This story was originally published in Whaddya Mean I'm Not a Good Kisser? put out by Gunther Industries in 1987. Thanks go to Morag for typing and SHaron for proof-reading. The author is not on the internet and doesn't have email. Comments on this story can be sent snail mail to Flamingo, PO Box 823, Beltsville MD 20704-0823, and will be forwarded to the author.

Katherine Robertson

"For one brieeeef, shiiiiniing moooment...." Starsky warbled, breaking off his song long enough to get to his feet and switch off the tv. He looked over at his partner who was sprawled on the couch, and explained, "It's my favorite musical...always gets to me when King Arthur has to order Guenevere to be burn--"

"You said last week that Oklahoma was your favorite musical," Hutch interrupted, yawning prodigiously. He shook his head, then knuckled his eyes. "And the week before that it was West Side Story." Despite the hour, he had to smile at Starsky's expression. It was part kid, part best friend, and mostly exasperated. "Sorry," he murmured, "but I have a sneaking suspicion whatever you're watching at the time is your favorite."

Blue eyes sparkled, "No. That's where you're wrong, pal. See, Camelot is my favorite foreign musical, and Oklahoma is my favorite western one, and West Side Story is my favorite eastern one. So, naturally--ulp!"

Hutch shut him up by placing his hand over his partner's mouth. "Okay! I get the picture." Then, pulling his fingers away, he added, "and Fiddler is your favorite Jewish one, and Anna and The King is your favorite Siamese one... am I warm?"

He felt warm; had felt that way all evening, watching Starsky's reaction to the beautiful music, the soaring lyrics.

"You really get off on this, don't you?" he asked softly, searching the familiar, and he had to admit to himself, increasingly-attractive features. He didn't know why, but for some reason his feelings for this other half of himself were taking a disturbing turn. And, because of that, these evenings--here at Starsky's for a change--were fast becoming harder to endure, yet there wasn't a chance in the world he'd have disappointed his friend by not showing up.

So, here he sat each week, watching stories about other people's thwarted love, unfulfilled passions, or pie-in-the-sky happy endings, listening to the music, Starsky by his side. The man was bound and determined to share each Tuesday night with him.

"Ya ready for coffee? I bought doughnuts, too." Starsky was already hurrying into the kitchen, obviously not wanting Hutch to leave yet.

"Sure. What kinda doughnuts?" God, he hoped they weren't those maple-flavored, chocolate-sprinkle monstrosities. He eyed the perfect fit of the grungy jeans with appreciation.

"For you? Buttermilk twist. For me--" Starsky held up a square of cherry-covered pastry, sugar flaking off onto his fingers.

"Great!" Hutch was so relieved he would have eaten three-day old pizza. "I love buttermilk twists. Thanks." He smiled inwardly at the surprise on Starsky's face.

They sat quietly, sipping the fragrant brew, chewing steadily on their dessert. Hutch finished first, and took his cup and saucer over to the sink, plunging them into cold, soapy water left from supper dishes. When he turned back, he was in time to see a quick flush coloring his partner's cheeks, and it puzzled him. "You okay? That insulin-destroyer too sweet?" He came over to stand in front of Starsky.

"Mmmfine. Just wanted to thank you for comin' by, that's all." But those dark eyes were averted.

Hutch laughed, then reached down to ruffle the soft curls. "Jerk. You know damn well I'm enjoying the shows as much as you are." He withdrew his hand, "What's next week?"

Starsky swallowed, then licked his lips, "I think it's 'My Fair Lady'...." He got to his feet, pushing Hutch ahead of him. "Let the damn dishes sit. I wanna talk about Camelot."

"Oh, God! Here we go again," Hutch groaned. He'd hoped to escape this latest whim of Starsky's. They'd sit for another hour, dissecting the whole frigging musical, song by song, act by act. Somehow, they always ended up arguing about small points.

"Don't be like that," chided Starsky. "I wanna know what you think about Lancelot's cheatin'--after his vows." He plunked himself down on the floor, legs crossed, his back to the tv.

Sighing, Hutch arranged himself on the couch, propped up on his elbow. "He wasn't as much to blame as the queen was, Starsk. The poor man tried for years to keep away, but she was bound and determined to--"

Starsky waved a hand in impatient denial. "She was bored, only a girl when she came to court...and Lancelot was the top dude. Naturally, she zeroed in on him."

Hutch was silent, staring ferociously into the blue eyes. What the hell, he thought, might as well really get him ticked off at me...then maybe he'll throw me out. "I think the real bummer is the fact that Lancelot was ignoring someone who loved him even more than Guenevere did. Someone who loved him more than he loved his own wife."

Starsky's mouth dropped open, eyes narrowing as he digested Hutch's declaration. "You talkin' about Arthur?"

Hutch sat up, warming to his subject. "Look at the evidence, Starsk. The king lets Lancelot whomp the hell out of him, become the star of the entire Round Table, lets him carry his wife's favor and romance her in front of the whole kingdom and never believes a word against him. Now, if that isn't love, what is?"

"You tryin' to tell me that Arthur had a thing for Lancelot?" Starsky's voice finished in a whispered hush, his eyes almost violet in the subdued lighting. "Jesus!" he tilted his head, suddenly tense with excitement. "Then, what you're sayin' is that the whole business about that war between them wasn't really about Guenevere, it was more of a lover's quarrel?" The dark head shook, and Starsky leaped to his feet, "If that was the case, why didn't Arthur tell Lancelot...why'd he banish him...and all that stuff?"

Smiling at the sight of his partner, as eager as any kid with a new concept to be explored, Hutch found he was suddenly at a loss for words, floundering in water too deep to tread. "Things weren't that much different in those days, pal. It was all right to express love just so long as it was know, buddy-buddy. And that much they always had, didn't they?" It was a lame answer, and he hoped to hell he sounded convincing.

Starsky was looking down at him now, face very grave, eyes hidden under long lashes. "Hell, we've got that much, and we're just partners." He chewed at his lip, "Nope. I'm not sayin' you're wrong, but if you ain't then there's a piece of the puzzle missin'...why didn't Arthur let on he loved him?"

"He was married, for Christ's sake! Had that bastard Mordred whining around his ass all the time--" Drowning--he was going to drown any sapphire-tinted waters.

Starsky chuckled, "Yeah, must've been like IA breathin' down your neck night and day. Simonetti'd make a perfect Mordred."

Hutch had to agree; they both grinned as they simultaneously began recasting the ancient tale. "Dobey can be King Pellinore," he crowed.

"And Huggy's a perfect Merlin...shyster-type," added Starsky. He stopped, stared hard at Hutch, then said evenly, "And Vanessa as the Queen, right?"

There was silence for a minute as Hutch absorbed that idea. Was Starsky trying to tell him that Van had made a play for him? She'd always seemed rather bored by his best friend. He tried something else. "You saying I'm like Arthur?" he demanded, feeling rather lost under the intense scrutiny Starsky was giving him.

His partner nodded, "Who else? Even the description's right."

"Then you'd have to be Lancelot," murmured Hutch, wishing to God he had the guts to leave right this minute. "Can't imagine anybody else racing around on quests, smiting the bad guys." He pictured his friend in a full suit of armor, astride the hood of the Torino. He smiled to himself.

"If you were Arthur, would you have told me you loved me?" asked Starsky, not moving a muscle, staring at him.

"Arthur did tell a dozen different ways," replied Hutch helplessly. "Besides, I'm probably all wet, probably it really was the way the legend went, ya know?" He saw doubt in Starsky's eyes so tried one more tack. "...Anyway, Arthur's asleep, awaiting to rise to defend England when he's needed."

"And Lancelot died in an Abbey...some fate!" snorted his companion, kneeling down beside the couch. He ran one finger across Hutch's brow, smiling. "So, instead of bein' the white knight, you're actually the king...that's quite a promotion."

"Especially from Sergeant," mocked Hutch gently. He lay back, content to let Starsky play with his hair, to share space, whatever his crazy friend wanted was fine for the moment.

"Hutch?" Voice as deep and dark as the mysteries of love.

He opened his eyes, "Yeah?" Fingers pressing down on his lids made them close again.

"What if Lancelot needed the king? Think he'd wake up for him?" A strong body pressing closer.

In a cave by a sapphire shore...
    We shall walk through an em'rald door...

Offstage a drum, wrapped in velvet, began a slow rhythmic beat. Hutch lay very, very still, feeling the warmth of Starsky's breath as it drifted across his cheek. "Dunno," he gasped, "nobody ever wrote that play. Don't know if anyone knows how to waken him." The drum beats were faster, less muffled.

"That right? I don't know much about music, Hutch, but I sure as hell can figure out a way to wake him up..."

Lips of great warmth and sweetness pressed down on Hutch's mouth, briefly tasted it, then withdrew. Hutch's eyes flew open and he gazed up into the smiling face.

"Knew it'd work," Starsky said. "'Bout time, Arthur. You've been asleep at the switch long enough. Guess it was just a matter of finding the right musical."

Dazed, Hutch shook his head and lay back down. "That's what you think, Lancelot. Now, get down here and let me show you how to really wake up the king." He reached up and pulled his partner into a bone-crushing embrace, laughing when Starsky pinned him down. "I'm going to recast Merlin's're the Magician."

"Magician, hell! We're gonna make our own legend, lover. And I'm just warmin' up insofar as the kissin' goes."

Dimly, though warm layers of love, Hutch heard the fallen king's words.... "...some of them do sparkle!" He'd never known how lucky he was; there was such music in Starsky's whispered words, enough to write their own song.

"I do love you," he murmured into Starsky's ear.

"Shut up! Can't you see I'm on a quest!"

Wriggling, Hutch decided his favorite knight wasn't about to set out alone.

And for thousands of
to come, my life you shall be.