Warning: This story is written for ADULTS ONLY. If you are below the age of consent (under 21 in most areas), do not read. If you are offended by stories featuring romantic or explicit sexual relationships between same-sex characters, do not read.
Disclaimer: This story was written for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to infringe on any rights held by any holders of rights to Starsky & Hutch.
Comments are welcome and may be sent to the author at Hyacinth@snowhill.com
My True Love Gave To Me
Friday, 9 November, 1979
David Starsky looked up in disbelief at his partner. "You hate Christmas."
"I do not hate Christmas."
"Yes you do. You hate the commercialism and the crowded shopping centers."
"Well, that part, yeah." Hutch moved to the refrigerator and brought back two cans of Miller.
"The carol singing, and the bell ringing --"
"Starsk, you've got to admit, a man can only take so many choruses of Joy To The World. And those Salvation Army people outside the malls. It's not like we can't see them. Do they have to ring the damned bell all the time?"
Starsky popped the tops on both cans, pushing one towards Hutch. "What'd I tell ya? You hate the specials on TV, and trimming trees, and decking the halls with boughs of holly."
"The specials are for children, cutting down trees is bad for the environment, and I don't even have a hall."
"If you had one, would you deck it with holly?"
"I don't have any holly either."
"If you hate Christmas so much, why do you wanna do Christmas this year?"
"Starsky, for the last time, I do not hate Christmas. All I said was, maybe this year, if you want to put up a small tree and maybe throw some tinsel on it, string a few lights, and we'll toss down some eggnog and give each other a gift or two and say Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, whatever floats your boat. I don't want the apartment turned into Macy's window, let's just have our own little celebration. I thought you'd like that."
"I do like that, Hutch. I like it a lot. I'm just not sure why you're doin' it."
"You're my partner. I should show you a little consideration, hm?"
"It's because of the shooting, isn't it?" Starsky opened the pizza box and took the last cheese-dripping, pepperoni-topped slice. "You want this?"
"No, you take it. It's not because of the shooting. That was six months ago. You're doing fine."
"You sure you don't want it? I already had five pieces. So, if it's not because of the shooting, how come I can't say I'm thirsty without you fetching me a drink? How come you call me every night we're not workin' a case with some lamebrain question you already know the answer to? At least you don't feel like you gotta open the car door for me anymore, but still, it's like you can't let go of playin' nurse."
"I'm sure, Starsk. I'm full."
The sudden change of tone in his partner's voice made Starsky look up. "Hutch, `m sorry. I didn't mean to sound like I don't appreciate everything you did for me. Shit, I wouldn't of made it through rehab without you pushin' me."
Hutch smiled ruefully. And it hurt me almost as much as it hurt you. "OK, maybe I have been a little ... overly solicitous. I don't want you to feel like I'm crowding you. If it happens again, tell me to can it."
"Promise you won't get mad?"
Hutch grabbed the beers and moved to the living room. "Yeah, I promise."
Starsky plopped down on the opposite end of the couch. "Anything good on?"
Hutch scanned the TV Guide for Friday night. "Channel 12 has Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks."
Starsky sighed. "Gimme that. Look, here's one on Channel 5 you saw at the theater with Whatsherbetty."
"Bottle blonde, Betty." Starsky made an hourglass outline with his hands.
"I vaguely remember the woman." Hutch chuckled softly.
"You said you'd love to see the movie again. So let's see it."
"Julia? Starsk, that's really not your kind of movie --"
"Nah, I wanna see it."
"No, you don't."
"Hutch, can it."
"Starsky? You awake over there?"
Hutch watched the credits roll off the screen and switched off the TV. "You didn't say a word the entire movie."
"What's to say?"
"I tried to tell you that you wouldn't like it."
"I didn't not like it. It's just that -- the way those women felt about each other, and then, you know ... I thought they were gonna ... "
"What? That bothered you?"
"Sure it bothered me."
"They weren't lesbians, if that's what you're thinking. Some critics felt there were lesbian overtones in the film, but Lillian Hellman was writing a story about friendship."
"Who said anything about lesbians?"
Hutch frowned. "Well, what bothered you?"
"Julia died. That bothered me. I knew we shouldda watched Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks."
Saturday, 1 December, 1979
"You wanna do this or not?"
"You mean Christmas? Yeah."
"You sure about this?"
"OK, just remember you said that." Starsky reached behind the sofa pillow and pulled out a furry red and white bundle.
"What the hell is that?"
"What, you never seen a Jewish Santa Claus? It's a Santa hat, idiot." He patted his lap. "Come over here and tell ol' Santa what you want for Christmas."
"Oh, good grief."
"You been a good boy this year, Kenny?"
"I am not going to sit in your lap."
Starsky popped a tape into the player, and the strains of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" steadily increased in volume as he manipulated the knob. His baritone juxtaposed weirdly with The Crystals:
"Starsk, deal. Turn that infernal music off and I'll sit in your lap."
"I thought you'd see it my way," his partner replied in a mock gangster voice. He grabbed one of the pillows and stuffed it under his shirt. "There, is that better?"
"Very realistic, Starsk. Now all you need is a white beard, twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks, a pipe, a Santa suit, some reindeer ... "
"OK, how's this?" He wiggled his eyebrows at the blonde.
"What are you doing?"
"Twinkling my eyes. Can't you tell?"
Hutch gave up. "Yeah, they do. They twinkle."
Starsky grinned broadly. "Ho, ho, ho! Have you been a good boy this year?"
"Well then, little Kenny, Santa is sure to bring you something in his bag. And what do you want from ol' Santa this year?"
Hutch grinned wickedly. "Little Kenny would like a bungalow on a nice, quiet cul de sac, with nice, quiet neighbors, lots of windows, a swimming pool, and a patio. Oh, and a greenhouse. It's gotta have a greenhouse."
"You don't ask much, do ya, Kenny?"
"You asked, that's what I want."
"You sure you don't wanna add ten lords a-leapin' and a partridge in a pear tree?"
"Just the dream house will do."
"Kids," Starsky muttered. "Useta be content with an electric train or a bike or a little red wagon. Get off me, ya little monster."
As Hutch moved over beside him, Starsky stuffed the Santa hat on his head and parked himself in Hutch's lap. "My turn."
"This is ridiculous."
"Alright, alright. Let's get it over with. Have you been a good boy this year, Davey?"
Starsky was silent for a moment. "I've been pretty good, Santa. But there were a couple of times when I didn't mind Cap'n Dobey. And ... remember that boutique clerk you wanted to go out with, and I was supposed to feel her out? And I told you she wasn't interested? Well, she was."
"I didn't think she was your type. But wait, there's more. Last time we played Monopoly and you got tipsy -- "
"I was not tipsy."
"Hutch, you were stinkin'. Anyway, I took the hotel off your Tennessee Avenue and put it on my Marvin Gardens."
"That was low, Starsk."
"I'm so ashamed." He rolled his eyes.
"Look, Starsk, you're getting very heavy. Santa Claus is not supposed to hear confessions. Just tell me what you want."
"What a grouch. You're not the real Santa, you don't even have a beard."
"Starsk, you've got five seconds to -- "
"And your eyes don't twinkle."
" -- tell me what you want, or you'll end up with a lump of coal in your stocking."
Starsky feigned a pout. "OK, OK. I want my jacket back."
Hutch stared. "The brown one? The one you were wearing when those goons -- "
"Yeah. I loved that jacket."
Hutch's eyes softened. "You know it couldn't be fixed, Starsk. It was all ..."
"Bloody and full of holes."
"I -- I would have gotten it cleaned and repaired for you if I could, but it was ... well, how about a nice new brown jacket?"
"I hate breaking in new jackets. I want the old one back."
"Starsk, it's gone. Trashed. I'm sorry."
"See, told ya you weren't the real Santa."
"Ah jeez, Starsk. How about asking for something realistic?"
"You didn't ask for something realistic."
"Will you get off me? I need to go."
"Go? You're home."
Hutch let out a long breath. "To the bathroom, Starsk."
Monday, 24 December, 1979
"Sure was nice of Dobey to give us the afternoon and all of tomorrow off, huh?" Starsky propped his feet on Hutch's coffee table.
"Yeah, some other poor slobs are working our shift."
"Aw, poor slobs." Starsky grinned.
"You sure you don't want a real tree?"
"'m sure. This is great, Hutch. This is perfect." A holly garland festooned the doorway, and three fat red candles set in greenery wreaths scented the air with cranberry aroma. A miniature Christmas tree stood on the dining table, decorated with tiny balls and one strand of small lights.
"This eggnog's pretty good."
"Old Hutchinson family recipe," Hutch said proudly.
"What were the Old Hutchinsons anyway, rum runners?"
"Funny, Starsk. Want another?"
"Nah, I gotta run a few last minute errands. Hey, don't forget to listen out for the reindeer on the roof tonight."
"You bet, partner. See you tomorrow morning."
"May visions of candy bars dance in your head," Starsky called, as he made for the door.
"That's sugarplums, Starsk."
"For somebody who hates Christmas, you sure do know a lot about it."
Carlton's was crowded with last minute shoppers. Pushing his way through the aisles to the mens section, Hutch was reminded of why this holiday was not his favorite time of the year. The woman beside him juggled a howling toddler in one arm and a large lopsided parcel in the other. Somehow she managed to snare a green cable knit sweater with the fingers of one hand and head towards the cashier.
There were several styles of brown leather jackets hanging from the rack, one of which almost matched Starsky's old one. Almost, like the last 25 jackets I've looked at. But it's not exactly the same shade. This one's a little bit lighter.
Hutch removed it from the hanger, examining the lining. Maybe with a little breaking in ... Hutch crumpled the jacket into a ball, released it, crumpled it again.
"Excuse me? May I help you?"
Hutch glared wide-eyed at the diminutive Asian-American clerk who snatched the jacket from his hands.
"I was, ah, just seeing how easy it breaks in."
"Sir, if you want to break it in, first you have to pay for it."
The clerk smoothed out the creases, frowning. "Would you care to try it on?"
"No, it's not for me. It's for my partner."
"You probably don't," he snapped. Before the woman could reply, he turned and made his way through the throng to the exit. The sidewalk was only slightly less crowded. Hutch felt somewhat better, knowing that thousands of other people were frantically pounding the pavement on Christmas Eve, probably feeling just as frustrated and exhausted as he did.
"I do not hate Christmas, I do not hate Christmas," Hutch muttered to himself. He was running out of time, and not only had he not found the perfect jacket, he'd bought nothing at all for Starsky. A book shop caught his eye. He stopped and purchased a $25 gift certificate. A novelty store further down netted a metal bank featuring a mule that kicked coins into a slot. Definitely a Starsky toy. He had the clerk wrap it in bright red paper.
Armed with two gifts but feeling defeated, Hutch headed towards his car.
"Damn. Would you look at that." Ahead of him, crossing the street, was a stocky man wearing a threadbare pullover cap, faded jeans, and a brown leather jacket. Not one that closely resembled Starsky's, but one just like it. The man stumbled as he mounted the curb.
"Oh, what the hell." Hutch hurried after the man.
"Sir? Hey, excuse me - mister?"
The face that turned to answer him was that of a career alcoholic. A scraggly beard, salted with a smattering of gray and white hairs, covered a thin neck, sunken cheeks, and what had once been an intimidating squarish jaw. The man's eyes squinted suspiciously from beneath the wool cap.
"You talkin' t' me, buddy? I don' know you."
"Uh - my name is Hutchinson. I was just wondering if you'd -- look, I realize this is going to sound a little strange, but I was wondering if you'd be willing to sell me that jacket you're wearing."
"You nuts? What you want m'jacket for anyway?" The rheumy eyes gazed at Hutch with misgiving.
"I -- I need it as a Christmas gift."
The derelict laughed brokenly. "Tell me another one, blondie. You up ta somethin'. Nobody gonna give this ol' beat up jacket as no Christmas present."
"No, really, it's a long story. Look, just tell me what you'll take for it."
"Uh-uh. You gon' set me up, that it? Throw my jacket on some dead body inna alley `n' tell the cops I stiffed `im. Uh-uh."
Hutch pulled out his badge. "I am the cops."
"Shit." The man tried to back away, nearly stumbling over his own feet. "I ain't done nothin'. Ain't got nothin'. You jus' leave me `lone, I don't want no trouble."
Hutch reached out a steadying hand. "No trouble, I promise." As he supported the man's arm, the jacket fell open in front. Even the lining was the same. This was the perfect jacket. "Look, Mister, uh?"
"Mac McCready's m'name. S'really Melvin but jus' call me Mac."
"Pleased to meet you, Mac. I'm Ken. Look, there's a coffee shop right over there. How about I buy you a cup and a sandwich, and I'll explain everything. You're not in any trouble. OK?"
The offer of food proved irresistible. Hutch ordered two ham sandwiches and two cups of black coffee. He waited until Mac had polished off the meal and had a refill on the coffee.
"About that jacket ..."
"You sure you ain't tryin' to pull some kinda fast one?"
Hutch dug into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He flipped it open to a photo of himself and Starsky that Huggy Bear had taken one night at the bar, about two weeks before Gunther's thugs had gunned Starsky down in the parking lot. The two of them were sitting next to each other on barstools, grinning like idiots. Starsky was wearing the brown jacket.
"That's my partner, Starsky," Hutch explained. "Not long after this photo was taken, he got shot. And the jacket -- well, he survived but the jacket didn't. I've looked all over the city for one like it, and I've found some that are similar, but none that matched perfectly. Until now."
"Y'mean this one?" Mac tugged at the flaps of the jacket.
"Yes. Name your price. I'm serious."
Mac had a sudden violent coughing fit. Hutch motioned the waitress for a glass of water.
"Sorry `bout that, too much goddam cheap wine. Eats your throat out, y'know?"
"Yeah, I'm sure it does. You alright now?"
Mac felt the jacket pocket. "Where th'hell I put it? This thing's got lots o'pockets." He continued his search. "Erm. There we go, got it." He laid a battered black billfold on the table. Its folds were practically glued together by years of pressure and disuse.
"This here's m'billfold. I don' have no money so's I don' use it very much. Heh heh. Forget where I put it sometimes."
Slowly, he pried it open and pulled out a yellowed, stained snapshot. Two men in Army fatigues stood with arms draped around each other's shoulders, obviously drunk. Behind them, a neon sign, its colors faded to pastel, blared "Go Go Girls!"
"You ever been to Saigon, Ken?" Mac asked softly.
"No. Starsky served in Vietnam. Not me."
"Two of India Company's finest, hoss. That's me on the right. And that's Mulkey. My buddy."
Mac took a long draught of the water, wiping the excess on the back of his hand.
Hutch looked at the man Mac McCready had been approximately ten years ago. His hair was a mass of chestnut brown curls, his head tilted cockily to one side. Nipped in waist, powerful muscles visible on the arm that hung by his side, dangling a beer can.
The other man, Mulkey, was several inches taller. Blonde, stereotypically GI Joe.
"I thought Mulkey was invulnerable," Mac said softly. "He had a sort of ... aura around him, y'know? One mornin' he volunteered to go out with a fire team in my place. That mornin', as I was layin' on the cold Vietnamese ground, all huddled up with only my flak jacket as cover, Mulkey took off his utility jacket and put it over me. I only saw his shadow as he and the fire team went off into th' fog." Mac sniffed, reached for one of the paper napkins in the table dispenser, and blew his nose loudly. "Two hours later the fire team was ambushed. That's about the time I woke up, all warm from bein' covered with Mulkey's utility jacket. He got it in the chest, too. But he didn't make it."
"Wish it had been me instead. Wasn't never the same for me after that. Is it like that b'tween you and -- what'd you say his name was?"
Hutch bit his lip. "Yeah. It is. Detective Sergeant David Starsky. We've been partners for a long time."
Mac snatched the billfold off the table and rubbed his eyes. "Less get outta here, Ken."
Hutch followed him outside. Mac fumbled with the zipper and finally managed to get himself out of the jacket. He handed it to Hutch.
"Thanks, Mac. You don't know how much I appreciate this. How much do I owe you?"
"Don't owe me nothin', Ken."
"No, please, I really want to pay you for this."
"Didn't cost me nothin'. The Salvation Army gave it t'me last winter. Take it."
Hutch pulled out two twenties. "Please. Take this."
Mac shoved his hand away. "Don't want no money for it. You give it to your partner. Your ... buddy. And tell him Mac said Merry Christmas."
"I'll do that, Mac. But please -- let me give you this -- " Hutch stuffed the money into Mac's hand. "It's not for the jacket. It's just my way of wishing you a Merry Christmas. And a Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. OK?"
"Well, if ya put it that way ..." Mac winked, and turned away.
Hutch stared after his departing form, ambling down the street, turning into the first liquor store on the block.
Now, all I have to do is find an all-night dry cleaners.
Hutch stripped and took a quick shower. Bed was going to feel good tonight. He checked the lock on the door, turned down the heat, and punched Starsky's number on the phone dial.
"Starsky? Did I wake you up?"
"Nah. It's only midnight." The tone was pure sarcasm.
"Sorry. I just wanted to make sure you still planned to come over tomorrow." Hutch frowned as he heard the sleepy laughter on the other end of the line. "Starsky? What the hell is so funny?"
A few more chuckles. "Nothin', Hutch. I'll see ya in the mornin'."
"Goodnight, Nurse." More laughter.
Tuesday, 25 December, 1979
Hutch awakened to childrens' voices caroling "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" from his living room. He grabbed his robe and found Starsky watching a Christmas concert on TV.
"'Bout time you woke up, sleepyhead."
Hutch glanced at the clock. "Starsky, it's seven o'clock in the morning. And you promised not to overdo it with the Christmas music." Hutch stuck his fingers in his ears.
"Awright, awright." He changed the channel to a news broadcast. "I could use some coffee."
"Be my guest," Hutch retorted, stomping off the to the kitchen to brew a pot.
He returned a few minutes later with two mugs. "Anything new on the hostage crisis?"
"Sorry. I was just thinkin' about those people spendin' Christmas as prisoners in Iran. What their families must be goin' through.
"Yeah, me too."
They passed a few minutes silently watching TV, sipping the hot coffee.
"Why don't you go get dressed so we can exchange gifts?"
"Starsk, why do I have to dress to exchange gifts?"
"Because. It's more proper that way."
Hutch started to argue, but decided dressing would be less trouble. He chose tan slacks and a red sweater with a white snowflake pattern.
"That's nice. I like that," Starsky said. "You look real Christmassy."
Hutched forced a smile. You're entitled, Starsk. As long as it's just once a year.
"You go first."
Hutch handed him the enveloped containing the gift certificate.
"Aw, thanks, Hutch. That's nice."
"It's not much. Actually, it's a dopey gift, isn't it?"
"It's not dopey. I like to read. And I like being able to pick out my own books. Not that there's anything wrong with the books you read, but -- "
"Well, some of the ones you loaned me were kinda boring."
"Yeah. Like The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford. I couldn't stay awake for the thrilling climax."
"It did get more interesting towards the end."
"That's OK, Hutch. I'll wait for the movie."
Hutch ignored the gibe and presented the red papered box.
"Now this one really is a dopey gift," he said, as Starsky tore into it with childlike glee.
"Yeah, it's a dopey gift. But I love it."
"Really." Starsky emptied his pocket of change and flipped all of it into the bank. "Got any spare change?"
"No. Will you stop playing? One more, partner." Hutch placed a large white box in Starsky's lap. "It's not wrapped, but I hope -- hey, Merry Christmas, pal."
Time seemed to freeze as Starsky gazed at the contents. Finally, he swallowed audibly.
"Starsk ... you OK?"
The dark-haired man kept his head down. "That's the most beautiful thing anybody ever gave me in my whole life, Hutch."
"It's just a jacket," Hutch said softly.
"It's not just a jacket. It's my jacket." Starsky reverently removed it from the box and tugged it on over his sweater. "You got a tissue?"
"Yeah, uh, somewhere around here." Hutch found a box on the desk and brought it over.
Starsky snatched a handful of Kleenex and blew his nose. "Comin' down with a cold. Damn." He grabbed another and used it to wipe his eyes. "Thanks, Hutch. Thanks ... for this." He ran his hands along the lapels.
"You're welcome." Now there's another reason to hate Christmas. When else would I have to watch a grown man, a combat vet, a butt-kicking cop, cry over a jacket. C'mon, let's get this over with before I cry too.
"I only got you one gift, Hutch." Starsky's voice was still full of emotion.
"Don't worry about that. It's the thought that counts," Hutch said, with forced gaiety.
"We gotta go someplace else so I can give it to ya."
"Someplace else in the apartment?"
"Nope. We're goin' for a little ride. Grab your coat, I'm drivin'."
"Someplace else in the city? We're not leaving the state!"
"Will you hurry up?"
Hutch's fears of ending up on some wild snow-bound adventure in the mountains were assuaged when Starsky pulled the Torino over less than fifteen minutes later, after taking an unfamiliar interstate exit.
The houses along the street were festively lit in a uniform display of white decorative lights. A few windows displayed menorahs or electric candles.
Starsky had made his way to the front door of #303 Emerald Circle.
Whistling, he opened the door. "Entray, mon-soor."
"Not that I don't like surprises, but this is not one of those deals where I walk in the door and a girl jumps out of a cake and all of our friends are hiding behind the furniture just waiting to blow party horns at me, is it?"
"C'mon, Hutch, I might do that for your birthday. But this is Christmas. It would look kinda stoopid to have a girl jumpin' out of a fruitcake."
Hutch walked in. The place was empty, except for a large Christmas tree in the middle of the living room floor. The tree was blanketed in ornaments, lights, tinsel, and popcorn strands. At the top, an angel leaned precariously sideways, holding two lights in her china hands. The lights of the tree were reflected in a large uncurtained bay window which faced the back yard.
"Whaddaya think of the place?"
"It's a little ... bare, don't you think? Whose place is this? Starsky, what's going on?"
The smaller man pointed to the window. "Check it out."
Hutch walked over to the window. There was a blue tile patio, complete with a covered table, barbeque grill, and ceramic planters. Beyond the patio was a small storage shed, at the side of which stood a greenhouse.
Hutch's heart stopped. "Oh, my God. No."
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas," Starsky warbled.
"Oh, my God. You didn't. Starsky, tell me you didn't buy this place."
Starsky handed him a large white envelope. "Here's the deed. It's all yours, partner."
"Oh, my God. Oh, my God."
"Is that all you're gonna say?"
Hutch struggled to speak. "How?" he croaked.
"Don't worry, I got a good deal on the place. The realtor is a friend of my cousin Bennie."
"A -- a good deal?" Hutch sputtered. "Starsk, we're talking thousands of dollars here. You don't -- you don't give somebody a house for Christmas, for crying out loud."
"It's what you asked for."
"Jesus, I wasn't serious!"
"You mean -- you mean you don't like it?" Starsky looked crushed.
"No, I don't mean that. I -- I love it. It's the perfect house. But -- look, we've got to talk about this."
"The patio furniture came with the place. No extra charge. It doesn't have a swimming pool, but there's room for one. OK, a small one."
"And the greenhouse?"
"Not bad for an amateur carpenter, huh? I found some plans at the library."
"When did you do all this? And put up the tree?"
"Remember around the first of the month when I told ya I met Rhonda, and I was spendin' a lot of time with her?"
"Yeah, I remember."
"Well there ain't no Rhonda." Starsky grinned.
"Starsk, I'm sure you meant well. I mean, nobody has ever given me anything like this -- " he gestured around the room "before. Ever. And I can't tell you what it means to me that you would do a crazy thing like this. But I can't accept this. This was your life savings, maybe more. I -- I can deed this back to you. You can put it on the market and maybe, I hope to God, you can get your money back."
Starsky turned sad blue eyes on his partner, and said nothing.
"Starsky? You do understand, don't you? Why I can't let you do this?"
"No, I don't."
"Think about it. Your savings are gone. Either that or you borrowed against your savings and you'll be paying off a loan for the next twenty years. What about your retirement?"
"I may not live long enough to retire."
"Don't say that," Hutch flared angrily.
"It makes a difference, y'know? I almost died. I did die and they brought me back. I got a new way of lookin' at things now. And I'm not thinkin' about my damn retirement. I'm thinkin' that my partner wants this house, so I got it for him. And I'm happy about that."
"Starsk, almost dying doesn't entitle you to do crazy things."
"If that doesn't, what the hell does?"
"All I gave you was a lousy jacket."
Starsky's cobalt eyes flashed. "Don't talk like that about it. Don't talk like that about something you gave me. Not ever. No holes. No damn holes, Hutch." Starsky patted the front of the jacket for emphasis. He furiously unzipped it and unbuttoned the front of his shirt. "No holes."
Hutch's breath caught in his throat as his partner's chest was revealed. Dark curly hair bushed around white scar tissue. Ragged, amorphous scars from bullets, precise linear scars from surgical knives.
Hutch's eyelids snapped shut. He could feel Starsky standing near him, hear his harsh intakes of breath. Slowly he reached out, touching, feeling for his partner's heartbeat. Always have to feel that, Starsk. Lost it once. Never again.
A warm hand covered his own and held it there. Hutch felt the pumping of the blood accelerate.
Starsky's mumbled question brought Hutch back to reality. The smaller man was already fastening the buttons, zipping the jacket back up.
"Yeah, I could use a bite. There's nothing to eat here, is there?"
"There's a convenient store about a mile back that way," Starsky said, jerking his head westward. "I'll go pick up something."
Hutch reached in his wallet and offered a handful of bills.
"Uh, Hutch ... sixty dollars'll buy a lot of pretzels at the 7-11."
"Get something decent."
Hutch spent the next hour roaming around the house. His house. According to the deed, David Michael Starsky (on behalf of himself, his heirs, executors, administrators, successors, representatives and assigns) for and in consideration of the sum of ONE DOLLAR, had bargained, sold, granted, conveyed, remised, released, and forever quit claimed unto Kenneth Hutchinson (on behalf of himself, his heirs, blah-blah-blah) all the right, title, interest, claim or demand which he may have had in and to the following described property, to have and to hold the said tract of land, with all the singular rights, members and appurtenances thereof. Hutch assumed the greenhouse was one of the appurtenances. Signed, sealed, and delivered, Superior Court of Los Angeles. Forever and ever, amen.
Idiot. Starsk, how could you be such an idiot? Hutch carefully folded the deed and placed the envelope on the kitchen counter. He noticed that the appliances weren't new. At least he didn't remodel the damned thing. Plenty of spacious cabinets. Good lighting. The previous owners had hung plants along the kitchen window. The hooks were still in the ceiling. Convenient. This is insane.
A paneled hallway off the kitchen led to a roomy bath with a big, antique-looking porcelain tub. Nice. I like that. Large window with privacy glass. Floor tile. Hard to clean.
Two more doors in the hall. Right door, bedroom. Probably both bedrooms. I could use the spare room as an office. Desk against that wall, bookshelves over there, and a nice comfortable chair for reading. Wonder what it would cost to install a fireplace. Left door, locked. Locked? Hutch fumbled with the knob. Locked. Shaking his head, he wandered back to the living room.
This is crazy. Starsk, what were you thinking? I'll definitely have to buy new curtains. Maybe the fireplace should go in here. TV in that corner. Couch against the window. No. Just an overstuffed recliner. Two recliners. One for me, one for him. Jesus, what am I thinking?
The door opened, and Starsky appeared, juggling two white Styrofoam boxes and a large brown sack.
"Christmas dinner is here!" he called cheerily.
"It's eleven in the morning."
"So, call it Christmas lunch."
Hutch relieved his partner of the sack. "There's no furniture. Where are we going to eat?"
"How about out back on the patio? It's nice out."
"You said to get something decent. Hey, these weren't easy to come by on Christmas morning."
"Great. Plastic knives."
"It's the best I could do. You got a pocket knife, use it. It's sorta like campin' out, y'know?"
"I hope you have a six-pack in that sack."
"Better than beer." Starsky pulled out a bottle of champagne. "Let's celebrate. Uh, you got a corkscrew?"
"Not on me, Starsk."
"Some Boy Scout you are. No problem, I can pry it out with the knife."
After a minute or so of cork-chopping and cursing, the champagne spurted. "Yeah!" Starsky crowed. "What'd I tell ya? Do I know how to throw a Christmas party, or what?"
"We don't have any glasses."
"It's sorta like campin' out, y'know?" Hutch mocked.
"Ah, shaddup." He hoisted the bottle. "Here's to you, partner." Starsky took a long draught and passed it to Hutch.
The blonde rolled his eyes, but took the champagne. "To you, Starsk. The best partner anybody could ask for." Not just words. I really mean it. The way he's staring at me right now, with that Mona Lisa smile ... what's going on in that strange and wonderful place he calls a mind? That's his up-to-something look. Whatever it is, it can't possibly get any crazier than his Christmas gift. Yes, it can. This is Starsky we're talking about. It can always get crazier.
"You wanna see the greenhouse, close up?" Instead of waiting for an answer, Starsky grabbed the bottle and headed towards the structure.
"This is ... incredible, Starsk. I -- I don't know what to say."
"I'm already dreaming of fresh tomato sauce year-round. You really like it, huh?"
"Of course I like it."
"Usually when somebody likes somethin', they smile."
"Starsky ... we need to talk about this."
"About the greenhouse?"
"No, not about the greenhouse. Well, about that and the house. About you giving me a house."
"What's to talk about?"
"Would you let me finish? This is not easy."
"Then maybe you don't need to say it. Here, have some more champagne."
Hutch took the bottle and drank, wiped the bubbles from his moustache, and took another. "Let's go sit on the patio."
"Nice weather, huh?"
"Yeah, real nice. Starsky?"
"That's good, that we're havin' nice weather, since we don't have any furniture inside."
"What, you don't wanna talk about the weather?"
"There's something I need to tell you about."
"So tell me."
"I'm telling you this, because if you think about it in conjunction with the fact that you just bought me a house, then you'll realize why I'm telling you this."
"Oh. Then by all means, tell me."
Hutch took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "One night, about three weeks ago, I was at Huggy's place dropping off some snitch money."
"Snitch money for who?"
"For Jonesie. The Stinson case? But it's not about that. Let me finish. I had a couple of drinks, Huggy was closing up, Diane had already gone home. So it was just me and him. We were talking about that go-go dancer he's been seeing. And the conversation sort of wandered. We talked about ... relationships. How hard it can be. And he -- he asked me if you and I had ever -- been together."
"What the hell is that, been together?"
"You know what I mean."
"You mean fucked."
"Starsk, that's crude."
"So, what'd you tell him?"
"Jesus, Starsk, I told him the truth."
"Did he believe you?"
Hutch was silent for a long moment. "He said he did. But I don't think he did."
"OK, so far, Detective Sergeant Starsky has the following clues. One bar owner, a.k.a. Huggy Bear, questions Detective Sergeant Hutchinson as to whether or not he had engaged in the sexual act with Detective Sergeant Starsky. And Hutchinson said he had not, and Huggy Bear did not believe him although he was telling the truth. Is this goin' somewhere, Hutch, this important conversation you wanted to have with me?"
"Christ, Starsk, you don't get it? He didn't believe me!"
"OK, I confess. I told him about the Bette Davis posters in your closet."
Ice blue anger flared. "Will you stop treating this like a joke? Dammit, Starsky, this is serious. Maybe not to you, but since when have you ever taken anything important seriously?" Hutch stood up suddenly, nearly tipping over the patio table. Starsky grabbed the champagne bottle as it lurched off.
Suddenly, Hutch felt light-headed.
"Hutch! You OK?" Starsky reached to support his elbow.
The blonde man breathed deeply. In and out. In and out. "I'm OK. Too much bubbly." Too much ... something. All too much.
"Si'down, Hutch." His partner opened his mouth to protest. "No, c'mon. Sit back down."
"I don't know what I'm saying. I don't know what to say, what to think. I just know -- " I don't know anything right now.
Starsky had silently stepped over and knelt in front of Hutch.
"I know. Me too."
What does that mean, Starsk? What do you know? What do we know? "Don't you see where this is going? Huggy thinks we might be gay. What do you suppose he's going to think when he finds out you gave me a house for Christmas?
"Don't worry about it."
"Don't worry about it?"
"Yeah, who cares?"
"I thought you would. Doesn't it even scare you a little?" Hutch looked at his partner in disbelief.
"Scares hell out of me."
"Unconfuse me, babe."
Starsky continued to kneel in front of him, continued to talk in that same calm, voice. "It doesn't bother me. That's what scares hell out of me."
"Starsky, did you ever? With a man?"
"Did I ever make love with a man? No. Did I ever think about making love with a man? Yes." I'm thinkin' about it right now, Hutch. Deep blue eyes bored into Hutch's soul. "Have you?"
Hutch stared into the afternoon sun, squinting.
Deep breath. Relax. "My senior year in high school." He rubbed his burning eyes with his fingertips. "There was a guy, Randy. Randall Burke. We went way back. Hell, we were in kindergarten together. We got bikes the same year, cars the same year. We double dated all the time, and if he didn't like my girl I'd drop her. He'd do the same for me." Hutch grimaced, remembering the sting of Louise Straughn's hand on his face when he'd told her. "It was the summer before we were to start college -- that was going to be the first thing we didn't do together. He had an academic scholarship to Princeton. That's not something you turn down just because your pal didn't get the one he applied for. One night after a movie, we'd dropped our dates off, and we were just sitting on my bed in my room, talking. Like, how strange it was going to be doing things without each other. How hard it would be. And he ... he put his arms around me. Starsk, he wanted to kiss me. It was like being hit with a sledgehammer. He'd never even hinted that he -- that he thought about things like that."
He sighed deeply, his brows furrowing. "I didn't handle it very well. I freaked. We didn't argue or anything but I told him I just couldn't do ... that. He said he understood, and brushed it off. But the look on his face ... it was like something inside him had died. And it did, it ended that night. Pass me that champagne, will you?"
"I asked if he still wanted to go to the folk singing at church the next afternoon. And he said yes. Then he left."
"On the way home, a drunk driver jumped the median and hit him head-on. He was killed instantly."
"Starsk, if I'd had another chance -- I think I might have -- I thought about it. After he left, I thought about the two of us together. I thought about Randy touching me. It felt ... I don't know how to say. Not right. But it didn't give me the creeps or anything. Then, when I heard ... what happened ... I couldn't think about it. Didn't want to, couldn't." Until you made me think about it again. Dammit, Starsk.
"And now, we gotta deal with now, Hutch."
"Starsk, no. I thought about it then. You thought about it. But -- what matters is, we didn't do anything about it. Because we're not -- we're not like that. We're not gay."
"You act like you never heard of bisexual before. If we had a relationship like that, that's what we'd be. Not gay. Bi-sexual. Like, women and men. Both."
"Starsky, I know what the word means. But it doesn't make sense. Two guys know each other for eight, nine years, then all of a sudden, wham, maybe they're not what they thought they were all that time, maybe they're bisexual?"
"Well, at least one of 'em is."
The forcefulness of Starsky's rejoinder brought Hutch to his feet. He watched, his mouth open, as the dark-haired man stalked off. The sun was going down, pale orange just at the top of the fence. Privacy fence. I didn't even notice that before.
He caught up with his partner, reached out, touched his shoulder, spun him around. "What in God's name do you mean by that?"
Starsky leveled an uncompromising stare at him. "Do you love me?"
"Do I what?"
"Do you love me?"
"Do I love you?"
Starsky, you moron. "After all we've been through together," Hutch let out a desperate, nervous laugh. "Why would you even ask a question like that?"
"Remember the first day we met, at the Academy? You were wearin' that ridiculous lookin' tie, like you were goin' to some board meeting."
"I remember. And the tie was not ridiculous. You were wearing a sweatshirt that looked like it came from the bottom of the Goodwill box. You looked like you'd just come from a barroom brawl."
"It did, and I had. I'm asking you a question. Do you love me?"
You are the most exasperating man I've ever known. "You're my partner."
"I know." Starsky reached out and placed a hand on Hutch's arm. His grip tightened. "But do you love me?"
Damn. Hutch sighed, head down. "The Academy, keeping each other sane during those first godawful years in uniform, and then ..."
"Yeah, then. Remember those guys at the Italian restaurant? Martin and ... "
"Lockly. I remember. And that crooked lawyer Balford hiring what was his name to run me off the road ..."
"Slater. His name was Slater. That was close, huh, Hutch? Oh yeah, and Simon Marcus. What a freak."
"No freakier than Diana Harmon."
"Vic Bellamy and the Nutty Professor." Starsky laughed.
"Gunther." Still, after all these months, the name sent a chill down Hutch's spine. "I didn't save you that time, partner."
"What were you s'posed to do, leap over the car and stand in front of me?"
Hutch looked up, met his partner's eyes. "If I could have ... I would have."
"Well if that's not love, what is?"
The blinding logic of the question caught Hutch off-guard. He stood there a long moment, watching Starsky's face. How simple it all is for him. How simple ... it all is. "I suppose I do."
"I suppose I love you, too." Starsky let go of his shoulder. "I'm glad we got that settled. It's gettin' chilly out here, let's go in."
Hutch gathered up the remains of dinner and brought it inside. "What am I supposed to do with this? There's no garbage can."
"You're a pick-nit, you know that? Just put it on the counter."
Inside, the lights on the tree were blinking faintly in the dusk. "That angel is lopsided, Starsk."
"I know. I couldn't reach the top very well without something to stand on." He stood there, staring at the angel, the twinkling lights mirrored in his eyes.
Christmas time. Crazy time. Hutch stared. "You know, you're a very attractive man, Starsky. I hope you'll, uh, take that as a compliment."
"Compliment, hell. I'll take it as an invitation." Two powerful arms slipped around Hutch's waist, pulling him closer.
Merciful God. What does he want? Me? Hutch lowered his head, brought his face closer. If he wants to, I'm here. He felt Starsky's hot breath wisp briefly at his throat. He's there, I'm here. Brush of the lips. Tentative, be tentative, in case it doesn't work. Oh God.
Hutch was claimed by a mouth that didn't know the meaning of tentative. Starsky didn't wait for him to part his lips. His tongue was on the attack, and Hutch was powerless to defend. He let the invader in, sucked on it, felt his legs go weak under him. No, no, you won't take me that easily. He wrapped his arm around Starsky's neck, tilting the curly head up. Height had its advantages, even if it was just a couple of inches. Hutch's tongue entered the fray, fought for mastery, fought to a draw. Got to breathe now. What just happened?
Starsky was panting. His mouth was swollen, red with desire. Gently, he laid his cheek aside Hutch's. Rough, with the beginnings of evening stubble. Soft. Hot.
"I love you, Starsk," he whispered.
"Show me." Just a whisper, in return.
Hutch's heart pounded in his chest. "I don't know if I can."
"You just did. Show me more."
How? I can barely talk. I can't think. "Here? There's no -- no furniture."
"There's no furniture in here. There's furniture in there." He nodded towards the hall.
Is that an invitation, a challenge, or what? "I forgot to give you the house keys," he heard Starsky say. "Front door, patio door, storage shed, side door, this door." He heard keys jangling, felt cold metal being pressed against his palm. "Go on, open it."
Hutch methodically turned the key, eased the door open. One house, one Christmas tree, one bed. The thing was huge. Mahogany? Cherry? Something heavy.
"I got a great deal on it, they didn't wanna move it."
"I don't blame them." Hutch turned on the smaller man. "You -- you planned this, didn't you? All of this."
"Let's just say I provided for it. Just in case it should happen."
Hutch shook his head. "You were that sure?"
"About how I feel, yeah. I've been that sure since before I got shot."
"What about me? How did you know I wouldn't reject the whole thing? Reject you?" Where did you find the guts to do this, partner?
"You want the truth?"
"I didn't. But I thought it was worth the risk."
"Worth risking our partnership? Our friendship?" What could be worth that price?
"Worth risking everything, Hutch. For this."
The kiss was as gentle and yielding as the first one had been rough and demanding.
This is dangerous, Starsk. "This could destroy us."
"Then let's go out happy." He broke from the embrace, took off the jacket, and hung it from the bedpost. Then the blue pullover came off.
"C'mon, take it off." Not a request, but a command. "Take off your sweater. That's it. Now the tee shirt."
The room was chilly. Hutch shivered. Then warm flesh met his. Heart to heart. I wondered what this would feel like. Strange at first, like the way his face felt against mine. Different. Male.
Starsky reached down and unzipped his jeans, and without breaking contact with Hutch's chest, kicked off his shoes and shimmied out of his pants. "Now you."
Casting his eyes down, Hutch watched his own hands unzip his trousers and pull them down over his hips.
"Now the boxers."
"Starsky, I'm scared."
"I know. All the way, Hutch. Look, I'm takin' mine off. Hutch, look at me. Do it."
"I can't. I can't."
"Lie down on the bed."
He felt warm hands guiding him down. The same warm hands divested him of the boxers. And then it was warm all over. Heavy, sweet warmness covering his body. Oh God. It's too much. 'Is it worth risking our partnership? Our friendship?' Yes. This would be worth any risk. "Yes."
"Hutch, don't. Don't cry. Please."
He felt a gentle hand brush at his cheek. "If this is a mistake ... "
"It's not. Trust me."
Yes, always. Me and thee. "I don't want to lose you. I can't lose you."
"You're not gonna lose me," the voice soothed. "Close your eyes. Go on, close your eyes."
Something that felt like velvet brushed his ear. He shivered again, this time with raw emotion rather than chill. The velvet teaser moved slowly down his jaw, to nuzzle briefly at his neck before moving on. His hair smells good. Not perfumey or whatever the hell hairspray smells like. Hairspray smells like ... hairspray.
No woman had ever played with his nipples. Starsky was doing that. Licking them, covering them with little kisses until they hardened into tiny buds. If he's never done this before, how the hell can he do it so well?
Starsky's hands moved his legs apart, then gripped his hips. He's going to ask me if he can ...
Starsky didn't ask. Something that was soft and warm and wet danced circles around his cock. Hutch's hips bucked spasmodically. Then the hot mouth closed over his throbbing erection. He tried to control his thrusting, to keep in tempo with his partner's sucking. But that part of his nervous system seemed to have suddenly shut down. Nothing was controllable. His mind said 'obey me' and his body did whatever the hell it pleased. And right now it was approaching the fastest orgasm he'd ever had in his life.
"Too --" --fast, he'd wanted to say. But he made the mistake of opening his eyes. The brown curls bobbed up and down as that hot mouth took him greedily. All of him. Oh god, Starsk, up to the hilt. It pushed him over the edge, and he screamed Starsky's name as he came, spurting hot fluid into an insatiable throat. Oh god, he's drinking it all. He's going to kill me with this.
Hutch was on fire, and suddenly Starsky's mouth was near his face again. "Oh, Hutch, babe, you taste so good. Wanna know what you taste like?"
Lips slippery with cum wiped across his own, and he captured his partner's tongue, sucking his own sweet-salty juices from it.
"Do me, babe."
Starsky was rolling off him, pushing him down towards his thighs. Panic gnawed at his mind. What if I can't do it for him? What if I can't make him come?
Gentle hands held the sides of his head, guiding his mouth. "Look how hard I am for you, Hutch. See what you do to me, babe?"
Hutch gasped at the sight of Starsky's weeping cock. For me? For me. Hard for me.
"Suck it, Hutch. I want your tongue all over me," he growled. "I want you so bad."
Hutch's fingers brushed through the thatch of fur at the base, his other hand cupping Starsky's balls. He grasped the shaft, pumping gently at first, then harder.
"Oh yeah, that's good. Do it, Hutch. Please."
Oh God, I'll never get all that in my mouth. But I can sure as hell try. He leaned forward and let his mouth descend on the hardness of it, feeling the blood pulsating in the purpled veins as he did so. Starsky moaned with pleasure, and the sound of it made Hutch want more. His tongue twirled around his partner's cock, lapped at the base of it, took languorous strokes up its length and down again. Starsky's head was thrashing from side to side, his fingers tangled in Hutch's longish blonde strands. Hutch felt the ball sacs tighten beneath the pressure of his fingers.
"Huuutch, I'm gonna --"
He felt the hot stream hit the back of his throat as Starsky's body arched beneath him. Again and again the geyser erupted, salty, bitter, and beautiful in his mouth.
At last, the thrusting subsided, and Starsky rolled both of them over, pulling Hutch's head against his chest, holding him, rocking him in time with his pants of exhaustion.
"Not ever gonna let go of you, babe."
If you ever did, I'd die. "Starsky ... that was ... that was ..."
"That was just the foreplay, babe." The Mona Lisa smile again.
Hutch's heart was in his throat.
"All the way, Hutch. We're going all the way."
"Starsk ... This is so new to me. To both of us. Don't you think we should -- slow down a little?"
"No, I don't. I know what you feel like in my mouth. I wanna feel you in my ass."
"God, Starsk. You'd let me do that?"
"Let you? Let you? Babe, I'm asking you. I got the stuff right here."
One house, one Christmas tree, one bed, one tube of lube under the pillow. No glasses, no steak knives, but he bought K-Y. My crazy partner. My beautiful, crazy partner.
He already had the cap off, warming a glob of it in the palms of his hands, coating Hutch's agitated, leaking cock. "See, look at you. You want it too."
How could I not want anything you offer me? Starsky had turned on his stomach, drawing his legs up, showing Hutch what he was willing to give him. His life, his love, and this, too. Everything. He had complete control, Starsky had complete trust.
"Stretch it with your fingers first. Put some lube on your fingers and get me ready."
"Tell me if I hurt you, Starsk. Promise you'll tell me."
Hutch slicked one finger and gingerly explored his partner's anus. He felt the muscles tighten around that slender probe, then gradually relax. He was transfixed by the sight of Starsky's supple, inviting ass. I'm staring at a man's ass. No, not a man -- this man. Starsky. My lover. My beloved. Two fingers. This time, it took longer for the constriction to ease. Three. He heard Starsky's sharp intake of breath. God, if fingers hurt him, what's this gonna do to him. Hutch eyed his slicked-up cock, twitching to enter that little opening.
"You want me to stop?"
"No. No more fingers. I want you in me."
Hutch pressed the head of his cock gently against his partner's asshole. Starsky accepted the partial penetration, but tightened up when Hutch went further. He stopped, and Starsky slowly relaxed, knowing they were together in this, as in everything else. A little more. Starsky's face was buried in the pillow, his hands gripping the sheets. Suddenly, he pushed back against the invading cock, his knuckles going white.
"God, Starsk." It felt so good, so tight. "Don't do that. I'm afraid I won't be able to stop."
"What, y'mean this?" He pushed his buttocks back again, taking in another inch.
Starsky was pushing him, forcing him to lose control. Dammit, don't let me hurt you.
"Roll over." Starsky pushed their joined bodies sideways, and pulled Hutch's arm around his waist to his crotch. "Touch me. Pump me. I want everything you got."
Starsky's hand on his, his hand on Starsky's cock, his cock in Starsky's ass. "Fuck me, Hutch. Fuck me."
All thoughts of holding back were lost as Hutch plunged into the sweet hot hole with everything he had. And felt the rings of muscle bind him like iron. "Oh God, that's so good I can't stand it. Do it again. Squeeze me like that again."
"Beg me," the husky response.
I'm not going to live through this. But I'm going to die happy. "Please."
"Say it like you mean it."
Starsky was teasing him by tightening ever so gently, then releasing the pressure. "Please." This time there was no mistaking the urgency, the want in his voice. "Oh yes. Yessss."
Hutch was thrusting rhythmically now, punching in like a jackhammer and slowly pulling out. Starsky was making incomprehensible guttural noises. Animal noises.
"You like it like that, baby?" Hutch pulled out until only the head of his dick was in.
"Hutch don't stop, please don't stop."
"You want more?" Hutch smiled to himself. "Beg me, you little slut."
"Please, Hutch. Please. Faster."
"Say it like you mean it, David."
Starsky was mindless now. "Oh God Hutch I need you want you fuck me hard. Pleasepleaseplease."
The sound of his partner's pleading voice drove Hutch over the edge. He went in like a bull in heat, pumping Starsky's cock with his right hand, burying his left in the man's curls, and clamping his teeth down on Starsky's shoulder.
The heat from Starsky's ass and the feel of his partner's cum all over his hand and the scream that came from both their throats at the same time was like the rush of a roller coaster from the steepest peak. No, not a roller coaster. There was no track under him now. This was free fall.
They lay together, rasping for air, blinking against the near blindness of sensory overload. Finally, Hutch trusted himself enough to move. Just enough to nuzzle the back of his partner's neck and plant a gentle kiss under the curls.
"God, I love you."
"Love you too, Hutch."
"Merry Christmas, baby."
Starsky smiled, closing his eyes, knowing that sleep would come soon for both of them. And in the morning, they'd wake up together, in each other's arms, and every morning after that for the rest of their lives.