Pain Management

By Lyn


Epilogue for The Plague.

Starsky paused in the preparation of his special bolognaise sauce when he heard the bedroom door creak open. Hutch walked into the living room, stretching and yawning, his blond hair disheveled. He still looked tired, Starsky thought. Beyond tired. Exhausted. The plague had sapped Hutch's strength, and though he'd been out of the hospital for a week now, he still looked as weak as a kitten. Laying his wooden spoon aside and turning down the heat on the stove, Starsky joined his lover, eyeing him critically. "You didn't sleep very long," he said with a frown. "Only a couple hours."

Hutch rolled his eyes. "I spent an entire two weeks sleeping in the hospital. Keep thinking I'm missing all the good stuff."

Starsky raised an eyebrow. "Like…?

"Oh, I dunno." Hutch sank down onto the sofa with a soft groan. "Sunlight, the latest soap on TV…" He smiled up at Starsky. "You."

Starsky sat beside Hutch and stroked a hand down his back. "You still hurting?" One of the symptoms that had been slowest to ease had been the muscle spasms. Hutch still hadn't had a full night's sleep, tossing and turning, trying to ease the discomfort. "You want some liniment and a massage? Some Tylenol?" He began the massage without waiting for a response and before long, Hutch was stretched out on the couch, shirtless, his head in Starsky's lap, sighing softly when Starsky's strong fingers found each knotted muscle and eased the tension. "Better?" Starsky asked, adding a kiss to Hutch's nearest shoulder.

"Much," Hutch huffed out. He sniffed the air. "What smells so good?"

"Ma's special spaghetti sauce. You need some meat on your bones. You go back to work looking like this next week, Dobey's gonna think I've been starving you."

"I'm not very hungry."

Starsky straightened, almost tumbling Hutch onto the floor. "Sorry. You want something else? I could heat some of Ma's chicken soup, grill a cheese sandwich. Or you want me to go get you some of that vegetarian Thai noodle stuff you like so much?"

"Starsky, chill!" Hutch commanded. He rolled over onto his back and stared up at him. "Your spaghetti will be just fine."

Starsky nodded, pleased. "Okay, good." He thought a moment. "You want to take a shower before we eat?" He frowned, thinking. "Maybe a bath. Don't want you passing out in the shower. You hit your head, Dobey's gonna think-"

"That you whacked me one," Hutch finished for him. He smiled a little then sobered. "Starsk? What's up?"

"Nothing. Nothing's up," Starsky replied. "Just want to make sure you're looked after, is all."

"You feeling guilty?"

"About what exactly?"

Hutch shrugged. "Me getting sick and you not getting sick."

"No!" Starsky looked away and studied the view outside the window. "A little maybe." He sighed. "Okay, a lot." He scrubbed a hand through his curls. "I mean, Hutch, I woulda given anything for it to be me in that bed. When I came in to see you and you were in so much pain… I thought…" He trailed off, not wanting to voice the dark thoughts that had brought him the most distress since he'd seen Hutch lying in the hospital bed, gasping for breath, dying in front of his eyes, and him, unable to do a damn thing to stop it.

Hutch reached up and wiped the tears from Starsky’s cheeks. "I know," he whispered. "I know."

They sat together silently for a long time, enjoying this closeness, relishing the love they shared, the love both thought might have been lost forever. Finally, Hutch entwined his fingers with Starsky's. "You know what I really want?"

"What's that, Blintz?"

"You, Gordo. Just you." Hutch reached up and pulled Starsky down toward him so their lips met in a soft, deep kiss. "You think you can give me that?" he asked as he pulled back.

Starsky smiled and brushed a stray lock of hair from Hutch's face. "I can do that." He helped Hutch into a sitting position then stood and held out his hand to his lover. "Give me a minute to turn off the stove. Don't want the sauce to burn." He brandished an admonishing finger at Hutch. "You're gonna eat Ma's spaghetti though… later."

Hutch stood and wrapped an arm around Starsky's shoulders. "Much later," he agreed.