Starsky walked into the dark, dingy nightclub. He wasn't entirely sure why he'd come. He'd been away from Bay City for two years. After his shooting, when he'd been released from the hospital, he'd told Hutch he needed some time away from the city. He'd gone to visit his mother, and when she'd passed away unexpectedly, he'd stayed in New York to handle her affairs. And when that was done, he'd just stayed. Stayed away from Bay City, stayed away from the man who aroused feelings in him that he didn't know how to handle anymore.

And then when the two-year anniversary of the shooting came around, he knew he had to go back. He had to see Hutch again. He had to find out if there was anything left of their relationship. He'd picked up an entertainment paper and discovered that his partner - former partner - was singing in this club. And that was why he was here. He hadn't told Hutch he was coming. Hutch didn't even know he was back.

The blond man came on stage. Starsky caught his breath at the sight. It was his first glimpse of Hutch in two years. He looked about the same. His hair might be a little shorter, but he still had the mustache. Then Hutch started to sing 'Black Bean Soup.' Starsky smiled, but tears pricked behind his eyes. He'd heard his partner sing that song many times.

Hutch scanned the audience, looking for a familiar face, the way he always did. He told himself it was a stupid thing to do. Starsky wouldn't be here. Starsky was in New York. But he did it just the same. And then he saw him. There was Starsky, sitting at a table near the back of the room. He'd almost missed him. Probably that was intentional on Starsky's part.

Starsky had walked out of his life two years ago, after almost dying in a shooting. He'd said he needed some time away and had gone to his mother's. When Mrs. Starsky had died suddenly, Hutch had offered to fly out there for the funeral, hoping to offer his friend some comfort. But Starsky had refused, saying that it would just be a few family members, not a big deal, and thanked him for the offer. That had been the last time they'd talked.

Now Starsky was here. Hutch wondered if it had anything to do with the anniversary date of the shooting. As he sang 'Black Bean Soup', he didn't take his eyes off the other man. He had a song that he always kept in reserve, just in case Starsky ever came back. One he would only sing if he knew Starsky was listening. Now that he was here, Hutch knew it was time for that song. When he finished 'Black Bean Soup', he took a deep breath and began.

"This song is for an old friend of mine," he announced, not sure how he was controlling his voice. "David, if you're listening, this is for you - for us," he added.

You and I
Can share the silence
Finding comfort together
The way old friends do
And after fights
And words of violence
We'll make up with each other
The way old friends do
Times of joy
And times of sorrow
We will always see it through, oh
I don't care
What comes tomorrow
We can face it together
The way old friends do
We can face it together
The way old friends do

You and I
Can share the silence
Finding comfort together
The way old friends do
And after fights
And words of violence
We'll make love with each other
The way old friends do ..."

By the time he finished the song, the tears were streaming down his face, and he couldn't see Starsky anymore.

In the audience, Starsky heard his name. "David." Funny, Hutch had never called him by his first name before. And then the song started and he forgot everything else. The words could have been written for the two of them. When he heard the line, "We'll make love with each other, the way old friends do" at first he thought he'd heard it wrong. The first verse had said, "We'll make up with each other." God knew he and Hutch had things to make up. They hadn't recovered from Kira before he'd been shot, and then he'd left without trying to work things out. They'd certainly had some 'words of violence' over her. But maybe he hadn't. Maybe Hutch meant it to sound that way, or maybe the songwriters had. He didn't know, but he had to find out. Almost before he knew it, he had left his table and was heading backstage. A bouncer tried to stop him, but he flashed his badge and was let through. He had no idea if he still had a right to that badge, but he'd worry about that later. For now, he had to see Hutch.

Hutch made his way to the converted closet that served as "dressing room" for performers. He wasn't looking where he was going. He could barely see for the tears in his eyes. He'd searched the audience when the song ended, but Starsky was nowhere to be seen.

Then he was almost knocked to the ground by the force of the hug he found himself enveloped in. He knew without looking that it was Starsky. He closed his eyes and held on for dear life, revelling in the feeling of his best friend in his arms once more. Two years. Two years, and he'd never given up hope that Starsky would come back, and he had. But was he back for good?

Even though he wanted to hold the other man forever, he knew that they weren't alone, and Starsky reluctantly released Hutch. "It's good to see you, Blondie," he said, even though the words were wholly inadequate for what he was really feeling.

"It's good to see you too, Starsk. How've you been?"

"Rotten, without you," the darker man replied. "Listen, can we go somewhere? I want to talk to you - alone."

"My place?" Hutch offered.

"Let's go," was Starsky's immediate response.

The club was walking distance from Hutch's apartment at Venice Place, so the two men walked there. The streets were almost deserted, but neither of them would have noticed anyone but each other anyway. Because there were so few people around, Starsky felt safe in reaching for Hutch's hand and holding it in his own while they walked. Even if they were living in the 1980s, it still wasn't always safe for two men to hold hands in public.

When they arrived in Hutch's apartment, they just stood and looked at each other for a long moment.

"I have so many things to say," Starsky finally said. "But I don't know where to start."

"How about at the beginning?" Hutch suggested. "When you left, two years ago, you said you wanted to get away for awhile. Why?"

Starsky groaned. "Because I was having all these feelings for you, and they were making me crazy. The only solution I could come up with was to put some distance between us until I figured out what to do. When I couldn't figure out what to do, I stayed away."

"And now?" Hutch wanted to know. "Why did you come back?"

Starsky smiled a bit sadly. "Because I couldn't stay away from you."

"Are you back for good?"

"If you want me to be."

"Those feelings that you didn't know what to do with - do you still have them?"

"Yeah," the other man answered. "I do. Hutch, that song you sang, the one you said was for me - did you mean it?"

"Did I mean what part of it?"

"The part about making up with each other, and making love with each other. That part."

"I wouldn't have sung it if I didn't mean it. I only sang it because I knew you were there in the audience, and I hoped you would listen to the words."

Starsky took his friend and partner into his arms. "I listened. I want to do that, do both of those things - make up, and make love. With you, and no one but you." They kissed. "I love you, Blondie."

Hutch's smile was brilliant. "I love you too, Starsk. With all of my heart."

"Can we do some of that making up now?"

"Only if the making love part goes along with it."

And they did.


Song "The Way Old Friends Do" (c) 1980 by B. Ulvaeus and B. Andersson