(c) July 2012 by Charlotte Frost



Captain Kirk said, "Well, this is an Enterprise first. Doctor McCoy, Mister Spock and Engineer Scott find themselves in complete agreement. Can I stand the strain?"

"Ha-ha," Starsky chuckled.

Hutch grunted as the credits rolled.

Starsky collected beer bottles on the coffee table.  "Want another?"

"Na.  Just need the little boy's room."  Hutch got up.

Starsky spent some time throwing away trash.  He then decided on water for Hutch, and a soda for himself.  It was only mid afternoon, and he was leery of getting drunk once again with Hutch.  Apparently, Hutch seemed leery, as well.

You're getting better, pal.  The fact that Hutch was willing to act as Nancy's replacement for the Sunday Star Trek marathon was encouraging.  Hutch was coming out of his shell.  He actually hadn't been too resistant since Gillian's death three weeks ago, but he had often carried the air of one who was being tolerant of being prompted to participate in social activities, rather than one who was genuinely interested.  Still, steps continued to move in the right direction.

Starsky opened a bag of Dorritos and poured it into a bowl.  He then grabbed a jar of salsa and some paper plates, and proceeded to the sofa. 

When Hutch came back to the living room, he asked, "How many more episodes are there?"

"Four, I think."

Hutch landed heavily on the sofa with a sigh.  "Don't know if I'm going to last that long."

"You'll last that long."  Starsky grabbed a handful of chips and put them on the paper plate in front of Hutch.  Then he poured some salsa onto the plate.

"I'm stuffed," Hutch protested.

"Then I'll eat them, after I clean off my plate," Starsky stated reasonably.

Another Star Trek episode was beginning.

Hutch grumbled, "I'm going to have that stupid theme song playing in my head for the next year."

Starsky settled back with a paper plate in his lap and looked at the TV screen.  "They must be showing them in order, since this is another third season one.  The letters are in blue."

Hutch regarded Starsky for a long moment.  "You're starting to scare me.  You know far too much about this show than any grown man should."

Starsky shrugged.  "I've always liked Star Trek.  It's just that Nancy is a big fanatic and I've learned lots more about the background stuff. from listening to her.  She's even corresponded with somebody who used to work on the set."  Okay, Starsky knew that this was probably the fourth time he'd mentioned that fact during the marathon, but it was a cool fact.  He felt bad that Nancy's uncle had been hospitalized with a heart attack, forcing her to miss the all-day marathon she had been looking forward to for weeks.

Hutch grinned.  "So, you're just dating her for her behind-the-scenes knowledge.  That's the only explanation for why you've stayed with her so long, since she's not your type."

"Come on, Hutch.  She's a nice girl."

"Since when are you into 'nice' girls?"

Starsky waved him off.  "Shhh.  It's starting."

Captain's log, stardate 5843.7. The Enterprise is in the grip of a raging epidemic. Three crewmen have died and twenty-three others have been struck down by Rigelian fever. In order to combat the illness, Doctor McCoy needs large quantities of ryetalyn, which is the only known antidote for the fever. Our sensors have picked up sufficient quantities of pure ryetalyn on a small planet in the Omega system. We are beaming down to secure this urgently needed material.

As the three main characters solidified on the TV screen, Hutch said, "No redshirts.  So, I guess nobody gets killed."

After some initial conversation from the three leads, a threatening robot appearted, suspended in the air.  Hutch complained, "We saw this one earlier."

"No we didn't," Starsky protested.  "That was a different robot.  And that was a second season episode."

Hutch rolled his eyes.

A man appeared, ordered the robot, M-4, not to kill, and introduced himself as Flint.

"He looks like a Romulan," Hutch said, sounding bored.

"No, he isn't.  He doesn't have pointed ears.  Eat your chips."

Hutch leaned forward and inserted a couple of chips into his mouth.  He crunched noisily.

Starsky gave him a scolding look, and then watched as the Enterprise officers were shown to an extremely elaborate house, decorated with obviously expensive art and furniture.

There was a scene of Flint and an exceedingly attractive young blonde woman, watching the Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on some kind of TV screen.

"Oh, I remember this," Starsky said.  "She's an android.  She's not real."

Sarcastically, Hutch said, "Thanks for giving away all the suspense."

The woman, called Rayna by Flint, said, "One is not human."

Flint said, "The Vulcan."

"Oh, so that is a Vulcan. I would like to discuss sub-dimensional physics with him. You've taught me all you know in the area and you say Vulcans know more."

Hutch said, "So, she's going to go after Spock."

"No," Starsky enjoyed correcting.  "Kirk."

Flint told her, "Even he is not your intellectual equal, nor mine."

She pleaded, "Let me meet them."

Flint almost kissed Rayna and asked, "Have you been lonely?"

"What is loneliness?"

"It is a thirst.  It is a flower dying in the desert."

"Oh, for God's sake," Hutch said, rubbing his hand back through his hair.  "I hate when this show tries to get deep."

Starsky said patiently, "She's a robot, so he has to explain about feelings to her."

"Why doesn't he just fuck her?"

Starsky snorted.  "Looks like he wants to, doesn't it?"  He was grateful for the crudity, and that he didn't have to tip toe around feelings left too tender and raw from Gillian.

"What?  Those two have been alone on the planet together, and he's never done her?"

"I don't remember," Starsky admitted.

The robot appeared again, and the Star Trek regulars watched it warily.  Then it dropped a plastic bag onto the table.  McCoy scanned it and announced that it's ryetalyn. 

Kirk ordered, "Beam up to the ship and start processing."

Flint said, "That will not be necessary, Captain. M-4 can prepare the ryetalyn for inoculation more quickly in my laboratory than you could aboard your ship."

McCoy cautioned, "I would like to supervise that, of course."

"And when you are satisfied as to procedures, I hope you will do me the honor of being my guests at dinner."

Kirk said, "Thank you, Mister Flint. I don't think we have the time."

Flint responded, " I regret my earlier inhospitality. Let me make amends."  He held out his hand and Rayna appeared.  "Gentlemen, may I present Rayna."

Upon seeing Kik's reaction to the beautiful blonde, Hutch muttered, "Instant hard-on."

"Yeah," Starsky agreed with amusement.  "Can you blame him?"

Flint was explaining, "Her parents were killed in an accident while in my employ. Before dying, they placed their infant, Rayna Kapec, in my custody. I have raised and educated her."  After more small talk, he went on to say, "Rayna possesses the equivalent of seventeen university degrees in the sciences and arts. She is aware that the intellect is not all. But its cultivation must come first or the individual makes errors, wastes time in unprofitable pursuits."

McCoy said, "At her age, I rather enjoyed errors with no noticeable damage, but I must admit you're the farthest thing from a bookworm I've ever seen."

Rayna said, "Flint is my teacher. You are the only other men I've ever seen."

Hutch shifted to relax against the arm of the sofa, bringing his sock-covered feet onto the seat, where they stretched across Starsky's lap.  "Uh-oh.  You know this is bad news.  She's never seen another man's cock before."

Starsky chuckled, but admonished, "Shh."  He leaned back against his own sofa arm, leaving Hutch's ankles to rest against one knee.

They watched as Kirk and Rayna played billards, the beautiful woman doing so expertly.  Hutch asked, "Does she know she's an android?"

"I don't think so," Starsky replied.  "I don't really remember."  On the screen, Spock was playing with a piano.

Flint said, "Why don't you play the waltz, Mister Spock? To be human is also to seek pleasure, to laugh, to dance. Rayna is a most accomplished dancer."

Kirk held out his hand to Rayna.  "May I have the pleasure?" 

Starsky suddenly laughed as he watched Kirk and Rayna dance.  "Nancy's friend said that William Shatner got a hard-on when they were filming this scene, and Leonard Nimoy was laughing so much that he fell onto the floor."

Hutch scowled, "How would Nancy's friend know that?  She made that up, or else it's just gossip."

Starsky was still grinning.  "Well, they are awefully close together, and Rayna is really beautiful.  Besides, look how tight those uniform pants are.  If you got a woody, other people would notice."

"I don't believe it," Hutch insisted.  But he was grinning, too.

They watched silently as McCoy appeared and announced that the ritalyn contained an ingredient that rendered it useless.  Flint expressed regret and said that he and his robot, M-4, would gather more, and he would screen it himself.  After Kirk and McCoy discussed the disaster it would be if all the ritalyn was bad, a commercial came on.

Hutch said sarcastically, "How much you want to bet that they stop the epidemic in time?"

"Of course, they will," Starsky replied with a wave of his hand.  "But that's just background drama.  What do you think is going to happen with Kirk and Rayna?"

Hutch muttered, "She's probably going to die, of course."

Starsky's mind skirted away from that thought, as it was hitting a little too close to reality.  He admitted, "I don't remember."

The commercial ended.

Captain's log, stardate 5843.75. Have I committed a grave error in accepting Flint's word that he would deliver the antidote to us? The precious time I have let pass may result in disaster for the Enterprise and her crew.  

Kirk was in a laboratory room, and watched as Rayna entered and went to stand near a closed door.

Kirk came up to her and said, "You left us.  The room became lonely."

Rayna replied, "It is a thirst, a flower dying in the desert."

Kirk asked, "What?" in puzzlement.  Then, noticing her attention on the closed door.  "What's in there?"

Rayna said, "I do not know. Flint told me never to enter. He denies me nothing else."

Hutch asked, "What's in there?"

Starsky thought hard.  "I think maybe other androids in various stages of development."

Kirk was asking her, "Are you happy here with Flint?"

She replied,  "He is the greatest, kindest, wisest man in the galaxy."

After her confused look, Kirk embraced her, and the robot entered the room in a threatening manner.  Kirk moved away and tried to use his phaser against it, but it wouldn't work.  Just as Kirk was cornered by M-4, Spock suddenly appeared and shot it with his phaser, making it disappear.

Hutch chuckled happily.  "Spock to the rescue!"  He pulled his knee up, so that the ball of his foot rested against the side of Starsky's leg.

Kirk said as a sincere understatement, "Thank you, Mister Spock."

Spock responded, "Fortunately, the robot did not detect my presence and deactivate my phaser."

Starsky reached for more chips, while the players on the screen discussed how the robot perceived Kirk to be a threat to Rayna, and so attacked him.  A new robot appeared, and Flint expalined that he had various duplicates.

Flint said, "Doctor McCoy's in the laboratory with the new ryetalyn. He's satisfied as to its quality. May I suggest that you wait here patiently, safely. You have seen that my defense systems operate automatically and not always in accordance with my wishes. Come, Rayna. Rayna! Come."

After Rayna reluctantly moved away from Kirk, to leave with Flint, Kirk said, "I don't like the way he orders her around."

Spock said,  "Since we are dependent on Mister Flint for the ryetalyn, Captain, may I respectfully suggest that you pay less attention to the young lady if you should encounter her again. Our host's interests do not appear to be confined to art and science."

Hutch chuckled.  "You tell him, Spock!"

Kirk asked, "He loves her?" 

Spock replied, "Strongly indicated."

Hutch nudged Starsky with his foot.  "How come Spock has to explain about love?"

"Shhh!" Starsky said, tugging on Hutch's clothed toe to emphasize his reprimmand.

"Jealousy," Kirk said.  "Yes, that would explain the attack, but he seemed to want us together. The billiard game. He suggested we dance."

Spock said, "It does appear to defy the male logic as I understand it."

Starsky chuckled at the Spockism.

Kirk checked in with the Enterprise and found that nearly everyone on board had the Rigelian fever.  He also asked Uhura to check into the background of Flint and Rayna.

Spock told Kirk, "I was able to run a tricorder scan on Mister Flint. He is human, but there are certain biophysical peculiarities. Some body function readings are disproportionate. For one thing, extreme age is indicated on the order of six thousand years."

Hutch muttered sarcastically, "There's nothing quite like being believeable."

Starsky had to admit, "Yep.  Besides, who would want to live for six thousand years?"

Spock went on to say, "We must commence ryetalyn injections within two hours and eighteen minutes or the epidemic will prove fatal to us all." 

Kirk said, "What's keeping the processing this time?"

The scene switched to Flint and Rayna watching Kirk and Spock on a screen.  Spock said, "The delay may be deliberate."

Kirk agreed, "As though he's keeping us here for some reason."

Spock said, "Most interesting. Our host appears to wish us to linger, yet he is apprehensive. It is logical to assume that we are being monitored and that he is aware of our every move."

"Amazing how Spock knows everything," Hutch said with disapproval.

Starsky quipped, "Kind of like my partner."  He turned his head briefly to grin at Hutch.

Flint had turned off the viewing screen and Rayna asked, "You will let them have the ryetalyn?"

Flint replied, "Yes. Go to them, if you wish. Say your farewells."

Kirk checked in with the Enterprise and found out that Flint and Rayna had no background information.  After closing his communicator, he said to Spock, "People without a past. What hold does he have over her?"

Spock said, "Captain, I would suggest that our immediate concern is the ryetalyn."

Hutch scoffed, "Incredible that he has to remind Kirk of the that.  The crew is dying and all Kirk cares about is fucking Rayna."

Though Starsky didn't disagree, he countered, "Well, he is known as the stud of the universe."

Kirk ordered Spock to the lab and was alone with Rayna.  She said, "I've come to say goodbye." 

Kirk said firmly, "I don't want to say goodbye."

The scene switched to Flint watching on a screen as Kirk kissed Rayna, and she responded back.  Flint muttered, "A last tender encounter, Captain Kirk, to end your usefulness."

"What usefulness?" Hutch demanded.

"He's made Rayna have feelings."

"That seems quite a leap.  They just met a little while ago."

Starsky grinned, "Kirk's a stud."  Then, "Shh."

In the lab, McCoy was telling Spock that the ryetalyn had suddenly disappeared.  Spock said, "Interesting. Obviously, Mister Flint is not yet ready for us to depart." 

In another room, Kirk was saying to Rayna, "Come with me.  I offer you happiness."

Rayna said, "I've know security here."

Kirk insisted, "Childhood must end.  You love me, not Flint."

Rayna then dashed from the room.

Hutch grumbled, "Isn't the two-hour deadline up by now?  Kirk ought to be court-martialed for caring more about his cock."

Starsky boasted, "Sometimes we men can't help but care most about our cocks."

The three Enterprise officers were at the closed door that Flint had told Rayna never to enter.  Spock was using his tricorder.  "Picking up tricorder readings, Captain. Apparently the ryetalyn is behind this door."

Kirk wondered, "Why is Flint playing tricks on us? Apparently we're supposed to go in and get it, if we can. Well, let's not disappoint the chess master. Phasers on full."

The door suddenly opened by itself, and Spock said,  "Captain, I shall get the ryetalyn." 

Kirk asked, "Why you?"

Spock said, "There may be dangers within."

Hutch said seriously, "He's protecting Kirk."

"Yeah," Starsky recalled, "because there's other versions of Rayna behind the door."

Kirk insisted that they all three go in the room.  They find the rytealyn... and model-like figures of women in various stages of production, lying on tables.  They were signs next to each one that said "Rayna 14", "Rayna 15", and "Rayna 16". 

The TV screen went to a commercial.

Hutch ran his hand through his hair.  "I don't know, buddy.  Rayna is a beautiful woman, but Kirk is looking like a buffoon in this."

Starsky admitted, "He usually ends up looking like a buffoon in one way or another.  But also a hero."  Starsky leaned forward and grabbed some chips.  He dipped them into salsa, before shoving them into his mouth.

"What, he hasn't been laid in six months or something?" Hutch wondered.  "So, he wants Rayna to be on the ship with him and be his personal android?"

"He didn't know she was an android, until just now."

"But Spock obviously figured it out, since he was trying to protect Kirk from finding out."

"He has that tricorder thingy."

Hutch grunted and said with sarcasm, "The tricorder thingy that conveniently has the answers to everything."

Starsky countered, "But the tricorder can't care about Kirk the way Spock can."

Hutch mused, "He's not supposed to have feelings."

"He's half human," Starsky reminded.  "We've seen evidence before that he cares about Kirk a whole, whole lot."  As Starsky shoved more chips into his mouth, he eyed Hutch pointedly.

Hutch looked away and took a sip of water.

The episode came back on.

Captain's log, stardate 5843.8. We have accomplished our mission and have the ryetalyn ready to combat the epidemic aboard the Enterprise. But we have also discovered our benefactor's secret. He has created the perfect woman. Her only flaw, she’s not human.

Hutch said, "The perfect woman?  What does that mean?  That's she's got a perfect pussy or something?"

Starsky laughed out loud.  "You're disgusting."

"Well, you know she was created with sex in mind, if this Flint guy has lived for six thousand years.  That's a long time to have blue balls."

They tunred there attention back to the TV, where Flint admitted he was immortal, and he'd been such famous people as Brahms and da Vinci.

Spock asked, "You were born?"

Flint replied,  "In that region of Earth later called Mesopotamia, in the year 3834 BC, as the millennia are reckoned. I was Akharin, a soldier, a bully and a fool. I fell in battle, pierced to the heart and did not die."

McCoy offered, "Instant tissue regeneration coupled with some perfect form of biological renewal. You learned that you were immortal and -- "

Flint interrupted, "And to conceal it. To live some portion of a life, to pretend to age and then move on before my nature was suspected."

After more discussion of all Flint had known through the centuries, Spock said, "You wanted a perfect, ultimate woman, as brilliant, as immortal as yourself. Your mate for all time."

Flint agreed, "Designed by my heart. I could not love her more."

Kirk abruptly asked, "Spock, you knew?"

Hutch scoffed, "God, he's clueless for a starship captain."

Spock said, "I had hoped I was wrong."

Flint said, "You cannot love an android, Captain. I love her. She is my handiwork, my property. She is what I desire."

Kirk asked him, "You brought me here to learn this? Does she know?"

Flint said firmly, "She will never know."

Hutch asked, "Never know that she's an android?"

Starsky said, "I think that's what he means."

Abruptly, Kirk said, "Let's go."

Flint countered, "You will stay."

"Why?" Kirk demanded.

Spock said, "We have discovered what he is, Captain."

Flint acknowledged, "If you leave, the curious would follow, the foolish, the meddlers, the officials, the seekers. My privacy was my own. Its invasion will be on your head."

They bantered more with Flint, and then he pressed a button, and a model of the Enterprise suddenly appeared on the table, its crew inside in suspended animation.

Hutch groaned.  "Oh, great.  He's all-powerful, too."

McCoy demanded of Flint, "You would do this to us?"

Flint said, "The flowers of my past. I hold the nettles of the present. I am Flint now, with my needs."

Kirk asked, "What needs?"

Flint replied, "Tonight I have seen something wondrous, something I've waited for, laboured for. Nothing must endanger it. At last, Rayna's emotions have stirred to life. Now they will turn to me in this solitude which I preserve."

Hutch asked, "He hasn't fucked her, because she doesn't have emotion?"

Starsky shrugged, "Makes it kind of pointless, even if you're desperate."

Rayna had appeared and said to Flint, "You must not do this to them."

Flint countered, "I must."

Spock asked of Rayna, "What will you feel for him after we are gone?"

Wtih enthusiasm, McCoy put in, "All emotions are in play, Mister Flint.  You harm us, she hates you."

Kirk insisted, "Give me back my ship.  Your secret is safe with us."

The Enterprise disappeared from the table and was shown back in orbit around the planet.

Kirk said, "That's why you delayed the processing of the ryetalyn. You realized what was happening. You kept us together, Rayna and me, because you knew I could bring her emotions alive. And now you’re just going to take over?"

Flint said, "I shall take what is mine when she comes to me. We are mated, Captain, alike, immortal. You must forget your feelings in this matter, which is quite impossible for you."

Agitated, Kirk said, "Impossible? Impossible. From the beginning, you used me. I can't love her, but I do love her. And she loves me."

Flint said, "No!" and the two lunged at each other.

As they fought, Spock said, "Captain, your primitive impulses will not alter the circumstances."

Kirk shouted, "Stay out of this! We're fighting over a woman". 

Hutch burst out laughing.  "And in the meantime, everyone on the Enterprise is dying of the fever."

Spock countered, "No, you're not, for she is not."

As Kirk and Flint continued to fight, Rayna said with distress, "I cannot be the cause of this. I will not be the cause of this. Please stop. Stop! I choose where I want to go."

Kirk and Flint stopped fighting.

Rayna continued, "What I want to do. I choose. I choose."

Hutch said, in a feminine voice, "I'm not a dumb floozie!"

Starsky snorted but didn't comment.

Flint tried to admonish Rayna, but she said, "No. Do not order me. No one can order me!"

Kirk emphatically declared, "She's human. Down to the last blood cell, she's human. Down to the last thought, hope, aspiration, emotion, she’s human. The human spirit is free. You have no power of ownership. She's free to do as she wishes."

Hutch muttered, "Now we get the over-dramatic Kirk.  In the meantime, everyone on the ship is dying of the fever...."

Starsky chuckled.

Spock said, "Gentlemen, I urge you to stop. There is a danger."

Flint growled, "No man beats me."

Kirk countered happily, "I don't want to beat you. This is no test of power. Rayna belongs to herself and she claims the human right of choice to be as she wills, to do as she wills, to think as she wills."

Hutch added,  "And she has the perfect pussy."

Starsky grabbed a big toe and squeezed it in reprimmand.


Flint declared, "That's what I've worked for."

Kirk ordered, "Rayna, come with me."

Flint ordered, "Stay."

Rayna was clearly struggling as she said, "I was not human. Now I love. I love."  Suddenly, she collasped to the floor.

Hutch glanced at Starsky, "She's not dead?"

"Think so," Starsky replied in a low voice.

Spock said, "She loved you, Captain. And you, too, Mister Flint, as a mentor, even as a father. There was not enough time for her to adjust to the awful power and contradictions of her new-found emotions. She could not bear to hurt either of you. The joys of love made her human, and the agonies of love destroyed her."

Subdued, Hutch said, "Once again, Spock is the one with all the answers about love."

Starsky felt that the words on the show were hitting a little too close to home.  He was grateful that the episode now switched back to Kirk's quarters on the Enterprise, for the final scene.

Spock entered and said, "The epidemic is reduced and no longer a threat. The Enterprise is on course five one three mark seven, as you ordered."

At his desk, Kirk mused tiredly, "A very old and lonely man. And a young and lonely man. We put on a pretty poor show, didn't we? If only I could forget."  He put his head down, on top of his crossed arms.

McCoy entered and said, "Oh, thank heaven, sleeping at last."

Spock quietly ordered, "Your report, Doctor."

McCoy replied, "Those tricorder readings on Mister Flint are finally correlated: He's dying. You see, Flint, in leaving Earth with all of its complex fields within which he was formed, sacrificed immortality. He'll live the remainder of a normal life span, then die." 

Spock said, "On that day, I shall mourn. Does he know?"

"Yes, I told him myself," McCoy replied.  "He intends to devote the remainder of his years and great abilities to the improvement of the human condition. And who knows what he might come up with."

"Indeed," Spock said.

McCoy went on, "I can tell Jim later, or you can. Considering his opponent's longevity, truly an eternal triangle."  He looked at Spock.  "You wouldn't understand that, would you, Spock? You see, I feel sorrier for you than I do for him because you'll never know the things that love can drive a man to. The ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures, the glorious victories. All of these things you'll never know simply because the word love isn't written into your book."  He turned.  "Goodnight, Spock."

Spock said, "Goodnight, Doctor."

McCoy looked at Kirk's sleeping form and said, "I do wish he could forget her."  He then left.

Slowly, Spock moved over to Kirk.  He put his fingers on Kirk's face in the form of a Vulcan mindmeld.  He whispered, "Forget."

Hutch drew a sharp breath, his eyes on the screen.  "Oh. My God."

Starsky couldn't believe that he'd forgotten this part.

Hutch continued, "Spock does know about love."

The credits rolled and Starsky stared at them.  He swallowed thickly.  "At least, where Kirk is concerned."

"I'm surprised that they had the balls to air that.  I mean, some could think that Kirk and Spock are fags."

Starsky stood and gathered their paper plates from the coffee table.  "Like some think you and I are?"  He glanced over his shoulder with a droll smile.

Hutch shrugged.  "It's just talk.  I don't think anybody genuinely believes that about us."

"And I don't genuinely believe it about Kirk and Spock."  Starsky went to the kitchen.

As he busied himself, he couldn't get the image of what they'd just seen out of his mind.  What a powerful act of love that had been, for Spock to take away Kirk's pain.

Starsky felt his throat tighten.  As he stood at the kitchen sink, he reached to his face and felt the remnants of the soreness that had persisted at his jaw for over a week, after Hutch had belted him so strongly.  The grief and pain that had been behind that punch....

"You need anything?" Starsky called over his shoulder.

"Na.  Another episode is starting."

Starsky wasn't sure that he was as interested.  "Gotta take a leak."  He abruptly turned and moved through the living room, to the bathroom.

As he tended to his task, he wished he had something at his disposal as powerful as a Vulcan mindmeld.

Not that Hutch was doing that badly, all things considered.  Hopefully, Nancy would be back in time for their weekly bowling night.  Maybe she would even follow through with her intent to find an attractive friend to introduce to Hutch.  To start down the path to making him forget Gillian.


As Starsky emerged from the bathroom, Hutch said, "This is the hippy episode.  I know I've seen it before.  It's funny."

Starsky halted next to Hutch's side of the sofa, which Hutch was still resting back against.  He brushed a thumb along Hutch's cheek in warning, and then placed his fingers in some semblance of a Vulcan mindmeld.  He leaned down and whispered, "Forget."  I love you.

After an extended moment, Hutch gently took Starsky's hand away from his face.  He squeezed it.  Without looking up, he whispered, "I love you, too."  He held the hand in a gentle clasp, and then released it.

Starsky felt heartened, and warm inside, as he plopped down on his side of the sofa.

After a long moment of silence, while the episode played on the TV, Hutch said quietly, "You know, even if I could forget, I don't think I would."  He shook his head.  "Our pain is part of what makes us who we are.  It's part of what defines us."

Starsky said, in a voice that surprised him at its unsteadiness, "Just wish you could have the memory without the hurt."

Hutch presented a gentle smile.  "The hurt is fading, buddy.  Little by little, every day."

Starsky nodded, his throat heavy.

Hutch nudged him with a foot.  "Don't think for a minute that you aren't helping."

Starsky quickly turned his attention to the TV screen. 

So Hutch couldn't see the shimmer in his eyes.




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