This story first appeared in the zine, Compadres #12 (1997). This zine, and other fine S&H gen zines, can be obtained from Neon Rainbow Press at:http://www.neonrainbowpress.com/ Comments on this story can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author.
Starsky let himself into the silent apartment and stowed the key above the lintel before closing the door behind him and looking around. Hutch had been a little fuzzy when Starsky had finally gotten a chance to see him, but he was adamant that his partner come to his place and retrieve some list of things that needed doing while the blond was in the hospital. Such a list made sense; though neither of them had thought of one before, Hutch was terminally organized and they had been spending more than the average amount of time in hospitals lately. But Starsky still didn't like it.
He moved soundlessly across the room, trying to be quiet for some reason he himself didn't know, and crouched down before Hutch's desk. His partner had told him the middle drawer, but it still took a bit of searching before Starsky pulled out the single sheet of paper tucked in under the rest of the junk. A quick glance at the list as he stood made him sigh: 15 items. Hutch was nothing if not thorough. Starsky began to read.
List of Things to be Taken Care of While I'm Away
Typical Hutch. Long but precise.
1. Water all the plants in the greenhouse once a week, ones inside the house twice a week (preferably Tuesday and Friday). Cacti in green pot only need water once a month. Do not water the bulb in the blue pot on the sill.
Starsky sighed again. This was going to be fun. Hutch would probably want him to talk to his babies, too. Why couldn't he get a partner who collected rocks?
2. Ask Mrs. Johnson across the hall to look after my apartment while I'm gone.
That prompted a snort. The old busybody never seemed to do anything but watch Hutch's apartment.
3. Don't eat that garbage you usually do or drive like a bat out of hell while I'm out or there'll be no one around to pick up the pieces.
Starsky started. That last was clearly for him -- what did Hutch think, that he couldn't take care of himself? Making a face, Starsky read on.
4. Don't let Dobey put you out on the street with some rookie who can't watch your back. I talked to Bonhomme and he'll partner with you temporarily anytime you need it, or just stick to your desk.
Starsky was beginning to get the uncomfortable feeling he'd been set up. The list was just Hutch's way of micro-managing his partner even while out of the picture -- he'd even talked to Gabe! Starsky considered stopping there, annoyed, but then resolutely -- and a bit curiously -- went on.
5. Pick up the mail daily. Please don't let Mrs. J. do it.
He relaxed with a grin. That made sense.
6. Bankbook's in the bottom drawer -- please pay all bills that come, and rent is due on the 15th of the month.
Easy enough; Starsky was listed on his partner's bank account, as Hutch was on his, just as a precaution. Maybe this wasn't so bad.
7. Don't call my family unless you have to.
Starsky winced; too late for that. He'd called as soon as he knew his partner was out of danger. The Hutchinsons were good people and deserved that much, even if Hutch didn't want to worry them. And Starsky filled in for them when they couldn't be there, like now. But calling was one of the duties of partnership -- and friendship -- Starsky least enjoyed.
8. Throw away old or rotting food in the fridge.
That brought another grin. What, and ruin the welcome back surprise?
9. Don't get a new partner.
What?! Starsky blinked. There it was, casually nestled in between two innocuous entries. Did Hutch really think...? Dark curls shook. No, he didn't believe that. It was supposed to be a joke, but like many of Hutch's jokes, there was an odd tinge of seriousness about it. Starsky would just have to make sure he let his partner know what he thought his sense of humor.
10. Fifi comes Wednesdays -- please leave her a check for $25 in the morning.
That one he let pass; Starsky was still dwelling on the previous line.
11. Watch your back.
Aw, partner. Starsky knew he probably had a stupid grin on his face, but there was no one around to see it, so it didn't matter. Had he really thought Hutch was just trying to be bossy?
12. Bug Dobey a little for me while I'm gone.
His grin turned into a laugh. That was the easiest request yet.
13. Please keep an eye on my car.
Yeah, like anyone would want to steal that rust bucket, Starsky grimaced. But if Hutch asked...
14. Don't you dare solo on the streets!
Starsky frowned. Why not? They often did when the other was out for a while. But then, how many times had they saved each other's lives, too, on the streets, watching each other's backs? The point was valid -- and he was touched by the concern that prompted it. Despite the health food and workouts, Hutch still took better care of his partner than he did of himself. And, Starsky had to admit, he thrived under the attention. But then, Hutch probably knew that, too.
15. Come see me when you can.
Starsky's throat constricted. It was the last entry, written in a careless hand almost as an afterthought. Even the words had been chosen to sound casual. But there was a want in it that was so Hutch. Starsky had no doubt that his partner had complete security both in him and in their friendship, and yet there was also a craving he'd always seen in the blond: to be needed, to be reassured, to be shown that love over and over. Hutch had not had much experience with unconditional love, even sometimes in his close family, and the longing was strong.
Starsky reread the sheet. That subtle need was present throughout the list. It was ironic, for Starsky himself had come from a more broken and abandoned past than the blond, and he had always felt himself the lucky one for finding someone who had filled up the empty places so well; sometimes by being the father Starsky had lost too early, sometimes by letting Starsky take over and be the nurturing big brother he'd missed out on being, usually by just being a best friend and sharing everything with Starsky. Who looked after who? In the quiet sincerity of that list, there was also more strength and concern -- and love -- than most people got in their whole lifetime. That was Hutch.
Starsky gently folded the paper up and put it in his pocket as he left the apartment. The housekeeping details could wait until that evening when Hutch was asleep. For now, Starsky was expected at the hospital. There were a few things that he hadn't actually been asked that he needed to take care of first.
Written in 1997