DO I REALLY HAVE TO WEAR A TIE?
Set after the end of the series.
Starsky has to see a psychiatrist prior to being cleared to return to the streets after his near-fatal shooting. He seems ready to re-enter the fray, but is Hutch? And if the blond man isn't, what will it do to their partnership and relationship? Can Starsky put those things before his desire to get back to the streets?
An established relationship story.
Written: May 200. Word count: 2,614.
This first appeared in a British letterzine -The Me ‘n' Thee Times. It was then reprinted in Starsky & Hutch A Love Story 2, which was published by Devious Developments Press in 2004.
"Hi, pleased to meet ya. My name's Dave Starsky." Oh great, Starsky, just great - who the hell do you think he thinks you are? That's really gonna make him imagine you're firing on all cylinders. Say something stupid - why don't ya! No wonder Hutch calls you dummy, you deserve it. Starsky's smile was somewhat forced as he grinned at the gray-haired man sitting behind the desk.
"Hello, Dave. Pleased to meet you. Come in and sit down." Doctor Jenkins, the precinct's senior psychiatrist, waved Starsky to a seat. Starsky sat. For several moments Jenkins continued to read through his papers. Starsky finally started to shift around in his seat, at which point the doctor glanced up. Starsky smiled uneasily.
"I've read my colleagues' various reports on you, David - you play word games very well." Jenkins continued to appraise Starsky.
"Huh?" Oh terrific, Starsky, what's wrong with you today?
"It wasn't a criticism, David, merely an observation."
I don't like this man, Starsky thought, mentally and physically pulling himself upright.
"Yeah. Well, you spend 10 years with my partner, and you'd be good at word games too," Starsky replied.
"Ah, yes, your partner. Detective Kenneth Hutchinson."
Starsky wasn't sure if this was a question or a statement, so he shrugged, non-committally, and waited.
For several more moments, Jenkins stared at him - his expression unreadable. Finally, he closed Starsky's file and said, "Well, Detective Starsky, I have no evidence that would support your inability to go back to work on the streets."
Starsky struggled for a brief moment to sort out what the man was saying, and then finally decided to ask outright. "You mean I'm fit for duty?"
"If you wish to go back on the streets - you may. My formal report will be with your superior officer later this week."
"Thanks, doc. Thanks. Wait 'til I tell Hutch – man, he's goin' to be so pleased." Starsky's smile was, for the first time that day, genuine. He jumped to his feet and held out his hand to the doctor. After a brief squeeze, Starsky turned on his heel and crossed to the doorway.
Down in the squad room, he scanned the chairs looking for the blond beacon that would signify his partner's presence. To his surprise, he couldn't see it - Hutch wasn't there. He shrugged and crossed the room, mumbling a brief response to the other detectives' greetings, then with a perfunctory knock, he entered Dobey's office.
"Who the… Starsky. Good to see you." Dobey, couldn't hide his pleasure at seeing Starsky again.
"I'm looking for Hutch, Cap. I have some terrific news. Where is he?"
"He had to go to R&I. Well?" Dobey looked inquiringly at Starsky.
"Doc Jenkins passed me. I'm finally fit and ready - it's back on the streets for Hutch and me." Starsky knew he was positively glowing.
"That's great, Dave."
Starsky's exuberance faded abruptly. "What's up, Cap? What's happened? Is Hutch…?"
"Hutch is fine. Sit down, Starsky." Dobey's pleasure was replaced by a look of grim determination.
Starsky sat. He knew when to push his Captain and when to capitulate - this was one of the latter times.
Dobey lowered his bulk into a chair. "Starsky, you told me that you've been passed fit. That you're ready for the streets - but is Hutch?"
"Huh? Cap'n, what are you saying?" Starsky moved to the edge of his seat and watched Dobey intently.
The big man pulled out his handkerchief and rubbed it over his face. "I asked if Hutch was ready for you to go back on the streets." Starsky looked at him curiously, so Dobey continued, "I've watched Hutch, since the shooting. I've seen him struggle to pull his façade together before he visited you. I've watched him relive your shooting time and time again. I've watched him face IA and their questioning over why he fired his gun in the garage. I've watched him force himself to stop jumping at the sound of a car backfiring or sometimes at the sound of a door slamming. I've watched his face while he's talking to you on the phone. I've watched him mentally and physically compose himself as he walks out of the station each night. And I've read the doctor's reports on him." Dobey paused, as if evaluating his next words. "I'm not breaking confidences here, because you have a right to know - not just as his working partner, but as…." Dobey broke off and looked frankly at Starsky.
"You know." It wasn't a question, but a statement. Starsky realized that he'd tensed as he waited for Dobey's reply.
"Yes. I do. I don't need to know how long, it's not relevant. For all I know, it's been as long as you two have been working together. For what it's worth, Starsky, I don't mind - it doesn't make any difference to me. You are my two best detectives, and I don't give a damn about your private life. However, IA is another matter - you know that. Tell me honestly, could you survive an investigation this time?"
Starsky shook his head. "I don't want to. We don't want to," he corrected. "And I don't see why we should have to."
"Putting that issue to one side, Hutch isn't the man he was before the shooting. I've read both your psychiatrists' reports, and they make interesting reading. You merely play good word games, Hutch is a master. There's nothing they can fault him on, nothing they can find to prove he isn't fit. They've given him a clean bill of health. But I know him better. I can read between the lines. Starsky, to put it bluntly - Hutch can't live with you going back on the streets."
Starsky didn't know what to say. For months, they'd worked on his fitness. They'd run together, worked out together - they'd pushed themselves to their limits and beyond. He'd eaten all the health food Hutch had been able to force down him. They'd talked about the day Starsky would be back. Even this very morning, on the way to the station, Hutch had been saying how great it would be to have Starsky back at his side. Could it be that Hutch had been lying all this time? No, not lying. Hutch would never lie over something really important - at least not consciously. Ah, buddy, why haven't you talked to me? Starsky's thoughts were gentle - with no hint of bitterness.
Dobey continued as if he knew he had to say it all now, or not at all. "I've seen him, Dave, when you are around. He can't bear to let you out of his sight. I know he never could, hell, I always thought you two were like Siamese twins - but this is different. He watches you - constantly. Edith even noticed it when the two of you came to dinner last week. When you went to the bathroom, Hutch didn't relax until you were back in the room."
"Are you saying that Hutch is ill or something? That he can't hack it anymore as a cop?"
"No, I'm not. I firmly believe he'll be fine if the two of you get off the street. At the moment, I believe that this is all a reaction to him worrying about the day you are passed fit. His work is fine, he's as intense as ever - the White Knight is back…" Whatever else Dobey was going to say was interrupted by the telephone ringing. At the sound of it, Starsky jumped to his feet and started to pace Dobey's office. Although he was peripherally aware of the conversation, his thoughts were elsewhere.
As Dobey finished his conversation, Starsky sank back down in his seat and said, "So, what do we do instead?"
"Starsky, don't you need more time to think? All this time, you've been expecting to get back to your job - now I tell you that Hutch cannot face you going back, and you're reacting as if it's no big deal."
"It isn't really. Yeah, I was looking forward to going back, but the simple fact is, Cap'n, you tell me Hutch needs to be off the streets. Well, that's fine - as long as the future includes us both."
"The Commissioner has asked me to recommend two men to act as liaison officers between the department and the academy. To be prepared to go in and teach. To teach street skills, driving, shooting, interrogation techniques - to teach what it is really like, not just what the book says. You'd spend half of your time at the academy and half of your time back here, helping with the rookies and other less experienced detectives. You'd work closely with me."
"You think he'd agree to Hutch and me? We're not exactly his favorite detectives. He seems to feel that we re-wrote the book." Starsky looked dubious. The idea appealed to him immensely; to be able to go on doing the things he loved - driving, shooting - but most of all, to go on working with Hutch, and knowing that they'd both be safe.
"You under-estimate the power of Gunther's destruction. You two are the blue-eyed boys at the moment. The Commissioner not only agrees to you two - he welcomes you. Whatever else he may think of you, he knows that you are both incorruptible. And IA couldn't touch you." Dobey added the last comment, quietly.
"When do we start?" Starsky had made his decision.
"Just as soon as you convince Hutch - and in that, I can't help you. But, Starsky, I want you to think about it too. I know you. You react to the moment. I don't want you to make a snap decision that you'll end up regretting - and I know that Hutch wouldn't want you to either." Dobey looked determined. "I'm going to give Hutch some leave. I suggest that you spend that time, talking and making your decisions. If you decide to take the jobs, then I'll see you back here a week on Monday, ready for work. Oh, and Starsky, I also expect you to wear a tie. I take it you do have one?"
"I've made my decision Cap, and I know my Hutch, I know exactly what to say to him. And yes, I've got a tie - several actually. That partner of mine, often has weird tastes when it comes to presents!" Starsky grinned and bounced to his feet.
At that moment, there was a knock on the door and Hutch appeared. "Cap'n, someone said… Oh hi, Starsk, there you are." Hutch's face softened, and his body radiated towards Starsky as though it had a mind of its own. Hutch was reaching out to touch, even as he verbally acknowledged Starsky's presence.
Starsky closed his own hand over the hand Hutch rested on his shoulder. "Come on, Blondie, let's get out of here and go home. Cap'n here has given you an impromptu week's leave, and I know exactly how we're gonna spend it. Now say thank you to the Captain."
Hutch automatically responded to Starsky words and started to say, "Thank y…" Then he hesitated, and said in a confused tone, "Starsky?"
"Not now, partner. Later - at home," Starsky said in a gentle voice, fingers closing around Hutch's wrist as he led him to the door. Turning back to Dobey, he said, "See ya next Monday, Cap'n. And thanks - for everything." Whistling, he led Hutch out of the door.
During the drive home, Starsky carefully evaded Hutch's questions until they were finally in their own living room. Starsky locked the door behind them, pulled Hutch into a sudden fierce embrace and then broke it just as suddenly. He crossed to the refrigerator and pulled out a couple of beers. Tossing one to Hutch, he said, "Sit down, babe, we have to talk."
Hutch sat. "Starsky, are you okay? What did Dr. Jenkins say? Starsky?"
Starsky noticed the tension in Hutch's voice and broke in. "Listen to me, Hutch. Listen good. I'm fine. Jenkins gave me a clear bill of health. I can go back to the streets tomorrow." As he spoke, he watched Hutch closely. He noticed the almost imperceptible change in Hutch's breathing, the quick swallow and the eyes that closed, as if in benediction. If he'd had any doubts before, even lingering ones, they had gone. He wanted nothing more than to take Hutch into his arms, and hold him until the fear disappeared - but they would have plenty of time for that later.
He continued. "They say I'm as good as ever." If it wasn't quite the truth, it was near enough. "But, I've been doing some thinking, Hutch, and I've realized that I don't wanna go on playing hero every day. I don't want to wake up each morning and wonder if one of us won't make it through the day. I want to know that at the end of the day, me and thee is gonna be intact. Physically intact. I'm tired of it, Hutch. It's time someone else had a turn - we've had our shot, and we've had a good run. We've taken more risks than most - and not just professionally. We've beaten the odds. Lady luck, or something has been there for us. I sometimes think we're like a pair of damned cats - but I don't wanna wait to find out that we've used up all our lives." It was a long speech for Starsky, and he paused to gauge Hutch's reaction. Big, wide, blue eyes stared back at him. A mouth - crying out to be kissed - was slightly open, the red lips moist. Hair mussed up, Hutch suddenly looked very young - young and vulnerable. Starsky forced himself to go on. "Bottom line is, we've got too much at stake now, I don't want to risk it - I don't want to risk you. Risk us."
"You want to get out of police work?" Hutch spoke as though he didn't believe his ears.
"Not entirely, just off the streets." Starsky paused, not sure how much to say. "I spoke to the Cap'n today, and he agrees. He said it would be better for us - in more ways than one. He's even got a couple of jobs for us." Starsky decided to go for broke.
"Does he know?" Hutch asked.
"Yes. It makes no difference to him. You wanna hear about the jobs?"
"Starsky, you amaze me."
"It's just that, well, I thought that for you, getting back on the streets with me was the most important thing. And now you tell me, that you want out."
"Let's get one thing straight, Blondie. You are the most important thing - as you put it. Getting back to you, to the partnership was - damn it, is - important. The where is irrelevant - on the streets or off, we're partners. I want out of the streets, not the force. I wanna be with you Hutch. I want to work with you. I want to spend 100% of my time with you. But I want to be safe doing it. This way, we get everything we want. Now about those jobs…."
Sometime later, Starsky raised his head from where it rested on Hutch's shoulder, and asked, "So, is that a yes?"
"Yes, Starsk. It's an unequivocal yes."
"Good. I knew I knew my Hutch."
There was a pause and then Starsky's voice sounded again, "but Hutch, do you think I really have to wear a tie?"
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