Fandom: The Rockford Files (specifically, The Queen of Peru episode)/The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (TV version)
Characters: Ginger Townsend, Lou Trevino, Mike Trevino, Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin; OCs
Prompt: Table 3, Prompt #99 - Writer's Choice: The Noose
Word Count: 4,695
Warnings/Spoilers: Intense situations; basically The Man Who Knew Too Much (1955 version), with a few alterations.
Summary: While on a trip to New York over the 4th of July holiday weekend, Ginger is given vital information about an upcoming murder and Mike is abducted to keep him and Lou quiet.
Lou was in shock and disbelief when Napoleon and Illya arrived within five minutes and the temple could not be accessed.
“What the heck?!” he cried, pulling in desperation on the now-locked front doors. “I swear I just came out of here a few minutes ago! All I did was go across the street, get in the car, and call you!”
Napoleon frowned at the doors. “Something obviously went wrong. They must have realized what was happening.”
“And cleared out that soon?” Lou said in disbelief.
“Perhaps not,” Illya said. “But you don’t even know that your brother is in this building. There are most likely thousands of keychains like the one you found under the table.”
“It was Mike’s,” Lou insisted. “That’s all that makes sense! It has to be Mike’s!”
“It might not have anything to do with Mike,” Napoleon said gently. “But either way, it looks deserted now. And I’m afraid we’re running out of time. We need the information you have.”
“Wait, you’re just gonna leave?!” Lou cried.
“No,” Napoleon assured him. “We’ll look around a bit longer. But we need to send agents to where the assassination is going to take place and try to stop it.”
“I’ll tell you!” Lou promised. “But first I’ve gotta get in there! Ginger was in there, and whether or not Mike was, Ginger should still be in there unless they’ve taken him away too!” He threw himself in desperation at the heavy glass. “He might be hurt in there!”
“Alright, Mr. Trevino. Stand back,” Napoleon ordered. Lou did, and Napoleon attempted to shoot open the doors. But they still remained every bit as stubborn as before.
Lou wasn’t having it. After trying and failing to reach Ginger on the phone, he was all the more sure that something was wrong. He quickly looked around and found a heavy and empty stone flowerpot that he dragged over to the doors. Even as Illya exclaimed, “Mr. Trevino, wait!” Lou heaved the pot into the glass. It shattered and Lou ran through, shielding himself from stray pieces still stuck in the door.
Napoleon watched in some concern and trepidation. “If nothing is wrong, you’re going to be responsible for damages to the door,” he warned.
“Something’s wrong!” Lou yelled back.
He ran down the corridor Ginger had taken, nightmare after nightmare spinning through his mind. Maybe Ginger had been abducted too. Maybe he and Mike had both been left there, dead. Maybe . . . maybe . . .
He reached the stairs to the second floor and a heartbroken, agonized cry tore from his lips. “Ginger! Oh no. Oh God, no. Please . . . please be okay! . . .” He dropped to his knees, gently pulling the overcoat back from the limp form as he checked Ginger’s vital signs and looked for any broken bones. His hands shook. No matter how often he had needed to take part in this frightening task, it never got easier. “Ginger, please say something,” he begged. “Tell me you’re okay.”
Ginger groaned, Lou’s heartbroken pleas dragging him back to consciousness. “Lou . . .” He looked up blearily at his friend. “Michael was here. I tried to save him. . . . Couldn’t. They probably took him away again.”
“Okay, Buddy. Okay.” Lou brought the coat back up around Ginger’s shoulders. “We’ll find him again. Don’t worry.”
“I failed,” Ginger spat. He turned onto his side and then his back, holding a hand to his forehead.
“Ginger, it’s okay,” Lou insisted. “You did your best. At least we know Mike’s still alive. And thank God you are!”
Ginger hissed. “How the bloody Devil did I get down here? I was at the top of those stairs.” He swore under his breath, knowing there were only two possible explanations. And he highly doubted that he had simply fallen.
So did Lou. “I’d like to kick them down some stairs!” he snarled.
Napoleon and Illya ran up at that point. “Is he alright?” Napoleon asked.
“Yes,” Ginger grunted. He sat up, rubbing his head. “But I don’t know where Michael will be taken now.”
“There has to be another way out of here!” Lou realized. “I was out front the whole time. It’s just been a few minutes since I left, I swear!”
That news sent Illya rushing past him to find another way out. “Then they can’t have gone far!” he called over his shoulder.
“Meanwhile, I think it’s time you tell me about the assassination,” Napoleon said, looking from Ginger to Lou.
Lou swallowed hard, his shoulders slumping. “All we really know is that it’s tonight at Carnegie Hall,” he said. “We don’t know the time or the target.”
“There’s a patriotic concert at Carnegie Hall tonight at eight,” Napoleon said. “Mr. Waverly is going to attend.” And he went stiff. “In fact, it’s possible that he could be the target.” With that he whipped out his communicator pen and uncapped it, desperately paging U.N.C.L.E. HQ.
Lou exchanged a worried look with Ginger. “They’d try to knock off the head of U.N.C.L.E.? Oh man. And what about Mike?!”
“They might kill him now anyway,” Ginger said, his anger and frustration belying his despair.
“Surely they were expecting we might show up,” Lou protested. “They knew we had information; that’s what this whole crummy thing was about!”
“That’s true,” Ginger relented. In spite of his worst fears, he tried to allow himself to hold onto hope. He didn’t want to believe the worst, especially after Michael had been so close and now was once again out of their reach.
Lou laid a hand on Ginger’s shoulder. “I’m gonna keep believing Mike’s alive,” he insisted. “We’re gonna find him and we’ll all get out of this mess together.”
“I can’t reach Mr. Waverly,” Napoleon announced. “He must already be en route to Carnegie Hall.” Even though he still spoke calmly, the concern was visible in his eyes and in his voice’s inflections.
“Doesn’t a guy like that travel with a bunch of bodyguards or something?” Lou frowned.
“Yes,” Napoleon agreed. “But in a concert hall, an experienced assassin could still find a way to take a shot at him.”
“Hey, this isn’t The Man Who Knew Too Much,” Lou argued. “In this day and age, it’s not like a hitman could just walk into a place like that with a gun. People get searched!”
“A hitman can always find a way,” Napoleon insisted. He looked in the direction Illya had gone, now concerned for his partner. But then the sound of footsteps echoed down the hall and the Russian-born agent returned, looking grim.
“If there was a vehicle parked out back, it is gone now,” he said. “The only thing I found was this.” He held out a small figure of Mario.
Lou took it, hope glimmering in his eyes. “This is Mike’s,” he said. “He was still okay enough to drop this and let us know he’s alive.”
Illya raised an eyebrow. “It could have simply fallen out of his pocket.”
“I’m not gonna believe that,” Lou retorted. “He dropped a keychain in the temple so we’d find it. Now he dropped this.”
“Alright. I will not argue with you.” Illya turned to Napoleon. “Did you find out about the assassination?”
“Not enough,” Napoleon replied. “But it’s going to take place tonight at Carnegie Hall. It must be the concert at eight. And it’s possible Mr. Waverly is the target.”
“We have to get there now!” Illya exclaimed. He looked to Ginger, who was still sitting on the floor. “Should we send for an ambulance?”
“No,” Ginger grunted. “Lou and I are coming with you.” He grabbed the bottom of the banister and started to push himself up. Concerned, Lou rose with him and reached to catch him should he waver.
“You will only slow us down if you cannot keep up,” Illya pointed out.
“Then I will wait in the car.” Ginger drew himself up to his full height, pulling his coat around his shoulders. “We have to go with you; the assassin may know something about Michael. Quite frankly, he’s our only lead left.”
Lou swallowed hard; Ginger was right. “We’re going,” he said.
Napoleon gave them a searching look and finally nodded. “There’s no time to lose. Let’s go.”
New York traffic was never one of Ginger’s favorite things. He knew how to bide his time and be patient, but as Lou weaved their vehicle through the streets and desperately tried to keep pace with Napoleon’s convertible, Ginger felt his inward patience shredding. One look at Lou told him that Lou was one step away from screaming. Ginger kept quiet, continuing to pray for Mike’s safety.
The crowds grew worse the closer they got to Carnegie Hall. Finally Napoleon flashed his badge at a police officer directing traffic and he allowed them and Ginger and Lou priority. They parked at the building and got out, rushing towards the nearest doors.
“We know where Mr. Waverly’s box is,” Napoleon called over his shoulder, “so there are only so many places where an assassin could hope to get a clear shot.”
“Unfortunately, we still don’t know if he is the intended target,” Illya said. “There are quite a few people attending who potentially fit that category.”
“Obviously we will have to split up and each try a different part of the concert hall,” Ginger barked.
“I was going to say that,” said Napoleon.
By this point, all of the security in the building had been notified that there was a problem. Napoleon and Illya had only to show their identification, quickly explain the problem, and say that Ginger and Lou were with them in order for them to all be allowed inside without purchasing tickets. Security guards inside were already looking for anyone suspicious who might have slipped past them.
As soon as Lou stepped inside and saw the magnitude of the task before them, his stomach dropped. “Oh man! How are we ever gonna find one assassin in all this?!” He gestured wildly at the beautiful seats all around them. The concert was already starting and the hall was packed.
“First let’s find Mr. Waverly,” Ginger said resolutely. “He has a box, so he must be somewhere on the balcony.”
They looked for a moment before Lou exclaimed, “I think that’s him!” and pointed to a box straight across from them and high up.
“Yes,” Ginger mused. “He’s sitting with two bodyguards.” He looked around, mentally calculating distances and angles before he spoke again. “To accurately fire, as we must assume the assassin would only have one chance, someone would either have to sit in the next box on either side, or else use a long-distance rifle and aim at a diagonal angle from one of the side balconies.”
“Oh boy.” Lou scanned the balconies, his heart pounding as he desperately searched for something out of place.
“Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryakin are examining the upper levels,” Ginger noted.
“And I don’t see anything weird!” Lou cried in frustration.
One of the bodyguards shifted his position slightly, adjusting an apparent weapon under his tuxedo jacket. Ginger focused on him, his eyes narrowing in thought. “I wonder how often Mr. Waverly changes or runs background checks on his bodyguards.”
“Huh?” Lou turned to look at him with a start. “They’re probably top-ranked U.N.C.L.E. agents.”
Ginger nodded. “Yes, but unfortunately, even U.N.C.L.E. agents can go sour.”
Now Lou followed his gaze. “Oh no. Are you thinking that maybe one of them is going to kill Mr. Waverly?!”
“One or both. It’s possible. Especially since they can get in with weapons while most others cannot.” Ginger stepped away before the man could realize he was being watched. “One of us should go up there while the other remains here.”
“You were already hurt,” Lou said. “I’ll go up. You just stand here and keep watching him and looking for anything else that might be what we’re looking for.”
“Fine,” Ginger agreed. “Just be careful. If one of those men is the assassin, don’t let your panic for Michael’s safety cause you to ignore all rules for your own.”
“I won’t,” Lou promised. “I’ve got no intention of getting hurt or killed tonight.” And he hurried off, leaving Ginger standing in the aisle.
His thoughts ran wildly to match his body’s running. What if the bodyguards were the killers? What would he do? What would Mr. Waverly do? He really wished that Napoleon or Illya would have the idea too and get there first.
What if they were wrong, though? What if the killer was somewhere out there in the audience and they’d never be able to pick him out until it was too late?
He had run up the stairs, but he hadn’t yet reached the box when Ginger yelled loud and clear, “Look out!” A shot rang through the hall and someone screamed.
In sickened horror, Lou practically flew the rest of the distance and flung open the door to the box. Mr. Waverly was standing up, apparently alright, but he and one of the bodyguards were staring down at the second bodyguard as he lay sprawled on the carpeted floor.
“What happened?!” Lou exclaimed.
“This man has been shot,” Mr. Waverly retorted. “Someone was aiming at me and shot him when he tried to protect me.” He bent down, examining the wound. “Thankfully, it doesn’t look too serious.” The man groaned.
Lou slumped back. “So it wasn’t him,” he said under his breath.
He came to attention as the screaming continued. The music had stopped and everyone was staring as a strange man tried to make a daring escape by climbing over the balcony and holding onto the railing while moving forward hand over hand.
“What the heck?” Lou exclaimed. “The guy’s an idiot! There’s no place for him to go!” He ran forward again, gripping the railing as he looked towards the side balcony where the assassin was frantically trying to get away. “Where’s my brother?!” he yelled. “What have your people done with Mike?!”
The man did not answer, but he looked Lou’s way and gave him a cruel sneer that sent his heart dropping. But the assassin was distracted for that one vital moment. Napoleon and Illya reached him and snatched each wrist. Amid his protests, they hauled him up.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Lou fled the box and ran around the corridor until he arrived at that section of the balcony. As he burst through the door, Ginger was coming through another nearby door.
“He isn’t likely to talk,” Ginger said bitterly.
“I know, but we’ve gotta try,” Lou exclaimed. “Like you said, he’s our only lead.”
While the patrons all stared, Napoleon and Illya dragged the assassin over to Ginger and Lou. “You have a great deal of questions to answer for us,” said Napoleon, “but first you need to answer something for these two men.”
Lou seized the hitman by his tuxedo jacket, pulling him forward. “Where’s my brother?!” he all but roared.
The killer just sneered at him again. “I don’t know; they had to move him and I came here. But by now he’s probably dead.”
Lou’s eyes flamed. “I am not gonna believe that. Where do these crumbs hide out? You’ve gotta know that!”
“I only knew the temple, and they’re gone from there now.”
Snarling, Lou moved to wrench him out of Napoleon and Illya’s grasp. Only Ginger’s voice stopped him. “Lou!”
Lou started and turned. “What is it?”
“Leave him be,” Ginger told him. “It’s likely that he doesn’t know where Michael is. But perhaps we already do.”
“Huh?!” Lou released the guy and gave his full attention to Ginger. “What the heck do you mean?!”
Napoleon and Illya came to attention as well. Even the assassin looked interested.
Ginger ignored them and spoke directly to Lou. “What if the objects we found weren’t only placed there so that we would recognize them and realize Michael had been in those locations? What if they had a deeper meaning?” He took the keychain out of his pocket. “This is the Turtle called Michelangelo, correct?”
“Yeah,” Lou nodded.
“Michael could have dropped it to say ‘This represents me and wasn’t dropped by some random child.’ And the other, the Mario figure. What if he dropped it because Mario’s location is exactly where they’ve taken him now?”
Lou’s eyes widened. “Brooklyn,” he gasped. “Mario Brothers Plumbing!”
Ginger gave a sharp nod. “We can’t ignore the possibility. Let’s go.”
“We’ll hand this man off to our fellow agents and come with you,” Napoleon said.
“Fine,” Ginger barked. “But we’re going on ahead.”
Traffic was still heavy, but Lou knew some tricks. He grew more and more anxious as they weaved up and down the streets and drew closer to their destination. He and Ginger were taking a chance by banking all of their hopes on this one possibility. What if they were wrong about Mike’s ingenuity and he wasn’t at or near Mario Brothers Plumbing at all? And what if the assassin was telling the truth and he didn’t know where Mike or his confederates might be? Then they would truly be at a dead-end and Mike really could be lost to them. It wasn’t an acceptable thing to think, but Lou couldn’t stop himself.
“Somebody’s in there,” he noted as the building finally came into view. “And that doesn’t look like the Brothers’ car.”
“So they are probably away and these criminals have taken over in the meantime,” Ginger said with narrowed eyes.
Lou quietly parked down the street and got out, hurrying over to the other car. He almost cheered aloud when he caught sight of a splash of green and held up Mike’s Luigi figure, half-hidden under the car. “He’s here,” he exclaimed. “He has to be here!”
“Alright,” said Ginger, although he was relieved too. “Let’s carefully go up to a window and look inside. Then we’ll decide whether to charge the building or wait for U.N.C.L.E.”
Lou didn’t know how he would stand to wait. But he knew they might have to, for Mike’s safety as well as their own. So instead of protesting, he followed Ginger to the old establishment and peered through the nearest window with him.
Mike was lying on his side on the floor, dazed or drugged. His eyes were half-open and he was staring listlessly off at nothing. The only criminal visible in the room was standing over him and holding a shotgun on him.
“Why that . . .” Lou swore, clenching a fist.
“Now, we can’t be rash,” Ginger said harshly. “It might startle him and he would fire on Michael. And an injury from that close of range would almost undoubtedly be fatal.”
Lou shuddered. “So what can we do?”
“We need to quietly get in and come up on him from behind,” Ginger said. “There’s a door behind him. Come on.”
Lou trailed after Ginger as he stealthily approached the door. Finding it locked, he checked for a spare key and found one under an old sink to the side of the building. When he used it and slowly unlocked the door, the criminal barely looked up.
“He’s still out of it,” he sneered. “He’s been like this ever since he saw that Brit get pushed down the stairs. Don’t you think now it’s time to let him join his brother’s friend in death?”
Ginger and Lou both grabbed onto him in the next instant. “No,” Ginger hissed.
Lou wrenched the shotgun out of the shocked gunman’s hands. “You are not gonna take my family away from me!” he roared.
Mike stirred, turning onto his back to look. “Lou?” he mumbled. “Ginger?”
Lou had scarcely delivered a knockout punch to their enemy when the other criminals ran into the room. “How did you get here?!” one of them yelled.
“It was all thanks to Mike,” Lou said.
Ginger let the unconscious thug drop to the floor. “Now,” he said coolly, “how would you blokes like a rematch?”
They both lunged at Ginger at once. He responded by fiercely elbowing one of them in the stomach and judo-flipping the other over his shoulder. When the final, fourth one rushed in, Lou socked him in the jaw.
Mike was sitting up by now, watching the fight in awe. “Lou, you found me,” he said, shakily starting to get to his feet.
Lou hurried to help him. “Sure, because of your clues,” he said. “Ginger was really the one who figured out what you were trying to say, though.”
Mike hugged Lou and then pulled back in surprise. “Ginger?”
Ginger came over, his eyes searching to see how badly Mike was hurt.
Even while drugged, Mike looked awkward around him. “I thought you were dead,” he choked out. “I thought they killed you when you were saving me.” Suddenly at a loss for words, Mike hesitated before leaning forward and hugging Ginger as well.
Ginger went stiff in shock. It was probably mostly the drugs and Michael would be embarrassed later. But for now, he wouldn’t protest. Slowly, he brought an arm up around Mike’s shoulders.
Happy with both Mike’s safety and the scene, Lou smiled.
It was hours later before they were able to go home. Mike had to be examined, but thankfully the drugs were only to keep him tranquilized and he was coming out of it on his own. He could go home with them.
They had to make statements with both the police and U.N.C.L.E. While at U.N.C.L.E. HQ, Mr. Waverly thanked them for their part in saving his life. Ginger’s yell had alerted him and his bodyguards and caught the hitman off-guard. The injured man would be alright; he had ended up only grazed in the arm.
They also learned more about what had happened. The group they had dealt with was a trio of vicious ex-THRUSH agents, booted out for failing too many times. They had been slated for death, but had escaped and proceeded to devise a plan to murder Mr. Waverly and get back into THRUSH’s good graces. The other people working with them, including Glory, had been recruited because of their knowledge of New York and other, undesirable skills.
“Glory panicked and fled, I’m afraid,” Mr. Waverly frowned. “Her specialty was opening fraudulent religions, not abduction and murder. But someone anonymously called the police and informed them of where Mr. Trevino was being held. That may have been her. In any case, we have the deadliest offenders, thanks in no small part to you.”
“We wouldn’t have been involved if they hadn’t taken Mike,” Lou said. “We would’ve just passed on the information to you and that would’ve been the end of it.”
“Perhaps, but you still didn’t want anyone undeserving to suffer,” Mr. Waverly pointed out. “Even with your brother in danger, you didn’t stand by and withhold the information you held. I am grateful to both of you.”
Ginger and Lou accepted his and the other agents’ thanks before collecting a resting Mike off a reception couch and leaving.
“Are you really okay, Mike?” Lou asked as they left through Del Floria’s tailor shop and headed for their car.
“I’m fine, Lou,” Mike smiled at him. “But is there going to be room for all of us and the luggage in the car?” Mike’s had been with him and it had been retrieved. Now it was safely in the car with Ginger and Lou’s bags.
“Sure,” Lou said. “Some of it’s in the trunk. Everything fit.” Mike had already known that before, but he had still been loopy from the drugs at that point.
Ginger had to wonder if Mike remembered the hug. Not intending to bring it up himself, he instead took out the keychain and slipped it into Mike’s hand. “That was a clever plan of yours,” he acknowledged. “I wouldn’t have thought it of you in the past. And it’s even more impressive that you were able to come up with it while stoned half out of your mind.”
Mike blushed but looked pleased. “You really thought it was good?”
“It sure was.” Lou handed Mike the Mario Brothers figures. “We never would have known where to find you if you hadn’t done it. That assassin creep sure wasn’t talking.”
“I’m glad,” Mike said. “That it worked, I mean. I didn’t know if it would. I knew you’d recognize these things as mine, but I wasn’t sure if you’d get the whole message. It was all I had the chance to do; I couldn’t write a note or anything.”
“It was just great, Mike,” Lou said firmly.
The ride to their parents’ home was peaceful and pleasant. The luggage had been placed up front so that Ginger could sit with Mike to make sure he was recovering well. Mike was relaxed, holding his figurines as he gazed up at the roof of the car.
“This whole day feels more like a dream,” he remarked. “A nightmare, really. But I mean, it feels like it wasn’t real.”
“It was sure awful,” Lou declared. “Everything’s okay now, though. They didn’t hurt you worse than drugging you, did they, Mike?”
“Oh no.” Mike looked up at Lou in the rear-view mirror. “I’m fine, Lou. Really. I guess it’s probably because of the drugs that it feels so unreal, though.” He frowned. “I hate to think of telling Mom and Dad what happened.”
“They will find out, of course,” Ginger said flatly. “The incident at Carnegie Hall has likely been all over the news tonight and will be there some more in the morning. Perhaps by then news of the abduction will have leaked out as well.”
Mike winced. “Yeah. I know we’ll have to tell them. I just dread it. They’ll be so horrified.”
“But they’ll be happy it’s turning out good,” Lou insisted. “And they’ll be impressed with your plan too.”
Mike smiled a bit.
“Ginger, are you okay?” he asked now. “I’ll never forget seeing them hit you and push you down the stairs. . . .” He shut his eyes. “It was so awful and there was nothing I could do.”
“I’m alright, Michael.” Naturally Ginger had a headache and his body ached from the fall, but he didn’t intend to mention any of that.
“Um . . . oh no.” Mike flamed red as Lou turned onto their street. “Ginger, did I really hug you when you and Lou found me?”
“You hugged each of us,” Ginger said matter-of-factly. “I assumed it was the drugs that caused you to embrace me.”
“Yeah.” Mike continued to look embarrassed. “So you’re not . . . mad or anything?”
“Of course not.” Ginger looked to him. “It’s alright if you feel like doing that sometimes.”
“Really?” Mike leaned back. He didn’t say more, but his expression clearly said Wow.
Lou smiled more as he parked and got out. It had been a nightmarish day, but everything was alright now and they would have a happy family celebration on the 4th after all. His heart was full.
He wasn’t surprised when he unlocked the door and found his and Mike’s parents still up, sitting in the living room. He had known they would wait up as long as possible and probably would keep doing it even after it wasn’t as possible.
“Lou! Michael!” Mrs. Trevino exclaimed. “Ginger! What on Earth has been going on?!”
“We were expecting you hours ago,” Mr. Trevino added.
“It’s a long story,” Lou admitted. “We’re sorry about that. We had some trouble finding where Mike was when we went to get him.”
That was an understatement, Ginger thought. But the Trevino parents seemed to accept that explanation for now. Perhaps after a pleasant rest, the whole story would be told.
For now, Ginger relaxed as all of them, including him, were accepted in as part of the family. It might still be awkward for him to celebrate Independence Day, but this year he was looking forward to it.