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A Very Good Tradition

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Tap, tap, tap.

Hutch sighed and shifted in the sagging seat of his car. He tried to ignore the sound, but the rhythm was too sporadic. Silence for an unpredictable period, and then—

Tap. Tap. Tap, tap, tap-tap.

Don't let it get to you. It was just stage three of an all-out Starsky assault, the big gun that Starsky pulled when he didn't get his way. He knew how certain noises drove Hutch insane.

Tap. Tap. Thankfully, Starsky momentarily lifted his pen from the dashboard and stuck the end in his mouth. "Just a small one, is all I'm saying," he mumbled around it.

Hutch growled. He stared out over the steering wheel, scanning the street. Still no snitch.

Tap. Tap.

"Goddammit!" Hutch lunged over and grabbed the pen then threw it out the open window.

"Huh." After a pause, Starsky opened the glove box and started rummaging.

Hutch groaned and tilted his head back against the headrest.

"Starsk, it's not that I don't want to celebrate it with you—"

"Big liar," Starsky muttered without looking up from his search.


"Fine." Starsky made a sound of satisfaction and closed the compartment.

Tap. Tap, tap.

Hutch exploded, "Tell me why we have to cook a big, dumb bird just because it's a particular date in November?"

The radio squawked. "Requesting unit respond to 11-14 at Olympic and Centinela."

Starsky looked over at him and raised his eyebrows in question.

"'Animal bite.'"

"Oh." Starsky turned away again. "In response to your query, Hutchinson," he said coldly, "it's Thanksgiving. What other freakin' excuse do you need?"

Hutch looked away. Took a breath, started to speak. Let it out again.

Tap. Tap.

"I don't know anything about cooking a turkey!" Hutch said. "Neither do you, bright guy. You can't even cook an omelet without burning the damned thing—"

"Edith said she'd give me the perfect recipe."

"So why don't you just go to the Dobeys' house like they asked?"

Starsky gave him an incredulous look. "Without you?"

"Yes, without me! I told you I don't want to do this. Every year we gotta have this same, stupid argument—"

"This year is different." Starsky's forehead creased in a mutinous scowl. "Do I have to tell you why?"

No. He didn't have to do that. Because just a couple of weeks ago, exuberant with happiness when Starsky got the call clearing him for street duty once again, Hutch had pulled his partner into a hug, lifted him off his feet in his sheer joy and—to his own utter surprise—kissed Starsky smack on the lips.

And Starsky, damn him, after a second of staring at him in blank amazement, had grabbed his head and kissed him right back.

With tongue.

"Uh. Uh..." was all Hutch could say when Starsky had finally released him. They both backed off, and Starsky's eyes dropped away.

"Good news. It's great news," Hutch had said weakly. But there was no hiding the effect Starsky's kiss had had on him.

"I better go in and sign the paperwork," Starsky said, his face flushed.

Starsky had left Hutch's house in a hurry, but the next night he was back, knocking hesitantly on the door. Hutch had had a little time to think, and some to imagine, and they weren't a third of the way through their pizza before he'd pulled Starsky's second slice out his greasy hands and kissed him again, licking the pepperoni taste from Starsky's lips before going in deep.

That had been the beginning. Since then, though, it had gotten more difficult for Hutch, as if he'd shot himself out of a cannon and was now losing momentum.

"I know it's different now," he said softly, tempering his resentment of what he considered to be an unreasonable demand. The boundaries were still hazy, and it was important, this new thing between them, not to be taken lightly or smashed carelessly just because he really, really disliked holidays.

Or just because Starsky had never gotten that little point.

"I don't get it," Starsky said, his voice also quieter. "For me, it's like there's this holiday button with a little wire going straight to my heart. Can't help it. It gets me excited every time. Only, I think your button's busted, Hutch."

"That's just what I hate about it!" Hutch said. Better shut up now. He looked out the window again. When the hell was Stinky Sam going to show?

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"Okay! Jesus, what do you want from me?"

"Just tell me what's the big deal? I know it ain't the 'euphoric sentimentalism' thing, because you did right by Molly that one Christmas."

"Yeah, and isn't Christmas enough? Do we have to do Thanksgiving, too?"

Starsky scratched his temple with the pen. "Did something happen when you were a kid to make you such a bitter old guy before your time?"

"No." Hutch laughed a little. "You think I'm hiding some big, childhood trauma? Dad died choking on a turkey bone?"

"I know how your dad died." Starsky's voice was even, but it cut just the same.

Yeah. Of course he knows. That was a particularly fun memory, when, four month into his Academy training, Hutch had heard the news about his father. Starsky had been by his side pouring the liquor while Hutch drank, and railed, and grieved for something he'd never had. That had been the first time Starsky had held him, he realized.

He owed Starsky the truth, as pitiful as it was.

"It just never seemed real," Hutch said at last. He glanced over at Starsky, who was chewing on the end of the pen again. He looked thoughtful, but still confused.

"Every year," Hutch said, trying to articulate it, "they'd go through it all like it was something expected, as if they were doing it because that's what nice, middle class families do. The turkey, and the stuffing, and inviting the stray uncle or cousin. And we'd sit at the table and have dinner. And whatever it was that was supposed to happen never, ever did. It didn't make my mother stop drinking, or make my father stop disappearing. It didn't do anything. If the holidays are supposed to be magic or something, it doesn't work, Starsk. It's just people deluding themselves."

The pen dropped out of Starsky's mouth. "That's pathetic."

Yeah, I know. That's why I didn't want to tell you. Whatever button was busted inside of him, his problems weren't something Starsky necessarily wanted to buy into. Friends were different than…what they were possibly becoming. Maybe it was better for Starsky to be clued in before they got in even deeper than they were.

At least he didn't seem as angry anymore.

"All units, all units in vicinity of Harbor Freeway, Adams Boulevard exit. 11-80, multiple vehicles. All units requested."

Hutch turned the key in the ignition.

Starsky turned toward him. "What about Stinky?"

"I don't think he's showing. We can pop up Figueroa and be there in less than a minute."

Starsky put up the Mars light. By the time they got to the on-ramp, traffic was already piling up, and Hutch crept up the shoulder, the cars before him slowly giving way before their siren.

The accident scene was pure madness. A massive truck had tumbled across the lanes, and at least three cars had skidded into crumpled piles around it. There was one black and white already in place, the two officers helping an injured man in an overturned brown Ford.

For some reason, there were at least a dozen frozen turkeys lying on the asphalt. As Hutch watched, yet another car came sailing toward the accident scene to grind to a skittering halt. It knocked one of the turkeys across the roadway like a hockey puck.

Starsky got out and rushed to one of the crashed vehicles, while Hutch ran to the back of the LTD and pulled out the case of emergency flares. He sped toward the starting point of the pile up and struck six of the flares one by one, leaving a trail and blocking the lanes.

When he jogged back he found Starsky hunched over a young woman who had crawled from her vehicle and was sitting propped up against the fender.

"We gotta get her out of the street," Hutch said. Smoke was rising from the hood of her car, but he didn't fear an explosion as much as he feared someone bypassing the flares and adding to the pile up.

Starsky nodded, and together they helped her to the side of the road and behind the safety of Hutch's LTD.

One of the uniformed officers started up the black and white and rolled it cautiously across the road, leaving the lights flashing. Then he got out and joined them.

"More help on the way," the officer, Perkins, said. Sure enough, Hutch could hear the welcome sound of sirens approaching.

"Hutch, the truck driver," Starsky said, touching his elbow. Together, they approached the eighteen-wheeler, the body of which was toppled on its side, the heavy aluminum of the container torn wide open from the impact. A pile of turkeys was lying at the base of the split.

Starsky took the lead, hopping up onto the steps of the cab and looking inside. He was taken by surprise when the door was suddenly flung open, and Hutch caught him around the waist as he fell backward.

The driver swung down from the cab, one hand raised in a fist. He was a big guy, at least six-four, and with enough meat on him to give Hutch pause. He was also obviously painfully drunk.

Starsky started sidling over so they could flank the guy. But the driver moved surprisingly fast, swinging a big fist before Starsky could get clear, and landing a heavy blow to the side of his neck.

Starsky went down, and Hutch went ballistic, hurling himself bodily at the man and slamming him hard against the side of the cab. He only came back to himself when he felt a tug at his arm and realized he had the driver on the pavement and was grinding his face down with one hand to the back of his thick neck. Hutch looked up into the worried face of the same young officer who had approached him earlier.

"You need my cuffs?" Perkins asked.

Hutch nodded and took them, angrily yanking the driver's big wrists behind him and cuffing them together. "Take him. 'Driving under the influence' and 'assault on an officer.'"

Hutch turned, seeking his partner. "Starsky?" He found him sitting up and rubbing his neck with a dazed expression. Starsky's face was bloody where he must have scraped it on the asphalt.

"You okay, buddy?" Hutch said, crouching down next to him.

Starsky nodded and gave him a rueful smile. "Did you get the number of the truck driver that hit me?"

Hutch grunted a laugh. He looked back at the driver then lifted his eyes to the chaos on the highway. Two ambulances and at least three black and whites had arrived to do damage control.

"Come on—looks like they've got things under wraps." Hutch got one hand under Starsky's elbow and carefully helped him to his feet.

"Thought you were gonna blow your stack back there," Starsky said, his voice low, as Hutch guided him back to the LTD.

"Bastard moved pretty damned fast."


"I got worried for a second."

"Yeah." Starsky stopped walking and looked down. "Is that what I think it is?"

It was. A turkey. A big one, maybe twenty pounds of bird, all wrapped up in clear plastic.

"You think it's a sign, Hutch?" Starsky shot him a sly grin, the one he reserved for when he was really twisting Hutch's rope.

Hutch sighed. Impulsively, he bent and hoisted the turkey, then dropped it behind the front seat of the LTD.

Starsky was laughing when he went around to the other side of the car.


"You should put something on those cuts," Hutch said as he tried to stuff the stolen turkey into his tiny freezer. He felt a pang of guilt about how they had acquired it.

"What you got?"

"Mercurochrome, I think."

"That stuff stings. Don't you have any Solarcaine?"

Hutch laughed. "My big, tough partner."

"Oh, shut up."

Hutch got to work scrambling up some eggs and making grilled cheese. He was too tired to do anything more, and too hungry to wait for a delivery.

After a while Starsky came out of the bathroom, still rubbing the left side of his neck. He'd cleaned up the cut on his right cheek and had applied some ointment. It looked swollen and painful.

"You okay?" Hutch approached and rested his hand on Starsky's neck.

Starsky tilted his head and brushed his cheek against the back of Hutch's hand. It was something he never would have done three weeks earlier, and Hutch's body tensed with the beginnings of excitement. That was another recent development, and something he was still trying to get used to. It felt strange—wrong somehow. For all their free-loving ways with the women they'd romanced over the years, they'd been almost hesitant in exploring this new side of their relationship.

"Is it okay if I..." Hutch would find himself asking Starsky, when reaching for the zipper of his tight jeans, when touching him in that way, even though touching Starsky was nothing new. And Starsky would nod, his eyes fixed on him as if waiting for something. Maybe for some reluctance on Hutch's face.

God knew Hutch had been doing some waiting of his own, figuring any second now Starsky would whisper, "Alakazam!" and end this aspect of their relationship, returning them both to the status quo, to being normal partners again. Only Hutch wasn't sure that was the proper term anymore, or even if it ever had been. And each time he felt this way, he had the sensation he was walking up to a door he wasn't sure was unlocked.

"Hutch?" Starsky was looking up at him questioningly, and Hutch realized he was still absently rubbing Starsky's neck.

"Is this okay?" Hutch asked without thinking.

"Yeah, it's fine. Hardly hurts at all," Starsky said dismissively, but that wasn't what Hutch had meant, and he knew Starsky knew it.

"Good. That's good."

Starsky moved away, and Hutch's hand dropped.

Taking a plate, Starsky heaped some eggs and one of the grilled cheese sandwiches on top and disappeared. Hutch went back to the freezer and, with difficulty, pulled out the ice tray from where it was wedged next to the turkey. Then he emptied the cubes into a plastic bag and wrapped the bundle in a kitchen towel. He found Starsky on the couch eating his dinner, his feet propped up on the coffee table, a faraway expression on his face.

"Here," Hutch said. "Try this on for size." He dropped the ice pack next to Starsky's legs.


Hutch made up his own plate and joined him on the couch. They ate quietly—Starsky one-handed, simultaneously trying to ice his neck. The silence wasn't uncomfortable. It could never be, between them. But it was unusual. Starsky was obviously thinking hard about something, and normally he did his thinking out loud, bouncing things off of Hutch.

"What's going on in the brainworks, pal?"

"Huh?" Starsky sounded surprised. He dropped the ice pack onto the table. "Oh, nothing. Well, something, I guess. I was thinking about…traditions."

Cripes. That again. "I did figure we'd have to cook the damned thing, at least," Hutch said grudgingly. "Seeing as it is stolen property."

Starsky gave him a furrowed look. He put down his fork and set his hands on his thighs. "Don't get ahead of yourself. What I was thinking was…it's not surprising that what means one thing to me means something completely different to you." He leaned closer to Hutch. "So, maybe we can try to...make our own tradition. Something new, so it will mean the same thing to both of us."

A compromise. Starsky was offering a compromise. Hutch chewed his cheek, feeling oddly trapped.

"What kind of 'new thing'?"

Starsky shrugged. "I don't know. We'll come up with something. Point is, are you game? Or you just gonna stuff your blond head under a rock and not come out until after New Year's?"

Hutch thought about it. "No cranberry sauce? No green bean casserole?"

Starsky made an impatient sound, his face twisting with the beginnings of anger.

"Okay. Okay, we can work out the details later," Hutch said. "Let's do it."

"Really?" Pleased surprise lit the corners of Starsky's eyes. Hutch looked down at the scraped cheek, and put his hand on Starsky's shoulder.

"Yeah, really. Sorry to be such a pain in the ass."

Something flickered across Starsky's face, an expression Hutch couldn't quite read. It was gone in an instant, and Starsky smiled wryly at him.

"It's okay, Blintz. It's like my mamma always said—"

"Oh, boy, here we go again—"

"'Davey', she used to say to me, 'The mountain is used to the snow.'"

"So now you're a mountain?" Hutch let his fingers creep a little higher to brush Starsky's throat. "Sure you're not a molehill?"

Starsky smiled a little and leaned back, pulling away from the touch. "What I am is dead-dog tired. I better get home before I stiffen up."

Hutch blanked his disappointment, keeping it from his face. He'd been hoping—but, of course, Starsky was tired and probably too sore to be interested in anything else. Or maybe it was still the wrong time.

So, Hutch was confused when, at the door, Starsky turned around and slipped his hand behind Hutch's neck, pulling him in for a kiss. A real hot one, so steamy that, after he was released, Hutch's lips felt like pan-seared steak.

"G'nite, Blondie," Starsky said, winking at him.

Hutch had to jack off twice before he could finally fall asleep.


Over the next two days Hutch tried to think of a tradition that would satisfy Starsky's holiday need, but kept coming up with the stupidest ideas. We could wax the, too much work. We could go out to a restaurant, but who the hell would be open on Thanksgiving?

Starsky had obviously come up with something, because he was generally up, humming happily while they cruised their beat. The cut on his face had scabbed over, so he hadn't shaved, which gave him a dark, rough look.

Hutch liked it. In fact, there wasn't a look Starsky had that he didn't like. Watching his partner drive the Torino with his usual flair, Hutch wondered just how and when looking at Starsky had turned into coveting him, wanting to have all of him, not just the parts Starsky had always given him so freely.

Hutch wasn't sure he had what it took to claim the rest. Their sexual contact had been brief and sporadic, with only four crazy, fumbled encounters in the dark, the last time over a week ago. He knew he shouldn't think about it while on the job, but he couldn't help slipping back into the memory.

Halfway back from a court appearance in Santa Barbara, the LTD broke down on Highway 1. Starsky's curses trailed off into the night wind as he disappeared down onto the beach to cool off.

Hutch radioed for assistance and then followed, finding Starsky standing at the top of the sand and staring out at the breakers.

"Triple-A said it would be at least an hour before they get here," Hutch said apologetically, anticipating another storm of abuse for his choice of cars.

Instead, Starsky said quietly, "Look at that. It's bee-yootiful."

Hutch followed the hand gesture. In the darkness of the deserted beach, the combs of waves were dancing with phosphorescence, electric blue flashing along the breaking white foam. The sight was surreal. They watched quietly for a few moments, Hutch growing increasingly aware of the silence and his partner's warm body beside him.

"Bioluminescent marine organisms," Hutch said absently, trying to distract himself. "They light up when they're disturbed by the waves. See, these transparent shrimp like to eat them, and the organisms light up so that the bigger predators will eat the shrimp—"

"Think you know everything, don't you?" Starsky's voice sounded...strange. A little husky and aroused.

"No, I—" I don't know anything at all. It was true, because Hutch felt his heart quickening in response, but he didn't know what the hell to do about it, how to handle the shift from friend and partner to something else, something that yearned to put his hands on Starsky and—

"It's pretty. That's all you need to know, Hutch."

"Yeah. Pretty." Hutch slid his hand along Starsky's back to his shoulder. It was nothing he wouldn't do normally, but Starsky's body went tense. Hutch started to let go, but Starsky turned toward him, just the whites of his eyes picking up the moonlight, the rest of his face in mysterious shadow.

Hutch wanted so badly to kiss him, taste him like he'd only done a few times before. "Starsk. Can I...?"

Starsky's mouth stopped his halting words, and Hutch groaned into the kiss, unable to believe it was happening again. He kissed Starsky back, opening his lips to the eager tongue. He found himself pushing Starsky backward against the tall rock beside the trail, Starsky giving out a small sound as his back hit the stone. Then Hutch pressed against him, deepening the kiss and putting one hand on Starsky's neck.

Hutch pulled away a moment later, shock and awareness catching up. "I'm sorry...are you okay?"

"Shut up," Starsky said, grabbing Hutch's hand and pulling it toward his groin, "and make yourself useful."

Hutch groped open Starsky's jeans, easing his hand in and tracing Starsky's rigid cock momentarily before grasping it and pulling it out of his pants. He felt Starsky's hand fumbling at his cords, and he groaned in anticipation before taking Starsky's lips again, unable to hold back.

Starsky's cock was hot in his hand. Hutch pumped it experimentally in the way he thought Starsky enjoyed it. He remembered Starsky liked a lot of pressure near the head, and Hutch squeezed hard, closing the ring of his fingers as he pulled upward. Starsky's hands faltered on Hutch's waist, and he let his head fall back.

"Yeah, like that. Just like...that."

Hutch continued to stroke, his pulse tapping urgently against the side of his neck. He tried to thrust his hips forward but Starsky's hands were back, getting Hutch's fly unzipped, and then his fingers closed around Hutch's cock.

"Oh, Jesus." They jerked each other in a frantic rhythm, falling into synch. Starsky squeezed Hutch's balls through his pants, and Hutch stifled a shout of ecstasy as he came, Starsky's teeth grazing his neck when Hutch pulled back. He barely heard Starsky's accompanying moan, but felt the thick semen spattering his hand with Starsky's climax.

Afterward, the awkwardness was back, and Hutch moved away stiffly to clean up. He used his handkerchief and then passed it over, unable to look at Starsky's face. They sat down on the sand and watched the waves breaking with a shimmering gleam.

It really was beautiful.

The memory of that night on the beach made Hutch wince with stilted longing. Maybe this holiday thing was his chance to move things forward. If only he could come up with something that would satisfy them. It seemed an impassible divide. Every time he thought about Thanksgiving and what it was supposed to be like, a hurtful pit would open in his stomach—an ancient, bitter hollow.

And for Starsky, it was pure joy.

This is impossible.

"You know Dobey's gonna try to con us into taking a holiday shift tomorrow," Starsky said as he turned them down Seventh Street to head back to Metro. "We have to sneak in, do our write ups, and sneak out again, or we'll be screwed."

A tiny, evil voice whispered an awful suggestion in Hutch's ear. He immediately discarded it as cheap and unworthy.

But his partner was nothing if not perceptive. "In fact, maybe you should just hop into your rattletrap and head home, and I'll take care of the paperwork." Starsky's tone was just a little hard.

"No. I can't leave you do it all alone—you'll be there all night. And I bet you have some stuff to prepare for tomorrow, right?"

Starsky shot him a mistrustful look. Hutch kept his expression earnest.

Starsky grunted. "Oookay."

Dobey's door was resolutely shut for the hour or so they were at their desks. Hutch wasn't even sure if the captain was in. When he stood up to drop their reports on Dobey's desk, Starsky's hand was quicker, plucking them out of Hutch's reach.

"I'll just give these to the captain."

"Okay." Hutch stretched. "I'm heading out. See you tomorrow. What time, anyway?"

"One o'clock. We should start at one," Starsky repeated pointedly.

"Sounds good." Hutch said it as easily as he could.

"Good." Starsky still made no move toward Dobey's office.

"Good. See ya."


Starsky was still standing there when Hutch turned and walked out the squadroom doors.


Stupid goddamned thing. His freezer, wedged slightly open for days by the frozen turkey, had grown a coating of ice around the giant bird, trapping it inside. Hutch hammered at the frost with his screwdriver until he could finally pull the thing out.

The turkey was part one of his three-part offer. He'd leave it out to defrost tonight, and by the next day it should be ready to be cooked. He stripped off the plastic and dumped the bird in his biggest pan. Then he took his Joy of Cooking down from the shelf and thumbed through the index until he located 'Turkey, about.'

Giving a quick glance over the instructions, he pulled off the rubber band binding the frozen legs together and yanked them apart, managing to squeak them wide enough to reach inside. He pulled out various packets of stuff that he set to the side.

Hutch washed his hands and stared down at the turkey. It was pale and ugly looking. He couldn't for the life of him understand the connection between this giant, dead creature and the good feelings so many people associated with it.

Well, at least we can have turkey sandwiches for a while. Perfect for a stakeout.

The next morning, after breakfast and a quick run, Hutch started on part two of his compromise. Considering the disappointment that had clouded Starsky's face when Hutch had suggested X'ing the cranberry sauce, he felt he owed Starsky at least that much, and had decided to make it fresh. When he was young, before his grandmother had died, Hutch had watched her canning preserves, so he figured he could do a pretty good job.

He washed the cranberries and prepared the syrup as directed by his cookbook. Once the pot was simmering energetically on the stove, he moved over to the turkey to take a look.

It was still frozen almost completely solid.

Oh, shit. He jabbed it with a fork, and it was like poking rubberized steel. There was no way it would defrost in time. Hutch looked at his watch. Thanksgiving wasn't three hours old and he was already screwing up.

He grabbed his phone book and rushed to his desk.

"Closed. Closed. Closed," he chanted, slamming down the receiver for the eighteenth time. He didn't think there was a single supermarket in Bay City open for business. Fucked it up. Starsky's going to be so disappointed in me. Hutch knew there'd be no convincing Starsky he hadn't done it on purpose.

A burnt smell pulled him out of his thoughts and had him rushing to the stove in renewed panic. He looked down in stupefied dismay. The cranberry sauce had simmered away the available liquid and was now a blackened, sticky mess at the bottom of the pot.

"Goddammit to HELL!" Hutch yanked the pot from the stove, singeing his palm as he dropped it into the sink with a clatter. "Fuck. Oh, fuck." He'd never replenished his ice cube tray, so he ended up having to press his burned palm against the frosty bottom of the compartment to try to relieve the sting.

Starsky would be arriving in under an hour, and Hutch had nothing to show for his side of the bargain except for some rapidly forming blisters. With his current string of luck, part three of his plan, the Lions versus Cowboys game that was scheduled for the afternoon, would be called on account of an earthquake.

It was enough to make a guy hate the holidays.


There was a brief knock at the door, and Starsky entered with a flourish, a big brown paper bag in his hand, a six-pack in the other, and a huge grin on his face. His beard had grown even thicker, making his smile flash in his dark face.

"Happy Thanksgiving, Blintz!"

"Happy Thanksgiving, Starsk," Hutch said automatically, his brain numb with dread. He'd opened the windows wide to try to get the burnt cranberry smell out of the apartment, but he saw Starsky lift his head and sniff experimentally.

"What's that smell? Cotton candy?"

Hutch shook his head and reached out to relieve Starsky of the six-pack. A beer right now sounded just about perfect. Maybe it'd give him enough courage to tell Starsky how he'd managed to fuck up Thanksgiving.

Dropping the rest of the six-pack in the fridge, he came back out and opened the tall can and let a good portion of it flow into his mouth and down his throat.

"Hey, slow down there, little fishy." Starsky shot him an odd look and took his paper bag into the kitchen area. After a moment of silence, he returned to the living room. "That mess in the sink what I think it is?" he asked, sounding a little amused.

Hutch dropped down onto the couch. "Yeah," he said glumly. He didn't think Starsky's amusement would last when he'd heard the kicker. "And while we're at it, I fucked up the turkey, too—didn't take it out to defrost in time. So, have at me." He held the cool beer can in his injured hand.

Starsky made a strange sound and disappeared into the kitchen again, coming out with a beer of his own. There was a weird expression on his face; it took a second for Hutch to recognize it, because Starsky so rarely held back his laughter.

"You're laughing at me?" That was better than Starsky being pissed, for sure, but somehow he didn't feel a whole lot better.

"Naw." But a tiny sound Starsky emitted right afterward could have been the front end of a chopped-off snicker. "It's just...this is your idea of the great new tradition we should start? You, setting yourself up to screw up just so you can feel like crap the rest of the day? 'Cause, I gotta say, Hutch, that doesn't sound like much fun."

"I wanted it to be," Hutch muttered, feeling his face flush with embarrassment at Starsky's summation.

Starsky's arm came around his shoulder, surprising him. Hutch froze. Starsky gave him a squeeze and then let go.

"'M just glad you cared enough to try," Starsky said, the words a little jerky. Hutch turned his head. Starsky's eyelids were half-shuttering the deep blue, giving him a vulnerable look.

"You think this was ever about that?" Hutch asked in disbelief. "Starsk, you know I lo—" Unable to finish, he cleared his throat.

Apparently he didn't have to say it after all, because Starsky's face was red when he took a sip of his beer. He swallowed, and then he tipped his can against Hutch's.

After a moment, Starsky grunted. "Well, at least one of us has his shit together. Because I have the perfect new tradition in mind."

"Yeah?" Hutch said doubtfully.

"Yup. The first step is: we order a pizza. I know of at least two joints that are open today." Starsky hoisted himself off the couch and went to the phone.

"Pizza?" Hutch asked, his voice rising on him. He was okay with pizza, but since they had it at least once a week, he didn't understand how that would make for a very good tradition.

"I brought the perfect toppings," Starsky added, one hand holding the receiver by the base while he dialed the phone. "But they're a surprise."

"Huh. And what's step two?"

"We sit back and watch Dallas kick Detroit's ass."

Hutch grinned and took another swallow of his beer. "That was part of my plan."

Starsky didn't answer him right away, as he was engrossed in putting in their order. Hutch flicked on the TV, which thankfully didn't explode in a burst of sparks like he'd secretly been fearing since things had started to go so wrong.

Starsky joined him on the couch and nudged Hutch's leg over on the coffee table so they were touching. They'd missed the kickoff, and the game was already in progress, Dallas advancing to the forty yard-line. Hutch finished his beer, and Starsky took his empty and disappeared into the kitchen.

When he came back, he said, his voice sounding strange, "Blintz, what is this? Did you find it in the turkey?"

Hutch looked up. Sure enough, Starsky was holding one of the packets that had been stuffed inside the bird. He'd opened the bag and was staring into it. Hutch stood and joined him.

They both peered down into the baggie, and then Hutch looked into Starsky's face.


"'S what I thought," Starsky said, a laugh beginning in his voice. "The guy must've been using the turkeys to smuggle—"

"Dope," Hutch squeaked.

Starsky burst out laughing.

"This isn't funny," Hutch said, a little panicked. "You realize we have to report this, which means...cripes, everyone's gonna know I lifted a turkey from the scene of the accident."

Starsky only laughed harder.

Hutch grumbled out, "Damn it, Starsk." I did it for him and his stupid Thanksgiving. He walked over to the phone and dialed up the station.

"Control, this is Hutchinson."

"Hey, Hutch. What're you doing calling in on Thanksgiving?"

"Oh, hi, Minnie. Sorry you had to work today. Listen, I was just calling for an update on that multi-car accident two days ago. Starsky and I subbed our report, but we never heard if the driver—"

Minnie started chuckling in his ear, her soft voice tickling pleasantly. "Oh, man. You won't believe the punch line on that incident. Apparently the guy was using some of those frozen turkeys to smuggle in marijuana from Mexico...."

"You don't say?" Hutch said weakly.

"I'm serious! He's going down for a whole passel of charges. How's our Boy Wonder doing? I heard he got a little wrinkled during the arrest."

"Oh, Starsky's fine. Thanks, Minnie. I swear these guys get more inventive every day."

"You ain't kiddin'."

Hutch hung up and found Starsky collapsed on the couch and still grinning. He waved the bag of pot.

"You aren't thinking of turning in the evidence, are you?"

No. Hutch couldn't do that, not without detailing where he'd gotten it. And Starsky must know how much that idea pained him.

"This is bad. I'm a bad cop." Hutch sat down on the couch and bent forward to swipe his beer from the table. "Stealing, and now possession."

The couch shook with more of Starsky's laughter. Hutch wasn't amused.

"You're right behind me on a conspiracy rap," he reminded his partner.

"Aw, for chrissake, lighten up already," Starsky said. "I think we should make this part of our tradition."

"What, committing a felony?"

"No...I was thinking more of a little misdemeanor."

Hutch turned his head and caught Starsky's eyebrows in mid-waggle.

"You can't be serious. You want to smoke it?"

"Mmm-hmm. C'mon, it'll be fun. Haven't been stoned since I was eighteen. How about you?"

"Uh." With a force of will, Hutch kept his face completely expressionless.

"You have to be kidding me. What, never?"

"It's illegal." Hutch tried to sound righteous. He felt like he was in college again being joshed by his roommates. But it wasn't the illegality that made him that uptight about the idea. It was the thought of losing control that had always held him back before. And now that he'd experienced a forcible stripping of that control by Monk's little injections, he was even less inclined to try it.

Starsky's expression sobered. "This wouldn't be like that," he said, reading Hutch's mind. "You'd just feel a little goofy. And really, really hungry. Actually, kind of like we feel after we pull a double on no sleep, and then come home and drink a six-pack because we're too damned wired to crash anyway."


"Or, I guess we could sit here and watch the turkey defrost."

Low blow. The lowest. Emotional blackmail, plain and simple.

Pot lowers inhibitions. The thought, pulled straight from a PD informational pamphlet Hutch had read sometime, made him choke back his further protests. Lowers 'em. Maybe enough? Maybe that door will open more easily today.

"Okay, fine," he said.

He had the pleasure of seeing Starsky's eyes widen in shock.

Gotcha. Think I'm some uptight stick in the ass, do you, partner? "We'll need something to smoke it with, though."

"Uh, yeah. Well, we can always make a pipe out of a beer can."

The doorbell rang. Starsky jumped and then hastily stuffed the bag of dope under his ass.

Hutch burst out laughing. "Oh, you'd make a terrific felon." He smirked. "It's just the pizza, Starsk."

Starsky recovered quickly, shooting him a look. "Well, go pay for it already."

Hutch got up and pulled out his wallet, then went to the door. The delivery boy, looking depressed as hell, handed him the pizza and a resentful look. Hutch added another buck to the tip.

"Happy Thanksgiving," he said. The pizza boy grumbled something ugly under his breath and walked away.

"That goes double for you, pal," Hutch yelled down the hallway after him.

"Boy, you're just a ray of holiday sunshine, aren't ya?" Starsky said as Hutch turned around with the pie.

He ignored the remark. "You hungry?"

"Nope, not just yet. Stick it in the oven to keep it warm."

Hutch did as he was asked, but left the oven off. In the kitchen, he grabbed a couple more beers along with an empty beer can from the counter and brought them back out.

"You sure you know how to do this?" He passed the empty to Starsky and dropped the others on the table.

"It ain't rocket science, Blintz. Bring me a tack."

Hutch found one in his desk drawer and handed it over. Starsky ducked his head, the brown curls hiding his bearded face from view. Hutch sat on the arm of the couch and watched Starsky's deft fingers as he bent the side of the can and then poked a tiny hole in the dent.

"There ya go."

Hutch waved his hand. "That's it? Bend the side, poke a hole?"

"That about covers it. Oh, and of course—" Starsky pulled out the bag of pot and dug into it, coming up with a small bud. He placed it on the hole. "Voila."

Hutch stared at the construction for a second. "This is stupid—you know that, right?"

"Uh-huh. Dumber than dumb." Starsky lifted his head and grinned. "Wanna do it anyway?"

The challenge in his dark eyes had something tightening in Hutch's gut, firing up his heart.

"Said I would, didn't I?" The resulting hot stare made Hutch shift a little on the couch arm.

"Alrighty, then." Starsky leaned over and grabbed the book of matches sitting next to the candle on the coffee table. He tossed it to Hutch and held the mouth of the can near his face. "Light me."

Hutch lit the match and let the bottom of the flame hover right over the bud. Starsky pulled in a breath through the mouth of the can, and the leaf caught, the slightly sweet smell drifting over to Hutch. Starsky held the smoke in his lungs for a long moment and then exhaled.

"Whoa." He rubbed his chest with his hand. "Okay, Blintz, you're up." Starsky tapped the spent remains into the ashtray, and then dug into the bag to reload the pipe, his fingers fumbling a little.

He's already feeling it. Hutch had a moment of uneasiness at the thought of what he was about to try. But the bright grin Starsky shot him reassured him. Starsky was here, and they were locked up in his apartment, just the two of them, with no one to disturb them. He took the can from Starsky and pressed his lips to the opening, then nodded to show he was ready.

But he wasn't. The first lungful of hot smoke had him coughing within seconds. Starsky pounded him on the back a little too hard.

"You'd better try that again, buddy." Starsky appeared to be holding back a laugh.

Hutch nodded. He didn't feel anything yet except a burning in his throat. He tried again, this time inhaling a little more slowly, instinctively letting more air in with the smoke. He held his breath for a long time like Starsky had. His head felt strangely heavy for a moment, and he shook it, trying to throw off the feeling. But it was still there moments later, along with a sensation of his body relaxing against his will.

"Whoa is right," Hutch said. His voice sounded too high. I wonder if that's part of why they call it getting high. I can't believe I'm getting high with Starsky.

He looked over at his partner, who was smiling at him—a broad, peaceful smile.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Hutch said. Except he had a sudden, overwhelming need to stop balancing on the narrow arm of the couch, so he let himself slide over, one leg still hanging over the arm while he slouched.

"Like a giraffe's," Starsky said, his voice as funny as Hutch's. "But your knees aren't knobby like theirs."

Hutch took a while to decrypt the comment. "Thanks. I think." He stretched and hooked his beer off the table, then turned his head.

Starsky eyes were liquid, the blue so deep, like the ocean at the best time of day, the sun high and the waves breaking fast. Hutch found himself pulled in, and he put his free hand on Starsky's shoulder, rubbing his thumb against the hard round muscle there.

Starsky was so warm under his hand. So solid. Unchanging.

"This okay with you?" Hutch asked softly.

Starsky's eyebrows drew together. "God, I hate that."

Panic battered at the edges of Hutch's mellow mood. "Hate it?" He dropped his hand.

"Not that," Starsky said slowly. "I hate it that you ask me like that, like we're not...not together."

He can't say it either, Hutch thought.

"I mean you always act as if I'd stop you. Almost like you want me to."

"That's not true." Hutch was confused, but that last part was completely wrong. "Why would I want you to stop me? Wasn't I the one who started this whole thing?"

Starsky turned and squared off on him. "Don't be dumb. You were more goddamned surprised than I was. You weren't really ready for it yet."

Ready? Hutch tried to think about it, but his brain was molasses. He'd thought he was ready. But maybe Starsky was right, because ever since then Hutch had been scared without even being sure why. Maybe because they seemed to be stuck someplace not quite here, and not quite the old familiar there.

"Maybe I'm...but why would you think so?" Hutch asked incoherently.

"Because I can tell when you're...when you start thinking about it. You always get this lost look on your face."


"Yeah. Lost. Like a big golden retriever out in the woods."

The image was distracting. That poor dog. But... "Lost? "How could I be lost, if you're here?"

Starsky frowned.

"I mean the only time I'm ever lost is when you're not with me. You're where I'm found."

"Jesus." Starsky's hand moved to Hutch's leg. "We gotta smoke dope more often."

"What?" The sudden switch had Hutch yawning for some reason. "Why?"

"'Cause it sure gets you saying stuff."

"Oh." Maybe Hutch wasn't making sense, but he thought he had been. He was just thinking really, really slowly, because it took him about five minutes, his eyes locked on the silent television screen, before it came to him—what Starsky really meant.

"You think I wouldn't say it if I weren't stoned?"

Starsky's hand squeezed his leg. "I didn't say you wouldn't think it."

"Damned right." Hutch nodded decisively. That's when he suddenly remembered he had a beer in his hand, because when he waved it emphatically the cold contents went burbling into his lap.

"Shit!" Hutch jerked in surprise, spilling more of the beer.

"Dummy." Starsky leaned over and relieved him of the can. He swiped his hand at the spill near Hutch's crotch. "Maybe you'd better take your pants off."

"Yeah, I...huh?" Hutch wasn't that stoned. "That a come-on?"

"You want it to be?" Starsky was smirking at him. His hand had moved higher somehow when Hutch wasn't looking. The tip of Starsky's little finger tickled his balls through the wet material.

"Oh, boy." Hutch's felt his dick shift in his pants.

"That a 'yes'?"

The weight of Hutch's head pulled him backwards and he followed it, relaxing suddenly against the back of the couch. Starsky apparently took that as his answer, because he started to fondle Hutch's balls through his pants.

"You sure you don't mind missing the game?" Starsky said.

Hutch's eyelids were closed, but he could see Starsky's face through them anyway, just from the tone of his voice—that low tease, his East Coast accent a little thick. The voice he used on a perp just before making them crumble. A gentle, coaxing, utterly seductive tone, usually coming into play right when Hutch had the guy pinned to the wall by his throat.

"I don't mind," he said, his voice shaky. Starsky's hand shifted upward, grazing Hutch's cock, which was inflating faster than a Macy's Parade balloon.

"You ready for stage two of the new tradition?"

That made Hutch open his eyes and turn his head. This he accomplished by tilting it just past center and letting gravity do the rest. Starsky was staring at him, and the hot challenge was back. This is important, Hutch tried to tell himself, but he couldn't think himself straight.

"Stage two was supposed to be cranberry sauce," he said, puzzled.

"Close, but not quite. I'm thinking more along the lines of stuffing." Starsky leaned over, the rough almost-beard brushing silkily against Hutch's cheek. "Only, you're the one that's gonna get stuffed, turkey."

The raw whisper in his ear would have made Hutch shiver under normal circumstances, but his body was far too relaxed. His cock wasn't, though, and responded to the words, throbbing in Starsky's tight grasp.

"Jesus. Yeah, okay," Hutch said.

He'd managed to surprise his partner again, because Starsky released him, pulling back.

"Yeah? Just like that you're gonna let me? You sure it ain't the pot talking?"

Well, they say pot lowers inhibitions, Hutch wanted to joke, but that wasn't it, and he didn't want Starsky to get the wrong idea.

"Nope. I think it would...if anything would...I mean, are we or aren't we? Lovers, I mean," Hutch demanded. "We'd be together then, wouldn't we?"

Starsky made a frustrated sound. "I don't want to do it just to prove something."

But it wasn't to prove anything, except that lovers could do that, could do anything to each other—be that intimate without asking. But the idea of trying to explain it to Starsky made Hutch weary beyond belief. He took the obvious shortcut.

"Don't you think you could make me enjoy it?"

The challenge worked. Starsky's eyes flashed at him and he stood abruptly, but then swayed a little. Hutch followed laboriously, his uncoordinated body wanting to pitch over across the table.

He trailed behind Starsky, who stopped to grab something from the pocket of his jacket. Hutch watched Starsky's ass as he walked, admiring the bunch and flex of the rounded muscles, and wondering if he could make Starsky like it, too.

Maybe they could make that part of their Christmas tradition.

In the bedroom, his uncoordinated fingers apparently failed to unfasten his clothes quickly enough for Starsky's liking, because he gave Hutch a look and started stripping him, first tossing the object in his hand onto the bed.

Lubricant. Hutch's mind categorized the blue and white tube, but it took a second for the sight to sink in all the way. He felt a brief pang of worry, not sure if he could handle this. It seemed such a strange and awkward thing.

But hot. The idea of it, of Starsky wanting him badly enough to go into a drugstore and buy a tube of lubricant; of Starsky being willing to engage in the act itself—something outside both their experience. Or was it?

"You ever done this before?"

Starsky looked up from unfastening Hutch's pants. His knuckles brushed against Hutch's belly, and then his hands settled on his waist, gripping him reassuringly.

"Yeah. With girls, I mean."

"Oh. Okay." As long as they weren't going in blind.

Starsky pushed Hutch's pants down, and then Hutch took over, kicking his shoes off first before getting out of the rest of his clothes. He touched himself, stroking his erection while watching Starsky undress. The burst of pleasure had Hutch biting his lip. His cock felt incredibly sensitive.

"Hey, cut that out," Starsky said, tugging his hand away. Hutch turned his palm to let it slide along Starsky's wrist and then up his arm. Hutch's fingers seemed especially sensitive, too, because the hair on Starsky's forearm felt incredibly silky.

"Mmmm," Starsky said. He pulled Hutch into a hug, and Hutch went willingly, almost collapsing into his arms. He remembered doing the same thing so many times in the past. Only, not when they were both naked. Hutch took advantage of their new reality, letting his hands drop lower until he could reach the firm cheeks of Starsky's ass. He trailed his fingertips there, and Starsky made another approving sound before pulling away.

"You're something else, Blondie."

"Me? It's not me who's incredible." His legs didn't want to hold him up, and Hutch looked longingly at the bed.

Starsky held his shoulders. "Not the bed. Right here, kneel down."

Hutch looked down at the thin rug. "What about my poor knees?"

"Sheesh." Starsky reached over and grabbed a couple of pillows, dropping them to the floor beside the bed. "Will this do, you big wuss?"

"Yeah. No, wait—aren't you even gonna kiss me before you fuck me?"

Starsky laughed, so hard he was still chuckling a little when he pulled Hutch forward and kissed him, so it was perfect, really, just like Hutch had been hoping—so easy and right and them, starting soft and growing hot, a swift slide of tongue and Starsky's lips nipping at him. The weirdness was back a little, because Starsky's tongue was so insistent, not like a woman's at all. Or, at least not like the girls Hutch liked to date. But there was a familiar feeling there, too, and Hutch hunted it down, seeking it in Starsky's mouth, focusing on the gentle grip of Starsky's hands on his head, holding him. He realized he had closed his mouth while thinking so hard, and he felt the tip of Starsky's tongue tracing the seam of his lips as if begging to be let back inside.

"I'm in love," Hutch said, surprised.

Starsky pulled back, looking startled. Then his eyes warmed. "Of course. Ya dumbo. What did you think?" His hands dropped to Hutch's shoulders, turning him and pushing him down.

Hutch knelt on the pillows and rested his hands on the bed. "I didn't recognize it," he mumbled. How could he not have? But somehow it had been drowned out by the oddness of what they had been doing, and his fear that somehow it was a dream after all.

It was so clear now, in the way Starsky's hands moved on him. They were delicate, but incredibly strong and skilled. They pulled sensation out of him now, stroking along his back, tugging him into position so that Hutch was bent over the low bed, his ass raised. He rested his cheek against the mattress, wondering at his lack of fear or uneasiness. Maybe because he was just so used to being handled by Starsky.

He felt the thick, soft hair on Starsky's cheek rub below his shoulder blade, and then Starsky lips against a particular spot.

"Stop it," Hutch said, uncomfortable.

"Why?" Starsky's fingers were there now, caressing what Hutch knew to be his birthmark. "I like it, babe. 'Cause otherwise you'd be too damned perfect, you know that?"

Hutch closed his eyes. Those deft fingers moved to his buttocks, squeezing him once in warning before spreading them apart. Something cold and hard was pressed to his anus, and then liquid was forced inside.

"Hey. 'S cold," Hutch mumbled his protest against the mattress.

"Oh, I'll warm you up," Starsky said, his voice husky. Then his wet fingers teased Hutch's asshole.

Oh. My God. The feeling made Hutch's head swim, and suddenly everything seemed so clear. He was the door, and Starsky's fingers were opening him up to let him in. Hutch felt a fierce joy—that Starsky wanted that from him. And Starsky was the only one Hutch would ever let do this, the only one he ever could. The only one who—

Hutch shuddered and let out a wordless cry, pushing up from the mattress when a stroke of Starsky's fingers heated him up inside. Starsky did it again, and Hutch shifted his legs, widening them to give Starsky more room to work.

"Yeah, I think he wants it," Starsky said in a growling voice.

"Jesus." Hutch blushed furiously, feeling it heat his face and his chest, prickling his nipples. "Would you quit talking like a porno flick and fuck me already?"

Starsky's head came to rest on his shoulder, the curls brushing him as he shook with laughter, his fingers still inside of Hutch and stroking gently.

"Hell, yes." Starsky reached around and turned Hutch's jaw with his other hand so he could steal a kiss. Then he released him and said, "You're so...God, I love you. You're just"

Hutch had to look away. "Yeah, well, that's a neat trick of mine." His cock throbbed impatiently. "Now will you get on with it? I'm...I need you pretty bad." He shivered when, in response, Starsky rubbed his jaw along his shoulder to his neck, the soft stubble tickling erotically. Starsky pulled away and pushed gently on his spine, and Hutch laid his chest against the edge of the mattress. The position increased his sense of vulnerability, heightened by the feel of Starsky's hot cock probing wetly between his cheeks.

Hutch twitched when he felt it press against his anus. "Oh, God," he murmured, full understanding hitting him at last. His brain was babbling panic at him, but it felt distant, muted, and never reached his body, which was still relaxed under the influence of the pot. This is why it's called the Devil's Weed. His every nerve felt sensitized, especially the tender, vulnerable ones currently being massaged by the head of Starsky's cock as Starsky poised there, seemingly endlessly.

Unable to stand the anticipation any longer, Hutch pushed backward a fraction of an inch, feeling an increasing pressure. Starsky groaned something and then thrust into him. Hutch felt Starsky's cock opening him up, felt his body give, smooth and easy. Starsky pulled back a little and then pressed forward even deeper. Hutch was pushed onto the mattress, the edge rough against his nipples. He groaned as the two incredible sensations collided within him.

Starsky pressed in all the way, and Hutch shuddered again, a heated tingle rising inside him, stirred by the movement of Starsky's cock. "Oh, God. What's happening...ohhh."

"That's it, that's it. God, you're so hot, baby, so tight," Starsky said, his porn soundtrack obviously back on. He took hold of Hutch's cock at the base and squeezed while he thrust.

Hutch felt manipulated by the feelings pounding through him—the force of the tight body striking his; the pressure inside, mirrored by the stroking hand; and the rough fabric stimulating his nipples. The sensations all combined to force his excitement. But though he was incredibly stimulated, Hutch couldn't seem to come.

He really needed to come.

"Please," he mumbled before he could stop himself.

"What's that, baby blue?" Starsky's voice was black velvet in his ear. "You want something?" He punctuated the question with a hard thrust right to that magic spot behind Hutch's balls, and Hutch squirmed.

"Oh, you're beautiful when you move like that," Starsky said, and now the velvet was rough silk.

"Just...please," Hutch said again. "I gotta. I gotta." He wriggled again, and the tip of his cock brushed against the side of the mattress. He lunged forward for more contact, but Starsky pulled him back with one hand, the other sliding upward on his cock until Hutch could feel the tips of Starsky's fingers fondling the head.

"Oh, God. Yeah, just like that," Hutch groaned. Starsky continued to play with the head of his cock, settling into more of a rocking rhythm with his thrusts, and Hutch felt it begin—a tight rushing in his balls, like a gathering storm. He moaned and kept absolutely still, feeling it grow from a tingle to a hum. Starsky stopped moving as well, except for the hand manipulating his cock, and he let go of Hutch's hip to squeeze his balls gently, coaxing it out of him. Then—God, it was so good—Hutch felt his orgasm shoot through him, and he clenched hard on the shaft trapped inside him while his pleasure peaked.

Starsky was moaning in his ear as he caught the first spurt of come and used it to lubricate his stroking of Hutch's shaft, milking the rest out of him. Hutch groaned helplessly until it was over. Then collapsed, completely spent, and Starsky muttered something disapproving when Hutch's thighs gave.

"Here," Starsky said, pulling away and easing him sideways. Hutch let him. He couldn't even muster the energy to assist as Starsky tugged him into position, his elbows resting on the rug and his stomach over the bunched up pillows. Then Starsky covered his back and spread Hutch's legs wide before he re-entered him with a solid thrust.

"Oh," Hutch said. The new angle made it possible for Starsky to penetrate him even deeper, and the tingle was back, even though Hutch was wasted, and couldn't do anything more than tighten appreciatively around Starsky's cock as he fucked him.

Starsky made a sexy sound and then rode him hard, his fingers applying a bruising pressure on Hutch's shoulders. Hutch lost track of time; it felt like Starsky had always been doing this, fucking him, possessing him. Starsky was saying Hutch's name over and over as he thrust, as if reminding them both just who he was fucking with such avid, sweaty intensity.

Just as Hutch thought he would die from it, Starsky gave a high-sounding sigh and went rigid behind him. And Hutch felt it in his incredibly sensitive tissues—the soft pulsing of Starsky's orgasm. It was fantastic, to take that from Starsky, and to be the one Starsky wanted to give it to.

Hutch sighed.

The next time he had any awareness was of Starsky muttering something about the mess, and feeling a gentle touch on his ass as he was being tended to. He wanted to complain that he was neither an invalid nor a baby, but he couldn't find the energy. Then Starsky was tugging at him, getting him up onto the bed. Hutch sank down, feeling the shift as Starsky curled in next to him and rested his head on Hutch's shoulder, one arm wrapped around Hutch's waist.

That was just about perfect. Hutch listened to the soft sighs of Starsky's breathing and the muted complaints of his own ass, which was still throbbing.

"I think I'm gonna like our new tradition,"Hutch said and drifted off.


Hutch woke up with the lamp still shining in his eyes. He leaned over and switched it off with a grumble. There was an answering mumble from beside him, and he rolled over in surprise.

The effects from the pot had lifted, leaving him slightly befuddled to find Starsky lying next to him in bed. Naked.

Oh, right. Today... Hutch's cock twitched at the startling memory of kneeling on the floor while Starsky rode his back. The image was too powerful and he pushed it away, staring at Starsky's face and dark stubble on his cheek. Looking for something. He tracked the planes of Starsky's face, the mole, and the way his lids curved over his deep-set eyes.

We're lovers now. For sure. Lovers. Boldly, he reached out and laid his palm on Starsky's chest, seeking proof. Starsky mumbled something and his hand rose up to rest on top of Hutch's.

There. It's right there.

Starsky's eyes opened and he yawned.

"Time izzit?"

Hutch looked over at the clock. "Just about four."

"Mmm. Hungry?"

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah." Starsky rolled out of bed, and Hutch followed him into the bathroom. He brushed his teeth while Starsky took a piss. Then they switched places. Hutch jumped in the shower and scrubbed himself down. His ass was sore, and the startling image popped in his head again. He soaped his semi-erect cock, wondering why he didn't feel strange about what they had done.

When he got out of the bathroom, the smell of warming pizza filled the apartment. Starsky disappeared into the bathroom again, and Hutch straightened up the living room, cleaning up the empty beer cans before picking up the bag of pot. He held it for a short time, considering, and then sealed up the bag and hid it behind his cookbooks.

He'd have to get rid of it, of course. Soon. Well, maybe after Christmas.

"Pizza ready?"

Hutch turned. Starsky was rubbing a towel over his head, his body still damp from his shower. The slight sheen of moisture accentuated the curves of muscle in his chest and abdomen, and Hutch experienced a strong tug of desire. It felt as natural as hunger.

Actually, he was hungry, too. He went to the kitchen and grabbed a towel, then opened the oven. He was pulling the pizza from the rack when he looked down.


"Yeah?" Starsky came up behind him and leaned over his shoulder. "Mmm, that's looks perfect."

"Starsky. Canadian bacon? And what is that, turkey?"

"Yup. Ham and turkey. The perfect Thanksgiving pizza."

Oh, dear God.

Hutch put the tray on the coffee table, pushing aside a stack of magazines to make room. Starsky came in with a couple of plates and some paper towels. He didn't waste any time sliding a piece onto his dish, the cheese trailing in strings. He used his fingers to tug them apart.

"Oh, this is the good stuff right here." Starsky took a huge bite then frantically sucked air in around the mouthful, waving his hand. "Owf! Hoh!"  

Hutch watched him in disbelief.

"Well?" Starsky said, once he swallowed. "Dig in, partner."

Locating the smallest possible piece, Hutch pulled it onto his plate. He fetched a knife and fork and cut off a bite, putting it into his mouth.

It was...not terrible. Okay, actually. He took another bite, looking up at Starsky, who was already more than halfway done with his slice.

Hutch watched him chew, and he felt it again, the tug, and warmth in his gut. Love was there. Desire was there. They were sitting in Hutch's living room, nude, eating pizza. Hutch frowned, wondering again why it didn't feel weird anymore to be thinking of Starsky in that way. Wondering, and a little scared, because he was sure a backlash had to be waiting, and it might hit Starsky even more disastrously.

"Stop thinking so hard, Blintz. You're ruining my appetite."

"Sorry." He couldn't help it though. Like his tongue seeking out a rough spot on his tooth.

"You're not gonna figure it out, anyway."

"Figure out what?"

"Whatever it is. About us. About what we are, right?" Starsky put down his pizza. "Ain't no figuring, Blintz. You just have to accept."

Maybe that was it. He'd never been good at just accepting something, even a gift. Especially such an unexpected, wonderful gift, like Starsky's love.

Can I call it that? He said so. Called me a dummy. Hutch's head ached a little, an after-effect of the pot, maybe, but he did remember that much. Starsky had called it love.

"Geez," Starsky said, picking up his slice again. "Can't you give it a break?" He laughed a little, shaking his head. "I guess you can't help it. You're just nuts. I mean you don't even like Thanksgiving."

"I do now," Hutch said without thinking. And it was true. Except for the part in the morning when Starsky wasn't there. But ever since he'd showed up, Hutch had enjoyed it. A lot.

"So? There ya go." Starsky finished his second slice and wiped off his fingers. "In the meantime, while we're still waiting for you to figure everything out, do you mind if we go back to bed? There's a couple of things I still want to try."

Hutch felt his face flush. "M-me too. Coupla things." In the meantime, why not?

Starsky's grin was Cheshire-wide. He got up and tugged Hutch to his feet, his hands warm on the small of Hutch's back. When they got to the bedroom, he gave a push, and Hutch tumbled face down onto the mattress. He rolled over quickly and caught Starsky just as he landed, Hutch's breath leaving him in a protesting whoosh.

Starsky planted a damp, pizza-tasting kiss on him, and Hutch smiled as he felt the door starting to open again.

"Happy Thanksgiving, Starsk," he said impulsively.

Starsky grinned back. "Happy Thanksgiving. Turkey."


June 14, 2008
San Francisco, CA