Actions

Work Header

Right and Proper Season

Work Text:

The Right and Proper Season

 

 

 

 

“Well I've been afraid of changin'
because I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder, even children get older
And I'm getting older too....”

 

Landslide,

Fleetwood Mac

 

 

Years later, when Ken Hutchinson looked back to that time, what he remembered most was the sensation of waiting.  It started in the hospital, not long after Starsky woke up from the coma.  In the middle of an otherwise inconsequential conversation, Starsky turned to him with a suddenly serious look on his face.

 

“Hutch, is it true I died after they brought me in?”

 

Hutch tried to deflect him, tried to evade, but Starsky was firm, and eventually Hutch gave in and told him about the terrifying minutes between Dobey’s message to get to the hospital, and the moment the doctor had told the waiting threesome that, although he wasn’t in the clear yet, Starsky was still alive.

 

Starsky nodded, as though none of it was news at all to him.

 

“Must have been pretty rough, huh, Babe?”

 

Hutch nodded.  “The worst.”  Starsky gripped his hand tightly, and for some time the two of them sat silently.

 

Then Hutch asked tentatively “Do you remember anything about it?”  He didn’t believe himself in near-death experiences, in fact, he wasn’t even sure he believed in an afterlife, though he desperately hoped there was one, but he knew that Starsky did.  Or at least, was willing to give the idea the benefit of the doubt.

 

Starsky remained silent a few moments more.  Then finally, slowly he said “Yeah, I think I do.”

 

“Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Starsky pondered that for long moments too, then apparently reached a decision. 

 

“Yeah.  But not yet.  I need to think about it first.”

 

“That’s OK, Buddy.  Whenever you’re ready.”

 

Starsky nodded. Then he added “But one thing I can tell you.  I have a message for you.  From Terry.”

 

Hutch raised an eyebrow.  Messages from the dead were not were not something he was prepared for.  Still, if Starsky’s agile brain  had come up with some oxygen-starved  comforting pre-death vision it stood to reason that Terry would be part of it.

 

“She says to remember the last conversation you had, and to ask yourself why she left you Ollie.”

 

Hutch stared, startled.   Starsky must have read something on his face, because he asked “That mean anything to you?”

 

Hutch swallowed and nodded.  “Did she say anything else?” he managed to add. 

 

“Said it was something between the two of you.  Nothing bad, but private, unless you wanted to share it.”

 

Hutch nodded again, slowly, thinking.

 

“So, do you want to share it?”

 

Now it was Hutch’s turn to sit silently thinking.  It was a shock.  Because there had been a final conversation, and Hutch was pretty certain it wasn’t one Terry would have told Starsky about in the few days they’d had left together afterwards.

 

“I...  don’t know.”  He sat remembering:

 

In the terrible time between Terry’s shooting and her death, Starsky, torn between the equally strong needs to capture Prudholm, and to be with Terry, had still occasionally faced the agonizing reality of other police work that simply couldn’t be put off.  On this day he had been forced to give a deposition when he should have been meeting Terry after work to take her to dinner.  He had asked Hutch to meet her instead, and wait for him.  They had sat at the restaurant nursing drinks.  Hutch had been at a loss for what to say, finally settling for the neutral “How are you feeling?”

 

Terry sighed.  “Do you want the truth?”

 

“Sure.  Of course.”

 

“Then...  I think I’m ready for this to be over, Hutch.  I think it’s going to be soon, and I think I’m ready.”

 

He had fumbled for words at her blunt honesty, but she had interrupted him.

 

“I’ve taken care of everything I can, now.  All the legal things, said good-bye to everyone.  And I’m not afraid any more, for myself.  It’s just... I’m worried about Dave.”

 

“You know I’ll take care of him Terry,” Hutch had said gently.  “As best I can.”

 

“I know, I know you will.” She had turned aside, her voice cracking, and a single tear slid down her face.  “But what I’m worried about...  Hutch, I know after I...”   She swallowed,  “After I’m gone, at first he won’t want anyone else.  But eventually he’ll want to find someone, and it needs to be the  right person, and I’m afraid it won’t be.  He’ll just go looking for someone to make him feel better, I know he will, and he’ll get hurt.”

 

Hutch had to agree, it was all too likely.  Starsky was so very physical.  While his first burst of grief would most likely push him to celibacy, soon the initial shock would wear off and he would go looking for willing flesh in which to drown his sorrow.  And Hutch could easily see him getting in too deep too fast, and getting hurt.

 

“He needs some one...   some one who really loves him.  Loves him like..."  she searched for words.  “Like we do” she finished.

 

Again Hutch could only nod, throat to tight to speak.

 

“And it has to be someone who understands what you mean to him, too.”  Terry went on.  “Some one who’d never ask him to choose between you.”

 

“You don’t ask much, do you?”  Hutch laughed humorlessly.  “Where are we going to find someone like that, aside from you?  Neither of us has had much luck before.”

 

Terry looked aside.  Hutch sighed.  More gently he said “I’ll try to keep him safe, Terry, you know I will.  But the best I can promise is to be there for him if he does get hurt.”

 

She sighed deeply, then managed a smile.  “Seems like it would be simpler just to take him to bed yourself.”

 

It was a joke.  Hutch knew it was a joke.  But it hung there in the air, quivering.  Hutch felt a slow blush spread over his face. 

 

They were saved by Starsky’s arrival at that point.  The subject, of course, had been dropped immediately.  It had only been a few more days before the bullet shifted, and Hutch had never had another opportunity to speak to her privately. 

 

Then she had left them her final gifts, and Hutch had started to wonder, how much of a joke had that last comment really been?  Because in her note, she had left him Ollie, and Starsky.  The teddy bear from her bed, to put in his, and the lover from her bed...  to put in his?  Could that have been what she was getting at?  It wasn’t something he wanted to think about too deeply.

 

And  afterwards things had gone much as Terry had been afraid they would.  At first there had been the series of meaningless flings that they’d had before.  Nothing there to worry about, even when Starsky declared himself to be in love with that vapid, whatever her name had been, Sharon, was it?  The one that they took to the boxing match that time.  But then things had gotten more serious.  Rosey Malone, Emily, Meredith (the best of the bunch, and the only one, Hutch thought, that Terry might have approved of), and finally the culminating insanity of Kira. 

 

Kira was exactly what Terry had been afraid of, and in retrospect Hutch tried to rationalize some of his own aberrant behavior regarding her on those grounds...  surely it was justifiable to sleep with her in order to save Starsky from her?  But in his more rational moments he admitted to himself that wasn't why he had done it, though why precisely he had, he still couldn’t say. She was a bleached-blond floozy, and as a policewoman she couldn’t compare to Liz Thorpe, or Linda Baylor, or even little Sally Hagen.  Yet somehow she had twisted both of them around her little fingers. The damage she had done to their relationship had been slow to heal.  It was the worst breech they’d ever had in all their years together.  But they had made it through. 

 

Since then the only girl Starsky had shown any interest in was Allison May, and she had been firm in giving notice that while she wanted both of them as friends, that was all she wanted from either of them. 

 

And despite his resolution not to think about it, the thought planted by Terry’s final gift just wouldn’t go away.  Especially since the death of John Blaine, when the real thinking had begun.

 

All that had gone through Hutch’s mind as he sat by Starsky’s hospital bed.  Did he want to tell Starsky about Terry’s concern for his love life?  Especially did he want to voice that suggestion that she might have been making, that he take Starsky to bed himself? 

 

It had always been a possibility, and surely Terry had known that.  Even though it was never voiced, never spoken, never acknowledged, never even thought about much, it was always there, in the touches, the looks, the flirting.  Maybe watching Hutch sweat wasn’t the high point of Starsky’s day, but it was far from being the low point. Hutch played along, not bothering to cover himself in the gym shower so Starsky could get an eyeful if he’d wanted.  And sometimes Starsky had wanted, and sometimes he hadn’t. 

 

And the time Starsky had swept Hutch into his arms and dipped him...  that was the closest they'd ever come.  They'd just looked at each other, into each other's eyes, each wondering if the other were going to make a move, press the issue.  And Hutch had found himself, for that moment, hoping...  But in the end, Starsky had simply pulled Hutch upright again, and made a joke.

 

It was like a game they played, never going to far, never putting into words, a line they never really seriously thought about crossing.  There were far to many reasons, good ones, for not crossing it. And, after all, no one could call them gay, they both liked girls, they both wanted normal lives, wives, kids, homes some day.  If occasionally in the middle of the night Hutch had a special fantasy of Starsky’s body against his, well, everyone had fantasies they never intended to act on.  That didn’t mean anything. 

 

So they danced around the issue, never putting a name to it, never acknowledging what they both knew was there.  And over the years admiration had turned to interest, and interest to desire, and desire to need...  And Hutch finally had put a name to it, a name he didn’t like, and didn’t want to deal with, a name he wanted to sweep under the rug, or shove in a closet.

 

But that day as Hutch sat by Starsky’s side, the idea didn’t seem so far-fetched any more.  It seemed so attractive, so easy, so...  sensible.   All he wanted right then was Starsky, alive and safe. What better way to keep him safe than crawl into his bed, hold him tight, hold him and never let him go? 

 

But suppose Starsky didn’t see it that way?  Did Hutch dare risk it? 

 

On the other hand, suppose Starsky did see it that way?  There were still so many reasons for not crossing that line. 

 

Either possibility seemed overwhelmingly daunting.  Better to leave it as it was, better for nothing to change.  So eventually, Hutch  shook his head, and told Starsky that he needed to think about Terry’s message longer, and changed the subject.

 

But the issue didn’t go away.  The thought, having arisen, wasn’t so fast to vanish.  It never got any easier to talk about, though, so Hutch found himself just...  waiting. Waiting for Starsky to decide to talk about whatever he thought had happened while he was dead.  Waiting for him to bring up the question of Terry's message again.  Waiting for whatever change was coming. 

 

Of course that wasn't all he was waiting for.  The most obvious thing was for Starsky to recover enough to leave the hospital.  That was a long road, and a hard one, but once the initial crisis was passed, surprisingly smooth.  There were frustrating setbacks, of course, but none came close to being life threatening.  The doctors were frankly baffled by his survival. 

 

Dr. Sammie Mason, who wasn’t on staff at County General, where Starsky was, but had gotten privileges there so she could check on Starsky’s progress, confided as much to Hutch one night at The Pits.  It had been a tiring day of sitting with Starsky while he suffered through a bout of a secondary infection.  The fever had finally broken, and they had left him asleep and gone out for a celebratory drink or five. 

 

“He shouldn’t be alive at all” she  confessed to Hutch, slightly slurring.  “No one can understand it, Hutch.  I can’t understand it.  The damage he suffered...  he shouldn’t have been able to come back after his heart stopped that first night.”

 

“You didn’t see Blondie here coming down the hall”  Huggy  quipped.  “If I’d’a been Starsky, I’d have come back too.  Been afraid not to.  Been afraid he’d follow me over and drag me back by the b...” Huggy started to say something, apparently thought better of it, and amended it to “...hair.”

 

Hutch laughed perfunctorily, and changed the subject.  If the truth were known, Starsky’s survival was something he preferred not to look at too closely.  He was alive, mostly whole, and recovering, and that was all Hutch needed to know, without any talk of miracles to remind him of how nearly it had not been so. 

 

He preferred to notice, with the small amount his mind not dedicated to either Starsky-tending or Gunther-and-associates hunting, that Dr. Mason was spending a lot of time in The Pits lately.  Sammie and Huggy?  Well, why not.  On the surface an unlikely relationship, but not really any more so than he and Starsky were when you thought about it.  He filed the thought away in the considerable list of things to tell Starsky when he was feeling better.

 

Finally that time came and Starsky was ready to go home.  Except that his apartment, like Hutch's, wasn't really a good place for a convalescent, since they were both small, and  both at the top of long flights of stairs.  Starsky’s mother wanted him to come home to New York, or, since the plane ride would have been too much for him, to go to his Aunt Rose and Uncle Al, but Starsky vetoed that idea, and Hutch hadn’t been too happy about it either.  Starsky didn’t want to be a burden on his relatives, and Hutch didn’t want Starsky so far away.  So it was decided  Hutch would take care of him.  That suited both of them better, and Starsky’s family had to bow to the inevitable.  But that still left the question of where.

 

It had taken some looking, but eventually they had found the perfect situation. Martin Jacobs, a philosophy professor at one of the local colleges, was taking an 18 month sabbatical in England to study at Oxford.  The Jacobs’ needed someone to housesit their  cozy two bedroom bungalow while they were gone.  Only two blocks from the beach, with a bright cheerful living room complete with a comfy couch, it was perfect for a recuperating invalid. 

 

The Jacobs, overjoyed at the security of having two cops on the premises, were happy to forgo rent, asking only that their tenants keep the lawn and garden tended, water the houseplants, and take care of their pets.  Petey and Jeff, the parakeets, (“I know the names are rather silly” Mrs. Jacobs told Hutch, “But my granddaughter named them when she was five.”) were no problem at all.  Needing only to be fed and watered each night and have their cage cleaned once a week, they filled the house with cheerful twittering.  Euripides, a Jack Russell terrier, was more challenging, but Hutch found, to his surprise, that having a dog was, like tending the lawn and garden, something he actually enjoyed.

 

They put most of their belongings in storage, and Starsky gave up his apartment to save the rent.  Hutch, who had more reason to want to return to his later (the greenhouse, and the proximity to Kiko and Molly and their mother being the main two) sublet.  He moved his and Starsky’s plants onto the Jacobs' deck, which, combined with the Jacobs’ own collection, made the house a very green place.  Hutch reveled in it, not only for the sheer bliss of that much foliage, but because taking care of the jungle and doing the chores gave him something to do other than fuss over Starsky.

 

Not that he wouldn’t have been perfectly happy to spend all his time fussing over Starsky, but in his saner moments he recognized it wouldn’t be a good idea.  His recovering partner needed at least a little time and space to himself, even if it was only the time it took for Hutch to mow the lawn and walk the dog.

 

It was a situation that could easily have become claustrophobic, the two men  on their own, wrapped up in each other.  However, they had a constant stream of visitors and well-wishers that kept them from becoming too introverted.  Kiko and Molly were regular weekend visitors, as was their mother when Kiko would consent to bring her.  Huggy could be counted on to appear several times a week, frequently with Sammie, who was still claiming she was only along to check on Starsky’s condition.  Captain Dobey dropped by at least once a week, and Edith occasionally, usually when she “just happened” to have baked too much of some tempting treat.  Allison May, Detective Meredith and other people from the department, the list of visitors went on and on, including a lengthy list of Starsky family members, and Maggie Blaine.

 

“It’s because that child is just plain lovable.” Jackson Walter’s mother confided to Hutch one day when Junior had brought her over to deliver an entire fried chicken dinner.  “I have to admit, when Jackson first brought him home, I thought ‘What does he see in that scrawny white boy?’  But it didn’t take long before I loved him like my own.”

 

Or as Minnie Kaplan put it, when she dropped off some paperwork for Hutch, not forgetting to bring along a box of pastries for Starsky, “He’s a trashy boy, but he’s got something special.”

 

Hutch had to agree with both sentiments whole-heartedly.  He had no illusions that, had the situation been reversed, the world would have descended on him quite so enthusiastically.  Though once, running into Sweet Alice, he was left unsure what to feel or say when she told him sincerely “I’m purely sorry that anything bad happened to either of you, but if it had to, I’m glad it wasn’t you, Sugar.”

 

Life took on a comforting routine.  Hutch had taken all his vacation time, plus some unpaid leave, to be full time with Starsky.  Mornings were for doctors appointments and physical therapy.  Afternoons were for puttering around the house, for Hutch to do chores, and Starsky to nap, or read the Jacobs' book collection, or sometimes just to relax at the beach.  Evenings were for guests, or, when no guests turned up, for leisurely games of monopoly, or checkers, or chess.  Sometimes they watched Starsky’s beloved old monster movies on TV.  Or sometimes, best of all, they sat quietly together, Hutch occasionally playing his guitar.  More than once Starsky had fallen asleep on the couch, his head slumping sideways to rest on Hutch's shoulder, and Hutch had sat for hours in quiet contentment, soaking in the bliss of Starsky's recovering presence, before waking him and helping him into the bedroom for the night.

 

But even as they relaxed, Hutch kept his eyes open, waiting for other things, things he had been warned about by the doctors and by the social worker at the hospital.  He waited for Starsky to become depressed, or angry.  For him to crash.  For symptoms of what he would later hear called traumatic stress disorder.

 

It didn’t happen.  Starsky had his down days, particularly when the pain was most intense, but remarkably few. Usually even under the worst pain (and, Hutch knew, sometimes it was very, very bad) he stayed upbeat, on a constant even keel.  He applied himself to his recovery with determination, but not fanaticism. 

 

Even to Hutch’s worried eyes, he looked good.  Although he’d lost weight during the hospitalization, somehow instead of making him look gaunt, it left him looking stripped down, reduced to bare essentials.  Purified in a refiners fire, Hutch caught himself thinking once.  The suggestion of having been through fire was strengthened by some inner quality of - soul - was the only way Hutch could phrase it.  Starsky had always been one of the most alive people Hutch knew, but now that effect was magnified.  Somehow Starsky burned with an inner light that shone in eyes seemingly made larger by the paring down of his face.  The intensity of his gaze coupled with the wild aureole of his curls, left uncut since before the shooting, reminded Hutch of nothing so much as an Orthodox icon he had seen once of Saint Michael.  He told Starsky that once, and was rewarded with a look so strange he changed the subject immediately and never brought it up again.

 

And he kept on waiting.  And little by little he came to realize that Starsky was waiting for something too.

 

How he realized it he couldn’t quite say.  Nor could he tell what Starsky was waiting for, though he wondered if it didn’t have something to do with the question of Terry’s message.  But it also had something to do with his family, that was obvious by his attitude whenever he called his mother, the half tentative, half expectant way he asked if there was any family news, and his faintly disappointed, faintly relieved air when he was told that everything was about the same as always.

 

But finally it came to a head one night, when Starsky got the news he obviously had been waiting for. 

 

It was during his regular call to his mother.  The Jacobs phone had one of those extra long cords, so that he could talk while he rested on the couch.

 

Hutch was working on some paperwork, not really listening to the conversation until he heard Starsky say “Yeah, OK, put him on.”  Hutch started paying attention then, because the “him” was probably Nick, Starsky’s scapegrace younger brother.  Although Hutch had grudgingly come to admit that Nick wasn’t as bad as he initially thought (he had, after all, risked his own life to warn Starsky about the danger to his) and despite the fact that Nick had apparently gone straight after his return to New York (though largely because any credit he had with his New York connections was shot after his California misadventure) Hutch didn’t trust him.

 

“So what’s up, Nicky?” Starsky asked, tension in his posture belaying his relaxed tone and words.

 

There was a pause as Starsky listened.  “Yeah, I figured as much.  So?”

 

Another long pause.  Then suddenly Starsky sat bolt upright.  “You’re kidding me.  You?”  His voice was pure startlement.

 

There was a long period of Starsky listening, only interrupting with comments like “yeah, I know” or “uh huh, and then?” and once “Captain Dyers, huh?”  Hutch anxiously watched Starsky’s face for any sign of distress, but to the contrary, his expression was one of dawning wonder and joy.

 

Finally, in a choked voice he said “Nicky, I’m proud of you.  You did good, kid.  And you know Pop would be proud too.  Anything me or Hutch can do for you, you know you got it.  And we’ll be there for the ceremony, just let us know when.  Can you put Ma back on now?” 

 

Evidently the phone was handed over, because the next thing he said was “Ma?  I can’t believe it!  After worrying for so long what he was gonna’ get into, I can’t believe...  Pop would be so proud.”  Another period of listening, then “Look Ma, let me go.  I gotta’ tell Hutch the news.  Ok, yeah, love you too.  Bye!”

 

He hung up the phone, then sat for a moment or two with a stunned look on his face.

 

“Well” Hutch said testily, “Are you going to tell me what the good news is?”  He left his paperwork and moved to sit next to Starsky on the couch.

 

Starsky beamed a smile as proud as any new father showing off his baby.

 

“Nick took the test for the New York City police department.  He just got the results.  He aced it, and he starts the academy in a month.”

 

Hutch stared blankly.  “Nick?  Police? How did that happen?”

 

“Well you know after he went back to New York after he was here, he was pretty much person not gratty with a lot of his buddies there?”

 

“That’s persona non gratis, moron” Hutch said affectionately.  “So?”

 

“Well some of them were a little reluctant to just let him walk away.  He had to go to some of Pop’s old friends in the department  for help, and it ended up with him being responsible for a few arrests they’d been wanting for awhile.  And after that someone said it was about time there was a Starsky in the department again, and since it didn’t seem like I was gonna’ relocate, he should join up.”

 

"Uh, Starsk?  Nick was into some stuff that should have automatically disqualified him on moral grounds."

 

Starsky grinned.  "Well, you know that, and I know that...  but he was never actually arrested for anything.  Besides, it turns out that he was never in as deep as he wanted us to think.  I finally figured it out, Hutch.  You remember when he was here, you asked me why he'd come out?"

 

Hutch remembered it vividly and unpleasantly.  "Yeah, and?"

 

“So I thought about it, and I decided the reason was he wanted me to come down on him like the big brother he wanted me to be.  Made himself out to be worse than he was because he wanted me to force him to behave himself.”  Starsky laughed.  “And boy, did he end up getting what he wanted...   maybe more than he wanted.”

 

  “You think he can keep on the straight and narrow?” Hutch asked dubiously.

 

Starsky nodded.  "Yeah, I honestly do.  He was never really that bad, Hutch, just kinda' mixed up.  And this girlfriend he has, Rina, remember I told you about her?  Looks pretty serious?  Well, she's a rabbi's daughter, real straight-laced type, Ma says, so he's got her to keep him on the right path, too."

 

Hutch shook his head in wonder.  "So Nick's gonna' be a cop."

 

"And I guess that's the good news I've been waiting for."  Starsky muttered absently.

 

Hutch gave him a sideways glance. "Um, what was that, buddy?"

 

Starsky looked at him thoughtfully.  Then he nodded, as though he'd come to a decision.

 

"Remember in the hospital, you asked me if I remembered anything from when I died?"

 

Hutch nodded.  At last it was coming. "Yeah."

 

"Well, I remember a lot of stuff, actually.  I wasn't sure if I should believe it or not, but Terry's message obviously meant something to you, and now this, so..." he trailed off, then started again, "I guess it was all real."

 

A small chill crawled down Hutch's spine.  Starsky looked so...  distant somehow. 

 

"Babe?  You want to tell me?"

 

Starsky ran his hand through his hair and over his face.  "Not everything.  But...  I saw some people.  Terry.  And my Pop.  And Pop told me, after we'd talked, that I'd hear some really good news from Nicky soon, and when I did, that would be my proof that what I remembered was real."

 

“And - what do you remember?” Hutch gently pressed.

 

Starsky looked aside.  He drew a deep breath, started to say something, stopped, then finally said “You know the only reason I came back was you, don’t you?  The only reason I was allowed to come back.”

 

Allowed to come back?” Hutch said blankly.

 

“Hutch, I was dead.  For real.  Except you called me back.  I heard you.  I turned around and tried to come back to you.”  He stopped again, and his eyes were far off and unfocused.  “He said he couldn’t separate us. Not without my permission.  So I could either go on where I was heading, or come back to you.  He said he could heal me but not all the way.  Not... enough.”

 

Hutch shook his head, bewildered.  “Starsk, you’re leaving me in the dust here” he said gently.  “Slow it down and explain.  ‘He said...’  Who?  And what do you mean, ‘not enough’?”

 

“Michael.  He said he had a lot of names, but I’d know him as Michael.  That’s why when you said I looked like that icon thing you saw...  it threw me.  And he said he couldn’t heal me enough to go back on the streets with you”  Starsky said softly.  “And you know that’s true, Hutch.  We haven’t talked about it but you know it’s true.”

 

Hutch gaped at him. "The archangel Michael told you that you would never be well enough to go on the streets again and you expect me to accept that?"  he finally bit out in disbelief.   He shook his head. "I can't, Starsk.  I can't.  You're getting stronger every day. Because of some, some...  near death, oxygen deprivation hallucination, you're giving up everything..."  He felt as though his world was caving in.

 

"Hutch."  Starsky gently but firmly interrupted him.  "Hutch, whether you believe what I saw or not, I’m still missing half a lung, my heart was damaged, my right arm’s partly paralyzed, and that’s just the major stuff.  That’s not going away, Babe.  It’ll get better, yeah, but I’m never gonna’ grow back half a lung, or get my whole heart working.  Some day I’ll be able to walk without a cane, use my arm well enough to drive...  but keep up with you on the streets?" He shook his head  "Babe, I’d get killed.  Worse, I’d get you killed, trying to cover you when I couldn’t.”

 

Hutch turned away roughly, knowing in his heart that Starsky was right, but unable to admit it.  Starsky gently pulled his head around so that they were face-to-face again.  “It’s not the end of the world, Hutch” he said softly. “I’m not going anywhere.  I’m not even gonna’ quit the force.”

 

“You’re quitting us.”  Hutch snarled bitterly.  “What about “me and thee”, Starsk?  Where‘s that gonna’ fit into this new world?”

 

“Oh Hutch.”  Starsky laughed affectionately, running his hand through Hutch's hair and down his back.   “Think.  We’re gonna’ be living together here ‘til the Jacobs come home, that’s still 17 months!  I think in a year and a half we can work things out.”

 

Hutch couldn’t say anything.  Starsky took his face between his hands and pressed their foreheads together.

 

“I came back from the dead for you, Hutch" he said in a more serious tone of voice.  "Do you think I’m gonna’ let a little thing like not working together keep us apart?  You’re stuck with me forever, schweetheart.  Like it or not, I’m not going away.”

 

Hutch raised his eyes to Starsky’s.

 

“It’ll be OK, Babe.  I promise.  Trust me?”

 

Hutch swallowed, nodded. 

 

“Same as always”  he managed to say.

 

Starsky smiled one of his brilliant crooked grins, and Hutch felt his hurting heart turn over.  “Right.  Now let me go look at the calendar, ’cause  I think that tomorrow’s perfect for some stuff I gotta’ do.”  He picked up the cane he was using until his lungs grew stronger.

 

They kept their schedule of Starsky’s appointments in the kitchen.  Starsky called back out to the living room “You have to be in court tomorrow, right? So Kiko’s taking me to the cardiologist?” Now that school was out for the summer, Kiko was showing off his new drivers license by running any errands they needed that Hutch couldn’t take care of.

 

“Yeah, that’s right.”  Hutch replied.

 

Starsky came back in and settled into the couch again.  “Perfect” he said with satisfaction.  “Now turn on the tube, darlin‘, cause Mothra VS Godzilla is on the late show tonight, and I gotta’ see those six inch tall babes.”

 

With that the conversation was obviously at an end, and Hutch was left, still waiting for answers to his questions.

 

oooO0Oooo

 

 

The next day Starsky left the doctor’s office filled with determination.  He’d gotten the answers he’d hoped for, and now all he had to do was fulfill a promise, and make something right before he could take the next step in his life.  He’d been pretty sure for awhile now about what he was going to do, been thinking about it since he’d woken up from the coma enough to think clearly at all,  but somehow, superstition, maybe, he’d wanted to wait until he’d heard Nicky’s news, wait until he’d made good this promise before actually doing anything about what he'd decided. 

 

Kiko and Molly were waiting for him.  Molly looked up worriedly as he came out.  Starsky knew his shooting had been hard on her.  Although it had been Hutch who first brought her into their lives, she had ultimately gravitated more to Starsky, finding in him the father-figure she needed.  At first they had pretended that she’d asked Starsky to take her to her Girl Scout father-daughter dance because they all knew how Hutch danced, but eventually it had become more official when Starsky promised that, just as Hutch was going to pay for whatever college costs Kiko couldn’t come up with on his own, so Starsky would for Molly.  It had something to do with their joint love of baseball, and something to do with their similar tastes in junk food, and a lot to do with having both seen their fathers dead on the street, gunned down practically in front of them.  

 

And now, after having lost one father to violence, she’d almost lost her second one.  Starsky knew how scared she’d been and gave her a comforting smile and thumbs up as soon as he saw her.

 

“Hey guess what, Moll?” he said cheerfully. “The doctor said I’d be cleared to drive pretty soon.  Then I can take you out on your learners permit and give you a few lessons like I promised.”  He’d wanted to do the same for Kiko, but he’d been hospitalized for to long.

 

Molly grinned happily.

 

“Now back to your place?”  Kiko asked as they got in his mother’s car. 

 

“No, gotta’ make a stop first.  You know where the City Hall is?”

 

“Yeah, sure, but why do you want to go there?”

 

“Got some business I have to take care of.  You kids can wait in the lobby, I shouldn’t be long.  Just need to talk to someone.”

 

Kiko shrugged. “Sure thing, Starsky.”  He started the car and carefully pulled out.

 

City Hall was only a few blocks away.  Kiko found a spot in the parking garage, the same one, Starsky thought with some rueful nostalgia, that had narrowly missed destruction as a protest by that elderly couple...  Henny and Sarah Wilson, those were the names. 

 

The kids followed him to the lobby, Molly hovering anxiously like he was made of glass.  She was almost as bad as Hutch, Starsky thought affectionately.

 

He settled the kids in the waiting area, and went and read the names on the wall directory.  Fifth floor, didn't it just figure?  He gave an inward thanks for elevators, nodded to the kids, and headed up to the office of the Honorable Peter Whitelaw, Bay City's first openly homosexual city councilman.

 

oooOO0OOooo

 

Peter was working on some papers when his secretary buzzed. 

 

"Mr. Whitelaw?  There's a David Starsky here to see you.  He doesn't have an appointment but he says you know him."

 

Peter looked up in some surprise.  Of all people he never expected to come and see him, Detective Starsky pretty much topped the list. 

 

"Send him in, please, Carol.  And hold my calls."

 

The detective looked different from when Peter had last seen him, while he was investigating John Blaine's murder.  That was to be expected of course, both because of the strain he had been under at the time, and the toll the shooting later must have taken on him.  Still, despite the lost weight and the cane, he looked good.  John would be pleased, Peter thought.  He had always been so proud of his protégé, had wished Peter could meet him, that they could be friends.  Then when they had met, it had hardly been a pleasant experience for either of them. 

 

Peter stood and held out his hand, and the detective shook it.  “Detective Starsky.  To what do I owe the privilege?”   He motioned Starsky to a seat, and he sank into it with a sigh.

 

“I got the card your office sent while I was in the hospital.”  Starsky began.  “I appreciated it.”

 

Peter waved aside the thanks.  “Well you are a constituent, after all.  It was the least I could do.”  He smiled wryly.  “And John would have expected it.”

 

“Yeah.  It was John I wanted to talk to you about.  Him, and some other stuff.”

 

Peter stiffened.  “I think we said everything that needed to be said the last time we met.”  The detective had shown his disdain for Peter and John's relationship when they had met before.  Peter didn't feel up to any more of it.

 

“That’s what I meant by ‘other stuff’” Starsky said.  “I think we got off on the wrong foot, and I wanted to correct a few misundrestandings.”

 

That was unexpected. Peter made an “I am listening” face.  “Yes?” he said noncommittally.

 

The detective took a deep breath and began, “When we came to see you we had just come straight from seeing Maggie, John’s widow.  You said that when I thought of you and John together, I thought it was something ugly. And you were right.  But not because you were two men. That didn’t bother me." He grinned depreciatingly. "Well, maybe a little, mostly because I didn’t know about John.  Gay guys don’t bother me, I told you that right at the time, though you weren’t listening.  Told you I thought you had the same right as anyone not to hide who you are, to run for office.  Didn’t see why you had to campaign on it though.  'A gay candidate for a straight choice.’ You have to admit that’s pretty bad.”

 

Peter conceded the point with a nod “That’s the sort of thing that wins elections though.  But," he added bitterly, "Why did you find our relationship so ugly, if you’re so enlightened, Detective?” 

 

“Didn't say I was all that enlightened.  It did throw me for a loop, finding out about John." Starsky admitted. "But" he went on quietly, "the big thing was, I was looking at the person John cheated on his wife with. Not that you were a man, but because I couldn’t believe John would do that to Maggie.   John was like a father to me after my Pop died, Maggie was almost like another mother.  How would you feel finding out your father cheated on your mother?  That you were a man was just...  the icing on the cake.”

 

“Oh, so you mean you don’t hate me because I’m a faggot, just because I’m an adulterer.  I should be gratified, I guess.”  Peter snapped.

 

“Then, yeah” the detective nodded.  “But people change.  That’s why I’m here now.  I understand better, and I wanted to say I was sorry.  You were important to John.  John was important to me.  I didn’t want you thinking I hated you, or blamed you for anything.”

 

Peter was speechless for a moment, overwhelmed.  Finally he said quietly “John spoke a great deal about you, you know.  He loved you like a son.  Fear of hurting you was one of the reasons he wouldn’t come out of the closet.”

 

“Yeah.  I know that.” Starsky nodded.  “That was sort of the other thing I was here about.  You know what happened to me when I was shot, medically I mean?”

 

Peter shrugged, puzzled by the turn the conversation was taking.  “In general.  Just what was on the news.”

 

“I died on the first day.  For three minutes I was dead.”

 

“You mean they had to resescitate you?”

 

“I mean I was dead,  Do you...”  Starsky paused as though he were searching for words.  “Do you believe in anything?  Like God, or...?”

 

Peter blinked.  This was getting confusing.  John had told him that Starsky’s thinking processes could be convoluted, and Peter was starting to understand what he meant.  “Well, I was brought up as a Christian, but I’ve pretty much left the church now.  Still, I suppose I still believe in something bigger than us.  God, or the universe or...   Detective Starsky, why are you asking me this?”

 

“When I was dead, and after, I... saw things.  Talked to people.  One of them was John.  He set me straight about a few things I needed to hear.”

 

Peter was really confounded now.  It was obvious that the detective believed what he was saying.  And something had changed his attitude.  But still, visits from the dead?  “What did he say?” he asked cautiously.

 

Starsky smiled.  “Some stuff that was just for me.  But some stuff about you.  Told me how you met.  In the park, talking and feeding the ducks.”

 

Peter swallowed.  That he and John had met in the park was something a detective could easily have found out.  It didn’t really mean he had some kind of knowledge from beyond.

 

“He gave me a message for you.”  Starsky went on.  “He told me how you wanted him to leave Maggie and come out of the closet, take on the department. He told me to tell you he loved you even though he wouldn’t do it.  He said the reason that he didn’t was because he was ashamed and afraid, and he regretted it.  He knew about the changes you got passed in the police regulations to allow gay officers, and everything.”

 

Peter sat quietly, not sure what to think or believe.  Finally he just said “Thank you.”

 

Starsky shrugged.  Silence descended for a moment.

 

“I really loved him, Detective Starsky.” Peter said finally.  “I still miss him.”

 

“So do I” Starsky sighed.

 

Peter took a deep breath.  Honesty demanded honesty in return. “Detective Starsky, I have an admission to make.  Part of the reason I was hostile towards you during the investigation was simply that I was jealous.”

 

Now it was Starsky’s turn to look puzzled.   “Jealous?  Of me?”

 

“That he cared so much for you.  And that you could be an accepted part of his life, and mourn for him openly.  That you had people to share memories with.  I don’t have that.  As I told you and your partner, John and I were loners.  I have no friends who knew him.”  There was a bleakness in Peter that he hadn’t realized himself was there, until this man that John had held so dear made his appearence and stripped away his carefully constructed facade.

 

Starsky seemed taken aback.  Peter was willing to bet this wasn’t what he’d been expecting, but so what?  The effort of pretending any longer seemed to much to bear.

 

Starsky seemed to be going through some internal debate.  “I’m sorry” he said finally.  “If you wanted, we could meet some time, talk about him.  I’d be glad of a chance to share some memories, too.” He smiled tentatively.

 

“I don’t need charity” Peter said stiffly.

 

“No charity.  I miss him too.  And you saw a side of him I never knew.  I’d like to try and understand that part better.”

 

There was a note of sincerity, almost of longing in his voice that Peter couldn’t ignore.

 

“If you mean that...” he said, hopefully.

 

“I do.”

 

“Then, I would be honored, Detective.  Lunch some time?  Today, even?”  He hoped he didn’t sound overly eager.

 

“Not today.  I have my ride waiting, and I have other plans.  But soon. Let me give you the number where we’re staying.”  He wrote on the paper Peter handed him. 

 

As he stood up a sudden spasm of coughing siezed him, almost doubling him over in its intensity.

 

“Are you all right?” Peter asked in concern, reaching for him.

 

The detective waved his hand away.  “I’m OK.  I was at the doctors today for some tests.” He got himself under control.  “They put me through my paces, and tired me out, that’s all.  I’ll be OK soon as I rest.”

 

Peter came out from behind his desk, and reached out to steady him.  “Do you want to sit here for awhile?”

 

Starsky shook his head.  “Got the kids waiting down in the lobby.”  To Peter’s questioning look he explained “Kiko, Hutch’s little brother in the Big Brother’s program, and Kiko’s sister Molly.  They took me to the doctor’s today.  Can’t leave ‘em waiting, they’ll worry.”

 

"Well, at least let me walk you down to the lobby, then."

 

Starsky nodded.  "Probably a good idea.  Thanks, Mr. Whitelaw."

 

"Call me Peter."  Peter took the other man by the arm and guided him to the door.

 

"Then you call me Dave.  That's what John called me."

 

Peter nodded.  "All right, Dave.  Let's go."

 

They made their way slowly down to the lobby.  When the elevator doors opened, Peter easily identified the two teenagers waiting for Starsky.  His heart gave a nostalgic pang, they were just the age of his former students.  It still hurt.  He had been a good teacher. 

 

The kids came over, full of concern, when they saw Peter half supporting the detective, who was still struggling to breath.

 

"Starsky!  Are you OK?"  The boy, who must be Kiko, asked, voice worried.  The girl, Molly, didn't bother saying anything, and just took Starsky's other arm.

 

"I'm fine." He took a few deep breaths as though to prove his claim, then said, "Kids, meet one of Bay City's up and coming politicians.  The Honorable Peter Whitelaw."

 

"Peter Whitelaw?" Kiko repeated.  "Hey, I know who you are.  You used to teach at my school. My teacher talked about you in social studies this year."

 

"Really?  What did she say?"   Though he wasn't sure he wanted to know, curiosity won over Peter's defense mechanisms.

 

The boy closed his eyes, calling up memory. "She said you were one of the best English teachers Bay City High ever had, and it was a shame we lost you because of stupid prejudice.  She said the Gay Rights movement was the new Civil Rights movement, and you were right at the front of it."

 

Peter smiled. "I'm glad someone remembers me fondly at least.  Who's your teacher?"

 

"Mrs. Jeffries.  She said you used to team teach sometimes and she misses you.  I don't think she likes Mr. Horace.  He's my English teacher."

 

Peter remembered Edna Jeffries with pleasure.  "If you see her in the fall, thank her for me."

 

Kiko nodded.  "Sure.  She's my guidance counselor, so I'll see her."

 

"And do you agree with what she said?"

 

"Well, sure." Kiko nodded.

 

"It's stupid to be prejudiced against someone because of who they sleep with."  Molly chimed in.  There was a touch of self-righteousness in her tone, but obvious sincerity too.

 

Peter felt oddly cheered.  "Come on kids, let's get Detective Starsky in the car."

 

"I'm not a cripple." Starsky huffed.

 

"'Course not." Molly affirmed.  "But if we don't get you back safely, Hutch is gonna' kill us."  Together they got the wheezing Starsky into the car.  Peter waved as they pulled away.

 

The whole encounter had left Peter feeling oddly happy.  He turned his eyes up towards the sky.  "John" he murmered, "If you really did have anything to do with him coming to see me, thank you."  There was, of course, no answer, but Peter felt strangely warmed.

 

oooO0Oooo

 

Back at the Jacobs cottage, Kiko and Molly helped Starsky into the living room where he settled on the couch.  Kiko fixed sandwiches for lunch while Molly tucked Starsky under an afghan.

 

"Are you kids staying for dinner?" he asked.

 

"If we're invited."  Kiko affirmed.

 

"Sure.  Hutch'll be back in a couple of hours, how about you guys take the dog for a walk on the beach til then? I wanna' take a nap."

 

Molly leashed Euripides and they headed for the beach.

 

They let the dog loose when they got there, and Kiko found a piece of driftwood for him to fetch.

 

For awhile they walked in companionable silence, tossing the stick for the dog.  Then, finally, Molly turned to Kiko.  "So, what do you think?"

 

"'Bout what?"

 

"Why was Starsky visiting Peter Whitelaw?"

 

Kiko shrugged, pulled the stick away from the bouncing dog, and tossed it again.

 

"I dunnow.  Wasn't he the one that it turned out that friend of Starsky's was sleeping with?  The guy who got murdered?"

 

"Oh yeah, thats right.  John Blaine.  Starsky told me about it when it happened, 'cause he was afraid the gossip columnists would make something out of them being friends, and him and Hutch being so close, you know."

 

Kiko shrugged.  "I guess there's always been some talk about them." 

 

Molly got the stick from the dog this time and tossed it.  "I guess."

 

There was another silence between them, broken only by the sound of waves, and the excited happy dog.  Then Kiko finally said "So would it bother you if they were... you know?"

 

"What, making it?"  Kiko nodded.  "Heck no!"  Molly went on.  "I thought they were when I first met them.  That's why it didn't scare me to go home with Hutch.  What about you?"

 

Kiko shook his head.  “Rather have them be with each other then have Hutch get married to some stupid girl who’d maybe not want him to see us any more.”

 

“Yeah, that’d be bad.”

 

They were silent again for awhile.  Euripides bounced in front of them, yipping.  Molly absently tossed the stick.  Then she asked “So, you think they’re gonna‘?”

 

Kiko shrugged.  “Maybe.  They seem kinda’ different since the shooting, you know what I mean?  Like...  they need each other more or something.  It’s like Hutch is afraid to be away from him for too long.”

 

“Yeah.  And Starsky seems different, too.  Sort of unsettled." Kiko nodded.  Molly went on, "Think they’d tell us if they were?”

 

Kiko thought that over for awhile.  “Yeah.  ‘Cause they’d be afraid we’d find out from someone else and be upset.”

 

Molly nodded thoughtfully.  “I think you’re right.”

 

"So...  we wait and see if they have anything to tell us."

 

Molly nodded.  "Guess so.  Hey, think it's time to go back now?"

 

"Yeah." Kiko snapped the dog's leash back on, and they headed back.

 

oooOO0OOooo

 

 

 

Dinner was over, the dog was walked and fed and the birds taken care of, the kids had said their good-byes, and Hutch had done the dishes.

 

Starsky sprawled comfortably on the couch, watching through the kitchen door as Hutch put the plates away, admiring his long-legged grace, the ease and smoothness of his movements.  His Hutch...  a warmth spread through Starsky thinking about him.  He wished he had a glass of wine, or a beer, but he was still on too many medications that didn't mix safely with alcohol.  All the thinking and deciding he'd done since he'd woken after the shooting finally all came down to tonight, and he was nervous.  Nervous, but anticipatory too.  Clearing the air with Peter had been the only thing left he felt he needed to do before this conversation.

 

"Hey, Babe?  When you're done, come and sit" he called.

 

Hutch wiped his hands on a towel and hung it over the back of a chair.  "I'm done now" he said, moving into the living room and settleing on the couch next to Starsky.  "What's up?"

 

Starsky took a deep breath.  "Think we need to talk" he said.

 

A look of apprehension crossed Hutch's face.  "Talk about what?"

 

"Nothing bad.  Just some stuff we gotta' get out of the way."  He sat silently a moment as the parakeets twittered happily.  He knew what they needed to talk about.  He knew, or at least, God, he hoped he knew, where they were going to end up...  but he was damned if he knew how they were going to get there.  "Why me, Hutch?" he thought in frustration.  "You're supposed to be the thinker, the talker..."  But he knew why.   Hutch was the thinker, but he was the do-er.  Besides, he was the one who had died, he was the one who had...  seen things.  He was the one who had changed.  Now he had to lead Hutch along the same road.  Knowing that, however, didn't help him figure out how to start the journey.  Well, the best way was to just jump right in, he supposed.

 

"Hutch, you never did tell me.  Why'd you pull that stupid fake amnesia stunt back last year?"

 

Hutch looked away.  "Aw come on, Starsk" he said defensively. " I said I was sorry for that.  I said that a long time ago.  Why are you bringing it up now?"

 

"I know you said you were sorry.  And I forgave, you, then and now" Starsky was quick to reassure him.  "But you never said why you did it.  And I think...  I think it's tied in with a lot of the bad stuff that happened later between us."

 

"You mean... Kira?  You think me pretending to have amnesia had anything to do with what happened with Kira?"  Hutch said, scorn dripping from the words.

 

Starsky ignored the sarcastic tone.  He knew Hutch was just getting more defensive.  "No, I don't mean Kira, though maybe that was part of it.  I'm talking about everything the year between."

 

"What do you mean?" Hutch asked uneasily.

 

"Don't shit me, Hutch." Starsky said with some irritation.  Then he pulled himself together and said more calmly, "You know how it was between us the last year or so.  The games, the insults.  Always running away, but at the same time it seemed like we couldn't leave each other alone."

 

Hutch was still silent.

 

"Hutch? Work with me here, huh?"  Starsky almost begged.  He knew he had layers of denial to get through, and he was beginning to feel like he'd hit a stone wall.  "Please?"

 

Maybe it was the note of desperation creeping into his voice that made Hutch relent.  "Yeah, buddy.  I know things were rough this past year.  I'm sorry, and I've tried to make it up to you.  But what makes you think that my amnesia stunt has anything to do with it?"

 

Starsky sighed.  "Hutch, be reasonable.  It was the first thing that really went wrong between us.  If there was anything before that, then I missed it.  But after that, it's like everything went downhill.  So it seems to me that to fix whatever happened we gotta' start there.  So come on, Babe, tell me what was going on in that blond head of yours, huh?"

 

Hutch took a deep breath.  "Starsk, I swear, I don't really know myself.  It just...  seemed like a good idea at the time.  I was concussed, I wasn't thinking clearly, I was angry at you...  I just wanted to get away from everything, and I was confused enough to think pretending to have amnesia was a good way to do it."

 

And now Starsky felt they were getting to it.  "But why were you so angry, Hutch? Why'd you feel like you needed to run away from everything?"

 

Hutch turned away and said nothing.

 

"That's what it's about, isn't it, Hutch?"  Starsky gently pushed.  "That's what was going on all of last year.  You wanting to run away from everything, including me.  But not being able to.  But why, Hutch?  What's been wrong?"

 

"Nothing!” There was a note of panic in Hutch’s voice now.  “It's nothing, Starsk, really.  I mean, it was, but it's over now, and thats it."

 

"Aw, Hutch" Starsky reached out to take the other man's face in his hand.  "Hutch, this is me, here. You don't have to hide.  Look, how about I take a guess?  It have anything to do with the message Terry gave me for you?  What'd she talk to you about, huh?"

 

There was such a stillness in Hutch's body that Starsky knew he was getting close to the root of the problem.  And he knew, more or less, what it was.  But getting into Hutch's head...  that was the hard part.  Nothing for it, he figured, but to go straight to it. 

 

"She talk to you about you and me?  Maybe about us being...  more than friends?  That it?"

 

Hutch pulled back, pulled away, and Starsky knew he had it.

 

"Yes, OK!” Hutch snapped. “Yes, she thought I ought to take you to bed myself.  Happy now?   And you know it's always been there between us.   And then, after John Blaine died, I started thinking."

 

"Ssh, Babe, hush." Starsky pulled Hutch to him again.  "Thinking?"  Hutch thinking was always a problem.

 

"Thinking about words and labels.” Hutch said with exaggerated patience.  “We aren't gay, Starsk.  You know that.  I always told myself that.  We both like girls to much to be gay.  But after John died, I couldn't pretend any more that there wasn't something more between us, that it was just a game we were playing.  That we were really straight.  And there's a name for that too..."

 

"AC/DC." Starsky said softly.  "Switch-hitter."

 

"'Bisexual', Starsk" Hutch said fiercely.   "The word is 'bisexual'.  And all last year, I was trying to run from that word.  Trying to be straight.  Trying to...  God, Starsky, can you forgive me?  If I almost lost you, it’s only what I deserve.” His voice broke.  “I was trying to get away from you, push you away, because I didn't want to feel that way any more."

 

And now they'd come at the end to the final truth. "But you couldn't, Babe, could you?" Starsky murmured.   "No more than I could run away from you.  Of course I forgive you, Hutch.  I was scared, too, and running.  Didn't realize it so clearly as that 'til recently but that's what it was." His hand rubbed circles on Hutch's back, soothingly.  "But we couldn't keep apart for long.  I’m yours, blood and bone, and you’re mine.  Tied together forever.  That's what I saw when I was dead.  That's why you could call me back.   And I'm tired of running now.  So here I am. Only question is,” he whispered softly, “Now that you have me, whata’ you want to do with me?"

 

There was no answer, just a quivering silence in the body he held tightly to him.  Hutch had buried his head against Starsky’s shoulder, and Starsky gently stroked his hair.  Slowly, carefully, trying not to spook him, he pulled Hutch’s face up to his, and ever-so-softly, pressed their mouths together in a kiss.

 

Hutch’s lips were like silk against his, sweet as chocolate, heady as wine, and Hutch gave a small whimper, returning the kiss with a growing fervor, his hand going up to thread through Starsky’s curls, and for a moment Starsky thought everything would be all right, that it was all going well. 

 

But suddenly Hutch moaned, and shoved away from him, hard.  He lurched to his feet, stumbling wildly, and came to rest leaning his forehead against the opposite wall.

 

“We can’t do this, Starsky.  You know that.  We can’t”  he muttered brokenly.

 

Starsky pulled himself up.  Screw the cane, he didn’t need a cane to get to a hurting Hutch. He struggled across the room and wrapped his arms around the trembling form.  Hutch had lost the extra weight he’d put on before Starsky’s shooting, and now he felt thin and vulnerable in Starsky’s embrace.

 

“Why not, Babe?”  he asked.  “I know there used to be a lot of reasons, but think.  Work?  They can’t fire us, thanks to Peter Whitelaw.  They can’t split us up as partners, because that’s already been done.  And anyway, we don’t have to tell anyone there.  Probably half the station thinks we’ve been doing it for years, and they either don’t care or they hate us for it anyway.” 

 

“Our families”  Hutch muttered.  “Friends. 

 

“I know my family, Hutch. Most of ‘em’ll be cool with it.  And the ones that won’t, well, I don’t like those particular family members that much anyway.  Your family? How often do you see them?  If it’s really a problem, you don’t have to tell them.  I’d be OK with that.  And our friends?  If this makes them stop being friends, then they weren’t really friends to begin with.  Huggy won’t mind, you know he’s been playing both sides of the street for years.”

 

“Kiko, and the Big Brother’s organization.”

 

“Hutch, Kiko’s gonna’ be 18 in a couple years.  We can keep in the closet ‘til then. After that, it’s no one’s business but his who he wants to see.  And I don’t think Kiko or Molly are gonna’ be upset.  I think Molly thought we already were, at first.”

 

Hutch was silent.  Starsky pulled him closer.  “You see, Babe?  You’re worrying over nothing.  Over a word.  Just a word.”  He nuzzled against Hutch's neck, nipping and licking, and ran his hands over his chest, slipping them under his shirt, sliding them gently upwards.  It felt so good, so very good...

 

"A year, Hutch" he whispered into Hutch's ear.  "We spent a whole year running from each other.  We let Kira almost tear us apart because we couldn’t admit what we really wanted.  I don't want to waste any more time.  I want you.  And I know you want me."

 

Hutch moaned softly and arched backwards against him.  Starsky snuggled closer, pressing his groin against Hutch’s ass, his knee between Hutch's legs.  With his right hand he found one of Hutch’s nipples, and started gently circling around it, feeling it go hard under his fingers.  His right hand was limited in its mobility, but he didn’t need much for that.  His left hand slid southwards, down towards Hutch’s crotch, finding the hardness there, gently rubbing and squeezing.  Hutch moaned again, arched even farther back, and Starsky ground his own crotch, hard now too, against him.  He fumbled with the fastening of Hutch’s pants, clumsy in his urgency.

 

Suddenly, fast as a pouncing cat, Hutch twisted, and Starsky found his back pressed up against the wall, with Hutch crushing against him.  For a moment they looked at each other, then Hutch’s mouth was on his, hard, urgent, Hutch’s hands were on his ass, pulling him in closer, tighter.  Starsky moaned and writhed against him, grinding his aching cock against Hutch’s thigh, gasping for air as Hutch’s lips roamed over his face, his hair, his neck, and finally came to rest on his ear.

 

“Are you sure this is what you want?” he murmured huskily.

 

“Forever, Hutch.”  Starsky gasped.  “I’ve wanted this forever.”

 

“God help me, so have I.”   And with that Hutch scooped him up in his arms, like a father carrying a baby, like a bridegroom his bride...  or like he had done that terrible night at Giovanni’s Restaurant, and carried him down the hall to the bedroom.

 

They fell unceremoniously together onto the bed, rolling and tussling.  Hutch ended on top, and started stripping off Starsky's shirt with a frantic desperation. Then he froze, when Starsky gave a gasp of pain as the sleeve caught.

 

"Babe?  You OK?" he asked.  "You sure you're up for this?"

 

Starsky laughed and shrugged the rest of the way out of his shirt.  "Up for it, Hutch?  Whadda' you think?"  He pulled Hutch's hand down to his crotch, where his erection was tenting his sweat pants.

 

Hutch gasped, but stayed on the subject.  "Goofball.  I mean, your heart, your lungs.  What would the doctor say?"

 

Starsky pulled Hutch down to him.  In between kisses he murmured "I asked today. The cardiologist said I'm cleared for sex, as long as it isn't too athletic.  So you get to be the one on the trapeze, sweetheart."  He slid both hands under Hutch’s shirt, and pulled it up over his head, sending buttons flying everywhere.  His hands roamed over Hutch’s chest, his back, feeling the smoothness of the skin, the tautness of muscle under flesh. 

 

Hutch’s hands came up slowly, almost tentatively, tracing their way over Starsky’s injuries.

 

“It’s OK, Hutch. Honest” Starsky reassured him.  “I’m not gonna’ break. The doctor said sex was good aerobic exercise.” He chuckled a little. “‘Course, he thought it would be a girl I was with, and I didn't disillusion him.  But this is what I want here.”  He reached for the fastening of Hutch's pants, but his fingers, clumsy with haste and disability, couldn't manage the button.

 

Impatient, Hutch brushed his hands away.  "Let me" he muttered.  Starsky leaned back and watched through half veiled eyes as Hutch unbuttoned his cords and slowly slid down the zipper.

 

"Oh Hutch!" he whispered reverently as Hutch slid the pants down his legs and pulled them off.  Hutch hesitated for a moment but then slid off his briefs as well.  Then, naked, he reached for Starsky again.

 

“Your turn” he said low in his throat, pushing on the waistband of Starsky’s sweats.

 

"No, wait."  Starsky tumbled Hutch down next to him, then got up on his knees beside him.  "I wanna' look at you first, Blondie."

 

His breath caught in his throat as he drank in the sight of that clean blond beauty, his now at long last, the long golden line of legs, the pale cream of the skin, flushing darker as Hutch blushed under the close scrutiny, and the impressive size of the erect phallus that jutted from the soft thatch of downy blond curls.

 

“So beautiful” he breathed softly, running his hands down Hutch’s chest, following them with a line of kisses.  His questing mouth reached a nipple and sucked on it.  Hutch moaned and bucked underneath him.  Starsky reached down farther and took Hutch's straining erection in one hand, feeling the softness of the skin over the hardness beneath.  Experimentally he stroked gently.  Hutch moaned again.

 

Suddenly Hutch wrapped those long legs around Starsky's waist and flipped.  Starsky found himself with Hutch on top of him.  "I said, 'Your turn'" Hutch rasped, and tugged on Starsky's sweats again.

 

"OK, OK, hold your horses."  Starsky slid out of the sweats.  He wasn't wearing anything underneath. Hutch was on him in an instant, hands everywhere.  Their lips met again and their tongues danced.  Starsky moaned softly and leaned back, letting Hutch plunder his mouth.   Hutch carded his fingers though Starsky's chest hair, moving his attention from Starsky‘s mouth, finding a nipple and suckling.  Starsky moaned again, and pulled Hutch’s head to him.

 

Suddenly Starsky found his hands pinioned by his side by the wrists, as Hutch inched his way down his torso, tracing a line with his tongue, emphasizing it with little nips.  He gasped and wriggled, but Hutch held him firmly, slowly working his way down towards his cock. In between kisses he murmured "You said the doctor said you weren't up to acrobatics, so you are going to lie here and let me do all the work."

 

He released Starsky’s wrists in favor of a grip on his hips.  Starsky found himself whimpering helplessly as Hutch gently took his straining cock in his hand.

 

“What are you going to do, then, huh?” he managed to gasp out.

 

Hutch just chuckled deep in his throat, a sound that made Starsky’s breath stop in his chest for a moment. “Wait and see, Babe. I’ve been wanting this for a long time now.”  He made a few experimental strokes along Starsky’s length, from base to cut top, running his fingers over the head, where a few drops of fluid already beaded.  Starsky moaned softly.

 

“Oh yeah, like that, Hutch.” he breathed.

 

Hutch laughed that husky chuckle again.  “Oh, I have more than that in mind” he whispered.  Starsky gasped helplessly as Hutch bent his golden head down, and delicately licked a line up the whole length of his erection.

 

"Oh Hutch!" he whimpered and thrust his hips up uncontrollably as Hutch again lapped up the whole of his throbbing shaft. 

 

Hutch chuckled again, obviously pleased with the reaction he was getting.  "Uh uh uh, Babe" he remonstrated.  "I said I'd do all the work."  He shifted one hand back to Starsky's hip and held him down.  The other hand stayed at Starsky's groin, cupping his balls, gently squeezing and rolling them as he bent his head over Starsky's cock.

 

This time instead of simply licking, he wrapped his lips around the head and slowly and carefully took Starsky's entire length inside his mouth, sucking and licking along his whole shaft.

 

Starsky nearly lost it.  It felt so good, so hot and wet and wild.  And it was Hutch, Hutch holding him in his mouth, Hutch sucking him off like he'd never been sucked before.  He gasped and moaned, writhing under Hutch's grip, and he wound his fingers in Hutch's silky blond hair, caressing Hutch's head as Hutch used his mouth and tongue and lips to bring him to the shuddering brink of ecstasy. 

 

Then Hutch released the hand that held Starsky's hip.  He reached around to his ass, stroked the firm roundness, and slid between the cheeks.  One finger gently explored, while his mouth kept on working its magic.  Starsky moaned again, nearly sobbing in his passion. Then that exploring finger found what it was searching for, and gently, ever so gently, edged inside, and the sensation of being penetrated, of Hutch taking him, pushed him over the edge.  He half moaned, half roared, beyond words, only able to feel the white-hot climax, as he uncontrollably thrust into Hutch's willing mouth, again and again, as Hutch gulped convulsively and swallowed, taking his entire load.

 

Starsky fell back, sated.  "Oh Babe" he whispered softly.  "Oh Hutch..."  But Hutch wasn't finished.  His finger was still working, still stroking in and out, even as he managed to get his mouth up to Starsky's for a kiss flavored with Starsky's own cum, salt and bitter, and he pressed his swollen cock against Starsky's thigh.

 

"My turn now?" he whispered.

 

Starsky's body was reacting to the stimulation, his hips rocking back and forth in time to Hutch's gentle finger thrusts.

 

"Is that what you want?" Starsky murmured huskily.

 

“Oh God, yes.  Forever, Starsk, I’ve watched you waving that ass at me forever.  But...” he added anxiously, “Are you OK with it?”

 

“Hell, yeah Hutch. Whatever you want, I’ve wanted it too.  And then some.”  Besides, Starsky thought, better he should see what it was like first, rather than risk hurting Hutch, when this whole thing had been Starsky’s idea.

 

“We’ll need some sort of lube.”

 

Starsky chuckled.  “Look on the floor beside the bed, Babe.”

 

Hutch laughed.  “Good little boy scout, always prepared, huh?” anddeee glanced over the edge of the bed, somehow managing to keep his hand working even a                                                                                                                                                           m,,,,,,,,,,,,,         s he did so, to spot the bottle Starsky had carefully put there earlier in the day, .  One eyebrow went up.  “My extra-virgin olive oil, Starsk?”

 

“It’s either that or the flowery-smelling body lotion Mrs. Jacobs left in the bathroom.  It’s not like I coulda’ asked the kids to stop at a drugstore and wait while I bought some KY.  So I figured, the Greeks and Romans used olive oil for their skin, and if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.”  He'd picked up that tidbit of information from some of the Jacobs history books.

 

Hutch picked up the bottle.  He had to pull his hand away in order to reach it, and Starsky whimpered a little at the loss of contact.  Hutch kissed the back of his neck apologetically, and unscrewed the bottle’s cap.  He laid Starsky on his side, with himself behind.  "Is this position OK, for you?"  he asked huskily. 

 

Starsky nodded.  "Yeah, I've heard this is good for beginners."

 

The oil felt a little cold as Hutch rubbed it on Starsky’s ass, reverently massaging both globes.  Gently he worked one oiled finger back inside, then two.  Starsky arched backwards moaning.  

 

"Easy, easy"  Hutch comforted.  "Just relax, gonna' make this good for you, Babe."

 

A sudden thought hit Starsky.  Hutch sounded like he knew what he was doing.  "You, uh, ever do this before?" he asked.

 

Hutch spread his fingers apart, stretching Starsky open, and laughed gently at Starsky's jealous tone.  "Only with Vanessa.  No other guys, if that's what you're asking." 

 

Starsky's surprise momentarily distracted him from anything else.  "Vanessa?  The Ice Princess?  You're putting me on."

 

"She could get really down and dirty in bed, Starsk, that's one of the things that kept us together as long as we were.  The make-up sex after the fights was... wild."  He kissed the back of Starsky's neck again, and nuzzled an ear.  "But I don't want to talk about her now. Just you, Babe, only you."  Then a momentary trace of doubt tinged his voice.  "What about you? Have you ever done anything like this?"  A third finger slid in to join the others.

 

"With a guy?" Starsky shook his head.  "Traded favors a few times back when I was in 'Nam."  A quick stroking gesture at his crotch indicated what sort of favors he meant.  "Safer and cheaper than the local girls.  But that's all." He laughed nervously.  "So remember, schweetheart, I'm a virgin in these woods, too."

 

"Scared?' Hutch said worriedly.  The magic fingers stopped what they were doing.  "We don't have to if you don't want to."

 

Wasn't that just like Hutch, Starsky thought. "'Course I'm scared, wouldn't you be?  But I want you, Babe, so don't even think about stopping."  He pushed backwards against Hutch's hand to prove the point, feeling him start moving again, taking him deep inside.  "Just do it."

 

"I'll be gentle, I promise.  And I'll respect you in the morning, too" Hutch joked softly.  And with that he pulled his fingers out, and, using both hands to spread Starsky's cheeks apart, positioned himself, and pressed the head of his cock gently in.

 

There was some resistance at the opening, and at first Starsky had to force himself to relax, force himself to lie still and want it, but then Hutch was in, and everything was different.

 

The sensation was unbelievable.  Starsky cried out as he pushed himself back against Hutch, feeling his substantial length and thickness piercing him, possessing him.  He felt like he was being split apart but at the same time he wanted more, because it was Hutch taking him, Hutch making him his. 

 

"Hutch, Hutch, Hutch" he sobbed, writhing in time to Hutch's thrusts.

 

Hutch gripped Starsky's shoulder with one hand, and with the other reached around to stroke Starsky's cock.  Starsky bucked  at the contact.  Hutch gasped, thrusting forward deep into him.  "Oh Babe" he moaned.  "So hot, so good..."

 

And then the thrusting hit something deep inside Starsky, and it was like an electric current pulsing directly to his cock that lay in Hutch's hand, and the stroking and the thrusting and the sense of being taken all came together, and Hutch's gasping and thrusting increased in tempo and then, and then...

 

Like lightening, like an explosion, like dying and being reborn all at once, Starsky threw his head back, and cried out something, and gave himself over to the orgasm sweeping through him, and dimly he was aware of Hutch behind him gasping and moaning, and calling his name as he shot his load too, deep inside him, and they collapsed together panting and drenched in sweat.

 

Gently Hutch pulled out, and Starsky managed to roll over so he was facing him, nestled in Hutch’s arms.  Hutch stroked his hair, his face, and murmured things Starsky could barely hear.  The first words he could make out were "Are you OK, Starsk?  Was it good for you?"

 

Even at a moment like that, Starsky thought, the Blintz's first thoughts were to worry about someone else.  So typical...

 

"You were unbelievable, Hutch.  I may never move again.  Just lie here forever..."  He burrowed down against Hutch's shoulder.

 

Hutch made a noise almost like purring.   "If that's what you want, Starsk, then that's what you get.  Everything's taken care of, we can just go right to sleep."  His eyes, when he looked at Starsky, were bright, and happier than Starsky could remember them looking for a long time.  Starsky's heart felt like it was overflowing.  Hutch should always look like that. 

 

Hutch laid his head down on Starsky's chest.  Starsky laughed and kissed him on top of the head.  "You goof!  We still have to turn off the lights and lock up."

 

Hutch gave a sigh of exaggerated martyrdom, and disentangling himself from Starsky he padded into the living room.  The house grew dark as he turned off the lights and padded back.  Starsky pulled him into bed and covered them both with the sheet.  Hutch snuggled his head back down on Starsky’s chest again.  The last thing Starsky knew before sleep claimed him was Hutch’s gentle murmur of “Love you, Starsk.”

 

oooOO0OOooo

 

Hutch woke to an armful of Starsky.  Memory flooded back to him of the night before, and intense contentment flowed through him.  Off in the living room he could hear the parakeets twittering and chirping in the morning sunshine.  A soft breeze blew through the open window, ruffling the curtains.  In his arms Starsky shifted slightly and made a soft drowsy noise. Hutch could lie here all day, he thought, all his life, just looking at Starsky's face, basking in the peace and quiet. 

 

Then he caught sight of the bedside clock.  Oh shit, no, he couldn't.  They couldn't.  He started to shake Starsky awake, then stopped.  He knew the first thing that would go through Starsky's mind this morning, and it would be to worry about how Hutch was feeling.  Well, he could take care of  that worry easily enough.  Instead of shaking, he brought their mouths together in a kiss.

 

Starsky stirred awake under his lips.  "Morning, Sleeping Beauty" Hutch said cheerfully.  Starsky's eyes widened, and he threw an arm around Hutch's neck, pulling him down into the kiss.  Hutch gave himself over to it for a moment, but then he pulled back.

 

"Much as I love the thought you're having right now, Partner, we don't have time.  You have to be in physical therapy in an hour."

 

Starsky fell back on the bed.  "Aw hell."

 

Hutch ran a quick hand down his chest, brushing a nipple, tugging a little on the hair.  "When you get back we'll have all afternoon.  And all evening, and all night..."

 

Starsky sighed.  "When I get back, my muscles will be so cramped up from the therapy that I won't be able to move" he grumbled. He started pulling himself out of bed.

 

"Then I'll give you a massage, and we can go on from there"  Hutch promised.  He swatted Starsky's rear in passing.  “Now hit the shower while I get us something for breakfast.  You’re going to be late as it is.”

 

"I take it that means you don't have any regrets about last night, then?" Starsky asked, worriedly.

 

Hutch took Starsky’s face between his hands, and pressed their foreheads together, like Starsky had the other night.  “Babe, last night was something I hadn’t even let myself dream about.  My only regret is that it took us so long to get there.”

 

Starsky was suddenly serious.  “I thought that too, Hutch.  That we should have sooner.  But I’m not sure I was right.  I don’t think we should have been doing this when we were partners on the street. The department doesn’t let a married couple be partners, for good reason, and this wouldn’t be any different.  Things were intense enough between us already.  Lionel Rigger died because I cared more about you than about the case, or anything else.  But if we’d kept him alive, maybe we could have followed the trail all the way up to Gunther right then.  Without the shooting.”  He laughed.  “Hell, Hutch, I couldn’t keep from worrying about you as it was.  If we’d been sleeping together...  I don’t think I’d have been able to let you out of my sight.”

 

Hutch sighed.  “Maybe you’re right, Starsk.  Seems like a lot of wasted time, though.”

 

Starsky shook his head.  “Things happen when they’re supposed to.  I know you don’t believe in what happened to me when I died, what I saw, but even if it was just something I made up myself, there was a lot that I needed to hear.  And one thing Michael said to me was that things happen in their right and proper time and season.” 

 

He pulled Hutch to him for a deep kiss, filled with promise for later.  “And this, Hutch, this is the right and proper season.”