Author's Notes: Written for Robbin. Based on the song by Keith Urban of the same name.
Nobody drinks alone.
The thought ricocheted round and round in Hutch's head until he wasn't sure if it was the alcohol that had caused his headache, or the repeated collision of words against his skull. How long had he been sitting here?
Long enough to get a headache, that's for sure.
Nobody drinks alone.
Hutch felt himself getting lost in the reflection of firelight upon liquid and glass. He sat on the floor, leaning heavily against the front of his couch, and studied the tiny tremors that flowed through his hand and into the smooth amber alcohol. The rest of his apartment was dark and silent- a setting which currently matched his soul.
Nobody drinks alone.
Sure they do, Hutch thought as he tilted his head back to accept more of the whiskey. You couldn't get more alone than he was right now. What had Starsky meant by that comment? People drink alone all the time, just as Hutch found himself doing now. He was alone.
Alone and trying to forget her-
The fire crackled and Hutch tore his gaze from the whiskey.
He was alone, wasn't he?
He let his vision blur as the fire's dance drew him into rapture. The bright flames leaped and quivered from their imprisonment inside the fireplace. He could feel his eyes burning but did not allow himself to blink- there was something taking shape in the heart of the fire.
It was a face.
Hutch shuddered and threw the glass into the open mouth of the fire. It roared with approval, hungry for more.
She was exactly who he was trying to forget, why couldn't she stay away?
Hutch looked down to his empty hand.
Damn, now he had to get up and find another glass.
Hutch hiked his elbows up behind him, planting them in the couch cushion before shoving himself to his feet. The room swirled gently, and Hutch took a step to regain his balance.
There. The hardest part was complete.
His hand traveled the length of the couch, using it as a guide rail as he made his way to the kitchen. A folded-up blanket at the end caught his hand, and Hutch looked down at the soft material draped over the back of the couch.
That had been her favorite blanket. He had held her close under its warm protection, and told her of his love for her. They had made plans for the future together, under the worn fabric of that blanket.
His fist tightened around it and he threw that into the fire too.
Hutch watched long enough to see the razor-edged flames eat through the blanket, melting it to nothingness, then turned and continued on his journey.
His bare foot caught the half-empty bottle of whiskey and a flash of pain traveled through his toe as the bottle tipped over. A soft curse escaped his lips- soft because even in his blind rage, he didn't mean to sacrifice the liquor- and he bent down to right the thick glass bottle.
The floor rushed up to meet him with paranormal speed, and Hutch found himself face down in the carpet.
Man, he must be a little drunker than he thought.
With some effort, Hutch pushed himself into a sitting position and put a hand to his stinging, throbbing nose.
His shirt was wet. He must have landed in the whiskey.
The doorknob rattled and Hutch looked up, fighting a bad case of vertigo.
It was Starsky. It always was.
"Oh, man," the brunet murmured, pushing the door shut behind him. "You okay?"
Hutch squinted as Starsky moved closer. "Starsk? I fell down."
"Yeah, partner, I see that."
Hutch let himself be hauled upwards and back, landing on the couch. His stomach launched itself into his esophagus in protest.
He moaned at the sensation.
"It's okay, just stay there a minute," Starsky replied, then disappeared into the kitchen.
Hutch sat alone for an immeasurable amount of time. Just when the darkness and memories were pressing down too hard, a cold, wet cloth landed on his forehead.
He jumped, clutching at the cushions to keep from falling over, and tried to find Starsky through the swirls of colors obscuring his vision.
"Easy," Starsky murmured, laying steadying hands on Hutch's shoulders. "You must have taken a good knock. How many fingers?"
Hutch squinted. His eyes hurt.
"One," he said confidently, then realized which finger he was being presented with. "Hey-"
"Come on buddy, let's get you to bed. You've made a big enough mess already. It's gonna take me at least an hour to clean this up."
"So don't. I didn't invite you over here."
"Ouch," Starsky deadpanned, hauling Hutch to his feet. "Aren't we the grumpy drunk tonight."
"I mean it Starsk," Hutch insisted, batting at the arms around him. "Go away. I wanna be alone."
"That, my friend, is impossible."
"Yeah, yeah, I know- 'Nobody drinks alone', right? More cryptic words of wisdom from the all-powerful David Starsky? Well I got news for ya." Hutch paused and swallowed his nausea, "I don't get it."
"From the looks of things around here, I'd say you get it just perfectly."
Hutch landed on the bed with a hard thump that increased his headache ten-fold. Momentarily disabled, he moaned and raised one hand to his temple.
The lights were still off, and the sensation of a cold washcloth surprised him once again. Starsky moved around the bedroom and said, "Look Hutch, I know what today is, okay? I was there when she," he steeled himself, "died. I remember that day with more clarity than I ever wanted. It was a bad day one year ago, and it's not surprising that this is a bad day as well."
Bad? It was devastating.
Hutch rolled to his side and drew in his knees, trying to ease the pain in his stomach.
"You always try to play the hero, Hutch. You save the day, but not yourself. You lock things away where you don't have to deal with them. And it hurts me, you know? We're best friends, maybe more than that, and you still try to hide from me. I can see that this is hurting you just as much as any heroin withdrawal, or being trapped under a car. There's no difference. If you're in pain, I wanna help."
Hutch felt a lump swell in his throat and he squeezed his eyes shut tighter.
A blanket was pulled up over him. "You're an idiot sometimes, you know that?"
"I'm right here." The voice soft now and very close, and Hutch knew that Starsky was kneeling at the side of the bed.
"I do know what you meant."
"About never being alone. I do understand."
"I thought I had forgotten, but there she was, her memories, her ghosts… her demons. Everything I've held back, they followed me home, haunted me." He waited for the lump in his throat to shrink a little. "I don't wanna be alone."
Silence hung in the air and Hutch opened his eyes.
Starsky was smiling, gently, and it was all Hutch needed to hear.
To hell with his pride.
Tonight, he needed to cry.