Picking Up The Pieces
Starsky groaned as the sound of the phone ringing disturbed his gentle slide into sleep. He was exhausted after a fruitless two-day and two-night stakeout and he glared at the phone balefully before scooping up the receiver and barking a hello into it.
"Starsk? Could you come round to my place?'
The voice was Hutch's, Starsky knew, but it sounded different, hoarse and filled with something indefinable.
"Hutch? What's wrong?"
"Just will you come?"
Starsky was already sitting on the side of the bed, searching for his clothes with his free hand. "I'm on my way, babe. I'll be there soon. You gonna be okay till I get there? You need me to call an ambulance?"
"No!" The response was sharp and fearful at the same time and that only fueled Starsky's worry more.
"Okay. I'm leaving as soon as I hang up the phone, Blintz."
"All right." Hutch husked the words out. "Thanks."
Starsky didn't even bother to hang the phone up, simply throwing the receiver onto the bed behind him as he stood up and got dressed as fast as he could. Then he grabbed his car keys and his gun and headed to his car, slamming his apartment door shut behind him.
Under normal circumstances, it would have taken him at least twenty minutes to get to Hutch's place, but tonight, worry gnawing at his gut, he threw caution and proper police procedure to the winds and slapped the mars light on the dashboard as he gunned the Torino through the streets. Ten minutes later, he was pulling up outside of Hutch's apartment, leaping from the car and racing for the front door.
He banged rather than knocked at the door and pushed his way in as soon as it was opened.
Hutch was standing to the side of the hallway, the door handle still held in his hand. He pushed the door closed then turned to face his partner, and Starsky gasped with shock.
The entire right side of Hutch's face was bruised, the contusion causing his eye to swell partly closed. What little Starsky could see of the eye on that side was bloodshot, the white obscured with red. There was a gash above his eyebrow on the same side and blood had formed a dried trail through the black and blue marking of his skin.
"Shit!" Starsky took a quick step towards Hutch as his partner swayed and almost fell. He managed to get Hutch's arm around his shoulder and his own arm behind Hutchs back and then he half-carried his friend through to the living room and pushed him down onto the sofa.
Hutch's body fell to the side and Starsky reached a hand behind his head and lowered him gently so that he was resting on his side, his legs pulled up toward his stomach.
"I'm calling an ambulance-"
"No! Please don't!" Hutch almost shouted the words and Starsky stopped his movement toward the phone and went back to crouch next to Hutch's side.
"Babe, you're hurt bad. You need a doctor," he said, brushing a gentle hand over Hutch's blood-streaked hair.
Hutch shook his head, then winced. "Nothing's broken," he whispered. "Please, Starsky, no doctors, no hospital. Please." He grabbed for Starsky's hand with one of his own and Starsky's heart clenched at the plea in the words.
"Okay, buddy, okay, I'll see what I can do but if you take a turn for the worse, I'm calling an ambulance, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," Hutch agreed, his voice sounding immeasurably weary. "Can you help me into the bathroom?"
"I don't think you should move around too much," Starsky said worriedly.
Hutch gave a ghost of a grin. "Maybe not, but I need to go, you know."
"Oh, right, okay, let me give you a hand, buddy. Just take it slow, though," Starsky warned as he levered Hutch up on the sofa and eased his feet to the floor. He felt as much as saw the small wince that the movement elicited and then he had Hutch on his feet and was leading him slowly toward the bathroom.
Inside, Hutch allowed himself to be positioned in front of the toilet and then looked over his shoulder at his partner. "I'll be fine, Starsk."
"Good," Starsky replied, moving over to lean up against the open door. "I'll wait here for you."
Hutch sighed, then unzipped his pants with slightly shaky hands, pulled his penis out and relieved himself.
"What happened?" Starsky asked quietly as Hutch flushed the toilet then moved stiffly over to the basin and began to wash his hands.
Hutch shrugged. "I got mugged," he replied briefly.
Starsky leaned forward and pulled Hutch's wallet from his back pocket, opened it, checked the cash inside then tucked it back inside Hutch's pocket again. "Weird muggers," he commented dryly. "They left you your wallet and your cash."
Hutch turned and fixed him with a glare.
The movement caused his shirt to catch against the edge of the basin and ride up and Starsky gasped in shock.
He stepped forward and pulled Hutch's shirt gently free of his pants and up over his side and back. "Jesus, Hutch."
Hutch's hands grappled to pull the shirt back down. "It's nothing."
"This is nothing?" Starsky gentled a finger over the huge black and blue bruise that mottled Hutch's hip and leached into the skin of his side. "You might have broken ribs."
Hutch snorted and rubbed a hand over the bruise. "I wouldn't be moving as good as I am, if I had broken ribs, Starsky. You've had broken ribs. You know that."
"All right," Starsky said, his voice skeptical. He grabbed Hutch cautiously around the waist and sat him down on the closed lid of toilet seat. "Stay sitting," he ordered. "Im gonna clean you up a little and while I do, you're gonna tell me what really happened to you."
Hutch swallowed visibly as he allowed himself to be pushed downward and then turned to watch as Starsky grabbed the first aid kit from under the basin where Hutch kept it.
"Let's get this over with first and then I'll tell you," he said, eyeing the cotton ball and bottle of peroxide in Starsky's hand with obvious trepidation.
"Yeah, good idea, babe," Starsky said.
It was a half-hour before Starsky was satisfied with his ministrations and had helped Hutch move back out to the sofa in the living room.
Leaving Hutch seated there, he went into the kitchen and got some aspirin and a glass of water and carried them back to his partner, insisting Hutch take them. Once that was done, Starsky sat down on the coffee table opposite and gave his friend a firm look. "All right," he said, "talk."
Hutch fixed his gaze on the floor and kept it there as he began to speak. "I went to a club. It's called JimmyZ."
"JimmyZ? But that's a -"
"A gay club. Yeah, I know. That's why I go there."
Starsky blinked. "You go to a club like that because you're gay?"
Hutch's jaw tensed at the words and his head came up, blue eyes momentarily staring defiantly into Starsky's. "You going to tell me you never wondered?" he asked. "All the relationships with women that never last? You told me yourself once that it's as if I deliberately pick women that I know will let me down, as if I don't want the relationship to work out."
"I thought that was just because you weren't ready to settle down," Starsky put forward.
Hutch snorted. "That's really what you thought? You really never wondered?"
Starsky thought back to the times when he had wondered. Times when Hutch found it so easy to touch him, to hold him, to comfort him and he'd found the question coming to the forefront of his mind. Honesty seemed to be the order of the day, so he said simply, "Yeah, I wondered."
"And yet you never said anything, never asked me," Hutch went on. "Were you afraid you'd find out you were right?"
Starsky shook his head vehemently. "It wouldn't have mattered to me, Hutch."
"It did when you found out about John Blaine."
"That was different," Starsky said, wanting to explain that it *was* different. That John was a good friend but not the other half of his soul, not the man he loved the way he loved Hutch.
But Hutch only nodded as if taking him at his word.
"Tell me what happened," Starsky said, wanting and not wanting to hear it.
Hutch didn't look up but Starsky could see the faint tinge of red that colored his cheeks. "I met a guy. He asked me back to his place. I said yes. When we got outside we were jumped in the parking lot."
"Shit," Starsky cursed. "You get a description of the assholes who did it?"
Hutch barked a short laugh and shook his head.
"What?" Starsky asked.
"I tell you I got jumped in the parking lot of a gay club because I was about to go back to a stranger's place with him, probably to have sex and all you do is ask if I got a description."
Starsky smiled ruefully and shrugged. "I'm a cop," he offered.
"No, I didn't really see them clearly enough to identify anyone. Jimmy keeps the parking lot 'discreetly lit', I believe is the term he uses. Anyway, I was on the ground in seconds and after that they pretty much kept me there."
"What about your um your friend?" Starsky asked. "Was he hurt too?"
Hutch shrugged and rubbed a hand along his bruised side. "Probably. I don't know. By the time I came to, he was long gone."
"Name?" Starsky asked, the cop in him still in the foreground for now. There'd be enough time to be Hutch's friend once the Q&A was over.
Hutch finally looked up at him and smiled broadly, though Starsky could see the pain the gesture cost him. "John Doe," he replied.
"You're kidding me?" Starsky asked.
"Jeez, Starsk, are you really that na´ve? People don't give their real names in places like that."
"Yeah, right, guess not."
Starsky stood and approached Hutch, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You want me to make you some tea or something?"
Hutch shook his head. "Nah, I still feel sorta queasy. I'd probably just throw it up again."
"Okay." Starsky sat again but this time he reached out and cupped Hutch's chin in his hand, tilting it up so he could look fully into the bruised face. "Hutch. Why didn't you just ask me?"
"What?" Hutch looked absolutely stunned, jerking away, the too-fast movement causing him to gasp and grab at his abused ribs. "Ask you to what? Be my fuck buddy whenever the urge got too strong? Shit, Starsk, what kind of creep do you think I am?"
"I would've done it for you, though," Starsky persisted. "I still would."
"Jesus, Starsky, I can't ask you to do that." Hutch looked stricken.
"You're not asking me. I'm offering," Starsky murmured. He moved now, off the coffee table and onto his knees in front of Hutch. He reached out and cupped Hutch's chin, tilting it up so he could see his partner's blue eyes. "I love you, Hutch."
Hutch shook his head vehemently, his eyes suddenly damp. "Not like that," he whispered.
"No?" Starsky queried. "How many guys who didn't love you would touch you the way I do, as often as I do? How many guys who didn't love you would hold you in their arms and let you puke all over them after you'd been hyped on Horse, huh?" Starsky smiled to take the sting from his words but his eyes were grave and steady. "How many guys who didn't love you would be so glad when they found you alive pinned under your car that it was all they could do not to kiss you then and there? Huh? Tell me, babe. How many?" He leaned forward and slowly pressed his mouth to Hutch's, placing the lightest of caresses there. Then he pulled away and waited for the first punch to hit him.
Instead he heard Hutch groan low in his throat and then Hutch's fingers were curled in his hair and he was pulled forward into his partner's arms. Hutch's head dropped onto his shoulder and he could hear and feel the raw sobs tearing out of his chest, smell the salt of the bitter tears moistening the cloth of his shirt.
Starsky laid a protective hand behind Hutch's neck and rubbed up and down his back with the other. "It's gonna be okay, babe," he crooned. "Me and thee, Hutch, we're gonna be just fine."
He waited till the sobs died away then lifted Hutch's head from his shoulder and held it still between his hands. "Hey, I've loved you as long as I can remember."
Hutch smiled a little. "Like a brother, not like -"
"Jesus, how many times do I have to say it?" Starsky said, the words bursting out forcefully. "Like that! Exactly like that!"
He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to Hutch's, pushing with his tongue till Hutch's mouth opened to his, and then he darted it inside and caressed every surface of Hutch's mouth he could reach. His arms dropped to encircle Hutch's waist and he pulled him into his own body as Hutch began to return the kiss with equal passion.
Suddenly, Hutch pulled away, his breath panting harshly past his swollen lips. His arms wrapped around his stomach and Starsky felt a twinge of guilt as he remembered Hutch's injuries.
"Sorry," he said, planting a tender kiss on Hutch's fingers where they covered his abdomen. "We need to get you healed up before we go any further with this."
"You sure you want this to go further?" Hutch asked, his eyes wide with what looked like fear. "Those other guys, they were just replacements for you, you realize that, don't you? If I can have the real thing "
"You asking if we're going to be exclusive?"
Starsky nodded. "I meant what I said, Blintz. I don't want no buddy fuck. I love you. Just you and me from now on. Now, let's get you into bed." He grinned at the slow fire that flashed briefly in Hutch's tired eyes. "To sleep, hot stuff," he added, whopping his partner gently on the shoulder.
"I'm scared," Hutch whispered.
"You're scared? I'm the one who hasn't done this stuff before," Starsky swabbed a quick kiss over the fading bruise on Hutch's forehead and trailed his lips down to plant a firm caress on Hutch's mouth.
Hutch opened his mouth briefly beneath his, then he leaned up from the bed and rested his head on a bent arm. "Scared this will frighten you off. That it'll blow up in my face and it'll destroy our friendship along with it."
"Not gonna happen," Starsky assured him. "You're forgetting something. I want this as much as you do. Always have. Just never quite got around to figuring it out for sure till you gave me the opportunity. It's going to be fine, babe."
He pushed gently at Hutch's shoulders till he had him flat on his back again. "We don't need to rush things," he said, kissing Hutch's eyes and mouth in turn. "Let's start with the simple stuff that makes us both feel good and move on from there. Whaddya say, Hutch?"
Hutch grabbed him behind the neck and pulled him in for a deep kiss. "Okay," he said breathlessly as they parted.
Starsky trailed his tongue around the shell of Hutch's ear, smiling as Hutch moaned his appreciation. He let his mouth move south, suckling at Hutch's Adam's Apple and licking over the pulse throbbing away beneath the skin there.
His hands fingered each of Hutch's nipples in turn and he licked each one before moving down over the smooth expanse of Hutch's golden belly, tonguing his belly button and rubbing his hands across the firm muscles there.
He looked at Hutch's cock, standing proudly erect against his belly and wished he had the courage to take it in his mouth, but he was sure his technique at this early juncture in their relationship wouldn't be what it should be, so he contented himself with a quick lick to the head, grinning as Hutch jerked against him.
He moved up his lover's body until he was laying pressed against him, feeling his own cock nestled snugly against Hutch's own. "Sorry, babe, I'm not quite sure how to do that without choking myself or biting something off. You can give me lessons, okay?"
Hutch smiled, the first genuine Hutch-smile Starsky had seen in far too long. "You got it," he said.
He thrust himself up against Starsky's cock, then pulled Starsky down so their cocks rubbed together enticingly.
Starsky moaned at the sensation and pushed down again, feeling their penises beginning to slicken as pre-come leaked between them. "This is good," he managed to get out between thrusts.
"Yeah," Hutch panted back.
The speed of their thrusts grew till they were driving each other toward orgasm.
Starsky pushed down faster, feeling his balls tighten and pull up. His length rubbed along the hardness of Hutch's cock and he froze and then pushed down again and again, muttering Hutch's name as their semen pooled and mixed between them.
He rolled to his back, an arm covering his face, his breath panting out through clenched teeth. Rolling his head to the side, he saw Hutch looking at him, his eyes worried.
"Hey," he said, rolling toward his lover, pulling him into his arms. "That was pretty nice, ya know?"
Hutch buried his face in Starsky's shoulder. "Yeah?" he mumbled. "You sure?"
Starsky moved away enough so he could slip his hand between their bodies and ran a finger through the still-wet semen coating his limp penis. He lifted his hand free and showed it to Hutch, their mingled come glistening on the proffered digit. "What do you think, ya big lummox?" he said, his voice made rough with emotion.
He pulled Hutch close in against him once more, his heart missing a beat or three as Hutch turned his head and kissed his cheek sweetly.
"I love you, Starsk."
"Feeling's mutual, Hutch," Starsky said.
He turned onto his back again, this time taking Hutch with him so the blond head was cradled across his chest. He ran his fingers through the silken strands and felt Hutch relax against him and drift off to sleep. His last thought before falling asleep himself was that he was the luckiest man he knew.