Catching Up

Sakura Sushi House

Decorated in dark reds and blacks, the Sakura Sushi House wraps patrons up in a warm, glamorous Asian atmosphere. Along both walls are black bench-tables, sparsely decorated with small red flowers in black vases, and tea light candles. In the center are smaller tables designed for two, to create a romantic setting.

The food that is offered at the Sakura is quite different from any other Asian restaurant. It offers a fusion of Japanese foods such as sushi and teriyaki and Szechuan dishes such as twice cooked pork.

Ah, the 'fusion' restaurant. Absolving the menu from any necessity to retain authenticity. Although Steve probably never walked into a sushi restaurant /before/ LA, he's more than comfortable stepping in today, wearing a striped button-down and a pair of well-pressed trousers. Since it's not terribly crowded, he decides not to get a table right away, so hangs in the lobby, stuffing one hand in a pocket while the other stays on the top of his cane.

A vision in white enters from outside, reflecting the heat of a Dallas summer. Desiree hasn't changed much in the past year; a little more confidence in her walk and posture. Still tall and slender, she moves well. It's easy to spot Steve, and she heads straight to him. "Steve. So good to hear from you." Her voice is a warm, soft sound in the restaurant. "I was surprised to get your call," she says, pulling off her hat and sunglasses, "but really glad to hear you're out of the hospital." No glance to the cane, just a perfect smile. Genuine. "Have you got us a table, yet?"

Steve puts a hand on Desire's elbow as he greets her, smiling with perhaps a note of sheepishness. "Hey," he says. "I hope not too surprised. I guess I wasn't, uh…keeping up great with everybody while I was doing PT and everything. I didn't get a table yet. Hold on." He lets go of her arm and approaches the hostess, requesting a table for two. "I hope you like Asian food."

"Oh, I love this restaurant," Desiree assures him, still smiling. She waits while he gets them a table, following the waitress as she leads them to one of the more private tables in the back. Once they're seated, she looks at him closely. "You look mah-vee-lous, dah-ling," she teases, using that horrible Hollywood accent. Her eyes sparkle as she orders a drink, allowing Steve to order the food. "So, you mentioned you wanted to talk to me…?" she says, wiping her lips after taking a drink of water. "I'm all ears, sweetie."

Steve laughs, looking away. "You can't come in looking like /that/ and tell /other/ people they look good," he says, glancing back with a tilted smile. "I thought the stylists did that to your hair." He smiles and shrugs. "I mean, sure, if you don't mind. But I want to catch up, too. How've you been?"

"Busy. I just got back from New York where I was in that dismal revival of "Annie Get Your Gun," Desiree tells him as the waitress brings back a tall, frothy glass of orange liquid. Complete with umbrella and cherry, even. "It closed after a week to terrible reviews, though I got mentioned as one of the 'oasis of talent in an otherwise barren desert.'" She shakes her head, chuckling. "But, no one else grabbed me, so it was back here after a side trip to Galveston. I needed a break." Desiree has never been one for short conversation. "Now, I'm just waiting until the fall classes start at the studio, and doing some local work on commercials, voice-overs and such. Plus some charity work. There's a bachelor/bachelorette auction coming up. I'm up for grabs, but I doubt anyone'll really bid for me."

"Oh, wow," Steve says. It's plain from his expression that he's puzzled that there /was/ a revival of 'Annie Get your Gun,' but he doesn't say anything about that. A smile serves to smooth things over in a moment. "They singled you out in the review? That's awesome, good for you," he enthuses. "People notice that stuff." He lifts his eyebrows. "Oh, you're taking classes? That's cool. But watch out for that auction stuff." He grins and asks the waitress for a Tsingtao beer.

Licking the froth from her upper lip, Desiree sets down her mimosa. "Well, not me alone. There were three of us who attracted attention, two guys in the chorus and me. They got picked up for other productions, but I didn't." She shrugs. "I'm cool with that, though. I didn't much like New York. Different than Hollywood, but—" She shrugs again. "Not taking classes, sweetie, teaching. I teach dance, remember? I told you about that back when I was playing Veronica." Another drink, and it's her turn. "So, how've you been doing? Done any work since getting out of the hospital, or is it too soon?"

"It's easier for guys," Steve tells Desiree, smile tilting. "Or so they tell me, anyway." He leans back a little in his chair to look at Desiree. "Right, dance teacher," he recalls. "Sorry, a lot of stuff has happened since then. Yeah, I haven't really…found the right work, so far. It's, uh… Well, I don't have as many friends here, for one thing…" Perhaps uncomfortable, he picks up the beer when it's delivered and has himself a sip.

Desiree's parents may be guilty of many sins, but raising a mentally deficient offspring isn't one of them. It's no surprise Des is quick to figure things out. "Well, I'm glad you took me up on a visit to Dallas," she says smoothly, transposing the attention from her to Steve. "How long are you planning to stay? I ask because I know a few local commercial producers who're looking for a male voice-over actor. Seems there aren't many around, and those who are make decent money." Her eyes regard him from over her drink as the waitress comes to take their order. Since Des has relied upon Steve to make their order, she's silent until he does. Then, "I can put you in contact with them, if you're planning on sticking around a while…." It's a casual offer, not meant to dredge up any unpleasantness.

Steve shifts a little in his chair, but smiles. "No, I think I'm gonna be in town for quite awhile," he says. He wets his lips, adding, "I've done some voiceovers before, you know. I did all the voicing for that video game they made from the show…" He sips his beer again and looks at the menu. "I'm gonna get sushi," he declares, before returning to the subject at hand. "But, yeah, I'd love it if you put me in touch." He's at least /aiming/ at casual.

They're both good enough actors they can play the game of casual well. "That's great to hear," she says about his sticking around. And, she means it. The "actress" voice kind of slips, and the real thing comes through. "I remember that game. I could /never/ get very far in it, but I'm not very adept at video or computer games," she admits. "My opinion, but who's your manager? I ask, because if you're not satisfied with him, I've a feeling Max would jump through hoops of fire to represent you." She reaches for her purse, pulling out a business card and writing something on the back. "Max is my agent, and has fingers in all kinds of pies. Just give him a call and talk to him. I bet he'd have you working by the end of the week!" she says with a grin. "I'll have what he's having," she tells the waitress.

"Oh, uh, my agent and I parted ways," Steve says. "Since I was leaving LA and all that. He's really not a Texas talent representative, you know? So…maybe I'll give you're guy a call," he says, trying not to sound too eager. He looks up at the waitress. "Uh, why don't you bring us a California roll, a dragon roll, and a Boston roll?" he requests, picking some of the most American sushi on the list.

"Oh, and add some of the crab and shrimp, too, please?" Desiree asks, since those are her favorites. "Well, like I said, Max is good. He's got his finger on the pulse of things here, New York, California—just about anywhere." She gives Steve an "assessing" scrutiny. "You know, you do look good. A little toning of muscles, and you could wear that yellow and white suit again with no problem." She gives him a wink. "That suit made many a teenaged girl's heart flip-flop, you know." There's a teasing twinkle in her eyes. She leans close across the table. "I admit I blew my lines in the rescue scene three times just so you could pick me up more than once." Her glass is held out to clink with his. "It really is good to have you here in Dallas, and I'll do what I can to help you. Max is a good start."

Steve sips his beer, then tilts his head at Desiree. "Well, how is he at, like, salary negotiations?" He makes a face. "I hate that stuff. I always just want to leave it to the agent. I don't like to have to fight people." On the subject of how he looks, all he can do is give an embarrassed laugh. "That suit was so terrible. I can't believe I put it on every day for years. That was…Man." He laughs again.

"Max's good. He got me top dollar for a Victoria's Secret modeling job in Tampico, Mexico last year," Des tells him, naming a very decent salary amount. "He's not cheap, but he's worth the percent you pay him." She nods. "I hate it, too, but Max has never failed me. He worked for West Coast Talent before he had a heart attack and his daughter moved him here. He only takes a few clients," she explains. As for the suit? "Well, I liked how you looked in it, too," she tells him. "In that 'older man' kind of way. Remember, I was only 19 when we met." She grins widely, warmly. "I heard the studio was auctioning off all the Capt. Sunshine stuff on Ebay. Thought about grabbing that black body suit I wore as Villina, but…" A shrug. "I occasionally get requests for the old publicity still of me in that costume, can you believe it?"

"I didn't know you modeled underwear," Steve says. Desiree has probably heard that sentence before, but the way Steve says it is a little different than the typical tongue-lolling awe. "Do you like modeling?" He scratches his jaw thoughtfully. "I wasn't /that/ old," he defends mildly, but the news of the auction causes him to make a face. "Hope they wash all that stuff." He grins. "I believe they want your picture, though."

"I model just about anything," Desiree replies. "Except nude. I don't do the Playboy, Hustler gigs. I have some modesty left." She chuckles at that. "I like runway modeling as opposed to posing for hours, but I've done both." The waitress returns with their food, all beautifully arranged on a flat platter. There are sauces, ginger and wasabe for accents, and two bowls of miso soup. Once she's gone, Desiree grins, saying: "From what I gather about fans of the show, washing would remove the 'value.'" Eyes roll. "That was the first time I ever wore anything like that. I was terrified the top was going to fall down and my boobs would fall out! I don't see how Lynda Carter did it in Wonder Woman!"

Steve picks up a pair of disposable chopsticks and breaks them apart. "Ugh. I don't want to knowwho ends up with that unitard, man," he murmurs. Talk about fears of wardrobe malfunction. "Hey, that's why we didn't do the show live, right?" He picks up a piece of sushi and pops it into his mouth. When he's finished chewing, he mentions, "I hated modeling."

"It's not for everyone," Desiree says to his hatred of modeling. "When a friend of mine watched the show, she looked up everything she could on you, and found a couple of catalogues you did. She drooled over your underwear ads." Desiree's teasing again, but it's a gentle, good-natured tone. "Yes, that one time, when you had to grab me and wrestle the detonator from me—that was a close call. Fortunately, the camera didn't pick up on what was happening to my costume." She grins. "Otherwise, I'd have beat Janet Jackson for her 'wardrobe malfunction.'"

Steve can't help laughing a little. Beats looking embarrassed about his underwear modeling. "Man, see, that's what happens with the internet," he says. "But, hey, at least everything stayed covered on the show. That'd either be terrible for the show or great." He handles chopsticks pretty well, picking up another piece.

Desiree is pretty adept with chopsticks, as well. After breaking apart her sushi, she dips a piece into soy sauce and consumes it. "Things that get on the 'Net can come back to haunt you," she says as if she knows the truth of that. "I did a pose job for a Chrysler dealer here one Christmas, and it was cold. You can imagine what that did to the top of my Santa's Helper costume. Someone did a zoom in and posted it on the web. Thankfully, they cropped my head and only concentrated on my upper torso." Talk about embarrassing. Another piece of sushi disappears. "Oh, one of the directors was saying had there been more sexy females on the show, it might've got better ratings. Especially since it was aimed at that pre-teen demographic." A pause. "But that's water under the bridge. Talk to Max. He'll get you set up."

"Nice," Steve says sarcastically. He grins and shrugs while he's busy chewing some more sushi. "Hey, I wouldn't have kicked most pretty ladies off the show," he says. "Wasn't my baby. I just read the words on the page. But, yeah, I'll call your guy. That's really nice of you to set me up with all this." He reaches up to touch his hair. "Maybe I should fix my look a little, first. But hey, you must be doing pretty well."

"Not as well as I'd like, but … I can't complain," Desiree tells him. "I've got the typical expenses anyone else has, plus the added bonus of needing to keep my body in shape, my hair and make up perfect-that's not cheap." She shrugs, eating throughout the conversation. "I want to buy out the other owner of the studio so I'll have something to fall back on when my career kaputs. I'm no longer called much for the cheerleading. It was just getting too demanding. I still keep up with the routines, and they call me in if someone needs time off, but I'm not working steadily. It's the economy, I guess." She studies him. "Try my salon," she says, giving him the name. "They could probably helpbut don't cut the hair off. It's unique around here. Most guys have short hair."

"Aw, don't say 'when,'" Steve quietly but earnestly advises. He smiles readily, still. "Your salon, huh? Sure, I'll try it. But you're sure I shouldn't cut the hair?" His smile fades toward curiosity. "So…how old were you when you first went out to LA?"

"Oh, I don't own the salon, it's the one I use. They're really good with long hair." Desiree looks at him over the sushi. "Sweetie, you look good with longer hair. I've seen you with it shorthigh school year book photos suck, but they're on the internet, tooand, well, just keep it longer. They can style it better, but women like to run their fingers through a man's hair, and most of the men in Dallas don't have any." She grins, eating another bite of sushi. Crab, this time. "I first went to LA when I was 8 or so. For a beauty pagent. I was 17 when Max took me out to read for a few parts. I was 19 when your so picked me up."

Steve grins. "Okay," he says, nodding. "Maybe I'll keep it long for a little while." A pause while he eats a little more and sips the beer. "Eight, huh? Pageant kid. That's pretty young. Guess you were a little natural, eh?"

Desiree shrugs. "I hated the beauty contests, but I didn't mind the dancing lessons. You see, I was diagnosed with this crazy double-jointed thing, and doctors thought I'd benefit from the exercise. I love it, and I'll never stop dancing." She grins again, easily eating a few more bites of lunch. "So, I've been talking about me a lot. How about you? I know you were a model, but how'd you get cast on TV?"

Steve looks both surprised and interested in Desiree's description of her condition. "Huh," he remarks. "Does it hurt, or anything? Or did it, like, go away or something as you got older?" When she decides to turn the subject back to him, he smiles and shrugs. "I don't know," he says. "Got lucky, I guess. I mean…I always worked pretty hard to…make the right friends while I was out there. If you get close with the right people, sometimes they can help you out."

Something flickers in Desiree's eyes, but it doesn't remain long. "You've got that right," she agrees about the right people. "Nah, I still have it, only to a lesser degree. I have to be careful with the more athletic activities, but it doesn't hurt unless I'm forced to stand or pose for more than an hour or so without a break." She grins. "It does come in handy for /some/ things, though." She doesn't mention what, however. "So, were you ever married? There were all kinds of rumors linking you to … people."

"Rumors?" Steve asks. He lifts his eyebrows and rubs the side of his nose with his fingertips for a moment before he reaches for his beer. "Nope, I never did get married. Guess you're still too young to be married, yourself."

Desiree actually laughs. "Honey, I was married when you first met me," she tells him flat out. "I'm divorced, now. He was … well, he wasn't who I thought he was, and it didn't work out. No kids, thank God and Trojan." She settles back in her chair, apparently full for the moment. "Yeah, rumors. Last one I heard was something about you and … oh, what was her name? The Italian actress who starred in that dark comedy." She names the film. "That was just before your accident, I think."

"You were?" Steve asks, looking pretty shocked by that one. "Wow. I… Don't know how I missed that. I guess I should've been more involved with the rest of the cast!" He takes time for a laugh and another bite before he shrugs. "Well, uh…I mean, I'm sure she wouldn't want me to confirm or deny," he says with a tilted smile.

"High school sweethearts. I'd just lost my father, and Ryan was injured in a car accident. Ruined his chances to play pro football. I loved him, thought I could help him regain his confidence and all—and ended up getting hit." Another shrug. "I picked myself up, and life goes on. I don't even see him anymore. Works for his father still, I guess. Or he's in jail somewhere." There's a lot of not caring in her words. "Oh, so you don't kiss and tell? That's nice to know." Teasing, that, as she sips the dregs of her mimosa.

Steve looks a lot more serious about that story. "Hey. I'm sorry about your dad. But I'm /real/ sorry you got hit. That shouldn't have to happen to anybody, right?" He sips his beer before he lets the mood change. He lifts a hand, shrugging. "Usually smarter not to," he says. "But I promise that not /all/ the rumors you've heard about me are true."

Desiree laughs at that. "Well, damn my bad luck," she says, shaking her head. "I miss out on everything. And here I thought all those rumors of you antics in the bedrooms and casting couches of Hollywood were true. I was going to seduce you into telling me the secret to your success." It's a joke; that's obvious. Then she sobers. "Where're you staying—-or have you had time to set that up? If not, maybe I can give you a hand?"

Steve makes a noise that is awkwardly between a sound of surprise and a laugh. "There have to be at least a /couple/ that aren't true," he parries, smiling easily again. "Oh, I have a little apartment, I can give you the address."

"I really don't believe in rumors or listen to gossip," Des tells him honestly. "I've got better things to do with my time. "An apartment? Already? How long've you been here? I was under the impression you just got to town, not that you've been here awhile." She looks at him with some degree of surprise and curiosity.

"Like a month," Steve says. "So not /that/ long, but long enough that I don't want to be paying hotel fees that long." He grins at Desire. "Obviously /I/ don't listen to rumors, or I'd have known you were married." He points at her plate. "Listen, are you finished, or do you want some dessert or something?"

"Put a fork in me, I'm done," Des quips. "Oh, Max kept my marital status very secret. I've always gone by my maiden name, and Ryan had no interest in my career. So, no one knew but Max and his sister, who acted as my 'secretary.'" She grins back at him. "Well, a month's not all that long." She's jotting down the address and phone he gives her. "That's a fairly nice area of town. How do you like it?"

"So you've kept the same agent this whole time, huh?" Steve asks. He seems impressed. "It's okay," he says. "I mean…I've lived all kinds of places in my life. It's about in the middle. Can't complain." He finishes off his beer.

"My father was always of the opinion if you get something good, don't try improving it. I guess I adhered to that advice. Besides, Max is someone I can trust for wisdom. He's straight-forward, which you can't say for all reps. Widower. Has a great sense of humor. The heart attack made him realize life's too short to waste time with stupidity and games." She smiles fondly. "He first saw me in a touring show of Annie. I was playing the lead that night, since the other girl had mumps. He approached my parents, and the rest, as they say, is history. I've been with him ever since."

"Probably pretty good advice," Steve says. "Although I'm not always one for judging advice too well." He tries not to make a face about 'Annie.' "That sounds good," he says. "Must be a stand-up guy. I'll have to meet him."

"Just tell him I sent you," Desiree urges, smiling warmly. She and Steve aren't exactly close friends, but there's a spark of respect in her expression as she looks over the table to him. "I don't mind helping, Steve. I think you got a rotten deal in this. Things happen out of our control, and I'm really sorry you were hurt." She pauses, draining her glass. "So, what's the prognosis on your leg? We have some top-notch orthopedic doctors here in Dallas. Are you set up with one?"

Steve licks his teeth briefly, then gives an uncertain smile. "No, I don't have a doctor in town. It's…" His smile tilts. "I mean, c'mon, I had care for six months on the leg, you know? It's the way it is. But I'm okay. It doesn't really hurt."

Desiree nods soberly. "I assume, then, the limp's permanent?" A little rude that, and she blushes. "I'm sorry. That was very rude of me. Forget I asked." She shakes her head, then smiles. "We'll have to get together for dinner sometime. My place. I love to cook, and my usual guest … ah, has a rather restricted diet." She blushes brightly then, giving a slight tug on the scarf around her neck. Ahem. "So, I'd love to have you over sometime."

Steve shrugs. "I mean, they never know anything for sure, doctors," he says. In effect, he's saying 'yes.' "Your usual guest?" he asks with some curiosity, but then bobs his head. "Sure, I'd love to." Then his eyes drift down to the scarf. Oh. Brows pulling downward, he looks back toward her eyes.

There's no way to see what's in her eyes. They're looking down at her plate, apparently considering one more piece of sushi after all. "Yes. Michael Isonzo. He's a local businessman with a great many contacts throughout the world." Which might explain why she's seeing him. When she finally does look up, she's composed, her features a mask of casual nonchalance. "Good. I'll call you soon about it. Maybe I'll ask Max to join us…" she muses. "Might be a good way to break the ice first hand."

Steve nods slowly. "Sure," he says, quickly recovering his smile. "Sure. Whoever you want. It'll be real nice. I haven't had a home-cooked meal in a really long time." He smiles as he realizes how true that is. "/Really/ long." When the check arrives, he picks it up and puts his credit card inside.

Desiree had already picked up her purse, planning to share the cost of lunch. "Oh, Steve, you didn't have to do that," she admonishes with a smile. "I was planning on helping." She seems genuinely distraught, but accepts the fact it's too late. "Do you have a car, or did you take a cab here? If the latter, at least let me give you a ride home. I've a rental right now—-a brand new Mustang convertible. It's /hot/." And she doesn't mean temperature-wise. "I love cruising about in it." She gives a wide grin. "Sure, I'll set it up for next week sometime, but don't wait that long to call him."

Steve shakes his head quickly. "Oh, no," he says. "I'm really happy to treat you." Which seems genuine. "Especially if you're going to have me over for dinner." He smiles. "I walked, but I'd love to get a ride in the Mustang."

"Say no more," Desiree quips, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat—-only she doesn't disappear. "Your wish is my command. Shall we adjourn to the chariot, then?" Laughing at the jokes, she rises, smoothing down the legs of her stylish suit. Say what you will about Desiree, she can wear clothes, and wear them well. "I don't live all that far from here, myself. Just over in Deep Ellum, near the theater district. It's a good location for the studio. I live above it, in case I didn't mention that." A pause, then she gestures. "Shall we, sir?"

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