Starsky paced around his apartment. It felt so empty. He was trying, but not succeeding, to not relive the previous day's events. Specifically, he was trying not to remember his partner's getting shot.

Hutch was going to be all right. The doctor had told him that, and Starsky mostly believed it, but it had been a near thing. He didn't want to think about how close he'd come to losing his partner for good. Dobey had assigned him a new partner, though he didn't want one, and he had to admit that Meredith was a pretty good cop. Still, he'd be relieved when Hutch was fit for duty again.

A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Opening it, he found Meredith.

"Detective Meredith," he greeted her. "What can I do for you?"

"I do have a first name, Starsky," she answered.

Starsky grinned. "So do I. It's Dave."

She smiled back at him. "And mine's Joan. Can I come in?"

"Oh! Of course, please come in." When she was in the apartment, he asked her again, "What can I do for you?"

"I came to borrow your TV set," Meredith told him.

"TV set? What for?"

She explained to him that she needed something to present to the fence as part of her cover as a thief. Her TV was broken.

He showed her into the bedroom where the TV was. Suddenly, he asked her, "Look, you don't have to leave right away, do you?" He felt so lonely without Hutch that he would have done almost anything for company.

"Why?" she asked.

"Well, um, there's a special on that I want to watch. Maybe you could stay and watch it with me," he suggested.

"I could do that," she agreed.

Luckily for him, there really was a special on TV. Meredith made herself comfortable on the bed - it was the only place to sit - and Starsky made some popcorn. It felt strange to sit next to her on his bed. The only person who had shared his bed in quite some time was Hutch. He hoped that Meredith didn't get the wrong idea.

When the special was over, Dave got up, clicked off the TV and started to unplug it. "I'll just disconnect this and then you can take it to your car," he said.

Meredith lay a hand on his arm. "Trying to get rid of me so soon, David?" she asked.

"Well, you came here to get the TV, didn't you? But it was nice of you to stay until the special was finished."

"Dave," she said. "Forget the TV. I'm sure there are lots of other things we can do." She leaned in and tried to kiss him.

Starsky backed away. "Uh, no, Meredith - Joan, I don't think there's anything else for us to do."

"Dave Starsky, you invited me into your bedroom. Surely that wasn't just to watch TV."

"Well, yeah, it was."

"It's because I'm black," she stated. "I should have known."

"No, Joan, it's not because you're black. I'm already involved with someone."

Meredith looked surprised. "I asked around at the precinct. No one said you had a girlfriend. I don't see any evidence of female presence in this apartment."

"It's not a female," Starsky said quietly.

"Not a female? You mean you're involved with - oh!" It looked like a light bulb suddenly went on in her head. "It's Hutchinson, isn't it?"


She gently put an arm around his shoulders. "You must be very worried about him," she said sympathetically. "It can't be easy, him being in the hospital and you here by yourself."

"That's why I asked you to stay and watch TV," he told her. "I just hate to be alone."

She sat on the bed and patted the space beside her. "Come on, sit down. Tell me about Hutch."

So he did, and for the rest of the evening they just sat and talked. Eventually Meredith did have to leave, and Dave carried the TV out to the car for her. The lady detective insisted that she was perfectly able to carry it herself, but Starsky said, "It's my TV."

The next day, Starsky visited Hutch in the hospital. "Tell me about your case. What are you going to do?" the blonde detective asked.

"I don't want you to worry about that," Dave answered him. "Just concentrate on getting better and getting out of here."

"Doesn't your partner get filled in?"

"My partner is already filled in," Starsky said with a smile as he left.

His partner? Hutch didn't like the way that sounded. He liked it even less when Dobey called him looking for Starsky. His partner - yes, his partner, no matter what he said - was in trouble. He checked himself out of the hospital to go find Starsky. And Meredith, he told himself.

When the case was wrapped up and everyone was safe, Starsky insisted that Hutch come home with him. "You need someone to look after you. Besides, I missed you."

"Sure you did," Ken grumbled. "You and your partner got along fine without me around."

"My partner? You mean Meredith?"

"That's what you called her," Hutch grumbled.

"Sure, she was my partner for this case. That's all. You're my real partner."

"You mean that?" Hutch hated how needy that made him sound, but he was feeling kind of needy right now. He needed reassurance that his place in Starsky's life was safe.

"I mean it." He carried Hutch's things into his apartment and took them to the bedroom. "Now go wash up. You look terrible."

"Thanks a lot," his partner grumbled. He went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Okay, he did look pretty bad. He was still wearing his bloodstained shirt, the one he'd been wearing the day he was shot.

Just then he noticed something on the sink. He picked it up. It was a comb, but not one he'd seen in Starsky's bathroom before. It looked like a lady's comb.

A lady's comb. Meredith.

He stormed out of the bathroom. "What is this?" he demanded, shoving the comb under Starsky's nose.

"It's a comb," replied his partner calmly.

"What was it doing in your bathroom?"

"Meredith must have left it when she was here."

"What was Meredith doing here?" Hutch wanted to know.

"She came to borrow my TV, and I asked her to stay for a while."

"Stay and do what?"

"Talk. Watch TV. Eat popcorn."

"And that's all?"

"Yes, that's all. Why? You jealous?" Starsky asked.

"Should I be?"

"No, you shouldn't be. She may have taken your place on the job temporarily, but no one - not Meredith, not anyone - can ever take your place in my heart or in my bed. I love you, and only you."

Hutch sighed. The Green-Eyed-Monster had taken hold of him and he'd over reacted to Meredith's presence. "I love you too. But why was she here at all? Besides to borrow your TV, I mean."

Dave shrugged. "I was lonely. You were in the hospital. I was here by myself, and I was going a little nuts."

"I'm here now."

Starsky grinned. "You sure are."

"Can I take my place in your bed ?"

"You sure you're up to it?" Starsky asked with a frown. "You just got out of the hospital, and you weren't supposed to leave for another couple of days."

Hutch took his partner's hand and placed it on the front of his jeans. "What do you think?"

"I think you'd better get yourself to my bed. "