Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Characters and storyline are a figment of my imagination. I'm still no medic, nor military expert, so mistakes in either of those fields are all mine.
A/N: There are Dutch sentences in this chapter. The idea is that the (non-Dutch) reader undergoes the same experience as Alex, by not knowing what is said. However, if you do want to know what is said…a translation of the sentences can be found at the end of the chapter.
As Alex opened her eyes she tried to turn to the source of flickering light that filled the small room she was in. Her head throbbed, a stabbing pain settling behind her eyes as she managed to turn her head to the right. Next to the bed stood a small table, the only thing on it a burning candle. She suddenly noticed someone next to the table.
The candle's light illuminated an almost angelic figure, the flames falling on blonde hair and creating a halo-like picture. The person seemed to be bent over a book. Alex tried to sit up to get a better look of who was sitting next to her bed, as well as the rest of the room, but as she moved merely an inch, pain wrecked through her body and caused her to lose consciousness again.
The sky around her seemed clear, no enemies in sight. Then all of a sudden, Old man Scott's voice came over the Spitfire's radio. “Watch out for the falling bird,” he repeated several times. Alex scanned the horizon again. No Messerschmitts in sight.
All of a sudden, a Spitfire popped up right in front of her and started firing. “What the…Rawn? No…Stop! No!” Alex yelled.
“Calm down.” A soft, though heavily accented voice started to penetrate her mind, and thus, her nightmare. “Calm down or you will hurt more.” Then the same voice started in a language she didn't understand. “Peter, ga vader halen. Vlug!”
Small hands tried to keep Alex's body still, but it was only after two extra hands pushed her shoulders to her bed that Alex calmed down. “Lig stil,” a new voice said, soon followed by the soft voice she'd heard before. “Stay calm, please.”
Focusing on the room around her, Alex noticed that there were three persons standing close to her bed, worried looks on their faces. “Zeg haar dat ze stil moet zijn,” one of them –a man, Alex realized– said to the others. “Straks verraadt ze de boel nog.”
The soft voice spoke up again, “You have to be quiet.”
Alex locked eyes on the flickering candle that stood on the nightstand, the rays of light showing little of the young woman who had just spoken to her. As she realized that she was being held in some kind of cell-like room, Alex started to worry. “Where am I? Who are you? Where's my squadron?” she asked, the questions flowing from her lips, not giving the people that were in the room with her a chance to answer. “Why are you keeping me here?”
The man nodded to the young woman, then took the boy that stood in the doorway along with him as they left the room, closing the door behind them. “You are in Holland. Do you remember what happened?” the girl asked.
“Holland,” Alex repeated.
“Yes.” The girl nodded. “The Netherlands. Do you remember what happened?”
“I remember flying my squad back from a mission in Germany. We were under attack. Then my plane went down.”
“You crashed in a pasture that belongs to my father. He pulled you out of your plane, or what was left of it, before it went up in flames.”
Trying to sit up, Alex grunted in pain as her body protested against the movement. “I can't stay here. If the Germans find me here you'll-“
“Shh, that's why you have to be quiet,” the young woman said. “Everything will be fine.”
Despite the pain coursing through her body, Alex tried to swing her legs out of the bed. “I have…to…” But before she could finish her sentence, the pain caused her to lose consciousness again.
The Dutch girl struggled to get Alex' limp legs back in bed, pulled the covers over her and left the room.
For several days, Alex was completely out of it, her body needing every little bit of energy to heal again. One evening as Alex started to wake up, a nasty cough wrecked through her body, causing her to grunt out in pain as her tender ribs flared up again.
Within seconds the young woman had the still coughing pilot in her arms, helping her to carefully lie back down again. She saw the tears of pain finding their way across the pale cheeks of Alex, and wiped at them with her thumb.
“Here, drink some more, and then try to sleep,” the young woman said as she reached for the glass again, helping the dark-haired woman to drink some water.
After she downed a few sips of liquid, Alex rested her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes. She felt the bed shift as the other girl's weight vacated the bed, but before the Dutch girl was completely out of reach, Alex placed a left hand on her arm, effectively stopping the farmer's daughter from leaving the room.
“Thank you…” the Canadian woman searched her brain to find this pretty girl's name. “I don't even know your name,” Alex admitted sheepishly, “Still, thank you,” she added, her voice soaked with sincerity. She squeezed the other young woman's arm to emphasize her words, and was offered a small smile in return.
“You're welcome,” the now brunette said as she turned to leave.
“Miss Savage,” the young woman interrupted.
“Alex, call me Alex, please.” The pilot smiled at the farmer's daughter, who threw her a look over her shoulder.
Even before the green eyes had left her face, Alex' own eyes were starting to droop.
“Well, Alex, you need to rest now.”
The Canadian's eyes were now fully closed, but her mouth whispered one last question before she fell asleep, “You?”
“Johanna.” Was the also whispered answer.
“Jo.” And with a small smile gracing her lips, Alex fell asleep.
During the next couple of days, every time Alex would wake up, the young blonde would be sitting next to her bed. Her body seemed to be healing very slowly, the fog that had settled in her mind slowly lifted, and the moments that she would be able to stay awake were getting longer each passing day.
Alex coughed, a stinging, sharp pain starting from her shoulders to her ribs. Every little movement caused her pain. Not good , the young woman thought. The room was completely dark, and although it seemed like no one was there, Alex knew she wasn't alone. As another bout of coughs wrecked through her body suddenly a candle got lit and the blonde girl's face was visible again.
“Here, try some water,” Johanna said after helping the pilot to sit up against the headboard a little more. The cup was filled with tepid water but it was a godsend for Alex' dry throat.
“Thank you, Miss Jo,” the dark-haired woman replied after gulping down half of the water.
“It's Jo. Just Jo,” the blonde replied softly as she fluffed up the pillow then helped Alex lay back down. After quickly checking over the pilot's wounds to make sure she was doing okay and that the wounds were healing nicely, the blonde blew out the candle again and retook her seat in the corner of the small room.
“You don't have to stay here all night,” Alex whispered.
“I don't mind,” was the soft reply she got.
“Thank you,” Alex said. She was grateful that the blonde was there with her. Every time she closed her eyes the nightmares would start again. And every time she would get fitful in her sleep, she would feel calming hands on her shoulders. The soft but confident touches would pull her away from the darkness and turn her dreams towards the light.
“Do you know what happened to me?” Alex asked after a while.
“We've talked about this before, you know?”
Although Johanna couldn't see her, Alex looked away, “I'm sorry, I don't remember.”
“I can only tell you what my father told me.” Johanna replied. “Your plane was shot down and you crashed on our land. Do you remember anything? Where were you going?” she asked in return.
Alex frowned. She knew bits and pieces, more and more seemed to be coming back to her each day. “I…” she started. “I remember our squad left London and we were supposed to…” she trailed off, hesitating whether to share all the details of their mission to the blonde. She remembered the attack on the Nazi's communication post, and that they had been successful, but what happened after that was a complete blur.
“Where am I?” Alex asked.
“I'm sorry. I can't tell you,” Johanna replied. “The only thing I can tell you is that you're in Holland.”
“Holland.” Alex repeated just like she had done the previous time she had asked about her whereabouts.
“Yes,” Johanna said. “I'm sorry but that's all I can tell you right now.”
Alex started struggling to get up but was quickly stopped by Johanna's hands on her shoulders. In Alex' weakened state it was easy for the blonde to push her back down onto the bed.
“Let me go,” the dark-haired woman said as she continued to struggle.
“No, Alexandra. Please, be quiet,” Jo whispered harshly.
The painful coughing started again and Alex gripped her ribs, unable to fight against the blonde's hands anymore.
“Calm down,” Jo said as she reached for the cloth that lay next to a bowl of water on the nightstand. Alex' face was covered in sweat and her breathing was very labored.
“Why…won't…you…tell me?” she asked, having to take in shallow breaths after each word.
The blonde sighed as she started to wipe off Alex' face with the washcloth. “No one but my family knows about this place. It has to stay this way.”
Alex started to get frightened. Where the hell am I? What kind of place is this? “What are you going to do to me?” she asked, trying hard to keep a stern voice as she spoke.
Just as Johanna was about to answer, the door opened and the blonde's father walked in. He looked at Johanna, surprised to find her there.
“Tijd om naar huis te gaan, Johanna,” he addressed his daughter as he held the door open for her.
Alex watched the blonde, wondering what was going on. As she realized that Johanna was about to leave her she started to panic. “Where are you going?”
Johanna reached for her hand, gave it a reassuring squeeze. “I'll stop by tomorrow.” The blonde woman then walked out of the room.
Alex stared hard at the man, not trusting him for one bit. Who was this man and why was he here?
“Frank Mulder,” the man said, pointing to his chest.. As he saw the unspoken questions in the pilot's eyes, he continued, “I found you in my land last week. My daughter taking care of you.” His voice carried an even thicker accent than Johanna's, and his English nowhere near as perfect.
“Where am I?”
“On my boerderij...Farm. Verstopt…ehm,” Frank started, “Hidden,” he translated as he sat down in the chair that his daughter had just vacated.
Despite the darkness that still shrouded the room, Alex tried to take in the man as good as possible. She watched him light the candle again. With the flickering light back on she could see similarities between the man and his daughter. The blonde hair, the intelligent eyes, the same caring look on his face.
“The Germans look for you.”
Alex felt a splitting headache settle at her temples, frustration and anger taking control of her as she didn't understand what was going on around her. “You should've left me where I was.”
“You would've died, Miss Savage,” Frank said softly. “I know you have questions, but first you need to heal…Get better.”
“I'm very tired.” Alex sighed, the headache getting worse and tiredness taking over again. She closed her eyes and carefully rolled onto her side.
The man nodded, reached for the candle and stood up. As he opened the door, he looked back at the Canadian woman. “Don't worry, Miss Savage. You're safe here.”
He blew out the candle and before he had closed the door Alex was asleep.
Alex woke up by a noise she had heard before. She didn't recognize the sound itself, but it had been the third night in a row that she had been awoken by it. A clangy, metally sound drifted through the door. Carefully, she tried to sit up in bed and reached for the matches that lay on the nightstand. She lit the candle that stood there, the small flickering light creating large shadows through the small, dark room.
Looking at the clock Johanna had brought along a couple of days before, she noticed it was only 4 am. Alex shifted in the bed, slowly moving her legs out from underneath the blanket and sitting on the side of the bed. Pain was already shooting through her left leg, but she was determined to find out where the noise was coming from.
What are they doing ? Alex wondered as she tested her legs and stood to her full height. A small smile graced her lips as she stretched her arms above her head. Despite the protesting muscles across her body, it sure felt wonderful to be standing upright again.
Slowly, Alex took small steps towards the door so that she could listen closely to what was going on at the other side. But just as she reached for the door handle, her legs started to wobble and she lost her balance. With a loud thud she fell to the floor.
Within seconds the door opened and the blonde farmer's daughter looked at her worriedly. “What happened?” Johanna asked as she stepped into the room.
The dark-haired woman was in too much pain to answer. Biting her lip, she tried to get up again.
“Be careful,” Johanna said as she helped Alex get back up onto her feet. Pulling the tall woman close she supported her while they took the few steps back towards the bed. The look she gave Alex told her enough. She should've stayed in bed, the blonde was definitely pissed off at her.
“You should've stayed in bed like I told you to,” Johanna said quietly as she lifted Alex' legs back into bed.
Alex avoided looking at Johanna, instead she stared at her hands that were toying with the hem of her shirt.
“You could've at least waited until I was with you,” the blonde continued. “I could've helped you stand up for a bit. Now I'm going to have to bandage your leg all over again.”
“I'm sorry,” Alex whispered. “I just heard noises and wanted to know what it was. What's going on out there?” she asked as she finally dared to look up into Johanna's eyes.
“Nothing,” Johanna said as she tugged a little hard on the bandage.
Alex winched and gripped the bedding tightly as a bolt of pain shot through her leg.
“I'm sorry,” Johanna apologised immediately, covering the pilot's hand with her own.
“My fault,” Alex murmured as she closed her eyes, trying to fight off the bout of nausea that all of a sudden overwhelmed her.
Quietly, and seemingly having forgotten Alex' question, Johanna started to bandage Alex' leg again. “Calm down,” she said as she noticed the still pain-filled look on Alex' face. “Take a deep breath. In through your nose, out through your mouth.”
It took her several tries, but Alex managed to get herself back under control.
There was a soft knock at the door and Johanna left her place at the bed and opened the door a little. “Wij zijn klaar voor vannacht,” a male voice whispered.
Alex turned her head, trying to see who was at the other side of the door, but Johanna had opened the door to such a sliver that it was impossible for her to see the man talking to the blonde.
“Oke, en het gaat wel door donderdag?” Johanna asked the mysterious person.
Alex couldn't make out any of what the two were discussing. “Who's there?” she asked in a whisper.
Johanna closed the door again and turned round, the mysterious man apparently already gone. “It is better that you know as little as possible about this place,” she started as she reached for the bandage again.
Alex regarded her closely, trying to figure out what was going on around her and whether she could really trust the woman who was now tending to her wounded leg. Just as Johanna was about to turn away, Alex grabbed her arm. “Please, tell me what's going on here.”
Johanna flinched because of Alex' tight grip on her arm. “I can't,” she said as she stepped backward.
“Then I'm leaving,” Alex said angrily as she shifted out of the bed again, ignoring the pain that was still coursing through her body.
“You can't go anywhere, they'll kill you. You can't trust anyone around here.” Johanna tried to stop her by blocking the way to the door.
“But I can trust you ?” Alex spit out, jabbing her finger at Johanna. “I don't even know you, you don't want to tell me what is going on around here...” She reached for the doorjamb and wanted to walk out but was stopped by Johanna's arm keeping the door closed.
“Keep your voice down,” Johanna hissed. “If someone finds out you're here-“
Alex groaned in frustration. If only she would tell what was going on, she needed to know where exactly she was so that she could try and figure out a way to get in touch with the allied forces. She had to find a way to get out of this place and back to London.
“Are you going to hand me over to the Germans?”
“No! No,” Johanna replied quickly. Taking pity on the terrified woman Johanna added, “We're trying to get you back to England.”
“What?” Alex asked incredulously.
In Alex' weakened state Johanna easily pushed her back onto the bed. She pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat down. “You're in a place called Angeren. My father saw your plane come down on one of our fields and when he checked your plane and saw you stuck inside he managed to pull you out of the wreck. You were very lucky that my father found you.”
Alex nodded, looking at her hands. “I know, you've already told me.”
Johanna looked at the door, then back at Alex, the candle's small light making it difficult to make out Alex' face. “I mean, you're very lucky because we're part of the local resistance movement. What you heard tonight was a group of people working on a new project.”
“Project?” Alex asked as she looked up and into Johanna's eyes.
Johanna nodded. “As I just said, we're trying to find a way to get you back to England.”
To Be Continued
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“Peter, ga vader halen. Vlug!” - “Peter, go get dad. Quick!”
“Lig stil,” - “Don't move”
“Zeg haar dat ze stil moet zijn,” – “Tell her to be quiet”
“Straks verraadt ze de boel nog.” – “She'll give us all away.”
Tijd om naar huis te gaan, Johanna,” – “Time to go home, Johanna”
Wij zijn klaar voor vannacht,” – “We're done for tonight”
“Oke, en het gaat wel door donderdag?” – “Ok, and we're still on for Thursday?”
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