"Okay, show me, Blondie, show me that you can walk around my place, blindfolded, and know where everything is." Starsky took a cloth, tied it around Hutch's head , then pretended to knock his partner out to see if there was any kind of defensive reaction -- nothing. Hutch couldn't see anything.

"Are you ready?" and with these words Starsky pulled his partner out of the chair, spun him twice, steadied him with his arms and then let him loose. "Here we go," Starsky said encouragingly and watched his partner walking around. It was amazing how well Hutch knew how to move in Starsky's place without seeing anything. "You wanna have a drink?" Hutch had found the couch, sat down and opened a beer. Incredible! Starsky thought. Hutch got up again and found his way to the kitchen window. "Nice weather, isn't it, Starsk?" Slowly but surely Starsky was losing his high spirits. "Well, partner, not so bad," he had to admit.

"Oh, I just forgot, have to use the bathroom," and Hutch felt his way over to the couch again and turned left in the direction of the bathroom. On his way there had to be the big armchair -- he groped, but didn't find it. He hesitated. Should he turn more to the right? He stepped forward and finally touched the chair. He knew exactly where he was again. He smiled. There was the door to the bathroom. "See you," he called. Confident of victory, he stepped out and closed the door behind him. Shortly after Starsky could hear a rattling noise and somebody swearing explicitly. Starsky chuckled. If Hutch knew that he had just changed the position of the chair...

The door flew open and a furious Hutch entered the room. When he saw Starsky looking like the cat who swallowed the canary, Hutch's rage increased.

"Are you nuts?" he yelled and he was about to push Starsky against the wall, but then he changed his mind. His right side was hurting because he had fallen down the stairs. He only wanted to leave, and with a "You are a real friend," he slammed the door behind him.

"Spoilsport! It was only a joke," he heard Starsky shout after him.

The next days were uneventful. The two detectives worked on their cases, but even Dobey noticed that there was no laughter in the squadroom, no bantering. Hell, they had even stopped teasing him about his unsuccessful diets, and though he should be glad , he felt quite uncomfortable. Maybe it was about a woman again. Dobey sighed and tried to concentrate on his work.

Hutch was still hurting. Not only was his side blue and green, but the friend he trusted with his life had played such a bad joke on him. Instead of apologizing Starsky had laughed and had taken it lightly.

Hutch had to find a way to pay Starsky back.

His chance for revenge appeared some days later. On his way to work he saw a damaged red Torino with white stripes abandoned in the streets and about to be loaded onto a tow-truck. It couldn't be Starsky's because his partner usually came to work later.

What about bringing that car to the station and pretending it was Starsky's?

That would be a blast if Starsky saw his car almost totally damaged! Hutch knew that the Torino was Starsky's beloved "lady". He always went nuts when Hutch dropped some paper on the floor or teased him about his odd taste. The longer Hutch thought about his little revenge, the more contented he felt.

First he had to make some phone calls to locate the car and to speak to some officers to let them in on his little joke. How lucky he was that Starsk not had arrived yet.

"Morning," Starsky trudged into the squadroom and felt a little irritated when he looked at the smiling face of his partner's. Was the "war" between them eventually over? Starsky felt the tension of the last days fade. He would have his old partner back. The next remark gave proof of Hutch's changed behaviour.

"Hey, buddy, want me to take your car to Merle's to get the oil checked? I've already finished some reports, so you'll have more time to complete yours."

Give his precious car to Hutch? Why not, Starsky decided, He tossed his car keys in Hutch's direction.

"'kay,if you bring some lunch from the burrito snack bar," Starsky relished Hutch's disgusted expression. Then he was gone and Starsky began to work humming a little tune.

Two hours later the door to the squadroom burst open and an officer called for a "Detective Starsky". "It's me," Starsky answered not looking up from his folders. "Would you please follow me?" the man's voice sounded strained, and finally Starsky paid attention. He rose from his chair and followed the man down to the station garage...

Hutch was hiding behind a corner where he could watch closely what would happen.

Starsky's real car was parked safely a few parking spaces over.

Now Hutch heard approaching steps and voices. One of them belonged to his partner. "What are you going to show me, officer?" Starsky seemed restless. "Look," said the man, barely concealing a smile.

Starsky came around the corner and saw the car. A red Torino with white stripes. Practically destroyed.

Hutch watched in anticipation. That serves him right, he thought.

"Oh my God!" Starsky was rooted to the spot, his eyes fixed on the car. Finally he moved slowly nearer and touched a crumpled part of the metal, carefully as if he feared to do more damage. He shook his head not willing to believe what he saw in front of him.

"That can't be true."

Hutch behind the corner had a jolt at the next, quietly spoken words.

"Hutch..." Starsky's voice had lowered to a whisper, "Hutch, where are you...?" Starsky felt as if something tore him apart.

He choked and almost cried out: "No! That can't be! -- Officer!" The other man approached, looking nervously at the agitated detective. "Sir?" he asked wishing he was miles away.

"My partner, where is my partner? He drove my car. What has happened to him, tell me!"

"I-I-don't know," stuttered the man. This was supposed to be a joke. Why was this man acting so weird?

"Oh Hutch, buddy, don't do this to me," and Starsky turned to the officer again, this time a little more desperate.

"Blond guy driving? Gotta know what happened to him, man. Is he in the hospital?"

Hutch behind the corner couldn't stand it any longer. Tears were in his eyes. What he just witnessed had made him feel deeply ashamed.

It was not his car that Starsky cared for, it was always the well being of his partner that Starsky had in mind.

Hutch had to do something at once to avoid further damage...

He stepped out of his hiding place and took steps toward his partner.

"Starsky? I'm here, nothing happened to me. Look," Hutch tried to smile but he couldn't.

Deep blue eyes, full of sorrow, looked at him in disbelief.

"Hutch? Is it you?" And then two arms were thrown around him and Starsky was holding him tight. Hutch was about to lose his composure, so he stiffened and tried to break the embrace.

"I have to tell you something," he said and didn't dare look into his best friend's eyes.

"Don't worry about the car. That I have you back, not hurt, is the most important thing." Starsky beamed at him.

"Hey! Speaking of being hurt... You hurt me, Starsk, when you let me go through your front door, blindfolded, and I fell down your stairs. I decided to take a little revenge on you and brought this damaged car here. It isn't yours, Starsk, yours is safe over there. But Ok, it was a bad joke and I feel so sorry. I forgot that you always..."

"...cared about you?" Starsky finished the sentence. "You should know that, dummy. And what are you telling me about falling down my stairs and hurting? Where did you get hurt? Let me see ."

"But not here!" they said in unison, and suddenly all seemed to be easier again. A smile appeared on their faces and Hutch looked down at his hands.

"Here are your burritos," he said, but the bag in his hands was scrunched because of all the commotion.

Starsky put his hands over Hutch's as he said seriously: "Didn't mean to hurt you, you know that?"

Hutch nodded: "Me neither."

They looked into each other's eyes and all was right with the world.



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