WITH MY EYES OPEN

 

By

 

Nikki Harrington

 

Hutch realizes his feelings for Starsky go beyond those of just a working partner. But before he acts on them he wants to be quite sure he feels what he feels because he's made mistakes before.

A first time story.

Written: February 2013. Word count: 2,375.

 

 

Hutch sat next to Starsky watching his partner flirt with the pretty waitress, listening to him pay her compliments, tease her, laugh with her, look at her with his sexy look - the one that promised so much - smile at her, wink at her, do everything but actually ask her out.

 

There was nothing new in it; it was something Starsky did pretty much all the time: he flirted with most women he met no matter what their age was. He was even capable of making even the most upright, frosty spinster blush and smile like a young girl. Hutch wasn't even sure that Starsky was aware of quite how much he flirted, of just how much he oozed sex and sexuality, of just how attractive he was, of just how wonderful his smile was - how it could light up a room - of just how devastating his look, his laugh, the way he had to have just one more shirt button open than was strictly speaking necessary, of just how sexy the way his jeans seemed to be poured on could be. Starsky didn't seem to be aware of how devastatingly sexy and desirable he was.

 

And the thing was, Hutch hadn't really been aware of it either - not until today. Of course he'd recognized Starsky's basic animal sexuality, the way he swaggered and didn't walk, the way his gaze caressed you as he stared at you, the magical, mystical, tantalizing sound of his voice saying your name - he lived with it every day, of course he recognized it. But until today, until he sat next to his partner, watching him flirt with the waitress, Hutch hadn't really been aware of quite how devastatingly sexy and desirable his partner was.

 

But now that he'd become aware, now that he allowed himself to see and hear Starsky in the way a woman saw and heard him, now that he accepted he was far more attracted to his partner - his very male, very heterosexual partner - than he should be, he couldn't become unaware. He couldn't just shrug it off and go on seeing Starsky as his best friend, his partner, the man he worked with, hung out with, drank beer with and did so many other things with. He was in trouble; he was in deep trouble and he didn't know what to do about it.

 

As he sat next to Starsky it took him all his time not to tell the waitress to get lost, not to put his hand on Starsky and claim him as 'his'. After all he was the one who pretty much all but lived with Starsky given how much time they spent together on and off the job; he was the one Starsky called 'babe' and 'blondie'; he was the one Starsky loved; he was the one Starsky cared about; he was the one Starsky had rescued, just has he'd rescued Starsky; he was the one Starsky would kill for, die for, lie for, fight for; Starsky was his - or should be.

 

He was jealous of the waitress who in truth wasn't even Starsky's type - not that he was certain Starsky had a 'type', but he just knew the waitress wasn't it. Sure Starsky liked her, sure he was flirting with her, giving her the 'Starsky charm offensive', but Hutch knew they'd walk out of the diner without Starsky asking her out.

 

But that didn't help him at that moment. The more he saw and heard, the closer Starsky leaned to her, the more he oozed sexuality, the more Hutch wanted to grab him, drag him out of the diner and kiss him senseless.

 

"You okay, babe?" Suddenly Starsky turned to look at Hutch and a soft frown creased his forehead as he stared at Hutch.

 

Hutch swallowed and forced himself to smile. "Sure, Starsk," he said, hoping his tone sounded more convincing than he thought it did.

 

Starsky just went on staring at him for a moment; he seemed to be really studying him. Hutch just held the look and tried to look relaxed and normal (whatever that was). Finally, Starsky nodded, patted Hutch's thigh and said, "Good," before he turned his attention back to the waitress. However, he left his hand on Hutch's thigh where it sat warm and pleasantly heavy until he wiped his mouth with the paper napkin, stood up and stretched before managing to dig into the pocket of his jeans, quite how he got anything in them Hutch didn't know, pull out some bills and paid the check. Then with his hand in the small of Hutch's back he gave the waitress another long, slow wink and guided Hutch out of the diner and over to the Torino. He kept his hand on Hutch's back until Hutch got into the car.

 

TWO MONTHS LATER

 

Hutch sat next to Starsky watching his partner flirt with the pretty waitress, listening to him pay her compliments, tease her, laugh with her, look at her with his sexy look - the one that promised so much - smile at her, wink at her, do everything but actually ask her out.

 

Nothing had changed and yet everything had - or at least it seemed so to Hutch. Yes, Starsky still flirted with every female he met, was still as devastatingly sexy, still caused Hutch to grind his teeth and fight the green-eyed monster that tried to force its way out every time he had to watch Starsky with a girl, yes he was still the same David Michael Starsky he had always been and yet . . . And yet . . .

 

And yet Hutch also noticed something different. The flirting seemed almost to be a deliberate habit; it seemed as if for the first time ever Starsky was deliberately using a technique, one he'd spent years honing and that's all it was. There was a pattern to it; a pattern to the way he looked at woman, smiled at them, winked at them, spoke to them, showed off his body - it was as if it wasn't real.

 

And what suddenly seemed to be real was the way Starsky flirted with Hutch himself. He'd always flirted with Hutch, he'd always looked at him in a special way; he'd always touched him in ways most men didn't touch another man; he'd always spent time with Hutch; always cared about him - but suddenly it seemed different. It was as if Starsky was signaling his intention of interest in Hutch, beyond that of friendship, and suddenly Hutch didn't know what to do or say. He wanted to kiss Starsky, he wanted to touch him, he wanted to take him to bed, he wanted to - but something was stopping him.

 

"You okay, babe?" Suddenly Starsky turned to look at Hutch and a soft frown creased his forehead as he stared at Hutch.

 

Hutch swallowed and forced himself to smile. "Sure, Starsk," he said, hoping his tone sounded more convincing than he thought it did.

 

Starsky just went on staring at him for a moment; he seemed to be really studying him. Hutch just held the look and tried to look relaxed and normal (whatever that was). Finally, Starsky nodded, patted Hutch's thigh and said, "Let's get out of here," and before Hutch could reply Starsky wiped his mouth with the paper napkin, stood up and stretched before managing to dig into the pocket of his jeans, quite how he got anything in them, Hutch didn't know, pull out some bills and paid the check. Then with his hand in the small of Hutch's back he gave the waitress another long, slow wink and guided Hutch out of the diner and over to the Torino. He kept his hand on Hutch's back until Hutch got into the car.

 

Hutch sat next to Starsky in the Torino and tried not to fidget; something had happened; he didn't now what or why or what would happen next, but something had definitely happened. Starsky gunned the engine and in true Starsky fashion pulled away from the curb barely sparing a glance in his rear-view mirror or his side mirror.

 

"Where are we going?" Hutch asked.

 

Starsky took his eyes from the road for a moment and looked at Hutch; he seemed to think for a second or two before saying softly, "My place."

 

By the time they'd reached Starsky's apartment Hutch didn't know whether he wanted to race away as soon as he got out of the car or grab Starsky before he could get out of the car and kiss him or tell Starsky to take him home or go up to Starsky's apartment or - Or anything else.

 

He was still thinking about it when he found himself in Starsky's apartment, his jacket had been pulled off and he was sitting on the couch with a bottle of beer in his hand. Starsky sat in the chair opposite him, a bottle of beer in his own hand and he was staring at him, smiling at him.

 

And suddenly it hit Hutch: he knew that smile. Well, he'd never seen Starsky smile that way at him; he'd never seen Starsky smile that way at anyone. Yet he remembered it well. The last person to smile at him the way Starsky was smiling at him, almost mistily, had been Van - and that had not ended well. He'd gone into that relationship full of hope and expectation, blind really to any faults Van may have had, blinded to anything and everything except how much he loved her; how much he wanted her.

 

He couldn't do it again; he couldn't love someone in the way he'd loved Van; he couldn't love someone so blindly. When it ended, when it was over, when the other person walked away, he knew that he wouldn't be able to, he couldn't handle the pain, the hurt, the grief, the anger, the resentment, the devastating realization that he had failed again.

 

He was being offered what he wanted; that was more than clear from the way Starsky was looking at him - but he suddenly wasn't sure he wanted it; he wasn't certain he could afford to want it. If he did this, if he and Starsky moved beyond friends and partners, then he had to have his eye wide open when he went into the relationship. Because if Starsky did to him what Van had done to him, he would never survive.

 

"Hey, babe," Starsky drawled getting up from the chair and coming to sit down next to Hutch on the couch. "Don't look so scared, it's only me." Carefully he put his hand on Hutch's thigh - something he'd done on many occasions. For the first time ever Hutch jumped. Starsky blinked in surprise, but didn't take his hand away. "What's the matter, blondie," he said softly, putting his beer down on the coffee table and touching Hutch's hair, brushing it back from his face.

 

"I can't, Starsk," Hutch blurted out. "I want to but I can't."

 

"Can't what, babe?"

 

"Can't fall in love with you."

 

Starsky stared at him for a moment before saying softly, "She did a real number on you, didn't she?" Hutch just bit his lip, not entirely certain what to say. "I'm not her. I wouldn't hurt you."

 

"You can't know that," Hutch said. "No one can."

 

"Me and thee," Starsky said softly. "Me and thee, Hutch. Just as it's always been."

 

Hutch swallowed and took a sip of the beer. Could he risk it? Could he trust Starsky? Could he let his defenses fall and go into this? And then he realized; it wasn't about risk or trust or letting his defense fall. It was about knowing and he knew all the signs; he knew he'd never be the na´ve, trusting, eyes closed, Kenneth Hutchinson he'd been back when Van had taken his heart, his love, his trust, his loyalty and thrown it all away.

 

He was older, wiser, more cynical, he trusted few people; his eyes had been opened to the real world when Van had broken his heart, broken him. Love ended; love died; it didn't matter how much you thought you loved someone, how much you believed they loved you, how much you wanted it to be for life - it never was. Love ended; trust ended; happiness ended; being together ended. In the end you were left with what you'd come into the world with: nothing; in the end the only person you could truly rely on was yourself.

 

He knew that now; Van had taught him that lesson; Van had opened his eyes to the bitterness and despair of love. He knew what to expect now; he'd never be the man he had been; he'd never want to be that man again. You couldn't put the genie back onto the bottle, just as you couldn't close your eyes once they'd been opened.

 

He took another sip of beer, sighed, looked deeply into Starsky's eyes that were offering him, that promising him love, a future, trust, reassurance, faithfulness, kindness, hope, togetherness and he nodded.

 

He could do this; he could let Starsky love him; he could let Starsky offer him a future; promise him trust; offer him reassurance; promise him faithfulness, and he'd accept the offers and promises, until the day they went away - because that day would come. He would go into a relationship beyond that of friends and partners with the man he loved, the man he wanted to kiss, touch, take to bed and he'd keep his eyes well and truly wide open and not let the devastating sexiness and love fool him. And it would be all right.

 

It would be all right when Starsky kissed him, patted him on the back and walked away. It would be all right because Hutch's eyes were wide open and he knew what would happen.

 

He smiled, put his beer down, moved a little nearer to Starsky and slid his arms around him as he moved his mouth to cover Starsky's. "Me and thee, Starsk," he whispered as his lips met Starsky's and they began to kiss.

 

 

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