Summary: A Kit challenge - After a storm blows itself out in time for Christmas, the Heroes sit on the roof and remember past Christmases.
Newkirk lit his cigarette and blew the smoke into the clear frosty night. It was close to midnight on Christmas Eve 1944, his third in Germany, and a storm that had been raging for two days had finally blown itself out. Feeling confined in the stuffiness of the barracks, he had let himself out the back window and climbed up on the roof. Sitting in the shadow of the slant facing away from the search lights beams, he sat back to count the stars and contemplate his existence in the universe.
He looked out over the snow covered landscape and thought of London, his home that he hadn't seen for what seemed like forever. "I wonder if I'll still recognize her?" he whispered to himself.
"Recognize who, Newkirk?" Carter's voice broke the serenity.
"What are you doing out here?" he hissed as Carter climbed up next to him, "you should be in bed."
"You're out here!" Carter exclaimed, "Besides, it's Christmas Eve! We might see Santa!"
Newkirk shook his head, he knew Carter was joking. He hoped Carter was joking. Doffing Carter's hat he helped him up. "You twit, be quiet, huh? We don't want the whole camp up here."
Carter grinned and settled back to count the stars. It looked as if someone had dropped a vase of light, smashing it into a million pieces and scattering it across the universe's black floor. He remembered when he was a kid growing up on the farm in Indiana. Every Christmas Eve his parents would throw a big party that would go late into the night. He wondered what his parents were doing tonight. He wondered how his sister was doing. Sighing inwardly, lest he disturb Newkirk, he became engrossed in the sky. Maybe if he didn't think about it, it wouldn't hurt so bad.
"Newkirk?" LeBeau's whisper drifted across the roof.
Newkirk rolled his eyes. "Need a hand?"
"I cannot reach!" Newkirk leaned forward and offered LeBeau something to grip onto so he could get up onto the roof. Carter continued to count the stars. He shivered, it wasn't so much that he was cold, the wind had dropped so it was now simply fresh. Below freezing fresh. He wrapped the blanket he'd brought up with him tighter around himself and leaned back. Newkirk was wrapped up warmly in his overcoat, and Carter… Carter was counting the stars.
LeBeau took in the view, then he and Newkirk sighed at the same time.
"Paris?" Newkirk asked.
"Oui. London?" LeBeau replied.
"Yeah...sometimes," Newkirk stalled as he tried to put words to his emotions. "I wonder if what were doing is making a difference. I promised myself last year that if I spent another Christmas here I'd go insane. I think of all the people we've helped, and all the people we've made a difference to, then I look up at that," he indicated the sky, "and I wonder if no matter what we do, no matter how much more we give it's never going to be enough, evil will always exist."
"Evil doesn't exist Newkirk," Colonel Hogan hauled himself up onto the roof.
Newkirk looked at him questioningly. "I'm waiting for a message from London. Allied Intelligence doesn't even take Christmas off," Hogan explained. "And with the amount of noise you three made climbing out the window makes me wonder if I should trust you going on espionage missions, so I came up to tell you to shut-up!" he teased them good naturedly.
"But mon colonel! We didn't make any noise!" LeBeau protested.
"I know, I was just teasing, I saw Newkirk's cigarette butt go flying off the edge. Thought it was a Christmas shooting star, or even an angel."
Newkirk snorted. "You sound like Carter now, before he was on the look out for Santa, eh, Andrew? Andrew?" Carter didn't reply.
Hogan leaned over him and chuckled. "He's fallen asleep! Counting stars was too strenuous."
LeBeau snorted in mock disgust, then said aloud as Hogan draped his blanket over the sleeping soldier, "It's the middle of the night in freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve in a P.O.W camp and goofball here falls asleep counting stars whilst looking for 'Santa'."
Hogan smiled. "Do we really expect anything less from Andrew?"
Newkirk smiled too then asked, "What did you mean before about evil not existing, sir? How can you say that after what we've seen?"
Hogan paused before he answered. "The way I see it, Newkirk, is that...let me put it this way, does darkness exist? No, it's just the absence of something - Light. In the same way does evil exist?"
"....It's just the absence of good." LeBeau finished, catching on.
"Right. So that's the answer to your question, Newkirk, we've gotta keep doing what we do, 'cause if we don't then it's like it's all for nothing and that's when evil will exist."
The four sat in silence and contemplated the words (well, Carter was asleep, but he was there dreaming of home and the innocence of youth he still managed to possess despite the tremulous times he was living in) and thought of home and what their families were doing. Newkirk started chuckling as he remembered a nativity play he'd been in when he was young. Hogan and LeBeau looked at him. "I was Joseph once in the school play," he explained, "and Mary was being played by Michelle Walker, who was going out with John O'Leary, who was built like a brick wall." He lit another cigarette. Taking a drag he continued, "John was a possessive type and accused me of messing around with his girl and threatened to flatten me after the service. Everything was going to plan until the arrival of Gabriel, played by John. He loomed down, snarled at me, and I called out at the top of my voice 'I didn't touch her!' Brought the house down."
Hogan spoke up rather sheepishly once they'd stopped sniggering. "At least you got to play Joseph. I was supposed to one year, but me and my buddies had a hobby of colouring in billboards. One night we were caught, so while I created a diversion, they got away. Because I wouldn't tell them who I was with they took away my role and made me the inn keeper."
Newkirk and LeBeau leaned closer. The colonel was a private man, he rarely opened up like this, so when he did, they listened. He continued, "So it came the night of the big performance and everybody was there, the whole town must have been squished inside that church, then Mary and Joseph, who was the old innkeeper, came, knocked on my door and asked if there was any room in the inn. Rather than send them down to the stable, I said, "Sure, we just had a cancellation, come on in!"
Newkirk choked on his drag, as Lebeau buried his face in his arm to stifle his laughter. Even Hogan was chuckling as he tried to remain indignant. "Showed them you shouldn't mess with Robert E. Hogan! I was never in a play again. It was the end of my career." His voice was full of mock indignation, he'd always wanted to be a soldier, and he suspected the men knew that.
Suddenly he had to grab LeBeau who started to slip off the roof from laughing too hard. "Shhhhh! You'll have Shultz up here and I don't think the roof can handle his weight."
That set LeBeau off again. Newkirk finally regained a bit of control "Thanks, sir, I was feeling pretty miserable being away from home, but I guess it doesn't matter where you are as long as you're with friends."
"Well said, Newkirk, well said."
With that the three wise men, older than their years, leaned back and watched the night sky, perhaps in the same way that the shepherds watched all those years before awaiting a message from a different sort of higher intelligence, while a babe lay sleeping.