Menage A Trois

She snuggled closer, bed-warm and drowsy, in that half world between sleep and waking. How many times had she spooned her body to the dark, curly haired man? How many times had she counted her blessings that he had chosen her to be his wife? Her head on his right shoulder, his right arm protectively around her, she could see the peaceful rising and falling of his chest as he dreamed.

Not that he had always been so peaceful.

She gently traced the faded mark of a burn through the dark hairs on his chest. She remembered him telling her that, before they had met, he had been kidnapped by a psycho called Simon Marcus, who had kept him in the old city zoo, tortured him and poisoned him, before tying him and inciting his followers to cut his body to shreds. One of the tortures had been to tie him down and set his chest on fire, in the shape of a cross.

But that had been 3 years ago. At first, his partner had been there for him as nightmares shook him awake each night, but, once she and he had met, she had persuaded Hutch that she could look after him just as well. The blond detective had not believed her at first. He and Starsky had been together so long as partners that it was as if they were almost married. Hutch explained to her that they had been through so much together. Threats on their lives, long nights spent in ICUs waiting for the other to recover from one injury or another, and joy as one by one they cracked their cases together. More than man and wife would go through in a lifetime. It was bound to bring them close.

For 2 years, she lived in a relationship of 3. Not that there was anything remotely sexual in her relationship with Hutch. Starsky was more than enough of a man to satisfy her needs in that department. But at breakfast Hutch was there, as he was at lunch and supper. She did his laundry, his shopping and even remembered which wheatgerm was his favourite and what he particularly liked in his morning power shake. She had even been there when Hutch had been hurt, and waited with Starsky at the hospital, watching her curly haired man pace up and down the corridor, holding his hand and murmuring words of support.

And she didn’t mind. Having come from a family where displays of emotions were not encouraged, she found it touching and refreshing to watch the 2 men interact. She felt a part of their world, if only for a few hours each day. And once Hutch had gone to his own home, Starsky came to her. After particularly bad days, he would lie down next to her, put his head in her lap and close his eyes as she gently stroked the errant curls from his forehead. At the end of good days, they would listen to music, or play card games, and he would laugh that manic laugh, or grin his lopsided, goofy grin at her, and melt her heart all over again.

Now things were beginning to change. Hutch, too had found a girl. Someone he said he could settle down with. The dynamics of their group changed. Heather was a wonderful gentle girl, who adored Hutch almost as much as Starsky did. Instead of 3 for supper, or tickets for 3 to a ball game, it was now 4. Although she welcomed this, Starsky was having a harder time of it. He was irritable and angry with himself for feeling so. Of course he had agreed that Hutch deserved as much happiness as he had, and he knew that he would never do anything to jeopardise his partner’s relationship. But there was something indefinable. Something he couldn’t put his finger on. Something that made him feel somehow incomplete.

They had talked about it last night, until the wee small hours, and finally Starsky admitted to her that he felt as if he was loosing a limb. So often in the past, he had been able to call Hutch at any time of the day or night. He told her of the time he had been poisoned by the father of a guy that he and Hutch had put away. He had been told he had 24 hours to live and, through the haze of drugs, his first thought had been to call Hutch. And his partner had been there within minutes, calling the ambulance, taking control and making everything OK.

There was another time when he had been mowed down in a hail of machine gun fire. In hospital, in the ICU, he arrested, but, as his partner hurtled along the corridor to his room, his heart had started its rhythmic beating once more, as if Hutch’s presence had been enough to pull him through.

The times when he had argued with the blond about his choice of car. The times when they had taken the beat up, non-descript brown lump of metal to Merle’s. ‘Just a tune up — nothing fancy’ And Hutch’s face when, on collection from a dark and rubbish strewn corner of the workshop, he gazed upon the faux fur interior.

And now he felt that it was all ending. He had looked into her eyes with his troubled navy blue ones, and had asked her how he could let all that go to someone else. He had said that he felt disloyal to her. That he loved her more than life itself, but he loved Hutch that much too. She had assured him that she knew there was no competition between Hutch and her. That he was her man, but that he was Hutch’s partner. And she told him that Heather felt the same way.

As the night wore on, their conversation slowed, lulled by friendship, warmth and darkness and finally, he had fallen asleep, his arms around her in his big, comforting bear hug.

And now, as dawn was breaking, she smiled to herself as she rehearsed how she was going to tell him that everything would be OK. That soon he would have someone else to worry about and protect. That soon his world of 4 people would be expanded to one of 5. And that the 5th member of his group would be small, precious and a part of the two of them together.