There was a space right across the street. The first thing that had gone right in two days. He eased the Torino against the curb and twisted the ignition off, sat for a moment, staring ahead, thumbing the steering
wheel. Thinking. He looked up into the windows and saw the lights on, the windows open, the curtain moving with the breeze. He saw a shadow cross the window and instinctively ducked, cursing for the first time in four years that his car was more flash than function. Hard to ignore. Easy to spot.
He laid his head back on the seat and heard the words again. “Yeah, well maybe we should take a break.” That had been 24 hours ago. They had been at the end of a two week stakeout. Two weeks of sitting in cars, reading papers, drinking coffee. Two weeks of falling into bed, using each other every night to forget the mind-numbing minutes of every day. Two weeks of barely talking. Only after. Never during.
He had done okay the first twelve hours. Did his laundry. Bought some steaks. Stopped by Huggy’s. And then he just sat in his apartment, staring at the phone. Like a lovesick girl. When he had unnerved himself to the point that he had gotten out old case reports, just so he could see Hutch’s neat script detailing weeks of their lives, he had bolted.
Tore up the highways, daring the CHP to pull him over. And then he was here. Sitting in his car, staring up at the window, exactly like a lovesick girl. Oh, hell, he was a lovesick girl. Boy. Man.
And what exactly was a break? To him? Time for a shower was good enough. To Hutch? Who knew? Time to water his plants and play his guitar? If he didn’t know the man inside and out and all the places in between, then maybe he could lull himself into thinking all he needed was a nap and some sushi.
But it had been the look. And the tone. And the bone crushing ache that had started the minute he watched him walk away. It was something else. A break? More like a break-up.
He hit the steering wheel in frustration. For not having the balls to storm up the stairs and have it out. For not having the balls to leave him alone, let him work it out himself. For acting like a damn girl.
But he knew. From that place where he knew everything that he knew about Hutch. And him. And him and Hutch. He couldn’t push it this time. Couldn’t force things. Couldn’t whine, beg, cajole, crawl, or kiss his way back in. He had to wait. He was bad at waiting. Horrible, really. Waiting made his skin crawl, his jaw ache, and his balls shrink up. Waiting meant he had no control. He hated not having control almost more than he hated waiting.
He was a shrink’s wet dream. And a girl. Great.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a candy bar. At least he had brought provisions. He noticed the light go off and he stuffed the candy back in his pocket and leaned over so he could get a better look up in the window. He saw the front door swing open and fell flat against the seat. Hell.
“Lose your way home?” Hutch leaned into the window.
Starsky sat up slowly, shrugged, and then just stared straight ahead. Wished the ground would swallow him up. Wished someone would rob something, somewhere, anywhere, so they would have to put all the personal aside, and Hutch would be forced to hop in and they could do what they do and not what they were doing.
“You plan on sitting out here all night?”
Hutch sighed and leaned up, tapped the roof of the car. Leaned back in. “Wanna get a beer?”
“I thought we were taking a break.”
Hutch sighed again. Deeper. Added an eye roll. “I just needed some space.”
“Giving you space. You’re the one who came down here.”
“Oh, I see. So you were going to sit here all night.”
“Nah, I was going to move to the other side when the restaurant closed. This side’s out of my pizza delivery area.”
“Come upstairs, Starsky.”
“You sure, Hutch?”
“No, actually, I’m not very sure of anything right now. But there’s no way I’m going to get any kind of sleep if I know you’re down here, trying to wait me out. You can’t stand waiting.” Hutch pulled his head out of the window and walked across the street.
Starsky tore out of the car and caught up with Hutch at the door. “You know there are no guarantees you’re gonna get any kind of sleep with me up here, either.”
Hutch held the door open and let Starsky in first. “I know. And we’re going to talk about that.”
Starsky, ecstatic the wait might be over, took the steps three at a time. No way a girl could do that.