It was dark when he quietly opened the door, making sure to put the key back on the ledge above the portal before he silently entered the place. Although he could barely see, he knew his way around his partner’s apartment, almost as well as he knew his way around his own. He was also cognizant of the fact that Hutch was sleeping; he could hear the blond’s slow and heavy breathing coming from the bedroom alcove, as his eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness within. Somehow the sound of Hutch’s soft snores were soothing and almost comforting to the weary, dark haired biker.
The brunet silently walked into the alcove where his partner slept, his slow, deliberate movements were cautious and almost predatory. There was a sort of animal grace to the swagger of the man who walked over to the side of the moonlit room, only to stand quietly in the shadowy corner; his dark blue eyes narrowed, as he watched the blond for a minute while he slept fitfully on the bed.
Starsky tilted his head slightly wondering what Hutch was dreaming about, as he tossed and turned on the sheets. The curly haired brunet pondered whether to wake the blond or not, when he suddenly saw his partner gently smile in his sleep, his lips lifting slightly at the corners of his mouth, his features softened in slumber.
The adam’s apple convulsed in the rugged biker’s throat and he swallowed down the lump that had formed there, watching as Hutch’s sleepy smile slowly faded away. For some reason, seeing his partner like that made his heart ache and the brunet turned his gaze away from Hutch’s face and focused on the ceiling above, blinking back the burning tears that suddenly brimmed his eyes.
Starsky scrubbed the back of his hand impatiently across his face and sighed softly, willfully composing himself before walking over to the window to cautiously peep out from behind his partner’s curtains, looking down at the quiet and deserted moonlit street fronting Venice Place. He didn’t think he was followed here, but it couldn’t hurt to be cautious.
Although everything was still and peaceful, the dark haired detective couldn’t shake the uneasy, agitated feeling that coursed through his body. He felt jumpy and apprehensive, his fingers twitching nervously, adrenalin pumping. After what happened tonight, he didn’t know how much longer he could last undercover as an outlaw biker. Six months of riding and carousing with his “Minion” brothers were starting to wear him thin.
‘Brothers?’ Starsky shook his head, that outlaw terminology came so easily nowadays, and the dark haired detective reminded himself that these ruthless men were not his brothers . . . they were the bad guys, and it was his job to turn them all in one day.
The curly haired detective gently pressed his forehead against the window glass, his long dark lashes pressed against his cheeks, as he clenched the curtain tightly in his fist. The faces of his outlaw ‘brothers’ flashed eerily behind his closed lids. The grinning visage of “Diesel” floated through his mind’s eye. They had become very tight these past few months, and the chapter president of “The Minions” had begun to trust Starsky, or “Snake” as they called him, with a lot of vital and incriminating club information that the detective had been secretly filtering out to the Feds.
He remembered how these burly, long-haired men; their arms, backs and chests tattooed and scarred, had accepted him into their world, thinking he was one of them, giving him solidarity and a place to hide, congratulating him from escaping the bonds of prison life as they gave him hugs and slaps on the back. These men stood beside him, looked up to him and called him ‘brother’, yet they were so different from the one man who was closer to him than his own blood brother.
Starsky turned to look back at his partner who had one hand curled under his chin as he slept on his side. The moonlight that spilled through the curtains illuminated his golden locks, causing it to shine like a halo in the darkness around him. The almost innocent, boyishly look on his peaceful face brought a small smile to the lips of the brunet, softening the hard lines around his mouth. God, how he missed Hutch!
He missed everything about his partner . . . the way his sky blue eyes could turn icy blue when he was angry, and then melt to liquid softness when he was feeling sentimental. He missed the way Hutch stuttered when he was feeling awkward or unnerved by something, or the way he could turn his voice into warm, soothing honey. He missed the good- natured bantering they always shared, the way they could almost read each other’s minds when they were out on the streets, and the way Hutch would shyly sing along to the strumming of his guitar; but most of all, he missed the innate goodness that was Hutch, the way he would comfort and embrace frightened victims or little kids, the way he handed out dollars to drunks and drug addicts on the street when he thought his partner wasn’t looking, or the way he would lay his large, warm hand on a shoulder to comfort with his touch. All of those little quirks that endeared his tall blond friend to his heart was something Starsky sorely missed these many months, as he assumed the identity of “Snake,” an outlaw biker from New York.
Starsky let the curtain slowly slip out of his hand and turned to walk silently back to the dark corner, leaning his back against the wall as he tilted his head slightly to one side, his dark blue eyes glittering in the dark as it caught the silvery shimmer that shone through the window, studying his partner once more in his sleep.
In repose, the heavy crease between Hutch’s brow disappeared and his soft tousled hair added to the tall blond’s look of boyish innocence. Happy memories of times spent together with his best friend flashed through the brunet’s mind and it filled his heart with a lonesome longing.
Since the failed attempt on his life by Gunther’s hit men three years ago, Starsky had grown even closer to his partner whom he could thank for his miraculous return to the force. If it weren’t for Hutch’s steadfast belief and constant encouragement, Starsky knew he would never have been able to make it through those grueling therapy sessions and those moments where self doubt and unbearable pain made him want to throw in the towel and give up.
During that year of recovery, they had lived in each other’s back pocket and their bond grew even stronger, erasing all of those hurtful things they had done to one another before he was shot. As Starsky slowly healed and gained his weight back, Hutch too had slowly changed, reverting back to his old self, shaving off his mustache and shortening the length of his hair. He had dropped a few pounds and was now wearing those old corduroys he dug out from the back of his closet.
By the time Starsky returned on the force, his blond partner looked like the Hutch of yore and along with the metamorphosis, their already close relationship grew even stronger. If the truth were known, being away from Hutch’s warmth and friendship was killing him. Hutch was the yin to his yang, the balance to his darker side, the other half of his soul.
All these months alone and under, the things he’d seen and done to keep his cover intact had hardened him somehow, and seeing his partner lying there so vulnerable and peaceful made him feel almost dirty inside . . . unclean and filthy . . . especially now that he was standing so close to the golden light of Hutch. He knew he was sinking in the mire of despair and destruction, and no matter how much he tried to claw for solid ground, the undertow pulling him down was far stronger.
Starsky wearily hung his head, silently berating himself for coming here. The need to see Hutch tonight had been so strong, that he’d risked the whole operation just to be here, yet like a man who hadn’t seen the sun for weeks, being near Hutch made him hurt, made him want to shy away from the pure light and goodness that was his partner.
He clenched his fists, attempting to slow down his racing heartbeat, squelching down the jumpiness he felt jolting throughout his body, making him want to haul ass on his Harley or run somewhere . . . anywhere . . . needing to be on the move. Standing quietly like this was tearing him up inside, making him feel agitated and uneasy. He fought for control, knowing the reason his body was reacting this way, but he refused to think about it; pushing the guilt he felt down into the darkness of his soul where it festered and grew.
A slight murmur from the slumbering blond made the streetwise cop quickly lift his head, his dark blue eyes alighting on the familiar features of his partner’s face. ‘Would Hutch be able to understand and forgive him for what he’d been doing?’
‘Oh God, Hutch . . .’
The brunet felt the trembling in his limbs and he slowly slid his back down the wall, his jean clad bottom stopping his descent as it touched the floor. The weary detective pulled his knees up, laying his arms over it, stormy blue eyes leaving the blond’s peaceful face to stare off into the darkness as his mind wandered.
He had done things he wasn’t proud of to survive in the dark world of the “One-percenters”. He’d done things he knew that Hutch would never have done, and it ate him up inside. He felt like he was being swept away on a dark, rushing tide and Hutch was his lifeline. He needed to feel his partner’s “goodness”, to feel the warmth of his embrace, to bask in Hutch’s strength, he needed to remember what it was like to be one of the good guys again, to feel . . . whole. He was losing himself under the guise of the outlaw biker named Snake. His mind rationalized that if he could spend just a few minutes with Hutch, he would be able to get it together and find himself. Hutch would be able to make everything right. If there was anyone he could depend on . . . it was Hutch.
And yet, it took all of his strength and courage just to come here tonight. A big part of Starsky agonized over what his partner would think of him, once he learned about what he’d done to keep his cover. It unnerved him to be here, allowing himself to be judged, but Starsky knew he couldn’t go on with this pretense if Hutch didn’t absolve the guilt and shame that burned within him.
The brunet sighed and buried his face into his arms, his mind drifting back over tonight’s events, hearing the pleas from the man named Brody ringing in his ears as he begged for forgiveness. Remembering how the club members ganged together like a pack of rabid wolves only to beat the man to a bloody pulp. He’d seen some violent outbreaks before, but this time, he was made to throw the first punch that sent the rest of the outlaws into the fanatic fray, and though he tried to inconspicuously help Brody by pushing some of the members away from the bloodied man, pretending to want to maim the man all by himself, Diesel had finally pulled him away from the mauling and had told him to go home. The brunet closed his eyes tightly, agonizing over what he did, yet he really had no choice in the matter, egged on the way he was to prove his loyalty to the club.
Starsky knew “Sniper”, the vice-president of the club, was watching him like a hawk. For some reason, Sniper, who was always paranoid and nervous, had singled out “Snake” as his personal scapegoat these last three months, probably because of his jealousy with the growing camaraderie and friendship Starsky was building with Diesel, the president of “The Minions”.
Starsky wearily dragged his hand through his long, unruly curls and stifled the sniffle, rubbing the back of his wrist against his nose. His mind drifted to his chapter’s leader. There was something that the detective truly liked about Diesel. His long, shaggy, sandy-colored hair and his light blue eyes, somehow reminded him of Hutch. Though he was a hardened biker who had come from the wrong side of the tracks, there was a charismatic toughness and a streetwise wisdom that made his men follow him loyally. He led his chapter with an iron fist and a keen mind, but he was also fair and discerning when it came to making decisions about disciplining any wayward member of the club. His followers respected him, and Starsky was no different. Diesel was someone who warranted respect.
Sniper on the other hand, was almost ruthless and vulgar in the way he treated people; from his women to the new prospects who wanted to join the outlaw motorcycle club, enraptured with the idea of “free living”. The lean, red-headed, bearded vice president, reminded Starsky of a wily, hyped up weasel who wanted to make sure he intimidated all those beneath him just to keep his place in the pack’s hierarchy. It was obvious that he viewed Snake as a threat to himself, and the curly haired biker’s friendship with Diesel was a constant thorn to his side. Starsky could feel himself sneering in disdain as he pictured the creep in his mind’s eye. He relished the day that he could put Sniper behind bars where he truly belonged. The man was an asshole with a few loose screws rattling in his head, a true menace to society.
Starsky knew much of Sniper’s paranoia was caused by the amount of drugs that he ingested daily, making him wary and prone to violence, and thinking of the way Sniper used his women disgusted the dark haired detective. In the world of the outlaw motorcycle clubs, women were treated worse than dogs, and that was something that didn’t sit well with the brunet. It was difficult to watch the wild gang orgies and the manhandling of the ladies who hung out with the members of the club.
It never failed to amaze the undercover detective how women were attracted to some of these lowlifes. They came into the clubhouse, looking for fun and action and many of them chose to stay with the motorcycle members though they weren’t treated with the respect they deserved. Wives or girlfriends were labeled as ‘old ladies’ and many of them wore tattoos on the back of their shoulders that said “Property Of” followed with the name of their man. Other women, who did not belong to any one man, were kept in service to the whole club and were labeled as “Mamas” or “Sheep”. These women had sex with any member, or members, that wanted them. They were like the club’s whore. In the world of the outlaw bikers, women were considered nothing more than a slave to fulfill a man’s needs.
The weary brunet could feel his body stiffen suddenly, as he heard the rustling of bed sheets. He could almost ‘feel’ the warmth of his partner’s gaze coming from across the room.
The soft, familiar voice of Hutch nearly did him in. He heard the creak of the bed as the blond stirred.
“Starsky? Hey . . . I didn’t hear you come in . . .” Hutch said softly, worried that something might have gone wrong, his senses kicking in, as the residual fuzziness of deep sleep slowly released him. Hutch didn’t know what made him wake up from a dead sleep, but he somehow “knew” that his partner was near and that he needed him. Perhaps it was years of working together on the streets, but his “Starsky sense” never failed him. The tall blond leaned over to turn on the small lamp sitting on the table beside his bed.
The clipped word, though whispered, had a hard edge to it and Hutch immediately pulled back his hand, choosing instead to sit up and peer in the direction of the huddled mass that sat across from his bed in the corner of the dark room.
The tall blond squinted in the dark, trying to make out his partner’s features that was obscured by the shadows, “Hey buddy . . . you okay? Are you hurt?” Hutch asked gently, making sure to keep his voice soft and soothing. He knew something was wrong by the sound of his friend’s voice. Hutch was worried that the brunet might’ve be hurt or wounded, but because he was unable to turn on the light, he couldn’t see how much damage his partner had sustained. “Let me turn on the . . .”
“No . . . jus’ . . . jus’ gimme a minute . . .” Starsky said, his raspy voice coming out from the darkness, “I . . . I shouldn’ta come here tonight . . .”
“Hey . . . it’s okay . . .” Hutch said slowly, trying to assess his partner’s mood, feeling the dark waves of despair that bombarded him from across the room. Hutch could feel the fine hairs rising on his neck, knowing something was dreadfully wrong. He made to get out of bed, but was stopped short by the cold warning of his partner.
“Stay put Hutch . . . you come any closer and I’m outta here . . .” Starsky whispered harshly, getting quickly to his feet, rubbing his finger under his nose as he sniffled in the dark.
Hutch cocked his head, light blue eyes narrowing as he eyed his partner. He could barely make out the features of his dark haired friend as he quickly stood, his back pressed defensively against the wall, the air almost crackling with the tenseness of the moment.
Hutch could feel that his partner was ready to bolt and he attempted to calm him down, noticing that he was wearing the “colors” of the outlaw club, a sleeveless denim vest with different patches sewn on the front. He could make out the diamond shaped 1% er patch that proclaimed the biker as an outlaw motorcycle member who considered himself above the law, and he knew that the back of the vest was decorated with the emblem of the “The Warriors,” the outlaw club from the Brooklyn chapter that Snake was a member of.
The tall blond remembered how the Feds gave them a brief lecture on outlaw bikers. They explained how the term “outlaw” came from the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) in the 1950’s, when they stated that 99 percent of all bikers were law-abiding. It was only 1 percent of bikers who were considered outlaws; their alleged involvement with criminal activity such as dealing with firearms, murder, rape, the sale and production of illegal drugs, stealing and trading motorcycles and their parts all added to general attitude of being outside of the law-abiding society. These “outlaw” motorcyclists embraced the term one-percenters and made patches that they proudly wore as part of their “colors.”
Hutch swallowed, giving his partner the once over; he could see how these past few months had hardened Starsky. He knew he had to be cautious . . . that anything he said could be misconstrued, sending his partner out the door. He could hear the soft sniffles coming from the corner and he strained to see his partner’s face in the dark.
“You sick, Gordo? You caught a cold?” the blond asked gently, unable to keep the worry and concern out of his voice. The short distance to his partner seemed like miles with the tangible ‘wall’ Starsky had put up between them, but Hutch was determined to knock it down.
At the brunet’s continued silence, Hutch softly said, “How about if I make us some coffee? We could talk some . . . if you want . . . I’ve missed you.” Hutch could see his partner stiffen at those last three words, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness, using what little light that came from the window to see his dark haired friend
Hutch waited in the almost electrically charged silence that ensued, hoping his partner would choose to stay. There was no way that Hutch would let him leave the premises in the condition that he was in, and if it took getting physical to make Starsky stay, then Hutch would do it to keep his friend safe.
The tall blond was about to say something when Starsky softly whispered, “I’m sorry I woke you . . . I jus’ . . . I dunno why I . . .” The brunet’s voice quavered in the darkness and then faded into nothingness.
“Hey . . . I’m glad you’re here, buddy,” Hutch said quickly, filling in the awkward silence, happy to see the hard shell around his partner softening a bit, if only he could see Starsky’s expression . . . “I’d really like to put this lamp on so that I can see you Starsk.” He could hear his partner’s breath quicken suddenly in the stillness of the room.
“No!” his partner’s voice rasped out, “It was a mistake to come here Hutch . . . I-I gotta get out . . .” Starsky said, a choked sound escaping from this throat as he turned quickly to exit the room.
“Damn!” Hutch swore softly under his breath as he jumped out of bed to race after his dark haired partner.