accepted by the Orchestre de l'Île de France. I played with them for one concert. Just one. Then the Boche came, and I had to decide what mattered to me. I decided. Me voici." She was quiet for a moment, then went on, dreamily. "We played Debussy - La Mer - and Saint-Saëns, and the Englishman, Vaughan Williams. At least I will always have that."
"Do you want to go back to it?" he asked.
Tiger shook her head, and slowly rotated her left hand. "I broke my wrist, while I was on a mission, and I could not get the proper medical treatment. It healed, but it will always be a little inflexible. Too inflexible for me to play well. It was worth it," she finished, as she noticed the look on his face. "All of it has been worth it, if in the end we drive this thing out of Europe, out of the whole world." After a few moments of silence, she went on. "What about you?"
"Career military," replied Hogan slowly. "I've been a flier all my life, one way or another. I guess I always will be."
"Even here? Oui, I suppose, in a way." Tiger answered the question herself. "And when the war is over…"
"I'll go back to the States, and keep flying," he said. He wanted so much to continue that thought, and ask her to come with him. He couldn't. Even if he survived the war - even if she survived - there was more to Tiger than that. She could never settle down as a serviceman's wife, to a life of domestic duties and little social activities. Besides, there would be work waiting for her in her own country, work that could take a lifetime to complete. How could he ask her to turn her back on France, after all she had already sacrificed?
She seemed to read his thoughts; under the circumstances, it scarcely surprised him. "We will be together, mon cher ami," she murmured. "I will never be so far away that we are not together."
He could believe it, as he met the warmth of her eyes. The reassurance of her presence was as real as his own heartbeat.
He turned her own question back on her. "So, what about you? Do you believe the impossible can happen?"
"O mon coeur, how could I doubt it?" she replied, her face suddenly alive with laughter.
Behind her, the door opened quietly, admitting LeBeau.
"Excusez-moi, mon Colonel," he said. "A message has come through from London, on the radio. Tiger has arrived safely. She sends her love."
Well, he knew that already. "Thanks, LeBeau. I'll be out in a couple of minutes."
She was gone; maybe she had never been there at all. But Hogan, by some deep instinct, was sure. Somehow, time and space had folded in on themselves just for a few minutes, to bring them back together. And what has happened once, can happen again. As long as he had that to hold on to, she would never be far away.