Nikki Harrington


Once upon a time they were in love. Can they, many years later, have the traditional happy ending?

An established relationship story.

Written: April 2015. Word count: 2,610.



Kenneth Hutchinson sighed as he packed yet another box. He glanced around his large, corner office at the number of boxes already filled and stacked next to the large window. How had he managed to accumulate so much personal stuff in what really was only a few years - well sixteen, but even so.


They had been a good sixteen years; they had been very good; he had risen to the top of his chosen profession and was a renowned, well know corporate lawyer, whose diary was always filled and who could have had twice, three times as many clients as he had had. For the last ten years, once he had made his name, he had had the luxury of turning people down whom he didn't want to work for. He could be twice as rich as he was now, but what would the point have been? It wasn't as though he spent all the money he had as it was.


He was so wealthy that he could afford to retire at the grand old age of fifty. He knew he had surprised his co-workers at the law firm he worked for, in fact 'surprise' was putting it mildly, when he had announced he was going to retire. And it wasn't just his co-workers he had surprised; he had surprised the entire legal world in the city and beyond. He really had made his name and could have had any job he had wanted. But he had chosen to stay in the relatively small New York law firm; the relatively small New York firm which had given him his first job after graduating with his law degree.


He was fifty and he had had enough of the law and companies and working sixteen hour days. He was fifty and he had had enough of spending more time in his office than in his expensive, large home. He was fifty and he knew nothing about current movies, music or sporting events. He was fifty and he was tired. He was fifty and he wanted to spend whatever was left of his life doing what he wanted to do, of being able to watch the sun rise and set, of even taking up golf, of being able go to museums and the theater and concerts. He was fifty and he wanted a life. He was fifty and . . .


His eyes fell on a photograph which stood on his desk; which had always stood on his desk. A photograph he knew his assistant and even some of his fellow lawyers had wondered about, but had never asked about. He was a good man, an honest man, a generous man, a highly respected lawyer, co-worker and boss. However, he wasn't an open man or even a particularly friendly man; he didn't invite confidences and he didn't expect people to breach his own secrets.


The photograph was of two men in their late twenties, standing on top of a car with their arms around one another; both were smiling, both were relaxed, both were clearly happy. Both were in love.


He sighed and sank down into his chair, packing forgotten, picked up the photograph and ran his finger over the face of the dark-haired man. "What happened, Starsk?" he murmured, as his mind went back twenty years. Went back to a time they had been happy, free, relaxed - in love.


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, some twenty years to be exact, they had been in love. He and David Michael Starsky had been in love. Deeply, passionately, exclusively, forever in love - or so he had thought. So he had believed. But all fairy tales had a wicked witch or the equivalent; all fairy tales had both darkness and light; all fairy tales had good and evil; all fairy tales had a once upon a time; all fairy tales had a happy ending - at least all the ones he knew did.


But given his own fairy tale, his own once upon a time, didn't have one, maybe there were others that didn't. After all, when was the last time he had sat down and read a fairy tale? He hadn't got kids and grandkids, so there were no opportunities there for him to read to them. In fact he actually couldn't remember the last time he had read anything other than the newspapers and law books.


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, some twenty years to be exact, they had been in love. He and David Michael Starsky had been in love. Deeply, passionately, exclusively, forever in love - or so he had thought; So he had believed. And then Kira had come onto the scene and then Gunther and then . . . And then somehow the fairy tale had ended; except it hadn't, not immediately. It had staggered on for a bit, they had staggered on for a bit, but then . . . Then me 'n' thee became once upon a time.


"Why did I walk away, Starsk?" He stared at the photograph of the two young men, clearly in love for anyone to see. Why had he? Because if he had stayed they would have destroyed one another; at least that's what he had told himself at the time. Now? Now he wasn't sure; he wasn't sure of anything other than: once upon a time they had been in love.


Was it too late? Was he twenty years too late? Could they still make the fairy tale real? Could they have a happy ending? Or would they simply remain once upon a time? Did he want to find out? Did he dare find out?


It had been twenty years since he had hugged Starsky, shaken his hand, fought back the tears and had walked away. Walked away from his life; walked away from his love; walked away from his job; walked away from his home. Walked away from Starsky.


For twenty years he hadn't thought about Starsky; he hadn't allowed himself to think about him. For twenty years the photograph had stood on his desk and for those twenty years not a day had gone by when he hadn't looked at it, and yet he had never seen it. Not as he was seeing it now. Twenty years; it was a long time; a hell of a long time. Anything could have happened in twenty years. Starsky could have married, had kids; he could even be a grandfather by now.


Twenty years. Had he ever thought about Hutch in those years? Had he ever forgiven him? What had he done? Had he stayed in L. A.? Stayed a cop? Was he even a captain now? Were he and Huggy still hanging out together? Was the Pits still open? Had he married? Was he still alive?


He put the photograph back down onto the desk and stared at it. "I'm not sure this is the right thing to do, Starsk. But I'm going to do it." He pressed the buzzer on his desk and waited.


A moment or two later there was a light tap on his door and it was opened. His assistant, Grace, came in. "Yes, Mr. Hutchinson?" she said, her notebook was already in her hand, her pencil poised.


He glanced at the photograph one more time, before looking at her and saying, "I would like you to find someone for me, please, Grace. His name is David Michael Starsky and twenty years ago he was a detective in L. A. I would like you to track him down and let me have his current details: home address, telephone number, what line of work he is in, and where he is working. I would like the information as soon as possible. In fact whatever you are currently working on, please stop and concentrate on finding Mr. Starsky for me."


Grace was a very experienced assistant and had been his assistant for ten years. Thus, whatever surprise she must have felt upon being given her assignment, it didn't show on her face. Instead, she just nodded once and said, "I'll get onto it right away, Mr. Hutchinson."


"Thank you, Grace." He nodded and she turned and left his office. He was certain he wouldn't have to wait beyond the end of the day before he had the information. In fact he expected it some time before the end of the day. Grace was very well connected and very skilled. She would find Starsky for him. And then . . . And then he would see if his once upon a time could have a happy ending, or if it was destined to remain simply once upon a time.


Some three hours went by before Grace reappeared. "I'm sorry it has taken me so long, Mr. Hutchinson," she said, handing him a piece of paper. "But here are the details of Mr. - or rather I should say Captain - Starsky's whereabouts."


"That's all right, Grace," he said, taking the piece of paper and looking at it. He read what Grace had written and gasped as he looked up at her. "Starsky's here?" he said, surprise clear in his voice. "Here in New York?" He was stunned; how could that be the case? How could they both be in the same city and he not know about it?


She nodded. "Yes. Apparently it's a very recent transfer. The paperwork hasn't caught up with the Captain yet, which is why it took me so long to track him down." She hesitated as he returned to staring the paper. "Er, is there anything else you would like me to do, Mr. Hutchinson?"


"What? Oh, no, thank you, Grace. This is . . . This is . . . Thank you." He nodded at her. She stood for another moment or two, before turning on her heel and leaving the room.


Once he was alone again, he put the piece of paper down onto his desk and once more looked at the photograph of them. "Is this a sign, Starsk?" he said. "Are we meant to meet again? Are we . . ." He fell silent and just went on staring at the photograph.


A few minutes went by before slowly he reached for the phone and dialed a number. "I'd like to talk to Captain David Michael Starsky, please . . . My name? My name is - It doesn't matter." Swiftly, he hung the phone up. This wasn't a conversation they could have over the phone. Besides if he called Starsky, it would give him every opportunity to simply hang up or tell him to go to hell. No, this was a face to face job. He would go to the precinct station and see Starsky. Surely that would be better? And it would be less easy for Starsky to tell someone he didn't want to see him.


Decision made he told Grace he was going out and took a cab to the station. During the journey he tried to compose what he would say to Starsky; how he would tell him how sorry he was for what he had done twenty years ago; how he would find out if Starsky had a wife and kids; how he would - He shook himself; this wasn't a law suit or anything like that; he couldn't plan as he had done for the last sixteen years. That fact made him nervous. It really had been sixteen years since he had gone into anything without a full plan. And in some ways this meeting was the most important one he had ever had; his whole future could depend on it.


The cab reached the station far sooner than he would have liked. He paid the driver, added a healthy tip, paused and for a moment gave serious consideration to telling the driver to take him back to his office. However, even as he was about to get back into the cab he remembered: once upon a time they had been in love.


"I would like to see Captain David Starsky," he said, to the policeman behind the desk.


"And you are."


He opened his mouth and closed it again as a voice said, "Hey, blondie." He swiveled around and stared at the man he had loved and lost; the man he had walked away from; the man he knew he still loved; the man he had to make things right with. The man who in many ways looked exactly the same as he had looked when he had walked away from him. Okay, so he now had a lot of grey in his dark curls, and his face had more lines, and he was a bit heavier, but in all the important matters he looked the same. He looked like Starsky. He was grinning at him; that grin, that beautiful grin, and Hutch swore the look in Starsky's eyes as he stared at him was the same as it had always been.


As he stood and drank in the sight in front of him, twenty years fled away and it took him all his time not to stride across the gap separating them, pull Starsky into his arms and kiss him and to hell with what anyone might say or think.


Instead he swallowed, nodded and said, aware of the croak in his voice, "Starsk."


Starsky's grin increased. "Come on, we'll go to my office. Give the man a visitor's badge, George: Kenneth Hutchinson."


George hastened to obey his captain. A few seconds later, his badge in place, Hutch walked alongside Starsky to Starsky's office.


Starsky paused and said to a young (far too young in Hutch's opinion, were he and Starsky ever that young?) policeman sitting at a desk nearby, "Make sure I'm not disturbed, please, Tom." He grinned; it wasn't the same grin he had given Hutch.


"Yes, Captain," Tom said, showing no surprise or even interest. Did none of them have personalities?


Starsky waved Hutch inside his office, shut the door and then stood with his back against his, his arms folding staring at Hutch. "You look good, babe," he said, as he quite deliberately and obviously leered at Hutch.


Hutch swallowed hard. "So do you, Starsk."


Starsky moistened his lips, reached behind him and locked the door, before sauntering in the way Hutch remembered towards him. "So you wanna talk or . . ."


Hutch's mouth grew dry and he swallowed hard again. "Starsk?" He hated that the word came out more like a squeak than an actual voice.


Starsky reached him, shrugged and put his left palm on Hutch's face. Instantly, Hutch was transported back twenty years. Starsky's touch felt exactly the same; he might be a captain now, but his hand was still callused. "Life's short, babe. We both know that. We've wasted twenty years. Why waste any more time?" And before Hutch could say anything, Starsky mouth was on his and once more he was back, back in L. A., back in the giddy years, back before everything went wrong, back in love, back alive, back. Back to me 'n' thee. Back.


As he put his arms around Starsky and deepened the kiss, Hutch realized his once upon a time was going to have a happy ending after all. Yeah, they had to talk, about a lot of things, what Starsky was doing in New York and why he didn't seem surprised to see him for two, but talking could wait; kissing Starsky couldn't.


He was right: all once upon a times did have a happy ever after.



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