WARNING: The Starsky and Hutch fan fiction of Alexis Rogers is homoerotic in nature and theme, and often contains explicit descriptions of sexual acts between two or more men. If this adult content offends you, please go play some place else. If you are under the age of consent where you live, please go away. If you don't like the laws where you live, change them. Remember, one can make a difference.
RATING: This story carries the slash rating of "PG-13" for homosexual content. This story was written around the episode, "Sweet Revenge". And Starsky didn't die.
DISCLAIMERS: This story exists solely for the enjoyment of those of us who care, and is not intended to infringe on any copyright or other legality of "Starsky and Hutch", Aaron Spelling, Leonard Goldberg, David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, William Blinn, Michael Fisher or anydamnbody else that I might have overlooked. No money has been made from the story nor is there likely to be.
COMMENTS should be directed to Alexis Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do not repost this story on another website, discussion list, or anywhere else.
After the Ping Pong Ball Bounced
Libby, C. J. Lorane & Alexis Rogers
His feet carried him without conscious command over to the divider shelves that housed the plants and the grow light that was not on but should have been. I turned it on myself that morning when we...before... He shook his head and pushed the memory away. His tired brain and exhausted body had been pushed too far.
It hurts. I'm so scared. He forced back the tears that threatened to flood his eyes already burning and aching from lack of sleep.
Emotions tenuously controlled, he opened his eyes and made a slow visual journey around the room. Starsky's home, filled with Starsky's things. The refuge, the safe place was now only an empty room -- cold and shadowy. The memories of past joy were faded, dissolving gray images bordered in white like old photographs.
I'm so lonely without you, babe. I thought I could find you here, but I can't. Your things are here, I could reach out and touch them, but it's you I want to touch and you're so far away. Are you gonna die, Starsk? Will I become like this room without you to bring the laughter and the love?
He felt light headed as his eyes reached the bedroom door and searched the darkness for the bed, their bed. Their new mattress, christened in the name of love with a generous overflow of mutual passion. We had a good laugh over the wet spots, didn't we, babe? Plastic sheets, you said, the only answer.
"Oh god, Starsky." The soft moan echoed in the still room and filled his ears.
The verbal acknowledgment of his pain seemed to free his body and he took a faltering step toward the open doorway, noticing for the first time the tee-shirt clenched tightly in his fist. Clothes, you'll need clothes. No! Better not to bring them and get yelled at than to bring them and...
Stop it, Hutchinson. What the fuck are you doing here anyway? He's not here, you know he's not here. He's lying in a hospital bed, half dead or half alive. He's been there before and so have you. You've got a job to do and standing here trying to find some meaning in faded tee-shirts and old Fats Domino records isn't getting that job done. He's gonna need you to come home to if he makes it and there are people out there who want to deny you both the chance.
He turned and moved toward the front door, looking back only once, at the blue shirt, draped again over the back of the peacock chair. You left it there, Starsk, you put it away.
"What's wrong, Harold? Why are...is it Starsky?"
"The doctor just told me he has less than an hour to live." His voice was rough with emotion.
"Oh, hon. And he's hung on so bravely all this time. Harold? Does Hutch know yet?"
"Yes. I called him; he's on his way here now. Will you come over?"
"Of course, darling, but not just yet."
"Edith. I need you. Hutch will need you."
"I'm going over to Starsky's place. You bring Hutch home here. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"I want to clean up that apartment while there's time, before everyone starts coming."
"Woman, that can wait. He isn't dead yet. Get over here. NOW!"
"Harold, as soon as it's over, you bring Hutch back here if you have to arrest the man. He can't be alone and you haven't slept. Look, we can't discuss this on the phone. I won't be long. You and Hutch will have arrangements to make...after. Help Hutch take care of Starsky. He needs you."
He dropped his voice. "The only arrangements Hutch will want to make is to kill Gunther. Edith, I have to go...someone...it's Hutch...running..."
The dial tone buzzed in her ear as she replaced the headset on her hall table. Please, God, let Hutch forgive me for what I'm going to do. You haven't shown me any other way. And, Lord, watch over my Harold. Give him the help he needs today. For Hutch's sake. And for mine.
As she finished her prayer, her son came running into the house. "Mama? What's wrong? Why are you crying?"
"In here, Cal." She led the way into the living room, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. "I'm all right. Cal, I want you to come and sit down with me for a minute. There's something we need to talk about."
"Momma, is it Dad? What about my game?"
"No, honey, your father is fine. He just called me. It's David Starsky." She pulled her teenage son down beside her, feeling the hard muscles tense as he first resisted her hug and then returned it when he remembered they were alone.
"I want you to baby-sit Rosie for me."
"But Mom, my game. If I pitch a winner, we're in the championships."
"Cal, this is a time for all the family to be together. I need your help with Rosie, she's too little to stay alone. I can't take her. Your father will be bringing Hutch later, so I want you and Rosie to fix them something to eat. And clean up this house. Cal, no friends in when we're not here. You know your father's rules."
"Where are you going?"
"I'll be back in about an hour, I have to pick up a few things for Hutch. We'll have him here, so you can heat a frozen pizza -- let Rosie set the table -- and clean out your room for him."
"For Hutch? He's staying here? All night? With us?"
"If your father can make him."
"Oh, boy! But, why? Is Dave dead, Momma?"
"Your father said the doctor gave him an hour."
"He can't die."
"Son, this is hard on all of us. David may really die this time. I pray he won't. I'm not asking you to give up your championship without a good reason. A man stays with his friends, Cal." She saw the concern in his eyes fade as she called him a man. "We're all going to be just fine. After all, we're together, and your father is coming home for dinner tonight. God is giving us a chance to do for our friends, so go on now, and get your room ready. Tell Rosie to come on down. I'll call your coach if you want."
"I can do it. But Ma..."
"Okay, okay, but do you think you could just hurry and be back sooner?"
"I'll do my best. Go."
She went up to Harold's dresser for the extra set of keys he kept in his jewelry box. Hope the owner will let me in, but if not, I think I can still use these skeletons. If Harold ever finds out...well, he'll be so busy with other things, and no one must know about Hutch losing more than a partner. I can't risk the scandal, for Hutch, or Harold, or even for David's memory. With this Gunther case, Hutch won't have time to remove anything private to the two of them.
She waited while the owner of Starsky's apartment building looked her over and finally agreed to call her husband's office to verify her identity. He explained he could not let anyone into the apartment without Starsky's permission, but Edith was not deceived. I don't have to put up with this bigotry. If it weren't for you, David, I wouldn't. And it's minor compared to what Hutch will do if he mis-reads my gesture. Her pride would survive the owner's rudeness. The man was obviously embarrassed by the responses he got from Dobey's secretary. Edith smiled as she offered to leave her car keys as security. Relieved to be able to avoid insulting a police captain's wife, he declined. But he did not go so far as to offer to escort her.
As she entered, using the key held out to her at fingertip grip, the faint odor of ripe garbage drifted to her. Starsky's apartment was clean except for a few dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Good, I won't have to fake it after all. The place does need cleaning.
She ignored the kitchen, and walked to the bathroom. Setting her purse on the sink, and opening the medicine chest, she surveyed the orderly shelves. A half empty tube of K-Y was selected for destruction. Everything else looked ordinary enough. She left the bottle of almond massage oil. Leave the man some sex life, or that will be just as bad. A quick look under the sink revealed a stack of disposable enemas. The boxes went in the trash. What remained was obviously cleaning supplies. Don't be smart, sister. You might not recognize the obvious. Who knows what these kind get up to? It was distasteful, and she almost fled to the familiar sanctuary of the kitchen sink. A glance behind the bathroom door revealed a large curl of dust and two robes. Carefully removing one of the robes, she smeared the front with toothpaste and dumped it into the dirty laundry hamper. She ignored the dust.
She took one last look around before spraying the rug and towels with the perfume she carried in her purse. Forgive me, Hutch, but his mother won't know it's mine. You will, if you're thinking. Satisfied, she left the dirty sink alone and did not put the toilet lid down. She carried the half full wastebasket and her purse to the bedroom.
Setting her purse down on Starsky's neatly made bed, she stood before the bedside drawer. She opened it, and quickly shut it. Sinking down on the edge of the bed, the basket between her feet, she drew a breath, grateful for the firm but soft support of the wide bed. It has to be done, say it enough times and you'll believe it. Opening the drawer, she gingerly withdrew another tube of K-Y. A gleam of silver caught her eye. Carefully, with just the fingertips, she drew out the shiny brush. David Michael Starsky was engraved in elaborate swirls. A baby brush, like the one her mother had given her when Cal was born. This brush held a faint trace of something greasy on its back. Reaching for a tissue, she wiped the brush clean and set it on her lap. What do they do with this brush? At six months Cal had such tiny, fuzzy little curls on his head, my darling little chocolate morsel. There was an alarm clock in the drawer in addition to the one on the table. She held the choo-choo shaped clock in her hands and read the inscription: "My baby engine that can. KH, 1976". Cal had a toy clock just like it. His baby? Stop that! Get back to work!
The drawer next yielded up a strange collection of rather large rings and shiny silver beads in a small plastic bag. They went on her lap, too. She pulled out a long feather and a water pistol. You don't want to know, Edith. The pistol she emptied into the wastebasket and the smell of vanilla filled the room. The tiny gun went into her lap. Must be what they call a love toy. More massage oil and edible body paint was quickly put into the trash. She ran her fingers over the bottom of the drawer, hoping she was over the worst of it. Something was still there, flat and slick.
She drew out a small packet of photographs, sealed together by a flat rubber band. The top one was in color, the blond asleep on his side, back to the camera's eye. Hutch. His flesh carefully lighted, the ass gleaming. Looking away, and trying to collect herself, she realized she was sitting on the bedspread shown in the photo. Unable to keep her gaze away from Hutch's beauty, she looked and looked. It was no amateur effort, but it was not a posed picture. The photographer had caught Hutch totally relaxed, but the composition was taut, the lighting deliberate. Her memory called up other pictures from the art history classes she had taken in college: The sleeping nudes, the Greek and Roman goddesses and wood nymphs, the naked athletes. But that was ART... This photo was as carefully balanced in composition as any painting considered a national treasure. Starsky's work.
For a moment the figure in the picture became Harold, as she had stood over his sated sleep in their first tiny apartment. It had been the week after their honeymoon and she was still shocked at the nudity in her bed. The picture of her young passionate husband was one she treasured and summoned into their bed when they made love. Here were the same strong back, the wide shoulders. The same long slender back of the arm, resting in relaxed abandon into the curve of the waist. The powerful bulging of the forearm just below the elbow starkly perched on the hard sweep of the golden thigh. This is not my lover, it's Hutch, naked in Starsky's bed. She did not look at any more of the pictures. This single example was torrid enough to burn down the civic center, launch a revolution or break a mother's heart. These belong to Hutch now, something too private to share. She would keep them safe for him, and return them to him at the right moment. I wish we had our own pictures...
Sighing, she set aside the collection on her lap, and stacked the objects neatly beside her purse. When she opened the clothes closet door, she almost sagged in defeat at their number. A black plaid shirt screamed Hutch. Brief peeks into boxes on the floor and shelf revealed camera equipment. A large box full of glossy magazines caught her attention. What first appeared to be the expected collection of Playboys was certainly something else. They were quickly dumped in the trash. Besides, the body ain't as good as Hutch's. She giggled. Edith, get hold of yourself. There were books piled carefully against the wall. She checked the publishing date on the top one. 1976. This Patricia Nell Warren is not recommended by the Church reading list. She flipped through the rest of the stack, the pictures on the covers more than enough to convince her the subject was gay literature, currently in print. Hutch could replace them, if they were his. She added them all to the trash. The basket was full and she took it into the kitchen to transfer the contents to trash bags. This will have to do. Everyone knows they spent a lot of time together, but I'd still like to know what they did with those rings and beads...
The dresser. The bottom drawer was a treasure drawer in this house as well as her own. But what a revelation. There was a leather vest. But the rest defied name. What are these strange little...little...well, could they be dog muzzles? She pulled out a large, leather-bound can, clearly marked in stainless steel studs "Crisco". Maybe I'd better check the kitchen after all. She sat back on the bed, her mind a whirl. Suddenly a solution came to her. She crammed the contents of the drawer into the large box that had formerly held the wild magazines, and went to Starsky's desk for scissors and tape. When she finished, she had a box wrapped in a plain paper bag and labeled April Fools, Partner. She put it on the top of the closet shelf. It was nowhere near April, but if Mrs. Starsky found it, maybe, just maybe she would give it to Hutch unopened. It would be safe waiting for him, hidden in plain view. It would have to be, there was no way she was going to carry that strange stuff home for her kids to find.
She smoothed out the bedspread, closed the closet, all the drawers, and moved her small collection to the living room. Her search continued, into all the desk drawers. Nothing. She double checked. It did not feel right somehow, just the sexy things. Their partnership was more. Something was still missing. She made one last search of the drawers. Yes, there it was at the back of the bottom drawer. She pulled out an old, battered cedar jewelry box, the lid carved with the name STARSKY. The bottom was carved in small letters: New York, 1940. Harold kept a similar item on his dresser and used it every day. Why don't you use this? Was it a wedding present to your dad, a painful reminder of something you and Hutch can't have? She opened the box that held Starsky's secrets. Inside was Starsky's father's police badge and a small packet of letters tied in a velvet ribbon. That she recognized. Love letters, just what had been missing. The top letter was addressed to "My darling David" and was pages long. She sat down on the chair and untied the ribbon. She made herself read portions of the first page just to be sure, and felt herself blush. Hutch was more passionate than even Harold at his inspired best. The others were all in the same handwriting. None were signed, except with things like hearts and long rows of the letter "x" or small cartoon sketches. Some were obscene, but all were good. There were notes, letters, cards, all sizes. She looked at the dates. The oldest, a small card, was ten years old. Tears came then. Starsky must have saved everything Hutch had ever written him. It was a pitifully thin pile, the ones in the middle worn and tattered, possibly tear stained. Most of these were postmarked Minnesota. She did not open them. Couldn't you take your love home with you, Hutch? Or were you trying to right this sinful thing? But these are love letters, not, not... She removed a small plastic container and a wrinkled photograph of a young woman. The bottom of Starsky's box was lined with a brown envelope. Opened, it contained the LAPD Citation of Valor, signed by her husband and the Chief. Inside the envelope were military dog tags. Several had Starsky's name, one had Hutch's and one held the name of a stranger, Nathan Wise. Aren't you faithful to him, David? Why risk losing such a wonderful... The "hero" certificate was feather light, a mockery of the measure of the agony and pain it cost. Harold had one just like it, earned in blood on the streets. Harold's was framed and hung on the wall by her hand. Proudly. The same paper named Starsky a hero. She knew Hutch had one, too.
Replacing all the items, she considered very carefully. Should I give Hutch Starsky's secret box? Yes. This and their toys. Everything should just fit. Everything she had judged that would be personal and meaningful she had saved for Hutch fit into one small box. Starsky's box. She would fashion it into a last gift from his love, one made in stealth and some shame by his boss's wife.
Gathering up her small box, she moved into the kitchen. This was the reason, the excuse for her trip here. The small everyday traces of living she could not leave untouched. Momma always hated a dirty kitchen. Edith soon had it as tidy as her own. One last look around revealed no trace of her visit, unless the crime lab went over the place. Starsky and Hutch weren't criminals and no crime had been committed here, this day by me. It was an act of my love for you, an act of a friend. For you, Hutch. And for your lover's memory. She sent up a kitchen prayer for David, like she did at the coming and goings of her own family in her own home. She liked to think the prayers would drift up with the dishsoap bubbles and wash away all the troubles. She emptied the trash, the man's job. Who was the man in this house, who was the woman? It doesn't matter, now, Edith. This home is dead. She turned off all the lights, even over the plants. She stood a moment, holding the box in her arms. The heart is gone from this home. I hope I chose well for you, Ken. If another has the legal right to sort through his possessions, only you will know the most private of his passions, and your own. Stop it, Edith, you're getting upset and over dramatic, and there is still work to do.
When she returned the key to the landlord, he offered her coffee. She declined his belated hospitality, explaining Starsky had only needed a few things and she had to get back to the hospital. She answered his questions about Starsky's health with the standard replies they had been using for days. "He's hanging on." Let someone else tell him Starsky was dead.
When she came home, she was greeted with a crushing bear hug from Harold. Trying to peer up at his face, and around his stomach at the same time, she could only gasp. Pulling back, she looked up into her husband's beaming, wrinkled, and dear face. "He's alive, baby! He's gonna make it! You can't kill Starsky, we'll have to put up with that pest forever." She sagged in relief. "Here, sweet, let me help you with that. What got into you, cleaning house at Dave's? That's Hutch's job."
She held the box away from his grasp. "Harold, I'm fine, really." She did not let him remove his arms or comment on Hutch's role as a housewife. "Did Cal make his game?"
"Yes, of course. He said we should wait here for you. Now come on, hon, we've got dinner."
She was guided into her living room. Hutch was lying on the floor, a beer bottle in one outstretched hand. Rosie was lying on her back, too, head to head with him. The stereo was turned up to deaf. Playing cards were scattered around them, one on Hutch's hair. She was listening to the music, and Hutch was passed out cold. Or asleep. Whichever, there was a wide grin on his face. The pizza on the coffee table has to be cold. Harold assisted her onto her own couch and gave her a slice. It was cold. He left her and went over to Rosie, offering her a sip of his beer. She refused, but turned down the volume and smiled over at her mother before collapsing back down. Setting the box and her purse at her feet, she ate cold pizza and watched her man drink beer and her daughter lie next to Hutch, both smiling at the ceiling. She did not say one word. Harold knew they never ate in the living room when company came. It was not polite. He returned to her side and she fed him the last slice of pizza.
She watched Hutch sleep on their floor. Harold hugged her, then he kissed her passionately. "You're looking at two very happy men, baby."
"I'm looking at two drunken fools who are leading my only daughter astray." His bellow of laughter woke Hutch, who saw them hugging and blushed.
"Hello, Edith. You heard? We seem to have gotten carried away."
"You certainly did. Imagine! My boys not waiting to share the beer. Rosie! Get up and bring us all another round."
"Momma? For me, too?"
"Of course, for you, too. This is a celebration for the family. Save one for Cal."
As they drank a toast to Starsky, she began to worry about getting the box safely back to his apartment. Shoving it under the couch was only an interim solution, but she forgot about it as Hutch and Rosie started singing.
Slumping over the steering wheel, Hutch stared at the spot usually occupied by the Torino. Hopefully Merle would have the car repaired by the time the physicians had its owner repaired.
The joy that Starsky was going to live that had flushed new life throughout Hutch's exhausted body was fading after only one day. The doctors had said that there was no reason for Starsky to be alive -- but he was! They had been given a second chance --or was it a fiftieth chance? But then, who was counting? Starsky was going to live! He dragged himself up the steps, hoping again the essence of Starsky -- the smell of the man on his clothes, his glasses stacked neatly in the kitchen cabinet, his books on the shelves, all those things that spelled Starsky by their very existence -- would heal his aching heart and give him the energy he needed to go on, to make the case against Gunther stick. The cop was back, the beast who lusted for revenge sealed away again. But the cop was so tired.
The keys slipped through his tired fingers and as he knelt to retrieve them, he heard footsteps inside. Drawing the Magnum, he tested the door and found it unlocked. Anger surged at the thought of anyone invading this sanctuary he had needed again and again.
"Police!" he yelled as he entered the room, gun leveled.
"Wha -- Hutch -- oh, God, you scared me to death!" Edith Dobey stammered, clutching a box in her hands.
Holstering the gun, he asked, "What are you doing here?"
Walking into the sleeping area, he slumped onto the bed. "Edith?"
"Oh, Hutch, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry, but when Harold told me that Starsky was going to die, I didn't want his mother to find the things I knew would be here. I mean, I didn't know if she knew about the two of you..." Her voice trailed off and she refused to look at him.
"Here," he patted the bed, "sit down."
"Oh, Hutch, I feel like such a fool. I just wanted to help and..."
"It's okay, Edith. What's in the box?"
"Some of the things I took out of that drawer." She pointed to the bedside table. "Oh, Hutch, I'm so sorry..."
Remembering the contents of that drawer, heat rose in his face. Most of that stuff was purchased with the express purpose of making him blush. Starsky got off on it. And some of that stuff would embarrass a corpse. The studded lavender cock ring and those two-inch multi-colored balls on a string and the leather-and-stud covered Crisco can. Oh Christ.
"I just wanted to save Starsky's mother -- and you -- some of the anguish of going through this room. Harold was so sure that Starsky was going to die." Silent tears slipped down her face.
"We were all sure that we were gonna lose him." He took her hands.
"I didn't know what to do with most of that stuff, so I...so I...threw it away. I'm sorry."
"If you apologize again, I'm going to throw you out. Now tell me what's in the box."
"Well, there were his things in here and a few things that I knew you'd want after you'd had time to get over losing him and I thought I'd just keep them until having them wouldn't hurt so much and then when Starsky started getting better, I thought I'd better put them back and I was gonna replace all the other stuff, but..."
The heat rose in his face again, but he did not release her hands. "Slow down, Edith. There's no need. I appreciate what you did and why you did it. It must have been very difficult for you to see that side of us."
"I know you love each other the way Harold and I love each other, the rest doesn't matter, but it's a little..."
"Starsky's favorite color is red, especially on my face." He laughed, and it felt good.
She held out the box. "Here. I found it in his desk."
He took it, cradling it in his hands, before lifting the lid. Inside was the silver baby brush that Rebecca Starsky had given them from the treasures she kept when she had given her blessings to their relationship. He wondered what Edith would think if she knew that he used the brush all over his lover's body until the man purred like a contented cat. Caressing the soft bristles, he wondered how long it would be before he could use it again -- or if he would ever be able to use it again.
"Is he really going to be all right?"
"I think so -- I hope so -- I don't know. The doctors said he shouldn't even be alive, but he is." He stared at the brush.
"I think I better go. Harold will be wondering where I am." She stood and looked down at Hutch. "Will you please get some rest?"
"Yes." He patted the pillow. "Here." She smiled, then walked to the door.
She stood there for a moment, then left quietly, shutting the door after her.
Hutch fondled the box for a while, wondering what treasures lay under the items Edith said she had added, what things Starsky treasured enough to save. He was tempted to put the box away and not know the answer, but after a few minutes curiosity won.
Removing the water pistol and packet of beads, he could not control the flush of heat. Damn you, Starsky. Underneath were all the letters he had ever written to Starsky, including the post cards he always sent when they had to be separated. The blue velvet ribbon that secured them was worn and smooth and he tried to imagine the scene of Starsky's embarrassment as he made the purchase in a fabric shop, a place totally dominated by women.
He thought about rereading the letters, but it was unnecessary. He knew all the words he had ever given his lover, words that meant so much to the man. Love words, mushy, sentimental words that somehow reassured Starsky of the special love they shared.
Under the letters were several other items. Military dog tags -- the names were his, David Michael Starsky, Joseph Malachi Starsky and Nathan David Wise. Even after all these years, the images of Nathan and the thoughts of them making love created a surge of jealousy and hatred. Starsky had given his love and Nathan had abused it. He could never forgive that of anyone. And as much as he wanted to eradicate those years from their lives, it was a part of Starsky -- the Starsky who could never forget Nathan or the times they had shared.
In a small, clear plastic box were the Army medals for service in Vietnam. The thought of what Starsky had done to earn them turned Hutch's stomach and he was surprised to find them here knowing that Starsky hated what had been required of him to earn them. Each medal was stained with blood -- of friends, lovers, and enemies.
In a battered leather case was a police badge. NYPD. Fidelis ad Mortem. It invoked images of the man Starsky loved and valued and the tragedy of that loss.
A crumpled black and white photo of Rosey Malone as she stood among the trees in the park was here. It was obviously Starsky's work and that angered Hutch even more than the subject. She was another person to whom Starsky had given his heart only to have it trampled.
Lining the bottom of the box was a police citation. Even the people for whom Starsky lay his life on the line did not always appreciate this special person or his ideals.
The top photograph in the packet was one of himself as he slept in Starsky's bed. Would he, too, prove unworthy of Starsky's love?
Replacing the items with care, Hutch returned the box to the desk drawer, then grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and settled on the couch. The contents of that box stated the important events of a man's life, and listed those people who were important. He wondered if he were to duplicate the thing, what he would chose to place there -- maybe to leave for Starsky.
He had nothing. The post cards that came from Starsky had been tossed in the trash once read. He had no medals. His police citation had been burned late one night in a fit of depression. He had no relationship with his father of which he wished to be reminded. Without Starsky he was only half an entity, and souvenirs, even given by Starsky, could not replace the man.
As the sun set, the room grew dim and gloomy. He finished his beer and walked to the bed, comforted by the thought that soon Starsky would be here with him, not condensed in some box. Stretching out, he held the silver brush in his hand as he closed his eyes.