A Fairy Tale - Chapter 3 - The Road Goes Ever On, But This Is Not How The Story Ends

A/N: A tale within the 'Dear Rob' 'Verse, what happens after Klink takes Hogan dancing – final double epilogue where Hogan gets some new Unsung Heroes, while an enemy worthy of Hogan's mettle starts making some mental connections and drawing conclusions.

As per usual, many many thanks to Kat, Wolfie and Snooky (and adding the lady known as Goldleaf83) for beta-ing and all who have followed and reviewed. Also, continuing gratitude to Zevkia for creating a stinker like Faust and allowing me to let him do 'that voodoo that (he) do so well' (modified quote from Hedley Lamar in 'Blazing Saddles') as well as borrow liberally from her published headcanon.

And as per usual, the Colonel & gang are not mine, but belong to the originators of Hogan's Heroes, and CBS and I claim nothing but the OCs and the prose.

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Epilogue 3 – Finding the Way

November 20th, 1944

Stalag 13, the Tunnels

It was almost Thanksgiving, and all the barracks chiefs had been invited for the occasion, as well as a few select friends.

Hogan had wanted to give his fink good news much sooner, had wanted to bring him in as part of the operation, but in listening to the others, he'd found a great deal of resistance.

From the expected: "Beggin' the Guv'ner's pardon but are you bleedin' bonkers?" (Did anyone expect anything else from Newkirk?)

To the unexpected: "Nein, Colonel," said the German Resistance leader known as the Huntsman (better known as Pvt. Otto Wagner, one of the Barracks 9 guards), "Klink's heart may be in the right place, but there is too much pressure from Berlin. Klink will never be able to fool the Gestapo for long; let him stay stupid for a while longer, and once the Nazis are too busy hiding to care, then we can reveal ourselves."

So in September, instead of Klink, 20 of his guards had been vetted by both the barracks leaders and the Resistance; chief among them Schultz, Langenscheidt and Dingle, and invited to 'formally, but unofficially' defect.

They all accepted.

Their willing help meant that the operation could expand at less risk over all. Hogan now had 20 men who could speak fluent German, legitimately leave camp during the day, do the simple (and now less dangerous, since none of the papers or identities were fake) milk runs, which freed up the experienced Allies for other duties.

But while getting around Klink was still a fun way of spending an afternoon, everyone agreed (grudgingly or not) that it would be easier and safer to bring Klink completely into the fold. Even his toughest detractor (Newkirk, who else?) could see that Klink had done everything he could to help the missions along, while still having no idea what he was doing.

So today was his formal induction into the world beneath his feet.

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Hogan couldn't help the smirk on his face, nor the twinkle in his eyes; it was hard to tell who was more excited, the guides or the newest recruit. Carter and Shurtlieff had each grabbed a hand, and were leading Klink around for all the world as if he was their Dad being dragged through the piers at Coney Island. And like a dad being put through his paces at the fair, Klink was by turns amazed, frustrated, amused, frazzled, elated and nauseous. Sometimes all at once.

Now Klink knew his Hogan was brilliant and that Kinchloe was not too far behind. He knew that Newkirk could steal the keys from St. Peter. He knew that LeBeau was fire and spice and the finest French chef he had ever encountered (and the only one he could afford). He knew that Carter was an amiable fellow, and the rest were all good but ordinary soldiers. He knew this.

But that they were all part of the most extensive tunnel system in Europe that was not the London Underground?

No, that he did not know.

"How does it all stay up?" Klink gasped, bewildered at the sheer scope of the diggings.

"Weeelll, it doesn't always, Sir, I mean sometimes we do have some trouble with cave-ins, and some of my explosions don't always go as planned and there was that time..." Carter rambled when Klink interrupted:

"You mean the sinkhole, the hot spring, the bomb crater? That was all you?"

"Yes and no" answered Shurtlieff before Carter could continue, "Carter's a modest guy, and you'll soon find out he blames himself more than he ought. If you haven't figured out, Sir, he's our demolitions expert and a darned good one, to have to work down here with second-hand, jerry-rigged gear, turning scrap and junk into usable weapons that work when they have to, and not a minute before." She gave several of her brothers-in-arms, (which included the rest of the core group and a few denizens of Barracks 2 & 9, who were standing off to the sides along with the other guests, gawking at Klink's gawking) a scowl as she went on: "From all the teasing, you'd think Andrew was a menace, but we've had more cave-ins and tunnel damage from rain and snow melt than Carter's blasts. He works miracles down here, with supplies that wouldn't make the grade back at the Bridgeport High science lab. Right, Colonel?"

"She's right, Kommandant. We wouldn't have had half of the success that we've had without him. And these tunnels are the combined efforts of pretty much our original camp population, started before I even got here, so the credit for this engineering wonder should go to Kinch and Co."

"Amazing! I can scarcely credit my eyes. And communications, the machine shop, the forgery press, the darkroom and ... a mostly assembled aeroplane? Fantastisch!"

" 'Ere now you've given short shrift to me bailiwick: wardrobe, make-up, barber shop, guest accommodations" a poke in the ribs from LeBeau for forgetting the honorific, Newkirk added, "Sir."

"Forgive me, Corporal, you have all done wonders with nothing, it is like Aladdin's Cave, so filled with marvels one can only remember the last things seen."

Hogan smiled, "Kommandant, you don't need to lay it on so thick, it was a lot of hard, back-breaking work but..."

"Ah, Colonel Hogan? I, too, would have compared this place to the Arabian Nights, had I more of the poet in me," said Capt. Matthias Dingle, highest ranking of the German guards turned Resistance, who had been trailing the group with delight, "and while you see the hard work, the long nights, the fears and worries, in every rough timber and dirt edge, we see the results: courage, audacity, mockery of our tormentors, all the lives saved. For those of us newcomers, this," waves his hand at the space, "is a thing of beauty, a place of wonders, where anything can happen."

"AN' it usually does," drawled Pvt. Maddy Hill, who had come up a side tunnel from the direction of the Rec Hall. Looking straight at Dingle, he added, "Or not, dependin' on whether our teacher decides to show up fer class."

"Ach, you are right, forgive me, gentlemen, I have a class to teach." He saluted Hogan first, then Klink, saying: "Kommandant, enjoy your first day of Gymnasium", as he turned to follow Hill.

Kinch then said to the remaining gawkers: "Com'on guys, I think the Colonel can take it from here" and gently herded them away.

"So, you have already stolen the love of my knights, eh, Colonel?" Klink raised an eyebrow in the direction of Dingle's retreat.

"Not really. I honestly think they like you more now than they did before; you gained a lot of fans when you went after Hochstetter like that after you got back from the hospital."

"Anyone would have, ...wait how did you know? No no nevermind... but honestly, anyone would have done the same; imagine, wanting to kill you because you saved a German Officer! As likely, if you had let me die, he would have blamed you,"

"...never have blamed his own trigger-happy people..." muttered Hogan.

"...and have you killed. The man is a frothing lunatic."

Hogan snorted his agreement: "All the more reason to hand it to you for standing up to the bast...um the jerk. We should remind him more often that Colonel out-ranks Major...oh, and that reminds me, we need to set the ground rules: you are now a full member of the Unsung Heroes and the tunnels and the rest of this operation are open to you for the duration. But you need to try to get along, to fit in; we're pretty informal around here. Not a lot of heel clicking or saluting. I won't allow the men to disrespect you or your rank, but don't expect full military protocol every time you walk into a room. In fact, as of right now, all the experienced men, Allied or Resistance, out-rank you. I won't let anyone turn you into their personal slave, but if Sam needs help finding a button to complete a uniform in time for a mission, or if you are paired with Shurtlieff and Hill and they say 'duck', you need to obey legitimate orders, no matter who gives them. Will that be a problem?"

"No, I understand and agree; as my Großmutter used to say, men complain of doing women's work and women complain of doing men's work, but the work never complains and neither should I."

"Smart woman, your Grandmother. But don't look so worried; you'll always be partnered with someone more experienced until you get the hang of it. Kinch is my second; if I'm not there, he's takes over, and everyone knows that. Before each mission, someone in the group is designated the leader if I'm not going or if the group has to split up. You'll have to think on your feet too, but like I said, you'll be with someone who'll teach you the ropes."

"Oh." Klink saluted and turned to go.

Had this been a few months ago, Hogan may or may not have picked up on Klink's pique from a single word and a twist of his lanky frame, even though Hogan has always made it his job to read Klink and his moods. Had this been a few years ago, even if he had noticed, Hogan would not have cared that Klink was annoyed and upset.

'Then' is not 'now'.

'Now' is when the care and feeding of one Wilhelm Klink is more than a means to an end (and the 'end' being something else rather than the care and feeding of Klink). 'Now' is when Klink is more than just another playing piece, another pawn on the chess board; he is one of Hogan's men, whose well-being is the point of the exercise. That, and winning the war.

So Hogan called him back: "Wilhelm?"

Klink returned, head down and hunched over, right fist clinched behind his back - a posture that Hogan hadn't seen in months. Now he knew something was off.

"Alright, what's wrong, and don't say nothing. You were alright a few minutes ago, almost dancing on the walls. Now you're acting like I'm Burkhalter sending you to the Russian Front, and I don't think I've gained that much weight in three minutes. So what gives?"

Klink struggled, his pride and vanity against his common sense. For once, common sense won.

"I suppose, begging the Colonel's pardon, I thought that I was no mere hanger on, but a real part of your operation. But if you feel that I cannot contribute effectively, then"

"Stop right there, Kommandant. NOBODY is saying that you aren't a real part of the operation or that you won't be contributing! ALL my men have gone through the same process, ask Dingle or Langenscheidt. I sent Huntsman,"

"Who?"

"Pvt. Otto Wagner, he was in the local Resistance and was one of our main contacts in town, before he got himself transferred as one of your guards. Anyways, he's the one who oversees our guards when they go on milkruns and it usually takes at least three missions before I'll let a man go on his own.

"Same deal with the Allied troops. Whenever a new guy goes outside the wire, he has at least one other experienced fella with him. Which is why Hill was a little short with Dingle; he's been teaching the inexperienced how to act like regular Wehrmacht or Luftwaffe troops, and Hill will be one of the first grads of his class, which will allow him to go on the next mission with the rest of the core team."

"So, it is not only me?"

"Nope, we use the buddy system around here; no cannon fodder in this man's Army. Everybody gets the same treatment; only the core group didn't, because we were all learning, we all had no experience. And believe me, I'm shocked that with all the mistakes we made, we didn't get killed the first week. Even after half a year of bringing in and sending out downed pilots, after we got Carter and managed to get the crew honed, I still let my guys walk out the door without checking to see if they had the right fake dog-tags. I know some of the Nazis are really dumb, but letting LeBeau impersonate 'Jack MacPherson'? I still have nightmares. Thank God for Schultz! I'm putting him in for at least a Silver Star as soon as we step foot in London."

"Is that a medal? But he is not in your Army."

"Actually, you're ALL in the American Army Air Corps. Pending paperwork. New uniforms are supposed to be coming with the next airdrop and you'll get your paychecks sent as soon as there's an Allied mailbox to received them. Of course, you all start at an enlisted man's scale, until each of you passes the promotion tests."

"You are joking."

Hogan grinned: "Don't tell the others, it's our Christmas gift to them...and you."

Were this an ordinary Victorian fairy tale, one of those where the author feels that "fairy" equals "safe and simple" (the 'for children only' implied), the tale would stop here, with this good wish, and they would all lived happily ever after.

That is not how this story goes.

This is a tale of Faerie, neither safe nor simple nor for children (unless they are very wise).

In a true tale of Faerie, there are always many obstacles that must be conquered before the heroes may rest, and even then, Grendel's Mother and the Dragon may still lurk in the shadows.

So it was that as Hogan reached for Klink to give him one of the American's patented shoulder squeezes, Langenscheidt walked in:

"Your pardon, mein Colonel, but it is time for Kommandant Klink to leave for the monthly meeting."

"You're driving?"

"Jawohl, Sargent Brennan and the others in Barracks 19 have given me the code words and the marked package of cigarettes. Once I make contact, I am to get all the information I am able to confirm the camp layout and number of guards, and anything that might help us search out weaknesses in the security."

"Don't forget that we need a head count of all the guys, especially need to know how many are in the cooler and infirmary, and any release dates they know of. Convince them that they will be pulled out of there, and soon, but we want everyone out, so we need them all to lay low and cooperate - or at least not cause any trouble - with their Krauts, pardon the expression."

"No pardon needed. From what I have seen, they really are Boche there; I am German and have a gun, and even I do not wish to get closer to those guards..."

" 'Boche'? " a dark chuckle from the Colonel, "you really are taking your French lessons seriously."

"Will no one tell me what is going on? Why do we care for their security? Are we helping prisoners to escape directly from their camp? I do not understand!" Klink's voice taking on his habitual quaver (another trait that had been noticeably fading from Klink's repertoire).

"Now just hang on, I'm getting there! Now today's mission is intelligence gathering behind enemy lines; Langenscheidt here is going to make contact with Sargent Brennan's old CO and get us as much confirmation about the layout of the camp as possible. From the calls and reports we've been intercepting..."

"We can intercept calls?"

"Know you're new at this, but try to keep up. Yes, we intercept calls, here and at Hochstetter's house, and the rest of the Underground pass on anything they hear too."

"But that means you hear everything? HoOO-gan! How many of my personal calls have you heard?"

"Um, all of them? But now calm down, it's ok! When things got really personal, we'd all leave, except for Kinch. He's completely trustworthy and he'd only really pay attention when the conversation turned to troop movements and things like that. Come to think of it, your mom used to pass on all kinds of useful information, and I'm almost positive she was doing it on purpose. Think she knew something neither of us did?"

"I have no idea; but you are right - she did become quite a gossip in her old age, and I thought she was just lonely."

A derisive snort, and Klink continued: "So even my mother was of more use than me! What else is new. But why are we, who are we breaking out of Stalag 7?"

"Everyone, Kommandant; everyone. Major Kessel is getting too antsy for my tastes. He's been making constant inquiries of Berlin, Hochstetter, everyone he can get his hands on, about how close the Allies are. He's ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble, real or imagined, and this guy's got a heckofva imagination."

"Do you think he will desert his post? But won't that be for the better? Why, WE could send our own people in and run that camp like we do here...could we not? Just a word from Herr General Kinchmeyer" and Klink's eyes went round as the epiphany hit. But before he could wail about another prank at his expense, Hogan smoothly changed the subject:

"Actually, that's a swell idea! Gotta hand it to ya, Klink, you may be new at this, but you're really on the ball tonight." Hogan clapped Klink lightly on the back and went on: "We'll keep that as an option, and I truly hope we can do just that, but it may not be feasible. So now, Kommandant, I'm giving YOU an assignment to supplement Langenscheidt's job. YOU need to pump Kessel for information; get him to confide in you. Find out whatever he intends to do, either for himself or with his prisoners. Offer to help in any way you can, but make sure that he feels that he can come to you for anything, for any reason. Frightened men do frightening things; and we don't want the POWs to suffer for Kessel's paranoia."

"Good, good! Yes, I will do that! You can count on me!" Klink puffed up with importance, ready to launch into a spiel about how cleverly he will ensnare his quarry, when Hogan steered both the conversation and his two companions through the tunnel leading to Klink's quarters.

At the foot of the ladder to the stove entrance, Hogan added one more bit of advice:

"Now remember, you are a team. You look out for each other. Klink, if it looks like Langenscheidt's in trouble, yell at him, go completely Prussian and send him to the car and get yourselves back here. Langenscheidt, if it looks like someone is giving him a dirty look, ask to use the phone and call here - we'll tell you to get Klink back on the double, say that there's been a fire, and that he's needed to restore order. Got that?"

"Jawohl, Herr Colonel!" "Of course, consider it done."

"Good luck." Hogan clapped Klink on the back again and steadied him as he climbed up the ladder. When Klink was safely at the top (and out of earshot), Hogan held Langenscheidt back for a moment and whispered: "Look after him, you know how he is, heart's in the right place, but ..., you know. Just get him back here in one piece and yourself too ok?"

"Do not worry Fraulein, I will bring your chevalier home safe."

Langenscheidt didn't need the sudden silence or the forbidding sense of cold to tell him that he'd gone too far, even between friends. He softly babbled an apology:

"Herr Oberst, mein Colonel, please forgive my impertinence. Please, I meant no harm, truly. You are my Kommandant but you are my friend too. I know that you were just playing your part when you were...talking...to Kommandant Klink that night."

"Did you tell anyone?"

"Nein, never! I would never betray your trust. You saved my Greta, how could I, what kind of man would I be if in return I started rumors! Never, jamais!"

A deep cleansing breath, and Hogan relaxed: "Alright, no harm done. And don't think I'm not your friend too, but I'm your CO first. I can take a joke, but not like that, got it?"

"Got it. Thank you, Herr Colonel." A salute, and Langenscheidt flew up the ladder, still mortified by his tactlessness with someone he owed so much and admired so profoundly.

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Hogan was still telling himself "it's a joke, just a joke, get over it Rob" when he offered to give Hilda a ride home.

She accepted, and they rode out.

And no one thought twice when it took Hogan a few hours to get back.

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Epilogue 4 – Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (Or More Accurately, Back to the Night This All Started) (When Hogan in Drag Went to Meet that Underground Agent in Dusseldorf, Remember?)

The Ratskeller was very full; many had come to celebrate Lt. Berg's promotion to Captain. Berg was not a great thinker, but he was not completely stupid, and he was otherwise at the peak of Aryan perfection. So along with the promotion, Berg had been admitted to the ranks of the Lebensborn program, and would be matched with the Finnish beauty now clinging on his arm.

A very good reward, thought the organizer of the evening, as he nodded to himself, quietly observing the crowd.

Unlike the honored guest, the host, Major Johannes Faust, was a great thinker and a shining example of the so-called Aryan type. Although technically part of Mengele's and Schmidt's operation, ever ready to search out new vict...ahh, 'candidates for surveying and research investigations', he belonged equally to a special sub-unit of the Gestapo, charged with investigating the paranormal, the markedly different, and any who seemed to be "too lucky". Thus, even when not on duty, he was always on the alert; one never knew when a prime specimen might present itself.

Take, for instance, the mine-dwellers. Dwarfs, kobolds, imps, brownies...call them what you will, they existed, and since the first camps had been started, he had made major inroads in destroying their decadent, untermenschen culture, and some progress into discovering their secrets (especially their great wealth). In the last batch successfully captured and processed, he had nearly succeeded in breaking two of their elders; had his helper not been so careless, the one called Volksung would never have gotten that letter opener... nor was Berlin terribly pleased when an entire convoy was released by the Underground. At least, that had been entirely out of his hands. His Masters understood. No matter how efficient or useful he himself was, he was only one person; he could not control the incompetence of others. He smiled grimly to himself; although the Resistance had spared their lives, the fools had paid for their ineptitude.

Still, he'd love to get his hands on the leader. Before he died, the driver of the lead truck swore that the man was a German aristocrat, black of eye and hair, tall as a knight of yore, (never mind that most knights were far shorter than modern Aryans), handsome as he was tall, who moved as if he were born to wear the purple. Oh, and the others called him "Papa Bear".

A man like that would be hard to miss. Yet no one else had marked him. No one had even come close to finding him.

Who was he? Where was he? What was he?

Could he have been one of the July traitors?

Possibly. Many of the conspirators had been of high station. Over 500 had fallen thus far, cleansed from the Third Reich forever. Yet the near constant level of sabotage and success in the area since had retained the stamp of a bold, cunning, out-of-the ordinary adversary. The signature of the same man, so he could not be numbered among the dead.

A respected, highly placed functionary then?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. The raids were usually committed in the dead of night, but many acts were completed during daylight hours. But one who worked openly for the Third Reich might well be recognized by co-workers and civilian witnesses, (unless he was disguised) and certainly his normal routines and pastimes would suffer. Moreover, every sabotage action showed a foolish regard for human life that spoke of on-the-ground command decisions, (otherwise there would be more casualties).

THAT spoke of a fighting unit, trained to shift with a moment's notice.

A fighting unit that could come and go as it pleased, without question.

Only the Gestapo could move without question these days.

Wasn't there a Major, a Hochstetter, constantly claiming that he was on the verge of apprehending the ringleader of all the Underground activity in the area, a man named Papa Bear?

Faust remembered Hochstetter, a dark little man constantly preening about his own cleverness while ranting about "the most dangerous man in Germany". To hear Hochstetter talk, you would think that this Papa Bear was Loki's own get, or perhaps Merlin released, able to shape change and hide at will.

But! What if Papa Bear was just a front for Hochstetter himself?

Most would dismiss such a notion out of hand; Hochstetter had a reputation as a hard worker devoted to the Third Reich (with occasional lapses involving old women, children and animals, and an appalling need for actual evidence)…when he wasn't a blustering maniac, so driven by his theories that he could not see the forest for the trees.

Faust allowed himself to seriously consider Hochstetter as an Allied agent and specifically, Papa Bear, looking at it from all angles until he dispassionately concluded that it could not be Hochstetter for two reasons: first, he was too short, no way to gain a foot in height even disguised; second, Hochstetter was too predictable as a military leader and could not have the daring of the man he sought.

Actually, were it not that the sabotage had been steady and on-going since the Summer of '42, and for most of that time, the man had not even been on the same continent, the entire operation would smack of Erwin Rommel.

Or someone who knew him, who was trained with or by him…

Didn't he have an old friend in this area? A Colonel Fink or Blink? Faust tried to recall what he had gleaned from Hochstetter's talk; all he could remember was that the man was an utter mediocrity, best forgotten in some small office requisitioning paperclips (that, and he looked like a gaping cod fish). All he was good for, all he was good at, was keeping the local Luft Stalag in order...apparently, the same one that held Beidenbender's great catch, one American Colonel. A fellow by the name of …

At that precise moment, he looked up and saw someone – someone who caught his eye, and he could not look away.

He studied this woman. The clothes were simple, common, yet fitted, elegant, red skirt, black turtleneck. Modest, befitting a woman unmarried, no ring. A bright bird shaped pin, of the type that confuses 'gaudy' with 'rich'. Not this one's style, a gift then.

The crowd shifted and swirled around him, and he realized that the woman would not be able to pick him out of the rest if he stayed quite still, carefully keeping his head at an angle towards the bar. He could observe without being observed, not even a chance meeting of eyes.

So still he stayed.

And the more he stared, the more he saw.

Dark hair that did not seem to move when she did. Too much pomade? Or a wig?

Eyes that swept the room over and over, but not too overtly. Who was she waiting for? A friend, a brother, a lover? The beer at her elbow remained untouched, except for her thumb, rubbing the foam off the lip.

Hands tell much about their owners; however, between the distance, the angle and the low light, there was little to see, except that they were large hands but perfectly proportioned for the size of the owner.

And the woman was large. Not 'large' as in fat or ungainly, but 'large' as in tall, very tall. Even seated, he could tell that the woman would be taller than most of the men in this room.

A Valkyrie.

Valkyrie.

In disguise.

As the British would say, not a beauty, but a handsome woman.

"As handsome as he was tall."

The driver's words echoed back in his mind, as he remembered the name of the American Colonel.

Hogan.

Every word that he had ever heard regarding the American came whirling into his mind.

From Burkhalter: "Clever, very clever, very amusing. A trickster most cunning. He was a terror in the skies and it took an entire squadron to bring him down. Fortunately he has been content to stay a prisoner and has been useful when the chance presents itself. I sometimes wish that he were on our side, we could use more daring officers with intelligence on either Front."

From Hochstetter: "He is the most dangerous man in Germany! He is always skulking around where he should not be, even now. Strange things happen where ever he goes. Klink is like flour in his hands, crumbling down to nothing whenever Hogan speaks. Mark my words, I will have him, I will have him yet!"

From Freitag's doxy: "Herman was fascinated by the American; he seemed to have the greatest admiration for him. He spoke only briefly to me of him, but in the most glowing terms."

From Mannheim (under questioning, before he was shot for Freitag's murder): "This American had something he needed, wanted. He said that he would trade me for him in an instant if he thought the man would be interested. Said he was one of the most intelligent men he'd known. And that is all he would say, since, he claimed, I was not suited to understand the discourse of my superiors."

From Beidenbender (before he...defected?): "A complex man with a complex mind, never look for him to do a thing simply; he will make it more complicated than he has to, merely for the fun of undoing his opponents."

It all fit; it all now made sense. All that was left was to prove the theory.

Visions of what he would do to prove that the lovely before him was no lady danced in his head.

So much so, that he missed the Junger Oberst's appearance by his quarry's side.

An old tune began to play, and the new partners fought for dominance and balance (and what female does not know that she must follow the man, not lead?). Swift words past between the two and they began to dance as one, as if they had been together all their lives.

When the music stopped, no matter they were the targets, Faust gave the couple their due, and applauded with the rest of the crowd.

Especially since it would be an easy thing to pry the couple apart...when he was thwarted again!

"A round of drink for the house! Musicians, again if you please!"

Their dance was as fine, nay, better than the first time and while he was angry, he could not help but admire the twosome's audacity.

The dance over, the crush of the crowd around his table near the bar made it impossible to get near the dancers. Although he had every intention to allow the pair to leave ahead of him, a less clever ruse would have allowed him to track their departure with ease. Now, they were both lost in the shuffle.

Faust was forced to push his way out of the crush, leaving himself open to inquiries from his squad mates as they inanely asked if he was leaving so soon, etcetera. And to act as if he was in a hurry, would be to tip off others in the room that something was amiss...and Papa Bear would have back up.

By the time he made it out of doors, he saw the Offizier ordering his driver to take the Flensheim Road, and watched as they drove away...the dancers looking out the back window, the Prussian pointing out who knows what...

They had escaped him.

But now, he understood who his adversary was, and where to look. He would find out who the Offizier was, too, and set his trap with the greatest of care.

To coax Papa Bear out into the open had failed too often; to hunt a great bear, the hunter must attack where no attack is feared.

One must go to his den.

The End...for now.

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A/N - Klink's remark about the stolen love of his knights is a quote paraphrased from Lord Denethor on his pyre "Now thou stealest the hearts of my knights also,..." in the Chapter, "The Pyre of Denethor" in Lord of the Rings, the Return of the King.

And while Susan M.M. has also said something very close to "We should remind him more often that Colonel out-ranks Major" in her fic "Those in Darkness", I was not quoting, but had arrived at the same conclusion. Great minds think alike.