It wasn't the light that woke him, although the sharp sunlight, stabbing through the tiny opening where the curtains didn't quite meet, finished the job. A tiny tug on his hand had brought him out of his alcoholic fuzz of sleep. He moved slightly, the soft sweep of fur across the back of his hand reminding him of Ollie, one of the two gifts Terry had left behind for him to tend. Rubbing at his eyes, he opened them to find the other.
It all rushed back at him then - the Monopoly game, the sentinel bottles emptied of beer surrounding them, a drunken long-distance phone call to Canada that had brought on snorting laughter until the clock had somberly tolled midnight.
A friend, his best friend, drowning in the murky waters of mourning, who'd allowed himself to be led to the bed after extracting a sober promise that Hutch would sit with him until the morning.
And then he realized that it wasn't Ollie that Hutch had felt against his skin. His hand rested against Starsky's naked, hairy chest, clasped there by Starsky's own hand.
Resolutely, he pushed his sudden, needy thoughts away. He ignored the dauntless sense of rightness that the innocent touch brought him. He squeezed his eyes shut, and behind his eyelids he saw himself leaning over and pressing a gentle kiss on lips that so recently trembled in grief.
Reluctantly, he tried to pull his hand away, to leave the bedroom and abandon those inappropriate thoughts in the room with Starsky where they would wither for lack of attention, to take himself out for a run or a walk or a swim, anything to beat the lonely ideas and the wrong, so wrong wants and needs out of his head, out of his own broken heart.
But Starsky gripped more tightly, pulled on his hand and shifted his own body closer.
"You okay, buddy?"
"Not if you leave."
He summoned the courage from somewhere, turned his head to gaze upon his friend, and squeezed Starsky's hand. "I'm not going anywhere."
"You needed me last night as much as I needed you."
Hutch blinked. "Why do you think that?"
"You called my name while you were asleep."
"I did?" Hutch tried to gather the shattered remnants of his darker dreams. "What did I say?"
Starsky turned on his side, brushed at Hutch's hair. "You said you loved me."
"You know I do, Starsk. We say that all the time."
Starsky shook his head. "Not like that."
Hutch felt himself go pale, like every bit of blood had gone for his feet. His heart hammered. "St-Starsk, I- it's – a-a dream, that's all."
"Hutch. I know you."
He stared into the deep blue eyes, dulled and reddened by tears and booze and a too-short night. "Yes."
"Listen. I'm not saying I feel the same way. Or at least, not right now. Raw, you know? God, it hurts." Starsky turned away, sad eyes staring at the mirror over their heads. "But knowing that there's someone who is still here, who does love me…I think it'll go a long way to helping. You understand?"
Hutch rolled up onto his elbow. "Starsky."
"Hush, Hutch. Just let me work this through and out, back me up, and we'll talk…soon. Just, wait for me, can ya?"
Forever, he thought. "Where else am I going to go?"
"I love ya too, you know."
Hutch rolled to his back, stared at the same mirror without meeting Starsky's eyes, and squeezed the hand that hadn't relinquished its hold. "I know."