This story was originally printed in NIGHTLIGHT 2, published by In Person Press in 1991. Special thanks to Daphne for preparing this story for the archive. Comments on this story can be sent to: email@example.com and will be forwarded to the author.
NOCTURN . . .
Kenneth Hutchinson lay alone in the dark, listening to the ticking of the alarm clock, and counting each tick. He silently cursed Starsky for breaking his own clock radio, then himself for letting that con artist borrow his. But his partner had this big date tonight, and predicted that nothing less than rock and roll on 10 would budge him the next morning . . .
Hutch tossed for another few minutes, unable to get to sleep. The blanket was trying its malicious best to strangle him. He finally kicked it off, shifting in the bed to peer once again at the clock. What time is it? Five minutes later than the last time you asked me . . . Where did that come from?
Combing his hair back off his face, he sighed and slipped out of bed. Padding barefoot to the kitchen, he spent some time in the breeze of the open refrigerator before deciding that what he wanted, needed, to drink wasn't in there. He went instead to the cabinet, taking out a bottle of brandy. The way things are going, this is my only hope of getting any sleep at all tonight. He poured a generous glassful and took it back to bed.
He sipped the liquor, welcoming the trail of warmth it made going down his throat. His thoughts wandered, as thoughts are apt to do in the middle of the night. He wondered what his partner was doing . . . Has to be better than . . . He pictured Sharon. Good looks, no brains. Starsky's favorite type. Not that I have any right to talk, the way my luck goes . . .
Van, Jeannie, Gillian. Whatever possessed me to think falling in love is a forever proposition? Starsky's right, the only lasting thing is friendship. Partnership. If I didn't believe that I wouldn't be sitting here in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because my Best Friend is involved in another meaningless fling. He allowed some hurt to filter through his carefully controlled defenses. Why does Starsky prefer to waste so much time on an airhead he'll barely remember in six months over being with me, where he's loved? Hutch hung his head. I'm guilty of it, too . . . but I swear I don't know why.
All I do know is that it's getting hard to handle. It's getting tougher to keep my jealousy in check. Whether Starsky knows or not, I can't tell. I'm getting pretty obvious about it . . . He had to smile as he recalled how he'd cheerfully handed the keys to Sharon at the boxing arena and sent her on her way to take the kid home. Hiding back behind the old partnership rules - asserting the only hold I have over you, Starsky. Partners still come first . . .
He drank down the rest of the brandy and settled in, hoping sleep would come soon and rescue him from the unpleasant thoughts. Hard to believe it was such a short time ago that things changed between us. He shivered as the memory of the cold, sterile hospital room invaded. I went into that hospital with the possibility of never coming out again, and then came out into a whole new world, the rules of which are still blurred and uncertain.
It feels so good being with you, Starsk . . . but if we have to deny our love, where does that leave us? There's no future in that. You almost had me believing again, I'll give you credit for that. It's just that reality keeps getting in the way. Yes, you were right, my friend. I've got to hang on to our partnership, bet on the sure thing. Yeah. As for the rest of it, I'm gonna take love where I can get it - get this idea of forever out of my head.
Forever is for daydreams and love stories . . .