I REMEMBER L. A.
It's the day before Thanksgiving, but Hutch doesn't have much to be thankful for and then a blast from the past walks into his office. But is it too late to remember their years in LA?
An established relationship story.
Written: May 2012. Word count: 2,518.
Kenneth Hutchinson, corporate lawyer, sat in his palatial corner office and accessed his electronic schedule for the day. It was the day before Thanksgiving but for Kenneth it was just another day; he had no interest in joining in the pre-holiday festivities or discussing recipes for stuffing or whose family was the most obnoxious.
In fact he doubted he'd bother taking the day off, or at least not the entire day; what was the point? He had no one to go home to; no family to share the day with; why would he want to spend the day at home with another TV dinner, while watching a movie he'd either fall asleep in front of or lose the plot when he started to think about his work? No, he might as well get up at his usual time, go into the office, do a few hours work and then maybe, possibly, call his favorite restaurant and see if they had a table for him - they always did.
However, he may not be celebrating the day but he'd kept the news that he'd almost certainly be coming into the office from his assistant, otherwise she would feel obligated to come in too, as would a couple of the younger trainee lawyers who his assistant would tell. Kenneth didn't want to spoil the day for anyone else - let them all enjoy their celebrations and he could do what he wanted to.
"Mr. Hutchinson?" he looked up to see Helena, his assistant, standing in the doorway.
"There's a," she paused for a moment and then said, "gentleman outside; he wishes to see you."
Kenneth blinked and looked at his schedule, but he had nothing detailed for the next two hours, not before the Board meeting he had to attend at one of his client's offices. "Does this gentleman have a name?"
Helena sighed and fiddled with the pencil she carried. Kenneth frowned. "I'm sure he does, Mr. Hutchinson, however, he refused to tell me what it was, nor which company he is from - in fact he said he wasn't from a company."
"He does know I'm a corporate lawyer?"
Helena nodded. "Oh, yes, I made sure he knew that. But he was most insistent that I at least tell you he is here. He said," she looked down at her notebook and then back at Kenneth, "Ask him if he remembers L. A."
I remember L .A.
Seems a lifetime ago
Kenneth took his glasses off and stared at Helena, or rather he stared in her direction; he didn't see her. L. A. - that was a lifetime ago - but of course he remembered it. He remembered everything about it; the good times and the bad; catching the bad guys only to fail to catch twice as many; loving, losing, fighting, making up, the crazy clothes and the even crazier cars, friends, beer, far too many hours spent in bars. But most of all he remembered one person.
There were days in the sun
That have stayed forever young
Nights when passion was invincible
We thought love would never die
"Starsk," he whispered, the name fell from his lips without him even thinking about it. As more images, intimate images, flashed into his mind. Two bodies, so closely joined they could have been one; hands, lips moving over naked flesh, doing things to one another that should have embarrassed him, but never did.
The passion they shared, a passion that had burned for years, a passion he'd never felt before or since, a passion he had been addicted to, a passion that he couldn't have walked away from. And the love; the love he'd never known; never wanted to know; he'd never wanted to love someone as much as he'd loved Starsky, he'd never wanted anyone to love him as much as Starsky had loved him - because that kind of love is dangerous, lethal, addictive, it sucked you in and pulled you under until you couldn't swim, all you could do is sink. A love both of them had believed couldn't end, couldn't die. But of course it had and he'd sunk; he'd been left to sink.
There were moments in that lifetime
That my heart still replays
There were minutes, there were hours, there were days
There are moments I still love you that same way
When I remember L .A.
L. A., his past; a past he wished he could forget; a past he tried hard to forget; a past he almost, nearly, forgot apart from the odd moment or two when he would see a dark curly haired, blue-eyed man who had a swagger and it would all come flooding back, and for a second or two, no more, he knew he still loved the man who'd broken not only his heart, but had broken him.
I remember goodbye
I watched your plane out of sight
Love was over, time to close the book
Still I go back for one last look
He'd even gone to the airport and had stood and watched the plane taking his life away until he couldn't see it, couldn't see anything any longer. And he'd turned, got on to a different plane and had headed off in the opposite direction, gone back to college, got his law degree and had become the best damn lawyer in the state - one of the top five in the country!
L. A. was his past - and that was where it was going to remain; in the past. He shook his head and his eyes focused and he saw Helena staring at him. "Tell Mr. Starsky I'm -"
"Hello, babe." The same voice, just a little lower; the same greeting, the name only one person had ever called him. The same man, just fifteen years older; dressed in an actual suit and tie, even if his dress shirt collar was open. A few pounds heavier, but then so was Kenneth.
"Sir, you can't just come in here," Helena said her tone sharp. "I am sorry, Mr. Hutchinson. I'll make sure the," again she paused, "gentleman leaves now." The contempt in Helena's tone as she said 'gentleman' was clear.
"No, Helena, thank you. It's all right. I can spare the gentleman ten minutes." The words were out of Kenneth's mouth before he thought about them. They had not been the words he'd intended to say. "Please show Mr. Starsky in."
Helena stared at him as if he'd asked her to dance a jig or strip off and run through the offices. He could understand it; he never saw people who didn't have an appointment and he never saw anyone other than corporate clients. Kenneth cleared his throat and Helena started. "Yes, Mr. Hutchinson," she said quickly. "Please come this way, Mr. Starsky."
Kenneth watched the man from his past walk into his office; the swagger was still there. He was still David Michael Starsky, the man he'd been partners with, friends with, loved, trusted, worked with, played with, believed in, had thought he'd grow old and grey with. Love was over, he told himself as he stood up, glanced at Helena and nodded that she should leave them.
As she closed the door he held out his hand. "Starsky," he said, trying to ignore the spark that raced through his body as the hand he'd once known as well as his own closed around his hand. The handshake was firm, Starsky's hand dry and free from calluses; that was new, he couldn't remember a time when Starsky's hands, even his right hand, weren't callused from the job.
"Hello, Hutch," Starsky said, staring straight into his eyes. "How are you?"
Fifteen years; it had been fifteen years since anyone had called him 'Hutch'; it was either: Hutchinson, Mr. Hutchinson or Kenneth - never Ken - or even Mr. Kenneth. But, as he stood staring back into dark blue eyes that seemed to glow as they looked at him, the fifteen years fell away and Kenneth became 'Hutch' again.
How was he? Fifteen years older; a hell of a lot richer; a good, a damn good, lawyer; a workaholic (at least in the eyes of many); a good boss; a good citizen; he gave plenty of money to charity every year and also gave his time; a man who could get a seat at his favorite restaurant whenever he wanted it; a man who was highly respected; highly thought of; liked by most; a man whose suits were made for him; a man who bought a new car every year; a man who knew and enjoyed good wine and food; a man who lived in a house far too big for a family of six, let alone a bachelor; a man who liked to read, listen to music, fall asleep in front of movies; a man who had made his mark on the city; a man who was tipped to go even higher; a man who rarely, if ever, spoke of his years as a detective in L. A.; a man who couldn't remember the last time he'd had a date, let alone taken anyone to bed; a man who had loved and been loved with a passion few would ever know; a man who was lonely; alone; a man who still loved the man who had walked away from him. So how did that make him?
"Fine, thank you, Starsky. And you? How are you?"
Finally Starsky let go of his hand. "I'm good, Hutch. Really good."
"Good. That's . . . Good." When had they become so stilted with one another? Well, fifteen years could do that. "I was sorry to hear about your mom."
"Married with three kids."
"Oh, that's nice."
"Yeah. Uncle David, who'd have thought it?"
"No and no. You?"
"The same. I'm sorry, do sit down." Hutch waved his hand to the chair in front of his desk and sat back down in his own chair. "So what brings you to DC?"
Starsky sat down in the chair, leaned back and put one leg over the other as he continued to stare at Hutch. Hutch had to force himself not to fidget in his chair or even get up and walk about or to pick up a pen and play with it. He made himself sit still, upright and forced himself to meet the steady gaze that was fixed on him. Finally, Starsky gave a half shrug and said softly, "You."
Hutch felt his mouth dry up and his throat become tight; his palms began to sweat and he could feel his heart rate increase as he continued to be held captive by blue eyes he knew so well. "What do you mean by that?" he finally made himself say.
"Whatever you'd like me to mean." Starsky uncrossed his legs and instead leaned forward, his hands now on Hutch's desk. "Hutch, babe, we -"
Hutch stood up and strode across the office. "There's no 'we', Starsky. You made sure of that fifteen years ago. There's no 'we' and there's no 'me 'n' thee', there's just you and there's just me. Two people who used to know one another, who used to work together, who used to be friends. Two people who now live in different cities, in different worlds even, who have nothing in common. It was nice of you to stop by, Starsky, but I have things to do, clients to see."
"And lovers," Starsky said quietly, also standing up and turning to face Hutch.
"You missed that part out."
Hutch shook his head and ran his hand distractedly through his hair as unwanted images again raced into his mind. He turned away from the piercing gaze, strode to the window and stared down onto the streets of Washington DC, watching the people all go about their business, hurrying along, some with their heads down, others talking on their cell phones, some carrying bulging shopping bags, no doubt filled with things for their Thanksgiving dinner, bumping into one another; none of them seemed to have time for anyone else. They were all too wrapped up in their own small world; none of them seemed to care; one of them could collapse on the street and half a dozen or more would just hurry by, not even glancing down, not wanting to get involved - Hutch had seemed it happen more than once. Was that what he had become? Were the people down there on the streets what he was?
"Look, Hutch," he felt a hand on his shoulder; he wanted to shake it off, he wanted to turn around and tell Starsky to get the hell out of his office and life. He really wanted to do those things. Instead he just stood, his forehead resting against the glass, Starsky's hand warm, heavy, comforting, wanted on his shoulder. "I know I hurt you and I'm sorry for that. But I had to go, because, babe, I couldn't give you what you wanted, what you needed then. If I'd have stayed we'd have destroyed one another."
Still Hutch said nothing; still he just stood staring down, now unseeingly, into the streets below. The thing was, the thing that gave him a bitter taste in his mouth was that he knew Starsky was right. He'd known it at the time; he'd known it throughout the lonely fifteen years - he'd just never admitted it to himself. Yes, Starsky had left him; had hurt him beyond anything he'd thought possible. But, it had been the right thing for him to do and it hadn't destroyed Hutch; it had made him stronger; it had made him the man he was now; Starsky walking away may possibly have been the best thing that had ever happened to Hutch. But what now? Would Starsky coming back into his life be the right thing? Was it right? Leaving had been right; would coming back also be right?
He turned around. "Starsk -"
But Starsky shook his head. "Hush, babe. Not now. I know you have clients to see; money to make and I don't want to get in the way. But how about we spend Thanksgiving together? Or at least part of it? We could talk, catch up, see if we maybe do have anything left in common. See if . . ." He trailed off.
Hutch's hand moved of its own accord and he took the hand that wasn't on his shoulder, squeezing it for a moment or two before moving letting it fall from his. "Just talk?" he said softly.
"That, Mr. Kenneth Hutchinson, is up to you." And then to Hutch's surprise, Starsky leaned forward and brushed a light, chaste kiss over Hutch's lips. "Later, babe," he said, putting his hands into his trouser pockets and swaggering off across Hutch's office.
As he stood and watched him go Hutch knew that there would be more than just 'talking'. Leaving had been right. It looked as if coming back would be right too.
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