They lay tangled in the sheets, relaxed in each other's arms, their loving having helped cushion them from the case. Hutch gently kissed Starsky on the forehead, as his lover reached out and gently stroked his chest. "Hey."
Starsky smiled his dreamy smile. "Hey, back at ya."
"Starsk, I hate to say this, but I think we need to talk to Huggy. Tonight."
Dark eyes opened wide and Starsky nodded. "Yeah. I think you're right."
The Pits was quiet when they got there. Anita was behind the bar, washing glasses. The place looked empty, but Anita caught their eyes and nodded toward the back. The first hint Hutch had was when Starsky pulled up short in front of him, tensing. Peering into the gloom, Hutch could see Huggy tucked into one of the booths in the back. Hutch placed a hand on Starsky's back, as he moved past him toward the booth. Starsky followed close behind.
Huggy didn't acknowledge them as they approached. Hutch didn't wait for an invitation. He slid into the booth opposite Huggy, and Starsky followed him in. The thin man had wedged himself into a corner, one leg propped up in the seat. He had a glass in one hand and a bottle of whiskey on the table in front of him.
"Huggy," Hutch greeted him carefully.
Starsky eyed the bottle and the glass. "You drunk?"
Huggy snorted. "Wish to God I was. Might not hurt so damn much."
Hutch slumped back. "You heard. About the kid?"
Huggy took another sip. "Yeah. My sources on the street." His voice was laced with sarcasm.
"Sorry, Huggy. We should've called."
Huggy shrugged. "You get the bastards?"
"That's all that matters." Huggy downed his drink and reached for the bottle.
Starsky got there first. He picked up the bottle and ran his thumb over the label. "Can we join you?"
Huggy shrugged and raised his voice. "Hey, Anita!"
Anita looked over, and Huggy waved his glass in the air. "Two glasses."
Hutch shot Starsky a glance, then lifted his voice. "Anita, make that two beers instead."
Anita brought over two beers and set them down on the table. She flashed a tight, worried look at Starsky, and quietly tilted her head toward Huggy, before turning and walking away without saying a word. She didn't have to as far as Starsky was concerned; she was worried about Huggy and expected them to help. Anita disappeared back into the kitchen, leaving them alone.
Hutch took a sip, then set his glass down. "You know the kid well?"
"Nah. Saw her a time or two. He didn't bring her in here." Huggy contemplated his glass. "She was a cutie, though. All smiles."
Starsky watched the foam on his beer as it slowly went down. "How's Alejandro's ma holding up?"
"She's not." Huggy shifted in his seat, moving to sit opposite them. "Lost her son and granddaughter in one fell swoop." He reached for the bottle and refilled his glass. "Seems like not a day goes by that someone doesn't walk through the door and say, 'Hug, ya hear that Sam OD'd?' or 'Jackie's pimp beat her to death last night'." Huggy took a drink "So tell me, my friends." His voice was both angry and sarcastic. "How long before someone walks through that door and says, 'Hear the news, Huggy? Starsky and Hutch got killed last night'."
Starsky made a sound--a cross between denial and protest--but Hutch nudged him quiet.
The blond leaned forward. "Huggy, about the other night--"
Dark eyes flicked over his face and away. "Was told it's none of my business."
Hutch winced at having his own words flung back in his face. Huggy continued to stare into the pale gold liquid. "You damn careless bastards." Huggy's head came up and his dark eyes held theirs in turn. "Bad enough when I had to worry about the streets killing you, now I gotta worry about your fellow cops. Wasn't it enough when Gunther drilled your ass?" Huggy's voice rose to a shout.
Hutch shook his head. "We don't like having to think about it all the time. Having it hanging over our heads."
Huggy threw himself back against the padded seat. "Like having to worry if the next guy who comes in here is a racist who will take offense? Been there, bro. Wondering if the next white man I meet is gonna call me 'nigger'." He shook his head. "For two street-smart cops, you guys've got no clue."
Starsky stared into his beer. "It's not that we were careless. It was you, Huggy, and I didn't think we needed to hide from you."
Hutch nodded. "You've always been there. Through the worst and the best. Maybe we just took it for granted. Took you for granted."
"Hutch and me..." Starsky took a deep breath. "It'd be hard to lose you, Huggy."
"The worst part? When it happens to one of you? I'll be the one who gets to pick up the pieces of the other one and watch him die right in front of me."
"Huggy--" Starsky put his drink down and leaned forward.
Huggy poked a thin finger at him. "Don't 'Huggy' me, my man. I saw what Hutch went through. You die, and he won't be far behind. How do you think that makes me feel?"
Starsky looked stricken. Hutch put his leg along Starsky's and pressed it gently. The three of them sat for a moment in silence.
"What's the alternative, Hug?" Hutch's voice was just a whisper.
Starsky leaned against Hutch's shoulder. "What happens if Hutch and I leave the streets, leave the force? What happens then?"
Huggy rubbed his face with his hand. There was a dampness around his eyes that was whisked away. "You live. You get off the streets. You're safe. Protected."
"What happens to the people we leave behind?"
Huggy looked away.
"We're good at what we do, Huggy." Hutch took a sip from his beer.
"I know you are...but I am sick to death of losing friends, and I don't want to lose you." Huggy's voice cracked, and, for just a moment, he covered his eyes.
Starsky got that sly shy smile on his face. "So?" His voice questioning. "So, we're still friends?"
Huggy snorted, wiping his eyes. "Hell, yes. At least until you pay your damn tab. After that, I may have to reconsider."
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