Authors: Rebelcat and Elizabeth Helena


Series: Starsky & Hutch


Rating: R, due to naughty language, naughty themes, and implied naughty use of socks.


Slash or Gen: Um, er, good question.


EH: You know those fun stories that start out with S & H in a gen relationship and then they go on to have hot-man-on-man sex with each other?

RC: This ain’t one of them.

EH: But it’s not quite the opposite either. Damn, I have the sudden urge to chant: “We’re Glash, Not Slash, Get Used to It.”

RC: I prefer: “We’re Slen, Not Gen, Get Used to It.”


Spoilers: All we know for sure is that it takes place after Season 3's Death in a Different Place, but before the dreaded mustache, and the even more dreaded Kira of Season 4.


Disclaimer I: No harm to any S & H slashers or genners is intended by this fic. We love Starsky & Hutch slash and gen, really we do.


EH: In fact, we’ve both posted S & H gen and slash fics, if those are more to your taste.

RC: Well, I’ve posted slash stories . . .

EH: Hey! Hutch and Jack Mitchell got it on for a whole sentence in Safety in Numbers!

RC: [rolls eyes] What’s important is that you believe you’ve written S & H slash.

EH: Exactly. Hey, wait a minute! 


Disclaimer II: No harm was intended to anyone owning copyrights over Starsky & Hutch, other than Sony.


RC: Yeah, you heard us, Sony!

EH: Yeah, you “making us wait almost a full year for the North American release of Starsky & Hutch Season Four bastards” (henceforth, MUWAAFYFTNAROSHS4B).

RC: Yeah, um, you might want to work on that acronym.

EH: Not bitter enough or too short?

RC: Moving on. . .


Summary: When Starsky gets sick, some unexpected complications arise.


Dedicated to: Ginalin, for her fiery defense of our first round of Glash. Hope you enjoy this different walk on the slen side. 


Beta: We don’t need no stinkin’. . . well, we probably did. But, um … hey, isn’t that Starsky and Hutch over there? (whew, good save)


Further thanks to: The ever helpful (and always accurate) Wikipedia, the very helpful (and somewhat disturbing) book Superflirt by Tracy Cox, and the hopefully inaccurate and very disturbing articles we read in Cosmo magazine during our ill-spent youths.


EH: In Rebelcat’s case, that would be last week.

RC: Hey, that was research!


Feedback/Critique: Yes please, including restraining orders from approaching these guys. Honestly, we didn’t mean to hurt them (much), and even resisted the temptation to amputate any limbs. We can be reached researching phantom limbs for an intentionally crueller universe at myrebelcat @ hotmail . com, and elizabethlovesherthesaurus @ hotmail . com. 


Archiving: In Starsky’s bedroom on our website. After all, just because we don’t always provide hot-man-on-man sex or hot-man-on-woman sex in there, doesn’t mean his bedroom is boring. ;-)


If You Think I’m Sexy



“Love demands infinitely less than friendship.”

George Jean Nathan


It was the smell that hit Hutch first, the heavy, sour stench of vomit. That, along with the sound of retching, made it clear that Starsky wouldn’t be making it in to work on time today - if at all.


Hutch banged on the bathroom door with the side of his fist. “Where was the party last night, and why didn’t you invite me?”


Starsky’s reply was muffled, but Hutch heard something about, “ . . .and the horse you rode in on . . .”


Hutch grinned, and strolled into Starsky’s kitchen. Rummaging through the fridge, he contemplated the creation of a hangover cure. The specific ingredients didn’t matter so long as they were healthy and his partner found the resulting combination disgusting. The real satisfaction came from convincing Starsky that the noxious mixture would cure what ailed him and then conning him into drinking it.


I should stash some seaweed and brewer’s yeast here for just these occasions.


“Put the eggs away,” said a hoarse voice behind him. “I’m really sick.”


Hutch turned to find Starsky standing with one arm braced against the wall, as if it was the only thing holding him upright. He was bare-chested, wearing only his blue pajama bottoms. Hutch took in the glazed eyes and immediately stepped forward to feel Starsky’s forehead. “Oh buddy, that’s a hell of a fever.”


Starsky gave him a watery smile. “Glad you agree. Grab me some aspirin and a glass of water, will ya? I’m going back to bed.” He pushed himself away from the wall, but after one step, he stopped, swaying and blinking rapidly. “Oh, head rush.”


Hutch steadied him with a hand on his arm. He paused and tightened his grip. “What’s this? Spots?”


Horrified, Starsky followed Hutch’s gaze. “I got zits?”


“No,” said Hutch, taking a closer look. “I don’t think so . . .” Carefully, he turned Starsky’s arm over and exposed more of the small red dots. “Look.” With a gentle push he rotated Starsky. “And they’re on your back, too. You’ve got some sort of rash.”


“Rash?” squeaked Starsky. He craned his head in a futile attempt to look at his own back. “But I’ve got the flu!”


Hutch suppressed a smile as he released his friend’s arm. “Why don’t you sit down,” he said. “I’ll call your doctor.” And Dobey, he added to himself, already mentally composing a list of necessary tasks. Luckily he and Starsky weren’t working on anything Hutch couldn’t handle by himself. And he’d also have to cancel his date with the lovely . . . Brenda, wasn’t it? Or was it Belinda? Because Hutch knew exactly whose couch he’d be camping out on this evening.


For a tough, competent man in the prime of his life, Starsky could be surprisingly helpless when it came to dealing with illness. A bullet in the shoulder? No problem. But let one little virus get a foothold in his system, and he folded like a house of cards.


If it had been anyone else, it would have annoyed the hell out of Hutch. But this was Starsky and looking at him now, leaning against the wall with his pjs hanging off his hips and his hair standing on end, Hutch couldn’t help but feel a warm rush of affection for the man. “Come on,” he said again, as he tugged on Starsky’s arm, suddenly conscious of the dry heat radiating from his partner’s skin. “Sit down.”


Starsky poked mournfully at a spot on his chest. “I wonder if it’s contagious?”


Hutch let go of his arm immediately. Love only went so far.




“Well?” demanded Starsky.


Hutch hung up the phone. Under normal circumstances Starsky would have been hanging over his shoulder, trying to listen in on the conversation. It was a testament to how sick his friend was, that instead he was lying on the couch looking up at him with equal parts of impatience and curiosity.


“The doctor said it sounds like you’ve got chicken pox.”


“Chicken pox!”


“That’s what he said.” Hutch headed for the bathroom, hoping Starsky would have something for the nausea as well as fever in his medicine cabinet.


Leave it to Starsky to catch a kid’s disease, for Christ’s sake.


“But I already had chicken pox!” protested Starsky from the couch.


Wrinkling his nose at the rancid smell in the bathroom, Hutch quickly collected two aspirin for the fever and some antacids that might help settle his partner’s stomach. “Your doctor said that sometimes you don’t get full immunity, especially if you only had a mild case.” There was a glass by the sink, and Hutch filled it with cold water before returning to the living room.


Starsky accepted the glass and peered blearily at the handful of pills Hutch offered him. “That damn doctor’s a quack,” he muttered.


Hutch watched until he was sure Starsky had taken all of his medicine. “You’re welcome to tell him that during your appointment this afternoon.”


Starsky moved remarkably fast, considering his condition. He was off the couch and at the wall phone before Hutch could react. “I don’t need to see a doctor for chicken pox!”


“Hey!” Hutch slapped down on the hook, disconnecting the call. “He can’t make a proper diagnosis unless he sees you!”


Starsky hung onto the phone with a tenacity that suggested it was as much for support as out of stubbornness. “I can’t go! I’ll be the laughing stock of the precinct if he says I’ve got a kid’s disease.”


“Starsk, chicken pox is a lot more serious for adults. There could be serious complications.”


“Like what?” Sudden alarm crossed Starsky’s face. “Could my nuts swell up?”


Trust him to think of that first.


“No, dummy, that’s mumps. The main complication of chicken pox is pneumonia.”


“Well, when I get - I mean, if I get pneumonia, then I’ll see the doctor.”


“I’m not letting you cancel the appointment.”


“Fine.” Starsky released the phone and staggered away. “You go, and bring me back a lollipop. I’m going back to bed.”


“Starsky, people die of chicken pox.”


“That’ll look just nifty on my tombstone.” Starsky suddenly changed course and veered toward the bathroom. The door slammed behind him, and a moment later Hutch heard him retching. The muffled exclamation that followed sounded a lot like, “God, kill me now.”


Wincing in sympathy, Hutch dialed the precinct, and asked to be patched through to Captain Dobey.


“Captain? Starsky’s going to need some sick leave . . .”




Two mornings later, the nausea had eased enough to let Starsky keep some dry toast and flat ginger ale down, but the fever, headache, and light sensitivity hung on with a vengeance.


“Is this what it feels like when you get a migraine, Hutch?” asked Starsky. He was flat on his back in bed, his eyes closed.


“Yeah, buddy.” Hutch placed a cool damp cloth on Starsky’s forehead, mentally running down his ever-expanding checklist. Chicken soup in the fridge if his partner felt up to it, meds and crackers in easy reach, and a glass of water on the table beside Starsky’s bed . . . “Are you going to be okay, Starsk? Dobey’s expecting me in his office in twenty minutes, but I can be late.”


“I’ll be fine,” the whine in Starsky’s voice belying the claim. “M’ just lying here and dying. And itching.” With an exclamation of intense frustration he stuffed his hand down the front of his pjs and scratched his lower belly.


“Don’t scratch,” Hutch ordered. “Or I’ll duct tape socks over your hands.”


That got Starsky’s attention. His head came up off the pillow, the damp cloth falling off. He stared at Hutch through watering eyes. “Huh?”


Hutch held up a warning finger. “And don’t think I won’t! I called your mom and that was number six on her list of recommendations.”


“Oh hell.” Starsky dropped his head backward, wincing. He pulled his hand out from underneath the sheets. “She would say that. That’s how she broke me of sucking my thumb when I was five, and cured me of biting my fingernails when I was eight, and . . .” He stopped abruptly and blushed.


Hutch grinned, and replaced the cloth on Starsky’s forehead, taking a moment to smooth the wrinkles out. “And just what else did she try to stop you from doing, buddy?”


“Nothin’! Just sucking my thumb and biting my fingernails –that’s it!”


“Of course,” said Hutch, his smile widening. “Besides if there was another habit, I doubt she succeeded in discouraging it anyway.”


“Will you get outta here!” snapped Starsky. “You’re gonna be late.”


As Hutch retrieved his jacket, he heard Starsky grumble, “Nosy bastard . . .”


But when he stuck his head back into the bedroom, Starsky insisted he hadn’t said anything at all.


Just like a big kid, thought Hutch, not for the first time that day.




Every day, at eleven and two, Hutch called Starsky from work.


“Did you take your bath?”


“Have you been drinking enough fluids?”


“Watching TV is only going to make your headache worse, go back to bed.”


Starsky called him names. Then he stopped answering his phone, but Hutch persisted. In the end, the baths were taken, although Starsky maintained that oatmeal was even more disgusting as a bath than as a breakfast cereal. His partner also consumed sufficient water and flat ginger ale to keep dehydration at bay. Hutch purchased a variety of car and photography magazines in the hopes of easing his partner’s boredom. He had less success persuading Starsky to lay off watching so much TV.


Before and after work, liberal use was made of the calamine lotion. Starsky took care of the bulk of the job, while Hutch applied it to the places that he couldn’t reach.


Hutch had never seen his partner so miserable in his entire life, as spots erupted in every conceivable place on his body. And in some places he had thought inconceivable, which Starsky refused to name.


The spots in these unmentionable places were an open secret. Starsky was constantly adjusting his shorts, shifting position, and occasionally giving up and scratching his crotch with a look of angry defiance at Hutch.


“It’s not my problem if you end up with scars all over your dick,” said Hutch, meeting Starsky’s glare with one of his own. “But your girlfriend might not be pleased . . .” What was her name again? He tried to remember who Starsky had been dating lately. Some ditzy brunette . . .


With a groan of despair, Starsky yanked his hand out of the front of his pajamas. “Gimme that bottle!” he said, pointing at the calamine lotion. Hutch tossed it to him as he stalked off toward the bathroom.


Half an hour later, he was scratching again.


“Stop scratching, you’ll get scars!”


“So what? No one can see scars on my scalp.” Starsky dug his fingers into his hair and scratched with vigor.


Hutch caught Starsky’s hands, pulling them down to his sides. “Starsky, you could end up with bald spots. You don’t want that, do you?”


Starsky twisted his wrists inside of Hutch’s grip, trying to ease some of his agony. “Hutch, I gotta scratch!” He moved closer, squirming inside of his pjs.


Christ, he’s transformed into a giant itch, masquerading as a human being.


Hutch pushed him back, and looked pointedly around the apartment. “Okay, where’s the duct tape?” He didn’t know whether he was threatening to duct tape socks onto Starsky’s hands, or just duct tape the man to a chair, immobilizing him completely. Both options were equally appealing at the moment.


Starsky’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “You’re mean, you know that?”


“It’s only because I love you, buddy.”


It was a throw-away line, something he’d said a hundred times before, but this time Starsky gave him an odd look. “You really do, don’t you?”




“You’re over here every day,” said Starsky. “You buy me groceries and do my laundry. You make sure I’m eating right, you nag me not to scratch, and you put calamine on my back.” He frowned. “Cindy only came by once, stayed five minutes and didn’t even kiss me.”


Before Hutch could come up with any kind of response to that startling statement, Starsky suddenly cursed and did a fair imitation of a man trying to wriggle right out of his skin. “Arrgh! I can’t stand it!”


Taking pity on his suffering partner, Hutch volunteered to put more calamine lotion on him. Starsky had his shirt off and back turned to him before he’d finished making the offer.


As Hutch spread the lotion, Starsky hummed happily in the back of his throat. He sounded like a contented cat. Soon, however, his happy noises faded and he started to squirm again.


“Just scratch there, will ya?” Starsky contorted himself, trying to point to a spot between his shoulder blades.


“Starsk . . .”


“Just scratch around it. C’mon, I’m going crazy here.”


Hutch sighed, and began to carefully scratch around the pox, trying not to disturb any of the delicate, healing tissues.


Starsky hummed again and pushed back against him, an expression of bliss on his face. Hutch felt a responding heat inside himself and snatched his hand back, horrified that he was getting turned on by his partner.


“Hey,” protested Starsky. “Don’t stop!”


“I’m not scratching your back,” Hutch told him firmly. “You’ll get scars, and then you’ll blame me.”


“But, Hutch!”




Hutch retreated to Starsky’s bathroom and splashed his face with cold water, wishing he could apply the same treatment to other parts of his anatomy.


He’d appreciated his partner’s physicality on an esthetic level for years, and didn’t mind that he sometimes found Starsky attractive. Watching him dance usually had that effect, and Hutch’s girlfriends always benefitted. However, it was one thing to admire his friend from afar - what had just happened in the livingroom was another thing entirely.


Because Starsky was straight, and so was Hutch. That weekend at the beach with Jack Mitchell had been nothing more than some teenage experimentation. Hutch had accepted that fact.


Haven’t I?


Hutch looked into the bathroom mirror, staring straight into his eyes.


Yes I have. I’m not a horny teenager anymore.


He sighed, and glared down at his dick which seemed intent on a second youth. Then he smirked, remembering the time Starsky had called it little Hutchinson. The adjective didn’t apply at this moment.


Get over it. Big or little, you’re not getting what you want.


“Hey, did you fall in the toilet and drown, Hutch?” Starsky’s voice came from the livingroom. “I could’ve jerked myself off twice in the time you’re taking in there.”


“You better not be doing that out there,” Hutch yelled back. “Or I’m going to make sure the sock and duct tape treatment works this time.”


Most of Starsky’s response was inaudible, but definitely sounded crude.


Hutch grinned at his reflection. Their exchange had apparently reminded his hormones of the status quo, and the problem was already going away.




But things only got worse for Hutch over the next few days.


The primary problem, Hutch decided, was that Starsky was a sensualist and right now he was all about the physical. It seemed as if every one of his partner’s senses had been heightened to an intensity where anything that wasn’t outright painful appeared to be borderline orgasmic.


Starsky developed a love affair with showers, standing under the pounding spray until the water ran cold and his landlord called to complain. Hutch had to leave the house, unable to endure the moans of pleasure emitting from the bathroom. He promised that he’d never again object to Starsky’s singing in the shower, no matter how loud or off-key.


Worse still, Starsky’s intense frustration with food had transformed into a near obscene pleasure once his nausea began to recede.  The first time he drank a full glass of water and kept it down, Hutch felt like he was watching a pornographic movie. The first time Starsky ate chicken soup and kept it down, he had visions of the Vice Squad arresting the both of them.


Hutch knew he was overreacting, but still, it didn’t seem like it was too much to ask that Starsky just eat a bowl of ice cream without savoring each and every bite with loud, appreciative groans. He understood that the frozen treat soothed and numbed the sores inside his friend’s mouth, but the ecstatic noises, half-closed eyes, and tilted-back head were shamelessly over the top.


Hutch told himself it had nothing to do with sex, but it was becoming increasingly hard to convince his body that Starsky was just sick and not coming on to him. His dick was unconvinced when Starsky was rubbing himself on the furniture, moaning with an enthusiasm that could put every porn star in Bay City out of a job.


Still . . . it wasn’t as if Starsky was doing any of this on purpose, Hutch reminded himself.






One extremely long week later the intense itching had subsided, along with the nausea, fever and headache. Hutch was relieved to finally have some respite from the constant assault on his libido, but Starsky was still far from a happy man.


The flat red spots that had emerged in fresh crops over the first days of his illness had turned into small white pustules, which were now forming thick, dark scabs. As far as Hutch could tell, every square inch of skin on his body was covered with lesions in various stages of healing.


Hutch worried as his partner became increasingly withdrawn. This level of depression was not normal for Starsky, and he put more effort into drawing him out. It must have been the fourteenth or fifteenth time he’d offered to set up a game of Monopoly that night, when Starsky finally lost it. He announced he was never playing the game again, and he’d appreciate it Hutch would stop hanging around with that stupid, fake smile on his face.


Hutch lost the smile. He also informed Starsky exactly what kind of asshole he was. In detail. He then left before the shouting woke the neighbors.


His phone was ringing by the time he got home. He picked it up and snapped, “What?”


“Um . . . So, I just noticed that the late movie tomorrow night is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid . . .” Starsky’s voice trailed off uncertainly.


Hutch felt his anger vanish. “I’ll bring the pizza?”


“Yeah. See you then.”


When he came over the next night, Starsky made an obvious effort to be better company. It was clear, however, that his mood hadn’t improved and Hutch continued to worry.


After the movie, Hutch checked the spots on Starsky’s back and pronounced him almost ready to return to work. “I don’t see any new ones. Another couple days, and these should all be dry. You won’t be contagious anymore.”


“Great,” said Starsky, flatly.


Hutch was puzzled by this lack of enthusiasm. He was about to ask what was wrong, when Starsky mustered something closer to a genuine smile and said, “Yeah, it’ll be great to get back to work.”


Unconvinced, Hutch decided not to press the issue. Starsky would tell him eventually, if it was really serious. In the meantime, Hutch decided to look for different ways to entertain him.


Unfortunately, Starsky did not always appreciate Hutch’s idea of entertainment.


Two days after their fight, Hutch brought over a thick medical text he’d found in the back of his bookshelf, a leftover from his pre-med days. “You might find this interesting, Starsk. Chicken pox is actually one of eight known herpes viruses to infect humans.”


“Herpes!” Starsky sat up in bed, staring at Hutch in horror.


“Not that kind, dummy. Just has the same viral structure as mono and genital herpes. So, you see, it could be much worse.” Hutch gave Starsky a bright smile. C’mon buddy, cheer up!


“Oh yeah, you’re a great comfort.” Starsky lay back on his bed and closed his eyes.


“The characteristic chickenpox vesicle, surrounded by an erythematous halo, has been described as a dewdrop on a rose petal. Isn’t that a lovely image?”


“Bet some doctor thought that was just hilarious,” muttered Starsky.


“Did you know chickenpox wasn’t named after chickens? In England, they used to call small children ‘chickens’. So for us, it would be like calling it ‘kid-pox’.”




“Hey, I almost forgot. Rosie drew you another picture to make you feel better. She remembers very well what it was like when she had chickenpox.”


Starsky opened one eye. “Yeah? Let me see.”


Hutch fished the crayon drawing out of the front of the book and handed it over. Starsky’s forehead crumpled, then his eyebrows drew in as he looked it over.


“It’s you,” prompted Hutch.


“I can tell that,” said Starsky, sourly. “But did she have to draw on so many spots? You can hardly see me. I look like the creature from the black lagoon’s spotty cousin.”


“How about if I stick it up on the fridge?”


“Yeah, that’ll improve my appetite.” Starsky handed the picture back, and shut his eyes again.


Closing the medical text, Hutch went to the kitchen and placed Rosie’s picture on top of the fridge. Starsky would probably appreciate her gesture more when he was feeling better.




When Hutch let himself into Starsky’s apartment the next afternoon, he was not surprised to find Starsky wearing nothing but his oldest, softest pair of cotton boxers. Even without the itching, the chicken pox lesions made having anything next to his skin almost unbearable.


He was also not surprised to see Starsky sprawled belly down on the couch with his bare, scabbed feet in the air, and his nose buried in a magazine.


What did surprise him was Starsky’s choice of reading material.


Before Hutch could comment on the small pile of Cosmos scattered on the floor beside the couch, Starsky got defensive. “Cindy left them for me.”


“Oh, she visited again?” Hutch had nothing but contempt for Starsky’s girlfriend-du-jour.


Starsky grimaced. “Sort of.” He dropped the magazine and sat up, swinging his legs off the couch. “She says the exclusive thing isn’t working out. She needs some space in order to grow as a person, self-actualize her inner-actuality, or some such thing.”


Hutch’s rear end had hardly touched the couch cushions next to his partner, when Starsky bounced to his feet and began to pace.


Starsky paused by the balcony door. His face was hidden from Hutch, as he said, “I think she was kinda turned off by . . .” His hand waved vaguely, encompassing himself. “I think I got dumped.”


“Oh.” All of a sudden Hutch understood exactly what had been bothering Starsky these past few days.


Of all Starsky’s faults, pride in his physical appearance was his most notable. Unlike Huggy, it wasn’t so much about the clothes, though Starsky knew what looked good and how to wear it to his best advantage. It was that Starsky knew he was a good-looking guy and he liked others to know it as well.


But at the moment he was covered with black scabs.


Silently, Hutch cursed the absent Cindy for her callousness. At the same time, however, he felt a rush of relief at the realization that Starsky really hadn’t noticed anything different over the past week. His body’s inappropriate reactions to his partner remained a secret.


Changing the subject seemed the only safe route to take, all others were littered with mines hazardous to Starsky’s battered self-esteem. Hutch picked up the magazine Starsky had dropped and looked at the cover. “Wow him in bed tonight, sixty sexy surprises?” He flipped the magazine open and looked inside. “‘Spice up your sex life.’ ‘Boost your sex appeal.’ Jesus, this is like porn for women!”


Starsky turned away from the balcony door, apparently willing to play along. “Good stuff, huh? I think I might finally have a handle on what women really want. And so long as I’m stuck looking like this, I’m going to need all the inside help I can get.”


Hutch flipped a few more pages. “Apparently what women want is ‘sexy hair’.”


Should’ve reconsidered that career as a hairdresser . . .


Crossing back to the couch, Starsky took the magazine and turned to a page that he’d dog-eared. “This one is pure gold,” he said, handing it back to Hutch.


Hutch read the title of the page aloud. “Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong, the secret body language that reveals all.”


“It’s all about teaching women how to know if you’re flirting with them. Say, f’rinstance, when you put your hand inside your shirt and do that chest-touchy thing you do, that’s a flirty move.”


Hutch looked up from the article, bemused. “I thought I was just hot.”


“It’s not what you think, it’s how the ladies read it. And when you do that, they’re thinking you’re a completely different kind of hot.” Starsky stopped pacing and stood in front of Hutch. “And did you know? Putting your hand on someone’s back when you push them through the door, that’s flirting too.”


“I don’t push people through doors!”


“Push, guide, whatever.” Starsky’s animation increased, and Hutch noticed that he was talking with his hands now.


Hutch felt a burst of relief. This was the first time he’d seen Starsky excited about anything other than not vomiting in over a week.


“Touch is a powerful thing. It’s instant human connection.” Starsky paused and looked ruefully down at his chest, lesions in various stages of healing showing through the hair. “Of course, the only thing any girl’s gonna wonder if I touch her now will be, ‘is he contagious’?”


Hutch wanted to protest, but there was no denying that Starsky was an alarming sight at the moment.


“But that’s okay,” Starsky continued with determined optimism. “Because according to that article, I don’t even got to touch her to get the sex thing going. Watch this.”


Hutch’s breath caught in his throat as the atmosphere in the room shifted without warning. Starsky’s feet moved apart to shoulder width, and his hands landed on his hips. His eyes darkened and his gaze raked Hutch from head to toe in blatant assessment and invitation.


Hutch couldn’t move. He was pinned under those eyes, helpless.


Starsky hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his shorts, tugging them down slightly to reveal the taut muscled curve of his stomach. His fingers were splayed and pointing downward, framing his groin. He then tilted his head to one side, and gave Hutch a devastating grin. “See, I start like this . . .”


The jarring normalcy of Starsky’s tone of voice broke the spell. Hutch all but levitated off the cushions, as he scrambled over the back of the couch. “Do you mind!”


“What?” asked Starsky, bewildered. “It’s not like I’m actually turning you on . . .” An almost comical expression of surprise crossed his face as he trailed off. “Oh hell, I am, aren’t I?”


Starsky picked the magazine up and stared at the article. “Wow, this is some powerful stuff.”


Hutch clutched the back of the couch, and worked on controlling his breathing. “Starsky, I swear . . .”


Starsky strolled behind the couch and patted him on the back. “Aw, don’t worry about it. Just take a good look at my scabs, and it’ll go right away.” He shoved his forearm under Hutch’s nose.


Hutch backpedaled quickly and Starsky said, “See? Told ya.”


“Just get the hell away from me,” growled Hutch. He stalked into the kitchen and wrenched open the fridge door. A quick scan inside turned up nothing alcoholic. “Where’s the beer?”


Hutch turned around and discovered that Starsky had followed him and was now staring at him with a smug grin.


“I turned you on. I turned you on. Just like that!” Starsky snapped his fingers. “And I did it even covered with pox.”


Hutch dropped into one of the kitchen chairs. “I’m so glad I can make you feel better about yourself.” His nerves were still jangling.


Starsky’s smile faded, and was replaced with a more thoughtful look. He grabbed a chair and turned it around, crossing his arms over the back and dropping his chin onto his forearms. He stared at Hutch from under dark brows.


After a few minutes Hutch couldn’t stand the tension any longer. “What?”


Starsky looked at him a moment longer, then shrugged. “Nothin’. Do you wanna watch some cartoons? I could really go for some Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner action right now.”


Hutch felt the tension drain from the atmosphere, and it made him almost giddy from relief. “That roadrunner is evil.”


“I hear you, man. If that bird ever showed up in Bay City, we’d arrest him for speeding.”


“I think he runs like you drive . . .”


And with that, they were back on an even keel again. But Hutch had the uneasy feeling that he wasn’t completely off the hook.




In the end his respite was even briefer than he’d expected.


That night, Hutch was setting up the Monopoly board, when Starsky said, “When Johnny Blaine died . . .”


Hutch froze. He looked at Starsky warily.


But Starsky wasn’t looking at him. His focus had turned inward, as if he was talking to himself. “You talked about it like you knew what he had gone through. But . . .” His gaze sharpened. “I know you like girls.”


Hutch took a deep breath. He could feel the cool metal of the horseman in his hands, and he turned it over. Of course I like girls. But he wasn’t in the habit of lying to Starsky, and after the past week he certainly couldn’t keep on lying to himself. “I guess . . . It doesn’t always have to be one or the other,” he said, finally.


“So, it’s not just me?”


Hutch couldn’t read anything in the tone of Starsky’s voice. “Starsk, I . . .”


“Because I look like something that escaped from a monster movie.”


Hutch’s reassurance was automatic. “You have a few spots, it’s not that bad.”


“I’ve got so many I can’t tell where one stops and another begins! They’re between my fingers and in my ears, Hutch. They’re even in my mouth, and it’s killing me to eat anything!”


Hutch winced in sympathy. Starsky had lost weight over the course of his illness, despite Hutch’s best efforts at finding food that would be both appetizing and relatively painless to ingest. A man cannot live long on applesauce and ice cream alone.


Starsky’s gaze was direct. “But you still think I’m sexy.”

All the sympathy Hutch felt vanished. “Are you going somewhere with this? Because it’s not a good idea to antagonize the man with the bottle of calamine lotion.”  He put the horseman down on the board. “Just pick your piece.”


Distracted, Starsky looked in the box. “Where’s the car?”


“We lost it, remember?”


“But that’s my piece! I always play with the car!”


Hutch spotted the car on the floor near the couch. He shoved it out of sight with his foot and said, “I think I saw it in your bedroom.”




Hutch sighed with relief as Starsky left the room to look for the car. All he wanted was a little breathing room - a few minutes to figure things out.


It wasn’t the magazine article. It wasn’t even the chicken pox. The root of this went a long way back, maybe even as far back as the beginning of their partnership. Back to the first time Hutch had looked at Starsky and thought to himself, damn, he’s hot. And then immediately thought, No, he’s not and I didn’t just think that.


And now Starsky knew all about what he could do to Hutch and his response hadn’t been shock, horror, disgust or even desire. Instead Starsky’s reaction had been one of surprised pleasure.


Starsky had been suffering from a battered self-esteem, and Hutch’s inadvertent reaction to him had done something to mend it. Which was all very nice for Starsky, but it still left Hutch out on a limb.


The idea that he can turn me on appeals to his vanity. Just fucking great.


However, this issue wasn’t going to be resolved tonight. Retrieving the car from under the couch, Hutch said, “Hey, Starsk, I found it!”


Starsky’s joy was contagious, and Hutch couldn’t help smiling. But when Starsky sat down on the other side of the board to begin the game, he was unusually quiet.


After a moment, Starsky looked up. There was deep concern in his expression, as he asked, “Is it hard?”


“Is what hard?” Hutch laughed a bit hysterically.


“Not that, you idiot!” Starsky reached forward and smacked Hutch’s leg. Hard. “I’m asking if it’s difficult being partnered with me. Because . . . you know, because you love me.”


“What? You mean is it difficult putting up with your total lack of humility, your stunning over-confidence, your baffling conviction that you’re God’s gift to the singles scene? Or maybe it’s the way you never do any of the paperwork, and you leave candy wrappers on my desk, and . . .”


“Hey!” Starsky straightened, offended.


Hutch took a deep breath. He dropped the horseman on the board and reached forward to grab Starsky’s knee. “No, Starsk, it’s not hard. You’re my best friend.”


“But, what about . . .” Starsky gestured helplessly, clearly unable to find the words for what he wanted to ask.


Hutch increased the pressure on his knee slightly, squeezing. He suddenly knew exactly what he needed to say to explain things in a way Starsky would understand. “Do you want to fuck every pretty woman you meet?”


Starsky paused, clearly uncertain how to answer. “Yeah, don’t you?”


“Oh really?” asked Hutch. “What about Edith?”


Starsky looked horrified. “She’s Dobey’s wife!”


“She’s not bad looking, though,” said Hutch. “Got a nice body, a great pair of . . .”


Starsky abruptly leapt forward, clapping both hands over Hutch’s mouth and knocking him back against the couch. “What are you doing? You can’t talk about Dobey’s wife like that. It ain’t respectful!”


Hutch looked up at Starsky, who was currently straddling him, his knees on either side of Hutch’s hips. If there had been anything here, anything to suggest that Starsky might want a different kind of relationship, it would show up now. But there was nothing in Starsky’s expression or body language to indicate that he was at all turned on by Hutch. And Hutch’s dick, for once, was behaving itself.


The attraction has to be mutual, or it isn’t attractive.


“Okay, so some pretty women are off limits.”


“Well, yeah! Married ladies, and your friend’s girlfriend, and your pal’s sister. I know when I’m s’posed to stay clear. I’m not a jerk!”


You’re a better man than me, buddy.


“Do you find it difficult working with Angie from Robbery? Now that she’s engaged? I mean, you even dated her a few times.”


“Well, so did you,” said Starsky indignantly. “And no, I don’t mind working with her. I like her!”


Hutch placed his hands on Starsky’s chest, pushing him off. “Well then, why should I have any problem working with you? Just because I can, in theory, be attracted to a guy, doesn’t mean I have an uncontrollable urge to molest every attractive man I meet.”


I can’t tell him he’s only the second man I’ve ever found that attractive. His ego would be too large to fit in the Torino.


Starsky looked inordinately pleased. “You think I’m good looking? Even with spots?”


“I think you’re my very straight best friend.” And that was the crux of it. Straight, and in his own way, even further off limits than Edith Dobey.


“Who can turn you on. Just like that.” Starsky snapped his fingers.


It occurred to Hutch that he might have to break those fingers.


Starsky carefully scratched his chest, where Hutch had touched him, and looked away with an embarrassed air. “Hutch, have you ever . . .”


“If the next words out of your mouth, Starsky, are ‘slept with a guy’, I swear I am leaving now. You can find someone else to apply your calamine lotion!”


“Oh, all right then.” But Starsky didn’t move. He continued to look off into space, his brows drawn together slightly. After a moment, he said, “But . . .”




Now Starsky looked at him. “I didn’t-.”


“Stop. Now!”




Hutch stood and picked up his jacket from where it was flung across the arm of the sofa.


Starsky capitulated. “All right, all right, put your coat down. I won’t ask! Geez . . .”


There was a long pause. Starsky got up to sit on the couch, clearly mulling things over. Hutch had an uneasy feeling in his gut. But walking out now wouldn’t solve anything. Hutch dropped his jacket and looked around for his beer. He discovered it on the kitchen counter.


As he re-entered the room, Starsky looked up at him and said, “I just don’t get it. I mean, what has a guy got to offer another guy? It’s not like you can fuck him properly. Well . . . I suppose you could but then what does the other guy get out of it?”


Hutch felt a surge of anger. He parked himself next to Starsky and slammed his bottle of beer down on the coffee table. Turning to meet Starsky’s shocked gaze, he said, “I don’t care if you’re curious, or flattered, or what, but enough’s enough! Just drop it.”


Starsky spluttered for a moment, before recovering enough to defend himself coherently. “Well, it’s a lot to take in. I mean, the thought of you doing that to some guy.”


Starsky’s unquestioning assumption that his macho tough-guy partner would naturally be the one on top aggravated Hutch even more.


Hey Starsk, you ever hear about this nifty little organ called the prostate gland?


No, most likely Starsky hadn’t heard of any such thing, and Hutch would be damned if he was going to be the one to enlighten him. The thought of explaining the very private inner workings of the male body to a curious Starsky held about as much appeal as volunteering for a rectal exam.


“Look, I’m not going to talk about it. So you can just mind your own business and keep your nose out of my sex life!”


Starsky blushed, and then quite unexpectedly he laughed. “Keep my nose out of where?”


Hutch glowered, and Starsky had the grace to look slightly abashed.


“You wouldn’t hit your best friend, would you? Especially not if he’s covered with spots?”


Defeated, Hutch let his head drop onto the back of the couch. He sighed. “Starsky, right now there isn’t a judge on the planet who’d convict me of assault.”


Hutch heard a soft chuckle from Starsky.




“I turned you on.”


“Don’t let it go to your head.” It was difficult to maintain his irritation in the face of Starsky’s obvious pleasure.


Starsky reached across and patted Hutch on the stomach. “Hey, is the Monopoly marathon on, or are you still mad at me?”


Hutch contemplated his empty bottle. “I want more beer.”


“You got it!”


As Hutch listened to Starsky clattering around in the kitchen, he considered what had been happening to him repeatedly over the past week.


It was undeniable he found Starsky sexy, but that didn’t change the fact that their relationship wasn’t about sex. Hutch was grateful for that. Because sex was complicated and what he had with Starsky was very simple.


He’s my best friend.


Hutch heard a happy sound from the kitchen and realized that Starsky had made himself another bowl of ice cream, and was no doubt helping himself to an extra portion directly from the carton. Hutch listened to his partner hum contentedly under his breath and was interested to note that this time he didn’t have to worry about Starsky picking up any embarrassing reactions on his part.


I love him, but I don’t want to make love to him anymore.


Starsky was his best friend, and he wouldn’t risk that for the world. Lovers had come and gone in Hutch’s life, but Starsky was constant. How many people could boast of a relationship like that in their lives?


There was a sound above him and Hutch opened his eyes to see Starsky standing over him with a beer in his hand, and an apologetic expression on his face.


Hutch smiled and took the bottle. “Monopoly sounds great.” He paused, and looked Starsky in the eye. “Just promise me one thing.”


“What?” Starsky looked worried.


“Don’t ever hit on me again, unless you mean it.” Hutch thoroughly enjoyed the shocked look Starsky gave him, and he appreciated the embarrassed flush that followed even more.


Yes, the status quo was a wonderful thing.




Starsky leaned back against the couch, and drank the last few drops of his beer. Wiping his mouth he lazily watched Hutch sorting the Monopoly money into piles. The game had ended in a mutually agreed upon draw, no winners.


Kind of like this past week, he thought.