THE PHONE RANG
again, insistently. Starsky straightened in his chair, shoving
a pile of forms to the side to unearth the phone. Several pages fluttered to the floor and he gripped the receiver between
his ear and his shoulder as he bent to retrieve them.
"Detective Sergeant Starsky speaking." He prayed it wasn't one of his snitches.
The last thing he and Hutch needed right now was more work. It had already been a long, sticky, aggravating day, and all he
wanted to do was clear up the paperwork and go home.
"David! It's me, Kathy. I'm so glad I caught you! Is Hutch there, too?"
Starsky straightened, the forms forgotten. Hutch looked up from across the desk
and met his eyes; a puzzled smile starting to form on his face.
Pulling the phone away from his ear, Starsky said, "Hutch, it's Kathy!" Turning
his back to his partner, he cupped his hand over the receiver and said in a loud stage whisper, "Hutch says to say hi, but
he can't come to the phone right now. As a matter of fact, he's gonna be tied up at work all night long, so he said he wants
me to give you a great big kiss for him--"
Hutch lunged to his feet, scattering paper as he tried to grab the phone
out of Starsky's hand. "Kathy, don't listen to him!"
Her laughter was clearly audible over the connection. "Hi, Hutch!"
Starsky jumped back as Hutch vaulted the desk, nearly impaling himself his
partner's piggy bank. They struggled over the phone for a moment, and then Hutch abruptly straightened and gave the squad
room door an alarmed look. "Why, hello, Captain Dobey!"
Starsky turned, "Cap?"
Hutch seized the moment of inattention to snag the phone out Starsky's hand.
"Kathy, it's great to hear from you again." He disregarded Starsky's murderous glare as his partner belatedly realized that
he'd fallen for one of the most classic ruses in the book.
Having received an agreeable response from the stewardess, Hutch sweetly
asked, "How long are you in town this time?"
Starsky pressed his ear to the back side of the phone to hear Kathy's reply,
ignoring Hutch's attempts to wave him away. His partner grimaced and muttered something about 'chili breath'.
"I'm sorry to say, I'm just on another twelve hour layover," she explained.
"I was hoping you two might be willing to show a girl a good time." She hesitated slightly. "Hutch, you're dating Diana, aren't
you? We could double date again."
A distinctly sick expression crossed Hutch's face, and he allowed Starsky
to turn the phone so that he was speaking into the mouthpiece.
"Kathy," said Starsky. "Things didn't work out so well between Hutch and
Hutch rolled his eyes at that blatant understatement and Starsky gave him
half a grin.
"I'm so sorry!" said Kathy. "Is Hutch okay?"
Having recovered his equilibrium, Hutch retrieved the phone. "It was rough
for awhile," he said, bravely. "But I'm dealing with it. I could use a little cheering up, though..." He ducked as Starsky
took a backhanded swipe at his head.
"Asshole!" whispered Starsky, emphatically.
Kathy laughed. "Why don't you pick me up at the airport? Say, in half an
hour? We can figure out what we want to do then."
"You've got a date," Hutch told her.
"A date?" protested Starsky, outraged, after Hutch had replaced the receiver.
"She called me, not you!"
"You snooze, you lose," said Hutch, as he reached over the desk to snag his
jacket off of the back of his chair. "And anyway, it was me she asked to pick her up."
"In what? A cab?" His own jacket in hand, Starsky quickly stepped in front
of the door, blocking Hutch's exit. He jabbed him in the chest with his forefinger. "You seem to have forgotten who drove
today. That ugly heap you call a car is still back at your place."
Unruffled, Hutch said, "Why don't we let the lady choose?" He pushed past
Starsky, his hands in his pockets.
Starsky gave him a suspicious glance as they headed for the parking garage.
In retrospect, Starsky knew he should have bowed out right then. However,
Hutch had that self-congratulatory gleam in his eye, and it always put his back up. It was a smug kind of look that said,
"I've won, I'm getting the girl, and you, buddy, can just choke on my dust."
And Starsky was never any good at admitting defeat.
Kathy appeared delighted to see both of them, and in fact gave no indication
that she had expected anything less. She said she was hungry, so they stashed her overnight bag in the trunk of the Torino
and took her out to eat at the Mexican restaurant that had just opened down on Fifth Avenue.
Over dinner they swapped stories of the various absurd or strange things
that had happened to them in their careers. By the time the check arrived at their table, they were all laughing heartily.
"You're crying, you're actually crying!" Kathy teased. She was glowing, lit
up with happiness, her brown hair lying in careless waves over her shoulders. Starsky felt something stir inside him at the
sight of her. He wondered how far he'd go to win her tonight. As if she was somehow reading his thoughts, he felt her
foot slide up the inside of his calf. She'd slipped her boots off under the table, and her stocking foot settled on his thigh.
Damn. Things weren't just stirring inside anymore. He tried to adjust
himself discreetly, but judging from the amused gleam in her eye he wasn't particularly successful.
Hutch shook his head in emphatic denial, and then put lie to that by swiping
at his damp eyes with the back of his hand. "It's a painful memory!" he protested, still laughing.
Starsky had been regaling Kathy with the story of the time Hutch had tried
to intervene in an argument between a construction worker and his boss, only to receive a steel-toed work boot in that most
delicate part of the male anatomy.
"At first, I wasn't in so much pain," explained Hutch. "But then the emergency
room doctor reached down, said; 'Does this hurt?' and squeezed."
Fairly certain he was no longer at risk of embarrassing himself, Starsky
stood up, and gathered Kathy's coat from the back of her chair. "You should'a heard him scream," he said, holding her coat
out for her. His tone was not unsympathetic. He thoroughly enjoyed needling Hutch, but unlike Kathy he had a keen appreciation
for just how much pain Hutch had been in.
"Hey," said Hutch. "You try getting hoofed in the nuts and then have
some--" He swallowed back the adjective. "...doctor try and castrate you by hand." He paused and then added another
two dollars to the tip.
Starsky noted the move and nodded approvingly. If Hutch hadn't increased
the tip, he would have added something himself. Their conversation had been loud and a little on the raunchy side for a family
restaurant. For the last half hour he'd been getting the distinct impression from their server that their party wouldn't be
missed when they left.
Starsky wrapped his arm around Kathy's waist and steered her towards the
exit. Leaning in close, he told her, "Hutch almost qualified himself for the Harlem boy's choir as a soprano."
"Ouch!" exclaimed Kathy, her eyes wide with sympathy.
"Yep," said Starsky, satisfaction in his voice. "He was walking all bow-legged
for a week after. I wanted to buy him spurs and a ten-gallon hat."
Hutch held the door open. "Do we have to keep talking about this?" he asked
Kathy reached up and caught his face in both her hands, looking at his reddened,
laughing eyes. "You are crying!"
Behind them Starsky shook his head in reluctant admiration. Damn, he'll
do anything to score. His suspicions were confirmed a moment later when Hutch took advantage of Kathy's willing proximity
and bent down to steal a kiss.
Starsky would have been annoyed, except for the fact that Hutch looked so
happy, and it occurred to him that he hadn't seen him laugh this hard in weeks. Certainly not since that whole rotten affair
with Diana. A new feeling nagged at him, doubt perhaps, and it took some of the shine off of the whole contest. For a moment,
he found himself disinclined to compete for Kathy.
And then she reached over from where she was wrapped around Hutch and slid
her hand into Starsky's back pocket, and all of his reluctance instantly vanished. She turned away from Hutch just as Starsky
started to say, "I arrest pickpockets..." and captured his lips with her own.
When she backed away, grinning, he saw the resentment in Hutch's eyes and
had to laugh aloud. The game was in play, and the winner was still far from decided.
Fishing his keys out of his pocket, he opened the passenger side door so
that Kathy and Hutch could slide in. As he let himself in on the driver's side, he glanced over at Kathy and said, "What do
you want to do? We could go dancing."
"I'm only in town overnight," she said. "I want to spend time with you two,
and I don't want to have to do it while shouting over loud music. Hutch's place is the closest, why don't we go there?"
Starsky glanced at Hutch and caught that look again, the one that made him
want to wipe the smug smile off his partner's face and make him eat it. Except that Kathy had said 'you two', which meant
that no matter what Hutch wanted to think, she hadn't actually made any sort of choice between them. Yet.
He shrugged and started the car, turning it towards Venice Place. To Kathy,
he said, "Okay, now it's your turn."
"My turn?" she asked, settling herself comfortably under Hutch's arm. He
smirked at Starsky and brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face, letting his hand linger on her cheek a fraction longer
than necessary. Starsky pretended not to notice, and continued his conversation with Kathy.
"Sure," he said. "We told you something embarrassing that happened to us--"
Hutch cut him off. "No, you mean you told her something embarrassing
that happened to me."
"I was embarrassed, too!" protested Starsky, slowing to allow a tiny old
lady in an ancient Ford Fairlane to merge into traffic ahead of him. Her hand appeared above the side door in a wave, acknowledging
his courtesy. "I mean, my partner's walking funny, and I got to be seen in public with him. What are people gonna think? I've
got a reputation to maintain, you know."
Hutch snorted. "My mistake. I thought you might actually have been concerned."
"Aw, the doc said you were fine."
"That doctor was a sadist," said Hutch, sourly.
A thoughtful look crossed Kathy's face. "Hutch, you'd look cute in black
Both Starsky and Hutch gave her startled glances, and smothering a laugh,
she quickly tried to explain. "Well, if the doctor was a sadist, that would mean that Hutch would get to be the
Starsky chortled, slapping the steering wheel. "Whaddya mean 'get to be'?
He's practically a magnet for pain!"
Starsky waggled his eyebrows suggestively at Kathy. His words, however, were
directed at Hutch. "How do you explain those epic guilt trips you keep going on? Why do you keep torturing yourself like that,
if you don't enjoy it? Shoot, if I didn't know you were brought up Midwestern Presbyterian, I'd think you had a Jewish mama.
An' a meaner one than mine, at that!"
Hutch's face was turning redder by the moment. There was real anger in his
eyes now, but Starsky was having too much fun to quit. "Don't tell me you're gonna deny it, Mister I'm-sorry-I-made-you-stab-me-crazy-lady?"
"Hutch!" exclaimed Kathy, turning to look up at him. "You got stabbed? When
did that happen?"
"A couple of weeks ago. I got a little cut on my left arm, but I'm fine now,"
said Hutch throwing a dirty glance Starsky's way. It was the same arm he now had draped over Kathy's shoulder, and she turned
sideways to lay her hand gently on his bicep. "It doesn't hurt at all," he said, placing a reassuring kiss on her temple.
"Yep, our Hutch was the star in a reenactment of the shower scene in Psycho,"
said Starsky, lightly. Two weeks had given him enough perspective to appreciate the humor in the situation. It helped, too,
that Hutch's stitches had finally been removed yesterday. However, the memories of the incident brought with them a return
of the uncertainty he'd felt earlier. It was confusing. He and Hutch had always competed for girls. What was there about
this one time that inspired in him a desire to back off?
"Oh, how awful!" exclaimed Kathy, aghast at the idea of Hutch being attacked
in his own shower.
"Yeah," agreed Starsky. Giving up wasn't in his nature, so despite his misgivings,
he made one more bid to win Kathy's company for the night. "I think maybe Hutch is still feeling a little wobbly. We should
drop him off at his place and let him get some rest." It was a half-hearted attempt.
"Just keep trying, meathead." The look Hutch shot Starsky said, You've
already lost, and you know it. "And as far as apologizing to her for stabbing me, that's not indicative of anything. I'd
just lost a lot of blood. I wasn't in my right mind."
"And this is new, how?"
"Stop fighting!" interrupted Kathy, with mock irritation. "You two, you're
worse than kids!"
Hutch tried to protest that what they were doing wasn't technically fighting.
While he debated this point with Kathy, Starsky took a moment to try and really think about what he'd been feeling. Yes, it
would be hard to let Hutch just walk away with this win, but he simply didn't feel like pursuing it anymore.
Kathy was a nice, uncomplicated, happy sort of person, and she made Hutch
happy, too. She was, as a matter of fact, exactly what Hutch needed right now. He'd been really down after what had happened
with Diana, and despite his denials he probably had been blaming himself for the whole unfortunate mess. He certainly hadn't
dated since then, and two weeks of celibacy was a long time in the Hutch-verse.
By the time Starsky pulled up in front of Venice Place, he'd made up his
mind to let Hutch have his evening with Kathy. Some things were more important than winning, and a contented partner was definitely
high on that list.
There was just one last thing he wanted to get perfectly clear before surrendering
Hutch to her tender mercies. Leaving the key in the ignition, he turned to face the two of them. When they stopped laughing,
he asked, "Kathy, you don't have any deep, dark secrets, do you?"
"What?" She looked startled. "No, of course not!"
"You're not looking for a knight in shining armor to solve all your problems,
are you?" Starsky saw Hutch drop his head and look away, scratching the back of his neck. He'd figured out what Starsky was
doing, and there'd probably be more guilt coming down the line as a result. With any luck, Starsky reckoned he'd be able to
milk this one for free lunches for a week.
"I don't have any problems. I'm just looking for a little fun!" protested
"Are you in love?" persisted Starsky.
"With who? Gee! What's with the fifth degree?" Kathy sounded indignant.
Starsky shrugged, grinning. "Okay, I'll just drop you two off here, then."
He caught a quick grateful smile from Hutch, and discovered that conceding the game didn't feel at all the same as losing
it. It felt pretty good, actually. Heroic, even.
But Kathy had her own agenda for the evening, and she had no intention of
following Starsky's script. "Drop us off?" she exclaimed. "What are you going to do? Go home and sit in the dark alone?" She
sat up straight, crossing her arms over her chest. "I said I wanted to spend time with both of you tonight."
"Um..." Starsky paused. "Both of us?"
Kathy turned to look back at Hutch. "He's not very bright, is he?"
But the expression on Hutch's face was a mirror of Starsky's. Kathy made
a frustrated noise. "Oh, for goodness sake! Am I being too subtle?"
Starsky cleared his throat. "Um, maybe?" It hadn't occurred to him at all
that in making her choice between them, Kathy might end up choosing both of them.
Kathy looked at them in disbelief. "You mean, the two of you never...? With
the way you've been passing me back and forth between you, I just figured... Well, isn't it easier than trying to decide which
one of you gets lucky tonight?" When neither man responded, she sighed. "Okay, I suppose if you aren't into it, I could just
flip a coin..."
"Rock, paper, scissors," mumbled Hutch. He was turning pink, his fair skin
betraying his embarrassment.
"Huh?" asked Kathy.
"That's what we usually do," explained Starsky, grimacing. "Rock, paper,
"And the winner gets the girl?" asked Kathy, frowning. "Well, I don't feel
like being the prize in your games tonight, so why don't we give this a try and see if we all can't come out winners?"
Starsky looked at Hutch, to see what he thought of Kathy's proposition. On
the surface it seemed reasonable. She had gone with both of them at one time or another, so how much of a stretch was it to
have her go with both of them at the same time? And it wasn't as if they hadn't each had two girls at once in their own beds
in the past, so refusing her on the basis that they didn't do threesomes wouldn't fly. And this way they'd both get what they
wanted, because damn Kathy was hot and yes Starsky wanted her tonight, no matter how heroically self-sacrificing he'd been
willing to be earlier.
There was no logical reason to refuse, and yet Starsky still didn't like
Maybe part of the problem was that Hutch had that gleam in his eye again,
the one that said he was already well on his way to turning this into yet another contest of wills. Never mind what Kathy
said about not wanting them to compete over her, the game had moved to new ground, and this time, the last one standing would
get the girl.
It was with a deep sense of foreboding, well mixed with anticipation, that
Starsky followed the two of them up the stairs to Hutch's apartment.
The door hadn't even closed behind them, when Hutch stepped forward and swept
Kathy into his arms, blatantly taking possession of her. When she freed herself from his mouth, Hutch's lips traveled undaunted
down her neck. He began to undo the top buttons of her blouse, one-handed, his other hand still gripping her waist firmly.
Kathy reached out to where Starsky hesitated by the door and grabbed a handful
of his jacket, reeling him in. He grasped her face between his palms, steadying himself against a rush of vertigo as he leaned
in to press his lips against hers. This was not sweet or loving. Hutch's head collided with his shoulder and what Starsky
felt was fierce and angry. He strove for dominance and tried to wrest control away from his partner. It was definitely
arousing, but not in a way he enjoyed.
Within minutes he found himself hastily trying to shrug out of his jacket,
leaving his shirt behind on the floor. He retained only enough coherent thought to hang his holster and gun over the back
of a chair, before they all stumbled into Hutch's bedroom and fell onto the bed in a confused tangle of limbs.
There was something deeply unsettling about the sheer physical reality of
sharing a bed with an aroused Hutch, regardless of the woman between them. The scent of male musk and sweat was overpowering,
and Starsky buried his face in Kathy's hair, attempting to mask Hutch's presence with the smell of her shampoo.
He tried to focus his entire attention on her, but there was only one of
her, and two of himself and Hutch. There wasn't enough of her to go around, and what Starsky really wanted to do at that moment
was kick Hutch out of bed and out of the apartment, and claim Kathy for himself.
Jealousy and resentment warred inside of him, and it occurred to Starsky
that perhaps sharing could be taken too far.
Starsky felt Kathy's tongue trace the line of his collarbone, and he shivered,
closing his eyes. Desperately, he tried to pretend that all there was in this bed was just him and a girl with a few extra,
rather hairy, limbs. Her fingers tugged at his belt now, and her mouth placed soft kisses around his navel, and lower. His
jeans were suddenly far too confining.
He blindly reached down to help her with her task. Instead of her soft hair,
however, his hand collided with a bare muscled thigh, and his eyes snapped open in surprise. To his dismay, he realized that
Hutch had already shed his pants and was now determinedly heading south on Kathy. This unfortunately left Starsky with a clear
view of his partner's rear end.
Starsky scooted backwards on the bed, and rolled to the side, landing on
the floor with a thud. As he scrambled up onto his feet, clutching the waistband of his jeans, he heard Kathy protest. Muttering
an incoherent excuse, Starsky fled the room. "...bathroom, sorry!"
He headed for the cool sanctuary of Hutch's greenhouse instead, grabbing
his shirt and refastening his jeans on the way. He knew he was running away. He knew he'd lost the game. But, damn it, this
just wasn't fun anymore.
He'd never deflated so fast in his life, his personal parts trying to crawl
right up into his abdomen at the sight of Hutch, bare-assed in bed, going down on Kathy.
It wasn't as if he'd never seen Hutch naked before. He figured he probably
knew his partner's body nearly as well as he knew his own, given all the times they'd showered together, changed together,
and held each other while they puked or bled or cried. And he'd done a lot more than that for the man when he'd been so sick
coming down off the heroin addiction. It was just that in this context, it felt wrong.
Deeply, terribly, wrong.
Starsky stopped pacing, and threw himself down into a wicker chair by the
door. He wanted a beer, but getting one now would mean going back into that apartment, and he simply couldn't manage that.
Not yet. It was bad enough that he could still hear them...
He stopped, and listened more closely. That wasn't the sound of two people
having sex. They were talking. He couldn't make the words out clearly, but Kathy sounded... apologetic? Consoling? Hutch was
embarrassed and frustrated, that much was definitely clear.
Starsky was therefore unsurprised when the greenhouse door opened a
few minutes later and Kathy stepped inside. He looked up to see that she was wearing Hutch's shirt and
holding an open bottle of beer. She seemed relieved to see him, as she asked, "David, may we join you?"
Starsky waved a friendly hand at the other chairs. He was pleased to see
Hutch behind her, with an extra bottle for him. "What's up?" he asked, as Hutch handed him his drink.
Kathy began to laugh. "Not Hutch, that's for sure."
Hutch slouched down in his chair, his legs extended out in front of him and
his chin buried in his chest. "It wasn't working," he said, mournfully.
Starsky choked on his mouthful of beer, as a chuckle ambushed him. "That's
a tragedy." He felt something warm inside, confusion and anger dissipating. Wanting to try and salvage the evening, if only
for Kathy's sake, he asked, "What are we going to do now?"
There was silence in the room as they thought over the possibilities. There
were plenty. They could still go dancing, or catch a late movie, or stay in and play Monopoly. And if Kathy was still interested
later, she could have either one of them. Just not both, together.
Hutch said, "Kathy never told us her embarrassing story."
She looked thoughtful. "I could tell you about the time I tried to talk a
couple of cute cops into a threesome, only to have them quit on me because it felt too incestuous. Except, I think you already
know that one." Her smile was kind, and free of blame.
Starsky's forehead crumpled in puzzlement. "Incest-what?"
"Brothers, Starsky," said Hutch, reflectively. "She means we're too much
like brothers to make this work."
"Oh?" Comprehension dawned, and Starsky felt a wide grin breaking across
his face. "Well, yeah! Of course we are!" Damn, but it felt good to be able to see things from that perspective. It made so
much sense; he had to wonder why he hadn't figured it out sooner.
Turning to Kathy, Starsky said happily, "Hutch ain't sexy. He's my brother."