At first you think it's the rain that's pulled you from sleep. You can hear it, drumming steadily on the roof and dripping off the eaves into pools below the window. You realize quickly, however, that steady, lulling sound isn't what woke you. There's a lump under your hip. It breaks up the comfortable surface of the sheet and irritates your flesh. You're no princess, so you doubt it's a pea, but you do want to know what it is, so you roll to the other side of the bed to reveal the object.
It's a wadded athletic sock, and it isn't yours. You glance around the room and see its mate on the floor a few feet away. The previous night flashes in your mind as you realize that the socks are all that remain of your partner's clothes, although your own remain scattered around your bed. Apparently, he slipped away without his socks, rather than risk waking you while searching for the one hidden in the sheets. Your first thought is that he has to be uncomfortable in this soggy weather. Your second is that you've ruined everything.
You contemplate pulling the covers over your head and trying to return to the oblivion of sleep, but your bladder has other ideas. You groan as you force your sore body into an upright position and then grunt as you bend over to pick your jeans up off the floor. You're not a kid any more, after all. The popping of joints as you stretch backs up this assertion.
You stumble to the bathroom and relieve yourself before pulling on the jeans. It's warm, and you're not going anywhere, so you don't bother with a shirt. You move over to the sink to brush your teeth and see yourself in the mirror. Your blonde hair is messy, and your eyes are still bleary from sleep, but it's the mark on your neck that draws all your attention. You certainly weren't complaining when it was made, and you’re sure that you left one or two of your own on Starsky's neck, or possibly on other, more tender, areas, but seeing the evidence of last night's passion renews your regret. You lean against the sink for a moment, forcing down a sudden impulse to cry, before turning on the water and picking up your toothbrush. As you rinse you realize that you'll have to wear a turtleneck to work tomorrow, despite the fact that the weather will undoubtedly be oppressively hot and muggy following today's showers.
You try to establish some feeling of normalcy as you walk into the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast. Of course, you're out of coffee. You've been too busy working the past week to worry about grocery shopping. You have to laugh at your rotten luck, but you punctuate the laughter by punching the wall. Damn it! It wasn't supposed to happen this way. You've known for a while that it inevitably would happen, ever since you almost lost him, but you thought it would come easily, as so much between the two of you did. You waited for months, watching him heal and looking for the perfect moment. You thought he was waiting, too, and you were content to bide your time until you were both ready.
After last night, you couldn’t wait any longer. The graze Starsky received in the firefight wasn’t significant, barely a scratch, but he bled. You saw him bleed, and that pushed you over the edge. You brought him back to your place as soon as you could get away, and you were on him as soon as the door was shut. You know that you didn’t imagine his response, eager and hungry, but you also know that adrenaline can cloud the mind as effectively as drugs or alcohol. You know he must regret it. He left. He slipped away while you slept, unable or unwilling to face you.
You know it’s too late to change anything now. All you can do is hope that he’ll come to work tomorrow willing to talk to you. You want to go after him now, but you couldn’t bear to chase after him and be turned away. It’s better to wait. You decide to concentrate on practical matters to keep your mind occupied, and you’re thinking about doing laundry. You have to wash your sheets, and you’re not even sure if you have a clean turtleneck. Then you hear the lock turn and your front door open. Startled, you move to look around the doorway of the kitchen, and you see your partner, dripping wet and holding a sodden grocery bag, standing in your living room.
“Hey, it’s about time you got up, lazybones.” You watch, your mouth agape, as Starsky struggles to pull off his wet jacket while juggling the grocery bag. “Do you know there’s absolutely nothing edible in your kitchen? Not even coffee. We should have gone to my place. Hey, earth to Hutch, how about a towel?”
You manage to shake off your shock and go to the bathroom to get a towel. You bring it to the living room and take the bag which is on the verge of disintegrating to the kitchen. Putting it on the counter, you turn around to find Starsky right behind you, rubbing his damp curls with the towel. Concerned blue eyes meet your gaze.
“Are you okay? You don’t look so good.” He places his hand on your neck and rubs his thumb firmly over the mark he left there. It aches a little, and it feels wonderful.
You smile. “I’m fine. I’m great. Never better.”
“Yeah? Well, sit down. I’ll make coffee.”
You sit at the table and lean back in your chair. You close your eyes and listen to the rain and the sounds of your partner putting breakfast together. You want to laugh at yourself for all the assumptions you made. You open your eyes and look over at Starsky, intending to tell him all about it when you notice his feet.
“Hey, are those my socks?”