Fandom: The Rockford Files (specifically, The Queen of Peru episode)
Characters: Ginger Townsend, Lou Trevino, Mike Trevino; Mr. and Mrs. Trevino
Prompt: Table 3, Prompt #91 - Time of My Life
Word Count: 3,345
Warnings/Spoilers: Continues from the last piece.
Summary: Ginger, Lou, and Mike finish up their New York trip.
Independence Day had been a pleasant holiday that year. Ginger actually quite enjoyed celebrating with all of Lou’s immediate family. They had all welcomed him in by now and he and Michael were on good terms, so it wasn’t an immense frustration dealing with more people than just Lou.
It had been necessary to tell Mr. and Mrs. Trevino of their bizarre escapade rescuing Michael from the madmen who had abducted him in an effort to keep Ginger and Lou quiet about the assassination they were planning. Ginger had naturally tried to play down his involvement, but Lou emphasized how Ginger had been hurt trying to save Michael and Michael himself had praised Ginger up and repeatedly told of how he had feared Ginger had been killed. Mr. and Mrs. Trevino had proceeded to praise Ginger up as well, to the point that he was honestly uncomfortable and embarrassed.
“It would be nice if we could go a day without your parents proclaiming me some sort of a hero for trying to save their youngest son,” Ginger grunted to Lou one night as they settled in on the beds in Lou’s childhood room. “I’ve certainly given my all for you multiple times and I’ve never received this sort of a reception before.”
“I guess they’re particularly impressed since you and Mike have had such a rocky time of it for practically the entire time we’ve known each other,” Lou said.
“I suppose,” Ginger said. “But they act as though it’s some sort of incredible revelation that I would risk so much for the family now.” He folded his arms. “Even when I did not particularly like Michael, I would have fought to save him for your sake.”
“I know.” Lou smiled at Ginger. “And maybe they’ll realize that too, when they get over their initial excitement here. In any case, isn’t it nicer to have them doting on you instead of making the place feel like an igloo?”
“Point.” Ginger leaned back. “I suppose it just unsettles me that only now do I have that level of value to them.”
“I guess it was the final piece they needed to be absolutely sure about you,” Lou said. “But they’ve been warming up to you for a long time now.”
“Which I’m grateful for.” Ginger glanced at the clock before settling into the bed.
“Tomorrow’s our last day here,” Lou mumbled as he followed suit across the room. “I can’t say I’m really looking forward to leaving Mom and Dad, but I do kind of miss our house.”
“Naturally,” Ginger said flatly. “It’s a nice house. And it’s entirely ours.”
“And a couple of ghosts’,” Lou replied.
Ginger scowled but didn’t contest that description.
Amused, Lou slipped off to sleep.
Their final day in New York was mostly spent relaxing with the family and visiting with the Mario Brothers, who had returned from their latest trip with no idea of how their building had been used by crooks while they were away. By evening, after dinner, Ginger, Lou, and Mike were stretched out in the living room while Mrs. Trevino checked on a baking dessert and Mr. Trevino read the paper.
“That must be awful for Mario and Luigi,” Mike remarked as he sprawled on the couch. “Coming home and finding out that crooks were using their place. . . .”
“I hope we never discover that about our place,” Lou frowned.
Ginger looked scandalized at the very thought.
“I wonder if they ever feel bad, you know?” Mike mused. “Because of . . . you know, not being recognized for . . .” He trailed off, glancing at Mr. Trevino before carefully finishing with, “All the amazing things they do.”
“Virtue is its own reward, as they say,” Ginger said.
“Yeah, but they could be getting so much money!” Mike sat up. “It really seems a shame that they can’t.”
“I know, but I think they’re happy anyway,” Lou said.
Mike took his figurines out of his pocket and studied them. “They’re kind of exaggerated here,” he remarked. “I mean, they don’t really have big noses and they didn’t give Mario longer hair like he has.”
“That’s probably just as well,” Ginger shrugged. “Anyway, you know anything animated exaggerates.” He looked at Mr. Trevino, wondering if he was really as involved with the newspaper as he seemed to be.
Mrs. Trevino came back into the room. “What are you all talking about?” she wondered.
Mr. Trevino gave the paper a bored shake. “The boys are just discussing Mario and Luigi being the Super Mario Brothers,” he said.
Lou almost fell off his chair. “You both knew?!”
“Oh, little Mario blurted mysterious things enough times that we figured it out,” Mrs. Trevino said as she sat down.
Mike rolled onto his side and looked over at her. “But you never said anything,” he blinked.
She shrugged. “We were sure you’d figure it out as well, given the chance. Anyway . . .” She glanced at Mr. Trevino. “We didn’t think it was our place to say anything. Mario and Luigi were trying to keep it secret, even though they didn’t succeed.”
Lou shook his head. “Wow. I never would’ve guessed.”
“Me either,” said Mike as he hugged a throw pillow. “I thought you’d never believe something like that.”
Mrs. Trevino gave him a mischievous smile. “We’re not such old sticks-in-the-mud as you might think.” But as she stepped back towards the doorway, she sighed and shook her head. “Oh, I wish you boys weren’t leaving tomorrow.”
“Me too,” Lou said. “But we’ve got jobs to get back to.”
“There are jobs here,” Mrs. Trevino half-pleaded. “It’s not right for the family to all be split up like this. Sylvester lives up in Northern California, you and Michael down in Los Angeles. . . .” A wistful look came into her eyes. “I remember when the whole family lived here in New York and we all got together every Sunday.”
Lou gave her a sad smile. “We’ve all been talking about the possibility of moving back here,” he said honestly. “Maybe we can. We’re just kind of worried that our jobs might not be as good here as they are back in L.A.”
“Of course they would be!” Mrs. Trevino retorted. But she sighed again, knowing Lou really had a valid point. “Well, I just miss the days when you boys were here at home and Michael was watching those Ninja Turtles and playing the first Super Mario video games.”
Mike smiled and leaned back into the couch. “The 1980s were great,” he said sleepily. “I miss them too.”
Ginger, who had stayed quiet and let the family converse, looked over at him. “It was an interesting time for technology,” he mused. “Early video games, the first Windows operating system . . .”
“And the whole decade had this innocent cheesiness in a lot of the TV shows and some of the movies,” Lou said. “I think it was the last decade to really have that.”
“Did you ever watch The A-Team, Ginger?” Mike asked.
“No,” Ginger grunted. “All those ridiculous car crashes and bullets flying in all directions and yet somehow, hardly anyone ever got hurt. It was a live-action cartoon!”
Lou snarked. “Yeah, that was pretty weird, alright. But it was escapist entertainment. The good guys won and the bad guys lost. And that wasn’t too bad, really.” He looked to Mike. “Remember how Mr. T scared you when you were a kid?”
“And I like him now,” Mike said. “Go figure.”
“Did you ever take your A-Team toys with you, Michael?” Mrs. Trevino asked.
Mike blushed a bit. “I think so. I know I have some of them.”
“What, exactly, do you do with all these toys?” Ginger wondered. “Keep them on display? Play with them?”
The red across Mike’s face deepened. “Mostly I display them in one of the rooms I fixed up,” he said. “And then I take a few around with me.” He sheepishly held up the Mario Brothers figures.
“Hey, I’m glad you do, Mike,” Lou declared. “If it hadn’t been for those figures, who knows when we would’ve found you!”
Ginger nodded. “They were very useful that night.”
Mike brightened and perked up. He set the figures on the stand next to the couch arm, looking happy that Ginger had not criticized.
“Tell me,” Ginger said now, “you like that Pony cartoon so much. Did you ever watch the 1980s one?”
“I wouldn’t have been caught dead deliberately watching it then,” Mike said. “Or the new one, if it had been around then. But Mom watched the 1980s one and sometimes I caught glimpses of it that way.”
Mrs. Trevino waved her hands at him in a dismissive manner. “It was an exciting series! If the exact same plots had been done with the Turtles instead of with Ponies, you would have watched and liked!”
“I guess that’s true,” Mike conceded. “Ponies just seemed like a girl thing back then. But I’ve found out now that there were some guys who liked it even then.”
Mrs. Trevino nodded, looking vindicated. “Of course! They didn’t judge on what the animal was. And oh, speaking of Ponies, there’s a new set of Christmas ornaments this year with the original six Ponies.”
“Well, I’d suggest getting them for you for Christmas, only I know you probably have them already,” Lou smiled.
“I have them on order,” Mrs. Trevino said. “I think they ship in August.”
Ginger looked to her. “I suppose Michael got his continuing love of children’s programming and toys from you.”
“I guess that’s part of it,” Mrs. Trevino smiled. “It runs in the family.”
Ginger nodded. “It must.”
They talked for a while longer and shared the dessert when it was done. Then “the boys” headed upstairs to pack and get ready for bed.
“That was interesting,” Lou proclaimed. “I never expected to get into a conversation like that.”
“Or to find out that your parents know and believe about the Mario Brothers,” Ginger remarked.
“That too. Man!” Lou headed into their room right behind Ginger, a hand on Ginger’s back.
Mike came up behind him and stood in the doorway when they had both entered the room. “That was kind of fun,” he said. “All of us talking with Mom and Dad and all.”
Lou smiled. “Yeah, it was nice.”
Mike looked to Ginger. “We kind of got off the subject, but do you like the 1980s, Ginger?”
Ginger shrugged. “I don’t dislike them. I appreciate the useful contributions they made to our present lives. But am I particularly nostalgic for them? No.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re really not a sentimental person,” Mike acknowledged. “You’re probably not nostalgic for any era.”
“No, I am not,” Ginger agreed. “I believe that you and Lou and whoever else is nostalgic for the 1980s or other points in time feel that way not so much for what was coming out then, but because you were happy then. In your cases you were children and teenagers, free of adult responsibilities and able to do whatever you wanted, within reason. It feels like a simpler time to you now.”
“. . . I guess that kind of is true,” Mike realized. “I like remembering when I didn’t really know what the adult world is like. Things were happier then.”
Ginger grunted. “You were lucky. I discovered what the adult world is like very young. Perhaps that is why I have no nostalgic feelings for the eras of my childhood and youth. However . . .” He looked to Lou. “This era right now is when I am the happiest. If there comes a time when things are no longer like this and what we have instead is not pleasing, this is what I will pine for.”
“And I hope things will never be different,” Lou declared. “They won’t be, as long as I can help it.”
“I know,” Ginger nodded. “And hopefully you will be able to help it.”
Lou certainly hoped and prayed for that. “I think it’s possible to be happy in more eras than one, though,” he said. “I remember the eighties positively because both Mike and I had a lot of fun and we were pretty close. But I wouldn’t trade the eighties for what we have now.” He smiled at Ginger. “Now our family’s bigger.”
Ginger looked pleased. “And I’m proud to be part of it.”
Mike soon left them alone to pack up his things . . . and perhaps to see whether he had previously left anything behind that he wanted to take now. He smiled as he went, happy over the day and really, over the entire trip for the most part.
Lou waited until he had left before quietly shutting the door and looking to Ginger. “Mike hasn’t really said much about what happened to him,” he said in concern. “You and me, we’re always talking things out when something happens to either of us.”
“Perhaps Michael prefers not to talk about it,” Ginger said. When they had believed Lou to be dead, Mike had wanted to move on while Ginger had been unable to do so without taking vengeance for the heartless murder. If Lou had truly been dead, Mike might have wanted to talk about it at a future point. He certainly hadn’t then, feeling there was nothing to talk about.
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.” Lou sank down on the edge of his bed. “Maybe I’m just being an overprotective brother.”
“Michael appreciates that, I’m sure,” Ginger said. He took out his suitcase and opened it.
Lou watched as Ginger went to the chest of drawers and started removing his belongings. Knowing he needed to get going as well, Lou got up and grabbed for his suitcase. “He liked it when we were kids. I don’t know what he’d think of it now.”
“He felt badly that you and he drifted apart,” Ginger pointed out. “Knowing you still care made him immensely pleased in the past. I doubt he would feel any differently now.”
That made Lou smile a bit. “Yeah.”
“. . . You told your mother that we’ve considered moving back to New York,” Ginger remembered.
“Well, we have,” Lou said slowly. “But I don’t know whether we should do it or not. The New York branch has been pretty nice to us, but the London office sure let us down. Maybe the New York one would too. And then Mike might not find something as good as he has, either.”
“It’s hard to say,” Ginger said.
“I guess I mostly said that to try to give Mom some comfort . . . and to stop her talking about the family being split up.” Lou sighed. “I don’t know what to say to that after a while.”
“You know, she and your father could move to Los Angeles,” Ginger pointed out.
“I know, but I guess they hate to leave the place where they’ve lived all of their lives,” Lou said. “They’ve always been New Yorkers. And they’ve lived in this house all of their married years.” He gave a weak smile. “I’d feel kind of sad to see the place go.”
“Naturally you would,” Ginger said.
“I’d rather see them in L.A. if I had a choice,” Lou hurried on, “but I don’t think we should expect that to happen any time soon. Some people are really products of their environment so much that taking them out of it just feels wrong. I’m just not sure I can even picture them living somewhere other than New York.”
“Fair enough,” Ginger consented. “We’ll just have to wait and see what develops. Mum didn’t see how she could leave London, either.” His voice lowered as he went on, “But she was considering it before she died.”
“I wish she’d been able to,” Lou said in all sincerity.
Ginger nodded his thanks. Finished with his packing, he closed the suitcase and set it on the floor next to the bed.
Lou soon completed his as well. He gave the room one nostalgic gaze before starting to undress for bed.
Ginger had noticed. “You have many good memories of this room, I suppose.”
“Yeah,” Lou acknowledged. “I’m glad Mom and Dad kept it open for me instead of changing it into a storage room or something.”
“Were they considering that?” Ginger asked with a raised eyebrow.
“No,” Lou quickly corrected. “I was just thinking how some parents do that when the kids move out. Some of them need to, if there’s no other rooms. But Mom and Dad wanted things to always be open for me and Mike to come visit.”
Ginger started to undress as well. “That’s good that they have always been so welcoming. I imagine they also never started charging either of you rent when you lived at home after turning eighteen.”
“Oh, never!” Lou asserted. “Mom thought that was an awful thing to do. She felt it was still our house as much as theirs, and if we were pulling our own weight we shouldn’t be charged for living here like we were suddenly guests who didn’t really belong.”
Ginger shrugged. “I suppose some parents do it as a way to try to teach their children more responsibility.”
“Maybe. Or probably more because they really don’t think the kids should still be there.”
“You sound somewhat bitter,” Ginger observed.
“. . . I guess I do,” Lou said somewhat sheepishly. “It’s hard to understand that mindset when I was raised to completely reject it. And it’s kind of hard to see it the way those parents must. I could understand if the kid was a deadbeat or something, but yeah, if they’re working hard with school or work or helping around the house, they shouldn’t have to pay rent. They still belong.”
Ginger nodded. “My parents didn’t believe in making the children pay rent, either,” he admitted, “but for me it wasn’t an issue for another reason, as I moved out as soon as I had the money to afford something better.”
“And you got your parents set up in something better as soon as you could too,” Lou smiled.
Ginger grunted. “I would have been a bloody ungrateful son if I hadn’t.”
“And you just plain wanted to do something nice for them,” Lou supplied.
“Naturally,” Ginger said without looking at Lou.
Now down to his dress shirt and trousers, Lou gathered his pajamas and headed past Ginger to the bathroom. He was still smiling a bit. Ginger was a kind person, but he would deny it up and down unless pushed into admitting it. After the way Cynthia had emotionally damaged him for years by thinking him so horrid, Lou wanted to always remind Ginger that he knew the truth about his best friend. Ginger would never admit to this either, but Lou felt that deep down, he appreciated it—even if at the same time he felt embarrassed that his kind deeds were talked about.
Ginger was ready and waiting when Lou came back several minutes later. He headed past Lou and into the bathroom. When he came back, Lou was in bed but still awake. Lou looked over at him. “It’s been a pretty eventful trip, hasn’t it?” he asked quietly.
“A very odd trip,” Ginger returned. But as he climbed into bed, he added, “And ultimately a good one.”
Lou smiled. “Yeah.”
He settled into the soft pillow. Across the room, Ginger was doing the same. For a moment, silence fell over them. Then, when Lou was sure Ginger wasn’t going to say anything else, he suddenly heard, “You’ve come to know me well. I’m glad.”
Pleased and touched, Lou answered, “Me too. I would’ve been missing out if I hadn’t.”
Ginger didn’t say more, but when Lou glanced over at him, he looked relaxed and happy. Smiling to himself, Lou settled into the soft bed.
They both slept peaceably through the night.