Chapter 2 – Wili's Nightmare – The Letter
A/N: This didn't happen, at least not quite – be warned that although nothing here is explicit in terms of their relationship, something wicked this way comes and it's pretty clear what will happen unless... so there is nudity and threatening, male-on-male, non-consensual behavior.
But like I said, it didn't happen – not really.
Heidelberg, West Germany
1st February, 1959
My Blue Angel:
You asked me last night, and again this morning, what I was dreaming. More accurately, what I was screaming about.
I refused to answer, and changed the subject.
But you know, you know already, my Rob. Just from the date.
After all, you were there too.
And while it could be the time I was accidentally shot by the Gestapo (and you, you wonderful foolish man, saved me and spent 4 days of what you called 'mediocre questioning', better known as torture, in Gestapo custody, for your trouble), we both know it was not.
So, shall I tell you, now, while you are away with Schultz? Shall I sit here and exorcise the past, while you build our future free from terror? It seems a waste of time. I could be doing other things. Important things. Useful things. Ordinary things. Anything!
But you have asked and asked and asked again, and I should know by now I can refuse you nothing.
So, I shall speak of what we do not speak of, and hope that you are correct, and that writing this down will trap that demon on the page and away from us once and for all.
You know, I am very vain, and boast and clamor about small accomplishments, but this is a thing that is true and odd and I can take no credit for, but it merely is...I dream in color. Only when the scene before my mental eyes is dark or terrible will the colors of the daylight world abandon me.
So this vision begins with green green grass taller than my head, and bright blue sky above. I make my way down a tiny path until the grass shrinks to rolling moss, green, gold, russet red and brown. A warm wind blows a tang from the Sea, and a shadow ghosts over me. Startled, I crane my head back back back and then I see the shadow of a bird, a great Eagle, flying across the Sun.
I am happy!
I skitter over the short moss and see for the first time that I have tiny paws with even tinier nails. My paws are slim, my legs blue-gray and they dart back and forth. I feel whiskers twitching in anticipation, as the Shadow above swirls lower and lower, until the Sun is covered by Shadow, and the Earth trembles as mighty talons pound the ground besides me, so close are they to crushing me.
For once, I am fearless. I squeak with joy, and run up the leg, higher higher highest...and then even higher, until I am at the great Eagle's shoulder, deep gold red brown in the Sun. And you, great Eagle, you look at me fondly, the beak that could tear me to bits, me, your natural prey and perhaps enemy, you only use to preen my fur. You tuck me gently under your ruff, at the joint where neck and wings meet, and I rise, floating as you take me flying.
I see the world below - hedgerows and farm fields, rivers and towns! All is peace and freedom in the sunlight and I laugh. Your head turns and your golden eye winks, and I swear that you smirk, if ever an Eagle can smirk.
BOOM! Something large and dark and smothering...a blanket? a net? a sack? rises from a cannon, and as swift and clever a flier you are, you cannot evade it and we are enveloped by Darkness and we fall.
We fall, but you are still strong, stronger than our enemies, and we land lightly. Next, I am on the ground, and you are in a cage. A stupid, silly cage for a songbird, with a little wrought iron sign above the flimsy open door that says 'Stalag 13'. You are so large, you press against the bars, breaking and twisting and bending most without even trying to move. I shake with mirth; are they really such dummies?
You shrug and mantle your wings; the cage bursts open, shards sparkle like glass. The shriek of an Eagle tears skyward and you only wait for me. I run to you, scurrying as fast as fast, but you seem so far away!
Before I can reach you, two things come at once: a dun colored truck...and a murder of crows.
The truck spews dirt and filth; a cloud of steam that tastes like chalk and sickness rolls over me as the tires scream to a stop.
The doors at the back swing open, and two men stumble out. Both are dressed in identical American USAAC uniforms, wearing identical crush caps and worn leather flier's jackets. I see one is tall, and dark haired, the look and bearing of a king of old. It is you, my Rob, and you help to support your companion, pale and ill, the look of a gaping mackerel, phiff! Me, of course.
Caw caw caw! I hear the lead crow tell his minions to attack...and a dead-black bird, ten times my size, looms over me and stabs downward. I shoot away, fear giving me speed, and I head for you (the Eagle). You (the Eagle) rise up on your tether and pounce, and the crow explodes into a cloud of night colored feathers and soot. I reach the shelter of your wings, and I am safe.
Safe, but you pay the price. I can see the plain that we are on, flat and treeless, grass going gray, sky gray-white. I see from the outside, as if I were an invisible spectator, or an ingenious cameraman, filming from all the correct angles. I see the crows attacking, pecking and pulling and shredding. You can shield me; you can shield your head and eyes, but that is all, as the evil birds crowd you, scattering the all-important pinion and primary feathers. And you bleed, my Rob! You bleed.
I know now why they call them, 'a murder of crows'.
A voice, low, urbane, even pleasant, sounds out: "My pets, we must stop now. The Eagle cannot die quite yet."
I look to see who speaks. I cannot believe it. I recognize him. He is famous. He is also dead. But perhaps Col. Johann Schmidt is immortal; perhaps he sold his soul to the Devil, and that is why his skull is red.
As an Eagle, you gently trap me beneath your talons. The 'bars' of your toes are far apart enough that I may squeeze out, but otherwise nothing can come in to harm me. As a man, you stiffen and stand straighter, taller, tightening your grip upon me. And that is when I see there are three men – three men who will decide our fate.
The Red Skull speaks first: "Cousin Klaus! Marvelous to see you. Come, take a look at this one." He nods his head in your direction: "This one is no ordinary prisoner, no common spy or saboteur. This one is the most dangerous man in Germany, and except for my American opponent, I believe that for once, Hochstetter is right."
I do not know this 'Cousin Klaus'. He is tall enough, sandy haired, blue eyes, small mustache, wire-rimmed glasses, a fine gray suit and white lab coat complete the picture. Nothing out of the ordinary. Yet the look he casts towards us chills me and I shake, cowering closer to you in both my forms.
I am a bug to him, this Doctor. He dismisses me from his mind at once and bores holes into you with his eyes. He shakes his head and says: "Cousin Johann, I am afraid that I do not have the gift to know when I am in the presence of ubermenschen, such as ourselves, simply by looking. Little Erik seems no more than any Jewish child, and had I not seen him use his talent, he would have died like the others." He searches your face, as so many have done before, looking for answers. Others have endlessly walked away unsatisfied. This one sees something, and asks his kinsman: "You say that strange things happen in his presence, that he is always where he needs to be, that he can manipulate any situation to his advantage?"
My voice leaps to defend you, this man cannot be allowed to think that you are above the common run: "No no, Herr Doktor, you must know, Hogan is no more than clever, it is I who am so stupid that a child could have his way around me! I can scarcely believe that I have risen this high and survived this long…"
"Shut up, Klink!" The Red Skull does not like the sound of my voice.
You squeeze my arm tighter still. I obey the silent order, and say no more.
The Doctor laughs and I cringe: "The little mouse roars at last! Does this pathetic fool love you then, Colonel Hogan?" He turns to the third man: "Major Faust, I think you must share your catch with my cousin and I. Johann, do tell me if Zola has perfected the ersatz fertilization methods that Mengele designed?"
"Not quite, but patience! We are using the methods together with earlier versions of Erskine's serum. It is only a matter of time before we reach the stage of viability. This worthless carcass," the Red Skull glares in my direction, "may become useful after all. You would like to be of use to the Fatherland, would you not?"
I am frozen to your side. I do not move. I do not understand the conversation, only the menace behind the words.
Meanwhile, my little alter-ego has not been idle. I know that I have chewed through the leather thong holding you (Eagle) to earth; now, I am running after your feathers, and as I come near one, woofff! off it goes sailing in the wind. I run, I run and again, this way! that way! in a misery of haste. But the feathers find you, even if I do not seem to catch any, and they stab you as they press back home. You speak in my tiny head: "Run!" you say and expect to be obeyed. But for once I do not run, for once I will not go without you.
The Cousins Schmidt are gone; only Major Faust remains. He sneers at us, at me.
Faust is in Gestapo black; the death's head on his cap both shining silver and dull gray. Which makes no sense, that this tiny insignia should glow and darken that which surrounds it, but so it is. I suddenly understand Tolkien's words: "A corpse light illuminating nothing."* I tear my glance from the cap, but fall to his eyes. They are a hard slate gray, like the death's head, hidden in the dark of a mine, with no light from without or fire within. His hair is so blond it is white, tied back in a revolutionary pigtail with a black ribbon, his features chiseled and regular, bit shorter than we are, but not short. He is handsome in a cold way, hawk to your Eagle, but where you are a golden rescuer, he is a vicious butcher bird.
He pounces, his hand swooping down to catch a tiny mouse. I am that mouse; I am in his hand, and I do not like it. I squeak, I shiver, I snap my teeth as fiercely as I can, but my neck rests tight against his index finger, his thumb presses down, the remainder of his fingers curl around my body, pinning my limbs. One leg is curled awkwardly against his palm, and while it does not hurt, if he squeezes harder, it will. But it is the stroking that unnerves me, his thumb traces my snout, follows the crest of my head, fondles my ears. He has no right! Only you, my Eagle, have that right! My heart is beating so fast, his entire hand shakes.
You, dear Eagle, you scream. Scream an Eagle's cry, and the words in that sound, words yet not words, are well understood by us there. You are covered in crows, holding you down, and still your defiance makes the empty plain ring.
"What will you give me for his life?" he queries, as he waves his hand, crows melt away. "What will you do, if I let you go, but keep him? What will you give, if I agree to release him instead? What is this creature, this worthless vermin, worth to you?"
Tears wet my face; I did not know mice could cry. I beg a single word, all that I have courage for: "GO!"
I look again. You mantle, pull your head as straight and high as it will go, then crane your neck to the side.
Again, we all understand the offer.
"I am a man of my word. Keep the pest. He may freely leave once you are dead."
Faust stoops and tosses me to the ground. I tumble and run, straight to you and then up your leg until I am cowering into your nesting feathers on your lower breast. I will not leave you.
I will die for you if I can.
I will die with you if I cannot.
And Faust looks at the captive airmen (us). He walks slowly around us, looking up and down, side to side. Like he is inspecting the livestock for culling. Then he leers. And it is not only culling on his evil mind.
SS soldiers pull me from your grasp. Gestapo underlings hold you back. I look into their faces, wanting to reason with them and I feel faint. These men are all faceless; they have no faces at all! Blank putty where anything and everything human should be. Nothing. There is nothing at all.
I should be screaming now. I should be, but I do not often do what I should. I only gape, stunned so, that I cannot think, I do not react when they push me on all fours. I sink down into the dark mud, sink down until my hands, my wrists, my knees, lower legs and ankles, all are covered, encased, manacled in mud.
Until I hear the ripping of your borrowed shirt, I do not even realize that I am naked.
And I am more upset that these automatons are destroying your spare clothes than I am of my lack of modesty.
Faust has my riding crop in his hands. He makes it whistle, then turns it so the flat runs gently along my back, down my backside, a gentle stroke. Several times, over and over.
I should be terrified (as I was), but now, all I am is annoyed. That hard-to-reach spot on my back is itching horribly, and that bully keeps just missing it. And no matter how I try, I cannot free my hands to scratch.
Then I look over to you. You look as if you were carved from stone. No one else would see it, but I know you too well. Rage. Shame. Hurt. Worry. And one more emotion that I dare not name, not now. If I did, I might howl in grief. We cannot give Faust the satisfaction.
Faust looks at you, smiling: "Not much to look at, but all sheep are gray in the dark, no? I'm sure that your taste is far better than this, but 'beggars cannot be choosers', you Americans say. Do we make him beg for it, Hogan? As a courtesy to a fellow officer, I could give you the first taste, just a taste, as you are my prisoner, but a bit of a reward for your cooperation?"
Your eyes lock on mine, the question clear – 'do you trust me'. My answer is the slightest nod yes. So you begin the last gamble:
"Cut the crap, Faust. We both know what you really want. Sure, he'll get a rise out of you, but face it, he's been there before. Used goods. Me, on the other hand? Something brand new. A real challenge. Let's see if you can break me, Faust. Let's see if I'm just another pretty face."
"You cast a gauntlet down; a true Knight. Of course, you are correct; this one, for all his blood-line, is pathetic. Too much in-breeding, perhaps. I realize that you are trying to spare your pet. You are too soft, you Americans. I could deny you. I could begin with him. I could throw him to the guards and we would watch together. I could even leave him to these servants and take you while they play. But then, in all of those scenes, I would be distracted. You are the prize here. As you say, a real challenge. I do not wish to give you anything less than my very best efforts." As he speaks, Faust paces between us, absently stroking me with the crop when speaking of me, pointing the crop at you for emphasis when speaking of you, and his eyes never leave your face.
Looking for weakness, he finds none.
Oddly pleased, he reaches his decision: "Strip," he commands.
You nod and quip: "Just let me get ready for my close-up."
There is a tree stump. You carefully remove your flight jacket, and neatly fold it on the stump. Your crush cap follows. You stand tall as you efficiently undo the knot in your tie and whip it off, the zing of cloth on cloth loud in the silence. You wrap the tie around your hand and wrist like a bandage, and then you proceed to unbutton your shirt, cuffs first.
You are not stripping like a woman: not like the poor girls at the burlesque houses that I have seen when I was bullied into going, either slow and teasing (if they enjoyed their work) or careless and rushed (if they did not). And not like I would imagine some frightened maiden to be, shaking and fumbling, clumsy and in a great hurry to be done.
You are all business. You undo each button with the simple care the act requires. No more, no less.
LeBeau might call it 'nonchalant'; you are an executive disrobing after a hard day, pleasing no one but yourself.
A challenge indeed!
Faust devours you with greedy eyes; you have his complete frightening attention.
Your shoes and socks are gone; I did not see you remove them. The mud is gone where you are; the grass is dead and gray, but it is clean grass at your feet. You undo the thin belt at your waist; you wrap it around your other wrist and forearm, and buckle it like a bracer.
You are girding for battle in plain sight of our enemy, and I can only hope that he does not notice.
Now for your trousers. Unbutton, unzip, and one swift motion they are down (and your underwear with it). One foot, then the other, and you are folding and placing atop the stump. Again, all business.
You stand, neither slow nor fast.
Everyone (and I am suddenly aware that we are facing the barbed wire fence of the huge Oflag Stalag XIIIC, and there are men lining the fence from horizon to horizon, not to mention the guards) looks.
And there you are.
No matter the scars (some childhood mishaps, some Gestapo interrogation), healing bruises (definitely the Gestapo), or the pronounced ribs (we are all too thin by now, and you are always sharing your rations), you glow in the sunlight. Michelangelo could not have sculpted better.
You are not ashamed. (And why should you be? You've done nothing wrong.) You seem calm, bored even, as Faust walks towards you.
I? I am terrified to my soul – and hard as stone. I can feel myself leaking (I've heard of wet dreams before, but a wet nightmare? Ridiculous!).
The word is quiet, a whisper only. But it is so loud in the silence, it may have well been the Angel's Trumpet.
It does not come from any of us. Then I look back over to the fence and see Group Captain James Roberts, hands clutching the wires so tightly that blood drips from the cuts, blood drops smoking on the snowy ground (and why there is snow by the fence and no where else, I can't tell you, except to say that it always seems like winter in the camps). His face is twisted in hatred. He will climb the fence to rescue you.
We all know he would die in the attempt; he will die in the attempt.
"Roberts, stand down!"
I can never remember if you outrank your dear friend or not, but you outrank Churchill here and now, regardless.
Your dear friend Robbie bows his head and turns away.
Faust sniffs and starts walking towards you again. He is only a few feet away, but each step takes an eternity. Faust moves his hand forward as soon as he is within arm's length. He reaches out...
I do not know where his hand will land.
I do not want him touching you.
I am in despair. Hate and fear course through my veins, but the mud, the cold, the evil, has robbed me of strength. I cannot move; my limbs are lead. The mountains will move before I can.
I am desperate. I try to shout a warning, a distraction, a plea, anything. But my lips cleave to each other. Glue dipped in cotton coats my tongue. I am mute.
Faust reaches out; his hand lands...
I scream. I SCREAM. I SCREAM!
The next thing I know, you have your hand over my mouth, one knee pinning my arm, while the free hand is shaking my other shoulder, trying to prevent my lashing out.
And that was my nightmare, dear Rob.
I hope that you are right.
I never want to see Faust or his Nazi ilk ever again.
Not even in my dreams.
A/N: * Quote from The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, The Stairs of Cirith Ungol, the description of Minas Morgul.
And yes, I was almost quoting the character Norma Desmond's most famous line at the end of Sunset Boulevard. And while the triggering incident took place over a decade before, this dream takes place around 8 years after the movie was a smash hit, so Klink's subconscious could easily use the quip to Hogan's advantage. And certainly, Hogan is smart and cocky enough to have come up with the phrase on his own. And well, if I ever show you the incident...he did.
Please note that this portion of my tale has been deeply influenced by Zevkia and her fics in the Hogan's Heroes fandom. While not everything in her stories will match mine, please refer to "Merrily Merrily" and "Life is But a Dream" if you want to know how Klink got shot, and to "Hole in the Day" for the evil Faust.
Additionally, many thanks to Zevkia, for her permission to use, Snooky, Wolfie (the incomparable WingedWolf121), Kat (the gracious ChirstianGatefan) as truly epic betas, and to 80sarcade who has not not run screaming in the other direction, but actually wants to see what happens next. Finally, thanks to JannaKalderash and Snooky for the reviews!