Comments on this story can be sent to: Dana Austin Marsh
Not In A Million Years
Dana Austin Marsh
"For Chrissake, Hutch, would you take it easy on my car," Starsky yelled as they hit a particularly deep hole, scraping the undercarriage.
There was nothing wrong with Hutch's driving. He babied the Torino just like its owner did (except when either man was in a hurry, in which case all bets were off). At the moment, however, Starsky was so scared that he needed something to bitch about. He would much rather face a whole battalion of criminals packing Uzis than this lonely country road with its sinister shadows crouching in wait just past the beam of the Torino's headlights.
I'd like to bottom you out, babe.
"You wanna drive, buddy?" Hutch growled threateningly.
"Gladly, but you won't let me 'cause you won't tell me where we're going," Starsky groused.
When he had agreed to this, not knowing their destination had sounded sort of fun and exciting, not to mention that it seemed like a golden opportunity. Now it sounded more like rank stupidity. How could he have forgotten their last trip to the country so soon? Obviously, he hadn't been thinking with the big head.
Hutch bit his tongue hard enough to draw blood, reminding himself that he did not want Starsky in a bad mood. "I wanted it to be a surprise," he finally replied in the contrite, little-boy-lost tone of voice that usually let him waltz himself back around to his partner's good side.
"You mean like, 'Surprise, Starsky, you're gonna be the main course at a mosquito banquet,'" Starsky let slip, then remembered just why he had agreed to a trek into the great outdoors. Having Hutch go into one of his world-class blue funks was not the reason. He tried to think of something funny to say. "Doesn't it figure I forgot to pack the Bug-Off?"
As jokes went, it was pretty lame, but as a conciliatory gesture, it got the point across. Hutch laughed, and reached across to give Starsky's firm thigh a squeeze, trying very hard not to think about the intriguing package nestled just a few inches higher in the tight denim.
"Don't worry, buddy. I packed my Magnum."
In my shorts.
"Dammit, Hutch, the guy who rented ya this place musta seen ya comin' a mile away." Starsky was so appalled that he was surprised he could bring words to his lips. One look at the decrepit cabin was enough to drive any amorous thoughts that might have remained after the spooky drive right out of his head.
Hutch stared around himself in open-mouthed horror. Why, oh why hadn't he just borrowed Dobey's cabin at Pine Lake? Mostly because civilization was still too close there for his purposes. He needed someplace so remote that when he finally worked up the courage to lay it all on the line, Starsky would have to think twice about running a mile. Well, they were remote all right. So remote that there was no electricity, and the only reason they could see this nightmare at all was because they had left the Torino running with the headlights aimed in the doorway.
Starsky's expression had gone from appalled to horrified when he realized that the only door in the one room cabin was the one they had just come in by. "Hutch," he whispered, "where's the bathroom?"
Spirits plummeting faster than an Apollo spacecraft on its return to Earth, Hutch turned around in a complete circle. He raised anguished eyes to his friend as the enormity of his gullibility dawned on him. "My God, Starsk. All the modern conveniences. The man said it had all the modern conveniences."
Appalled, horrified, scared and with a bladder that had immediately gone into urgent alert at the first hint that there was no relief in sight, Starsky was still unable to resist a vulnerable Hutch. It so seldom happened that just the sight of all that blond confusion was enough to make him forget, if only momentarily, that it was Hutch's own damned fault they were in this mess.
"Ah, come on, buddy, it ain't so bad." Who said he could only lie when he was under cover? That was a whopper, which surely merited the fires of eternal damnation.
Pale blue eyes were the size of silver dollars and, impossibly, getting larger as Hutch spotted the stained mattress lying on the floor. "Worse? For fuck's sake, Starsky, this fuckin' place is your fuckin' worst nightmare!"
This was bad. When Hutch started saying 'fuck' every third word, Starsky knew the big man was about to lose it. Nothing could snap Starsky out of a self-indulgent temper faster than a Hutch who needed him. With gentle fingers, he encircled his friend's arm and led the unresisting body to one of the two wooden chairs that, along with a minuscule table and the mattress, were the only items in the 'fully-furnished' cabin. He let his hand slide down to Hutch's and settled the limp appendage within the warmth of his own grip as he squatted beside the chair.
"Nah, Hutch. I've had lots worse nightmares than this. It ain't like we're marooned here. We can jump in the Torino and head back home first thing tomorrow." He had the feeling he was only making matters worse, but it was really hard to be inspirational when both his brain and his bladder were jabbering at him in two different languages. "I'd go now, but I think that last pothole nearly ripped the exhaust off. We can't go back over that road until daylight."
Hutch let haunted blue pools take in the 'kitchen' facilities in one cobwebbed corner. Facilities? Huh! An open shelf bearing an assortment of mismatched dishes and pots, a wood stove and what he very much feared was going to turn out to be an icebox. "But I wanted us to have such a nice vacation." It wasn't strictly the truth, but at least a portion of it was. "I feel like such an idiot."
"Hey, if the shoe fits..." Starsky mumbled much too softly to be understood.
"I said, there's no sense havin' fits. We're here now, and," he glanced around the cabin looking for inspiration but found absolutely zip, "and we got lotsa beer in the car," he finished lamely.
Hutch was beginning to get his equilibrium back, but was not about to let Starsky know that, not while the other man's concern was keeping Starsky so sweet tempered. It could not last, so he needed to capitalize on it while he could to regroup his own shocked sensibilities.
"We could chug a whole brewery and this place still isn't gonna look any better," he said morosely.
"Yeah, well, buddy, I'm sure gonna give it my best shot." Not letting himself think about lions, tigers, bears or vampire bats, Starsky straightened up and gave the hand in his a reassuring squeeze before he let go to make the trip to the car. "See if you can find some kinda light, Hutch. I don't wanna use up all the Torino's gas."
After watching Starsky make his cautious way out the door—the man not only looked both ways, but up and down and forward and back as well—Hutch turned his attention to shedding a little light on this pitiful subject. A brief search in the dusty corners of the cabin turned up an ancient lantern, a can of kerosene, and a box that contained a whole ten matches. He filled the lantern and managed to get the cranky antique lit while hoping he would not blow himself to kingdom come.
Nah, babe, I'd much rather have you blow me.
Digging around as fast as he could in the trunk of the Torino while his heart beat double time in his throat, Starsky tried not to jump at every creak, crack, moan and scamper that oozed out of the woods behind him. It wasn't easy. Sweet sympathy for Hutch's shock had not lasted beyond the beams of the Torino's headlights, disappearing into the inky blackness surrounding him along with any amorous inclinations he might once have harbored. He did not understand how such a hard-nosed cop could be such a pushover. Slamming the trunk lid, Starsky heaved up his burdens and started back to the cabin.
"Holy fuckin' shit, it's Dark out there," he exclaimed as he staggered back in through the open door under a quadruple load of cooler, beer cases and grocery bags.
Uh oh. Now it was Starsky's turn to be teetering on the edge of giving in to his emotions. "But it's light in here," Hutch was quick to reassure, holding up the lantern.
Stumbling a few steps further into the cabin, Starsky looked over his shoulder fearfully. "I gotta piss," he announced belligerently as if the fact that he did not have the holding capacity of a camel was all Hutch's fault.
Well of course Starsky had to piss. The man drove from the station to the Pits and he was making a beeline for the john as soon as they stepped through the door.
"There's nobody to care out here, buddy. Just go stand at the end of the porch and let go," Hutch suggested.
And while you're at it, babe, would you like a hand?
"Hey, I thought you'd jump at the chance to piss on Mother Nature," Hutch suggested quickly, hoping the crudity would engage Starsky's sense of humor.
It did. Starsky chuckled filthily. "Never thoughta that. But I'm still takin' my gun."
"You do that, Starsk. Shut the car off while you're out there and I'll crack a couple of cold ones," Hutch suggested.
Can just see you out there, babe, with a formidable weapon in each hand.
"I'm pissin' in a can for the rest of the night," Starsky declared as he stomped into the cabin and slammed the door closed behind him.
"You can take the lantern next time," Hutch soothed. "Now come on and drink your beer." He nudged Starsky's can toward him and settled back down in the wooden chair. It was not the most comfortable seat in the world, but at least it was better than the floor, and certainly cleaner than the mattress.
Still stomping, Starsky moved to the table, reaching for the beer and bending to plant his butt in the empty chair at the same moment. The chair tipped back as his weight settled and over balanced, Starsky went with it, the can flying out of his hand and landing on the mattress.
Scrambling to his feet, Starsky glared at Hutch, the chair, the mattress and the rest of the cabin indiscriminately as he rubbed his abused posterior.
Let me kiss it better for you, babe.
Seeing the storm warnings in deep blue eyes, Hutch hurriedly vacated his chair. "Here take this one," he offered.
The chair was not broken, Hutch discovered when he had sat it back up on its four legs. It just had one leg shorter than the rest. He snagged a hunk of cardboard from one of the cases of beer, folded it up and stuck it under the offending leg. While he was busy with his makeshift repair, Starsky had retrieved his can of beer, most of which had soaked into the mattress.
When Starsky went to get a replacement, he opted for ease of access and dragged the cooler over to the table. He fished out two more cold cans and replaced them with cans from the case so they would have a steady supply. As far as he was concerned, the only way to get through this night was to be just as drunk as he could possibly get.
"Don't forget you're drivin' in the mornin'," he reminded as he cracked open the fresh can and took a long, satisfying first swallow. Now that Hutch was calmer, Starsky did not feel the least bit guilty for letting his partner suffer this nightmare sober. It was, after all, Hutch's idea.
Silence settled between the two men while they each thought their own remarkably similar thoughts, until Starsky reached into the cooler for another replacement.
"We can't really sit here all night drinking and then drive home in the morning," Hutch ventured tentatively. He was pulling very conservatively on his own beer, not even half way through the first one, and being singly sober held absolutely no appeal.
"Ya don't think I'm lyin' down on that thing, do ya?" Starsky asked, jerking a contemptuous thumb over his shoulder at the dilapidated mattress.
God, don't I wish you would!
"God knows what's been livin' in it. And still might be." Starsky shuddered, obviously thinking dire thoughts of multi-legged critters or worse.
"The door was locked, Starsk...."
"Uh-huh. Like there was so much here anybody'd wanna steal." The dark-haired cop waved a hand around at the Spartan accoutrements. "And it wasn't mammals I was worryin' about."
Hutch wisely kept any further comment to himself. Obviously, Starsky had slipped back into blaming Hutch for their deplorable situation, and Hutch really could not fault his partner for that. Some seduction this had turned out to be.
Starsky shuddered again, but not as a result of creepy crawly thoughts this time. "It's gettin' cold in here, Hutch," he complained, pulling his heavy sweater more closely around himself. He never should have let Hutch talk him into this. He just had not been able to help himself. Hutch always got so mellow and laid back and approachable whenever he got into the great outdoors routine. It had seemed to Starsky a wonderful opportunity. It was turning out to be more like the disaster of the century.
Sunk so deeply in his morose thoughts, Hutch had failed to notice the dropping temperature. He got up and went over to the fireplace, disappointed, but unsurprised, to find the wood box empty. He searched his memory and was pretty sure he had seen a pile of wood on the porch.
Wanna be seduced by firelight, babe?
"If you'll clean out the fireplace, I'll go get some wood," he offered.
"All right," Starsky agreed grudgingly. Anything had to be better than sitting here wondering what was sneaking up on the cabin, surrounding it, waiting to catch them unaware.
Unintimidated by wildlife, especially of the insect variety, Hutch left the lantern for Starsky and went outside to get the wood from the porch, as well as the sleeping bags he had packed in the car before they left.
After digging out a third beer, Starsky moved over to the fireplace and knelt down. The box beside it contained a small shovel and he began industriously cleaning out the debris from what looked like a dozen fires. Some nitwit had even thrown bricks into it. Even as ignorant as he was sure he was, Starsky at least knew that bricks did not make a good fire. He finished with the chore just as Hutch trudged in carrying an armload of wood and sleeping bags.
Sacrificing a couple of pages of his magazine, Hutch soon had the fire going. Satisfied, he turned, still crouching, to find Starsky had made a nice little nest of the sleeping bags and was already stretched out comfortably. "You gonna share that, or are you still mad at me?"
Starsky shrugged, then patted the soft space beside him. "Come on."
Not needing to be asked twice, Hutch got his long, blond body stretched out before Starsky could change his mind. Just about the time he got his butt planted, however, a whole flock of butterflies took flight in his belly. It was so stupid to be nervous. It was only Starsky. Now there was an oxymoron if he had ever heard one.
"Ya know, Hutch," Starsky said, attention firmly fixed on his finger where it circled around and around the top of his beer can. "I ain't mad or anything. I know you were only tryin' to do somethin' really nice for us."
When Starsky finally lifted his eyes, Hutch fell into them and forgot everything he ever knew about treading water. He was going down fast. Seemingly of its own accord, one hand lifted and came to rest on the wool-covered shoulder.
"You're right, babe. I did want to do something nice for both of us." He paused to take one last deep breath before letting deep blue ocean eyes close over his head. The confession died stillborn as he inhaled a lung full of smoke and began coughing.
"You okay..." Starsky's speech too was cut off by a paroxysm of coughing. "The fire..." he tried to choke out as smoke billowed toward them from the fireplace.
"Christ! The chimney must be..." cough, "...blocked."
"Fuck this," Starsky ground out between clenched teeth. "I'm sleepin' in the car."
"Come on, Starsk. Come on back inside. I've got the fire out and the smoke is gone." Hutch knocked on the window of the car, behind which hunched his partner. "You'll freeze out here."
In reply, the big engine roared into life, scaring even the crickets to silence.
"You can't run the engine all night," Hutch shouted. "We won't have enough gas to get back to the highway. You don't want to walk out of here, do you?"
As suddenly as it had started, the base rumble ceased, leaving behind an eerie stillness.
Hutch daringly reached for the door handle and pulled the door open. "Come on, babe. It's still a long time until morning."
Not that that is going to do me any good.
Mutiny written all over his long face, Starsky nevertheless allowed himself to be coaxed out of the car and back into the cabin. He sniffed unhappily at the heavy tang of wood smoke that still hung in the air. Dragging the cooler with him, he plunked down in the middle of the sleeping bags and pulled them around himself.
Reading rejection in the stiff back and thunderous silence, Hutch meekly sat himself back down in his wobbly chair. He had been so close. Damn! If only he had taken Starsky some place nice for their vacation. It would even have been better if they had just stayed in Bay City. Yeah, with a hundred discos and a thousand women. How the hell could he compete with that?
"Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn."
It took Hutch a minute to realize the curses were not part of his mental self-chastisement but were being muttered by the enwrapped Buddha in front of the empty fireplace.
"What's the matter now?" he asked wearily. Whatever it was, he knew it was going to be his fault.
"I gotta pee again."
Hutch remembered Starsky's earlier threat. "Aw, Starsk, you're not really gonna go in a can, are you? That really is uncivilized."
The sleeping bags dropped away as Starsky scrambled to his feet. "Uncivilized? Uncivilized is standin' on your front porch with your all hangin' out waitin' for some bear to come along and figure it'd make a good appetizer."
"Oh, quit being such a big baby!" Hutch snapped as he acknowledged to himself that this trip was a total washout. His mind had even failed to supply a dirty comeback for the perfect opening Starsky had just given him.
"Baby?!" Starsky echoed again incredulously. "What about you gettin' suckered by a smooth-talkin' realtor. I'm surprised he didn't sell you this place. Talk about a babe in the woods!"
Already considering himself to be at enough of a disadvantage by the truth Starsky was spouting, Hutch jumped to his feet so at least his partner was not towering over him. Assuming the haughty expression he knew drove Starsky to distraction, Hutch looked down his perfect nose at him. "At least I'm not curled up in a corner sucking my thumb. You're not just uncivilized, you're scared."
Starsky flung his arm out in a gesture of defiance, which would have been a lot more effective if he had not been holding the can of beer. Suds flew everywhere.
"Oh nice," Hutch sneered, fastidiously brushing at the front of his shirt.
Ignoring his faux pas, Starsky slammed the beer down on the table and moved in nose to chin with the snobby blond. "I ain't scared," he growled each word distinctly.
"Prove it," Hutch challenged to the top of the curly head, too incensed to notice the temptation an inch away.
"All right. I will. And," the dexterous left hand delved under his sweater, "I ain't even gonna take my gun." As a final act of defiance, Starsky slammed the gun down beside the beer can and stomped out the door.
Something niggled at Hutch as he stood staring at the closed door and listened to Starsky stomping along the porch to the right. Something he had noticed as the car drove up. Headlights on water! Starsky had turned the wrong way.
Hutch grabbed up the lantern as he stumbled across the floor, fumbled with the door and got it open just in time to hear a startled yelp followed by a gigantic splash.
"Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit," Hutch muttered, barely resisting the cowardly urge to tiptoe back into the cabin and pretend he had not heard a thing. As much as he would like to, he knew he could not retreat. Starsky was not a strong swimmer and in the dark could easily become disoriented and swim away from the cabin whose porch just happened to overhang the lake.
"Huuuuutch! Get me outa here!"
"My sweater is wet. That is the only sweater I brought with me."
"My shoes are wet. They are the only shoes I brought with me."
"They'll dry," Hutch repeated with dwindling patience. He had lost count of the repetitions by the time Starsky had gotten into dry clothes and wrapped back up in both sleeping bags. Hutch could not count the dunking a total loss. Watching Starsky struggle out of his wet, clinging clothes had certainly given him fodder for new fantasies. And it sure looked like fantasy was all he was ever going to get.
"My belt is wet. That is the only belt I brought with me."
"It's leather. It'll dry all stiff and hard."
Jeez, babe, don't feed me straight lines like that.
Starsky peeked out from under his lashes, but his innuendo seemed to have gone straight over Hutch's head. There had been something so erotic about getting naked while Hutch was fully clothed. His belt was not the only thing that had dried stiff and hard. He had forgotten all about being angry and had even flaunted himself just a little, but Hutch had not seemed to notice. He could only guess that blue buns and goosebumps did nothing for the big Blintz. That left him nothing to do but complain.
"I could get sick, you know."
"Don't worry. Your nose will dry up, too. Eventually." Hutch risked a small smile. "I've said I'm sorry about a hundred times."
Starsky thought about it for a few moments, then let his own lips twitch. He could not help it, Hutch looked so damned cute when he was being contrite. "Care to try for a hundred and one, schweetheart?"
Hutch laughed and Starsky joined in, clearing away the last of the tension between them. So plans had not worked out the way they had hoped; they were still together and there would be other vacations.Slipping off his chair to join the cocoon with Starsky's head, Hutch grabbed a shrouded shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "Next time I'll let you make the vacation arrangements."
"Now you're talkin'," Starsky agreed, breaking up the sentence with a jaw-straining yawn.
"It'll be dawn soon, Starsky. Why don't you get some sleep and we'll go home in the morning," Hutch suggested.
Starsky glanced over his shoulder at the bare mattress. "On that?!"
"You've got two sleeping bags here. Put one under you and the other one on top. Here, give me one of those."
Getting to his feet, Hutch tugged the top bag from Starsky's shoulders and went to spread it out on the mattress. He heard Starsky get up behind him and shuffle over.
Loosening the bag around him, Starsky lay down on his back, fussing with the material while Hutch knelt on the bed and leant a hand. When the smaller man was settled, the partners just looked at each other, enjoying the fact that peace once again reigned between them. Then Starsky's face screwed up.
"Now what's the matter?" Hutch asked affectionately.
"I'm lyin' in the wet spot," Starsky whined.
"God, babe, don't I wish!" Hutch breathed.
Even the wildlife surrounding the dilapidated cabin chose that moment to go silent, echoing the utter vacuum inside.
"What did you say?" Starsky finally asked.
Indicted out of his own mouth, all Hutch could do was sit there under that questioning gaze while the blush crept up from the soles of his boots to his hairline.
"Ah, now that is just too damned much temptation for any man to resist." With that, Starsky pulled Hutch down into their first kiss.
By the time their eager lips parted, Hutch had managed to wriggle down onto the mattress so that they lay pressed full length together, wrapped in each other's arms. Even with the sleeping bag and several layers of clothing between them, Hutch was sure that the heat generated between them was almost enough to cause spontaneous combustion. There was certainly a fire building in his body and if Starsky's squirming was anything to go by, his partner was not far behind.
Hutch reached out a hand to push back the sleeping bag only to have Starsky snatch it back up to his chin.
"Hey, it's cold out there," Starsky protested.
Hutch knew the look of disappointment on his face must be absolutely ludicrous but could not seem to help it. Surely Starsky would never be so cruel? One loving hand came up to cup his face, easing his fears.
"No jumpin' to conclusions, Blintz. I just had my balls near froze off. Why don't you," the other hand began slipping loose the buttons on Hutch's shirt, "slide on in here and see if ya can't thaw 'em out for me."
As his partner had discovered earlier, getting naked in front of someone who was fully clothed was so erotic that Hutch had no hope of hiding his arousal by the time his briefs hit the floor. Hard and flushed, his erection lead the way as he lifted the blankets and slipped into waiting arms. Their lips came together once again and Hutch shuddered as Starsky's hands immediately began mapping his willing body.
"Not fair," Hutch muttered when the sweet suction of Starsky's mouth released him. "You're wearin' that damned union suit."
Starsky squirmed until he had his deliciously naked partner trapped beneath him. "Yeah," he agreed, stretching the one word to several syllables as he made a meal out of the long, fair-skinned throat. "But I got buttons all the way down to my crotch, and..." Another pause while Starsky explored the oral delights to be found behind Hutch's right ear.
"A trap door," Hutch finished the sentence on a breathy moan, both hands sliding down the long back to where dexterous fingers could slip loose flap buttons. His hands delved inside, latching on to luscious curves, which had been the star feature in more than a few of his most erotic fantasies. He squeezed the pliant flesh and pulled the slim body more firmly down between his spread thighs.
Hutch's mouth was claimed again and Starsky offered his tongue as if in reward for the bigger man's initiative. It was an offer that Hutch was more than willing to accept and they squirmed together happily, mouths and bodies sealed so closely that even microbes would have been hard pressed to survive between them.
Immersed though he was in wondrous sensation, Hutch let out a muffled yelp around surrounding lips as a not so wondrous sensation suddenly assaulted his ass. Starsky took the wide-open mouth as an invitation to plunder at will and eagerly thrust his tongue deeper. Desperate to escape, Hutch bit down on the probe and stiff-armed Starsky off him and over the side of the mattress. He heard the resulting shout of surprised protest, but had no time for Starsky's woes at the moment. Jumping to his feet, he twisted, trying to look over his shoulder at his own tormented behind. Two long red welts, just beginning to bead with blood, marred one creamy white globe.
"Whadja do that for?" Starsky demanded, scrambling to get his feet under him.
"Something bit me on the ass," Hutch snapped, nearly turning himself inside out as he tried to inspect the damage.
"Well, it wasn't me. Yet," Starsky muttered, finally gaining his balance and looking up. He burst into near hysterical laughter at the sight of the human pretzel standing in the middle of the mattress.
"Christ, Hutch, you look ridiculous," Starsky crowed, obviously forgetting that such comments were not in his best carnal interests.
"Oh yeah," Hutch snapped, straightening himself around and planting both fists on naked hips, which did not really go a long way toward taking the edge of Starsky's hysteria. "You ain't exactly Don Juan yourself there, buddy. Standin' there with your trap door wavin' in the breeze."
Starsky chose to ignore that and, still chuckling, reached out to draw his partner off the mattress. Turning the big body around, he bent to inspect the scrapes.
"It ain't too bad, babe. Want me to kiss it better for you?" he offered, only half joking.
"That's my line," Hutch murmured disconsolately.
Recognizing a ruined moment when it slapped him in the face, Starsky flipped back the sleeping bag to reveal, poking through the threadbare ticking, the wickedly sharp spring which had assaulted his partner.
"I hope your tetanus shot is up to date," he said, climbing to his feet and taking his unhappy almost-lover into his arms. "Do you really want to start this here, babe?" he asked gently.
Both men looked around their unlovely surroundings, from smoke-stained fireplace to butt-chewing mattress, and shook their heads.
"Not in a million years," they said in unison. "Let's go home."