Starsky was a happy go lucky drunk. To a point. Once that point was crossed, well, he turned into a bipolar, over emotional five year old.
Over the years, Hutch had learned at what point of the night to encourage his partner to back off the booze.
Starsky did ok with wine, better with beer. The hard stuff was out of the question. Nothing else on the planet could make Starsky do the Jeckle and Hyde act quicker. And today, well today, Hutch figured he was going have to add moonshine to the list of things to avoid.
Hutch had kept a mental list of "non-Starsky safe" hard alcohol for years. In a soft tone, one would use to distract and persuade a toddler out of a less desirable choice, he would say, "Hey now buddy, you don't want that whiskey. How about a beer, huh?" Trying to avoid an over emotional meltdown by his partner.
The meltdowns were horrible to have to negotiate when they were just friends. A complete nightmare when they became lovers. And now, six months after they had terminated their non-work partnership, well, Hutch wasn't exactly excited to see what would happen now that they were ex-lovers.
Ex-lovers. That term sounded strange to Hutch and he didn't like it one bit. Their relationship was so much more than that. That oversimplified term seemed to dilute their relationship to a strictly sexual one. Ex-boyfriend would have been more accurate, but that sounded silly even when he thought about it. Like they were a couple of love sick teenagers.
Starsky had been fine, at first. Happy, laughing at the bar. Silly drunk, falling off his stool and generally being pleasant.
This pleasantness has carried over to the car ride. Hutch had been a tiny bit apprehensive of having Starsky laying with his head cradled in his lap, but quickly dismissed the thought. Because, really, how else was Starsky going to be able to ride in the Torino while this plowed, the back seat? Besides, he didn't want to be held responsible if Starsky got sick back there.
Everything was fine. One second, they were joking and laughing about disco dancing and Starsky's hidden black pumps and the next second, Mr. Emotional Starsky-Jeckle had come out to play.
Hutch felt the silence before anything else really. As he physically felt Starsky's body tense his stomach dropped to his knees. "Starsk." He said deliberately trying to not look down into the face on his lap. "You feeling ok?"
"Why did you do it?" The soft tone of Starsky's voice startled him and out of reflex, he looked down.
Starsky's face had taken a sudden debilitating sadness. Huge tears filled his eyes refusing to spill over onto his cheeks. He eyes were bright, seeming everything and nothing at the same time.
"Awe, Starsk." Hutch said taking one hand from the steering wheel to card it through his partner's curly hair. "Buddy, why are you thinking about that now?" He asked but he already knew.
"Why Hutch?" Starsky slurred, pressing. "Why don't you love me anymore?" He shook his head slightly and shut his eyes, pushing the tears out and down his cheeks.
Hutch sighed. "Buddy." Was his only response and even that was half a whisper. He could come up with anything better than that.
"You told me," Starsky's voice cut through the silence, pausing on a hiccup, whether that was from the booze or the tears, Hutch wasn't sure. "You told me, you would never leave me alone. But you did and I just want to know why."
Hutch wasn't sure of that himself. He had been afraid, he knew that much. Afraid of having his whole life, personal and professional wrapped up in a single person. He loved Starsky with his whole heart and that had made him afraid.
In his mind, Hutch always seemed to hurt the people he loved the most or else somebody ended up hurting them for him. Jeanie, Abby, Gillian, the list went on and on. It wasn't so long ago that Hutch had vowed to himself that he would never love someone again. Sure he would have flings here and there and maybe have a one night stand, because lets face it, a guy has some needs. Not the true, mad, deep all-consuming love anyway.
So his sudden all-consuming love affair with his work partner of 10 years, had taken him completely by surprise. It had taken them both by surprise. One moment they were just two buddies, drinking beer and watching baseball and the next they were making out like teenagers. That night had changed everything.
When their romantic relationship started, Hutch couldn't remember the last time he was that happy. It was amazing how old endearments like ‘dummy' and ‘mush brain' were replaced with more intimate things like, 'sweetheart' and ‘baby.' Of course the old standbys of blondie, blintz, Gordo, and curly still remained in heavy rotation.
Work was good. The relationship was good. It was surprising how easy and natural it felt to be with in a relationship with another man, especially when he took into account how neither of them had ever been in a same sex relationship before.
Sure, the sex scene was a little awkward at first, but the first time is always a little awkward, even when it was with a woman. And sure, the equipment wasn't what either was used to but it was surprising what you were willing to do for a guy when you really truly loved him. They adapted and found new and exciting ways to turn each other on and in the end their sex life was the most fulfilling one he'd ever had.
Everything was perfect. Until Hutch had a sudden epiphany. He couldn't live if something happened to Starsky; if he was torn out of his life as drastically and traumatically as his other lovers, Hutch would crumble like a house of cards, he knew that much for sure. It would destroy him.
So he broke it off. It wasn't noble. It wasn't right. It wasn't even what he had truly wanted. But it was the way that it was. It was self-preservation.
"Huu-tch" Starsky's drunken wine followed by a wet hiccup brought his attention back to the head on his lap.
Hutch looked down fondly, "What, pal?" he asked, hoping that Starsky had already forgotten the topic of conversation.
Starsky paused, biting at his lower lip before asking in a very small voice, "Why don't you love me anymore?"
Hutch sucked down a sharp breath. God. They were NOT having this conversation in the middle of a case, in the parking lot of a random hick bar in the outskirts of town. He should end it. Distract Starsky with another topic and move on.
And yet he answered, the words and the old endearment left his mouth before he even had a chance to stop them, "Baby, I do love you. That isn't the problem."
Starsky looked up in drunken confusion, "What's the problem then?" he slurred simply.
Hutch opened his mouth to respond but didn't have the words. He took moment before disclosing his response, "I was afraid of losing you or hurting you." He paused before rambling on, carding hid fingers through the thick, curly hair. "Which in hindsight, is completely and utterly asinine, because by leaving I hurt and lost you." He whispered the last part, gazing out the Torino's window and refusing to make eye contact.
"Hutch?" Starsky asked.
"If what you were so afraid of has already happened and we still love each other, then can't we just get back together and be good again?"
Hutch looked down, was it really that simple? He did have to take into account that Starsky was incredibly wasted and probably wouldn't even remember this conversation once he recovered from the hell of a hangover that he was bound to have.
Would he forget all the anger he had been harboring against Hutch since the breakup too? That didn't seem likely.
Hutch took a deep breath and offered his partner a small smile before responding, "Well, maybe that's something we should talk about when this case is over."
If it helped the two of them get back together then maybe, just maybe, Moonshine would be Starsky safe alcohol after all.