Hutch can feel the ‘what if’ coming before it’s asked. He marks his place in the book he’s chosen to read instead of watching the B movie that Starsky found on the TV. The movie was about time travel and he can all but hear the gears spinning in Starsky’s head as the movie comes to an end.
It’s useless to continue to be invested in the book. The questions will come and not stop. Hutch knows he can get away with ignoring them for a little while but eventually Starsky will make him listen. Most likely by asking the same question three or four times until Hutch answers. It’s best to just face this weird flight of fancy head on.
Hutch reaches over and places the book on the coffee table. In one deft move, he flips over from his side to his back, keeping his head resting on Starsky’s thigh.
Mentally he counts down 3…2…1
And looks up to meet Starsky’s gaze just as Starsky asks, “What if time machines did exist?” and looks down to meet Hutch’s eyes. “What if we could know the future?”
“Then there wouldn’t be a need for the Madam Yram’s of this world,” Hutch states. It’s too late at night to get into one of these thought exercises that Starsky likes so much. But something in Starsky’s gaze holds Hutch’s attention.
“I’m serious, Blintz. It’d be nice to be able to see how things work out.” Starsky looks thoughtful.
Starsky reaches down and smooths a strand of Hutch’s hair back. “I’d…it’s dumb. Nevermind. I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.”
“Find out what?” Hutch asks, finding himself actually curious where this train of thought will lead. He sits up, turning his whole attention to Starsky.
“Will there ever be a future where we can make honest men out of each other, get hitched?”
Hutch considers it for a moment, really mulling the idea over in his head. “I guess so. I mean, the world progresses a little more each day…” He loves Starsky with every fiber of his being. He wants to spend every moment possible with him until, well, ‘death do us part’. He’s just resigned to the fact that it isn’t legally possible. Right now, he’s just happy to be with Starsky like this and not have to fight his feelings anymore. He’s committed, in love, and happier than he’s ever been. And knows that Starsky feels the same way. “I don’t see why not. We just have to be patient.”
“It’s hard for me to be patient. I just want to know…” Starsky pauses, putting his thoughts together. “I guess I want to know how things turn out. Know that one day, I’ll get to point to you, say that’s my husband.”
“If I could, I would go to the courthouse with you now, Starsk,” Hutch says. He leans in and kisses Starsky softly. “I want the same future you do. I’m sure we’ll get it one day. In the meantime, we’ll do what we can.”
Starsky nods and Hutch decides to pursue this train of thought. These little moments where he gets to see parts of Starsky he never knew when they were just friends are still exciting and enriching, a year and a half since becoming romantically involved. He’s always keen to learn more. He hopes he never gets tired of learning new things about the man he loves so deeply.
“Okay, let’s say, just for argument’s sake,” Hutch starts, “that maybe you can’t go forward but you could go back. Not touch or change anything but sit down with yourself at, oh, let’s say, seventeen-years-old and tell him how things work out in the future.”
Starsky looks contemplative. “Wouldn’t that change everything that’s happened though?”
Hutch shakes his head. “Not necessarily. It would just be nice to know. There is something kind of bittersweet about having gotten here, now, and not being able to let myself know how things work out.”
“Like what, for instance?”
“So, if I could sit down with my seventeen-year-old self, I’d tell him that you won’t always be stuck with Minnesota cold. That one day, you’ll spend your Christmases on the beach and spend your Halloweens in heat waves,” Hutch starts. He would want to say more, but he can’t put the words to it. Emotion can be hard for him. Words generally come easily but the right ones — the emotional ones — take a little longer.
Starsky shakes his head. “For bein’ the one to propose this little game, you sure stink at it.”
“Well, smart guy, what would you tell yourself at seventeen?”
“First, I’d tell my seventeen-year-old self where the Playboy Magazine is hidden: in the closet, under some awful sweaters, and above some puzzles my great-aunt gave me for Hanukkah one year. That way I’d know it was really me.” Starsky lovingly taps Hutch’s nose with his index finger. “Gotta think of these things, Blondie. Then, I’d tell myself that…”
Starsky turns serious and Hutch pulls back so he can actively listen.
“I’d tell myself that I need to not take any time I get with John Blaine for granted. Maybe listen to him more when he tells me that people are… just people. ‘Be as nice as you can to everyone, David. You don’t have to like what they do, but they’re just people trying to get along in this mixed up world.’ I always thought it was strange, but since we…” Starsky gestures between them. Hutch has his hand resting on Starsky’s knee, listening intently. “We stopped pretending about what we mean to each other, I think I get what he was trying to say. We just are people, no matter what. And I’d tell myself that, yes, one day, I’d find a blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty, but she won’t be five foot tall and weigh 110 pounds. In fact, she will not be a she at all. She will be a tall, good looking, remarkably strong man. Not to mention good hearted. And smart. Maybe not so graceful sometimes.” Starsky lightly pokes Hutch in the shoulder, smiling with his teasing smile.
Hutch snorts a little and pushes back lightly on Starsky’s shoulder.
Starsky takes a moment to lean in and kiss him softly, smoothing back a strand of Hutch’s hair before he continues. “I’ll fight my attraction for years. He will be my best friend ever. People will constantly joke about being each other’s other half. And one day, one day all the puzzle pieces fit. Just like that…” Starsky snaps his fingers for emphasis. “It’s going to be weird and awkward at points but the first time you sleep in the same bed on purpose and wake up next to your prince, it will be magical, like the world finally comes alive.”
Hutch nuzzles his head against Starsky’s shoulder and gently squeezes his knee. “Oh, my love,” he manages. Starsky pulls him close and kisses his temple.
“Then I’d tell him that one day he’ll be the recipient of the best, most astonishing, blow jobs on at least a weekly basis.” Starsky chuckles. “He’ll just have to wait and wade through some crappy ones for a while.”
“Really? That’s how you’d end that moment with your past self?”
“I never did like soapy scenes. But at seventeen, well, I really only cared about one thing.”
“Yeah, you’re not much removed from that mindset now,” Hutch gently teases. He rolls his eyes but laughs. Then he settles back into position, nestled up next to Starsky. Starsky gently kisses the top of his head.
“Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants. Now that you know how to do it, what would you really tell a seventeen-year-old Blond Blintz?”
Hutch nods. “I’d prove it’s me by saying I know he doesn’t have any physical hidden objects, but I know he has a secret. That even he doesn’t want to admit to himself sometimes. I know that he often has dreams about Gene Vincent. Those dreams that make him wake up sweaty and sticky. Not just Gene Vincent but other boys as well.”
Starsky lets out a soft “Oh, babe.”
“Yeah, well… only I would know that. I never told a soul, not even my sister. I told her everything,” Hutch says, shrugging. “The next thing I would say is it won’t be an easy ride all the time. The road is going to twist and turn and be downright scary at some points. But it will be worth it. And no, you won’t ever become a doctor. You’ll become something you never knew you wanted to be. That girl in your homeroom that just transferred in from the other side of town? She’s going to be your steady. She’s going to be challenging and demanding but you’ll stick with her because that’s what people expect. You will learn from her, though. You’ll learn how not to treat a romantic partner. You’ll wonder often if there is something more.
“Minnesota will start to feel stifling. The cold, the dark, and the expectation of your whole family. It’s all going to wear you down. You’ll start to yearn to live life on your terms. Not your parents, not Vanessa’s, not anyone else’s. Yours. So, one day, only a half a semester into medical school, you’ll look at Vanessa, tell her that she needs to decide if she’ll stay with you and marry you, or break up but you’re moving to California. She’ll agree. You’ll marry in the courthouse, then the next day start the drive across 2,000 miles. And when you get out to Southern California, you’ll flip from job to job for a while, trying to get the luxurious life you think you want. That you know Van wants.
“You know you really just want to do good, you want to help people. More than make lots of money. And you’ll see an advertisement for the Bay City Police Academy. It will seem like a natural fit, almost like a calling. You’ll apply and start the academy the weekend after you turn 24.
“The first person that will speak to you other than an instructor will be the most handsome man you’ve ever seen. Even though it’s close cropped, you can tell his hair is curly. Like Gene Vincent’s. It’s what initially attracts you to him. You’re going to feel for this curly-haired man that same way — the dreams come back– but more intensely. But this guy, he’s got gorgeous blue eyes and, more importantly, he listens when you speak. More than your parents and so much more than Vanessa ever does. You’ll be fast friends. Fast friends and then best friends. You’ll form a world that no one else can enter. Not Vanessa, not other friends, no one. You’ll be something special.
“He’ll be the one you first tell when Vanessa leaves for good. You’ll want to confess your feelings then but you don’t want him to see you as…” Hutch sighs, recalling the long struggle with his attraction to Starsky. “Queer. You’ll settle on being a best friend, the very best friend. And then one day, you’ll almost…”
Hutch stops, swallowing hard, trying to keep the catch that comes when he remembers the day he almost lost Starsky out of his voice. “One day you’ll realize life is painfully short. And in a fit of madness, out of nowhere seemingly, you’ll kiss him. Full on the lips. It will come when you least expect it. You’re going to look at him, and just read something in his eyes and feel something in the air. You’ll lean in, and kiss him softly, at first.”
“So softly, I didn’t even register it had happened.” Starsky says, gently caressing the side of Hutch’s face.
Hutch nods. “He won’t react. You’ll kiss him harder, pull back and try to come up with the words to explain what just happened. Because you’ll be convinced you, frankly, messed up everything. But he’ll look at you, with so much love and adoration and ask, ‘What on Earth took you so damn long, Blintz?'”
Hutch pulls back to look at Starsky and leans up. Starsky wraps his arm around Hutch’s shoulders, and dips him back slightly, there on the couch. He leans in and kisses Hutch deeply, slipping his tongue into Hutch’s mouth.
Hutch kisses back, just as passionately. He slides a hand under the tail of Starsky’s shirt, caressing his back, the other he threads through Starsky’s hair. He loses himself in the kiss, loses himself in the moment, loses himself in Starsky.
When they finally break away, Hutch leans against Starsky again, with a small hum of contentment. “You know what else I’d tell myself, Starsk?”
“The moment you kiss that wonderful man and he kisses back will be the moment you know true happiness and fulfillment. The swirling thoughts that have always followed you will settle when you’re with him. Some people talk about the earth moving, but there is a quiet calm in your head and heart that comes when he kisses you, touches you, even just looks at you. That is how you’ll know this is the forever you want.”
Hutch snuggles up close to Starsky, who pulls him even closer. Hutch listens to the steady beat of Starsky’s heart. He savors the peace and tranquility. At seventeen he’d never dreamed of having this.
Now it’s like it was destined to be.