This story first appeared in the zine, That's What Friends Are For #2 (1996). This zine and other fine S&H gen zines can be obtained from the editor at:   Comments on this story can be sent to: and will be forwarded to the author.

K Hanna Korossy

Hutch pulled the Torino up in front of Starsky's place. After sitting for a moment and staring at the building, he got out and wearily climbed the stairs. At the door, he dug into his pocket and found the key, then tried to unlock the door. Badly shaking hands made the task difficult; it took several tries before he succeeded and entered the silent apartment. Starsky's apartment without Starsky.

He wasn't sure why he'd come. After leaving the hospital, he had headed to his place first. He'd only been there a few minutes before he had to flee, though, and he'd ended up here somehow, almost by reflex. And yet instinctively, as if perhaps it could make him feel closer to the still figure he'd left lying in the darkened hospital room.

Dawn was beginning to break, the first few pale rays of pink light streaming in through the kitchen window. Hutch slowly walked over to it to stare at the beginning of a new day. Was it only a few dark hours since he and Starsky had left the station, his partner coaxing him into a late night Italian dinner? No amount of light could dispel all the shadows of the night. Not a night that had brought him so close to losing something important beyond his comprehension...

Hutch rubbed his face slowly with a trembling hand. He knew clinically that he was shaking all over because the adrenalin and numbness were starting to wear off and reaction was setting in... except he wanted to stay numb. He walked tiredly away from the window and dug in the cabinet for the bottle of tequila he knew was hidden there. Finding it, he poured himself a drink and tossed it down, shivering once as the alcohol burned his throat. He knew he ought to eat something, too, he never did have dinner, maybe scramble up some eggs... He had to fight down nausea at the thought.

He flopped down tiredly on the sofa and stared in bemusement at his shaking hands. They never shook once for the whole hour he'd walked that thin line, balancing precariously. On one side, an all-business cop trying to stop the bad guys and save lives, including one badly injured fellow officer. And on the other, a best friend, scared to death for the person he loved most in the whole world, wanting to just stay back in that room, hold Starsky close, protect him from everything. Balancing two duties for a ceaseless hour, and his hands never wavered. He couldn't afford it. Or during the long wait at the hospital, no shorter for his being out of danger. He didn't feel any safer, not while Starsky was still at risk. His hands had been steady as a rock there, too, as he signed the necessary forms and talked to the necessary people. Only now, when it was all over. And now he couldn't stop shaking. Stupid... In a burst of anger, he flung the glass across the room, feeling a guilty pleasure in seeing it shatter into a hundred pieces.

The anger left just as quickly as it came. It wasn't anger he'd really felt; even facing down Lockley and Joey had been a desperate act, born of sheer terror. That's all there had been deep down, and that's what he'd had to bury that whole hour. So he had somehow found the strength to gamble, bluffing all the way, knowing that Starsky's life was the prize at stake, and, in Starsky's, his own. For if he lost Starsky, he lost the game, simple as that. All resting in his hands...

He jumped up from the couch again, trying to catch a breath that suddenly seemed short, eager to find a distraction. His eyes lighted on the broken glass, and he guiltily fetched a broom to clean up the mess. Wouldn't do to wreck Starsky's clean apartment. It had never ceased to amaze him how someone who seemed so disinterested in order at the office, always kept his apartment and car immaculate, while Hutch was just the opposite. He shook his head at the thought as he dumped the pan full of glass shards. They had always filled in each other's gaps. How many times had he done Starsky's paperwork for him when his partner couldn't bring himself to type up the account of a murder scene or a bust gone bad? And how many times had Starsky subtly gone through and straightened Hutch's place for him when the blond was too tired to care anymore? Always being what the other wasn't, doing what the other couldn't. Like at Giovanni's, when Starsky couldn't do anything and Hutch had to do it all...

The broom clattered from his hand as something caught at his mind. He stumbled back to the couch distractedly, playing over every visit to that back room the night before, having been repeatedly, desperately drawn to see his partner. And each time, Starsky had seen what he was thinking and had teased him or worried him or shaken him out of it, leaving Hutch with his heart a little lightened, his step a little more firm, determined all the more to win this battle for both of them.

Had he really thought he'd done it alone?

Filling in for each other when the other couldn't. Even from a tattered old couch in a back room, seriously injured and barely able to speak.

"Thank you," he whispered softly to the quietness around him.

As the shakes at long last began to still, Hutch slowly curled up on Starsky's couch, wrapping his arms around a pillow that smelled of his partner. Comforted and at peace, he finally drifted off to sleep.

Written in 1995