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What's a Starsky, huh?

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What’s a Starsky, huh?

 

The world had gone stone cold gray.  And not from the dust settling.  Hutch longed to move, to do what had always been instinctual, expected, and important.  He wanted to make his way to Starsky, give Starsky’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze, silently, but surely communicating “it’s over, we did it, partner.” He wanted to look into Starsky’s eyes and know they were both okay.

But the professionalism that momentarily allowed for teamwork in handling the grenade was no substitute for the sparks that used to fly effortlessly between them, holding them together, binding their soul deep connection with trust and love.

The blast severed any temporary synergy, instantly plunging Hutch back into isolation, leaving the distance between him and Starsky stretching, growing by the moment, while simultaneously, the walls closed in around him.  Air thick with emptiness clogged his throat.  Guilt and shame rose like bile from the pit of his gut.  Head down, he grieved, uncomfortably aware his touch and his look were not welcome, that he and Starsky were most definitely NOT okay.  And that it was his fault.

Had he taken it too much for granted that Starsky would always be there?  That their bond would always be solid?  That he could never push Starsky too far?

What’s a Starsky, huh?  Had he actually said that?  He bit his bottom lip and shook his head, disgusted with himself.  What kind of sick bastard says such a thing about his best friend? 

Hutch could only watch as Starsky pulled himself up and walked away without even looking at him, without saying a word.  Stuck between Joey and Kira, he figured he may as well let Starsky notify Dobey and deal with the uniforms who no doubt had already been called.  Knowing Starsky wouldn’t even want his help anyway hurt like hell, and Kira’s incessant cooing that it was “going to be alright, Joey,” only intensified the entire wrongness of his life at that moment. 

When had he started caring more about me than thee? His priorities of only hours ago seemed ridiculous now.  

Their signals never used to fail.  Sometimes he wasn’t even sure where he ended and Starsky began.

Attacked, kidnapped, shot, running, chasing, fighting, shooting, searching, panicking, worrying, trapped, tied, drugged, caught in crossfires, dodging bullets, careening downhill with no brakes, everything they’d ever been through just powered and intensified a me and thee relationship impenetrable by any outside force.  Energy, warmth, and strength flowed freely, continually, back and forth between them, driven by love, colorful and vibrant even in the darkest of times.  They could always find each other, count on each other, feel each other.  Neither was ever alone.   Until now.

Now was different.  Now was empty.  Now was colorless.  He was losing Starsky.

What’s a Starsky, huh?  Hutch wanted to throw up.  He wiggled himself out from under Joey’s pathetic form.

Hutch was unsurprised Kira stayed with Joey and the paramedics attending him.  She never noticed him eventually leave.  So much for any respect he might have had for her.  What had he seen in her, anyway?  Why was sex with her so damned important?  He couldn’t remember.

There had always been friendly competition between him and Starsky, harmless games of one-upmanship, pointless manipulations of circumstances to win a one night stand with a stewardess or waitress.  A grab of a phone number, a trick of the tongue, anything to bed the pretty girl first.  Neither really cared if the other won because there’d always be a next time.  These wins were not for keeps, just distraction, and for the most part, not the girl at all.

There had been, of course, exceptions in which the rules completely changed.  Any woman that became a serious love interest or was labeled as a “this could be the one” became completely off limits for competitive purposes.  Abbeys and Terrys were not to be messed with, nor was the partner who loved them.  Mutual respect, unspoken promises, and unwavering support replaced any rivalry straightaway.   And that included when the painful goodbyes left one partner in pieces and the other to put him back together. 

Hutch scanned the crowd for Starsky.  By now people had gathered in the dance hall, not only those who were inside when Joey erupted, but cops, and others Hutch assumed were witnesses who’d been on the street at the time.  He called Starsky’s name into the crowd, not expecting an answer, but the noise level drowned him out anyway so he wove in and around the confusion until he spotted his partner talking to Dobey and Madam Bouvet near the entrance.

Hutch walked toward them, but wasn’t even sure what he was going to say when he got there.  The satisfaction he usually felt at the closing of a case was completely eluding him, as was the ability to read his partner.  Both of which, if he’d had them, would have given him a reason for saying something in the first place.  In their absence, he questioned speaking at all.

The first thing Dobey said when he approached was, “How’s Kira?”  Like Hutch knew.  Like he cared.  Like it mattered.

“I...I…guess she’s okay.  She’s with Joey.”  He answered, turning and pointing in the general direction he’d left them.  It was difficult not to sound as unconcerned about Kira and Joey as he felt. 

Starsky didn’t look at him, but asked, “You okay, Hutch?” More an obligatory tone than a concerned one, but at least it gave Hutch an opening to ask in return.

“Yeah, alright, you?”  Hoping for a read on Starsky, grateful to have something to say to him.

“Fine.” Clipped, short. A fine that meant the exact opposite of fine.  Exactly as Hutch expected. Things were about as bad between them as they could be.  Since the day they met, they’d never been so far apart.  When Starsky visited home in New York they weren’t this far apart. Hutch felt a physical hole in his chest, a hollow coldness that he knew was loneliness and loss. 

There had been tough times in the past.  Throughout their partnership they’d weathered tragedies, turmoil, and heartbreaks too numerous to name.   But no matter what the trouble, no matter what people came in and out of their lives, they always trusted each other above and beyond all others.  Any personal or professional problem was handled as a team, friendship and partnership never taking a back seat to whatever they faced.  For years their troubles only brought them closer together, making them stronger, committing them to their me and thee philosophy.

This past year things began to change, however.  Hutch sensed it.  He thought Starsky must, too.  For reasons unexplainable, they had felt the need more and more to solve their issues on their own.  They’d occasionally even shut each other out altogether.  They’d drifted quite a bit.  Drifted, but come back.  Drifted and come back.  Their connection like a bungee cord that stretched as needed, giving the distance necessary for one of them to feel his way around complicated emotions alone, then pulled them tightly back together again afterward, the electricity and color restored, the bond intact.   Somehow recently the bungee became more like a rope uncoiling, never pulling them back together, just uncoiling endlessly, extinguishing the sparks, graying the space, until finally, Kira.  And Hutch severed it entirely.  Now Hutch felt adrift.  Alone.

What’s a Starsky, huh?  What on earth was he thinking?  When had Starsky ever been so far back in his mind?  How could he have wanted him to be? Hutch felt sorrow and sadness so overwhelming he had to leave.

“I’m gonna go now, Captain, if that’s alright.  I’ll head in, start the reports.  Meet you later, Starsk?”  Hutch tried to get Starsky to look at him, but he didn’t. 

Looking down at his hands, worrying a hangnail instead, Starky answered, “Sure, whatever.”  It was muttered more than said, and aimed at the floor.  Then he turned his back on Hutch to talk to Madam Bouvet, clearly communicating dismissal in the process.

Hutch thought about the things he’d said to Starsky recently.  Calling him a “stuffed shirt,” joking with his girlfriend then telling him he was “a little too late with a little too little” when Starsky asked what was so funny.  So many cruel things.  Pushing Starsky. Pulling away from him, unwinding the rope farther and farther.

And then there were the things he’d done to Starsky.  He broke the rules.  Starsky was dating Kira.  She should have been off limits. But Hutch continued to compete.  He continued to steal her right out from under Starsky.  Worst of all, he enjoyed doing it.  He thought he had every right to make Starsky miserable.  And to condemn him for being so.  The fact that Kira wanted, liked, even asked for it, should not have entered into it.  That Hutch thought himself a better match for Kira was not his judgement to make.  Starsky was already dating her.  Normally that would have been the end of the story for Hutch. 

What’s a Starsky, huh?  He’d given himself permission with that question.  He’d given himself permission to disregard mutual respect, to ignore mutual support, to break their trust.  The final straw.  The cutting of the rope.  The end of everything special and sacred about me and thee.  And he was beginning to think maybe, just maybe, he’d done it on purpose.  Starsky had every right to be hurt.

“Well, then…  I’ll see you.”  Hutch said to Starsky’s back.  He gave a nod to his captain and walked slowly away, hoping one of them would call him back, but neither one did.

How were he and Starsky supposed to work together now?  And what about when Kira came in, too?  She’d have her own reports to file.  Somehow the three of them would have to find a way to finish the case.  It was going to be a long night.

And after that?  That was a scarier thought.  Hutch tried to put it away.  But losing Starsky was a physical pain that wouldn’t be denied.

**********

The squad room was dark and empty, accentuating the way Hutch felt.  He sat at his desk mindlessly flipping a pencil between his fingers, staring for hours at the same blank report, willing his mind to focus.  The more he thought about the past year, the clearer the reasons were becoming.  His stomach continued to send bile upward and the cold hollow in his chest expanded as he both dreaded and hoped for Starsky to finally show up.   

With no sign of Dobey, Kira, or Starsky, Hutch wondered if maybe he’d missed something and he should be somewhere.  He hoped one of them would call him if that was so, and he mourned the fact that at one time, he would have just known. 

But that was before.  Before he’d been careless.  Before he’d thrown it all away.  Before he traded color for gray, love for lust, me and thee for me.  Before he walked out of the bedroom, met Starsky’s eyes, and knew he had pushed Starsky too far.  He cringed when he thought of the look on Starsky’s face.  How could he have been the one to cause such anguish?

After a while Hutch began to make assumptions.  Kira was probably at the hospital or perhaps mental hospital with Joey.  Dobey probably told Starsky it was late and why didn’t he “go home and get some sleep and we’ll write it up in the morning,” or something to that effect.  Then Dobey probably went home, intending to join Starsky in the morning.  Looking at the clock Hutch realized they were all logical assumptions and decided to go home, too.

What’s a Starsky, huh?  A Starsky is your best friend.  A Starsky is your other half.  A Starsky is someone you cannot live without.

Somewhere between his desk and his car, going to Starsky’s seemed like a better plan than going home.

**********

Sure enough, the Torino was in Starsky’s driveway and his apartment completely dark.  Hutch pulled in behind Starsky’s car and turned off his engine.  He sat for long while.  Not because he was deciding whether to go in even though it was four in the morning and Starsky was more than likely asleep, but just deciding where to begin once he got inside.  If Starsky even let him in.  Never before had Hutch worried he wouldn’t be welcome in Starsky’s home.  He felt nervous, near panic, that ever-growing hollow in his chest taunting him as he stared up at Starsky’s door.  The staircase leading there was about a mile high and threatening as hell.  But he wasn’t going to leave without trying.  He couldn’t.

Step by painful step, Hutch made his way up the stairs.  He stood in front of Starsky’s door, hand raised to knock, sweat pouring down his back, his chest ice cold, nauseated, but determined.  Before knocking, he for some reason chanced a try at the knob.  To his surprise, it turned and the door opened.  He pushed it gently, unsure if he should, yet at the same time unable to stop himself. 

“Go away, Hutch.”  Starsky spoke softly, sadly, through the darkness.

Hutch froze.  Just what he’d expected, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.  He looked inside.  Not a single light on, but moonlit enough Hutch could make out Starsky’s silhouette on the couch. “How’d you know it was me, Starsk?”

 “I heard your heap comin’ down the road a mile away.”

Instead of leaving, Hutch went in, quietly closed the door, then stood back against it, trying to quell the nervousness and gather his thoughts.  His heart was beating so fast and hard he was sure Starsky could hear it.  Everything he’d planned to say somehow disappeared.  So he stood there, waiting for something, anything, to come to him.  The next few moments could make or break any hope he had.

In the darkness, Hutch saw Starsky lean forward, he heard the distinctive sound of a beer bottle being placed on the coffee table, then Starsky leaned back again.  “Whatcha doin’ here, Hutch?  What do you want?”

What’s a Starsky, huh?  A Starsky is the person you love most in this world.  The person you’ve lost.  The person you need to get back.

“To talk.”  Hutch answered.  “Please, Starsk.  I know I don’t deserve it, but if I could…”  Why couldn’t he remember any of the things he’d realized?  The entire drive over he’d practiced apologies, explanations, even pleadings.  They were all gone.  “Can I please just…come in for a while?”

“I don’t suppose I could convince you not to.” 

Hutch could feel tears burning in his eyes.  How could he have been the one to put such sadness in Starsky’s voice?  There was no way he could ever leave if he didn’t make things right.

Hutch slowly walked into the living room and sat down in the chair.  Normally he would have sat next to Starsky on the couch.  The mere fact he didn’t feel comfortable doing so spoke volumes.  He figured Starsky heard it, too.  They stared at each other a few moments, Hutch barely able to see in the darkness.  There was hope now, anyway.  Starsky had let him in.  They would talk.  They had to talk.

“Thanks for not kicking me out.”  Hutch said.

“How do you know I still won’t?” Starsky answered.

“I guess I don’t.  Guess I have to trust you.”

“Interesting statement coming from you, don’t you think?”  Hutch knew he deserved the dig.  There was a long silence while he tried to think of an appropriate response.  But before he could Starsky leaned forward, retrieved his beer and sighed.  “Why’d ya do it, Hutch?  Just one question.  Why?” 

There was so much weariness in Starsky’s question, so much sorrow.  Hutch longed to reach out to him.  He wanted to take him into his arms and take his pain away.  It had always been the way with them.  To hold.  To touch. To heal.  But of course this time it was Hutch who had caused the pain.

“That’s why I had to come, Starsk.  I want to apologize.  I want to explain.”

“Explain?”  Starsky asked.  “Explain, Hutch?  You tellin’ me you can explain sleeping with my girlfriend an hour after I tell you I love her? There’s no explanation for that.  Not for you.  Not for us.  We don’t hurt each other like that.  We are better than that.  Hutch we put our lives on the line for each other-“

“Yes!” Hutch interrupted. “Exactly, Starsky, and I’d do it right now.  I’d die for you, you know that!”

“So you’d give up your life for me, but not some woman you’re attracted to?  That makes no sense.”

Starsky spoke loudly, but Hutch didn’t hear anger.  It was more disappointment than anything.  And as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, Hutch could make out the lines of grief on Starsky’s face, the pain and sadness evident, the heartbreak unmistakable. 

Hutch leaned forward, attempting to get closer to Starsky, but afraid to move out of the chair in case Starsky changed his mind and wanted him to leave.  “Starsk, listen.  I was going to stop seeing her.  That’s why I went over there.  To ask her if she loves you.”

“Oh, I see, so you didn’t believe me.  You can’t take my word for it?”

“She came on to me, Starsky, flirted with me.  She was doing it all the time.  I couldn’t believe she’d do that and still tell you she loved you.”

Starsky stood up now, anger finally coming to the surface, he walked over to Hutch. “Look, Hutch, this isn’t about Kira, it’s about you.” He accentuated the statement by pointing at Hutch.  “Obviously you’re right about Kira, she slept with you for God’s sake, I get that.  I can handle a betrayal from her.  But she wasn’t …”  Starsky quieted his voice again, the sadness back.  “She isn’t you, Hutch.  I thought I knew you.  I thought I could trust you.  You’re my best friend.  It shouldn’t have mattered what she said or what she did. “

“I was going to walk out.  I started to walk out.  She stopped me.  She said she loves you, but she loves me, too.  She said she loves us both for different reasons.”

“She really said that to you?”  Starsky sounded genuinely surprised.

“That and more.  Starsky, believe me, I was going to leave.  I didn’t go there to sleep with her.  That was not my intention.  She just… She pushed my buttons, she got passed all my guards, she…  Awe, Starsk.  By that time I knew she wasn’t right for you.  She wasn’t the one.  She told me as much.  She was hurting you, just by wanting me.  She was playing with me.  She was using me.  She was using us.”

“But you allowed it, Hutch.  You’ve been after her all along.  You couldn’t stand that we were seeing each other.  You had to have her for yourself.  It was some sort of sick competition.  You think I’m blind, huh?  I knew what you were doing.  You were doing it while we were on a case, even jeopardizing the case.”

“I know.  I know.  I’ve been a bastard lately.”

“You’ve been angry, sarcastic, downright mean.  You’ve been treating my like your enemy, not your friend. And not only concerning Kira.”  Starsky sat on the coffee table now, facing Hutch and looked him in the eye for the first time.  “What’s wrong, Hutch?  What did I do?  Why are you so mad at me?”

The hole in Hutch’s chest was opening wider, and Hutch wasn’t sure it wouldn’t swallow him up altogether.  The love he felt for Starsky at that moment was overwhelming him and his heart was absolutely broken.  That Starsky could think Hutch was mad at him.  After everything Hutch had been guilty of.  There wasn’t a better person, a better friend, in all the world than David Starsky.

“I’m not mad at you, Starsk.”

“You got a funny way a showin’ it.  I’m sittin’ here in the dark all night wonderin’ how I managed to lose my best friend.  I don’t even care about losing Kira.  I was over her before I left her house.  But you, Hutch.  I feel like I’ve lost my heart.  I feel like I’ve been emptied out.”

“I feel the same way.”  Hutch now knew for sure Starsky had felt the connection sever the same way he did.  He knew Starsky wanted to repair it, too.  “This thing we have, this connection.  Seems like it’s broken.”

“Yeah.” Long pause.  “Broken.”

“I want to fix it.”

Starsky got up then and walked past Hutch to the kitchen.  Hutch heard the beer bottle hit the trash and the rattle of another being taken from the fridge.  When Starsky came back in he had two fresh beers in his hand and to Hutch’s surprise, he handed one to Hutch.  He took it, grateful for the small gesture.

Starsky sat back in his place on the couch and took a swallow of beer.  “I’m not sure it can be fixed.  After what’s happened.  You still betrayed my trust.  We have to be able to trust each other.  Without trust, we have nothing.”

“Kira wasn’t right for you.”

“I already told you, this isn’t just about Kira.”

“I’ve done a lot of lousy things to you, I admit, but that’s the only place I broke your trust.  And I am so sorry.  Please believe me.  Believe that you can trust me.  It will never happen again.   But I’m telling you, she wasn’t the one.”

“What gives you the right to decide that for me?”

Starsky suddenly got very still.  For a long time he sat just silently staring at the ceiling, not moving.  Hutch was scared to speak, unable to interpret Starsky’s expression, unsure what Starsky was thinking.  So he stayed quiet himself and waited.  Not for the first time that day, Hutch saw how important the ability to read Starsky had been and how altered their world was without it.  After a few minutes, Starsky finally spoke.

“Hutch?”  Still staring at the ceiling.

“Yeah, Starsk.  I’m here.”

“I think I understand about Kira.  A little.  Long time ago, I tried to make a decision for you.  Situation was different, cuz I wasn’t tryin’ to hurt you, I was tryin’ to help you.”

“What happened?”

“It was when you were seein’ Gillian.”  Starsky was looking at Hutch now.  Hutch couldn’t imagine what Gillian had to do with anything. 

“You want to tell me about it?”

“It’s a long story, I won’t tell it all now.  But I did something.  Something I didn’t tell you about.  I judged her.  I decided she wasn’t worthy of you.  I tried to convince her to leave town.  I mean, well, not exactly.  But I gave her an ultimatum.  I’m not proud of this, but I even tried to pay her off.  Told her she had to tell you about what she did for a living or I would.  I wasn’t trying to keep it from you, but once she died, there just never seemed to be a right time to tell you.”

Hutch didn’t completely understand what Starsky had done, but it didn’t matter at the moment.  He could sort that out later.  What did matter was Starsky was listening to him and beginning to see some logic in Hutch’s actions.  He was beginning to understand.  “Quite a pair we are, aren’t we?”  He said.

“We’ve always taken care of each other, Hutch.  No matter what it takes.”

“That’s why I’m here.  I know I hurt you.  I can’t stand to see you in pain, I never could.  I think I feel your pain even more than my own, if that makes any sense.  I have to make it right.  I want to explain, if you will let me.  I want to apologize if you can accept it, well, even if you can’t.  I have to try.  I don’t want us to break up.”

“Break up…  Funny way to put that, Hutch.  But that brings us right back to my original question then, doesn’t it?  Why?  Why did you want to keep hurting me if you hate to see me hurt?”

“I think we’ve been hurting each other.  For some time now.  We’ve often distanced ourselves.  I’ve done it.  You have, too.  Think about it.”  Hutch let him process for a minute before going on.

 “Let’s start with me wanting to hide somewhere in the city and have you search for me.  Dobey told us at the time how juvenile that was and he was right.  But that was the beginning of it, I think.  Instead of spending the weekend together, enjoying each other’s’ company, we agreed to a competition.  Like we cared who is the better detective, like either of us are a better detective.  It was a game of hiding from you pure and simple and it was stupid.”

“Yeah, it was.  And you nearly died cuz you were hiding from me.  You took it so seriously.”

“And think about some of the situations we were in, the women we were falling for.  Emily for one.  You were feeling bad, feeling guilty, I know you had reasons and I respect them.  But Starsky, you wouldn’t answer your phone.  You wouldn’t accept my help.  You didn’t accept reality when I told you she was part of the crime, not just an innocent bystander.   You cut me off, left me out, pushed me away.  That’s not us.  That’s not how we work.”

“I remember.  You were right all along, but I had to find out for myself, I guess.”

“And Marianne.  I did the very same thing with her.  I pushed you out, tried to deal with her on my own.  I got too involved and didn’t listen to you.”

“I remember that, too.  And again, you almost got killed because of it.  Blowin’ your own cover like that.  I was scared to death next day when I couldn’t find ya.”

“Starsky, we’ve been drifting apart.  We’ve been putting ourselves before each other so often.  We never used to do that.  It was always the opposite, thinking of each other more than ourselves. God, Starsky, you gave your life for me on that rooftop three years ago.  Literally.  Killed the man who held the key to your life, just to save me.”

“Yeah, well, I’d still make that choice, Hutch.”

“Maybe you would, but the point is, back then, there was no choice.  Only one way, every time, every day, every way.  Me and thee, who do we trust time, always.  If it happened today, maybe I wouldn’t even be on the roof with you, maybe you would have pushed me away, tried to find the cure on your own, not answered my calls.  You might not have even phoned me from your bedroom floor in the first place.  Mighta died in your room.”

Starsky didn’t have an answer to that. 

Hutch could tell he was getting through to Starsky.  He finally felt confident enough to leave the chair.  He needed to be closer to Starsky so he risked easing onto the couch next to him and was relieved Starsky didn’t seem to mind.  Instead, Starsky shifted sideways a bit so he was looking at Hutch. 

Hutch continued.  “Sure we had lots of good times, too.  We had fun, we even made the best of some cases we hated being assigned.”

“Yeah, like the Baron.”  Starsky threw in.

“Exactly, like the Baron.  We made the best of it.  Teamwork, even in ridiculousness.”

“You helped me with Nicky, too.  I’m grateful for that.  And we helped Huggy when he was in a mess.”

 

“It wasn’t all bad, Starsk.  It’s just that periodically, we just went off on our own, did things our own way, just for a while.  And then somehow we were pulled back together, like we always have been, and things would be okay again.  Until…”

“Until Kira,” Starsky finished.

“After the grenade exploded last night, when I couldn’t touch you, couldn’t even make eye contact with you, something inside me just broke.  I felt a loneliness, a fear, a loss so strong I could barely stand it.  I couldn’t believe what I had done to you.  I had lost you.  And the thought of losing you woke me up, made me realize what has been going on.”

“And what’d you realize?”

The tears were threatening again and his throat tightened at what he was about to say.  “That I wanted to make you angry.  That I looked for ways to cut you down.  I wanted to hurt you.”

“So you were deliberately pushing me away?”

“Like I said, we had both been pushing.  I pushed a little harder, a little farther.  Our connection was weaker and weaker and I was almost enjoying the freedom of it.  Then, when I walked out of Kira’s bedroom and saw your face.  I knew I’d cut the connection completely.  It was gone.  And that’s when-“

“That’s when you felt empty.  That’s when I felt empty, too.  I knew I lost you, Hutch, my best friend.  And I was so scared.”

“I think we had to go there, to see what would happen.”

“Like a test?”

“Something like that.  I’d pushed far enough to actually lose you.  For us to be without each other. We had to know that loss and loneliness.  We’re so dependent on each other, Starsky.  We live and breathe for each other.  Everything we’ve sacrificed, everything we’ve survived, everything we’ve put on the line, everything we’ve ever given and done for each other.  Can’t you see?  It’s more than friendship, more than partnership.  We’re so far beyond that.  We’re a part of each other so deep we almost can’t separate ourselves.  I think maybe we have both been coming to terms with this.  We have been testing ourselves, seeing what happens when we go it alone.  We have been solving our own problems, making our own way, to see if we could.  And you know what? We always come back together.  We always eventually let the other in.  No matter how much we push each other or pull away from each other, we always come back together.  And everything is back, all the friendship, all the me and thee, all the sacrificing and dedicating and living for each other comes right back.”

“So what your sayin’ is that Kira was like a final test, like a ‘let’s see if we can survive even this kind of betrayal and still come back’ kind of thing? You sayin’ you were testing me?”

“Not you, us.”

“And, so did we pass?  What does it all mean?”

“Here we are, right?  No matter what, here we are.  We are talking.  We are working it out.  Neither of us can stand to be without the other.  We don’t want to be alone.”

“But if we aren’t partners, if we aren’t friends, it doesn’t mean we are alone. 
We got other people.  We got other friends, family, too.”

“Of course we do.  But how did you feel before I showed up?  Why did you even let me in?  Your door was open at four in the morning because you hoped I’d come, right?  You were hurting, you said so yourself.  You said your heart was gone, you were empty.  I felt the same way.  I felt like I had a physical hole, cold, hollow, empty.”  His voice cracked, reduced almost to a whisper.  “The space where you have always been. Empty.”

“Awe, Hutch…” Starsky moved closer to Hutch on the couch.  He put his hand on Hutch’s knee and the warmth of it spread throughout Hutch’s entire body.  The love in the touch flowed, filled, and healed.  Hutch knew Starsky was feeling it, too.  They were connected again.  The bond was restored, solid, warm, vibrant, and beautiful. 

“Starsky, I love you.  I want you to know you’re everything to me.  I am so sorry I’ve hurt you.  You are the most important person in the world to me.  I would do anything for you.   I never want to lose you.  I have been miserable without you and I never want it to happen again.”

“You know what?” Starsky actually had a hint of a smile beginning.

“What?”

“I did leave the door open for you.  And I didn’t go to bed cuz I was hoping you’d come.  I was so relieved when I heard your car.  Then I was worried when it took you so long comin’ up.”

“Then why did you tell me to leave?”

“Maybe I was giving you one final test, too.”

Hutch couldn’t help but smile at that.  “Guess I passed,” he said

“And I’m sorry, too,” Starsky said.

“Sorry for what, Starsk?”

“For pushing you when I did, pulling away when I did.  I don’t wanna do that anymore.  It’s okay, we need each other and take care of each other.  I want us to always work things out together.  Its part of what makes us us.  And you know what else?”

 “What else?”

“I love you, too, Hutch.”

Hutch could feel the sparks igniting again, flowing freely back and forth, bringing warmth, color and light to the world.  He could feel Starsky again, deep down, to his very soul. 

What’s a Starsky, huh?  A Starsky is LOVE.  A Starsky is LIFE.  A Starsky is COLOR and ENERGY and EVERYTHING you need.  A Starsky is the best part of you.  A Starsky is your better half, your best friend, your partner.  A Starsky is your rock, your compass, your strength, your peace.  Your home.

Hutch would never forget it again.

The two of them inched closer together so they were touching the entire length of their bodies.   They both put their feet up and leaned back in the couch, smiling, hands on each other’s knees, drinking their beers as the sun came up.