AN: Spontaneous fic posting at it's finest. Wrote this on a whim in September and, after a couple edits through, we're here with the after-midnight-decision to post a thing. But hey, I want to look like I produce stuff on this website and things are small enough over here that maybe no one will even notice if it's bad! (I don't think it is, at least not too bad). Anywho, hope you enjoy. Next chapter will come when I get tired of editing it again and again, or if someone reviews to say they're actually interested.
Edit: Got yelled at for posting something with quoted movie dialogue, so now there is no quoted movie dialogue. All dialogue is original and leads the plot to include a few extra moments. These changes may lead the story to diverge from canon and are indicative of my interpretations of the characters. Please enjoy.
Wish (at least that's what we're blaming this on)
For all that he tried to make himself discreet, Alfredo didn't really think that it mattered if he jumped up and down with a set of crash cymbals. Little Chef was just having one of those nights.
Despite the fact that he was a rat, no one could deny that his friend was also an artist- and a talented one at that. From where Alfredo lingered in the doorway to the kitchenette of his small apartment (much better value than the one he'd first had upon coming to Paris but more practical and homey than the one he'd gotten after inheriting Gusteau's) he was less than a blip on the radar for their Little Chef, who was completely and totally consumed in the making of dinner.
Alfredo never got tired of watching him work, from that very first night in the kitchen when the rat had been almost dancing around the pot of soup that he'd been in the middle of ruining, it was an incredible sight. Not just because a rat was cooking, but because an artist was at work.
Little Chef rarely indulged the way he did that first night, he was far more practical and cooked to get a dish made, but, on occasion, he fell back into the old rapture of what Alfredo was willing to bet was his first time with full control over a human dish. But just now, as he prepared the filet mignon for Alfredo's and Collete's movie night, he was having, well, fun with it. His hips swayed as he battered the fish and he almost melted into the spices as he rifled through the stalks of freshly dried herbs he handpicked. Nothing he did was planned but it was all calculated, all purposeful, and his confidence and passion were evident in every movement down to the twitch of a whisker. Alfredo was just as entranced watching him work as Little Chef was in the food itself.
But where Little Chef probably wouldn't notice if the building caught on fire, Alfredo startled from his spectating at a hard rap to the door.
"Coming!" he called down the short hall and he threw himself in front of the mirror, tugging at his clothes and fluffing his hair in a way that hopefully wouldn't look quite so rumpled (as every part of him was). The knock came again, a little more insistent and he stopped with his fussing, gave his reflection one hard look in the mirror, and said "Don't be weird. She doesn't like it when you're weird."
It didn't usually work but he always tried.
Just as he was about to open the door, the lock clicked and Collette stepped into the apartment, motorcycle helmet under one arm and key ring around her finger.
"I do not understand why you give me a key and then ask me to knock." She scolded, but her smile was teasing and her tone lacked the usual bite of her anger. "Especially when you are always late to open it!"
"Haha… sorry." he chuckles, sheepish, and takes her coat as she shrugs out of it. "Little Chef is having a good time with dinner tonight so I was watching."
"Oh? Merci, is he still? He doesn't do it much at the restaurant anymore."
"I think so, in the kitch- yeah." he cut himself off as Collette brushed past him. He offered a fond smile at her back. He loved how she was always so confident and certain of herself, they were qualities he wished he had himself.
She too kept to the doorway of the kitchen, not crossing into the threshold of the Little Chef's workspace for all that she was a welcome guest. Alfredo had seen it the other way around as well, when Collette was in a particular mood Little Chef wouldn't cross the invisible barriers within the kitchen, allowing her the space she needed to create. It was a mutually understood respect between chefs, when one could cross certain lines but not others. Alfredo himself just tried not to get in the way.
He came up behind her, intending to put his arm around her but ended up hesitating for too long. She reached back and took his hand, pulling him around her like a blanket and leaning her head back against his shoulder.
He never knew where the line was with physical intimacy either, so it was typically better to let Collette make the initial moves to show him the ropes. With permission granted he leaned his chin down over her head and soaked up the warmth of her presence.
Little Chef didn't offer either of them so much as a glance, focused entirely on the meal he was preparing.
"Collette…" he started and she hummed to encourage him just as he was beginning to regret saying anything. "Where do you think… he came from?" he rubbed his thumb against her hand in his and breathed in the smell of her hair. "Just, they aren't all like him. Most of them are just rats. Civilized rats but, and I don't mean that they aren't fine, I don't know, they're just, and he's-!" as he started to get flustered Collette turned in his arms and pressed a kiss into his jaw, cutting him off.
"Our Little chef is just a special case, Oui?" she smiled. "Of course they aren't all like him, he has a special talent. Like Gusteau. Not all humans are like you or me either, cheri." he gave her a dopey smile, hand pressed to where she'd kissed him and she laughed. "He is just what he is, non? No need to think about it more than that. Now, let's set the table before the food is done so it doesn't go cold." She slipped from his arms and into the kitchen, moving brusquely across the floor to the cupboard and moving back out of the space in a matter of seconds.
Alfredo followed her into the dining room, a table for three with only two chairs, right beside the window looking out over the city. Collette handed him the napkins to fold while she set out the plates and silverware but he just stared out the window, worrying the fabric in his hands. His mind circulating that idea of where Little Chef had come from, what he felt, what he'd seen. They didn't know very much about him, after all. Even now Alfredo didn't know where he went on his off hours or what he liked to do beyond food. And how was he supposed to? He was a rat! How were they supposed to communicate? Any better than they did already, anyhow- and that was already impressive. Seeing as… yeah.
"Alfredo," Collette said and he snapped his attention back to her. She glared at the unfolded napkins unimpressed. He shrugged and flapped one of them loose, folding it up and handing it to her to place. Her gaze softened as she took it from him, noticing that he was really thinking about it. "Why is this bothering you all of a sudden?"
"I guess… it always has, a little." He sighs. "Because of Little Chef… I have a life now. I was, a mess, Collette, when I first got that job at Gusteau's. I still am!" He snorts and hands her the next napkin. "It's because of him that I know who my father was, that I have my entire inheritance, that we have La Ratatouille, that I have… you. Everything." He sighed again.
Collette lifted his chin up with a finger and raised an eyebrow at his somber look. Then she took the last napkin from his hand, snapped it open, and folded it the way Little Chef liked his place set.
"Listen, Alfredo. You remember what Ego wrote about the meal he had from us that night?"
"Yeah, I -"
"He wrote, 'It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's,'. He meant that only because Little Chef is a rat but it must be true, non? It was not an easy journey for him to get to the kitchen, just as it was not easy for me, but it was important to him and so here we are!" She braced her hands on the table, making sure she had his attention. "Remembering that, what food and cooking mean to Little Chef, shows that you know him plenty well. Recognize his hardship for what it must have been and know that you see as much of him as needs to be seen for you two to be partners as you are." She smiled. "And as for you, you would have done fine on your own. Perhaps it would have taken a little longer but Alfredo- whatever else Little Chef helped you get- I did not choose you because of the rat under your toque."
Alfredo blinked and then smiled back. It was nice to hear, even if he knew it was not entirely true. And, of course, he knew better than to argue with her.
By the set of her lips, she knew that he didn't quite buy it but she seemed to decide it wasn't worth pursuing when a bell in the kitchen dinged- the sign that Little Chef needed a size advantage with some menial task. Probably maneuvering the frying pan into the oven if Alfredo had noticed the right step from the recipe (which Little Chef had admittedly deviated from promptly and without remorse).
"Try not to let it bother you, cheri." She patted his hand and swept off into the kitchen to handle whatever had come up.
Alfredo glanced out the window again, looking not at the city but at the sky above it, star-speckled and gleaming like velvet.
"I just wish that I could understand him better." He mumbles. He notices that the apartment is starting to get a bit stuffy with the heat of the oven and flips the latch to let the window swing open. "We've shared so much… I wish we could understand each other a little better."
Alfredo is not a superstitious man. Religious, yes, aware of possible impossibilities, yes (he has a rat for a best friend), but not superstitious. So he doesn't miss the way the whole sky seems to brighten, doesn't miss the extra twinkle in the night sky as he looks out into the heavens. But it is not of granted wishes that he thinks, it's of blessings from his mother and the approval of his heartfelt intentions by some higher power. A wink from someone who understands how he feels.
He turns away, feeling reassured and comforted. Confident that at least he is right to want to know more.
Unaware that he's just wished upon all their heads a night of discoveries.
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Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed!