Fandom: Hogan's Heroes
Author: Crystal Rose of Pollux (rose_of_pollux)
Character: Louis LeBeau and Peter Newkirk
Theme number: 22; Argument
Disclaimer/claimer: The characters aren't mine (except for the OCs), but the story is
Summary: Since when did things ever go as planned? Not tonight--that's for certain...
Will be cross-posted to fanfiction.net, and 18coda.
Author’s notes: Many thanks to bugaloos for the court-martial angle!
LeBeau and Newkirk’s argument, although not overheard, had not gone unnoticed by the colonel. After Olsen had left the office, Hogan had proceeded to watch the quiet argument between the two Europeans by leaving the door slightly ajar.
“I understand a lot of things, Sir,” said Kinch, taking a glance at the two corporals. “But I’m not sure why you want to have Newkirk back us up when you and I both know that he doesn’t want any part of it. To Newkirk, that tunnel is an escape route waiting to be trekked.”
“How bad of a temptation would it be?”
“Let me put it this way: if there was a prize for ‘Most Stir-Crazy,’ Newkirk would win it.”
“I had a feeling,” Hogan replied, with a sigh. “That’s why I had Newkirk assigned to backup with LeBeau; I’m hoping that our French friend can convince Newkirk not to go.”
“Never mind that Newkirk’s probably the one trying to convince LeBeau to go along with him,” Kinch said. “I’ve been here long enough to see how they work, Sir; Newkirk comes up with the half-baked escape ideas and manages to drag LeBeau along with him. LeBeau wants nothing more than to fight for his country again, and he knows that escaping is the best way to get back into the fight.”
“He seems okay with my orders of no more escapes,” Hogan said. “But I guess some smooth talk from Newkirk might change his mind?”
“Newkirk’s the smoothest talker of them all,” Kinch said, fervently. “The men of Barracks Two alone owe him the equivalent of 300 pounds after being hooked in to the poker and blackjack games.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Hogan replied, slightly amused. “And I already found out about his habit of ‘accidentally’ opening lockers that aren’t his own.” He began to pace his office as Newkirk ended the conversation with LeBeau. “A man like that could be valuable to the operation.”
“Assuming he doesn’t blow it by escaping,” said Kinch. “What do we do, Colonel?”
“As a precaution, we could alert the underground and let them know about Newkirk’s situation,” Hogan answered, after thinking about it for a moment. “We could instruct them not to aid him in his escape; they’d even send him back here. But I only want to use that as a last resort; stopping his escape would only turn him against the operation ever further. That’s why I’m going to gamble on LeBeau.”
“That’s quite a big gamble, Sir, if you don’t mind my opinion.”
“You’re my second-in-command, Kinch; I depend on your opinion.”
LeBeau was lost in thought as he prepared the apple strudel. It was fortunate that cooking was second nature for him; the quality of the strudel was not compromised by the chef’s divided attention.
The Frenchman was torn. He knew that it was his duty to obey Colonel Hogan’s orders, even if it meant not being able to help liberate France. But there was more to it than wanting to join the Free French forces; even if he decided to stay here, it would not stop Newkirk from going off on his own. If that happened, LeBeau would likely never see his friend again.
You are making this so difficult, Pierre, he thought. Why can you not give the operation a try?
He mulled over these thoughts as time ticked on, and as the strudel attained perfection. The aroma was enough to awaken Newkirk from his nap.
“Ruddy shame for you to make that just for Schultz,” he said, seeing the finished strudel. “But you’ll soon be able to forget all about ‘im.”
He leaped down from his bunk and began rummaging through his footlocker. He knew that he would have to travel light, and was settling on which of his possessions he could afford to leave behind.
“Pierre, do not take this the wrong way,” LeBeau said, realizing that there wasn’t much time left for him to change Newkirk’s mind; they would be moving out in about an hour. “But I think you are making a huge mistake by escaping.”
“I know; I ‘aven’t forgotten that this lot owes me 300 quid, but it’s a sacrifice for freedom--”
“What freedom?” LeBeau asked. “Hasn’t it occurred to you that you could be court-martialed if you escape? You would be going against the orders of your commanding officer!”
Newkirk gave him a look.
“You can’t use the excuse that you aren’t in the same army as Colonel Hogan; I told you earlier that London put him in charge here!” LeBeau went on.
“So, that’s it, then?” Newkirk asked. “I’m on me own for this?”
“I’m trying to tell you that you should stay here, too!” the Frenchman said, using every ounce of self-control to keep his voice quiet. “You could at least try a couple missions before jumping to your conclusions, non?”
“Blimey, Louis, I thought that you’d go with me on this,” Newkirk said. “But since you’re staying, could you see to collecting the 300 quid?”
LeBeau countered in his native tongue with several phrases comparing Newkirk’s head to a brick wall, and that the Frenchman may as well be talking to one. Newkirk was half-amused, even though he knew very well that he was being insulted.
“Schultz is coming!” Olsen suddenly announced, having kept a watch at the barracks door. “It’s past lights-out!”
LeBeau cursed, concealing the strudel within two plates and hiding it in his footlocker before he, along with the rest of the men, hurriedly scrambled into their respective bunks.
Schultz gave the men his usual lecture on how it would be a great help to him if they could only listen to the rules so that he would not have to be forced to hike all the way across the compound to tell them to turn the lights out at the appointed time.
“I am not a young man,” he said. “And--”
“—a man with a wife and five children should not be forced to march around the compound so late at night,” the men chorused, having heard the same words countless times.
“Jolly jokers…” the big man murmured. He turned to go, but paused, starting to sniff at the air. “Funny… I thought I smelled apfelstrudel…”
“Blimey, Shultzie, you really are tired,” Newkirk said, biting back a smirk.
“Ja, you see? Now, no monkey business!” he threw over his shoulder as he lumbered out.
LeBeau breathed a sigh of relief, glad that the guard hadn’t investigated further.
“I highly doubt that he’s going to come back again for a bed check,” Kinch mused. “The night should go smoothly.”
He glanced at Newkirk as he said this, prompting the Englishman to frown and cast a questioning glance at LeBeau. The Frenchman shook his head emphatically, mouthing that he hadn’t told a soul of Newkirk’s intentions, even though his better judgment had told him to do so.
“I’m sure the mission will be successful,” said Hogan, opening the door to his office again. “Kinch, bring the men in here; we may as well get them equipped and ready to go.”
Kinch led the trio inside, where they each received a flashlight and a weapon, with instructions to use it only as a very last resort; consequences would be serious if they wounded or killed an enemy soldier.
Each group of two received a walkie-talkie. Newkirk was noticeably edgy; Kinch knew something about the Englishman’s ulterior motives, which meant that Hogan did, too. And yet, the colonel was letting him go on the mission as planned. LeBeau, of course, was silently pleading for Newkirk to reconsider his decision. And even Olsen, who knew nothing of Newkirk’s plans, was still able to sense the uneasy vibes among the others.
“It’s almost time,” Hogan said, checking his watch after some time had passed. “Olsen, let’s get to the tunnel. When we meet at M—14, our identification phrase is ‘This porridge is too hot.’ They will respond with ‘This porridge is too cold.’”
“Cor blimey,” Newkirk said, snarking at the choice of phrases. “Who came up with that?”
“London,” Hogan responded.
Newkirk rolled his eyes; it only confirmed his suspicions of how off-kilter their alleged superiors were.
Olsen was the first to head out into the barracks and down the trapdoor. Hogan headed in that direction, but paused to address the two corporals.
“Remember: fifteen minutes,” he said, before continuing into the tunnel. “Those men are counting on you.”
“And I’d better man the radio,” Kinch said, going down the tunnel after Hogan went down, leaving the two corporals alone.
Wordlessly, LeBeau gestured to the tunnel where their commanding officer had been moments before.
“Right, I know what you’re going to say,” Newkirk said, uninterested in hearing it. “I should take those words to ‘eart and go through with the mission.”
“Then why is it so difficult for you?!” LeBeau asked. “You act as though the rest of us want to stay here! I know you, Pierre; there is more to this than getting yourself home. What is it?”
“Yeah, you know me, and you can’t even get me bloomin’ name right…”
“D’accord, Peter,” LeBeau responded, stressing the English form of the name. “So will you continue to duck the question?”
“Oh, look at that!” the Englishman exclaimed, checking his watch. “Only seven minutes to go. My, my, my; we’d better get ourselves ready in that tunnel, eh? We wouldn’t want to be late!”
“If it were for the fact that I know your true plan, I would give you credit for being so concerned and dedicated to the mission,” LeBeau said, as he followed Newkirk down into the tunnel. He fell silent as they passed by Kinch, who cast them a glance as they headed further down the underground passageway.
Newkirk was the first one of the two to open the tree trunk trapdoor and step out into the freedom of the night when the time came. At last, for the first time in nearly two years, he was outside the fence of Stalag 13. The very air smelled of freedom; it was an utterly exhilarating sensation.
LeBeau soon came up out of the tunnel, closing the tree trunk door behind him. The two corporals hit the ground as the searchlight from the nearest watchtower swept by them in an arc.
As soon as the coast was clear, Newkirk headed into the woods, with LeBeau right behind him.
“Louis, there’s no point in you trying to dissuade me,” he said. “You go finish this ruddy mission if you want; I’m going ‘ome!”
“Pierre… Peter,” LeBeau corrected himself. “Please! If you are not going to stay for the sake of Colonel Hogan or the mission, then stay for my sake, if for no other reason!”
Newkirk did stop in his tracks for a moment.
“Louis, you’re making this ruddy difficult…”
“Funny,” LeBeau replied, sarcastically. “That’s what I was thinking when you tried to convince me to go with you. It wasn’t easy for me to decide to stay here, especially when it seems that there is nothing I can do to stop you from going. It wasn’t the threat of a court-martial that convinced me to stay; it was because I was given a direct order, and I will obey it!” He looked up in order to glare at his taller friend. “I am not just thinking about myself!”
“And I suppose you think I’m only doing this for meself?” Newkirk countered. “You asked me earlier about the real reason why I wanted to leave. It’s nothing to do with just getting out of ‘ere; there’s more to it than that. I’ve got--”
Newkirk suddenly fell silent as voices mixed with footsteps from a point several yards away.
“Down!” LeBeau hissed, and they hit the ground again.
“We couldn’t ‘ave caught up with them already…” Newkirk murmured, trying to glance through the trees to see who was talking.
“Non, it can’t be them; they went in that direction,” LeBeau said, indicating the way to the rendezvous point. “And the voices are coming from here…” He trailed off as he glanced in the direction of the voices. Three silhouettes were barely visible in the dim moonlight.
“Maybe the fliers got confused; they might’ve ended up ‘ere by accident?” the Englishman wondered aloud. He squinted, not wanting to use his flashlight in case it wasn’t the three fliers. “I can’t make out the uniforms.”
“I don’t think they are uniforms,” said LeBeau, frowning. His eyes suddenly widened as the silhouettes drew out weapons, motioning to each other to search the area. And with a flash of horror, he suddenly realized who they were. “Ge—mmmph!”
Newkirk had covered the Frenchman’s mouth with his hand, coming to the same realization almost simultaneously.
“We know who they are, and they know who they are; there’s no need to broadcast it,” the Englishman whispered, glaring at the three plainclothes agents. His chances for escape were now next to nothing; the woods were probably full of them.
“Olsen et le Colonel!” LeBeau whispered, after Newkirk released his mouth. “We must warn them!”
He pulled out the walkie-talkie, but Newkirk made a grab for it.
“Are you mad?! The goons will ‘ear you for certain!”
“We have to warn the others; that’s what we were assigned to do!” LeBeau retorted, his anger audible, even though his words could barely be heard. “At least I will follow orders! You were going to run off and find that underground agent anyway!”
“Cor… that underground agent’s goose will be cooked if these goons ‘ave anything to say about it,” Newkirk realized. “I’d better go find the poor sap; I already memorized the shortest distance between ‘ere and there. I could pass the word quicker than anyone.”
LeBeau glared at the younger corporal. As much as the Frenchman hated to admit it, Newkirk had a point. But it was a point that the Englishman was going to use to his own advantage; Newkirk would undoubtedly vanish along with the agent… assuming he even made it there at all with these monsters searching the woods.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I am still going to tell Colonel Hogan to call off the mission. I shall also have to tell him that you have gone,” LeBeau said, admitting defeat. He glanced back at the three agents, who were still discussing how to search the area.
Newkirk watched them, too.
“You tell ‘im whatever you like; Kinch seems to know already, so I’m guessing the colonel does too,” he said. “And if I’m going to slip by the goons, then now is the time. Take care, Louis.”
“Et vous, mon ami. Bonne chance.”
Newkirk nodded in reply. Never taking his eyes off of the three agents, he slowly crept away, hugging the shadows of the trees.
LeBeau watched him go. He struggled to ignore the growing thought that, one way or another, he would never see his best friend again.