Lots of thanks to the Yahoo!group, that's full of inspiration and nice people who gave me this idea.
And thanks to my beta! She's studying English, and I think she did a great job.
This is about 'Meeting again', in more ways than one. A little drama, romance and some spice. Four parts in four days, starting today. Have fun (I have).
This was bound to happen, all working and living in Denver. Yet time and place surprised all three of them.
Denver, Octobre 10th, 1990
Gently, the eminence of his appearance oozed through the hallway. He was noticed. Some people knew who he was, some only recognized his familiair face, others just watched him because he stood out. Tall, heavy, but sophisticated with a demeanour that demanded respect. The heavy reliance on his cane wasn't unusual for someone his age. Age that had not been gentle to him at a physical level, causing him pain and inconvenience now, but instigated by a life fully lived and fully enjoyed. The years of thrilling, at times litteral hunts for justice, days and nights, accompanied by truthful friends had indeed taken their toll. But he was fine with it.
He had lived, and was still living life to the fullest. Enjoying it in great lengths, still looking forward to every single next day, his sense of humour washing away thoughts about bad times and irreversible mistakes. He thought regret was a waste of time, happiness was a choice which could be actively created by people themselves, and decisions based on intuition mostly turned out for the best. Apart from all the philosophical truths that he had come across, and had conveyed if he thought necessary, he had found one evident truth that had proven to be more truthful than any other. Working and living with Della Street was a lifelengthening event as well as a very pleasant activity, never a mistake, and fortunately, very irreversible.
Even if it sometimes meant waiting for her in the hall of Denver's General Hospital for a while.
Stretching his back before slowly sitting down on the comfortable black leather arm chair, he leaned his cane against the arm chair on his right side. She had told him to wait here for her. Not even trying to convince her otherwise, because he knew it wouldn't make any difference, he had asked her what time her appointment would end. She had given him the time, in her voice a hint of appreciation because he hadn't tried to persuade her to take him with her to the doctor. But Della Street had said 'no', which meant 'no'. He knew her all too well to argue.
He chewed on his inner cheeks, not sure if he should be worried about her. She had said she'd be 'fine, just fine' and had called it 'just a minor female issue'. But this 'minor female issue' had already meant six weeks of refraining very unvoluntarily from having her, which had been not 'fine, just fine' at all.
Mutual jokes and remarks be damned, he ached for her. Not for just sex. For her. He fumbled with the fingers of his left hand, then let them rest on his chin, very aware of the stirring in his body, that didn't have anything to do with need for food. Six weeks. Six weeks, not without her soft sighs or ditto hands on him, but with these sensual treats, mostly after something that started as just an innocent, pristine kiss. It had made it deliriously difficult to not listen and to not give in to the messages that were sent throughout them both. It had made them vulnerable.
Humouring themselves, they had been testing and teasing eachother. " There are other ways, you know, " she had said to his ear at particular moments, as if he didn't know. As if they hadn't fully explored and challenged that part of their loving lust in just the last couple of decades. Yet, as they had also found out before, there was nothing like the real thing.
He held his forehead in his hand, and felt the deepening creases in the skin. He massaged them as if he could actually match her techniques to soften the lines. Her soft hands, the long slender graceful fingers, that according to everyone who cared to have an opinion, pressumably lacked the golden band he should have given her decades ago. They were so mistaken. She'd still whisper to him how she considered they married every single time they made love. Not one experience had ever brought them closer together, not one ring, not one signature, not even a softly spoken sentence. And he couldn't agree more.
Had agreed always actually. The agreement had arrived together with her in his life. There was a very clear line in his life involving this specific matter, seperating his life with her from the part of his life without her. In his young days, the evil and harshness of people's crimes had more than once driven him into random female soft and warm arms, when he wanted to forget, wanted to be primal, wearing himself out physically, drinking heavily, swallowing hang-overs, beating thoughts of evil and harm. It had made him able to process and move on.
But that was until Della Street had reached out for him with teary eyes after a devastating case that had ended after the accused, depressed defendant had killed himself. She had accepted Perry's hungry mouth and hands, while whispering that they shouldn't and couldn't. She had kept on whispering the words over and over, even when she had explored his naked body with experienced hands, had pulled him to her, had arched under his hands to make him worship her and more, had urged him to have her.
" I love you … " the timbre, the tones, the words and their pure meaning had hit him, from the first time up to this day. But especially then it had spiralled him to an unknown height at lightening speed before he was gently brought back to sanity on waves of soft sighs. Grasping her, he'd held her close, so she had felt and heard the blood racing through his veins, the subsiding pounding of his heart against her warm cheeks, wet of tears, but with a smile. At that moment he realised they hadn't just had sex, but had made love. Never had he thought it would be this way, and as her need was obviously the same he threw himself into her arms, that grew warmer with everytime they made love, even if they shouldn't. Especially if they shouldn't.
He smiled. 'We shouldn't.' Still, to this day these words just kept spurring them on. Even now, when their rythm had somewhat subsided, 'we can't' and 'we shouldn't' were ignitions. As if the negation wasn't there.
In an attempt to whipe the both recalling and anticipating sinful grin from his face, his hand rubbed his eyelids, and went downwards over his cheeks and beard. The grin however, did not leave his eyes.
At the other side of the hall, two slender female hands tightened their grip at the armrests of a chair. Just a very small wave of his cologne, still the same cologne. It had reached her and had made her darkbrown eyes look up from the newspaper in front of her on the table. She stopped breathing when she saw him walking by.
The tailored three piece dark grey suit as well as the crisp white shirt underneath, the evident cuff links, his watch, pinky ring, the greyish beard, the cane, were all so definetely Perry Mason now, that it was hard for her to remember what he had looked like in the old days.
She knew the man himself called these days now his 'old days'. Working with timelines in his sharp, close to photographic mind, it was more logical to him to adjust his vocabulary that way. What happened earlier, was 'young', what happened now, was 'old'. She knew that. She knew how his mind worked. She had known him before these days, his old days, had started.
Now his stare through the hallway was arrogant, the hint of a grin taking the edge of the coldness in his eyes. Not deliberately arrogant, this was just his way of taking in his surroundings. Always had been. Nowadays, probably still, she thought, this gaze would only soften automatically for children, and for one particular woman. That one woman was not near him now. A soft pensive smile tugged at her lips, when she realised that she indeed had scanned the hallway for Della Street's presence, at the same moment his scent had reached her. Della Street and Perry Mason, two parts of a whole, something she had already accepted unconsciously, but still could not understand while consciously thinking in terms of carreers, backgrounds and education.
Trying to control her shaking hands, she fumbled with her fingers. What was it that made this man still so mercilessly attractive to her? He was old, he was big. His younger days, the times his handsome appearance turned many heads, both female and male, were long, long gone, or weren't they? What was it that made her want to throw herself at him, even now? Wanting to be held by him, loved by him, to be physical without one word spoken? Were it the memories of their few nights spend together, laughing, drinking, discussing and, loving?
She swallowed. Images, emotions. And treason.
If he only knew how hard she had tried to come to terms with her life without him, wishing him all the best, but all the time still believing that she would suit so well in his life, because she knew and respected his ways, and how his mind worked.
Folding the newspaper in front of her, she realised again she had never stopped loving him, just paused it. Postponed it.
Against better judgement, she stood up to be closer.
Not ready to see his eyes yet, she leaned her figure towards the back of the chair next to him. " Would you drink a cup of coffee if I put it in front of you? "
He recognized the rich accent and the overseas tones immediately. He reacted stoically, without any hint of surprise. " No." It was the appropriate response, even though her last treason towards him had taken place over three years ago. " I don't want to end up like Socrates … "
" That's brutish, Perry … I wouldn't poison you. " Without any humour, she added " What if I drank from it first ? "
" Drinking from my cup? " he threw her a short stern look from aside.
" Kind of. To prove it's safe. I'm safe. " She avoided his eyes, fully aware of the metaphorical meaning he had silently added to his words. With gracious moves that allowed her heavy perfume to embrace him shortly, she walked towards the chair opposite of him, and sank down on it. He shivered as if to shake off her nearness. Thinking about, wanting, needing Della Street, while being in the presence of Laura Robertson-Martin caused short-circuiting sensations in his mind.
Continuing the metaphor, his low voice stated " We stopped drinking from eachothers cups a long time ago, Laura. And, you might remember, that was not without reason. "
Watching her while she crossed her legs, he snorted at her bluntness. She had just sat down in front of him, as if he had invited her to do so, as if he was welcoming her company. No questions considered, let alone asked.
" Yes, do please sit down. "
She immediately stood up. " Oh, I'm sorry, Perry. Do you want me to leave? "
" No. " Somewhat taken away by her demure reaction, he watched the swing doors behind her, while pointing at them. " I just want to be able to see those doors. "
" Waiting for someone? "
" Yes. "
" Is she all right? "
" She is finding out about that now. "
" You didn't go with her? "
" No. " There was no reason at all to explain himself, but he did. " She's a very private person. If it's important, she'll tell me. If not, I'll never know. " He added softly " And I won't ask. "
" I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ... " She stopped. He was silent. She decided to say something she should have said years ago. " I'm sorry for a lot of things, Perry. " He just stared at her, showing no emotion at all. " I had a lot of time to think about things. You must despise me. You have every right to. "
" I don't despise people, Laura. I despise some of their behaviour. I despised yours. I still don't fully understand. "
" I guess I did what I thought was right at that moment. Like I always do. "
" And what did you gain? " He asked her, watching his hands.
Annoyed by his presumptuous attitude, she snapped at him " Gain from what? Gain from life? " She looked sidewards and inhaled firmly. " What did you gain from life, Perry? Money ? "
" Money … " he snorted.
His reaction annoyed her even more. " Don't you work your fabled magnanimous attitude on me. You're not a saint, Perry. I know you. You know how important it is to have money. You taught me yourself. You told me how it can be very useful to buy yourself into business or whatever, if not litteral, then figuratively speaking. "
I used money like you used your body. " I never said it wasn't important. It is very convenient to have money, we've always agreed on that. "
" What did I gain from life … " Contemplating on the question, he fumbled with his fingers while looking at them. Then he softly chuckled. " Weight. "
" Hmm-mm. " There was no point in denying that.
" Love. " The word shook her hard, all the way into her core. " Yes. "
" And so did you. " His low voice hit her again, though the words were meant to heal, and came out softly.
If you only realised. " It's hard to hang on to that, Perry, now that he … " These tears were genuine. Who knew? Maybe she had changed. He handed her a neatly folded handkerchief. The other handkerchief was still tucked away safely, hidden inside his suitjacket. That one was there for his own reassurance, for circumstances in which he needed a hand without being able to actually grab or hold it. It wasn't his. Though the owner would probably have approved if he had used it now, under these circumstances, he had granted the lady in front of him the spare one.
" How is Glenn now? " he queried, watching her regaining a steady appearance.
" Well … nothing really changed. He's still in a coma. No improvement, no deterioration. Chances are very small that he'll wake up in the next few months. Or ever. " She twisted the handkerchief. " There is not a lot left of him. He is just a body now. "
" I'm sorry. It must be hard for you. "
" You can't imagine, Perry. "
They were silent, momentarily absorbed by their own thoughts.
She was the first to speak again. " Some people were very happy to learn he did sign the divorce papers before he had the stroke. His son was glad anyway. "
" Ah … The stepson. Glenn Junior… How is he doing? Is he coping? "
" I really don't know. " She sighed, stroking her skirt slowly. " We only talk through our lawyers, and only if it's really necessary. I did try to reach him, but he doesn't want to talk to me. " She sighed again. " We've even made a schedule who can visit his father and when, in such a way he doesn't have to meet me. "
" That sounds bad. "
" It is bad. He sometimes hides in the men's room until I'm gone. He was in there for an hour yesterday, because he hadn't noticed I had left already. "
It made Perry laugh, deepening his dimples. She smiled a small smile, and leaned back. Then she started laughing too, shaking her head.
Whiping two stubborn tears from her eyes, she made her rich voice take on a demure tone. " Will there ever be a way we could laugh at what I did to you? "
He leaned back. Talking to Laura still felt as playing chess with a worthy opponent, requiring the ability to foresee unexpected moves. " Give me one good reason why. "
" I could really use a friend right now. "
" A friend? Me? "
" Yes, a friend. Someone who knows me. Someone to talk to, Perry. Someone to listen to me, to cheer me up. "
All for your own convenience.
He was silent again, thought about his next move and decided to test her. " I have been meaning to ask you something. "
" Yes? "
" I have never been able to find out what you two were talking about, when I barged in. "
She knew exactly what he was talking about. " She has never told you? "
" No. She said it wasn't important. But I think it was. " He watched her thoughtfully. " What were you two talking about? "
She sighed. " I asked her about you and her. About your relationship. " That was the right answer, he knew that of course, and the fact that she was truthful about it surprised him. Yet anger still had the upper hand.
" You asked Della about her and me ? "
" I was less than sensible at the time, Perry. " She touched her hair at the side of her head, combed through it with her fingers in well practised moves. He remembered them. It was a sign that she felt very uncomfortable. He believed she should.
" I'd say … " His jaws tightened. " I can't believe that. I know you saw us together two hours before you spoke to her. "
The remark brought back memories of the sight she had witnessed then, indeed two hours before, but had firmly closed her eyes to immediately afterwards. But she had seen Della Street's delicate hands softly massage Perry's eyes and brows, while he sat back on his chair. The way she had leaned forward over his body had left no doubt whatsoever about the familiairity of the intimacy. He had raised his eyes to hers, visibly relaxing his tightened jaws and shoulders. To this day Laura had not been able to get rid of the images of Miss Street's slightly parted lips brushing his, her hands stroking his beard and then that damned dazzling smile.
It had been that moment Laura had realised the shape and location of Miss Street's barely visible wrinkles were caused by smiling at Perry Mason. Loving him so dearly and so evidently at that moment, when she thought there was no one to see the deep love pouring from her sparkling eyes. Just before Laura had turned to make her nausea subside, she had seen Perry's strong hands travelling upwards underneath the secretary's carefully buttoned jacket. His hands invisible, but obviously so at home and welcome there. Laura had damned herself for being close enough to be able to read the glint of desire in his eyes. It was the rawness of this desire she remembered, as well as what it brought on, if given room and opportunity. Her stomach as well as the parts underneath still clenched at the thought of it, especially now. Her pulse quickened.
Perry pretended not to be aware of the reason of her flushing cheeks, or misread it on purpose. He raised his voice just a little to draw her attention back to him. As if it wasn't with him already.
" You hurt her. I don't know what you said exactly, but you hurt her. "
" Well, she hurt me too, Perry. " She refered to events long gone, yet her temper still shone through. " I don't have to remind you, do I? "
" No, you don't have to remind me. " He sighed, annoyed. " An eye for an eye, right? "
" I chose to live my life that way, yes. "
" And it paid off, didn't it? "
She swallowed hard before standing up. " I have to go, I'm going to see Glenn now. " Her shoulders sunk in when she looked down at him. " How come we always end up this way, Perry? Why is it always about what we didn't have ? "
" Because that's what we did back then. We always emphasized our differences without taking advantage of them, we always emphasized our flaws. We were in constant competition, Laura. That's why it didn't work. "
His eyes drifted off to the other side of the hallway, and his stare softened immediately. She couldn't and didn't want to turn to look in the same direction, knowing who was the center of his attention now. From the corner of her eyes, she noticed the fumbling of his fingers. She remembered the gesture.
Miss Street's loud laughter filled the air, and intertwined with Ken Malansky's hearty chuckling. As much as she wanted to ignore it, there was no possible way to do so anymore.
" Is he your apprentice ? "
" Yes. His name is Ken Malansky. He's assisting me with my cases. He's probably here now to take us to our next assignment. "
" Ken Malansky. I heard about him. He's good. "
" He is. And he's going to take over the firm, so I have to make him even better. "
They stood next to eachother. She took in a deep breath, watching the smiling woman, in her impeccable attire. Purple today, a creamy white elegant scarf draped over her shoulders. " She looks good. "
" Yes. " He stared. " Yes, she does. " The melancholic tone of his sentence was close to wistful.
She turned to walk away.
" Laura? "
" Perry? "
" If you do offer friendship, and I mean real friendship, I'll think about it. "
" Thank you. I'll know where to find you. In time. " She put her hand on his chest. " I'll return your handkerchief. Clean of course. " She smiled a small smile.
" Keep it. " His thoughts were leaving her already. " Take care. "
" Thank you. " But he didn't hear these words. As he wasn't aware of the commotion and panic that would capture the heart of Mrs. Laura Robertson-Martin moments later.