Summary: begin, and cease, and then again begin... Starsky and Hutch. Slash.
Rating: PG-13 (non-graphic sex)
AN: Sort of a 'what if?' for season four. Many thanks to my fantastic beta Solo, and to KimberlyFDR for all her time and encouragement. '
begin, and cease...,' Matthew Arnold. Feedback is love. Enjoy.



High and Dry
waves drawn back, and flung

by Dorian Gray (hinikunokotsuzui at yahoo dot com)




"Want me to come up?" Starsky asked, which nowadays meant, Wanna fuck?

"No. I'm beat." It wasn't even a lie.

"You've been saying that a lot lately. Something I should know about?" Same old teasing in Starsky's voice.

"No." Nothing you want to hear, buddy. "I've got some errands to run tomorrow. You don't need to pick me up." Starsky's profile was just a blur on the edge on his vision.

There was a pause where Starsky didn't say something.

I'm not playing that game tonight. Stepping out of the car and putting the door between them was becoming easy.


"Hutch, can I come up?"

"Nope. Got an exciting date." With my plants. My checkbook. Maybe a bottle of scotch. Once he would've been baiting Starsky, checking out of the corner of his eye for some sign of jealousy. Now it was just habit.

"Oh. Do I know her?"

Chases hadn't been ending well lately. His back ached. His palms stung. And each breath made him too aware of his lower left ribs. Suddenly he was just too tired to drag this out. "No."

Hutch didn't even bother to slam the door shut behind him. Just a gentle, firm snick.


He already had his hand on the doorknob when Starsky grabbed his arm above the elbow. Hutch imagined he could feel the warmth of those fingers through his jacket, but it wasn't real, wasn't possible. All just in his mind.

"C'mon, Hutch. Something's going on with you."

"I'm tired, Starsky. That's all. I need some space." Starsky didn't let go. He jerked his arm free.

Starsky made a show of raising his hands, palms out. "Fine. See you tomorrow."

Working his keys out of his front pocket, Hutch heard the squeal of tires as Starsky pulled into traffic too fast.


Hutch was three steps onto the sidewalk, when he heard Starsky turn off the engine.

Won't what's her name miss you? Or do you go there after? sat like a bitter taste in the back of his mouth. He forced himself to swallow it and let Starsky push him into the bedroom -- onto the unmade bed -- and kiss him. And he kissed back because, despite everything, he couldn't turn off the wanting.

They stripped. He got off. Starsky got off. Moans, spit and semen, followed by a silent, empty afterglow.

He'd stopped trying to make love to Starsky months ago.


Saturday. They weren't working. Starsky hadn't knocked and Hutch hadn't been expecting him. He wished he'd been out, or that he'd been in the middle of fucking some stewardess.

Starsky sat against the headboard now, eyes following him around the room. Hutch worked backwards along the trails of clothing and left it all in a pile by the bed.

If Starsky didn't want his clothes on the floor, he could get out of bed and pick them up.

He could put them on and leave.

Hutch knew he wouldn't treat any date this way. But then he wasn't dating Starsky.


The sex was still easy. But sleeping together was getting hard. Hutch hoped that if he found enough things to straighten up or shut down, Starsky would take the hint and leave.

He never had liked sleeping next to one-night-stands.

He lined up the beer cans, tossed the take-out containers into the trash, put his guitar away. He even started to pick up his coat from beside the couch just for an excuse to keep the lights on.

Finally, "Quit fussing, Hutch. It'll keep." Starsky had pulled back the sheets.

Hutch wished this wasn't his apartment so he could leave.


Afterglow. What a joke.

"You're not happy, Hutch."

He thought of something sarcastic, something evasive. Thought of not saying anything at all. Instead he turned away, getting up on one elbow to set the alarm clock. Simply said, "No. I'm not."

Hutch watched the numbers shift, drifting towards midnight. At 11:53 he felt tentative arms skim down his shoulders, one sliding under his pillow, the other around his chest. Felt a dry, feather-light kiss against the back of his neck.

If Starsky wanted to stay, he could stay. If he wanted to go, he could go. Hutch closed his eyes.


Some days he thought about the good years with Van. Thought about just how long the sex had been good, even when they'd started to hate each other.

From the other end of the couch Starsky asked, "Was this a mistake?"

Hutch shrugged, gathering together the empty beer bottles. They'd killed a six pack. He was feeling too mellow to have this conversation.

Those last six months with Van he'd stopped drinking at home -- couldn't stand to let his guard down.

He couldn't quite remember how much he'd loved her.

You can kill anything if you starve it long enough.


"I think this was a mistake." Starsky leaned against the car door, looking in Hutch's direction, but not at him.

It hurt. But it hurt worse that Hutch couldn't say he was wrong.

"We gotta stop this. It's not doing us any good. It's --"

"You're right."

Starsky looked surprised, like he'd expected an argument. Like maybe he wanted one. Hutch couldn't trust himself to tell anymore, so he just laughed, feeling trapped. "Half measures will get you every time. Whatever we were together was never meant to be a compromise."

"That how you saw it?"

"That's how it was."


"Why'd you do it? I said I loved her." Starsky was leaning against the opposite wall, as far away as you could get and still be in the same room.

Maybe that's not far enough anymore.

"Whatever the hell you're thinking, Hutch, say it."

"Not the sort of thing you can take back."

"Neither is sleeping with your buddy's girl."

Starsky wanted an answer. Fine. "Wasn't sure I wanted you in my life anymore. It hurts too much," he hadn't meant to add. Starsky's eyes were wide, shocked.

Hutch closed his mouth around I wanted it to have been me.


He didn't expect Starsky to start making jokes again, not after...

Or maybe it was just that Hutch had started hearing them.

He grinned down at the rows of worn typewriter keys. The trailing, hesitant touch on his cheek startled him into looking up. Starsky's smile was wistful -- eyes fond and sad.

How long had it been since he'd really looked at Starsky?

"What?" he asked.

Starsky just shook his head.

Hutch didn't know why he wasn't willing to leave it alone. "No really, what?"

"Just... you didn't use to look down so much when you smiled. Didn't look away."


"Want to start over?"

"There are no do-overs, Starsk."

Starsky's look of affectionate exasperation was like stepping back in time. "Stop being an ass. You know what I mean."

Something in Starsky's face made him look very young. Hutch examined him, trying to weigh exactly how much of what he was seeing was real.

"Christ, I hate it when you look at me like that."

"Like what?"

"You know."

Well, what do I have to lose? "Guess we've already fucked up once and we're still talking." He nudged Starsky, gently, just like old times. "What's a little heartache between friends?"


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