Starsky had been home for a week now and Hutch had barely left his side. There had never been any question that Hutch would be staying with Starsky till Starsky was fully recuperated. Of course, what Hutch meant by "fully recuperated" was anybody's guess. Starsky guessed that Hutch's definition was far more stringent even than the doctor's.

It had been a dull day, rainy and quiet. Now Hutch was in the kitchen doing the dishes while Starsky read on the sofa; the apartment was dim, lit only by the light over the sink and the reading lamp in the living room. The radio played quietly in the background.  As he tidied up, wiping down the sink, drying off the counter, Hutch became aware of Art Garfunkel's clear tenor singing sadly, "Bright eyes, burning like fire . . . how could the light that burned so brightly suddenly burn so pale? . . . " His heart seemed to stop for an instant as he flashed back to the last time he'd heard that song, by chance, while Starsky lay dying in the hospital. It had frightened him, irrationally; he hadn't been able to stop thinking that it had been an omen. Now he raised stricken eyes to his partner, who'd just gotten up from the sofa.

Hutch was at his side in two quick strides, taking him in his arms - gently, so gently - wrapping those arms around him, silently letting Starsky know that he couldn't let go for awhile. Starsky returned Hutch's embrace, calmly stroking Hutch's back while the tall blond said in an anguished voice, "God, Starsk, what would I do if I lost you?"

Starsky answered quietly, "We haven't had to find out yet. Let's hope we never do."

The two men stood in the close embrace, Starsky's head on Hutch's shoulder, Hutch's cheek resting on the top of Starsky's head, each seeking, and giving, comfort, one to the other. They swayed a little as soft music continued in the background and soon the swaying took on the rhythm of the music.

Hutch felt Starsky smile against his shoulder. "What is it?" he asked softly.

"Us," Starsky said, just as softly. "It's almost like we're dancin'."

Hutch's stomach did a slow flip-flop as he thought about dancing with Starsky. His embrace tightened, though still so gentle. "So it is." His voice became even quieter than before. "Is it okay, Starsk? Is it all right?"

"Yeah," Starsky breathed into his ear. "Oh, yeah. It's all right." Then he grinned, not able to help himself. "Just so long as you don't dip me; don't think I'm up to that yet."

Yet. Hutch swallowed, then grinned himself. "Nah, wouldn't think of it. Nobody dips like Ramon."

The levity had not ruined the moment. They danced silently together for long, luxurious minutes, not speaking, just taking comfort in each other's arms. Finally Hutch turned his head, burying his nose in Starsky's hair, breathing deeply, feeling the soft curls against his skin, then moved his head again, so he could lay his cheek against the other man's. "Is this okay?" he asked again. "Is this all right?"

Starsky leaned his face against Hutch's, caressing the taller man's cheek with his own. "Oh, yeah," he repeated. "It's all right."

Hutch moved again, nuzzling Starsky's ear. "How about this?" Trailing a line of soft kisses across his cheek and jaw. "And this?"

Starsky moaned a little, deep in his throat. "It's all all right, Hutch. Everything."

And then their lips met. Who kissed whom first? They never knew. Softly, gently, tenderly they kissed, not moving from the warm embrace, still swaying to the music. "Love you," Hutch murmured, not moving his mouth from Starsky's. "I'll always love you. Don't leave me again. Don't die again, Starsky, don't - "

"Shhhh." Finally Starsky pulled away, taking Hutch's face in his hands and looking into his eyes. "Don't worry, sweetheart. I have no intention of dyin' any time soon." He put his arms around Hutch again, sagging slightly against him. "Tired," he murmured.

"Let's go to bed."

"You gonna be able to sleep, finally?"

"How'd you know I wasn't - ?"

"I was shot, dummy, not lobotomized. I know what you look like when you ain't sleepin'. I hear you tryin' to be quiet when I wake up in the night." He pulled away to look at Hutch again. "Gonna sleep tonight, baby?"

Hutch nodded, kissed Starsky again, then buried his face in Starsky's neck. "Don't worry, I'll sleep tonight. It's okay, now. Everything's all right."