For the Love of Hogan & Penicillin –

Chapter 1 – Past is Prologue

December 29, 1969

Bound Brook, New Jersey

Mid-morning

General Robert E. Hogan was racing back from the Bank to his fink's side, shedding the 'General' as fast as he was shedding his coat. Betty and the rest were out food shopping, except for one volunteer to stay and keep an eye on their Kommandant. He slowed as he got to the stairs and crept up towards the back bedroom, just in case Wili was sleeping, when he caught the tail end of this conversation:

"I'm sorry it is taking so long…"

"Wilhelm Klink, don't you soddin' dare to apologize to me, or anybody else, that you're not dying faster! We all bleedin' love you, and we treasure every second, and we'll miss being here for you, as much as we'll miss you being 'ere! Just don't! If Rob could 'ear you now, it 'ud break 'is heart, it would!"

"But Peter, Kleiner, you are all putting your lives on hold for my sake."

" An' we'd do it again! So you don't worry, Rob does enough of that for us all. Now, you just down a little of this broth, Louie made it special, just for you, and then you cuddle up with ol' Peter 'ere, and get yourself warm, and Rob will be home in a jiff. Besides," (Rob could just imagine the mischievous look on the former POW's face) "you know this ain't the first time I've held a sweaty bloke in me arms."

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January 4, 1945

Stalag 13

Near Hammelberg, Germany

It had started with a little cough, a tiny sniffle.

One of the older guards, Otto Wagner, had come back from his Christmas leave with much news and what looked like a common cold.

Nobody, at least of all him, paid it any mind. There was too much to do. The news he'd brought was too important:

"Kommandant Hogan, Herr Oberst Klink, the Allies have won the Ardennes, it may take them until April to get here, but no longer! Sirs, we are free by spring," the 40 year old guard spouted out in German.

"Private, how can you be sure? The fighting was constant and our men did well to hold and even advance. And now, there is the Rhine to cross." As badly as he wished the Allies to win, Klink's emotions were always mixed whenever he thought of his fellow German soldiers, brave yet frightened men, fighting to survive a war they had no realistic hope of winning.

"Permission to speak freely?"

"Go ahead, Huntsman" said Hogan, in English.

The older man smiled, acknowledging the all-clear by the use of his Underground code-name, and switched to English:

"As you both know, my family lives in Cologne on the eastern bank, close to the docks. We have had word from Baby Bear, she even stayed with us a few days. All of our people are being pulled from the area, and making their way to the Allies in Aachen. I also made it there, and saw much for myself: there can be no doubt that the Allies have regained most of France, all of Belgium, and more than half of Holland."

"Yes, there is still resistance, but the Americans alone are too much. Combined with the British and Canadian troops under Montgomery, De Gaulle's angry Frenchmen, the Mustangs and the B-52s ruling the skies and the RAF wrecking vengeance on anything higher than a telegraph pole and bigger than a vegetable patch, and there is no hope for the Third Reich. Whether there is hope for Germany is another matter."

"Otto, I.."

"No, nein, Herr Colonel, Robert, the fault is not yours, that you should apologize." The man known as 'Huntsman' shook his head: "Lay the fault where it belongs – at the doorstep of that madman in Berchtesgaden. His, and the demon he sold the German people to in his lust for power.

"But this should cheer you; when they found out that I was one of Papa Bear's cubs, they could not do enough for me. We may be the Unsung Heroes, but in the right circles our praises are at least whispered.

"They brought me to see a Col. Phillips, a very no nonsense fellow. He started to interrogate me, but he had 'forgotten' to use the recognition code, trying to bluster me into revealing what should not be said to mere mortals...

(his trip to the American HQ near Aachen flashed into his thoughts)

A command tent with the barest essentials and an American Colonel in field uniform, an archetype of a Texan Sheriff made flesh, staring down an equally weathered German in a private's well worn winter gear:

"Damn it Private! You say you're one of us, but you haven't said anything a-t'all, and I've just about had E-nough..."

Sigh and smirk: "In Germany, the birds fly North for the winter."

"WHAT?"

"In Germany, the birds fly North for the winter."

"Now what kind of damned fool crazy talk...oh, oh SHIT." The American shakes his head and bowing his head down as he pinches the bridge of his nose, he mumbles: "No, the birds fly South for the winter."

"The Sun rises in the West and sets in the East."

"The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. And the rest of it goes, 'Friend, you're lookin' at an Injun that doesn't know his Suns from his birds' and for the love of Pete, who comes up with this crap?"

"Someone in London with a very warped sense of humor."

...it was very amusing" grinned Wagner, "but once he was convinced that I was 'safe', we got on splendidly. As an apology for doubting, he introduced me to his command group. I think I must be the first German soldier to meet the Howling Commandos and leave their presence unharmed."

"You're kidding me."

"You must be joking."

Wagner laughed at their joint disbelief: "Oh, but I have pictures! Dernier took them and he will make sure that his unit is the one that liberates this camp, so that he can give them back to me."

Sobering slightly, the Huntsman continued: "I also spoke to a few of our contacts by radio: General Walters has made the safety of the Underground workers a priority, and General Patton has made it very plain that should any member of the Underground be deliberately harmed, there will be, hem, 'dire consequences'."

"Otto, that's not what Patton said, was it?"

"No, but what he did say I cannot repeat in polite company. I was Offizier once you know!"

The men chuckled at the sad truth of that statement, and the Huntsman continued with his analysis:

"Patton is in a race against time, against the Russians, and against Montgomery. So, he means to push through, and he is dragging the rest of the Allies with him. He wants us to be ready and in position to get him across the Rhine"

"He doesn't want much does he?" said both of his commanders with one voice.

"Until then, the generals have asked me to re-affirm the current orders: no more sabotage, no more escapes, pick-up and hold the wounded and return only the able-bodied to the Allied lines and only if Mama Bear or Goldilocks contact us. Radio silence except in emergency and here are the new frequencies and the latest recognition codes."

"Well, with radio silence, hopefully we won't need the radio until we get the parts we ordered."

"Unfortunately, here is the bad news: with the bombing so extensive, London cannot drop anymore packages to us without exposing everyone to undue risk; worse, several shipments of Red Cross packages have been confiscated by the SS. We will have to make do with what we have."

Hogan jumped up and began to pace: "Damn it! We need those parcels and we need those radio parts!" Turning to his co-Kommandant, Hogan asked: "How are the supplies holding up? Any hope of getting anything from Burkhalter or the Luftwaffe Quartermaster?"

Klink shook his head: "I doubt it. Those packages are likely on their way to the black market, and Burkhalter has been crying poverty even while giving a lavish Yule party and toasting the Third Reich at New Year's. Feeding hungry prisoners is quite low on the Luftwaffe's list of priorities, and Burkhalter is actually trying to find us extra rations. Hopefully, he'll find more food before he sends over the new prisoners, but I would not count on it."

"Then it is a good thing that you loaned Heinz the kubelwagon for his homecoming; we met outside of Dusseldorf, and were able to buy a load of winter roots with the funds I was given at headquarters. Heinz is unloading the truck now.

"I wish that I had known about the radio. Does no one in the Underground have a spare, what of the camp radio?"

"We cannibalized Klink's last month before you left. That's why we weren't worried enough. But those parts were so old, they failed under the constant use. Now we're stuck."

"And we cannot go about asking, there is sickness in the town," Klink added, "Olsen is at the Schnitzers' caring for both Otto and his father. Max's nephew is living at the store so that Max does not catch this 'flu. Everyone is limiting contact and many homes are already under quarantine. The only way we can get word out is by sending a dog to the Schnitzer's, and we cannot risk that too often."

"Are Red Riding Hood and Snow White?"

"Safe, as far as we know. You mourn neither daughter nor wife today," said Klink.

"And if we can, we're gonna keep it that way," added Hogan.

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It had started with a little cough, a tiny sniffle.

Otto Wagner, the Huntsman, had come back from his Christmas leave with much news and what looked like a common cold.

Nobody, at least of all him, paid it any mind. There was too much to do.

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A/N: Another tale of the 'Dear Rob' 'Verse., and what happens when you dearly love someone and are desperate to save him, so not slash but there is a relationship. A thousand thanks to the core group, Snooky, Kat & Wolfie for beta-ing. As usual, I own nothing but the OC and the prose.