Starsky pushed the remaining two slices of pizza back across the table, and cracked a yawn so wide and deep Hutch half expected his face to unhinge.
"Admitting defeat there, partner?" Hutch was tempted to pounce -- everything tasted so damn good now that he was out and allowed real food again.
"Too tired to chew." He ran a hand through his curls, as if to tug them off and smiled ruefully across the table. "Gonna go home and sleep for a century, Hutch."
"Well, Mr Van Winkle, hold that thought a moment while I brew us up one of Huggy's java specials." Hutch paused on his way out the chair. "Okay?"
Fully aware that caffeine was the last thing he needed, and with eyes gritty with tiredness, Starsky was also fully aware he could deny his partner nothing at that precise moment in time. Besides, that knot of dread, which had curled itself up tighter and tighter somewhere under his ribcage since the lunatic hunt for Callender, was still not completely loose. Maybe something as mundane as coffee in Hutch's kitchen would do the trick.
"'Kay," He stretched and cracked something back into place, the smile and the knee pat he got in return telling him his effort was gratefully recognized.
As Hutch headed for the kitchen alcove, he could feel the bounce in his step at the prospect of the filter coffee he had been looking forward to for the last three hospital days. Is this what it was going to be like from now on, he wondered, as he took the coffee pot down from the shelf, and moved to the sink to wash it out. Such glee at the little things of life? He almost laughed aloud at the thought of what a permenantly sunny Hutch would do to his partner.
His partner. Hutch knew he should have let him go; he knew with a twinge of guilt how bone-tired Starsky was. Thing was, this zing inside him could not quite let Starsky out of his sight yet. Maybe a shared coffee in his kitchen would have the desired effect.
"Crash here tonight, Starsk," Hutch raised his voice to be heard above the water running into the sink. "Planning a blueberry pancake breakfast extravaganza which you'll--"
The end of the sentence never made it out of his mouth. Barely had he turned the water off when the footsteps he hadn't heard come up behind him materialized into a pair of arms going round him from behind, one over and down his right shoulder, the other pinning his left arm where it was.
For a heartbeat nothing moved.
Hutch opened his mouth. He heard the hitch in the breathing at his back and knew, without a shadow of doubt, that exhaustion and gratitude had all but shredded his partner's composure. Not even the cowboy boots and the lipstick had been as fragile and strong a moment as this..
Hutch clicked his jaw shut hard, and for once in his sarcastic life, he let the moment be. He let his partner absorb the physical space that he, Hutch, still possessed, with hands now quietly resting on a wet coffee pot. He let his partner slowly realign to coffee in the kitchen. He let his partner feel his own heart beating its grateful thank-you, thank-you, thank-you through the layers of clothing somewhere under Starsky's left hand.
"Night," the voice behind him was rough, as with a final squeeze Starsky stepped away. But Hutch had caught the sense of peace in it and didn’t turn.
Blinking down at the blurred coffee pot, still in his hands, Hutch heard the soft creak of the sofa springs and knew Starsky had never made it to the front door. He smiled.
Azerbeijan be damned. Who needed one hundred and forty years there when only three extra days of his life here meant this much?