Meeting of the Hearts
As soon as they stepped outside, Starsky started to pull away but Hutch reached out before he could get too far. “Hey, where ya’ going?”
Starsky shrugged his shoulders. “Thought you’d want some time alone or something.”
Hutch led Starsky towards the Torino. “Where’d you get a crazy idea like that?”
“It’s not like I’ve exactly been my usual chipper self.”
Chuckling, Hutch opened the passenger side of the Torino. “Neither of us has been at our best. Your place is closer.”
Starsky nodded and slid into the car. He had treated Hutch horribly during the investigation of the dance hall murders. Watching his partner hurrying to the driver’s side, Starsky was curious as to what Hutch had to say. His partner was always one for hashing their issues out. He’d never seen the importance of feeling talks until meeting the big lug.
As Hutch drove, Starsky stole a few glances at his partner. His face was relaxed without the worry that had become almost permanent lines. But the tight grip on the steering wheel told him otherwise.
Once at Starsky’s, both men exited the car and went inside. Starsky headed for the kitchen and immediately pulled two beers from the fridge. When he walked into the living room, Hutch had already removed his jacket.
He held a beer out and said, “I didn’t love her.”
Hutch stared at him for a moment before taking the bottle. “I know.”
Starsky stepped back and took a quick drink. “You should’ve…” Seeing Hutch’s eyes lower, Starsky nodded. “Yeah, I know.”
“Last thing I was going to do was to tell you something you would’ve denied anyways.”
Both men sat on the couch at the same time. Starsky glanced over at Hutch. “I wasn’t ready to listen before. I am now.”
Hutch snorted and drank his beer. “You want all the gory details.”
“I know you.” Starsky tore at the label on his bottle. “You didn’t go over there with the intention of sleeping with her.”
“You sure about that, buddy?”
Looking out of the corner of his eye, Starsky asked, “You want another fight?”
Hutch sighed and gripped his bottle. “I couldn’t figure it, Starsk. Before we always played and had our times with the women. We could always compete before. See who came out on top.”
“Yep,” Starsky agreed. “A lot easier ‘cause we didn’t have an emotional stake.”
“Watch it, partner.” Hutch raised his beer. “You’re taking after me.”
“You should’ve kept your touchy-feely speeches to yourself then,” Starsky joked.
Hutch grimly smiled and took another drink. “I had to find out what the hell was going on. One minute she’s playing come on and all hot and bothered, then you’re telling me that you two are taking the long walk into the sunset.”
Starsky wadded up the label and tossed it on the coffee table. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Shrugging, Hutch said, “So was going over there. She gave me a nice little speech that made perfect sense and I was suddenly agreeing with her. I spouted off an ‘I love you’ and next thing I know…”
When Hutch’s voice trailed off, Starsky rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“For what? I’m the trophy winning jerk here.”
“For hitting you. You should’ve hit back.”
Hutch rubbed his ribs for the first time and realized how little they hurt. Starsky hadn’t hit him as hard as he first thought. “I promised myself a while back that I never would again.”
“Oh, come on, Hutch.”
Straightening, Hutch turned towards his partner. “Don’t ‘oh come on, Hutch’ to me, Starsk. I shouldn’t have done it then and I wasn’t going to do it again.”
“Well, I didn’t blame you then and I won’t now.”
“Just blame it on my underused libido,” Hutch said with a roll of his eyes.
Starsky leaned towards Hutch and looked down at his crotch. He shook his finger towards it. “Bad boy,” Starsky scolded. “You mind what Uncle Hutch says to you next time.”
Hutch smirked and shoved Starsky’s hand away. “You’re crazy.”
Starsky chuckled and finished off his beer. He rose and took Hutch’s empty bottle. Grabbing two more from the fridge, Starsky called out, “You wanna know when I knew I didn’t love her?”
“You’ll tell me anyways.”
Ignoring the statement, Starsky walked into the living room. “It was at the scene of the last murder.” He held one out to Hutch, then moved to the window. “It hit me that during the entire investigation, I was never pissed at her. It was always you, Hutch.”
“Convincing deductions, Watson.”
“Point is, Sherlock, that when push came to shove, how she felt didn’t matter to me as much as it should’ve.”
Hutch leaned back and propped the bottle on his stomach. “This is about us.”
Starsky raised the beer in a mock salute. “Give the man a cigar. That college education is starting to pay off.”
“Considering how much it cost, it damn well better.” Hutch lifted the beer to his lips and took a long drink. “Where do we go from here, Starsk? I sure as hell don’t need another one of these lessons.”
“You’d think we’d already know by now.”
“I’m all out of ‘Dear Abby’ quotes. I doubt even she could save us in our time of need.”
Starsky moved to a chair and sat down. They quietly drank their beers contemplating their relationship and the future.
“Why were you pissed at me?”
Starsky gave Hutch a thoughtful look and shook his head.
“You thought you were jealous because you loved her, but you didn’t love her.”
“I love you, Hutch.”
“I know, but…”
“No, I think that’s it. All those times I saw you with her, it was you I was always thinking about. When it was just me and her, I always thought about you and what you thought you were doing. I saw her with you and I was so damn pissed at you.”
“Guess because she was with you.”
“Before it was always you and me, Hutch.” Starsky set the beer down and interlaced his fingers in front of him. “I didn’t want anyone to touch that. She was messing with something that nobody else had a right to and you let her.”
Hutch stared at Starsky as if seeing him for the first time. “How did we not see it?”
“I don’t know. Just didn’t or didn’t want to.”
“Either way, we wound up right where we always do.” Hutch continued drinking his beer.
“No matter how bad things have gotten or how good they were, it was always you and me, Hutch. At the end of the day and no matter how it ended, we always wind up together. You and me.”
“We’re important to each other, Starsky. We’ve been best friends almost since the beginning. After the last several years, neither of us should be surprised at how much we rely on each other.”
“I am,” Starsky admitted.
“You want that white-picket-fence-happy ending so damn bad,” Hutch said looking at Starsky.
Starsky shook his head. “I thought it was what everyone was supposed to want.”
Hutch reached over and patted Starsky’s knee. “It could still happen, buddy.”
Covering Hutch’s hand with his own, Starsky said, “No. It’s not important anymore. The stuff with a wife and kids just seem like it wouldn’t have made me as happy as I thought it would.”
“If I really loved her, I’d be sitting here all alone, still pissed at you and missing her. I’m not and I don’t.”
“She wasn’t the right one, Starsk. Another one…”
“Hutch, I could care less about another woman coming along to make dreams that I don’t think I want anymore come true. If I never get married or have kids, that’d be okay. It’s not the end of the world.” Starsky leaned back and looked into Hutch’s eyes. “Only person that matters to me is sitting on my couch.”
Hutch shifted and took a deep breath. “That almost sounds like…”
“I know exactly what it sounds like,” Starsky interrupted. “My life’s not that great unless you’re in it. If you feel differently, tell me right now.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Hutch softly told him. “You keep me human.”
Starsky grinned. “Kinda thought it was the other way around.”
“We are good for each other, Starsky. That much is clear.”
Leaning back, contentment filled Starsky’s heart. “Maybe this is how we’re meant to be, Hutch. Just you and me.”
“If you get down on bended knee, I’ll knock you on your ass,” Hutch smirked before taking a drink on his beer. When he lowered the bottle, he saw the thoughtful look running across Starsky’s face. “What are you thinking about?”
“Us.” Starsky looked at Hutch and tilted his head. “Did you ever think about you and me…?”
Hutch nervously stood up and grabbed the empty bottles. “You ready for another beer?”
Starsky followed his partner into the kitchen and leaned against the counter after folding his arms. “Well?”
“That’s the stupidest question I’ve heard from you.” Hutch grabbed two more beers from the fridge and eyed the leftover steak. “Hungry?”
“Answer the question, Hutch,” Starsky softly ordered.
Hutch closed the fridge and set the bottles down. He turned around and put his hands on his hips. “On occasion the idea has crossed my mind.”
Starsky perked up and gave a surprised smile. “Really?”
Pointing his finger at Starsky, Hutch said, “Just because we’re patching things up doesn’t give you reason to think that’s the way to do it.”
Smiling, Starsky held his hands up in his own defense. “It’s a legitimate question.”
“Fine,” Hutch capitulated. “I’m throwing it right back at you, partner.”
Starsky glanced down at the floor before looking back at Hutch. “Couple of times, I wondered.”
Nervously fidgeting with his watch, Starsky took a deep breath. “Well, I wasn’t blowing chunks at the idea.”
Hutch grabbed the beer and marched into the living room. Looking over his shoulder, Hutch said, “Great. I guess that’s all it matters when you’re getting it on with someone.”
“Hey, it’s not an easy thing to admit.” Starsky followed Hutch and stopped a few feet away. “And?”
“You know…were you puking in that crate of yours?” Seeing Hutch’s face turn beet red, Starsky chuckled.
“How did you know?” Hutch heatedly asked. “I didn’t tell anyone!”
“You’re the one that brought up the notion, Hutch. When you gave me that whole speech about tendencies straying from the norm, I knew what was going on in that blond head of yours.”
Hutch took a quick drink of beer. “The idea wasn’t as repugnant as I would have thought.”
“Good.” Starsky retrieved his beer from the kitchen and when he walked into the living room, Hutch stood at the window.
“Starsky, this isn’t a conversation we should be having.”
“I think it’s one we should’ve had a long time ago, Hutch.”
Hutch took a drink and kept his back to Starsky. “Maybe. All I know is that if this goes much further, it’ll change everything.”
“I hope so,” Starsky mumbled.
Hutch swung around. “Why? This could ruin us!”
“It could also make us better.”
“A risk I’m not willing to take. Starsky, why don’t you dust off your black book and call up a stewardess. I’m sure you’ll find any number of them more than willing to get your rocks off.”
“You think that’s what all this is about?” Starsky asked incredulously. “If that’s all I wanted, I’d give my left hand a workout in the bathroom.”
“Listen,” Hutch said calmly. “After this whole mess, you’re probably feeling what most people feel when they break off a relationship. After a few weeks, you’ll feel much better and be able to dive back into the dating game.”
“You patronizing son of a bitch,” Starsky said.
“I’m not the least bit interested in starting something that I know won’t work out.”
“And you think it will for us?”
“Considering how we are, I say we’d be fine. Hell, I think we’d be better.”
Hutch put his hand to his head. “This is crazy, Starsky!”
“Least I know you’re thinking about it,” Starsky said with a grin.
“No, I’m not.” Hutch went to the couch and plopped down. “You and I have been best friends for years. With my help, Kira kicked you in the gut.”
“You’re getting off the subject here,” Starsky said joining Hutch. “All I know is that we’ve been practically everything to each other and I don’t see why we can’t be everything.”
Hutch cleared his throat and ran his hand over his face. “Just because one relationship didn’t work out.”
“No, because none of them do and I think it’s because of what you and I mean to each other.”
“I gotta hand it to you, buddy.” Hutch shook his head. “It’s never been half-measures with you.”
“In the end, it’s always us, Hutch. You and I both know it.”
Looking down at the bottle, the urge to drink was suddenly gone. Hutch set the it on the coffee table then clasped his hands together. “You’re talking about all of it.”
Wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans, Hutch stood and moved to the window. “I-I just don’t know about this. These are drastic changes.”
Starsky didn’t hesitate to go to his unsure partner. “I’m not saying we start having sex right off the bat, Hutch. We go with what works for us. One day at a time and it’s for real with us.”
Hutch desperately searched Starsky’s eyes. “Starsk, if it doesn’t work out…”
Lifting his hand to Hutch’s cheek, Starsky ran a finger along the soft skin. “Even if it don’t, we’ve still got each other. That’ll never change.”
The tender love in Starsky’s eyes was enough for the fear to abate. He faintly smiled. “You’re sure about this.”
Starsky nodded. “Yes. We’re better together than apart, we know what we mean to each other and it’ll always be forever with you and me.”
“Tell me you’re as scared as I am.”
Hutch chuckled and took Starsky’s hand in his. “So, where do we go from here?”
“Well.” A slight blush crept into Starsky’s cheeks. “I was hoping we’d start spending our nights together just to get used to the idea. Start slow, you know.”
A slight shrug. “Yeah, we could go back and forth between your place and mine.”
Rubbing his jaw, Hutch glanced out the window. “Jesus, what about our jobs?”
“We’ll deal with it when the time comes, Hutch.”
Hutch turned his eyes back to Starsky and his heart flip-flopped at the loving half-smile on his partner’s face. God, he loved him. “Yeah,” Hutch whispered.
Starsky reached up and gently ran his fingers through Hutch’s hair. “Damn, Blondie. The whole idea of this has got me scared, excited and happy all at the same time. Feel like I’m on a roller coaster having the time of my life.”
He leaned forward and gave Hutch a gentle close-mouthed kiss. Their lips lingered for a moment and when both men stepped back, a look of amazement crossed their faces.
“Ready for bed?” Starsky asked.
Hutch nodded and followed Starsky to the bedroom. Each man stood on opposite sides of the room with the bed in between. Neither spoke as they undressed to their underwear. Starsky pulled the covers back and with some trepidation, Hutch helped.
Exchanging nervous looks, they slipped under the covers. They laid flat on their backs looking up at the ceiling careful to keep a safe distance from each other.
“This isn’t so bad,” Hutch said keeping his eyes on the ceiling.
“It’s not like we’ve never slept together before.”
“The Winston case we had to share a bed in that sleazy motel for almost a week.”
Hutch straightened the sheet and quickly glanced at Starsky before turning his attention back to the ceiling. “Having second thoughts?”
“No.” Starsky took a deep breath. “You?”
A moment of heavy silence passed before Hutch looked at Starsky out of the corner of his eye. He watched Starsky turn his head towards him. Their eyes met and both men burst out laughing.
“This is ridiculous,” Hutch laughed.
Starsky giggled and rolled to his side. “I feel like a damn virgin ready to be sacrificed.”
Hutch moved to his side as well and grinned. “You’ve always looked good in white.”
“Flaunt it, I always say.”
“And you do it so well, too.”
Both men lay on their sides facing each other with only a few inches of space between them.
Seeing the seriousness overtake his partner, Starsky asked, “What are you thinking about?”
“Us. Our families, our friends and jobs.”
“Hey,” Starsky whispered. “It’s too early in this to think so hard. Right now, it’s just us, Hutch. Nobody else.”
Hutch eased forward and placed a gentle kiss on Starsky’s lips. Instead of a lingering close-mouthed kiss, both men opened out of curiosity and love. The sweet exchange brought them closer and by the time they finished Starsky was pulling Hutch closer. They relaxed in each other’s arms after the kiss. “This is right, Hutch. I know it in my heart.”
Nodding, Hutch closed his eyes and snuggled in closer to Starsky. “Love you, Starsk.”
“Ditto, sleeping beauty,” Starsky whispered as he shut his eyes.