Author's Note: I wrote this as a blurb trilogy on LiveJournal sometime during the summer and forgot about it until recently, as the basic It's a Wonderful Life-esque plot has been done before in this fandom (not to mention others), albeit focusing on different characters. However, I was encouraged to post it here, so I've expanded the blurbs into short chapters for posting and made a few revisions, and I hope I've put a unique spin on this otherwise popular plot. This fic is also based on episode 145, "Cuisine a la Stalag 13," contains major spoilers for it, and occurs sometime before the last scene in the tunnel.
The final note is that the angels visiting LeBeau are meant to be familiar cameos from another fandom. In my timeline, I gave LeBeau very specific maternal grandparents—something I came up with on a whim and now cannot escape from. As always, the characters are not mine.
LeBeau's feet ached as he finished up the dessert for General Wexler. With a moan, he sat down in the chair across from Schultz, who gleefully proceeded to sample it as food-taster. As he devoured the dessert, he took note of the Frenchman's exhausted form.
"What is the matter?" he asked, concerned.
"I am ready to faint," the corporal murmured.
"Is there anything I can do?" Schultz asked.
"If you could take that dessert to the dining room, I would appreciate it," LeBeau said, resting his head on the small table. "André went to take some food for Colonel Hogan."
That wasn't the truth, of course; Carter was delivering the secret plans that Newkirk had pilfered from the general's briefcase so that Baker could take photographs of them. Newkirk was waiting with baited breath in the guest room for Carter to return with the papers so the Englishman could return them.
"Ja, I will take this to them," Schultz agreed. But then he frowned. "You will not escape again once my back is turned?"
LeBeau moaned something in response, leading Schultz to realize that he was serious. The big man left, and LeBeau wasn't even aware of it at first. He was so tired… so very tired. The past several days had been so draining… trying to teach the others to cook… making an attempted escape to England… being forced to lie low in the barn… Hogan convincing him to come back and cook in exchange for helping him rescue that lovely French Underground agent, Marie Bizet…
The Frenchman hoped the tiredness would soon pass; he would soon need to be on his way for another escape. This time, he was going to London to join the Free French at long last; perhaps he could even say hello to Kinch, who had arrived in London a few months ago…
His thoughts trailed off as he recalled Newkirk's words to him days earlier, as they had said goodbye. LeBeau had said goodbye to everyone else first; he knew that saying goodbye to Newkirk was going to be the most difficult part of his escape. His throat had tightened as he attempted to say goodbye to him, the both of them somehow maintaining wan smiles on their faces. He wasn't able to say anything, not that there really had been a need to. He did his best, however, struggling to address him; for once, he addressed him as Peter, rather than Pierre, as he usually did. But nothing else had come out of his mouth; lost for words, he hugged his friend and gave him the traditional French goodbye of a kiss on both cheeks. The Englishman didn't even object to being kissed, as he probably would have. And then Newkirk had been the one who had placed a hand on LeBeau's face and spoken those words:
"We're really going to miss you… You know that…?"
The Frenchman groaned. It was just like that crafty Englishman to try to convince him to go along with his ideas. Ever since he met him in 1940, it had been like that… Newkirk always managed to win him over with his silver tongue. He had come so close to persuading him to stay. Oh, the look in those eyes had been so convincing—if it hadn't been for the fact that LeBeau was mistaken in how he believed that Newkirk was independent, he almost would have believed it.
"Not this time," LeBeau murmured. "You and I have been through much, but now we must part ways. You will be alright, mon pote; you have always been able to look after yourself…" He gave a wan smile again. "You probably would have done just the same had I never even come here. You would have had one less person to worry about."
LeBeau sighed, knowing how much Newkirk secretly worried about him; he worried about everyone on the team, but moreso for the Frenchman and Carter. Well, they were the closest to him, so it was to be expected. Newkirk had put on facades to hide this fact, but after several adventures, LeBeau had figured out the truth. Carter eventually did, as well, but Newkirk saw it his duty to pretend that he wasn't worried when, in reality, he was sometimes kept awake by horrifying visions of their deaths that he hadn't been able to stop. Alone in the guest room, hiding under the bed, Newkirk was probably thinking about it now.
"I have sometimes wondered how long will it be until to worry yourself to illness…" LeBeau murmured. He sighed. "I am sorry that our friendship means that you must worry so. Perhaps it would have been better had I never been captured."
He sighed, reflecting on the years he had spent in Stalag 13. Although their first escape attempt together had ended in failure, he and Newkirk had forged an incredibly strong friendship, which led to many other failed escape attempts. And though LeBeau cursed Stalag 13 day after day, there had always been the part of him that reminded him how fortunate he was to have a friend in Peter Newkirk. This sentiment grew as, one by one, the other members of the future Unsung Heroes team arrived at Stalag 13—Kinch, Olsen, and Colonel Hogan himself, followed by Baker and, lastly, Carter.
But his bond with Newkirk had been special. They were completely different—he, LeBeau, was from a large, well-to-do family; before he died, his grandfather had amassed a small fortune which, alas, had vanished upon the fall of France, but the family was still doing quite well. Newkirk, on the other hand, was an almost-penniless performer from London's East End, with only his sister by his side. No one had expected the chef and the performer to discover that they were both, as it transpired, kindred spirits. Indeed, their first encounters with each other had been fights and arguments. Now, of course, neither corporal held any doubt that the other would lay down his very life for his comrade, if the situation called for it.
LeBeau sighed. Maybe Newkirk was being more truthful than he had first realized when he had talked about how much he would miss him.
Take heart, Pierre. We will see each other again after the war.
He ignored the voice in his head trying to add that it would be true—assuming that Hochstetter never did find the evidence to convict them, and also assuming that LeBeau would survive his time with the Free French.
He shut his eyes, hoping to regain some energy by resting. Some time had passed before he became aware of a familiar female voice calling to him—a voice he hadn't heard since so many years ago…the voice he always heard chasing after him with a mustard plaster whenever he came down with so much as a sniffle in his younger days…
"…Grand-mère?" he asked, baffled.
He lifted his head up from the table and gasped. A woman with familiar features was standing before him; it was his grandmother as he had remembered her in his younger years—tall with brunette hair and a kind, concerned face. The only things different about her were the dainty, almost silk-like wings protruding from her shoulders.
"Vous ... Vous êtes un ange?"
"Oui—votre grand-père est aussi," she replied.
LeBeau stared at his grandmother for a moment—having cast off her mortal form years ago, it was her eternal soul that now stood before him.
"Why have you come here?" he asked, still talking in their native tongue.
"To talk," she said. "Louis, how much do you wish to go home?"
"I have been wanting to go home since I first arrived here!" LeBeau answered. "I have not seen Mother or Father or Aunt Sybille in years—nor my siblings and cousins! And Grandfather… I was not able to attend his funeral because I was fighting! I am only grateful that he heard of my promotion to corporal before he passed. Now General DaGaulle has ordered all Frenchmen to rally to him. I stayed here for so long, helping Colonel Hogan. I must go. I am going tonight, once we are finished going over the information."
"And what of Pierre? And André?" his grandmother asked.
"They are being very understanding. André has accepted that I am going; Pierre is upset, but he will move on. He worries so much; I was thinking he would not be that way had I never come here."
"It is true; he would not," said the lady angel. Her expression had suddenly sobered. "Louis, there is something I must show you."
"The past," she said. "That is why I am here. I am supposed to show you a different past from the one you know. Come."
She took his hand and moved to take him through the kitchen door.
"We cannot go this way! Klink and Wexler are…" LeBeau trailed off; the place was completely empty. "Where is everyone?"
"This is the past," his grandmother said, pointing to the calendar on the wall. "September, 1942."
"That is when André first came to Stalag 13…" LeBeau recalled, as they walked outside and across the compound. "Yes, look, there we are, in roll call; Olsen is waiting to…" He trailed off. The space beside Newkirk, where he normally stood, was occupied by a stranger.
"This is a past that has been changed," the angel patiently explained. "This is a past where you were not shot down over Salon. You are now in England, fighting for the Free French. Let us go nearer; we cannot be seen unless I will it."
LeBeau gave a nod, but he was distracted as they approached. His friends looked… different, somehow. They looked pale and more irritable than usual, and Newkirk's expression seemed dark—far too dark than what suited him.
"What is wrong with them?" he asked.
"They are hungry—starving, living off of rations and whatever food they can smuggle into the place. If only they had a chef, they would be able to be healthier and happier perhaps be more efficient…"
LeBeau winced at his grandmother's words, and continued to watch as things began to play out the way he remembered—Olsen switching places with Carter, Wagner coming in as a spy, Carter accidentally letting Wagner know about the operation… but something different happened when the others found out. The way LeBeau remembered it, Newkirk had taken the blame for not warning Carter about Wagner. But now Newkirk was angrily yelling at Carter for messing up.
"What do you mean you didn't 'ear me tell you about that ruddy spy?" Newkirk roared, shoving the stunned American against the wall. "Ain't your ears working?" The Englishman cursed him, aiming a punch that was halted in mid-swing by Hogan and Kinch.
"Pierre, stop! What are you doing to André?" LeBeau cried, as Carter retreated as far as he could go, clearly terrified. "Grandmother, I… I do not understand… What has happened to Pierre?"
"Two lonely years in this place hardened his heart. His escape attempts still failed, and his cynicism kept people away in droves. You see, Louis, it is as you said. He doesn't worry for anyone anymore, except, perhaps, his sister. And even his letters to her have gotten infrequent and colder."
"What about the operation? Did that fall apart as well?"
"It depends on what you mean by 'fall apart'…" a new voice said—another voice that LeBeau recognized.
"Grandfather!" he exclaimed, as the winged form of the former family patriarch appeared as well.
The female angel greeted her husband warmly.
"I will show him the present," the male angel said, softly.
"Yes, you must," she said, kissing him. "I will be waiting for you in the real world."
She then said her goodbyes to her grandson and vanished.
The corporal gave a slight shudder. It was so bittersweet to see his departed loved ones again, and he was grateful for the opportunity. But he was nervous—scared, even—of what they were going to show him next.