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Artwork by Marion




“I’m going.”

Hutch turned to open the door of the Torino. They had arrived at the
departure section of the International Airport of LA a little late. In
the early morning hours the traffic had been heavy and Hutch’s flight
was scheduled for
7 AM.

Starsky reached over
to caress the nape of Hutch’s neck. The fine blond
hair tickled his hand, and he said quietly, “I’m
gonna miss you.
Promise to be back before Christmas and tell your father to get well
soon. Now get out of here and
go catch your flight.”

Starsky looked ahead -- he hated the moment of saying goodbye to Hutch.

shifted and Starsky’s hand dropped from his neck. At the next
moment he was grabbed and his mouth claimed in a fierce

“See ya!” Hutch’s warm breath feathered along Starsky’s cheek for an
instant --
then he was gone.

Starsky didn’t dare follow Hutch with his eyes. Instead, automatically,
he started the
car and left the airport area. He still felt Hutch’s
lips on his, and it made it even harder to be alone.

could understand Hutch’s sense of responsibility to visit his family
when he got a call from his mother that his
father had had a heart
attack and was in intensive care. Though Hutch had never felt close to
his Dad and there had
been ugly scenes concerning Hutch’s career, this
was a situation Hutch couldn’t stay away from. He promised
his mother
he would fly over to be at her side.

“Why has this to happen just before Christmas?” Starsky
had complained.
“It’s not fair!”

Hutch had responded in silence, taking him into his arms and
love to him until nothing else had mattered in Starsky’s world.

Away from the airport, Starsky
left the highway and decided to drive
through the suburbs of Bay City to Parker Center.

Engrossed in his thoughts he had to brake hard when a young girl
suddenly stepped into
the road from between two parked cars without
looking first. Starsky cursed -- that had been way too close!

girl stood trembling, only inches from the front of the car when
Starsky stopped and got out, watching as an elderly woman
came rushing

“Lizzy, oh my god! Take care where’re you going, girl.”

Starsky frowned,
knowing the girl was familiar to him somehow. Then
when he saw the woman leading Lizzy back to the sidewalk, it all fell
into place.

“Hello, Mrs. Thompson,” he said, stepping up to the women. “I think we
each other. Or did. My fiancée Terry Roberts worked with Lizzy and
the other kids in the group.”

been a long time, though,” he added lamely, seeing the woman’s
suspicious frown. “Years now, I guess.”

Suddenly her face brightened. “Of course! Now I remember. You’re Mr..”

“Starsky. Dave
Starsky.” They shook hands and Starsky turned to the
girl, about 16 years old now.

“Hi, Lizzy. We
used to play ball,” he told her. “D’you remember?”

Straightening in a defensive posture, the
girl looked the other way.

“She’s still a little shy,” Mrs. Thompson explained, looking
 “She doesn’t mean anything personal.”  She paused,
looking at Starsky more closely now.

would you like to visit our apartment?” she asked. “Our sharing
community? Just before Christmas we’re
inviting dear friends to join
our activities. And you already know most of the girls and boys, and
you could do handcrafts
with them. I’m sure Lizzy will be glad, too.”

Lizzy dared a look at Starsky then, casting a shy smile.

Starsky debated, thinking. While Hutch was in Duluth he was assigned
to desk duty on days, which left his evenings free.  Once he left the
5 PM,
there would be nothing but the loneliness of his
empty apartment anyway. He decided it might be a good distraction to
see the disabled kids Terry had so cherished all those years ago.

“Sure, why not?” he said aloud.
“I could show them how to make a ship
model or something for the Christmas tree.” Starsky was rewarded by
Mrs. Thompson’s delighted beam.

“Thank you so much. We live right around the next corner, in the second
block, Nr.924. We’ll see you soon!”

*** ?>

Watching until the women were safely on their way home, Starsky
continued on to Headquarters, mulling over what had occurred. It
seemed funny how depressed he’d felt
leaving the airport yet how much
easier things seemed now. He smiled, driving on in his reverie.

Living without
Hutch wasn’t something Starsky was used to. They were
together nearly all the time. They still had their own apartments
it was becoming a wasted effort, he knew.

When Terry had been alive, Starsky had planned to live with her
and get
married and have children ... before a bullet lodged in her brain had
changed their lives. Upon learning her
time was limited, the two had
cherished every moment together, living life to the fullest in every
way. But after
Terry died, Starsky had felt the bottom drop out of his

For weeks afterwards he had been inconsolable,
even losing the courage
to face his own life. Terry had been everything he’d ever wanted in a
woman -- he could
laugh with her and have arguments, but most
importantly she accepted his tight bond with Hutch, and almost seemed

Where all his other women had been jealous of the time Starsky’s job
took from them, Terry had
never made demands. She actually LIKED Hutch
who, to all the others, had seemed much too important in Starsky’s

Terry was different. Terry was an extension of Starsky’s heart. Then
one day that part of his
being was gone.

Though Starsky knew Hutch was concerned about him, he couldn’t share
his feelings, and remained
silent and brooding, even with the blond.
Until the night when, two weeks after Terry’s funeral, they sat
in front of a Monopoly board on Starsky’s kitchen floor.  
Terry had given Starsky strict instructions that
at midnight two weeks
later, he and Hutch were to open the carefully
wrapped gifts she had
left behind. It had taken everything Starsky had to let his partner
into his apartment that

But once there, a few beers more mellow, both men were crying when they
held Terry’s legacies in
their hands. Starsky remembered Hutch looking
at him, his light blue eyes swimming in tears. He was clutching Ollie,
cherished teddy bear, and Starsky had seen the love and
devotion in the familiar face. For the first time he realized
although Terry was gone his best friend was still by his side.

Starsky smiled, remembering the night vividly.
They had fallen asleep
on the floor beside the Monopoly board and burning candles, drunkenly
oblivious to the world.

Until Starsky woke up later with a bursting bladder and saw Hutch
sprawled against the cabinets uncomfortably.
Knowing the blonde’s back
would kill him the next day if he stayed there, Starsky had woken him
up and steered
him toward the bed. The same bed they woke up in the
following morning holding each other in the arms of their love.


Yet even then nothing had changed between them. Their life as friends
and partners went on as before for the next
three years -- the three
years until Starsky finally realized that though Terry was gone, there
was still another
great love in his life.

Recognizing what Hutch meant to him presented a unique sensation for
Starsky, and endless
questions about their life ahead. But before he
had time to resolve it all, Starsky’s life was changed yet again
-- by
Gunther’s bullets this time.

After he was finally released from the hospital, Starsky had been
to depend on Hutch for everything for some time.  Without a word
Hutch had taken care of all the intimate needs for
his partner --
getting him dressed, helping him to the bathroom -- and so many other
little things Starsky couldn’t
do himself. It was as if their lives
melded into one then, and they became a single entity ...


was startled from his musings as he realized he had pulled into
Metro headquarters, forcing himself back to reality. "As he made his way through mundane paperwork, and missed his partner’s help with typing, Dobey strode through the
room several times.

Once he grumblingly asked if Hutch’s flight had
left on time and if the blonde would
be back in time for the annual
Christmas party. Starsky doubted Dobey even heard his reply as he
passed by.

previous year Starsky had attended the party for the first time
after the shooting. He had sung a Christmas carol on the
little stage
with Hutch. It had been a special event and all had applauded ... it
was another pleasant memory.

at the watch Hutch had given him last Christmas Starsky
chuckled, recalling how Hutch had hidden it in the Christmas tree.
he overlooked it, Hutch had “helped” him by giving hints like “warm” or
... except when he’d said “hot” Starsky had lunged for the lean
blond instead of looking for the watch
in the tree ... He could
envision the “wrestling match” that ensued between them even now.

what’s so funny?” The sarcastic tone brought Starsky back to
reality. “How come you ain’t crying
being without your better half?”  
On his way to Dobey’s office, Simmons couldn’t pass without
a nasty

“Fuck you,” Starsky growled, not willing give away the fuzzy thoughts
been having but knowing the moment had been spoiled anyway.

Another glance at his watch told him Hutch should have
arrived in
Duluth, and Starsky decided to call him later that afternoon.
It was
his fervent hope that Hutch would only need to spend a few days then he
come home to arrange everything for


Clearing his desk to leave for home just after 5 PM, Starsky found
Hutch’s number in
Duluth and dialed hopefully. Much to his
chagrin the
housekeeper, Martha, answered the phone, advising Starsky that Hutch
had arrived safely but was still
at the hospital with his father.

Though Martha’s voice trembled when she spoke of Richard Hutchinson,
was sure he couldn’t be all that bad. The times he had
encountered Hutch’s father Starsky had sensed the disgust
Richard felt
for him, as if he blamed Starsky for his son’s decision to become a
cop. Sighing, Starsky ended
the call with a request for Hutch to call
him when he returned home. His shoulders drooped as he left the
and walked to his car -- alone.

Unable to bear the evening in his silent apartment, Starsky decided to
take a
shower then head over to see Mrs. Thompson and Lizzy again. He
found a wrapped box of candy he’d hidden for Christmas,
and set it out
to take with him, knowing Lizzy’s love for anything sweet. Maybe he
could really work with the
kids again, he pondered, getting ready.
Terry would have liked it, that he knew.





Starsky felt a little insecure about the initial greeting when he rang
the bell of the apartment. A boy
opened the door, eyeing him

“Hi, I’m Dave Starsky. May I talk to Mrs. Thompson, please?”

The boy nodded and turned to lead the way along the corridor. Voices
could be heard from a lightened room. Starsky
hesitated and waited for
the boy to fetch the leader of the group.

“Who was at the door, Jamie?”

heard Mrs. Thompson’s question, and so he stepped into the
room. “It’s me. I hope I’m not disturb..”

“Not at all!” Mrs. Thompson hurried to his side.  Turning to the group
of young people, she announced,
“This is Dave Starsky. We met today.
How many of you remember him? It’s been some time, but he spent a lot
of time with you, playing basketball…”

“I know him. The group he played in always won,”
said a young man
seriously. Then he smiled broadly and added, “But when Ken played in
our group, we were always
the winners!”

“So you remember my partner, Ken Hutchinson?” Starsky replied,
grinning. “Yeah,
he knew how to win, considering the fouls he made.”  
Starsky smirked and mumbled, “I was a little distracted
at that time.”

The thought of Terry, who had worked with the kids until she was hit by
a sudden blindness,
still haunted Starsky. He made a conscious effort
to force the grim memory away.

“Come on, Dave,”
Mrs. Thompson urged him. “Over there are the girls and
Lizzy has already asked for you. Would you like to play something
them, or would you show them how to make ornaments for a Christmas

Starsky debated for a
second. He saw a Monopoly board on the table but
he decided against that. He wasn’t so good at it and didn’t
want to
lose against these disabled young people.

“Let’s make something for a Christmas tree,”
he decided buoyantly. “I’d
love it!”  He was already rolling up his sleeves.

For the next
while he sat with the girls, who hung on his lips when he
explained how to make a special form for an ornament. Lizzy
had sat
down beside him, working very neatly prompting Starsky to encourage her
to attempt more complicated forms.

“Hey, Lizzy, I’d like to make a special ornament for my partner Hutch
-- I mean Ken.”  Starsky
sat lost in thought for a moment while Lizzy
waited expectantly.

“Hey, I know what Ken would like! Do you
know how to make a guitar?” He
grinned when Lizzy nodded. “Okay, then let’s make him one!”

Starsky had to help Lizzy get the right form done, it gave him
great satisfaction to be doing something for Hutch. In
his mind he was
planning to get another special Christmas present for Hutch. And he
would hide it in the Christmas
tree. They would play that game again…

“Are you happy?” Lizzy asked the question while looking up
at his
smiling face.

Only then did Starsky realize he was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“Yeah, I’m
happy,” he told her. “And what about you?”

She smiled at him trustingly, and leaned against him.
“I like it here.
It’s fun making a guitar.”

Starsky gave her a sideways hug. This was the best
that could happen to
him -- making some kids happy before Christmas. It didn’t get any
better than this.


When Starsky got home he could hardly wait for Hutch’s
call from
Duluth, and had to force himself into a normal routine.
The phone range
just as he stepped out of the shower, causing him to nearly trip over
his own sneakers as he raced
to the phone. Out of breath, he grabbed it
up with a quick -- “’lo?”

“’lo yourself.”
 Starsky sagged as he heard Hutch’s voice, marveling
how that soft voice could still turn him on.

ya big lug, how’s your Dad and how’re you?” Starsky tried to
towel his thick curls dry and missed Hutch’s
next words.

“Hey, again, please,” he said quickly. “Sorry. I’m just drying my

On the other end, Hutch chuckled and whispered, “I said I miss you. I
wish I could be with you right now.”

Starsky felt his body’s instance response to Hutch’s words, then
blushed as he glanced down. “Yeah
Blondie, me too. But it’s always the
same -- when you’re needed, you weasel out.”  Starsky smiled
and forced
himself to get serious again.

“Is your Dad feeling better?” he asked. “Could you
talk to him?”

“No, he’s been sleeping all day. My mother is with him constantly, but
no reaction so far.”  Hutch sighed wearily. “We’ll stay here at
the hospital awhile longer, then
probably head on home. What about your
day? Do anything special tonight?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact,”
Starsky replied, grinning. “I had a date

“Whoa!”  Hutch’s voice raised.
“And who’s the lucky lady this time?”

“Lizzy,” Starsky said proudly -- then proceeded
to tell Hutch the
details of his day.

By the time the call ended Starsky felt comforted by Hutch’s soothing
love-filled voice. Soon they would be together again, just as Hutch
promised, and in the meantime Starsky knew
he simply had to make the
best of things.


For the next few working days Starsky’s pattern
continued as he typed
his and Hutch’s overdue reports as he looked forward to seeing Lizzy
and the other kids
again each evening. They made more ornaments and on
the third day Starsky showed them how to fold figures out of paper.
them all Lizzy proved to be the most eager, staying close to Starsky’s
side and seeming to relish all she
could learn.

On the fourth day they all went to a neighborhood movie theater to
watch a full-length cartoon. Lizzy
sat next to Starsky and giggled
whenever he laughed about some silly joke or funny action on the

knew Hutch would have made fun of him watching such a movie,
yet he also remembered many nights when Hutch had accompanied
him to a
cartoon marathon, good-naturedly complaining the entire time.

That was love, Starsky mused, smiling.
How lucky he was.

“Are you happy?” Lizzy snuggled up to him and he hugged her close.

I am,” he replied softly. “Very happy. I’m with you.”

Following the movie, they went to a
nearby restaurant for a snack,
giving Starsky his opportunity to speak to the group at last. “I’m not
if I can come the next days,” he told them. “It’s because Hutch
will be back soon and we’ll have
a lot of work to do then.”

Starsky’s voice trailed off at the sight of the disappointed faces and
few tears. “Well, maybe I can say goodbye tomorrow night. I think
I’ve got a few presents for you from Santa
Claus at my house.”

As their food was served then, and the kids mollified, Mrs. Thompson
came up and spoke
to Starsky quietly as he stood to leave. “You’ve made
them all so happy with your presence, Dave. We all would
be glad to see
you again. Anytime.”

“Thanks. I’ve enjoyed it.” He squeezed Lizzy’s
hand. “See ya, Lizzy.
It was nice to be with you again!”

Starsky left the diner happily, humming a
Christmas carol he drove
home. There was only one other thing that could have made him happier
-- it came that night
in Hutch’s phone call.

“I’m coming home on Friday, buddy,” Hutch bubbled. “Dad woke
up several
times today. The doctors say he’ll recuperate if he takes more care of
himself, and that’s
good enough for me. I can’t wait to get back there
and see a certain guy who drives me nuts most of the time and
drives a
horrible red tomato he calls his car and whose eating habits …”

“Hutch?” Starsky
spoke in a whisper. “I love you too.”


The next day Starsky nearly danced through the office,
the last reports
were written in true Starsky form - quite a bit more elaborate than
Capt. Dobey preferred. But he
couldn’t stifle his happiness that the
weekend ahead would reunite him with his lover at last -- the second
of his soul had been missing the entire time Hutch had been gone.

Before heading to Mrs. Thompson’s, Starsky
stopped at the nearest
department store and bought what he thought the young people would
like. His arms were filled
with so many bags of brightly wrapped
presents he had trouble pushing the doorbell.

“Dave, you shouldn’t
buy presents!” Mrs. Thompson scolded, opening the
door wide to let him in. “Here, let me help you to put all
this on the

Everything safely settled on the large dining table, she turned to
Starsky with
serious eyes.


I have some bad news. We had to take
Lizzy to the hospital this afternoon. She had a high fever and her
was labored ... The doctor admitted her right away. They
don’t know what’s wrong with her yet; I just got
off the phone with the
hospital but they can’t tell me anything so far.”

Stunned by the unexpected
turn, Starsky slumped into the nearest chair,
his earlier joy abruptly gone. First he’d lost Terry and now Lizzy?
thought morosely. Surely not!  He closed his eyes, willing the girl to
be all right.



After handing on the presents to the young people and wishing them
Merry Christmas Starsky left the
apartment, the wrapped gift for Lizzy
still in his hands. He would drive to Memorial where she had been taken
would give her his present personally.

He promised Mrs. Thompson to call her after his visit with Lizzy at the
but could only hope the news would be good. He looked at the
small wrapped box and hoped Lizzy would like the present
-- it was a
kit to make a necklace by herself.

When Starsky arrived at the hospital it was already dark, and he
at the countless illuminated windows uneasily. How often had he been
the patient the past few years? They could
name a wing after him, he
thought, then smiled humorlessly.

What had comforted him in all bad situations had been
the constant
presence of Hutch. Starsky couldn’t recall a single day when Hutch
hadn’t shown up at least
for a couple of hours no matter what else was
going on.

Lizzy would be happy to see him, he was certain, and he
was annoyed
when the reception desk nurse had problems finding Lizzy’s name. It
seemed ages before she finally
looked up and told Starsky, “Fourth

He caught the elevator just as the door closed then studied
the faces
of the patients and visitors sharing the space. He knew each one had a
different fate, all made more difficult
because it was so close to
Christmas. Not being able to celebrate at home with your loved ones,
instead feeling alone
at the mercy of overworked nurses -- it all was
hard to bear, that he knew.

Finally arriving on the fourth floor,
Starsky headed to the nurses’
station first. “ ‘Scuse me, can you tell me where Lizzy Baker’s
is?” he asked, noticing the nurse calmly sip on a cup of steaming

“Why do you want
to know?” The nurse looked and sounded annoyed,
stirring Starsky’s ire instantly.

“Because I’d
like to visit her, that's why!” he replied, his tone

The nurse sat down her coffee and came around
the desk. “Although you
SHOULD already know this, I must inform you that no visitors are
allowed in the Isolation
Ward. Perhaps you somehow missed the sign?”

Dumbfounded, Starsky followed her outstretched finger to read the
words, “Isolation Ward. Authorized Medical Personnel Only.” Then he
looked at the nurse again.

does that mean, Isolation ward?” he questioned. “Lizzy was
brought here with a fever, I figured it was the
flu or somethin’. I
really need to see her. What’s wrong? What’s she got?”

I’m not allowed to release patient information to anyone but a
family member. If you’re a relative --”

Having his fill of her haughty rejection, Starsky whipped out his
badge. “I’m practically her family,
and I work for the BCPD. I want to
talk to her doctor - NOW!”

Appearing insecure for the first time, the
nurse was still staring at
Starsky’s badge when a nearby door opened and a young man in white
appeared, peeling
a white mask off his mouth and nose as he took in the

“Doctor Wise?” the nurse called to him.
“Could I see you for a moment?”
She spoke lowly to him and pointed to Starsky, then hurried back behind the
counter as the
doctor approached.

“Yes, Detective? May I help you?” Friendly and exhausted eyes focused
on Starsky as the Dr. spoke.

“Yeah, I hope so. A good friend of mine, Lizzy Baker, was brought into
hospital today with a fever,” Starsky explained. “I wanted to visit
and bring her a gift.” He raised
the small box in his hands.

“I see. Now, don’t worry, Detective --?”

“Starsky. Dave

“Detective Starsky.” The doctor led the way to a secluded corner with a
table and
plastic chairs, gesturing for Starsky to sit down.

“I’m Dr. Paul Wise. I’m the physician in charge
here in Isolation this
evening. What would you like to know?”

“I want to know what’s wrong with
Lizzy,” Starsky stated flatly.
“What’s she got that put her in Isolation? I need to know for myself
and for the other kids in her Special Needs community.”

The physician looked down for a moment and sighed
before meeting
Starsky’s eyes again. “We just now confirmed the diagnosis - Lizzy has
a contagious form
of tuberculosis. I was just coming out to have her
caretaker and the rest of her community notified.”

Starsky stared at him in shock, Dr. Wise explained, “This can happen
when someone isn’t checked regularly.
Obviously Lizzy was a carrier of
the disease without any symptoms until now. Hopefully she was brought
here quickly,
and didn’t infect too many others she came in contact

“So what does that mean for Lizzy?”

“That means she needs medication to recover and heal, and time for her
lungs to make a full recovery.”

“When can I visit her?” Starsky asked, wishing he knew more about the

not tonight,” the doctor replied. “But before she’s
transferred to a recuperative facility you’ll
be able to see her.” His
smile was kind. “By the way, did you have any close contact with her

“Not really. I just spent a few days with her and her group doing
handcrafts,” Starsky replied, looking
sad. Then he held out the
brightly wrapped gift.

“Could you give this to Lizzy and tell her that Dave sends
his love?”
he asked. “And can you keep me informed about her condition?” He dug
in his pocket and
presented a business card, pausing to scribble on the
back. “Here’s my work and home phone numbers. You can
get me either
place almost any time.”

“Of course.” Dr. Wise took the present as he rose, glancing
at the
card.  “Take care, Detective. I’ll be sure Lizzy knows of your

he still felt unsatisfied after the discussion, Starsky left the
ward, mulling over everything in his mind. Tuberculosis?
he pondered.
Does that stuff still exist? He felt sorry for the girl that had
trusted him and felt so comfortable
with him, wishing he could comfort
her now.

On his way out of the hospital Starsky mentally reviewed just how
to Lizzy he’d been the past several days, wondering if he could have
been exposed. By the time he reached
his car he’d decided he was safe,
knowing they had always kept a respectable distance between them.  He’d
completely forgotten the hug he gave Lizzy when they had decided to
make Hutch a guitar ornament just a few days before.

Forcing Lizzy out of his mind as he drove home, Starsky
began to plan
his Christmas with Hutch, his eyes sparkling at the mere thought. The
next day, he decided, he would
go shopping and buy a special gift for
the blond who meant so much more to him than a mere partner or friend.

had invited them to a Christmas party at his restaurant and
Starsky needed to buy a present for him too. He added it to
his mental
list as he came whistling through his apartment door.

He came home too late to speak with Hutch personally,
but there was a
message stating Hutch would arrive at 4.30 pm the next
day. The
whispered closing words of “Love you” warmed Starsky’s heart and he
could hardly wait to
get started shopping early the next day.

Knowing the doctor planned to call Mrs. Thompson with Lizzy’s
he chose not to disturb her and instead headed straight for
bed. He wanted to be well rested when he picked Hutch up at
airport the following day.


It was much later when Starsky awoke, feeling miserable. He had a
unlike any he could remember, and his throat felt dry as a
desert too. Then when he got up to get a drink from the kitchen
realized he was dizzy too. He shook his head in frustration then cursed
when his aching head protested the sudden
movement and hurt even more.

After drinking a full glass of water and using the bathroom he felt a
little better
and climbed back into bed, his watch reading 3:02
But he couldn’t
fall asleep as his thoughts kept circling around
Lizzy’s illness. Why did he feel so lousy all of a sudden? He wiped
over his face and realized he was sweaty too.

Abruptly he sat up, holding his head as he hit by the enormous impact
of his thoughts. What if I’ve got it too?!

After a few anxious minutes, Starsky forced himself to calm down,
certain he was just creating a worst case scenario because Hutch was
coming home. Comforted by that thought, he focused
on his blonde
partner and finally fell into a restless, light doze.


“Mornin’.” Starsky
trudged to his desk in the precinct. Going through
his folders he realized that he should ask his snitch Johnny about
Carter case that was still unsolved.

Ignoring Dobey’s questioning glance, Starsky left the office for
bistro where Johnny usually spent his days. He noted happily that he
felt better after taking two Tylenol earlier
that morning, but as he
was driving he noticed a public library. Tires squealing in protest,
he made an abrupt stop
at the curb, deciding it would be good to have
more information about Lizzy’s disease.

After asking for
directions to the medical section, Starsky soon found
what he was looking for, a Health Guide section on TB. His heart
as he began to read.

“Symptoms of TB can include a productive, prolonged cough, chest pain,
chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss and easy

Starsky starred at the text, his eyes
blurring until at last he closed
the book. Returning it to the shelf, he rubbed his suddenly clammy
hands on his jeans.
He barely remembered the drive to meet Johnny he
was so lost in his thoughts.

Though the meeting went off as scheduled,
Starsky realized later he
hadn’t really heard a word his snitch had said. He was just relieved to
hand over
the agreed-upon $20 and watch him leave.

His heartbeat already racing, Starsky felt sweat trickle down his face.
wasn’t surprised in the slightest when a rough cough surged up, and
he had difficulty catching his breath enough
just to walk back to the

There was no more denying -- Starsky knew he had been infected by Lizzy
there was nothing he could do to avoid the progress of the disease.
He knew what he should do was seek treatment, not
contaminate anyone
else -- but Hutch was finally coming home in just a few hours, and
that took precedence over everything
else. He had no idea what he
would tell his partner once he’d arrived.


Starsky returned to the office on unsteady feet, relieved that
was out somewhere. He finished his reports as usual, with notes on
where they would need to go after the next
week. He could only hope
he’d be well enough to go anywhere.

Recognizing the warm feeling of a fever, and
seeing his flushed checks,
Starsky decided to take two more Tylenol before he left the office for
the day.

he was moving more slowly than usual, the day was passing
quickly so he headed directly to the jewelry where he had seen
necklace he wanted for Hutch. Silver with a coin that showed the sun
and the moon, on a substantial silver chain,
Starsky hoped Hutch would
like it even half as much as he thought.

A glance at his watch told him he had no time
to buy Huggy’s present -
he had to head for the airport to meet Hutch instead. Starsky was
sweating profusely
when he entered the arrival area for his partners’

A glance at the reader board showed Hutch’s
flight from Duluth was on
time, and Starsky felt his excitement to see his partner again begin to
rise. He did
his best to ignore how his head was aching and spinning
as he sank down in a chair to wait for his friend’s return.




Chapter four

Then the tall blond came striding down the ramp from the plane, and
Starsky fell in love again at first sight.
Hutch’s hair was longer and
had darkened a bit the last year. The mustache was gone and made his
face even youthful
than before. Now a wide smile spread over the
familiar features as Hutch came toward him, his pace increasing with

Instantly Starsky knew he couldn’t worry Hutch with his fears right
then. He would have to tell him
later about Lizzy and her illness, and
the fact he too wasn’t feeling well. He needed that smile on his
face more than anything now.

“Hi!” Hutch dropped his bag on the ground to put his arm around Starsky
then missed him because Starsky had ducked to pick it up and start

“Good to have you back!”
Starsky beamed, already turning.

Staring at the departing back, Hutch could only say “Huh?”

carry your bag,” Starsky said quickly. “Let’s hurry. I’m parked
in front of the terminal and don’t
wanna be towed away.”

Though he didn’t ask question, Hutch frowned as his partner hurried in
of him toward the exit. Though Starsky was always unpredictable,
this was not the greeting he’d expected at all,
and he sensed that
something was very wrong. The lack of touch was not like his dark
haired partner at all.

the drive home Starsky babbled about anything he could think of that
was inconsequential -- the weather, Dobey, snitches,
and open case
files he hadn’t quite gotten too. He never allowed Hutch to say a word.

Frustrated, Hutch
laid his hand on Starsky’s thigh after a short while,
bracing when he felt his partner tense. Clearly something
had happened
during his absence that Starsky was keeping from him, and Hutch was
determined to find out what that
“something” was.

He remained silent throughout the drive, but his friendly face became a
stoic mask.
When they finally arrived at Starsky’s place Hutch took
his bag from of the car and followed Starsky inside -- but
made no
attempt to unpack his bag. Suddenly he wasn’t sure he would be welcome
to spend the night.

Starsky was making coffee immediately after their arrival the
telephone rang sending him to answer in a frantic dash.
Hutch was well
aware that Starsky spoke in low tones and kept his back to him,
arousing the blonde’s suspicions
even more. Only after he hung up did
he turn.

“Who was that?” Hutch asked, trying to keep his tone
light and curious
but acutely aware of his partner’s taut nerves.

“Nuthin’. Wrong connection,”
Starsky mumbled. But his flushed face
reddened even more as he hurried back to his coffee-making task.

him from the sofa, Hutch was almost out of his mind. His long
time friend, the love of his life, was hiding something
from him, a
first in their relationship. From the nervous pacing and endless
chatter on the drive home, it was clear
Starsky felt uncomfortable with
Hutch being home. The blond had no idea why.

Feeling desperate, Hutch got up from
the couch and joined Starsky in
the kitchen silently, surprising his friend by snaking his arms around
him from behind.
Aching with the need for contact, Hutch gently began
to pull him close -- he was stunned when Starsky jerked away.

no!” he snapped.  “I mean, I-I don’t wanna pour the coffee all
over the place, ya know.”
Even Starsky winced at the lame excuse, all
too aware when Hutch withdrew his arms. He heard the blonde plod
toward the living room.

Leaning his overly warm forehead against the window, Starsky sighed
heavily, wondering
what else he could do to protect Hutch from being
infected if indeed he did have Lizzy’s TB. He longed to embrace
lover, needing the contact and Hutch’s support -- yet he had no choice
but to keep Hutch away.

phone call had been Dr. Wise, telling him that Lizzy was stable and
happy with her gift from “Dave”. He was
just debating if he should have
simply told his partner the truth, when the phone rang again -- this
time, before
Starsky could move, Hutch snatched it up.

“Who was it?” Starsky asked the question as he came from the
into the living room, stunned to see the blonde already at the front

“Your new lover,
who else!” Hutch shot back -- an instant before he
slammed his way out the front door.

That was the final
straw. Starsky couldn’t bear anything more, and
crumpled onto the couch. Between sobbing and coughing he realized
had done the dumbest thing possible -- pretend he was fine and lie to
his best friend, partner and lover instead
of revealing his fear that
he was infected with a contagious disease.

The fear of being dangerously ill let Starsky
curl up, feeling the
chills coursing through his body now. If he had active TB, would that
mean being stashed away
in a hospital or care center while he
recuperated? What that where Lizzy would have to be? Starsky moaned
at the very

Suddenly he remembered a boy in his neighborhood in New York
who had
disappeared for several months; eventually his parents had told Starsky
the boy had suffered from active TB.
 He had lived without any family
and friends in a facility in the mountains where they said the air was
for his lungs. Starsky found it strange that he chose now to
recall that particular incident.

But he had to face
the truth that he very possibly might have to leave
Bay City for just a stay himself, and the thought chilled him to the
bone. He was definitely developing
symptoms of the disease, and he HAD
been close to Lizzy at the cinema .. the memory of how she had snuggled
up to
him and he had hugged her was like a firebrand through his heart.

Of course he would lose his job, not to mention
his friends like Huggy
and the Dobeys. Little Rosie, who had always been his favorite child,
would grow up without
him and he would never know how she was. 
Starsky’s thoughts rambled
through his fever-ravaged brain.

What about Hutch? He couldn’t imagine a life without the blond. The
of that hit him so hard he couldn’t stop the tears from
flowing onto the cushion beside his cheek.

-- are you gonna tell me now what’s wrong?”

Through his daze Starsky thought he was dreaming when he heard
partner’s voice. Hutch had barely left and he was already hallucinating
... he must be sicker than he thought.

Then a large hand gently came to rest on his head. The love and
familiarity emanating from it seeped through Starsky’s
body into his
soul. He didn’t move, not wanting to lose that precious

Long fingers traced his
wet cheek and then pressed against his
forehead. “In case you didn’t notice, you’re running a fever

Starsky turned, a cough rattling his body as he clamped a hand over his
mouth. Then
he looked into the familiar face so filled with love and
caring for him, and blurted:


I’ve got active TB like Lizzy.
She’s contagious and now I’ve got the same symptoms. I didn’t want
to get sick with it too so I couldn’t let ya touch me. You see? I
probably need to go someplace that’s
isolated, where I can’t make you
sick too …”

and breathless, Starsky sagged against the

“Whoa there, partner,” Hutch interrupted. “Hold
on a minute. THAT’S
why you wouldn’t touch me? You idiot! You don’t know if you’re really
You’re just assuming the worst.” He stroked the damp, dark
curls. “You know, it usually takes a lot
longer to develop TB symptoms
than what you’ve had. You told me you only met Lizzy again last week.”

cupped Starsky’s cheek with his hand, smiling as Starsky leaned
into the caress. Then Starsky asked, “How
come you know so much?”

“Took medical classes, remember?” A crooked grin appeared on Hutch’s
face, then he got serious again. “Now tell me -- when I answered the
phone, there was some guy who asked for
Dave. No one has ever called
you that -- but me.” The question in the pale blue eyes focused on
was clear.

Starsky frowned, then responded, “Well, if his name was Wise, that’s
Lizzy’s doctor.
She always calls me Dave. What did he want?”

“Um, I-I don’t know,” Hutch admitted, blushing
lightly. “I - I hung up
on the guy.” Embarrassed by his earlier fit of jealousy, Hutch focused
on his
partner, scanning the flushed face.

“Come on, buddy,” he decided. “I’m taking you to the hospital.”

“No! I don’t wanna go there!” Starsky whimpered like a small child,
and turned his face to the
back of the couch.

“So you don’t wanna know why you REALLY have a fever and all the other
the blonde questioned. “You don’t want me to be near to you,
doing this...” Hutch ran a tender finger
over Starsky’s lips. “Or
maybe this…” His hand flat, he ran the palm down Starsky’s chest
to his
hips, then to the inside of his thighs.

“Oh God,” Starsky moaned. “I need you.”
Starsky’s eyes filled with
tears as he whispered, now facing Hutch fully and cherishing the
beloved features.
He closed his eyes.

“Okay, we’ll go to the hospital,” he decided.
“Then maybe, if I don’t
really have it, I can show you Lizzy. She’s a real sweetheart.” He
out for Hutch’s extended hand.

“That’s my boy!” Hutch supported Starsky as he rose. Then,
as if to
prove he wasn’t afraid, Hutch wrapped his arms around his partner in a
gentle embrace. For the first
time Starsky relaxed, melting into his
lover’s arms with a soft sigh.

After a time, he drew back a little,
asking, “Hey, I remember I heard
the door slam and you were gone. What made you come back?”

realized I don’t have my car here,” Hutch smiled. “It would’ve been
a long walk home.” Grinning
as Starsky gave him an affectionate pat on
the head, Hutch slid an arm around his friend’s waist and headed for
the apartment door.


Little more than an hour later Starsky was being thoroughly examined
and tested
by Dr. Wise. Hutch explained on their arrival about
Starsky’s injuries from Gunther’s assault that had left
his left lung
weak and not fully functional. Left to wait while his partner
underwent x-rays and testing, the blonde
prayed that his suspicions
about Starsky’s condition would prove valid, making the “TB” theory
and void.

It was hard to believe he had still been in Duluth
that same morning,
saying goodbye to his father and wishing him well. Richard Hutchinson
had awakened the day before
and recognized his son, leaving Hutch
almost suspicious the old man had gone into a coma simply to play hard
to get.

When Hutch had to leave, his father had groped for his hand and 
it for a long moment, as if to solidify their bond. Hutch
refused to think of the time when he would have to tell the
Hutchinson he was living with Starsky in a committed relationship.
Marriage was how Hutch thought of it -- he knew his
parents would never
see it at all the same way.

But that had never mattered. The most important thing was having
Starsky be okay.


“Mr. Hutchinson?” Dr. Wise appeared in the door to the Isolation
Rooms. “We’ve finished with Mr. Starsky. Would you follow me,

Holding his breath, Hutch
hurried after the physician into an exam room
where his partner sat unsteadily on the table, trying to get dressed. 
He looked pale as he struggled with his shirt.

“Need a hand there,
partner?” Hutch asked lightly, barely waiting for
Starsky’s nod before he stepped up to help his friend into
his clothes.

“Here are the X-rays of Mr. Starsky’s chest,” the doctor said when
finished, holding two films up to the overhead fluorescent
light. “There’s nothing abnormal except the damage
from the shooting
some time ago. And a tiny bit of congestion here on the right side.

“My suspicion is that
you’ve caught a bad cold, which has settled in
your chest and caused your caught. To be sure this doesn’t
turn into
pneumonia you should stay home and get some rest for the next few days.
There will be an antibiotic waiting
for you in the pharmacy; you can
pick it up on your way home.”

He looked from Hutch to Starsky. “And
with that I wish you both a
happy, and further untroubled, holiday.”

The doctor extended his hand and Starsky
took it hesitantly. Though he
hadn’t mentioned his fears to the doctor, he still couldn’t believe his
had been unfounded after all. Hutch thanked the doctor for his
assistance, and had his arm on his partner’s when
Starsky abruptly
stopped and turned.

“Dr. Wise, how’s Lizzy?” he asked somberly. “Do you
think it’s possible
we could see her just for a minute before we go?”

The doctor smiled, looked at
his watch and suggested, “Why not have
dinner with her? Unfortunately you’ll be separated by a glass wall,
you can still talk to her. I could arrange it if you’d like.”

Starsky’s face brightened
perceptibly, and he turned a hopeful face to
Hutch. “Do ya mind?” he asked. “Too much? Please?”

“Whatever you want, buddy,” the blond smiled, nodding his approval to
the doctor standing nearby.

They didn’t talk as they were escorted to a private area and dinner
arrangements made. It was enough they
were together -- and Hutch gave
thanks his prayers were answered -- his partner really would be okay.


the glass Hutch saw the girl Terry had worked with in what
seemed a lifetime ago. She had grown, and Hutch didn’t
really remember
her though her face was familiar. Despite being confined to a
wheelchair, Lizzy laughed when Starsky
talked with her over dinner, and
Hutch felt sorry for her plight. It would be some time before she
recovered from
her bout with TB and was back to a normal life.

However, he pondered, perhaps they could visit her during her recovery.
Along with Starsky, Hutch blew her a kiss as they left the isolation

“She’s a sweetheart,
isn’t she?” Starsky asked softly. “Thanks for
staying for dinner with her, Hutch.”

walked in silence as they retrieved Starsky’s prescription from
the pharmacy and headed outside. There, just outside
the hospital
doorway, Starsky abruptly stopped.

“Your car is over that way just in case ...” Hutch’s
speech halted when
he found himself grabbed in a fierce hug.

“Hutch! I don’t have TB and they won’t
send me away anywhere and – I
wanna celebrate Christmas right now!” He planted a big, quick kiss on
rough cheek then let him go.

Starsky forgot about his bad cold and how feverish he still was.
Instead he swaggered
toward his car, dangling his keys in the air and
humming “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose ...”

Trailing behind him Hutch mumbled, “Euphoric sentimentalism. Here he
goes again.” But there was no
trace of his usual scowl this time --
instead he was smiling happily.



Chapter Five

“No way!” The Hutchinson finger pointed at Starsky who was finding his
way out of bed the next morning to get dressed.

“Hutch, we still need to buy some things for tonight,” Starsky argued. 

“I forgot the stand for the tree and some food.” Starsky had managed to
get into his underwear
and jeans and was looking for the red sweater
that would keep him warm.

“Starsk, think of what the doctor
said,” the blond reminded. “You stay
inside and I do the errands. What would you like to eat, by the way?”

Starsky got distracted by the question as Hutch had expected,
initiating a debate about how healthy a Christmas
meal should be.
Finally Hutch left the apartment alone, armed with a list what needed
to be done.

leaned back against the cushions of the couch and took a deep
breath. He still felt a little wobbly, but the pills Dr.
Wise had
prescribed were definitely helping him.

The previous night was a blur for Starsky. He knew that after
visit to the hospital he’d been relieved that Lizzy at least had
enjoyed talking with him and Hutch. Obviously
she didn’t comprehend the
severity of what happened to her and that she would have to remain
under medical care
for some time. In retrospect Starsky knew that was

When they had gotten home Starsky had been totally exhausted,
able to move. The euphoria had worn off even before they left the
hospital parking lot. He thought Hutch had
coaxed him into taking a
bath to relax his sore muscles, and that he’d almost fallen asleep in
the tub. He vaguely
remembered Hutch’s ministrations, helping him get
washed and then tucking him into bed.

Starsky frowned,
trying to remember. Had they made love to each other?
No, he must have fallen asleep soon after Hutch had joined him in
What hadn’t slipped his mind was the warm feeling when Hutch had
pressed his body to Starsky’s and
put his arms around him too. That
was the last thing he remembered until morning, he realized, feeling
more than a
little guilt. Sorry Hutch, he thought. I’ll make it up to
you soon.

He got up to have a look at his
present for Hutch, finding his leather
jacket hung in its usual place. But the pockets were empty -- Starsky
and sweat beads formed on his forehead. Where had he stashed or
hidden the gift?!

Suddenly he knew the answer
-- it was still in the glove compartment of
theTorino! Now Hutch was out driving around with his surprise gift
almost in plain view!

The thought
made Starsky nervous, wanting to surprise his friend and
willing him not to find his gift. Pacing around his apartment,
he ended
looking out the window to watch for his car. When Hutch returned he
would run downstairs to help Hutch to
carry in everything, giving him a
chance to get the present out of the car.

Suddenly Starsky realized he was acting
like an old woman who didn’t
have anything better to do than to sit at the window and look
outside all day.
“Yeah, we’re getting old all right,” he grumbled.

Then he remembered the demands of their job, one
that left them little
free time, and he relaxed again. He and Hutch had survived more than
their share of close calls
yet they were still actively chasing the
perps on the streets. Guess we’re not all THAT ancient yet, he thought
with a grin.

But Starsky resolved to keep a closer eye on Hutch to prevent him from
wearing himself out. His
partner was a born caregiver, Starsky mused.
His ability to comfort not only the victims of a crime but to also care
people considered “losers” was something Starsky had yet to really

He feared for his best
friend becoming too involved in other people’s
lives and problems, that it would become too much one day. He knew
well that Hutch cared too much and ultimately suffered when he was
forced to realize not everyone wanted his help.

What a lucky guy he was to have found the second half of his soul,
Starsky marveled. Not to mention a lover who
instinctively knew and
satisfied his every need.

“Dreamin’ of me?”

Startled, Starsky
jumped as he turned from the window at the words.

“Hutch? How did you…” Puzzled, Starsky looked
back out the window
again and saw theTorino parked in its usual place. He felt guilty,
realizing he’d been so lost in his musings that he’d
missed Hutch
arriving home. “Hey, I wanted to help you carry stuff upstairs.”

“Well, there’s
more – but only if you’re up to it. ” Hutch went over to
check his partner closer, relieved to see that
he looked far better
than when Hutch had left.

“There’s still a new stand for the tree in the trunk.
Something quite
new. You’ll like it.” Hutch smiled, and Starsky squeezed his shoulder
as he brushed past
going out the door.

Hutch looked after him, smiling softly at how easily Starsky could be
entertained. He began
putting away the food, thinking fondly of his
partner and friend.

More specifically, he recalled an instance before
one Christmas when
Starsky went nuts as they passed one of the big malls while on patrol.
Pleading like a child, Starsky’s
eyes were glowing as he begged for
Hutch to stop ... and how after their shift he had strolled for hours
through the
stores. Hutch had forced himself not to grumble as his
partner checked out new toys and books about inventions or mysterious
observations totally foreign to the blond. It was one of Hutch’s
fondest memories.

But that was only
one side of his partner. During times when Hutch had
felt down or lost the courage to go on fighting, it was Starsky who
cheered him and shown him how to go on. Hutch refused to think where he
might be now without his courageous friend.

When they had awkwardly admitted wanting to take their “partnership” to
a more personal level, it
had been Starsky’s moving spirit that had
allowed them to explore the physical side of their love. Even now
smiled at the memory of how tender those first times had been ...

He was jolted from his reverie by strong arms wrapping around
his waist from behind. For just an instant a wet tongue snaked into Hutch’s ear.

“You ready to buy a huuuge
Christmas tree?” Starsky asked.

“Not when you’re doin’ things like this to me,” Hutch
mumbled, leaning
back as Starsky’s tongue swiped like a cat at his ear lobe. “This is
better than a tree.”

“I know ya bought a special stand for it.” Starsky planted a noisy kiss
on Hutch’s ear. “C’mon.
I can’t wait to try it out.”


in resignation, Hutch put his more suggestive ideas aside and followed his
bouncing partner out the door.


Half an hour later they had selected a perfectly shaped tree at Hutch’s
favorite tree nursery, leaving with
a promise the tree would be
delivered within the next hour.

But on their way back to Starsky’s, Hutch suddenly
slowed the car and,
at the next intersection, turned around.

“Forget where you’re goin’, Blondie?”
Starsky asked, grinning through a
wide yawn.

“Uh - I have to go to my place to pick up something.”
Hutch blushed
lightly, hoping his partner wouldn’t guess that he had to retrieve
Starsky’s present. He
was relieved when Starsky only nodded and smiled.

But the dark detective watched curiously as Hutch returned to the
trying to hide a parcel behind his back. With long strides Hutch
hurried to the trunk with it, unaware of Starsky
watching his efforts
in the rearview mirror. Pondering what Hutch would get him that was so
large kept Starsky silent
all the way back to his apartment.

“Hey look! Our tree’s already here!” he exclaimed excitedly as
parked, pointing to the young man waiting at the foot of his stairs.

It took all three of them to carry
the tree upstairs, leaving Starsky
breathing heavily when they finally leaned the tree against an inside
wall. “Man,
when we buy a house together, I swear it’s only gonna have
one floor,” he vowed.

go for that.” Hutch took a deep, steadying breath. “Look, you
go sit down,” he suggested. “I’ll
put the tree in the stand.”

“What, and miss all the fun?” Starsky retorted. “Not on your life!”

But he was more than content to simply steady the tree while Hutch did
the lifting and adjustment of the heavy stand. As soon as he was
no longer needed, Starsky left Hutch muttering to himself
about the
trees’ alignment and went into the living room.

“There! Perfect!” Hutch announced


Starsk, now I want you to go sit down and relax while I fix dinner for us.”


his head, the blonde was still focused on the tree.


thought of something we haven’t had in ages. It’s healthy but you’ll like it too. We can
decorate the
tree later, okay? Starsk?”

Only then did Hutch realize he was alone, and he turned quickly to find
his partner
slumped into the corner of the couch, sound asleep. He went
over, smiling tenderly.

“Get some rest, babe,”
he said softly, gently arranging the comforter
over his friend. He couldn’t resist placing a light kiss on Starsky’s
cheek before he left the room.


When Starsky awoke his first thought was that he was dreaming as muted
strains of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” met his ears. The room was
dark, illuminated solely by glistening
lights on the Christmas tree
standing nearby. But the most wondrous thing was that the tree pivoted
very slowly, making
a complete 360° turn. Starsky rubbed his eyes and
blinked, unable to believe his eyes.
He had never seen such a beautiful

“Wha - Hutch?” Noises were coming from the kitchen, and he wasn’t sure
his partner had
heard his call.

Getting up slowly, Starsky walked around the moving tree, his eyes
growing misty at the sight.
He looked at the ornaments and tinsel in
amazement, knowing Hutch had done it alone so Starsky could get his
rest and awake to his beautiful surprise.

Shaking his head and smiling, Starsky made a trip to the bathroom then
his gift for Hutch. He chose a good place in the tree
for it, then suddenly remembered the guitar ornament he had made
Lizzy as well. Taking it from a shelf between two books, he hung it in
the upper part of the tree, easy to see
at Hutch’s height.

After a short search Starsky had found the bell they used when they
exchanged presents
at Christmas, also sitting on a nearby shelf. He
rang it, but the sound didn’t reach Hutch.

Peering around
the kitchen doorway, he found Hutch stirring a pot with
something that smelled delicious ... then he rang the bell again,
smiling as Hutch turned toward him, surprised.

“Hey, sleeping beauty!” he beamed. “Good thing
you finally woke up. Our
dinner is almost ready to serve.”

Having changed into a t-shirt and sweats, Hutch’s
blond hair curled at
the nape of his neck ... Starsky couldn’t resist running his fingers
through it as he came
up to his friend.

“First let’s look for your present,” he suggested softly. “It’s hidden
in the tree. Which, by the way, is really somethin’. I’ve never seen a
tree turn all by itself before.”

“Isn't’ it wonderful?” Hutch said. “It’s a new invention, just this
year. I knew
you’d love it since you’re so big on toys.”

Starsky thought Hutch’s smile had never looked
so beautiful.

“And you moved it over and decorated it all by yourself
just so I could


didn’t have to say the words - his gratitude was evident in
his voice.

“Now c’mon,” he
said softly, waiting until Hutch turned the stove off
to wrap an arm around the slim waist and pull the blond into the

“Okay, now look for your present!” Starsk ordered, bringing Hutch to
the tree then
stepping aside. He ignored his partner’s protest that
it was too early for exchanging gifts, and patiently crossed
his arms.

“Then let me get mine for you too,” Hutch insisted, and hurried away.
He returned, lugging
in the big wrapped box and crouching down to place
it under the tree.

“Hot,” Starsky whispered, watching
the necklace pass by in the moving tree. 
Then he grabbed Hutch’s shoulders
and drew him backward, catching him
off guard. Hutch lost balance and landed on his butt beside the tree,
gazing up
at his partner, stunned.

“That’s the way I love it,” Starsky smirked. “You’re at my
mercy now.”
He grabbed a comforter from the couch behind them and dropped it next
to Hutch on the floor.

you hungry?” Hutch asked astounded - he had assumed food would
be the first thing on his partner’s mind. But
then Starsky looked at
him with a longing expression, melting Hutch’s heart.

His dark blue eyes shone almost
purple when he murmured, “Yeah, I’m
hungry -- I’m starved for you.” Leaning forward, he placed
feather-light kisses on Hutch’s forehead, then on both cheeks.

“I need you,” he whispered, burying
his face in the crook of Hutch’s
neck. He inhaled the familiar scent and moaned.

“Then c’me
here,” Hutch said softly, wrapping the smaller man in his
arms and helping him settle on the soft comforter.

won’t mind if I …?” Hutch reached for a switch behind him,
bringing the tree and “Rudolph’s
music to a halt. Only the twinkling
lights remained on.

Suddenly the room became very quiet, the tree lights casting
a warm
glow over the two lovers nearby. Gazing into Hutch’s eyes, Starsky
couldn’t get enough of the beloved
features, drinking in the blond hair
glowing so golden in the dimmed light. The tender smile on Hutch’s face was
full of love -- and Starsky knew it was all for him.

“I’ve missed you.” They spoke in unison
then smiled, Hutch pulled
Starsky even closer, running his hand over the soft dark curls.

“When I stayed
at the hospital with my father I remembered all the hard
times we’ve been through,” Hutch spoke softly, cupping
Starsky’s face
with his large hand. “I wished you were there with me to make all the
bad memories go away.”
He paused.

“I saw my father lying there and knew how far he’s always been away
from me emotionally.
I felt sorry for him because of his heart attack,
but it didn’t devastate me like when you got shot. I….”
Hutch swallowed
hard, trying to compose himself. Starsky leaned into the big hand and
kissed the palm. He cleared
his throat and toyed with Hutch’s t-shirt.

“This last week was the longest of my life too. When you had
to catch
your flight I felt like I’d be alone forever. Ya know, I couldn’t sleep
at night, I’m so
used to have you by my side. It’s silly but…”

“You’re telling me!” Hutch responded.
“I almost went crazy when you
told me on the phone you were drying your hair – it killed me I wasn’t
there to give you my special treatment.”

The blond chuckled, full of anticipation as he slid his hand under
Starsky’s sweater. His fingers traced the soft hair on his partners’
chest and curled around the springy

“I’ve missed this,” he murmured, caressing the scars. “And I needed
He laid a light hand over Starsky’s strong heartbeat.

Lifting his arms, Starsky helped Hutch pull the sweater
over his head,
then he tugged at Hutch’s shirt and exposed the smooth chest. In one
swift movement Hutch got
rid of his shirt.

“You cold?” Starsky smiled, teasing and letting his hand roam over taut
and erect nipples. He bent forward and kissed both thoroughly,
loving the sound when Hutch moaned in response.

he drew Starsky closer and leaned back until he was lying on the
comforter, pulling Starsky along. He shifted into a comfortable
position then pulled Starsky on top of himself.

“Hey, you’re heavy. - I love it.” Hutch didn’t
let Starsky draw back.
He enjoyed the weight of his partner against his body at last. Soft
curls tickled his cheek
when Starsky surrendered and trailed soft
kisses along Hutch’s jawbone.

Hutch waited for Starsky to kiss
him on the lips, but his partner kept
busy caressing Hutch’s neck and a beloved special spot behind Hutch’
ears with his lips.

“I’ve missed that,” Starsky whispered, bracing himself on his elbow. He
shifted a little to relieve Hutch from his weight.

“And I need this.” Hutch put his hand on the small
of Starsky’s neck
and drew him close. He brushed his lips over Starsky’s and felt his
partner tense.

looked questioningly at Starsky who bent his head.

“Hutch, I’ve got a bad cold,” Starsky said finally.
“I don’t want you
to get it too. I read about how germs get spread in…”

He wasn’t
allowed to go any further as soft lips pressed tightly to
his. Suddenly Starsky’s fears vanished -- Hutch would
know what was
best for them. And didn’t they say kissing was good for the immune
system, anyway? So ...

let himself go then, inviting his partner with open lips.
Savoring the sweet taste of their lips and tongues, they made
up for
being separated far too long.

They parted with lips swollen, and both struggling to catch their
Hutch ran his hand along Starsky’s back, caressing every scar
he knew so well.

Starsky drew back a little
so he could sit up. Then he turned around
until his legs came to rest beside Hutch’s chest. His jeans were very
tight around his groin and he groped for his belt -- only to find his
hand being swatted away.

do it,” Hutch whispered, his eyes locked on his lover’s face.
Wordlessly Starsky agreed, returning his attention
to Hutch’s broad
chest. He traced each rib, eliciting a yelp when he caught a ticklish
spot. He mollified it
with a kiss, wandering down until he encountered
the waistband of Hutch’s sweats.

“Raise your hips
a little,” Hutch said huskily, and Starsky moved to get
rid of the restrictive jeans.

They locked eyes then,
and Starsky was overwhelmed by the love he both
felt and saw. He was home. Home was where Hutch was. He had been so
and at the same time so contented the past week, when he could
bring a little joy to Mrs. Thompson’s kids.

Then he had feared the worst. Being infected with active tuberculosis
would have meant an interminable separation from Hutch.

But now Hutch was back, they were together, and all Starsky’s
seemed far away. Hutch’s dad would recover and Lizzy would be fine --
all was right again in his world.

Then Starsky tugged at Hutch’s waistband, pulling the sweatpants down
... he moaned softly at the sight
of Hutch’s beautiful erection now
exposed. “God, I love you!” he murmured -- then lowered his head.

He felt Hutch’s lips on his navel, trailing kisses there and going down
to reach their longed-for object
of desire.

Starsky looked up to meet Hutch’s eyes.


celebrate, Blondie,” he said fervently, his heart showing in his eyes. Hutch’s
misty-eyed nod was all the
agreement he wanted to see.

And “celebrate” they did. It was incredible how their bodies reacted
how their experienced hands and mouths could give one another
pleasures no one else ever had. More than ever before, they
every moment and every act of love they performed.

As he reached the point of his ultimate excitement,
Starsky blindly
reached out his hand, holding on tight when Hutch grasped it and clung.
Together they climaxed, both
cherishing the waves of incredible
pleasure almost too good to endure. Starsky felt like the world was
spinning around
him when he finally could open his eyes.

At the same moment he realized he DID see something spinning -- the
tree had begun rotating again only much faster this time.

“Hutch?” Starsky stared openmouthed as the first
ornaments lost their
places and flew across the room.

“You gotta stop it!” Starsky shouted, trying
to disengage himself from
Hutch and the comforter entangling them both. Frantically Hutch
grabbed the switcher behind
him, quickly bringing the rampant tree to a

Covered with strands of tinsel, the two looked at each other
and broke
into uncontrollable laughter at their predicament.


that was a little too close. I must have touched the switcher somehow.” Hutch
grinned apologetically then added,


know it has two speeds.”

“Hey! What’s this?” Brushing tinsel off his hair, Hutch held a silver
necklace in his hand.

“Oops,” Starsky said, blushing. “Guess it must’ve flown outa the
It’s my Christmas present for ya. I hoped you like it. It kinda seemed
right for you.”

trying to hide his misty eyes, Hutch nodded, his hands
trembling as he tried to work the clasp behind his neck.
pleased by Hutch’s show of emotion, Starsky crouched behind
him and finished hooking the chain. He was pleased to
note the length
fit Hutch’s neck perfectly.

Then he covered their sweat-slicked bodies with the comforter
as they
cuddled together and looked at the glistening tree. After a time,
Hutch pointed to the wrapped box under the
tree. “Your turn, babe.
Merry Christmas!”

They paused for a lingering kiss before Starsky tore into
his gift --
-he gave a delighted whoop of surprise when he saw a kit for another
model ship in his hands. Then he
lunged for Hutch and pinned him to
the floor. “Did I ever tell you…?”

Their eyes met and locked
as Starsky lowered himself onto Hutch,
clearly intending to never let him go. Both pairs of blue eyes closed
as they
gave themselves over to their loving ... together, their joys
of Christmas would forever live on.


The end




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