She only came out when she needed the reassurance of Starsky’s well-being. Hutch should have expected it, really, when Starsky was finally released from the hospital. As Hutch passed Ollie, he felt a familiar sensation, like cool silk settling over his body.
He became a spectator as his body turned from the bookcase and made its way back to Starsky.
“You know,” she said in Hutch’s voice, “those bruises actually go nicely with your complexion.”
“Thanks,” Starsky said with a scowl, “feeling real loved here.”
He sat on the couch, his foot propped on a pillow. It hadn’t been life threatening, but it had been a long wait for a doctor to take a look at it. He’d be on desk duty for a couple months.
She sat down next to Starsky and pulled a foot up. “Here,” she said, patting her lap.
Starsky looked her up and down. “What’s gotten into that blond head of yours?”
“Oh, just lay down, will you?”
Starsky eventually did. She ran a hand over his hair, her fingers teasing the ends. “You can put on anything you want. Even one of those terrible B horror films.”
“Really?” The excitement in his voice mixed with skepticism. If Hutch could laugh, he would.
She laughed instead. “Yes. Just this once.”
Starsky eagerly grabbed the remote and flipped through the channels.
They stayed like that throughout the movie. She kept stroking his hair. Starsky made happy little noises and off color comments about the movie, to which she replied with equal humor. Hutch was just there.
When the movie ended, Starsky began to shift.
Hutch felt the panic like it was his own. “Just a few more minutes, okay? Please?”
Starsky gave Hutch a curious look, but he half shrugged and stayed where he was. She placed a hand on his chest. After a moment, Starsky took it in his own.
“I know you’re fine,” she said, softly, “but I worry.”
“You’re gonna worry your way into gray hairs that way, Hutch.”
She smiled down at Starsky.
The minutes passed, a few more words were exchanged. It was all too short. It was all too unfair. Then Hutch felt the silky veil slowly lift. He was left as himself, Starsky’s head in his lap, hand in Starsky’s, with a faint impression of love and gratitude.
“Yeah?” He met Starsky’s eye.
“I’m not.” But then Hutch felt the sting of tears in his eyes. He pulled his hand free and rubbed at them. “Get up. My leg’s cramping.”
“Hey!” Starsky loudly protested as Hutch shoved him up and slid out. WIth a pout, Starsky grabbed a pillow and pulled it to his chest. He glared at Hutch. “You’re the one who wanted to play house.”
Hutch felt amusement that wasn’t his. He looked toward Ollie’s place on the shelf.
“You know, Starsk, maybe if you didn’t act like an overgrown kid-”
The pillow landed smack dab in his face.
Unheard, Terry laughed.