For Starsky, loving Hutch was
an uncomplicated thing. It was happiness and sunny days, good food and terrific
sex. It was “S loves H” in large letters carved into the trunk of
a tree in the park, and the same sentiment in very tiny letters carved into the leg of Dobey’s desk.
Hutch spent a lot of time thinking
about love, what it meant and what it could mean. He lay awake for hours trying
to take it apart and analyze it. For Hutch, loving Starsky was a headache, even
when it wasn’t pure heartache.
Starsky liked to say, “I
love you!” Anytime, anywhere, without a second thought, because it was
the simple truth.
Hutch said, “I love you,
but...” “But you’re a moron.” “But you drive me crazy.” “But I’m
not sneaking dinner into the hospital for you.” Then he did things that
made each and every one of those statements a lie.
Starsky sold the first “fixer-upper”
he’d bought for the two of them. It wasn’t the right time to own
a house. Hutch falling through the porch was a sign, he said. Neither of them was ready to settle down yet.
Hutch bought the second house,
and it wasn’t a fixer-upper.
Starsky stood in the driveway,
leaning on his cane, and stared at the gingerbread-styled cottage. “Wow. It’s so... cute.”
“I thought we could repaint
it,” said Hutch quickly. “I know it’s not very, um, well...
It used to belong to a little old lady, but if you don’t mind I’d actually like keep the roses.”
said Starsky. “Oh hell, Hutch. It’s
better than fine. It’s our house.
I love it!”
“It’s just that you
were having so much trouble with your leg and the stairs, and I couldn’t find very many places that were right on ground
level. Then this showed up in an estate sale, and I thought –.”
“Yeah?” asked Hutch,
“Shut up,” said Starsky,
kindly. “Let’s go inside. I
want to see my new home.”
First Hutch followed too close,
half a step behind Starsky, poised to catch him if he so much as stumbled. Then
Hutch realized what he was doing and stopped to let Starsky move ahead without him.
Starsky simply shook his head
and kept going at his own speed.
“If we’re repainting,
does this mean I can pick the colors?” he asked, as Hutch unlocked the door.
“Not if your colors are
red and white,” said Hutch. He threw open the door and gestured grandly. “Voila!”
Starsky stepped inside, looking
around appreciatively. The rooms had been emptied of furniture, but the house
had been beautifully maintained. “It’s –.”
“Don’t say cute,”
Starsky looked at the yellow
and blue flowered wallpaper and the cheery gingham curtains. Peeking around a
corner, he found a white-tiled bathroom with a deep claw foot tub. Sitting on
the windowsill was a blue ceramic kitten, left behind in the move. “Okay,”
he said. “It’s not cute.”
Hutch blew out a sigh of relief.
“Well, it doesn’t
matter, anyway,” said Hutch. “I’ve paid for the place, which
means we’re stuck with it. So we’re going to be staying here, at
least until your physiotherapist says you’re good to go with that leg of yours.
Then you can buy whatever house you like and –.”
“Whoa,” said Starsky. “Slow down. Didn’t you hear
“Yeah, I heard you,”
said Hutch, scowling. “You think this place is adorable. I’ll have you know it’s not that easy finding a place that meets all our requirements and is
within our budget. We can’t afford to be fussy.”
Starsky blew out a long breath
and limped across the room to stand directly in front of Hutch. He leaned forward
until he was an inch from Hutch’s nose. “I. Love. This. Place.”
Starsky thumped his cane impatiently
on the floor. “Are you going to make me beat you with my stick? I said I love this place!” Turning, he gestured widely
with his free arm. “There’s room for all our stuff, and no more stairs
to climb. It’s perfect. Heck
of an ocean view, too.” He moved over to the window and looked out. “Hey, is that a deck on the back?”
“Yeah,” said Hutch,
finally starting to smile. “Do you want to check it out?”
“You better believe it!”
Later, after he’d been
over the entire house, including up into the attic in blatant defiance of his doctor’s proscription against climbing
ladders, Starsky sat on the front step and looked up at the darkening sky.
“We should go home,”
said Hutch, who was worried that Starsky had overdone it for the day.
“I thought we were home.” Starsky leaned back against the door, settling in comfortably.
“I mean that other place
you call home. Where you’ve got all your furniture.”
“In a minute,” said
Starsky, folding his hands behind his head.
Hutch sat down beside him, unsure
whether Starsky was enjoying the view or simply too tired to walk the distance back to the car. Shot in the chest, it would seem logical that Starsky would have more problems with his arms and fewer
with his legs, but the bullets had tumbled in ways only his doctors fully understood.
And so Starsky used a cane and worked with his physical therapist, and steadfastly ignored discouraging rumblings from
his doctor regarding his long term fitness as a cop.
“Does this mean you love
me?” asked Starsky, breaking into Hutch’s thoughts.
Hutch blinked. Starsky’s tone had been conversational, as if the question was simply idle curiosity. “Of course I do, dummy. You’re my best friend.”
“That’s what I thought,”
Question asked, question answered. For Starsky that was the end of it.
For Hutch it was the beginning
of a thousand more questions. Over the next few days while they moved into the
cottage, he mulled over the topic of love. Why would Starsky even ask the question? Of course he loved him. Hadn’t
he shown that in the care he’d given him since the shooting? Weren’t
they moving into a house together?
Except the house was just to
make things easier for Starsky and, “Pity isn’t the same as love,” said Hutch aloud.
Behind him, Starsky cleared his
Hutch turned to find Starsky
holding a box of plates.
“What cupboard do you want
these in?” asked Starsky, looking at him with his eyebrows raised.
Hutch snatched the box away from
him. “You’re not supposed to carry anything heavier than five pounds!”
“My back’s only a
little dinged,” said Starsky. “If I don’t use it, how is it
supposed to get better?”
“Your doctor said,”
Starsky. “Doctor Herbert still can’t believe I’m out of a wheelchair. And I didn’t get this way by listening to him.”
“No,” said Hutch. “You got this way by listening to me.
Your color is off, you’re sweating, and I can see your knees shaking from here.
Go sit down. Now.”
Starsky blew him a raspberry
on his way to the couch. But then he sat down, so Hutch knew he’d been
Hutch put the dishes away. When he passed back through the living room, Starsky was leaning on the arm of the
couch, his chin propped up on his hand and a pensive expression on his face.
“So was that love or pity?”
“Pity is what you get from
Doctor Herbert,” said Hutch.
“So it must be love,”
Hutch didn’t answer. He got another box from the car instead.
That night they shared a pizza
on the back deck. Hutch looked at Starsky’s profile against the setting
sun and thought about how close he’d come to losing him. He still felt
bruised, as if something vital inside had come dangerously close to being ripped away.
He wondered if he’d ever feel right again, or if he’d have this sense of standing too close to the edge
for the rest of his life.
“Man,” said Starsky. “If you were thinking any louder, you’d be scaring the birds.”
“I’m allowed to think,”
said Hutch, annoyed. He’d scared himself, imagining how close he’d
come to losing everything, and he wanted to blame Starsky.
Starsky chewed on the end of
his pizza crust. “Are you having second thoughts about moving in with me?”
“No!” It hadn’t occurred to him that Starsky might assume he was getting cold feet over the whole affair. “I never thought about it twice.”
“Because I needed it,”
said Starsky, flatly.
“Because I need it,” corrected Hutch. Then he heard his own words and
was surprised by how true they were. “I need it.”
Starsky grimaced. “Well, that’s either love or a sick compulsion.”
He stretched, wincing only a little at the very end. “And speaking
of sick compulsions, why don’t we go inside and christen this place properly?”
Hutch, ambushed by a startling
image of Starsky spraying the little house liberally with semen, promptly choked on his pizza.
He coughed until he was red in the face, and tears were streaming from his eyes.
By the time he wiped them away, Starsky was beside him pounding on his back.
gasped Hutch, holding up a hand.
“That wasn’t the
reaction I was hoping for,” said Starsky.
“I would love to have sex
with you,” said Hutch.
Starsky grinned and began to
collect the empty beer bottles in one arm, leaning on his cane. “Sex is
easy to love.”
Starsky was also easy to love,
thought Hutch as he picked up the pizza box and took it inside. He asked for
very little and he gave a lot in return. He backed off when Hutch needed to be
alone and was right there when he needed a friend.
A little later, Hutch stood in
the doorway of the bedroom and watched Starsky undress. For the first time in
his life he found himself incapable of saying something he very much wanted to say.
He couldn’t understand what was stopping him. It was just three
little words, and God only knew he’d said them easily enough to other lovers.
Starsky paused with his shirt
in his hand. “Are you in on this, or am I going to have to go ahead by
“Oh.” Hutch unfastened the collar of his shirt. “Sorry.”
said Starsky. “I’d hate to have bought all these Pop Rocks for no
Hutch blinked. “Pop Rocks?” Then he realized how Starsky intended
to use them. “No, no Pop Rocks!”
“I have it on good authority
that it’s a sensation you’ll never forget,” said Starsky.
Starsky shrugged. “Okay, but why am I still the only one getting naked here?”
Hutch undid another button on
his shirt. “I was thinking.”
He moved down to the next one.
“I know,” said Starsky. “You’ve been doing nothing else for the past three days. If you’ve finally reached a conclusion, I think you should let me know now.” He propped his hands on his bare hips. “Before I do
anything to embarrass myself further.”
Trying to stall for time, Hutch
pushed his cords down and stepped out of them. His eyes landed on Starsky’s
sneakers, on the floor beside the bed. As he pulled his shirt off, he said, “I
was thinking I really like your feet.”
Starsky blinked. “My feet?” he asked, uncertainly.
“Yeah, your feet,”
said Hutch. He stepped forward and placed his palm in the center of Starsky’s
chest, pushing him back against the edge of the bed. “They’re always
in my face, up on the desk at work. Half the time, all I see of you is your feet. Did you know you talk with them?”
Starsky sat down with a thump. “I talk with my feet?” He
sounded intrigued now.
Hutch sat next to him on the
bed. “Whenever you’re telling me something, they wave from side to
side like this.” He reached down, grabbed Starsky’s ankle and demonstrated.
Starsky snickered. “That tickles.”
Hutch put Starsky’s leg
on the bed.
Starsky flopped onto his back,
and looked up at Hutch, eyes creased with amusement. “So you like my feet.”
“I like your legs, too,”
said Hutch, moving up from Starsky’s ankle to rumple the hair on his right leg.
“You’ve got terrific calves.”
Starsky lost his smile. “They weren’t so good for awhile there.” Months spent recuperating in bed had left him thin and white and hardly recognizable even to himself.
“You’ve more than
made up for it. All that working out you’ve been doing has paid off.” Hutch patted Starsky’s stomach. “You’re
“And you like that too,
Hutch, leaning over to kiss him.
Starsky wrapped his hands around
Hutch’s head and pulled him close, his lips moving from Hutch’s mouth to the side of his neck. As Hutch surrendered to his embrace, he found himself thinking that Starsky’s strength was another
thing he liked. Especially when Starsky dragged his fingernails up his back like
that, sending a pleasant tingle right down his spine and all the way to parts south.
He protested mildly when Starsky
pulled back to look at him.
“So we’ve established
you love me for my body,” said Starsky, smiling. “Does that mean
you’ll be ditching me when I get old and wrinkled?”
“Nah.” Hutch touched his face. “I like your wrinkles. Especially the ones around your eyes that fold up every time you smile.”
Starsky’s smile widened. “What about when I get gray?”
“I hate to break it to
you, buddy, but you’re already going gray.” Hutch sat up and twined
his fingers into Starsky’s chest hair. It curled in patches, divided by
a purple roadmap of scars.
Hutch liked those, too, because
of what they represented about Starsky. To Hutch, they were a graphic reminder
of Starsky’s toughness and determination to live. However, he knew Starsky
had a very different opinion regarding his scars, so he moved the conversation onto a different part of his anatomy instead.
“I like your stomach,”
Hutch said. “Even if I don’t always like what you put in it. I like the way you wear your shorts, so that I can see this patch of hair here,”
he patted Starsky’s abdomen and was pleased to see a response even lower down, a thickening and reddening of Starsky’s
“You’re making me
feel like,” Starsky paused. “Like I’m really hot stuff.” His cheeks were pink.
“That’s because you
are hot,” said Hutch, with perfect conviction. “God, Starsk. If you could just see yourself the way I see you –.” Finding words inadequate, he settled for using his hands instead.
Starsky twitched under his touch, pushing his hips up off the bed.
“Aw, Hutch, you don’t
have to say all this.” There was a note of desperation in Starsky’s
“I like saying it.”
“You can stop talking and
move onto the sex. Any time you like.”
“And I don’t think
I’ve ever mentioned it, but I really like this part of you, too,” said Hutch taking Starsky in hand.
“So do I,” said Starsky,
breathlessly. His eyes were wide as he stared down over his chest at Hutch.
Hutch grinned at him, and then
lowered his head. If his mouth hadn’t been full, he would have told Starsky
how much he liked the taste of him, too. Tangy and salty, and something indescribable,
that was the pure essence of Starsky.
From this angle, all Hutch could
see were Starsky’s thighs and balls, but he liked those, too. He liked
the way the dark fuzz of his hair haloed his skin, threads of silver catching the light.
He liked the way his balls wrinkled and pulled up taut as Starsky became more aroused.
Hutch knew he had it bad, if
he loved even this view of Starsky.
Starsky tugged on his hair. “Hey, Hutch. Look a me for a minute.”
Hutch reluctantly lifted his
head. “I was looking at you.” Wasn’t it Starsky who’d wanted to stop talking, just a minute ago?
“All that thinking you
were doing,” asked Starsky. “Did you come to a conclusion?”
“Yes I did,” said
“Good,” said Starsky. Then he wrapped an arm around Hutch’s hips and pulled him into a sixty-nine.
And suddenly Hutch found he could
say it after all. “I love you.”
Hutch twisted until he could
see his face. “What?”
said Starsky. “Where’s your ‘but’?”
“In your face, moron.”
The strength of Starsky’s
belly laugh nearly knocked Hutch over. “You know what I mean. ‘I love you, but.’ That’s what you always
say. So, I’m asking you, where’s the ‘but’?”
Hutch twisted until he could
see Starsky’s face. “There isn’t any. It’s just ‘I love you.’ Period.”
Starsky’s face glowed. “I love you, too,” he said. “Period.”
“And it won’t ever
get any more complicated than that,” said Hutch, taking Starsky into his mouth one more time. He really meant it, too.
For his part, Starsky knew Hutch
was lying to himself. But then complications were large part of what he loved
That, and the incredible things
they could do together in bed. Smiling to himself, Starsky quietly reached under
his pillow and sprinkled some Pop Rocks into his mouth. He could feel them beginning
to fizz as he went down on Hutch.