"Can you write an established relationship story or scene, without any sex, and make it clear that they are lovers and have been for awhile, without ever actually coming out and saying so?"
This was Rebelcat's challenge - and I had to have a go at it.




Starsky stopped his bright red Ford Thunderbird in front of the double garage. He never got tired of the black leather seats and the burl wood dashboard. He brushed his hand over the glazed surface and tapped the little policeman figure in uniform dangling from the rear view mirror.  It was a present from Hutch, who had remarked that this way Starsky would never feel lonely. The blond hair of the figure made Starsky smile.


He climbed out of the car and opened the garage door. Puzzled, he noticed that Hutch hadn’t arrived yet. His meeting with the governor was probably lasting longer than expected. Ever since he and Hutch had passed their lieutenant’s exams work kept them more separated. They had different offices, but still managed to have lunch together nearly every day in the little diner near the precinct.


As Starsky entered the house, he almost tripped over a big plant that Hutch had purchased the day before. “Not the best place, if you ask me,” Starsky muttered before making his way to their bedroom. Tossing his office clothes aside, he changed into some comfortable sweats and his favourite red shirt. He was about to leave the room when he noticed that the laundry needed to be done. They had been so busy at work that he had forgotten to take care of it. He shook his head over Hutch’s manner of sorting clothes. That white t-shirt would never make it together with his dark blue shirt. As Starsky began to pick up the first load for the washing machine, he heard the doorbell ring.


Hutch must have lost his keys again. With the laundry hanging over his shoulder, Starsky made it to the door. He yanked it open with a “Don’t tell me your key is lost!” only to find himself looking into the eyes of a UPS man holding a large parcel.


“Sign here,” the man said shortly, wondering about the dark haired man in front of him, briefs and socks over his shoulder.


“Yeah, sure,” Starsky scribbled his signature and took the parcel inside. It was the tuning set for his Thunderbird! He put the parcel on the kitchen table. In a fever of excitement he took a knife out of the cabinet and cut through the dark brown tape. Something blue, now with a long cut lay in the parcel. Starsky frowned. That was definitely not his tuning set. He risked a closer look and read the receipt folded inside: “This is your tent, model ‘Snowboy’. Have fun!”


My god, it was Hutch’s parcel and he had damaged it with his over-eagerness!


How to tell Hutch about it? As Starsky slowly picked up the clothes that had fallen to the floor, he heard a car stop in front of the house. The sound of the engine indicated that it was Hutch’s Jeep. Frantically, Starsky rushed into the living room to fetch some tape. He hastily closed the parcel and shoved it under the kitchen table.


“Hey, there!  Home already?” he greeted his partner, hoping that Hutch wouldn’t hear the tremble in his voice.


“Already? Are you kidding? That dumbass was trying to run the investigation in a manner exactly opposite to our recommendations.  I had to convince him there’s a better way. Though I’m still not sure he’s got it.” Hutch brushed brusquely past Starsky. He disappeared in the bathroom closing the door none too gently.


Starsky slumped down onto the nearest kitchen chair.


“Anything for dinner?” Hutch entered the kitchen and opened the fridge, an annoyed expression on his face. “Figures - three day old pizza and cheese that’s been sitting there for a month.. I bet it’s developed a life of its own by now. How come when it’s your turn to take care of the food, you always neglect the fresh stuff? There must be eggs in here, somewhere. I could make an omelette.”


Tiredly, Hutch sat down, in the process kicking the parcel under the table.


“What’s…” he started and Starsky hurried to say: “It’s a parcel for you. Was just brought. By the way, I have to do the laundry.”


Starsky was sidling out of the kitchen when he heard a surprised. “It’s our tent, yes, it must be our tent. Come here and have a look at it!”


“Our tent? More yours, I think,” Starsky mumbled as memories of big crawling spiders and disgusting flying insects flashed through his mind.


Slowly he stepped back into the kitchen, just in time to see Hutch frown.


“Look how they closed the parcel – they used different tapes…” Hutch removed the tape carefully and after a short glance he paled.


“Starsk, they damaged the tent! There’s a long cut in the material! What kind of idiot would do something this stupid!”


Hutch jumped up from his chair and stalked into the living room. He snatched up the phone receiver and began to dial a number.


“What’re you up to?” Starsky followed Hutch, fearing the worst.


“What d’you think?” Hutch snarled. “I’ll tell these incompetent jerks off!”


“No, don’t do it,” Starsky said reaching out to grab Hutch’ sleeve.


“Why not! I don’t need to put up with this.” Hutch’s anger was palpable and it cost Starsky considerable effort to say:


“It was me…”


Hutch needed a moment to understand what he had just heard.


“You? You must be kidding! How? Why?” His eyes had darkened, showing his lack of understanding.


“I thought it was the tuning set for my car and I wanted to have a look.” Starsky looked down, at a loss for any better explanation.

“So you ripped it open like a butcher.” Hutch tried to control his anger when he saw Starsky’s contrite look.


“What’re we going to do now?” he asked, putting his hand under Starsky’s chin.


“I’ll do whatever you want!” Starsky said with certainty. He reached for Hutch’s hand.


A little smile crept over Hutch’s face.


“So you can help me to put up the tent in the garden. This is their latest, most modern, model. They advise getting used to its construction and say you should practise putting it up several times before you take it out into the bush. C’mon, let’s hurry.  It’s getting dark.”


“Sure,” Starsky said, breathing a sigh of relief. Together they took the folded tent out of the parcel.


“Isn’t this a tube of that special glue for fixing damaged parts?” Starsky showed Hutch the box and Hutch nodded, looking friendlier now.


“It isn’t too heavy,” Starsky observed, as he followed Hutch into the garden, carrying the tent.  Hutch had the instructions in his hand.


“First you have to choose a large flat space with no sharp stones, thorns or branches.”


“Nothing easier than that.” Starsky stepped forward and promptly twisted his ankle. He suppressed a cry of pain and joked instead: “That was the first stone.” There was no way he was going to show Hutch that he was hurting.


“Okay, now lay the outer shell on the ground.” Hutch frowned until he found the grey canvas cover. Together they laid it out on the ground. “We have to tighten it,” Hutch added and with effort they managed it.


“Here it says: Now insert the blue poles into the sleeves. The sleeves have their opening on the outside although they lie inside. The openings are to be found on the narrow side of the tent, at a right angle to the red band in the middle of the tent.”


“Can they say that in English again?” Starsky looked around seeing nothing that could fit the description.


“Let me try.” Hutch took the blue pole, inserted the other one and tried to find the sleeves.

He bent down and heard a yelp behind his back.




“What’s wrong?” Hutch turned around and saw Starsky rubbing his butt, a pained expression on his face.


“Must be the pole that hit me. I’m sure it tore open the wound I got from that nail last year. It hurts…” Starsky had completely forgotten about his determination to keep up a tough demeanour.


“Can you have a look at it?” he asked.


Hutch felt sorry for him. He touched the spot with a soothing gesture, and then he said: “I’ll look at it later. Let’s get this done first. I think I’ve got it figured out now.  We just have to insert the poles into the small sleeve above in the middle of the tent…”


Ten minutes later both men were still struggling under the tent. The poles had slipped out of the sleeves.  When Starsky poked his head through the rip to see Hutch at the other end, fighting with the tent walls, he knew it wasn’t shaping up to be one of their best days. Between cursing and hissing, Hutch decided to take the tent to Merle, who hopefully would be able to help them with this new construction.


Starsky hobbled to Hutch’s jeep to put the poles inside. Hutch followed with the rest of the tent.


Hutch started the car – and heard only a click.  The engine refused to turn over. “Shit!” Hutch lost his temper.


“Reminds me of your old LTD… Battery dead again?” Starsky asked, exhausted.  He wasn’t ready to get out of the car again.


“Where’s your car – in the garage?” Hutch asked.


Starsky couldn’t believe it his ears.  “You must be joking!  You don’t think I’ll put all this cr… hm… material into my new car…”


A glare from the familiar blue eyes convinced Starsky to take his Thunderbird out of the garage.


Trapped between poles and tarpaulin they went to Merle’s. Fortunately, he was still at the garage and had time free to familiarize them with the tricky construction of the tent. In addition he fixed the tear in the tent with the special glue.


Starsky was half asleep by the time they finally drove home in the dark.


“Let’s go to bed, ‘m tired.” Starsky yawned.


He was surprised to hear Hutch say: “I promised myself I’d build the tent and spend one night in it. It’s too dark in the garden, so I’ll set it up in the living room. What about you?” He looked into Starsky’s tired eyes and added: “Go to bed, I can get along just fine by myself.” He pecked Starsky on the ear and turned to his tent, lying on the floor.


Starsky took a hot shower, trying without success to see the sore spot on his buttock where the pole had hit him.  Afterward, he went to bed, shivering as his naked body came into contact with the cold sheets. With images of Hutch messing about with the tent in the living room in his head, Starsky finally drifted asleep.


He was dreaming of brand new cars filled with tents and spiders that crawled into the driver’s ear. Starsky moved his hand. Something took hold of his ankle and Starsky was about to jerk away, when he felt a different sensation. His sore ankle was massaged until the pain subsided.  Starsky relaxed in his sleep. He flinched once, as something cold touched his buttock. But then ointment was rubbed on, in soothing circles.


Warmth enveloped him. Everything was looking good.


The end  




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