“Skinny, we know you’ve knocked the liquorshop owner out. He’s in a coma now. If I were you…”


Starsky crouched in front of the man, wincing as his sore shoulder contact the corner of the table in the interrogation room. The injury from the shootout in the Italian restaurant was still giving him trouble.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” whined the suspect, “I’ve never been there. I was out of town when it happened, you can ask Sally, my sister. I visited her because…”


“Stop the crap!” Hutch roughly shoved the table aside. One table leg jiggled dangerously. Kicking his foot against it, Hutch cursed. He left the room, and slammed the door behind him.


“I should tell you something about my partner,” Starsky said slowly, massaging his left shoulder. “Today, he isn’t in a good mood. Last time he got this furious with a suspect I had a hard time holding him back. See my shoulder? I paid for my intervention. It’s always the same - he will come back after a few minutes. Then he’ll offer to buy a coffee for you. Today it’s my turn to go, he knows that. As soon as I’ve left, I can’t do anything for you. It’s up to you.”


The suspect only shook his head and groped for a packet of cigarettes.


The door opened again and Hutch came in smiling.


“Skinny, I’m really sorry. I got carried away. Hey, what about a nice cup of coffee, huh?” Hutch forced Skinny to look at him by grabbing him by the chin. “That would be great, wouldn’t it? Starsk, please get the coffee. It’s your turn,” Hutch said to his partner, who straightened up and walked to the door.


Skinny followed Starsky with his eyes. When there wasn’t the desired reaction, Starsky opened the door without any hesitation and walked out.


“No! You can’t leave me here!” Skinny almost cried, trying to avoid Hutch’s gaze. Then he broke down.


“He attacked me first and I hadn’t intended to hurt him, just needed some cash…”


Fifteen minutes later the detectives left the interrogation room.


“Hey, it worked again,” Starsky smiled, thinking of their good cop/bad cop performance.


“Yeah, as long as we don’t have to pay for the damaged furniture. The chair you broke during Harry Sample’s interrogation isn’t repaired yet,” Hutch said.


Starsky shrugged, immediately feeling the pain in his shoulders.  He suppressed a moan.


“You still hurting?” Concerned, Hutch looked at his partner, noticing how pale Starsky still was.


“No big deal. What about a candy bar?” Starsky sidetracked and moved toward the candy machine.


“What about a decent dinner tonight? I know a place where they make good pasta,” Hutch started.


“No way, Blondie,” Starsky mumbled, chewing on his candy. “Ya know, I’m fed up with Italian restaurants. There’s no point in going there only because it reminds me of my grandmother…”


“… who lived above such a restaurant,” finished Hutch.  He went on: “This one is different. Let me show you and you’ll see it’s worth the visit. The place is on the safer side of the town. No chance that there will be scum like Joey and Lockley.”


“I’d prefer scrambled eggs though,” Starsky mumbled and trudged to the squad room.


“I’ll pick you up about seven,” Hutch called after Starsky, before he hurried to the elevator.




Hutch stopped in front of Starsky’s apartment. He had been in a rush and was late. Hopefully Starsky hadn’t fallen asleep in front of the TV. Since he had been released from the hospital he tired much easier and still needed a lot of rest. He had insisted on returning to work full time, but Hutch knew that Starsky still couldn’t use his left arm properly and had a hard time even getting dressed. He didn’t want to wear the sling to protect his shoulder. How could a man be so stubborn, Hutch mused, and rang the bell. No one answered and Hutch felt ill at ease.

He used his own key and entered the apartment.


“Starsk? Everything okay?”


There was no sound and Hutch moved toward the bedroom only to find it empty. Then a sound from the bathroom caught his attention. Carefully he opened the door – and couldn’t believe his eyes. Starsky was lying in the tub asleep, his face almost touching the water surface.


“My God, what’re you doing?” Hutch shouted, and rushed to the tub to keep Starsky’s head out of the water.


Starsky flinched. Thrashing around he soaked Hutch jeans and part of his shirt.


“Shh, calm down. It’s me,” Hutch soothed, and couldn’t be angry any longer.  “Can’t leave you alone, can I?” He looked into Starsky’s blurred eyes.


“Hutch? Sorry, must have fallen asleep. Just wanted to take a bath. Thought it would help my shoulder, ya know,” Starsky mumbled.  He didn’t object when Hutch helped him out of the tub, putting the robe round Starsky’s shoulders.


“So you’re finally ready for our big evening out?” Hutch smiled and Starsky tried to look cheerfull, though it didn’t work completely. Hutch led his partner to the bed to get dressed.


It occurred him that Starsky had lost weight in the last weeks. The wound on his back had healed but the shoulder still gave him trouble.


“You need some help here?” Hutch asked and Starsky shook his head. “Okay, I’m in the living room. Just holler if you need me,” and Hutch left the room.


He was taking care of Starsky’s plants when he heard a hissed “Shit!” from the bedroom. In a second Hutch was with his partner. Starsky was trying to get his jeans on. It was a one-time sight and Hutch chuckled.


“Who told you to buy those skin tight jeans, and may I tell you that you forgot your underwear,” Hutch noted dryly, only to hear a mumbled “Too much effort…”


“Then let’s get you dressed.” Carefully, Hutch hauled Starsky up from the bed and helped him with his jeans. Zipping them, Hutch smiled. “Nothing penned in?”



Starsky shook his head and gave him an embarrassed smile. Then he leaned into Hutch as if to gain strength from his partner. Hutch enfolded him, feeling the chilled skin of Starsky’s exposed upper body.


“Hey, which shirt do you want to wear? And I think we should hurry. I’ve reserved a table for us.”


Hutch released Starsky who trudged to the closet to fetch the dark blue shirt Hutch had given him last Christmas.




“Where’re we going?” Starsky’s curiosity rose while they were driving. Suddenly he had a sneaking suspicion. “I know where you want to take me. It must be that place where the culinary school students cook and serve. No objection against these young people but you also said that you have to wait for the meals more than usual and they aren’t spicy.” Starsky sighed and closed his eyes.


After a while Hutch pulled the car in a parking lot and nudged his partner to open his eyes.

“We’re here. Get out of the car.”


Sleepily, Starsky opened his eyes and looked around. “You must be kidding. This is your place!”


“As I told you before, it’s safe and I know the cook personally.” Hutch’s smile glowed in the dark and Starsky looked disbelievingly at his friend.


“You’re surprising me, pal,” Starsky mumbled, following Hutch through the front garden to his little cottage.


Hutch switched the light on and Starsky could see the table set with white cloth and candles.

“Hutch, I don’t wanna be the odd one out. I’m leaving. Enjoy the time with your date.”

Starsky turned to go and heard Hutch say: “That’s exactly what I was thinking.” Hutch pointed to the chair and motioned Starsky to sit down. Now Starsky saw that there were only two place settings.


“Give the personnel some time to prepare the meal,” Hutch joked, and disappeared into the kitchen.


Starsky sat down at the table and looked around. The table was set lovingly with napkins in rings, cut crystal, and two candles in the middle of the table. Is that the way the Hutchinson family used to eat, Starsky wondered. Normally Hutch didn’t set much value on these things. He must have a reason to celebrate a certain important event.


That was it! Starsky snapped his fingers. Maybe Hutch wanted to announce his engagement with what’s her name and wanted his best friend to be alerted first.


Starsky thought about Hutch’s ladies. He knew that none of them had been special to Hutch. After his divorce from Van, Hutch hadn’t been choosy. Once they had both dated the same stewardess, and had ended in a threesome. Afterwards they had felt awkward, not contented with the way things had turned out. When they were together with women they had a competitive way of acting with each other. When they were alone, though, there was the feeling of total acceptance and trust.


“Can you light the candles, buddy? The matches are over there.” Hutch carried a tray with several bowls and different plates.


“’ course.” Starsky managed to find the matches, and lit the candles.


Saucer-eyed, he looked at the filled bowls and plates that Hutch had put on the table.


“For you: Linguini with clams, for me veal piccata.” Hutch smiled and held a bottle in his hand. “Vino di casa.”


Open-mouthed, Starsky looked at the meal, smelled the wonderful aromas – and couldn’t help but get misty-eyed. He put his hand on Hutch’s holding the bottle of wine.


“Thank you so much, friend. Well, I only wanted scrambled eggs…” Starsky joked, hiding his emotion.


Hutch put the bottle on the table, lost contact with Starsky’s hand in the process and left the room.


“Not that I would forget the little things that make you happy,” he said coming back with a plate with scrambled eggs for Starsky.


“Enjoy your meal!” Hutch said sitting down and opened the bottle.


Soon both men were digging into their meal. Halfway through, Hutch raised his wine glass in a toast.


“I have your words in my ear when you said in the Italian restaurant that you were still hungry when all was over. So I hope that you’ll stop complaining that you didn’t get your meal,” Hutch said.


Starsky, who felt a lump in his throat, added. “To all special events and to friends who watch each other’s backs!”


Their glasses clinked.


Later they settled on the couch and Hutch admitted that he had had a little help from the kind neighbor to cook the Italian dishes.


“You’re someone special,” Starsky said emptying his third glass of wine. Then he took heart and asked:


“When’s the engagement? Do you already have engagement rings?”


“Huh?” Hutch looked blank.


“No reason to feel embarrassed. How long have we known each other? You can tell me who’s the lucky one you fell in love with. Do I know her?” Starsky crossed his legs and sat opposite Hutch on the couch.


Hutch looked back at him, at last understanding where Starsky was heading with his question.


“Buddy, there’s no engagement and no rings. Are you asking because of the laid table and the candles? Well, I wanted us to have a special dinner, not disturbed by any goons.”


Hutch rested his hand on Starsky’s knee and Starsky understood that Hutch needed an ideal evening after the shootout in the restaurant. It had been a close call for both of them.


Starsky shuddered, thinking of the shots he had heard when he was lying helplessly in the office. Hutch could have been killed and he wasn’t able to get into action to bail his partner out.


“Yeah, it’s a good idea, for a change, to be safe here with you. Thanks again for the dinner. It reminds me of my grandma… Starsky’s voice trailed off and Hutch smiled affectionately at him.


“I know,” Hutch said.  “And it reminds me of the words you said when I came into the office happy that it was all over, but then you held me back. I was worrying that you felt worse and then you said you were still hungry – that’s my pal!”


Starsky blushed. He remembered all too well the situation. He almost went mad when he heard the gunshots. Hutch had told him that the gunmen, especially Joey, had been acting unpredictably. If Hutch was shot, Starsky’s world would fall to pieces. There was no one who cared for him like Hutch.


“How’s your back?”


“Huh?” Hutch frowned, then he straightened a little and smiled. “It’s okay. So?”


“Well, you carried me through half of the restaurant. I must have been a dead weight. I’m sorry. Wish I could have avoided them hitting me. But there was no chance. ..”


“Hey, stop worrying. Look, I was putting the coins in the music box when I felt a weapon against my back. If I had…”


“You couldn’t have done anything,” Starsky said with determination.  “I saw you and tried to distract the perp but the other one fired his gun. Shit!”  Reliving the moments of pain and fear, Starsky sighed.


“C’mere.” Hutch shifted and drew Starsky to his side, carefully avoiding jostling the injured shoulder.


Relaxed, Starsky leaned into his partner. He turned his head to look at Hutch and smiled.

“Mum’s the word! When you came into the office, still alive, I was so  - hm –  so happy to see you, I was afraid to lose it, so I rambled about being still hungry. Actually I couldn’t have kept anything down.”


“Yeah, that’s my pal, always afraid of soapy scenes,” Hutch said softly. He bent forward to take his glass and sipped from it.


Starsky searched for the glass that he had left on the other table.


Hutch dropped his glass into Starsky’s hand. “Take mine.”


Starsky took a big gulp, then a big smile appeared on his face.


“Let’s celebrate! We’re safe, I have my best friend by my side – what about a game of monopoly? Last time when we played it with Lisa and Cindy, I wasn’t that bad.”


“Only because the girl had never played it before,” Hutch snorted and untangled himself from Starsky to fetch the game.


When he came back soft snoring greeted him. Starsky lay curled up on the couch, his arms wrapped around Hutch’s jacket. Carefully Hutch replaced the jacket with a soft pillow, which he put under Starsky’s head. He covered his friend with a spread and dimmed the light. Humming a tune Hutch strode into the kitchen to tidy up.


Life was good.



The end




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