This story is for entertainment only and its purpose is not to infringe on any rights to Starsky and Hutch (God knows, I wish I had the rights to them!) 

Comments on this story (good or bad) can be sent to Anne at

Stewed Tomatoes
Anne S.

Pain comes in many forms,
making victims of us all,
wrapped often in pleasant packages,
once opened, quick to pall.
Hurt is measured by the tears,
with the deepest, more are shed.
The next choice, deeper still, our fears,
as down and down we're led.
Betrayal strikes a person's soul
and leaves them numb inside,
so hard for them to care again,
so much easier to hide.
My heart has lost its confidence,
there's an iciness in my soul,
but I have a friend who stands by me,
he'll be here until I'm whole...David Michael Starsky

The loud buzzing of the alarm brought one dark, curly head and one slightly bloodshot eye out from under the covers. The eye widened as it caught sight of the dial and the rest of the body was out of bed in a hurry. A whirlwind of events ensued and an almost fully dressed Dave Starsky ran down his steps fifteen minutes later, shrugging into his jacket. He unlocked the red Torino waiting at the curb and hopped into it.

Late again, he thought, Hutch's going to be so pissed! Maybe he should make an effort to curtail his weeknight activities a little. He pulled up at Venice Place an indecently short time later to find Hutch waiting for him on the steps, looking a little shocked as he pulled up.

"What happened, you have a quarrel with an elephant or something?" his partner asked. "Should've put up a better fight!"

"What the heck's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, unless I'm wrong, your car looks a little different than it did when you brought me home last night."

Starsky jumped out of the car and vaulted over the hood. Once he had a chance to see what was on the other side, his face turned pale. "What in the...?" he stammered.

The front bumper on the passenger side of the car was caved in, the hubcap was missing and the headlight dangled by the wires like a gouged-out eyeball.

"Just who did you spend the night with, partner, seems like the action got a little rough?" Hutch commented.

"Hutch, you gotta believe me, this is the first time I've seen this. I have no idea what happened or when it happened. I got home at 2:30, went to bed and everything was normal. I can't believe this is happening."

"I'll call Dobey and tell him we're going to be late. Since it is the Torino, I suppose you want me to get Homicide working on it right away? Oh, I guess that's us, isn't it? Under the circumstances, do you want to go for murder one or just manslaughter?" Hutch chuckled.

"That's real funny, Hutch, you're a regular laugh a minute, you know it? Just get somebody out here. I'm going to go inside and call my neighbors. Maybe they heard something."

Mrs. Ames from across the street remembered getting up to go to the bathroom and hearing him drive up at around 2:30. She knew that because she hadn't felt well and hadn't gotten back to sleep after that. She also took the occasion to lecture him about his late nights and noisy car, saying she hoped he wouldn't continue to make a habit of his nocturnal activities.

Nocturnal activities? he thought, What does she think I do, dance naked under a full moon or something?"

By the time he got back, there was a black-and-white there and everybody seemed to be getting big chuckles out of his predicament. Of course, his driving record was legendary and most of the officers had running bets on how long it would take for him to smash up his car again. When he told them he didn't have anything to do with this one, they thought it was hilarious.

"Come on, Starsky, you can admit it. I suppose you're going to tell us next that a telephone pole fell out of the sky right in front of your car and you couldn't swerve to miss it," Ted Banks hassled him.

Hutch could see that his partner was beginning to reach the end of his tolerance, so he tried to ease him away from the other officers, asking them pointedly if they didn't have reports to fill out.

The car was impounded and towed to Parker Center to be checked out. Starsky endured another round of abuse by calling Merle to see if he had a car to loan him. Merle agreed he'd find something he could use and told him he could come and get it in the morning. When the officers were through there, they volunteered to give the two detectives a ride to Metro. They spent the rest of the day knee-deep in paperwork.

The next morning, Hutch picked his partner up and drove him to Merle's, where he was degraded to find the only car the colorful mechanic had found for him was a near-twin to Hutch's car, a blue LTD, two year's newer, but in similar condition. Hutch tried not show his amusement, but after watching his friend pace around the car a few times, muttering, he burst out laughing.

"What's YOUR problem?" Starsky snapped at him.

"Aw, come on, Starsk, you talk a lot about Karma, this is your fate. I think it just fits your image."

"At least it's only temporary, smartass, whereas you have to LIVE with that heap of yours," he snarled.

When they got to the station, Dobey wanted to see him. Expecting another round of harassment, the dark-haired detective entered Dobey's office to find two Internal Affairs officers there, Mike Garfield and a new man, who introduced himself as Thomas Dalton. Starsky marveled that, no matter how many of these IA clones quit, they always seemed to find more. Maybe they crawled out from under rocks. They didn't last long, because a lot of them couldn't deal with the fact that their co-workers detested them. They certainly seemed to have a fondness for him, though.

"What did I do now, guys?" he said lightly, holding his hands out to his sides in mock surrender.

"Detective Starsky, it looks like your car was used in a hit-and-run early this morning. The victim was run down around 1:00 A.M. The paint on his clothing matches the paint on your Torino, also, the location of the injuries involved line up. Your neighbor tells us the car didn't leave again at any time after you got home, she seems very certain about that. Now you tell us that the car was locked with no sign of forced entry, no fingerprints other than yours, has not been hot wired, what're we supposed to think? We need to know exactly where you were, who you were with and how much you had to drink. And any kind of drugs you might have been taking?"

Hutch came in just in time to hear the end of the exchange and appealed to the Captain. "Now, wait a minute, he doesn't do drugs and if he says he didn't have anything to do with this, he's telling it to you straight! You don't really think Starsky had anything to do with this, do you, Cap'n? You know somebody's got to be setting him up!"

"You know what I think, Hutch, but I've got to suspend him anyway unless he can give us some really good answers. It's departmental policy, you know that."

"Screw departmental policy, this is the man who saved your life last year! You know he hasn't done anything wrong."

"It's all right, Hutch, I know the routine," the detective laid his gun, holster and shield on the desk. "Cap, it's just that I can't answer your questions because I can't tell you where I was. I have my reasons. The only thing I can tell you is that I didn't have anything to do with this."

Garfield stepped forward. "Then the only thing we can do is to take you into custody, Starsky, until you've had time to think this through. These are serious allegations and we're going to find out anyway, so you might as well tell us now."

"Put the cuffs on, then, that's all you're going to get out of me." Starsky put his wrists together behind him and turned around, submitting himself to humiliation rather than do what they expected him to. Hutch closed his eyes to shut out the sight.

"I don't think that'll be necessary, Starsky, just come with us," the man said with a sigh, "you know, we're not all the monsters you guys make us out to be. Some of us are actually pretty good guys just trying to do our jobs. Hopefully, there's some explanation for this, and we can have you back to work as soon as possible. You've got to cooperate with us, though."

Even though they didn't restrain him to take him into custody, the booking procedure was a nightmare for Starsky, drawing a lot of attention from his fellow officers and further embarrassing the detective. Hutch could see that he was totally disgraced, but was helpless to do anything to help him. Finally Starsky was placed in a holding cell and his friend was allowed to go in and see him.

"What's this all about, buddy, why don't you just tell the where you were so you can clear yourself? It can't possibly get any worse than it is now. If you weren't driving the car, then somebody set you up. Tell me so I can get you out of this mess," Hutch pleaded.

"I was with somebody I shouldn't have been with, Hutch, and I can't name that person without talking to them first. It's as simple or as complicated as that," his partner said with a deep sigh.

Hutch knew it was useless to press his friend, so he let the matter drop. Starsky knew what kind of serious trouble he was in; there was no use to browbeat him.

Because IA wanted to hold him long enough to make him sweat, it was two days later before Hutch could get him released. He dropped his partner off at his apartment and went back to the station, where he was resigned to doing desk duty until Starsky could either find his way out of this predicament or trust Hutch enough to let him help.

The first thing the dark-haired detective did was to call a certain blonde-haired, blue-eyed lady, who had been waiting to hear from him.

"Susan, are you okay?"

"David, I thought I'd never hear from you! Did they just let you out?"

"We need to talk. Can you meet me somewhere?"

"Vito's at three o'clock, will that be all right? I'm really so sorry about all this."

"Look, we'll talk about it when I see you, okay?"

Starsky watched her walk toward him, through the restaurant, tall, blonde, beautiful, turning all the heads in the place. She was a weak spot, his undoing, an intoxication he couldn't deny himself, and he knew it and despised himself for it.

She watched him, knowing she held all the cards, confident she was able to undermine any moral convictions of the past and entice him to do anything she wanted him to do. And there was something she wanted him to do.


It had all started when he'd been involved in an undercover sting that Hutch hadn't been a part of. His blond partner had been flattened with a case of allergies that no hay fever medication was able to alleviate. Starsky had been thrown into a situation where he had to work an upper-class lounge looking for a drug connection and he'd met Susan there. Elegant, graceful and chic, as well as beautiful, he was hardly able to take his eyes off of her. He was stunned when she'd approached him and asked if she could join him. They'd enjoyed each other, held each other close on the dance floor, laughed and talked until the place closed, but each had gone home alone, Starsky kicking himself for not getting her phone number. You either must be slipping, man, or you got it bad, he questioned himself later.

The next night, he was back and so was she. He did ask if she was in a committed relationship. He always did, feeling it was a travesty to come between two people supposedly dedicated to one another. Susan told him just what he wanted to hear.

He'd kept her away from Hutch, because he felt insecure, knowing she'd feel comfortable in the same social circles as his partner, circles that made him feel unsure of himself, off-center. He was afraid that he might lose her to the other detective if he introduced her to him. He knew that wasn't fair to Hutch, that would never happen again, but his insecurities ruled.


"I can't understand how this could have happened. What are you going to do, David?" She looked up a him with those eyes and he felt confused.

"Susan, I was with you when it happened. I have to tell them that to clear my name, otherwise, I'm going to prison for a very long time. You can see that, can't you?"

"All I can see is that you're putting me in a dangerous position. I can't afford to have this come out. There has to be another way. I really believe Michael set this up."

"You're the one who's made this a dangerous situation by lying to me. I'm not afraid of your husband. If I'd known you had one, there wouldn't have been any reason for you to live in fear. Now I'm obligated to protect you from him and defend your reputation. What kind of a position does that put me in?"


They'd gotten close, their lovemaking fantastic. Starsky wasn't sure if he was in love with this woman, but thought that he could be in time. That was a dangerous idea, for some reason. She was very adept at keeping him on the edge, manipulating him, pushing his buttons, but she had him where she wanted him; and anywhere she wanted him.

Hutch was aware that his partner's mind was elsewhere most of the time and felt a little hurt that Starsky didn't confide in him, but plans were underway for the all-city policeman's picnic, which was consuming every available man-hour and kept both of them busy when they were off duty.

Starsky hadn't asked Susan to come with him, thinking she might feel out of place and he didn't want to expose her to some of his friend's ribbing. They could get pretty disgusting at times. He should know. When it came to "talkin' trash,"he could get down and dirty, according to Huggy.

Hutch had brought his current girlfriend, Amanda, and Starsky felt like a fifth wheel, so he started to wander. Most of the different precincts had gathered together in groups, not socializing much, other than recognizing a colleague now and then, who'd been transferred. Later in the afternoon, there'd be a big football tournament to see which precinct was the best.

Starsky had brought his camera with him and was taking pictures of some of the different groups, when he caught a face in the camera lens that made his heart stop. It was Susan and she was with another guy. The man was big, looked like a linebacker and the detective had no doubt he'd be a factor in the afternoon's games. The name sticker on his shirt read Michael and it was apparent that he was also one of L.A.'s finest, a fellow cop. Blood boiling, Starsky got a little closer, just so Susan could see him and he was rewarded when he saw her face pale. Then he turned and went back to his own group.

When he started gathering up his things, Hutch was right there, wanting to know what was going on, "was he sick, bored, tired...what's wrong, Starsk?" He mumbled something about having to get out of there and practically ran from the park.

He found himself at Huggy's, something more substantial than a beer in his hand. Huggy joined him in the booth, even though he could see Starsky wasn't telegraphing signals that he wanted company.

"Hey, Starsky, m'man, I heard the old tomato got wounded again. Word is you got big trouble. I've been sifting the streets, but nothing's turned up."

"Yeah, thanks, Hug, but I think I'm in worse trouble here than anybody knows. Can you get me a couple more of these?" He indicated the glass of scotch that was sitting in front of him.

"Thought you were going to be at that policeman's shindig today. What happened?"

"Huggy, just keep bringing me what I asked for and leave me alone. I'm not in the mood to talk!"

"Sure, man, don't want to appear to care or anything!" Huggy slid out of the booth offended.

The afternoon flew by and the dark-haired man lost in his thoughts was left alone. As evening came, though, another man materialized by his table, took in his friend's appearance and slid in next to him.

"Hey, buddy, you going to drink the bar dry? Huggy says you're running up quite a tab for someone who's unemployed."

Hutch ruffled his partner's hair. "How about we take you and that beautiful blue Ford of yours home so you can get some rest?"

Starsky giggled. "Least it's not an Edsel. What'd I do to deserve that, Hutch?"

"Well, it does match your eyes, Gordo, maybe you should consider trading the Torino in. Why don't we go home and talk about why you're sitting here getting stewed. You're in worse shape than the tomato.

"That's funny, Blondie, stewed Starsky, stewed tomato, 'cept the car can be fixed." This time the giggling turned into something that sounded like snuffling and Hutch put his arm around his friend and heaved him up off the seat and, with Huggy's help, manhandled him out to the car. He was quiet on the way to Starsky's place, not battering the dark-haired man with questions. He knew the answers would keep until morning. Starsky slumped against his shoulder and started snoring softly. Hutch shook him awake when they got there.

Seeing that his partner wasn't going up the stairs under his own power, Hutch put his shoulder under the smaller man's stomach and accomplished a passable fireman's carry, with Starsky's rendition of "He ain't heavy, he's my brother," for accompaniment.

"C'mon, buddy, it's your bedtime and when you wake up, we need to do some serious talking. You're not going to keep pulling this strong, silent routine on me, you're going to tell me what's wrong even if I have to tickle it out of you." Starsky looked up at him with startled eyes. "Yeah, you know I can do it, too!" Hutch pulled off his jacket and shoes and covered him up with a blanket. He stomped out of the room, muttering to himself.

Starsky woke up to the clang of a heavy object being slammed down right next to his head. Prying his eyes open a little at a time, he saw his partner standing over him, having just delivered a strong cup of coffee and placed it non to gently on his nightstand. His head was in danger of splitting apart and he needed to pee very badly. He tried to sit up, but Hutch wasn't moving out of his way.

"Got a headache, don't you? Maybe you even have to go to the bathroom, huh?" Hutch tormented him. "Promise me you'll talk and I'll get out of your way. I may even get you some aspirin, but first you have to swear."

"Get out of my way, Hutch, you can't stand between a man and his toilet! That's cruel and unusual..."

"Swear, Starsk, I mean it." Hutch was determined to win this one.

"Okay, okay, I swear," the dark-haired man catapulted himself off the bed and into the bathroom, groaning as he did, "but I ain't saying by what."

"Okay, then, no aspirin."

"I'll talk. You've got a real mean streak, Hutchinson."

You didn't carry me up the steps to my apartment, then sleep on my lumpy couch last night. This is as good a mood as I expect to be in today, partner." He handed Starsky three aspirin, then took a couple himself. "Now tell me what's going on before I really lose my cool."

"It's a woman," Starsky said lamely.

"Oh, can it be? That's a real shocker, meathead. What's so different about this one?"

"I found out she's married, then yesterday I discovered it's to a cop and it looks like he's the one that set me up." Starsky hung his head.

This time Hutch didn't have any smart answers. He slumped down on the bed, his eyes widened.

"Shut your mouth, Hutch, you look ridiculous." Starsky was so afraid his partner was going to despise him for this. He already hated himself for getting into such a disastrous fix and Hutch's opinion meant the world to him.

"Geez, Starsk, when you screw up, you do it big-time, don't you?" Seeing the shocked look on his partner's face, he realized what he'd said. "I'm sorry, buddy, I didn't mean it like that. I know it wasn't your fault, I know you better than that. She told you she was single, right?"

"Yeah, but she only told me what I wanted to hear and by the time I found out different, I was in way too deep. Then she told me they were getting a divorce. By the way things looked yesterday, chances are there's no divorce, either. What a sucker! I don't want to ruin her reputation and it's going to look terrific for me, screwing around with another cop's wife. On the other hand, I'm facing some serious jail time if I'm convicted."

"The lady in question, do you love her?" Hutch asked, putting his hand on his friend's shoulder.

Starsky looked confused. "I don't know how I feel about her, especially now. I thought I did, I really cared for her, still care and it hurts like hell that she lied to me all along. I don't know if she ever felt the same about me. You'd think a street-smart cop like me would be able to read a few of the signs along the road, wouldn't you?"

"Buddy, you were seeing what you wanted to see, we all do that sometimes. Don't let her shake your confidence. You've got the best instinct about people of anyone I know. You just had the old "rose-colored glasses" on, that's all. Does this lady, and I'm sorry, I use the term loosely...does she think this is his doing?"

"She thinks there's every reason to believe he could be involved. I guess he's done some bizarre things in the name of jealousy before. She said that's why they were getting the divorce. I guess I just have to go face him down and try to talk to him. I sure never thought I'd go out, shot by a jealous husband." The detective shook his head and added. "I guess I deserve it, though."

Hutch grabbed hold of his arms and gave him a shake. "Don't you ever say that! This isn't your fault, it's hers. You deserve to have someone who'll love you back and be honest with you. And you're not facing anyone or anything without me! We're in this together, partners, remember? We'll find a way to get this guy, just let me think about it for awhile." Realizing he was still holding onto Starsky's arms, he gave him a quick hug. "Hang in there, Starsk, I'm not going to let them put you in jail!"

The tears came at the same time, unbidden, to sky-blue and midnight-hued eyes, one man for the hurt he'd been dealt and the other for the pain he saw in his best friend's face. In deference to Starsky's aversion to "soapy scenes", Hutch broke the spell of the moment.

"Hate to bust up this 'love-in,' but I'm in danger of losing my job, and then we'll both be unemployed and miserable. Promise me you won't tackle this by yourself. I'll see you after work and we'll figure out all the answers. Give me a ride back over to Huggy's, so I can get my car, okay?"

The detective agreed he would wait and they'd talk about it some more before deciding on a course of action. He seemed more upbeat on the way over to Huggy's, joking about the LTD and talking about how happy he'd be to get his car back. He promised Hutch dinner when he got there that evening and headed to the store to get some steaks to grill. When he got home, the phone was ringing. He rushed to get the door unlocked and answered with an out-of-breath "H'lo?"

The voice sounded frantic. "David!" He could hear the sound of smashing glassware in the background.

"Susan, what's wrong? What's all that noise?"

"It's Michael, he's going to kill me! Help me, David!" Susan screamed and there was a loud crash, then the line went dead.

"Oh, God, no!" Starsky headed for the door, then remembered what he'd promised his partner. He called Hutch at the station and got him right away.

"Hutch, I've got trouble. I just got a call from Susan and it sounded like her husband was tearing the house apart. Can you meet me there?"

"I'll be right there! What's the address?"

After passing on the information, Starsky ran out the door and tore out as fast as the LTD would go. The address was close to him, so he was the first one there. He felt like a walking target, but didn't think he could wait for Hutch to get there, so he went to the door of the house. It was slightly open, so he went in, stopping in the entryway to stare at the devastation in front of him. Furniture was overturned and broken pottery and glassware was strewn from one end of the living room to the other.

"That's far enough, David," Susan said from behind him.

He whirled to see her holding a gun out as if she was planning on using it.

"Susan, what are you doing? It's me, Dave, I'm not going to hurt you! I'm here to help."

"You know, you're a nice guy and I don't like what I have to do here, but it's got to be done. Just turn around and it'll go easier. I wish I'd picked someone else for this, David, if it means anything to you. I've gotten kind of used to having you around. I'm really going to miss you."

Starsky obediently turned his back. "Then why are you doing this?" He was having a little trouble getting his mind wrapped around this.

"Michael's abusive to me and I can't think of any other way out. I'd run, but he'd find me wherever I went. I figured he'd either kill you in a jealous rage and then spend the rest of his life in jail, or he'd attack you and you'd shoot and kill him. Either way, he'd be out of my life. I set the catalyst in motion. I took your car out when you were sleeping the night of the accident and hit that man. Then you got your gun taken away and that made my job a lot harder, so I guess this is the only way. This is Michael's gun, they'll blame him and I'll be done with him. I'm sorry, David." She clicked the safety off the gun and Starsky squeezed his eyes shut, tensing up.

"Just stop right there, lady!" came his partner's voice. "Put the safety back on that gun and put the weapon down on the floor! Now!"

Susan hesitated for a second, then complied with Hutch's request. Stepping up to her, he handcuffed her with great satisfaction, pushing her down in a chair. Then he put his hand on his partner's shoulder.

"You okay?"

"What took you so long?"

"Stopped to get gas." Hutch tried to lighten the moment.

"How long you been standing there?"

"Long enough to hear everything, buddy. You're off the hook. I'll call from the car and get someone out here to get fingerprints, so they know you had nothing to do with this," he said, indicating the mess.

"Would you just get her out of here, Hutch? I can't stand looking at her right now."

"We'll need your statement, Starsk, are you coming with me?"

"I just need a couple minutes alone. I'll follow you in a little bit, okay?"

"All right, but don't make it too long or I'll come looking for you."

"I know you will, you always do. Just don't ever stop, I think I need a keeper, you know it?"

"I'll always be here, babe." Hutch yanked Susan up from the chair and pushed her ahead of him out the door.


Time passed. Susan confessed to what she'd done, the Torino was made whole again and life began to resume its pattern again, but Hutch worried about his partner. The hurts in his life had been legion, but this seemed to have taken its toll. His friend appeared to have lost his confidence, looking to Hutch to call all the shots. The cocky attitude that was so infuriating, yet so endearing was gone, leaving a Starsky so unsure of himself that Hutch began to wonder about his friend's performance on the streets, whether he was going to get himself killed. They hadn't talked about the incident at all and he decided to broach the subject one day when they were on a routine patrol.

"Starsk, you know you need to talk about how you're feeling sooner or later. The longer it sits, the harder it's going to be," he began.

"I know, but it makes me ashamed to think about it."

"What do you have to be ashamed of, buddy?"

"I'm ashamed of not being able to see through a pretty face, ashamed of thinking someone that classy wanted me and being so flattered that I couldn't see straight, ashamed of not pulling back when I found out she was married, ashamed of lying to myself; you take your pick."


Just then the radio cut in, "Zebra-three, Zebra-three, come in, Zebra-three."

Starsky grabbed the mic and growled, "Zebra-three."

"There's a 211 in progress at the Sunshine Market, 18761 Mariposa, repeat, 18761 Mariposa."

"Zebra-three, responding," The detective slammed the Mars light on top of the car and Hutch headed for the address indicated.

They approached the building from half a block away and split up when they got to the alley. Starsky went to the back of the store and Hutch peered around the corner of the front window, trying to see inside. There was no motion and he couldn't make out any figures. Then he heard his partner yell, "FREEZE, POLICE!" and decided this was going down without him and he kicked the door open.

Starsky was holding his gun on a young black man. What froze Hutch's blood was that the man was holding a little girl in his arms and he had a gun to her head. There was no way the blond detective could work his way behind the man and he was too far away to approach and get the drop on him without jeopardizing the child's life. All he could do was watch the tableau that was being played out in front of him and pray.

"Hey, man, you don't want to do this," Starsky started talking quietly and calmly to the gunman. "This is just a little girl here. What's your name, honey?"

"Kelly," she said tearfully.

"Kelly, this guy's not going to hurt you. He just needs a little help right now. How old are you, Kelly?"

"I just had my birthday. I'm six years old." she answered, sounding a little less afraid.

"She's only six, man, you don't want to hurt her, I know you don't. Why don't you give me the gun and let her go? I'll put my gun down, see?" Starsky dropped his arm to his side in a non-threatening gesture. He walked slowly toward the gunman, holding out his other hand. "Give me the gun and we'll do whatever we can do for you, please."

The young man slowly brought the gun down from Kelly's head and handed it to Starsky. His hand gripped it tightly and he reached for the little girl and pulled her out of the other man's arms at the same time. Hutch lost no time reaching his side and cuffing the gunman so he could do no more harm. Starsky gave the girl a hug and put her in her mother's arms. Back-up arrived and the man was taken into custody and, after another big hug from Kelly and profuse thanks from her mom, the two climbed back into Hutch's car for the trip back to the station and the detested paperwork.

"Starsk, how did you know that guy wasn't going to kill that little girl, or you, either, for that matter? You left yourself wide open there."

"I don't know, I could just see it in his eyes. He was a man in a desperate situation, I knew he didn't want to hurt anyone."

"I guess you're getting your confidence back, huh?"

"Maybe, but don't be trying to set me up with any of Amanda's friends anytime soon. I don't want to see another woman socially for awhile," Starsky warned, glaring at his partner. "Not till I know who I can trust."

"You know you can trust me, Starsk. We always know where we stand with each other."

"Do you mean I'm not seeing you with 'rose-colored glasses,' Sgt. Hutchinson?"

"Nah, you see me just like I am, perfect to a fault," was the reply.

"There doesn't happen to be a strong core of conceit implanted in your Nordic heritage, does there?" Starsky asked, rolling his eyes.

"You know, Starsk, there's something that bothers me about this whole thing," Hutch said with an evil grin.

His partner heaved a deep sigh. "What's that, pal?"

"After driving a really fine car, why would you go back to that two-ton hunk of junk, huh?"

"I've learned through the years that you just can't be happy without something to bitch about, Blondie. How could I take that away from you?"