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A KISS IS JUST A KISS
As Hutch waited for Starsky to pick him up for work the next morning, he thought about the night before, about how they had spent the evening making out like a couple of teenagers.
Hed hated to leave Starskys apartment. He'd wanted to stay with his partner, just as he had when Starsky was recovering from the Gunther shooting. He loved being with him, even if it only meant sleeping on the sofa in the living room. Of course, there had been a few times when he slept in the same bed with his friend. Those occasions had always happened for the same reason. They always started with Starsky having a nightmare about the shooting. He would cry out in his sleep and Hutch would waken and run to his side. Hed sit on the bed and shake his friend awake, then hold him in his arms comforting him until he could sleep again.
The first time it had happened, he'd tried to ignore how good it felt to hold his best friend so close. After the second or third time, however, he couldnt hide it from himself anymore. He realized that the nature of his love for his partner had somehow changed since the shooting. Not only had his love grown stronger and deeper, but now there was also an element of physical desire to it. He had always loved to hug and be hugged by Starsky, but the pleasure had been from the warmth and affirmation of friendship, nothing more. He didnt use to long for those hugs; they just came naturally out of circumstances. After the shooting, he had started to need those hugs. Maybe, he told himself, he needed to feel the physical evidence that his best friend had really survived.
While he had helped Starsky with his rehabilitation exercises after he came home from the hospital, Hutch started admiring his partners body in a way he never had before. And he just wanted to touch it constantly. He loved giving his friend massages--they were therapeutic for Starsky, but pure pleasure for Hutch.
When he'd realized what was happening to him, he grew scared. He couldnt be in love with his partner! How would Starsky react to that news? He might be disgusted and angry, might think that Hutch had taken advantage of their intimacy. Hutch couldnt risk ruining their friendship--that was the most important thing in his life. When Starsky was fully recovered and was about to return to work, Hutch moved back to his own apartment. It was one of the most painful things hed ever done. He almost cried himself to sleep the first night alone, he missed his beloved so much.
They soon settled back into a semblance of their old routine, and he'd learned to control himself, to not give any hint to his partner of how he felt. He'd hoped that the feelings would go away, but that didnt happen since they still spent so much of their time together. It didnt help that neither of them had had any "female companionship" since before the shooting. Yet neither of them seemed interested in that, which was such a change in attitude from before. Hutch was bewildered and confused by the change, but he didnt regret it. In fact, he wasnt sure how he would react if Starsky told him he was going on a date. He was glad that hadnt happened yet.
It surely wasnt going to happen for a while longer, since now they would be undercover as gays. This assignment was like a dream come true and a nightmare all at the same time. He would get to kiss his friend, something he had wanted to do in the past, as he had told Starsky last night. He hadnt told him the whole truth, of course. He hadnt told him that now he wanted to kiss him whenever he looked at those inviting lips.
And hed get to share a bed with his love every night. God, how will I be able to restrain myself? he wondered fearfully. Especially when were pretending were lovers? He had tried so hard to conceal his feelings last night while they were "practicing." Hed tried to keep the tone light, like they were just kids having fun. But the longer it went on, the more aroused hed become. It was all he could do to hide it from his partner. He'd had to take a bathroom break at one point just to cool himself down. If he hadnt left when he had, he would have had to take another. Thank God the game ended when it did, he thought, giving him an excuse to leave at a good time.
Now here it was, the next morning, and he wondered how he should greet Starsky after last nights events. Well, I guess I cant get in the car and lean over and give him a big kiss right in front of my apartment building, can I?
As he mulled that over, the Torino pulled up to the curb.
"Good morning," Hutch said cheerily, as he got in.
"Mornin, partner." Starsky returned the greeting with his trademark big, crooked grin.
God, I love him! Hutch thought, completely disarmed as always by that smile.
Their eyes locked for a moment. They looked at each others lips, and their heads started to incline toward each other, when suddenly a car horn blared behind them. They both giggled as Starsky pulled away from the curb.
"Guess this aint Lovers Lane," Starsky snickered as the car merged into traffic.
"No, but I think I know where theres one nearby," Hutch suggested with a laugh.
"Well, Id love to take ya up on the offer, ya big blond beauty, but I think Dobeys expecting us to show up for work."
"Yeah, leave it to him to always spoil our fun," Hutch replied.
Just then the police radio crackled on. They listened to the call. It was too far away for them to help, but they started discussing another crime in that vicinity recently, and continued on that topic for the rest of the ride to work.
As they walked through the squad room doors, they saw Dobey standing outside his office looking for them. "You have something to tell me?" he asked.
"Good mornin, Capn" Starsky said, giving his boss a sweet smile as he went past him to his own desk.
"Yeah, mornin, Capn," Hutch nodded as he stopped to pour them cups of coffee.
"Well?" Dobey asked in an exasperated tone. Patience wasnt one of his virtues, and they loved to have fun with that fact.
"Oh, Starsk, he must want to know if were going to go undercover on that new case," Hutch said, pointing a finger at him.
"Oh...? Oh! Is that what you want to know?" Starsky asked Dobey innocently.
"Get in here!" Dobey said, shaking his head as he turned to go inside his office, evidently not even trying to figure out his detectives silly behavior or why they were in such good moods.
Starsky and Hutch, both grinning, followed him with their coffees and sat in their usual chairs.
"Are you going to do it?" There was an edge in Dobeys voice now, and his expression was serious.
"Yeah, we will," Hutch said softly, sensing it was time to stop fooling around.
Starsky nodded in agreement when Dobey looked over at him.
"Good," Dobey said with obvious relief. "There was an attempted break-in at another gay couples apartment last night, but they had a security system and the alarm went off and apparently scared the intruder away. Of course," he added, "we dont know for sure it was the killers; it could have just been burglars. Still, youll want to check it out." He handed Hutch the report from the beat cops that had taken the call.
"Well get right on it," Hutch said, glancing at Starsky, who was starting to get up.
"Im glad you two boys are doing this. I wasnt sure you would," Dobey said softly. "John Blaine would be proud of you."
Hutch was surprised to see Starskys eyes tear up a little. Well, they were very close. But Starsky sure seems to be getting very emotional these days.
"Thanks," Hutch said, rising from his chair and going to the door.
As he put his hand on the knob, he heard Dobey exclaim, "Oh, here. I almost forgot! This is the key to your apartment and heres the address." He held out the key and a piece of paper. "Its furnished, but go see it and find out what youll need to live there awhile."
Starsky, who was closer, took the items with an almost imperceptible shiver. Hutch noticed it because his body had the same reaction.
Later that day, after talking to the attempted-robbery victims and the officers who took the call, and taking care of some other business, they finally went to see their new apartment. Starsky parked the Torino around the corner and a couple of blocks away, and they walked over. It was on the second floor of a townhouse in the middle of the block. They climbed the stairs and Starsky opened the door.
It was sparsely furnished, but light and pleasant. They went in and looked around. A sofa, a chair, and a couple of end tables with lamps in the living room which opened into a dining area with a small table and two chairs, and a kitchen across from that.
"Its not too bad, huh?" said Hutch.
"No," answered Starsky as he led the way down a short hall, off of which were a few doors. The one on the right opened to a linen closet, the one to the left was to the bathroom, which they just gave a quick once-over. Finally, Starsky opened the one straight ahead, and stepped into the bedroom, with Hutch following right behind him.
"Jeez, its small!" Starsky exclaimed, staring at the full-size bed. They were fairly tall men and each had queen or king-size beds themselves.
"Not small--cozy," Hutch said with a smile. Although he figured it would be a little uncomfortable for his long legs, he loved the idea of being crowded with his partner. Still, to cover up his delight, he made a joke of it, saying, "Dont you know real estate talk?"
"Oh, right," answered Starsky, smiling back.
"Its getting late. If were going to move in today, we still have to go pick up our clothes and stuff from our apartments," Hutch observed. "Or do you want to wait and do it tomorrow?"
He got the hoped-for response. "No, lets do it today," Starsky quickly answered with some urgency in his voice.
"Good. Lets go to my place first," Hutch said, barely able to contain his excitement as he led the way to the door.
They went to their apartments and got what they needed. They left the Torino at Starskys and took Hutchs car back to the new apartment; it was much less conspicuous.
Along the way they decided on the names they would use undercover--Gus Seagrove for Hutch, and Harvey Newman for Starsky.
After hanging up their clothes and putting their other stuff in the bureau and nightstands in the bedroom and in the medicine cabinet of the bathroom, they realized it was late and they hadnt even eaten dinner yet.
"I think we should go to that diner a few blocks away. We could sort of rehearse there for our performance at the clubs," Hutch suggested. "The killers probably just check out the clubs, so we want to make sure were comfortable with our act before we go there. The diner would be a good warm-up."
"Sounds good to me," Starsky responded, with a slight waver in his voice.
They walked over to the medium-sized neighborhood place, and were quickly seated. It wasnt very crowded, since it was around nine by then.
After reading the menu, they started looking around at the other customers. "Looks like we have a few examples we can copy," Hutch whispered, as he patted Starskys hand to get his attention, then nodded his head slightly in the direction of two other male couples at booths across the room. In one booth, the two men sat side by side on one banquette, having coffee and sharing a dessert. They were talking happily, engrossed in each other. In the other booth, the two men sat across from each other. One was feeding the other what looked like fried clams. Each time the brown-haired man would take the clam in his mouth, he would lick the redheads fingers or suck on them. Hutch was entranced staring at them, and wasnt even aware that he had started to squeeze Starskys hand which he had patted and then held.
Starsky watched his partner watching them. "Hey, buddy," he said, trying to extract his hand from Hutchs grip, "Im going to need to use that; dont crush it, huh?"
"Sorry, Starsk" Hutch quickly apologized, but instead of releasing the hand, brought it to his lips and kissed it.
Starsky drew back slightly, but Hutch didnt let go. "Whats that for?" Starsky asked, looking bewildered, but not unhappy.
"Because we need to practice this stuff," Hutch replied. "And because I love you."
"Love you, too," Starsky whispered. "But I wish the waitress would get here and take our order before I starve to death," he added in a normal voice, pulling his hand free. As if to soften the action, the first thing he did with his liberated fingers was to stroke Hutchs face once.
"Hi, fellas! Know what you want?" asked the waitress cheerily, as she appeared as if on cue. She was a middle-aged blonde with a sunny smile.
"I know what I want," Hutch answered in a seductive voice, ogling his partner so blatantly that he actually made him blush.
"Easy, boys!" the waitress snickered. "I meant from our menu." She obviously was used to raunchy banter with the mostly gay clientele.
Starsky quickly ordered a Reuben and an egg cream, taking advantage of the opportunity to get the food of his youth in New York. Hutch immediately wondered if that was a mild stress reaction, if Starsky wanted something to remind him of the uncomplicated times and feelings of his childhood.
Ah, too many psychology courses in college! he decided, as he ordered tomato juice and turkey on whole wheat.
As soon as the waitress took the menus and left, Hutch took hold of Starskys hands. He looked deep into his partners eyes for a few moments. "Does this make you uncomfortable?" he asked.
"Yeah, a little," Starsky answered, "but Im not pullinaway. I know I have to get used to it."
"Is it that hard?" Hutch asked, with a twinge of hurt in his voice.
"In my head," Starsky replied, "I know its silly, that I shouldnt care what people think. And last night ." He gulped. "Last night, when it was just us, I thought it wouldnt matter anymore. But knowing other people seein us like this will think were gay, that does bother me. Even though I know it shouldnt."
"Why do you think it bothers you?" asked Hutch. "Do you think its wrong for one man to love another that way?" He desperately needed to hear the answer to this question.
"No, of course not. How could love between two consenting adults be wrong?" Starsky gave the answer Hutch was praying for. "I dont know what my problem is. Maybe its that I figure everybodys right away thinkin bout us havin sex together and that embarrasses me."
"You? Embarrassed about sex?" Hutch asked incredulously. "Tell me, Starsk, if you thought people were picturing you having sex with a beautiful woman, instead of me, would you still be embarrassed?"
"I dunno. Sort of. Thats somethin' private, ya know? I dont want strangers imaginin me havin sex, period." Starsky thought a minute. "I think maybe youve hit on the key. If people see a straight couple, even if theyre holdin hands or makin out, they dont immediately start thinkin about them screwin. But if they see a gay couple doin those things, their first thought is about sex. Maybe what bothers me is that I feel my privacys bein invaded. And ," he paused, then continued as if he himself were surprised at what he was saying, "and Id feel like I was bein judged and found guilty without ever gettin to defend myself. People would be thinkin Im bad or immoral without knowin anythin about me except who I sleep with. Thats information a stranger shouldnt even know, let alone pass judgment on. It burns me up!" he concluded, squeezing Hutchs hands for emphasis.
A smile slowly spread across Hutchs fair features. His eyes shone with love. "I found the key, all right, babe. The key is fair play. Ive played dirty sometimes, but you never have. You hate it when anythings unfair. Sticking a label on someone, and then hating him for having that label just goes against your grain, against everything that makes you, you. It offends your basic sense of decency." He raised his right hand to cup Starskys chin and rubbed his thumb gently across his loves lower lip. "Its that core of decency and kindness that makes me love you so." He wanted to kiss Starsky so much, but it would have been awkward across the expanse of the table, so instead, he warmed to his topic and continued. "What bothers you isnt that youd be ashamed to be thought gay; you know thats nothing to be ashamed of. Youre upset because people would be prejudiced against you, and prejudice always hurts."
Starskys eyes widened in recognition of the truth. "You know me better than I know myself sometimes," he said, and started to suck on Hutchs thumb, making him gasp.
Just then the waitress appeared. "Here," she said, giggling, as she put their food on the table, "eat this instead. You can have dessert later." This time it was Hutch who blushed, feeling exposed by the look of naked desire that he knew must have been on his face.
Starsky laughed. "Thanks, darlin." He nodded to her, then turned his attention to his meal.
My god! Hutch thought as he picked at his food. He made me half-hard with that little move, and now hes digging into his sandwich as if nothing happened. He must have seen the waitress coming, yet he sucked on my thumb anyway. Was it just to prove to me that he will be able to act the part undercover, or did he do it for his pleasure, too? He does have that glint in his eye. Wish I knew how he really feels.
To Be Continued