Thank you all for your kind words! This is more of an epilogue than a full chapter... Just a little something to tie everything together into a nice neat bow. :)
I have gone back and fixed my typos, especially in the second chapter. Apparently my Massachusetts education was showing and I was dropping my "R's" like New Englanders do in their every day speech. Whoops! Hopefully I've caught them all!
Still no profit being made nor infringement intended. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you!
The strong smell of soap and chicken soup drifted under his nose. His body still throbbed, though it had turned into a dull ache spread throughout his body. He tried to curl in on himself, his hands going for the area near his belly where a fire was crawling across his skin, but was held in place by a pair of firm hands on his shoulder. "Easy there, Corporal. Lie still."
Newkirk carefully opened his eyes, wincing at the bright light streaming in through the window. The firm hand disappeared for a moment and the light dimmed. A moment later, it returned.
"Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty. We were getting a little worried about you."
"Colonel Hogan?" Newkirk raised a hand to his eyes, rubbing them clear. "Just went I was getting excited about coming back to haunt you. Still, I'm ruddy glad to see you, Sir." He took a quick look around, familiar, but from a different vantage point. He was back in the barracks where he belonged, but not in his usual upper bunk by the door. He was… below it?
"Carter." Hogan said with a smile, answering the question he saw brewing on his Corporal's face. "He fireman carried you back here when you decided to take a little nap. Then he offered to let you use his bunk so we could check on you easier. Hey, keep still! Wilson and I worked hard sewing you back together last night, and I'd rather not go through that again if I can help it, thank you very much."
Newkirk sighed as he sank back into the thin mattress. He was resting on his good side, an extra blanket folded under his head as a pillow. He sucked in a deep breath of surprise, his ribs protesting with the suddenly stretch on his still tender skin. "Where's Carter? Is he okay?"
"He's fine, a little shook up but a whole lot better off than you. I think you took a few years off his life when you took that header on the way back. He and the other boys are doing some morning chores for Schultz and should be back soon. Klink thinks you've got the flu or pneumonia or something that he doesn't want to catch and has hereby ordered you to stay as far away from him as possible. Difficult for you, I know. But I'm sure you'll survive somehow."
Newkirk's chuckle was short lived as his side protested. "Och, don't make me laugh, that hurts!"
Hogan patted Newkirk's shoulder before stepping away from the bunk for a moment, out of Newkirk's limited range of motion and vision. He came back with a mug of water. "Here, take a sip." He gently put a hand under Newkirk's back and held the mug up to his lips. Newkirk forced himself to take a few tentative swallows before turning his head away.
"Thanks." His eyes began to droop again, despite his best efforts.
"You lost a whole lot more blood than is usually advisable." Hogan twisted to rest the mug on the communal table in the center of the room before returning, putting his hands in his lap. "And you absolutely ruined that uniform. Haven't I told you to be careful? Blue is so easy to stain.
"You know me, Sir. Always an overachiever." Newkirk replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm. He tried to give Hogan a cheeky grin, but only succeeded in a jaw cracking yawn.
"Well, overachieve with another nap, would you? If you're a good little boy, maybe LeBeau will let you have some of the soup he's been working on."
"There must be something wrong with me. Even LeBeau's fancy cooking sounds tempting."
Hogan couldn't hold in his laugh. "I'll tell him that!" He moved to stand, putting his hands on his knees to hoist himself to his feet. He took about two steps toward the stove before a soft voice called him back.
"Colonel? If you're still looking for me opinion, Carter should stay. He's still a menace, but a ruddy brilliant one. You should have seen him when the chips were down. Jumped in like he was part Kraut. If he doesn't belong in this madhouse, I don't know who does."
"Noted, Corporal. The transfer of one Andrew J. 'Ruddy Menace' Carter to our command approved. Good job tonight. Now get some sleep."
Newkirk carefully shifted in the bunk, a deep and satisfied sigh escaping as his eyes closed. The last thought as the barracks went dark, naturally this time, was that life in their little corner of Allied Controlled Germany was about to get more interesting. The most surprising part?
He was actually looking forward to it.