BIRTHDAY BASH

By: Karen B.

Summary: Hutch dresses in drag to catch a serial rapist. My explanation as to why he grew the moustache.
Mild H/C Hutch. Some humor.

Thank you very much, Hutchlover, my fellow Buckeye, for your heartfelt help, and caring. You are the peach, I am the pit!

Warning: Some foul language.

Most guys spend their 30th birthday slugging down beers and wondering what they've done with their lives and where the time went? Mine was spent undercover as a six foot leggy blond working the corner of East 67th. Sex and Crime. It's a dirty business. If you can snort it, shoot it, drink it, smoke it, or have sex with it, there is someone out there to give it to you. For a price. Like I said, it's a dirty business. One that makes the bile rise up in my throat.

Tonight's criteria was simple. Call attention to myself, and hopefully catch a rapist and a killer. It was a huge risk, and it took some coaxing on our Captain's part, but Starsky and I are all about rolling the dice, just to see what will happen.

It was a tough sell, but we hoped we would hit pay dirt. We were after a serial murder/rapist who specialized in preying on prostitutes. First he'd beat them, brutally rape them, then leave them dead under the 67th street bridge. The body count was up to eight already, and it'd only been two months. We had to catch this guy and put him away. Dobey beefed up patrol, put a round-the-clock stakeout of the area, with no luck. But even with all the extra eyes, the guy was still at it. He slipped in and out of our sight like a worm in a hole, and the list of victims kept growing, right under our own noses.

So here I was. Sitting in the passenger seat of my car, while Starsky parked in a dark corner, where he'd be staying, with a thermos of warm coffee, a two-way radio, and a pair of binoculars. As for me, I'd be working the street. Milling around, top heavy, in a seamless dress that had a split up the side, with a purse in hand, instead of a hand gun. Becoming an easy target. If you get the impression we're desperate to nab this guy? You're right.

There was a moment of silence after Starsky parked the car. Felt like I was on a first date and was waiting and wondering if my escort were going to kiss me or just shake my hand goodbye. Starsky must have been feeling the same as I heard him squirm in his seat, then we turned to one another and exchanged an embarrassed look.

"This will give the guys at the station something to talk about." Starsky tried for a smile.

"I don't know about this," I mumbled.

"Relax." Starsky reached across the seat and gripped my shoulder. "Some dress code you chose tonight." He snickered, eyeing me up and down. "Looks like last year's fashion." I watched my partner's face shift from calm and comforting, to something I can only describe as predatory.

"Starsky, don't you look at me like that!"

I gave myself the once over. Hopefully no one was going to be taking close up shots. I looked clumsy. Too tall in heels, even low ones. The long blonde wig was itching my scalp, and my eyes watered from the straw-like strands that kept poking me. I hoped my waterproof mascara really held true to its claim. The dark blue dress that I wore probably was one or two sizes too big. I had to hide my 'what-cha-ma-call-it,' somehow.

Damn dress made me look like I were going to an inaugural slumber party, not looking to turn a trick. I had even shaved my legs so my panty hose would slip on easily, and for a more realistic look. Think I almost blacked out earlier when I nicked my knee cap.

I hoped I could pull this off. I was taller than all the ladies out here, but in this getup, and the fact I would be working under the cover of night, I might just have a chance. I thought I looked pretty good, but was sure I was in over my head on this one. Just hoped I didn't get a rock chucked my way. New girl on the block and all. Looking over at my partner, I noticed he was still ogling me. I took a breath, knowing better than to ask, but did anyway.

"Why.. are… you…. staring?" Said slowly so he would understand I wasn't happy.

"You really going to wear that?" Starsky blurted out, laughing. He wasn't fooling me, I heard the tone of worry hidden behind his teasing.

"Starsky, this isn't about what I wear or don't wear." I lifted the long silky scarf that was draped around my neck, and waggled it in his face. "It's not too revealing, and it's realistic, isn't it?"

"Couldn't be less realistic if your partner were a pastry chef, instead of a cop." Starsky poked fun. "That's one visual overhaul you got yourself there, buddy," he added, still eyeing me like I were the cat's meow.

"Starsky, at least I got the moves to go with it. I been practicing my character."

"Don't get to lost in that character, Hutch," Starsky said, then pursed his lips making a kissing sound.

"Don't worry, buddy, I'm not tired of being a man. Probably grow some facial hair after this assignment."

"Score one for the bearded guys," Starsky chuffed.

"You're just jealous. You know what they say, I get more dates than you do. Close shave or not. 'Blonds have more fun.'"

"Yeah, well you're a romantic at heart." Starsky tried to look genuine, but I highly doubted his sincerity. "Good thing too, Hutch. You got the hips for this. Otherwise it'd be me in that costume." Starsky attempted to bring some humor to the situation, but it never really took off the ground.

"You know what they say, boy. If you got it, flaunt it."

"Hey, Hutch, after this is all over we'll go celebrate your birthday at Huggy's. Got you something special."

"Yeah?" I hiked a brow in curiosity. "What is it?"

"Pretty little pink negligee." Starsky held his amusement in check, causing his eyes to go misty.

"Told you, Starsky, blue is my color." We both began to laugh, easing some of the tension.

This was the kind of setting where anything could happen. I took a steadying breath, and opened the car door. I was nervous, yet there was an adrenalin rush that spiced up the danger to almost erotic proportions. Maybe erotic is the wrong word. Epic. Epic proportions. I allowed one fancy low heeled shoe to touch the pavement before half turning back to look at Starsky. "Glad you're in the cockpit on this one. Don't go far, partner." I stepped out and shut the door, leaning down to peer into the window at him.

"Don't worry, Blondie." Starsky's voice got real quiet. "I got my finger on the eject button." He patted his holstered gun. I'll let you be the judge of which 'gun' I'm referring to. Then he gave me a wink, and a come hither smile.

"God help me," I uttered, as I headed to my checkpoint under a lamppost.

I'd been working the dimly lit street corner of East 67th for three and a half hours now. Trying to keep a steady rhythm walking back and forth wasn't easy. How the hell do woman walk around wearing heels, stockings. and garters all day long? It's just not natural. Must have taken them years to learn. Probably a special class in high school for it. Me, I had to wing it. Hands on, or should I say, feet on, experience. Lessons one two and three came one after the other, only fifteen minutes into our sting operation.

Lesson one: how to keep a steady rhythm and not wobble, breaking an ankle while walking in heels even low ones. Lesson two: how to twirl on your tiptoes when you do an about face, and most important of all is lesson three: how to fall with grace and style.

Four hours now, and I hadn't gotten propositioned, not even once. The competition out here was tough. There weren't to many girls, but the ones that were out, they were hardly wearing anything at all. I was beginning to get a real complex. Maybe the guy knew I was a fraud. Wouldn't be hard to tell. Put me up against any female and I tower over them even without the heels. Starsky at least is shorter, but he said, blond hair, and blue eyes made for better bait.

I moved over to a dark corner and pulled my walkie talkie out of my handbag. "Daytime Lover, this is Hot Babe." I rolled my eyes at the crazy codenames my partner had come up with. Man, I love the guy, but he has some real hang-ups.

"I read you loud and clear, Hot Babe, go ahead."

"Tell me again, why I get to dress in drag instead of you?"

"Told you, babe, you got better hip bones," I heard a snicker, completely doubting my partner's sincerity.

"Hey, Starsk," I gave up on the cloak and dagger stuff. "Look, this isn't working, and my feet are killing me in these heels, and my dress keeps riding up. Lets call it."

"Why don't you try stripping down to your--"

"Starsky!"

"That's Daytime Lover, to you. Look Babe, give it another hour, then we'll pack it in."

"Ten-four," I sighed into the two-way.

"Hang in there, Hot Babe," Starsky snorted over the airwaves. "After this I'll rub your feet and maybe you and I can get naughty together." More laughter.

Yeah, right, in his dreams. "Starsky, anyone ever tell you, you're a dirty old man?"

"Dirty old men need love too," Starsky shot back.

"So do cops," I added. "Hot Babe, out."

I put the walkie talkie in my bag and moved back under the dimly lit streetlamp.

I was getting cold. It'd been over an hour. This seemed useless and I was just about to call Starsky back, and pull the plug when I heard screams coming from the dark area under the nearby bridge. I kicked off my heels and started running full out. My wig fell off as I pulled my walkie talkie out of my purse and tossed the bag. Switching it on, I called for my backup.

"Daytime Lover this is--" What was I saying? "Starsky! It's going down. I'm headed for the bridge. Back me up, partner."

"On my way!"

With no where to put the walkie-talkie I pitched it. When I got to the bridge it was dark. I could hear sounds of a struggle, but wasn't sure where to go. Everything seemed to echo off the giant graffiti coated concrete supports. I moved slowly, very aware that I had no gun, and the fact that sharp pieces of rock and probably glass were ripping a perfectly good pair of nylons to shreds, not to mention the soles of my feet. I gritted my teeth, my gut telling me to go further into the darkness and toward my right.

I saw a dark colored truck parked dead center under the bridge and I carefully made my way there. Crouching low, I flanked along its side coming around to the open driver's door. As I suspected, no one was inside. I listened hard. I couldn't hear anything now except for the rumble of a couple of cars overhead. Suddenly a few yards in front of me I saw movement, and then heard an angry voice.

"You're trash. I'm going to show you what it means to cross me, you bitch."

There in the shadows was a slender young woman in a skimpy white dress trimmed in gold lace that ghosted in the breeze. If I didn't know any better I'd have thought she was an angel. I couldn't get a good description of her attacker. Only that he was big. He forced her to her knees. I looked over my shoulder. Where the hell was Starsky? Looking back I saw that he had grabbed her by the hair with one hand. She tried to fight him off, but he only become more enraged, letting go her hair and punching her in the mouth. I couldn't contain my anger.

"Police officer!" I yelled, feeling completely naked without my gun, I ran out from cover.

The rape suspect startled, and let go the girl, scurrying away like a roach confronted by light. No way he was going to escape from me. I ran after him, automatically stretching outward and leaping through the air. It seemed like such a simple measure, until we made contact. The man was well muscled, and I awkwardly dragged him to the ground with a heavy thud. I'm not sure what the devil I landed on, but I felt my breath whoosh out of me, and I was stunned by a blur of pain in my right side. It was enough for the suspect to roll out and away from me.

I remember smelling sweat and earth, my ear pressed close to the cold ground, then a moment of grating blackness filled my vision, and I got lost in it. I don't think I was out for too long. I straightened up, pushing myself only half off the ground. I heard mumbling voices. At first they seemed far away. Then I saw two shadows, not far away from me, through the gray twilight. I shook my head, and my vision cleared some, but I was still out of it, like this wasn't real; like I were watching a low budget film that I never heard of.

"I don't care! I want it now!" The suspect was screaming at the girl, forcing her face down and ripping at her clothing.

"The police," she cried. "I'll tell the police!"

"Nobody's gonna listen to a street whore." He turned her over roughly." Now give it to me!"

"I don't have it!" The girl sobbed heavily.

"What's this?" A wad of cash suddenly appeared.

A strange look came over the assailant, and something wrapped tightly around my heart. He lifted a hand, slapping her face, and shoving her back down to the dirt.

Something finally told me I had to move in. My brain was ready, but my legs weren't. Again a voice inside, this time louder, told me to get up, so I did. I swayed, seeing stars. But the stars didn't circle my head like normal, they were dive bombing it. Another piercing scream made me shake, clear away the stars. I blinked a few times, then saw that the lousy sleaze was brutalizing the girl again. Guess he thought I was out of commission. I was enraged, about to boil over. Unable to think about anything else, I bottled up the pain. Having no flashlight I blindly hop-scotched around the supports of the bridge.

The sleaze was too busy beating on the girl to notice me. When I got near enough I held my breath, and flung myself at him again, getting the drop on him. I sprawled us both back to the ground, landing a chop to the side of his neck. He came back with a fist to my lip, and then another to my left eye. I tried to fight back, but my attacker was as strong as Popeye's nemesis, Bluto. Another blow striking me in my right side sent me into shock. Suddenly, Bluto had a knife. He straddled over me. I was about to get my throat cut.

"The words, 'fuck you pig' held a nightmarish charm to them, and I couldn't move. I could tell two things, by the suspect's edgy posture, flushed face and wild eyed stare. One, he was either punch drunk or high, and two, this was not going to be the bust my partner and I'd been hoping for.

I was paralyzed with pain. Okay, with fear too.

"Mmmmmmmmmph!"

I started to spin back into that dark grated place. But before I could, I saw car headlights, like lightening flashing. Then I heard the hotfooting of feet thumping hard and fast my way.

"Police!" A breath. "Freeze!"

Beautifully timed. "Starsky," I mumbled.

I watched my partner step out of the darkness in a single effortless motion. In an eye-blink, he fired a single shot into the air. "Your call, sucker!" he exclaimed in a voice that spit fire and flame. Lowering his berretta, he pointed it solidly at the suspect, who still was on top of me.

Starsky's stance told me he was determine not to lose, his gun trained on the suspect. I swear that partner of mine is as ornery as a bull sometimes. Glad for it too.

I watched out of one eye, in a humming haze of gray, as the sleaze gave up, dropping the knife. Like a cannonball, Starsky shot over, dragging him off me, and slapping the cuffs on him.

"Took you long enough," I managed.

"Car wouldn't start."

"Probably ran out of gas," I said, just as sirens began to wail, and the pain put me completely under.

"Hutch." The word was like a faint breeze in my ear. "Hey, birthday boy." A light tapping on my cheek. "Come on, buddy."

I turned my head toward the sound. Regaining consciousness, I opened my eyes. I was lying on my back, staring up into brilliant blue eyes. My memory was a bit fuzzy, and for a moment I wasn't sure who had a hold of me. I felt myself go rigid, and struggled to draw back.

"Sh-s-sh." A hand to my shoulder gently held me down. "Be easy, Hutch."

The gray mist cleared, and everything quickly came roaring back to me. "Starsk," I said, tasting blood when I spoke his name.

"Easy." Starsky softly used his thumb to brush at my lower lip. I swiped my tongue out, feeling how swollen my lip was.

My tension suddenly liquefied, and I could feel a chill deep inside that made me tremble. "We-we lose him?" I breathlessly asked my partner.

Starsky tugged me close. "No. We have him. But it's not him."

"What-what are you talking about?"

"He's not our serial rapist. Guy's her pimp, Hutch. She was holding out on him. He was trying to get his money," Starsky informed me coldly. "We arrested him on assault and battery, but he's not our man. Don't know much more than that."

After all this the case still was unsolved. "Damn." Unable to catch my breath I couldn't say anymore.

"Ambulance is on its way, Hutch. Pretty sure you have a few broken ribs."

I peered up into the unsmiling face of my partner, certain by how I felt that he was right. "Don't need it, Starsky. They're not going to do anything for broken ribs, anyway. It's not that bad."

"It's bad enough," Starsky obstinately stated. "'Sides, Hutch, you don't have anything better to do. May as well get checked out."

"Have to finish painting my nails," I said, thinking it was a pretty good excuse.

"The lady doth protest too much." My partner joked, but his face didn't match his words as he continued to anxiously stare at me.

"Starsky." I blinked back the pain. "T-told you before, not-not to look at me that way."

At that, Starsky gave a quiet laugh, slipping his fingers into my hair. "You know, partner? I could kiss you," he said, that crooked smile of his finally appearing.

"You wouldn't," I turned my head slightly to cough, and spit out some blood.

"Wouldn't I?"

Turning back toward my partner, I saw that he was serious. "Starsk, woman like us, despise men like you. Taking advantage of a poor defenseless lady."

That produced a round of not so subtle laughter from my buddy. "You know us men, Blondie. Can't resist those baby blues."

I heard the rumble of tires, and the pitch of sirens ringing out, high above us on the bridge. They'd be here any minute. Looked like I had no choice in the matter. I was heading for the emergency room. Obviously there was only one way to win out on this one.

Complete surrender.

I slipped further down into Starsky's lap. The pain was getting worse. I could feel myself sweating and my stomach was starting to ache along with my head. I began to worry. I might bring up that leftover bean sprout salad I had for lunch, so I scrunched my eyes shut trying to concentrate on not letting that happen.

"Still hurts?" I opened my eyes.

"Course it still h-hurts, dummy," I blurted. Just talking hurt, and I grimaced.

"Some Birthday bash, huh, partner?" Starsky uttered, grasping my shoulder, and giving a gentle squeeze, just as I felt fire run through my side.

I clamped my lower lip with my teeth, but a grunt of pain escaped anyway. I felt shaky and fidgeted in my partner's hold, but didn't pull away. "You're definitely going to the hospital," Starsky said, his lips pressed into a thin line.

I swiveled my head upward to look at him. I knew arguing was useless and besides, I really was hurting. A lot. "Your call, partner." I tensed, closing a hand down against my right side, and trying to ride out the pain.

Starsky leaned in over me, his hand coming up to cover mine, his pale blue eyes staring down at me, full of care and concern. I couldn't take it. He looked so worried.

"Hey," I breathlessly whispered. "Told-told you, not to look at me like that." I forced a smile.

"Damn," Starsky smiled back. "Can't help myself. And I thought I was good looking. What's a good looking lady like you doing in a place like this?" Starsky continued with that cocky smile on his face. "Is it hot in here? Or is it you?" he laughed. I rolled my eyes. Starsky was feeding me every lousy pickup line he ever used. I took a breath about to say something, but the words wouldn't come out. "You know, I need a map 'cause I'm lost in those baby blue eyes of yours." Starsky rubbed my shoulder as he continued on. His pickup lines were really lame, but they were doing the job, distracting me from the pain. To bad they didn't work with the ladies. "You believe in love at first sight, don't you? Or should I walk by again," Starsky snorted, now running his fingers through my hair. "Must have hurt when you fell from heaven. You're an angel."

Starsky continued yammering as the ambulance pulled up, his voice in my ear lingering all the while as I was tended to and loaded in the emergency vehicle. Eight minutes into the ride to the hospital, I gave the attending medic an apologetic look. He just sat back trying to act like he weren't listening, but I could see his lips twitch trying not to laugh at my corny partner.

"Haven't I seen you some place before?" Starsky cracked, his dark blue eyes sparkling.

I let out a heavy tired breath and raised a shaky hand. "Yeah, and-and that's-that's why I don't go there anymore, Starsk."

The paramedic could no longer hold it together, and he broke out laughing. I would have too if it didn't hurt so bad. Starsky took my hand, finally shutting up, and I settled back closing my eyes.

"Partners, gotta love them," I breathed out.

Being a cop, sometimes, you get to live more excitement in five minutes, than your entire thirty years combined.

Happy birthday, to me.

The end

What one man can do is dream.

What one man can do is love.

What one man can do is change the world.
--John Denver