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Subject: Chapter 307 - Part 2 (16 and above) (end of chapter 307)

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Date Posted: Monday, October 22, 07:14:43am
In reply to: KatherineG. 's message, "Chapter 307 - Part 1 (16 and above)" on Monday, October 22, 07:10:11am

This too was the logic of war--the logic of survival. Ackerman was unharmed, could move quickly; he was even armed. If he could just make it to a good hiding place, he might have some hope of eventual safety. But to coddle a wounded man, slowing his pace, potentially fatally, by bringing him along, could mean the end of any hope of escape.

Michael saw all of this, even understood it, to a certain extent. Although he was certain that he wouldn't have behaved the same if the situation were reversed, that might only have been because he was sure that Bill would have told the Nazis everything about him and his whereabouts, if he were captured--if only as revenge. As it was, he was probably lucky that the man hadn't shot him as well, as a simple burden. But no amount of tentative empathy on the actor's part was going to make him let the man walk away just now.

"You need me," he said simply, unaccountably relieved, when Ackerman paused, still not looking back. "You won't make it far without me."

Given the situation, this wasn't a likely statement; Bill took it for the desperate lie it seemed to be. "You won't make it as far as I will." He actually turned back, nodding toward the older man's leg. "You'll be lucky if that wound doesn't bleed you out in a couple of hours, anyway."

It was the first time that Michael had even noticed that he *was* bleeding; it came as a bit of a shock--but the logical part of his brain assessed that it was probably also why he was feeling so lightheaded. He leaned down, tying the handkerchief he was damn glad he had around it, hoping to apply enough pressure to make it stop, and he finally saw that there was a bone just sticking through the skin. It looked gruesome, but the bleeding wasn't at all as bad as Ackerman had made out--thankfully. Still, it did make convincing the man to take him along all the more important. If he were left here to the mercies of the Nazis, God only knew what would happen to him--but he might well die from gangrene, before he ever got a chance to find out.

It was with some difficulty that he stood back up again, terribly relieved that Ackerman was still there; he didn't let the emotion show, continuing his argument. "How many languages do you speak?" he challenged. He only hoped the obvious answer was the right one.

Fortunately, it was--the man's eyes narrowing. "One." Given Bill's longtime attitude toward his French Canadian counterpart, it wasn't a surprise--but it was probably the biggest relief that Michael would get for sometime.

"We're in Belgium." God only knew where in Belgium, thanks to the late Kane's purposeful misdirection, but at least that much was clear. "Do you really think you'll be lucky enough to find people who speak English?"

This was a desperate gambit, and Ackerman knew it. Unlike most English-speaking North Americans, Europeans were not typically so willfully monolingual. Besides . . . "I have my gun," he snorted, starting to turn away again. "That's an international language even frogs like you can understand."

Michael took a deep breath, partly because this was the most important argument of his life, partly because taking just a few, hobbling steps toward his comrade nearly made him black out; Ackerman's intentional insult didn't even rate his notice. "And you'll guard anyone you force to help you 24 hours a day?" Thankfully, Bill stopped, even if he were further away from him now. "You don't think you'll ever need to sleep?"

He could see that the man was wavering, took one more deep breath to try to continue, hobbling slightly closer to him--both fists clenched tightly in an attempt to survive the agonizing pain of movement. "They may have been invaded, but why would they agree to help somebody else who threatens them, someone who doesn't even speak their language?" Ackerman gave him the victory of turning back toward him, allowing his coup de grace its full effect. "Would you willingly help some Frenchman with a gun, or would you turn him in the second his back was turned?"

This final piece of logic made the younger man's eyes narrow further--but he hadn't left yet. "And what can you do to convince them, other than gabble that filthy language of yours?"

Finally--the opening he needed. Now, he just had to hope that the truthful answer wouldn't force his only hope of salvation off in a fury.

He stood taller, as close to the proud man he had always been as he could get with all his weight on one hip, with his complexion rather ghastly with pain. "I'm Michael Samuelle. If we find the right woman . . ."

Bill let out a highly-annoyed huff at this logic, but he knew better than to argue. Some women were just stupid that way.

He didn't really want to, but he made his way back to his colleague at last, giving in. As he suffered having the man's arm around his shoulder, having him anywhere near him, he muttered out a, "I've had more women than you any day of the week, old man," but he *did* start to walk. And that was when Michael finally began to move toward his last hope of salvation.

The actor held his tongue at Bill's comment, accepted his ill-humored aid with what quiet dignity he could muster. Even if he had still been juvenile enough to engage in such arguments, there was no point. Ackerman, despite his entire nature, was helping him. All he could do was thank God and try to survive.

This was what the pair of them did, therefore, even if neither was particularly happy with the situation. For now, they were each other's only hope. All they could do was walk away--and pray that survival could be found somewhere in this most unfamiliar of lands.

Extra note: I realize that the image of an escaping airman only semi-willingly helping out another one with a broken leg is probably at least half-consciously inspired by the great French film, *Grand Illusion*. If you've never seen it, it's one of the classics of the cinema--as well as one of the best films about World War I, or any war, for that matter, ever made. Still, my apologies for taking this iconic image. That's just the direction this story demanded to take.

[End of Part 307]

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Chapter 308 - Part 1KatherineG.Wednesday, October 24, 07:00:58am

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