Hutch couldn't, still trying to absorb what had just happened, his mind a wheel spinning from implication to implication, unable to fix on any. He lay on one side, looking down at his best friend, his partner and now, incredibly, his lover.
With his track record, he wasn't sure what right he had had to move toward Starsky last night and initiate that first, astounding kiss. His body had done it without permission from his mind, which now kept spinning, spinning, fear laying its hand on the wheel and keeping it turning. If I hurt him like I hurt the others....
His eyes traveled to Starsky's face, the improbably long lashes on the lids that hid ocean blue depths, the proud arc of the mouth that was, for once, tightly sealed. He let himself feast his glance there before moving on to the scarred chest; his eyes skittered away from the terrible keepsakes.
Hutch noticed that Starsky's hands were clenched into fists, the one
tucked up close by the pillow, the other curled tightly, pressed against the mattress by his belly, protecting. Life had injured his partner in so many ways, taking his father away when he was still so young; uprooting him and sending him to California. His losses were great. Helen, Terry. His health, thanks to Gunther. The fists were a reminder; they were poised as if ready to fend off further blows.
How was it that he had trusted Hutch, of all people, not to hurt him next?
Hutch took a breath, and sighed his partner's name, "Oh, Starsky."
Starsky's head moved slightly in his sleep, and Hutch watched, amazed, as one fist loosened into a seeking hand that crept across the space between them to close against Hutch's chest.
Over his heart.
San Francisco, CA