Starsky woke up and discovered that he couldn't move. For a moment he thought he was back in the hospital after having been shot, and that he was paralyzed. Then he realized that the reason he couldn't move was that something - no, make that someONE - was wrapped around him. He smiled to himself, remembering who that someone was, then twisted in his partner's arms until they were facing each other. He woke Hutch with a kiss. The blue eyes flickered open.

"Morning, Babe," Starsky said.

"Morning. What time is it?"

"Six. You gonna get up and go for your run?"

The arms tightened around him. "I'd rather get my exercise right here."

"Sorry, Blondie, but you gotta go to work, remember? Why don't you go for that run and I'll make breakfast?"

Hutch frowned. "Breakfast?"

"Yeah, the most important meal of the day, and all that. I think I remember my way around this place."

Hutch reluctantly got out of bed and went into the bathroom. When he came out, Starsky was dressed and rattling around the kitchen.

"You're dressed."

"Very good, Hutch. Obviously your eyesight has not deteriorated in the last two years."

"But I kind of liked you without your clothes on," Hutch protested.

"That's because it was dark last night, so you didn't get a good look at me."

Hutch took Starsky into his arms. "What on earth are you talking about? I like the way you look just fine."

David wriggled out of the embrace. "I got shot, remember? I had surgery. They cracked my chest open."


"Scars, Hutch. Scars. Big, ugly, nasty ones."

"Starsk, I don't care about scars. What I care about is that you're alive. Are we always going to make love in the dark so that I can't see them?"

"Always?" Starsky asked. "You really mean that? You want us to keep doing this?"

"What, did you think this was a one night stand? I asked you if you were staying, and you said you were. Did you change your mind sometime between last night and this morning?"

"No. I guess I just hadn't really thought beyond this morning. I do want us to be together, Hutch. And I most definitely want to make love with you again." He grinned. "You want some company on that run?" The subject had been changed quite effectively.

"You got any running clothes?"

Starsky picked up the bag he'd brought with him. "Right here. Give me a minute to change and I'll be right with ya."

"Change here."


"Right here, in front of me. Let me see you."

"Aw, Hutch ..."

"Please, Starsk?"

"Oh, all right. Think you can keep your hands off me?"

"It will be an effort, but I'll do my best."

When Starsky's shirt came off, Hutch moved over and started running his hands over the scars. When Starsky tried to move away, Hutch held on to him. "They don't turn me off," he said. "They're part of you. And I love all of you, including them. Because they mean that you're here, that you survived." He started to kiss each scar individually.

They didn't get around to going for a run that day.

When they had both showered, dressed, and eaten breakfast in a hurry, Starsky asked, "Do you think I might have a job to go back to?"

"Dobey has been holding your job, I believe. As far as he's concerned, you've been on an extended sick leave." Hutch frowned suddenly. "I really wondered if you would ever be my partner again."

"That's one of the reasons I stayed away. I didn't want to come back until I was sure I could be a cop again. And a real cop, not a desk jockey. When I left the hospital I got winded just walking a couple blocks. There was no way I could have chased bad guys with you. But I found a good physical therapist in New York, that helped me out a lot."

"That took care of the physical, but what about the emotional?" Hutch asked.

"When my mom died, I realized I needed some help," Starsky answered. "I went to a head shrinker. Originally it was just supposed to be about helping me cope with losing my mom, but we ended up talking about the shooting and ... everything."

Hutch's eyebrows rose. "Everything?"

"Everything including you."

"And what did your shrink say about me?"

"She said I needed to come back and talk to you."

"Give me her phone number so I can call and thank her."

Starsky grinned. "Maybe later. Right now we have to go to work."

When they went out to Hutch's car, the blond detective asked, "Hey, what's become of the red tomato?"

"In storage. Gotta get her out, maybe sometime today."

"What about your apartment?"

"I've been paying rent on it since I left. I should go back there tonight."

Hutch frowned as they got into the car. "I thought you were coming home with me tonight."

Starsky smiled at this sudden display of insecurity. "Hey, just let me open a few windows to air the place out, and get some clothes, and then I'll come to your place. Okay?"

Relieved, Hutch returned the smile. "Maybe in a little while, we could start looking for a place where we could live together."

"Whoah, you talking about us shacking up together already? You move fast, Blondie," Starsky teased.

"Well, it's not much use paying rent on two apartments when we'll always be at one or the other anyway."

"You realize, don't you, that if we work together and live together, we'll be together practically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "

"And what's wrong with that?" Hutch asked.

"Nothin', babe, nothin' at all."

At the precinct, Captain Dobey was getting a drink from the water cooler when he looked up and saw something he had begun to wonder if he would ever see again.

Starsky was walking into the squad room with Hutchinson.

The last time Dobey had seen Starsky, his detective had been in a hospital bed. And now here he was, walking in alongside Hutch as if he'd been gone for a few days, not two years.

"STARSKY!" the Captain bellowed.

Starsky stopped dead in his tracks and smiled a bit nervously. "Hey, Cap'n, it's good to see you. Can I have my old desk back?"

Dobey grinned. "It's about time you showed up. I was about ready to send a search party out to look for you. Well, don't just stand there, get to work! Hutchinson, brief your partner on the cases you're working on."

Starsky stood in the middle of the room with his mouth open for a minute before Hutch took his arm and led him over to his desk. v "And Starsky ..." added the Captain. "It's good to see you, too. It's been impossible to find someone willing to put up with Hutchinson here for more than a few weeks at the most." And with a smile and a wink, Dobey went into his office. He had some paperwork to take care of concerning the reinstatement of one Detective Sergeant David Starsky.

Starsky sat at the desk next to Hutch. The last time he'd been here, he'd been using this desk as a ping pong table. Had that really been two years ago? It seemed like only yesterday.

Hutch placed a hand on his arm. "You okay?" the blond detective asked.

David shook himself. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just - memories, ya know?"

"I know," said Hutch in a serious tone.

Starsky realized that Hutch did know. Up until now he hadn't spent much time thinking about Hutch's feelings about the shooting. But Hutch had been there, standing on the other side of the car, and had seen it all. He remembered the times he'd seen Hutch get shot, and though they had only been minor injuries, he'd been scared half to death that he would lose his partner. Hutch must have felt the same way about seeing him get shot. He leaned over so that only Hutch could hear him.

"Maybe tonight we can work on making some new memories," he whispered.

Hutch grinned and handed him a file folder. Soon they were buried in work and everything else was forgotten.

At the end of the day Starsky happily followed his partner out of the precinct. Today had been mostly desk duty - aside from a short but happy reunion with Huggy - but desk duty shared with Hutch was different than desk duty by himself would have been. They would be out on the street soon enough. He'd been afraid that his skills would be rusty after two years, but police work was in his blood. It was sort of like what they said about riding a bicycle - you never forgot.

"Ready to go pick up the Torino?" he asked Hutch.

"You sure you want it back?" Hutch asked. "I mean, we can both use my car."

"Hutch," Starsky snorted, "this is not a car. This is a disaster on four wheels. Do you know how much I missed my car? Normal people don't drive in New York. They take the subway or they take cabs everywhere. I've missed driving like you wouldn't believe."

"Well, maybe you can trade it in for a newer car. After all, we're in the 1980s now. Maybe it's time for a change."

"Change? That car is a classic. I'll drive her till she falls apart. Now, are you going to take me to get her or do I have to go on my own?"

"No, I'll take you. Let's go." And Hutch reluctantly drove to the garage where the Torino had been stored.

When they arrived, Ken braced himself for his first look at the Torino since Starsky's shooting. He was surprised not to see any bullet holes, not to see any evidence of the bullets that had gone through Starsky's body and into the car.

"You look like you've seen a ghost, Babe," Starsky said. "What's wrong?"

"I was expecting to see holes."

"Holes? Oh, you mean bullet holes. No, I had Merle take care of all that. He fixed all the holes, repainted it, the whole works."

Hutch breathed a sigh of relief. Despite what he'd said, he knew that the scars on his lover's body would always remind him of the shooting that had almost taken Starsky's life. Those he could deal with in private. But he hadn't known how he would handle the evidence of the bullets on the Torino. He was glad he didn't have to.

"Babe," Starsky said again. "It's all right. I'm here, remember? I made it. The doctors fixed me, just like Merle fixed the car."

Ken didn't say anything. He just took his partner into his arms and held on to him for a long time.

"Let's go home," Starsky finally said. "I can go see my apartment tomorrow." He called to Merle to lock up the car, saying he'd come back for it another time.

Back at Venice Place, Starsky gently sat Hutch down on the couch. "Want to talk?" he asked.

"It was just seeing the car again after all this time, and knowing exactly where each bullet hit. It was harder than I thought it would be."

Starsky kissed him. "But I'm here," he said. He kissed him again. "And I'm not going anywhere. It's who do we trust time, Babe."

"Me and thee," Hutch automatically responded. He smiled, then suddenly got up and fetched his guitar.

"I have another song for you," he told his lover. "To go along with the one I sang for you last night."

"I'm all ears, Blondie."

Hutch began to sing:

"Here's to us, one more toast, and then we'll pay the bill
Deep inside, both of us can feel the autumn chill
Birds of passage, you and me
We fly instinctively
When the summer's over and the dark clouds hide the sun
Neither you nor I'm to blame when all is said and done
In our lives, we have walked some strange and lonely treks
Slightly worn, but dignified, and not too old for sex
We're still striving for the sky
No taste for humble pie
Thanks for all your generous love and thanks for all the fun
Neither you nor I'm to blame when all is said and done
It's so strange when you're down and lying on the floor
How you rise, shake your head, get up and ask for more
Clear-headed and open-eyed
With nothing left to try
Standing calmly at the crossroads with no desire to run
There's no hurry anymore when all is said and done."

When the song was finished David shook his head. "How do you do it?" he asked.

"Do what?"

"Choose the songs that say so much."

Hutch shrugged. "The song made me think of you, of us. Slightly worn, but dignified, and not too old for sex," he repeated with a smile.

Starsky stood and took his hand, leading him toward the bedroom.

"Let's prove that part," he said.


Song "When All Is Said And Done" (c) 1982 by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus

Author's note: I've been told that "When All Is Said and Done" is a breaking-up song. I didn't get that impression from it, and I hope that readers can see that isn't how it's meant in the story. rainbow