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Entry 6 (Never Coming Home)

Title: Never Coming Home
Entry Number: 06
Author: insaneladybug/Lucky_Ladybug
Fandom: The Rockford Files (specifically, The Queen of Peru episode)
Rating: T/PG-13 (Grieving, lyric snippets from The Ghost of You by My Chemical Romance and Somewhere by Within Temptation)
Genre: Angst, Friendship
Spoiler Warnings: For previous short stories written for 100songs and 1drabble.
Word Count: 3,377


By Lucky_Ladybug


Ginger’s fingers flew over the computer keys. The screen shone brightly on his careworn and intense face. Although he appeared hard as nails, it was his grief that made him that way. Underneath that fierce exterior, his soul was shattering.

The house was cold and dark, lonely without Lou there to brighten it up. And now, Michael was no longer there, either. Not that he was any sort of replacement for Lou, but with him gone and going back to New York, Ginger was all alone.

Well, except for the possible ghosts in the basement, but they weren’t any sort of real company.

Ginger stopped typing at the computer and pushed his chair back, looking up at the dreary room. Lou had been here so many times, looking up things on the study desktop or double-checking something in one of their computer manuals. But there was no more of that now and never would be again.

At the end of the world,
Or the last thing I see,
You are never coming home
Never coming home

Slowly Ginger got out of the chair and began to walk around the room, his heart heavy with hatred and bitterness towards those who had murdered Lou and sorrow and anguish for the loss of his friend.

This house wasn’t home to him now. It couldn’t be. He had to stay for the time being, until his probation ran out and he was free to move away if he so desired. Yet even when that time came, he wasn’t sure he would go. The Los Angeles branch of their company had been good to him and would likely still want him; he might not do as well in a different branch.

And he despised the thought of anyone else moving into this house. They wouldn’t understand what it had meant to him, to Lou, and how they had made it into a home following their release from prison. Ginger wasn’t a sentimental person, but this house had been the last place Lou had called home. In spite of the immense pain felt from still being here, Ginger did not really want to leave.

“Bloody devil.” He paused at the doorway, his hand on the doorframe. “Being here just isn’t right without you.”

He stepped into the hall. “Michael said he wondered why you ever wanted to get close to a ‘rotten, no-good, worthless person’ like me. He was angry and hurting, but he meant his words. Then he was afraid I was going to strike him for saying them. Why should I? They’re the truth. I’ve wondered that myself. I wonder it all the more now that you’re gone and I’m so caught up in my blasted revenge.

“I have to see that they’re brought to justice, Lou. I won’t be anywhere at peace until I do.” He clenched a fist. “It’s all I can do to see justice done for you now. But I won’t kill in cold blood. I won’t destroy my chances to keep living free after they’re caught. I just wonder . . .” He paused, gazing up the stairs at the closed door to Lou’s room. “I wonder if living will ever not feel like a chore now.”

He ascended the stairs, feeling like his legs weighed a ton each. “You said you’d come back if you died. Or you’d try to, anyway. Michael didn’t believe you came back. I don’t know that I do, either. But what I know without any doubt at all is that you would come if you could.” He reached the top and paused, sighing tiredly. “It just seems like I would be able to sense you more, if you’re really here now. Unless my bloody revenge is blocking me from sensing you.”

For a moment he stood, gazing at the closed door. He had only been in Lou’s room once since learning of the horrible truth of his death. Once had been too much, too painful, seeing so many of Lou’s favorite belongings and knowing he was gone and would never be there with them again. So he had shut the door and left the room alone.

It was terrible enough being in the kitchen every day, the room where Lou had made most of their meals. Ginger hadn’t been able to take it; he had only been in there as seldom as possible and had been taking the majority of his meals outside the house.

But now he steeled himself and went over, opening the door to Lou’s room. Perhaps he would feel closer to Lou in here. Right now, he felt so lost and alone that he didn’t know how he would stand it if he couldn’t sense Lou there at all.

The wall, carpet, ceiling, and curtains were all red-violet. Ginger had to smirk at how Lou had complained of feeling like he was living in a wine bottle. Despite Lou’s exasperation with so much of the color, he had never bothered to change anything.

The smirk quickly disappeared as Ginger took in the rest of the room. There was Lou’s laptop, still open on the desk but turned off. Several books were scattered around it, both upright and lying down. Normally Lou was a stickler for having books placed on the shelves, but he had been going through several volumes looking for specific passages and hadn’t quite finished the task yet.

“Blast it.” Ginger crossed the room and sank sadly onto the edge of the mattress. There were no tears; he was not someone who cried.

At least, not on the outside.

For a long moment he just sat there, wanting with all his heart to feel Lou’s presence and instead feeling nothing. When the house creaked, he looked up with a start of hopefulness for just a brief moment. But when nothing else happened, he bowed his head in resignation.

Lou was not there. He knew it.

He was completely alone.
****

The days when he had been able to cling to the hope that Ginger was still alive because there was no body were wonderful. At least, wonderful compared to the crushing anguish of knowing there was likely no possible hope and Ginger was truly dead.

Lou had believed so strongly that Ginger was alive after the airplane crash. It was just too unthinkable to imagine anything different. But after he had found the black overcoat washed up on the rocks at the beach, the cold, hard truth had slapped him in the face. He hadn’t been able to fully make himself believe Ginger was alive after that heartache. And then the coat had disappeared after Lou brought it home, as though even in death it was returning to its owner.

Lou rubbed a hand over his face and slammed his other hand down on the desk. He was thinking nonsense. But he knew he hadn’t imagined the coat; it had really been there. And the next day it had been gone. How the heck was he supposed to rationalize that except that Ginger had let him see it briefly in order to know the truth about him?

Lost in the darkness,
Try to find your way home
I long to embrace you
And never let you go
Almost hope you’re in Heaven
So no one can hurt your soul
Living in agony,
For I just do not know
Where you are

Lou started, looking to the computer as the words of the song on the Internet radio station really sunk in. It was a song about the missing, and the grieving left behind, and the drive to find out what had happened.

He swallowed hard, heartbroken. Overall, the song just about perfectly captured his feelings. Except . . . could he ever really think that he would rather Ginger was dead than alive, even if he were being tortured? If he was alive, there was still hope that he could come back . . . that he could heal. As long as they had each other, Lou was sure that anything that had been done to Ginger’s soul could be repaired. Lou was the only person alive whom Ginger really cared about. It wasn’t a romantic love in the least, but it was all Ginger needed and wanted to feel whole.

Lou waited until the song ended. But when the next one started up, he froze, a chill going down his spine.

At the end of the world,
Or the last thing I see,
You are never coming home
Never coming home

That shattered any possible remnants of sanity and holding it together that Lou had struggled to cobble up over the last few days. He shut off the Internet radio station and closed the laptop, crossing his arms on the desk as he slumped down. He didn’t actually cry; that had come already. But he shook, devastated and grieving and wanting more than anything to discover that this was all a terrible dream, something to wake up from and prove false.

He wanted to wake up and find that Ginger had come home.

All the smiles that are
Ever gonna haunt me…

All the wounds that are
Ever gonna scar me
For all the ghosts that are
Never gonna catch me

He had heard the song before; shutting off the radio didn’t shut it off in his mind. Now that he hadn’t let the song finish, it would probably linger in his mind for hours, torturing him, mocking him, broadcasting the horrible truth loud and clear for him to hear every moment.

So many times he had fooled himself into thinking, even for a split-second, that the nightmare was the dream and Ginger was there, in the next room, watching television or working on the laptop or sketching some new idea for work. Lou would go in there half-expecting to see his friend. But of course, he didn’t and couldn’t.

Ginger never liked being interrupted in the middle of something. But he did enjoy being with Lou, and most times he would stop whatever he was doing to make time for Lou. They had had some of their most enjoyable conversations during those times.

Lou stood, aching and weary, and went to the doorway, looking out at the lonely upstairs hall and the stairs to the left. No one was there. Mike would be by later, but for now, Lou was alone.

Wasn’t he?

“Are you here, Buddy?” he called, quavering, hoping.

Ginger would come back if he at all could. He would be so happy to reunite with his parents again, but he wouldn’t forget Lou. He had already promised to try to get back, even though he doubted he would be allowed to be a guardian angel or anything else “that good.”

“Oh Ginger . . .” Lou stepped out of his room and walked over to Ginger’s. “I never really could make you see that you’re a good guy. You don’t deserve all the self-hatred you put on yourself. They’d let you be a guardian angel. Okay, maybe you’d have kind of a crooked halo, but . . .” He smiled sadly, sincerely.

The room looked so lonely. It was mostly immaculately straight, the way Ginger liked it, but every now and then he allowed something out of place. If there was anything mixed-up in the room now, though, Lou couldn’t find it.

But Ginger wouldn’t be in there if he had come back. He would be with Lou. Unless he couldn’t make Lou sense him and he had gotten so discouraged that he had retreated to his room for a while.

Lou clenched a fist. He would sense Ginger if he were there. He had immediately seen when Ginger had appeared as an astral-projected spirit after a hit-and-run.

Part of him wanted to keep believing that Ginger was alive and that was why Lou couldn’t sense him. But the other part didn’t want to keep torturing himself with probable make-believe.

He turned away, agonized. “Please come back,” he whispered fruitlessly. “Please come home.”
****

Ginger started awake. “What the bloody . . .” He rose up on the couch, blinking at the television. Someone had left it on a music channel; The Ghost of You was playing. Ginger scowled, snapping it off.

On the other couch, back-to-back with the first one, Lou jumped a mile too. “Huh?” He knelt up, peering over the couch at Ginger. “What happened?”

“We were both taking a kip, apparently,” Ginger replied.

Lou yawned. “That’s weird.”

“After the month we’ve been having? Not as weird as all that.” Ginger sat up, leaning into the corner of the couch. “What is unpleasantly odd is that I was dreaming about when I thought you’d been killed in that car crash.”

“Yeah?” Lou’s eyes widened. “I dreamed about when I thought you’d been killed in the airplane crash.”

“And that bloody song was playing in the background.”

“I didn’t hear it, but I remember hearing it back then.” Lou shook his head and got up, coming around to the other couch and sitting by the opposite corner. “It was awful. You are never coming home. That just pounded it into my head all the more that you were gone.”

Ginger nodded. “I might have smashed the radio if I’d heard it back then. My patience and my sanity were hanging by a thread. Thinking of how I would take revenge on that whole pack of jackals kept me centered and focused. I tried to think only about that instead of that you were gone.” He sighed, suddenly looking so tired. “That was why Michael couldn’t abide being in the same house with me.”

Lou moved closer to Ginger on the couch. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “But you guys have patched things up pretty well since then.”

“True.” Ginger looked to him. “But I don’t want to find out any time soon how we would get along during a different instance of thinking you’re dead.”

“I don’t want you to either,” Lou said, resting a hand on Ginger’s shoulder. “Just like I also don’t want to experience again what it’s like to think you’re dead.”

“Of course you wouldn’t.” Ginger looked irritated. “It was probably that row with the siren that left us in a bloody vulnerable state so we’d have dreams of the unwelcome past.”

“Probably.” Lou leaned back into the couch. “I was already thinking about when I nearly lost you at the docks, and that probably got you thinking about what led up to it. And then my mind wandered off thinking about the airplane crash.” He shuddered. “We’ve really had some awful experiences.”

“But at least we’re still here proclaiming them awful,” Ginger remarked. “That’s your usual attitude, is it not?”

Lou managed a smile. “Yeah. And it’s true; that’s sure something to be grateful for. I just hope it’ll stay that way for a long, long time.”

Ginger certainly felt the same. He would still really like for them to die together when the time came, yet he hated to think of Michael, and Lou’s parents, left behind to grieve. There really weren’t any ways for all of them to escape the sorrow and pain of losing loved ones. Not until they were all together in Heaven—if they would all make it there, and Lou was insistent on believing that Ginger would.

“Well,” Lou suddenly broke into Ginger’s thoughts, “I don’t know about you, Buddy, but I’ve had enough of thinking and dreaming about death. Let’s do something to celebrate being alive and together instead.”

Ginger inclined his head just slightly. “And what would you suggest?”

Lou shrugged. “We could watch something together, or play pool, maybe.”

“We could. But do you really want to go in the basement tonight, after the month we’ve been having?”

Lou considered that and shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

“I didn’t imagine you would. So we’ll watch something instead.”

Lou was perfectly agreeable to that. “Just as long as it’s nothing supernatural.”

“Unless it’s a good ghost, I’ve had quite enough of everything supernatural,” Ginger said flatly. “Not that it was ever a category I particularly enjoyed.”

Lou chuckled. “. . . There’s some ghost movie on,” he said, flipping through TV Guide. “The Uninvited. There’s a good ghost and a bad ghost in it, if I remember right.”

Ginger looked over at the magazine. “Isn’t that the one what was the first film to depict ghosts in a serious manner?”

“I think so. One of the first, anyway.” Lou set the magazine aside. “Stephen King said it was one of the scariest movies ever or something.”

Ginger scoffed. “Oh, that’s preposterous. It’s not very frightening.” He leaned back. “I’ve never read one of his books. That makes me question whether they’re really frightening.”

Lou was amused. “I really couldn’t say; horror’s never been my genre of choice. But maybe we only think it’s not a scary movie because of what we’ve been going through the last year or so.”

“No; I saw that film far longer ago than a year,” Ginger said. “I just couldn’t see what could possibly make it more frightening than countless other supernatural films.”

“The crying scene is sure creepy, though,” Lou said. “It really made me shiver when the guy’s sister said that she’d been hearing it during the times when she was all alone in the house before he came.”

“That was disturbing,” Ginger granted.

“That’s one thing we haven’t run into yet,” Lou said. “I really hope we won’t.”

“Hope, but don’t count on it,” Ginger warned.

Lou sighed in agreement. “. . . The séance scene was pretty creepy too,” he said. “And one of the ghosts talking through the girl.”

Ginger nodded. “It was idiotic when people used to hold séances as harmless parlor games,” he said. “Who knows what the bloody devil they summoned into their homes. And that probably still hasn’t left a hundred years later.”

Lou shuddered. “Okay, this is getting too creepy. Let’s talk about something else.”

Ginger was willing. “Just remember, you started this discussion by bringing up that film,” he said.

“Yeah,” Lou groaned. “I know.”

“Let’s watch Gotham,” Ginger said suddenly. “That’s a rather decent series. We picked up the most recent episode, didn’t we?”

Lou loaded the DVR and checked. “Yeah, it’s here.” He leaned back. “It’s kind of creepy too, but I guess the difference is that its creepiness is mostly the dark side of human nature instead of ghosts.”

Ginger nodded. “And sometimes human nature is the most disturbing of all. But I’m interested to see what happens next. James Gordon certainly has his work cut out for him, to try to reform that entire blasted city.”

Lou leaned back. “No kidding. You know, I was kind of surprised when you showed an interest in this show. I mean, you’re not really a comic-book kind of guy.”

“No, but Batman isn’t your average superhero, either,” Ginger replied. “There aren’t any preposterous laser beam eyes or phasing through walls or what-have-you. There’s only cold, hard logic and science and skill.” He folded his arms. “I never liked crossing Batman over with more standard superheroes because of that. It just doesn’t mix.”

Lou looked thoughtful. “I guess you’ve got a point. Except there are weird things like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy.”

“True,” Ginger acknowledged. “But at least it’s explained what happened to them and it seemed to stem from science rather than that they were simply born with such strange powers. That makes a difference. Of course, there are still things that I don’t want to believe are possible through any means, including science.”

“Same here,” Lou said. “And if those aliens we met are right, most of those things really aren’t possible.”

“They had better be right,” Ginger declared.

Lou smiled. “Well, should we start now?”

Ginger nodded. “Yes. Let’s.”

“Okay, then. Gotham it is.” Lou hit Play.

For the next forty-five minutes, he and Ginger became wrapped up in the adventures of a young James Gordon and Bruce Wayne, leaving their own problems aside.

It definitely felt good.

As did the fact that they were both alive and sharing the time together.

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