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Starsky's Man

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So I realized today it was him I love, not her.

That sounds terrible. It's not that I don’t love her. That I didn't love her.

I loved her because she was beautiful, and sweet, and kind. Because she was smart, and selfless, and compassionate. And because she understood what he means to me. And she loved him too, like a brother. How could she not love him?

After all, she trusted him to take care of me after she was gone.

But I love him in a different way. A way I could never love her. A way I could never love anyone other than him.

You see, I LOVE him. I’m IN love with him. I’m CRAZY about him, to be honest. That’s what I realized today. I always have been, always will be. That’s the bottom line.

I was thinking today, about that day last month at the school.

The day I almost got in an argument with her. The day I got defensive. I didn’t mean to, because she didn’t mean it that way. And I should have known that. But I didn’t. I also didn’t know she would be shot in the head that night. There were a lot of things I didn’t know then.

When she said “Promises, promises, promises.” That’s when it happened. When I lost my cool. I’ve never done anything like that with him.

I realized I spent our entire conversation looking at HIM.

Talking about HIM.

“It’s the only time he gets to relax,” I told her. I didn’t even look at her when I said it, because I was watching him play basketball with her kids.

Rationalizing the need for all our recent late-night stakeouts. Blaming it on the criminals. They were only robbing liquor stores, but I rationalized the hell out of them. And I still kept my eyes on him as I said those things to her.

Even the kids love him. One of them put his arm around Blintz’ waist and held his hand. It was sweet. And he’s really terrific with kids. Has a natural rapport with them. It’s just one of the million and one things I love about the big lummox.

I called him a big blond blintz, that day on the playground.

I realized I have a lot of nicknames for him.

But I never had any for her.

She called me her best friend and I said nothing in return. Didn’t even acknowledge her sentiment with a nod or a smile. Because I can only have one best friend and that spot’s already taken. Right here, in my heart. So, instead, I asked her to marry me.

I told him he was “the best friend I got in the whole world” and I meant it. Still do. No one else can ever be what he is to me.

I call him: Big blond blintz. Beautiful. Big blond beauty. Blondie. Blue eyes. My golden boy.

I tell him his eyes are beautiful when he’s angry.

Sounds like flirting, doesn’t it?

I’ve come up with more terms of endearment for him than for all the women I’ve ever dated put together.

He’s never said the same about me. He calls me cheeky things like Gordo, Moron, and Dirtball; not endearing names like Curly, for example. If his hair was curly, that’s what I’d call him. He called me a dip. Said he doesn’t think I’m cute. But that’s just his way.

But I know he’s in love with me too.

I know because of the way he looks at me. How he leans his head close to mine when I’m feeling down. When he held my hand in the morgue and offered me his coffee. When he held my hand in the squad room that time.

How he protested that he didn’t want to dance with me but then he did anyway. How he put his arm around me in Dobey’s office when Ginger walked in, and left it there, like he was claiming me as his. How he looked into my eyes after I dipped him, letting me hold him.

I know because of the way he smiled and fell into my arms, when I helped him down from the top of the wall. He trusted I could hold all his weight, and I did.

I know he’s in love with me, because he feels safe with me. He knows he can vent his frustrations and rant to his heart’s content. He knows he can have temper tantrums six ways ‘til Sunday and I’ll still be there for him and I’ll always put up with him.

How he helps himself to a bite of my meatloaf and grabs my sandwich right out of my hand. Or an apple from my mouth. Or throws my lunch in the trash. He doesn’t do that with anyone else. Not even Dobey or Huggy. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. But he shares his beer and coffee with me because he’s not really as mean as you think he is.

I know he’s in love with me, because he laughs at me when I’m humiliated but then eats pie off my face. No one else would do that.

He phones me late at night when he needs me. And goes to me late at night when I need him. He calls my jeans “crummy” and we bicker like an old married couple.

He was even willing to follow me when I thought about quitting the force. He would have gone wherever I wanted to go, even to Canada. He laughed at me when I mentioned South America, but he would go there with me too, if I asked him.

And I would do the same for him, if it ever comes to that.

He sat with me on the floor of my kitchen at midnight, and we both cried.

I let him drive my car. Only him, never anyone else. And he hates my car. Calls it a “striped tomato.” Insults me by saying it’s red. It’s not red. It’s candy-apple red. But he knew I was too upset to drive after the doctor gave me the bad news about her prognosis. When she wouldn’t tell me the news herself, which upset me even more.

And when I confided in him that I was scared, he didn’t try to downplay it or tell me the doctors were wrong. He simply said, “I know.” Because he knows exactly how to support me when I’m at my lowest.

So he drove us home, to HIS place (our place), to get some sleep. He had spent all night interviewing witnesses and working on the case, and when I finally saw him walking down that hospital hallway, it was like I could breathe again. I couldn't help it; I smiled when I saw him and felt reassured when he put his hand on my arm. When I said “Hi,” I heard the tone in my voice. I sounded like a teenage boy meeting his first crush.

We call each other: friend; buddy; pal; boy; babe. We call each other partner.

When I found him at the bottom of that ravine, I held his face in my hands, looked into his eyes, and said “We made it, partner.” I could have melted in his arms, if the circumstances had been different that day.

I bought him a new car, just like his old one. Even though I hated that car. I even arranged for the horn to blare whenever he opened the driver’s side door. Even though it made such a racket that I couldn’t think straight. I had to pay Merl extra for that. But it was worth it to see him happy. He’s worth any price.

He told me he loved me. Not that I didn’t already know. But when he actually SAID it, though……

When he sat on that motorcycle and looked into my eyes, he said “This one’s ours, partner.” I could have melted in his arms, if the circumstances had been different that day.

Even if I had married her, if she had said yes, which she didn’t, he would always be my number one. Always foremost in my heart. Always occupying my thoughts first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Always him. Only him.