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My Heart Will Follow You
"High winds and silver wings
and endless skies of blue.
Wherever you must fly
My heart will follow you."
It had been almost three days, and Kenneth Hutchinson was running out of ways to try and reach his partner. David Starsky had been very quiet and withdrawn lately, not so much moody as sad and depressed. Hutch had tried over and over to talk to his partner, to give him space, tease him, love him, cajole him, anything in order to get him to open up. He had tried everything short of making threats and he was seriously considering using that tactic next. He was very worried about his friend and at an almost total loss as to how to help make things better.
"You ready to call it a night?" he said across the desk to the dark head bent down over an open file folder. When he got no response, he reached over and squeezed his partner's shoulder. "Hey, you ready to go home?"
"Yeah, let's get out of here," came the almost emotionless reply. Starsky stood up heavily and took the jacket Hutch held out to him. Without saying another word he headed out of the squadroom and down to the garage. Having no choice but to follow him, Hutch did so, still trying to figure out how to breach this wall that Starsky had so recently built.
Finding Starsky sitting behind the wheel of his car staring straight ahead, Hutch climbed in the passenger side and slid over next to him. Putting an arm around his shoulders he softly said, "Love, I'll do anything to help you but you gotta tell me what's going on inside your head."
"I don't know what the answer is, Hutch." Starsky whispered. Putting his head down in his hands he repeated, "I just don't know."
Moving in closer and rubbing Starsky's back reassuringly he said, "Why don't you start by telling me what the question is, babe."
Leaning back into the embrace, Starsky finally looked up at Hutch. Smiling slightly for the first time in days he said, "Not here. Let's go home."
"I'll tell you when we get home, promise. Not here."
Starsky was silent for the duration of the drive, but the silence felt different than it had for the past several days. Hutch was more than content to wait, the knowledge that they were finally going to be able to resolve whatever it was that had been bothering Starsky being enough to sooth his heart for the time being. He couldn't resist reaching over and taking his lover's hand, the answering squeeze he received reassuring him even more that whatever was wrong could be somehow fixed.
Home that night turned out to be Starsky's apartment, which was fine with Hutch. Over the past year or so, ever since the shooting that almost spilt then up in the most permanent of ways, home had turned into wherever the two of them wound up together. One of these days they'd probably have to think about combining the two households into one, but for now the setup they had was more than satisfactory.
Once they were settled on the couch next to each other, Hutch waited for Starsky to start talking to him. He didn't have to wait long.
"I'm really worried about my mom, Hutch."
Hutch had suspected that this might be what had his partner so upset. Over the past few days he even asked Starsky several times about how his mother was doing and if anything had changed. About three weeks ago Mrs. Starsky had suffered what appeared to be a minor stroke and had fallen down the stairs as a result. Nothing had been broken, thankfully, but it was still a serious scare for both her and her oldest son. Starsky had gone back home for about a week to visit and help out until she got out of the hospital and Rachel Starsky had been adamant about returning to her home. A trait that her son had most definitely inherited, Hutch mused, thinking about Starsky's stubbornness about going home as soon as medically possible after the shooting.
Hutch would have gone back east with him but he simply couldn't get the time off. Because it was family, Starsky had been eligible for compassionate leave and in all fairness, Hutch had pretty much exhausted a career's worth of the time in the months encompassing Starsky's recovery.
"I got a call from Mrs. O'Malley the other day," Starsky continued after a while, breaking into Hutch's thoughts. "She lives next door to Ma ya know, and she's really worried about her being there by herself. I mean, Ma was lucky that she was home the day she fell and all. I hate to think of her lying there by herself if there hadn'ta been anyone there. And I'm so far away out here, and Nicky ain't worth anything when it comes to stuff like this." He turned toward his partner.
"I hate to say it, but we both know its true." Hutch certainly wasn't going to argue about this point, his past dealings with his partner's brother not among his favorite memories. But he did wrap his arms around his partner and pull him close, encouraging him to continue without having to say the words.
"So I don't know what the hell to do. I know I can't get Ma to come out here, I mentioned it once and about got my head bit off."
Having met Starsky's mother a few times, Hutch could imagine very well what she would say and exactly the tone of voice she'd say it in. It very much resembled the way her son would react. "I can understand that Starsk, she's been there how long now?"
"Oh god, probably got to be over 40 years, they moved there right after they got married and that was at least three years before I was born.""And we know your an ancient 37 years old," Hutch teased, trying to lighten the mood.
"Yeah, and you ain't too far behind me here, babe. Another three months and you're right there with me," Starsky shot back.
"Wouldn't have it any other way," Hutch replied gently.
"Same here." They sat in silence for a few minutes, just glad for the comfort of the other's presence. Eventually Starsky continued, "So I can't get her out here and I can't, I just can't see her leaving that apartment and its pretty clear that its not safe for her to stay there by herself. And we've ruled Nicky out." There was a nod of agreement from Hutch. "So that would leave me. And I don't want to leave here, but..."
"You've got to go home and take care of your ma, Starsk. I know buddy," he said, holding him tighter and whispering into his hair, "I understand that. I don't like it, but I know you have to go."
Starsky twisted around in Hutch's arms so that he could look up into his eyes. "But that's the thing Hutch, New York isn't home for me anymore. Hasn't been for years. This is home. More importantly, you are home. I can't leave here... I can't leave you." He pulled Hutch tightly to him and felt Hutch holding on to him just as hard.
They had been lovers for all of six months but in reality their relationship had been established a long time before. They'd never said it in so many words, but both knew the other had been and intended to be faithful and they both had known, although not admitted out loud, that this was the last relationship that either wanted to be involved in. Hutch was home too here, in a way that he had never been before, and something in him felt free, felt completed, in hearing his love say that he was home too.
"So that's the answer then," Hutch said in a definitive tone.
"What is Hutch? 'Cause I've been around and over this until I can't think straight anymore and I think it's making me sick and there isn't any answer."
"You never could think straight to begin with, Gordo."
That remarked earned him an elbow in the ribs and the comment, "That's because you corrupted me."
"I'd like to think we corrupted each other. But, like I said earlier, you have to go home and take care of your ma. There's no way around it." He followed that with the simple statement, "I'll go with you."
Starsky had followed him before when the road was uncertain. That fact that Hutch had reached a point where he was tired and disillusioned and had needed out was enough for Starsky to be willing to go with him. He could do no less now.
"You'll what! Hutch! Its not that I don't want you to, god I do, but I wasn't about to ask that of you."
"You don't have to ask. I'm offering."
Starsky stuttering was a rare occurrence and Hutch had to laugh at the sight. Usually the situation was reversed when Hutch was flustered or very unsure of something.
"Stop Hutch, you're not making this any easier."
Hutch just laughed harder and reached down and began tickling his stomach.
"Okay that's it, Blondie, you asked for it." That threat started an all out tickle battle, finally ending with two combatants rolling around on the floor where they had landed.
"Had enough?" both asked breathlessly at the same time as they ran out of steam. Laughing at the man lying beneath him, Starsky said, "I'll take that as a yes," and leaned for a kiss, which quickly turned into two and then three. Finally rolling off of Hutch, they pulled each other back up onto the couch.
Once they had calmed down and settled back against the cushions, Starsky took both of Hutch's hands in his and solemnly told him, "I can't, and I won't ask this of you. You've given up too much already, hell you gave up a good five months of your life taking care of me after I was shot."
"I did it as much for me as for you, you know that. So you'll go to New York and I'll go with you. It's the only thing that makes sense, Starsk. You start with what you can't give up and you go from there. It's not like we haven't been down this road before."
"You've been thinking about this some already, haven't you?"
"Yeah, it may have crossed my mind once or twice."
"Hutch," Starsky said with a note of warning in his voice as he advanced on his partner. "Don't make me tickle you again."
"Okay, okay, I surrender," he said, throwing up his hands. "I've been thinking about it ever since your mom got sick. Honestly, I don't want to leave LA. I don't want leave Metro. I'm going to miss Huggy and the Pits and Dobey and everyone at work. I'm going to miss running around these streets with you. I'm going to miss knowing where all the good health food stores are. I'm going to miss my plants and my greenhouse and being so close to the beach. I'm even going to miss my car, even though I know you won't. The weather in New York is going to take some getting used, not to mention the fact that you're the only person I really know out there."
"Stop," he ordered, quieting him with a kiss. "But none of that, not even all of that together, means as much to me as you do. That's what I meant when I said that you start with what you can't give up. I can't live without you. The rest will work itself out."
"You know I'm gonna miss most of the same stuff you are. Well, the taco stands more than your health food joints, and I won't miss the car, since we're taking her with us."
"Nothing. Where are you going to keep that car in New York City without someone stealing it?"
"I have a friend who has a friend who has a garage I can keep her in."
"Of course. You've been thinking, too." he said, smiling at the thought.
"Yeah. Worrying mostly. I couldn't see a way to make it work, not without asking you to give up everything you have here."
"You should have told me before you know, could have saved you and me a lot of stress. I worry about you, you know."
"I hadn't noticed," he said, letting the irony show through in his voice. "You're right though, I didn' mean to put you through all this, it's just..."
"I know, too much all at once and you were trying to figure out a way to take care of both me and your mom. I love you for that, you know."
"Same here, Blondie. What about the apartments and your jungle o' flowers and all that good stuff? Jobwise, I thought maybe we could try the security route again for something temporary, or transfer over to the NYPD. Something where we could stick together," he finished, voicing what they had both always known to be true. No matter what, that was the only thing that really mattered.
"Those are all just details, Starsk; we'll figure it out as we go along. Part of the problem with all that is we don't know how long we'll be gone." He didn't want to state the fact that they both knew that it would only be after Rachel's Starsky's death that they would come back, if they came back at all. A little tentatively he said, "I would like to move back to California after, you know..."
"Yeah, me too, love. We've got so much here to come back to. Knowing that we'll come home eventually, and having you with me is going to make all of this bearable. It's not enough to say, but thank you."
"Doesn't even need to be said, babe. You've done it for me, its just part of who we are." And that was the truth that they were both holding onto, that they had held onto for so long, that had gotten them through so much in the past and that would carry them though this next phase of their lives as well. It was what they were, stronger together then anything that could happen to them. It was more than enough.