Home Sweet Home

Starsky and Hutch walked into the squad room together. It was Starsky's second day back after he was nearly killed by Gunther.

"There's no rush, Starsk. Don't feel you have to move back home right away," Hutch said as he pulled off his jacket and hung it from the back of his chair.

"Oh come on, Hutch. My place is repaired from the fire. There is no reason I should stay at your place. Besides, since Alice moved into her house, you are hardly there anyway."

"That's exactly my point, Starsky. You are welcome for as long as you want to stay."

"Well, I want to stay until this weekend and then I'm out." Starsky plunked himself down in his chair across from Hutch and gave him a 'the discussion is over' look.

Hutch put his hands up in front of him in a defensive gesture. "Fine, fine. I will pick you up whatever you need and we'll move you in on Saturday."

"I don't need anything."

Hutch looked up from the file he had opened, "What? Come on, Starsk, most of your clothes and furniture were ruined. You'll need…"

"I said, I don't need nuthin,'" Starsky said with a self-satisfied smirk.

Hutch opened his mouth to ask a question, thought better of it and went back to the file. Starsky waited patiently, still wearing the smirk. Hutch tossed the folder back down on his desk. "Okay, I'll bite. How can you not need anything?" He leaned across the desk, one eyebrow cocked up into his hair.

"For your information, Alice and I have been hanging out while you've been toiling away here."

Hutch's brows now knitted together and he leaned back. "Oh, is that so?"

Starsky crossed his arms across his chest. "Yes, that's so. I've got almost a whole wardrobe in her garage and my new furniture is being delivered Friday."

Hutch deflated. "Oh. Well…good," he stated, not quite emphatically. "Glad to hear that." He flipped through the pages of the file and chose to ignore the grin from across the desk.

Dobey's office door opened. "Starsky, Hutch, can you come in here please?" Both the detectives could hear the urgency in the request and hurried into the office and shut the door.

"What's up, Cap'n?" Starsky asked.

"I need you to go down to the pier." He handed Hutch a slip of paper with the exact location. "A security guard found a body this morning."

~ S&H ~

Hutch pulled up close to the coroner's wagon and he and Starsky joined the officers on the pier. Starsky was the first to speak.

"What do you have, Hannagan?"

"Sergeant Starsky, good to see you back." Starsky nodded curtly so Hannagan got right to the point and gestured at the body as Hutch bent down to pull back the blanket covering it. "Larry Davis, age 54, beaten to death sometime last night."

Hutch dropped the blanket back down. "His hands are gone." He said as he stood back up. He continued to take in the rest of the scene which included a bottle of what appeared to be wine wrapped in a paper sack and a grimy backpack of tattered belongings.

"Yeah, the M.E. seems to think they were hacked off after he was killed," Hannagan said.

Starsky turned toward the victim. Hutch held a clenched fist over his mouth. He shook his head at Starsky to tell him there was no need for him to see the body too as the coroner's team moved it to a gurney.

Starsky watched his partner take a deep breath and shake off the scene. "So this was done to conceal his identity?" Starsky asked Hannagan.

"No, that's the weird part. He still has his wallet and ID on him. No money, though. Although, he's a homeless wino so I'm sure burglary was not the killer's main motive."

Starsky looked down the pier and saw a uniformed security guard sitting on a crate. "Is that the guy who found the body?"

"That's him. Rick Doeg. I asked him to wait for you, although we already have his statement."

"Thanks Hannagan," Hutch said as he stepped around the gurney and moved toward the security guard followed by Starsky.

Hutch pulled out his badge and showed it to the man. "Mr. Doeg, I'm Detective Hutchinson, this is my partner, Detective Starsky. We'd like to ask you a few questions."

"Sure. Officer Hannagan said you'd want to speak to me."

"When did you find the body?" Starsky asked.

"On my first pass this morning, about 7 a.m."

"When was the last time someone checked this area?"

"That would have been Charlie's shift and it would have been around 11 p.m. Winos come in after that to sleep it off. Most of us just overlook them, though, if we do see them."

"Did you know the man?"

Lenny swallowed hard. "I couldn't really tell who it was he was so beat up until the officer showed me his ID. Yeah, I knew Larry. Didn't know his last name until now, but I knew him somewhat." Lenny looked up as the coroner's wagon pulled away. "He sure didn't deserve that."

Hutch reached out to shake Lenny's hand. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Doeg. Here's my card. Call me if you remember any other details." Hutch moved away and motioned to Starsky who leaned in. "Starsk, that's the third wino to be killed this way and robbed in the past three weeks."

"What? The same way, hands cut off too?" A shocked Starsky asked.

Hutch nodded. "I'm not surprised Hannagan hadn't heard about it; two of the others weren't even in our precinct and a dead wino doesn't make the news but…"

"But we now have a serial killer on our hands," Starsky finished Hutch's thought, who then nodded. Starsky squinted up at the skyline. "Closest homeless shelter is on Parker."

"Let's go," Hutch said as he headed up the ramp back to his car.

~ S&H ~

Starsky and Hutch pulled up in front of the Bayview Shelter for Men. There were a few people sitting at the tables behind the building so they headed over to speak to them. After a few minutes they found one man who said he knew Larry.

"Yeah, I know him. Aw, that's horrible. Laughing Larry we called him. Geez."

"He's stayed here at this shelter?"

"He mostly stuck to the docks but when there was bad weather, he'd flop here from time to time, yeah."

"Did he ever have any issues with anyone here or out by the waterfront?" Hutch asked.

"Heck, I don't know what goes on with all these guys. It's not like we are catching up at a coffee klatch or somethin.'"

Hutch looked over at Starsky and shrugged.

"Hey, wait a minute. You know, now that I think of it, he did get into a fight with the Captain about a week ago."

"The Captain?" Hutch asked, now hopeful.

"Yeah, I never knew what started it. The Captain just went after him – unprovoked, ya know?"

"Do you know the name of the Captain?" Starsky asked.

"No, nobody knows. Not even sure if he ever was a captain," the man said, rising from his seat. "If that's all, I gotta head downtown now. Soup kitchen line gets long fast."

Hutch nodded absently at the man, "Yeah, thanks." He looked over at Starsky. "Now what?"

"I'm getting a little hungry myself and maybe Huggy knows who this Captain guy is."

"Good idea, Starsk. You haven't lost it."


"I was talking about your appetite," Hutch said and winked. Starsky laughed.

~ S&H ~

"Yeah, I think I know that dude," Huggy said after thinking a moment. Starsky was devouring his burrito with wild abandon so Hutch paid attention to the bar owner. "His real name is Mark…Mark Murray. A real low-life.

"Any chance you have an address?" Hutch asked.

"Naw, he doesn't have one. He's a bum, lives out on the streets."

Starsky stopped chewing and stared at Hutch. "He's homeless too?"

Hutch popped a French fry in his mouth, "Yeah, and I wonder what his problem was with Larry."

Huggy shrugged. "No clue. But he does hang out in that park on the corner of Maple and 1st."

Starsky snorted as he finished his meal. "Lovely neighborhood," he said sarcastically.

~ S&H ~

Hutch pulled his old Ford into the Maple Street Park. "This was once a nice little park until the low-lifes took it over."

"The whole neighborhood was once a nice place," Starsky replied as he watched out the passenger side window. "Did Huggy say he wore a pea coat and a Dodgers hat?"

"Yeah, you see him?"

"Nope, just checking."

They made one more loop through the area and then headed back to Metro. Hutch let out a frustrated breath as he sat down. "Whatya say, Starsk, how about some bowling tonight. Are you up to it?"

"Of course I'm up to it? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, you did just come back…"

"Oh, would ya knock it off. The doc wouldn't have cleared me for duty if I wasn't ready and if I can keep up with you here, I can certainly kick your butt at duck pin."

Hutch leaned in with a mock look of seriousness. "Okay then, Starsky."

"Bring it on, Hutchinson," Starsky replied but couldn't keep the grin off his face. "Who is watching my little girl?"

"Hey, that's my little girl and Alice found a great sitter who lives in the neighborhood. Comes highly recommended."

"Good. Can we at least say 'our' little girl?"

Hutch rubbed his chin as he contemplated that and then replied, "Deal."

~ S&H ~

"There you are!" Hutch called out as Starsky picked up his bowling shoes at the counter. "Come on, Alice is holding our lane for us." Hutch led Starsky to the lane at the far left. Alice gave Starsky a kiss on the cheek as he sat down to change into the shoes.

"Hiya, Sweet Starsky."

"Hiya, Beautiful," Starsky replied, kissing her back.

Hutch pulled Alice away. "Hey, hey. Keep your lips off my woman." Alice laughed and stuck her tongue out at Hutch who grinned.

Starsky finished putting on his bowling shoes and watched Alice and Hutch hamming it up as Alice bowled and got a spare. He looked to his right and saw a petite woman with light brown hair. He watched her for a minute until Hutch sat down beside him.

"You're up. Starsk, you're up."

"Yeah, okay."

"You all right?" Hutch asked as he followed Starsky's gaze. He realized the resemblance and put his hand on Starsky's shoulder.

"I still miss her."

Hutch looked sadly over at Alice. "I'm sorry, Starsk. What brought this on?"

Starsky played with the laces on his shoes that sat beside him on the bench and shrugged. "I don't know…we used to come here." He looked back over at the woman a few lanes down. "Hey, she really doesn't even look like Terry. I'm just being an idiot."

"No you're not." Hutch said softly.

"Come on, it's been, what – three years?" Starsky visibly shook himself. "Come on, let's bowl!" He jumped up and grabbed a bowling ball.

As Starsky was getting ready, Alice came over to Hutch. "What was that all about?"

Hutch gestured toward the woman in the nearby lane. "She looks like Terry." Alice watched the woman and then looked sadly at Starsky.

After bowling a strike, Starsky strutted over to the table to record the score. "Take that, suckah." Hutch gave a weak smile back. "Aw, come on, Hutch. Don't be like that. I'm over it, see?" Starsky flashed his 1000 watt smile. Hutch smiled back and nodded. "Please, don't let me bring you down. You have a wonderful lady here. Let's have some fun."

Somewhat convinced that Starsky was indeed okay, Hutch relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the night.

Later that night, Hutch handed over a twenty to his more-than-pleased partner.

"Thank you very much," Starsky said, tucking the bill into his wallet. "It has been a pleasure doing business with you, goodnight." Starsky headed for his car in the parking lot after kissing Alice on the cheek and throwing a fake punch at Hutch's mid-section.

Alice watched him go. "He seems fine now, Handsome."

"Yeah, he bounces back quickly. But still…"

"Now come on, you know he doesn't want you worrying about him that way."

"I know, I know," Hutch replied and pulled Alice toward him. "But I can't help feel a little guilty."

Alice took Hutch's hand and led him to his car. "The last thing he wants is to make you feel guilty about being happy."

Hutch smiled, "You two have been spending time together, I hear."

Alice slid into the passenger seat of Hutch's car. "Yeah. You got a problem with that?"

"No ma'am." Hutch said with a grin as he shut the door.

~ S&H ~

Hutch hung up the phone and headed into Alice's bedroom. "Sorry, Love. That was Starsky. Dobey called us in."

"Another murder?"

"Not quite, this guy is still alive."

"Be careful," Alice said as she stroked Hutch's cheek.

"Always. Besides, we are just going to the hospital to see the victim. I'll be back as soon as I can but don't wait up," Hutch said as he heard the Torino pull up in front of the house.

Hutch climbed into Starsky's car. "Who's the victim and what hospital?"

"Leroy Baines, Memorial but I think we need to hurry," Starsky said. As soon as he was clear of Alice's house, he turned on the siren as Hutch placed the bubble light on the roof.

After speaking to the woman at the front desk, the detectives headed to the second floor. As they stepped out of the elevator, they spotted Marco Ortiz, Metro's sketch artist.

Marco held up a hand, "Don't rush guys, he just bought it."

"He's dead?" Hutch asked, amazed.

"Did you get anything?" Starsky asked, gesturing toward the sketch pad in the man's hands.

"Yeah, some." Marco flipped open the sketch pad. "He never was able to describe the face."

"That's a peacoat and Dodgers hat, though," Starsky said as he grabbed onto Hutch and headed back to the elevator.

"Maple Street Park?" Hutch asked as he punched the down elevator button.

"Can't hurt to look. And then if that doesn't pan out, we could stake out the pier," Starsky answered as he watched the elevator indicator light anxiously.

Ten minutes later Starsky pulled the Torino into the park and slowly trolled through the various lanes. Hutch spotted a bonfire burning on the edge of a small pond. "There, Starsk."

"I see it," Starsky replied, pulling into the parking lot that ran along the edge of the pond. Before shutting down the engine and the headlights, both he and Hutch saw the men gathered at the bonfire turn and look uneasily at the red car. One man stood up and moved away down the beach. "There!"

Hutch was already out of the car and running toward the bonfire. The man in the peacoat broke into a run and was soon in the shadows but Hutch was too fast for him and before Starsky could catch up, Hutch had the suspect in cuffs.

"Mark Murray, you are under arrest," Hutch began.

"What the hell for?"

"Murder and attempted murder," Starsky said, glancing over at Hutch who nodded slightly that he understood. "We have someone at the hospital that can identify you in a line up."

"I want to talk to a lawyer."

Hutch read the man his rights as he pushed him up the beach toward Starsky's car. The rest of the men at the bonfire looked on nervously.

Once they had Murray in an interrogation room, Starsky briefly held up the sketch that Marco had made but not long enough for Murray to see that it was unfinished. "Look Murray, we know you killed Larry Davis, tried to kill Leroy Baines…"

"I'm not sayin' anything 'til I talk to a lawyer," Murray said as he played with a black metal band on his right middle finger.

Starsky rubbed his eyes as Hutch leaned back with a sigh.

"Fine," Starsky said. "We'll see you in the morning." He opened the door and motioned to a uniformed officer. Will you escort our friend here to his lovely cell?" Starsky lowered his voice as he leaned in toward the officer. "And make sure you get a complete list of all his belongings before you lock him up. I don't want anything going wrong and giving him the chance to be sprung."

Once Murray was taken out of the room, Starsky sat back down across from Hutch. "Should we go check out the waterfront?"

Hutch yawned. "I don't think that will do any good, Starsk. Besides, we need to get in here early and fight with Dobey. This guy is gonna walk, I can feel it."

Starsky pounded on the table. "I know it. We need to find something more on him."

Hutch began to shrug but then stopped, "Wait a minute, Starsk. If no one really connected these deaths right away…"

Starsky leaned in, "then who's to say there aren't more, right?"

Hutch nodded and stood up. They headed to the file room.

~ S&H ~

Starsky yawned, "What time is it?"

Hutch blinked a few times at his watch trying to clear his blurry vision. Eight in the morning. Glad I told Alice not to wait up.

"So we have three other similar deaths, right?" Starsky said spreading the files across the table.

"Yeah, these three didn't lose their hands…but their faces were all obliterated, most likely from more than just the beating. And these were four years ago. Nothing more until now.

The file room door opened and Millie came in. Starsky's mood brightened. "Good morning, beautiful."

"Good morning, yourself. I found this on my desk when I came in; thought you two might want to see it. It is the file on someone you brought in last night, Mark Murray?"

Starsky jumped up. "There it is, what the heck is it doing on your desk?" Starsky moved close to Millie and smiled sweetly as he took the folder from her hands. "Thank you."

Hutch smirked as he watched his partner practically flutter his eyelashes at the woman.

"It is sure nice to have you back." Millie said, shaking her head and laughing.

"Aw, well it's nice to be….back." Starsky punctuated the last word with a bounce of his eyebrows and enjoyed watching Millie walk out of the room. After a moment he shook himself and got back to the task at hand. He opened the file and leafed through. "Holy…Hutch, look at this!" Starsky laid the folder down in front of Hutch and pointed out what he had found. "Murray had been committed to Dwyer Institute for the Criminally Insane and was released two months ago."

Hutch's eyes popped open wide. "Let me guess, he was committed four years ago?"

"You go it," Starsky replied heading for the door. Hutch followed behind him, carrying the files of the murder victims.

As they reached the squad room, Dobey was standing at their desks.

"There you are, what the hell are you holding Mark Murray for? You both know there isn't enough evidence to keep him."

"Don't bet on it, Cap'n," Starsky said waving the file in front of him. He pointed at the files in Hutch's hand. "We have three other murders that we believe were committed by Murray."

Dobey ran a hand over his head, "His lawyer will be here sometime this morning, get in my office and tell me what you have."

~ S&H ~

Hutch sat slumped at his desk again leafing through the files of the victims while Starsky sat on the edge of the desk, his shoulders also sagging in defeat and exhaustion.

"Give it up, Starsk. His lawyer will have him out of here today; Dobey's right, we don't have anything definitive to tie him to these."

Starsky kicked a chair and then winced and rubbed his shin.

Hutch grimaced in sympathy. "This guy, Kevin Elson…pretty young. Down on his luck. Lost his job and couldn't quite get back on his feet so he took off. His wife…"

"What are you doing, Hutch?" Starsky asked as he dropped into his chair across from his partner.

Hutch looked up and shrugged. "I don't know. They are becoming more than just pages in a file now. They are real people, Starsk. She said Kevin was missing his wedding ring when they found him. A large rounded gold band. And…" Hutch stopped short and Starsky raised his head off his hands to look at him.


Hutch jumped up and left the room. Starsky remained sitting, stunned at his partner's hasty exit. The squad room door opened and Hutch yelled, "Are you coming or not?"

"I guess I'm coming." Starsky said, still puzzled.

Starsky ran after Hutch who was headed to the intake area. He stepped up to the barred window. "Hey there, Rich. Can you do me a favor and give me Mark Murray's personal belongings?"

"Oh, sure, give me a minute," the intake officer said as he headed to a locked cabinet in the back of the room. A moment later he returned. "Here you go."

Hutch mumbled a thank you as he took the envelope to a nearby table and dumped the contents. There was a metallic clink as a ring hit the hard tabletop. Hutch reached out and picked up the black ring.

"Whatcha got, Hutch?" Starsky asked.

"Look at this ring, Starsky. It looks like it has been painted."

"Probably to keep it from getting stolen. Looks like nothing important that way."

Hutch turned the ring around in his hand and studied it carefully. "Look at this; I can see there is some kind of etching inside." Hutch rubbed at the black paint and when that didn't work, he tried scratching at it with his thumbnail. "I've got an idea." He dropped the rest of the meager belongings back into the envelope and handed it back to Rich. "I am confiscating this item." Before the officer could say anything in return, Hutch was out the door and headed to the basement with Starsky trailing behind him.

Murali Gupta, the lab technician, jumped when Hutch burst through the lab doors. "Murali, I need a favor."

"What can I assist you with?" The man asked in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Can you remove the paint from this ring without harming the ring itself?" Hutch held up the dull black band.

Murali took the ring and studied it. "I'm sure that won't be a problem." He moved to a cabinet and removed a beaker, a bottle of some sort of liquid and a few other items. "The trick will be leaving it immersed long enough to remove the paint but not too long or the metal will…"

"Yeah, yeah Rolly. Just get to it, we are in a rush here," Starsky said leaning over the man's shoulder.

"The name is Murali and please step back." The man pushed his wire-rimmed glasses up his nose before donning rubber gloves.

Hutch pulled his partner away from the lab bench. "Please, Starsk, don't crowd the man." He then leaned in and whispered "And don't antagonize him either."

Starsky snapped his head away from Hutch's lips. "What I do?" There were matching groans from both Hutch and Gupta.

Hutch pointed at a lab chair away from where Gupta worked and mouthed, 'Sit.' Starsky pulled a face at him and Hutch pointed a threatening index finger. Starsky begrudgingly sat down on the chair which squeaked loudly. Hutch went back to watching Murali work - from a safe distance.

Gupta dropped the ring into the beaker of liquid which began to fizz. He looked at his watch and then, picking up a long tweezer, pulled out the now shining gold band. After rinsing it in water and drying it on a cloth, he handed it to Hutch. Starsky could not contain his curiosity and tried to slide off the lab stool without another loud squeaking incident.

Hutch studied the ring and smiled. "All my love, Gayle."

"Gail?" Starsky asked.

"Gayle, G-a-y-l-e. A very unusual spelling and the first name of Mrs. Kevin Elson."

Starsky's smile now matched Hutch's. "We got him."

"We got him," Hutch echoed. "Thanks, Murali. We owe you one."

"Yeah, thanks, Mara…uh, thanks." Starsky said tipping an imaginary hat and heading out the door after his partner.

~ S&H ~

The next evening, Starsky and Hutch met Alice at The Pits. Hutch leaned on the bar, one foot resting on the foot railing. Alice held his hand and they stared at each other lovingly. Starsky had his back to the bar, resting both elbows on it as he surveyed the room. He spotted a beautiful girl talking to some friends and feeling left out of Hutch and Alice's 'conversation,' he sauntered over to the woman. A few minutes later, he returned.

Hutch watched him approach. "Strike out, Buddy?" he asked as he took a sip of beer. Starsky simply grumbled in reply.

Alice leaned around the two friends and studied the girl down the bar. "She's not good enough for you, Sugar," she said rubbing Starsky's arm.

"Yeah, well…you know," Starsky pouted. "I've been out of commission for a while and…oh never mind." Starsky blushed and Hutch smirked sadly.

"Well okay, Honey," Alice said as she moved around Hutch to Starsky's side. She leaned in and Hutch could not make out what she was saying.

"Seriously?" Starsky asked and Alice nodded. She gave him a push and he walked back to the young woman. Hutch watch, confused, as his best friend spoke briefly to the girl. She then wrapped her hands around Starsky's forearm and waved goodbye to her friends. When they passed by Alice and Hutch on the way to the door, Starsky winked at Alice. He then looked at Hutch while pointing at Alice, "Consider her my new wingman." He grinned devilishly and escorted the woman out of the bar.

"What the hell was that?" Hutch asked, baffled.

Alice laughed at Hutch. "Just gave him some pointers, that's all, Handsome Hutch. Now let's go home to my little girl."

Hutch downed the rest of his beer, waved goodbye to Huggy and followed Alice out. "Our little girl," he mumbled.

A few minutes into their drive to Alice's house, they spotted a small group of 'working girls' on a familiar street corner. "Oh, Hutch, pull over for a minute, would ya?" Alice pleaded. He pulled the Ford up to the curb as Alice rolled down the window.

"Belinda, Tabitha – is that you?" Alice called out happily.

"Sweet Alice? Why, as I live and breathe!" The shorter of the two women said as the other squealed in that high-pitched girlie way that always made men's ears bleed.

Hutch stuck a finger in his right ear for a moment. He smiled as Alice caught up with her friends and admired how she embraced her past, never hiding from it. After promising to get together soon, Alice waved and rolled up her window. Hutch moved the car back into the traffic.

"Aw, it is so nice to see them again."

"Alice, I know you have been out on the streets yourself, but please be careful if you make plans to see them. Have them come uptown." Hutch was not surprised when Alice scoffed at the suggestion. "I just worry about you." He reached and put his hand on her thigh. "I love you so much; I don't want anything to happen to you."

Alice began to protest but decided against it and put her hand over Hutch's. "They are great girls. I'd like to see them get off the streets some day. If I could just get them a nice respectable job…" Alice's eyes grew wide.

"Oh oh, why do I suddenly feel worried?" Hutch joked.

"I could give them a job!" Alice said.

"Whoa, what?"

"I should start my own business and hire them. Oh my gosh, if it took off, I could hire all my friends."

"Start a business doing what?" Hutch asked, trying to hide his amusement.

Alice thought a moment, "Hm, that's a good question." She smacked at Hutch when he laughed. "Well, I don't know all the particulars yet. I just came up with the idea," she drawled. Hutch continued to laugh. "Just what are you laughing at? Don't you think I can do it?"

Hutch took his hand off her thigh and held it up in defense. "Oh I know you can do it!" Then more softly, he added, "I believe in you, Love."

Alice leaned over and as Hutch stopped at a red light he leaned in and kissed her.

~ S&H ~

"No, Starsky," Hutch said from the passenger side of the Torino. "Let's go to The Pits."

"I can't wait that long, I'm starving. Besides, I've been to Tony's place and it is good."

"No. It's a dive and I'm not in the mood to have my stomach pumped today." Hutch crossed his arms over his chest.

Starsky screwed up his face and made a pft sound. "Oh stop that, ya big baby," he said as he pulled up in front of Tony's Burger Pit. "Look, Burger Pit – The Pits. It's the same, right?" He jumped out of the car and up onto the sidewalk.

Hutch peered at the establishment's front window which was so dirty it was opaque. The 'open' sign blinked and sputtered and a bum was curled up in the doorway asleep. "I'm not stepping foot inside there."

Just as Starsky opened his mouth to argue there was the sound of a woman's terrified scream from above them. Starsky was past the bum in an instant and headed up the stairs to the second floor. Hutch grabbed the radio mic and hastily asked for back-up before running after his partner.

Hutch burst from the stairwell into the second floor hallway, gun drawn. He spotted an open door at the end of the hall and started to move toward it. He aimed his gun and then relaxed as Starsky stepped into the hall from the open door. His gun was hanging by his side.

"We're too late."

"Too late?"

Starsky just nodded and motioned toward the open door. "She's dead. I can't even figure out where the attacker disappeared to."

"What? Starsk, are you sure? Call an ambulance," Hutch said as he stepped into the grimy room and scanned it. He saw another open door that looked like it led into a bathroom. As he closed in, he saw the red spatter on the dirty white door. He looked into the room and was horrified by what he saw."

"No need for an ambulance," Starsky said sadly. He heard the black and whites approaching. "I'll go down and have them get the meat wagon and you see if you can find a manager of this dump." Hutch could only nod in response.

An hour later Starsky closed the cover on the small pad of paper he was holding. He thanked the man he had spoken to and headed down the sidewalk to his car. Hutch sat quietly inside with the door open. He stared unseeing through the front windshield.

"You okay there, Partner?"

Hutch continued to stare but nodded slightly. "She was a hooker, Starsk."

"I know."

"That could have been Alice."

Starsky stooped down to see Hutch more clearly. "But it wasn't. Besides, Alice was a lot more classy than this." He knew it was of little consolation. "And that's all behind her now."

Hutch rubbed his eyes. "Yeah." He finally looked over at Starsky. "Do you know she wants to start her own business and give all her old girlfriends jobs?"

"Oh yeah? That's t'rrific. She could do it too." Starsky tipped his head and smiled at his friend. "Whatya say we head down to The Pits while forensics finishes up in there. I got nothin' much from the manager over there."

Hutch sat quietly for a moment before speaking. "Do you think we could go over to Alice's house, Starsk?"

Starsky smiled again and patted his partner on the shoulder, "Sure thing, let's go." He closed Hutch's door and moved to the driver's side.

~ S&H ~

"Well, hey, this is a pleasant…" Alice was cut off as Hutch wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on the lips.

Starsky strutted past the couple and into the house. "Where's my little girl?" He spotted Jamie sitting in her high chair at the kitchen table. "There she is. Can I have a kiss?" Starsky got close enough to the toddler to see pasta sauce smeared across her face. "Uh, on second thought. I'll pass."

"Hi Stars!" Jamie called out.

"Hi, James," Starsky answered as he sat down at the table near her.

Alice and Hutch remained at the door whispering for a few minutes so Starsky helped himself to a plate of spaghetti from the stove and went back to sit with Jamie. A few minutes later Alice took Hutch's hand and led him to the table.

"Sit down, Handsome. I'll get you some spaghetti. I see Starsky has already helped himself." She smiled as she went by.

"Yeah, well, Jamie here made it look so appealing." Starsky grinned over at Hutch who gave a half-hearted smile in return. When Alice was out of earshot, Starsky asked quietly, "Did she know her?"

Hutch shook his head. "No, but I think this will fuel her fire to start that business she spoke about."

"Good for her!" Starsky replied to Hutch and then started making faces at Jamie who laughed.

After the men finished their meal, they headed to the front door. Hutch opened it and saw a panel truck pulling into the driveway. "Who's this?"

Alice looked out. "Oh, I am thinking about re-doing the pool house. It's a mess in there."

Hutch pulled her in for a kiss. "You should make it into an office for your new venture."

Alice smiled up at him and then looked over at Starsky. "Maybe. We'll see." Starsky's brows knitted together in confusion but soon forgot about it and hooked Hutch's elbow with his own.

"Come on, Blondie. Let's get back to work."

When they entered the squad room, Hutch found a note on his desk that Dobey wanted to speak to them. He held it up for Starsky to see and they knocked on Dobey's office door and went in.

"Oh good, sit down," Dobey said as he dropped an empty soda cup into the trash. "You'll be interested to know that there were two other murders of prostitutes in the past ten days."

Hutch slid to the edge of the chair he sat on. "What? The same M.O.?"

"Fraid so, yes. Both hacked up pretty bad." Dobey slid two files toward his detectives. I'd like your report on the one from today as soon as possible. Oh, and I heard from the Medical Examiner. There was no recent sexual activity apparent on the victim, Mary D'Angelo.

Hutch opened one of the files and flipped through it, anger marring his features. "We'll get right on it, Captain."

"Oh, and we reached the woman's mother. She's coming in from Sacramento. She'll be here in a few hours and she'll be asking for you, Hutchinson."

Hutch nodded somberly and left the office. By the time Starsky got to his desk, Hutch already had the three files in front of him and was reading them carefully.

"Want me to get the report started?" Starsky asked.

Hutch looked up after a moment. "Could you Starsky? I'd really appreciate that. After I speak to the girl's mother, I'll add that to the file."

Hours later Starsky came back into the squad room carrying two cups of coffee and a candy bar for himself. He set one cup down near his partner who was scribbling notes on a pad of paper. "Thanks a lot, Starsk."

"So what we got?"

Hutch sipped the hot coffee and leaned back with the pad of paper in his other hand. Well, they are all hookers, all white, no sexual activity for any of them despite their profession," he looked up at Starsky who raised an eyebrow, "and get this, all Catholic."

Hutch put his coffee down then got up and went to the map of the city on the wall to the right of his desk. "This is where the first was murdered," he put a thumb tack in the map. Referring to his notes, he placed another tack. "This is the second location and this," he placed a third tack, "is where we found Mary D'Angelo today."

Starsky stepped forward and ran his finger around inside the triangle created by the tacks. "Here, St. Joseph's Church." He looked over at Hutch who nodded.

"It's a start," Hutch said as he stepped back to his desk to answer the phone. "Hutchinson. Oh yeah, thanks Ed. I'll be there in five minutes." He slowly hung up the phone. "Mrs. D'Angelo is here. Starsky, let me speak to her and you go check out St. Joseph's. It just may save us some time and another woman's life."

"You got it. I'll see you back here by six."

Hutch nodded and the two men left the squad room together. Starsky took a left to the exit while Hutch took a right to meet Mary D'Angelo's mother in the conference room.

Hutch stepped into the room and found a woman, about 50 years old, crying quietly and wiping her eyes with a handkerchief. "Mrs. D'Angelo? I'm Detective Ken Hutchinson. Please don't get up. Can I get you a glass of water…a cup of coffee?"

Shaking her head, Mrs. D'Angelo said, "No, thank you. They said you were the detective on my daughter's case?"

"Yes, I'd like to ask you a few questions."

Nodding and dabbing at her nose with the handkerchief, Mrs. D'Angelo looked down at a photo that she held in her hand. She showed it to Hutch. "That's Mary in 8th grade. She already was a little hellion by that age. She gave me so much grief. As soon as she was 18 she ran off to 'the big city.' But she was basically a good girl. She sent me money whenever she could."

Hutch handed the picture back. "Mrs. D'Angelo, your daughter…well,"

"She told me she worked as a secretary. But I knew what she did. I never let on that I knew."

Hutch let out a breath and ran his hand through his hair. "May I ask, are you Catholic?"

Mrs. D'Angelo looked up at Hutch, puzzled. "Yes, I am." She reached over to an envelope beside her and pulled out a gold chain and crucifix. "This was Mary's. She was wearing it when…"

The woman began to sob so Hutch moved closer and put a consoling arm around her shoulders. "I am so sorry."

At 6:15 p.m., Starsky came into the squad room to find Hutch pulling a report from the typewriter. "How did it go?"

"Awful, but Mary was also Catholic. What about you? Anything?"

Starsky shook his head, "Nah, dead end."

"Well Dobey is trying to line up a decoy for us but it won't be tonight. I'm beat, how about we call it a day?"

"Good idea. You go see that beautiful lady of yours. I'll see you tomorrow."

"You are welcome to come…" Hutch began but Starsky raised his hands.

"Not tonight, Partner. You two need time alone. I know this case has you freaked out."

Hutch rested his hand on Starsky's shoulder. "Thanks, Pal. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Bright and early."

Just then Dobey came out of his office. "Oh good, you're still here. I found you a decoy. Officer Christianson has volunteered."

Hutch rubbed his eyes, "Well that's a fitting name. I don't know her, has she done anything like this before?"

"She has and is planning on becoming a detective. She's tough. As of tomorrow, you are both on nights. I'll see you here at this time tomorrow."

"Ah, there you go, Hutch. You can even sleep in."

Hutch smirked tiredly at Starsky, "Not with a toddler in the house, Starsk. They get up at the crack of dawn."

Starsky's shoulders sagged, "Oh yeah. Sorry about that." He patted Hutch on the back. "See you tomorrow."

~ S&H ~

Alice came downstairs after putting Jamie to bed. Hutch had his guitar on his lap, a pad of paper in front of him on the coffee table and a pencil between his teeth. She leaned against the doorway and watched him work. He would strum a few notes, pull the pencil from his teeth, jot something down and then strum again. Eventually, Alice moved closer and sat down on the floor at his feet. Hutch was so engrossed in his work, he didn't see her there at first.

"Hi there. I'm sorry, I'll put it away," Hutch said.

"No, don't be silly. I love to watch you." Alice put a hand on his knee then rested her chin on the back of her hand.

Hutch reached down and ran his fingers through her golden hair. Alice closed her eyes and sighed. "You are under arrest," Hutch said smiling and Alice opened her eyes.

"Is that so?" She asked and Hutch nodded with a mock scowl. "What is the charge, Officer?"

"Stealing my heart. It's a felony."

"Does that come with a life sentence?"

"Mm hm," Hutch replied and leaned down to kiss her.

After the kiss, Alice rested her chin back on her hand and Hutch went back to strumming the guitar. "Hutch?"


"Move in with me."

Hutch's mouth opened in shock, allowing the pencil to drop to the floor. He leaned down quickly to pick it up and smacked his head on Alice's. "Oh, I'm sorry."

Alice rubbed her head and smiled, "That's okay." She handed the pencil back to him. "Well?"

"Well, uh, yeah. Um, sure. I think…are you sure?"

Alice got up off the floor and sat on the couch next to Hutch.

"Yes, very sure. You are paying rent for nothing now – you're here almost every night."

"Gee, I don't know. What about Starsky? Well, I mean, he and I hang out. He stays over once in a while…"

"You know we have room for him here and he is always welcome." Alice saw Hutch's hesitation. She lowered her eyes and stared at her hands in her lap. "I'll understand if you don't want to. You are a police officer after all and it wouldn't look right…"

Hutch grabbed onto Alice's upper arms and gave her a gentle shake. "No, Sweetie, it isn't that at all. Don't you dare think that I am worried about what other people would think. I love you so much, Alice." Hutch's eyes glistened with unshed tears. He could never do anything to hurt this woman.

"I love you too, Handsome Hutch." Alice's cheeks tinged pink and she felt the goose bumps rise on her arms as he stared into her eyes.

"Then yes, I will move in."

Alice threw her arms around Hutch.

~ S&H ~

The next night Starsky and Hutch were sitting in Hutch's old Ford outside The Smith Manor Inn, an old dive of a hotel that had seen better days. Officer Beverly Christianson stood on the corner outside the hotel dressed in stiletto heels, a leopard skin dress that was a size or two too small and a fake fur coat. Her auburn hair was teased and her makeup bright and gaudy.

"You look like a natural, Bev," Starsky said into the radio he held. He laughed as the woman did a slow twirl and then hitched her hip in his direction. "Well, I guess you can hear me loud and clear. Make sure you show off the crucifix." He watched as Bev pulled open the fur. The silver necklace glinted in the light from the street light above her.

Hutch took the radio from Starsky, "Now remember what Dobey told you. Any sign of them wanting more than sex, you let us know and get your ass out of there." Bev nodded slightly in their direction but her attention was then taken by the approach of a middle-aged man. Starsky and Hutch listened to the couple on the street corner strike a deal and then watched as Bev led the man into the building.

"I'll follow her up this time, I can't sit another minute in this bucket of bolts," Starsky said, getting out of the car.

Fifteen minutes later, Bev was back out on the street and Starsky climbed back into the passenger seat. He chuckled, "She really is good at this, I have to hand it to her."

Hutch laughed, "I wish I could have seen that guy's face when she told him off."

"He really believed he had done something to offend her."

After a few minutes of watching Bev pace on the sidewalk Hutch said, "So, Starsk."

"Uh huh."

"You won't believe this."

"Alice asked you to move in with her."

"What? How the heck do you know that? Did she tell you?" Hutch asked, hurt that he didn't have a chance to tell his best friend his news.

"No she didn't tell me, you big oaf. I knew something was up when you floated into the office on cloud nine with the biggest goofiest smile on your face. I figured that had to be it."

Hutch's brow furrowed for a minute before he broke out in a grin. Starsky studied him for a moment. "I'm happy for ya, you big blond blintz."

"Thanks, Buddy," Hutch replied but then sobered. "This doesn't change anything between us. You are always welcome there and we will still have our time together – whatever you want to do."

Starsky turned to stare over at Bev for a minute. Hutch could just make out the slight worry reflected in the window. Starsky then turned back to face his friend. "Promise?"

"I promise." Hutch said with a grin.

Starsky slapped Hutch on the shoulder, "Well, then congratulations."

"Thanks – oh, there is another john approaching Bev. I'll follow her up this time."

"Yeah, you want to get the kinks out of your back now too, I know," Starsky said shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

"No…well, yeah, maybe," Hutch smirked and Starsky laughed.

~ S&H ~

Two nights later, the officer and two detectives were still trying to find a killer. At 3 a.m., Bev climbed into the back of the Ford. As Hutch pulled away and headed back to Metro, he heard Bev curse under her breath.

"You okay back there?" he asked, looking in his rear view mirror at her.

"I think there is a broken spring up my ass." She shifted to the other side of the seat. "Oh shit, this side is worse!"

Starsky chuckled and Hutch shot him a look which just made him laugh harder.

"So listen," Bev began. "I don't think we are getting anywhere like this but I have an idea."

"Oh?" Both Hutch and Starsky asked.

"Tomorrow before we head out, I'll go to Mass at St. Joseph's and hit the confessional too. Make sure anyone who has something against nice Catholic girls making money the old fashioned way knows I'm here, ya know?"

Hutch glanced over at Starsky as he stopped at a traffic light, "That's not a bad idea, Starsk."

"I agree but let's pass it by Dobey in the morning."

"Look," Bev said, "Don't miss out on any sleep. I'll call him at his office tomorrow and then catch you up on it when I see you tomorrow night. Sound good?"

Starsky nodded and Hutch replied, "Sounds good, thanks."

~ S&H ~

The next evening Starsky tapped a pencil on the desk as he and Hutch waited for Bev to arrive and then head back out to their street corner.

"What's taking her so long?" Starsky wondered aloud as he rested his cheek on his hand.

"Don't know; she's usually on time."

Starsky continued to tap the pencil. He picked up a pen and began his own personal drum solo on the desk. "Hey, Partner, guess what?"

"What's that?"

"Your birthday is this weekend."

Hutch smirked; the kid in Starsky loved birthdays even if it wasn't his own. "I know."

"What's the plan?" Starsky asked as his solo ended with a rim shot to the coffee mug.

"I don't know. Let's just hang out at the house. I'll probably be pretty much moved in by then and will want to kick back and relax."

Starsky tossed his pen and pencil drumsticks aside. "Well, that's no fun."

"I know but we are both a little too old for the drink-all-night-til-you-puke fun."

Starsky began to fold a piece of paper into ever smaller triangles. "Speak for ya'self."

"It wouldn't be a birthday without you there." Hutch said, worried.

"I'll be there with you, old man, don't worry about that."

After completing his paper 'football,' Starsky motioned to Hutch to make a goal post with his fingers. He flicked the paper ball through and stood up in a 'touchdown' stance, arms raised above his head. The squad room doors opened and as Starsky turned to see Bev come into the room Hutch bounced the paper ball off his friend's temple.

"Hey, that hurt," he said rubbing the spot.

"Oh, who's the old man now? Good evening, Bev."

"Good evening, Hutchinson, Starsky."

"So, did Dobey approve your proposal to visit St. Joseph's?" Hutch asked.

"He surely did and I have already been there for the 5 o'clock mass and confession. That's why I'm late, sorry."

"Well, you could have let us know," Starsky said shooting a concerned glance at Hutch.

Bev held her hands up, "I know, I know but this way was quicker. Now come on, my street corner is calling my name." She headed for the hall but turned back and pointed a fake nailed finger at Starsky. "And this time, we are taking your car, Starsky. My ass can't take another trip in Hutchinson's jalopy." She continued on her way out into the hallway rubbing her backside as she went. Starsky's eyebrows bounced watching her and he strutted quickly to catch up.

A grueling five hours later, all they had to show for their efforts was a string of very unsatisfied customers. Starsky had followed Beverly upstairs this last time and after the john left, he stepped into the small second-floor room she rented for the evening. Bev sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed the back of her neck.

"I'm beat Starsky."

"Yeah, I know. Why don't we call it for the night and go have a drink before The Pits closes."

"I would love that," Bev said, propping one leg on the bed and rubbing her aching foot.

"Okay, I'll go tell Hutch," Starsky said as he opened the door into the hall. "You coming?"

"Yeah, in a minute. I want to wash some of this off my face."

Starsky gave her a wink and headed into the hall and down the stairs. As he reached the last step, Starsky heard a door slam loudly. He hesitated and looked up to the second floor. After not hearing anything more he trotted back up the stairs to check on Beverly. He reached the door at the end of the hall and knocked, not sure how much washing up she planned on doing. It was then he heard a crash from inside.

Drawing his gun, Starsky kicked in the door just as Bev booted her assailant square in the chest. He was propelled backward right into Starsky. Starsky hit the wall with a loud 'oof' as the man landed up against him and they both fell into a heap on the floor. The assailant's machete clattered loudly to the floor and slid away. Stunned from the force of hitting the wall, Starsky's grip on his Beretta loosened. As the man reached for it there was a loud click from inside the room.

"Freeze, loser!" Bev shouted as he she cocked and aimed her weapon. The attacker hesitated long enough for Starsky to get his wits about him again.

Securing his right arm around the man's throat, Starsky pointed his gun at the assailant's temple. "You heard the lady," he said through gritted teeth.

Hutch looked over at the front door of the hotel and checked his watch. "Where the heck are you?" He said aloud. "Oh man, Starsky," he continued as he got out of the Torino and crossed the street, "If you two are getting it on up there, I swear I'll…" Taking two stairs at a time, Hutch reached the landing and stopped short. Bev had a dark-haired, dark-clothed man spread eagle against the wall outside her room. Starsky stood nearby, gun in one hand as he rubbed the back of his head with the other.

"What the…?" Hutch began.

"Looks like we got our man," Bev said with a smug grin. "He came in the bathroom window right after Starsky left. The machete is over there on the floor."

An older woman opened a door and peered into the hall. "Ma'am, there is nothing to see here, go back inside please. Did you call it in, Starsk?"

"No," Starsky replied still rubbing his sore head.

"Are you all right?" Hutch asked as he pulled Starsky's hand away. "Starsky, there's blood on your hand. Let me see your head."

Starsky slapped away Hutch's hands. "No, I'm okay; I just clocked it on the wall when Christianson here kicked the guy right into the hall."

"You're not okay. Come in here and sit down while I call this in."

Starsky reluctantly sat down on the bed as Bev roughly pushed the dark-haired man into the room and down into a chair. "Sorry, Starsky," She said.

Blushing slightly, Starsky replied, "Don't worry about it. I'm just sorry I was there to cushion his fall. Good job."

"Hey, thanks."

"You'll make a hell of a detective some day."

Bev popped her gum and rested a pointed heel on her attacker's inner thigh making the man wince. "Just be sure to tell Dobey, would ya?"

Hutch hung up the phone and went in to get a wet washcloth from the bathroom. He came back out and moved to place it on the back of Starsky's head. Starsky pulled away, "Whatya doing?"

"I'm trying to clean off that bump on the back of your head a bit."

Starsky stood up, "I told ya I'm…fine." Hutch stood up and grabbed his partner's shoulders as he waivered.

"Sure you are, now sit back down." Hutch maneuvered Starsky back onto the bed and placed the washcloth on his head. Starsky hissed in pain. "I bet you are going to need a few stitches."

"Oh great, well you can drive me over to the hospital when we get done booking Mr. Wonderful over here." Bev laughed. "What are you laughing at?"

"You are so out of it, you don't even realize that your partner there asked for an ambulance when he called for back-up."

Starsky's eyes widened as he heard the approaching sirens. He glared over at Hutch who smiled. "I'll get you for this, Hutchinson."

~ S&H ~

By the time Starsky's head was stitched and he was released, the sun was rising. Having driven Starsky's car to the hospital, Hutch was now driving while Starsky sat dozing in the driver's seat. Hutch pulled into Alice's driveway and Starsky opened his eyes as the engine died.

"Where are we?"

"Alice's house."


"Come on, Starsk," Hutch said as he got out of the car. He went around and opened the passenger side door. "Alice is waiting for you."

"Why didn't you just take me home," Starsky asked but got out of the car. His head hurt and he was too tired to argue.

"I figured this was easier. She was upset that you were hurt and wanted you to come here."

"T'rrific, now I have two mother hens."

"Yup," Hutch said with a grin as he unlocked the side door and stepped aside so that Starsky could go in first.

The kitchen was dimly lit by a light over the stove. Hutch stopped to get a glass of water for his friend. Starsky continued on into the living room and by the time Hutch got there, Starsky was curled up on the couch. He lay on his side since the back of his head was too sore.

Hutch stooped down and placed the glass of water on the coffee table. He could hear Alice coming down the stairs. Putting his hand on Starsky's shoulder, he roused him enough to show him the small bottle of pain pills and the water on the table. Starsky mumbled and nodded slightly.

Hutch stood up and turned to give Alice a kiss. "He's okay. He only needed six stitches and it is a minor concussion. He just needs to rest for a few days."

Alice then knelt down and ran her fingers through Starsky's hair. "Hey, Sweet Starsky. Don't you want to go lie down upstairs? I made up the bed for you."

Starsky smiled but didn't open his eyes. "I'm okay right here, Alice."

She could see he was already almost asleep. She stood up and looked over at Hutch. "Jamie will wake up soon. He won't be able to rest here."

Hutch shrugged, "You'd be surprised what he can sleep through. He can always go upstairs later if he wants to. I'll run up and grab him a pillow and blanket."

"Oh would you, Handsome?"

"Sure," Hutch said. He ran his finger across Alice's lips and gazed at her for a moment. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For loving him too."

"Aw, how could I not love him? He's part of you."

Hutch dropped his gaze and shook his head. When he looked up, he was smiling but his eyes glistened with tears. Kissing Alice softly, he turned away and headed up the stairs. A moment later he returned with the promised bedding. Alice was curled up in a nearby recliner, her feet tucked up under her. Hutch carefully lifted the sleeping Starsky's head, gently pulled out the throw pillow and replaced it with the down one from the guest room bed. He then unfolded the blanket he had brought and laid it over Starsky. He stepped back and studied his friend to make sure he was comfortable.

"You go on up to bed, Hutch. I'm going to sit here with him. You must be exhausted."

"I am, actually. And now that we caught that killer, I think I will actually sleep well – especially knowing this guy is being looked after. Thank you."

Alice swatted at the air between them. "Would you stop thanking me!"

Hutch laughed and leaned over for one more kiss. "Goodnight, Love."

"Good morning, Handsome." Alice said and Hutch chuckled and nodded as he headed for the stairs.

~ S&H ~

Starsky stirred and rolled onto his back. The pain from his head woke him with a start. He looked around and realized where he was. With a groan, he pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes sockets. Seeing the glass of water and pills on the table, he reached over and popped the top off and dropped two tablets into his hand. Washing them down with the water, he placed the glass back on the table and slowly pushed himself to a sitting position. He let out another groan.

Alice came from the kitchen when she heard the noise. "Starsky? Are you all right, Honey?"

"Oh hi, Alice. Yeah, I'm okay. My head just hurts." Alice sat down next to him and smoothed his mussed hair. "Hey, where is my James?"

"I asked my neighbor to watch her for a while so you could sleep."

"Aw, you didn't need to do that."

"It's okay. She wanted to kiss your 'boo boo' but I promised she could do that when she came back. So be prepared," Alice said as she patted Starsky on the hand.

Starsky smiled. "Oh good. Is Hutch asleep?"

"Yup, went to bed right after he got you settled."

"Did he tell you we caught the guy?"

"Yes, he did. Good job."

"Not me," Starsky said pointing at the back of his head. "It was all Bev Christianson. She was amazing. Took him down single-handedly.

Alice tilted her head and studied Starsky. "Would you like something to eat?"

"Yeah, that sounds nice. Anything you have will be fine." Starsky went to scratch his neck and made a face. His hair and neck were covered in dried blood. "Oh man, maybe I should take a shower."

"That's a good idea. I put a towel and one of Hutch's shirts in the downstairs bathroom for you. You can't get those stitches wet so keep your head out of the water. I'll replace the dressing when you get out. Just take it slow, okay? You will be a little woozy for a while."

Starsky kissed Alice on the cheek. "Yes, Mom."

Alice laughed and stood up along with Starsky to be sure he was steady before he headed down the hall. "I'll have lunch ready by the time you are done."

When Starsky came from the bathroom, he went into the kitchen and saw a packet of small gauze pads, some medical tape and antiseptic ointment laid out. "She thinks of everything," he said aloud as he reached for a clean glass and poured himself a glass of milk.

The door leading outside opened and Alice walked in with Jamie who spotted Starsky and let go of her mother's hand to run and wrap her arms around his legs.

"Stars, you awake!"

"I sure am," Starsky said as he bent to pick up the little girl.

"Uh uh, don't pick her up," Alice said as she picked up Jamie and held her close to Starsky so he could kiss her.

"Kiss boo boo?" Starsky turned his head and Jamie planted a kiss in his hair.

"Ah, now it feels all better. Thanks," Starsky exclaimed and Jamie giggled.

"Okay, Jamie baby. Sit at the table. I'm going to put a bandaid on Starsky's boo boo and then we will eat lunch." Alice picked up the ointment and pulled out a chair. "You, sit," she gestured at Starsky.

Starsky sat down obediently and Alice made short order of dressing his wound. "Okay, lunch is served."

An hour later, a bleary-eyed Hutch came downstairs. Alice had just finished cleaning up the kitchen and came into the living room. "Did Starsky finally make it up to bed?"

"Nope." Alice said gesturing toward the back door. The door was open with just the screen door closed. Starsky sat in a recliner chair on the back porch. Jamie had two dolls and two teddy bears seated at her play table and was serving them – and Starsky – tea. Starsky was sipped from the tiny cup with his pinky finger extended. Hutch snickered at the sight. "They have been out there for about twenty minutes. Jamie has been so good. She seems to understand that he can't rough house like he normally does. She has doted on him."

"Where would she leave it?"

Alice looked confused, "What?"

"'Where would she leave it.' It is a saying my grandmother always used. It sort of means the same thing as 'the apple does not fall far from the tree.' You are wonderful and, therefore, she is."

"I like that," Alice said rubbing Hutch's arm. "I made some coffee. Why don't we sit on the porch too. And I kept your lunch warm."

"Oh, that sounds good," Hutch said, patting his stomach.

~ S&H ~

Saturday came and Alice was busy in the kitchen making a birthday cake for Hutch with Jamie's help. Starsky had stayed another night since neither Hutch nor Alice would let him go home just yet. He and Hutch sat in the living room watching a football game.

"Now this is the life, Hutch. Kicking back, watching a game while the ladies slave away in the kitchen." Hutch laughed and they clinked their root beer bottles together in a toast.

"I heard that!" Came Alice's voice from the kitchen.

Starsky smiled a crooked grin at his best friend and settled back in the chair.

Hutch heard the side door open and Alice spoke to someone. The door shut a moment later.

"Who was that?" Hutch called out.

"Oh, just the contractor. He dropped off his bill."

"What's the damage?" Starsky asked.

"Never mind that, both of you."

Jamie ran into the room and declared "Cake!"

Hutch started to rise but Alice came into the room. "No, sit. We will have cake right here." The cake had a few candles on it which were lit and she held one hand in front of them as she walked to keep them from blowing out. "Okay, Jamie baby. You ready?"


Alice began to sing Happy Birthday with Jamie trying to sing along as best she could. Starsky joined in. Hutch blushed as the cake was placed in front of him.

"Okay, make a wish, Handsome Hutch."

Hutch looked around him. "I don't know what to wish for. I have everything I could possibly want right here in this room." He pulled Jamie into his lap and kissed the top of her head. "Okay, Jamie, help me blow out the candles."

Starsky and Jamie clapped loudly as the last candle was blown out.

Alice cut the cake and after handing one each to Starsky and Hutch, she sat and shared a piece with Jamie to save her from making a mess.

"Yummy!" Jamie declared and everyone agreed.

When they were done, Hutch got up and picked up Starsky's plate and empty root beer bottle. "Hey, it's your birthday; cut that out." Starsky said.

"Aw, come on, Starsk."

"It's present time," Alice said and Hutch raised his eyebrow.

"Present? I don't need anything."

"You do need one thing," Starsky said with a smirk and exchanged a look with Alice.

Hutch watched his best friend and his girlfriend. "Okay, what's going on here?"

"Follow me and you'll find out," Alice said as she picked up her daughter and headed to the front door. Starsky gave Hutch a gentle push and they all stepped out onto the front stoop. "Ta Da!" Alice exclaimed as she made a grand gesture at the driveway.

"What the heck?" Hutch said as he studied the strange car parked behind Alice's station wagon.

"Happy Birthday," Alice said quietly. "Please don't say it's too much."

Hutch ran his hand through his hair. "It's too much. Alice…"

"Look, Handsome. I have this life that you are in part responsible for." Before Hutch could disagree, she pushed on. "Let me do this for you. Please."

Starsky couldn't contain himself anymore and passed by Alice and Hutch to the car. "Come on, Hutch. Just look at it. Ain't she beautiful? 1980 Pontiac Firebird. Ontario Gray." He opened the passenger side door. "Look at these seats. No more springs up your…backside." Leaving the door open he moved to open the hood. "301 cubic inch turbo V8." Starsky stared at the engine with pure love in his eyes which made Hutch laugh.

"I take it you helped pick this out?"

"Well…do you like it?" Starsky asked, unsure he should admit to his involvement.

Hutch slowly circled the car in amazement. "I think I do. Alice, are you sure?"


Hutch opened the door and sat down behind the wheel. Running his hand over the steering wheel and studying the gages he smiled. He watched as Alice looked triumphantly at Starsky and they shared a smile.

Jamie climbed into the open passenger side door and sat down. "Drive, Hutch. Let's go!" Hutch smiled at the little girl that held such a special place in his heart. He closed his eyes for a moment and reveled in how happy he was.

"There is another present to be seen," Alice announced.

Hutch picked up Jamie and got out of the car. "You cannot give me anything else, Alice."

"Okay. This one is for Starsky."

Starsky's eyes widened. "Me? It's not my birthday."

"No, but I think this will make Hutch happy if you accept it so it is also for him."

Both men were completely puzzled but followed Alice around the house and into the back yard. Hutch took Jamie's hand as they passed by the pool since the fence Alice was having installed was not yet finished. Alice opened the pool house door and stepped inside. Starsky came in, followed by Hutch. Both men's jaws dropped as they looked around. The entire interior had been re-done into a small apartment, complete with a kitchenette. Starsky could see a door into a bathroom in the back right corner.

"Wow, look at this place," Starsky exclaimed. "It's great."

"Alice, I knew you were having it re-done but you made it into a studio apartment?"

"Nuh-uh, not a studio. She moved to a door to the left and opened it. Starsky walked into a bedroom. Hutch peered in and then looked over at Alice.


Alice laughed. "You may be the top detectives at Metro but you were completely clueless when it came to this. Remember the shed behind the pool house?" Hutch nodded. "Well, I had it taken out and they added this room on. Since it was on the far side of the building, you couldn't see it. And my contractor was great keeping it a secret and not working on the addition when you were around."

"I can't believe it." Both Starsky and Hutch said simultaneously.

"So, Starsky. Will you take it?"

Starsky looked around the little home and then back at Alice. "Take it?"

"Yes, this is for you…if you want it." Hutch's astonishment melted into understanding and he wrapped his arms around Alice who never let her gaze waiver from Starsky. "Well? Of course, you can pay rent. But I am a pretty nice landlady and you will save a lot of money living here."

"Hey, you can save up your money for a new car for yourself," Hutch teased and Starsky stuck out his tongue after making sure Jamie wasn't watching.

Starsky strolled around the room and ran his hand along the stove. He opened the refrigerator and smiled when he saw the six pack of his favorite beer cooling there. He then looked out the front window that faced Alice's and Hutch's house. "Yeah, I'll take it," he said, his voice hoarse with emotion.

Alice let go of Hutch and now threw her arms around Starsky. "Thank you," she whispered into his ear.

"Me? I should be thanking you. I can't believe you did this for me."

"Well, I only have a sister. I always wanted a brother."

Starsky hugged Alice to his chest and looked over at Hutch. The two men exchanged a look that spoke volumes. Life was good.

"Uh…I'll be back in a minute. Don't go anywhere. Wait right there." Hutch ran out the door and into Alice's house.

"What's he up to?" Alice asked.

"I dunno, maybe he wants to take a picture to preserve this moment?" Starsky said laughing.

A few minutes later a very nervous looking Hutch came back into Starsky's house.

"I…I wanted to do this later b-but." Hutch came close to Alice and took her hand.

Starsky sensed there was a special moment coming so he picked up Jamie and sat her on the kitchen counter close to him. He put a finger to his mouth and she mimicked him and nodded.

"Alice, since you came into my life, everything is brighter and richer. Life is sweeter with you. You are such an amazing and caring person. You love your little girl – our little girl," Hutch winked at Starsky holding onto Jamie then turned his gaze back to Alice, "so completely. It takes my breath away. You take my breath away and I don't know what I'd do without you." Hutch took a small velvet box from his pocket then got down on one knee. "Alice Kendall, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

"Oh, Handsome Hutch. Yes, oh yes."

Hutch rose from his knee and picked up Alice, swinging her around. He put her down and they stared lovingly into each other's eyes. After a moment they both remembered they weren't alone and looked over at Starsky and Jamie. Each put out an arm, welcoming Starsky into the moment. Starsky blinked back tears as he picked up Jamie and moved to the center of the room into the welcoming arms of his new sister and his best friend. Hutch laughed as the tears now streamed down all of their faces.

After letting go of each other, Hutch wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. "This has been the best birthday I have ever had."

"Best day I ever had and it ain't even my birthday." Starsky laughed.

Alice reached out and stroked her fiancé's cheek. "Hutch, I meant it when I said you were responsible for me being here. I don't know what would have happened to me if you hadn't taken me in after Janos…did that to me. And then I wanted something better for you which is why I left. So don't ever feel like you aren't part of everything that I have."

Hutch took her hand from his cheek and held it. He nodded. "But I can't help but think, what can a guy like me ever give you that you don't already have."

"I know." Starsky's voice was just a whisper and the couple turned to face him. His face was serious and then he broke out his 1000 watt smile. "A son."

Hutch's grin now rivaled his partner's.

The End