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It was early. Hutch was used to being up before Starsky. He got dressed, quietly, so as not to awaken anyone. He crept out of the house and began jogging on the beach. The sun was peeking over the horizon. He loved jogging at this time of the day. The air was cool and clear. The mist, from the waves felt good on his face. And he was usually the only one on the beach this early.

He thought about yesterday. He thought about how lost he would’ve been if things had turned out differently. If he had lost Starsky… He shut down that chain of thoughts. He hadn’t lost him or Rachel. He sent up some silent prayers of thanksgiving and praise. After that he lost himself in the rhythm of jogging on the beach.

As he was nearing their house on his return path, he smiled. He hoped Rachel would decide to move to California. Starsky and he would both feel better having her close. He’d have to throw in with his lover in trying to convince her.

He walked the last distance, allowing his body to cool down. He didn’t want to walk into the house huffing and puffing and possibly waking up the others. As he walked into the house, he saw they were still sleeping, so he walked quietly into the guest bath and showered. He put on one of the robes hanging on the back of the door and went into their bedroom, still being as quiet as he could. He pulled on a new pair of shorts.

Chucking to himself, he noticed Starsky’s suitcase sitting by the wall, open, with clothing spilling out of it. He walked over and started picking up pieces he thought were in need of washing. He also picked up his and Starsky’s clothes from the day before. Adding his jogging shorts and shirt, he carried the bundle to the laundry room.

Piling everything on the top of the dryer, he started going through pockets before dropping a piece into the washing machine. He had collected sixty five cents, two mints and Starsky’s keys when he picked up the jacket his lover had been wearing on the flight back yesterday.

He checked both pockets and found Starsky’s notebook and pencil. He dropped the jacket into the washer, closed the lid and started the cycle. When he tossed the notebook on the top of the dryer, it missed and fell to the floor. It fell open as it hit. Hutch leaned down and picked it up, noticing that Starsky had written something in it. He saw his name and paused in closing the cover to read what had been written there.

*****

“Hutch! Hey, Hutch?” Starsky stepped into the laundry room and saw Hutch sitting on the floor, leaning back against the washing machine. His head was thrown back, his eyes closed, and he had tears running down his face. “Hutch! What‘s wrong, babe?!” He fell to his knees beside Hutch, and reached out to take his shoulders in his hands. “Talk to me. Did you fall? Are you hurt?”

Opening his eyes, Hutch looked at Starsky and handed him the notebook. He swallowed a couple of times, wiped his face, and said, “I… I… I love you, too, Starsk. For the same reasons. And more.” He reached out and pulled Starsky onto his lap, hugging him tight. He lowered his face and rested it against Starsky’s neck. He placed a kiss there, and just sat still, holding Starsky. He whispered something.

“What did you say, Hutch?” Starsky tried to pull back, but Hutch just tightened his arms more, holding him firmly in place.

“I said. ‘I am so grateful that you are here, in my lap… that I still have you, today’.”

“Ahhh, Hutch.” Starsky patted Hutch’s shoulder. “You DO have me today.” He paused and continued, “And you had me… several times last night.” He waited for that to sink in.

Hutch froze when he heard his partner. He gathered himself, stood up with Starsky in his arms and headed out the back doors, leading to the beach.

Laughing, Starsky tried to get out of Hutch’s arms, but Hutch had too firm a grip on him.

Hutch walked to the edge of the ocean and waited for a large incoming wave. When it was close enough, he dumped Starsky, unceremoniously, in it. He walked back up on the sand, and stood there, scowling at his, now drenched, lover.

They began to chase each other up and down the beach. When one caught the other, that one was tossed in the ocean, and the game started all over. They were laughing, and kissing, and enjoying being alive.

Rachel was laughing, too, as she watched her boys play, from the deck.