by Charlotte Frost  (c) January 2015


A sequel to December's Folly


Hutch was looking forward to the weekend.  Of course, with the calendar having turned over to February 1st, it meant that one of his primary duties was going to be paying household bills.  That was going to wait until tomorrow morning, when he could get the checks in the mail before the postman came.  Tonight, he intended to sit in front of the television with Starsky to watch their favorite Friday programs.

His phone buzzed.  "Ken?  Mrs. Whitford is on two.  She's wondering what the status is of tracing her family history."

Hutch rolled his eyes.  The two family history jobs their firm had started a couple of months ago were a pain in the ass.  For starters, it was difficult getting the clients to give them any meaningful information that they could work with.  The clients seemed to think that if they just gave them a few names and birth dates, that they could take it from there.  While there was some truth to that, there would be enormous time and cost involved.  Starsky, who had taken those jobs upon himself, had to therefore prompt the clients to contact relatives for more concrete information.  Hutch replied, "Please tell her that we'll call her back.  It might not be until Monday morning."

"All right."

Hutch could hear Starsky typing on the computer in his office.  He got up and moved through their connecting door.  "Starsk."  He took a seat before Starsky's desk.

"What?" Starsky asked, as he continued to type.

"Mrs. Whitford wants a status report.  Have you gotten anywhere?"

Starsky looked up at him.  "I've sent some questionnaires out to relatives she gave me addresses for.  Only gotten one of them back, and that grandmother wasn't very forthcoming."

Curiously, Hutch asked, "What was on the questionnaire?"

Starsky indicated a stack of books on his desk corner.  "I've been reading up on how to go about this.  One of these books had a questionnaire to use, to ask relatives for information.  So, I had Lois type one up, and send copies out to all the addresses Mrs. Whitford gave us."  He shrugged.  "So, if Mrs. Whitford wants this to go faster, she needs to get on the phone and tell her relatives to send back the questionnaire."

Hutch grimaced.  "This isn't very cost effective, is it?"

Starsky shrugged.  "Did you expect it to be, the first go-around?  It's a learning process.  I think that, once I get familiar with it, and we can figure out how to streamline it, it could be a money-maker." 

Hutch protested, "But we haven't gotten any more calls since those first ones."

"That's because those calls were based upon that one newspaper article.  If we did some pro-active advertising, I'm thinking we could get some more.  We just have to figure out the process, and I'm not ready yet to have a process in place."  Then he said, "I'll call Mrs. Whitford in a few minutes, and ask her to prod her relatives."  He presented a faint smile.   "What little bit I have been able to find out about this particular family is kind of interesting; I mean, this whole process is interesting.  But there's a lot of time involved.  That's what people need to understand."

Hutch wasn't very optimistic that the two jobs Starsky was working on were going to be beneficial to the firm, but he was grateful that he didn't need to be involved.  "Make sure you tell Mrs. Whitford to ask for you the next time she calls, so I don't get the calls."

Starsky's phone beeped, and Lois said, "David, it's Milton Bloomberg on one."

Starsky looked at Hutch with pleasant surprise, while saying, "Okay."

Hutch sat in the chair while line one rang in Starsky's office.  Last month they had, finally, met with Milton Bloomberg, Starsky's publishing agent, and Daniel Wildenstein, who was going to include their UFO abduction chapter in his latest book.  Wildenstein was a dark, tall, slender, serious individual, who came from upper middle class wealth, that Hutch would never have guessed was interested in other-worldly types of subjects.  But he was all professional, with his various follow-up questions, after meeting with Starsky's doctor, and listening to their audio recording with the therapist, after the abduction.  The audio tape was something that neither he nor Starsky had ever had any interest in listening to.  For that matter, after the meeting, they admitted to each other that they had felt uneasy at answering Wildenstein's questions, because it brought back something that both of them had long since moved past.  Once Wildenstein had left their meeting, Bloomberg had turned his attention to Starsky's re-write, which Starsky had submitted to him last fall.  Bloomberg was mostly happy, but still had the further assignment of a final polish.  Thankfully, Starsky had been determined to dive into the changes right away, and he'd gotten the second re-write back to the agent last week.

Starsky pushed the speaker button upon answering.  "Hi, Milton.  Hutch is here, too."

"Hi," Hutch said.

"Hello," Bloomberg greeted.  "This is just a short call to let you know, David, that I'm happy with your second-re-write, and will now start shopping your book to publishers.  I'll start with the ones I have the strongest ties to, and branch out from there."

Starsky's face lit up, as he looked at Hutch. "All right!"

"That's wonderful," Hutch said, grinning.

"I just want to caution you, that this can be a rather long process.  Continue on with your lives, and don't get discouraged."  Then, dryly, "I'll be the one to let you know when sufficient time has past, and you're therefore welcome to become discouraged."

Starsky chuckled.  "We'll try to keep that in mind."

Hutch said, "I suppose, then, it could be a while before Wildenstein's book is published, too."

"No, actually, his will probably be out by the end of the year.  He's under contract with his regular publisher, to write additional books after his first, so he's in a different situation."

"Oh," Hutch said, envying the relatively easy time Wildenstein had with his book, since he was already a published author.

Starsky said, "I hadn't realized his would come out first."  He looked at Hutch.  "I wonder if we'll want to let friends and family know when it's out, and that one of the chapters is about us, even though our book won't be out yet."

Hutch hadn't considered that possibility, either, and his stomach tightened at the idea of suddenly the whole world knowing what had happened to them one night in Virginia, a few years ago.  He quickly covered up his extreme feeling of exposure by soothing, "We'll have plenty of time to discuss how to handle it."

"That, you do," Bloomberg agreed.  "No one will ever know that the two men in that chapter are you two, unless you tell them.  Daniel will never reveal your true identities, and neither will I."

"Appreciate it," Starsky said, looking at Hutch.

Hutch nodded, seeing the same unease in Starsky's eyes, as he was feeling himself.  Once the cork was out of the bottle, there would be no taking it back.  At the moment, he was leaning toward the idea of not telling anyone that Wildenstein's book included a chapter about them.  Certainly, not before Starsky's book was out.

"Then I'll let you go, gentlemen.  Most likely, I won't be back in touch, until I have something specific to tell you about the progress of your manuscript.  Of course, you're welcome to call me for an update, if you desire."

With a nervous laugh, Starsky said, "We'll try not to."

"Good day, gentlemen."

Starsky cut the line.  He drew a long, slow breath, and looked at Hutch.  "Now that my part's all done, I wonder if I'm really ready for this -- my book or Wildenstein's book.  I mean, the idea of everybody being able to know about us...."

"Yeah," Hutch said with a sigh of his own.  "At least, we won't actually be tied into anything with your book, until we actually sign a contract.  Sounds like that could still be a while."

"Yeah.  I think the fact that it could take a long time is probably a good thing," Starsky muttered, "so we can get used to the idea."


Hutch sat at the kitchen table on Saturday afternoon, writing checks to pay bills.  He felt a headache coming on, as he went through the process.  There were the regular household utilities and yard maintenance bills; miscellaneous household incidentals, such as magazine subscriptions; medical and dental bills for the portion that wasn't covered by insurance; enormous monthly premiums for their insurance, both health and auto; the monthly invoice from their personal trainer; board, and routine vet and blacksmith bills for Poncho; plus, similar types of bills for Darla.  And then there were his and Starsky's credit card statements. 

Hutch used to write checks for most of his expenses, but he was using his credit card more often, because of the convenience.  Starsky always used his credit card for purchases, since Hutch could then write one check for it, and they wouldn't have to worry about tracking checks from two people with one register.

Now, Hutch picked up the monthly bill for Starsky's credit card.  It went on for two full pages.  Most of the expenses were small items of just a few dollars.  But still....

"Starsky."  Hutch decided that Starsky must not have heard him, from where he was gathering laundry from their bedroom.  He raised his voice.  "Starsky!"

Starsky came down the hall with a laundry basket.  "What?"

Hutch held up the statement and demanded, "How come your credit card bill is so high this month?"

Starsky shrugged.  "I dunno.  What's on it?"  He hoisted the laundry basket on top of the dryer.

Hutch browsed through the lines.  ''There's all this little stuff.  Then the hobby store stuff.  Gas and groceries."  Finally, Hutch got to what was annoying him.  "How come you go to Walgreens almost every day?"

Starsky appeared in the kitchen with another shrug.  "It's right there on the corner, where it's really convenient.  I like stopping there to pick of snacks, usually.  Sometimes things for the house.  Why?"

Hutch's hand shook the statement.  "This is two pages long, with all this crap!  It adds up, buddy!"

Starsky put is back against the refrigerator and crossed his arms, his jaw firm.  "So?"

Hutch knew this confrontation was going to be doozy.  He wasn't going to be the one backing down.  "You're spending too much money.  Why can't you buy snacks in bulk at the grocery store, instead of every day like this, when it's more expensive?"

Starsky waved a hand.  "For God's sakes, Hutch.  We're talking two or three dollars a day."

"Added to thirty or forty dollars a week at the hobby store.  And all the other stuff."

Starsky nodded.  "Yeah, I buy hobby store stuff, and you buy plant store stuff.  What's the big deal?"

"I don't see how you can be spending this much."

Starsky straightened, his voice hard.  "Okay, let's analyze it.  First, buddy boy, I spend a whole lot more time out and about than you do.  You spend way more time at the office than me.  So, you're buying your snacks every day at the office vending machines, with the change out of petty cash."

Hutch quickly shook his head, "I don't spend money like this every day."

Starsky's fists clenched and his voice raised.  "Maybe you don't.  But I damn well am not going to have someone dictate to me what I can and can't spend our money on.  Especially small crap like this.  What, are we suddenly in a cash crunch or something?"

"We will be if this keeps up!"

"What are you talking about?  Didn't you just give Carlos a raise, because the firm is doing so well?"

Hutch snapped, "I'm not talking about the firm.  I'm talking about your personal expenses.  You throw money around like you think there's an endless supply."

"There always has been plenty," Starsky huffed loudly, as his face began to turn red.  He shook his finger at Hutch.  "I'm am not going to have to run by you ever little thing I want to buy!  I work just as hard as you do, Hutch.  You don't ever have to explain yourself to me.  I sure as hell as not going to start explaining myself to you."

While Hutch tried to come up with a counter argument, Starsky huffed, "Look, the whole point of me buying all my stuff with a credit card was so I could buy whatever I wanted with our money, and we didn't have to worry about keeping track of it.  Now, all of a sudden, you're questioning me about it?"  He heaved a breath.  "We talk about the big stuff, Hutch.  We discuss it.  Argue about it.  Whatever.  But I am damn well never going to agree to asking your permission for any little thing I want to buy just because I feel like it."

Hutch threw up his hands.  "Fine!  Don't.  Just be clueless about how much it costs us to maintain our lifestyle."

Starsky sputtered beneath his breath, and then moved past the laundry alcove to the door that led to the garage.  It slammed shut behind him.


Starsky decided against a walk at the park when he realized that he hadn't brought a jacket with him.  It was an overcast, blustery day.

Instead, he sat in his car in the parking lot.  His mind swung between wanting to race home and give Hutch another piece of his mind, to feeling compassion for all the financial pressure Hutch took upon himself.

It had become a regular part of their lives that, every so often, Hutch got anxious about the money they spent.  But this was the first time he'd ever gone after Starsky directly about expenses.

That's what angered Starsky the most.  If he spent more than Hutch did, it wasn't by much.  But even that wasn't the point.  It was the idea that Hutch would attack him that was so bothersome.  The very reason they'd made their original arrangement about Starsky using his credit card for all his expenses was because they felt that, unlike most couples, it would be a way of preventing money becoming an issue between them.  Starsky could buy whatever he wanted with a credit card, without Hutch, as the household money manager, having to give him an allowance, or some such.  That had worked perfectly for all these years that they'd been living together.  The only time they argued was concerning a possible expensive purchase.  In such cases, It usually didn't take long for Hutch to come around to Starsky's way of thinking, so the arguments were always worth having.

Starsky tilted his head, as he felt himself smile, despite his jumbled thoughts.  Yes, when it came to large items, he was almost always the one who wanted the item in the first place, and always the one who ended up getting what he wanted.  The only exception he could think of was the addition to the house -- the greenhouse -- which had been Hutch's idea, though it seemed at least as much for Starsky's being able to have a train set, as it had been for Hutch to have more plants.

Yes, Starsky had to admit, he usually always agreed to whatever Hutch wanted, because things always turned out that he got what he wanted.  So, he could hardly sit here and declare Hutch to be a Scrooge of sorts, when things always worked out Starsky's way.

Still, even with that internal concession, Starsky felt the anger flare once again, at the idea of Hutch picking apart his credit card statement, because he spent two or three dollars at Walgreens every day.

He turned the ignition, and sat in the car.  He needed to go home, in a much calmer state, so he and Hutch could hopefully have a rational discussion.  He just wasn't sure how to approach it.

He had a memory, from a couple of years ago, of coming home to find the new issue of Golden State Thoroughbred with themselves on the cover with Darla.  That had been when they'd first signed the lease on their office.  Hutch had been upset, for reasons Starsky didn't quite remember.  It had something to do with his mother not wanting Hutch to help go through his father's things, after his father had passed away a few weeks before.  What he did remember, so clearly, was Hutch demanding of him, "What if we don't deserve all this?  What if I don't deserve it?"

Ah, baby.  He had little doubt, now, that Hutch's current tantrum had a lot less to do with what Starsky was spending, and a lot more to do with the insecurity that Hutch felt himself to not be deserving of the -- literally -- good fortune they had.

Though his anger had disappeared, Starsky still didn't put the Corvette in gear.  He was aware of the adrenaline that was coursing threw him, thanks to the argument.  Hutch was surely feeling likewise.  In fact, too much testosterone, without a healthy outlet, might have had a lot to do with Hutch's outburst, in the first place.

Starsky felt grateful that he and Hutch were pretty much on the same page, when it came to how much or how little interest they had in sex at any given time.  Maybe, recently, they'd both misread the signs of when sex had been needed.

Starsky now smiled as he put the car in gear, and formulated his plan of attack. 


When Starsky entered the house, the table had been cleared. 

Hutch was organizing the pantry, his jaw firm.

Starsky made a point of keeping his demeanor casual.  "You ready to have a conversation about this?"

Hutch snapped, "I'm not the one who marched off in a huff."

Touché, Starsky had to acknowledge.  Cheerfully, he said, "I'm ready, too.  But I don't want to right now."

Hutch looked at him and demanded, "Why not?"  He was holding a can of chili.

"Because there's something way more important that needs our attention right now."

Hutch looked puzzled.  "What?"

Firmly, Starsky said, "Put the chili down."

Hutch glanced at the can.  "Why?"

"Because I said so."

Hutch scoffed, "You don't run everything around here."

Is he ever wanting it, Starsky decided, with relish.  He launched himself at Hutch, pushing at Hutch's chest with both hands, which caused the can to drop loudly to the floor.  Starsky pressed Hutch against the wall, and Hutch's eyes flared in anger as he grabbed Starsky's wrists, and tried to push him away.

The attempt failed, and Starsky planted his lips on Hutch's, and worked a knee between Hutch's legs, so he could rub against his groin.

The fight went out of Hutch, as he sagged against the wall.

That's right, you're mine, Starsky silently declared in triumph.


Hutch became alert over an hour later.  He was stretched out beneath the bed covers, on his stomach, feeling a wonderful lassitude.  Starsky had loved him thoroughly and completely, in a dominating manner.

Thinking about their activities such a short time ago, he smiled.

A hand patted his rear.  Then, a quiet, "We need to talk, buddy boy."

Hutch grunted.  He really wasn't interested in a heartfelt discussion right now, but he owed it.  He made the effort to roll over, and was greeted with Starsky's smile.

Starsky asked, "Do you understand now why I didn't want to talk as soon as I got home?"

Hutch could only mutter, "Smart ass."

Starsky chuckled.  Then he sobered and said, "I really didn't appreciate the way you attacked me about the credit card statement.  That pissed me off."

Hutch quickly assured, "I didn't mean it to come off like an attack."  He felt himself soften.  "Sorry."

Starsky leaned over him.  "'Okay, that's all I need to hear about that.  As for the rest of it, is there something we need to be concerned about?"

Hutch drew a breath, knowing he didn't have a very logical argument.  "It's just the way things keep costing more and more."

Starsky reasoned, "But it's like that for everybody.  Plus, don't we also have more income coming in?"

"Yeah," Hutch agreed hesitantly.  "It's just, what good does it do to have more income, if we also spend more?"

"From everything I've seen, we're still going in the right direction."  Then Starsky's expression softened.  "I think you're just having one of your freak-out moments, when you think we don't deserve all the good things we have."

Hutch thought about that.  Then, "There was a time when I rejected all the materialism I'd grown up with.  Now, here I am, wallowing in it."

Starsky settled down against him.  "Remember when Lanette used to talk about us 'babying' each other?"

Those were memories Hutch would rather forget.

Starsky went on, "We felt we deserved to baby each other.  That we'd earned it.  We both have been through so much pain in our lives.  Physically and emotionally.  As far as I'm concerned, we deserve the good life."  He rubbed his hand against Hutch's chest.  "I mean, it's not like we rank materialism over other things.  We still care, first and foremost, about what we're thinking and feeling.  And we care about helping other people."

Hutch placed his hand on top of Starsky's.  "Yeah."  The only thing he could add, to finish the discussion, was to mutter, "Sorry I freak out sometimes."

A slow grin spread across Starsky's face.  "Well, I think a big part of that had to do with this."  He nodded at the bed.  "We both were kind of wired, I think, because we'd convinced ourselves that sex doesn't need to be as important as it's been in the past, when we had more time for it."  His voice grew warm.  "We love loving each other, baby.  Let's not deny ourselves that, just because we're thinking about other things."

"Sounds good to me."

Starsky kissed Hutch briefly, and then snuggled against him.  "I hope your ass is up for another hard pounding, because you felt so good that my cock wants seconds."


They made love yet again, after getting into bed for the night.

Hutch slept deeply, and was therefore all the slower to come awake from the loud intrusion of the ringing telephone on the nightstand.

He opened his eyes to darkness, and then glanced at the clock, which read 1:27 AM.

What the hell?   He reached for the phone, while feeling Starsky stir beside him.  "Hello?"

A concerned male voice said, "Is Ken there?"

"This is he."  Hutch tried to place the voice.

"Ken, this is Clint Foster at the stables.  Poncho has colic.  I've called the vet."

Hutch was trying to understand the words.  "Poncho?  Colic?"

"Yes.  I'm afraid that it looks bad, Ken.  If they want to transport him to the vet clinic for surgery, I don't think we're going to be able to get him on the trailer.  He's already down in his stall, and I haven't been able to get him up."

Hutch swallowed thickly, his heart pounding.  "I'm heading down there.  I'll keep in contact on the way, since I have a car phone.  Until it gets out of range, close to the stables."  He struggled into a sitting position, and heard Starsky do likewise.

"I don't think you'll be able to reach me," Clint said.  "I'm calling from the main barn.  Poncho's barn doesn't have a phone."

"Oh, right," Hutch muttered.  "I'll be down there as quick as I can."  In the middle of the night, it hopefully wouldn't take the hour that it usually did.

"Uh, if the vet gets here, and it doesn't look good, and they need a decision to be made...."

Hutch's throat tightened, and he barely choked out, "Do what you think is best."


Starsky drove, going eighty.

Beside him, Hutch was silent.

Starsky wanted to be cheerful, as he recalled, from their show jumping insurance fraud case a few years ago, that colic could range anywhere from a mild belly ache, to being fatal.  Starsky wanted to believe the former, but Hutch had said, "Clint says that it looks bad."  Clint was an experienced horseman who would know the difference between mild colic and serious colic.

Starsky's throat was tight as he turned into the long lane that led up to Dusty Creek Riding Stables.  Some lights were on in the main barn, but the large veterinarian truck was parked by the well-lit smaller barn where Poncho was stabled. .

As soon as they opened their car doors, Clint appeared, and Starsky's heart sank upon seeing his expression.

Clint looked from Starsky to Hutch.  "I'm so sorry, Ken.  They euthanized him a few minutes ago."

Starsky felt his eyes water as he moved to clasp Hutch by the waist, and they both followed Clint into the barn.

They heard a man's voice talking in an authortative tone, of one teaching another.  That man, who was dressed in a veterinarian's coat, then stepped back.  "I'm sorry, gentlemen.  Without being able to get him up, there wasn't much we could do for him.  He was already in too much distress."  He moved aside.

Starsky's chest felt full as he and Hutch turned to look into the stall.  In the corner was a sad-looking young man in a lab coat, obviously an intern.

In the stall, on his side, lay Poncho.

Starsky had seen many human bodies in his life, but never an animal as large as a horse.  It bothered him greatly, to see such a magnificent, noble creature, now lying still, eyes open.  His neck was drenched in sweat.

Starsky quickly stepped back behind Hutch, who stood staring at the stall.

Starsky decided to speak first.  "How did this happen?"

The veterinarian replied, "It's impossible to say for certain, without a post-mortem, and those are expensive.  Probably, it was a blocked bowel.  That can happen from any number of causes.  There's a lot of things that can cause colic."

Clint said, "I got up to check on a mare in the main barn that has been sick.  She was doing fine.  Then I decided to come back through this barn, because there's a bridle in the tack room that I wanted to use for a lesson tomorrow.  When I turned on the lights, I heard a groaning noise.  That's when I found Poncho, and he was already down in his stall.  I tried to get him up, because there's always hope, if you can get them moving, but it seemed like he'd already given up."

The vet put in, "The only good thing you can take away from this is that we were able to put him out of his misery.  He could have suffered a few more hours, until he was found at dawn."

Clint squeezed Hutch's shoulder.  "I'm so sorry.  He was a damn fine animal."

Hutch nodded, his head bowed.


The car was quiet as Starsky drove them home.  He was grateful that Clint has said he'd take care of getting Poncho buried.

When he couldn't stand the silence anymore, Starsky said unsteadily, "When I got Poncho for you, I certainly hadn't wanted this to be the outcome."

Hutch replied in a small voice, "Please don't make this about you."

Starsky was stung by that reaction, and was about to say he was sorry for making the statement, but then decided that Hutch probably didn't want to hear that, either.

After a few minutes, Hutch reached over and squeezed Starsky's hand, as though giving an apology of his own.

Starsky felt like a small burden had been lifted, as they continued their silent drive home.


Upon crawling back into bed, Hutch immediately turned on his side, away from Starsky.  But he didn't object when Starsky pressed himself along his back.

Starsky couldn't imagine being able to sleep the remaining hours before dawn, but he must have, since he was startled awake when the phone rang.

What now? he wondered with dread, while noting that it was just light enough to make out the furniture in the room.

"Hello?" Hutch mumbled into the receiver.  He listened a moment, and then pulled the phone away from his ear.  "Darla's had her foal.  It's a boy."


It was another overcast morning, but the grayness seemed inviting as the Corvette pulled up next to the foaling barn, that was a half mile away from the much larger broodmare barn.  They got out of their car, and went to the main aisle.  A middle-aged man approached.  "You're here for Deep Waters?"

"Yes," Starsky replied, barely able to contain his excitement.

"She's in here," he said, entering the barn.  They walked past a large10x20 stall, where the hugely pregnant mare within was pacing in a slow circle.  The man slid back the door to the next stall.  "Here, I'll hold her, if you want to come in."

He took a hold of Darla's halter, and Starsky slipped into the stall, which was plush with knee-high straw, Hutch behind him.  He just barely caught site of a bundle of long, dark legs, hiding between Darla and the wall.

The man reached back to close the stall door, and then moved a few steps, leading Darla.

The foal's head peeked around Darla's hind legs and stared at them.

"Oh, man," Starsky exclaimed, feeling overwhelmed with emotion.  "Look at him!"

"Let me see if I can get him to move in front of her."  The man released Darla's halter and moved between her and the wall.  "Come here, little guy."

The foal suddenly spurted from behind Darla and darted to his mother's other side, where Starsky and Hutch were. 

"Oh, wow," Starsky chuckled happily.  He looked at Hutch, who was grinning widely, his eye glistening.

The man came back around to Darla's front side, and grabbed the foal's halter.  "Here we go.  Stand still."

The foal did for a moment, and then attempted to rear up.

The man let him go.  "They're always real shy when they're first born."

Hutch asked, "He's already got a halter on?"

"Oh, yes.  We put a halter on them right after they're born.  That way, they think that they're born with a halter, so they don't fight it."

Starsky said.  "Man, it's hard to believe that he's already able to run around a little bit."

"Yes, they're usually standing within an hour or so."

Starsky looked at Hutch.  "Can you believe how longs his legs are?  And to think that he was all folded up inside of her."


Starsky thought that Darla didn't appear any worse for the wear.  He looked up at the man, as he watched the foal nurse. "So, did the birth go okay?"

"Yes, everything was normal.  She just gave us a concern for a while afterward, since she was acting like she didn't want anything to do with him."


"Yeah.  Some mares are like that.  When she wouldn't let him nurse, we started to take him away from her, and then she changed her mind in a hurry, and got real protective of him.  Her maternal instincts kicked right in."

Starsky chuckled at that idea.  "You mean, reverse psychology works with horses?"

"It did in her case," the man replied with a grin.

Hutch said, "She's letting him nurse now."

"Yes, she's been doing fine, after that first hour or so."

Hutch knelt down in the straw, and Starsky did likewise.  "So, what happens next?" Hutch asked.  "We've never had a foal before."

The man stepped away from Darla to face them.  "We'll turn them out in a paddock together later today, and the next few days, to make sure she's being a good mom, and they're well bonded.  Then they'll get turned out to pasture, with the other mares that have had their foals.  In September, we'll wean the foals.  We put them in a horse trailer, and take them to a pasture a couple of miles away, so they don't have any contact with their mothers.  Then, they'll have a year of just growing up.  In September of their yearling year, if a vet gives the okay, you can have him shipped to a training farm.  They'll break him to saddle and give him some early training, which takes about ninety days.  After that, the trainer might recommend that he be turned back out for a few more months to mature, or he might say that he can go ahead and be sent to the track, for serious training.  Once they're at the track, it's usually another three or four months before they can start in a race, and that's assuming that they aren't set back by injuries."

"Man," Starsky looked at Hutch with a sigh, "it'll still be a really long time before he's racing."

Hutch watched the foal nurse.  "So, he's the same color as her?  Looks like he's got a white marking on his forehead."

While Darla turned her head to nuzzle her baby, the man replied, "I think he'll lighten up somewhat, as he gets older.  I think he'll be a bay, like Flying Paster was, rather than a dark bay, like his mom."  Darla moved a few steps, which separated the foal from her udder.  Rather than protest, he moved to sniff at the sides of the stall.  "Yeah, he's got some little white marking on his forehead.  Looks like it's off to one side."

Starsky said to Hutch, "Wonder what we should name him."

"Don't know," Hutch replied.  "We'll have to give it some thought."

The man said, "They don't have to be named until they're ready to race.  But if you have one to three names you'd like to consider, let us know.  We fill out all the registration papers on the foals in the summer, usually around August.  There's three lines for names to submit, if you want to name him at that time.  Of course, the Jockey Club has to approve."

"Why wouldn't they approve?" Starsky wondered.

"It can't be a name that another living horse currently has.  And it's got to be limited to a certain number of characters, and can't be the same name as famous horses... things like that."

The foal made a small bucking motion, and then darted behind Darla.

Starsky and Hutch laughed.

Starsky said hopefully, "I don't suppose there's any chance that we can pet him."

"You might be able to.  Let me see if he'll let me catch him."  The man moved behind Darla, and then spoke softly.  "Come on, little guy."  Then he said, "If one of you can lead the mare away, a bit."

Hutch went up to Darla and took her halter.  He patted her, and then led her a few steps forward.  The man had the foal by the halter, holding him.  He petted him along his sides.  "You can try now."

Starsky slowly approached the foal, and then held out his hand toward the foal's head.  The foal tried to move away, but the man firmly held the halter.  He said, "Pet his neck."

Starsky reached to pat the foal's neck.  He got in one stroke, before the foal began to struggle, and the man let him go. 

"He really is skittish," Starsky said.

"He'll be a lot better within a week or so," the man assured.  "He'll get handled multiple times a day by a human, from this point forward.  It won't be long before he welcomes human contact."

"Man."  Starsky went up to Darla and stroked her face.  "You made a good baby, sweetheart."  Then, to Hutch, "It's going to be a bummer having to ship her off to Kentucky.  I want to visit her before then."

"Yeah," Hutch nodded.  "We'll have to bring the video camera."

Starsky regretted that they'd forgotten about it, this time.

The man said, "She's going to a Kentucky stallion next?"

"Yep.  She's going to Storm Bird."

The man tilted his head.  "That's one of those European horses, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Hutch said.  "He was bred in Canada, and raced in Europe.  Was a champion two-year-old.  Now he's at stud in Kentucky."

"Is she being brought back here to foal?"

"Yep," Starsky replied.  "We want a Cal-bred."

"I guess the foal will have quite the international background then."  Footsteps were heard along the aisle, and he said, "My shift change is here.  You gentlemen have a nice day.  You can stay here with her, if you want.  But if she starts getting annoyed that you're bothering her or her foal, don't argue with her."

"Okay, thanks," Hutch said.


They'd hung around a few minutes longer, and then finally convinced themselves to leave.

Starsky felt giddy for a while, that Darla's foal had finally arrived, but then noticed the silence in the car, and was reminded that their morning had gotten off to a heart-wrenching start.

When he spotted an old, abandoned gas station, he pulled in, and eased behind the building, before shutting off the motor.

"What are we doing here?" Hutch asked.

"Get out," Starsky commanded, and then opened his door.  He was glad that Hutch did likewise.  He moved to Hutch, and then threw his arms around him.

He was relieved when Hutch's arms returned the gesture.

Starsky rocked them back and forth, his head on Hutch's shoulder.  Then he straightened just enough to ask, "How you doin', huh?"

Hutch muttered, "Really sad.  Really happy."

Starsky pulled back, and grasped Hutch's arms.  "Yeah.  I'm so sick about Poncho."

"He didn't deserve to go out like that."

"Yeah."  Starsky squeezed Hutch's hand.  "But life goes on, doesn't it?"

"For sure."

Starsky circled his arms around Hutch once again.  "Whatever it brings, I'm so glad to be going through it with you."

Hutch kissed Starsky's neck.

Starsky pulled back to kiss Hutch chastely on the lips... once, twice, three times.

Once they had returned to the car, Starsky got back on the highway.  After a few minutes had past, he said, "We'll have to be thinking of a name for the foal."

"We have plenty of time."

"Yeah, but it would be nice to have a name already planned.  I guess we should try to match the name Flying Paster with Deep Waters."  He looked at Hutch.  "What's a flying paster, anyway?"

"I think it has something to do with printing presses, like for printing newspapers."

"Hm.  That's a difficult concept to cross with Deep Waters."

Hutch mused, "Printing Deep.  Flying Waters."

"I kind of like Flying Waters," Starsky said.  "It just doesn't really mean anything.  Maybe we should just focus on naming him after Darla, since she's the one who started this whole racing thing for us."

Hutch shrugged.  "Fine with me.  You have a lot of options with words like deep and waters."

"Deep waters makes me think of oceans that are, you know, really deep.  Like ocean depths.  The depths of the ocean."  He muttered, "Since it's a boy, I'd like to name him something tough-sounding.  Courageous.  You know."

"Uh-huh.  I sort of like Flying Waters, if it had been a filly."

"Yeah, that would work better for a filly."  Starsky considered, "Courageous Waters.  But that has a lot of syllables.  Brave Waters.  That almost sounds too simple."

Hutch said, "If you want to be more assertive, you can think of something like naval ships.  Naval ships battling submarines in the deep.  Something like that."

"Navy ships battle submarines with depth charges."  Starsky straightened in his seat.  "Depth Charge."  He deepened his voice.  "Depth Charge." 

Hutch looked over at him.  "I kind of like that."

"Let's write it down when we get home."

Hutch chuckled.  "Buddy, if the name is that special, we'll remember it.  It we forget, then it must be forgettable, and we wouldn't want to use it."

"Good point," Starsky conceded.  He repeated, in a deep voice, "Depth Charge."  Then, in a more excited tone, "It's Depth Charge, five lengths in front.  And Depth Charge wins the Kentucky Derby."

Hutch grinned at him.  "Dream on."


The following week, Hutch came home from the grocery store, to find Starsky sitting at the kitchen table, frantically scribbling on a drawing pad.

Hutch set the bags of groceries on the counter.  "What's going on?"

Without looking up, Starsky said, "My mind's going a hundred miles an hour."

Uh-oh.  "Why?"

Now Starsky looked up.  "You wouldn't believe who called, right after you left."



Hutch blinked.  Kyeesha was the young college student who had stayed with them a few weeks while she finished her Master's degree, a few years back.  She had stayed in touch for a while, after returning to North Carolina, but they hadn't heard from her in at least a year.  "Is she all right?"

"Yep."  Then Starsky relented, "Well, she's looking for a new job.  She's frustrated in the one she's at, working with getting employment for inmates at a halfway house.  You know her.  She can't stand disorganization, and she doesn't think her superiors go about things in a very organized fashion.  I can hear in her voice how restless she is for something in her life to change."  His expression brightened.  "And guess how she's spending some of her evenings and weekends?"

Hutch sat down in a chair opposite Starsky, curious where this was leading.

Starsky enthusiastically explained, "Her family has been keeping a family history for years.  Even before the Roots mini-series.  And the main person doing all the work, a grandmother, has fallen into bad health.  So, she'd shown Kyeesha had to look things up at libraries, concerning genealogy.  Kyeesha has spent her spare time in various libraries in the region, trying to fill in the blanks in the family tree."  Starsky gestured with his hands.  "Hutch, we've been approaching this genealogy thing all wrong.   We've been thinking we need lots of clients to make it worthwhile."  He shook his head and held up a finger.  "Uh-uh.  We just need one.  One client, who's really serious about us finding out information about the family history, and has deep pockets, and who understands that this is a long process that could stretch out for years.  If we can get Nick and Kyeesha helping us, they could do the work.  And we bill the client at the end of each month for however many hours they logged.  So, we're getting income every month, from just the one client."

Hutch was intrigued by how much Starsky had thought this through.  Still... "But don't you think one client, even a committed one, would eventually drop out, once they've spent a certain amount of money?"

Starsky drew a circle around some of his indecipherable scribbling on the sketch pad.  "We can think of it as different levels of service.  The big thing about genealogy stuff is that it takes a long time to find things out.  That's why it's just a side hobby for most people, and some can spend their whole lives on it.  But I've been developing a process in my head, with the books I've read.  And I'm thinking that, for starters, we could offer a packet or something, that simply gives information about how people can go about finding stuff out for themselves.  They buy that packet from us, and maybe we include some little tidbit of information on a relative they give us, so they can see that the information in the packet works.  For some people, that's all they want from us, and they have the information on how to proceed on their own.  But for people who don't want to do the work, or find out it's too difficult after buying the packet from us, then we offer a second level.  They give us the information in their family tree to get started, and we get Nick to make phone calls to relatives, and maybe interview them in person.  Find out as much as he can from first-hand knowledge from living relatives, and nail down that information with some research.  But Nick isn't the type of person who has the patience to do much research.  Anyway, that's Level 2, and might take a few months, before all the living relatives are interviewed.  Then, if the client wants us to go back farther, to try find as much follow-up information as we can, then that's Level 3.  They get turned over to Kyeesha, or somebody like her, who we fly out to whatever cities she needs to visit, to access the local libraries and places like that.  One client could keep her busy for months, if not years."

Hutch was impressed, but shook his head.  "It's just hard to believe anyone is going to want to put that much money into researching relatives, for a sustained time."

Starsky stood and leaned over the table, moving the sketch pad toward Hutch, who still couldn't make sense of it.  "Look, the Level 1 and Level 2 work is just bread-and-butter stuff.  Not really worth doing, if that's all we offered.  But all we need is that one client, who wants a Level 3 of service.  If we target some mailers to upper middle class neighborhoods...."

"Wealthy people are the ones who are most likely to already know their family trees."

Starsky nodded.  "We just need to hit that one, Hutch.  Maybe somebody who recently came into money.  We need to get someone -- and if it's a few someones, all the better -- who are really interested, and don't mind spending the money to have someone else do the work."

Hutch sighed, as Starsky sat back down.  "This is such a different way of looking at things.  With our other cases, there's a beginning and an end.  This sounds like something that could be never-ending."

"You have a problem with the idea of invoicing clients on an ongoing basis?"

"No," Hutch admitted, rubbing his chin.  "But any of these clients could just up and drop out, if they decided to take over for themselves."

Starsky quickly nodded.  "That could be good for us, though.  See, I've read about how to put a notebook together of the family history.  So, we keep this nice, neat notebook on each family, with all the research we've done, and anytime a client says, 'I don't want to pay for this anymore', we say 'Fine.  Here's your notebook, with everything we've found out.'"  Then they've got something tangible, that hopefully they show to their friends and relatives, and then those people are impressed with what we put together, so they want our services.  I can see where, eventually, we might get the reputation as the go-to PI firm whenever someone wants information on their family history."  Starsky added, "We might even emphasize in our advertising -- that, at any time, the client can cancel their contract with us, and we turn over this nice, neat notebook to them, so they can proceed on their own, if they want.  That way, nobody feels like they're getting trapped into using our services, if it gets too expensive, or if they decide they'd just rather do it themselves.  For them, it's no-risk.  For us, we get paid for the work we did do, and the notebooks floating around are free advertising."

"Huh," Hutch acknowledged thoughtfully.  Still, this felt like such foreign territory.

Starsky pressed, "Now, we work with a lot of law firms, and they likely aren't telling their clients who actually did any investigative work on their cases.  Plus, most of the individuals we work for are the cheating spouse cases.  There's very few women who are going to say to their friends or family, 'Look at all these reports the PI firm did of my husband cheating, and look at these nice photographs they took of him with the tramp he was cheating with.'"

Hutch snorted at such an idea.

"But with the genealogy notebooks," Starsky emphasized, "people can feel proud to show them off at family get-togethers and holidays.  We can maybe have our contact information preprinted inside the notebooks.  That would be advertising that we aren't getting now."

"Man, buddy," Hutch said with admiration.  "When you're good, you're good."

Starsky nodded.  "The thing is, we just can't spend time on this ourselves.  We need somebody like Nick, who has his personal charm, to get information from living relatives, who are likely to be elderly.  And then somebody like Kyeesha to do the detailed library research.  Then we make sure we charge enough for an hourly rate to cover their costs, and give us a decent profit, and then there would likely be travel expenses, that the client pays.  It's going to be costly to the client, but we just need that one person, at any given time, who is really committed to finding out all about their family tree, as far back as it can go.  In the meantime, there will hopefully be various short-term Level 2 jobs, where people pay us a certain amount to get started, but then realize that they really don't want to keep us on for an extended time, because it's too expensive.  The Level 1 packet would just be to get our name out there, so that everyday people associate us with genealogy.  With the Level 2 and Level 3 people, we've got to make sure they understand that it's going to take us time to find out stuff.  It's not like we're going to be able to get back to them in a couple of weeks.  So, we're going to have to have them pay us something up front."

Hutch admitted, "It would be nice if, three years from now, we were doing a lot of family histories, instead of a lot of cheating spouse cases."  They both strongly disliked the latter, except for the fact that they were good money makers.


"I guess we need to talk to Nick and Lannie, then.  See how this might sit with them, considering how their lives will be changing when the baby is born.  Did you already talk to Kyeesha about it?"

"I just told her there was a slight possibility that there could be an opportunity coming up with us, if she was interested, but where she wouldn't necessarily need to move out this way.  I didn't get specific, because I didn't want to get her hopes up, without talking to you first.  And who knows how long it'll take to get this off the ground."

"Let's make some phone calls tomorrow then.  And I guess make an appointment with Lois's brother, since he's the marketing wizard."  They'd had his printing firm manufacture various brochures for their corporation.

Starsky sighed heavily, and stood.  "I'm beat.  And hungry."  He moved to the grocery sacks.  "What did you bring home?"


Nick was open to the idea of doing more interactive work, and Lanette was agreeable to anything that allowed Nick to be more available.  Lorraine had sold the Duluth home in January, and had bought a condominium in senior community, a dozen miles from Nick and Lanette, so she would also be available to help with the baby.

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, Starsky and Hutch visited with Lois's brother, Dan, and he agreed to design various flyers and brochures, intended to make people excited about the idea of learning their family history from professional researchers. 

After leaving Dan's graphics shop, Starsky eased the Corvette from its parking spot.

Hutch said, "We need to stop somewhere and get some film."

"We always need film." 

"Yep.  Can't take pictures without film."

They weren't familiar with this part of town, and Starsky said, "You see anything that looks like it has a variety of film?"

Hutch was silent a moment, and then pointed.  "Up there.  On the right.  Red sign."

"Got it."  Starsky pulled into a space at the curb.  After they got out, he noticed that the shop next to the camera place was a bookstore.  "You go ahead," he said to Hutch, and pointed to the books in the window.

Hutch gave him a glance, and then entered the camera shop.

Starsky stood looking at the book covers displayed in the window.  Wonder if my book will be here some day?

He moved to the opposite side of the entrance, where other books were displayed in a circle.  Inside the circle was a sign that said, "Local authors."

Starsky wondered if, at some future point, he'd be walking into this store, with a boxful of his book, and trying to convince the store owner to retail them.  He looked a the sign over the door that said, "Jesse's Book Nook"."  Gotta remember that.

He gazed at the book titles a while longer, daydreaming about the possibilities, even as he felt trepidation at the idea of his and Hutch's life stories being "out there".  Eventually, he decided to join Hutch in the camera store.  Just as he took a step in that direction, he heard a commotion on the other side of the street.  A slender Hispanic man was running full speed, a purse in his hand.  He heard a woman shout, "Stop him!  He took my purse!"

Starsky's mind momentarily blanked.  And then all he knew was that he had to catch him -- had to catch the bad guy.

He barely glanced at traffic before taking off across the street.


"Have a nice day," the clerk said.

"You, too."  Hutch turned from the counter with his paper sack, and headed for the door. 

The Corvette was empty, so Starsky must have gone into one of the nearby shops.  For the time being, Hutch decided not to look for him.  He got in the passenger side and dropped his sack to the floorboard.  He stretch out his arm across Starsky's seat, which gave him a broader view of the street.  He noticed that a crowd seemed to be gathering around the corner.

Hutch got out of the car, feeling a sense of foreboding.  He looked up and down both sides of the street, hoping to spot Starsky.

His foreboding intensifying, Hutch waited for traffic to clear, so he could jog across the street.  He went around the corner, where the crowd was largest.

A mobile hot dog stand was shoved to one side in a haphazard fashion.

On the sidewalk, lying on his back, his legs spread in an unnatural manner, was Starsky.  He was cringing in pain, and various patches of skin were bleeding.

"Starsky!"  Hutch rushed toward him.  To no one in particular, he demanded, "What happened?"

As he knelt beside Starsky, somebody said, "He was chasing after a purse snatcher.  Ran into this hot dog cart.  Did the splits when he fell."

Ouch, Hutch thought.  "Starsk?  Starsky?"

Somebody said, "An ambulance is on the way."

Hutch put his hand on Starsky's chest.  "Starsky?  Buddy?"

Starsky groaned, his hands clutching at his upper thighs.  "God."

"Take it easy," Hutch said gently.  "Ambulance is coming."  He squeezed Starsky's hand, while his eyes roamed over him.  "Did you break anything?" 

Starsky's teeth were grit.  "Splits."

Hutch placed a hand on Starsky's inner thigh, near is knee.  He just now realized that Starsky's jeans had split at the crotch.  He shuddered to think of the force of impact that had caused that, and how traumatized Starsky's flesh had to be feeling there.  Otherwise, he could see that there were numerous cuts and scrapes from hitting the pavement, to say nothing of hitting the hot dog cart.  He had yet to see any signs of broken bones.

While hearing a siren in the distance, Hutch put another hand to Starsky's hair.  He felt around, in case the impact might have caused Starsky to hit his head, when he fell to the sidewalk.  But he couldn't see anything.  Gently, he asked, "Buddy, want me to try to help you sit up?"

Starsky clutched his thighs harder.  "Can't."


"He has torn groin muscles, on both sides of his crotch," the doctor informed Hutch, over two hours later, after Hutch had gotten off the phone with Lois, to inform her that they wouldn't be returning to the office.  While Hutch had figured out Starsky's basic diagnosis himself, the doctor added, "This is one of the most severe cases I've seen, especially in someone his age, who isn't an athlete.  It could take two to three months until he's back to being a hundred percent."

Hutch verified glumly, "There's really nothing to be done about it, is there?"

"No.  I'm going to give him a prescription, to help with the pain.  But he's going to have a difficult time walking, or moving around in general, for quite a while.  This is one of those things that just takes time.  The best remedy is rest, rest, and more rest.  He needs to move around as little as possible."

Hutch inwardly sighed, thinking about how difficult that was going to be for someone as active as Starsky.  He moved past the doctor to the emergency room.  Starsky was sitting up, with ice packs against his inner thighs, where he was naked beneath the hospital town.  He had various small bandages, and scrapes treated with disinfectant, and looked thoroughly miserable.

As Hutch approached, he said drolly, "You felt you had to play cop, huh?"

Starsky looked at him and muttered, "Didn't feel anything.  Just reacted.  No time to think."

Hutch sighed out loud, while squeezing Starsky's shoulder.  "Yeah."  He couldn't say that he wouldn't have reacted similarly, had it be him who saw the purse snatcher.

Starsky said, "Don't think I'd feel so lousy if at least I would have caught him."

Hutch nodded.  The purse snatcher getting away only added insult to Starsky's injuries.

Starsky muttered, "Can't run like I used to."

Hutch shifted restlessly, wondering how they were going to adapt to Starsky's circumstances, however temporary.  "No kidding.  To say nothing of the muscles in your crotch not being accustomed to being stretched like that."

"Just weird, how I landed, after I hit the hot dog cart."


Starsky's eyes surveyed the room, insuring their privacy, and he said in a softer voice.  "Sorry, buddy.  It's gonna be awhile.  You're gonna have to be celibate."

Hutch lowered his eyes and nodded.  He wouldn't have Poncho as an outlet to escape to, to take his mind off the sex he wasn't having.  Starsky had asked him, a few days ago, if he'd thought about getting another riding horse.  Hutch had already decided that he wasn't.  Not only would such an excellent mount as Poncho be almost impossible to duplicate, but the fact was that he hadn't been riding often enough the past year or so, to justify the expense.

Hutch replied. "We've been through these spells before.  We'll survive."  He realized his voice sounded flat, and he stepped closer to Starsky.  He slipped his hand behind his neck, fingers massaging.  "All I want you to worry about, partner, is resting, so you can get better.  I'll handle everything else."


They ended up renting a walker, so that Starsky could make it from the car to the house, after using a wheelchair to make it from the emergency room to the car.  Carlos and Kenny had picked up the Corvette where Hutch had left it, and delivered it to the hospital.

Starsky spent all the first day in bed, having taken the largest quantity of medication allowed, while Hutch conducted what business he could from home.

The second morning, a Saturday, Starsky also turned away any offers to help him move out of bed.  He ate cereal for breakfast, and then appeared to take an interest in some of the magazines Hutch had brought him.

Hutch dressed in sweats, and spent the morning doing chores around the house.  It was going on eleven when he decided to check on Starsky, since he hadn't heard anything from him.  He moved through the partially open door to their bedroom.

Starsky was curled on his side, beneath the covers, his eyes open.

Hutch carefully sat on the edge of the waterbed, and placed his hand on Starsky's covered form.  "How you doing?"

"No so good," Starsky replied in an unsteady voice.

Concerned, Hutch leaned down to see his partner's grim expression.  "What's the matter?"

"I'm scared, Hutch."

Hutch automatically soothed, "You'll get past this," even as he realized Starsky had to be talking about more than his physical injury.

"What if the book gets published, and it ruins our lives?  All because of me."

He's been lying here, thinking about that?   Hutch squeezed Starsky's shoulder, through the covers.  "Buddy, I have some concerns about that, too.  But remember, we -- "

Starsky interrupted, "And what if Nick and Lanette have their baby, and then decide to move away from here?"

Hutch had barely registered the change in subject, when Starsky went on.  "And maybe we shouldn't spend that twenty thousand on getting Darla bred to Storm Bird.  That's crazy."

Hutch's heart sank.  As much as he had protested originally, he wanted Starsky to have what he wanted.

"And what if we decide to sell this house sometime, and everybody wants a swimming pool, instead of a greenhouse with train tracks?  And we're stuck with it."

He's crashing, Hutch decided.  He was so accustomed to Starsky always being upbeat and cheerful, and now, his fun-loving, life-loving partner was hitting a bottom.

Starsky's voice broke.  "And what if we buy a big place to start our therapeutic riding center, and nobody wants to come, because we're fags."

Hutch's physically reacted to the feeling of his heart having a knife slice through it.  Oh, God.  He wasn't sure if he more greatly feared that very future, or that Starsky had been thinking such a thing.

After getting past his surprise at Starsky's thoughts, Hutch realized what he wanted most of all was to take Starsky's pain away.  He kicked off his shoes, and moved to the other side of the bed.  As carefully as he could, he got beneath the covers, and then eased over to Starsky's nude form.  "Can you try to turn this way?"

He was encouraged when Starsky tried to gather himself, without moving his legs.  Hutch took his upper body in hand, helping turn him.

Just as Starsky turned, he choked out, "I'm so scared.  What if we've been thinking we've been right about everything, but we've really been wrong about our whole lives?"

Hutch pulled Starsky's head against his chest, where Starsky released a sob against him, and then circled his arms around Starsky's upper body. 

He tried to find rational counter-arguments to Starsky's various words, but then disregarded the attempt.  Starsky didn't need rationale.  Hutch was certain that his love's fears had a lot less to do with the particular words spoken, than with the emotions triggered by abrupt, severe physical limitation.

Gently, Hutch murmured, "The whole world can fall apart, buddy, and we'll still be together.  When it gets down to it, that's all that matters to me.  What happens to us, happens to us."  He rubbed firmly along Starsky's back.  "Being together is all I care about."

Starsky sniffed loudly, and muttered against Hutch's chest, "Don't know what's wrong with me.  Why everything is falling apart."

Hutch kept his voice gentle, and he relaxed against the mattress on his back, keeping Starsky against him.  "Buddy, we've each fallen apart before because of good things happening."  He was thinking of when he'd found out that Starsky no longer had the Herpes B virus in his system, and Starsky had been so blessedly understanding of Hutch's emotional breakdown.  And also, prior to that, when Starsky had had a similar collapse after Hutch had recovered from the plague.  Now, he didn't think what he said mattered as much as his soothing tone of voice.  "We've had a lot going on the past year.  A whole bunch of good stuff, but it still requires a lot of adjustments.  I think all that emotion just builds up sometimes.  And now, when you're pretty much flat on your back, they don't have an outlet, so they build up inside you."

"Sorry," Starsky said with another sniff.

Firmly, Hutch replied, "Don't you dare apologize for feeling."

"Just don't know how I got to be the mushy one."

Hutch felt himself grin widely, as he hugged Starsky closer against him.  "Mushy or not, I love you so much, buddy."  He moved a hand to pat Starsky's rear, where he felt one of many Band-Aids on Starsky's body.  "Just want to be with you."

"You're gonna make me lose it again."

"So?" Hutch countered tenderly, squeezing the flesh he held.  "I love you, wet or dry.  Happy or miserable.  Brilliantly clever or incredibly annoying."  Then, more seriously, "There's no reason to hold anything back from me."

As Starsky rubbed his cheek more firmly against Hutch's chest, Hutch felt fresh wetness drip onto his skin.

They lay like that for a few minutes. 

The doorbell rang.

Hutch sighed at the interruption.  "I have a feeling that's Nick.  He mentioned that he might stop by, when I called him yesterday."

Starsky grunted.

Hutch began to move himself from beneath Starsky.  "Sorry, buddy."

Once free of the bed, Hutch closed the bedroom door behind him, and strode down the hall, just as the bell rang a second time.

He opened the front  door.  "Hi, Nick.  Come on in."

Nick stepped into the foyer.  "So, how is he?"

Hutch nodded at the hall.  "He's in bed.  He really can't walk right now, which is a difficult thing to adjust to."

Nick's eyes widened.  "But it's just a pulled muscle, right?"

Hutch clarified, "Severely pulled.  Think of it like a sprained ankle.  It gets swollen and bruised, and is so sore that you can't walk on it awhile, without a lot of support.  This is like that, only it's on both sides of his crotch.  He was in a flying run, that he wasn't in shape for, and hit a hot dog cart, and landed in a splits on the concrete."

Nick made a face.  "Ouch."


"I guess he had to play hero, huh?"

"He wasn't trying to be a hero.  It was pure instinct, when he saw a purse snatcher running down the street."  Hutch changed the subject, to give Starsky a little more time to get himself together.  "So, how are things?"

"Uh, well, Lan is getting pretty uncomfortable.  The baby is due at the end of April, so it's less than two months now."  He rubbed his hands together.  "She's out shopping with your mother."  He shrugged.  "I've given up badgering Lorraine about buying stuff.  Anything that keeps us from needing to spend more money is good for us, I guess."  He grinned.  "If she wants to pay for the kid's college fund, that's fine with me."

Hutch smiled  "I wouldn't be surprised if she at least wants to get a college fund started for it.  The Hutchinsons are a practical lot."  Hence needing Starskys to spice things up, he thought fondly.  "You may as well take advantage of it."

Nick glanced down the hall, and Hutch said, "Let me make sure he's ready to receive visitors."  Then he cautioned, "Even though this is 'just a sprain', it's pretty hard on him, not being able to do much."

When Hutch entered the bedroom, he was glad to see that Starsky had managed to sit up against the headboard.  "You doing better, buddy?"

Starsky nodded, and reached to squeeze Hutch's arm, when he was close enough.  "Thanks, Hutch."

Hutch bent to briefly press his lips to Starsky's.  "I love you."

Starsky's eyes watered.  "Don't start."

"I'll send Nick back.  That'll give you something else to focus on.  In the meantime, I'll start lunch for the three of us, and bring it in here to eat."


Later that evening, Hutch had beckoned Starsky to use his walker, in order to sit at the table to eat dinner.  Then he'd further encouraged him to the sofa, to watch TV, where Hutch lay back against the arm of the sofa, with Starsky resting on top of him.

When a commercial came on, Starsky said, "Really, Hutch, let's not breed Darla to Storm Bird, if you'd rather not."

Hutch found it disconcerting to have his partner take an about-face on the subject.  "Buddy, you had me convinced that day we made the decision.  I want to breed her to him.  It's exciting to think of what the foal could turn out to be."  He rubbed his hand along Starsky's back.

"Twenty grand -- that's almost as much as you and I each made in an entire year, not so long ago."

"And now we make a lot more than that.  Because we've done a whole lot of right things in our lives.  Plus, we provide a livelihood for a handful of other people."  He squeezed Starsky's shoulder.  "Buddy, no matter how you want to spin it, we've done a whole lot of wonderful things for ourselves and the people around us."

It was a moment before Starsky replied, "Everything just seems so uncertain right now."  The anxiety was back in his voice.

"I think a big part of that is because you can't walk very well."

Starsky was silent.

Hutch gentled his voice.  "The first few days are the toughest.  You'll start getting better, buddy.  I know you're going to be sore for a long time, but you'll start moving around more easily.  Just have to watch that you don't do anything physically strenuous."

There was a loud swallow.  "Don't know what I'd do without you, Hutch."

"That's something you never need to wonder about.  If you haven't driven me away by now, then there's no driving me away."

That resulted in a half-hearted chuckle.

It was the first time Starsky had shown any indications of humor, since colliding with the hot dog cart.  "See, you've already got a small bit of your sense of humor back.  Once you can take your first steps without the walker, I think you'll be a whole lot better."

Now frustrated, Starsky said, "With hardly being able to do much, I'm just going to be sitting around, getting fat again."

"You were never fat, and that'll just give you something to work all the harder at, once you're better.  But we'll have to arrange for you to do phone work from home, on whatever jobs need that.  I'll try to be around as much as I can, until you're moving around better.  Guess the office will be back to being used as an office, huh?"  It was where Starsky had been writing his book, but that project was now done.

Starsky said, "It's really scary, thinking about the book maybe someday being published."

Hutch continued rubbing his love's back.  "I know.  It's scary for me, too.  But also exciting, in a way.  You know, I'm so glad my dad got to read it.  You were sorry that your Uncle Al didn't get to.  We need to remember that there's a reason we wanted it to be published."

Levelly, Starsky reminded, "The original thought was that we could just maybe make copies and pass it around to people we wanted to read it."

"The very first thought was that we'd just leave the manuscript lying around, for somebody to find after we were dead."

Starsky snorted.  "Oh.  Yeah."

"But then I really, really wanted my Dad to read it.  And as we kept getting frustrated about others not understanding us -- and how we came to be together, the way we are now -- we starting thinking about publishing it.  You know, buddy, a while back, when I had to pick Lannie up from the doctor, she still questioned if I really intended for us to always be together."


"Yeah.  And she sort of indicated that she's not even sure she and Nick will always stay together.  Not as anything against him," Hutch rushed to assure, "but just because I think she has trouble believing that anything is forever.  She expects her relationship with her child be permanent.  Maybe that's part of the reason she changed her mind about having kids."

Starsky muttered, "Wonder if Nick knows she feels that way."

"I don't know."  Hutch gentled his voice.  "But I do know that I'd like to think that reading your book will help people like her to understand us.  And when strangers read it, it'll maybe open their eyes to the different ways that relationships develop, and not all of them are going to be in the traditional way."

Starsky drew a slow breath, and released it.

"Still," Hutch said, "we know that we aren't locked into anything, until we sign a contract with a publisher.  We can make a final decision then.  I just don't think that, ultimately, people ever look back and feel good about avoiding the things they were afraid of.   Í guess that's part of why I agreed to breeding Darla to Storm Bird.  I didn't want to look back later and wonder 'what  if'."  Hutch couldn't help but add, with a touch of humor, "Even though I'm the one who tends to freak out about spending too much money."

That brought an amused grunt.  Then, "I always know you have good reasons, Hutch.  Don't ever think I don't realize how you always have the pressure about making sure things work out for us.  You take a lot more of that burden, than I do."

"Well, if I do," Hutch allowed, "I guess it's nobody's fault but my own, huh?"

Starsky squeezed Hutch's side.  "I'm always here, Hutch."

With a smile, Hutch said, "You sound like you're feeling better."

Starsky seemed to think about that.  "It's just hard to feel very optimistic, when I just feel sort of trapped, I guess."

"I know.  It helped to move out here to the sofa, I think.  You're going to be fine, buddy.  Maybe I'll go out tomorrow and find some new books for you to read.  And then, this week, we'll get you set up in the office, so you can help with work, and make some phone calls.  I'm sure you'll be back to you're usual, cheerful self in no time."


Hutch ended up going into the office mid day Monday, to handle both his and Starsky's appointments.  When he arrived home, he had a thick manila envelope in hand, which he hoped would boost his love's spirits.  He also gathered up the books he'd brought from Starsky's office.

He entered the house to the sound of the TV.  "Starsk?"

"Yeah?" came the glum response.

Hutch moved to the living room to see Starsky partially reclined on the sofa, wrapped in a quilt.  Hutch placed the books on the coffee table. 

"What's all this?"

Hutch grinned broadly, as he sat near Starsky's legs.  He indicated the manila envelope he held.  "Guess what arrived in the mail today at the office?"


"Remember, when we first started getting calls about the genealogy stuff?"


"Three people originally called.  We only ever heard back from two of them."  Hutch reached into the envelope.  "Now, the third one finally sent their $75 check.  And their materials."  He handed part of the stack to Starsky.  "Look at all the information they've already gathered.  They've got copies of old letters from grandparents and great-grandparents, and some birth and death records.  They're really serious about us going back to the Mayflower, or whenever it was that their ancestors arrived here.  And we've got a whole bunch of stuff to start with.  So, this is your project while you're recuperating."

Starsky was leafing through the pages.  After a long moment, he said, "I bet they've been to that library in Utah, to have all this."

"What library?"

"'There's some library in Utah that's been keeping ancestry records for a long, long time.  One of those books I have said that people should always start there -- or, in one of their branches, which are all over the country -- to see what can be found on their family name, so they don't duplicate trying to find out stuff that's already known."  He looked at one of the pages that was an obvious copy.  "See, it's even stamped with the library's name.  Yeah, these people have really put a lot of work into this."

Hutch was pleased at Starsky's interest.  "They say in their cover letter that they know this is a long project, and they'll send more money on request."

Starsky looked up at Hutch with a smile.  "Good."

"Yeah.  So, what do you say, partner?  How about, tomorrow, we try to get you comfortable in the office, so you can use the phone, and maybe make notes on your computer, and write letters?"

"Yeah, okay."

Hutch squeezed Starsky's arm, feeling so grateful that Starsky was showing signs of a happier disposition.  Nothing quite like a real sense of purpose.

The phone rang, and Hutch got up.  He talked for a few minutes with the caller, and then hung up and returned to the living room.

"Buddy, they're shipping Darla and her foal to Kentucky on Friday."

"Oh, man.  Already?"

"Yeah."  Hutch thought he should verify, "You want to send her to Storm Bird, right?  I do."

Starsky allowed a faint smile.  "Yeah.  I'm glad that you really want to, Hutch."

"It's my job to worry about stuff.  It's your job to talk me into stuff, anyway."

Starsky's grin this time was full of emotion.  Then he said, "We need to get a video of the baby, before they leave."

Hutch drew a breath.  "It's going to be tough getting out there, during the week."

"Yeah, but we have to.  If Depth Charge becomes a great racehorse, we'll be sorry to not have any footage of him when he's little."

That was probably true, but Hutch regarded Starsky doubtfully.  "You sure you're up to the trip?"

Starsky shrugged.  "Sitting in the car won't be much trouble.  It's just trying to get around.  Maybe I'll have to stay in the car while you video tape them.  But then I can watch it when we get back home, so...."

"I'll call them back in a couple of days, and see when a good time would be, so hopefully she and the foal will be in the barn, and not be out in the big pasture."



It turned out that, since Darla and her foal were being shipped out Friday morning, that they were being kept in the barn on Thursday.  Starsky and Hutch drove out that afternoon.  Once they arrived, the broodmare manager, Joe, turned mare and foal out to a small paddock, so that Hutch could get video of them galloping around.  Hutch drove the LeBaron next to the paddock fence, and then helped Starsky stand, so he could brace against the open car door, and see some of the action.

Once they were leaving the farm, Hutch said, "Joe calls the foal Danny."


"Yeah.  I kind of like that."

Starsky considered, "Well, it does start with a D, like Depth Charge.  And Darla.  I guess that can be his stable name."  He ran his hands together.  "Man, to think that the next time we see them again, Darla will be carrying a foal by Storm Bird."

Hutch said, "You know, we've never let Julie know what we decided about a stallion this year.  And she was wanting her and her mother to come out during spring break to see the foal."

"Oh, yeah.  I guess spring break would just be in a few weeks.  Darla won't be back from Kentucky by then."

"Nope.  Guess they'll have to make it sometime during the summer."

"She really deserves to be a part of this.  Darla's first two babies are by stallions that she picked out."


"Even if just one of them turns out to be somewhat decent, that'll really be something."


"We've just got to wait a few more years."


"We'll be well into our forties by then, buddy boy."

"Uh-huh."  Hutch looked at Starsky.  "You're feeling a lot better, aren't you?"

"I guess.  Why?"

"Because you're babbling."

Starsky grinned.  "Oh."

"I'm glad you're better."

Starsky sighed.  "Yeah.  I think, after this weekend, I can probably start walking without help.  If I take really short steps."

"Slow, short steps."

"Yeah.  It's still tender as hell down there."

Hutch shifted in his seat.  "Well, if you sit real still, that tenderness won't bother you, right?"

"Yeah.  I'm okay, if I'm sitting still."

Hutch glanced at Starsky with a smile.  "Anytime you want to sit real still, and want some tension eased, I'm happy to oblige."

Starsky felt something at the mere suggestion.  "When we get home, I'm going to drop my pants, and sit real still on the sofa."

Hutch ran his tongue along his lips.  "Yum."

Starsky couldn't restrain a groan.  "Drive faster, will ya?"


When Hutch came home the next day, he found Starsky at the computer with a contemplative expression, papers spread all around the desk.

"How's it going?" Hutch asked.

"I really can't do much more on this from here," Starsky replied.  "The male branch of this family, which is what they're most eager to trace, at this point, goes back to having settled in Illinois in the early 1830s.  To find out more, somebody needs to go back there.  I mean, all librarians can do is tell me what materials they have available, and stuff that's easy to look up.  But they can't take the time to look for stuff in-depth."  He looked up at Hutch.  "I've already talked to the client, and they want a detailed monthly bill so they can see exactly what we're doing, but otherwise they're prepared to spend some money over the long-term." 

"Sounds like we've got a nice one on the line."

"Yep.  So, I'm thinking maybe we need to send Kyeesha there.  Maybe fly her out here first, so I can show her all this stuff, face to face, and then send her out there, for as long as she needs to be there."

Hutch considered that, and said warily, "That would mean quitting her job, and depending on us for an income."

"Yeah.  But after we go back as far as we can with the husband's side of the family, they want us to do the wife's side, and there's a lot more preliminary work that needs to be done on that, which I can start with.  But I'm thinking we can keep Kyeesha working for a while, and the last time we talked to her, she was ready to quit her job when we gave the word."

Worriedly, Hutch said, "I just hope this doesn't keep her busy for a couple of months, and then there's nothing."

"Maybe we should just let nature takes it's course."

"What?  What do you mean?"

Starsky gingerly leaned back in his chair.  "You ever notice that, whenever we take on more employees to help us with the work load, that we end up getting even more work?"

Hutch snorted.  "Things do seem to go that way, but I'd hate to count on it."

Starsky held up his hands.  "I don't know how the universe works, buddy boy.  But I say that we just assume there's going to be enough work to keep Kyeesha busy, and hire her.  If things don't work out, we'll have to deal with it.  But, until then, I say we proceed as though they're going to work out."

Hutch rubbed at his chin.  "Well, I guess we've already got a pretty strong commitment going, with getting this genealogy stuff off the ground.  Lois is mailing out the flyers today, that her brother printed up."

Starsky reached for the phone.  "Let's call Kyeesha."


Starsky eased out of the Corvette, and grabbed the top, in order to keep the some of his weight off his legs, until he was standing levelly.  He moved slowly into the cafe, where he and Nick had agreed to meet, since Nick had ended a surveillance job and wondered if Starsky was available for lunch.

Starsky continued to take short steps after spotting Nick in a booth.  Nick looked up and smiled.  He watched Starsky carefully sit into the seat opposite, and then said, "You're looking much better than the last time I saw you."

"Yeah, I started going into the office a couple of days ago."  Starsky wanted to emphasize, "Hutch has taken good care of me."

Nick gazed at him for a long moment.  Then, subdued, "I guess he's always done that, huh?"

"Always," Starsky emphasized.  "'There's things I'm not sure I could have survived, in past years, had it not been for his care."  He felt compelled to add, "He's a very gentle, nurturing person, when the situation calls for it.  He always knows what to do.  And say."  While Nick seemed uncertain of how to respond, Starsky added, "If my book ever gets published, you can read it and see some of the things that we've done for each other.  Some of the stuff will seem unbelievable, but it happened."  He decided, right then, that he did want the book to be published.

Nick nodded in a restless manner.  "Dare I admit that I'm a bit envious?"

"What do you mean?"

Nick drew a heavy breath.  "Sometimes, I feel like I've had to take a backseat, since Lan is so focused on the baby.  I mean, I'm excited about it, too, but I'm starting to feel like it's something that's happening to Lan -- or to Lan and Lorraine -- rather than something that's happening to us, as a couple."

Starsky wasn't sure how to help.  "Well, I can't say that I know what it's like for a woman to be pregnant.  Maybe that's natural.  But I will say that you probably should let her know how you feel."

Nick shrugged.  "I just feel like it's being selfish, for me to complain about something like that, when she's expecting."

"Yeah, but she can't consider how to change things to make you feel better, if she doesn't know how you feel."  Starsky felt a wave of emotion, when he said, "Hutch and I tell each other everything.  Sometimes, all that honesty creates some touchy situations, but we're never sorry for being forthright with each other."  He shrugged.  "I mean, what's the point of being together, if you can't share everything?  The good and the bad?  To me, being intimate is about a whole lot more than sharing body parts."

"From what I've read, it's usually after the birth that husbands get ignored.  It's like Lan is getting an early start."

Starsky couldn't help but recall what Hutch had relayed from his and Lannie's conversation, about her being less than certain that she would always be with Nick.  "Maybe she's feeling her own insecurities about how she looks, and things like that.  Maybe she's worried that you don't feel the same way about her, now that she's pregnant.  So, maybe it'll help to keep reassuring her how much you love her, and are glad you married her.  That you'll always be with her."

Nick shrugged.  "I married her.  I wouldn't have done that, if I didn't intend to always be with her."

Starsky couldn't help but grin, as he scolded, "Nicky, that doesn't mean that she won't appreciate occasional reassurances about how you feel."  He decided to admit, "Hutch still tells me how much he loves me and he's glad he's with me.  Even though I know that, it still means a lot that he wants to say it.  I mean, consider the last couple of weeks.  I get this injury and could hardly walk, which meant he had to take up all the things I normally do, plus the things he normally does, as well as being available to help me get around.  That's a lot of stress and responsibility.  But it's like he just shifts into a mode, where he not only accepts that that's the way it is, but he's upbeat and making sure, more than anything, that I know I'm worth all that effort.  He doesn't ever complain, or make me feel bad about being so needy."

Nick gazed at him, and then simply said.  "Yeah."

Wondering if he'd sounded one-sided, Starsky said, "And I've been like that for Hutch, too, when he's been injured or seriously sick."  His voice lowered.  "All I want, in those situations, is for him to feel better.  That's what matters most."

"Yeah, well, Lan and I aren't mushy, like you two."

Starsky wasn't sure whether to be amused or offended.  He shifted delicately in the booth, as he felt the bruising of his groin.  "I never viewed myself as a mushy type of guy, either, little brother.  It's just that, sometimes, it feels good to feel loving, you know?  And want the other person to feel that, too.  Especially in situations when at least one of you isn't feeling the least bit amorous."

Nick nodded, and then he asked, "What do you know about that Dexter Riley character, that Lorraine sees?"

Starsky felt the warmth leave him.  "She's been seeing him at her new place?"

"Yeah.  He's, like, some old western movie star?"

Starsky sighed heavily.  "Yeah.  And she's the type of person to be impressed by stuff like that.  But Hutch and I have seen a less flattering side of him, and we know a few things about his past."


"Yeah.  I think he drinks too much, and I don't trust his intentions."

"He seems a bit over the top at times, but I've only met him twice."

"You mean, full of b.s.," Starsky corrected.

Nick lowered his head, and his voice.  "What do you mean about trusting his intentions?  I mean, if he's some movie star, it's not like he's after her money."

"I know.  I just think she could do better than him.  But it's none of our business, I guess.  Hutch has tried to talk to her about it before, but she's not interested in his input."

Nick presented a lopsided grin.  "I guess as parents get older, you start wanting to treat them like children, huh?"

Starsky couldn't feel the humor.  "I know Lorraine wants to be married again, but I really hope they don't get serious with each other.  I can't imagine that he's going to be good for her, over the long term."

 Nick said, "I'd think that, after the baby is born, that'll take all of Lorraine's attention."

"Yeah," Starsky said, liking that idea.  "And then maybe Dexter Riley will go away." 

Nick nodded, but seemed distracted.  Then he asked, "So, you guys thinking you'll have work for me, with the genealogy stuff?"

"Probably, before long.  We've mailed out flyers to targeted neighborhoods.  We'll have to see what happens with that.  Are you getting antsy to quit your own business?"

"Just sick of sitting around in my car.  Once Lan's due date gets close, I don't think I'll want to leave her alone, you know?"

"Yeah.  At least, you know you have plenty of support, between Hutch and me, and Lorraine."

"Yeah."  Nick nodded with a warm smile.  "That's really means a lot."


On a weekday evening, Starsky and Hutch were the last ones in the office when the phone rang.  "I'll get it," Starsky offered.

Hutch was relieved and kept typing on the computer, until he heard Starsky say, "Hi, Milton."

Hutch quickly moved through their connecting door.

Starsky looked up at him, and said, "Hang on, let me put you on the speaker phone, so Hutch can hear."  He pushed a button, and then said, "Okay, go ahead."

"Hello, Milton," Hutch put in.

"Hello, Hutch.  As I was telling David, I've got some news."

"What's that?" Starsky asked.

"There's a publisher that's interested in your book."




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