Harlequin's Slash Fic

He Probably Tried to Do Something

Title: He Probably Tried to Do Something
Author: Julien
Universe: LA Confidential
Characters featured: Jack Vincennes/Matt Reynolds
Category, Word count: Short story; 4152 words
Rating: R
Summary: The worldly Jack Vincennes is intrigued despite himself by the naive charms of Matt Reynolds. When everything goes horribly wrong, Jack is moved to try to make amends.
Warnings: This story includes the death of the main characters, as portrayed in the movie.
First published: 14 February 1999 in Homosapien 6

 

 

He Probably Tried to Do Something

 

Jack met the kid on a marijuana bust: Sergeant Jack Vincennes, celebrity crime–stopper, was the arresting officer, and Matt Reynolds, young wannabe actor, was the perp. The whole thing had been set up by Sid Hudgens, chief reporter with the sinnuendo rag Hush–Hush. Jack earned himself another notch on his arrest record, a crisp new fifty dollar note, and his picture on the cover; Sid won a juicy story featuring the pretty blond actor, a half–naked starlet, and a bag of dope; Matt Reynolds got a misdemeanour – he was lucky it wasn’t a felony – and a stay at the honour farm for first–timers… Well, two out of the three men were happy.

Of course Jack figured he’d never see the kid again. After mentally skipping ahead a few months and packing a chastened Matt Reynolds onto the bus back home to Minnesota or whatever backwater he came from, Jack barely even gave him a second thought. He kept a copy of the magazine, of course, but that was for his own glory. MOVIE PREMIERE POT BUST read the headline…

The kid sure looked pretty in the photo, handcuffed and mostly undressed and very nicely built, never mind the dumb dazed look. Jack Vincennes, aka Trashcan Jack, filed the magazine away with the others, and mostly forgot all about Matt Reynolds. There were larger fish in the sea.

 

Jack was gay, and Brett Chase loved the girls. Therein lay the heartache.

Not that Jack was in love – Jack Vincennes was far too old for falling in love, and had been all his life. It was just a silly crush, a lightening, a heightening of his heart, a tightening of his sex whenever Brett was near. Something akin to what a hundred thousand fans felt when they tuned in their television sets at seven–thirty each Thursday night to watch the star of Badge of Honour.

He wasn’t in love; Jack just loved the beautiful big grin that painted itself across Brett’s face every time Sergeant Jack Vincennes, Technical Adviser for the cop show, walked onto the set.

Tonight they weren’t filming Badge of Honour, though; tonight they were hosting a fund–raising, vote–buying function for one of the local pols seeking re–election. Jack walked through the empty sets, meandering towards the bustling murmur of the party. He could hear Brett giving a short speech, endorsing this ‘moral man’… That was a joke, but Brett Chase was a good enough actor to make it sincere. Then it was District Attorney Ellis Loew’s turn for a speech, and Jack tuned out.

Catching sight of himself in a full–length mirror, Jack stopped for a closer examination: he wasn’t in bad shape, though the years were hinting that they were going to start sitting heavily around his midriff. The black shirt and trousers, and the tailored cream jacket, smoothly flattered him with concealment. Not too bad, considering the mileage. Heaving a graceless sigh, Jack went to join the festivities.

Standing by the podium, Brett Chase caught sight of him, and winked. Jack’s heartbeat sped up, like any teenage girl’s… Well, hell, if only he’d been a teenage girl, he’d be in with a chance. Brett loved jailbait.

Sid Hudgens strode up to Jack, smiling broadly – as well he might, knowing all about Brett’s secret and Jack’s secret, and everyone else’s secrets as well. Though Hush–Hush revealed far more than many people liked, Sid also played a lot of cards very close to his chest. It gave him considerable leverage in this town…

‘Big V!’ Sid cried in greeting. ‘Jackie…’ He soon got down to business: ‘How about some pay–back on the DA, big time’ – he knew Jack would be interested, given that Jack’d been hauled over the official coals by Ellis Loew and Police Captain Dudley Smith last Christmas – ‘plus the usual fifty dollar donation to the Jack Vincennes retirement fund? Did you know the DA was a swish?’

‘No kidding,’ Jack responded in mock disbelief, ignoring Sid’s terminology with the ease of long practise.

‘Remember Matt Reynolds?’

Sid indicated the kid standing in the background; Matt was nervously wringing his hands, but he looked gorgeous all tatted up in a black suit and lilac shirt. So damned pretty… The kid was nothing compared to Brett Chase, of course, but Jack couldn’t deny the sight of Matt lifted his spirits and stiffened his sex.

‘He just got off the honour farm. I’m getting him to fuck the DA for a hundred bucks – that’s twice the fifty you got for wrecking his career.’ Sid was delighted with himself.

Jack couldn’t say the same thing. He watched the poor dumb kid for a long moment, figuring that the camera would have loved him, the audiences would have eaten him up – with looks like that, he would hardly have needed much talent.

Despite Jack’s protests, Sid beckoned Matt over. ‘Jack, look after him for a minute. Matt, this is Jack. There are no secrets between me and him.’ And Sid headed off to get the kid some much needed Dutch courage.

‘How’re you doing?’ Matt said good–naturedly, shaking Jack’s hand. Then Matt asked, ‘Have we, uh, met before?’

Jack just looked at him. The kid honestly didn’t remember… Oh, it was almost embarrassing. ‘Yeah,’ Jack replied, indulging an ironic inflection that the kid didn’t notice.

‘Was it at a party?’ Earnest. Touchingly earnest, which might play well back in Montana or wherever, but didn’t belong here in LA.

‘Well, it was something like that.’

‘A Fleur–de–Lis party, right?’

The look turned into a stare. ‘Right.’ Fleur–de–Lis provided high–class drugs, porn and hookers, and Sergeant Jack Vincennes had been trying to slip past the organisation’s security for months. Maybe this dumb kid was his chance. Jack murmured the Fleur–de–Lis motto: ‘Whatever you desire.’

Matt talked for a moment or two, unwittingly confirming the link between Fleur–de–Lis and entrepreneur Pierce Patchett, but then he veered back to the personal and confessed, ‘You know, when I came out to LA, this isn’t exactly where I saw myself ending up.’

‘Yeah, well,’ said Jack, ‘get in line.’

Sid returned with a tumbler of liquor for the kid, effectively putting an end to Jack’s interview. And when Matt expressed his doubts about seducing the DA, Sid quickly put the kibosh on that, too: ‘Jack here’s got connections with Badge of Honour. You pullthis off, there’ll be a part for you. I smell a comeback – don’t you, Jack?’

Wondering at his own reluctance, Jack played along. ‘Oh yeah. I’m pretty sure I can get you a part on this show. But, uh, that’s later on.’ Considering DA Ellis Loew – an older, not entirely unattractive man, but surely not Matt’s first choice in sexual partners – Jack figured the kid could use some encouragement. ‘Tonight, just go on over there and pretend it’s an acting job. It’s like show biz.’

Matt was looking long and hard at Jack, as if he trusted him and his opinions. Trusted him implicitly. It was scary. ‘And no one’s gonna know about this, right?’

‘No,’ Sid immediately responded in an of–course–not tone.

Summoning all his sincerity, Jack said, ‘It’ll be our secret.’

‘All right,’ the kid finally agreed, ‘show biz.’

Jack and Sid watched as Matt strode over to Ellis Loew and introduced himself with a firm handshake. Within moments both men were grinning at each other like they couldn’t believe their luck.

Sid said sotto vote, ‘ifReynolds works his charms, which I know he will, they’ll be at the Hollywood Centre Motel, room 203. Meet me there at midnight for a little photo shoot.’ And he held up a folded fifty dollar bill, rustling it between his ink–stained fingers.

Jack stared at the money. This note didn’t seem quite as crisp as the one he’d gotten for the marijuana bust… ‘What do you know about Pierce Patchett?’ Jack asked, wondering if Sid could actually prove useful in his Fleur–de–Lis investigation.

But Sid wasn’t interested – it seemed there wasn’t enough dirt there for him. Hush–Hush deliberately went for the lowest common denominator, after all, and Fleur–de–Lis was apparently a class act.

Eventually Jack grabbed the money and stuffed it in his jacket pocket. Sid was still gleefully watching Matt and the DA. ‘As though Badge of Honour would touch that guy with a ten foot pole,’ he scoffed, ‘after he’s been Hush–Hush cover boy twice in one year…’

‘I’ll see you in a few hours, Sid,’ Jack said, turning away. He wasn’t in the mood for this party, not any more. As he walked out, he belatedly remembered that Brett Chase was there, and would no doubt be happy to schmooze with the Big V for a while… Jack sighed, but he didn’t turn back around. He simply wasn’t in any reasonable kind of mood tonight.

 

‘Jack!’

He stopped, having just reached the sidewalk outside the studio, and looked for who’d called. It was, of course, Matt Reynolds. Jack waited as the kid jogged up to him.

‘Jack…’ A pleased, embarrassed, hopeful sort of smile on Matt’s pretty face. ‘I was wondering if you’d care to have a drink with me.’

The kid really was lovely, his naivety unexpectedly charming, his eagerness disarming. Of course Jack wanted a drink with him. ‘No,’ he said. ‘You’ve somewhere else to be.’ Someone else to do.

‘Mr Loew wants to meet me later. I have,’ he checked his wristwatch, ‘more than two hours. Plenty of time for a drink.’

Lifting his chin and staring down at Matt even though they were virtually the same height, Jack wondered at the kid’s misplaced persistence. ‘I have somewhere else to be, too.’ And he turned away.

‘Jack? Did you mean it about getting me a part on Badge of Honour?’

‘Sure,’ Jack said, shrugging, as he headed down the sidewalk. Sid had been wrong: the show would be prepared to hire the kid, at least as a villain of the week, at least as someone who suffered and then met justice at the hands of the heroic Brett Chase. Maybe a role as Henchman #3 to start with, or even as someone’s tragically dissolute son. Jack’d only been playing along with Sid at the time, but it wasn’t hard to figure he owed the kid this much. ‘No promises, but I’ll see what I can do.’

Matt was following along right behind him. The camera certainly would love those dashingly pretty features, those blond locks, those expressively genuine eyes. And the kid might even have a touch of pathos to call on now. Perhaps there was a chance for him after all, with some hard work and the right guidance.

Jack found he’d stalled, and was standing there oblivious to the few passers–by, staring at the kid…

…who smiled happily. ‘Can I buy you a drink, Jack?’

Acquiescing against his better judgement, Jack fell into step beside Matt Reynolds. This was Los Angeles: there was a hotel just down the street, there was always a cheap hotel or motel nearby, with a well–stocked bar and rooms to rent by the night or by the hour. That’s where Matt led him.

Although of course there wouldn’t be a chance for the kid to resurrect his career after tonight, after being caught fucking with the District Attorney in a Sunset Strip motel… Jack sighed, and the familiar armour settled around his heart. A man needed armour in this town. Matt was finding that out the hard way.

 

Jack drank a nip or two of whisky in the hotel’s tawdry dining room while watching the kid wolf down a hot dog, French fries and a beer.

‘Aren’t you hungry?’ Matt asked between mouthfuls.

‘No, kid.’ He thought of probing a little more about Pierce Patchett and Fleur–de–Lis, but he didn’t want to make Matt suspicious. It was unlikely Matt knew anything much in any case – he’d only arrived in LA a couple of months before Jack first busted him, and of course he’d been out of circulation ever since. Added to which, Matt would definitely be hanging from the lowest rung of the organisation’s ladder. It was a wonder Patchett even employed anyone quite this guileless; he certainly wouldn’t confide in him.

‘Well, I am,’ the kid said, pushing his empty plate away. ‘Hungry, I mean.’

‘After all that?’ Jack retorted, though he knew a proposition when he heard it.

Matt looked at him, very levelly, and then his eyelashes drooped for a moment. So the kid wasn’t incapable of seduction… ‘I want you to come upstairs with me.’

‘Really.’

‘I think you want that, too.’

Jack returned the level look for a while, took a sip of whisky. Knowing he was being far more indirect than Matt Reynolds, Jack was sitting almost side–on to the dining table, with one leg crossed over the other, his right hand slowly spinning the shot glass in place on the formerly white linen cloth. Matt was facing him, leaning forward with both elbows on the table. Eventually Jack said, ‘You shouldn’t be so ready to trust men you don’t know, kid.’

‘You can get me that part on Badge of Honour…’ It wasn’t quite a question.

‘Yeah, sure.’

‘Well, this is the way Hollywood works, right?’ Matt laughed quietly, shaking his head. ‘I’d heard all the stories about casting couches, but I never believed it till I got here. I don’t really mind, though, you know? I don’t have much to complain about.’

Jack closed his eyes for a moment, swallowed the rest of his whisky. He hadn’t expected Matt to be even slightly aware of his own lost innocence. He hadn’t expected the kid to be so free of resentment. He hadn’t expected to find anything appealing about the boy beyond his golden good looks.

‘Come on,’ Matt said, standing up, coming around the table. He reached out a hand, though surely he didn’t expect Jack to take it. ‘If you want the truth,’ the kid confessed, ‘I just don’t want to be alone right now.’

A long slow moment passed between them.

‘I’ll go get us a room,’ Matt said happily. ‘All right?’ Amazing: the kid had a hundred bucks in his pocket, and this was how he wanted to spend some of it. Beyond arguing, Jack just waited until Matt showed up in the dining room doorway, dangling a key in his hand and smiling.

‘Whomever you desire,’ Jack muttered to himself, wondering why his sense of balance was a little off tonight.

 

Jack looked around the room: it was cheap but functional. There was a bed and a bathroom, and the two locks on the door provided privacy, and they didn’t need anything more than that.

Matt was shrugging his jacket off, hanging it up, watching Jack from under long lashes. It wasn’t a coquettish look, this sweet appraisal – it was too genuine to be coquettish. I just don’t want to be alone right now, he’d said.

‘What’s the big deal about seducing the DA?’ Jack asked. ‘Was it Sid who made you nervous? Pierce Patchett gives you work like this, doesn’t he?’

‘Yeah, he did, but… it’s never been like this before. It’s been more of a friendly thing. I’d meet someone at a party, and get to know them a bit; men or women, I’ve never minded which. Is it like that for you?’

Jack nodded in vague agreement. He was gay, really, he loved men – but he’d been with women. They’d mostly been opportunistic encounters, but Jack liked the smart ones. An intelligent woman could easily bed him when he was in the right mood.

‘And I could always say no if I wanted,’ Matt continued, ‘Pierce was real clear about that. Not that I ever did. But he’d pay us by the week, regardless. Like, if it was you, it would be a friendly thing, not just business. Something I wanted, too.’ Apparently catching up with what he was saying, Matt suddenly chuckled – which was probably as much irony or self–awareness as he was capable of. ‘I wouldn’t say no to you. Obviously.’

‘Even if I couldn’t get you a part on Badge of Honour?’

‘Even then.’ The smile grew. ‘But I hope you can.’

‘Yeah,’ said Jack.

‘I’m talking too much, aren’t I? Pierce always told me I talk too much…’ And Matt was coming closer, quite unintentionally bearing down on him, and Jack forced himself to take a deep breath or two before the boy was suddenly there, strong in his arms, kissing him with that broad beautiful smiling mouth.

 

Jack lay back on the bed, satiated. If he’d thought Matt had a beautiful mouth when kissing him, that was nothing compared to the kid going down on him. Matt Reynolds was a natural. Either that, or the boys back in Missouri or wherever were really missing the results of all the hard work they put into teaching the kid. Jack turned his head to look at Matt, and discovered that mouth was still faintly smiling, even while Matt lay curled up beside him, dozing, pretty face pressed halfway into the pillow.

After a while, Jack zipped himself up, and went through to the bathroom to wash and to comb his hair. He was quick about it, because a man always looked seedy in the mirror of a cheap hotel room, and he couldn’t stand the sight for too long. When Jack came back out into the main room, Matt was mostly awake again, and watching Jack from under heavy eyelids. Jack asked, ‘When’s the next Fleur–de–Lis party, kid?’ figuring he could win himself an invitation, and infiltrate the organisation that way.

‘Oh, you don’t need to wait for a party, Jack. We can be friends, all right?’ Matt smiled up at him, happy with whatever arrangement he saw for their future. ‘I don’t know where I’ll be staying now, but Mr Hudgens will know where I am.’

Well, that little ploy hadn’t worked. Jack pulled on his shirt, and began buttoning his cuffs.

‘No, come back here,’ Matt said, lifting a hand to reach for him.

‘Save something for later, kid.’

‘Oh, there’s more where this came from. More for you, if you want it.’

Ah, the energy of youth. Jack smiled wryly. Picking up his jacket, he remembered Sid’s fifty dollars sitting in the pocket, and he retrieved it, held it out to Matt. ‘Here. Find yourself somewhere decent to live.’ There were places in this town that’d drag a man down no matter how pretty or promising he was.

Matt was on his knees on the bed now, reaching not for the money but for Jack’s hand, drawing him close. ‘I didn’t do it for that,’ Matt succinctly announced, ‘and I don’t need the cash right now. So you keep it. Some day, if I need a loan, then I’ll ask you, all right?’

Jack didn’t say anything. He didn’t want the damned money, but Matt took it from his fingers and slid it back into Jack’s pocket.

‘Come on, Jack…’ That irrepressible smile again. ‘I want to get the rest of those clothes off you this time. Nice clothes, but I reckon you’ll be even nicer without them.’

‘I think this is against my principles,’ Jack slowly murmured, surprising himself. ‘I didn’t even know I had any.’

But Matt was too intent on seducing him to hear his confession. ‘Come on, Jack, I got plenty more here for you.’

How could Jack say no? The brief oblivion of sex was far too tempting. He didn’t know if he had any more to give, but in the event the kid managed to tease it out of him…

 

Jack sat in a downtown bar, drinking whisky, staring at the fifty dollar bill. If the kid had taken it then the blasted thing wouldn’t be troubling him now. But Matt had given it right back, totally clueless of course about what Jack would be doing to earn it.

‘Another, Jack?’ the barman asked.

‘Yeah.’ He didn’t even watch the shot being poured, he just stared some more at the fifty lousy dollars.

But then Jack caught sight of himself in the mirror behind the shelves of bottles. He didn’t like what he saw. Jack Vincennes was looking very old and tired these days. Sad really, how the glory had tarnished and then dwindled away to this. Sitting on his own in a bar, waiting to go wreck a young man’s life after having already ruined his career.

It wasn’t even the kid specifically, not really. And it certainly wasn’t the DA – that bastard Ellis Loew could reap what he’d sown, for all Jack cared, and Police Captain Dudley Smith could sink with him. It was simply that – no, it was profoundly that he was realising these people had lives, just like Jack. They had careers, just like Jack. And some of them really didn’t deserve to be brought as low as Jack now found himself. Some of them really didn’t need to know that they could be bought. Some of them should just be left alone to make their own choices, their own decisions. And Matt was one of the people who deserved better.

Well, maybe, just this once, Jack could do it differently. Maybe Jack still had choices he could make. Maybe Sid Hudgens’ money didn’t matter so much after all. Maybe being a celebrity cop was a hollow role. And maybe Jack’d done enough harm to Matt Reynolds already.

It was quarter after eleven – plenty of time before Sid and his cameraman arrived at midnight. Jack dropped the bill so it rested flat across the full shot glass – let the bartender have the cursed thing – and he headed out the door.

 

Jack was too late. The kid was dead. Matt was lying there in room 203 with his throat cut, his life’s blood still wet on his lilac shirt and the foul carpet. And he was looking up at Jack from under those long lashes, just like he’d done earlier in another cheap hotel room, except that Matt’s eyes glittered coldly now. There was no judgement there, and no reproach, just an absence – the judgement was all in Jack’s own heart.

Well, now the kid could go back home to the folks in Mississippi or Michigan or wherever, and they’d take care of him. They’d have taken better care of Matt than Jack had managed to. Damn it – Matt had never even remembered who Jack was, never done anything more or less than accept Jack on face value, never figured out he was a cop… He hadn’t been a very good cop, though. Not when it counted. Jack sighed.

Sometimes, when a man’s armour had been breached, there was nothing left to do but the decent and honourable thing.

 

Jack followed the trail, and on another day along the way he found Captain Dudley Smith’s name… Though it was near midnight, yet another midnight, Jack went to his boss’s home. Unsurprisingly, Smith was surprised to discover that Jack was taking a case this seriously.

‘I messed something up,’ Jack explained, ‘I’m trying to make amends.’

‘Don’t start trying to do the right thing, boyo,’ Smith advised. ‘You haven’t had the practise.’

Touché. Jack let him have that one, betraying amusement and mild chagrin, mouth wry with the justice of the comment.

He didn’t realise until it was too late. He didn’t even realise when Smith sounded him out about who else knew of Jack’s conclusions. He didn’t realise until after Smith had spun around, pistol in his hand, and fired. That’s when it all fell into place. Sitting there at Dudley Smith’s kitchen table with a bullet in his heart, Jack figured out who was responsible for the murder of Matt Reynolds. The Captain, and his buddy the DA, and no doubt there were links back to Pierce Patchett, too.

Jack stared up at Smith, trying to catch his breath, he couldn’t quite take a full breath. There was no pain, there was only blessed numbness; but more importantly than that there was just the most perfect mental clarity.

Smith drew near. He softly asked, ‘Have you a valediction, boyo?’

There was a name. The name had a long, complicated, honourable history. Uttered here and now, it was guaranteed to bring Matt’s killers to justice. After a moment Jack found the wherewithal to whisper that name: ‘Rollo Tomasi.’

Dudley Smith merely looked puzzled, unaware that his world was about to tumble down around him. The fool.

And Jack laughed. He’d managed it: against all odds, he’d done the right and decent thing. With his last breath snagged in his throat, Jack Vincennes laughed.

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