The thing about Starsky was that he was good at putting things off that he really should have been dealing with. He could deal with a gun in his face, he could deal with a fist going through the wall next to his head, he could deal with everything that came at him. He knew how to duck, how to dodge, how to throw punches.
He knew how to deal with something coming at him. He couldn’t avoid dealing with bullets flying at him. When a situation was on hand, he not only had to confront it, he was good at resolving it. Usually, anyway.
But, things that he had to deal with that didn’t put him in immediate danger? That was something he could sweep into a back corner. That was something he could push to the backburner and deal with when it was more convenient.
One time when he was a little boy he had torn his shirt while climbing a tree at his grandparents’ house. It was just a small hole, but he didn’t want to bother his grandmother to fix it. It would be okay. It wasn’t that noticeable anyway. There were more trees to climb, there was more to explore, there was so much more he wanted to do. But, it was also his favorite shirt. So instead of putting it back in the closet where it would stay safely until he could fix it, he would keep wearing it until he was ready to ask for help fixing it.
By the end of summer, his favorite shirt had a hole in it that was definitely not small enough to go unnoticed. His grandmother asked him why he didn’t ask for her help sooner. It would have been easier to fix if he would have done something right away. Starsky simply shrugged. He had forgotten about it. There were more important things he wanted to do than sit and deal with an insignificant problem, even if the insignificant problem involved his favorite shirt.
He had never fallen in love with a man. He never would. He wasn’t a queer. He wasn’t ever going to be queer. Some people were. But he wasn’t some people. Sure, he had sometimes thought in the back of his mind that there were some guys who were definitely cute enough to kiss, those were normal thoughts. Everybody felt them. The thing was, some people were just better at avoiding them than others. Thinking someone was kissable didn’t make you queer. Starsky wasn’t gay. He never was. He never would be. He wouldn’t let himself be gay. He wouldn’t even let himself think about being gay.
That was before he met Hutch. That was before he met his partner. That was before he had spent countless days with him in the line of duty. In the line of duty, and simply spending time with him off duty. He had had best friends before. But never anybody like Hutch. Never anyone where he felt a sting in his heart whenever he thought he might lose him. Never anyone who could make him laugh, smile, and simply feel okay just by being… them. Hutch could do that. Hutch could just be Hutch and suddenly everything would be okay. And if it wasn’t okay? Hutch made it feel like everything would be okay. Even if everything was going to hell, at least they would be going through it together. And being together was all that mattered.
He loved Hutch. He loved his laugh, he loved his smile, he loved his blue eyes, his blond hair, hell he loved everything about him. But he only loved him as a friend. Well, that’s what he kept telling himself. Besides, even if he did confess he might be in love with Hutch, how would Hutch take it? Hutch was accepting of things. But would he accept him? He couldn’t bear to think if maybe Hutch would suddenly want another partner. It would be understandable. If Hutch suddenly told him that he was in love with him… hell, if he was going to be honest with himself that was exactly what he wanted. But, Hutch wasn’t gay. And neither was he. So it didn’t really matter did it? Hutch was just his best friend. His best friend who he would want to die if something happened to him. His best friend who he got jealous of every time Hutch kissed a girl, and a part of him wished it was him. Not that he would ever admit, or realize, it was jealously. And he would definitely never admit he wanted Hutch to kiss him.
And then Christmas happened. They spent it together. They had worked the day before, so there wasn’t time to go home to family, (Starsky promised his mom he would see her when he could), but they had the actual day off. They both went to Starsky’s house and Hutch flopped onto his couch, turning on the TV as Starsky made hot chocolate.
“Did you ever stop to think you have a menorah and a Christmas tree at the same time?”
“Got a problem with it?” Starsky asked as he handed Hutch a mug of hot chocolate and sat down next to him.
“Can’t say I do.” He laughed and took a sip of his drink. “Good!” He held up the mug.
“Thanks,” he grinned, turning so he was laying longways on the couch, his feet in Hutch’s lap.
“What? My shoes are off!”
“You’re insufferable, you know that?”
Starsky stuck his tongue out at him. “Hey, Frosty the Snowman is on! Go back to that channel!”
“Starsky, cartoons really?” He rolled his eyes but went back to the station anyway.
“Hey you got any marshmallows?”
“Hutch! Those ain’t kosher!”
“You,” Hutch shook his head with a laugh, “Starsky you ate a cheeseburger yesterday is that really a valid excuse?”
“It is, considering I don’t like marshmallows.”
Hutch let out a bark of laughter.
When Frosty finished, Hutch pushed Starsky’s feet off his lap and stood up.
“Where do you think you’re going?!”
“To find food, what you think?”
Starsky jumped up and followed him, carrying his empty mug with him. “Make me something!”
“Starsk, what’s that?” He nodded upwards at the door frame.
“Mistletoe, what did you think it was?”
“Just double checking.”
Hutch leaned down and left a quick peck on his lips.
Starsky dropped his cup.
“I,” Hutch faltered, “I’m sorry I didn’t think you’d min-”
“Do that again.”
Hutch raised an eyebrow then captured Starsky’s lips in his again, his arm encircling Starsky’s waist and pulling him closer, the kiss deepening.
Starsky broke the kiss, his need for air overpowering everything else.
“Why did you kiss me?” Starsky whispered.
“You,” Hutch faltered again, “you asked me to?”
“The first time.”
“There was mistletoe?”
“You could have ignored it.”
“Starsky, I’ve been wanting to kiss you for quite a few years now.”
“You,” Starsky let his legs slide down underneath him, sitting cross-legged on the floor. “What?” He couldn’t avoid dealing with his feelings now. The shirt was torn enough he had to do something.
“Here I thought I was being obvious.” Hutch said with a laugh, sitting down gently next to him.
“Starsky, I’m pretty sure I’ve held your hand and hugged you more than any woman I’ve known.”
“But, why didn’t you tell me?”
“That I was holding your hand?”
“I thought you were just being friendly.”
“We’ve fallen asleep in each other’s arms on both of our couches.”
“We were tired!” Starsky shot back.
“Starsk,” Hutch suddenly felt a sinking in the pit of his stomach, maybe his feelings wern’t mutual. “Starsk, if I knew the kiss was going to upset you that much, I wouldn’t have, I just thought, I… when you asked me to kiss you I just thought…”
“What? What that I had feelings for you also?! Feelings other than friendship? I’m not a queer Hutch. I didn’t think you were either.” Starsky gritted his teeth as he said queer. “I just wondered what would happen if I asked you to kiss me again.”
“I, Starsk, I…” Hutch felt a burning in his chest. This wasn’t going the way he had hoped. He had kissed him under the mistletoe in hopes that Starsky would either take it as a funny gag or he would want to kiss him back. Either way there wouldn't be no feelings hurt. That’s what he had hoped.
Starsky wondered why this was suddenly harder to face than bullets spraying towards him. “Hutch, are you gay?” There was venom in his voice he didn’t exactly mean to direct towards Hutch.
“Would it matter if I was?”
“Wasn’t the question, Hutch.”
“I like guys, yes! If that’s what you’re asking.”
“What about girls?”
“I like both Starsk.” his voice was quiet. Almost a whisper. Almost a tear-filled whisper.
Starsky clutched a fist in his lap. Hutch watched him with questioning eyes.
“Starsk?” Please, don’t be mad at me.
“Hutch, how did you know you liked guys?”
“What?” he was startled by the question, that was something he didn’t expect.
“How did you know you liked guys?”
“I, I just knew? How do you know you’re attracted to girls?”
Starsky sat staring at his lap for what seemed like an eternity until he finally said in a whisper, “I don’t know if I am or not.”
“I’m not gay, Hutch. I’m not. I, I just don’t really know if I like being with girls all that much.”
“You don’t have to be with girls if you don’t like it.”
“Who would I be with then?”
Hutch wanted to say Me. Please, be with me. But he bit his tongue and kept silent.
“You? You don’t want me.” Hutch’s confession of love earlier had to be a joke. A cruel, cruel joke. Why would Hutch be in love with him?
Yes, I do. He couldn’t say it out loud. He couldn’t. He already tried that once tonight and-
“What do you mean you do?”
Shit, I said that out loud didn’t I. “Starsky, I don’t know any other way to tell you that I haven’t already. I love you. I love you more than anyone else in the world and every time I thought I’d lose you I was already planning which death would be the most painless.”
“You’d want to die if I died?”
Hutch just looked at him and nodded. And all Starsky could think of was how beautiful and blue Hutch’s eyes looked, and how his hair was so damn blond and-
“Starsky, I love you.”
If it was any other conversation Starsky would have said I love you just like that. But right now it held a different meaning. Right now, the hole in his favorite shirt was getting bigger. Right now, the ache in his chest was growing stronger. Now he had to deal with the problem, but that was the last thing he wanted to do.
Hutch stood up. Maybe he should leave. He didn’t want to leave, but the way Starsky was currently staring daggers into his lap maybe he should. He knew Starsky wouldn’t punch him but the fist currently balled in his lap didn’t look none too friendly.
“Where are you going?”
Hutch’s back was to him and he let his shoulders slump. “Where are you supposed to go when you realize confessing your love was probably the stupidest thing to do? I’m sorry Starsky. I didn’t mean to make you upset.”
“Hutch, I think I love you.” His voice was so soft Hutch almost didn’t hear him.
He turned to face him, Starsky’s head was still down staring into his lap. “What?”
“I said, I think I love you.”
Hutch slid back down to the floor.
“Please, don’t leave.” Starsky looked up and met his eyes with his own fear-filled, confused eyes.
“So you’re gay huh?”
“Bisexual, actually. I do like girls. I won’t deny that.”
“Maybe I do too. I don’t know if I do, I,”
“Do you make yourself like them?”
Starsky stared back in his lap. “I don’t know.”
“Hey, it’s okay. We can figure this out together. Besides, maybe it doesn’t matter if you like girls or not.” Hutch had a twinkle in his eyes and he raised Starsky’s chin to look him in the eyes.
“Because, I can be the jealous lover, believe it or not.” Hutch grinned.
“You really do love me?” Hutch hadn’t heard or seen Starsky look this scared very often. Which was saying something considering their lives were on the line everyday.
“Oh, Starsky.” his voice was tender and he put his arms around him and pulled him in for a hug. “I don’t think I could love someone more.”
Starsky managed to collapse further into the hug and Hutch’s embrace.
“Please, don’t leave.” He mumbled into his chest. If he wasn’t careful he was going to start crying. Imagine how that would make him look.
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
“Is it too late to wish you a happy Hanukah?”
“Only if it’s too late to finally say that I love you.”
Hutch pulled him in tighter and placed a kiss on top of his curly hair. “I love you, Starsk.”
“I,” Starsky wrapped his arms around Hutch and pulled him in even closer, “I love you, Hutch.”
“It’s going to be alright.” We’re together and it doesn’t matter what we’re going through. Just as long as it’s together.
“I know.” It’s going to be okay only because you’re here.