Hutch pulled away from the embrace and smiled. “You’ll see, everything’s going to be all right. Starsky is waiting for more results from some east coast specialists. Maybe there’s a chance…”


Terry smiled tiredly, waving away the idea. “Hutch, thanks for all efforts to cheer me up, but I know my time with David is limited.”


“That’s what life is about - a limited time for us all,” Hutch countered lamely. The bullet in Terry’s head could shift and end her life in a matter of minutes. He tried again, “You mustn’t give up hope that there will be a future for you and Starsky.” He paused, putting his hand on hers where it lay on the white blanket.


“I’m worried about David,” Terry said, turning her head to look over to the window. The last rays of the late afternoon sun filled the room with a golden light. It gave the room a peaceful atmosphere, but Hutch knew better. Nothing was okay when was Terry dying. Every day could be her last one. Her eyesight had improved the past few days, but she wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital.


“We are worried about you,” Hutch said, feeling the helplessness like a heavy weight inside.


Terry smiled. “I’m okay. But David seems so restless, and has lost his ability to laugh.”


“Can you blame him? He loves you and can’t stand the thought of you hurt,” Hutch said, trying not to lose his composure.


Terry folded her hands together, looking serious as a judge. “I know, it’s almost unbearable for him.” She squeezed his hand. “I'd like to ask you something. Will you take care of David when it happens?” Terry smiled at him.


Hutch couldn’t stand it any longer With a lump in his throat he looked to the side, afraid that his emotions showed too clearly on his face.


“You know," Terry continued. "It means the world to me that David won't be left alone. I want him to be happy and full of joie de vivre.”


“That’s a lot to ask for,” Hutch answered, and he couldn’t get rid of the sarcasm in his voice. “You know very well how he’s feeling right now. Don’t expect that he will be able to return to business as usual when you aren’t by his side. He's been a bundle of nerves since the shooting.” Hutch met her eyes and saw the concern there.

Terry glanced down as if trying to hide her tears.


“I’ll take care of him, promise.” Hutch said, brushing a tear aside from the corner of his eye. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “I have to go. Another night shift. But Starsky will be here any moment. Dobey gave him all the days off he needs. Take care.” Hutch stood up.


“Take care of yourself, Hutch,” Terry said, winking at him. “See you tomorrow?”


“You bet!” Hutch smiled, blew her a kiss, and walked out of the room.


In the corridor, he leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. Damn! Why must those things happen! Didn’t Starsky deserve a bit of happiness? He had finally found the lady he could picture marrying, and then she gets shot. What a horrible fate, made all the worse because there was no way to predict when the bullet would cause her death.


Hutch walked to the parking lot, forcing himself to focus on the job ahead. Joe Parker was going to be his partner for the next few shifts, so Starsky could be with Terry.


The night was uneventful, except for some juveniles who had picked up a fight in front of a dancing hall. Parker was a nice enough guy, and he managed to talk the leader of the kids down and break up the fight, but Hutch missed Starsky, and felt out of sync without him. He had to explain too much to Parker. He missed the nonverbal communication with Starsky. Why couldn’t there be a miracle and all of a sudden, Starsky was happy again – with Terry?


In the early morning hours, Parker dropped Hutch at Venice place. Bone-tired, Hutch fell on his bed and was asleep in seconds.


When he awoke, it was high noon. It was time to get up and meet Starsky and Terry in the hospital. Hutch noticed that he had lost weight, although he hadn’t done his work out in the morning lately. No wonder, worrying about two people he loved dearly had taken its toll on him.


On his way to the hospital, he bought a bunch of flowers for Terry and some chocolate donuts for Starsky.


On the sixth floor, his long legged stride ate up the length of the corridor to Terry’s room.


He opened the door with a cheerful, “Hey, my friends, how are you?” and stood rooted to the spot. The room was empty, the bed made. Nothing indicated that there had been a patient recently. “What - ?” Hutch panicked and his heartbeat quickened. “Terry? Starsky?”


“Can I help you?”


He turned around and saw a young nurse, looking at him.


“”I’m looking for Terry Roberts. This is her room,” Hutch started, and when he saw the serious expression on the nurse’s face, he held his breath.


“I’m Rachel, one of the nurses. I'm sorry to tell you, the patient in room 611 died this morning,” Rachel said sympathetically. She took his arm. “You want to sit down? If you’re with the family, you can have a talk with doctor Minh.”


“Was somebody with Miss Roberts when she died?” Hutch had difficulty actually saying the ugly truth, but he had to know about Starsky.


“I think Miss Robert’s fiancé was with her,” the nurse said thoughtfully. “Can I do anything else for you?”


“Do you know where her fiancé is now? I need to find him," Hutch said, searching the long corridor for his partner.


“No, I’m sorry, but maybe he’s in the chapel downstairs. Many people go there for comfort and a quiet moment,” Rachel said. She pointed to the elevators on the right


“Thank you.” Hutch was already on the go. Moving and doing something should help to cope with his shattered reality. Starsky must be in the chapel, mourning, and asking how God could let this happen to the lady he loved.


Hopefully, Hutch entered the dark chapel. Only little sunshine came through the colored windows, depicting biblical themes. Hutch felt his eyes adjust to the dim light, and checked the pews for his partner. Aside from an old woman, the chapel was empty. Hutch turned toward the exit.


The parking lot! If Starsky was still somewhere in the hospital, the Torino would be parked in the garage. Hutch combed every floor, got out of breath, and realized at last, that Starsky must have left the building.


“Buddy, where are you?” Hutch’s desperation grew. He had to find Starsky. He longed to be with him. Hutch was walking to his own car when another thought hit him: What if Starsky didn’t want to see him? What if Starsky wanted to be alone, mourning the death of is lady in solitude?


Slowly, Hutch drove his car out of the parking garage, expecting to see Starsky in his red flashy car any minute. His first destination was Starsky’s apartment. When he didn’t see the Torino anywhere around there, he lost hope. Nonetheless, he entered the apartment and searched the place. No Starsky. Everything was neat and tidied up. Typical Starsky. Hutch smiled sadly.


Where to go next? The precinct? Half an hour later, Hutch left Metro. Nobody had seen Starsky, and Dobey was in a meeting. Hutch left a short note, just in case Dobey didn’t know about Terry’s death yet.


There was a secluded beach up the coast from Venice Beach which was one of Hutch's favorite places. That was where he often found time to rethink problems and come to conclusions in his life. He and Starsky had been there together to watch the waves crush powerfully against the rocks. Starsky loved walking along the shore, looking for unique shells or interesting stuff that had washed up on the sand. Maybe he had gone to Moore beach to say goodbye to Terry and listen to the sound of the waves. After an hour of fruitless searching, Hutch gave up.

“Man, I’m so sorry,” Huggy said on the phone when Hutch called him to inform him about Terry’s death. But Starsky hadn’t been to the Pits either. “Maybe he’s at her school, you know? To be close to the kids Terry taught,” Huggy suggested.


Hutch took a deep breath. “That’s possible. Thanks, Hug. Call me when Starsky pops up.”


“I will do, my man,” Huggy answered, compassion in his voice.


Hutch parked near Marshal school, and although he couldn’t see Starsky’s car, he wanted to believe that Starsky had chosen to be near Terry’s kids. Hutch kept expecting the red Torino would come round the corner, but after an hour he knew that he was waiting in vain.


“Starsk, where are you?" Desperate, Hutch looked for a map of the outlying areas around Bay City to get a clue of Starsky’s whereabouts. He found the map in the glove compartment. When he grabbed it, a ticket dropped to the ground. “Fairy Tale Amusement Park” was the name printed on the front. Hutch suddenly remembered their trip to Fairy Tale Park with Terry. Starsky and Terry had had such fun together, even with the spectre of her death hanging over them. He had been overprotective of her and treated her like a princess. What if Starsky had gone back to the Park, to remember the happy times with his fiancé?


“This is my last chance to find you, buddy,” Hutch thought aloud. He turned onto the freeway and drove south. The late afternoon traffic was heavy, and it took more than half an hour before Hutch reached his destination. He parked the car just in front of the entrance and was about to hurry to the ticket booth, when a guard called him back.


“Sir, there’s no parking, only for emergency.” The guard pointed to a sign.


“BCPD, I’m on duty,” Hutch flashed his badge, not waiting for an answer. He walked past the puzzled guard and cut front of the in line waiting park goers. After showing his badge to the cashier, he was allowed entrance to Fairy Tale Park without delay.


Standing just inside the gate, Hutch slowed down. Was he overreacting? He'd been searching all over town as if Starsky was about to do himself some harm. The thought made Hutch shiver. Not Starsky, no, he wouldn’t do something stupid just because Terry had died…


Forcing himself to calm down, Hutch walked along midway past booths selling cotton candy and hamburgers, watched the carousels go around and stopped at the bumper cars enclosure. He could picture Starsky and watching while Hutch and his girlfriend Linda steered their little car in a circle and bashed into others.


He couldn’t see Starsky anywhere in the festive crowd and walked further to the little lake where ducks and swans swam. Although there were signs posted prohibiting feeding the water birds, many visitors did so. Once cop, always cop, Hutch thought, fighting the urge to point to the sign when he saw a family sprinkling dried bread on the bank for the ducks.


His eyes grew tired trying to scan every face in the crowd for Starsky. There was a huge slide which was filled with happy children who yelled as they slid down and landed in a pit of soft sand. Starsky would never use such a thing, he was afraid of heights.


Exhausted, Hutch reached the end of the park. Fairy Tale Park's trademark was the huge Ferris wheel with a double wheel on a central tower. “The biggest in the world”, as it said in illuminated letters above the ticket booth. There was a little kiosk selling snacks opposite the attraction, and Hutch decided to buy a soft drink and a donut. He slumped down on one of the benches to get some rest.


He bit into the sweet cake; it reminded him of the donut and the bunch of flowers he had lost somewhere in the hospital. Starsky would have loved the chocolate confection. But, where was he?


Hutch watched some kids running along paths that wove in and out of the rides. Only few of them waited with their parents for the Ferris wheel to lift them up in the sky. How did the park make money on such a big attraction? He looked up at the many empty enclosed cars, going around the big wheel.


High up above, right on top, Hutch could see one car with a single passenger. The lonely figure sat straight and unmoving. Hutch squinted his eyes to focus on the person. His heartbeat speeded up.


Was that Starsky? Never! Starsky hated heights. He would never get on the Ferris wheel. But what if he intended to… Hutch didn’t dare to think about it. He stood and ran across the path, shoving several kids out of the way in his haste.


"Buddy! Don't take cuts!" one boy shouted.


“One ticket?” the cashier asked.


Hutch nodded. “When does the wheel stop the next time? My friend’s up there on top and I'd like to surprise him,” Hutch said, looking up at the slowly descending cars.


“You’re in luck. the cars that go to the highest point will stop right here." The cashier pointed to a platform behind him. "Take this one."


Hutch walked up the ramp, watching the Ferris wheel descend, hoping that he had not been mistaken. The man on the ride had certainly looked like Starsky.


He saw the bottom of the next car curving earthward and his heart skipped a beat. There he was, his partner and best friend, looking straight forward, making no move to leave the ride.


Hutch lifted the latch on the car door and slipped inside. His belly dropped when the suspended car swung free of the loading platform, and then lurched forward and up as the passengers boarded the car below them. The wheel moved very slowly, getting ready for the next revolution up in the cloudy sky.


Starsky sat opposite him, looking shocked. ”You…” he said, his wan face going even paler.


“I know everything,” Hutch started, not daring to look Starsky straight in the eyes. Instead, he watched the people waiting in the queue getting smaller and smaller. As the ride went faster, the breeze fluttered strands of hair on Hutch’s forehead. He brushed them away, finally looking at Starsky.


“Never thought it would be that windy here.” Starsky stated, staring straight past Hutch.


“I’ve been looking for you all day,” Hutch said, not sure how he could reach his partner in his condition.


“You found me – as always.” Starsky said.


Hutch wasn’t sure if it was meant as a compliment or a complaint. Starsky looked fragile with his dark curls framing the small, haggard face. Hutch saw Starsky’s hands holding onto the iron railing, his knuckles white.


“What’re you doing up here? You always said you were afraid of heights,” Hutch said, still worried about Starsky’s state of mind. He didn't seem to be his old self. He sat rigidly, his back ramrod straight and full of tension.


Starsky looked at Hutch, his eyes absent, obviously seeing other scenes and someone else entirely. “She loved the Ferris wheel. She said that up here, you are so much closer to the clouds, and everything down on earth looks so small. Even your worries and problems are smaller.”


“There's a feeling of freedom up here above it all,” Hutch said, pointing to the people on the ground. They looked like big ants, moving around.


Starsky didn’t look down. “I refused to go with Terry. You know why…” For the first time he looked a bit more relaxed, and he loosened his grip on the railing.


“But you chose to come and try a ride on the Ferris wheel to be closer to her?” Hutch smiled. At the same time, he was glad that they were descending again. He couldn't quite figure out what Starsky was up to after having had to deal with Terry's death alone.


“One more round!” the roustabout manning the controls called out as he put on a new record. “Top of the World” by the Carpenters, filled the air. And one last time, the cars made their journey up into the sky.


“This was one of her favorite songs,” Starsky said quietly, and a little smile crept over his face.


Hutch leaned forward until his knees bumped against Starsky’s. He almost expected Starsky to flinch, and gave a sigh of relief when Starsky didn’t. The physical contact was an important element in their relationship, and Hutch savored the togetherness.


“Terry loved heights and the Carpenters – and you,” Hutch said, focusing on his partner. Starsky met his eyes and nodded.


"I wanted to feel the sensation of being high in the air without freaking out," Starsky whispered. "I wanted to be near her again, and share this beautiful sight. It’s too late though.” His voice trailed off.


Hutch was silent. What could he say?


The wheel slowed down, and this time, Starsky lifted the latch himself. Hutch followed him out, and over to the exit gate.


Hutch looked up at the giant wheel. At that moment, the clouds parted and the sun sent a golden ray down to the earth. Starsky lifted his face to the brightness with a look of amazement. Feeling like he had witnessed a miracle, Hutch put his arm around Starsky's shoulder and squeezed gently.


“The sun keeps on shining,” Hutch said, taking a deep breath. “Let me take you home.”


“My car,” Starsky objected, the first sign for Hutch that his friend was focusing on his surroundings. "It's parked in the lot here."


Hutch realized that he'd never checked there for the red and white Torino. He'd bypassed the lot completely by parking illegally in the loading zone.


“I'll follow you, okay?” Hutch asked.


Starsky nodded, fumbling for the car keys in his tight jeans. "I can still drive my own car," he said with a plaintive smile.


Hutch felt relieved, at least for the moment. He had found Starsky mourning, but unharmed. They walked slowly past the carousel and the balloon seller, and it didn't take a psychic to guess that they were both thinking about Terry's last visit there. He left his hand on Starsky’s back all the way through the park to the entrance. The LTD was still parked where he had left it, despite the surly glances he got from the guard at the curb.


“Hey, the red curb is only for emergencies.” Starsky pointed to the sign.


“Exactly.” All of a sudden, Hutch felt light-hearted. Starsky had teased him. He would get through this with only a few scars.


Starsky walked across the lot toward the south gate. Hutch started his car, trailing after him. He'd have no problem finding the red Torino now that he knew where to look for the flashy car.


Sure enough, it was on the far side of the gigantic parking lot, half hidden behind a VW bus. Waiting until he saw Starsky climb into the car, Hutch tooted his horn just once. Starsky waved a hand in return and backed slowly out of the parking space. Starsky turned the Torino left, in the direction of Bay City.


Hutch stayed close behind his friend, assuming that they would head over to Starsky's place. But when they got to the intersection leading to Starsky’s place, Hutch was surprised when Starsky drove straight without turning.


“Buddy, that’s the wrong way…what do you have in mind?” Hutch mumbled, speeding up to follow the Torino, almost running a red light at the next cross street.


“So you want to go to my place? Fine with me,” Hutch said to himself. Three blocks later, he got ready to use the right turn signal for the turn onto Ocean Boulevard and Venice place. However, Starsky obviously had no intention of going there.


“Hey, where are you heading?” Hutch scrambled to change lanes to keep with Starsky. He was at a loss as to where his partner was going.


They reached the old quarter where bars, theaters and restaurants lined the streets. Hutch followed Starsky around the next corner into a small side street and had to brake hard very suddenly. The Torino had come to a halt in front of a little cinema.


Parking, Hutch got out of his car and walked around the Torino. Starsky was still inside, rummaging in the glove compartment.


“If you are looking for the map - it’s in my car,” Hutch smiled through the open window. “You got lost in Bay City?”


“Here they are!” Starsky said, holding up two tickets.


“What’s that?” Hutch asked, puzzled. "What are those tickets for?"


Starsky got out, smiling sadly. “Terry always wanted to see this movie. I bought the tickets for today, not knowing...”


“I know.” Hutch took Starsky’s arm. Then he looked at the marquee of the Roxie Cinema. Large red letters spelled out "Today’s continuous marathon! “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.”


“Really? She’s – she was interested in westerns?” Hutch hadn’t expected her to like cowboys. He put his arm around Starsky’s shoulder, squeezing lightly.


Starsky shrugged under his touch. “I must have told her a thousand times about the two best friends and going off to rob banks in Bolivia. Like we've joked several times.”


“So she had a crush on tough men,” Hutch said, looking at the pictures of Robert Redford and Paul Newman on the one sheet.


“You bet!” Starsky said fondly. “In her honor, I want to watch this film. I hope she will be with me in spirit.”


“I know she'll be holding your hand through the whole movie,” Hutch said quietly, hugging Starsky before he turned to go.


Starsky grabbed him by the sleeve. “You want to join me? Terry would have loved to have you with her as well.“


“I don’t know,” Hutch said hesitantly. He didn’t want to intrude when Starsky was saying goodbye to his beloved lady by watching a movie she would have loved to see. Realization hit that they would never see Terry again. He swallowed hard, his throat tight. “Terry was your lady, and I can understand if you want to be alone, having her by your side – in spirit…”


“It would help if you were with me,” Starsky said, looking forlorn.


“Whatever you wish, buddy,” Hutch agreed, relieved. It hadn’t been such a bad idea to look for Starsky. Even though Starsky had run from the hospital to be alone with his pain, he had accepted Hutch’s presence as a balm. "I've always had a fondness for Butch and his visions."


Starsky nodded, with a sad but content expression. He gave the tickets to the ticket taker, and they walked into the old fashioned movie palace. The décor, once elegant, had gone dingy and a little threadbare, but the fine architecture and murals picked out with gold leaf were still beautiful


“Let’s get some popcorn and something to drink, okay?” Starsky asked and pointed to a long snack counter.


Hutch smiled, getting out his wallet. He gave their order to the teenager behind the glass display case full of tempting treats and a huge, old fashioned popcorn popper full of fluffy popcorn. "It's on me."


“Thanks,” Starsky smiled when Hutch handed him his large box of popcorn and a soft drink.


“Come on in.” An elderly woman in an usher uniform held open the door. “Over there.” She pointed her flashlight into the darkened theatre.


“You bought the best seats?” Hutch whispered when they sat down in the comfortable chairs.


“Only the best for my lady,” Starsky whispered back.


Hutch leaned back on the velvet seat, sad all over again. What was he doing here, disturbing Starsky’s mourning? He felt uncomfortable intruding on Starsky's mourning and was to say so when the movie started.


Starsky grabbed his arm. “Do you remember going to see this years ago? They stick together until the end, no matter what.”


“Yeah. I like Newman and Redford's acting, and the raindrop song is great.” Hutch knew how to play the bouncy song on his guitar.


“That's a nice song.” Starsky didn’t let go of Hutch’s sleeve all through the opening scenes of Sundance's encounter with a belligerent poker player.


Relaxing, Hutch gave into Starsky's need to be connected and sat back to enjoy the show.


When the two outlaws were confronted with a posse pursuing them and joined hands to jump from the cliff, Starsky whispered, “Same thing we would have done, huh?” and Hutch nodded in the darkness, squeezing Starsky’s arm gently.


From time to time, Hutch turned to watch Starsky’s face. Starsky looked intrigued and concentrated, sometimes even smiling at familiar scenes or when Butch and Sundance characters bantered over their fate with the posse.


“They’re almost like us, Hutch. Teasing each other, but depending on each other. Like me and thee.”


Hutch felt Starsky’s look at him, and their gaze met in the dark theatre.


“Thank you,” Starsky whispered, and he leaned close until their heads touched.


Hutch felt disconnect from the real world. The love he felt for his partner had become so overwhelming that it was hard to breathe. At a loss for words, he said in Starsky’s ear, “I’m glad to be here with you.”


Starsky's cheeks bunched up as he smiled, nodding. Starsky sat up again, concentrating on the movie.


Hutch pretended to watch the story unfold, but his thoughts were distracted by Starsky’s behavior. Even though the next few weeks would be hard, Starsky would be able to cope with Terry’s loss with Hutch at his side. They would face the future together, even though Starsky had lost his beloved lady. But they still had each other – like Butch and Sundance. Hutch smiled.


At the denouement of the movie, Butch and Sundance were holed up in Bolivia, facing off with the Bolivian police. Starsky grabbed for Hutch’s hand. “Why do they have to die? Isn’t there a way out of the situation?" he whispered. "I always hated the ending. I’m glad Terry doesn’t see this.”


“I read somewhere that by freezing the end shot, George Roy Hill was trying to symbolize that maybe they didn’t die but survived. To provide a happy ending for those who needed it,” Hutch said, covering Starsky’s hand in return. He felt strangely comforted by the close bond he had with Starsky. Whenever one of them felt bad, the other one was there, offering a hug or some comforting words, just like now.


“Oh, that sounds good. For me, they survived, that’s for sure.” Starsky sat up straighter, releasing Hutch’s hand.


When the light went on, Starsky stood, offering Hutch a hand to pull him up. Only a couple of other patrons had watched the movie with them. Slowly, Hutch followed Starsky out of the cinema, with the images of the movie still playing in his head.


It was dark outside, and Hutch wondered where the day had gone. So much had happened. What now? Hutch looked at Starsky who was about to unlock the door of his car. “Ready to go home?” Hutch asked.


Starsky looked back at him with a strange expression on his face. Was it embarrassment? Hutch could only guess.


Finally, Starsky said, “I’d love to do one more thing to say goodbye to Terry. But you don’t have to come with me…”


“Where else would I want to be but with you?” Hutch asked, curious what else Starsky might have planned.


Standing by the Torino, Starsky hesitated as if searching for words.


“Spill it out. Another ride on the Ferris wheel?” Hutch joked.


“No, but it has something to do with heights,” Starsky said, smiling shyly. He pointed at Hutch’s car. “I suggest we leave your car at your place and I'll show you where I want to go.”


“Okay, but aren’t you hungry? I could use a decent meal.” Hutch was used to Starsky complaining that he was starving. But this day was so different.


“You’re right.” Starsky patted his stomach. “There’s a Chinese restaurant Terry and I used to go to. She loved the chop suey. I’ll show you." Starsky slid in his car, waving at Hutch. "I'll meet you at Venice Place."


Hutch waved back, starting the car. He took the shortest way home, knowing that Starsky would be waiting for him. Starsky was a fast driver and would probably be there before Hutch arrived.


Hutch was right. Starsky parked at the curb in front of the apartment building. It was chilly, so Hutch grabbed his jacket and joined Starsky in the Torino.


Starsky looked at him. "I want to go somewhere high. Terry and I liked to do that, to watch thousands of lights illuminate the city.” He started the car, steering toward the highway.


“I know some places with nice views. What were you thinking about?” Hutch asked. He hadn't gone out that often with Starsky and Terry, and was interested to hear what they had done in their free time. Far too often, Starsky had had to cancel a date because he and Hutch had to work. The life of a cop, Hutch thought sourly. Terry had to wait for Starsky many lonely nights.


“Near Griffith Park, there is a nice place where you can look over the city. A romantic spot to share with a date,” Starsky said with bitterness in his voice. Hutch couldn’t do anything but put his hand on Starsky’s thigh, transferring some warmth through the fabric of Starky’s jeans.


“It’s all right,” Starsky said, looking straight ahead. He pulled the car to a stop in front of a one story diner called “Chinese Paradise”.


“Here we go.” Starsky killed the engine. “I'll have some chop suey, as usual. What about you?”


“The same.” Hutch smiled and got out of the car.


“You can stay here. They have a takeout. I’ll be back in a minute,” Starsky assured him.


“I could use the bathroom,” Hutch said, stretching his limbs.


Starsky snapped his fingers. “Good idea.”


All of a sudden, he sounded like the old Starsky, and Hutch inhaled deeply. The day had started in the worst possible way, but it must have helped to think of the good times Starsky had with Terry. Hutch was glad to see that his friend didn’t look so pale like before, and food would do them both good.


Twenty minutes later, they had driven up a high view point in the Griffith Park hills. “We can eat outside unless it’s too chilly. I always told Terry to take her jacket to keep her warm,” Starsky said, taking his box of food out of Hutch’s hand.


“Let’s see if it’s still warm enough.” Hutch scrambled out of the car, juggling his box and the two drinks. Starsky sat down on the edge of a soft rise. He reached out his hand to help Hutch sit down by his side.


They opened their Chinese food boxes, releasing the delicious aroma of beef, onions and celery over rice. Hutch’s stomach grumbled in response.


“Was that mine or yours?” Starsky asked, listening for any more signs of hunger.


“I’m really hungry. I had only a donut and a drink in the Fairy Tale Amusement Park,” Hutch said, taking a first bite from his hot meal.


“I didn’t have anything at all today. Yesterday evening I had dinner with Terry. It was the normal hospital food, nothing special. If I had known …” Starsky’s voice broke and he busied himself eating rice and taking a sip from his drink.


“When I came to see Terry and you at noon today, I had bought some flowers and some donuts, “Hutch said, thinking back to the horrifying dread he'd felt upon entering an empty room. He shivered.


As if he had sensed Hutch’s discomfort, Starsky slid closer, bumping hips with him. “Terry had a quiet night, but this morning she got restless," Starsky said quietly. "Her eyesight was gone again. It wasn't more than an hour before we both knew it would be over soon.” Starsky put his food aside and looked over the city, illuminated by pinpoints of light.


All of a sudden, Hutch’s hunger was gone. He slid an arm around Starsky’s shoulders and pulled him close. “What a terrible moment. Do you want to talk about it?”


Starsky shook his head, leaning heavily against Hutch. “It was just too unbearable for me. I can tell you only so much, because I ran away when it was over. I couldn’t stop running, it was as if I could escape the loss of Terry that way.”


“I know how you feel.” Hutch shifted until he was sitting behind Starsky, with both legs bracketing his hips. He snaked his arms around Starsky’s body and held him tight. There was no need to talk. Both of them sat in mutual sorrow, looking down at Bay City. Hutch felt Starsky’s body heat seep into him, and felt happy at this simple pleasure.


Starsky made a little remark, barely above a whisper.


Hutch couldn’t hear him. He bent his head next to Starsky’s and asked, “What d’you mean?”


Starsky turned his head to look at Hutch. Their faces touched by accident and their lips met.


Later, Hutch wondered why he hadn’t flinched, but neither had Starsky. Was it the desperation of Terry’s loss, the exhausting events of the day that made them both act out of the norm?


The only thing Hutch knew for sure was the wonderful feeling of kissing his best friend and partner.


When their embrace loosened, Hutch felt awkward, all clumsy and at odds with his body.


It was obvious that their shared kiss had embarrassed both of them. Starsky mumbled, “Sorry.” He shook his head, before reaching up to stroke Hutch’s cheek. “No, nothing to be sorry about. Today was the worst day of my life, but I still have one of the best things life can offer: you.”


Hutch locked eyes with the man who meant everything to him, remembering his conversation with Terry the day before. He leaned into Starsky’s palm and said, “I’ll be there for you – forever.”


“I love you too,” Starsky said, a glimmer of joie de vivre in his eyes.


The end





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