Disclaimers: The faces are familiar and so are the names, but the setting seems a little strange? I kidnapped a few cuties from television land. I accept that they never did and never will belong to me, but I am having oh so much fun while I have them.

Notes: There is discussion of Starsky with someone else. This is my first S/H fic so please don't be too be judgmental, just pat me on the head and send my back to the Sentinel fandom if necessary. Consider yourself warned. This is part one of a planned series of stories in "The Coming Home Series" in which things do get hotter.

(There is a prequel to this story which precedes it by several years: Stealing Home.)

Comments on this story can be sent to: creed_cascade@hotmail.com

Creed Cascade

When Hutch entered the Pits no one seemed to notice as he ambled past his usual table and moved into the empty end of the establishment. Huggy Bear was so in tune with his clientele that he did a double take when he saw that the big blond was sitting alone in the shadows. Since Starsky had been released from the hospital over a year ago, the two where almost never seen apart. Hutch was jokingly referred to as his partner's new Siamese twin during the recovery period after the Gunther shooting.

Huggy quickly grabbed two beers and went to investigate this strange situation. His stomach churned as he glided towards his friend. The blue eyes that monitored his progress were haunted.

"Hey, man," Huggy greeted cautiously as he sat across the table. He pushed the beer bottle towards the tense man and hoped the alcohol might decrease his apparent tension.

"Oh--hi Hug." Hutch returned the greeting and countered with a weak smile.

"What's a matter, Detective? Lose your partner between here and the station?" Huggy jokingly questioned in an attempt to make him smile.

Hutch clearly flinched and the blond shifted in his seat. Huggy mentally rebuked himself. This was clearly an avoidance technique from Huggy's point of view and he intended to get to the bottom of it.

"What happened? Where's Starsky?"

Hutch was strangely silent and looked like he was considering the answer.

Hug took a swig from his own beer to interrupt the stillness.

"He's on a date," Hutch deadpanned.

Huggy choked on his beer and slammed the bottle on the table.

"What?!" he croaked in disbelief.

"You heard me. Starsky is on a date."

Huggy shook his head. "With who?"

"A woman. I didn't ask who."

"Oh, Hutch--"

"Don't start, Hug--please. I don't need a lecture or an argument."

"You won't get one from me, man. What you need is a friend."

Hutch smiled genuinely in return. "A friend would be nice."

"Tell me what's going down."

The blue eyes flared with a spark of something Huggy couldn't place. All he knew was that one was of his friend's was hurting bad and the other one who was supposed to be there to fix it wasn't.

"It's plain and simple. Starsky is on a date. We both knew that it had to happen sooner or later. I guess it's finally later, huh?"

During this brief explanation, Hutch slowly peeled the label away from the beer bottle. He wasn't even drinking the liquid. The man looked pale and tired.

"Hutch, this is nothin' like simple. This thing is messed up, brother, and you know it."

Hutch snorted in recognition. If anyone could understand, it would be Huggy and maybe that was why he was here.

"It's complicated."

Huggy leaned closer and lowered his voice even though the nearest customer was across the bar. Hutch looked like he was on the edge and Huggy was sure it wouldn't take much to push him over.

"Complicated is the understatement of the century when talkin' about you and Starsky. I thought you two were tighter than ever."

Huggy was trying to be discreet. He was the only person who knew the true nature of the relationship between the two detectives. They never really discussed it in the open, but they knew that he knew.

"I know that you have been living together since the shooting. There hasn't been any ladies around. What's changed?"

"Nothing really changed. We always have each other, but there have also been others, you know that. Starsky's just returning to his old pattern."

"But what about you, man. Why aren't you out there on a double date if things have changed?"

Hutch's large palms rubbed over his red eyes. Huggy could tell from his body language that the man was finally ready to talk.

"Because I don't want things to change, Huggy. Things have been great for us lately. It's just been him and me. I was getting used to it and I don't want to go back to the way things were."

"Tell me how things used to be."

Hutch kind of laughed desperately, "You know how long we've been together?"

"Years, I think."

"Since the academy--"


"Yeah, that long and I know what you're thinking. I was married to Vanessa back then, but it didn't matter. My marriage was dead before it even started. I got Vanessa knocked up and I had to marry her. Minnesota pride, ya know. In the end, karma is a bitch and she lost the baby and I was left to face a loveless marriage. But that's when Starsk found me."

Hutch stopped talking and closed his eyes to relive private memories.

"I don't understand, Hutch."

Hutch opened his eyes and smiled at that statement.

"I sometimes wonder if I understand it all myself. I entered the academy because it was something I always wanted to do and I knew it pissed off my wife. On the first day Starsk found me and decided he wasn't letting me go. He decided he wanted me and you know he always gets what he wants. He seduced me and he never let me go all these years. Not that I wanted to get away."

"But what about all of those ladies?"

"Starsky thinks that monogamy is highly overrated."

"But it was only you two this last while and you damn well know you were happy. How can you put up with this?"

"Huggy, do you know how many women put up with cheating husbands? I asked a woman once why she stays and she said, 'He loves me and he comes home to me.' That's what it's like for me. I love him and I will do whatever it takes to keep him. All these years, through all those other bodies, he has always come home to me. That is all that counts in the long run."

"And that enough for you, brother?"

"It has to be."

Hutch got up then and looked at the door forlornly. He was not a happy man and Huggy only hoped that this would change soon. Right now he wanted to find Starsky and show him how much he had hurt the most important person in his life. But it was not his place to interfere in the complicated relationship between the two cops, well at least not yet.

"Thanks, Hug. I'll see you around."

"Yeah, sure Hutch. Stay safe."


Next story in the series: Going Home