Huggy felt perversely pleased at the sight of Starsky sitting at the bar only three days after their confrontation. Equal parts relief and triumph sort of mingled within him. Had Starsky come looking for sex, Huggy would have had trouble controlling whatever might roll off of his tongue. Information, he could handle. Of course, that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t make Starsky sweat a bit for it.
“If you’re waitin’ on me I’ll be in the back booth.”
Huggy didn’t let his gaze linger, though a part of him itched to turn and see whatever look might cross Starsky’s countenance.
“There are worse things than being seen with me.” Bait that Huggy wouldn’t rise to.
“And better. So let’s leave well enough alone. You look weird.”
“What do you mean?”
“A little lopsided. I know; a Starsky without a Hutch is like the pig without the pork. How is the police department’s number one beach boy?”
A little mean, but it was for Starsky’s own good. That’s what Huggy told himself, at least.
“Guarding a dancer’s body and liking it less than spit.”
Starsky’s gaze didn’t waver, and Huggy had to hand it to him; he sold it well.
“You’re crude; you know that?” It was a risk, exposing his thinking like this. Still less of a risk than letting loose.
“So I’ve been told.” If Huggy didn’t know him so well, he would have missed the fact that the flippancy was feigned, that Starsky was buying a little time with a long drink of beer.
“Now, down to business.”
“I thought you were my friend?” The sarcasm wouldn’t be missed by anyone who managed to overhear Huggy, and the mild disdain would be clear to the man sitting across from him.
“Need some help. Friend.”
“Anybody on the street passing out money for muscle at a picket line?”
“You got better ears than I thought, Grandma.”
“Two thugs hired for a demo tonight at the….”
“Keep this up and you’re gonna put Huggy out of business.” Anyone eavesdropping would have missed the double entendre, but nothing was lost on Starsky, whose expression shifted just slightly at the reminder that Huggy had declared closing time, permanently, on their trysts.
“I gotta know who’s doing the hiring.”
“Who’s doing the picketing?”
“Don’t play detective.”
“Perish the thought.” It was a nice turn of phrase, Huggy thought. Much more discreet than bitterly reassuring Starsky that, though he had scrounged up enough dignity to stop being Starsky’s fuck toy, he had no ambitions to step further out of line and become more than his snitch.
“Jewish organization for action.”
“I suggest you check out the desert people.”
“You’re a lotta help.”
“Only because you caught me on a good day. Don’t call me on a bad one.” He’d probably never been more honest with Starsky.
The message seemed to take. “Perish the thought.”
Huggy waited until he figured Starsky had made his way out of the bar before letting out a long, slow breath. He had a feeling he’d just won a battle, but he wasn’t naïve enough to think it’d be the last one.