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The cab slowly drew to a halt and the doors flew open to allow the occupants to alight. Two scuttled out and ran up and down the steps in front of them, eager to stretch aching and cramped legs, the third got out with a faint smile crossing her face as she watched her two youngsters running off their long cooped up energy. The fourth occupant paid the fare and slowly alighted from the cab, his eyes taking in the once familiar surroundings.

Nothing much had changed in the twenty odd years since he had turned his back on this view and left to start again somewhere new. Memories, long since buried, threatened to overwhelm him, and he was forced to take a deep breath and close his eyelids tight against them. The screech of tires behind him made him turn fast, instinct long bred through years of training coming rapidly to the fore, he scanned the road for any sign of danger to his family. A gentle hand touched his arm and he turned to its owner, slowly releasing the breath he had been holding on to without even realizing it. The face that met his was filled with concern and love for the man in front it. She had outwardly supported her husband in returning to this place where he had given so much of his life. Inwardly she had feared for the pain it would cause to the man she had slowly put back together and with whom she had built a loving home. She shivered as she saw the memories of nightmares fleeting across her husband's face and, not for the first time, she wished with all her heart that they had not come.

Screams of laughter broke the tense atmosphere and the couple looked to where their offspring were chasing each other up and down the steps, the older boy dodging his sister as she tried in vain to tag him. Taking his wife's hand the man slowly climbed the steps to the front door where he stood for a moment to gather his courage to enter the building. Once he would have sauntered in, the streetwise cop so sure of his self and those around him. Now though he paused with his hand on the door and knew he was going back and would need to face things he would rather forget, people he would rather not meet. He knew that the older ones would be happy to see him but he also knew they would look at him with sadness and pity and he didn't want that. Suddenly the door in front of him was flung open and two men rushed past so deep in conversation they never even noticed the family as they went.

Taking yet another deep breath the man entered into the building closely followed by his family. Looking around him as he led the little group the man realized that nothing much had changed inside either. True the faces around him were different, although one or two looked at him with a familiar glance, but the layout was still the same. Turning he led the way down a flight of stairs and pushed through a swing door in front of him. His family stood back and watched as he walked slowly towards a desk a few strides away and gingerly touched the wood. Sinking into the chair in front of it he lent back and put his feet up on the desk linking his hands behind his head. Smiling he looked around the room at the aghast faces surrounding him and he suddenly felt comfortable. David Michael Starsky was back where he belonged. The wanderer had at last returned home!


"Excuse me sir but I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to move, NOW!"

Starsky looked up into the irate face of the young man in front of him and, with a lop-sided grin, he slowly complied. Moving over to stand with a protective arm around his family he continued to look at the earnest young man as the latter tried in vain to collect himself and carry on with his work.

Giving up he gave an exaggerated sigh and finally looking Starsky in the eye he asked, "Can I help you or are you just trying to annoy me?"

Inwardly laughing to himself Starsky continued to look at the young detective, rapidly taking in everything about him. When he finally spoke it was in a friendly a manner as he could muster; he liked the look of the young man, reminding him of someone else.

"I'm looking for someone, maybe you could help me."

The young detective felt his face redden under the older mans gaze. Something about his demeanor told him this was not a man to mess with, although he felt no threat from him he had a distinct feeling that those deep blue eyes could soon become icy if their owner was angered.

"My name is Detective Anderson and if you'd like to take a seat I'll get some details from you and see what I can do,"

"Starsky's smile widened and the sound of gentle laughter and unsuccessfully stifled giggles came from behind him. For the first time the young detective looked properly at the woman and two children with the stranger in front of him. The woman was not as tall as her husband and was obviously somewhat younger than him but her whole manner spoke volumes as too how close they were. Her long brown hair hung loosely framing her oval face and accentuated her deep brown eyes. Standing with one arm around her husband's waist the woman's stance read, ' Cross him, deal with me'.

The children were miniature versions of their parents. The boy he took to be about thirteen years of age and had his Father's curly hair and expressive eyes. The girl he decided was about ten and, like her Mother had brown eyes and hair which was cut in a short bob.

The young woman looked at him and held out her hand. "I'm sorry Detective Anderson, we didn't mean to appear rude. David Starsky apologize right know and explain properly before this young man has us thrown out."

As Anderson took the hand to shake Starsky watched as his face told him that the name appeared to register. Obviously the detective had heard of him, the question was, what had he heard? Starsky held his hand out and Anderson took it, shaking it firmly and warmly. Starsky relaxed a little.

"My wife is right, as usual. I apologize for acting like I own your desk but a long time ago I did. I'm visiting for a while and I was hoping to see an old friend if it's at all possible."

Suddenly the door behind them opened and a middle-aged woman walked in carrying a handful of files. Not expecting to find anyone directly behind the door she came close to falling over the young girl standing there. Saving herself from falling she dropped the files in a heap on the floor. Glancing at the young girl she couldn't stop the fleeting cross expression that flashed across her face. In an instance another figure appeared by the side of the first, this one a little older and taller. The young boy's arm went protectively around his sister's shoulder and he glared at the woman daring her to say anything. The woman froze as she looked at the boy's face. It was a face she had seen before many years ago and had long since given up hope of seeing again. A larger, stronger hand came into the picture, the files she had dropped held in them and offered out to her. Dragging her eyes away from the boy she looked up at the owner of the hand to see a smiling Starsky looking back at her.

"Hi Millie," Starsky spoke hesitantly at first. "It's good to see you again. Sorry about my brood getting under your feet."

"Oh my goodness, Starsky is that really you? Why didn't you let me know you were coming? Does he know you're here?" The questions fell from Millie's lips in a rush.

"Hey, slow down will ya, one thing at a time. Yes it's me, I wanted to surprise you and no he doesn't in that order. Now stop catching flies, close your mouth and come and give me a hug before I think you don't love me anymore."

Millie moved as though she had been stung. Running the few yards to Starsky, and to the amazement of everyone in the room, she threw her arms around his neck pulling him into an enormous hug. A quiet cough from behind her finally got through and she let Starsky go.

Breathing heavily to recover Starsky introduced Millie to his family. "Gang I'd like you all to meet Millie. She was the top dispatcher in the squad room and she makes the best cookies you ever tasted, even better than your Grandma does but don't tell her that. "Millie I'd like you to meet my two urchins. The one you almost fell over is Rachael and her zealous brother is Kenneth Michael." Turning to face his wife he looked into her eyes as he said to Millie, "And this is my wife Kelly. I owe her my sanity and my life and I love her deeply." So saying he kissed her fully on the lips.

Millie waited until the couple had parted and then said, "I'm glad to meet you at long last. Starsky told me so much about you in his letters I feel I've known you forever."

"It's good to meet you too. Now I can finally put a face to the mystery woman my husband keeps writing to." Kelly Starsky smiled as she spoke, she had heard so much about this woman standing in front of her and she knew that this was the one link that her husband held onto from his former life. The one that kept him informed of his ex-partner and the one who had sent the news that had brought them back here to this place. She so wanted to hate her for this last event but she knew she could not. Her husband thought a great deal about Millie and she trusted his judgment. Kelly found herself liking this woman a lot.

Millie turned to Detective Anderson. "Tom I'd like you to meet ex-detective David Starsky. About twenty years ago he sat in your chair and he was one half of the best detective partnership this precinct has ever known. Starsky you'll like Tom if you get a chance to talk properly, he's a lot like you in many ways.

Starsky grinned again. "Millie you're biased, don't listen to her."

"What time will the Captain be back Tom?" Millie opened the door of the room leading off from the squadroom and steered the family inside.

"He should be here any time now. He rang to say the trial was over and he was on his way back, that was about twenty minutes ago." Tom Anderson was hurriedly tidying away files from chairs and tables trying to find enough room for the family to sit down. "Sorry about the mess folks, the Captain left in a rush this morning he was a witness in a murder trial and the lawyers tried a fast one on us. The Captain was ready for them though and the result went in our favor. Can I get you folks a drink of some kind? The coffee isn't too bad I've just made a fresh pot and there's a cold drink machine in the hall if the kids want something."

Digging in to his jeans pocket Starsky gave his children some change and directions to the coke machine. "A coffee would be great thanks, it's been a long trip and we didn't stop at the airport, I wanted to get here and back to the hotel before it got too late."

Tom Anderson left the room and returned a couple of minutes later with two steaming mugs of coffee. Leaving the couple to drink it in peace he went into the corridor to look for the children. He was still feeling a little strange at the way Starsky had directed his children to the coke machine as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Tom Anderson wondered if he would be able to remember this place with such detail in twenty years from now.

As he turned the corner he saw the youngsters retrieve their drinks from the machine and putting one hand on a shoulder of each child he began to lead them back to their parents. The door at the end of the corridor opened and a tired looking man came in through it. The man walked past the detective yawning, barely registering him as he went. He had gone about three paces when he suddenly stopped so abruptly that Tom and the children almost walked into him. Turning slowly the man took in the two children in front of him. The young boy stared back with a defensive glare in his eyes, daring the older man to confront them. It was a look that sent shivers down the spine of the older man. Flashbacks of another, older version of this face shot through his memory. It was a face he thought he would never see again and he suddenly needed to know where this child had come from.

From nowhere, or so it seemed, Millie appeared behind the children and gently touching the older man on the arm she quietly spoke, "He's in your office waiting for you."

The man shot off along the corridor at a speed Tom Anderson felt impossible for a man over fifty years of age. Bursting through the doors of the squadroom his hand fell on the knob of his office door and he hesitated. For a split second he was afraid to go in, afraid that someone was playing a very cruel joke on him. Then he looked back and once again saw those eyes looking at him, this time with understanding, and they were smiling at him in a manner long forgotten. Turning the handle he burst into his office and came to a complete standstill. Standing in front of him was the person he had wished for so long to see, the one person that made him feel complete. He felt his knees buckle as the color drained from his face and he grabbed the corner of his desk to hold himself up.

"I don't believe it, after all these years I don't believe it." Tears were threatening to overwhelm him as the person in front of him put down his cup and very slowly began to walk towards him. "Where the hell have you been all these years? Why didn't you tell me you were going or at least keep in touch?"

Twenty years of questions were bubbling up inside him and with it twenty years of anger and hurt. Starsky stopped walking. This was one of the things he feared the most. Rejection now would cause so much anguish and pain he began to wish he had never come here. He longed to hug the taller man in front of him, to beg his forgiveness and understanding but all he could do was stand there and listen as the tumult of emotions came tumbling out. In the end he could take no more and with tears in his eyes he turned to Kelly his eyes begging for her help.

Kelly rose from her seat and deliberately placed herself in front of her husband but slightly to one side. "You must be Hutch, David has never stopped thinking and talking about you in twenty years. You have no idea what it took for him to come here today. I knew it was a mistake but he so wanted to make things right with you, to try and explain. It's obvious to me you aren't going to give him the chance so I think we should leave now before I say something I might regret." So saying she linked her arm through her husband's and began to turn towards the door.

As they took a step towards it a strange choking sound came from behind them. Turning they could see Captain Kenneth Hutchinson with tears streaming down his face. Starsky was by his side in two strides and grabbing his one time partner he hugged him firmly trying to take all the pain of the last twenty years away. Looking at the two men in front of her Kelly Starsky quietly left the room and sat down in a chair outside the door. There was a lot for these two men to talk through and she would sit here and wait, making sure no one disturbed them. She only hoped she would not once again be picking up the pieces of her husband and putting them back together again. She had done that before and she would do it again if need be but she knew it would be harder than ever if the blond haired man rejected him.


For a long while Starsky held on to Hutch as the tears flowed. His own emotions were somersaulting and he was having trouble keeping the tremor from his voice as he quietly and gently whispered encouragement in his friend's ear. He wished now that he had written or phoned to give Hutch some warning of his return, anything to prepare him. It may have ended in rejection from Hutch but even that would not have been so hard to bear as the total devastation he was facing now.

Finally able to stand no longer Starsky held on tight as Hutch's knees gave way. Almost carrying the taller man he managed with difficulty to reach the chair and gently lowered Hutch into it. Kneeling in front of his one time partner Starsky forced himself to look him in the eyes, ice blue eyes that he knew so well. Eyes that could freeze and terrify a suspect now looked back at him in anguish and it made his heart ache for being the cause of such pain.

"Hutch, I...I don't know where to start or what to say for that matter. I'm not even sure I should be here but I wanted.... No, I needed to try and put things right between us before it was too late." Starsky held firmly to the hand of his friend. "I can't expect you to forgive me for walking away but at least give me a chance to explain why I had to go, dammit Hutch, surely eight years together at least gives me that right."

"Right, you talk of right! That's a good one Starsky. One day you just up and leave after eight years, no word, no message, nothing. It was like you had disappeared from the face of the earth and you speak of rights. If I had any sense I'd tell you to go, get out of here, go back to wherever it is you've been hiding and leave me alone. I'm just fine without you." Hutch spoke with such venom that Starsky had to force himself to stay where he was and not turn and flee.

Letting go of the hand he rose slowly to his feet. He wasn't sure how to continue, wasn't sure if he wanted to. What was the point? Hutch hated him and he had every right. He knew though that he had to try. He had to make Hutch understand. Slowly, haltingly at first, Starsky begged Hutch to listen to him and, as he spoke the years melted away and the memories began to return of the day twenty years ago when his world had come to a complete and almost final end.

He shivered as he remembered the pain of the bullets as they ripped into his body. The scared emotions that ran through him when Hutch had told him how he had died and the doctors had fought to bring him back. Most of all though he remembered the sorrow and anguish he had felt when he finally admitted to himself what the doctors had been telling him all the while. He would never be a cop again. At least not the kind of cop he used to be, needed to be, had grown up yearning to be. Gunther had won, physically he was still alive but mentally he had died, his whole world turned on a tilt that, this time, even Hutch couldn't fix.

He remembered the long hours of desperation as his tortured mind had slowly worked through the facts laid out by the doctor's diagnosis. His shattered body could take no more punishment; in fact it was a wonder it had stood up so far. It would take at least a year for his weakened lungs to fully recover, never mind the damage to the rest of his internal organs. The nightmares would eventually stop in their own time but when that would be the doctors refused to even try to guess at. Starsky had found himself afraid to go to bed at night. Every time he closed his eyes he could see Gunther's goons firing at him, the bright red of his blood mixing with the bright red of his Torino, he could feel the intense burning in his stomach. But most of all he could still hear the anguished yelling of Hutch and the sense of helplessness that he could do nothing to help, nothing to stop them getting his partner. He would wake up in a cold, clammy sweat with his whole body trembling and such a total feeling of loss in his heart that he began to doubt his own sanity.

It was after a dreadful night spent desperately trying to convince himself that it was all a nightmare and when daylight came Hutch would be there looking after him, helping him dress, coaxing him to eat and making sure he was ok that Starsky sat in his bedroom and finally let go off his emotions. Unable to stop the tidal wave of tears he sat and sobbed until every part of his being ached. When at last the crying was over Starsky began to think for the first time about his future and that of his partner and friend. Starsky knew that the doctors were right, there was no going back for him now. For a second he wished with all his heart that he had stayed dead then just as quickly as the thought arose it was dismissed. Starsky knew that if he had died then Hutch would just as surely done so. Somehow he had to find a way to let Hutch go, to let him carry on living without him. He knew Hutch could have passed his Lieutenant exams long ago but he refused to even discuss taking them, passing would inevitably mean an end to their partnership and Hutch refused to even consider it.

Instantly Starsky knew what he had to do. Uncaring of the consequences to himself Starsky knew he had to somehow give Hutch his freedom from caring, from loving so dearly. Heading for his bathroom he forced himself into a cold shower. The water was icy and stung his naked body to complete awareness. Once dressed, he grabbed a small holdall and threw a few items of clothing into it. On the top he carefully placed a photograph of Hutch and himself taken at a party. They were both smiling and relaxed and it was the way Starsky chose to remember Hutch. The last thing he had needed was his passport and this he pushed into the inside pocket of his jacket. From the top drawer of his bureau he pulled a notepad and pen and sat down to write the hardest letter of his life.

"Hutch. I have to leave. Your 'Mother Hen' routine is stifling me and if I don't go it'll end up drowning me completely. Eight years of being under your thumb is enough even for me and I'm going. Don't try and look for me, if you find me I'll just keep moving on until you give up. Get on with your own life Hutch and let me get on with mine! Starsky."

"You have no idea how it hurt to write that letter Hutch, I never meant a word of it but it was the only way I could think to stop you from following me. I didn't know where I was going I just knew I had to get as far away as possible and keep on running if you had any chance of starting without me." The tears were flowing unchecked down Starsky's face and he was trembling. He was scared that he wasn't making much sense and that Hutch wasn't even listening. Unable still to look him in the face Starsky continued.

"I headed out to the airport and caught the first flight back to New York. I knew Ma would take me in and not ask any questions. I knew she would cover for me too if you got too close. I still needed to recover some strength and I wasn't really capable of thinking straight for longer than ten minutes at a time so I guess there was nowhere else to go. She was great, asked no questions, just held me close like when I was a kid. Then she took me upstairs and put me to bed. I stayed there for four days and every night the nightmares would start again and she'd be there holding my hand, keeping me safe. She did that for the best part of a year before I was finally well enough to try and start again."

Pausing for breath Starsky finally risked a glance in Hutch's direction. He was still standing, glaring at him, but at least he seemed to be listening and this gave Starsky the strength to carry on.

"I decided to go back to school Hutch. You were always on at me to give it a try so I finally did. I realized that I needed to get something behind me if I was to make a life for myself. I wasn't capable of anything physical so I had to at least try for the intellectual. It took a lot of effort but in the end I made it. I got a teaching degree. I remember thinking how proud you would have been that I'd finally done it. Anyway, after a couple of months I applied for a job teaching junior high in Canada, got it too. I think the panel must have been desperate or else they felt sorry for me. Suddenly there I was, David Starsky, Teacher of English, with a class of twenty- two ten year olds. I was terrified I can tell you. You know what though Hutch, I enjoyed it. Sure it was a challenge but every day was different and what I did mattered to someone other than just me."

Starsky was beginning to relax a little. Hutch was no longer glaring at him and had sat down in the big chair that had been holding him up until now. "The nights were still the same though Hutch, only now the nightmares were made worse by your face. Every time I shut my eyes you were there looking at me with pain-filled eyes. I never stopped thinking of you Hutch. Sometimes I would pick up the phone to ring you, hear your voice, but I would always chicken out at the last minute. I knew how you were doing though thanks to Millie. I wrote to ask her for news of you."

At this Hutch's mouth fell open, a look of incredulity on his face. "Millie knew... She knew where you were and she never said anything. My God how could she? She knew I was out of my mind with worry. I only wanted to know you were all right that's all. I looked for you, even phoned your Mother, but I kept running in to dead ends. Dammit Starsk I thought you were dead!" The anger was back for a moment and Starsky took a step backwards away from the volcano in front of him.

"Don't blame Millie Hutch, it wasn't her fault, I told her that I'd stop writing if she told you. Besides, to begin with I used a post office box so it wouldn't have got you very far. I told you I didn't want you to find me; I needed you to get on with your life for both of us. If I couldn't be a cop anymore then at least you could. You did too, a damn fine one according to the reports I got. I was so proud when Millie told me you had made Captain, I knew you would one day without me to hold you back."

The anger evaporated as quickly as it had come to be replaced with a look of total disbelief. Hutch rose from the chair and crossed to stand in front of Starsky. "Look at me Starsky, Look at me!" Hutch gently put his hand to Starsky's cheek and turned it to face him. He was shocked to see the fear that lay in the depths of the eyes and he forced himself to step back and give his friend room. He saw Starsky relax his guard just a little and he wondered at just how much this proud and caring man had gone through to be here today.

"Never, do you hear me? Never did I think you ever held me back Starsk. We were partners, in everything that mattered, equal partners. Don't you ever let me hear you put yourself down again. There were times when I would never have made it through without you, you know that. You were my rock Starsky. The one thing that never altered, that was always there when I needed it, never asked or demanded more of me than I could give. Then you just went, disappeared like you had never even existed and for a while I was completely lost. When I read your letter it was like a knife going through me, nothing mattered anymore. If it hadn't been for Dobey and Huggy Bear I don't think I would have come through but I did Starsk. I did it for you, for us, Me and Thee. Back then I'd have given anything to have got you back but now I think I can understand a little and I'm just glad you're here, safe and sound. Come here you big lummox."

So saying Hutch stepped forward and took Starsky in his arms hugging him until Starsky thought he would never breathe again. Hutch felt the tension in his friend flow away and felt like crying again when he felt Starsky's arms enfold him and return the hug. For a moment the two men remained locked together until finally Starsky's lungs told him it was time to let go.

"Sorry buddy but I need to catch my breath a bit."

Hutch instantly let go and looked worriedly at his partner. "Still affects you after all this time? Dammit Starsk, you look fitter then I do. A little grey around the temples maybe and a few lines that I don't remember. Plus you're a little heavier than when I last saw you but all in all you look better than I do."

Starsky laughed gently at this. "The doctors said the lungs would never recover completely Hutch, you should know you were there. As for the rest well I guess I've got Kelly to thank for keeping me in shape. Physically and mentally. She picked up the pieces Hutch and put me back together. I'd never have made it without her. Remember I said the nightmares continued? Well Kelly was a teacher at the school I worked at. It took me five months to pick up the courage to ask her for a date, I couldn't believe it when she said yes. Anyway, we went for a meal and a walk and we started talking and somehow I couldn't stop. I really thought I'd blown it Hutch but a couple of days later she asked me to join her at her sisters party. After that we went out quite a lot. We used to get lots of jokes about old-fashioned courting and that but it didn't matter until, one day after I'd had a particularly bad night. I was complete wreck and the kids knew it. They played up until in the end I completely lost it and ended up screaming at them as loud as I could. It worked, they shut up, trouble is so did everyone else within earshot, Kelly was one of them. I remember she came running in through the classroom door like the school was on fire. She just stood there looking at me until, thankfully, the bell rang and I dismissed the class. Once they were gone I don't remember much other than sinking in a heap on the floor. Next thing I remember was waking up in a strange room with Kelly mopping my forehead.

"We spent all evening and night talking until I couldn't talk anymore. I fell asleep exhausted and for the first time in three years there was no nightmare. When I woke up she was still there and she's been there ever since Hutch. We got married about a year later. I was worried about the age difference to start with, she can give me ten years easily, but now I don't think about it. Then our son came along and I insisted on naming him Kenneth after you. We had our first real row over that. She said I was finally getting over you and now here I was reminding me of you every time I spoke my son's name. I told her that it was promise we had made and I had no intentions of breaking it, even if you knew nothing about it."

Hutch thought back to the time when Terry had died. In the long days after they had spent all night talking and it was one of those times that the two partners had promised each other to name their first son after each other. Hutch had never had that chance, he had married himself to his work. He was taken aback to think that Starsky had kept the promise despite them being apart for so long.

"I think I'd like to meet my namesake real soon Starsky. Thank you, for remembering, for caring."

"Never stopped buddy...never stopped" Starsky made to go to the door, "You'll like Kelly Hutch, she's a lot like you, good with the mother hen impression. Some nights I still need her, when I've overdone it with the school kids or it's just been too long a day the nightmares still come. But it's easier now, Kelly's always there to calm me down, bring me round. I don't know what I'd have done without her Hutch." So saying Starsky opened the door and went through.

Kelly rose slowly from her position on guard of the door; worriedly she scanned her husband's face for a sign. She had been ready to fight her husbands corner if need be against this blond icon who had caused so many sleepless nights, who had pushed Starsky to the edge of oblivion. Instead, seeing the smile in those ivory blue eyes looking back at her she visibly relaxed and moved to stand in front of him. Kissing him long and hard she said simply, "I'm glad Dave, so very glad."

"So am I Kel, I didn't think I'd get a second chance but I have. Come on; let me introduce you properly to the best friend a guy ever had. Just don't listen to him when he gets going on old girlfriends, you can't believe a word of it." Together he and Kelly walked back into the office where Hutch was waiting. His emotions were still on a roller coaster but the ride was slowly coming to an end and he felt exhausted. It would take a long while for him to fully grasp the implications of the story Starsky had just told him but one thing he was certain of. Starsky hadn't left that day because of anything he had done or said. He had left because he loved him and because he needed Hutch to carry on, for both of them, to become the best cop he could. He had done that, or so he thought. He had made it to Captain of his own precinct and he had earned the respect of those officers in his charge. He was proud of that but a part of him ached for what 'might have been' if it had never happened, If Gunther had never interfered.

"Hutch, I'd like you to meet Kelly." Starsky seemed almost shy as he introduced his wife. Hutch's thoughts were immediately driven back to another day, another woman who had meant so much to his partner. This is Terry Hutch; we're getting married. Again the if-only's began to rise and Hutch shook himself, forcing them away, back to the past where they belonged. This was now and Kelly stood in front of him with her arm around Starsky's waist. It was obvious to all how much they meant to each other and Hutch found himself liking this woman who had replaced him.

"Hi. I... I'm sorry. It was a shock. I'd... like to start again...if that's ok with you that is." Hutch felt suddenly unsure of his position and his stuttering was back. Glancing at Starsky he could see the other man grinning back. Kelly was grinning too.

"It's me who should be apologizing Hutch. Dave always said I was a bit like a tiger when I fight for my family. Now I know you're no longer the potential meal I promise to put the claws away. I've heard so much about you over the past twenty years I'd like to find out just who this superman Dave has gone on about is really like." Laughing know Kelly stood on tiptoe and kissed Hutch on the cheek. As she did so she quietly whispered in his ear, "Thank you, for David."

For a second Hutch just stood there then the door was flung open behind them and the Starsky children threw themselves through the door, shouting at one another.

"It's not fair, just because you're the youngest and you're a girl, everyone always falls for those puppy dog eyes of yours. Dad tell her it's not fair will ya." Starsky strode across to the two youngsters pushing his way between the two of them and ducking the arms that they were swinging trying unsuccessfully to hit each other.

"Will you two quiet down. NOW!" Instantly the shouting and fighting stopped but the Starsky offspring continued to glare at each other from either side of their father. "What's this all about anyway, and it had better be good or I'll tan both your hides behaving like hooligans in public, especially in a police station of all places. What are you trying to do, get yourselves locked up for the night for breach of the peace?" Starsky's eyes sparked angrily and the youngsters knew they had over stepped the mark by a long way.

"Sorry Dad, I didn't mean... It's just... Oh what's the use...I didn't want it anyway." Kenneth Starsky looked down at the floor and began to fiddle with his jeans pocket. Starsky looked at his daughter for an explanation knowing it would be truthful. These two may fight like cats and dogs but they stood by each other when it mattered and where their father was concerned that was always.

"It was as much my fault as Kenny's dad, I'm sorry. Millie gave us some cookies and there was an odd number. We both wanted the last one and I pulled the hang-dog look Mum's always on about. You know, when she says I look just like you when you want something you shouldn't have? Anyway Millie fell for it and she gave me the cookie. I'm sorry, I could have broken it in half and then we could have shared and neither of us would be in trouble." Rachael stood looking at her father. There were tears in her eyes but she was determined to stand her ground.

"Do you believe these guys? Fighting over a cookie of all things! How many times do I have to tell you about fighting each other anyway, I oughta..." Starsky stopped in mid flow. Behind him he could hear stifled giggles that were gradually becoming louder until it turned to full laughter. Looking over his shoulder he could see Hutch and Kelly holding on to each other for support as they laughed out loud. Starsky stood watching on incredulously. "What kind of an example is that to show your children Kelly Starsky? It's no wonder these two are so undisciplined with the kind of example your showing them. I oughta..."

The children never found out what exactly their father 'oughta'. Suddenly he was laughing too. The youngsters just stood and watched as the three adults laughed themselves silly, clinging to each other for support. As the laughing began to stop the youngsters looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. "Adults," they said in unison at which the laughing broke out all over again.

From outside of the door Millie could hear the laughter and it made her smile. Tom Anderson, standing next to her, could only stare at the door in disbelief. This was a sound he never thought possible from his Captain's office. True Captain Ken Hutchinson was a fair man. He had earned the respect of his men by example and a willingness to 'muck in' and he would back them to the hilt if the situation called for it. Even if it meant going out on a limb for them, as it often did. He could also be a hard man if he was crossed, as many a criminal had found. Always though he was responsible and never had anyone ever heard the kind of laughter that emanated from behind the closed door. He looked at Millie for some kind of explanation and she looked at him with understanding, and a little pity. Poor Tom wouldn't know what hit him if Starsky stayed for a while. Knowing Tom needed some explanation she gave the only one that made any sense to herself.

"It's ok Tom. The 'Me and Thee' team are back together again, and it's been long overdue." So saying she reached for a phone and dialing she waited patiently for an answer. When it came she spoke quietly into the receiver. "Mrs. Dobey, it's Millie at the precinct. Tell the Captain it worked. The world's back on an even keel, at least for a little while." Hanging up the phone she left the squadroom, humming quietly to herself.