Comments on this story can be sent to:  Many thanks to Polly and Al for looking at this for me.

Humpty Dumpty



Starsky and Hutch sat on a wall
Starsky and Hutch had a great fall
And all the king's horses
And all the king's men
Couldn't put them back together again.

Friendship really is a fragile thing. I learned that the hard way. I learned it when I watched my best friend walk out of my girlfriend's bedroom, tucking in his shirt. I learned. Man, did Hutch school me good.

I hit him over what he did. I was so angry I just couldn't stop myself. I regret that. I regret raising my fist to him in anger. And not because I hurt him. He's a tough guy. He can take a punch. I regret it cause it was a betrayal. It was the same betrayal Hutch had just visited on me. A betrayal of the trust between us. A betrayal of the unspoken promise never to hurt one another. He betrayed me. I betrayed him. And our friendship paid the price. Our friendship tottered off that ledge just like Humpty Dumpty. Now we both got egg on us.

We went to work the next day, both of us sorry but neither of us able to say it. Neither of us willing to cross the chasm we'd purposely dug. Then I had to go and run off at the mouth. I mean, jeez, I know he never slept with Terry. I know that. I wasn't even serious when I said it, just mad as hell. But I accused him of it, anyway. I stood right in his face and accused him of sleeping with Terry. Terry. He got mad then. Not that I'd accused him of having sex with her of all people, but that I'd dirtied her memory by even thinking something like that.

You see, Hutch really loved Terry. Still does. To this day, he gets misty eyed when he thinks about her. Her dying, it hit him hard. Almost as hard as me. But I didn't really notice it at the time. I was too numb, too wrapped up in my own pain to see his. But he stood by me. Like always. Even though his own heart was breaking.

Then I go and accuse him of sleeping with her. From the look on his face, you'd a thought I'd accused him of being a child molester or something. And maybe, in his eyes, that's just what I did. Well, I took one look at his face and shut up. My ma didn't raise no coward, but she didn't raise no fool, either.

So I backed off quick. And then Kira, the rotten fucking she-demon from hell, had the gall to come up to us and ask if everything was okay. I wheeled on her and the only thing that kept me from going to jail for assault was my partner. We may be at odds, but we were still partners. He slid between us, quick as a cat, and quietly suggested that the bitch take a hike. Apparently Kira's ma didn't raise no fool either.

And while the rest of the squad room was studiously ignoring us, Dobey wasn't. He called us both in his office and proceeded to ream us both a new asshole. I started to tell him that the one I had was perfectly good, but a look from Hutch shut me up. Again.

It looked like little Miss She-Bitch had spent the better part of yesterday spreading the word about me and Hutch. I guess it made her all hot and tingly to know she came between us like she did. Dobey asked me outright if I hit my partner and I told him the truth. Then he asked Hutch if he wanted to press charges. Hutch just looked at him like he'd grown a third eye or something. Didn't even deign to answer the question. That alone told Dobey what he needed to know.

Then came the hard question. Did we want to still be partners? Dobey said he'd understand if we didn't. A lot had gone down and maybe we needed a little time apart to cool off. But both of us somehow knew if we took that out, we'd never be partners again. A little time apart would turn into all our time apart and then where would we be.

And I knew, deep down, that no matter what, I wanted to be Hutch's partner.

He betrayed me, but I still wanted to be his partner. I still needed him. Hell, I still loved him. So I told Dobey I didn't have a problem working with the S.O.B., if he didn't have one working with me. Hutch just kinda looked at me, trying to figure out if I was sure or not. He musta seen what he wanted to see cause he told Dobey that he didn't want a new partner either. At least not yet anyway.

Dobey just kinda snorted and told us it was a good thing cause he didn't know who else would put up with either one of us. Then he gave us a surprise and told us to take the next couple of days off. Said he wanted us to work out whatever it was that was going on. Told us in no uncertain terms to get our shit together or not to come back. Didn't wanna have to identify us in the morgue, I guess.

So Hutch and me left. We'd taken separate cars into the station and I just followed him to Venice Place. We had to talk. Dobey was right about that. If we didn't we were gonna get somebody killed, probably one of us. And I might be mad at him, but like I said, I still loved the jerk.

He musta figured I was following him cause he left the front door open. I closed it behind me when I came up and even locked it. I didn't want any interruptions. I watched Hutch take off his gun and hang it up and I did the same. He seemed surprised by it, but I just shrugged. I didn't want to be wearing the damn thing if there was a chance we were gonna be fighting.

For the longest time Hutch didn't say anything. He sat down on the couch and picked up his guitar, but he didn't play anything. He just held it, like it was comforting or something. There was a time, Before The Bitch, that my partner would have turned to me for that comfort. I sat down on the opposite end of the couch, giving him the space he seemed to want.

Finally, he seemed to crumple in on himself. His shoulders slumped and it was like he shrank or something. That's when he opened his mouth. The words were soft, almost too low to hear. I had to strain to catch some of them. It was like his words were ripping him up inside. But he forced them out anyway. He did that for me. For me.

He said he was sorry. But I already knew that. He said he didn't know why he did what he did. I knew that for the lie it was, but I let it go. I'd come to quite a few conclusions over all this and one of them was that I knew exactly why Hutch had done what he'd done.

He went on for a while. Telling me how much he cared about me. How much our friendship meant to him. He even told me he loved me, though he blushed bright red when he said it. I let him talk. I didn't want to interrupt him. I know how hard it is to get going again if somebody stops ya. I didn't want him to hafta find that courage again.

But I did want to tell him a thing or two. So I let him finish. When he was done, he wasn't crying, but his eyes were red and he looked like he hurt all the way down to his soul. I asked him if he was finished and he nodded. Then I asked him if it was all right if I moved closer. He said yes to that, too, so I slid over till I was sitting right next to him, shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh.

Then I reached down and took his hand in mine. I could feel the tremors running through him when I did that. I've seen my partner face down armed lunatics without flinching, but here he was shaking like a leaf cause I was holding his hand.

I turned a little bit so I could face him and I made sure he was looking at me. Then I said the only thing that really mattered anymore. I told him that I loved him. I'm not quite sure how, but we ended up wrapped around each other, both of us on the damn floor. He did cry then. Hell, so did I. And it felt good. But not nearly as good as it felt to hold my partner in my arms.

I guess sometimes you really can put the egg back together again. If you want to bad enough.


The sequel to this story is: The Angel and the Dreamer