It was hot as hell outside and everyone, everywhere, was feeling the heat. The streets seemed to move slower, people seemed to take up turtle walking as they made their way to work. Even cars seemed to want to get out of the hot road as Starsky and Hutch found out as they headed to work early in the morning. Even without the sun bearing straight down at Bay City, the heat wave was in full effect. Apparently, the two undercover cops didn't get the memo.
The Torino broke down in the middle of the street in the middle of traffic with a few miles still left. Starsky held up his hands over the steering wheel in confusion as the cherry red car spewed out smoke and made a dead stop. His partner, Hutchinson, bit his lower lip.
"That brand new engine of yours, Starsk, it really kicks up a fiery storm," he quipped, stifling his laughter.
Just minutes before, the curly haired detective had bragged about his brand new engine and radio system, which he installed with some help from Merle the Earl. And now, the engine was surrounded by grey smoke that quickly spread as Starsky got out of the Torino, with a scowl towards Hutch, popping open the hood and letting out even more smoke.
"Alright, already!" He yelled at the cars behind him as they continued to blast their annoying horns at him. "Calm yo' horses!"
Hutch exited the vehicle, yelling behind him, "Alright!" He covered his mouth and nose with a rag, coming to stand by Starsky. "How's the brand new engine of yours, partner? Doesn't hold up against the heat too well, it seems."
"Haha," Starsky said mirthlessly. "You should be a comedian."
"I'll tell you what, thought," Hutch replied wiping the back of his hand across his forehead. "It's too damn hot to be testing out your new engine. It's time to make a choice, partner. The tomato - engine, smoke and all - or me!"
They arrived to work a half hour later, having had to push the Torino to the curb whilst not getting run over. It was a miracle they had made it, Hutch thought. Once the car was in a 'secure' location hand picked by Starsky, they took to walking to work. His partner hadn't been to happy about that but Hutch assured him it was good for his health and that, with combined with the heat wave shinning down on them, he might even loose some weight. Not amused, Starsky walked complaining the whole way like his friend knew he would. He had chosen Hutch over the Torino and for that, the complaining was forgiven. They were agreeing to use Hutch's car next time when they arrive to the police department.
"You're car break down again, Hutch?" John Blaine, leaning against the desk sergeant asked as they walked in. Hutch smiled, pointing towards his curly haired companion.
"The tomato broke down mid-street," he told Blaine. "For once, my car is not the one with engine problems."
"It's one of those days," Starsky added with a roll of his eyes. "Where you off to now, John?"
"Got some reports to file but we should get together soon. The wife's been asking 'bout you, Davey. Wants to have you and Hutch over for dinner one of these days and you know how she is? What she wants, she gets. So, how 'bout it?"
"We'll let you know, huh?" Hutch answered. "We have the late shift for most of the week - "
"- But I'm sure if Dobey gets an invite…" Starsky hinted.
Blaine nodded, turning back to the desk sergeant as the two younger men said their goodbyes and headed into the squad room. The way the completed each other sentences sometimes amazed him. Almost like an old married couple, John thought as he looked down at the file in his hand. The Anderson rape case, really? Better get down to it, I guess.
Blaine was in his office running his hands roughly across his face with a sigh. His shift had been over for a while now and yet, with the Anderson case once more fresh in his mind, he didn't know if he would make it home all right. He felt the need to let go. He stood, turning to get his jacket, when a light tapping on his door stopped him. Starsky and Hutch walked in.
"It seems we owe you yet another thanks," Starsky said with a large smile. Hutched leaned against the door frame, his long arm spread in front of him almost touching Starsky. Blaine wondered if he knew he did that; take up a defensive yet relaxed posture when Starsky was around others. He doubted it.
"Ah, no need! I was just-"
"Here comes the spiel, Starsk!" Hutch interrupted. "I was only doing my job, my duty… isn't that right, lieutenant?"
"I was," he replied with a chuckle. "So, what if we got some two-bit punk of the street? It's part of the day's job."
"Always so modest, ain't he?" Hutch said to Starsky.
"How's the car? Did you have to walk whilst on lunch?"
"Yes," both men replied.
"It's his engine," Hutch mumbled loud enough for Starsky and Blaine to hear him. His partner turned to him, affronted, whilst Blaine laughed putting on his jacket and walking to the door. The men moved away, letting their friend pass.
"Where you of to now, lieutenant?" Hutch asked.
"Wanna go out for some drinks out at the ol' watering hole," Starsky asked. "My treat!
Hutch turned to his partner and said, "Oh, this I gotta see!"
They turned to Blaine but the older man shook his head. He had to many things on his mind for drinks. He shook his head, running his hand thought his thinning hair.
"Not tonight, boys. But tell you what? Saturday, my place and we can please the wife and get our bellies full in one swing. Deal?" The two men nodded, smiling to one another and then to Blaine before taking their leave with a good bye. Blaine knew where he had to go now. The Green Parrot.
Blaine was sitting in the bar, harbouring his martini with one hand whilst the other traced the clear glass rim. He had been at the for nearly and hour and still the memories of the Anderson case, having to write up the report once more after being lose in the heaps of paperwork he had, were still fresh on his mind. The poor woman had been beaten, raped, and had begun getting tortured when the police had finally gotten there after hours of screaming from the elderly woman. Blaine blamed her inconsiderate neighbours who had only called the police to lodge a complaint against her.
He had been in the area and had responded hoping it would be just that: a noise complaint. But the world was not a nice place and he, along with three other policemen, found her tied to her couch covered in blood, tears, bruises and cuts from the knife. Her assailant and rapist ran at the first knock on the door, breaking the window in his haste and giving the police a reason to barge in. Good thing too, Gretchen Anderson might have bled to death had they not found her when they had. As it were, she was disoriented and was rushed to the hospital.
She was fine now. Traumatised, yes, but at least her physical wounds were healed and she, with the support of her family in Indiana, could now concentrate on healing herself mentally. Blaine still kept in touch with her even after he'd filed the report, or thought he had filed it. She had reminded him of his mother when, in her blood loss state, she asked if the 'young man' who'd hurt her was all right. And so, he worked extra hard to make the case stick and now, after catching the dumb bastard, the case was over and his report was filed, for real this time. He had to get rid of her from his mind, the sweet old lady.
He felt eyes on him. He continued to nurse his drink, taking a small sip of the liquid to disguise his wanted to look at who was staring at him. Years as a cop had trained him to know when he was being watched and, sitting on a barstool nursing his drink, he saw a young man doing just that. Blaine downed his drink, ordering another one once the bartender turned his way. The performer behind him, some tranny everyone found hilarious said something about a drinking problem just as his drink was put down in front of him and a hand appeared in his line of vision. Blaine downed his martini and turned to the boy at his side.
"Hey…" the boy, looking a day over the drinking age, said. He was smaller than most men here, braver too, Blaine thought, but still just a boy. The older man cocked an eyebrow, not impressed with the boy's nerve. "Buy you a drink?"
"Then buy me one?" Blaine made a vague gesture with his hand and the boy smiled. "Bartender! Scotch and soda for me and my friend here."
He had known the moment he had taken that second sip of Scotch that there was something in it. But he had ignored his instincts, intent on forgetting the Anderson case. The boy at his right was speaking but Blaine barely listened, he could barely sustain himself upright by the time he finished his drink. After a few moments of steadying himself in his seat, he stood throwing a bill on the bar and leaving the young man without another word. But he soon stumbled, his leg catching on the foot of the stool.
He was held upright by two scrawny arms that murmured, "I think you've had too much to drink. I'll take you home, okay."
"I don't pick up just anyone," Blaine murmured to the man.
"Me neither," the man told him. "Doesn't change the fact that you had too much to drink. Let's get you home and you can rest the booze off, huh?"
It sounded more like a command than a question to Blaine. He pushed himself away from the man, ending up smashing into a wall he couldn't see in his drunken vision. The arms returned, wrapping themselves around his waist and pulling his arm up. The young man was helping him, even if he didn't want help. He managed to murmur the address of the hotel where he was staying, getting out the key for it. And then, John Blaine passed out.
Starsky was confused. The day was cooler, the people were back to normal and no longer hotheads and his Torino was back to being in tip-top shape. But he was confused as to why Hutch left out on his own to a crime scene and why Dobey had called him in as well. They were partners and at the moment, he felt like he was missing half of the information. He made his way to up the stairs of a sleazy motel past a few dozen cops who looked like they had been told they had been adopted and their life was a lie.
The crime scene was full of cops with his partner and lady coroner facing one another on opposite sides of a bed. Starsky looked around, not noticing anything unusual and made his way to check the deceased. Hutch stepped in front of him, rubbing the back of his neck with his right hand.
"It's Blaine," Hutch tells him. "Blaine is dead. Suffocated, robbed and possibly drugged."
It was these sorts of cases that made Hutchinson's blood boil. He didn't know why, not really, but it angered him that a diligent, decorated cop could hide something like this for so long and then, in a blink of an eye, let it out into the world and not even be able to defend himself. Hell, the only reason he had found out was because he had asked the owner if he'd seen whom Blaine had come in with before he died.
"A man," the chubby man had replied. "Not even… he was a scrawny fellow. Brought your dead guy all drunk and asked for his room key. The man didn't object so I gave it to him, figured he was a trick."
"Why would you think that?"
"He used to bring back different guys whenever he was here - two or three a week sometimes more. Never a woman," the man told Hutch, "always men."
Blaine had been a cop with a secret to hide. Blaine had been living a double life. He was a loving father and husband; a decorated police officer; and held a yearlong hotel room bringing back random men. Blaine had been gay and now it fell onto Hutch's hands to tell Starsky (who saw the deceased as a father figure) about his secret life. And then, it fell onto both of them to solve his crime and bring his killer to justice whether the killer was black, white, a man or a woman, gay or straight.
It was hard to tell Blaine's wife that her husband of over two decades had been found dead. It was even hard to explain the circumstances. It was even harder to watch the woman get up from her seat and murmured that she had known. Hutch looked on, confused, as his partner process the information, looking up at him with wide eyes. Maggie Blaine faced away from them; staring into the multitude of trophies her now dead husband had gotten over the years. Hutch was, in all sense of the word, confused. She had known that John was gay? She'd known?
"I've known, somewhere deep inside, for a long time," she told them returning to her seat. "Some things are better left unsaid."
"You knew?" Starsky asked. "Why act so surprised then?"
"Don't judge him, Dave," she told him. "John was a good man, no matter what you find out, John was a good man. He was the same man who taught you to wrestle and fight. The same man whose nose you broke with your elbow whilst playing basketball. Don't judge him for what he truly was."
Her eyes drifted to Hutch as she finished, connecting with the detective for a second before getting up and leaving them alone in the living room. She had to explain to her children why daddy wasn't going to come home anymore.
"She knew, Hutch."
"She knew her husband was gay and she did nothing about it."
"What could she do? Lobotomise him?" Hutch asked taking Maggie's now empty seat across Starsky. "It's not a life-choice, you know. It's life. It's part of who you are…"
"Yeah…" Starsky said getting up. "Okay."
"I mean it really blows my mind," Starsky began. "I always thought of John and Maggie as the perfect couple."
"His being gay doesn't change any of the other things he was," Hutch said as he drove.
"Yeah but how can anyone live that life with-" Starsky stopped.
"I mean, we were really close," Starsky told Hutch, a tint of naivety coming through in his voice. "How could he have been close without me knowing it?"
"Well, how would you have felt if he had told you?"
"I don't know," Starsky finally replied.
"That's probably why he stayed in the closet," Hutch told him.
Starsky looked at his partner long and hard. That was an odd choice of words that stung. Hutch turned, returning Starsky's gaze and nodded. Something was up with Hutch and Starsky could tell.
Being undercover was easy for Hutch. He had loved the theatrics of it all, having to maintain a cover, tweak it and adjust a character to fit the role and the bad guy. It was fascinating. He loved having to dress up, always putting on his best clothes (or worst, as Starsky would argue), and pretending to be someone he wasn't. He had a list as long as his arm of personas he wanted to try.
Granted, a homosexual man in a bar dancing, wasn't on his list. And yet he felt free in this atmosphere. Huggy and Hutch had been dancing for a while. Huggy with a smoke on his lip, his body tense as he bobbed back and forth on his heels. Hutch danced. He was free and he wanted to dance. He wove himself between other dancers, getting groped once or twice. He told himself it was part of the guise, nothing he could do about. He continued to dance, making sure that Corday wasn't hiding anywhere.
He made his way back to Huggy moments before Hunter and Sugar entered the hangout. Show time, he mouthed to Huggy. Dancing, he made his way past Huggy heading towards the bar. A hand tapping him on the cheek lightly stopped him. A man leaning against a wood divider leaned towards him, his eyebrow cocked.
"Dance, cutie?" the man asked.
Hutch smiled, shaking his head sadly. He reached up, patting the man's cheek lovingly and said, "Later, love, I promise." He moved away, a smile on his face.
"Starsk," Hutch said, hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. "Would you consider that, um, a man who spends seventy-five per cent of his time with another man has got certain tendencies?"
"Seventy-five – you mean three-quarters?" Starsky replied without putting his paper down.
Hutch rolled his eyes. "Right."
"Yeah. Sure. Why not?" Starsky sat up, his hand coming up to Hutch's shoulder to pull himself upright. "You mean that was the case between John and…"
"No, that's the case between you and me."
Hutch saw Starsky's eyes widen, his brows creasing together in confusion. Hutch smiled to himself. This was going well. "What?!"
"Well, figure it out," Hutch said. "In a five-day week, there are about eighty waking hours, right?"
"Yeah," Starsky confirmed.
"We work, eat, and drink about twelve of those hours, right?" Starsky nodded. Hutch watched him through his rearview window as the man tried to figure out where this conversation was going. "That's sixty hours a week, seventy-five per cent of the time we spend together and you're not even a good kisser."
"How do you know that?" Starsky asked. Hutch turned to his partner, forgetting about driving and bit his lower lip.
"That's not the point, Starsk," Hutch said. "Hell, we can even take that further and say ninety percent!"
"After work, where do we usually go?" Hutch asked.
"The Pits," Starsky replied with a small nod. "Every night for pool and a drink."
"How many vacations and leaves have we spent together? How many double dates have we gone on? How many dinners have we shared? How many times have you come over my house and eaten my food? How-"
"- I get it!" Starsky interrupted. "But ninety?"
"And we're back to you not being a good kisser," Hutch told him. "How do you expect to keep me around when you can't kiss- "
"- we don't spent every waking hour together, though," Starsky said.
"Most of them we do," Hutch said sadly. This was not going the way he'd planned it. Starsky was shutting down, he could see it from his rearview mirror and in the way the leather of his car seat squeaked as his partners grip tightened. "It's normal, Starsk. I was just fooling around. No need to get your panties in a bunch."
"Here's the not-so-lucky couple!" Huggy exclaimed as he slammed his hand down on the table where Starsky and Hutch sat, nursing their drinks and not speaking to one another. It had been a few days after the whole Blaine ordeal and things were just getting back to normal. Or at least most things.
"We're not a couple," Starsky mumbled.
"What is this, Huggy?" Hutch asked looking at the paper as Huggy retreated his hand. He looked at it and did a bubble take. He looked at Starsky, offering the sheet. "It's our tab, partner."
"Our tab? We have a joined tab?" Starsky asked looking up at Huggy.
"Without a Starsky there can be no Hutch and visa-versa," Huggy said as he left.
"Hear that partner? We have a joined tab because without me, there is no thee." Starsky said with a smile. He handed back the tab to Hutch. "Thee will have to pay this because me is broke."
"Me and thee, huh?" Hutch asked, surprised. "No more stale air between us?"
"Me and thee," Starsky confirmed. "As always."
Hutch smiled. His friend was back from wherever he'd gone and things were back to normal. John Blaine was buried, his killer found and everything was now right. Hutch would act like he always acted for fear that Starsky would shut down as he did in the car a few days back. And Hutch was all right with that. Maybe somewhere along the line, he could reveal the truth he had found about himself.
He stood, downing the last of his drink and opening his wallet to pay his debt to Huggy. Starsky looked up, confused.
"Where you goin'?" his partner asked.
"I have a promise to keep," Hutch told him depositing a few bills on the table.
"A promise? Where?"
"The green parrot," Hutch said with a smile, turning and leaving without another word.