Comments on this story can be sent to: Moonshine71@juno.com

This work-in-progress is a sequel to Canario

An excerpt from:

Return of the Killer Tomato

by

Diana Dolor

"What a crock," Hutch groused, rolling his neck to stretch out the kinks. "We would've been out of here on time for a change if—"

"—If the Cap'n hadn't called us in for a meeting with Halloway from Narcotics," Starsky interrupted. "I can't believe Dobey's lending us to that turkey."

"Well, Halloway's team is short-handed," Hutch said in a conciliatory tone, "and we don't have anything hot on our desks right now . . ."

Starsky gave a noncommittal grunt as he fished out the keys to his new ride. After driving the Torino for so many years it felt weird coming out to the police garage and getting into a different car. But times change, he thought philosophically, stepping up to the Camaro, people change . . . just like me and Hutch. He peered through his lashes, surreptitiously checking out his tall blond lover, watching as he fidgeted impatiently on the other side of the car. An ache settled behind his breastbone, an ache that was totally unrelated to long-healed gunshot wounds. It was a good ache, a manifestation of how much he loved his partner.

"C'mon," Hutch urged, oblivious to Starsky's attention. "Hurry it up."

"Yeah, yeah. Keep your shirt on, blintz," Starsky answered with a grin that said, Go ahead . . . take off your shirt. I dare you.

He'd no sooner slipped the key into the lock when his grin faded. "Dammit!"

"What?" Hutch demanded.

"Damn-damn-damn," Starsky muttered, punching the air in frustration. "I can't believe I forgot to call about flowers for Merle's mom." Feeling like a first-class heel, he opened the driver's side door and flopped angrily into the bucket seat. He reached across and lifted the latch to unlock Hutch's door. "I gotta be gettin' fuckin' senile . . ." Starsky mumbled, jabbing the key into the ignition. The big motor turned over with a roar and he jammed the gearshift into reverse.

"And what's so fuckin' funny?" he barked to his partner's smirking profile.

"Nothing," Hutch answered softly, laying a soothing hand on Starsky's knee. "I called the florist first thing this morning and sent a wreath from both of us."

Starsky had been cooling his heels for nearly an hour before Hutch returned to the Camaro. He feigned disinterest as his blond partner dropped his tall frame into the passenger seat with a huff.

"My car is gone," Hutch said.

"Your car is gone," Starsky repeated, turning his head away to keep Hutch from seeing his devilish grin. "What was your first clue?" Digging around in the pocket of his old blue windbreaker, Starsky fumbled out his aviator sunglasses. It had been a couple of years since he'd worn this jacket with any regularity, but he'd had a wrestling match with a pitcher of maple syrup only yesterday and needed something to hide his shoulder holster while his favorite leather jacket was at the cleaners. Shoving the glasses onto his face, he took a moment to compose his features before turning back to his partner.

The dirty look Hutch tossed in his direction would have withered a lesser man. But after thirteen years together—first as partners with the Bay City P.D. and for the last two years as lovers—Starsky had developed a certain immunity to Hutch's more emotive expressions.

"Well, are we just gonna sit here and look at the empty parking place where your car used to be, or do you have a plan?" Starsky asked, his tone carefully neutral.

With a troubled sigh, the blond cop slowly ran his fingers through his shoulder length hair. "I talked to the evening security guy at the storage lot across the street. He says a tow truck came through about midnight and hauled away some car that might have been my LTD."

Drawing upon every ounce of his undercover acting ability in an effort to maintain his nonchalant manner, Starsky asked, "Did he say which towing company hauled it away?"

"He didn't catch the name."

Grinning inwardly, Starsky made no outward show of emotion as he pretended to absorb this information. He knew very well where Hutch's car was; he'd had it towed away himself. The battered old hunk of squash was sitting in the back lot of Merle the Earl's car detailing garage.

Just yesterday he and Hutch had come to this part of town to pick up Starsky's new wheels at the dealership across the street. Starsky's beloved new Camaro, complete with all the bells and whistles a car aficionado could want, had finally arrived . . . but painted the wrong color. Due to an ordering error—one unwittingly caused by Hutch—his beautiful, tough new car was a most un-macho shade of canary yellow. What had started out as such a great morning had quickly become The Day From Hell, a day made much worse by Hutch's constant deprecating patter regarding the 'Canario.' To add insult to injury, last night—after Hutch had finally said he was sorry and proved it with the best damned lovemaking a man could ask for—his lover had negated most of his belated apology by stating that the Camaro was "only a car."

'Only a car,' my ass.

Hutch just didn't get it.

That phrase alone necessitated some retaliation. All in good fun, of course, Starsky thought.

"Guess I'll just have to start calling tow companies," Hutch said with another sigh.

Starsky nodded his agreement, figuring it would serve Hutch right to have to live without the rolling junkyard for a couple of days—especially since the blond liked to pretend his LTD meant nothing to him. Yeah, Starsky thought, I'll let the blintz sweat this one out. After Hutch had "suffered" enough or, at least, admitted he missed his car, Starsky would take him by Merle's place and pick up the bomber-mobile. And as a peace offering afterwards he would treat his lover to one of those fancy meals that would be sure to leave a crater in his wallet, but a smile on Hutch's face.

Head hung in seeming defeat, Hutch placed a warm hand on Starsky's thigh. "Let's go home, babe."

Starsky felt a moment of contrition as the long fingers gently cupped his knee, but he shoved that feeling away. It's just to teach him a lesson; it'll only be for a couple of days . . .

His glee tinged with just the tiniest hint of guilt, Starsky put the Camaro in gear and headed for their shared house on the other side of town.

While his partner showered, Hutch slipped into an old pair of red running shorts. Once dressed, he went out to the back patio and fired up the grill. Been ordering out too much lately, Hutch thought, craving some "real" food.

Once he was certain the charcoal had caught, Hutch went back in and fished a couple of chicken breasts from the freezer. Bypassing the microwave with disdain, he chucked the frozen chicken into a stoneware bowl. He accepted the dubious presence of the microwave in their kitchen because Starsky loved it, but he preferred to thaw their dinner in a more natural fashion than "nuking it," as his partner would say. He placed the bowl under the hot water faucet and turned the tap.

Food prep temporarily under control, Hutch went to the hallway to retrieve the Greater B.C. Yellow Pages from the phone caddy's drawer. Carrying the phone book back to the kitchen, he set it on the counter and flipped through the alphabet until he got to "T" for towing. Tunelessly, Hutch began to unconsciously whistle a song from Music Man. He quickly paged through the listing for towing companies.

Hutch stopped whistling.

Including all the gas stations that also had a tow truck, there were seven pages of tow company listings. Hutch counted the entries in just one column: forty. If you took forty listings times four columns per page times seven pages, that came out to (Hutch paused to do the math) over one thousand towing companies. I might have to call a thousand places to find my car, he thought weakly, groping for a stool.

If he hadn't already been rendered weak-kneed by the phone book, the sight of a wet, sleek Starsky marching naked into the kitchen would have finished the job. Without a sideways glance or even a hint of modesty, his lover tromped over to the sink and shut off the faucet.

"You trying to freeze my balls off, Hutchinson?"

Having the grace to at least act abashed, Hutch shook his head. "Sorry, Starsk. I forgot you were in the shower. I wanted to thaw out dinner."

"Why didn't you just nuke it?" Starsky asked tolerantly, sketching his thumb in the direction of the microwave. "That's what it's for."

"You know I don't like that escapee from the Atomic Cafe."

"That was a good movie . . . and you're gonna have to get over this technophobic attitude, Hutch. This is the wave of the future."

"Cukes, Starsk—not nukes," Hutch bandied back, tossing his partner a cucumber from a basket hanging over the counter. Starsky caught it dexterously in his left hand. "That's the wave of the future. And for the near future—as in tonight—you're on salad detail."

"You know, I saw an ad during the late, late show for a salad shooter . . ."

"Uh, Starsk?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you think it's safe to walk around nude in the kitchen?" Hutch picked up a barbecue fork and gestured pointedly in the direction of his partner's weenie. "A man could have an accident in the kitchen; it's the second most dangerous room in the house."

"I know, I know . . . and the bathroom is the most dangerous. That don't mean I should take a shower with my clothes on. How about this?" he asked, snatching an apron off its hook by the fridge. It was gag gift he'd picked up for Hutch last spring at the East Bay City 3rd Annual Pulled Pork Bar-B-Q Contest. Blazoned across the chest of the chef-styled apron in bold red letters was the question, "How's Yer Pork?" He slipped it on over his head and wrapped the strings around his narrow waist, tying it in the front with a flourish. "That takes care of the important parts."

Hutch nodded, liking the way his partner's tawny rump was exposed in the back. Starsky turned around and Hutch had to stifle an earthy chuckle; his partner's wealth of chest hair contrasted nicely with the white apron. He could feel a gentle, sensual heat rising in his face—and other places. Gently shaking his head to clear it, he gathered up his grilling supplies—tongs, forks, marinade and meat—and escaped to the back yard. It suddenly occurred to him exactly why they ended up ordering out so often.

Dinner was sizzling nicely when Hutch came back into the kitchen to find Starsky engaged in the creation of a megasalad. Vegetables covered the counter along with jars of pickles and peppers and bottles of oil and spices. He watched as his partner, no doubt deliberately showing off, shifted from foot to foot, causing his ass muscles to bunch and shift delectably. Like a bee to pollen, Hutch was irresistibly drawn in. Plastering his front to Starsky's back, he reached his long arms around his lover, their hands meeting in the vegetables like some Vedic kitchen god.

"What did you do with the phone book?" Hutch murmured into Starsky's ear, his chin resting on his partner's shoulder.

"Put it up," Starsky said, rubbing his cheek against Hutch's.

"You never put things away," Hutch answered, nuzzling a tender earlobe.

"Wrong again, blintz; you're the one who never puts things up," Starsky remonstrated gently. "Before we lived together, whose place always looked like a dump?"

Rather than acknowledge the validity of his partner's words, Hutch nipped the tantalizing lobe. Starsky purred in response. Hutch ran his hands up Starsky's chest, his fingertips seeking the buds of the other man's nipples. He teased the tiny nubs peeking out from the edge of the apron and pinched them to hardness before allowing his big hands to trace down his companion's sides.

"That's nice," Starsky murmured, turning to face Hutch.

The blond pulled Starsky close. Bending his head just slightly, he covered his lover's lips with his own. He nibbled and licked the beloved mouth for an eternity before gently insinuating his tongue into the moist haven. Starsky accepted his tongue, welcomed it with a gentle sucking caress that went straight to Hutch's groin. Giving a small groan, Hutch pushed his pelvis against Starsky's hip. His cock responded rapturously, filling the front of his jogging shorts, seemingly wanting to climb out of the skimpy garment.

They kissed for what felt like hours, Starsky sucking his tongue sweetly, Hutch rhythmically riding his lover's hip.

After awhile, Starsky's hands crept down from their position on his waist; Hutch felt them cup his buttocks through the worn fabric. Strong fingers grasped the globes of his ass, snugging him in closer, increasing the pressure on his erection. Starsky broke their kiss to whisper, "Can you come like this, babe?"

"Yeah," Hutch breathed out weakly.

"Then come, lover."

At these words, Hutch gave himself over to orgasm. Rushing up from some place deep inside, a place that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with love, was a wave of feeling so tender, so powerful, it almost floored him. Hutch felt his partner's grip strengthen, those arms like two muscular cables holding him up, holding him in place, keeping him safe as he came and came and came. The exquisite feeling of being loved and loving transformed physical release into a sublime joy.

At last, leaving him weak with pleasure, it was over. With a whoosh of mutually pent breath, both men slipped to the floor in a tangle of limbs, leaning against each other weakly, heads resting on the other's shoulders, Hutch with a wet spot staining the front of his shorts a darker red, Starsky with a smaller, but no less noticeable damp circle engulfing the "PORK" on his apron.

Starsky began to laugh. It started small, just a chuckle, but in seconds it came from the belly. After a moment's pause, Hutch joined him.

Several minutes passed before the big blond found the strength to push back a bit and wipe the tears of laughter from his face. He looked his partner full in the face, delighting in the twinkling, streamy-eyed gaze that met his.

"What's so funny?" Starsky asked around a crooked smile.

"You started," Hutch answered. "You tell me."

"I asked first."

He's such a kid, Hutch thought, loving that about his partner. "Okay. I'm laughing because I'm happy. You make me happy." Hutch dropped his eyes self-consciously. He knew Starsky didn't go in for soapy scenes, not that he did, either. Just sometimes it was all too much and he had to tell his lover or the emotion would be too big to handle.

He felt Starsky's hand trace his jaw, the lightly callused pad of a questing thumb caressing his lower lip. Hutch looked up, into the face of love. Starsky tenderly touched his lips to Hutch's. The cobalt eyes were full of emotion—emotion Hutch knew he couldn't begin to articulate. So different, but so much the same, Hutch thought, understanding his partner's feelings without the aid of totally inadequate words. He grasped Starsky's thigh through the apron, gripping it for both emotional and physical support. Starsky laid his hand atop Hutch's, just holding it there as they came back to themselves.

With a wiggle of an eyebrow, Starsky asked, "Are you all right?" For one used to reading it, that impishly elastic face spoke volumes. He answered with a nod.

"Good," Starsky murmured.

"So," Hutch asked in a more normal tone of voice, trying to get things back on an even keel, "what were you laughing about?"

"I was laughing because I think our dinner's burnt—again."

Hutch sniffed the air experimentally, then groaned at the faint scent of charred chicken. "Whatdaya want? Pizza?"

"Nah . . . we eat out too much. Let's see what we can add to this salad . . . "