Court and Spark
He froze, arm raised, finger on the key. The voice spilling out under the door sucked away his bravado, the confidence he had carefully cultivated all day as he worked the streets alone. Again. Starsky pulled his hand back and sighed. He stood, stilled by the tone, the words, the utter familiarity of this moment.
“Help me, I think I’m falling in love too fast.
It’s got me hoping for the future
and worrying about the past.
Cause I’ve seen some hot, hot blazes
come down to smoke and ash.
We love our lovin but not like we love our freedom.”
Court and Spark. Hutch was listening to fucking Court and Spark. Again. Starsky let out a humorless chuckle. Irony had been their constant companion for months now. He pressed his head against the door and listened as Joni stripped away what was left of his resolve.
Jesus. How did it come to this? Lurking outside the door – afraid to go in, afraid to find Hutch out on the porch with a bottle and his guitar. Again. Afraid to find Hutch far, far away. Somewhere unreachable. But fuckable. Always fuckable.
He knocked. He never knocked. The key rested on the lintel. He tried to pretend he didn’t know that. He tried to pretend he was visiting a friend. He tried to pretend it didn’t matter so much.
The door swung open and his heart dropped to his knees. Hutch. Shirtless. Sleepy-eyed. Shorts in name only. Jesus. Starsky smiled weakly and raised a hand.
“Lost your key?” Hutch glanced up to the doorframe.
Starsky ignored him, and walked into the room, also ignoring Joni as she twisted the knife just a little deeper . . .
“Now you turn your gaze to me,
weighing the beauty and the imperfection to see if I’m worthy.
Like the church,
like a cop,
like a mother,
you want me to be truthful.
Sometimes you turn it on me like a weapon though,
and I need your approval.”
It pissed him off. He turned back to Hutch. “You ever coming back to work?”
“You get transferred to IA?” Hutch breezed by him, his hand lightly skimming Starsky’s shoulder as he headed into the kitchen. “Want a drink?”
Starsky tried another tack. “Campos got Skinny today. Two counts of robbery. D.A. said it’s a done deal.”
Hutch murmured something, his head in the fridge.
“I said – that’s good. Sure you don’t want a beer?”
“What I want is a partner . . .” Starsky wiped a hand across his face and wondered how far he could fling the stereo as Joni called out, “I said send me somebody . . .”
Hutch joined her from the kitchen. “who’s strong and somewhat sincere . . .” His voice sailed around the room and punched Starsky in the gut. He couldn’t breathe. Everything was wrong. Hutch acted like nothing was wrong, which made the whole thing even more wrong. If that were possible.
“. . . and my search for love that don’t seem to cease . . .” Hutch continued as he walked toward Starsky.
“So are you somebody strong and somewhat sincere?” Hutch asked, pushing in close until Starsky had to take a step back.
“Cut it out.” Starsky put his hands on Hutch’s chest to stop him. Hutch grabbed both hands and pulled him closer instead. Starsky could feel Hutch’s breath on his lips, could smell whiskey and cigarettes, could feel the hardness of Hutch pressing into his own growing erection. His body betrayed him every time. He summoned his last reserve of self control and pushed hard.
Hutch stumbled back, surprise flashing across his face for an instant, but he quickly shrugged it off and turned away. “Guess not.”
Starsky figured he could toss the stereo out the window with one hand. What was wrong with them? With him? Within two minutes of walking in, they were deep into some kind of kinky foreplay. Again. He shook his head, tried to calm his racing pulse. He had to talk to Hutch. Talk. Rationally. Like adults. Like partners. Like always.
“Hutch, we need to talk.”
“Talk away.” Hutch had settled on the couch. He reached over and turned the stereo down. Not off. Just down. Joni still taunted, urging them on into this madness that had become their lives.
“. . . old friends seem indifferent.
You must have brought that on.
Old bonds have broken down,
love is gone,
ohh love is gone . . .”
They stared at each other for a long moment, letting the words weave around them, mocking, truth settling down on their shoulders, heavy and hard. Hutch whispered the words, his eyes never leaving Starsky’s face.
“Everything comes and goes
pleasures move on too early
and trouble leaves too slow . . .”
Starsky felt the air shift, the mood change. He watched the shell around Hutch crack, saw his eyes fall, his trembling hands clasped together. Shattered his own anger. Righteous as it was. Replaced by the dogged compassion that lured him back time after time, no matter how hard Hutch tried to drive him away. He knelt in front of Hutch, took his hands, stilled the tremble, and looked hard into his face. Hutch leaned forward, touched Starsky’s forehead with his. They took the same breath as Joni headed toward the benediction.
“You’re a brute – you’re an angel.
You can crawl – you can fly, too.
It’s down to you,
it all comes down to you . . .”
“Fucking Joni Mitchell,” Starsky breathed.
“Yeah, fuck her.”
“Fuck you.” Starsky kept his forehead pressed to Hutch’s but moved his hands to his shorts. “Why do you do this to me? Tie me in knots, then get me so hot, I can’t stay mad.”
“That’s the plan, Stan.”
Hutch pulled away, shifted slightly and without missing a beat, pushed Starsky to the floor and lowered his body onto him, matching every curve, every bone. Starsky reached up and pulled Hutch’s head down, pressing hard against his lips, thrusting his tongue into Hutch’s mouth. Hutch slipped his hands under Starsky’s head and sucked his tongue deeper. Starsky’s hands raked down Hutch’s back, fingers digging into the soft skin, which caused Hutch to grind his hips, his erection pressed hard against the layer of cotton. Starsky groaned into Hutch’s mouth, grabbed his shoulders, and tried to push him up so that he could get to his cock. Fabric against fabric intensified the agony and finally Hutch laid both hands on the floor and lifted himself a few inches.
Starsky reached between them and tugged Hutch’s shorts down just enough to release his cock. Hutch shuddered and pushed himself up, his knee between Starsky’s legs as he nimbly unzipped Starsky’s jeans and pulled out his cock. Starsky frantically pawed at Hutch’s hands as he worked to get his jeans out from under his ass.
“Hang on there, stud. Gonna come on my knee if you’re not careful.” Hutch murmured hoarsely, which drove Starsky too close to the edge and he rose up, thrusting his whole chest into Hutch, sending him backward into the couch. The screech of needle across vinyl went unnoticed. Starsky continued forward until he pinned Hutch against the cushions, grinding his cock into Hutch’s, working his jeans down to his knees.
“Starsky – hang on.”
Starsky silenced him with his tongue. Hutch grabbed his ass and tried to control the thrusts. They managed to settle into a rhythm, as Starsky’s hands moved up through Hutch’s hair, pulling hard. Hutch bit down on Starsky’s tongue and they both tasted blood. This took Starsky over the jagged precipice they had been balancing on, pulling Hutch down with him. They tumbled into the heat, the desire, into the place that held the one pure thing left between them.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Starsky panted.
“Open your eyes,” Hutch demanded and they allowed just enough space between them to bear witness to the release, anger and orgasm swirling into a single emotion that seared their skin.
When their breathing quieted, Hutch gently tugged Starsky onto his chest. Starsky flung an arm around Hutch’s neck, a leg over Hutch’s leg. His mind emptied, silenced by the chemical hangover, the feel of Hutch’s heart under his own. Jesus. How can this be so good and the rest of it be so . . . so fucking screwed up?
Hutch placed his finger over Starsky’s lips. “Not yet.”
Starsky sucked the finger into his mouth, circling it with his tongue. Hutch shifted under him and pulled his finger out.
“God, you’re a bastard.” Hutch murmured into Starsky’s hair.
“Not yet.” Starsky reached down and twisted Hutch’s nipple.
“Ow – Starsky, stop it.”
“If you say so.” Starsky laid his palm across Hutch’s chest and sighed. “What happened to Joni?”
“You killed her.”
“Don’t take it out on Joni. She’s amazing.” Hutch trailed a finger down Starsky’s back. “Got you laid, didn’t she?”
Starsky shivered at the intimacy of the touch. How the hell did Hutch do that? He tried not to succumb to the desire to move down between Hutch’s legs and see how fast he could start round two, so instead he picked a fight.
“I got laid despite her. Sounds like a cat caught in a chimney most of the time.”
“You have no ear for music.”
“Oh, I got ears. My ears are exhausted from that damn album. Wish I never bought it for you.”
Hutch stopped moving. Starsky could almost hear him count to ten. He wondered if he had gone too far. Starsky had given Hutch Court and Spark on the day he was released from the hospital after he had been trapped in the ravine. During one late night during his recovery, when the pain medication had made him a little loopy, Hutch told him that the only thing that had kept him sane on that hillside was Free Man in Paris, which he swore some obscure radio station kept playing over and over all night long.
The next day Starsky went out and bought the album, took it home and listened to that song. “I felt unfettered and alive, nobody was calling me up for favors, and no one’s future to decide . . .” He understood then. Hutch. Himself. Them. Hell, what the fuck was he doing?
“I don’t mean it.” Starsky lifted his head to look into Hutch’s face. “Really. You know.”
Hutch sighed. “I used to know. Now? Toss-up, what I know.”
Starsky reluctantly peeled himself away from Hutch’s warmth. It was over. The world they kept at bay with their lust always came hurtling back too soon. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Usually this is when it started. The fight which led to one of them storming out, leaving everything unresolved, unraveling another bit of their relationship, shredding another piece of his heart – their hearts. Fuck if it was going to happen again. Somebody had to be the grownup. He wouldn’t have ever guessed it would finally be him.
He slowly picked himself off the floor, using Hutch’s shoulder as balance while he shrugged his jeans back over his hips. He stood and walked over to the stereo, rescued the needle from the edge of the album and gently laid it back on the first groove. The crackling silence was soon replaced by Joni’s soaring voice. “Everything comes and goes. . .”
Hutch rolled out from the couch and stood. He tugged his shorts back on, ran a hand through his hair. Starsky could feel his eyes on his back as he walked towards the bedroom. He trailed his arm behind him and smiled when he felt Hutch catch his hand, catching up as they tumbled onto the bed.
They made love. Slowly. Carefully. Joni’s voice poured over them, liquid and languid and finally, the words they had both been so afraid to say filled the room, healed the cracks, sealed their souls.
“It seemed like he read my mind.
He saw me mistrusting him
and still acting kind.
He saw how I worried sometimes
I worry sometimes . . .”
They stared at each other, knowing the truth, trusting the moment. Neither one thinking past the end of side one.
It stopped being about fucking. About anger and orgasm. About trying to make sense of the last few months of their lives. Months that had seen them go from partners and soul mates to strangers and fuck buddies. Months of regret, recriminations, of Starsky running from the truth, of Hutch wallowing in it. The ball of shit finally rolled to a stop when Hutch, after sniping with Starsky one morning, snapped completely in two and took it out on Jeeters, their unreliable, but harmless snitch. Sent him to the hospital, bloody. Sent Hutch to the shrink, who recommended suspension.
After he was reinstated, Hutch took a vacation day. And then another. And then a week. Starsky grew angry, resentful. They fucked each other senseless, but exchanged only a handful of sentences. It was like Starsky was looking at a negative of their lives. Everything was backwards.
But now, something felt different. Each touch held no rancor, just a caress. When Starsky took him in his mouth, Hutch lay still under him, stroking Starsky’s hair. Starsky reached up and took Hutch’s hand, twining their fingers together. They never let go. Hutch came slowly, breathing Starsky’s name in a prayer.
Starsky climbed up Hutch’s chest, as Hutch took Starsky in his hand and coaxed him to the edge.
“Open your eyes.” Not a demand, just a request. Starsky came, eyes locked with Hutch’s as the concord of their bodies finally made them whole. Again.
They lay side by side, hand still clasped, legs entwined.
“. . . I cleared myself,
I sacrificed my blues,
and you could complete me,
I’d complete you.
His eyes were the color of the sand
and the sea,
and the more he talked to me,
the more he reached me. . .”
“Talk to me.” Starsky turned on his side to face Hutch. And the future.
“So you are listening to her.”
“Yeah, she’s okay.”
“Okay.” Hutch rubbed his free hand over his eyes.
Starsky lifted himself to an elbow so he could get a better look. Make sure Hutch wasn’t retreating back to the dark cave. He was rewarded by a grin he didn’t even know he needed.
“You’re beautiful.” Starsky said, and quickly grimaced. He didn’t want to sound like a gushing sap. Jesus. He was turning into a gushing sap. Terrific.
Hutch reached up and ran a finger over his eyebrow. “Why the frown?”
“Nothing. You’re beautiful, you know.”
“You know? How do you know?”
“You just told me. And I believe everything you say.”
Starsky fell back against the pillow, chuckling. It felt good. Finally.
“I’ll remember that, buddy.”
“I wish you would.” Hutch rolled over and they were suddenly face to face. “Because I do.”
“Are we finally gonna talk about this?”
“You. This. Us.”
“What’s to say?”
Starsky felt a twinge. He refused to let Hutch bait him into anger. He was the grownup now.
“Plenty. Haven’t even talked about Jeeters yet.”
“Nothing to say about Jeeters. I fucked up.” Hutch moved away, just a bit.
“Yeah, that part’s real clear. Saw him the other day. Flipped me off.”
“Guilt by association.” Hutch trailed a finger down Starsky’s arm. “Sorry.”
“I don’t give a fuck about Jeeters. Just you.”
“You give me plenty of fucks.”
“That’s the other part we need to talk about.”
Hutch moved away another inch. “It ain’t about talking.”
“Want me to?”
“No – yes – I don’t know.” Starsky flung himself against the pillows again. “Damn – you don’t make anything easy, you know that?”
“Oh, I’m easy.”
“And hard.” Starsky gave in and tossed back the pun. “You’re plenty hard.”
Hutch chuckled. Squeezed Starsky’s hand. Sighed. When he finally spoke, it was barely above a whisper. “I’m scared.”
Starsky didn’t move. Held his breath. Didn’t want to distract Hutch. He had finally said something that made sense.
“Fucking scared. I lost it. Just fucking lost it. I could have killed him.” Hutch let go of Starsky’s hand and rubbed his face. He untangled his legs, swung them around and sat on the edge of the bed. Starsky didn’t move. Just laid his hand on Hutch’s back, felt the tension in every muscle.
“I don’t know what to do, Starsk. I’m a fucking mess. And just when you – when we – when I – it’s just a fucking mess.”
Starsky sat up, scooted over and wrapped his arms around Hutch. Hutch stiffened and then eased back into Starsky’s chest. “How can this feel so good and the rest of it feel like . . . like I’m dyin?”
“You’re not dying,” Starsky whispered into Hutch’s hair. “Ain’t no way I’m gonna let you die.”
“You got that kind of power?”
“Course. Love is a powerful thing.” Starsky grimaced again. Damn loose lips.
Hutch froze. Joni wailed.
“. . . I think I’m falling
in love with you.
Are you going to let me go there by myself,
that’s such a lonely thing to do . . .”
“Jesus, is she in here with us or what?” Starsky wished he had tossed that stereo out the window when he had the chance.
Hutch took Starsky’s hand and laid it on his heart. “Nobody in here but me and you.”
“You saying you’re letting me in?”
“You don’t know what you’re asking.”
“If you’re afraid I’ll finally discover you are the biggest pain in the ass I’ve ever known, too late.”
“I’m a mess.”
“And a pain in the ass, and a control freak, and a pompous prick – but I’ll get over it.”
Starsky slid down around Hutch and faced him. “It ain’t ever gonna work if you don’t trust me.”
“I trust you. How can you say I don’t trust you?”
“Then let me in. All the way.”
Hutch closed his eyes. When he opened them, Starsky saw a glimpse of someone resembling his partner. Hutch pulled him close. He wrapped his arms around Hutch’s neck; felt the familiar warmth spread through his chest down to his groin. He pulled back a moment, looked in Hutch’s eyes, saw his eyebrow arch, his lips curl, the world realign in the space of a smile.
“You know,” he growled into Hutch’s ear. “You put on some real music, I’ll suck your dick.”
“Not if you ever want to fuck me again.”
“Now that’s just mean.”
Hutch shrugged out of Starsky’s arms and headed for the stereo. “Starsky, you are in for a special treat. I think I’m gonna get real lucky.” He took the album out of the sleeve, slipped it on the spindle, and gently laid the needle in the groove.