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*As time goes on

I realize

Just what you mean

To me

And now

Now that you're near

Promise your love

That I've waited to share*


Thanks to the hard work and of their mutual friends and the stubborn determination of their very efficient offspring, former partners David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson managed to have their reunion at the new establishment of old friend, Huggy Bear Brown. Both Captain Dobey and Huggy Bear figured that his place was the one venue in town where the three men would be comfortable enough to let their hair down and speak freely with each other.

The Cave Inn was a tony rooftop eatery that Huggy Bear had brought into with the proceeds from selling his bar, called ‘The Pits’, several years ago. The new place was on the roof of a better than average hotel located not far away from where the bar used to be, except that now it inhabited a ritzier location in downtown Bay City.

Inside of an hour Starsky and Hutch learned that Huggy Bear had finally come to his senses and stopped jumping from enterprise to enterprise, settling finally on owning one successful business and then starting a family. He had a beautiful wife named Vivian and three nearly grown children of his own, two sons and a daughter. Huggy even looked older and wiser, though he still dressed with the same unique flare that he’d exhibited twenty or so years ago. The same Huggy Bear slyness lingered behind those dark brown eyes of his. Never a man to carry all of his eggs in one basket, he also ran a successful limousine service called Huggy’s Buggy’s, as a side venture.

Lieutenant Ken Hutchinson assessed the black man’s appearance as he was walking over to their table. He was holding a large pitcher of beer in one hand and a bowl of peanuts in the other. Hutch thought to himself that the black man had filled out a lot. He poured himself a beer from the pitcher. "You’ve gained a few pounds since I saw you last, Hug."

Huggy leaned over and patted Hutch’s not too insubstantial girth. "Will you look at what the pot’s callin’ the kettle?"

Starsky chimed in. "Let’s face it, Hutch, we’re married men with kids now. We’ve all put on a few pounds."

"Must be that good old home cookin’." Huggy added with a smile.

Hutch patted his own stomach. "Please, don’t remind me."

"So what’s been going on with you two? Anything I should know about?"

"Not a whole helluva lot, Huggy. We’ve just got a lot of catching up to do. It’s been a long time."

The blond smiled at him. "Yeah, how about those kids of ours? Cooking up this whole thing up just to get us together."

Huggy sniffed. "Well, from what I heard, you two weren’t doin’ so hot on your own, that’s for damn sure. Seems you dudes needed a swift kick in the pants to get the ball rolling. So now I’m gonna do my part and I’m gonna leave you two here to rap with each other. You need anything, just holler."

Both men watched with a smile as Huggy got up and left the table to go inside. They allowed some considerable silence to pass between them as each man searched for the courage to say what they’d been meaning to say to each other since it seemed time eternal.

Starsky spoke first; his hand reaching for Hutch’s from across the table. "Well, old buddy. It’s good to see you again. I missed ya…a lot."

"Same here."

"You know it really hurt my heart not to hear from you for so long. I thought we were all over."

Hutchinson hung his head, frowned. "I didn’t know what to do or what to say to you. I felt like I let you down, buddy, like I…I failed you somehow that day."

Starsky knew exactly which day he referring to. "Hey. Don’t beat yourself up like that. There was nothing you could’ve done about what happened to me. You did the best you could under the circumstances."

"God," The blond’s eyes were sent skyward, "I wish I could believe that."

"You’d better believe it, ‘cause if you don’t, then there’s nothing left. Gunther will have won his hand."

Hutchinson felt his chest tightened up, his eyes well up with what seemed to him unmanly tears. He cupped his right hand over Starsky’s as it laid over his left and bowed his head. "You’re my best friend, Starsky. You always will be. Nothing in this world is ever going to change that. Not distance or time or a thousand fools like Gunther."

"I know," Starsky paused. "You know, all the time I was in the hospital I had this feeling that you were the reason I pulled through."

The blond man lifted his head. "What did you say?"

"When I was in the hospital…they told me that I’d flat lined. I believe it was you that brought me back."

Hutch shook his head. "Don’t say that."

"No, I’ve got to, because it’s true. Maybe it was the thought of never seeing you again or not havin’ the chance to say goodbye to you…I don’t know. But I believe with all my heart that it was you who brought me back."

Hutchinson eyes found his friend’s. "You’re serious about this, aren’t you?"

"Yep, and that bein’ the case, I think it’s about time we said how we really feel about each other. Right here, right now, before it’s too late."

"It’s been too long already. I almost lost you once, Starsky. I’m not going to let this chance slip by me again. I love you, buddy. All those years I never said to you it out loud. I meant to."

"You never had to say it, Hutch. Words aren’t necessary between us. You’ve shown it, in so many ways. I always felt what was in your heart."

"Yeah, but you know, sometimes it’s still good to hear it."

"You’re right about that." Starsky took a deep breath and smiled. "What can I say, pal? You’ve been there for me, though thick and thin, through hurt, through all the joy and the pain. I love you more than my own brother, and I’m glad you’re my best friend."

Then there was nothing else to say. Both men broke down and began to weep. Their hands reached across the circular tabletop and grabbed each other at the back the neck, their foreheads coming together, touching, eyes closing in sweet relief as the release of emotions held so long in check were finally freed. After a moment, Starsky sniffled and looked up at his friend, feeling a little embarrassed.

"Look at us, grown men carryin’ on like to two old bitties." Starsky sniffed again, wiping away his shed tears using the back of his hand.

"Are you really that embarrassed, Starsk?"

Starsky grinned. "No. I’m not."

"Good, neither am I."

From his post a reverent distance away, Huggy Bear Brown watched his two friends and smiled.



JUNE 2002

The Academy graduation ceremony was a stately affair turned festive. Hundreds of parents and relatives, dressed in their glorious best, arrived at the training center to congratulate their sons and daughters as finished their progression from cadets to fledging police officers. Leading the crowd were David and Hannah Starsky, and their friends, Ken and Elsa Hutchinson. Their sons Michael and David stood nearby, resplendent in their cadet blues as they nervously waited for the program to start. Kat, David’s sister, stood close to her father as he watched the animated crowd find their seats.

Right before the ceremony was getting ready to start, Hutchinson silently looped his arm around Starsky’s and pulled him free of the throng of parents and their oblivious wives. Starsky gave him a serious look.

"What’s going on?"

"Come with me, I’ve got a surprise for you."

"Where’re we going?"

"Just come with me."

Starsky obediently followed the blond man, filled with curiosity, wondering what in the world his friend could possibly want to show him that was more important than their son’s graduation ceremony.

Hutch’s brisk step was hard for him to keep up with. Whatever he wanted him to see it must be pretty important and something that couldn’t wait. And it was obviously something pretty big.

When the two of them finally reached the Academy’s parking lot, the darker man and his fairer counterpart finally came upon it. Starsky's long cherished red and white striped Torino. It sat there like something out of a dream, polished and gleaming in the sunlight, magically unchanged from that fateful day that had sent them both reeling. It was decorated generously with streamers and balloons that said, "Congratulations" and "Good Luck". The tires shone like black licorice. Then Hutch pulled the car keys out of his pocket and handed them over to his partner.

"Here you go, old buddy. Go ahead, get in."

"Wow," Starsky said aloud, but it sounded solemn to his friend.

"Whatsa matter? Don’t you like it, Starsk?"

"It’s…it’s great, Hutch. It's just…"

"Oh, hell…" Hutch said,slapping his hand against his forehand. "It reminds you of what happened, doesn’t it? What the hell I was thinking? I’m really sorry, Starsk."

Starsky, touched with emotion, put his hand to Hutch’s elbow. "No, no, it’s not that. Seeing it again…well, it…it reminded me of how much I missed it. And... how much I’ve outgrown it." As he was saying the words he couldn’t help walking over to the car and opening the driver’s side door. He wistfully slid inside, taking it all in. The car looked and smelt the same. But it was a reminder of times that would never be again. Hutch stood outside and watched his friend for a moment, then knelt inside the open door. He beamed as he watched his old friend glide both of his hands across the steering wheel.

"Just like old times, huh, Starsk?"

Starsky frowned and shook his head. "No. Not quite."

Hutch looked worried. "No? How come?"

"’Cause you’re not sittin' next to me."

"Awww..." Hutch said to him, then he walked around to the passenger side of the car and got in. Starsky closed the driver side door and Hutch put his hand on his friend’s arm. David Michael Starsky nodded. This was the way it should be. Now the old memories could be locked away and treasured forever. There would be no more regrets. It was time for new beginnings, and the two of them vowed that they would begin making them, starting today.




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