Author: Rebelcat

Gen or Slash: Slash, despite the problems below.

Rating: PG – 13, due to the appearance of one little rooster, not in a farmyard.

Category: Short Story

Disclaimer: They ain’t mine.

Notes: This was written for the 2006 Secret Santa exchange on the Me & Thee list. The request was, “I'd love to see Hutch French kiss Starsky in front of other cops. I know it's not realistic for the 70s or for today either--!--but, hey, if this is a Santa wish list, why not go for the brass ring.” Well… Hutch didn’t want to do it. In fact, he flatly refused, much to Starsky’s dismay. I did my best!

Betas: Salieri commented on the first half of this story and gave me the impetus I needed to finish it (beyond, of course, the obvious one of not wanting to give my SS recipient half a story for Christmas!). EH did a more thorough beta right before the deadline on Christmas Eve. She’s a saint!


Blame it on the Mistletoe

For Kaye Austen Michaels

“Some party last night, hey Starsky? Christmas of ’78, one for the record books!”

Starsky lowered his sunglasses to look at Babcock. Yes, he was definitely sniggering.

“I’m paying for it,” said Starsky, quickly reseating the shades on his nose. The florescent lights were making his eyes water.

Angie elbowed him as she walked past. “You won’t be living this one down any time soon.” She chortled.

But it was Minnie who really got his adrenaline going with the question, “Has Hutch forgiven you yet?”

Oh crap, thought Starsky.

He reconnoitered the squad room from the hallway. Hutch was at his desk, apparently going through some files. Judging from the extra large coffee at his elbow and the ice pack he had pressed to his temple, he wasn’t in much better shape than Starsky.

Taking a deep breath, Starsky pushed the door open. “Hey, buddy!” he said, cheerfully. “Some party, huh?”

A blue eye swiveled over to glare at him, and then returned to the document on the desk. Hutch deliberately picked up his pencil and licked the tip, before setting it to paper.

Starsky sat down at his own desk, across from Hutch. With nothing better to do, he took off his sunglasses and began polishing them on his shirt. When he finished that task, he put them back on, only to see the top of Hutch’s head. Starsky took his shades off again to polish them some more.

He was just beginning to wonder if Hutch was going to give him the silent treatment all day, when Hutch said, “There’s pictures.”

“Oh,” said Starsky.

“I expect we’ll be seeing them on buttons soon,” said Hutch. “T-shirts. Pennants. Hats...”

“Ah,” said Starsky, nodding.

“You don’t remember a damn thing about last night, do you?”

Starsky gave up the pretense. “No,” he said mournfully. He reached for Hutch’s coffee, but Hutch grabbed it first and moved it out of range.

Hutch opened the drawer of his desk and retrieved a stack of photos. He tossed them at Starsky. “These are from the lunchroom, the locker room, the briefing room, the garage, basically any damn place there’s a bulletin board in this building.”

Starsky picked up one of the photos. It was him and Hutch, obviously from the party last night. He was dipping Hutch backwards, just a dance move, nothing he hadn’t done before for laughs. So, what...? Oh.

“You know what?” said Hutch, conversationally. “You really are a crummy kisser.”

“Hey, wait!” protested Starsky. “I was drunk!”

“You slobbered all over me!”

“But, I–.” Starsky didn’t have a chance to finish. A bellow from the next room interrupted him.


Starsky flinched.

“I’d say it looks like Captain Dobey just saw the pictures,” said Hutch, smugly.

Oh yeah, thought Starsky. It had been quite a party, and he was definitely paying for it now.


Hutch claimed his head hurt too much to drive, and Starsky didn’t have the nerve to argue with him. He was just relieved to get out of the precinct, where everyone kept giving him sideways looks and snickering.

He consoled himself that it would blow over soon. Like last year, when Simonetti and Dryden had sung the theme to the Love Boat in duet. And what about Minnie’s fan dance the year before that? Let everyone have their giggle, and then they’d forget all about it.

Starsky started to nod to himself, and then stopped, wincing. Both and his brain and his stomach had turned to sour liquid, sloshing forward every time he had to brake for a light. And there was one big problem remaining.

“I am a good kisser,” he said.

Hutch snorted.

“No, really!”

“Yeah well, I’ll pass on any further demonstrations, thanks.” Hutch took a careful sip from the coffee cup he held in both hands.

“Just ask any girl I’ve ever dated,” suggested Starsky.

“I’m not going to go up to some woman and ask her what it feels like to kiss you!”

“Why not?” asked Starsky.

Before he could get anything more than a disgusted glare out of Hutch, the radio crackled into life with a report of a disturbance at 14 Oceanview Terrace. The manager had heard windows breaking.

Hutch picked up the handset and confirmed that they were responding.

“C’mon Hutch,” said Starsky, pulling the Torino into a quick u-turn. “You’re always so big on the scientific method and all, how can you make that kinda sweeping judgment based on just one bad experience?” He ignored the cars honking at him. Bay City was full of bad drivers.

“I don’t need to eat bad soup twice to know it’s a bad idea.”

“So kissing me is like contracting botulism?” Starsky was deeply wounded.

Instead of replying, Hutch pointed out the passenger window. “I’d say that’s what the building manager heard.”

A large window had been smashed, the glass glittering in small white shards on the pavement. A green garland trailed down the side of the building onto the ground.

“Robbery?” Hutch asked.

Starsky saw a large figure lumber around the far corner of the building, disappearing from sight. “Hang on!” He gunned the engine.

They caught up with their quarry in the parking lot on the other side, in the middle of smashing yet another window. Hutch bailed out of the car, and the man turned. He was fat, dressed in a red sweat suit, and completely out of breath.

“I need help!” he said, urgently.

A quick glance around the lot showed no signs of immediate danger, so Hutch said, “Look, buddy, why don’t you sit down. You can tell me what’s going on.”

The fat man stepped back, staying just out of Hutch’s reach. “I need help!” He held out his arms, plaintively. “I have to save Christmas!”

“Starsky, he’s bleeding pretty bad,” said Hutch. He was trying to approach, his hands up and his palms facing out, but the man kept moving away from him.

“There’s no chimneys and the windows won’t open!”

Starsky called for another unit and an ambulance before climbing out of the car. The man’s thinning grey hair looked as if it had once been styled into a comb-over, but at the moment the long tangled strands were hanging down over his right shoulder. Combined with his red sweat suit, he looked like a skid row Santa.

Starsky caught Hutch’s eye and angled his head to the right. Hutch nodded. They would have to split up, and try to corral the man up against the building before he could do any more damage to either the property or himself.

“Hey!” shouted a voice from behind them.

Hutch grimaced.

“Sorry, buddy,” said Starsky, as he turned to deal with this newest complication. Hutch would have to try to cope with Santa alone for the moment. Hopefully their backup would arrive soon.

“Are you cops?” demanded the new person, jogging up. He was as skinny as Santa was round.

Starsky held up his badge. “Are you the guy called this in?”

“Sure did!” The building manager pointed at Santa, who was now backed up against a cracked window facing Hutch. “That guy, he’s trying to steal from people. I tell him, don’t go in. But he’s running around like a crazy man, stealing from people!”

“No, no,” protested Santa. “I just need help!” He flailed his hand behind himself, trying ineffectively to smash the window while simultaneously keeping an eye on Hutch. Red blood smeared the glass, looking strangely festive.

Starsky glanced around. The building at 14 Oceanview appeared to house primarily offices. There was nothing he could see that would lend itself to a smash and grab. And even if the windows hadn’t been lined with jagged shards of glass, the overweight man would have a hard time climbing through them.

“Is anything missing?” he asked.

The manager crossed his arms, scowling. “No, because I stopped him!”

“Just sit down,” said Hutch, soothingly to Santa. He had managed to get within arm’s reach, but the man was still waving his hands around. “Have a seat. We’ll get everything sorted out.”

“There’s no time! It’s almost Christmas!”

Hutch ducked, as one of Santa’s arms came dangerously close to his head. “Relax, buddy. . .” He had his cuffs out.

“I need help!”

“We’ll get you all the help you need,” said Hutch, swiftly fastening the cuffs around one wrist. “You don’t need to worry about a thing. We’re here to help you.” The second loop was secured before the man had time to realize he’d been restrained. Hutch kept talking. “You just need to sit down. . .”

Starsky couldn’t help but admire Hutch’s technique. Damn, but he was good. Starsky retrieved his notebook from his back pocket and returned his gaze to the manager. “Your name?”

The manager was more than happy to tell him, between accusations against the other man. Starsky nodded politely, but kept the bulk of his attention on Hutch, knowing how quickly these situations could turn violent.

Santa, belatedly realizing he’d been cuffed, panicked and began to struggle. “Ow! Help!”

Hutch grabbed him by the back of his collar and dragged him over to the curb, where he made him sit down. “Why are you acting like this? You’re just hurting yourself.”

“You don’t understand!”

The manager sniffed. “I have to call my boss.”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” said Starsky, still writing. “Thanks for your cooperation.” He was glad to see the manager leave. His presence was only adding to Santa’s anxiety and making things harder for Hutch, who now had some of the man’s blood spattered across one cheek.

Good thing his shots were up to date, Starsky thought.

“I want to understand you,” said Hutch. “I’m trying. What’s your name? How much have you had to drink?”

Under the constant soothing flow of Hutch’s voice, Santa was finally calming down, his expression less wild. “Just a couple beers. I’m not drunk!”

Without moving his eyes from the fat man, Hutch said, “Starsky?”

“Yeah?” Starsky snapped his notebook shut, and joined Hutch.

“Does this guy smell like alcohol to you?”

“I’m not drunk!” Santa had abruptly gone from agitated to sulky.

Starsky squatted down in front of him. The sour stench of booze and vomit hit him full force and he recoiled back onto his heels.

“It’s important to get confirmation,” said Hutch piously.

But Starsky had seen him smirk. “Oh, very funny.”

Hutch ignored him. He spoke to Santa instead. “We’re going to have you brought in on vandalism and being drunk and disorderly.” Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, Hutch wiped his cheek with it, before leaning back to take a look at the man’s arms.

An ambulance pulled up, with an black-and-white following close behind. Starsky stood and helped Hutch pull Santa to his feet. The fat man climbed into the back of ambulance without objection, and a paramedic began trying to assess his injuries, working around the cuffs.

While Starsky gave the uniformed officers a quick summary of the situation, Hutch went to have a few more words with his prisoner.

Starsky heard Hutch say, “If I take these cuffs off will you try any funny business?”

“No, if you take these off I’ll love you,” said Santa, sincerely.

“I don’t want you to love me,” said Hutch.

Starsky felt an inexplicable pang of sympathy for Santa. However the fat man did not take Hutch’s rejection to heart. He smiled broadly at Hutch. “I’ll kiss you!”

Hutch looked alarmed. “No, don’t kiss me! I’m not going to let you go if you kiss me!”

“Okay!” said the man. He gave an offended sniff. “Geez Louise.”


“I bet even drunk I would kiss better than that guy.” Starsky’s hangover was finally beginning to wear off, though his head now felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool. Having a cool breeze in his face as he drove was helping a lot.

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” said Hutch. He drummed his fingers on the edge of the Torino’s passenger window. “And what is it with people wanting to kiss me? Last week it was that. . . lady from the theater –”

“The transvestite hooker,” supplied Starsky, helpfully.

“And the week before that it was the old lady living in the canyon behind that new division. . .”

“At least she really was female.” Starsky palmed the steering wheel, guiding the car smoothly around a slow moving panel van. “It’s ’cause you got that whole blond thing going on. People think you’re pretty.”

“Is that why you kissed me?” asked Hutch, pointedly.

“I’d tell you if I could remember,” said Starsky. He wondered if he thought Hutch was pretty, too. From a purely aesthetic perspective, he supposed he did. Hutch was nice to look at. But... geez. He wasn’t some girl, he was Hutch! “Maybe it was an accident?”

“Starsky, you didn’t just kiss me, you tried to excavate my tonsils with your tongue!”

Starsky winced. There just wasn’t any response to that. ‘Sorry’ seemed grossly inadequate, especially considering he couldn’t even remember the incident. It was just too weird for words.

And then there was the main issue, as far as Starsky was concerned. “I really am a good kisser.”

“Fine,” said Hutch, letting his head drop back on the seat. “I believe you.”

“You’re just saying that.” The road was taking them up into the hills, and Starsky began looking for a place to turn around. “How about we go out tonight. We’ll pick up some girls, I’ll kiss one of them, and you can watch. What do you think?”

“I think I can come up with a dozen better ways to spend my time than watching you suck face with some bimbo you just met.” Hutch’s eyes were closed, and he looked utterly disinterested in the conversation.

But Starsky noticed that his fingers were still drumming on the edge of the window. And, in fact, they were speeding up. Hutch cared more than he was letting on. Spotting a dirt road off the main highway, Starsky turned into it and cut the engine.

One blue eye cracked open. “Why are we stopping?”

“We gotta talk, Hutch.”

Now both eyes were open and regarding him warily. “It matters to you that much?”

“Yeah, it does!”


Starsky opened his mouth, and then closed it. He tried again, without success. Finally he threw his door open and got out of the car.

Climbing onto the hood, he sat there and stared at the trees. Behind him he could hear the traffic passing on the highway, but here it was quiet. The heat from the engine was baking the seat of his jeans, but the air was cool enough to create a comfortable contrast. A green Christmas, just like always.

After a moment, he heard Hutch’s door open. Then the front of the Torino dipped under his weight as he sat down on the hood next to Starsky.

Starsky ducked his head, avoiding Hutch’s gaze. “It’s not like I meant to molest you, or anything.” He was sure of that, even if he couldn’t be certain of anything else about last night. He wouldn’t ever do anything to seriously hurt Hutch. Not intentionally.

“So, it was just a joke,” said Hutch. There was no inflection in his voice at all.

Starsky was appalled by the accusation. “No! I wouldn’t joke about something like that!” Pulling him into a dip, sure, that was a joke. But kissing him? With tongue?

“Either it was a joke,” said Hutch, evenly. “Or you meant to, as you put it, molest me.”

Starsky was in agony. He rubbed the palms of his hands on his jeans, unable to answer.

“And now, the one thing you’re most worried about is whether or not that was a reasonable exhibition of your kissing technique!” Hutch’s tone rose in clear disbelief.

Starsky turned quickly. “Because it matters what you think of me!”

For the first time that day, they were eye to eye. Starsky was trapped by the intensity of Hutch’s expression.

Then Hutch swallowed. “All right,” he said, abruptly. “Prove it.”

“Huh?” asked Starsky.

Hutch held his forefinger up in Starsky’s face. “There’s only one way I’m going to believe you’re a good kisser. And that’s if you kiss me. Properly, this time.”

Starsky’s mouth dropped open. “You want me to kiss you?”

Hutch grimaced. “I think want might be putting too fine a point on it, but it’s the only way we’re going to settle any of this. You don’t remember why you kissed me, but you’re not going to let it go, either. So, just repeat the experiment, and then we can move on.”

“I... uh, I don’t think I can just kiss you like that,” said Starsky, floundering.

“What? You need red and green balloons, mistletoe, and thirty five cops staring at us, in order to get in the mood?”

Starsky was stung. It wasn’t as if he’d planned any of this! Hutch was being completely unfair. But he now had that stubborn expression he only got when his mind was made up.

Well fine then, Starsky decided. If Hutch wanted to be kissed, then dammit he was going to get kissed.

And yes, properly this time.

Starsky took a deep breath. Without further hesitation, he moved in.

His first impression was of a furry upper lip, the prickle of coarse hair against his skin. It felt strange kissing someone with a mustache. But not in a bad way, just kind of. . . different. Then he noticed warm lips. Soft skin. The taste of coffee.

But kissing involved more than just pressing two pairs of lips together, and Starsky wanted to do this right. He wanted to remove any doubt there might be in Hutch’s mind, and prove that he was a great kisser. One of the best.

So he pressed close, his fingers weaving into Hutch’s hair, easing him back against the windshield of the Torino. He opened his lips and ran his tongue along the edge of Hutch’s mouth. Just lightly, inviting but not insisting.

This was a demonstration, after all, not a seduction.

And, wonder of wonders, Hutch’s mouth opened to him. For a moment it was perfect, everything a kiss should be, and then Starsky felt an entirely unexpected heat ignite inside of him.

He panicked, jerking back and away. But the evidence was there, impossible to hide. He saw Hutch’s eyes track down, and the surprise on his face. Starsky couldn’t get off the car fast enough. His jeans were so tight, he just about castrated himself in the process.

“Oh man, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” babbled Starsky, trying without success to adjust his jeans to hide his arousal.

Hutch braced his elbow against the windshield, his hand shading his eyes. “Well, I take it back. You are a good kisser.”

“Yeah, but. . . Hutch!” protested Starsky.

“Come back here, you moron.” Despite the insult, there was real affection in his voice.

Starsky hesitated a moment, not quite believing Hutch’s calm acceptance of the situation. But Hutch was smiling at him, so he climbed back onto the car. Once up on the hood, he pulled his knees up to his chest, ignoring the protest from the lower half of his body. Serves you right, he thought vindictively at his unrepentant cock.

The car bounced as Hutch slid over next to him. Then Starsky felt Hutch’s hand on his shoulder. There was something infinitely reassuring about the weight and warmth of Hutch’s touch, and Starsky couldn’t help leaning into it.

Hutch didn’t move away. Instead he draped his arm comfortably across Starsky’s shoulders and tugged him closer. “So, you did mean to molest me, after all.”

Starsky groaned and dropped his forehead onto his knees.

“Would it help if I said I’m not offended?”

“Oh sure,” Starsky waved one hand at him, without looking up. “Your partner’s a pervert, and it’s all peachy-keen.”

Hutch sighed. He retrieved his arm from Starsky and climbed off the Torino.

Starsky looked up, hurt that Hutch would abandon him at a time like this. “Where are you going?”

“Well,” said Hutch, “you’re obviously busy feeling sorry for yourself. . .”

“I’m not!”

Hutch turned to face him, his hands in his pockets. He regarded him silently for so long that Starsky began to worry. But then Hutch tilted his head to the side and smiled crookedly at him. “A kiss is just a kiss.”

Starsky gaped. “Are you trying to do Bogie? Bogie’s mine! And he never said that. It was a stupid song!”

Hutch shrugged. “Anyway, you’re not a pervert.” His voice was gentle. “Starsky, I’ve seen you get turned on by that new car smell. Why get freaked about it this time?”

Starsky felt a flicker of hope. “So it doesn’t mean anything?”

“I didn’t say that.” The look Hutch gave him was troubled. “You’re my best friend. No matter what, nothing’s going to change that.”

Starsky tugged at his jeans, chewing on his bottom lip.

“Look,” said Hutch. “Nothing is going to change unless you want it to, okay?”

Grateful for the reprieve, Starsky grinned at Hutch. And if for a brief moment he thought he saw a shadow in the smile he got back from his partner, he knew he had to be mistaken.

It was like Hutch said. A kiss was just a kiss, especially when it was a drunken kiss at a Christmas party. It didn’t mean anything. They were partners, best friends, best buddies to the end, and nothing could ever change that.


God, thought Hutch, we’re so screwed.


One year later, Hutch had never been happier to have been so wrong. Their friendship had survived. They’d quit the force, rejoined it, refused to let a woman come between them, and Starsky hadn’t died. The year had swung around on its axis, bringing them back to another Christmas party at Parker Center.

This year’s celebration was being held in the cafeteria. Red and green balloons dangled from the light fixtures, and the tables had been pushed back to clear the floor for dancing. In the corner, a Christmas tree glowed with multicolored lights, its needles a shade of florescent green never found in nature.

Carrying two glasses of punch, Hutch threaded his way through the crowd to where Starsky was dancing with Angie. His partner had positioned himself directly under a bunch of plastic mistletoe, no doubt hoping to monopolize the affections of the precinct’s female officers. Yet another reassuring bit of normalcy, and Hutch was grateful for every scrap that came his way.

Amazing that there’d ever been a time when he’d thought this wasn’t enough.

As Hutch came up to his partner, he automatically ran a quick visual assessment. Starsky was flushed, but moving easily and grinning widely. It was his dance partner who was flagging.

“Dave, I’m tired!” laughed Angie, falling against his chest.

Starsky spun her around in a circle, then set her back down on her feet. “You don’t want to dance with me, anymore?” he asked, with mock disappointment.

“I don’t know how you do it!” she said, breathlessly. “I’m all worn out!”

Hutch leaned in close so that they could both hear him. “It’s all that physiotherapy he did over the summer. Gave him an edge over the rest of us.” He ignored the dirty glance Starsky shot him, and held out the drink in his hand. “Punch?”

“Thank you, Hutch,” said Angie, sweetly, accepting the drink from him.

Starsky reluctantly released his dance partner. “Don’t mind if I do,” he said to Hutch, falling into a boxer’s stance. “Anywhere in particular you’d like it?”

Angie giggled. She patted Hutch’s arm, and then leaned over and gave Starsky an affectionate peck on the cheek, before wandering off towards the buffet table.

Hutch simply grinned and started to lift his own punch. He wasn’t at all surprised when Starsky snagged it out of his hand and took a gulp. Hutch grabbed it back before Starsky could finish the entire cup.

Starsky glared at Hutch. He was standing hipshot, his expression challenging. “Now who am I supposed to dance with?”

Hutch backed up a step. “Not me! We already made a spectacle of ourselves last year. Time to let someone else have a turn.”

“Huh?” Starsky was still frowning.

Hutch grabbed Starsky’s shoulders and turned him around. “Look!”

Starsky’s jaw dropped. “Holy Cow, Dobey’s doing... the funky chicken?”


It wasn’t a white Christmas, but it wasn’t a green one either. It was a dripping wet Christmas, sealed in a quarter inch of ice. The taxi skidded around the corner onto Starsky’s street, and bumped gently into the curb, before coming to a halt.

“C’mon, you’re staying with me,” said Starsky, giving the driver a crumpled handful of bills.

Hutch didn’t argue. Alcohol was weaving warm tendrils of contentment through his system, and as he stood on the sidewalk, he thought he’d never seen the city looking more beautiful. It was a metaphor for life, he thought. Pleased with that notion, he picked his way across the ice and tried to share it with Starsky. “You can’t see how precious the ordinary stuff is, until there’s some kind of disaster. Makes it all...”

“Pretty,” finished Starsky, happily. He skated the length of his driveway on his sneakers, with far more enthusiasm than grace, and looked up the ice-covered steps leading to his front door. “I need an ice pick!”

“Crampons,” suggested Hutch, bracing himself against the parked Torino. “And a safety harness.” The night was eerily devoid of any sound except the dripping of water and the occasional crack of falling ice. The power lines were sagging, weighed down by icicles.

He was reluctant to go inside and leave the glittering, ephemeral ice world behind, but Starsky was already climbing up the stairs. Nothing ever stayed the same. Every perfect moment was ultimately fated to melt away. Clinging to the railing, Hutch followed him.

It was a fair trade, he conceded later, kicking back on Starsky’s couch with a beer in hand. The radio was playing funky versions of traditional carols, the kind that normally irritated him. But tonight - or was it this morning? - he was too mellow to rise to the bait.

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus. . .

“Hey, Hutch?” Starsky leaned on the back of the couch.

A cloud of beer scented breath enveloped Hutch and he moved over a foot.

Starsky climbed over the couch and thumped down onto the cushions beside Hutch. Hutch pried his leg out from under Starsky and made more room for him. It occurred to him that the transient nature of the universe meant that sometimes you got to trade up. A good thing might pass just to make way for something better.

Like being able to sit on your best friend’s couch on Christmas morning.

“How come you wouldn’t dance with me?” asked Starsky, seriously.

It took Hutch a moment to figure out what he was talking about. “In front of all those jokers? How drunk do you think I am?”

“Not as drunk as I think I. . . am?” For a moment, Starsky looked puzzled. Then he shook his head. “Know something?”

“No, what?”

But Starsky was staring off across the room with a distracted expression. Instead of answering, he said again, “Know something?”

“My psychic powers must be failing me,” said Hutch, impatiently. “What?”

“You’re a good kisser.”

“But, you kissed me. I never kissed--” Hutch stopped abruptly. Memories hit him with visceral force, taking his breath away. Blood on the concrete floor of the parking garage. Blood on his hands and in his mouth. The taste of hot iron, salt and desperation. Breathe. “Jesus, Starsky.”

“Probably shouldn’t be taking his name in vain on his birthday. It’s not polite,” said Starsky.

“You’re Jewish, what do you care?” Hutch’s good mood had vanished, the glittering magic evaporated, leaving behind only a cold, damp darkness.

“Of course, considering I was puking up blood at the time, it can hardly be considered a fair representation of your technique.” Starsky was speaking with the thoughtful deliberation of the very drunk.

“Huh?” Half of Hutch was still back in the garage, trying to keep his partner alive long enough for the paramedics to get there.

“I spent all evening standing under that damned mistletoe,” said Starsky. “Didn’t get even one kiss.”

“Sure, you did. Minnie kissed you, and Angie kissed you, and Sally. . .”

“I’m not talking about them.”

Hutch blinked. “Me? You were waiting for me to kiss you?”

“I thought maybe you’d want to get your revenge. After last year.” Inexplicably, Starsky sounded wistful.

He’s drunk, thought Hutch. He doesn’t mean it. He won’t even remember this in the morning.

It was that last realization that decided him. Grabbing Starsky’s collar, Hutch pulled him close, and proceeded to demonstrate his best technique. Starsky responded without hesitation, proving beyond a doubt that this was a sport best played in pairs.

The kiss was threatening to turn into something more when Hutch reluctantly released him. Trying to regain his composure, he said, “Merry Christmas, Mush-for-Brains!”

Starsky grinned happily. “I think for a proper statiss. . . stas. . . stas-tickle analysis. . . Aw, hell, Hutch! Do that again!”

He knew he shouldn’t. Last year, Starsky had freaked out at the idea, and Hutch had shelved it as too dangerous. But if they could survive everything this past year had thrown at them, surely this couldn’t destroy them.

Hutch pushing Starsky back against the arm of the couch. He looked into Starsky’s eyes and saw only anticipation. Surrendering to the inevitable, Hutch kissed him again.


Hutch fell asleep first. Starsky stayed awake on the couch, looking down at the sweat-dampened blond head resting against his shoulder.

Starsky had been careful not to drink too much this year. If Hutch reacted badly tomorrow morning, he could pretend not to remember anything. But he had a feeling he wouldn’t need that particular escape route. A year was a long time. Time enough to come to terms with a lot of things.

Partners, buddies, best friends to the end.

This is going to be great, thought Starsky.

~the end~