|A Beautiful Friendship
Author: Florence of Arabia PM
And epilogue to Casablanca, Louis' POV. Vague unrequited slash. I own nothing. Please review! Enjoy!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Romance - Words: 2,479 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-19-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5388133
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A Beautiful Friendship
We continued walking for a while the two of us wrapped up in our own thoughts. We should circle back towards the city in a little while; we both would need several things, even for the new selfless lives that we were planning to lead. I suppose that I had no right to feel as good as I did. But I had done the right thing and if this is what doing the right thing feels like I must start doing it more often. After all I could see that Rick was hurting badly. He kept looking up at the sky when he thought that I wasn't looking, trying to see the plane.
"They'll be fine, Rick. Don't worry" He nodded his head and looked at the ground. I know that that wasn't what was really preoccupying him, but it sounded better than "I know you're going to miss her and it hurts but you did the right thing"
"Um Rick?" I knew I shouldn't ask but I was curious. "After the war, when Victor's work is finished" "Or he has even more to do" I shook my head "When his work is finished, and her work is finished what do you think they'll do?" he looked away "Start a family I suppose maybe go back to their homes, or just stay as they are" he still wasn't looking at me. Now I knew that I really shouldn't say anything "But Rick when his work is finished, well, whether or not she stays with her husband will only be a matter of which man she prefers, and we both know who…"
"No Louis, I know what you're thinking and the answer is no. I am not going to try and find her, she…she…she belongs with Victor. I won't try to find her after the war I won't do that to her." He lit a cigarette, I thought as a way of avoiding my eyes. I realized that I'd have to say it out loud "You did the right thing, she'll be much safer. If she gets to America there's no way that she'll wind up in a concentration camp"
Rick nodded "Yeah, can't say the same for us" I didn't want to think about that possibility. But didn't that make what we were doing all the more selfless? That feeling came back, the overwhelming sense of… well I'm not sure as I've never felt it before but I'm sure it must be moral superiority. "Hey Louis, do you think that anyone will find out that you covered up for me?" I shrugged "Well there's bound to be some suspicion when I disappear, or rather when my disappearance is noticed" Rick shrugged again. We walked on in silence again for a little while. I liked the silence because frankly I knew that sooner or later he was going to ask my about the thing that was eating away at my conscience. That was the frustrating part of having a conscience all of a sudden. Or maybe it had been there all along it had just been doing its job in the same lackluster way that I had for all these years. We had silently made the decision to turn around and go back to town when Rick spoke again.
"I hope Sam 'll be ok. I'm gonna miss him, I don't know who I'm gonna miss more him or Ilsa" I could hear the concern in his voice and only hoped that one day someone might hear him say "I hope Louis' gonna be ok" in the same way. "Don't worry Ferrari will pay him well and he's a genuinely nice person, unlike us he has other friends" He nodded "Yeah, all I had in Casablanca was you and Sam. What about you Louis? I'm assuming, actually I'm hoping that you're not married. And I'm also hoping very sincerely that you don't have kids" I laughed at the idea "No I am not married, and if I have any children its news to me. I don't think anyone in Casablanca has much. It's a city full of the displaced and disowned. None of us actually belong there, I was born in Lile so I freely admit to having no business here."
"And the French? Do they have any business here?"
"I don't think so" I freely admitted to not knowing enough to make an informed opinion. I suppose now that I have a cause and am going to be a good person and everything I should be disgusted with French imperialism. I must learn to be more morally self-righteous. I suppose I would have to do more good deeds than just letting Rick shoot Strasser to get on a pedestal. But doesn't wanting to do more things that were "good" count for something?
"Louis, do the Germans suspect Sam of being involved with my activities, you know gun running, and when I fought the Fascists? I didn't know him then. He doesn't have a connection with the resistance apart from me and…" I was genuinely touched by his worry for his friend. But he is a better person than I am, I must remember that "Don't worry Rick I've seen what they have on Sam and it isn't much. They don't even know that he was in Paris with you and Ilsa. They might ask him some questions but that'll be it" Rick seemed to feel better; at least he looked a little less worried "Louis you know what bothers me?" "Clearly there are many things that are bothering you Rick"
"Well this one has just started to bother me" I lit a cigarette of my own "Go ahead what's on your mind?" He pushed a damp piece of hair of his forehead and I couldn't help noticing that there was something slightly graceful about this insignificant gesture. After all this time he kept catching me off guard with little things, stupid things, like that. "How the hell did Strasser know that we were at the airport?"
Now he really caught me off guard. "I...I...I" there was the thing that had been bothering me since we left the landing strip. Now it was my turn to avoid eye contact. "I say…um…Rick could you by any chance…um…give me a light?" Rick already knew "Louis you've got a cigarette in your mouth "How very perceptive of you" And he was having none of it, as he clearly demonstrated by grabbing my arm "Louis!"
"Alright! Alright! I called him!"
His nostrils flared and he fixed me with his most disgusted look "Why?"
That was a hard question and I certaintly couldn't look him in the face while explaining, so I started with the easiest answer. "Forgiving is not a word that one often associates with Nazis Rick. I had to do something, or else if Stasser found out I'd be up against the wall. Probably literally!" his face relaxed a little "I'll give you that one, but wouldn't it have been easier for you to just explain that I was pointing a gun at you?"
I now lowered my eyes and muttered as softly as I could "I thought that you were going to leave me" Now I'd done it he was staring at me with a look that said clearly "That better not mean what I think that it meant. But I had to explain, but how could I explain the jealously, the anger and the fear of abandonment that sprang up when he was talking to Victor and strangled my better self? "Rick, I, you're all I have you're my only friend and…you know how I feel about you" I looked into his eyes now "remember how I told you that if I were a woman I'd be in love with you? Well…" now he was looking more confused than angry but the rage was still there "But you're not a woman Louis even if sometimes it's hard to tell"
"Well that doesn't change the way I feel" He jerked my arm violently before releasing it. "Rick it was just…I didn't think that you were leaving with her … until…I didn't believe you when you said that you were getting on that plane, well something in me snapped. I well you said yourself that no one in Casablanca has much and I had you and that was it…and I knew that I loved you…but I didn't know how much you meant until you were going to go and then, well I couldn't stand to lose you" he threw away his cigarette "I would also like to mention the fact that you were pointing a gun at me!" "You were arresting Victor!" he snorted "Well you weren't going to give him the letters in the first place! You kept denying them until Ilsa snuggled up to you" he lit himself another cigarette "Well neither of us is perfect, but I don't know how we're going to get along if you have this… weird thing for me."
He scoffed "You and your loneliness. Isn't there some poor desperate and beautiful refugee girl who would suit your needs if you just threatened to delay her visa? And if you like me why do you do that anyway?" I supposed he was wondering how I could profess feelings for members of different genders "I just blow with the wind, and if the wind is coming from the direction of a pretty woman with a visa problem, well I go that way. If it's coming from you on the other hand…" I seemed to have put Rick somewhat on edge "Let's get one thing straight there will be no blowing going on in my direction. Got it?" I wondered if Rick was quiet sure of what he was saying but I decided to let it slide as the situation was uncomfortable enough for the two of us. "I can't help how I feel Rick, as I said before. You don't have to feel the same way…" He shook his head
"I just never thought that it was that important to you" I sighed. For a while now, specifically since I had had a little too much to drink and decided that since I had won big at roulette I was having a good evening, well let's just say though I had a good run at gambling I didn't get lucky. Well ever since then we had regarded my feelings for Rick as a kind of a joke. We passed off the incident as an embarrassing drunken mistake and didn't discuss it. I suppose it was odd for Rick to revisit our conversations now and realize that he misinterpreted what I meant whenever a girl asked about him and I said that it made me "awfully jealous".
We had reached Rick's and we both agreed to meet back there in an hour once we had gotten all packed up and ready to go.
An hour later Rick and I met in his café for one last time. He got out a bottle of champagne and poured for both of us as he looked around. "Here's to Ilsa and Victor, I hope that their happy and that their work goes well" we drank in silence then it was my turn "Here's to la France Libre!" again we drank "Here's to the end of the Nazis!" we took a very long drink to that one.
We refilled then "Here's to seeing the end of the war" and "here's to staying out of the camps!" another very long drink "here's to the resistance!" "here's to good champagne!" "here's to General DeGaulle!" "here's to sentimentalists!" "here's to romantics!" "here's to Sam!" "here's to Rick's Café!" "here's to new beginnings !" we were almost finished with the bottle when I decided to be a little daring "And lastly here's to us!" Rick nodded pensively and we both drank.
The two of us closed up the café and started into the night. We had said goodbye to our old lives and were walking out of town again. Rick's expression had softened and now he looked…determined. I tried to look like that too, the fact was that what he had done had lit a fire in both of us that no amount of bickering would stifle, and no amount Vichy water could put it out. So we walked with purpose now towards the city limits
"I have the 1000 francs, plus a good deal more, and as I am still chief of police I got our papers in order for us" Rick actually smiled "What do I have to do for you in exchange for my visa" My former exuberance was restored to me and I almost laughed "Not a thing Ricky, not a thing!" He chuckled then became serious "Honestly Louis, will you forgive me?"
"For what my friend?" Was my reply
"For not taking you seriously, when you said…well for not taking you seriously " I realized that Rick was still uncomfortable, but wasn't going to let it get in the way of us as a team "It's alright Rick I very rarely take myself seriously. And will you forgive me for calling Strasser?" he smiled "If you promise not to do something like that again" I smiled "don't you worry Ricky I'm a dedicated freedom fighter now" Rick laughed and lit another cigarette "Now I see why you never take yourself seriously"
I handed Rick his papers and the 1000 francs. "you think this 'll get us to Brazzaville Louis?" I shrugged "I don't know but we've got plenty between us, and I think it's better to cross that bridge when we come to it" he gave another genuine smile and I was caught off guard again
"Louis, I think that this is the start of a beautiful friendship" he repeated. I smiled, it felt almost like the end of a romantic movie except we weren't walking off into a pretty sunset but an ominous fog, and we weren't a man and a woman but two men. And we weren't going to get married we were going to start a beautiful friendship.