© Oct 2011 by Charlotte Frost


A Sequel to The Sandman



“I’m very sorry, Mr. Cartell,” Starsky said into the phone, “but I’m sure you won’t have trouble finding someone else to take your case.”


“Thanks, anyway,” the man said with forced congeniality. 


Starsky hung up.  Hutch is never going to believe this.  He hoped he’d handled the bizarre situation correctly.


Wish we didn’t take these types of cases in the first place, he muttered to himself.  Unfortunately, this particular type of case was proving to be disturbingly popular.  He and Hutch were currently working for five different female clients, spying on their husbands because the men were suspected of having affairs.  It was getting boring that the wives were turning out to be correct one hundred percent of the time.  Just once, Starsky would like to get a cheating spouse case where it turned out the unhappy husband was simply spending his time away from home at the library, or something as innocently mundane as that.


Starsky moved from the office to the kitchen.  Hutch was currently out on one such spying case, hoping to get photographs of the husband and his mistress leaving their motel room early in the morning.  It was now going on nine.  Starsky was dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt, and he took a moment to reheat his coffee in the microwave, before sitting down at the kitchen table. 


An array of bills and envelopes were spread about the table.  Starsky remembered Hutch working on paying bills last night, but he obviously hadn’t finished.  Starsky made a point of not looking at the amounts on some of the statements.  He was more than happy to let Hutch take care of their financial matters.  Besides, the subject of their money tended to make Hutch grumpy at times, so Starsky knew it was a subject he wanted to avoid as much as possible, lest he become grumpy, as well. 


The only thing he knew for certain about their finances was that he and Hutch were making far more money than they had as cops, but it somehow never seemed to be quite enough.  Nothing made Hutch more unhappy than pulling money out of their – thankfully, substantial – savings to pay household bills.


As Starsky sipped his coffee, his mind turned to more pleasant subjects.  Like last night.  Something had happened last night in their bedroom that had never happened before.  Something that Starsky wasn’t sure could be put into words.

It had started with Hutch lovingly complaining that he couldn’t “do his job” when his tongue attended to Starsky’s backside, because Starsky got too crazy too quickly and needed relief.  So, last night, Hutch had insisted on giving Starsky a blowjob first to calm him down, and then Hutch could spend the time he felt was necessary to give a proper tonguing.


Starsky had been skeptical that starting with a blowjob would be beneficial, because he suspected he’d just fall asleep afterward and not to be able to enjoy Hutch’s efforts.


He need not have worried.


Hutch’s tongue worked him so masterfully that Starsky was shaking and quivering within minutes.  He wasn’t even sure it was so much skill on Hutch’s part, as his life partner’s sheer patience at “doing his job” to please his love.  Eventually – Starsky could have sworn that it may have been a full hour – his ass had gotten so excited at that tongue’s relentless attentions, that both sphincter muscles had relaxed enough to allow Hutch to push his tongue inside.


What a bombardment of sensation that had been.


After having that soft flesh exploring so intimately, all Starsky had wanted was that steel hard thing of Hutch’s to plunge into him.  Hutch had obliged, but it felt different than it ever had before.  Starsky’s ass was so sensitized, that he could feel every millimeter of that accommodating cock, and he writhed and undulated all around it, using it to stimulate his prostate gland.  He distinctly remembered Hutch crying out “Fuck me! even though it was Hutch who had been doing the fucking.


Starsky had stroked himself and come all over the bed.  And then had collapsed in waning ecstasy.  All he remembered afterwards was being only slightly conscious of Hutch going about his routine ablutions to get ready for his early morning spy job.


There was the sound of the garage door opening.  Starsky switched his thoughts to what he most wanted to talk to Hutch about.  There was the noise of Hutch’s LeBaron pulled into the garage, and then the garage door starting to close.  A moment later, the door opened that went from the garage to the laundry area.


“Hey,” Starsky greeted, as Hutch entered the kitchen a moment later.  “How did it go?”


Hutch leaned back on the counter.  He was dressed in tan corduroy slacks and a plaid shirt.  “I got photos to Mr. Shelton and his mistress leaving the hotel.  I waited for the photo place to open, so I could get them developed today.  They said they’ll be ready after three.”


Starsky grunted.  Another marriage likely to bite the dust.  Then he said, “Hutch, you won’t believe the phone call I got this morning.”




“For once, a man called us to spy on his wife.  But you won’t believe who it was.”


Hutch crossed his arms.  “Who?”


“Sam Cartell.”


“Sam Cartell,” Hutch repeated, and then his eyes widened as he uncrossed his arms.  “You mean Sarah Cartell’s husband?”


“Yep.  I just thought it was another new client.  Then after he told me his name and that his wife was Sarah, it was all I could do to try to act normal and not let on that she already had us spying on him.”


Hutch looked alarm.  “Did you accept the job?”


“No!  I mean, at first I was so stunned, I just acted normal and took down his information, because I didn’t want to let on that his wife was already a client.  But then after I hung up, I waited about ten minutes and then called him back.  Lied through my teeth and told him that I’d just gotten word of a family emergency and we couldn’t take his case, and he needed to call somebody else.”


Hutch shifted and blew out a harsh breath.


Starsky asked, “Do you think I handled it okay?”


Hutch shrugged.  “What could you do?  We can’t be spying on both parties in a marriage.  That’s a conflict of interest.”


“It’s tempting to alert Mrs. Cartell that her husband suspects her of cheating.”


Hutch shook his head.  “We can’t be getting involved to that degree in these people’s marriages.  Mrs. Cartell hired us to spy on her husband, that’s what we’re doing, and that’s where our obligation ends.”  He released another breath.  “I guess we shouldn’t be surprised something like this happened.  Both spouses in a marriage are likely to use the same phonebook to find a private detective agency.”


Starsky muttered,  “I just wish there weren’t so many unhappy people in their marriages that they have to cheat, or have suspicions of cheating.  I mean, maybe they just ought to talk to each other.”  He shrugged.  “Anyway, I sort of wish we didn’t offer spying on spouses as part of our services.”


“It’s a job,” Hutch said.  He indicated the kitchen table.  “Helps pay the bills.”


Starsky watched as Hutch tilted his head down while leaning back against the counter, and his eyes glowed with a rare bashfulness.  “Hey, uh,” Hutch spoke softly as he studied the floor, “what did you do to me last night?”  He glanced up.


Starsky loved that Hutch had been thinking about it, too.  He grinned.  “I think the question is what did you do to me?”


Hutch glanced away again, also grinning.  “Just doing my job, like I really wanted.”


Starsky released a heavy breath.  “I’d never felt anything like that before, Hutch.  Once you were in me, it was like I had an awareness of every millimeter of you.  It’s like I was using your cock to play with myself.  Man, that was somethin’.”


Hutch’s gaze was still lowered, as he said in disbelief, “It’s like you were fucking me, even though you were on the bottom.”


“Yeah,” Starsky agreed.  He asked, “You did come, right?  I think I was in such an ecstatic haze that I don’t remember you coming.”


Hutch snorted.  “Are you kidding?  With the way you were twisting and gyrating around me?  I’ve never felt anything like that.”


Starsky’s grin widened.  “Wonder if we’ll ever be able to duplicate that again, in the exact same way.”


Hutch’s smile was warm and loving.  “Guess we’ll have to find out sometime.”


Starsky went over to Hutch and took his love by the arms.  He gazed into those soft, blue eyes, and then wrapped his arms around him.  “It’s so amazing that, after all the time we’ve spent loving each other, we can still find new ways of making each other feel good.”


Hutch’s arms came around him and rubbed along his back.


Starsky laid his head on Hutch’s shoulder.  “I don’t want to ever become like our clients.  Where they’ve lost their trust and belief in each other, and feel they have to spy on each other.”


Hutch’s hands continued to rub along Starsky’s back.  “That won’t happen.  We know how important it is to communicate with each other.”


Starsky gulped.  “Don’t you think they felt that way early in their marriages?  That nothing bad could ever touch their relationship?  That there’s nothing they each couldn’t ever tell the other?”


Hutch straightened and squeezed Starsky’s hand.  “Not necessarily.”  He beckoned them to move to the table, where they sat at their usual places, across from each other.


Hutch was thoughtful.  “Van and I never had what you and I have.  Even early on.”


“But you were in love with her, right?”


“Looking back, I was in love with the idea of her.  The idea of what we could have together.”  Hutch bowed his head.  “I really think, Starsk, that what most people do the vast majority of the time is role play.”  He looked up.  “I wanted her to want me, so I presented myself as desirably as I could.  I wasn’t really myself around her.  She played to that and I never knew who she was.  No more than she knew who I was, or cared who I was.”


Starsky considered Hutch’s words, and was feeling grateful that he’d never reached the point of marrying anyone in the past.


“I don’t know why we do that,” Hutch admitted.  “Why so much of our lives are spent putting on masks and costumes, until we get tired of it and then start asking ourselves what we really want, and so often realizing that it’s something else completely, other than what we’ve always pursued, that fulfills us.”  He met Starsky’s eye.  “I can guarantee you that now that my father has cancer, he’s finding out things about himself – what he really thinks and feels and wants – that he never knew before.”  Hutch grimaced.  “It shouldn’t be like that.  Seems like human beings should be smarter and figure things out a lot sooner.”


Starsky considered Hutch’s words.  “Well, you know, it seems nature wants us to put on airs, so to speak.  I mean, in the wild, animals show off to the opposite sex to try to attract a mate.”


“Yes, a mate,” Hutch emphasized.  “But human beings usually don’t live together and get married just to reproduce.  We’re trying to establish a lifelong commitment with another person.  That’s a long time to role play, especially after the kids are grown and gone.”


Starsky was thoughtful a long moment.  “We’ve never role played with each other, I guess.” 


“Right.”  Hutch nodded.  “We’ve had all that stability from the past, without bedroom games affecting our relationship.  So, once our relationship extended to the bedroom, we already had an intimacy based in trust and knowing who each other really was.  We’ve never had to pretend with each other.”


That sounded nice – for them.  Starsky sighed.  “Surely, you aren’t suggesting that nature intends for human beings to spend ten years or so getting to know each other first, before they get married.”


“No, but maybe most people go about it backwards.  We establish the sex first, and then try to build a well-rounded relationship with another person.  There’re all those manipulative games built around the bedroom that never really allows people to know each other.”


“But supposedly, in the past, people didn’t go to bed as quickly as they do now.  But I doubt that marriages were any happier.”


“They didn’t need to go to bed more quickly, because they got married more quickly, so they could hurry up and have sex ‘properly’.”   


“I guess you’re right,” Starsky relented. 


Hutch’s expression was distant.  “Vanessa and I slept together on our third date.  If we hadn’t, then my whole purpose would have been getting her into bed.  Not getting to know her, but being able to feel that I’d captured her, so to speak.  After we were married,” he shook his head unhappily, “I started doing all sorts of things to please her – and hope it worked out in my favor.  You know, buy her a new necklace and maybe she’d be willing to do it doggy style that night, or something like that.  She would go out and charge up our credit cards, and then do something in bed that would make me not want to be so mad at her about her spending.  And if she was furious with me,” Hutch sighed heavily, “I could forget about any kind of sex, until I’d relented and saw things her way.  Or acted like I saw things her way.”


When Hutch stopped talking, Starsky swallowed heavily.  “I can’t imagine ever using the pleasure we give each other as a manipulative tool like that.  It’s too sacred.”


Hutch softened and reached across the table for Starsky’s hand.  “We won’t ever have to worry about that.  We had all the kinks worked out of our relationship years ago.  And as far as the pleasure, I don’t know about you, buddy, but I used to feel I was a pretty good lover.  Now, I look back and realize I knew next to nothing about loving another person.  About being able to give so much to someone I love so much.”


Starsky tilted his head with a small smile.  “Yeah, I think I know what you mean.  I used to take a girl to bed, show her all my clever moves, make her feel good, and felt smug about what an adept stud I was.”  He slowly shook his head back and forth.  “That all seems like child’s play now.  All the technique in the world doesn’t replace intimacy.  And you aren’t going to have intimacy with someone you’ve known a few months, let a lone a few days.”  Starsky sighed heavily.  “Just wish some of our clients could learn that.”


Hutch smiled lovingly at him.  “I guess the best thing we can do is set an example, for anyone who cares to look in our direction.”


“Yeah,” Starsky said softly.  His eyes scanned the table, the conversation having made him less reticent about the subject before him.  He waved his hand over the table.  “So, how are we doing?”


“We’ve had a couple of great months, when we got paid for big cases.  A few okay months.  And a few lousy months.”


“What about on an average?”


“We’re doing okay.  It’s helped that we’ve stopped spending so much lately.”  Hutch picked up a bill.  “I practically have a heart attack every time I pay the insurance on our cars.  I may shop around a little bit and see if I can find us a better rate.”


“That’s good then, huh?” Starsky said.  “I mean, we haven’t even been in business for a year, and we’re managing to pay our bills without having to keep pulling money out of savings.”


Hutch tilted his head thoughtfully.  “Yeah, I guess.  Just wish we had more income that we could depend on regularly, instead of just hoping something major falls in our laps.”


There was a noise near the front door.  And then a group of envelopes was shoved through the mailbox and landed on the floor in the foyer.


“Oh, great,” Hutch said, getting up, “more bills.”  He scooped up the mail from the floor and brought it to the table.  He leafed through each envelope, tossing it aside, and then stopped on the last one.  “Hm.  What’s this?  It’s addressed just to me.”


“Who’s it from?” Starsky asked as Hutch started to tear open the flap.


“Some law firm.”


Starsky scooted his chair closer.  Correspondence from a law firm couldn’t possibly be good news.


Hutch pulled out two pieces of paper.  One, Starsky could say, was thick beige paper with letterhead.  The paper behind was white and appeared to have typing on it.


Hutch read the first page.  Dear Mr. Kenneth Hutchinson. As executors for the estate of Ms. Kate Larrabee, we regret to inform you of the death of Ms. Larrabee.  Hutch’s voice became softer.  “She passed away from leukemia on September 2nd, after being hospitalized the final three weeks of her life.  She was buried next to her parents in Sweden, as per her wishes.  You name was on a list of loved ones that she wished to receive the attached letter.”


Kate Larrabee.  A long-ago girlfriend of Hutch’s.  Such an intriguing, beautiful model.  Such a gorgeous couple she and Hutch made, the brief time Starsky had seen them together.


Starsky reached to squeeze Hutch’s arm.  “Awe, Hutch, I’m so sorry.”


Hutch’s eyes watered as he put the cover letter aside and read the page behind it.  He whispered, “Dear Most Cherished One, I am very sorry to not be able to give you a personalized message.  In looking back, it is rather daunting to realize how many dear friends I’ve had had in my life, as I’ve had the privilege to visit many places throughout the world.  Know that each and every one of you I have met has enriched my life in some way.  I was once very afraid of what this disease would do to me, but when it came out of remission, I was ready for it, and am at peace with knowing the end is near.  Please do not grieve for me, but remember that none of us knows how long we have, so I ask that you please bless every day and let the people you love know that you love them.  God bless you, and I wish you only happiness from this day forward.”


Hutch stared at the letter a minute longer, and then placed it in front of Starsky. He bowed his head and covered his eyes, a choked gasp escaping.


“Awe, Hutch.”  Starsky rested his hand on Hutch’s back as he looked at the letter.  At the bottom, was handwritten, My Dearest Hutch, I have only wonderful memories of our time together – on both occasions.  You are one of the kindest and strongest men I have ever known.  If I had been the type of woman who could settle down and be a wife, you are the man I would have wanted for a gentle, stable, loving husband.  I have thought of you often, especially since the last time I visited under such unfortunate circumstances.  I am grateful that such circumstances brought us together once again, however briefly.  I have always carried your love in my heart, and hope you will carry mine in yours.  Know that I have not shrunk away in fear this time around.  I thank you for lending me your strength.  Love always, Kate.


Hutch sniffed loudly, raising his head, and wiping at his eyes.       


Starsky shifted his chair closer so he could rest his cheek against the back of Hutch’s shoulder.  He slipped his arms around his waist.


“Wasn’t expecting this,” Hutch said, still wiping at his eyes.


“She was a special lady,” Starsky said in a quiet voice.  He hadn’t seen Hutch this upset in well over a year – not since he had been afraid of Starsky’s Herpes B virus coming out of remission, after what had happened in Virginia.


Turns out, Kate Larrabie’s leukemia had come out of remission – and taken her life.


Hutch abruptly stood and went to the kitchen counter where a box of tissues rested.  He spent a moment blowing his nose.  Then he said, “I’ve got to take a walk.”  He strode toward the front door.


Abruptly, he stopped, his hand on the door.  Without looking back, his other hand reached behind him.  “Come with me.”


Starsky eagerly obeyed.





Their arms were around each other as they walked silently to the neighborhood park a few blocks away.  The October leaves were falling to the ground.  By the time they reached the park, Hutch seemed more reflective than sad.


It was a weekday morning and the park was unoccupied.  They sat on a bench, Starsky with his head resting on Hutch’s shoulder.


Hutch sniffed once.  “It just feels like the world is a lesser place, without her in it.  You know?”




“Funny that we were just talking about putting on airs and role playing.  Kate and I were always genuine with each other.”


For the brief time Starsky had seen Kate and Hutch together, they had seemed like they fit together so well.  “I asked you before why it didn’t last, and I recall that you didn’t seem to know.”


“Ah, well,” Hutch said thoughtfully, his arm around Starsky, “I don’t think she and I ever expected anything else.  That’s why it was easy for us to be ourselves around each other.  We both were into our careers.  No way could we have had a serious relationship; neither of us would have had anything left to give to it at the end of the day.”


“Guess it’s ironic,” Starsky said.  “It seems like you both had nothing but good feelings for each other, because you didn’t expect anything from each other.  Maybe human beings could all get along a lot better if they didn’t expect anything from each other.  But, instead, just let things happen as they will.”


Hutch’s arm tightened around Starsky.  “I don’t know about that.  You and I have always been good together because we each cared enough to make an effort toward our partnership.  It’s not like it just happened out of the blue.”


“No, I suppose not.  But we’ve also always been very tolerant of each other’s differences, however much we might have grumped at each other about them.”


“That’s part of the effort,” Hutch said thoughtfully.  “Tolerance.  Forgiveness.  Acceptance.  Patience.”


Starsky rubbed his hand across Hutch’s chest.  “Let’s not forget the love factor.”


Hutch chuckled softly.  “Minor details.”


The breeze had a nip to it, and Starsky shifted so that he was partially facing Hutch and wrapped his arms around him.  After a moment, he said, “I’m sorry that happened to Kate.”


“Yeah,” Hutch said softly.


“At least she was willing to face it, instead of feeling the need to have someone take her out before she went downhill.”  That was how she and Hutch had gotten reacquainted – to stop the hitman she’d hired from killing her, after she found out that her leukemia had gone into remission.  She had planned an indirect suicide to avoid the physical deterioration, since she was accustomed to being strong, independent, and beautiful.


Sadly, Hutch said, “I hope she had someone with her at the end.”  His hands clutched at Starsky’s back.


“Surely, she did,” Starsky soothed.  “Her letter indicated how many friends she realized she’d accumulated throughout her life.”


After a moment, Hutch prompted Starsky to move away from him.  Then he stretched his legs out, and rested his head against the back of the bench, looking at the sky.  He released a breath.  “Ah, Kate.”  He glanced at Starsky.  “I just wish I would have known that she was sick, you know?  I could have called her or something.  Been more prepared.”


Starsky bowed his head.  “Yeah.”  Then he said, “It’s been more than a couple of years, hasn’t it, since you saw her last?  She probably had too much going on to stay in touch with everybody that she might have wanted to know what was happening.”


Hutch presented a tiny smile.  “Is that your tactful way of saying that I wasn’t all that important to her any more?”


Starsky tilted his head.  “You were important enough for her to leave a handwritten note – a beautiful one, at that.”


Hutch sobered.  “To be read after she was gone.”


Starsky waited a moment, and then presented a small smile of his own.  “Well, if she had tried to get in touch with you lately, she probably would have been surprised to find out that your personal circumstances had changed.”


“Guess so.”  Hutch grinned at Starsky.  “She only knew you as Chicken Little.”


Starsky grinned back at the recollection of the code names he and Hutch and used during the case – Chicken Little and Turkey Buzzard.  Hutch had properly introduced them when she’d first come to the police station.


“Such a classy lady,” Starsky mused out loud.


“Yeah.”  Hutch reached to rub along the back of Starsky’s shirt.


“It’s getting chilly out here.  How about we head back?”


Hutch stood and took Starsky by the hand.






A few days later, Hutch trotted back to the bed naked, holding his arms against his body to ward off the morning chill, since they hadn’t turned on the heat yet this fall.  He had relieved himself and brushed his teeth, and now eagerly got beneath the covers.


Starsky was facing his direction, dozing.


“Hey, buddy,” Hutch whispered.


“Hmm?”  Starsky eyes were barely open.


“I’ve done a quick calculation, and I’ve decided that it’s Sunday morning and you and I have absolutely nothing that we need to do today.”


“Mmm,” Starsky responded, becoming more alert.


Hutch slipped his arm around the warm body.  With his other hand, he rubbed up and down the hair of Starsky’s torso.  “I suggest a challenge.”


“What’s that?”  Starsky was now partially sitting up.


“See how long we can go without touching below the waist.”


Starsky laughed lazily.  “All right.”


Hutch claimed Starsky’s lips in a leisurely manner.  His hand moved from chest to collar bone, and Starsky groaned appreciatively.


Starsky’s hands reached up to rub all about Hutch’s hair.


The doorbell rang.


Hutch released Starsky and grumbled, “Who the hell could that be?”


“Probably Jehovah’s Witnesses, trying to convert us while we just want to be sinful.  Ignore it.”  Starsky pulled Hutch’s head down, reconnecting their lips.


Hutch had to keep remembering his own rule and resist reaching down to his love’s crotch.


The doorbell rang again.  Hutch pulled away and called down the hall, “Get a clue!”


Starsky growled in protest, and redirected Hutch’s lips once again.


There was pounding at the door.


Starsky gave in, his hands dropping.


“What the hell?” Hutch said.  “That wouldn’t be Jehovah’s Witnesses.  He got up and moved to the bathroom to take his robe from the hook on the door.  He tossed Starsky his.  “This better be damned important.”  He moved down the hall, tying his robe.


Starsky quickly followed, and then said, “Somebody’s snooping outside!  I can see them through the guest bedroom window.”


Hutch didn’t bother looking out the peephole.  He threw the sliding chain back on the door and opened it.  He stepped out onto the patio.  He saw a man with curly hair looking into the window of the guest bedroom.  “Hey!”


Starsky moved past him, demanding, “What the fuck are you doing?”


The man whirled around, facing them.


It was Nicholas Marvin Starsky.


Nick grinned.  “It’s about time you lazy bums got up.  What, you guys believe in sleeping away the entire morning?”





Starsky hadn’t seen his brother since their mother had died between the time he was released from the hospital after Gunther, and when he’d taken ill with the Herpes-B virus.  He and Hutch and gone to New York for the funeral and stayed three days.  Starsky thought Nicky had matured a bit since he’d visited California, but he still suspected he was involved with shady people and couldn’t say that he trusted him.


Hutch served the Starsky brothers coffee while they sat across the table from each other.  Hutch had left them a few minutes to get dressed, and then had brought Starsky a pair of briefs to slip on beneath his robe.


Now, Hutch leaned back against the counter, regarding the two brothers.  “Uh, I think I’ll go grocery stopping.”  He met Starsky’s eye.


Starsky nodded, knowing Hutch was giving them an opportunity to be alone.  “Don’t forget the toothpaste.  Oh, and we’re out of macaroni.”


“Okay.”  Hutch presented a half-hearted salute.  “See you later, Nick.”


Nick nodded at him.


As soon as the door to the garage was shut, Nicky furrowed his brow and said, “So, you two are still shacked up together?”


Starsky released a breath.  He had spoken to Nicky a few times on the phone since he and Hutch had become everything to each other, and had told Nick that he and Hutch were ‘together’.  Each time, Nick had quickly changed the subject, obviously uncomfortable with the idea. 


Quietly, Starsky said, “We’re not ‘shacked up’.  We’ve been partners in some form for over a decade, and we’re life partners now.”  To emphasize the point, he held up his left hand and wriggled his ring finger to show the band there.


“You guys got married?” Nick asked in disbelief.


“We were already married in every sense of the word.”


“But, I mean, did you have some kind of weird ceremony or something like that?”


Starsky knew that he was going to have to be patient with is brother.  They were such different people, and it wasn’t Nicky’s fault that he’d had only the most minimal exposure to the world he and Hutch inhabited.  “No, no ceremony.  We didn’t see the point.  There wasn’t anything Hutch and I could promise each other that we hadn’t already delivered on.”  Starsky lowered his hand.  “We mainly got the bands to discourage inquiries from interested women.”


“Man,” Nick said, shaking his head, “I never would have guessed you’d go off in that direction.”


“You mean loving another man?”




“It’s has nothing to do with liking men.  It has to do with Hutch being the love of my life, and he happens to be a man.”


Nick seemed to contemplate that as he sipped his coffee.  Then he leaned forward and lowered his voice.  “But do you two, like, you know?  Butt fuck each other?”


Starsky gazed at his brother for a long moment, his instinct for privacy battling with the desire to answer his younger brother’s sincere curiosity and need to understand.  “Nicky, I’m hardly going to sit here and let you into our bedroom.  Just know that Hutch is not only the love of my life, but nothing else has ever come close to the pleasure we give each other when we make love.”  His voice intensified.  “There’re no words to describe the intensity of the sensations we give each other, or the intimacy we experience together.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him, in bed or out.  His wish is my command, and vice versa.” 


“Wow.”  Nick sounded amazed.   He straightened.  “Is it, you know, like one of you is the husband and the other the wife?”


Starsky snorted.  “Nothing like that.  Have we ever seemed to behave like that to you?”


“So, you think of Hutch as your husband and you’re also his husband?”


Starsky felt bad for how hard Nick was trying.  “We’re partners, Nicky.  That word fit what we were before, and it fits now.  Hutch is my partner.  This is our house.  The PI corporation is something we own jointly.”


Nick seemed sincerely puzzled.  “You don’t think you’ll ever go back to liking girls?”


“I like girls fine.  Always have.  Always will.  I like looking at them.  So does Hutch.  But no one else can ever be what Hutch is to me.  What we have together… I can’t really put it into words, little brother.  You just have to trust me that Hutch and I are as much everything to each other has two people can possibly be.”


“So, is it like you were doin’ it when I visited before?”


“No.  And not when we were in New York for Mom’s funeral, either.  It wasn’t until after I almost died the second time that we figured out we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  The sex naturally followed at that point.”


“Man.”  Nick grimaced.  “I can’t ever imagine wanting to do it with a guy, no matter how much I might like him.”


Starsky smiled.  “Then you haven’t got anything to worry about, do you?  Hutch and I went into it with our eyes wide open.  We both knew that we wanted a future together.”


Nick’s eyes slowly moved about the house.  “This is some incredible digs.  I never thought you had it in you.”


Starsky was leery of sharing too much, but he thought his brother deserved to know how such a lifestyle was possible.  “Hutch’s parents had left him a trust fund, and he rejected it when he was eighteen, because he didn’t want money he hadn’t earned.”  He watched Nick’s eyes widen at the idea of rejecting money.  “When I was sick with the virus, Hutch finally cashed out the fund, which had been growing all the years since, so we could consider doing something else with our lives, since we’d pretty much decided we weren’t going to keep being cops.”


Nick blinked.  “Then, if Hutch decided to leave you at some point, he’d take the money with him and you’d be out on the street.”


It was all Starsky could do to not roll his eyes.  “Hutch would never leave me.”  More forcefully he said, “After he’s been at my bedside – twice – waiting for me to die, and then pretty much single-handedly helped me through long recoveries, you think leaving me would ever enter his mind?”  Starsky softened again.  “Everything we own is in both our names.  Both of our cars, everything.  There’s nothing either of us has that doesn’t also belong to the other.”


While Nick tried to absorb that concept in silence, Starsky said, “Enough about me and Hutch.  What the heck are you doing out here, kiddo?”  When they’d found him snooping around outside the house, Nick had merely said he flew in for a visit.


Nick lowered his eyes.  “Just seemed like a good time to visit.  Reacquaint myself with family.”


Starsky’s detective instincts were in full gear.  “Why now?  What happened?”


Nick looked away a long moment.  Then he looked back.  “I was living with a girl for three months.  She left.”


Starsky felt himself soften.  “She broke your heart?”


Nick shifted with discomfort.  “I guess.”


He suspected that perhaps Nick had flown out, hoping for a shoulder to cry on.  “What happened?”


Nick gave an exaggerated shrug.  “Don’t know.”


Starsky stood.  “More coffee?”  He took both their cups after Nicky nodded half-heartedly.  “So, give me the whole story.  Maybe I can help you figure it out.”  He was only able to fill Nick’s cup and began to make a new pot.  “What was her name?”


“Misty.  We met at a club.  Enjoyed dancing together.  Went out for a few months.  She was a lot of fun, great in bed, laughed at my jokes.”


Starsky opened the refrigerator and poured himself a glass of orange juice.  Then he glanced at Nicky.  “Want some juice?”


“Nah.”  Nick indicated his cup.  “This is fine.” 


Starsky sat back down at the table.  “Sounds great.”


“Yeah, I thought so.  When I realized I liked her so much that I didn’t want to spend time with anyone else, I invited her to move in with me.”  Nick shifted with discomfort.  “It’s like everything changed after that.  She seemed irritated most of the time.  She didn’t necessarily want to have sex when I wanted to.  She’d complain about dumb things, like how I put dishes in the dishwasher.”  His expression grew distant.  “I kept trying to please her.”  Nick shook his head.  “Didn’t seem to matter.  She eventually got fed up, packed up her things, and left.”


Gently, Starsky said, “Better sooner rather than later, huh?  You’d hate to be walking down the aisle, when you had so many issues with each other.”  He sipped his juice.


Nicky seemed genuinely perplexed.  “I don’t know what I did wrong.  The more I tried to please her, it seemed the worst things got.”


Starsky gazed at his orange juice.  “It’s funny that Hutch and I were talking about relationships last week.”  He glanced up.  “He was married for a few years, back when we were both going to the police academy.  And now, in our PI agency, we get a lot of cases of people wanting us to get evidence that their spouses are having an affair.”  Starsky drew a breath.  “Anyway, Hutch was saying that he thinks a big problem with relationships is that they start out with people role playing – you know, presenting themselves as somebody they’re not, in order to attract someone else.  And then they keep role playing to keep the other person interested.  So, the whole basis on the relationship hinges on pretenses.  After a while, that gets tiring.  And when each person starts being more their real self, the other person feels that they’re living with a stranger.”


Nick was thoughtful.  “That’s sort of how it seemed.  Shortly after Misty moved in with me, it’s like she was a completely different person.”


“Nick, you have to admit that meeting and spending time with someone at nightclubs is hardly a good way to get to really know them, deep down inside.”


Nicky shrugged.  “What else can I do?”


“Well, if you’re serious about finding someone for a long-term relationship, you’ve got to give yourselves a chance to really get to know each other.  Spend time doing everyday things together.”  Starsky went to the counter and poured himself a fresh cup of coffee.  “I think that’s why Hutch and me are so solid.  We had years of building a trust together, and learning to accept all the annoying habits that irritated us about each other.  For us, the sex came last.  I can’t imagine us having the intimacy together that we do, if we hadn’t first had all those years together to love and trust each other without the sex.”


Nick blew out a breath.  “If you’re suggesting I spend weeks or months getting to know a girl before taking her to bed….”


Starsky sat back down, while blowing on his coffee to cool it.  “I’m not saying that.  But if the only reason you want to spend time with a girl is primarily for the sex, ask yourself how much you’re going to enjoy being around her the other twenty-three hours of the day.  You know?” 


“Yeah, I can see that,” Nick said with lowered eyes.


“Hutch and me, we spent long hours working together, on the streets and at our desks.  And yet, we spent a lot of our off-duty time together, too.  Took vacations together.  We genuinely enjoyed being around each other, despite all the ways we could get under each other’s skin.”


“It just seems, you know, that it could take a long time to really get to know someone to that degree.”


“It does.  But look how rewarding it can be.”  Starsky shifted in his chair.  “If you want to know if you really care about a girl, wait until she gets sick.  Wait until she pukes on the floor and see if you want to run from the room, or just want to help her to feel better.  Wait until she comes home, having a meltdown because someone cut her off in traffic.  See if you want to blow her off as being hysterical, or if you care enough to help her figure out what’s really bothering her.”


Nick grimaced.  “I’m real squeamish about stuff like that.”


“If you really care about someone, you’ll get over it.  But most important,” Starsky leaned forward, “don’t build your relationship on being something you’re not.  If you have to change to please her, or she has to change to please you, that’s bad news.  If someone really loves you, they accept the whole package.”


Nick looked thoughtful.


Starsky decided that he’d lectured his brother enough for now.  “So, what are your plans, now that you’re here?”


“Didn’t really have any,” Nick muttered.  “Just thought I’d take a few days and chill out.”  He looked up and smiled.  “Check up on my older brother, see what’s happening.”


Starsky nodded, having suspected as much.  “We’ve got a guest bedroom.  You’re welcome to stay for a week or so to get your head on straight.”  Starsky firmed his voice.  “But don’t overstay your welcome, Nicky.”


“Don’t you have to check with Hutch to see if it’s okay for me to stay?”


Starsky blinked.  “Weren’t you listening when I said that we give each other anything we want?  I want you to stay here for a few days, so he’ll be fine with it.  Just don’t expect us to behave any differently around each other because you’re here.  Except, you know,” Starsky added with a touch of humor, “we’ll keep our bedroom door closed and probably refrain from doing it in the living room.”


Nick snorted.  Then he leaned forward on the table, his voice lowering.  “Is, you know, a blow job better when a guy does it?”


Apparently, his brother couldn’t contain his curiosity.  Starsky answered as honestly as he could.  “I wouldn’t know.  I only know how it feels with Hutch, and everything we do to each other is the best.  But don’t think for a minute that it has to do with technique, as much as it’s Hutch I’m doing things with.” 


Starsky shifted to lean forward also, wanting to drive this point home.  “Nick, the sex is always going to be lacking something, especially over the long term, when you don’t have a sense of intimacy and trust with the other person.  That takes time.  Take it from me.  I’ve had a lot of one night stands in my life, and I’ve had some longer relationships with women because they were good in bed.  But nothing – nothingcompares to what it can feel like, when you’re wiling to let your soul be completely naked with the other person, as well as your body.  That’s true intimacy.”


Nick straightened and released a heavy breath.  He simply said, “Yeah.”






“Mrs. Shelton, please have a seat,” Hutch directed, taking her hand to guide the elegant, fiftyish woman into a chair before his desk.  He took the rare measure of closing the double oak doors to the office, since Nick was in the living room, watching television.  While he was grateful that Nick seemed to have matured a bit since they had first met, and Nick had been a reasonable house guest since arriving yesterday morning, he didn’t trust Starsky’s brother to allow himself and his client adequate privacy.  Especially with Starsky being out on another spouse-spying case.


Hutch picked up the sleeve with the photographs he’d taken yesterday.  He really hated this part of his job.  Stalking a cheating husband and getting photographs was easy.  Talking to the angry, devastated spouse was not.   


In a quiet, compassionate voice, he said, “As I told you on the phone, I do have some photographs here of your husband with another woman.”  Slowly, Hutch removed the photographs from their paper sleeve.  He handed them over to Mrs. Shelton.


She gazed at them with a neutral expression.  Then she asked, “Who’s the woman?”


“I don’t know,” Hutch answered.  “Since you’d only asked for proof of your husband’s activities, that’s what I’ve done.  If you would like, I could launch an investigation into the identity of the woman.”  Mrs. Shelton appeared to be considering it.  Though he could then charge her for more time, Hutch gently said, “At the risk of being too forward, I would advise against it.”


She looked up at him.


Hutch went on.  “The other woman has nothing to do with whatever problems there are in your marriage.  My guess is, if your husband wasn’t seeing her, he’d be seeing someone else.”


She released a heavy breath and placed the photos on the desk, and then looked away from them.  “You’re probably right.  Things haven’t been right between Douglas and I for a while now.  This woman surely isn’t the first.”


Probably not, Hutch thought.


She turned her eyes to his.  “You’re a man.”  She nodded at his left hand.  “You’re married.  Why do men cheat so often?”


Hutch released a breath.  It wasn’t the first time he’d been asked that question, as though his gender lumped him into same category of men who caused such misery to their spouses.  Delicately, he said, “I’m not the best person to ask.  I’m happily married.”


After a long moment, she said, “Everyone is.  Until they aren’t.”


“I-I think,” Hutch offered, “that sometimes all that’s needed is to communicate.  Maybe you should simply ask Douglas what he feels the marriage is lacking.”  Of course, Hutch knew it wasn’t that simple.  But he had little doubt that his and Starsky’s honesty with each other was one of the most important things that made their partnership so strong, going back to the very beginning.


She snorted.  “I already know what it’s lacking.  It’s lacking many things.”  She pushed the photographs at Hutch.  “I don’t need to keep these.  I just wanted verification of my suspicions.”


Hutch slowly placed the photographs back in the paper sleeve.  It seemed that verification was all that most women wanted.  They already knew their husbands were cheating.  But most wanted the photographs as evidence – for divorce court, or perhaps to gain sympathies from friends or relatives.  Occasionally as evidence to confront their husbands.  “Anytime you change your mind, Mrs. Shelton, I can deliver these to you.”


She nodded.  “How much do I owe you?”  She reached into her purse.


“I’d be happy to send an invoice.”


“I prefer to pay you now, though I admit I’d enjoy the idea of Douglas opening the mail and wondering why there’s an invoice from a detective agency.”  She opened her checkbook.


“Since I was able to gather this evidence within a week’s time, it’s the minimum flat rate of a hundred and fifty dollars.”  That was nearly double what he and Starsky were originally charging.  But since spying on cheating spouses had become such a popular service, Hutch had declared to Starsky that they were going to bump up their rate to a large degree.  He suspected that Starsky felt similarly as he did – that maybe the price would get so high that offended spouses would quit using them for that particular unpleasant service.


Mrs. Shelton began making out a check.  “Starsky and Hutchinson, right?”


“Starsky and Hutchinson, Inc.” Hutch corrected.


“What’s your relationship to each other?” she asked curiously, looking up as she began to tear the check from her checkbook.


“Uh,” Hutch hesitated, accepting the check she handed to him, “actually, it’s David Starsky that I’m married to.”  He was so glad that they’d never had to hide this aspect of their lives.


She smiled slightly and sighed.  “I guess maybe that explains a lot.  Perhaps,” she mused, standing, “nature never meant for men and women to be together, expect to produce children.”  She held out her hand to him.  “Good day, Mr. Hutchinson.”


Hutch shook it.  “Let me show you out the door,” he said, quickly moving to open the oak doors, and waiting for her to precede him into the foyer.


After she was gone, he moved to the refrigerator.  He had bought beer at the store yesterday, in deference to Nick.  He and Starsky had stopped drinking beer at home, but he supposed Nick’s presence served as a special occasion.  After all, he’d gone to bed alone last night, leaving Starsky drinking beer into the night with his brother.


Hutch decided to have one now, to balance out the one Starsky had had last night.


Nick came into the kitchen.  “She’s gone?”


Hutch nodded, leaning back against the counter as he sipped the beer.  He never felt comfortable alone around Nick, probably because he trusted him even less than Starsky did. 


Nick reached to grab a beer of his own.  “Hey, uh, any chance you guys will want to go out to a club tonight?”


“I doubt it.  We used to go to clubs either as part of being cops, or to pick up girls.  We don’t do either anymore.”  Hutch made an effort to be more hospitable.  “We could go out to dinner, catch a movie afterward.”


Nick grimaced.  “Three bachelors at a movie, without dates.  That’s pathetic.”


Hutch raised his brows.


“Oh,” Nick took back.  “Sorry.  It’s hard thinking of you guys as ‘attached’… you know, in the normal sense of the word.”


Starsky had told Hutch that Nick was full of questions about their relationship, and he thought his brother deserved a wide berth as he made an effort to reach a peace with it.


Hutch said sincerely, “Thank God your brother and I aren’t normal.”


Nick chose not to comment.


Hutch pressed, “The word is that you’re here to recover from a broken heart.  I’m a little skeptical that going out to a club to pick up a girl is the best route to healing, at least not right off the bat.”


Nick moved to sit at the table.  “Do you think David will let me borrow the Corvette tonight?”


“I doubt it.  Especially if you’re going to be coming home drunk.”  Hutch decided not to mention that their insurance rates were already obscenely high, due to he and Starsky’s past history of accidents, to say nothing of driving expensive cars to begin with.  One little fender bender would send them even higher still.


“When I was here before, you took that stewardess Marlene home with you.  You guys were drunk.”


Not that drunk, Hutch wanted to protest.  But he knew it was a weak argument.  He only remembered the occasion because Nick had asked about it the next day.  Unfortunately, it turned out that Hutch was the third of the three bachelors to not get laid that night, for Marlene had thrown up on the stairs of his apartment, and then asked that Hutch take her home.


He sighed and said, “Your brother and I took a lot of risks in a lot of ways.  We’ve come close to buying it enough times that we don’t want to do that anymore.”  He thought he was being generous when he added, “You go right ahead and go clubbing.  Just not with your brother’s car.”


Nick openly studied Hutch.  Then, “I like you okay, Hutchinson, but I can’t figure out how my brother used to be the person he was, and then ended up in a marriage with you.”  He muttered, “At least, that’s what he calls it.”


Hutch decided not to be put off by Nick’s comment.  “Maybe you never really knew him that well to begin with.”  Firmly, he said, “For the record, that’s what I call it, too.”


Another long gaze.  Then Nick asked, “Who seduced whom?”


Hutch scoffed, “It wasn’t like that.  We did what we always do.  We talked it out.  We reached an agreement.  We acted on the agreement.”  Hutch realized, “I don’t even remember who reached for who first, in touching each other that way for the first time.”


Nick grunted.  “Sounds awfully mechanical.”


Hutch finished the beer.  “I suppose it does.  But, truthfully, I think we’d been romantic with each other, in a manner of speaking, for years before then.  Your brother was the greatest love of my life, almost as soon as I met him.  I don’t mean because I had any thoughts about sleeping with him, because my mind never went there.  He just loved.  And it made me want to love him back.”  Hutch decided to add, “I was married when we first met at the academy.  I realize now that I didn’t know anything about love then.  It was with Starsky that I really learned how to cherish someone and want to do anything for them.  Be truly open with them.”


Nick absorbed his words in silence.


“We shared everything, Nick.  We both had tough, macho personas that we presented to everyone else.  But with each other, we didn’t play those ‘I’m okay’ games, when we really weren’t.  We shared our hurts, our tears, our joys, our fears, our successes, our secrets, our dreams.”  Hutch shrugged.  “If that’s not being romantic with each other, I don’t what is.”  He crushed his beer can, and reached down to toss it into the trash beneath the sink.


Quietly, Nick said, “I realize you guys love each other a lot.”  He shrugged.  “I just can’t see how you can jump from loving somebody as a friend to wanting to… you know.”


They heard the garage door opening.  Hutch said, “Maybe we would have considered it before, if it wouldn’t have been such a taboo in society’s eyes.”


The Corvette was heard pulling into the garage.  A moment later, Starsky entered, holding a camera.  “What are you two up to?”


Hutch said, with amusement, “I was considering whether to bother explaining to your brother here that I consider your ass to be a work of art.”  After all, he didn’t want to give the impression that their sexual feelings had little to do with their relationship, when, it fact, those feelings now played such a huge part.


Starsky grinned as he moved past the refrigerator and put the camera on the counter.  He opened the refrigerator.  “You definitely like inserting various body parts into it, that’s for sure.”  He grabbed a beer.  “To say nothing of squeezing it like there’s no tomorrow.”


Nick shifted so forcefully that his chair scooted against the floor in protest.  “Okay, okay, enough.”


Starsky and Hutch both chuckled.


“Hey, David, can I borrow your car tonight so I can go to a club?”


“Are you sure going to a club is such a good idea?”


“I’m just looking for a little fun, not trying to find a wife.  How about it?”


Starsky looked at him squarely.  “No way.  I’ll give you a ride anywhere you want to go, kiddo.  Call me by midnight, and I’ll come pick you up.  After that, you’ll need to get a cab to bring you home.”


Nick frowned.  “That’s really going to cramp my style.”


“Then rent a car, if it means that much to you.  Our insurance rates are high enough as it is.”


“Whatever happened to the Torino?”


“Sold it when we bought the new cars.”


“You loved that car.”


“Yeah but, you know, it belonged to the past, and Hutch and me were wanting to start a new life together.  So it didn’t bother me to sell it.  The time had come.”


When Nick didn’t say anything further, Hutch nodded toward Starsky’s camera.  “You get anything?”


“Just a few of him going to a movie.  Then he went home.  He might be our first cheating spouse case who isn’t actually cheating.”


“That would be a refreshing change.”


“How did it go with Mrs. Shelton?”


“She paid on the spot.  Wasn’t surprised.  Didn’t even care to keep the photos.  Wanted me to explain why men cheat all the time.”


Starsky muttered, “I hate when they ask that.”


“I told her I wasn’t the best person to ask.”


Nick said, “I’m pretty good with a camera.  You guys need a helper for some of these jobs that you do?”


“No,” they replied in unison.





That night, Starsky dropped Nick off downtown.  By midnight, Nick hadn’t called, so Starsky drifted to sleep while curled up with Hutch.  They’d left the bedroom door open, and he was aware of the front door opening, which they’d left unlocked, in the middle of the night.  He heard Nick’s whispering voice, as though he were talking to someone, and realized with some dismay that Nick had brought a date home with him.


After Nick’s bedroom door closed, Starsky dropped back off to sleep.


He and Hutch had already been puttering around the house for a couple of hours the following morning when Nick and his female companion, introduced as Susan, finally emerged.  They sat down at the breakfast table, both looking like they hadn’t had enough sleep.  The girl had bags under her eyes, as well as dark circles, and appeared unusually lethargic.  Starsky had little doubt that she was on something.  The fact that she wore a long-sleeved blouse increased his concern about just exactly what Susan was using.


Starsky served them both coffee, but otherwise left them to fend for themselves, since he and Hutch had eaten breakfast a while ago.  When he looked up from the coffee maker, he saw Hutch frantically trying to catch his attention from the foyer, by jerking his head toward the hall.


Starsky went to join Hutch, who led the way to the guest bedroom, where Nick’s belongings were. 


Hutch was breathless as he held a woman’s small purse.  He whispered harshly, “She’s a goddamn heroin addict.”  He held up little balloons from the purse.  “There’s a needle in there.”


“Jeezus God,” Starsky said.  How in the world did Nick get mixed up with someone like Susan in a matter of hours?


“I want her gone,” Hutch said.


“So do I.”  Starsky stared at Hutch.  He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen his partner this rattled.  Considering that Hutch had come into Nick’s bedroom of his own volition and gone through Susan’s things, like a bloodhound on the trail….


Starsky gripped Hutch’s arms and tenderly asked, “Hey, buddy, you having a flashback or something?”  He wasn’t sure if flashback was the word he wanted.


Hutch squeezed his eyes shut and quickly shook his head.  “I-I don’t know.”  His eyes opened.  “I want her and this shit out of here.”


“I can flush it.”


Hutch quickly shook his head again.  “God, no.  She needs it.  I don’t want to take it away from her.  Let’s just get her out.” 


Starsky was amazed at Hutch’s desperation/compassion, since he wasn’t sure that Susan deserved the latter.


He took the purse from Hutch’s fingers and laid it on the dresser.  Then he squeezed Hutch’s shoulders.  “Let me handle it with Nick and Susan, okay?  I’m getting her out.”


Hutch nodded, still breathless.  “Okay.” 


“Come on.”  Starsky beckoned him into the hall.  “Just steer clear a moment until I can take care of it, okay?”  He led Hutch to their bedroom and pushed him down to sit on the bed.  “Just wait here.”


“Yeah,” Hutch quickly said.


Starsky closed the door partway, and quickly strode back down the hall, his heart pounding.  He went back to Susan’s purse and grabbed her driver’s license.  Then he entered the kitchen, where Nicky was eating a slice of toast, Susan watching him with a dazed expression.


“Susan,” Starsky said sharply, looking at the driver’s license, “do you still live at 4255 Dayton Street?”


“Huh?” she asked.


“What?”” Nick said.  “Why?”


Starsky shook his finger at his brother.  “You stay out of this, Nick.”  Starsky reached for the wall phone.  “I’m calling a cab for Susan.  Is the Dayton Street address still correct?”  He tore open the directory that was next to the phone.


“What are you doing?” Nick demanded.


“Stay out of this,” Starsky said in his firmest tone.  “Susan has to leave, and take her stash of heroin with her.”


“Heroin?”  Nick said.


Susan’s eyes widened.  “What have you done with it?”


“It’s still in your purse.  Take it with you.”  Starsky dialed the first cab company he found in the phone directory, fighting his cop instincts to confiscate the smack.  “Do you still live on Dayton Street?”


“Yes,” she said, and then she stood and hurried toward Nick’s bedroom.


Nick’s mouth fell open, but he didn’t follow her.


“Yes,” Starsky said with the cab company answered, “I need a cab sent to 11256 Foster Road in Brookline Heights.  The occupant needs to go to 4255 Dayton Street.  Tell the driver I’ll be paying in advance, so I’ll need to know how much it is.”


He hung up when they said they’d send someone right out.  Starsky reached for his wallet and examined the cash, feeling he should have enough to cover the fare for what was probably going to be a twelve or fifteen mile trip.


“What the hell is going on?” Nick demanded.


Starsky leaned over his brother.  “God damn you, Nick.  Of all the women out there, you had to bring home a heroin addict?”


“I didn’t know she was an addict!  How do you know she is?”


“She’s stoned.  Hutch found the horse in your bedroom.”


“Hutch searched my bedroom?”


“Yes, because when you’ve been a cop, you can smell an addict.”


“What’s the big deal?” Nick asked.  “You guys aren’t cops any more.  Drugs are all over the place at those clubs.”


Starsky released a heavy breath and counted to three.  Then he said firmly, “Taking acid for kicks is one thing.  Addicts don’t do drugs for kicks.  They do it to stay alive.  Heroin is about the worst thing there is to get addicted to.”  Starsky felt the anger well up.  “Do you always go after the stoned girls, who are too out of it to even know who they’re with or what they’re doing?”


He saw a flash of matching anger in Nick’s eyes, and was glad for it, since it meant that he’d said something that had actually penetrated his brother’s thick skull.  Starsky straightened.  “You better go back to your room and make sure she’s only taking her things.  Addicts will do anything to pay for the next fix – like sex for money, and stealing.”


With grit teeth, Nick said, “This conversation isn’t over.”  He moved off toward the hallway.


“Your damn right it isn’t,” Starsky called after him.


Starsky wanted to check on Hutch, but first he wanted Susan on her way.  He opened the front door, and was relieved when a cab pulled up a few minutes later.  He went out and paid the amount the cab driver estimated, along with a generous tip.  When he was back in the house, he called, “Susan, your ride is here.  It’s paid for.”


Nick glared at him as he emerged from the guest bedroom, escorting Susan gently by the arm.


Starsky handed Susan her driver’s license as she passed. 


He then released a heavy breath and headed down the hall to the master bedroom.  He pushed the door so that it opened most of the way, and saw Hutch standing at his sink in the bathroom, wiping his face with a towel.


“Hey,” Starsky greeted in his most tender tone, moving toward the bathroom.


Hutch tossed the towel aside and came out, just as Starsky asked, “How ya doin’?” while holding his arms out.


Hutch moved into them, and they both pulled snug.


Hutch’s cheek rested on Starsky’s shoulder.  “I’m sorry if I messed things up with your brother.”


Starsky rubbed at his back.  “Ah, Hutch, I think things between he and I are pretty much in a continual state of being messed up in some form or other.”  He began a slight rocking motion.  “Not your fault.  Besides, I’m pretty pissed at him, too.” 


Starsky placed his hand on the back of Hutch’s head.  “How’re you feeling?”


Hutch released a heavy breath.  “I’m all right.  Maybe I over-reacted.  It just took me by surprise, you know?”  He pulled back, so he could look at Starsky.  “All those feelings came rushing back – that sense of being totally helpless.  Not having a say in what was happening to me.”


Starsky’s fingers kneaded into Hutch’s flesh, through his shirt.  “You mean when they had you, or afterward?”


“Both.”  Hutch closed his eyes and swallowed thickly.  Then he opened them.  “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt fear, at a real gut level.  I wasn’t prepared for how strong it was, as soon as I realized what Susan was, and especially after I found her purse.  It’s like, for a moment, I didn’t know how I was going to get past it.  And that scared me even more.”


Starsky tightened his arms again.  “You did the right thing, baby, getting my attention, so I could help.”


Hutch burrowed his face against Starsky’s neck and shoulder.  In a choked voice, he said, “Sometimes, if I let myself think about it….  What my life would have been like, if you hadn’t been there, hadn’t cared so much….”


Starsky thought his heart was going to break.  He tightened his hold even more, rubbing big, slow circles along Hutch’s back.  “I was there, and we got through it.”  Then, with a soft chuckle, “Don’t see much point in revisiting that the shoulda, coulda, woulda possibilities of that one.  Everything turned out great, didn’t it?”  He patted the small of Hutch’s back.


After a moment, Hutch said, “It’s just been a while, you know?”


“Yeah, since we’ve had any reason to handle that stuff, I know.  It’s been years now, huh?  Probably before Gunther.”  Starsky patted Hutch’s back again.  “We’re way out of practice, and thank God for that.”


Hutch’s head shifted along Starsky’s shoulder.  And then his body went stiff.


“Babe?” Starsky questioned worriedly.  He pulled back and realized Hutch was looking at something.


Starsky turned his head and saw Nick standing in the hall, watching them with an astonished expression, his mouth open. 


He and Hutch had been speaking softly, so he doubted Nick had heard much of what they’d said.


Hutch released a long breath, his cheeks billowing.  He pressed his mouth against Starsky’s ear and said, “I’m going to take a walk, okay?”


Starsky was reluctant for Hutch to be by himself while he was recovering from having suffered the spike of fear, but it would be good to speak with Nick alone.  “Yeah, okay.”  He pulled Hutch’s head down for a series of quick, reassuring kisses.  As he released him, he said, “Don’t stay gone too long, or I’ll worry.”


“Yeah, okay,” Hutch said quietly, moving off.  He looked Nick in the eye as he passed him in the hall.  “Later.”


Starsky waited until he heard the front door close.  With his gaze on the floor, he said, “The open door wasn’t an invitation to voyeurism.”  He looked up.


Nick took a few steps until he was standing at the entrance to the bedroom.  “How did Susan being some kind of addict get turned into a national crisis?  How come Hutch is being such a pansy about this?”


Starsky approached Nick with his fists clenched.  He felt he was breathing fire as he stood over him.  “If you weren’t my brother, you’d be on your ass and missing a few teeth after a crack like that.”


“I don’t understand what’s going on.”


Starsky jerked up one forefinger.  “One.  Drugs like heroin are illegal.  We don’t want it in our house.”  His middle finger joined the forefinger.  “Two.  An addict like Susan is going to be dead within a few years.  We’ve seen it time and time again.”  Now his ring finger.  “Three.  Because she’s in possession of illegal drugs, and likely to steal for drug money, she’s a danger to you and anybody else she comes in contact with.”  His little finger joined the other three.  “Four.  Hutch and me have had some real unpleasant personal experiences with hard drugs like heroin.  It scares us.  For good reason.  If you’re in our house, that’s all you need to know.”  Starsky marched past Nick, toward the kitchen.


“Look,” Nick called after him, “I didn’t know.  Okay?”


Starsky had reached the foyer and whirled on him.  “How can you be an experienced man-about-town and not be able to tell the difference between a woman who’s drunk or high on speed, and one who’s completely fazed out?”


Nick halted next to his bedroom, his hands on his hips.  “Maybe you and Hutch are just jealous because I’m the one who slept with a woman last night.”


Starsky felt the blood rush to his face, his fingernails digging into his palms.  Breathing harshly, he said, “You’re real eager for some new dental work, aren’t you, Nicky?”


Nick gazed at him a long moment, then ducked into his bedroom. 


Starsky moved off into the kitchen, trying to dispel his desire to hit something by forcefully preparing a fresh pot of coffee. 


“Goddammit!” Nick yelled, emerging from the bedroom. 


Starsky looked up.


Nick held his wallet.  “I had nearly eighty bucks in here.”  He held it out, pulling apart the flaps.  “It’s all gone!”


Starsky snorted, feeling his anger ease.  “It’s nothing personal.  Junkies can’t help themselves.  It’s not like most of them can hold down a regular job.”  He placed the coffee pot on the burner and pressed “brew”.


“How do you know it was Susan?  Hutch was the one snooping around my room.”


Starsky began to answer so fast, that he momentarily choked on his own saliva.  Then he sputtered, “Goddammit, Nicky, if that’s some kind of joke, it’s a really bad one.”  Starsky quickly turned his back, cleaning around the sink, afraid of what he might do next.


“It could have been Hutch,” Nick insisted.


Starsky dropped the dishrag.  His jaw was steel as he slowly turned around.  He knew something had to ease the tension between them, or he was going to seriously hurt his brother – and probably be sorry for it the rest of his life.  “Just how stupid are you, Nick?” he demanded.  “Hutch and I have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of assets, so he’s going to steal eighty bucks from you?  God almighty.”  He took a breath.  “To say nothing of how he’d never do something like that, no matter the circumstances.”  Starsky finally had to ask.  “Are you deliberately trying to provoke me?  Why, Nicky?  Why so much disrespect after Hutch and I have put you up in our home?  Is that what you flew out here for?”


“Okay, maybe I’m naïve about things like drugs.  I told you before I’m scared to death of the stuff.  Let’s just leave it at that.”


Starsky yelled, “This doesn’t have a godammned thing to do with Susan and the drugs!  You’ve been making wisecracks ever since you arrived.  Most especially about Hutch.  About how we live.  I can see that I’ve made a big mistake by tolerating it.  No more, Nick.  That’s it.  Trying to show you some understanding hasn’t improved things between us one damn bit.”


“Why do you make such a big deal out of everything?”


Starsky released a heavy breath.  “Hutch and I have witnessed people at their worst, when we were cops.  We’ve seen what a flippant attitude can lead to.  We’ve seen what can happen when people decide they want to hurt each other, or when they’re incapable of feeling compassion.  We’ve seen what happens when no one cares.”


“I care.”


“The hell you do.  If you had any idea of how much Hutch means to me, you wouldn’t have said any of the things you’ve said the last five minutes.  So, don’t stand there and tell me that you care.”


Nick said, “It’s just so… different.  The way you and Hutch live.  I’m just trying to get used to it.  I’m sorry if maybe my way of dealing with the strangeness of it doesn’t sit well with you. “  Then he said, “I’m sorry.  I am.  I didn’t come here to hurt you.  Or Hutch.  That’s the last thing I would have wanted.”


Starsky tried not to be swayed by the whining tone.  He shook his finger at Nick.  “You think Hutch stole your money.”


“I was just trying to draw an objective, logical conclusion.  He was in the room, snooping in my stuff and Susan’s stuff.”  He shrugged.  “But if you’re saying there’s no way he stole it, then he didn’t.”


That hardly made Starsky feel better.  He came to stand before his brother.  “No more chances, Nick.  You piss me off once more, you’re out of here.”  He moved to the hall closet and grabbed his jacket, and then stormed out the front door.






Hutch’s stride had gradually slowed as he made his way around the block.  He was calm now, and was trying to examine his sudden fear objectively.


When he was five houses away from returning home, he looked up to see Starsky coming toward him, walking briskly and looking grim.


“I’m okay,” Hutch assured, as soon as he thought Starsky was close enough to hear without him shouting.


Starsky closed the space between them, reaching to put his arm around Hutch’s shoulders, and steering him in the opposite direction.  “I’m not,” he said.


“That bad, huh?”


“I almost slugged him,” Starsky said unhappily.  “Two or three times.”


“Because of what he did, or what he said?”


“That mouth of his,” Starsky said with frustration.  “It’s like he doesn’t get what he’s saying.  Susan stole eighty bucks out of his wallet, and he actually had the gall to say that you’re the one who must have taken it.  On top of some other unflattering things he’s said in the past ten minutes.”


Hutch circled his arm around Starsky’s waist and slowed them to a more casual pace.  “Is he still staying with us?”


“I’m trying not to kick him out.  But seriously, Hutch, I’m starting to be afraid of what I might do.  If I’d slugged him, I don’t think I would have been able to stop at one punch.”


Hutch said gently, “You and he are the only immediate family that each other has.”


“I know.  And I’ve tried to be tolerant and patient.  That day he arrived, I thought we had some really meaningful conversations.”


Hutch mused, “I thought he and I did, too, the other day.  Not that I thought we were bonding or anything, but I guess I was naïve to think I was enlightening him at all.”


“Yeah, exactly.  It’s like none of that took place.  It’s like his brain just erases it all and he goes back to being just as clueless as before. “


After a moment, Hutch asked, “What do you want to do?”


“Try to give him another chance.”  Starsky snorted.  “Like an idiot.”


“He’s your brother,” Hutch said with compassion.  “You’re allowed some idiocy.”  He squeezed Starsky’s waist. 


“He just doesn’t seem to care how much hurt he causes.  Though I’m a lot more mad than hurt.”  He sighed.


Hutch was thoughtful a moment.  Then, “You know, partner, it could be that you and I are making things worse.”


Starsky looked up.  “What do you mean?”


Hutch moved his arm from Starsky’s waist to circle loosely around his neck.  “We both pretty much expect Nick to be a fuck-up, right?  Human beings have a way of living up to the expectations of other people.  Maybe if we didn’t assume the worst about him, he won’t assume the worst about himself, and he’ll change his behavior, at least a little bit.”


Starsky snorted.  “That’s sounding awfully optimistic.”


“Might be worth a try.  Maybe if we can be heads-up about not letting him get under our skin.”


Starsky turned them so that they were heading back to the house.  “He’s already been here three days.  I told him not to overstay his welcome.”


“Let’s give him the week.  And Starsky?”




“If we do decide to kick him out, let me be the bad guy this time.  Okay?  And then maybe you guys can still salvage some kind of relationship down the line.”





Nick pretended that nothing unpleasant had happened, and slept through the middle of the day, and then parked himself in front of the big screen TV after dinner, lying on the loveseat that was placed at a right angle to the television.


Starsky and Hutch were sitting together on the sofa directly across from the TV, enjoying an evening of sitcoms.


Though Hutch seemed fine, Starsky was still concerned about Hutch having been so affected by having the heroin briefly in their house.  He knew he’d feel more assured with a little more intimate contact, beyond just patting each other on the knee.


He tugged on Hutch’s arm, and Hutch plopped down into Starsky’s lap, stretching his legs out on the cushions.  Starsky spent a moment rubbing along the back of Hutch’s shirt, and then he pulled the shirttail out of his jeans, so that he could rub underneath the clothing.


Nick glanced back at them to share a laugh at something said on the TV, and then quickly turned his attention back to the screen.


After a moment, Hutch shifted, and then sat up enough to take off his shirt.  Then he lay back down, bare-chested, one arm draped over Starsky’s knees.


Starsky smiled warmly, while leisurely running his hand up and down Hutch’s newly exposed back.  With his other hand, he furrowed his fingers through Hutch’s hair.  After the TV went to a commercial, he said, “You’re due for a trim, babe.”


“Maybe I’ll just let it grow long, like a hippy.”


Starsky chuckled at the image.


“I always wanted to do that, when I was in college.  Never had the nerve.”


“Yeah, I imagine that wouldn’t have gone over well with the parents.”


“Or many of my friends or coaches.  Definitely not with Vanessa.”


“I think some of our clients would find it a bit hard to swallow.”




“Somehow, somebody driving up in a classy LeBaron, with long hair and a droopy mustache, just doesn’t make for much of a cohesive picture.”


Hutch laughed softly, but defended, “My mustache isn’t droopy.”


“It would be if you grew long hair.”


The house phone rang.


Hutch started to push off of Starsky.  “That’s probably my dad.”


Starsky reluctantly let him go.  Hutch and his father talked at least every couple of weeks, ever since Richard had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  He thought it was sweet how they had salvaged a father-son relationship from the terminal situation. 


Starsky kept an ear cocked to the kitchen where the phone was.  Before long, it was apparent that Hutch wasn’t talking to his father.  But to somebody who was making travel plans.


When it sounded like the conversation was winding down, Starsky got up to join his partner.


Hutch hung up.  “My sister is flying out tomorrow.”


“Your sister?”  Starsky had never met Hutch’s sister.  He knew she was married and that her name was Lanette, and that Hutch had always claimed that they got along all right, for not having been very close, despite there being only a two year age difference.


“Yeah.  She and Jeffrey have separated, but she hasn’t told our parents yet, because of Dad’s condition.”


“But why is she coming here?”


Hutch shrugged.  “Sounds like she needs to get away and that she’s not sure where else to go.  I told her it wouldn’t be any trouble, but I didn’t get a feel for how long she thought it might be.”


Starsky released a breath.  “Man, our house is turning into grand central station for people with relationship trouble.”


“No shit.”


“We just need to figure where to put her up.”  Starsky paused.  “I guess we should let her have the guest bedroom.  I wonder how Nick would feel about sleeping on the couch, considering there might be people in the living room at any point during the day or evening.”


“Maybe we could rent a rollaway bed and put it in the other bedroom.”  They hadn’t furnished that room yet.


“Yeah.  Let’s see what he says.”


Hutch nodded.


Starsky called to the living room.  “Hey, Nicky?  Come here a minute.”


“Wait until the next commercial,” Nick called back.


Starsky rolled his eyes and took a seat at the table.


Hutch also sat.


Starsky said, “I assume she’s okay about us?”


Hutch shrugged, “She never said anything to me about it when I was in Minnesota.  She’s not a very opinionated person.  She pretty much keeps her thoughts to herself.”


“She and Jeffrey never had kids, right?”


“Yeah.  I don’ t know if it’s because they didn’t want any, or if they couldn’t for some reason.  I never asked.”


Starsky smiled warmly at Hutch.  “Maybe this will be a chance for you and she to become a little closer.”




Nick walked into the kitchen.  “What’s up?”


Starsky nodded toward an empty chair.  “Sit down.”  After Nick had, he said, “That was Hutch’s sister who called.  She’s flying out tomorrow.”


Nick grinned at Hutch.  “I didn’t know you had a sister.  She single?”


Hutch rolled his eyes, and then realized too late that such reactions toward Nick were the very thing he and Starsky were trying to avoid.  “She just got separated.”


“Yeah?  So, what’s her name?  Is she older or younger?”


“Lanette.  She’s two years younger than me.”


“Which would make her too old for you,” Starsky put in.


“Says who?”


Starsky ignored the comment.  “Look, Nick, we don’t know how long she’s going to be here, and we’re assuming that you’re leaving in a few days.  So, we thought the gentlemanly thing to do would be to let her have the guest bedroom.”


He frowned.  “I have to sleep on the couch?”


Hutch said, “How about if we rent a rollaway bed and put it in the empty bedroom?  Would that be okay?”


Nick shrugged.  “I guess.”


“You know,” Starsky said to Hutch, “maybe we ought to just buy a rollaway.  It might come in handy later.  We’re going to have to buy twin bedding for it, anyway.”


Hutch considered that, and then nodded.


Nick rubbed his hands together.  “So, when does she get here?”


“Her plane flies in early tomorrow afternoon,” Hutch said.


“Hutch, why don’t you drive out to pick her up?  That’ll give you guys some private time together.”




“And I’ll pick up the rollaway bed.”


Nick said, “Man, it’ll be so great to actually have a woman in the house.”





Late the following morning, all of Nick’s things had been moved to the empty bedroom that was across from the bathroom, and the sheets changed in the guest bedroom.  Starsky and Nick had gone shopping for the rollaway bed and appropriate bedding, as well as stopping by the grocery store.  They had returned when there was still an hour left before Hutch needed to leave for the airport.


The phone rang in the office, and Starsky and Hutch both headed for it.  Hutch hit the speaker button and answered, “Starsky and Hutchinson.”


A vaguely familiar male voice happily said, “I think I know that voice.  This must be Ken Hutchinson.”


Starsky couldn’t identify the caller.


Hutch said, “Yes, it is.  Who’s this?”


“Now my feelings are hurt,” the man said good-naturedly.  “Surely, a few years in prison didn’t change my voice that much.”


Hutch’s face suddenly brightened.  “Luke?  Luke Huntley?”


Huntley chuckled.  “I’m a free man, Hutch.”


Hutch abruptly picked up the receiver, shutting off the speaker phone.  “You’ve been released?”


Starsky turned away, giving Hutch privacy with his former mentor.  He had felt that Huntley was a bit twisted, and he was lucky to have been sentenced to a mere five years in prison after his actions in the Rubens case.  Granted, he had not mentioned at the trial the fifty grand in the briefcase that Starsky and Hutch had quietly given to his wife, Doris, to make up for the life savings she’d gambled away at Ruben’s establishment, so Starsky and Hutch never had to answer for their illegal behavior, however ethical their moral high ground.   Still, there was no question in Starsky’s mind that Huntley had fallen off the deep end.  But nor did that change the fact that Hutch loved the man dearly, and credited him with being the reason Hutch joined the police force in the first place.


Hutch joining the police force was the whole reason Starsky was enjoying such a wonderful life right now.  Which meant that Huntley deserved a special place in Starsky’s heart. 


Starsky waited in the kitchen until Hutch joined him.


“He’s been out two weeks,” Hutch said.  “He wanted to invite us over for dinner this week, but I told him our household was going to be rather busy for a while; and plus, I think he and Doris could use more get-reacquainted time before they start opening up their house to other people.


“Does he seem to be doing okay?”


“He sounded like it.


“How did he know to call the office phone?”


Hutch grinned.  “I had told him in a letter that we were starting a PI firm out of our home.  I guess he looked it up in the phone directory.”


“I’m glad he didn’t have to serve his full sentence.”


“Yeah.  He got out for good behavior.  I told him that I’d try to drop in on him and Doris sometime in the next few days.  Maybe there’ll be time.”


Starsky looked at the clock.  “Speaking of time, you probably ought to get going to pick up Lanette.”


Hutch also looked at the clock.  “I guess I’d better.”






Lanette Peters had shoulder-length dishwater-blonde hair.  Her features looked uncannily similar to Hutch’s, though her quiet nature was reminiscent of their father.  She had inherited her mother’s petite frame to a degree, though she was on the tall side.  Her shoulders had a slight hunch to them, which gave the impression of life having weighed her down.


Nick turned on the charm upon meeting her, but otherwise seemed to behave himself, for which Starsky was relieved.  He supposed that Nick would want to go back out clubbing soon, since he was likely to be put off by Lanette reticence and minimal reactions to what was going on around her.  For that matter, Starsky wondered what Nick’s ultimate plans were for his stay in California.


After Lanette been given a chance to settle in, she and Hutch took a walk.  Starsky thought it was sweet that brother and sister called each other Lannie and Kenny.


Later, Starsky and Hutch made a full course dinner of meatloaf and lots of side dishes.  Conversation mainly hovered around running a business, because Lanette had owned and managed various retail establishments at different times.   Her husband Jeffrey was an investment advisor, and it was apparent, from the things she carefully said, that he tended to be rather forceful in his opinions of how his wife should run her shops, though he had no retail expertise himself.


After the four of them had slowed in their eating, Starsky sat back and turned on his own charm.  “Lanette, there’s something I have to ask you about.  When I asked your parents, they really didn’t have anything to say.  So, I’ll be real disappointed if you don’t have anything to say, either.”


“About what?” she asked curiously.


Starsky glanced at Hutch, and then said, “I’d really, really love to hear some stories about your brother.  I don’t have any sense of what he was like as a child or teenager.  I’d love to hear something.  And don’t worry about embarrassing him – he’ll get over it.”


Hutch grumbled good-naturedly.


“What do you mean, exactly?” she pressed.


Starsky didn’t understand how a question like this could be so difficult for Hutchinson family members.  He said, “Well, how about telling us what one of your strongest memories is of him.”


She appeared thoughtful.  Then she said, “He once flatted Mrs. Laughton’s tires.”


Nick burst out laughing.  “You’re kidding.”


“Who was Mrs. Laughton?” Starsky asked.


Hutch said, “My junior high social studies teacher.  She accused me of cheating on a test.  I’d never done anything like that, I didn’t do anything like that, and I couldn’t believe I was being accused of something that I didn’t do.  Of course, my parents didn’t back me up; they automatically assumed an authority figure had to be correct.  I was so livid that I took a pocketknife to all her tires and flattened them.”


“Wow,” Starsky said, amazed that good boy Hutch would do something like that.  “Did they find out that you did it?”


“Yes.  I confessed to it right away.  I wasn’t trying to get away with it.  I just needed a way of expressing the anger I was feeling – at the person who had caused me so much embarrassment and punishment.  Nobody was listening to me, so I had to do something.”


Starsky felt so bad for Hutch.  “What was the punishment?”


“My dad arranged it so that I had to work at a tire store for two weeks, without pay.  The school was satisfied with that, so they didn’t pursue it any further, especially since my dad paid to have Mrs. Laughton’s tires replaced.”


“Kenny was a subject of a lot of gossip for a while,” Lanette said.  “Most kids couldn’t believe that he’d flatten a teacher’s tires – or that he would cheat.”


Starsky couldn’t believe it, either.  He asked Hutch, “Now that you can look back on it later, why do you think Mrs. Laughton thought you were cheating?”


“Her eyesight sucked.  The next year, she had these huge thick glasses.”


“I remember that,” Lanette said with a small laugh.


After a few moments had passed, Starsky said to Lanette, “Okay, we’ve heard the tire slashing incident.  Tell us something else.”


Nick piped up.  “Yeah.  Like did Hutch ever do drugs?”


Starsky felt his stomach start to churn, but then he realized that Nick had meant it as an innocent question, and not having anything to do with yesterday morning.  At least, he hoped that was the case.


“No, he never did,” Lanette said.


“Actually, I did,” Hutch corrected.  “In college.  Smoked pot a few times.”  He shrugged.  “It didn’t do much for me, so it never became a habit.”


Starsky wasn’t surprised; in fact, he thought Hutch had mentioned it somewhere along the line.  He himself had been a heavier marijuana user as a teenager, but it had been more an act of rebellion than a desire for the high.


Starsky wanted to change the direction of the conversation, while still keeping it about Hutch.  “Were there any incidents where Hutch was a particularly good big brother to you?”


“He thought he was being a good big brother,” she said.  “But I wasn’t too happy about it.”


Hutch looked at her curiously.


“How so?” Starsky asked.


“He never liked any boys who liked me.  Was always telling me bad things about them and that I shouldn’t spend time with them.  I got so flustered with him once – I think I was sixteen – I asked him who he thought I could date that met with his approval.”  She looked at Hutch, “Do you remember what you said, Kenny?”


Hutch ducked his head bashfully.  “Yeah, well, I guess I maybe took the older brother role too seriously and was over-protective.”


“So, what was your answer?”


Lanette replied, “Nobody.  That was his answer.  I wasn’t supposed to date anybody.”


Starsky and Nick chuckled.  Hutch managed a smirk.


“You didn’t approve of Jeffrey then?” Starsky asked his partner.


Lanette said, “Jeffrey didn’t come along until later.  They didn’t meet until the wedding.”


“I was over all that by then,” Hutch said.  “I was married to Vanessa by that point.”


Starsky tried another question.  “What about a favorite toy Hutch had when you two were little kids?”


“Geez, David,” Nick said, “it’s like you’re interrogating her.  Besides, why don’t you just ask Hutch all these questions?”


“Because it’s more fun to hear about them from other family members,” Starsky defended, then silently added usually.  


Hutch said to Nick, “Our parents wouldn’t tell him anything.”


“Why not?”


Levelly, Hutch said, “Probably because their memories aren’t any happier than ours are.”


Nick blinked.  “Geez.  If Ma was still around, and you asked her anything about us as children, you’d never get her to shut up.  She’d go on and on about our first haircut, our first day at school, the last time that David pooped his pants in public….”


“Hey,” Starsky warned.


They all chuckled.  Hutch noted, “Even I’ve heard that story.”


Nick asked, “There weren’t any happy memories?  Why not?”


Hutch and Lanette suddenly seemed distant, so Starsky replied, “They were one of those families that just sort of stoically went through life and didn’t have much room for emotion.  I mean, their parents are decent people, but they just weren’t very engaged on a genuine level.”


Nick looked from Starsky to Hutch, and said in puzzlement, “But you have emotion.”


Hutch leaned back in his chair and draped his arm across Starsky’s shoulders.  “Your brother has a lot to do with that.”


Starsky remembered, “Luke Huntley probably did, too.”


Hutch was thoughtful, then said, “Yeah, I think you’re right.”


“Who’s Luke Huntley?” Lanette asked.


“A cop who spoke at my college one year, and I was intrigued by the idea of going into law enforcement.  I talked to him after his speech.  He was a really, really warm, touchy-feely type of guy, and I took to him instantly.  He eventually became a mentor to me.  You could hardly walk by without him throwing his arms around you.  Between him and being around Starsky, I decided that there was a wonderful part of life that I’d been missing out on.  It was like, ‘this love thing is really cool.’  I wondered why I couldn’t get it from my family, or from my wife outside the bedroom.”


Starsky reached to squeeze the back of Hutch’s neck.


Nick said to Lanette, “You probably felt that way, too, huh, when you fell in love for the first time?”


Blandly, she said, “I wasn’t looking for a touchy-feely type of guy.  I wanted stability and someone to be a good provider.”


Nick pressed, “So, what do you do for fun?”


“I love a good book.  I love providing quality products that buyers really want and are willing to pay for.”


“Do you have kids?”


“No.  I never wanted any.”


Nick looked at Hutch.  “So, the Hutchinson line is going to die out?”


“This branch probably will.  But there’s other relatives.”


“Do you dance?” Nick asked Lanette.


“I slow dance.”


“Would you like to try something faster?”


Starsky struggled to refrain from rolling his eyes.  “Anybody want anything else?” he asked.  “We don’t have any desert.”


Nobody responded, so he and Hutch stood and started gathering dishes and leftovers.


“I might be willing to try something different,” Lanette said.





“So, what’s the story?” Starsky asked when they were snuggled up together that night.


“It’s hard to say,” Hutch replied.  “She’s not really sharing much with me.  I can’t tell if she’s hoping she and Jeffrey can work things out, or if she’s resigned to it being over.”


“Do you know how long she intends to stay?”


“No, because I don’t think she knows.  I get the feeling that she’s looking for something, but I tend to think this isn’t the place she’s going to find whatever it is.”


“Your parents don’t know that they’re separated?”


“No.  I think she’s hoping she’ll have a firm answer about the marriage before she says anything to them.”


“Do they know she’s out here?”


“Yeah.  I think she just passed it off to having not seen her brother in a long time, and wanting to meet his ‘spouse’.”


“It’s nice to finally meet her.  I still think your family is super weird, though, in that nobody can come up with one nice or funny thing to say about your childhood.  Geez.”


“Wasn’t the slashing tires thing kind of funny?”


“Not hardly.  It was sad that you got accused of something you didn’t do, and felt you had to react that way because you had nowhere else to vent your frustration.” 


Starsky pressed Hutch closer against him.  “Tell me that you can think of one time that you and Lanette were laughing when you were little.”


“Oh, sure, there were a few of those times,” Hutch assured.  “And it’s not like I sat at home all the time, feeling lousy.  She and I both were pretty active in extra-curricular activities at school.  And we had friends.  I had a lot of friends.  So, I could hang out at their homes and stuff.”


“Good,” Starsky said.  “So, name one time when you guys felt happy, so I can let this subject go.”


Hutch snorted warmly.  Then, he said, “Actually, my most pleasant memory of Lanette doesn’t involve laughter.”




“Yeah.  She really loved to be on a swing.  We had a swing set in our yard when we were little.  And then there were swings at the school, and at the neighborhood park.  She’d swing as often as she could.  I remember once, being at the park, just me and her, and me pushing her on the swing.  She was six and I was eight.  We really didn’t say much to each other.  And I think I was puzzled as to why she liked being on the swing so much.  But I didn’t mind pushing her.”


“Why do you think that memory is so pleasant?”


Hutch was thoughtful.  “Because it felt peaceful, I guess.  No responsibilities, but me being willing to push her on the swing, and her liking it so much that I was making it easy for her to go higher and higher.”  He suddenly looked up at Starsky.  “It was one of those times that you never want to end, you know?”


Starsky rested his cheek against the top of Hutch’s head. “Looking back, why do you think she liked being on the swings so much?”


Hutch was silent a moment.  Then, “Maybe because she could faze out?  And just be with her own thoughts without anybody having any expectations of her?”




“It’s funny how Nick seems to have taken a liking to her, even though she isn’t his type at all, and is a few years older.”


Starsky sighed.  “I think he’s relieved to have something female under the same roof.”


“At least with two guests, we don’t have to work so hard at keeping everybody occupied, since they at least seem to tolerate each other.”


Starsky snorted.  “We’ll see how long that lasts.”





A couple of days later, Starsky and Hutch were sitting at the table, after having cleared it from lunch.  Their two guests were in the living room, the television on, and every once in a while, Lanette could be heard laughing, in response to something Nick said.  Sometimes Nick was laughing, too, but his voice was quieter.


Starsky and Hutch locked gazes, both their expressions indicating their surprise that Lanette found Nick so entertaining.


“Geez,” Starsky whispered.


“I can’t ever remember hearing her laugh like this,” Hutch whispered back.  “I don’t know how she can expect to work things out with Jeffrey when she’s so… distracted.”


Starsky grinned.  “You playing older brother?” he teased.


Hutch shrugged.  “Just being reasonable.”


Starsky nodded toward the clock.  “You need to get going, if you want to catch Ranson taking his ‘secretary’ out to lunch.”


“Yeah.  If there’s time, I thought I’d stop by the Huntley’s and say hello, so I might be awhile.”


“In the meantime, I’ll follow up on that guy who left a message about us finding out where he father was the weeks leading up to when he was murdered.  Probably the police are telling him they don’t have anything more to go on.”


“Great.  That sounds like one of our more interesting possibilities of late.”






Starsky spent quite a bit of time on the phone with the man, John Newman, and left him with a list of information to compile, so Starsky and Hutch would have as much as possible to go on when they met with him in a few days.


In the meantime, Nick and Lanette found out that they had a common interest in preparing Mexican food, so they insisted on cooking that night’s dinner for their hosts.  When Starsky took them grocery shopping, they also picked up wine and some albums with Mexican music at the same shopette.


They put one of the albums on the stereo for background music, as they prepared some of the ingredients that would be used for dinner.  Hutch arrived home in late afternoon.  He seemed amused by all the festivities, but the amusement didn’t reach his eyes.  Worried, Starsky started to say something to him, but Hutch firmly whispered, “Later”.  Obviously, whatever it was that was bothering Hutch was important enough that he didn’t want to ruin the lively atmosphere of the house.


Starsky’s mind couldn’t help but consider possibilities.  He wondered if maybe Hutch had gotten caught by Mr. Ranson while taking pictures of him and his secretary.  That was about the only thing Starsky could think of that could go wrong with such a job.  Otherwise, there was the possibility that Hutch had stopped by the Huntley’s, and maybe something had gone wrong there.  With the way things were going with relatives and acquaintances lately, Starsky wouldn’t be surprised if the Huntley’s marriage were on the rocks.  He could imagine how difficult it would be for a couple to pick up where they’d left off, when one of the spouses had been in prison for three years.


Finally, it was time for dinner, and Nick and Lanette served up an impressive array of favorite Mexican mainstays, along with various side dishes.  Everyone ate until they were stuffed, and there were still plenty of leftovers.  Wine was poured.  And then another new album was put on the stereo, and the furniture was moved to make an area appropriate for dancing.  Nick knew a specific Mexican dance, and he taught them all the moves, and they went through it several times, before a winded Starsky declared that he’d had enough and was ready to start cleaning up. 


He and Lanette took up most of the cleaning chores and putting away leftovers.  After a time, Starsky realized that the music had been turned off and the TV turned on instead.  When he peeked into the living room, he saw Nick finishing a glass of wine, watching television, but Hutch was nowhere in sight.


When the kitchen was clean, and Lanette took a wine glass to join Nick, Starsky checked the master bedroom and still didn’t find Hutch.  He then realized that the front porch light was on, which was unusual.


Starsky opened the front door and saw Hutch sitting on the porch steps, his head bowed.  Starsky reached to the closet to grab a jacket, and went out the door, closing it behind him.  He sat beside Hutch in the crisp, mid October air.


“That was fun,” Starsky said in greeting.


Hutch glanced at him.  “Yeah,” he replied sincerely.  “Who knew that our siblings had it in them?”


“Yeah.”  Starsky laid his head on Hutch’s shoulder.  “What’s going on?”


“I went by Luke and Doris’s today, after I’d dropped off the film for the Ranson pictures.”




Hutch swallowed audibly.  “When I got there, Doris was out back, in the garden.  Luke was in the living room, and he let me in.  I had called a few minutes ahead, and he was wearing a jogging outfit.”


Starsky waited.


“You know how he is.  So all-over-you, you know?”


“Yeah, I remember.”  Starsky had been the recipient of a few Luke Huntley full-body hugs in years past.


Hutch tilted his head to one side.  After a long moment, he said in a gruff voice, “He seemed so happy so see me.  And after inviting me in, he threw his arms around me and – ”

Hutch stopped abruptly.


Starsky laid a hand on Hutch’s knee and squeezed.


Hutch closed his eyes and was silent a long moment.  Then he opened them.  “He brushed against me.”  Voice barely audible, Hutch said, “He was hard as a rock.”


It was a moment before the statement sunk in.  Starsky then waited to see if Hutch was going to say anything more.  “What do you think it meant?  I mean, maybe he was reading a dirty book or something when you called.”


Hutch slowly shook his head.  “No, it couldn’t have been anything like that.  When he hugged me, it was totally different than it’s ever been before.  He was trembling all over, clutching me.  He was thoroughly aroused.”


“What did you do?”


“I pulled back as quick as I could.  And then Doris was coming in, so I just acted like nothing had happened.  But then, when he’d try to squeeze my shoulder or something, I’d find myself stepping away.”  Hutch released a breath.  “I know that she noticed how I was behaving.  I didn’t stay longer than ten minutes, if that.”


“He’s never behaved that way before?”  Starsky was pretty sure of the answer.


“No.  God, no.  But,” Hutch grimly shook his head, “I keep going back over my memories, especially when we first met.  I keep wondering if maybe he came on to me before, and I was just too naïve to realize it.”  He stared at the sidewalk.  “But I don’t think so.”


Starsky placed his hand on the back of Hutch’s jacket.  “So, you think he wants you?”




“But you aren’t sure if it’s a new thing for him?”


“I don’t want to believe that he’s been lusting after me all these years.”


“If he was,” Starsky said, trying to remain calm in light of Hutch’s agitation, “at least he kept it to himself.  I mean,” he shrugged, “a lot of people want someone they can’t have.  They can’t help it.”


Hutch was slowly shaking his head.  “I don’t think so.”


“You mean you think this is recent?  Like maybe he’s always been wired that way, but never admitted it to himself, and after being in prison, he realized that he liked it with guys?  And now that he’s out, he wants you, in particular?”


“Maybe,” Hutch said quietly.


“Well, it’s not like he can force himself on you,” Starsky said in the tone of a question.


“It’s not that,” Hutch said after a moment.  “Like you said, any of us can have feelings for someone else that we can’t ever have a relationship with.  But….”


Starsky slowly ran his hand along the back of Hutch’s jacket.


More loudly, Hutch said, “If you and I had been man and woman, he wouldn’t have tried anything like that, you know?”


Starsky waited.


“When I wrote him and told him about us, I’m sure I used the word ‘married’.  Hell, he knows how much you’ve meant to me, all these past years that you were my partner.”  Then, softer, “But it’s like that didn’t matter.  The fact that you were a guy somehow invalidated the importance of our feelings for each other.  Even your brother said something like that, a few days ago.”




“Nick called us ‘bachelors’ when I suggested we all go to a movie.  He said three bachelors without dates was pathetic.  I gave him a look, and he backed down, but he wouldn’t have said something like that if we were male and female.”


“Yeah, well,” Starsky began softly, and then realized he had nothing intelligent to add.  He was just sorry that Hutch was so bothered by the disrespect.  “So, what do you want to do about Luke?”


Hutch snorted.  “I feel like I don’t want to see him anymore.  I mean, sure, I can tell him to keep his hands off.  I’m just… disappointed.  Hurt and disappointed that it’s come to this, for him and I.”


Starsky continued to rub along Hutch’s back.  “I guess there’s no reason you have to see him anymore.”


“Doris kept wanting to have us over for dinner soon.  I told her it would be at least a few weeks.  I don’t know if I can keep putting her off.”


“If Luke has changed to the other side of the fence, do you think she knows?”


“Probably.  When you’re sleeping with someone, it’s hard not to know those things.”


“You know, Hutch, maybe, after some time has passed, you can just talk to him.  Be forthright.”


Hutch was silent.


“Or maybe, we can go over for dinner, and Luke will be able to see how much we mean to each other.”


“We shouldn’t have to prove it to other people,” Hutch insisted.  “Anyone who loves us should be able to take our word for it.”


“Yeah.  But maybe your reaction made it clear to Luke that you weren’t interested, so everything will be okay now between you.”


Hutch shifted restlessly.  “I doubt it.  I mean, I was surprised.  So, he’s probably telling himself that I jumped back because I was surprised, and then Doris walked in – not because I wasn’t interested.”


“But you don’t want to keep telling yourself that, if it turns out it’s not really true.  That’s why I think you should talk to him straight out.”


Hutch released a long sigh.


Starsky brought his arms around Hutch’s waist.  “I want to take you to bed real soon here.  Do some nice things to help to relax you.  And then I’ll give you your triple whammy, but I’ll make you come real fast, so you can just collapse and go right to sleep.  I won’t even take advantage of you afterward.  Then we can see how you feel about Luke after a good night’s sleep.”


Hutch tilted his forehead to rest it against Starsky’s.


The door opened behind them, and they both turned.


“Oh, there you are,” Lanette said.


“Sorry,” Starsky said.  “We just needed to talk about some work stuff.”  It wasn’t a total lie, since Luke was from their cop days.  They both stood.


“Oh, don’t get up on our account,” she said.


“That’s okay,” Hutch said.  “We’re about ready to turn in.”


“Where’s Nick?” Starsky asked, noting that she’d said “our account”.


“He’s still watching TV.  There’s a movie on that we both like.”


As they entered the house, Starsky said, “Well, I think Hutch and I are going to turn in.  Thanks for dinner.  That was fantastic.”  He meant more than just the food.


“You’re welcome.  That was fun.  Goodnight,” she said, turning back to the kitchen, so she could go to the living room.


As he and Hutch moved down the hall, Starsky whispered, “A movie they both like?”


“Who would have thunk it,” Hutch said.





Hutch was up first in the house the next morning, dressed and showered.  He got the coffee going, and some bacon and eggs, since he expected Starsky, at least, to join him shortly. 


Though he had fallen asleep immediately from Starsky’s attentions last night, Hutch had woken up at four in the morning.  Starsky had sensed his restfulness and woken up, too.  They had dropped into a conversation about the new case on the horizon, concerning John Newman wanting to find out as much as he could about the activities of his father before he was murdered. 


Once the conversation wound down, Hutch encouraged Starsky to take the pleasure that he hadn’t taken last night.  That allowed them both to sleep a little longer, and now it was going on eight.


Starsky was walking slowly down the hall when Hutch put their plates on the table, complete with bacon and eggs, and a cup of coffee.


“Perfect timing,” Hutch said, sitting down and diving in.


“I think I’m still full from last night,” Starsky admitted.


Hutch said, “Yeah, the leftovers ought to last a day or two.”


Starsky took a sip of coffee and then looked squarely at Hutch.  “Guess whose room is empty?”


Hutch furrowed his brow, knowing that the guest bedroom door was closed, so Starsky wouldn’t have been able to see in.  “Nick’s?”


Starsky nodded.  “I peeked in.  He’s not in his bed.”


“He’s not in the living room,” Hutch said, since he’d moved the furniture back this morning.  “Do you think he went out last night?”


Starsky’s mouth corner twitched and he slowly shook his head.


“Then where…,” Hutch began, not liking where his mind was headed.


Starsky raised his brows.  “With the way those two have been behaving around each other….”


Hutch put his fork down and rapidly took a large swallow of coffee.  “You’ve got to be kidding.”


Starsky merely looked at him.


Hutch nodded toward the hallway.  “You think they’re both in her room?”


Starsky slowly nodded.  “I heard their voices in the hall last night.”


Hutch snorted.  “That’s crazy.  What can they possibly be thinking?”


Starsky leaned forward.  “Hutch.  It’s none of our business.”


“The hell it’s not,” Hutch protested.  “That’s my sister in there!”


Starsky slowly stated, “Who is thirty-six years old and quite capable of making her own decisions.”


“They were really downing the wine last night,” Hutch grumbled, his stomach churning.


“Which was also their own choice.”


Hutch whispered harshly, “What’s your brother trying to pull?  He’s been here just a few days, and he’s already slept with two women he hardly knows.”


Starsky sighed.  “I don’t like it either.  But it’s really not our business, Hutch.”


Hutch shoved a forkful of eggs into his mouth, no longer tasting it.  Then he demanded, “Supposedly, they’re both suffering broken hearts, and this is supposed to help them feel better?”


“Hutch, it’s really not our place to judge.  And, you know, it’s not like we can claim some kind of moral high ground.”


“What’s that supposed to mean?”  Hutch rammed a strip of bacon into his mouth.


“Well, you know, we didn’t always behave the way others would have approved of, when we were single.  I slept with more than one woman in a week, for starters.  Lots of times.”


“So did I,” Hutch admitted.  “But Lannie is still married.”


“Lots of married people sleep with other people,” Starsky said calmly.  “You and I know that more than anybody.  Especially when their marriage is on the rocks.”


Hutch huffed, “At least, you’d think she’d want to have reached some sort of conclusion about her own marriage, before she muddies the waters by sleeping with your brother.  Especially since it’s all a big game to him to see if he can get into her pants.”


“Maybe.  Or maybe he just really likes her.  And she really likes him.”


Hutch closed his eyes and released a breath.  When he opened them, he said, “You can’t be serious.”


“Stranger things have happened.”


Hutch drew another deep breath and slowly released it.


Starsky said, “I really don’t think it’s our place to say anything to them about it.  Unless either of them wants to talk.  We shouldn’t butt in without being invited.  You know, ‘do unto others’ and all that.”


Hutch finished his coffee.  “The one thing I know for sure is that I don’t want to be here when they get up.  I can’t deal with this right now.”  He took his dishes to the counter.


Starsky took Hutch’s wrist when he came back by the table.  “Where are you going?”


Hutch sighed again.  “I just need to get away.  When it’s a little later, I’ll call Luke and see if we can meet at a neutral place.  You’re right,” he patted Starsky’s hand, “I should tell him straight out how I feel about yesterday, and see what happens.”


“I’ve got some things to do in the office this morning,” Starsky said.  “So if you need to talk about it, call me there, all right?”


“Sure,” Hutch replied, heading for the door.





Hutch actually wasn’t thinking about Luke as he drove away from the house.  He was thinking about Lanette.  But most especially about Nick.  Just what was Nick planning over the long term?


Hutch snorted.  “Nick” and “long term” seemed a contradiction of terms.


Eventually, however, Hutch had to admit that Lanette was old enough to do as she pleased.  Still, he wished Nick didn’t seem so intent on pursuing the walking wounded.  Where could they expect to take their relationship, with Lanette being newly separated, and Nick supposedly reeling from his girlfriend having left him?


It didn’t matter that he knew Starsky was right in saying the situation between Nick and Lanette was none of their business.  Hutch surely couldn’t be expected to behave as though he didn’t care about what was happening.


Hutch killed time browsing a sporting goods store, but end up not buying anything.  Then he called Luke.





Hutch made sure he was seated at the back table in the coffee shop they’d agreed to meet at, before Luke got there.  That way, he wouldn’t be expected to hug the man in greeting.


Butterflies churned in his stomach, as he wasn’t sure exactly what he was going to say.  It occurred to Hutch that Luke might misinterpret his request to meet as willingness to pursue something, but Hutch hoped that his brusque manner on the phone had dampened any such hope.


Hutch was sipping his coffee when Luke entered.  Luke broke into a smile as soon as he spotted Hutch.  He approached briskly.  “Hutch!”


Hutch felt the forcedness of his own tiny smile.  “Have a seat,” he said bluntly.


Luke sat.  “What’s wrong?”


Hutch released a breath that was so heavy, his cheeks billowed.  He really didn’t want to hurt this man who had been so important to him.


A waitress came up.  “What can I get you?” she asked Luke.


“Just coffee.”


She walked away.


“You sounded kind of harried on the phone,” Luke said.


Hutch rubbed at his chin.  “I want to try to clear the air.”


“About what?”  Luke’s eyes were lowered.


“I think you know.”  But Hutch knew it wouldn’t be fair to make Luke guess.  “That greeting you gave me yesterday was in a whole different league than any you’ve ever given me before.”


Luke’s head bowed, though in shame.  “Hutch, I’m sorry.  I just got out of prison of couple of months ago.”


“Meaning what?  Everybody looks good now?  Anybody in reaching distance is a possibility?”


Luke only sighed.


Hutch pressed, “That didn’t feel like an accident.  You knew I was coming over.  It felt like you were coming on to me.”


The waitress strode up briskly and placed a coffee cup in front of Luke, then moved away just as quickly.


Luke looked up while adding cream to his coffee, but his eyes were pained.  “What do you want me to say? You’re an extraordinarily good-looking man.  And since you and Starsky are together now….”


“Which apparently meant nothing to you,” Hutch snapped.


Luke took a sip of coffee, and then said, “Okay, so you’re exclusive.”  He shrugged.  “I didn’t know.”


Hutch wanted to be angry, but Luke wasn’t fighting with him.  He simply said, “That’s what bothered me the most.  You know as well as just about anyone how important Starsky is to me.  After all our years together, you think we’d partner up in all ways possible, and then have any interest in seeing other people?”


“I’ve seen all kinds.  I can’t know ahead of time what people’s relationships or agreements are like.”


Quietly, Hutch asked, “What about Doris?”


“She and I have agreed to stay married, to take care of each other.  She’s had plenty of affairs when I was in prison, and still does.”  He grunted.  “She probably did before I went to prison, since I wasn’t ever around enough.  I knew better than to ever ask her about it.  She had every right.”


Hutch looked away, remembering a time when he’d sincerely thought that Luke and Doris were the perfect couple.


Though he knew it really wasn’t any of his business, Hutch asked in a distant tone, “So, she’s okay that you’re seeing men?”


“Yes.  You know, as long as I’m discreet and don’t cause her any embarrassment.”  He admitted, “She suspected before I even knew.  You know, in my generation, homosexuality was a horrible perversion.  I never let my conscious thoughts go there.”


“But in prison,” Hutch ventured, “there wasn’t any point in keeping up the pretense.”


“You could put it that way.”


Hutch looked him in the eye.  “Does that mean your intentions were purely honorable when I was a greenhorn and looked up to you?”


“Yes, Hutch.  Like I said, I wouldn’t let my mind go there.”  Luke released a heavy breath and looked away.  “I can’t tell you how sorry I am about yesterday.  I guess I had a ridiculous old man’s fantasy of a handsome young man like yourself being interested.  Especially with you being a man I already loved dearly.”


Hutch had no desire to razz Luke any further.  He focused on his coffee.


After a moment, Luke said, “I hope we can put this behind us.  Doris really wants you and Starsky to come over for dinner.  She gets lonely easily.  It would brighten up her day.”


“She knows about us?”


“Yes.  She doesn’t care about stuff like that.”


Hutch pulled out his wallet.  “I’ll let you know.  Starsk and I have a lot going on right now.  Give us a call in about a month and we’ll see.”  Hutch left some bills on the table and stood.  “I’ve got to get going.”


Luke appeared disappointed, but merely nodded.


Hutch squeezed Luke’s shoulder in passing, and then headed out the door.





Starsky reached for the kitchen phone when it rang.  “Hello?”


A brusque male voice asked, “Is Lanette there, please?”


“No, not at the moment.  Who’s this?”


“Jeffrey Peters, her husband,” the man replied firmly.  “Whom am I speaking with?”


“David Starsky, her brother’s life partner.”


Long silence.  Then, “When will she be available?”


“I’m not sure, but I’ll tell her you called when she gets back.”


Starsky heard the office phone ring.  “Uh, the other line is ringing.  Does she have the number where you can be reached?”


“Of course she does,” Jeffrey growled.


“I’ve got to go.  I’ll tell her you called.”  Starsky hung up and rushed to the office phone.


“Starsky and Hutchinson,” he answered.




“How are you?”


“I’m okay.  It went all right with Luke.  You were right.”


“Good, I’m glad to hear it.”  Though Starsky would have liked a few more details on exactly what he had been right about.


“What’s the verdict on our siblings?”


“Well, once they got up this morning, they still seemed pretty wrapped up in each other.  I don’t have any reason to think they won’t be sleeping together again tonight.”


“Did you, you know, say anything to them?”


“No, Hutch.  It’s not my place to do that, unless they say something first.  They didn’t.”  When Hutch didn’t respond, Starsky said, “Guess who just called.”




“Her husband, Jeffrey.”


“Oh, great.  Did she talk to him?”


“No.  Nick and she are out bike riding right now.”


“Bike riding?”


“Yeah, I told them to take our bikes.  It’s not like we use them much.”


“Yeah.”  Hutch drew a breath.  “Listen, pal, I feel like letting off some steam at the gym.  Wanna meet me there?”


A workout would do them both good.  Especially Hutch.  “Sure.  I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”


Starsky hung up.  He left a note on the kitchen table that he and Hutch were at the gym, and that Jeffrey had called. 


He had to admit that he was sorry that he was going to miss seeing both Lanette’s and Nick’s expressions when they saw the note.





Starsky and Hutch lifted weights for a while, and then played tennis when a court was free.  Afterward, they went to the gym restaurant for lunch.


As they sat across from each other, eating sandwiches, Hutch asked, “What do you think is going to happen with them?”


Starsky restrained a sigh.  “Nick and Lanette?”  He wished Hutch would let the subject go.




“I have no idea.  I’d just say it’s a good bet that they aren’t making plans to get married after knowing each other for a couple of days, so I don’t know what you’re so worried about.  I mean, eventually they’re going to figure out that they have virtually nothing in common.”


Hutch chewed his sandwich and then swallowed.  “I think we should talk to them separately.”


“What?” Starsky asked on a high note.


“You talk to Nick and I talk to Lannie.”


“About what?”


“You know, about how this thing can’t possibly work.”


“Who says they want it to work?  They’re both far away from home.  Maybe they’re just enjoying a little fling.”  Exasperated, Starsky asked, “How would you have liked it if I or that old lady coach would have sat you down and tried to talk to you when you had your fling with Anna whatsherface, the ballerina?  You know, it’s not like you were watching out for bad guys when you were humping her.”


Hutch scowled at him.


“Or what about Kate?  What if I or that photographer guy would have sat you down and asked you if you had gentlemanly intentions toward her?”


“This is different,” Hutch said.


“No, it isn’t.”


“It’s family.”


“Yeah, and in my experience, family members get along a whole lot better if they don’t try to tell each other what to do.”


Hutch took a swig of beer, while still frowning at Starsky.


“Besides which,” Starsky went on, “I recall your sister saying that she didn’t appreciate your interference in her love life, even back when you were teens.  I bet she’d appreciate it even less now.”


Hutch leaned forward and said forcefully, “I don’t want to see her hurt – especially not by your lousy, punk brother.”


Starsky rolled his eyes.  “I assure you, that at her age, she’s been hurt many times, just like the rest of us.  She’s obviously lived through it.”  He shifted in his chair, wondering how angry he wanted to get.  “As for my ‘punk’ brother, whatever happened to your declaration that we should try to expect better of him, so he expects better of himself?”


Hutch’s eyes widened.  “What do you think I’m trying to do?  You call banging my sister the third night after he meets her, under our roof, is a move toward being a better man?”

Starsky abruptly switched tactics.  “Hutch, you told me yesterday that you’d never heard your sister laugh like that before.  Nicky makes her laugh.  You want to take that away from her?  You want her to be joyless, like your parents apparently wanted their kids to be?”


Hutch sputtered, and then took a deep breath, his jaw hard.


“You’ve got to let this go, Hutch.  Because the way you’re being now, I can see you pissing off Lanette big-time, perhaps to the point of her deciding she doesn’t want anything else to do with you.  Do you want her to leave?”  Abruptly, Starsky asked, “Want to catch a movie?”


“No.  Why?”


“Because I’m real nervous about you arriving home when they’re there, and I want to put it off as long as possible.  You need to get your head on straight before you’re in the same room with them.”


After a long moment, Hutch muttered, “I don’t see how you can be so casual about it.”


“It doesn’t matter what I am, does it?  To them, my opinion and your opinion shouldn’t matter.  Unless they want to talk to either of us about it.”


Hutch finished his sandwich, then softly said, “I guess that’s part of what’s bothering me.  She hasn’t really talked about what’s going on with her and Jeffrey.  Yes, it’s none of my business, but you and I both know that talking things out with someone else can help put things in perspective.  I mean, why come out here to visit if she doesn’t want my input on anything?”


Starsky deflated upon hearing the hurt behind the words.  “Well, you guys have seen each other so little as adults, maybe she just doesn’t feel that close to you.  Maybe she’s testing the waters first and needs to learn to trust you as a brother again.”  Starsky shrugged.  “Look at me and Nicky.  He wasn’t forthright with me about anything when he visited a few years back.  This trip, he’s been sharing a lot more of his thoughts and feelings with me.  We’ve even gotten past me being ready to deck him, two or three times over, the other morning.”


“Yeah,” Hutch muttered.


Gently, Starsky said, “You can’t bulldoze the people you love into submission.  You know?”


Hutch bowed his head.  “Yeah, okay.  I get it.  I get it.”


Starsky very much wanted to reach out to Hutch right now, and regretted that they were in a public place.  “Hey, let’s leave and go outside.  I want to talk to you a sec.”


When they emerged into the sunshine, Starsky nodded toward the corner of the building.  They went around it until coming to a couple of dumpsters.  Starsky took Hutch’s arm in a loose grip and stood him between a dumpster and the wall.


“Hey,” Starsky said, reaching up to clasp Hutch behind his neck, “I just want to tell you that I love you.”


Hutch’s expression softened as he gazed into Starsky’s eyes.


Starsky continued, “I know you’ve had a lot thrown at you lately.  With Kate dying, and Nick bringing home that junkie, and Luke, and your sister and Nick….  Things have been kind of hairy lately.”  He gentled his voice.  “But I’m here.  We’re solid.”  He stepped closer and put his arms around Hutch.


Hutch returned the hug, patting Starsky’s back.  “I’ve never questioned that, you big dope,” he chuckled.


“I know.  But I wanted to remind you, anyway.”  Starsky squeezed tighter a moment, and then released Hutch.   He grinned.  “I was serious about a movie.”


Hutch’s smile was warm.  “Sure.  Do you have anything in mind?”


“We never got around to seeing the one with Alan Alda and Carol Burnett.  That ought to be good for a few laughs.”





Though they later drove home in their separate cars, they arrived home at the same time. 


Nick and Lanette were in the kitchen to greet them.


Nick said, “We were wondering if we were going to be left stranded here without any transportation.”


“You have the bikes,” Starsky said with a grin.


Nick grunted.


Hutch said, “Sorry, but we decided to take in a movie after working out.”  He supposed he and Starsky could have called to let their siblings know they wouldn’t be home for another couple of hours, but he didn’t know if either of them would have taken it upon themselves to answer the phone.


“It was really funny,” Starsky said.  The Four Seasons.”


Lanette said with sarcasm, “Another Alan Alda masterpiece.”


“We thought it was good,” Starsky protested.


Nick said, “Yeah, especially the part where the one couple is doing it on the boat, and all their noises are keeping the other couples awake.”


Hutch reached to the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of orange juice.  “We assume you two were able to fend for yourselves for lunch.”


“There were plenty of leftovers,” Nick noted, and then he briefly met Hutch’s eye before darting his gaze away.


Hutch thought, That’s right, buster, I’m not too happy with you.


Starsky said to Lanette, “Did you get the note I left?”


“Yes, thank you.”


Hutch asked bluntly, “Did you call him back?”


Eyes darted nervously about the kitchen.


Starsky’s rested on Hutch’s and stayed there for an extended moment, growing firm.


Yeah, yeah, buddy.


“I will when I’m ready,” she said, and moved off to the living room, where the TV was on.


Nick looked from Starsky to Hutch, and then went to join her.


Starsky grimaced at Hutch while taking a glass from the cupboard.  “Pour me some of that.”


Hutch did, and said under his breath, “Sorry.”


Apparently, he was forgiven, for Starsky asked, “What do you think we should do tonight?”


Hutch sipped his juice, and then quietly noted, “They seem to be plenty happy watching TV all hours of the day.”


“We could play card games.  I don’t think we have a Monopoly game in the house, but we could buy one.”  Then Starsky said, “Except Nick can’t play a game like that, since it takes too much extended concentration.”


Hutch grinned.


“I know I need to do laundry tonight.  We’re out of undies.”  Starsky moved to the entrance of the living room.  “Hey, you two.  I’m doing laundry tonight, so if have anything you want washed, put it on top of the wash machine and I’ll include it.”


There were noises of agreement. 


Nick appeared, running his hand back through his hair.  “I really need to get a haircut.  How about I borrow some wheels?”


“Oh, damn,” Hutch said, remembering the other errand he’d meant to make.  “I wanted to get my hair cut, too, while we were in town.  Forgot all about it.  Come on, Nick, I’ll take you.”


Nick’s mouth fell open, and he looked at Starsky, who in turn looked at Hutch.


Hutch took his keys from his pocket.  “Come on.”


“Uh,” Nick said, “I need to get laundry.”


“Go ahead.  I’ll wait.”


While Nick moved down the hall to his bedroom, Starsky gave Hutch a scolding look.  As he placed clothes from the laundry basket into the wash machine, he warned, “You behave yourself.”


In low voice, Hutch asked, “Does it make sense for us to take separate cars?”  Then, deliberately innocent, “We’re both just going to get a haircut.”  Hutch presented a warm smile.  “Besides, it’ll give you and my sister some time alone together, so you can talk about me.”


Starsky decided he wouldn’t mind having some time alone with Lanette.





Nick was a nervous wreck while they drove from their neighborhood to the center of town.  Hutch took great satisfaction in keeping the conversation about mundane things, while Nick squirmed.  When they arrived at the salon, customers were scarce, and they were able to get their haircuts at the same time.




After Starsky had the first load of laundry going, he moved into the kitchen, where Lanette sat at the table with a cup of tea, reading the newspaper. 


Starsky grabbed a soda and sat across from her, resting his chin in his hand.  “Lanette?”


She looked up from her reading.


He smiled warmly.  “I’d like to belatedly apologize for that first night, if I came on too strong about asking questions about you and Hutch as children.”


“It’s all right,” she said levelly.


“It’s just that I love your brother so very, very much.  It makes me a little nuts that I know next to nothing about him before I met him.  I mean, the real things.  The personal, trivial, intimate things.”  When she didn’t respond, he said, “Of course, he’s told me some things, but naturally it’s not a very objective perspective.”


“In some ways,” she mused, “we grew up in two very different worlds.  I was my mother’s daughter, and our father always felt as a stranger to me.  But I never felt deprived, because I guess I didn’t think I was supposed to know him.  Kenny got along fine with Mom, but she didn’t dote on him the way a lot of mothers dote on their sons.  She just seemed to think it was our father’s job to raise him.  And our father was… distant.  Harsh.”  She was quick to add, “But not abusive or anything like that.”


“Yeah,” Starsky said with a sigh.  Still, he felt her few sentences were more than he’d ever gotten regarding Hutch’s childhood.  Carefully, he ventured, “Now that you’re both adults, maybe you can count on each other a little more.”


She shifted in her chair, turning a page of the newspaper and browsing it.  “I’ve always been pretty self-sufficient.”


While watching her eyes dart over the articles, Starsky gently said, “Well, one thing is for sure.  Your parents raised a couple of very strong children.  Hutch is the absolute strongest person I’ve ever known.  I don’t know if you’ve been privy to many of his exploits when were cops, but he’s done some incredibly heroic things.  Has saved lots of lives.  Has saved mine numerous times.  When I wasn’t able to be self-sufficient,” he deliberately used her word, “he was the kindest, gentlest, most sensitive, most capable caretaker I could ever ask for.  To say nothing of the fact that he’s always been there.”


Starsky swallowed thickly, watching her eyes shift between the newspaper and him, then back to the newspaper.  “You’d be real proud of him, if you knew even a smidgen of the stuff he’s done, and the hardships he’s overcome.”


He waited.


He continued to sit there, watching her browse articles, and wondered if she was shy, or if she were cold.  He didn’t think the latter, because she had certainly warmed up to Nick in a hurry.


He tried another line of conversation.  “I imagine it was quite a surprise to you to find out your brother had bought a house with another man.”


She looked up and shrugged.  “If he couldn’t ever find the right woman, I guess he didn’t have much choice if he didn’t want to be alone.”


Starsky blinked.  And then swallowed.  It crossed his mind that, no matter what he and Hutch were to each other, they would never be able to adequately explain it to those outside their small, tight circle of friends.


Still, he cleared his throat softly and had to make an attempt.  Trying to keep his voice conversational, he asked, “Is that why you think Hutch and I are together?  Because nobody else wants us except each other?”


She closed the newspaper and looked at him.  “Or you two don’t want anyone else.  At least, not for the time being.”


Starsky frowned.  “Lanette, Hutch and me are forever.”


She loosely crossed her arms.  “That’s what everyone thinks when they get married.”


He felt ridiculous arguing the point with someone who didn’t know where he was coming from, but felt compelled to say, “Hutch and me go way back, long before we were romantically involved.  We were the closest of friends.  The most bonded of partners.  We literally counted on each other for survival.  To say that we were tight doesn’t even begin to describe it.”


She seemed to consider that.  “Then… why weren’t you always together romantically?”


“Why do you think?  A homosexual relationship was not a-okay by any means, and even now most people who say they are okay with it merely tolerate it, or consider it a joke.  Plus, we both genuinely like girls and still do.  It didn’t even cross our minds until I almost died a second time from illness, and then we realized we always wanted to be together.”  He emphasized, “Our love goes so deep.  It’s about so much more than simply keeping each other company.”


“I’m skeptical that relationships can ever be like that.  Just about every one that I’ve known has fallen apart.”


Starsky furrowed his brow.  “What about your parents?  They’ve been together a long time.”


“Yes.  They’re used to each other.  But it’s not like they each don’t have their affairs.  They just don’t rub each other’s nose in them.  It wouldn’t be proper.”


Starsky didn’t know what to say to that. 


He was spared replying when he heard the ringing of the phone in the office.





It was late afternoon when Hutch and Nick left the shopette where the salon was.  Nick agreed that playing cards would be a good activity for the evening, so they picked up some decks at a department store.


Nick was more relaxed, since he seemed to have decided that Hutch wasn’t going to say anything to him about Lanette.




“So, Nick, my boy,” Hutch began casually, “you seem to have taken quite a liking to my sister in a big hurry.”


Nick shifted restlessly.  “She’s fun.  What do you want me to say?”


“Interesting life philosophy you have there.”  Hutch looked over at him.  “Get your heart broken when your girlfriend leaves you, travel clear across the country to visit your brother and his life partner to have a shoulder to cry on, then bring home a junkie your second night in California, and then by the fifth night you’re banging your sister-in-law.”


Sharply, Nick said, “There’s no law against it.  And she wanted me.  If you don’t believe me, ask her.”  He snorted.  “It’s not like I forced myself on her.”


“I know,” Hutch said with feigned congeniality.  Then, “I just find it interesting that you seem to make it a habit of going after the vulnerable and the troubled.”  Pause.  “In case you forgot, she’s still married to Jeffrey, and she’s trying to work things out about what she wants to do.”


Nick was shaking his head back and forth.  “That’s got nothing to do with me.  When a beautiful woman invites me into her bedroom, I oblige.”  He grunted.  “Don’t tell me you’ve never done it.”  Then, more quietly, “You know, back before you and my brother were together.”


Hutch released most of the edge from his voice.  “Whether I or your brother did things like that a while back doesn’t make it a good thing.  I’m just saying.”


Nick grimaced.  “Is this the part where you tell me I’d better do right by her, or I’ll have to answer to you?”


Hutch turned onto their block.  “Lannie can take care of herself.  That’s not what I’m worried about.”  He suddenly glared at Nick.  “I’m just not sure what you’re playing at, but I know I don’t like it.”


“I’m not playing at anything.  This is the era of women’s liberation.  What women do or don’t do isn’t all the man’s fault anymore.”


Hutch was considering what to say when he spotted a car parked on the street opposite their home, a few houses up the block.  He saw the driver duck down, and he thought he caught a glimpse of a camera.


Another PI at work.  As he pulled into the driveway, he wondered if Jeffrey might have hired the PI to spy on Lannie.  That would be pretty funny if Jeffrey showed up and beat the crap out of Nick.


Except, not really.  Hutch didn’t want anything bad to happen to Nick.




 After dinner, the four played various cards games for hours.  Starsky and Hutch turned in first and Starsky filled Hutch in on the phone call they’d gotten.  John Newman had scheduled an appointment with them both tomorrow morning at nine-thirty, at his home, to discuss all the information he had that would help them get started on investigating his late father’s whereabouts in the weeks leading up to his death.


As the conversation wound down, they fell asleep in each other arms.





It was going on eleven when they left John Newman’s home the following morning, accompanied by a briefcase full of paperwork.  They spent a while discussing strategies on how best to approach the case.


Starsky was driving the Corvette.  “I think our house guests are going to have to go.”


“I think so, too.”


“I don’t think I’d mind if, say, Lanette wanted to housesit when we’re both traveling, but we don’t know when she might up and decide to return to Minnesota.”


Hutch suddenly snapped his fingers.  “I forgot to tell you!”




“Last night, when Nick and I were driving up, I spotted a car a few houses up from ours.  I just caught of glimpse of the guy ducking down into his seat, and it looked like he had a camera.  I’d bet anything that it’s a PI.  Probably somebody Jeffrey hired to spy on Lanette.”


“Really?” Starsky said.  “You didn’t confront him?”


“No, at least not yet.  I meant to say something to Lannie.”


Starsky released a breath.  “That’s a good reason for her to leave, as well as Nick.  We don’t need drama crap happening at our house when we aren’t there.”





When Starsky and Hutch arrived home, Starsky announced to their guests, who were watching TV, “We need to have a family meeting.  Right now.”


They took their time, but Nick and Lanette eventually made their way into the kitchen and sat down at the table, where Starsky and Hutch had an array of refreshments sitting out.


Starsky said, “Hutch and I have just gotten a big case.  It’s going to require some traveling for both us.  So, since neither of us is going to be here at certain times in the coming days, you each need to start making plans to return home in the next day or two.”


Nick said, “I was planning on splitting anyway in a couple of days.  In fact, I called just this morning to schedule a flight for Tuesday morning.”


Hutch was glad to hear that.  He turned to his sister.  “Sorry to rush you, Lannie, but this is a good case for us, and we have to take the work when it becomes available.”


Nick asked, “What kind of case is it?”


“Our client’s father was murdered a few months back,” Starsky replied.  “The cops are telling him that, based on everything they’ve been able to find – which is almost nothing – it was a random killing.  The man doesn’t believe it, but since he has no reason to think his father had any enemies, he wants Hutch and me to find out everything we can about how the father spent his last two weeks.  Depending on what we find out, we may very well need to dig farther back than that, to find someone with a motivation.”


Hutch put in, “We’ll be needing to go to Texas and Nevada, for starters.”


Lanette said, “I’m sure I can get a flight out tomorrow morning.”


“We wouldn’t mind you staying here by yourself,” Hutch noted gently, “but we think a PI might be spying on you.”


“A PI?” Nick asked in disbelief.


“Yes.  We can’t be certain, but there was a car parked across the street yesterday, with someone in it.  If, perchance, it’s someone hired by Jeffrey, it’s always possible that he could show up unannounced.  That would be fine if Starsky and I knew that one of us would be here.  But if we’re both gone, we don’t think it would be a safe situation for you.”


“I doubt Jeffrey would do something like that,” Lannie said, “but it’s not a problem for me to leave.  It’s been a fun few days,” she looked at them all, “but I never intended to stay long.”


Hutch wondered what she was going to do about her marriage, but this wasn’t the time to ask.


“Great,” Starsky said.  “If you guys need something, let us know.  But in the meantime, Hutch and me are going to be pretty distracted with getting started on this case.”





Lanette had a reservation for a flight that was leaving late in the morning the following day.  Hutch drove her to the airport.


After traveling a while in silence, he said, “I really wish we would have been able to spend more time together.”


“You mean, instead of me spending so much time with Nick?”


Hutch shrugged.  “Regardless of the reason, I’m sorry we weren’t able to spend more time together.”


“It’s not like we have a lot to talk about.”  Then she said simply, “Nick is a lot of fun to be around.  The kind of thing you look for when you’re two thousand miles from home.”


Hutch tried not to feel hurt by her frankness, and the implication that he wasn’t “fun”.  “Maybe we would have things to talk about, if we got to know each other a little better.”  When she didn’t reply, he said, “I know it’s none of my business, but I can’t help but be curious about how you expect things to go with you and Jeffrey.”


She considered a moment, and then said, “I want a divorce.  But I’ll probably let him talk me out of it, because I don’t want to be bothered with all the mess it would cause.”


Hutch’s heart felt heavy.  “You deserve to be happy,” he said in a gruff voice.


“Part of happiness is knowing what you don’t want to have to deal with.  I don’t want to deal with a divorce if I don’t have to.”


Hutch released a sigh.  “Maybe you guys can work it out and get back together.  You know, be happy together, instead of just staying together by default.”


She scoffed, “You’re a fine one to talk.”


Hutch looked over at her, surprised at her tone.  “What?”


“You’re going to give me relationship advice.  When you live with a man?”  She shook her head.


Hutch felt his jaw harden.  He knew he couldn’t come out ahead in this discussion.  He swallowed thickly.  “That man is the love of my life.  We’re really happy together.  Even back before we were, you know, ‘together’.” 


“It’s almost too much, Kenny.  I mean, it doesn’t gross me out or anything.  I don’t really care what people do in private.  But you two playing at being married, right down to having rings.  You have to admit it’s a bit pretentious.”


Hutch blinked, and felt his throat close.  He turned onto the airport grounds.  In a monotone, he asked, “Why did you want to come out and visit, if you feel we have so little to say to each other?”


She gazed out the windshield.  “I guess I felt I needed to run away from home, and didn’t know where else to run to.  Mom and Dad said you had a nice place.  It was peaceful.  Of course, I didn’t know somebody as charming as Nick was going to be there.”


Hutch knew he needed to change the subject, for his own sake.  “Are you going to stop in and see Mom and Dad before you head home?  See how Dad’s doing?”  Lanette lived an hour away from them.


“Yes,” she said, looking out the side window.  “I’m not sure why, though.  Dad never says anything to me about his cancer.  Everything is filtered through Mom.”


“It’s hard for him to talk about it,” Hutch said.


“Apparently not to you.”  She looked over at him.  Then she glanced at the lane they’d entered for dropping off passengers.  “I’m on Continental.”


Hutch passed the signs for various other airlines, driving carefully.


“It’s funny,” she said, “how you and he are so buddy-buddy now.”


Hutch hedged, “I wouldn’t go that far.”


“You couldn’t tell it by me.  He talks like you’re some big hero.  He never says why.  But his chest puffs out and stuff whenever he says your name.”


Hutch’s mouth fell open as he pulled up at the curb, next to a sign that said Continental.


She continued, “Like, you know, he thinks you’re special or something, all of a sudden.”  She opened her door.


Hutch felt he was in a daze as he went to the back of the car and opened the trunk.  He removed her lone suitcase.  A Skycap employee came to the car, and she allowed him to take possession of it. 


“Which flight?” The man asked.


She looked at her ticket.  “1429.”


He grabbed a tag from a handful of ones he held in an envelope and then wrapped it around the handle.


She looked at Hutch.  “You don’t need to see me off.”  She smiled.  “It was good seeing you again, Kenny.”


Hutch nodded.  “Yeah.”  He loosely put his arm around her.  “Have a good flight.”


He got back in the car.  As he began to drive way, he looked back at the signs for the other airlines, before Continental.


What if she had taken one of those flights?


Then they would have stopped sooner, and he would never have heard her relay their father’s thoughts about him.


Hutch narrowed his eyes as he stopped at a light, which was getting blurry.  He reached up and wiped at his eyes, realizing how wet they were.




He knew he needed to fill up with gas before returning home.  Since the gas gauge was too blurry to read, he was glad he remembered that it was low.


Hutch pulled in at the first gas station that was available.  He found a small box of tissue paper in the glove compartment, and blew his nose and wiped at his eyes.  Then he got out and set the hose to fill his car with Premium.   He went to the pay phone outside the station.


He dialed the house number.


“Hello?” Starsky greeted.


“Hey, uh, I’ll be home in about twenty minutes.  You’ll be there, right?”






“Nick went to a double feature at the theater.  I almost joined him, but I’m too focused on this case.”  Then, worriedly, “What’s wrong, Hutch?”


“I-I-I’ll see you in a bit.”  Hutch quickly hung up and returned to his car.





Starsky slowly hung up the phone.  Hutch had sounded upset.


He’d wanted to make sure that they had privacy when he got home.


What’s the matter, baby?


Did maybe Lanette reveal something awful right before she boarded her flight, like maybe she had some kind of terminal illness?


Did she maybe say some hurtful things?  She didn’t seem like the type.  She was quiet and reticent, and perhaps overly blunt when she was talking, but not deliberately hurtful.


Maybe Hutch was just sorry to see her go, and that was the last straw after having had so many discomfiting situations happen the past week.


Starsky would have to wait to find out.


What a long wait it seemed.


Finally, the garage door was heard opening.


Starsky stood in the foyer, waiting.


Hutch emerged from the garage, his hand loosely over his eyes, breathing hard.  He held out his other hand as he strode past Starsky and walked briskly down the hall.


Starsky clasped the hand and squeezed it as he followed.  “What happened?”


Hutch stopped beside their bed.  He drew a shaky breath and shook his head.


“What is it?” Starsky repeated in a softer tone, continuing to squeeze Hutch’s hand.


“I-I-I…”  Hutch pulled his hand away, revealing wet eyes.  “I….”


Starsky tugged Hutch’s hand as he moved backwards to sit on bed.  “What hurts so much?”


Hutch’s face broke as he moved with Starsky, and then reached for him.


Starsky had barely shifted back toward the headboard, as Hutch grabbed desperately at his shoulders.


Starsky wrapped his arms around the shuddering form, his heart breaking as Hutch sobbed with his face buried in Starsky’s chest.


Starsky realized he was going to have to wait a while before finding the cause of Hutch’s anguish.


“Take all the time you need,” he whispered, stroking Hutch’s back with one hand, the other pressing Hutch’s head close.  He felt wetness through his shirt.


Starsky relaxed back against the pillows.  “I’m right here,” he whispered, his hands continuing their soothing motion.


After a time, Hutch quieted and shifted, so his cheek was resting against Starsky’s shoulder.  Starsky felt renewed wetness from more tears.


Starsky released his grip on the back of Hutch’s head, and furrowed his fingers through the neatly trimmed strands.  “I love you so much.”


Hutch gripped Starsky by the waist.


Starsky listened whiled Hutch swallowed loudly.


In a shaky, small voice, Hutch said, “It feels like I don’t matter to her.”


Ah, Hutch.  “Lanette?”


Hutch barely nodded.


“Just a sec,” Starsky said, shifting his feet. 


He prompted Hutch to moved with him, so that he was eventually sitting up straighter, Hutch leaning back against his arm, in his lap, looking up at him, his puffy face resting against Starsky chest.


Starsky lightly brushed the back of his fingers against Hutch’s damp cheek.  “Why does it feel like that?”


“Lots of reasons.”  Hutch’s red eyes teared up.


“Name one,” Starsky prompted tenderly, his thumb brushing along Hutch’s mustache.


Hutch closed his eyes.  “She told me….  She told me…..”  He drew a deep breath and opened them.  “Sh-Sh-Sh-She told me that our father thinks a lot of me now.”


Starsky’s chest felt lighter with those surprising words.  “Yeah?”


“Yeah.  B-B-But….  But….”


“But,” Starsky encouraged.


Hutch stared at the wall.  “But she mentioned it casually.  Just as she was getting out of the car.  If I’d dropped her off thirty seconds sooner, she never would have said anything.”  His eyes darted to Starsky.  “Doesn’t she realize how much something like that would mean to me?”


“At least you did hear it,” Starsky noted softly.


“I almost didn’t.  Why couldn’t she have told me that at some point while she was staying here?”


I don’t know.  Starsky stroked Hutch’s face with a feather-light touch.  “What else?”


Hutch closed his eyes and rested his cheek more heavily against Starsky.  “She doesn’t think we’re for real.”


“Yeah,” Starsky admitted with a sigh, “I sort of got that impression when she and I were alone yesterday.”  Gently, he said, “Sometimes I think we get so comfortable with how good our lives are, that it’s easy to forget how strange we seem to other people.”  Then he noted, even more softly, “Doesn’t mean you don’t matter to her, just that she has no way of understanding.”


Hutch opened his eyes and said with sadness, “I wish I was better at explaining us to other people.”  His voice caught, and he admitted, “It’s hard to come face to face with the fact that she and I know almost nothing about each other.  For me to explain it to her, I’d have to practically tell her my whole life story, just to set the background.”


Starsky began to undo the top buttons of Hutch’s shirt.  “She said something to me yesterday that struck me as odd for siblings that are only two years apart.  She said it’s like you grew up in separate worlds.  I guess because she was more your mother’s child, and you were more your father’s child.”


“It sounded like she was jealous of me and our father,” Hutch said gruffly.


Starsky put his hand on Hutch’s bare chest, his fingers spreading to feel as much flesh as he could.  “She told me that she didn’t feel deprived, because she never thought she and your father were supposed to have a relationship.  But I didn’t quite believe it.”


Hutch snorted.  “She said we were ‘buddy-buddy’.”  His eyes abruptly watered and his voice was choked.  “And then she so-casually said that my father always spoke highly of me and was proud when he said my name.”  Hutch closed his eyes and shuddered.


Starsky’s heart felt heavy as he brushed away new tears.  “I guess it’s taken a lot of years,” he said, his own voice unsteady, “but it’s nice to know that he finally has some understanding of who his son is.”  Starsky lowered his head and managed a grin.  “And he’s so impressed with what he’s found out.”


Hutch brought up his hand and rubbed it all about his face.  He released a heavy sigh.


“You know, Hutch, after your parents visited last spring, you told me that your sister was ‘more like them’.   So, I’m thinking that it isn’t that Lanette doesn’t care about you; I think it’s more a matter of she doesn’t know how to show feelings very well.”  Starsky paused, thinking of his conversation with her yesterday.  “She has a lot of walls.  And she seems pretty cynical, especially regarding relationships.”


“It just hurts, you know?”


“Yeah, I know.”


“I guess I shouldn’t have had so many expectations, of how it was going to be between us when she came out.”  Hutch swallowed loudly.  “She scoffed at me for asking about her marriage with Jeffrey, because she saw my relationship with you as being… laughable.”  Hutch closed his eyes, and new tears dripped down his face.


Starsky felt a coldness grip his heart.


“Like,” Hutch continued, eyes closed, “who was I to be giving out relationship advice, when I was living with a man.”


Starsky drew a careful breath, and then realized he didn’t have anything to say which wouldn’t emerge as anger.


Finally, he did say, “I’m so sorry, Hutch.  I’d give anything for you not to hurt like this.”


Hutch sniffed loudly, and then gazed at Starsky for a long moment.  “I’m glad you were here to come home to.”


Starsky’s heart softened as he rubbed his hand along Hutch’s chest.  “Makes all the difference, doesn’t it?”


Hutch’s gaze almost seemed to be one of worship.  “Yeah.”


“If we’re so weird,” Starsky ventured, “how come we’re the only one whose relationship isn’t falling apart?”


Hutch managed a snort of amusement.  Then he abruptly shifted to sit up straighter, and looked behind him to the nightstand.


Starsky stretched to grab the box of tissue paper.  He handed it to Hutch.


“I feel like such an ass,” Hutch grumbled, and then blew his nose loudly.


“Why?” Starsky asked worriedly.  “Because you got upset?”


“Because Lannie and I don’t really know each other at all.”  Hutch took more tissues and blew his nose again.  “I knew that.  But I wanted to pretend it wasn’t true and that we had some sort of relationship.”  He wiped at his nose, and then grabbed another tissue and wiped at his eyes.  “I had no right to expect that of her.”


Starsky furrowed his fingers through the back of Hutch’s hair.  “Well then, why did she want to come out here in the first place?  She’s the one who called you and announced that she was coming out.”


Hutch tossed the box aside, the soiled tissues to the floor, and snuggled down with Starsky, lying partly across his lap.  “She said something about having wanted to run away from home.  I guess our house was convenient and Mom and Dad had said it was peaceful.”  He snorted.  “It didn’t seem to have anything to do with me being here.”  He squeezed Starsky’s thigh.  “Then she made a point of saying how much fun Nick was.”  He scoffed.


Dammit.  “Ah, Hutch.  What a mess this turned out to be.”


“At least you and Nick seemed to be doing okay.”  With a touch of amusement, Hutch said, “It’s sort of encouraging that he’d already made arrangements to leave before we said anything.”


Starsky chuckled softly.  “Yeah.”  Then he wanted to point out, “And don’t forget that you did find out that your father thinks a whole lot of you.”  He rubbed Hutch’s back.  “I think that may have been worth all the other crap.”


Hutch released a heavy breath.  He closed his eyes.


After a moment, Starsky asked, “You ready for a nap?”  He rubbed Hutch’s back more slowly.




“I’m gonna be right here.” 


Starsky shifted a pillow behind him and relaxed against it.  He closed his eyes, his hands still soothing Hutch.





Once Hutch fell asleep, Starsky went to the office and began sorting through files.  He became alarmed when he realized there was a stack of employment verifications that hadn’t been finished.  Those usually required forms to be sent to prior employers to fill out and mail back.  Occasionally, arrests records needed to be investigated.  Often, he and Hutch were able to get the same information over the phone, by turning on the charm and convincing the person on the receiving end to bypass company policy and give them the information they were asking for.  Still, despite their success, it was boring job, when compared to the rare case where they could do some real investigative work to help someone in need.


In less than hour, Starsky heard the bedroom door open, and Hutch coming briskly down the hall.  “Starsk?”


“Yeah?” Starsky called back, spreading another file about his desk.


Hutch entered the office with his “game face” on.  “Did you ever call back the Canadian corporation about that one employee applicant who used to work there?”


Starsky’s mouth fell open.  “Oh, no.  I forgot all about it.” 


“I just woke up thinking about that.  We need to call them back and see if we can get a hold of them and find out where to send the form, if they won’t give us the information on the phone.”


“You know what else,” Starsky said, holding up some files, “I just found these at the bottom of a stack.  We’ve had them over a week, and we haven’t even started on them.”


Hutch blinked.  Then he sat heavily in his office chair.  “We need to go over everything we’ve got going on, before we get too caught up in the Newman case.  Jobs are starting to slip through the cracks.”


Starsky began stacking all their files, so they could discuss then, one at a time.  He muttered, “It’s almost feeling like we have too much work, doesn’t it?”


“I wouldn’t go that far,” Hutch said, adding paperwork from his desk to the stack.  Then he smiled, “But we’re getting there.”  He picked up the top file from the stack.  “This is the Browson spy case.”


Starsky sighed.  “I’ve only tailed him twice.  Both times, he went to the movies.”  He glanced at Hutch.  “I don’t feel that we’ve done a very thorough job.”


Hutch was thoughtful.  “Let’s call Mrs. Browson and tell her that we don’t feel he’s cheating, because he’s gone to the movies both times.  If she’s content to leave it at that, we’ll only charge her half price.”  He blew out a breath. “Speaking of price, I know there’s a few jobs we’ve finished that I haven’t invoiced yet.”


Starsky picked up the phone.  “Can’t be working for free.”




As Starsky looked for the number in the Browson file, he gently asked, “How you feeling?”


Hutch grabbed the next file with one hand, while brushing his fingers across Starsky’s shoulder with the other.  “Wouldn’t mind getting a hard pounding.”


“Already on tonight’s agenda, babe.”  Starsky had figured that, after feeling so rejected by his sister, Hutch would appreciate being desired in a feral manner.


Starsky found the number and dialed.





Over two hours later, and after numerous phone calls, and filling out forms and addressing envelopes, plus quickly typing up invoices, they were down to four files that still needed work.  Two could probably be handled with phone calls to businesses back east the following morning.


Starsky brushed off his hands and sighed.  “Wonder why we haven’t been able to get so much work done so quickly before.”


Hutch was putting completed files away in the filing cabinet.  “Guess it’s similar to a two-minute drill in football.”


They heard the garage door open.


Hutch asked, “When is Nick flying out tomorrow?”


“Mid morning, I think.”


“Did you want to spend some time alone with him tonight?  I need to call my father, for one thing.”  Hutch let the drawer slam shut.


Starsky considered a moment.  Then, “Yeah.  Maybe we’ll go out for a few drinks.”  He stood.  “We missed lunch.  You want some leftover meat loaf?”  He headed for the kitchen.




Nick entered.  “Hey.”


“Hey,” Starsky greeted.  “How were the movies?”


“Okay.  What have you guys been doing?”


“Working our tails off.”


Nick dangled the keys to the Corvette.  “Want me to do any errands?” he asked hopefully.


Starsky grinned.  “Nope.  But how about you and me going out for happy hour later?  Hutch has other stuff to do.”


Nick brightened.  “Sure.”


Nick ended up going to his room, while Starsky and Hutch sat at the table, eating meatloaf and bread, covered in instant gravy.


As they finished their meal, they noticed that Nick seem agitated as he moved about the house.  Finally, Nick paused in the kitchen and asked, “Did Lanette leave her number somewhere around here?”


Starsky and Hutch shook their heads.  “No,” Starsky said.  “Why?”


Nick frowned.  “She told me she’d leave some phone numbers in my room, but I haven’t found them anywhere.”


Hutch said dryly, “Maybe she was just playing you.”


“I doubt it,” Nick muttered.  Then he looked at Hutch.  “Anyway, you have her number.”


Hutch raised his eyebrows.  “Nick, I’m not giving out her number.  If she’d wanted you to have it, she would have left it.”


Starsky soothed, “If she calls asking for yours, we’ll give it to her.”


“It shouldn’t be that hard to find out,” Nick said.  “I remember she said it started with a 456 area code.”


Hutch grinned.  “I don’t know what area of the country 456 is for, but it’s certainly not anywhere in Minnesota.”


Nick furrowed his brow.  “Then what is it the area code for Minnesota?”


“No way, Nick.”


“Nick, face it,” Starsky said, “she’s not interested in hearing from you.  She was just using you as some kind of boy toy.”


Nick grumbled, “I don’t think I like this women’s lib crap,” and headed back down the hallway.


Starsky and Hutch chuckled.




In early evening, Starsky and Nick prepared to go out.  While they were in the foyer, Starsky reached to circle his arm around Hutch’s neck and gave him a prolonged kiss.  Then he said, “I promise to be back at a decent hour and not get loaded.”


“Geez,” Nick said, turning his head away, but his tone held amusement.


“I’ll hold you to that,” Hutch said, giving Starsky’s waist a squeeze.





Hutch sat on the kitchen counter, the phone to his ear, as it had been for the past twenty minutes.


His father said, “The worst thing about it is that once people know you have cancer, they treat you differently.  In some ways, it’s like they already think of you as dead.”


Hutch sighed with compassion.  “Yeah.  Maybe you should stop telling people, Dad.  I mean, really with why does anyone need to know?”


“Sometimes I wish I’d never found out.  Right now, life is the same, except the Big C is always there.  I wouldn’t have had to know about it until things got bad the final months.  And then my life would be normal until that time.”


Hutch decided not to point out that it was knowing about the cancer that had allowed he and his father to have an actual relationship.  “You know you can’t go back in time, but maybe you can stop telling people.”


An amused snort.  “Except everybody already knows.”  After a pause, Richard said, “So, I guess Lanette stayed out there a few days?”


Hutch felt his stomach begin to churn.  “Yeah.  She had a nice visit.”


“She’s always been such an independent girl.  I don’t think things are going too well with her and Jeffrey, but it’s not like she’d ever say anything.”


Just like you never talk to her about your cancer, Hutch silently replied.  He said, “She really didn’t say much to me, either.”  Except she thinks Starsky and I are a joke.  He didn’t want to dwell on the hurt of that, for he feared it would show in his voice.


“What did she enjoy doing out there?”


“Well, actually, Starsky’s brother was also visiting, from New York.  So, it was sort of interesting having our siblings here at the same time.  They got along okay.”  Hutch was eager to change the subject.  “Starsk and I have picked up another good case, Dad.  Interesting stuff that ought to keep us busy for while.”


“Oh, really.  What is it?”


“A man’s father was murdered, and he wants us to re-trace his father’s steps the last weeks of his life, and hopes it can lead to finding out what happened.  The police haven’t been able to find out anything.”


“Sounds like the sort of thing you used to normally do.”


“Yes.  But we have a lot more freedom than we did as cops.  We wouldn’t have been able to travel out of state and snoop around, like we can now.  It’s easier to be more open-minded when one isn’t trying to build a case to prosecute.  For this particular case, that would be a big bonus, if we can take any evidence we find to the police.  The man just mainly wants to understand what happened to his father.  The police think it’s random, but he can’t buy that.”


“Sounds like you and David have got a good business going.”


That really sounded like pride, Hutch thought with warm satisfaction.


Richard went on.  “That’s not an easy thing to do.  More than half of all businesses fail within their first year in this country.”


“Well, Starsk and I haven’t quite been in business a full year yet, but we’re definitely gonna defy that statistic.”


His father chuckled.  There were noises of him moving around.  “I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, even though my doctor says I shouldn’t have any.”  There was a pause.  “I’m going to make a toast to Starsky and Hutchinson, Inc.”


Hutch felt giddy.  “You do that, Dad.”


“Want to join me?”


“Nah, that’s okay.  Starsky’s out drinking with his brother, so he’s probably having enough for both of us.”  He really hoped not, because he was looking forward to being the recipient of some energetic bedroom activity.


“Here goes,” Richard said.  “To Starsky and Hutchinson, Inc.  May it have a long and prosperous life and provide its shareholders with great wealth and satisfaction of a job well done.”  Then, “Down the hatch.”


Hutch’s eyes grew moist.  “That’s sweet, Dad.  Appreciate it.  I’ll let Starsk know that we’ve been properly toasted.”


“Oh.  Your mother wants to say something.”


Hutch shifted with discomfort.  Now that his father had cancer, he got along so well with him.  But for some reason, he now felt even less comfortable talking to his mother than he used to.


“Kenneth?  Who’s this young man that Lanette’s been talking about?”


Hutch furrowed his brow.  Lanette felt strongly enough about Nick to talk to her mother about him, but not strong enough to leave her phone number?  “Uh, I guess you mean Nick, Starsky’s brother.”


“That’s who he is?  David Starsky’s brother?”


“Yes.  She didn’t mention it?”


“She might have, and maybe I didn’t realize what she was saying.”


“They got along pretty good.”  Hutch moved off the counter and stood, while fiddling with the telephone cord.  Finally, he asked, “What did she say about him?”


“Just that he was charming and a lot of fun.”


Did she say anything about me?  he wondered.   He felt noble and truthful when he said, “He can be that in small doses.  It gets tiring fast, though, so it’s a good thing she wasn’t around him longer.”


His mother made a noise that was an artificial chuckle. 


Abruptly, Hutch asked, “How are things with her and Jeffrey?  She didn’t say much to me.”  He couldn’t help but think that Lannie had spilled the whole story to their mother when visiting on the way back home.


“Oh, it’s a typical marriage,” she hedged.


Like you and Dad, Hutch silently filled in.  Affairs all around, but let’s all pretend it’s not happening.


Abruptly, Lorraine said, “I just noticed that your father drank an entire glass of wine.  He’s not supposed to be doing that.”


“Give him a break, Mom.  He was toasting the success of Starsky and Hutchinson, Inc.  I think that’s worth breaking the rules for.”


“Did something significant happen?” she asked.


“No, we’re just still in business and keep getting busier and busier.  According to Dad, that puts us in an elite minority.”


“I’ll put him back on the phone.  Goodnight.”




Hutch had a few more words with his father, and then hung up.





Since Nick was leaving the next morning, Hutch thought it would be worthwhile to pick up around the house.  He ended up doing dusting and vacuuming.  He realized that, between a late lunch and eating food at the bar, Starsky wouldn’t have much interest in dinner. 


Hutch fixed himself a chef salad, and brought it to the living room to eat in front of the TV.  It occurred to him that he’d never spent an evening alone in their house, for the ten months they’d lived there.  Starsky might step out for a quick trip to the grocery store, but he was never gone very long.


It was so comforting to know that Starsky would be coming home before long, and that they would likely go to bed at an early hour.


Lanette’s words came back to him.  “You two playing at being married, right down to having rings.  You have to admit it’s a bit pretentious.”


He felt so sorry for her.


The house phone rang, and Hutch brought his empty bowl to the kitchen and placed it in the sink.  He answered, “Hello?”


“Ken?” A female voice said.




“This is Doris Huntley.”


“Doris, hi,” he said pleasantly.


“I have two numbers for you.  I wasn’t sure if this was the right one.”


“The other is for the office phone, which is a grand total of five steps across the foyer.”


They shared a chuckle.


“What’s happening?” he prompted.


“Well, I just thought I’d try to be the first to snag you and David for Thanksgiving.  It’s less than a month away, if you can believe that.  Have you made plans yet?”


“No.  Starsk and I haven’t talked about it at all yet.”


“Do you think it’s possible then that you could come here and spend it with me and Luke?  There might also be a neighbor from down the street.  A widow.”


“Uh….”  Hutch realized that there wasn’t any reason to put her off.  “Sure.  Let’s plan on it, and if it turns out Starsk has something else going on that he hasn’t told me about yet, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.”


“Oh, that’s wonderful.  I’m so excited about it now.”


He could hear the sincerity in her voice.  He asked, “Do you usually like to have dinner earlier or later?”


“We usually do an early afternoon thing.  About two o’clock.”


“Then don’t think badly of us if we try to squeeze in another dinner in the evening.  If we can get two meals in and visit with two sets of friends, we try to do so.  I think we even made it to three dinners one year.” 


Doris laughed.  “That’s fine,” she said.  “I can imagine that you two are popular guests.  I’ll let Luke know.”


“Great.  Thanks for inviting us, Doris.”


After hanging up, Hutch grabbed the notepad by the phone and wrote down a reminder in big letters, so he wouldn’t forget to tell Starsky. 


The Dobeys almost always invited them, if they were having dinner at their house.  Then there was Starsky’s aunt and uncle.  Sometimes they went to whatever relatives that Huggy was having dinner with.  Occasionally, they had ended up elsewhere, such as a home of some citizen who was extremely grateful for their help as cops.  


When it got down to it, they didn’t suffer any lack of friends.  People were so accustomed to seeing them as a single unit that there were very few who had been bothered by the next step their relationship had taken.  For that matter, they’d never yet run into a client who had taken their business elsewhere, upon finding out the relationship between the two shareholders of Starsky and Hutchinson, Inc.


If we don’t make a big production out of it, then nobody else does either.


It had been hardest for their siblings to swallow.  Lanette much more so than Nick.


The garage door was heard opening.


Hutch felt the sensation of butterflies in his veins.  His love was home.





When the grayness of dawn penetrated the bedroom, Hutch decided to come fully awake, and pushed his pillow up, leaning back against it.  A glance at the clock showed that it was going on seven.


He reached up to where his neck met his shoulder and felt a small swelling.  Starsky had nipped at him last night, leaving various small marks.  Usually, their lovemaking leaned heavily toward the patient, gentle, and tender, but Starsky’s actions, as promised, had unleashed an element of roughness and possessive desire.


He loves me so much.


Hutch let the truth of that – already long known – sink in once again. 


Starsky rolled over onto his stomach, facing Hutch, sighing softly with his eyes still closed.  Hutch reached down and scratched lightly at the back of Starsky’s hairline.


Starsky cracked his eyes open.  He draped an arm over Hutch’s thigh.  After a time, he asked, “How you doing?”


“I’m great, buddy.”


“You’re okay about Lanette?”


“Beyond the fact that I feel really sorry for her.”


Starsky shifted, leaning his shoulder against an upright pillow.  “She certainly seemed pretty fatalistic about relationships.”


“You and Nick have a good time?”


“Yeah.  We’re a lot more relaxed around each other now.  Don’t know what he’s going to do when he gets back home, though.  He has a job where he makes deliveries for some kind of delivery service.  I didn’t bother asking if he’s still into shady stuff.  Probably.”  He snorted.


“It would be easy to be, with a job like that.”


“Yeah.”  Starsky brightened.  “You know what I was thinking last night when I was out with him?”


“No.  What?”


“That I couldn’t remember the last time you and I weren’t together for an evening, except for when you went to Minnesota last spring.  Must have been years ago, Hutch.  Probably before Gunther.  I think we were always together, either in the hospital, or when I recovering, after that.”


Hutch smiled warmly.  “I was thinking about that, too.  I couldn’t remember when I’d ever been in this house alone, at night.”


“You were lonely?”


Hutch’s smile broadened.  “Not as long as I knew you were coming home.”


“We’re going to be spending entire nights away from each other, starting tonight, with us traveling to different states.”


“Guess I’ll have to get to know my right hand again,” Hutch teased.


“No, you won’t,” Starsky growled.  “I’ll take such good care of you before we leave, that your cock won’t want to meet your hand.  Besides, there’s no way your hand can imitate what my throat does to your cock head.”


“Ain’t that the truth,” Hutch relented seriously.


They heard noises from the hall.  Then swearing.  Then an unnecessarily loud pounding at their bedroom door.  “David!”


“For godsakes,” Starsky muttered.  He made sure the covers were pulled up to their waists, and sat up straighter.  “Come in.”


Nick flung the door open.  “I just looked at my ticket and my plane leaves at eight-thirty, not ten-thirty.”


“All right.  Get your stuff ready.  The airport is less than a half hour away.”


Hutch had his hands resting behind his head.  “Good morning, Nick.”


“Morning,” Nick muttered, eyes averted.  He turned and closed the door.


Starsky pushed the covers away.  “Geez.  I asked him twice yesterday when his flight was leaving, and he said ten-thirty.”  He left the bed.


“It’s not like it’s a problem.  I’ll just drop those photos off with Mrs. Dennan, and I’ll call some of those businesses back east, so hopefully we can get done with a few more files before we take our own flights later today.”


Starsky turned on the shower and disappeared into the stall a moment later.


Home sweet home, Hutch thought.  It was going to be all the sweeter when they returned from their trips to Nevada and Texas, and their house was theirs again.









Comments to


Main Menu Starsky & Hutch Menu Adventure Menu