Originally published in The Fix #10, April, 1991, by Amapola Press. Comments from this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author. Special thanks to Tex for getting it ready for the web.
#2 of "Secrets," a series
Starsky stared morosely into his beer, ignoring the bustle of a Saturday night in The Pits. He wished Huggy hadn't kept taking away the empty bottles, he rather liked the ambience of them littering the bar in front of him: a single, solitary soul.
Shortly the requested beer was plopped down disgustedly in front of him, and he was regarded in kind. "Man, what is with you tonight?!"
"You wouldn't believe it."
Starsky looked up to meet concerned eyes. He sighed, glancing away. The desperate need to have someone to talk to—just to tell someone, had grown at the compassion on his friend's face.
"Whatever it is, it ain't doing you any good keepin' it to yourself. So what gives? I'm a bartender, remember? I heard it all."
"Not this." Starsky took a deep breath, steeling himself to say what he'd intended. The alcohol loosened his tongue just enough, and he plunged, "I'm in love."
"So what's wrong with that?" Huggy prompted.
Another breath, gulp of beer. "With Hutch." He stared at the bartop in the endless silence that followed.
"Does he know?"
Starsky gave a short, bitter laugh. "You gotta be kidding."
"He should know," Huggy said quietly.
"The man's gettin' married next month," he reminded.
"So ya gonna wait until the part where the preacher asks if there's anyone there who knows of a reason... to speak up?"
"Huggy!" he admonished. "You're taking this awfully calm... I mean, aren't you a little surprised?"
"Surprised? Guess I should be. It ain't like the idea's ever crossed my mind. But now that you tell me... it just don't seem so... surprising."
"Well, it does to me. It's not like we've been carrying on or anything. Always been just platonic friends." Starsky paused, agonized. "I don't know how this happened."
"Talk to Hutch," Huggy pushed.
Starsky shook his head. "I'm no home wrecker. Or friendship wrecker. He's got his whole future ahead of him, with a beautiful bride. Not to mention what Vanessa would do to me if she thought I was trying to steal her husband." He laughed at the image that brought to mind. "Nope. Too much risk, no matter which way it goes. I'm not willing to risk that. I need him too damn much."
"So what are you gonna do?" Huggy asked.
"Handle it." He ordered another beer.