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STARSKY´S NEIGHBOUR

 

 

 

This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit, and is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders of the rights to Starsky and Hutch. Except Starsky, Hutch, Nick Starsky, Huggy Captain Dobey and his family , the others characters are property of the authors.

Co-Written with Judith Goodger

 

Starsky returned home exhausted. It had been a long day and right at this moment all he wanted was to eat a little, and to go to bed later. It was just a couple months ago that he had returned to work on the streets with Hutch, after his long recovery from the Gunther shooting, and though he was feeling well, he was getting tired more easily than before.

He went to phone for a pizza, but, when he picked it up he realized, the line was dead.

"Shit!...That´s all I needed!" Starsky snapped under his breath, slamming the receiver back in its cradle.

He didn´t feel like going out again, and the closest public phone was too far away, and now he had to call to the phone company too. Starsky wondered if his new neighbour would let him use her phone for a few minutes. A young woman, around 30 years old, had moved into the house opposite Starsky’s two weeks ago. He had seen her occasionally, but they had not yet spoken, mainly because, in the last weeks, he hadn’t had a lot of time. Without thinking any more Starsky walked towards the neighbour house and knocked the door.

"Come in, Jenny, the door’s open! " said a cheerful voice from the inside. But Starsky, remained discreetly in the front door, knowing that he was not the person his neighbour was waiting for.

On the stereo, strange music was playing loudly, and an attractive young woman with brown curled hair and eyes of intense dark blue, dressed in jeans and a red sweater approached the door, joking and waving a hairbrush in the air, as if directing an imaginary orchestra.

"This is music, Jenny! How you can you say that it gives you a headache? This is something great! More than that... it’s a Master piece!"

When she saw Starsky, the girl blushed a bit "Oh!" She said, with surprise on her face.

"I´m sorry" Starsky said.” But I’m afraid that I´m not Jenny. I´m Dave…Dave Starsky, your new neighbour. I live in the front house." He introduced himself.

"Good heavens! You must think that I’m a bit nuts...Oh! Yes. Now I remember.” Said the girl with a smile, while she was turning down the volume of stereo “I’ve seen you go out and come back to your house some days... Come in, please. By the way, Dave. I’m Vicky Walsh. Nice to meet you.” She said shaking Starsky´s hand. "And he is Samson." Lying in an armchair was an impressive English Bull Dog, who was looking at Starsky with a bored expression on his wrinkled face.

"Does he bite? Dogs scare me a bit " He asked apprehensively.

"Oh! No. He looks fierce, but he’s a very kind dog."

Starsky knelt down, to stroke the animal, which at that moment, found some energy and waving his small tail vigorously he put his legs on Starsky's knees and began to lick his face until he lost his balance and fell down to the floor.

"NO! Samson! You are a brute!" Vicky, pulled the dog from Starsky, and stretched out her hand, to help him get up.

"Dave! I´m sorry. He is a very affectionate dog, but a brute too. I´m so sorry. Has he hurt you?" The young woman asked worriedly.

"Oh no! Don’t worry Vicky, I´m okay." Starsky was smiling. " I just came to see if I could use your phone, please. Mine’s dead."

"Sure" said the girl, pointing with her hand towards the phone.

While Starsky was making his phone call, someone knocked at the door again. Vicky opened it, with a blond cat in her arms. The animal had a bandaged leg.

"Hello Jenny " She greeted the new comer.

"Hi Vick" A girl with long blond hair and clear blue eyes, dressed like a hippy, came in. "Hey, what we got in here! Finally it seems like your taste in pets has improved!" she said to Vicky in low voice, looking at Starsky .

"Shht! Shut up! He’ll hear you! He’s my neighbour" Vicky whispered back.

"Your neighbour? Hummm…. So, this neighbourhood is very promising!" Jenny winked at Vicky.

"Thanks Vicky. They’ll fix my pone tomorrow." Starsky said then, once he had finished his call.

"You are welcome, Dave. By the way, this is my friend Jenny "

"How are you Dave?" The blond girl asked. "So you´re Vicky’s neighbour The universal defender of animals rights."

"Jenny always makes jokes about me, but she loves animals too." Vicky explained to Starsky, as he was looking at both girls, and at the blond cat that the brunette was taking in her arms.

"Charlie isn’t mine, his owner has spent some time in the hospital, and she couldn’t take care of him. And the poor cat was attacked by a dog too, but he can go home tomorrow. I didn´t tell you yet, but I´m a veterinary...Oh! I´m sorry Dave. Every day I seem more ill mannered! Would you like  a drink of something?...Vicky asked, then Jenny interrupted "Or better. Why not stay to have dinner with us?"

"Oh, no. Thanks. You are very nice Jenny, but I don’t want to be an inconvenience" He refused the invitation rather half-heartedly.

"Oh, come on, Dave! If you don’t have any other plans, we’d like you to stay.” Jenny insisted. “What do you say, huh?...Look. Samson wants you to stay too. Really he likes you. We are three against one " The dog was looking at Starsky, with his head tilted and wagging his tail. Meanwhile, Vicky had not said anything. She was just looking at her friend in amazement. The constant eccentricities of Jenny were surprising her as usual, but when Starsky looked at her, waiting for her approval, she conceded with a smile. "Of course, Dave... It will be a pleasure to have you with us for dinner."

"Okay, okay. You win. I´ll stay, but first I´ll pop to my house a moment and get a bottle of wine." He said already heading to the front door.

Once Starsky was gone, was when Vicky said to Jenny "You know Jenny?... I´m sure that you are turning a little crazier at every passing day... Maybe all that vegetarian food you keep eating is not as good for your brain as you think!"

"Why? Just because I’ve invited your neighbour to have dinner with us?"

"No, just because YOU have invited my neighbour, who by the way is an absolute strange for us, to have dinner in MY HOUSE!"

"Come on Vicky!... He seems to be a very nice man... And he’s pretty handsome too." Jenny replied.

"Yeah, sure. And for all we know about him, he could be nice, handsome and a serial killer!"

"Oh! I´ll be okay. We have Samson, just in case...Besides, when I got here, he was already here, with you...And you´re not cut in slices....Yet ." Jenny joked heading to the kitchen to get some coke out of the fridge.

"Oh! Jenn. At times you are so...so...Well. Never mind!"

"Vicky, try to relax. How long time has it been since you had a date with a man?"

"So that’s what this is all about!... Oh God! When you will stop searching for a man for me Jenny?"

"Easy. When you find one!" The blond woman answered nonchalantly.

*******

Starsky was feeling tired, but since both girls seemed so friendly, he had accepted the invitation. The dinner was delicious as was the evening, and both friends were charming, each one in different way.

When he returned, he was amazed at the sight of Jenny on the floor with Samson, playing with the dog and imitating its  growls, while Vicky, with a wink of her eye, said to Starsky.

"They are so in love!... Look Jenny. He’s not one of these small dogs that you can take in a pocket. Just in case you don’t know it yet, he is very strong and I don’t want to have to spend the rest of the night with you in any ER... JE-NNI-FER! Mind stop playing games with the dog and helping me in the kitchen? At this pace, we will have dinner in the morning!” Vicky complained while  arranging the plates on the table.

"Can I help you Vicky?" Starsky asked.

"Thanks Dave. Can you take three glasses out of this cupboard and put them on the table?... Jenn. Come now! In the kitchen, or you will eat the same thing that Samson eats... "

Along the dinner, Starsky felt like at home, with his neighbour and her friend. They talked for a long time. Jenny, it turned out, was a mathematics teacher in high school, and as Vicky said, though seeing her there on the floor of the lounge, growling like a dog, it was difficult to believe, the girl was really good at her work.. Jenny was single, and Vicky, divorced. Both were born in N.Y City and they had moved to Bay City four years ago, though they didn´t say why, and Starsky didn´t want to ask questions that were none of his business. Neither had a boyfriend. Both were 33 years old, lived alone, and were, in spite of being so different, best friends since they met each other in kindergarten.

After speaking for a long while with them, Starsky already had some ideas about both women. Vicky seemed to be more, affectionate, compassionate and in some ways, innocent as a child. Jenny, though she was a friendly woman too, seemed to Starsky, a bit more cynical and with a tougher nature.

"You know, Dave? " Vicky said with a smile as Jenny put only vegetables and rice on her plate, "Jenny is vegetarian. You should see the strange health shakes that she takes every morning. With wheat germ, lentils, and I don’t know what other disgusting things." And in low voice she added. "If we put out the light now, you can see that she emits a green glow. Like a firefly. I´m sure that it’s because of her breakfast. Really, I prefer coffee and Donuts."

Starsky laughed picturing the beautiful girl shining as a firefly.

"And because of it, her cholesterol will soon be so high, that we will be able to see it, just looking at her eyes... And I´ll tell you something Dave. Samson has already asked for asylum in my house, before Vick makes him eat burritos, coffee and donuts too... Don’t worry. Samson, my love. Your old aunt Jenny will protect you from this nut." The blond girl said stroking the head of the dog.

At that moment, Starsky just wished that Hutch was there too, to meet those two adorable girls who were like a female version of themselves.

Later, he talked to the girls about his work as a police officer, and his friendship with Hutch.

"Police officer? " That’s fun! Vicky pictured you doing a very different...Well, a very different job... " Jenny say, looking naughtily at her friend

"Really?.... And what did you think that my work was, Vicky? "

"Oh, nothing special, it doesn't matter, Dave... " Then, amazed, Starsky noticed the fulminating look that Vicky addressed to Jenny, and the small jump of the blond girl, when Vicky gave her a little kick under the table

"Your job sounds dangerous. Don’t you get scared? " Vicky asked with sincere concern.

"Well. Sometimes, of course. But I think that its more for my partner than for me. The truth is, that in spite of the risks, I love my work"

Starsky didn´t speak to the girls about how close to death he was some time ago. He did not tell them how he still had nightmares. How sometimes his body still was hurting. That one  was being a very enjoyable night and he didn´t want to spoil it with bad memories.

Later, after he had offered his help to clear up the table and dishes, help that the girls refused, he returned to his apartment.

Once he was gone and while both women were taking the plates and glasses to the kitchen, Vicky asked Jenny .

"You didn´t recognize him Jenny?"

" Who?...Dave? No. Why? Why should I recognize him? "

"At first I wasn´t sure why he seemed familiar to me. I thought it was just because of seeing him in the neighbourhood, but when he said that he’s a police officer, then, I remembered. Dave was in the newspapers about a year and a half ago. The goons of someone called Hunter, or Gunther or something like that, a dangerous gangster, owner of some important companies had shot him. He was between the life and death for weeks. Dave spent more than two months in the hospital. And, as if all of that wasn’t enough, one journalist without any scruples, managed to get into his hospital ICU room, taking some pics of  him, when he still was in a coma. When his partner found it out, he went to the newspaper office and almost killed that vulture. Finally, the same partner, arrested the man who had arranged his and Dave’s attempted murder."

"Now that you say it...Yes...I had read in the newspapers something about ...My God! Poor Dave. How awful!" Jenny said with true pity.

"I didn´t say anything tonight, because I´m sure that he just wants to forget everything about it.” Vicky added “This man has been through hell in the last months." Without knowing why, she was feeling the desire to protect and offer a bit of comfort to tat unknown man, who, she thought,  had a clear  expression of sadness in his face.

Come on, Vicky. Stop with that. He is a police officer. An adult man. He’s not some kind of lost puppy. Vicky scolded  herself.

"Hey...You! " Jenny was waving a hand in front Vicky’s eyes

"Uh...What? Sorry. What were you saying Jenny?"

"Seems as if you are a thousand miles from here. Its Dave right? You like Dave don’t you?"

"Jenny! Don’t start to say nonsense... I barely know him "

"It doesn’t matter, Vick. You’ve never heard about love at first sight?... Besides, he looks very attractive, really "

"Do... Do you like him, Jenny?" Vicky asked fretfully.

"Oh, come on! He is pretty attractive, sure, but already you know what I think about men. Right now I´m not in the right frame of mind for dating. if you ask me, for me, men only give problems,."

"He’s different...Jenny look, don’t ask me why, but I know it. I know that Dave is a good man. A very good man... "

"Well friend. Seems that, just for this time, old aunt Jenny has a good idea" Jenny before laughing.

"What´s so funny Jenny?”

"Well. This man who now seems to you as good as a kitten, is the same man that a few hours ago could be a serial killer... Or there’s something that I’ve missed? "

"I know, I know...Its just that the memories of Billy are still too painful for me"

"Vicky, please! How you can compare Dave with Billy?...In fact any other man with Billy. That guy was a true psycho "

“No Jenny. I´m not making comparisons... Its just that still I´m scared. And maybe I´ll never be able to overcome my fear."

But the fact is that in despite of that fear, when Jenny left, and Vicky went to bed, she was still thinking about Starsky for a long time. Never had something like that happened to her before. She just wanted to see him again.

*******

Starsky turned the key in the lock of his front door and, for a brief moment, rested his head against the cold frame. Now back in his own home he gave up to the wave of exhaustion that washed over him. It had been a lovely evening but it had taken too much from his already tired system and his whole body screamed out for rest.

Weary arms pushed away from the door and Starsky forced his tired legs to carry him to the bedroom. The shower would have to wait until morning; right now he just wanted to curl up in his bed and sleep. A niggling voice somewhere at the back of his mind reminded him of the nightmares when he closed his eyes but he visibly shook it off, tonight he was so exhausted, that  he felt that nothing would disturb his dreams.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, Starsky looked across at the photograph of Terry he had by his bed. Lovingly he picked it up and stared at it, gently running his fingers over the outline of her smile. On nights like this he would again remember the many plans they had made together and how they had been blown away with a single bullet. Very often he would end up quietly crying himself to sleep or, occasionally he would ring Hutch, who would instinctively know what was wrong and come over and they would talk long into the night until Starsky fell asleep exhausted. There could be no phone call to Hutch tonight so Starsky lay back on the pillow clutching the photograph to his heart, his eyes staring vacantly at the ceiling. As he lay there he was quietly surprised to realise that his memories this night were not of Terry, but of the evening he had just spent and, in particular, the company of one Vicky Walsh and a large, fierce looking but extremely gentle and soppy English bull dog named Samson. The last thing he remembered before succumbing to slumber was the lingering look Vicky had given him as he took his leave from her house.

*******

Next morning Hutch was surprised to see his partner sitting at his desk reading through reports from the day before. He had tried to contact Starsky earlier but had been unable to get through on the phone unaware of the problems with the line. For a little while Hutch stood at the door watching his partner, and again he thanked God for the gift of Starsky´s life. Only Hutch and he really knew exactly what it had taken out of Starsky to get back to the point where the powers that be were agreeable to him returning to the streets. Only Hutch saw how tired he still got and how much effort it took some mornings for him to even get out of bed. Streaks of silver were beginning to show through the thick, dark, curly hair and lines of strain showed themselves around his partners eyes. This morning though Hutch was pleasantly surprised to see Starsky relaxed and smiling.

"Hey Gordo, how goes it buddy?" Hutch sauntered across and sat opposite Starsky pleased for once to see no sign of the dark circles that had become a feature of Starskys' eyes.

Starsky glanced up and grinned at the blond opposite. "Fine Hutch, for once everything’s just fine. Need to call round my place about lunchtime to check if the phone’s been fixed but other than that no problem."

At that moment the phone on Starskys' desk rang and he reached out to answer it.

"Starsky..."

Hutch listened to the one sided conversation with increasing awareness as he heard the name Vicky mentioned and a certain look come over his partner’s face.

"Hey, no problem, we’ll be right over, its the least I can do after last night, right? I´ll see you in about 20 minutes. Sit tight and don’t worry." Starsky hung up the phone and picked up the folder he had just been reading. Turning, he placed it back into the cabinet behind him. He could almost feel Hutch’s eyes boring into his back and he knew that he was burning up with curiosity. For a few moments Starsky remained with his back to his partner, grinning silently to himself as he enjoyed the situation, then he turned back to his desk and picking up his jacket he looked at Hutch.

"Come on buddy, got a rescue mission on and this should be right up my street."

Before Hutch could ask any questions Starsky was out of the door. Hutch finally caught him up at the top of the stairs that led to the garage. Since both men had returned to the precinct as a partnership they never used the elevator as a matter of course. For both it still brought back too many unhappy memories of a carefree morning when neither had been concentrating and it had almost cost Starsky his life. Now when they reached the bottom of the stairs both would continually scan the area as they took the short walk to the Torino and neither could properly settle until they were out in the open. Only then would both sit back and visibly relax, concentrating instead on the streets around them. Hutch wondered if they would ever again really feel safe in what should have been a place of sanctuary for any cop.

It only took a couple of minutes for Hutch to realise that they were headed in the direction of Starsky´s home and he could contain the curiosity no longer.

"Okay buddy, I give up, you gonna tell me what’s going on and why we’re heading for your place or not?"

Starsky´s eyes never left the road as he answered.

"Told you Blintz, we got a rescue mission. How’s your breaking and entering skills these days?"

"STARSK! What are you on about?" Hutch was becoming irritated.

Glancing across at the blond Starsky finally relented. "My new neighbour, Vicky Walsh, she was taking her dog, Samson, for a walk this morning and she locked herself out. She only moved in a little while ago and she doesn’t know who else to call. Since she did me a favour last night by letting me use her phone I figured I owe her one. Besides, she’s a nice lady in need of rescuing and you like to play the white knight so..."

"So you thought wed just drop all our cases and rush to the rescue. Oh boy! Starsk, if Dobey finds out he’ll go really mad and I´m not helping you out of his one." Hutch smiled at his partner. "This Vicky Walsh had better be worth the aggravation partner."

Hutch was surprised to see the faraway look that came over his friend’s eyes as he answered. "She is Hutch, she sure is."

It was five minutes later that the Torino pulled to a halt in front of the house opposite Starsky´s. As he climbed out Hutch could see an agitated looking young woman kneeling next to a rather fierce looking bulldog. He was amazed when Starsky, taking a couple of steps from the car, bent down and, patting his knees, called the dog to him. As he watched the young woman’s face broke into a huge grin as the sturdy animal bounced across the driveway and launched itself at Starsky who promptly fell backwards, disappearing amongst a jumble of legs, stumpy tail and long wet tongue.

"SAMSON, NO!" Hutch heard the command from somewhere behind him as he tried to extricate his partner from beneath the dog.

"Sorry Dave, I told you he liked you last night and when Samson gives his heart he gives it 100 percent. Are you okay?"

Starsky allowed Hutch to pull him from the floor grinning. "I’m fine, really. Just got hit by a truck that´s all." Starsky began to brush himself down as stifled giggles could be heard coming from the woman. It wasn´t long before he could hear Hutch joining in, then he too gave way, and the three stood laughing.

Starsky recovered first and, turning to face his neighbour he told Hutch, "This is Vicky Walsh, neighbour, friend and owner of mad dog here. Its name’s Samson by the way."

Hutch shook hands. "Nice to meet you Vicky. Starsky says you’ve got a little problem here."

"Yes. I took Samson for his morning walk and I’ve locked myself out. There’s a window open around the back but I can’t get to it and I didn´t know who else to call. I hope you didn´t mind, Dave."

"No, we don’t mind, do we Hutch? Come on, let’s take a look and see if we can get you back in your home." Starsky led the way around the back. "You know Vicky, its not such a great idea to leave windows open, especially when you´re out. Tell you what, why don’t you get a key cut and leave it at my place. That way you’ll always have a way in just in case."

"Thanks Dave, I really appreciate the offer. I´ll get one done later today, once I can get the original that is."

Once at the rear of the house the two men quickly realised they would need a ladder since there was no other way to reach the small window. Starsky watched as Hutch disappeared from view, heading towards his home for a ladder. Bending down he began to scratch the ear of the dog, which had dropped itself in front of him, stumpy tail wagging expectantly.

"He really likes you Dave. Samson’s pretty choosy when it comes to making friends with people but he seems to have no problems with you. I guess that´s one of the reasons I trusted you last night. It’s not every man I’d let into my home and invite to dinner ten minutes after I’d met, you know."

Starsky looked up form the dog, straight into the deep blue eyes of the woman in front of him and he felt his heart lurch a little. Hurriedly he looked back down and swallowed before answering.

"I like him too, which is pretty strange really. Dogs and I don’t usually get on, but he kinda reminds me of Hutch." He glanced up again in time to see her questioning look. "Loyal to the core, a true friend, there when you need him." Starsky softly explained. "Same as Hutch, true friends are pretty rare but when you find them your life is pretty rich...Don’t tell him I said that though."

Vicky bent beside Starsky to stroke the dog, quietly nodding her head as she did so. She had only met this quiet man a couple of times but already she could sense a feeling inside herself whenever she saw him. Fervently she hoped that he would allow her time, time to get to know him so much better.

Meanwhile Hutch had obtained the ladder from Starsky´s place

I hope that it’s long enough to reach the window  He thought. Beautiful! I´m here climbing this ladder like a fireman, while Starsk is scratching the ear of an ugly dog, and speaking with a pretty girl...Now I just need some black and white to come hereabouts, and a couple of stupid rookies thinking  that I am a thief and arresting me.

Finally Hutch entered the house and retrieved the keys that were on the coffee table, but the surprises had not ended yet. When the blond one went through the window, a big blond cat with one bandaged leg, which had been sleeping on an armchair, woke up scared on seeing him. It arched his body ,snorted and jumped on a shelf knocking over a vase with flowers...and the water ended up over Hutch

"Oh!... what?. Damned cat! And now what else? A snake. Or maybe, a crocodile...?" The blond detective growled while looking down at his dampened jacket.

After taking the keys with him, Hutch went out of the house, just  to meet the view of  Starsky and Vicky, chatting and laughing, until, on having seen the blond one approaching, totally drenched, and with an angry expression, both became suddenly silent.

"Hutch... I see that you have taken advantage of the chance to take a shower " Starsky joked.

"Your key, Vicky.” Hutch answered, without looking at his partner. “Since I suppose that both of you want to know what happened at Vicky’s place, I´ll tell you. There inside something like a Bengal tiger greeted me, throwing a vase with flowers and water all over me." Starsky desperately tried to hold down a wave of laughter that was fighting its way up from the bottom of his stomach. Hutch glared, and the ice in his eyes along with the raised forefinger, worked to stay the outburst before it could begin.

"Oh! Hutch. You don’t know how sorry I am. That’s Charley. He’s scared of people he doesn’t know... I´m really sorry Hutch" The girl also had to make a great effort to stifle her laughs.

"Don’t worry Vicky. I´m all right. Come on partner. Dobey must have put all the police units on a search for us by now."

Some minutes afterwards Starsky and Hutch, said goodbye to the woman, and returned to the police station

"What did I say to you, Hutch?” Starsky asked then, a smile curling his lips.

"I don’t know what you said to me Starsk. What you DIDN´T tell me is that that girl lives surrounded by wild beasts"

"Oh! Well she’s a veterinary, and about the cat, Charley, Vicky isn’t its owner. She’s only its baby sitter for a few days..."

"Yeah...Baby sitter of a real nice cat." Hutch said moodily.

"You know?" Starsky added, changing the subject "She’s a wonderful woman Hutch. So beautiful and sweet. Don’t you think so?"

"Hey Gordo! " Hutch looked at Starsky with affection, and putting a hand on his knee, he asked. "Do you like this girl? Really you like her, I mean?"

"I don’t know Hutch. I like her sure, but ... I think that I´m scared Hutch... Scared for if the day comes in when I can get intimate with a woman. I mean a special woman, someone I care for. I think you know what m getting at. I don’t know how I can overcome this ..."

"Yes, Starsk, of course. I know what you’re getting at. You think the scars that Gunther’s shooting left in your body is something that no woman could look at without feeling revulsion or something similar, right? Look partner. We’ve been over this before. All I can tell to you is that not all women are alike, and all they don’t react the same way. And if some day you have a bad experience with some girl, I think that even though it hurts, It’s just a disappointment. Nothing that you can’t overcome, like many other things in your life. I´m absolutely sure of that. Unfortunately, in this, I can’t help you much...I wish I could but I can’t. You know... sometimes you just have to jump right in. To go for something that you want, and not be afraid. I know that some day you will find a very special woman who loves you for what you are, for your great heart. And this woman will have the best man that she can meet in the whole world." Damned Gunther! A Thousand times damn!!. Thought Hutch angrily. Not only has he almost finished with Starsky's life, but as well he took his self-confidence.

"Let me say something more to you." He kept talking to a thoughtful Starsky "You’ve suffered some very tough, terrible months, but with lots of effort and valor, you have returned to life in a way which very few men would have done. I admire you for it. And I´m grateful for God every day for having you with me alive, and healthy again...You have been given a second opportunity. Take advantage of it Starsk. And if maybe you are thinking of Terry, I think that you not should be tied forever to the past. If you like this woman, try it. Ask her for a date. I´m sure that Terry would say the same thing to you. You should grab hold of all the happiness that comes towards you, like you have done with your life, because you deserve only the best. Nobody deserves happiness more than you, partner...Besides, Vicky seems to be a great girl. She manages to make you smile. Already I like her because of it"

Starsky's eyes, fixed on the highway, were shining now. "Really, something like this hasn’t happened to me in a long time…In a very long time, actually." He said. "You know, Blondie? Last night, I fell asleep thinking of Vicky. I was thinking of her smile, her tenderness. I had a lovely evening with her and neither the nightmares, nor the bad memories, came... Uh, I´m afraid that this is getting a little soapy!" Starsky added with a sad smile.

The rest of the day passed without incident and on having finishing his work, Starsky returned to his house. Vicky had told him in the morning that afterwards, she would take a spare key to him, and in the few minutes in which both had talked, while Hutch was retrieving the key from her house, a sweet feeling continued growing between them both.

Later the girl came.

"Hello Vicky, Come in. I can offer to you a cup of coffee, or something?" Starsky said leading the girl into his apartment.

"Hi Dave...A coffee would be nice, thanks...Oh!...That’s beautiful!" Vicky said, once in the living room, looking at one of the Starsky's ship models.

"Do you like it?" He asked giving her the coffee cup.

"Yeah, it's wonderful"

"I made it. It took a few weeks but finally I finished it around a month ago." Starsky explained proudly.

"Wow Dave!...You know, I would be unable of doing something like this...I´m pretty impatient for this kind of hobby...and pretty clumsy too, I guess." Both smiled.

"Sit down Vicky, please" He said removing some magazines from the armchair "By the way. Where is our friend Samson?"

"I left him in the house. I think it’s enough that he throws you to the floor once at day " The girl smiled "I don’t know what you and Hutch will have thought about me. I leave the door open when I am at home. It’s closed when I am out. I leave the windows open too... I´m afraid that I’m pretty absent-minded. I reserve for my work the little concentration that I have,."

"Don't worry. Hutch liked you very much."

"He seemed to be very cross after what Charley did to him this morning "

"Oh, well. I told you that he liked you...Not that he liked Charley." Both laughed. As they did every time they were together.

Later, Vicky gave him the copy of her place’s key and they spent a few more minutes speaking on trivial topics. Then,  Starsky thought again about what Hutch had said to him in the morning about taking risks.

“Do you want to go out to dinner... And maybe dancing with me Vicky?" He offered suddenly, taking the girl aback.

"Now? So suddenly?"

"If you want, why not? I know a beautiful place."

"Oh, well, I...Yes, of course! I’d like that. Just one thing. This time I can only accept your invitation to dinner. Tomorrow I must start work early, at 6 a.m. The surgery where I do my job is open twenty four hours and at sometimes I have to do this shift"

"Okay... But you don’t know what you are missing. You will not find a dancer like me anywhere." Starsky joked

"I´m sure of that...Maybe another day...Well Dave. Give me twenty minutes."

"Okay. Twenty minutes. I´ll pick you up at your place."

When she went to her apartment, Starsky had to hurry to be punctual, but finally he had time enough to take a shower, change his clothes and go to a nearby florist's shop to buy a beautifully wrapped bunch of pink roses for Vicky. Twenty minutes later he was at her front door, wearing his most seductive smile on his lips, and feeling happier than he had felt in a long time. Tonight, he wasn’t even feeling tired.

"Dave. Oh my God! They are beautiful. So beautiful! Thanks..." Vicky said in seeing the flowers. "It’s been a long time since anyone gave me roses…" As she said those words, a small shade of sadness crossed her face. The girl took the flowers from Starsky's hands, and softly kissed his cheek.

When Starsky saw Vicky, for a few seconds, he just couldn’t talk. She was dressed in a velvet dress without sleeves, the same deep blue as her eyes. Her brown curled hair was gathered now in a bun with some soft curls falling on her long neck and her forehead, and she was wearing only the mearest suggestion of makeup. A shawl of black thread, simple gold earrings and black, high-heeled shoes completed her outfit. Starsky already thought she was beautiful but tonight, she was more so. She was just shining.

"Oh, my!…Vicky you are so beautiful." He just said. In that moment, the girl wished that he was taking her between his arms and was kissing her. She blushed a bit, but finally, managed to speak.

"I´m going to put the flowers in a vase. Come in. I´ll only take me a minute."

While Vicky was putting the roses in water, Starsky greeted his new friend Samson.

"Hey friend. How are you?...know something? Tonight Vicky and I will go out a while together, but I owe you a long walk in the park. Okay?"

"You shouldn’t say it to him if you’re not going to do it. Samson has an excellent memory" Vicky joked.

"Oh, well, this guy doesn’t know it yet, but I always keep my promises. "

"I hope...Well. I'm ready when you are Dave."

Starsky took Vicky to a small and cosy restaurant, and along the dinner, they kept feeling that something special was growing up between them. They were feeling as if they had known each other for a long time. They didn´t eat too much of their salads and pasta, but they spent the whole evening talking and laughing, gazing into each other eyes... Occasionally hands were rubbed shyly. In spite of being two adult people, and in spite of having had a few important relationships with other people in the past, both were feeling like teenagers on a first date.

"Dave. I don’t want you to think that every time I know a man I go so fast... Its just with you its different, like I know you already. With you there is nothing to hide." Vicky said shyly.

"Well...I don’t know. I don’t like to talk too much about myself, I think that there are many more interesting things, but one thing you are right about Vicky. What you see it is what you get."

"I don’t want to lie to you Dave. I would like to get to know you better...I don’t know if anything more will come of it, but for now I just want to get to know you."

They talked for a long time during the dinner. Vicky began to know that she was with a very special man. A generous and tender man, more concerned about others than himself and with a heart full of love to give. Somebody very easy to love. She could see in him a gentle person, half man, half child. Strength and tenderness reflected in his eyes of an amazing midnight blue... Besides, she was thinking how very attractive he was...

He saw in Vicky a tender and vulnerable woman who deserved only love, and who believed fully in the kindness of people. A beautiful woman, although her beauty was not exuberant, but soft and sweet, made of a  petite body, porcelain doll face, dark curled hair and dark blue almond-eyes

Later, after dinner, when Starsky took Vicky home, they kissed each other sweetly.

In the weeks that followed they often went for dinner and dance, or to watch a movie. Also they went to the park to take Samson for a walk. They enjoyed being together, getting to know each other a little more every day, and a quiet love was growing step by step between them.

Vicky seemed happier that ever, though for some reason, Starsky felt that she was hiding some painful secret. Maybe because she never spoke about her life in N.Y, or of her reasons for leaving the city.

Hutch was feeling very happy and grateful, seeing Starsky living this sweet moment, and was wishing with all his heart that everything was right this time for his best friend. Jenny, besides feeling glad for Vicky, was feeling a bit of pride whenever she remembered, how she invited Starsky to stay in Vicky's home that first night...Finally, her friend seemed to have found a good man, one who cared for her and was making her happy.

One night, after supper, Starsky and Vicky went to a nightclub. They talked together for a while. Then, in the dance room, the first strains of a smooth and melodic song began to play. Starsky rose from his chair and, holding out his hand to her with a charming smile, he asked Vicky.

"Do you want to dance, Miss?"

"Of course kind sir."

Like all the times they danced together, Vicky wished that the moment and the song would never end. Starsky held her gently in his strong arms. She put her head on his shoulder, smelling the fragrance of his aftershave, feeling the heat of his body, his breathing. When the song finished and both looked each other in the eyes, she was crying quietly.

"Hey...Vicky, what’s the matter? Why you are crying?" Starsky gave his handkerchief to her and they returned to their table.

"Oh, it doesn’t matter. Forgive me Dave. Sometimes I am a little silly"

"Vicky, look at me. I don’t like to see a wonderful woman like you crying without knowing why. My dancing is really that bad?" He joked with his puppy look, getting a weak smile from the girl. "Vicky. We are going for a walk... And if you want to talk I´ll listen."

They left the nightclub and walked beside each other and in silence. Then Vicky stopped and after a deep breath, she began to speak.

"Dave. Back then I cried... because I’d forgotten what it was like to be with someone like you. I mean, someone kind, considerate and gentle like you, who doesn’t treat to me with hate, worse than an animal and who doesn’t despise me...A man who wants to be with me…and doesn’t make me tremble in fear just to hear his footsteps... Oh God! I feel so ashamed!" She whispered looking down.

"No Vicky. You have nothing to feel ashamed about. It wasn´t your fault... We re talking about your ex husband, right?" Starsky asked standing in front of the girl, and gently raising her chin to look in her eyes. "Do you want to tell me more about?" Then, as they sat together on a grass bank in the park, Vicky began to tell Starsky the horrible story of her marriage.

"My marriage was a true hell, Dave...He almost killed me..."After a deep breath, she continued speaking, without looking at Starsky.

"Billy and I met when I was twenty years old. At a Halloween party. He was in his last year of his law degree, and was the captain of the university football team too. He was twenty-four years old and was a very attractive and popular boy. All the girls wanted a date with him... But he’d chose me. Back then I felt so pleased and happy about it! We began to date, and in the beginning, everything was well, though I already realised that something in his head wasn´t right. He had terrible attacks of rage, at just the smallest provocation, real or imaginary. Though not against me...Not yet. Ten months later we got married. My family didn´t like him. Jenny either, but we got married... Soon I knew that everybody had realized how Billy was, except me... Just three months after our wedding, he beat me for first time. But it’s not all. He convinced me to give up my wishes to become a veterinary, and began to tell to me that I was good for nothing... And the worse thing is that I believed him..." Vicky breathed deeply before talking again. "Soon, he began to date with other women. He didn´t try to hide it. He enjoyed humbling me Dave! He kept saying that they were giving him what I couldn’t...He split me up from my family and friends. Except Jenny… with her he didn´t succeed. Jenny was always there for me...Well. In a couple of years, he became an excellent criminal lawyer, an authentic shark. And he started mixing with the rich and powerful people of New York...It was then when he began to take cocaine too. It let all his demons free. Anything that I was doing, or wasn´t doing, it was a reason for him to beat me... He would never beat my face so that nobody would know what was happening. Punches, kicks, thrashings with his belt... but never in my face. I didn´t say anything to anybody. Never. Not to my family nor to Jenny, but they all knew that I was unhappy...Though they knew only a small part of the truth. The fact is that only my twin brother knew the whole story some time after. My mother would suffer too much if she knew it... And my father. Well. He has heart troubles since long ago, and I just couldn’t speak to him about it." Starsky kept listening in silent dismay Vicky’s words. "I’m not going to tell to you all the details of those years Dave. Everything still hurts too much. Only I´ll tell you that, in one of his beatings, he threw me down the stairs and I miscarried... He killed my baby. He was not a son of love but of hatred and violence...But already I loved him and Billy killed him." Tears began to show in Vicky’s eyes in that moment of her recalls.

"In that year I was feeling so confused and scared... that I tried to kill myself. With a bottle of whisky and sleeping pills... But maybe Billy had reason and I couldn’t do anything well..."

"That´s not true, Vicky. And you know it." Starsky said in soothing voice.

"In one of his beatings, he was close to killing me...And do you know what day it was this happened?...Christmas day!...I guess that it’s because of it that I hate Christmas...And that day, while he was beating me, I was wishing that he would kill me, so I could be free from the beatings, the fear, the pain... I was four days in a coma, and over two months in the hospital with a skull fracture among other injuries. When I came out of the hospital Jenny, finally, convinced me to contact the police but it was useless. Billy had very influential friends. They testified to his favor, and he was found not guilty for attempted murder. Then, finally, we left New York...You know?.. Jenny left everything to come with me. Friends, family and work, because without her help, I couldn’t have done it. One night when I knew that he would come home late, I fled. Jenny and I went to the airport and took the first flight out... Our destination wasn´t important. The only important for me was to get away from there. That´s how we ended up here. And how I finished eight years of a horrible marriage and began to live again...To live without fear. Then, Billy asked my family about my whereabouts and he asked Jenny’s parents too, until finally, Jake, my brother, told him that if he ever bothered them again, he would give him a beating that he would never forget...And he didn’t bother them any more" Vicky kept pouring all the pain out of her heart in front of an increasing shocked Starsky.

"Here I finished my course two years ago Dave, I began my work as a vet last year. When I left New York, I had nothing. My family helped me, and of course Jenny too. Without her help I would probably be dead by now. She is the best friend that anybody could have. I feel the same thing for her that you feel for Hutch...Well. Finally, I got my divorce, I did everything through an attorney. I didn´t ask anything from him. All I wanted was to forget... He didn´t know where I was and I hope he never does. My ex husband didn´t make it difficult to get a divorce, because it seems he had a new fiancée and they wanted to marry. God help her!....And, the strangest thing is that I still don’t know what I did to him to deserve so much hatred...I do not know what I did, Dave! ... "

When she had finished speaking, Vicky was trembling. Starsky had seen and listened many female victims of mistreatment as a part of his job, but never before had anybody close told him anything so horrible and his heart was breaking as he listened to Vicky's words.

He took off his own jacket, and put it around the girl shoulders as he answered.

"Hey, no...No Vicky. You didn´t do anything to him. Nobody deserves to be treated that way. He was a true maniac. A bastard... But you didn’t do anything to him."

Gently Starsky took the trembling girl into his arms and held her tight. Deep within him a bitter hatred was growing for the apology of a man who had put her through this and destroyed her faith in herself. Starsky swore to himself that he would do everything in his power to give her that back. He cared a great deal for Vicky and that caring was quietly growing into something stronger every time he saw her. Part of him desperately wanted that to continue, but another part told him not to let it happen...everyone he cared for died in the end and he didn´t think he could go through that again. What had happened to Terry had all but destroyed him and everything he believed in, and he never thought it possible that if he would ever love another woman, could go through the pain again. As he held Vicky in his arms though he thought back to what Hutch had said and smiled softly to himself. Maybe, just maybe he could give love a chance again?

As the trembling began to ease Starsky gently released Vicky and held her at arms length. Smiling, the full Starsky´s grin, he spoke softly.

"Come on Vicky, I´m taking you back to my place. We can talk all night if you want to, but I want a chance to prove to you that not all men are monsters. I want to show you how a beautiful woman should be treated."

Vicky said nothing as Starsky put his arm around her shoulders and gently turned her around. All she knew was that for the first time in a very long time she felt safe and wanted. Deep inside she felt feelings she had long forgotten she could feel begin to burn, slowly at first, but then more fiercely. As they walked Vicky knew that they wouldn’t spend the evening talking and she felt a warm glow surround her heart.

The walk to the Torino and the journey to Starsky´s was made in companionable silence, as each one were lost in their own thoughts. Maybe, if Starsky hadn’t have been so pre-occupied, he would have noticed the car headlights following him, as it was the driver was guided to Starsky´s apartment with no trouble. Killing the engine the stranger watched angrily as Starsky held the door for Vicky, then offered his arm for her to walk up the stairs to the door. At the top Starsky paused for a second and glanced around. The hairs on the back of his neck were beginning to prickle but, as he peered into the night he failed to see the dark blue sedan parked well away from any lighting. As Starsky turned back and unlocked his front door the driver’s hands gripped the steering wheel ever tighter until the veins on the back of his hands began to throb. Hatred burned from his eyes drilling a hole into Starsky´s back as he disappeared into the apartment. Settling himself down to wait he glanced at his watch.

Billy my friend, we’ve got him now. You knew that bitch was two timing with some low life,  but now we’ve got all we need to make sure she never does it again and teach him a lesson about messing with other men’s wives. The thoughts ran unspoken through the driver’s head as he fixed his gaze on the closed door.

Still slightly uneasy Starsky glanced up and down the street before closing the blinds and locking the door. His arm slid around Vicky’s waist as he guided her to the couch and sat her down.

"Drink?" he asked quietly.

Vicky nodded and Starsky disappeared into the kitchen to find a bottle of wine. Pausing only to put on some quiet music, he returned with the wine and two glasses. Sitting on the floor opposite to pour them both a full glass, Starsky suddenly felt disloyal to a cherished memory and his eyes darkened over. Vicky noticed the change and it unsettled her.

"Dave, What’s up? Did I do something wrong?"

Starsky rose from the floor and turned away. "No Vicky Its not you. Its me. I thought I’d got over this but obviously..."

"Got over what Dave? I don’t understand." Quietly Vicky rose to stand beside the man who was rapidly wearing down her defences and creeping into her heart. "Talk to me Dave, I’d like to help if I can."

Starsky looked deep into her eyes and, for a while, Vicky felt as though he were searching her very soul. Then he turned away and crossed the room, putting distance between them. He knew he was taking a risk with what he was about to say but he had decided it was worth. If things were going to work between them, there could be no secrets and if Vicky left, then she obviously wasn´t the right person after all. Squaring his shoulders Starsky began to speak.

"There was someone special, very special, some time ago Vicky. Her name was Terry and she loved me despite what I am, what I do for a living and the risks that are involved every time I leave my apartment. Something else though. She accepted Hutch and me, how we work, how we are. She never tried to change that and she wasn’t jealous of it either." Starsky´s eyes lowered and he stared unseeing at the floor. "She and I should have been married by now, maybe even have a had a kid, I don’t know."

Vicky watched the man in front of her of whom she had grown so fond and her heart ached for him. She could see the pain in the memories he was choosing to share with her, and all she wanted to do was make it go away. She realised that Starsky had rekindled long forgotten emotions within her, ones she thought Billy had killed long ago in her dark past. Quietly she reached out her hand but stopped just short of touching him, not wanting to intrude on his emotions.

"Hutch and I were investigating some store robberies when we got a call to go to the corner store Terry used all the time. When we got there she was laying on the floor with a bullet in her head. Turns out the whole damn stunt was just to get to her. They’d shot her in the head, deliberate, cold blooded and calculated."

Vicky flinched as Starsky spoke. "Why? What did she do that was so wrong?"

"She fell in love with me!" Starsky´s fist crashed into the wall as his eyes flared in anger. "Don’t you see? It was all a ploy to get back at me. A guy thought I was responsible for his son’s death, so he decided to get back at me by killing anyone close to me, and Terry was his first choice. He’d have killed Hutch too if he could have. Terry spent two weeks walking around with a bullet in her head waiting to die just because of me!" Tears were silently falling down Starsky´s face now, and he made no attempt to wipe them away. "I cant let you get close Vicky. Don’t you see? I loved Terry and she died...I can’t go through that again."

This time Vicky made no attempt to stop herself. Taking Starsky´s head in both hands she turned his face towards her until she could look straight into his eyes, almost drowning in the deepness of the blue she found there. Gently she wiped away the tears with her forefinger, then tenderly she kissed him.

"Terry must have been a special lady Dave, and if she was, then she wouldn’t want you to feel like this. She’d want you to go on living your life, doing the things  you know how to do the best way . She’d want for you to love again, knowing that you’d never forget her and would always keep a special place for her in your heart. I´m fond of you Dave and I think, in time, that I could love you. You’ve opened places in my heart I thought were locked for ever and I´m not about to run away from that just because of a madman and a bad memory." So saying, Vicky pulled Starsky into her embrace and held him as he trembled softly in her arms, the tears wetting the back of her neck as his head lay on her shoulder.

It was a few minutes before the trembling ceased and Vicky felt him begin to react to her closeness. Gently and tenderly at first he began to kiss the back of her neck as his hands moved, exploring her back. Pushing in to his body Vicky felt the last of her inhibitions fly from her as her hands began their own exploration. Then, his lips found hers and her mind exploded as the warmth and urgency flooded through her. Her lips parted and she was aware of Starsky´s tongue as it explored its way around her mouth, tasting her very essence. Reacting to her own emotions her own tongue darted out and for a while they fought with each other. Then Starsky´s hands found her breasts and she arched her back into him. She could feel him growing against her body and the yearning inside her growing ever more. Suddenly he stopped and held her, looking at her as though for the first time.

"I think I love you Vicky and I’d like to show you how much but only if you really want it. I’d never make you do anything against your will. I hope you know that."

Vicky could see the need in his eyes and new that he could see the same in hers. Taking a deep breath she answered. "I know it Dave Starsky, I know it and I thank you for it. What I want right now though is for you to show me how love should be, how a man really treats a woman that he loves."

Still Starsky hesitated, "Are you sure Vicky?" His voice was thick and husky which only served to make her even more responsive.

She nodded, almost imperceptively, and Starsky took her hand gently leading her towards the bedroom. At the door he stopped and turning to look at her he raised his eyebrows questioningly. In answer Vicky stood on tiptoe and gently kissed his forehead.

"Teach me to feel again Dave." She whispered. "Teach me to love as a woman should."

Smiling Starsky bent and placing one arm behind her knees and the other around her back, he lifted her from the floor and carried her through the bedroom door kicking it shut with his foot. In three strides he was at the side of the bed and gently and carefully he laid her down, sitting down at her side and bending towards her, kissing her lips, with increasing desire, while she was reacting passionately to his kisses and caressing his soft brown curls. While they were kissing each other, with urgency and passion, with hungry kisses full of promises of pleasure and tenderness hidden for a long time deep in a dark corner of their souls, both began to undress each other. But suddenly, a cold wind crossed Starsky's mind and he pulled away.

"Vicky...Wait, wait a moment"

"Why, Dave? What´s wrong..

"Vicky. I don’t know how to say this to you...Damn it! Why does this have to be so difficult!..."

"Davey. What´s difficult for you? I don’t understand. You know that you can talk to me... Or maybe its just that you don’t want to be with me right now?" Vicky said, caressing his face with such tenderness

"No Vicky. Its not that. I really wanna be with you more than anything, but this is the first time... after...Well. I should explain something to you..." Making an obvious effort, Starsky spoke, trying to hit his most hidden fears...

"One year and four months ago I was the victim of a murder attempt…That day I was wounded seriously Vicky, and since then I’ve got some awful scars...That maybe you’ll don’t want to see...or to touch." Starsky now was looking with deep sadness into Vicky's eyes.

"Dave, listen to me, and please, believe me." She said firmly, taking his hands "Never before. NEVER, have I wanted to be with a man as much as I want to be with you now... It doesn’t matter to me if your body has scars. I know that I feel something very beautiful and special for you, and now, I only want for you to make love to me and I to make love to you."

As she was speaking, Vicky unbuttoned Starsky´s shirt and then, she began to kiss, softly and lovingly, the places on his body, where the bullets had left its indelible marks of pain and anguish on that dark day.

*******

The whole night passed among love, passion and tenderness. Two bodies full of life, enjoying their meeting. Two souls delighted with the unexpected gift of a nascent love that they were experiencing with every meeting of their skins, only for them to move away and to return again, to be finally together in the arrival at the cusp of their pleasure.

*******

The first lights of the new day banished the shadows of the night, while sleep was flying slowly out Vicky's mind. A sweet sensation of peaceful happiness invaded her as she remembered where, and with who she was. Starsky was still sleeping and she lay without moving, so as not to wake him. He was surrounding her with his arms, in a softly possessive embrace and her head was resting on his chest. She enjoyed these first instants of the dawn in which his breathing, the warmth of his arms around her body and the beatings of his heart filled her soul with peace. Vicky had never before felt something so intense and just she wanted to wake up next to this tender and kind man, every morning of her life, as too, she wanted to sleep every night between his arms, after embracing his body in search of love and pleasure.

Some minutes later, the alarm clock sounded, and Starsky stopped it after a few brief seconds of searching with his hand. Then his eyelids began to open, and his gaze was focused on the head of the girl whose brown curls were tickling his chest.

"´Morning sweetheart You slept well? " She looked at his face, to find there his most seductive half smile.

"Mmmm" Vicky purred, lightly caressing his hairy chest. He kissed her lips and the top of her nose with a kiss soft as a feather, fingering her curled hair.

"Vicky, honey. This night has been beautiful, special. Hasn’t it? "

"Yes, Dave. The most beautiful and special night for me too." They kissed again, but before the kiss could turn more passionate, she separated her lips from his.

"Davey, I would stay here with you all day, but I must go. I have some things to do this morning. Jenny and I, we have to take Samson for a walk, and to do some shopping together. We had planned to have breakfast together, and to gossip a bit on women's things... You know, what dress we would like to buy if it wasn´t so expensive, with what wonderful man we have spent an incredible night, and things like that." She said with a naughty smile "And later, I must go back to work ... And you too. Your delinquents and my pets are waiting for us. By the way. Samson is not going to forgive me for this."

"You mean that you are going to leave me to be with a few shaggy and ugly pets?" Starsky asked in mocked seriousness

"Well, I suppose you can put it this way " While she was getting out of bed, Vicky softly kissed Starsky´s lips, before walking to the shower, naked and beautiful, with that special shine that only the happiness of love can give.

But this day that had begun in so beautiful way, would soon show its worst face to Vicky.

The girl took a shower and, after only a coffee in Starsky's house, she dressed in her blue dress, and went home to change her clothes for something more suitable for the day, and to take Samson for his walk as she did every morning.

In open her door, what she found there, made her cry out in fear...

 

Part Two

One of the windows was broken, bits of glass were spreaded all over the floor. Furniture and her books and ornaments were broken and thrown all over the lounge...And Samson, deeply sleeping on the floor. It took Vicky a lot of effort to wake up the dog and the dilated pupils and the unstable step of the animal confirmed, what she already supposed. Someone had drugged or maybe poisoned it.

"Oh! No... Who? Who has done this?" The girl was crying as she was trying to check the dog’s condition, terrified as she looked at the destruction surrounding her. When she went to her bedroom, for her veterinary briefcase to examine Samson she saw that thee, it too was the same. Her clothes were all over the floor, the mattress ruined, seemingly with a knife... Then she heard footsteps approaching from the front door. Paralyzed by fear she remained hidden behind her bedroom door. With her eyes tightly closed and holding her breath Vicky could hear that the soft steps were getting closer. Terror closed her throat, stopping her from breathing. She couldn’t move or open her eyes, though she knew perfectly well that someone had found her and there was no way of escaping.

"POLICE!! DON´T MOVE...VICKY!"

"D...Dave…Oh, Dave!" she exclaimed throwing herself in his arms.

Starsky quickly put his weapon back in its holster and hugged the girl who was trembling and crying uncontrollably

"Vicky... Shhht. Calm down, hey, Vicky... I´m here. Don’t be scared... I´m here, Shhht, Come on honey " Then he sat her on the bed, fetched a glass of water from the kitchen and, kneeling down by her side, he helped her to hold the glass and put it to her lips, since her  hands were shaking too much.

" What´s happened, Vicky? Who did this? Was there someone here when you came in?"

"No... I didn’t see anybody Dave... I...I don’t know who did it”

"Vicky. Sorry, but...do you think, that maybe...maybe Billy, your ex-husband, he could?..."

"Oh...No, no. Thanks God, Billy has lost any interest in me. He must be married again and a long way from here"

"You´re right Vicky. He probably forgo about you a long time ago..." Starsky soothed the woman, but a strange intuition was flying around his mind. He could still remember the sensation that somebody was watching them last night and all of his cop senses were suddenly alerted. He sat down by her side on the bed and put his arm protectively around her shoulders.

"Okay, sweetheart. I´ll tell you what I´ll do. First I´ll call Hutch and the lab boys to check for fingerprints. Meanwhile, you will try to calm down a bit and... "

"I have to take Samson to the veterinary surgery. Whoever did this had drugged him. I have to know what they’ve given him"

"I´ll do it Vicky. Tell me where and I´ll take him"

"No, Davey. I want to take him there. I´m okay, really, just a little scared but I´m fine.”

"You´re sure Vicky?"

"Yes Dave. I want to be there with Samson."

"Okay, but I want you to stay at my place with me for a few days. You, and Samson too, of course"

"But, Dave!"

"Please Vicky, Don’t argue with me. It’s not safe here for you right now...Please" He was holding her hands and pleading with his eyes.

"Okay...You win. How I can refuse you anything if you look at me like that?"

"Good, that´s settled. I´ll pick you in your work this evening too"

"I’d like to know something Dave"

"What?

"Why did you come?”

"Well... I was going to work, and I saw your broken window and the open door. I thought that maybe you could be in trouble...Besides. It has been a while since I saw you. I don’t want you to forget me" Starsky joked, kissing her.

"Dave."

"What?"

"Nothing...Just, thanks"

Starsky called Hutch and the police lab, Ten minutes later they were at Vicky's place looking for fingerprints, while he took the girl and the dog to the veterinary surgery where she was working. The animal was already more alert and Vicky calmer. Later Starsky went back to Vicky’s place to meet Hutch and to search for some clues about who had broken in.

By the time Hutch arrived at the scene Starsky was already there, pacing backwards and forwards as the lab boys did their work. With each passing second he was getting more and more angry as nothing showed up. Whoever had broken in had been clever enough to wear gloves and no one of the neighbours he had spoken with had seen or heard anything. Hutch arrived just in time to see Starsky punch the wall.

"Hey Buddy. That won’t get you anything but bruised knuckles." Hutch was beside Starsky in three strides. Taking his partner’s  hand he saw the blood begin to flow from the clenched fist and realised just how angry Starsky  was feeling.

"You´re wound up pretty tight Starsk. What the hell happened here anyhow?"

Starsky turned to Hutch and he could see the anger making Starsky´s eyes smoulder ever darker until they were almost black.

"It’s happening again Hutch. Someone’s out to scare Vicky just to get at me."

"Hey!" Hutch´s finger came straight up until it was inches from his partner’s face. "Stop that right now, Starsk. You don’t know why this happened. For all you know it could have been an ungrateful customer who’s pet died and he was sick enough to try and get even. Just because you know Vicky, it doesn’t mean someone is trying to hurt her because of you!"

Hutch stared directly at his partner and he watched as a tumult of emotions flickered over Starskys face. Finally Starsky looked away, his shoulders sagging, and he slowly slid down the doorframe to the floor, dropping his head in his hands.

Hutch sat down in front of him and proceeded to once again pull the hand free. Gently he wrapped it up in his handkerchief then he moved to sit beside his partner, one hand laid comfortingly on his shoulder.

"This has really got to you Gordo. Is Vicky so important to you?"

For a moment Starsky remained silent as though in deep thought.

"Yes...I mean I think she is, Hutch. I know we’ve only just met a few weeks ago, but... well... it’s a bit like with Terry when I first met her. You remember? We were just so comfortable with each other. Well, It’s the same with Vicky and me. Besides, she hasn’t had it easy Hutch and I’d kinda like to be the one to put that right if I can. I haven’t felt this way for a long time Hutch, not since..." Starsky stopped, his voice catching in his throat. "I never thought I’d ever feel this way again, Terry was so special. But I think, given a chance, it could be with Vicky."

Hutch looked at Starsky and smiled.

"I´m glad Starsk, really glad. You deserve some happiness at last. I´m pretty sure that Terry would be saying the same thing too. Now, what say you go find Vicky while I finish up here? I´ll see you later at the precinct."

Hutch rose and offered his hand to his partner. Grasping Starsky´s hand in his, he hauled him from the floor and pushed him towards the Torino. He watched as the red and white car roared away, then turned to go in to the house. A screech of brakes made him turn again and he watched as a young woman got out of her car and hurried towards him.

"What’s going on? where’s Vicky?" The young woman demanded.

"Depends who wants to know" Hutch replied, blocking her entrance in to the house.

"Well that depends on who wants to know who wants to know.”  The girl held his gaze, anger and worry flicking across her face. Hutch held out his badge for her to see and her anger calmed.

"Jenny, Jenny Summers. I´m friend of Vicky. We were supposed to meet up this morning to do some shopping but when she didn’t arrive I got a little worried so I came to look for her...What the hell happened here anyway, is Vicky okay?"

"Your friend is shaken up a little but other than that she’s fine. Luckily she wasn´t here when this happened. She’s taking her dog to the surgery. Whoever pulled this little stunt gave him something to make him sleep; otherwise I don’t think he would have succeeded in his work. Don’t worry, my partner is with her so she’s safe enough." Hutch took her arm and steered her into the house. "Can I get you something to drink for the shock?"

Jenny shook her head as she looked around the room. "Oh my God! Why would anyone want to do something like this? Its such a waste." Jenny bent down to pick up a broken ornament before Hutch could stop her. "I gave Vicky this the day she got married. Its the only thing she kept after..." Jenny stopped and Hutch waited. "After she finally got up the courage to leave him."

"Tell me about it." Hutch spoke firmly and Jenny looked at him. She could see Hutch´s features were set firm and it frightened her a little.

"Billy...William Sherman, Vicky’s husband, was a good waste! He married Vicky then used and abused her. Put her in the hospital more times that I can remember. Almost killed her the last time...did kill their unborn child. I helped her escape and we came here where we thought he wouldn’t be able to find us...Later he had filed for divorce. Then a lawyer that Vicky contracted spoke with his lawyer, and a little time later, finally, they were divorced, and he got married again. May the Lord help that poor girl!"

Hutch was quiet taking in all Jenny had told him. Now he knew what Starsky meant by not having had it easy. He didn´t even know this Billy and already he wanted to strangle him. Men like that were an insult to men everywhere and Hutch hated them. He had seen too many victims of their abuse. Finally Hutch spoke.

"How about I take you to Vicky now. There’s nothing more for me to do here right now until the lab reports are in. I´ll get someone to make sure its secure before they leave and we’ll go see how that brute of a dog is."

Jenny laughed, a sound that Hutch liked. "You hadn’t better let Vicky hear you call him that. She adores Samson and he her."

"Funny, my partner seems to like him too and he’s pretty nervous of dogs as a rule."

Jenny stopped walking for a moment. "Your partner...He wouldn’t happen to be called Dave would he? Hutch nodded.

"Then you must be Hutch. I’ve heard a lot about you from Dave. I like him, he seems to care for Vicky. I only hope he’s genuine though, or Vicky will be back to the state she was in before. Its been a long time since she allowed herself to even think of loving someone again but your partner seems to have broken through her defences."

Hutch opened the door of his car. "Starsky hasn’t had it easy over the last few years either. Sounds like they both deserve a little happiness."

Getting in to the car Hutch drove away. He failed to notice the dark sedan pull out in to the traffic behind him.

After some silent minutes, Jenny began to talk "Detective Hutchinson..."

"You can call me Hutch"

"Okay, Hutch. I´m very worried about this"

"About what happened at Vicky's place you mean?"

"Yes. I´m worried for Vicky. Very worried in fact. She’s my best friend, and a great person, And I can tell you that everyone likes her. She doesn’t have enemies. Who could have done this?"

"That we don’t know Jenny, but relax; were working on it and we should soon have some answers" Hutch continued "Jenny can I say you something?"

"Of course, Hutch."

"I like what I hear. Your sincere concern for your friend. It’s pretty unusual"

"Between two women you mean?" Jenny smiled a bit, and continued talking. "For most men and at times I think that for everybody, women are always The bad ones of the movie. Envious, competitive, spiteful... No Hutch. That’s only a cliché. The fact is that we love each other like sisters, or maybe more. I´m the strongest in this duo, Vicky’s the most sensitive and vulnerable, but although she and I both know that without my help she would still be in N.Y. and maybe Billy would have killed her, she helped me countless times too."

The rest of the journey was made in silence. Hutch thought about everything Jenny had told him. That the blonde girl was the strongest one of the duo was something he was absolutely sure of. The angry and defiant expression in Jenny’s face, minutes before in the doorway of Vicky’s house, offered no doubt about it, and that expression made her even more attractive. As they reached the surgery, Hutch could see the Torino parked a little way from the entrance, but he didn´t see the blue Sedan which had followed them all the way, and was now stopped a few meters from them.

"Perfect. Finally I’ve find the place where your dear wife works... Billy, friend, I am doing some great work for you" The sedan driver said contentedly for himself.

In the surgery admission, a nice girl dressed in a white coat, told Vicky, across an interior phone line about Jenny and Hutch´s arrival

"Vicky, Jenny and a gentleman want to see you.”

A few minutes later Vicky came out, dressed also in a white coat and comfortable white clogs, her brown curly hair gathered in a plait and a stethoscope hanging around her neck.

"Hi, Hutch. Jenny! Oh God. I forgot completely to call you. I ´m sorry! "

"Don't worry, Vicky. I went to your house to find you and I already know what happened. By the way. How’s Samson doing?"

"He’s fine. Under observation and a bit angry about the blood test, but fine. Whoever broke into my house gave him some food laced with Valium pills. Oh! I see you’ve met Hutch?"

"Yes. We have met at your house"

Starsky had followed Vicky out. His hand was now perfectly bandaged. Hutch saw it and looked At Starsky a little surprised.

“Hey Hutch" Vicky said. "Don’t look at him like that. For your information, we do have a first aid kit here. Sometimes some of our patients come here a bit upset and, more than once, we have to treat our bites and scratches. His hand might have gotten infected, so I treated it."

Becoming serious Hutch started to tell her what had happened so far. "Well Vicky. I suppose that Starsky has already told you that we’ve looked for fingerprints in your house and apparently there are none, though the definitive results won’t be back from the lab until tomorrow."

Vicky didn’t answer, only sighed deeply, and for a few seconds, she tiredly placed her head on Starsky's shoulder, who hugged her to offer support.

Minutes later she returned to her work, as did Starsky, Hutch and Jenny.

Before she left the surgery, Jenny asked Vicky.

“Do you want to spend some time with me at my place Vick?"

"Oh, well. Thanks Jenn, but Dave offered me the same thing”

"And she couldn’t resist my charming invitation" Starsky finished for her, looking at Vicky with his irresistible smile and encircling her waist with his arm

"Good choice, girl. I wouldn’t think about it for a single second, either" Jenny joked, with her usual irony. "Bye Vicky! Dave, take good care of her, and of Samson...And of the thousand dogs, cats and other strange homeless beasts that will soon invade your, till today, calm house. See you later!" The girl went out laughing towards the street.

Before leaving, Starsky asked Vicky "Do you want me to pick you up from here later for some lunch?"

"No Dave. Thanks, but I can’t. I have to stay here. I’ve gotten a lot of work today... But I´ll see you this evening. Listen, I think that I should return to my place, or go to Jenny’s... "

"Vicky. Please. Today well just collect what you need and you will come with me, to my house. No more discussion. I’d feel happier knowing you were there. In a few days, if you want, you can go back home and I´ll help you to clean up the whole mess that they made there. For now just humour me by doing as I ask, okay?. What´s the matter? Don’t you want to be with me?"

"It’s not that, honey. You know that. It’s just that I feel as if I´m invading your privacy, your home. I just don’t know if I should... "

"Shhht. No Vicky, don’t say it. Nothing could make me happier as having you with me..."

They were talking in the entrance, and as they said goodbye to each other with a sweet kiss they didn´t see the mysterious man who was watching them constantly.

Meanwhile Hutch had taken Jenny to Vicky’s place, so she’d be able to get her car.

"You know Hutch? They make a nice couple. I wished so much that Vicky could have a bit of good luck finally...Though I’m afraid that everything is not just a matter of luck. With Billy, she was the only one that didn’t see what kind of beast she was marrying... And the result couldn’t have been worse. Well, experiences are how people learn ...At least, that’s what everybody says"

With his eyes on the road Hutch smiled, and added. "I only hope that what happened in Vicky's house doesn’t happen again. Starsky´s very worried because of it, and Vicky seems to be scared."

"She is. Maybe she doesn’t show it but I know her, and I know just how frightened she is now. Thankfully, Dave is by her side."

*******

In the evening, when Vicky finished her work, Starsky took her to his house, pausing only to collect a few things that she needed from her own home.

"Vicky I have to go back to work. I´ll be back later."

"Something dangerous?"

"No. Don’t worry, honey. There’s nothing for you to worry about. Listen to me sweetheart. I don’t want to scare you but I don’t want you to open the door if you don’t know who is coming. Deal?"

"Dave!...I don’t want to feel this way...Like a prisoner."

"I know Vicky, but I’d feel calmer if you do as I ask...Please Vicky. Do it for me."

"Okay, daddy, I´ll do it." She answered with a resigned smile

"By the way. This is for you. One key to my front door. Don’t wait up for me...I love you." Starsky kissed her and left.

*******

During most of that night stake out, Starsky remained silent, with a worried expression reflected in his eyes.

"Hey Starsk...What are you thinking?...Its Vicky, right?...Do you want to talk?"

"Well, you know Blondie. Some madman is trying to scare her...Now she is at my place, but I’m not sure if she’s safe even there...In fact, right now I´m not sure if this is happening due to some enemy of mine. In that case...There’s only one thing I can do. Leave her...In spite of how important she’s becoming to me...But, I couldn’t Hutch...I couldn’t stand it again if she...If what happened with Terry..."

"Starsk. Listen to me. It WILL NOT happen again, Okay?... Vicky will be fine. We will find this son of a bitch, and you’ll be to keep staying with your girl and with that brute dog of hers, no problem...I promise. Trust me, partner." Hutch smiled at Starsky, but his heart was breaking, sharing the worry of his best friend

*******

That night, Vicky had a lot of time to think, especially about what was happening in her life along the past days. About this man who was suddenly there, stealing her heart. About how she wanted to be with him every minute of the day... In fact, she couldn’t say that she knew him well, but she knew that this time, she wasn’t wrong. His kind and sincere look, his tenderness couldn’t be a lie.

When Starsky came back, Vicky was sleeping peacefully. He stopped in the entrance of his bedroom looking at her without putting on the light so as not to wake her. She looked so beautiful with her sweet face relaxed in her sleep, and her curly, soft hair around the pillow, that he felt a wave of tenderness invading him. When some minutes later he got into the bed, she woke up.

"Dave..." Vicky said in a whisper softly caressing the curls of his temple.

"I´m sorry, Vicky. I didn’t mean to wake you up."

The girl hugged him lovingly. "I missed you so much tonight...I love you Dave”

"Really? Tell me how much?" Starsky answered, kissing her.

Soon they forgot the time and the whole world. For both only that room and that bed existed, where without the need for words, but with their bodies, they spoke the most beautiful and sincere love words.

They did not sleep too much that night and the dawn surprised them, still embraced, but unfortunately, with the day, they had to leave their small refuge, and go back to their work, with the certainty that in the night, nothing or nobody might come between them.

Some days later, Vicky was still in Starsky's place, even though when the lab team had finished its work she and Starsky had spent a lot of time arranging and cleaning up the whole mess and arranging her stuff until her house looked normal again.

That day, a new scare would destroy her happiness one more time...

*******

Saturday morning began as usual when, before breakfast, Starsky went out to get his mail. Among several letters and bills, there was a package.

"Looks like the postman got it wrong. This package isn’t for me... It’s for someone named V. Sherman. This surname sounds familiar to me but right now, I don’t remember why...Wait a moment...it’s not...?" Starsky stopped as Vicky approached, looking at the package with terrified eyes as the colour drained from her face and her hands began to tremble. Starsky held the girl and helped her to sit down in a chair, kneeling by her side.

"Hey, Vicky, honey...Calm down..."

"Dave...This was my married name... I was Vicky Sherman when I was Billy’s wife. This package is for me...Though nobody in Bay City knows my married name, and neither my family nor my friends from New York have ever written to me using it since I left there"

Starsky didn´t want to worry her any more, but he saw that the package didn’t have any postage stamps, and therefore, it had not been posted. Someone had left it in his mailbox.

"Well. This is for me. Right? Then I should open it." Vicky said suddenly with a defiant look in her eyes. As she spoke she tore the off the paper with a deep breath and tremulous hands. The wrapper contained a book "OTHELLO" By William Shakespeare. On seeing it, she began to cry silently. Starsky held her tightly in his arms.

"Vicky. Please, don’t cry. Come on, sweetheart...I´m here. Talk to me. What does this book mean? Why you are so upset?”

Among tears, and held tight to him, she answered. "This book was one of Billy’s favorite novels Dave...The story speaks of Othello's groundless jealousies, who finally, strangles Desdemona, his wife...I thought that I would never have to see this book again in all my life. It brings back to many bad memories...Hold me, Dave. Please. Hold me tight. I´m scared!”

Once again Starsky found himself hating this unknown man for being the cause of so much fear in the young woman in front of him. Gently he took her into his arms, his hands rubbing her back as he whispered quietly in her ear.

"It’ll be fine Vicky. Hutch and I will sort this out. Well get this maniac if it’s the last thing we do. In the meantime you’ll be safe with me." Starsky looked up as he spoke, an unspoken prayer in his mind that his words would be true.

They stood entwined for five minutes before Vicky finally pulled away, stepping back to look at the man who had become so important to her.

"I believe you Dave, I really do. It’s just...you don’t know Billy, he’s capable of some awful things". Vicky’s voice was just a whisper.

Starsky lifted her chin with his finger and grinned at her. "Hutch and I are capable of some pretty mean things ourselves when we put our minds to it. I have to go now. Hutch will be wondering where I am. Lock the door and remember, don’t open it unless you´re sure who it is...Promise?"

"I promise Dave". She nodded her head smiling slightly. "Call me later."

Starsky turned and left the apartment, standing for a moment at the door to hear the key turn in the lock. Satisfied that Vicky was safe, at least for a while, he trotted to his car and, jumping in, roared away to pick up Hutch. On the way he placed a call through to headquarters requesting Minnie to run a check on William Sherman. He wanted to know exactly what he and Hutch were up against. From what Vicky had told him he new this was one guy they would have to handle with care, especially if they were going to be able to put him away where he could no longer cause Vicky any trouble.

As Starsky hung up the mike he glanced in his rear view mirror just in time to see a dark blue sedan pull across two lanes to drop in behind him. Again Starsky could feel the hairs on his neck begin to bristle. Gently Starsky increased the pressure on the gas pedal and the Torino began to speed up. Checking his mirror he could see that the sedan had increased speed too. Taking a right turn he watched and was rewarded with the sight of the strange vehicle making the same turn. Picking up the mike again he requested central to run a check on the vehicle. Increasing his speed Starsky made for the freeway where he could open the Torino up and find out just how serious this guy was. It wouldn’t be long before he found out. As he reached the intersection Starsky realised the sedan was now level with him on his inside and was slowly but surely pushing him out into the traffic. He just had time to register the fact when the sedan swerved violently into him knocking him directly into the path of a huge truck coming up behind him. He could hear the horn from the truck as he desperately tried to gain control. He almost had it when the sedan hit him once more and this time he was unable to stop the Torino from spinning round and around. Starsky braced himself and could only wait as the truck hit him broadside. Suddenly the world was a huge spinning wheel as the Torino rolled four times before coming to a halt on its roof. As at last it stopped rolling Starskys vision blurred and blackened as unconsciousness overtook him. The truck driver, as he ran towards the stricken car, watched in disbelief as the dark sedan roared away without slowing down.

*******

Hutch was pacing up and down outside his home when the black and white pulled up. He didn’t recognise the young rookie who climbed from the car and slowly approached him. The look on the young man’s face was enough to send the blood running around his veins suddenly run cold. He took a couple of steps forward and waited.

"Detective Hutchinson, I´m Officer Matthews. Captain Dobey asked us to come and get you and take you to memorial hospital. Your partner, Detective Starsky, he’s been taken there this morning, following a hit and run accident."

Hutch could feel his legs begin to give way and hurriedly propelled himself past the young officer and into the patrol car. Once inside he took a few deep breaths before he could bring himself to ask the one question he needed to have the answer for.

"How badly is he hurt?" Even by his own standards Hutch knew his voice sounded strained. Starsky didn´t have a lot of reserves these days, even after all this time following Gunther’s attempted assassination and he could only hold his breath and pray that the answer wouldn’t be as bad as he feared.

"According what I’ve been talking he has a concussion, a couple of broken ribs, a broken right arm and several cuts and bruises. The doctors want to keep him in for a few days, but he’s fighting them on that one. Says he has to get home to look after Vicky, whoever she is." The officer’s eyebrows rose questioningly.

"Vicky is Detective Starsky´s girlfriend; you better call round by his place and collect her." Hutch sat backing in the seat and released the breath he had been holding. Starsky had been lucky again and Hutch said a quick prayer of thanks to the overworked guardian angel who watched over his partner. "Tell me what happened."

"Seems someone forced him in front of a truck. The driver couldn’t stop in time and smacked him broadside. According to the witnesses he rolled over about four times before finally coming to a halt in the middle of the freeway. The truck driver managed to pull him free before the car burst into flames. The only description we have of the vehicle is a dark blue sedan travelling south." The young officer was watching Hutch in the rear view mirror. "Someone seems to keep a grudge against your partner Detective Hutchinson."

Hutch nodded. "Unfortunately it happens a lot in our line of work, Officer Matthews. You’ll find out for yourself soon enough."

Hutch looked up as they pulled up outside of Starsky´s apartment. He climbed the stairs two at a time and banged on the door. He heard Vicky’s voice from the inside.

"Vicky, its Hutch, open the door." Hutch waited impatiently as the key turned.

"Get your jacket, Vicky, Starsky needs you, he’s at the hospital". Hutch watched as the colour drained from her face.

"Oh my God! What happened? How is he?" Her voice was shaking and Hutch took pity in her.

"It was a hit and run. But he’s going to be okay. Starsky´s got a hard head, you know. He’s got a few broken bones and some cuts and grazes but nothing that wont fix with a little time and TLC". Hutch smiled gently at her. "Come on, apparently he’s worrying himself sick about you, so what say we get a move on and put a stop to it?"

Hutch waited a little impatiently as Vicky got her coat and locked the door to his partner’s home. Outside he was calm and gentle; inside he was in turmoil and would be until he could see for himself that Starsky was all right.

At that same moment, in another part of the city, a man was shouting heatedly at another one…

*******

"I can’t believe it. Really, I can’t believe I trusted in anybody as stupid as you... I told you that I would be your lawyer if you were charged with housebreaking ...And about taking the pictures and sending her the book...It’s not a crime, just a misdemeanour. But the murder of a police officer. That’s a very different thing, Andrews. Shit! Who told you to kill that man? You only had to scare the bitch a little. The rest was my business! "

"I...I´m sorry, Mr Sherman, I didn´t think, I just ..."

"That´s the problem. You didn´t think... Let me tell you something Peter. Right now you are in a big mess. The police will find you and arrest you. But, if you betray me... If you do not continue with my plan point by point, then you are dead man. I will personally make sure someone kills you, boy. And I do not joke. Do you understand me?...Oh! And do me a little favour, please. Take a shower, and dress in the clothes that I bought for you, or nobody will believe what I want them to believe..."

Part Three

Starsky did lay in the hospital bed, his eyes closed, the window blinds down and the lights low. His head was throbbing though how much he wasn´t letting on to anyone. Every muscle in his slim frame screamed out their aches and his thoughts were in turmoil. Who the hell was the guy in the sedan anyway? Where did it all fit in with Billie Sherman and more importantly; where the heck were Hutch and Vicky? No-one had told him what time of day it was but just before the blinds had been closed in his room he could the see the sun going down and knew it must be evening by now. Vicky would be worried when he hadn’t phoned her as promised and good only knows what Hutch was going through.

Nice one Starsky, you’ve done it again. Blintz had just begun to believe you could look after yourself properly again and now,  this!   

The thought came unwelcomed into his head to add to his annoyance. As he lay in his hospital bed wondering if he should dare open his eyes in case the vertigo returned along with the flashing lightening, he heard the door softly open and two pairs of feet crossing the room. He felt the hand on his arm and gratefully heard the quiet voice speaking.

"Hey buddy, you gonna sleep all night as well as all day? Didn´t your mom ever tell you it was rude to keep a lady waiting?"

"Hutch?...Where ya been? I though you’d forgotten me."

"Been here all day, partner. Where else? Got a beautiful lady here with me to keep me company. We just popped to the cafeteria for a coffee and you choose that moment to wake up. How do you feel?"

"I’ve felt better, that’s for sure. I’d be okay if someone could stop the room from spinning like a top all the time." Starsky slowly and carefully opened one eye a little. He could just make out Hutch bending over him.

"Where’s Vicky? Is she okay?"

"Ask her yourself buddy. She’s been waiting all day and half the night to speak to you. Poor Samson had to make do with the veterinary assistant to take him for that walk you promised."

Hutch straightened up and stepped back a little, still keeping contact with Starsky’s hand. Vicky moved into view and bent to kiss the top of his head.

"Hey lover. How’re you doing? You didn’t have to go to all this trouble just to get out of having dinner with me tonight." Starsky could just make out the tears in her eyes.

"Hey sweetheart. How else is a guy supposed to get a pretty girl’s attention?" Starsky put on his best Bogey impression but it was a poor version of it, and Hutch felt for him.

"Any idea about who the guy was, Starsk?" Hutch waited impatiently for an answer. The sooner Starsky could fill in a few of the blanks, the sooner he could get after the maniac who had done his utmost to kill his best friend.

"Me not. Didn´t R & R come up with anything on him? I put in a call just before all hell broke loose."

Hutch quietly swore to himself. He had been so involved with looking after Vicky and waiting for Starsky to come around that he had forgotten to check in with Dobey. Looking apologetic he excused himself from the room and strode determinedly for the nearest phone. He tapped impatiently as he waited for the connection to be made and his call to be put through to Captain Dobey.

"Cap! It’s Hutch. Starsky came round a few minutes ago. He said he requested a license plate check on the sedan just before it sideswiped him. Anything through yet?

Hutch listened intently as Dobey filled him in.

"It was a hire car, Hutch. Phillips car rentals. I sent an officer down to check out who hired it and he got the name Andrews. Peter Andrews. I ran him through the computer and he’s got previous but not here, New York Penitentiary. He did five years for grievous assault. Some fly by night lawyer got him out on parole and he seems to have vanished from sight until his name came up on the car rental form. I’ve got an APB out on the sedan but so far, there’s nothing. I was about to send a car round to the address to see if anything turns up. Your partner’s up to being left yet and you joining them? The address is a run down motel. 221A Mason Avenue.

"Yes Thanks Cap. I´ll get down there now. Tell them to wait till I get there just in case."

Hutch hung up the phone and thought for a moment. Some nut case from New York could mean someone from Starsky´s past had a grudge to settle in which case this could open up a whole can of worms for his partner that he would rather keep closed.

He was on his way back to Starsky´s room when he remembered that Jenny had told him she and Vicky were originally from New York and he began to form another theory. Maybe, just maybe this wasn’t about Starsky at all, maybe it was about Vicky, in which case they were still in danger. Hutch hurriedly reversed his steps to the telephone and waited once again for Captain Dobey. After speaking with him for a few minutes Hutch hung up the phone slightly happier than he had been a couple of minutes earlier. Satisfied that a team were on the way to post guard outside of Starsky´s room he returned to it in order to convince them both that they would be safer if Starsky stay where he was for a couple of days like the Doctors had asked and Vicky stayed right there with him.

It had taken Hutch a full ten minutes of arguing before he could get the couple to agree. Starsky hated hospitals, even more since the murder attempt on him and the weeks he had spent in one. It wasn´t until Hutch had convinced him that Vicky would be safer there that he finally relented. It said a lot for the way Starsky felt about Vicky, Hutch realised. He only hoped that everything would go smoothly this time. Starsky rarely let anyone into his heart quite so completely, apart from himself, Hutch could only recall Terry and Rosie Malone, now this pretty young veterinary had found herself a place there. Hutch allowed himself smile before his thoughts turned to Peter Andrews and the job of finding him. As he reached the hospital doors he broke into a run and jumped into the back of the first available cab to go and pick up his own car. Fifteen minutes later Hutch was on his way to join the black and whites at 221A Mason Avenue. Siren blaring Hutch made good time and screeched to a halt behind the patrol car. For the second time that day he found himself facing Officer Matthews. This time though he was in control. As they headed through the door of the building Hutch asked.

"You go anything to add to what I already know Matthews?" The young officer shook his head. "Okay. Follow my lead in here."

Hutch purposefully strode to the desk behind which sat an old, balding man who looked like he had known better times. The man was sitting with his feet up on the desk watching a battered TV and he didn´t look up as the two officers approached. Hutch stood for a few seconds then, when it was obvious they were being ignored he roughly grabbed the man’s feet and, raising them into the air, he glared into his eyes.

"Peter Andrews, which room?"

The man shook his head and Hutch grew increasingly angry. Pushing harder he sent the old man’s feet beyond the level of his head.

"I’ll ask you just one more time and if I don’t get the right answer then I´m gonna arrest you for flashing, you understand me, pal?" Hutch’s eyes were blazing, his voice cold and clipped. The old man hesitated for only a fraction of a second before nodding.

"Good." Hutch released the pressure a little and the man’s feet lowered a little. "Now! Peter Andrews! Which room?"

"Second floor, room eleven." The old man’s voice trembled as he spoke. "He’s not there though. Hasn’t been all day".

"That’s okay, friend and I just wanna take a quick look around if that’s okay with you, that is". Hutch´s eyes bored into the hapless man and he nodded, pointing to the key hanging on the board to his left.

Officer Matthews moved around behind the desk to retrieve it, and Hutch let the old man go. Pointing his finger directly into his face at eye level he spoke quietly.

"My fellow officer and I are going up. If Mr. Andrews comes in I want you to ring the room, you understand me?" The old man nodded and Hutch lent forward and patted his cheek. "Good."

Together the two headed up the stairs. It didn’t take long to find the right room and they stopped outside a battered, dirty brown door that was badly in need of a lick of paint. Matthews unlocked the door and stepped back for Hutch to enter first. The smell of alcohol hit them as they went in. The room was a dismal place, empty whisky bottles on the floor and mould growing on the walls. Hutch stepped over the bottles and clothes that were lying with them and reached for the drawer of the bedside cabinet. He pulled it out and threw the contents onto the bed, staring unbelievably at the contents. Photographs of Starsky and Vicky together and some of Vicky and Jenny fell on to the bed in a heap along with a notebook. Picking it up Hutch flicked through the pages, realising as he did so, that it was a record of Vicky’s movements from the time she had moved in opposite Starsky. Hutch grew even angrier as he realised that Andrews had been following Starsky and Vicky almost since their first innocent meeting. The only question now was, why?

*******

It was nighttime in the hospital and everyone was settling down. With a little help from his doctor Starsky had managed to have a small fold up bed brought in to his room and Vicky was lying on it, her eyes closed, her hair curling softly around her cheek. As he watched her lying there he felt an overwhelming desire to take her in his arms and kiss her and he smiled softly to himself. Listening to her breathing, he lay back into his own pillows and closed his eyes. As he drifted off to sleep and image came into his mind. It was a picture of Terry, smiling at him and Starsky, in his half-conscious state, took it as a sign that she would approve. He was glad. He had loved Terry with every ounce of his being and it had taken many months to get over her death but he had never quite gotten over Terry herself. Now though he realised that at last he had. Although he would always remember her and always have a special place in his heart that would always belong to her, it was finally time to take that final step and move on. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that he loved Vicky and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. All he had to do was pick up the courage to tell her so.

*******

Hutch had returned to the precinct to see Peter Andrews’s police record, and his picture, which had arrived from New York. Later, he went back to the motel and waited for him.

Around 1 a.m., Andrews, came back to his motel room and as he opened his door, he suddenly felt Hutch’s gun aiming against his back. For a second he tried to get his own gun

"No... That is definitely not a good idea, Andrews." Hutch said with a frozen voice "Give me your gun, carefully, and sit down. I want to ask you some questions."

Taking Andrews’s gun, Hutch frisked him, and sat the man down in a chair.

He was around forty, dark-haired, with big brown eyes, angular features, pale skin, white and perfect teeth, athletic built, and correctly dressed. In short. Pretty attractive. In fact his neat look seemed out of place with the disorder and filth that reigned in that miserable motel’s room.

Hutch showed his badge to the man, and began to ask.

"William Sherman...Talk to me about him"

"Who?"

"Do you know somebody named William Sherman?" Asked Hutch, looking at him with his most cold look.

"I´m under arrest?"

"Listen to me! Right here and now I am the one who’s asking all the questions! ...Get it?"

"Yes...yes, of course pal!"

"So, I´ll ask again. Do you know William Sherman?"

"Oh, yeah, well in fact I don’t know him. I know just his name. He’s my girlfriend’s ex husband...A rich and powerful New Yorker lawyer, I think.

"WHAT?...YOUR GIRLFRIEND?...Who is your girlfriend?"

"Vicky. Vicky Walsh. She is my girl, since more than a year ago...A very hot girl...You should taste her some day, buddy..." Hutch was becoming increasingly angry at every passing moment. "She’s still my girlfriend, in spite of the fact that she’s begun dating with that guy, the curly haired one, since some weeks ago...I was nuts about that. I told her that she should choose. Him or me, but she told me that she would continue fucking with us both, that she wouldn’t leave either one of us, because we both drove her mad in bed."

Hutch lost the control and seizing Andrews by the front of his shirt, he pulled him from the chair.

"What the hell are you saying?"

"The truth. I´m telling you the truth...Under her innocent appearance she hides a true wild beast. She’s so hot! Its better than the best hooker...for this reason I can’t leave her... But I was furious...And I did it. The pictures, I destroyed Vicky’s apartment. I sent her the novel "Othello" too, a book I know she hated ...And I only wanted to frighten the damn curly on the highway. I didn’t want to kill him; I swear that I didn’t want to kill him. He lost control of his car." Then Andrews began to cry as Hutch was pulling him from the chair, putting the handcuffs around his wrists.

"Come on. I’m taking you to the precinct. Peter Andrews, you are arrested for the attempted murder of a police officer. You have the right..."

*******

A noise abruptly woke Vicky from her light sleep. In a second the girl was at Starsky´s bedside, caressing his curls.

"Dave, honey...Are you in pain?...Do you need something?"

"Vicky…I´m sorry, I didn´t want to scare you. I´m fine. Just thirsty. I tried to get the glass from the nightstand and it fell on the floor.

"You shouldn’t be doing that Dave. I don’t want you trying to move too much. You could hurt yourself. I´m here for you." Kissing softly his forehead, she bent down to collect the broken glass pieces, and headed toward the bathroom to fetch another water glass. Sitting down on the edge of the bed Vicky helped him to raise his head a little and drink.

"Easy, Honey, easy...Better?"

"Sure, thanks." Starsky answered as his head sank down again on the pillow.

"Ouch!"

"What, Dave?... Do you want me to call a nurse?"

"Not...It’s just my head...Hurts."

"I know, but the doctor says this is usual in your condition, and the nurse has put a painkiller in your IV a while ago... Soon you’ll feel better." The girl, said taking his hand

"Vicky?"

"Yeah?"

"I just want to thank you for what you are doing. Coming into my life, being here with me, taking care of me. .."

"Right now, I wouldn’t want to be in any other place." Vicky said softly rubbing his chest.

"You shouldn’t worry about anything Dave. Nor about Samson, I called his "Old aunt Jenny" earlier, and right now, she’s in my house so as not to leave the dog alone for too long. I’m sure they are right now comfortably sleeping in my king size bed."

Then Starsky smiled weakly and said. "Vicky...I promise you, that Hutch and I will soon find this nutcase...He won’t hurt us anymore. I promise..."

The girl stayed sat in the chair by his bedside for the rest of the night, gently stroking his hair, while he fell asleep again. Finally she slept too, with her head over the bed and her hand over his.

Some hours later, the next morning Starsky suddenly woke up with a disturbing thought

"My car!...What happened to my car?" The words were said in such a loud voice that they frightened Vicky who woke with a start.

"Dave...Calm down, sweetheart...What happens?"

"My car...Vicky, I need to know what happened to my car...Do you know anything about it?"

"I´m so sorry Dave. Your car...Well. It was burned."

"MY CAR...BURNED?"

"Hey...Come on, Davy. I´m sorry. I know how important that car was for you. Hutch told me, but your life is more important, right? The driver whose truck the Torino collided with could only pull you out from the car, but he couldn’t avoid the fire...Please Dave. I don’t want see you so sad."

"Vicky. You don’t understand it." Starsky said with sad eyes.

"You´re right David I don’t understand. For me the only important thing, is that you are alive, my love. Yesterday I could have lost you forever on that highway. You don’t know how scared I was until you woke up. Luckily, you are alive, and soon you’ll be okay...The rest really, doesn’t matter to me."

They embraced each other and kissed lovingly.

Then, Hutch came back to the hospital

"Hi, buddy. You look much better this morning"...The blond one seemed very tired, and a bit strange, cold, and almost angry. Especially when he spoke to Vicky and the girl noticed it clearly.

"Hey Blondie...You look like hell. Are you okay?"

"Sure Starsk. Don’t worry. I just have one of my famous headaches, no matter...Well, I have good news. We have found the psycho that tried to kill you. He’s the same man that destroyed Vicky’s apartment, and sent her that book."

"But...Why? Why he has done all of this?" Starsky asked.

"We don’t know yet Starsk. He seems to be pretty crazy. Maybe, for no special reason. We only know what he told us so far."

For first time, Hutch was lying to his best friend, and he felt ashamed, but before Starsky knew the truth he needed some more time to think. And maybe, to speak with Vicky.

"But the book. ...That book" She said "I don’t understand why someone that doesn’t know anything of my past sent it to me with my married name on the address."

"You’re sure that William Sherman isn’t mixed up with all this Hutch?" Starsky asked, taking Vicky’s hand

"Apparently not."

Hutch was really worried. The Andrews confession had been more than he could take. There, next to Starsky, Vicky was. Diligent and loving him. With concern, and anguish for him still reflected in her face...Her angel face. Her innocent face...Andrews’s words had sown the seed of doubt in Hutch´s mind. After all, she was just an total strange for them. Maybe she could be one big and painful lie for Starsky?... He had to think on what to do with what Andrews had told him. Don’t believe it and forget it? Speak with Vicky? Explain it to Starsky? ...Just the idea that his best friend could be betrayed by a woman so important to him filled him with rage and anxiety.

After she had helped Starsky to eat his breakfast, because of his broken arm, he said to her.

"Vicky, honey, why you don’t go to the cafeteria and eat something? I´ll be okay. Hutch is here"

"No, Dave, I´m not hungry.

"Come on Vicky. Do it for me...Please. You need to eat something."

"Okay...But I´ll be back soon." She kissed his lips and left the room.

When the girl had gone Starsky spoke.

"Hutch...What would you think if I told to you that I love her. I´m sure Blondie. I really love Vicky…And when all this mess would be  solved, and I’ll be discharged from the hospital, I´m going to buy the most beautiful ring than I can find, and I will ask her to marry me."

"Starsk...I don’t know if that’s a good idea. You almost don’t know her...”

"Hey Hutch! What´s the matter? Don’t you like Vicky?...I know this is a little fast but I´m absolutely sure about my feelings. I thought you’d be happy for me...I know Vicky well enough. She’s kind. Sincere. And the most important thing is; I love her and she loves me, I know it."

"If you are happy, I will be too, partner. But just I hope that you’ll think seriously about your plans before proposing her. Marriage is a very serious thing, Starsky ...If you don’t believe it, just look at me."

Then, Vicky came back into the room. They spent a few hours together. Time in which Hutch was watching the girl and trying to find in her something that would help him to find out if Vicky was insincere.

Later in the afternoon she said. "I´m sorry, but I should call Jenny. She’s quite worried with all this."

“Why doesn’t Hutch take you home, Vicky? That man is arrested and the danger is over. You need a real rest, and I´m sure Samson is missing you a lot." You don’t mind Hutch? Starsky asked. Hutch nodded but continued looking at the girl with the same cold demeanour he had shown her since his arrival.

"I don’t wanna leave you, Dave."

"Come on honey...I´m okay. Maybe I´ll sleep a while. The painkiller shot is making me feel a little K.O." Starsky answered with a weak smile."

“Are you sure?” The girl asked reluctant to leave.

“Sure Vicky. Go home and get some rest. I´ll be fine."

“All right. But I´ll come back later..."

*******

Once in the car and heading to Vicky’s place, Hutch said directly to her.

"Vicky, I suppose, you’ve noticed it. There is something that is really worrying me."

"Yes Hutch. I’ve noticed it. You´re acting pretty strange, actually. In fact, judging by your demeanour, I´m wondering, if maybe, its my fault."

"I don’t know, Vicky, but maybe, you could answer me some questions"

"Come on, Hutch. I don’t like these kind of games. What´s wrong?"

"Do you know this man?...His name is Peter Andrews" Hutch said, showing Vicky a picture of Andrews.

The girl looked the picture hard before answering.

"No. I have never seen this man before in my life."

"He says differently Vicky." Hutch said looking fixedly at her eyes.

"Really? And what does he say?...If I´m allowed to know!"

"He says that you and he are lovers" Vicky looked surprised.

"And it seems you believed him. Right?"

"I don’t know Vicky, but I need answers. I need to know why he destroyed your apartment, why he gave you the book, why he has taken lots of photos to you and Starsky together...And why he has tried to kill Starsky if he really isn’t your lover."

"Then, why you don’t ask him, Hutch"

"I did Vicky…And he confessed his guilt in all those things. He said that he did it because you are the lover of both of them. Starsky´s lover and Andrews’ lover too. And you want to continue being it. You don’t want to be honest with either of them."

Vicky breathed deeply and closed her eyes tightly for a few seconds before answering.

"Hutch, listen to me good, because I’ll tell you just one time. I love David. I met him just a few weeks ago but I love him nonetheless. I´m absolutely loyal to Dave. He is the only man in my life. I don’t know who that nut is, nor what he wants, but I know somthing. You are sadly mistaken with your suspicions of me...And now tell me. David and I, can we be sure that we’re no longer in danger?"

"Yes Vicky. That guy is already arrested."

"Great!...Congratulations, detective" The girl said sarcastically.

"Vicky... Just one more thing. Will you speak with Starsky about this or I will do it?"

"Of course I’ll do it Hutch. Don’t worry. I´ll explain everything to him. I don’t have anything to hide from him, since I know he will believe the truth... And he will not doubt me."

"Vicky, Look. I don’t doubt you ...It’s just…"

"Yes Hutch. You doubt me. Don’t try to deny it! But you don’t doubt the words of the first psycho that fills your head with lies..." Then, they arrived at Vicky’s place. "Well Hutch. Thank you for bringing me home."

Vicky got out of Hutch´s car and headed towards her front door while Hutch was moving away. She was feeling furious, because of the mistrust shown by Hutch but, at the same time, relaxed because Starsky was recovering easy, and the man who was scaring her had been already caught.

She was putting the key in the lock, when, suddenly, a man appeared at her side. A tall, athletic, blond man dressed in an expensive grey suit, with very clear blue eyes that poured insanity.

"Hi, my beloved wife. Aren’t you going to invite me in?"

"Oh, my God...Billy!"

"Yeah Vicky. It’s me. It seems that you’re not glad that finally your husband has found you. COME IN!" The man was pointing a weapon at Vicky's back, and they both entered the apartment.

"Wow! Beautiful dog... Shut him in your bed room!" Billy said staring at Samson.

"Billy, Please!"

"Shut the dog in or I’ll kill it.” He said, showing his weapon to Vicky. She did as he requested and led the dog to her bedroom.

"Do you have any whiskey, Vicky?"

"No Billy. You know I don’t drink”

"Of course. I forgot...You use whiskey just to try to kill yourself...Okay, forget it"

The girl was so terrified that she could not speak. She could only tremble and cry silent tears. Billy had sat down in an armchair and was aiming his gun at her. Then he got up and walked the few steps towards her. He began to touch her breasts, trying to kiss her. When Vicky tried to move away he gave her a violent slap in the face, throwing her to the floor.

"Damned bitch!...what’s wrong? Maybe you like only the kisses of that curly haired bastard?" The girl was curled up crying in a corner, but in hearing that she raised her eyes towards him. "Yes Vicky. You don't need look at me that way. I know everything. I know that you roll with him in the bed. By the way. Where is he now? In the I.C.U. or already in the cemetery?"

"Billy...You?"

"Well. Not directly me. A good friend of mine did the dirty work. He’s the same friend that trashed a little your house, sent you the book, and told the blond cop that you are some kind of sexual wild beast, that you do it with the first man that you meet... You can’t say that my plan isn’t brilliant... And really, I doubt that curly, if he is still alive, will want to look at you again when he’ll know what kind of hooker you are."

"Why Billy?...Just tell my why you are doing this to me?"

"BECAUSE YOU ARE MY WIFE...Do you understand? MY WIFE FOREVER!" The blond man bellowed.

"I´m not your wife, not for a long time ...And I know Dave will never believe this of me." Vicky said among tears.

"So he’s really  alive! Well. That’s interesting...Yes, darling. He will believe it. He’ll have no other choice when you tell him that you don’t want to see him again. And let me warn you that if you don’t do it... If you see that pig just once more... I’ll kill him. Listen to me. One more time, and your lover will die.... Oh!...And let me give you an advice. Don’t waste time trying to hide from me. I found you this time and you know perfectly well I could do it again. Don’t be stupid, darling…"

With these words still ringing in Vicky’s ears Billy left the apartment as she watched the black car moving away across her window.

*******

A nurse came in to Starsky´s room, and gave him a closed envelope.

" This is for you Detective Starsky....Miss Walsh, left this envelope for you at the nurses desk a few minutes ago."

"Miss Walsh?...Vicky?"

"Yes. I´m sorry detective, but I don’t know any more. I’ve just started my shift, and I haven’t seen her."

"Okay, Beth. Thanks."

Starsky, surprised, tore open the envelope. Inside there was a letter, written with Vicky's elegant handwriting.

Dave.

You are the best man I have ever known, but we can’t be together any more. Though you don’t understand it, this is the best for you, but I am too much of a coward to say it you face to face, so I’ve written you this letter instead. Now I must leave the city. Maybe I´ll return, maybe not. I don’t know. Right now I just must move away from everything and everybody. Please Dave. Don’t search for me, because I don’t want you to find me . Just try to forgive me. Forget me, and be happy without me.

I will always love you.

Vicky

For a long time Starsky stared at the letter trying to make sense of it. When Vicky had left with Hutch she was fine, he was fine; in fact the whole world was fine as far as he was concerned. He loved Vicky and he felt sure she loved him. All he needed was to get out of this damned hospital bed and he would ask her to be his wife.

Now though his world was once again crumbling around him out of control. Starsky could feel the tears pricking the back of his eyes as he angrily screwed the letter into his fist. No way would he accept what he had just read without hearing it from Vicky’s own lips. He wanted to see her face as she told him she didn’t love him, he wanted to watch her eyes. Only if he could see it in her face as she said the words would he truly believe it!

Starsky lay in the dark, his arm across his eyes, head throbbing, and his mind began to race. If he were able he would be confronting Vicky right now, as it was he could only churn things around in his head. He thought back over the last few hours. Vicky had been so loving and attentive, so caring and adamant that he was all that mattered, so what and when had that all changed? He needed to talk to Hutch, get him to find Vicky and bring her to him. He needed Hutch to...

Suddenly Starsky realised just when things had seemed different. Hutch had come into his room earlier that morning and from the moment he had arrived his whole manner with Vicky had been cold! The more Starsky thought back the more he remembered how Hutch, his supposed best friend had talked in clipped tones to her and had barely acknowledged her unless almost forced. How reluctant Hutch had been to take Vicky home, Starsky had practically had to beg. But why? Starsky had never known Hutch like that before. Usually it was he who was the distrustful one of the duo, Hutch was a sucker for someone he felt weaker than him, who needed protecting, helping. The longer the night became the more Starskys mind was working and it was into overdrive when he finally came up with the only reason he could possibly think off that would explain his friend’s behaviour. Hutch was jealous! Jealous of Vicky and all the things she was doing for him that Hutch would; in any other circumstances, have been doing. It was Vicky who had stayed with him, catering for his every need. It was Vicky who had been brave enough to tell him about his beloved Torino. Not Hutch! It had been Vicky who had held his hand as his head felt as though it would explode. Not Hutch! The more Starsky thought it through, the more he knew that he was right. Vicky loved him. Hutch was the last person to see her so what could he possibly have said to make her write the things she had? For the first time in all the years he had known Hutch, Starsky found himself not liking what he was feeling about someone he had always considered as a brother. Embers of anger and dislike were beginning to glow deep in the recess of his mind and heart.

*******

Hutch was on his way to see Jenny. He had to find out if Vicky was telling him the truth about Peter Andrews or not, and Jenny could just be the one to help him. For Starsky´s sake he fervently hoped that she was telling the truth, but if she was then why had Andrews said the things he had about her and why did he have all those photographs of her and Starsky?

He pulled to a halt outside of her home and looked around, liking what he saw. The house itself was nothing special, sitting in a row of similar type houses, but what made it stand out was the garden. All of the other houses had grass and gravel drives. Not this one. There was a small but obviously well cared for garden that was ablaze with every colour imaginable. Shrubs lined the path up to the house and, as Hutch made his way to the door, he could smell the fragrances coming from them. Hutch thought of his greenhouse back at his apartment and envied Jenny this small space. When the door finally opened Hutch was bending over a small Rosemary shrub gently rubbing the leaves between his fingers. She had opened the door quietly and Hutch was unaware of her presence until he turned back to it with his fingers to his nose, softly breathing in the fragrance. Somewhat embarrassed he hurriedly dropped his hand. He could feel the colour rising in his cheeks as the pretty woman before him stood with her head on one side smiling at him.

"Hi...eerr...I... hum...I was just..." Hutch was stuttering. Dropping his head and laughing at himself he took a breath and tried again.

"Hi Jenny, sorry about that, its just smells like these ones remind me of my Grandmother when I was just a kid." Hutch paused "Can I talk to you, its about Vicky?"

Jenny steeped back from the doorway and walked back in to the house, Hutch following. She led him into a small studio where an easel was set up. Picking up her brushes she began to add to the picture in front of her. "What do you want to know?"

"We got the guy who trashed her apartment and put Starsky in the hospital. Name of Peter Andrews". Hutch paused for a second trying to read her face. "Does the name mean anything to you?" He could see Jenny frown and her hand paused for a second before once more adding to the picture.

"Sorry no. Should it?"

"Maybe, maybe not. I don´t know. It depends on how close you and Vicky are and how much she tells you".

Jenny’s hand dropped the paintbrush she was holding with such force that Hutch could see splashes of colour fly from it. She turned from him for a couple of minutes as Hutch waited before finally rounding on him with such ferocity that Hutch involuntarily took two steps backwards away from her, backing himself against the wall. Jenny was on top of him before he knew it, her eyes blazing with anger and Hutch felt her sharp nail stab into his chest as she poked her forefinger at him.

"Vicky has been a friend since kindergarten. She and I grew up together, went through school together, went on holidays together, the lot! When she got married I was her Chief Bridesmaid. But before that day it was me warning her not to rush in, to be careful, find out more about him. It was me who picked up the pieces every time that bastard knocked seven bells out of her, and it was me who found her the day she tried to take her own life because of him and what he was doing to her!"

Jenny turned away from him again. "So, how well do you think I know her Detective?" The last word was spat out. "Vicky tells me everything, as I do her. After she came out of hospital I was the one who arranged for her to get away, escape if you like, after the wonderful powers of justice let her down. I thought we were safe here, then she has to go and fall in love with a cop of all things. Not just any damn cop either, on no, not Vicky, she has to pick up the lame dogs all the way. It had to be one who had been hurt and had his face splashed over every paper in the country. Damn it, is it any wonder he found her?"

Jenny suddenly stopped and Hutch waited a few moments for her to continue. When she failed to, he took a couple of tentative steps towards her, stopping only when she again turned to face him.

"I swear to you on my life Detective Hutchinson." again that tone... "If Vicky knew a Peter Andrews, then I´d know about it. So, what the hell are you suggesting here?"

Hutch decided he had nothing to lose. "We have a sworn statement from Andrews that not only did Vicky know him she was in fact his lover, had been for a long time, even when she was claiming to love Starsky. As a cop that sounds pretty distasteful, as Starsky´s friend it’s unthinkable. Starsky´s a nice guy who´s had a lot of heartache, and he´s no lame dog for your friend to feel sorry for, he doesn´t deserve some two timing female to get his claws into him and I won´t stand back and watch it happen". Now it was Hutch doing the defending. His anger barely controlled Jenny watched as the middle finger stopped just in front of her face. He could see the colour draining from her face as the implication of what he was saying sank in.

"What the hell are you trying to insinuate here? Vicky hasn’t been near a man in that way since she lost her baby!" Now it was Hutch´s turn to blanch." Oh you didn´t know about that did you? No! You’re just like every other man. Believe what you´re told about a woman, no questions asked. Well let me tell you about Vicky shall I? She was 20 when she met the apology of a man she wanted to marry. He was 24 and even then I was uneasy about him. I tried to warn her but she loved him. Three months after they were married the honeymoon ended with him throwing her down the stairs for wearing too much lipstick, called her a hussy. She broke her ribs that time, and that was just the start of it. By the end of the year he was having affair after affair with everything he could get. Then he´d come home and physically abuse her. Using her like a piece of dirt. I lost count of the number of times I was called from the hospital. Even the Doctors begged her to go to the police, but she wouldn’t. He´d convinced her it was all her fault. She was worthless. Then came the day he came home in such a rage and beat the crap out of her! I found her lying on the bedroom floor, blood pouring from so many places I couldn’t stop them. She was in the hospital for weeks and when she finally came home she could only see one way out. Suicide! It almost worked too. She spent months receiving treatment, physically and mentally. Shed been twelve weeks pregnant when Billy thrashed her the last time. They couldn’t save the baby. That’s what almost destroyed her, but it was the one thing that, in the end, saved her. She applied for a divorce, and she finally got up the courage to press charges. Fat lot of good that did though! Billy had friends, rich friends, and they bought and paid for the trial. He got away with attempted murder and there was nothing anyone could do about it. So we ran, left our families and friends and took off. We had a little help and finally arrived here in Bay City where we thought Vicky would be safe and could start again. We even heard on the grapevine that Billy was getting married again. Then she met Starsky and it all started over again."

Jenny stopped, tears flowing freely down her face, and she collapsed into a chair. Hutch looked around and, finding a glass of water by her easel he brought it too her, gently pressing it to her lips encouraging her to drink. When finally a little of the colour returned to Jenny’s cheeks he rose and took a step away.

"Did Starsky know about all of this?

"Vicky told him a couple of nights back when Dave took her out for dinner. She wasn´t sure to start with but I told her that if he really loved her like she did him, then he would stand by her, would understand to treat her gently. He did too. He’s a good, kind guy and I think they could make it together if only..." Jenny stopped and Hutch looked at her, waiting.

"If only you let them for a start. Vicky says you two are pretty close, about as close as two guys can possibly get without crossing the line, if you get my meaning." She looked at Hutch challenging him to answer.

Now it was Hutch´s turn. "Starsky and I have been together since the police academy. Were as different as chalk and cheese but we have one thing in common, a need to do something about this rotten world we live in. At the academy we were both different if you like. Me, I was married, had a rich father, was fairly well educated. Starsky was pretty hard up and a Jew. He wanted to be a cop because of his Dad. We both of us stood out from the crowd I guess so it was pretty inevitable we should get thrown together. Besides, even then we needed each other. I was fine with all the legal mumbo jumbo that goes with the job, Starsk; well he grew up on the streets! He knew how to fight, how to look after himself. In the end we put the two together and made a damn good team. We learnt to take each other for what we are not for what other folk think we should be. In the end we knew each other so well we didn´t need to say anything, we always instinctively knew where the other would be if we were in a squeeze, right there defending the others back. It’s seen us through some pretty hairy times I can tell you, and some pretty sad ones too. Vicky isn’t the first girl to have stolen Starskys heart you know. Terry loved him so much it almost destroyed him the day she died. It took a lot of burning the midnight oil to talk him through that one. He’s been there for me too, more times than I care to remember. One time could have cost him his badge and everything he holds dear, but he did it anyway, for me." Hutch paused for a moment remembering the time Forrester´s goons had pumped him full of Heroin." I love Starsky, yes! But not in the way you’re insinuating. Starsky is the brother I never had. I know him as well as I know myself and I trust him with my life, as he does me. One thing I´m sure of though, if Starsky really loves Vicky then even if I hated her, which I don’t, then nothing would stop him from being with her. He doesn´t give his heart easily but when he does it 100 percent and nothing and no-one could stand in the way."

Hutch stopped and quietly moved to sit in the seat next to Jenny. For a moment neither of them moved or spoke then Hutch could hear gentle sniffs coming from the young woman by his side. Removing a handkerchief form his pocket he offered it too her, smiling softly as he did so. "My scout leader always said I should carry a clean handkerchief for emergencies. I´m not sure this is quite what he had in mind though!"

Jenny turned too him and he was relieved to see the answering smile through the tears. "Thanks Hutch." She took the hankie and dabbed at her eyes. "You and I are pretty much alike I guess."

"How so?" Hutch’s eyebrows lifted a little.

"Both care about someone enough to defend them to the finish, whatever the cost."

Hutch laughed and rose from his seat. Offering Jenny his hand he pulled her up and gently placed a kiss on her forehead before letting her go and moving to look at he painting.

"This is good. Are they for personal pleasure or do you let others see them?"

Jenny blushed a little. "They’re not that good. I’ve given a couple of my paintings to family and friends but that’s all. I paint more for relaxation, it gives me time to think."

"Jenny, you said earlier, is it any wonder he found her. What did you mean by it, who’s he?"

Hutch watched as Jenny’s face changed in an instant.

"Billy Sherman. Vicky’s ex husband! When we came here, only a couple of people knew about it, even a lot of our family don’t know the exact address. It was the only way to be sure he could never find us, or so we thought. I guess neither of us allowed for your partner’s charm and for Mother Nature. Once Vicky and he became an item there was always the risk she could be found more easily if you knew how to do it. Billy Sherman was a lawyer, a sly one at that. Its how come he managed to get away with what he did to Vicky. He used all he knew about people to sway the court. They say its not who you know its what you know about them; well in this case it was true.

After Vicky’s home was trashed I did a little investigating of my own and it seems Billy Sherman never got remarried. His fiancée found him out early enough and Daddy was more powerful than he thought. He got him struck off! Something else I discovered. He moved away, sold everything and left telling his ex that he was going, he never meant to marry her anyway; he was already married to Vicky! It has to be him Hutch, no-one else would have any reason to hurt her."

"Jenny, if you’re right and Billy Sherman is behind all this then could he be behind what happened to Starsky as well?"

Jenny nodded "He once threatened to kill me for taking Vicky to the hospital and trying to get her to press charges against him. If he sees Dave as a threat, then he’s capable of anything Hutch, the man’s certifiable!"

Hutch thought for a moment then striding to the telephone he quickly dialled the precincts number. Everything was becoming clear at last; all he needed was one piece of information to confirm it.

"Minnie? Hi, it’s Hutch, listen, can you do me a favour? Check the files on Peter Andrews for me; see who the lawyer was that got him off the assault charges. No I´ll wait, yes its that important."

Hutch impatiently tapped the table with his fingers as he listened to the background noises from the station. "Yes Minnie I´m still here Minnie you´re a darling. I owe you one. Yes another one! Someday Starsky and I are gonna treat you to the best slap up meal you’ve ever tasted." Hutch hung up and turned to face Jenny.

"Well I guess that explains a lot of things!" Jenny waited expectantly. "Peter Andrews was on an assault charge about three years ago. He got off on a technicality. I´ll give you three guesses who his lawyer was." Hutch watched as realisation dawned in Jenny’s eyes. "Right in one. Billy Sherman. Peter Andrews is a two-bit private investigator that almost killed the boyfriend of a woman he was following! Who better to use to find Vicky? That would explain why he had so many photos of her and Starsky. They must have cooked up the story about him and Vicky to destroy any hope of her and Starsky staying together. I should say that the accident was Andrews way of warning Starsky off and it went a little too far. If what you say is right, and I don’t doubt you for a moment, then Sherman would be the one who would want too deal with anything or anyone that stood between him and Vicky." Hutch raced for the door.

"Where are you going?" Jenny tore after him.

"To the hospital. If we’re right, then Starsky is in danger!"

Both of them flew through the door and into the waiting car. Slapping the red light on top Hutch gunned the engine and screeched away. Grabbing his mike as he drove he called through to Captain Dobey. "Cap, tell the guards at the hospital to be on their guard. I think Starsky´s life is in danger."

"Sorry Hutch. Starsky left the hospital about a half hour ago. According to the uniforms he was in a pretty black mood too. The Doctors tried to stop him but he left anyway. I’ve got a call out on him and I will let you know when they come up with anything."

Hutch thumped the steering wheel hard causing Jenny to jump in her seat.

Damn you and your stubbornness Starsky! Where the hell are you?

"Okay Cap. Put an APB out on one Billy Sherman would you? I´ll fill you in when I get there but in the meantime contact NYPD and ask them for details on him and his ex wife, Vicky Sherman. Also one Peter Andrews. You should be able to work it out from that before I get there, especially if I tell you that Vicky Sherman is now Vicky Walsh!"

Hutch threw the mike onto the dashboard and turned the car in the direction of Starskys apartment. Ten minutes later he screeched to a halt in front of it and ran from the car taking the steps two at a time. He banged on the door as loudly as he could before reaching into his pocket for the spare key. Letting himself in he could see that Starsky wasn’t there. Hurriedly looking around though Hutch knew that he hadn’t long missed him. The clothes he had been wearing before the accident were thrown on the floor and the wardrobe doors were open. As he left the bedroom Hutch saw a screwed up piece of paper on the floor and, bending to pick it up, he quickly read the contents. Hutch swore to himself and hurried back to the car. No wonder Starsky had left the hospital angry. He thought for a moment before running across the road to Vicky’s place and again banged on the door. When there was no reply he shouted to Jenny for a key. The young woman rummaged in her handbag and tossed it to Hutch as she made her way to the house. By the time she got there Hutch was already inside and running from room to room looking for something, anything that would give him a clue as to his partners whereabouts. Jenny stood in the doorway watching.

"Hutch!" She called quietly. When there was no sign that he had heard she called again, this time a little more loudly. "Hutch"

Hutch stopped his mad dash and came across to her. "Something’s wrong Hutch. Where´ s Samson?"

Hutch turned and looked back around the room. Jenny pushed past him and moved on into the bedroom. Throwing open the cupboard doors she gasped. Hutch hurried to her side.

"She’s gone Hutch, Vicky’s gone." The two stood staring at an empty wardrobe.

Hutch was the first to gather his senses. "Think Jenny, is there anywhere she would have gone? Anywhere she would feel safe?"

Jenny shook her head. "No! She’d only just begun to feel safe here! Dammit Hutch! She doesn’t know anyone well enough yet except me, Dave and you."

Hutch grabbed Jenny by the arm and dragged her roughly across the room.

"Come on! If were right then Billy Sherman is out there somewhere. We have to find her and Starsky before its too late.

******* 

Starsky was on a mission. Stopping at his home long enough to change his clothes, he too had tried Vicky’s apartment and found her missing. He had grabbed a cab to Huggy’s and borrowed his car, making him promise not to tell Hutch if he asked. Starsky knew that Huggy would only keep that promise for a short while but he hoped it would give him breathing room before he faced his partner. Anger still blazed in his heart towards his friend and he wasn’t sure right now that he could control it until he had spoken to Vicky.

Starsky checked out the bus terminal and the rail terminal before pulling up at the beachfront. Where the hell could she have gone? He knew she didn’t really know anyone in Bay City well enough to go to them. Would she have gone to Jenny’s? Starsky fired up the engine and pointed it in the direction of Jenny’s house. He pulled up in front of it some thirty minutes after Hutch and Jenny had left. Angrily he realised that no one was there either. Dejectedly he dropped back into Huggy’s car. His whole body ached and his head was still throbbing. Knowing he needed to rest before he caused an accident Starsky fired the engine and headed back to Huggy’s. Half an hour later he was lying on the bed in the same upstairs room where he had hidden Hutch away from prying eyes as he held onto him, cleaned him up and generally nursed him through the withdrawal of heroin. Ironic then that this would be the place their friendship would probably come to and end since there was no doubt Hutch would eventually find him here. It was the only place, apart from each other’s apartments that either one felt comfortable. As Starsky drifted into an unsettled sleep, his last conscious thought was of Vicky.

*******

It was midnight when Hutch walked into Huggy Bear’s Pits.

"Where is he Hug?" Hutch was in no mood for diversionary tactics. He was tired, hungry and worried, not a good combination to mess with. Loyal to Starsky, Huggy tried.

"Where’s who, my blond brother?"

"Don’t mess around Huggy. Where’s Starsky? Right now there’s some homicidal maniac out looking for him and I’d kind of like to get to him first if you get my drift. I don’t care what he’s promised you to help him play hooky from the hospital, but whatever it is its not enough!"

Hutch was eyeball to eyeball with Huggy now and Huggy knew Hutch was hurting.

"He’s upstairs Bro. Where else? I’ll fix you both a special while you talk to him. I tried but he wasn’t having none of it. Hey! And watch your step Hutch, for some reason you ain’t exactly flavour of the month."

Huggy disappeared in to the kitchen leaving a somewhat confused Hutch behind him. What the hell did that mean exactly? Hutch could only wonder as he took the stairs two at a time for the second time that night since his search for his partner had started.

At the door Hutch hesitated. He had read the letter from Vicky and knew Starsky would be hurting and confused. It was in his power to ease that pain but wasn’t sure where to begin. Quietly he knocked on the door before softly opening it and entering. Starsky was asleep on the bed, the light still on. Hutch could see the dark circles around his partner’s eyes. Putting his hand on Starskys arm

He gently shook it. "Starsk, wake up. It’s me."

Hutch watched as his friend slowly came too, recognition registering in his eyes. Starskys eyes, usually so readable, grew instantly dark and Hutch took a step back as Starsky roughly shook his arm away and almost fell from the bed away from him. Before Hutch could even begin to think Starsky was glaring at him.

"Well, well, the traitor appears. Wondered how long it would take you to find me. You’re getting slow in your old age Hutchinson." Starsky watched with pleasure as Hutch flinched at the way he spoke his name. "Feeling good about yourself are you, buddy, old pal, friend? Satisfied with your handiwork? Vicky’s gone so you can pat yourself on the back. You did a good hatchet job, partner.

Thought I’d never find out, did you? Thought we could go back to being the same as before. Me and thee? Well sorry to disappoint you but Me and Thee are through. I don’t care if I never see your sanctimonious face again.  Starsky was a foot from Hutch’s face now, his fists clenched and fire burning black on his eyes.

"I...What the hell are you talking about Starsky? If I knew..."

"Don’t Hutch." Starsky turned away. "Don’t play the innocent, it doesn’t suits you." He strode across the room putting space between himself and his partner. Swinging round he began again, quieter this time. "You know what really hurts Hutch? I thought we were friends, real friends. I thought we could trust each other, talk to each other. Dammit I’ve done it for you so often. Why Hutch? Why couldn’t you do it for me? Why destroy the best thing that happened in my miserable existence for a long time? Tell me it wasn´t jealousy please. Tell me something, anything. I want to understand why you drove Vicky away."

Suddenly Hutch understood. Vicky was gone having written that note to him. Hutch had been the last one to see her as far as Starsky knew. Two and two make four, but in this case it made five. Starsky had been looking for reasons and Hutch’s manner, he realised now, had given him the reason.

"Starsky, it wasn´t me. I swear to you on my life and our friendship that it wasn’t."

Hutch could hear the snort of derision across the room.

"You can do better than that on buddy. Right now our friendship is on a sinking raft and I can see no reason to bail."

"Listen to me Starsk! I admit I was cold towards Vicky the last time I saw her but I’d just come from interviewing the idiot who ran you off the road and put you in the hospital. He told me some pretty rotten things and I..."

"You what Hutch? What things?" Starsky was once again advancing on Hutch his fists clenching and unclenching.

Hutch took a deep breath before continuing. "He said Vicky and he were an item. That she was easy, went with anyone including you. That she knew how to have a good time. That she and him had been lovers for a year or more."

Hutch never even saw the fist that knocked him clean across the room onto the floor. He lay dazed as Starsky towered over him for a moment before reaching down and one handedly, grabbing his lapels, hoisting him upwards, and throwing him into the wall.

"Damn you Hutchinson!" Starsky was in a blind rage now and Hutch was scared of what his partner would do next. "How dare you? How could you even begin to believe that filth? Didn’t it even enter your head to check it out?  Starsky threw him backwards again and his head struck the wall with such ferocity that for a moment Hutch saw stars.

"Yes, I checked it out but not before the damage was done. And if I ever see Vicky again I´ll make it up to her but right now we have to find her before its too late." Hutch watched as Starsky swung round again and he braced himself for another punch.

"What the hell do you mean?"

"Her ex-husband’s after her Starsky. That´s why you got pushed off the road. He’s out to get rid of you and take her back...Jenny and I worked it out. Don’t you see Starsk? This has all been worked out beforehand to destroy you and her and I fell for it. I’m sorry Starsk, really I am, but right now we need to work together if were going to find Vicky and give the two of you any chance of a future."

Hutch watched as the anger began to seep out of the man standing over him. He saw Starsky´s hand come out and grasping it he felt the strength of the man who just a few moments ago had wanted to hurt him pull him to his feet. For a split second Starsky hung on, his eyes searching Hutch’s face as if needing to see it for himself that what Hutch said was true. Hutch held the gaze conscious of the fact that this was his one real hope. He had never been able to hide anything from Starsky’s gaze.

As though satisfied Hutch was telling the truth, Starsky let go of the arm and again distanced himself for his friend.

"Go on Hutch. I´m listening." Starsky sat on the bed and put his fingers to his temples as the pounding inside continued.

"I saw the note Starsk. Jenny and I have talked about it and we both know that its a lie. Vicky loves you, there’s no way she would willingly give that up unless she was frightened off. We think Billy Sherman has got something to do with it. Dobey pulled all the records NYPD had on him and Vicky and it didn’t make pleasant reading. According to Jenny Billy threatened Vicky that he would find her after the court case. They thought they’d got away until Sherman paid Peter Andrews to find her. He’s a real low life who has ways and means of finding things out Starsk. Once he had a starting place it wasn’t difficult for him to find her, especially once the two of you got together.

Right now there’s an APB out on him but so far its come up blank." Hutch paused as his friend lay back on the pillow quietly taking it all in. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out the bottle of painkillers he had collected from the hospital doctors on his way over. Taking two out he pressed them into Starsky´s hand.

"Here, take these. They’ll take the edge of the pain and get you on your feet long enough to find your girlfriend."

Starsky obediently swallowed, grimacing as he did so. As Hutch passed him a glass of water Starsky took a firm grip on his wrist. "Hutch...I’m sorry...what I said earlier."

"Forget it Starsk. You had every right under the circumstances; at least as you saw them. And you were right. I could have handled things a lot better than I did. I guess I was worried about someone!" Hutch smiled softly and Starsky grinned back letting the wrist go.

As he moved back around the room to find Huggy and their food Hutch quietly said a prayer of thanks that, once again, their friendship had withstood the pressure placed on it. He fervently hoped that it always would. He never wanted to be on the receiving end of Starsky´s anger again. It hurt too much, both physically and mentally.

*******

Around Vicky, there was nothing, but loneliness. She had fled desperately, and most likely, for nothing... In just a few hours, she had left behind everything she loved. David, the most kind and decent man that she had found, also she had left behind Jenny, her work, her house... And she didn´t know when if someday she would get them back…Now that Billy had found her the only important thing for her was to keep Starsky away from danger... right then, Vicky needed some time to think. In a few days she would return to New York. She was not scared any more. She had lost everything and only wanted to lose her own life... If only she had the same courage that she had some years ago, to reach the definitive freedom.

*******

Of course, Starsky and Hutch asked about Vicky in the veterinary surgery. There, all they knew was that she had left her employ for a serious personal problem. They interrogated Andrews again. Finally he had no other choice but to tell the truth. Some years before, William Sherman had been his attorney, and now he had paid a large amount of money to him in order that he would find Vicky, scare her, allow himself to be arrested by the police and tell that string of infamous lies about her. The only truth was that he had never seen her, except when he was following her. Starsky had a really hard time controlling his rage to not beat Andrews to a pulp.

The curly-haired man was moving just on willpower. The painkillers left his mind fuzzy and it was like being in a thick fog all the time.

"Starsk, you’re not okay. Don’t try lie to me, because you can’t. You should go back to the hospital. I´ll find Vicky ..."

"No Hutch. Forget that. I have to find her. If Sherman has found Vicky, God only knows what he can do her. But where is she? Damn it! Where is she?" Then, from the precinct, they sent a call to Hutch's car.

"Hutch? It's Jenny. I have an idea about where Vicky can be. Its just a possibility but there’s a client of Vicky in the veterinarian surgery, Lady Johnson. She is the owner of Charley, the cat that Vicky had in her house for a few days when Lady Johnson was in the hospital. She’s an elderly lady who is very fond of Vicky. Some months ago she gave Vicky the key to a small cabin, which she never uses since her husband died. The cabin is in the forest, approximately thirty miles north from here. I´ll explain to you how to get there. Maybe..."

Luckily, Jenny’s guessing was right, and Vicky was in the cabin. A while later, they arrived, Starsky knocked on the door, while Hutch stayed in the car to give them some time alone.

After a little while, Vicky finally opened the door, looking tearful and pale

"Hi Vicky...Oh, God! What happened to your face?” On the cheek of the girl was an angry bruise and her eyes were red from crying. “He’s been here right? Has Billy hit you?" When Vicky opened the door, Samson greeted Starsky with only a soft tail movement... The dog was unusually calm, as if in some way he could feel and share in Vicky's sadness.

"Dave!!... Dave, please, go away...I asked you not to look for me."

"No Vicky...I won’t go away. Not without you."

"We...we can’t be together any more, I told you."

"Vicky...You haven’t told me anything. You just left me a lousy letter ... DAMN IT, VICKY! I thought I deserved better than that! A LETTER IS NOT ENOUGH!" He shouted. Vicky stepped backwards, scared of a blow that obviously never would come.

"Vicky, forgive me, please...I´m nervous, and tired...And I’m a stupid...Sorry. I didn’t want to scare you. I would never hurt you, you know that...Come on Vicky...Hutch and me, we can help you. Listen sweetheart. I know it . I know that Billy has found you..." They went inside the cabin and, without looking at him, Vicky spoke, breathing deeply.

"No Dave. You don’t know anything. You don’t know what this man is capable of doing.... He has told me that he will kill you if I don’t leave you...And I believe him. I have good reasons to do so...David. Listen. How do you think I would feel if he hurts you? I love you too much to risk your life like this...For me you’re not just a police officer, you´re the man that I love and that already was once  too close to death. Look sweetheart. Now I’m Billy’s prisoner again. Something like his hunt trophy. Don’t you understand? He looked for me across the whole country and now finally he has found me. And now I know it. Finally I know that I’ll never be free. "

"We’ll get Sherman, Vicky, for assault, for attempted murder. For any other charges..."

"Really?... And how long do you think before he will be back on the street again?... No Dave. Do as I told you. Go home, and forget me. I´m leaving for New York"

"NO! I won’t go away without you. Not now. You are too important to me... Vicky. We will solve this. You and me together. We WILL do it." Those words, and Starsky's tenderness, finally broke all of Vicky's defenses. Weeping, she threw herself tightly into his arms, as if he was the only thing separating her from a deep abyss.

They stayed quietly locked together for some time. Later, they went out of the cabin hand in hand to find Hutch. He was in his car, with the door open. Seeing them he got out and walked towards them.

"Hi Vicky..."

"Hutch..."

"Vicky...I, well; we know the truth. Do you think you might forgive me for not believing in you?...Can you forgive the most stupid guy in the world?...I was really mean to you the last time I saw you, and you don’t know how sorry I am Vicky."

"Come on Hutch. You´re David’s best friend and I can understand what you were thinking...It doesn’t matter Hutch. Don’t think more about it, Okay?"

"Thanks Vicky"

"Vicky, let’s go home?” Starsky asked.

"Yes Dave. Let’s go home. Just give me a few minutes to gather some stuff."

"Hutch, maybe you could go back to the precinct and see if there is something new on Sherman. Vicky and I will follow in her car when she’s finished here."

"You sure Starsk?"

"Yeah, I´m sure. Nobody has followed us up there. No problem."

"Okay. I’ll leave. See you later partner... Vicky."

"Bye Hutch."

Starsky saw Hutch's car moving away down the track, which was off of the main highway, with a sense of peace. He had found Vicky... She loved him, and as for that damned madman, well, surely soon he wouldn’t be a problem any more. He moved back up to the room where Vicky was packing her clothes in a suitcase.

"Dave, sweetheart, you don’t look too well. I think you should be still in the hospital

"I'm okay Vicky. I couldn’t spend one more minute there. I had to find you." He said encircling her waist with his arms. They kissed each other.

"David... I´m scared...Really scared"

"Shhht. No. You hadn’t to be scared. Hutch and I will find Sherman. Everything will be fine. Just trust in me... "

Then, she saw the pain showing in his face. Concerned she asked, "Do you have your pain pills here David?

He nodded. "Maybe I should one of them now" And he headed to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

"I´ll bring you some water, Dave. You lie back on the sofa, and rest awhile"

Taking the glass that she offered him, Starsky swallowed the pill and lay back.

"Rest a little, lover. You look so tired." Vicky said. She knelt by his side, lovingly running her fingers through his hair. Then Vicky rose to take the afghan that was resting on the back of the sofa. She placed it over Starsky, and lovingly kissed his lips. After, she headed to the bedroom to fetch the suitcase and take it to the car, where she spent a few minutes cleaning the windshield.

When she returned to the cabin, Starsky was deeply asleep, with the weariness of the last hours drawn on his face, and snoring smoothly. Vicky didn’t want to wake him. She thought that maybe it would be better to allow him to sleep that night and to return to the city in the morning. With this thought, she phoned Hutch to tell him that they would spend the night there and would return in the morning.

After talking with him, Vicky noticed that Samson was nowhere to be seen. She went to the door to call the dog when she saw him running across a path, which ended in the dense forest.

"SAMSON!... SAMSON, COME HERE!" But the stubborn dog seemed not to hear. So Vicky closed the front door behind her and followed him out.

"Damn dog! Where the hell is he going?" She was a little worried about Starsky. He wasn´t feeling good and she didn’t want to leave him alone for too long.

The breeze of that autumn evening was cold, but comforting. The soil of the path was already almost completely covered in dry leaves. Vicky was walking quickly, calling out to Samson, plunged in her own thoughts. She wasn’t sure she had made the right decision about Dave. Maybe Starsky was right and he and Hutch could arrest Billy and put him in prison for a long time, ending her nightmare... But maybe she was risking David's life not leaving him for good. She was feeling very confused. The only thing that she was sure of, was that when Dave was in front her she couldn’t turn down his love and help.

Some time later she found the dog in the forest. It was leafy, cold and in half darkness. The trees shadows covered the sun light almost completely. But the girl saw that a thin ray of sunlight was reflected in something metallic in the forest. Moved by curiosity, she approached a few steps towards where the brightness was coming from, to see that the object that reflected the light was a rear-view mirror...of a black car. BILLY´S CAR!...

Part Four

Vicky ran back towards the cabin, praying that her horrible supposition wasn’t true. That Billy hadn’t kept his promise, while his terrifying words, played through her mind, over and over. Listen to me. One more time, and your lover will die...

When Vicky arrived the door was open. And what she saw made her legs double under her while her heart beated hard enough to explode. Starsky was tied in a chair. His face showed evidence of a beating, and a thread of blood slipped from his lips, running down his chin. Billy was facing him, but on hearing Vicky he turned towards her.

"VICKY, RUN!" Starsky shouted. Then Billy’s fist struck into his stomach with such force that he moaned in pain.

"Oh my God. Billy, NO. No please... Billy, don’t hurt him"

"For God sake Vicky...Where did you find this shabby guy? Sleeping in some subway station?...Really, your liking for riffraff is so amazing, darling!...although I must admit that he has guts!...But, come in Vicky...Join our little party. You need to see how I kill your lover...I warned you Vicky. But as usual, you didn’t listen to me."

The girl rushed towards her ex husband, but he didn’t need a great deal of effort to throw her against the wall with a forceful swing of his arm.

"SHERMAN! Don’t hit her!" Starsky ordered with all the strength he could muster.

"SHUT UP, PIG! I know how to treat this little disobedient hooker." Again he punched Starsky´s stomach.

"Please....Billy. Please. I’m here. I’ll go away with you ... I’ll do what you want, but don’t hurt David, please." The girl begged tearfully, raising herself from the floor, bleeding from a wound to her forehead.

Suddenly, when everything seemed lost, and almost totally silent, a strong but agile body rushed towards Billy, pushing him by his back, knocking down him to the floor. It was ... SAMSON!

The dog had returned to the cabin and somehow he understood who he had to attack. With the momentum of Samson, Billy lost his gun that slipped next to Vicky who, in one rapid movement, grabbed it and aimed with tremulous hands at Billy while the dog continued growling menacingly.

"Billy, leave Dave alone... Don’t hurt him, or I swear you, I will shoot."

"You?... Oh, Come on, dear. Don’t make me laugh. You won’t shoot me. You’re too much of a coward to do it....You’ll just stay there, petrified, watching as I cut the throat of your lover..." Billy stated defiantly.

"Billy, don’t do it...I WILL shoot you, Billy!” the blond man, no longer had the gun but had removed a knife from his jacket pocket and was already putting it to the half conscious Starsky´s neck, while at the same time, with his other hand, he seized Vicky’s hair, pulling her head up so she had no choice but to watch. Suddenly, she pulled the trigger. Billy, falling slowly onto the floor let the knife to slip from his hand. He looked at Vicky for a few seconds with his eyes open wide in surprise. Then Vicky dropped the weapon quickly, as though it burned...just at that moment, Hutch rushed into the cabin to face a terrifying scene. A man lying on the floor, looking very dead, bleeding from a wound in his chest, Starsky tied to a chair, beaten and barely conscious, and Vicky, sobbing at his side trying to untie him with shaking hands.

"HUTCH! Thank God! Help me... I can’t untie him... David, love... Speak to me. It’s over."

The girl was trying desperately not to break down, but the tears were falling freely down her cheeks. Hutch cut the ropes that were holding Starsky with his pocketknife.

"Starsk, calm down, partner...I´m here...What happened here Vicky? Who’s he?...Billy?"

"Y...Yes...I... I went out for a few minutes...Dave was sleeping. Then I saw Billy’s car in the forest...And...I came running back here and..." Then she burst into tears.

"It’s okay Vicky, try to relax. Now help me."

He and Vicky carried Starsky carefully towards the sofa.

"Shhht, Dave, don’t move, everything will be all right." She soothed softly the injured brunet.

"Vicky?...Vicky. Are you okay?..." He was having trouble breathing and a bruise was beginning to form on his cheek.

"Sure love. I´m okay...Now don’t talk."

"Hu...Hutch?"

"Yeah Starsk, I´m here."

"That man...He’s Sherman... He took my gun and threw it out of the window... He wanted to kill me Hutch... but Vicky shot him..."

"I know buddy, I know. Hey...Try not to talk, just rest. Okay?" I´ll call for an ambulance."

Then, Hutch bent towards Billy feeling for a pulse in his neck.

"He’s alive." Hutch said to himself. After calling the ambulance he and Vicky both knelt by Starsky’s side while the woman gently cleaned the blood from his face, all the time talking to him, soothing, comforting words.

Finally, after fifteen eternal minutes, two ambulances arrived, taking both wounded men to the hospital.

*******

Jenny put her arm around the shoulders of a very distressed Vicky as they listened to a Doctor Wilson explaining to them, in the Memorial Hospital waiting room, about Starsky´s condition.

"We have to take detective Starsky to surgery. The beating he received caused a slight internal bleed. Besides, his treated ribs are broken again. Nevertheless his vital signs are stable and we don’t expect any complications during or after surgery. About the other patient, Mr Sherman, well; His condition is pretty serious. He has lost a lot of blood and the bullet has seriously injured his left lung before becoming lodged in his spinal cord. If he survives he will be permanently paralyzed. Now, I must get back to the operating room. When we finish with detective Starsky’s surgery I’ll talk with you again."

Vicky was a living picture of desolation. The surgeon words were more than she could take and her mind was asking thousands of questions to herself.

Dave is in a hospital again, in surgery. Like last time...the murder attempt...God. It’s my fault! And If something goes wrong this time?...And if he can’t...

When the doctor moved away into the corridor two orderlies were taking Starsky to surgery. Vicky and Hutch approached him. He was already sleepy with the effects of the pre-anesthesia.

"Hey lover. Don’t look at any nurses okay?” Vicky joked weakly “I love you, Dave.” She added lovingly resting her hand over his pale cheek. He smiled through eyelids weighed down by the sedative. On the other side of the stretcher Hutch was taking his hand.

“Starsk...Partner. When you wake up again, well be with you. Okay?"

Starsky too weak to talk, just nodded his head. When the stretcher disappeared behind the surgery area doors Vicky ran, crying, and shut herself in the hospital bathroom, alone with her awful anguish.

"Vicky!...Vicky, wait. Where are you going?" Hutch called out for her.

"No Hutch." Jenny said. "Give her a minute. She needs to be alone for a bit. I’ll go with her in a moment."

Hutch plunged into a chair with his elbows doubled on his knees, and his head between his hands. Then Jenny, sat down next to him.

"I can’t believe it. Vicky has shot Billy." The blond girl said thoughtfully. "Really, all this is very hard for her...thanks God you went back to the cabin. Now I see it Hutch. You and Starsky know perfectly when one of you is in trouble. It’s like some kind of sixth sense. Right?"

"Well, I guess. I don’t know. All I can tell you is that after Vicky told me that they would be spending the night in the cabin, suddenly, I knew that I had to go back because something would be very wrong there...Although I’m afraid I got back a little late to help them." Hutch said staring at the floor.

"Come on Hutch. Starsky will be fine. I’m sure. Now I should go to speak with Vicky." Jenny patted Hutch´s knee and rose from her chair, heading towards the ladies bathroom.

"Vicky...Vicky, open the door... Come on Vick…Let me in” Vicky didn´t answer “VICKY!...I´ll batter down this fucking door if I had to do it!...You know I’ll do it!"

Just then Vicky opened the door, and began to speak tearfully.

"Jenn, he told me... Billy told me that if I saw Dave again, he would kill him. And now, it’s my fault he’s there, in an operating room...I love Dave Jenn... Since the first day. But I’ve been selfish with him. So selfish!...I should have left him" Vicky busted once more into tears.

“ALL RIGHT! NOW, NO MORE NONSENSE VICKY!...You are not selfish. You love David and he knows it. Now listen to me. Billy has not killed David. You prevented it... David is alive, and he will recover. You’ve heard doctor Wilson "

"I shot Billy... I shot a human being Jenny "

"A human being?...Well, that´s quite arguable, actually." Jenny managed to bring a weak smile to Vicky's face "Come on Vicky...Poor Hutch is alone and worried in the waiting room. Don’t you think we should go back there with him?" Jenny said, gently wiping with a damp paper towel the tears’ tracks down Vicky’s face.

A few minutes later Vicky and Jenny returned to the waiting room. Jenny had a hard time convincing Vicky that everything would be fine and that Billy wouldn’t hurt them any more.

The time passed slowly, but finally a surgeon came out, approaching them with a serious expression on his face.

"I´m sorry but I´m afraid I have bad news. The patient has suffered a complication. A heart attack due to the amount of blood loss... We managed to resuscitate him, but he’s in a coma...His condition is very serious and unfortunately he could die into the next few hours..." Before the surgeon could finish his words Vicky had passed out.

"Oh my God... VICKY!" Jenny said. While she and the doctor were kneeling down around the unconscious girl, Hutch remained still, speechless, tremulous and pale, trying to assimilate what he just had heard.

"Nurse. HERE!... Take this woman to ER... Her pulse is very weak and fast. She’s tachycardic... Possible heart attack!" The doctor ordered to a near nurse.

"Doctor...Wait a second doctor. It’s not possible. Doctor Wilson said that he wasn’t expecting any complications... That detective Starsky's condition was stable..." Hutch finally could speak, seizing the doctor’s arm, while Jenny stayed close to the stretcher that carried Vicky towards ER.

"Detective Starsky?... Oh! I’m sorry... I'm so sorry. I was speaking about the other patient. Mr Sherman. He’s in operating room number one, and detective Starsky is in number two...I haven’t been at his surgical operation but I think detective Starsky´s condition is pretty good and the surgery is near to finishing" The doctor said noticing perfectly his own mistake.

"WHAT?...So...Starsky is not?...TO THE HELL WITH SHERMAN...WE ARE DETECTIVE STARSKY’S FRIENDS! Can you understand that? DETECTIVE STARSKY’S FRIENDS!" Hutch shouted out, pointing his forefinger into the doctor’s face, before running to the ER, leaving him pretty  scared of his outburst.

*******

Some minutes later, Jenny and Hutch were still in the waiting room. The doctors would not allow Jenny to go in with Vicky, and the young woman was furious and scared for her friend's condition.

"Damn stupid doctor. Its his fault Vicky is there, sedated, with her heart beating at a thousand miles per hour, and with the same blood pressure as that of a horse... And the worst thing is that we can’t tell her that it’s not Dave who is in a coma...SHIT! I’d like to wring the neck of that fucking moron!"

"Hey...Come on Jenny. Take it easy. She’ll be fine. I’m sure." Hutch was speaking to the girl in his most gentle and calming voice.

"Yeah Hutch. Vicky will be fine...And Starsky too. We must keep thinking so." She answered, putting her head on Hutch´s shoulder, who, a little surprised, put his arm around her waist.

Then, Doctor Wilson came out from the operating room, and, after making apologies for his colleague’s mistake, told them that the surgery was over and Starsky would recover easily. On the other hand, luckily, Vicky had not suffered a heart attack, but just a nervous breakdown. When the doctor finally okayed it, Hutch headed towards Starsky's room to wait, close by his friend’s bed until he began to wake up from the anesthesia.

Meanwhile, Vicky was in another room under sedation with her pulse and heart more stable after her shock. Jenny was with her waiting for her best friend to wake up, and to tell with her about Starsky without upsetting her again.

So it was, a little while later, in rooms 514 and 518 of Memorial hospital, the same scene was being played out...

*******

"Hu...Hutch?"

"Hey, Starsk...I´m here. Take it easy partner. I´m here."

"Hutch...What happened?" Starsky asked with slurred voice.

"Don’t you remember Starsk? The cabin?...Sherman?"

"Yeah…Now I remember...VICKY?... Where’s Vicky Hutch?" Starsky said, trying to sit up in the bed. The sudden movement caused him a wave of pain. Starsky closed his eyes tight, gripping the bed sheets for a few seconds until the pain subsided.

"Hey, hey, calm down. Vicky will be fine Starsk..." Hutch said softly, placing his hand onto his friend’s forearm

"Will be fine?...What do you mean?...What´s happened Hutch...Why isn’t she here? That bastard has hurt her?...Hutch, please. Tell me the truth" An anguished Starsky was gripping Hutch´s wrist.

"Starsk, a while ago, Vicky passed out, she’s in another room in this hospital, but she’ll be okay. Don’t worry partner. Right now she needs some rest, but I'm sure that, in a while, shell be here with you."

"But, why? Why did she pass out, Hutch?"

"Well. A stupid doctor gave us some bad news... Not about you, but about Sherman. He’s in a coma. But...at first we thought that he was speaking about you...and then she...."

"My God..." Realization hit Starsky’s mind.

"She’s okay Starsk. I promise. And Jenny’s with her ..."

"I’m thirsty Hutch...My throat hurts…" Starsky said. Hutch then asked for some ice chips from a nurse, and a moment later, he gave a couple of spoonfuls to his partner.

"Now why you don’t try to sleep a bit? You need to rest too. And I’ll be here."

Meantime, in Vicky’s room....

*******

"Dave...Dave"

"Hey. Welcome back sleepyhead. How are you doing?"

"Jenny...Oh Jenny...Dave...He’s...?" Vicky could not finish the question, and bursted into tears.

"No, no Vicky." Jenny said, hugging Vicky "Listen to me Vicky. Right now David is waking up from the anesthesia. The surgery went without a problem; he’s in another room of this hospital. Hutch is with him, and he will be fine."

"NO! Dave is in a coma...And he can die anytime...The surgeon said ..."

"The surgeon is a true idiot Vicky. He was wrong. Wrong patient, wrong relatives, and surely wrong profession...”

"What...What are you talking about?"

"Vicky, that stupid Doctor Wasn´t speaking about David, but about Billy...Believe me. David will be all right"

"What one’s his room? I want to be with him...Where are my clothes?" Vicky said, tearfully and struggling to get out of bed, feeling still a little light headed.

"Vicky wait..."

"Look Jenny. I’m going to be with Dave and I don’t want him to see me dressed in this lousy thing. If he sees me like this he will think that I’m wounded and will be scared, so it’ll be my clothes, or your clothes? It’s your choice." Vicky said firmly

"Okay, okay. To your orders, my captain!" Jenny joked, taking the clothes from a wardrobe and helping Vicky to get out of bed and dressed.

*******

A couple of minutes later, the door opened softly into Starsky’s room. One visibly worried Vicky entered, approaching to the bed where he was sleeping, looking pale, and with an IV entering in a vein his arm.

"Hey Vicky. How are you feeling?" Hutch whispered rising from the chair and helping her to sit down.

"How is Dave, Hutch?" Was her only answer.

"He’s sleeping. Vicky, Starsk will be okay...That surgeon made a big mistake."

"I know...Jenny told me."

Hutch went out of the room while Vicky sat close Starsky’s bed gently caressing his hair. She spent a long time just looking him and holding his hand, until finally Starsky opened his eyes.

"Vi...Vicky?"

"Yes Dave. I’m here"

"What happened to you Vicky?...Are you okay?"

"Don’t worry sweetheart. I’m fine...Try to relax. I´m here."

"You...You’re... wounded." Starsky said weakly, touching gently the band-aid on her forehead.

"It’s just a cut Dave..." Vicky took Starsky´s hand and kissed his fingers "Now, no more talk, go back to sleep, okay?"

Starsky spent an unsettled night, while Vicky stayed by his side, taking care of him, not leaving the room for a moment, and trying to easy his discomfort as much as possible.

*******

The following days passed quickly. Starsky was still in the hospital, accompanied by Hutch, Vicky, or both, who attended to all of his needs. The first days were pretty hard, due to the pain from his injuries, and the worry for Vicky and Hutch. When Starsky felt a little better, in spite of hating hospitals, he enjoyed like a child being the receiving end of so much attention and care, and Vicky and Hutch, at last more relaxed, enjoyed too caring for and loving him. At the same time, between Hutch and Vicky grew a sincere trust and friendship. Both loved Starsky and that bonded each to the other closer every day. With regard to Jenny, she and Hutch dated sometimes, and she had to admit that that blond and very attractive cop, was really an agreeable and very kind man. Hutch also enjoyed being with a young woman who was beautiful, brave and very funny.

Soon, Starsky was discharged from the hospital, and back in his apartment. Vicky moved there to take care of him. The hard days they had overcome, served to bring them even more closer. Both enjoyed love with its thousand little details. Sharing a popcorn bowl, both curled up together in the sofa with hands entwined as they watched some old movie on the TV, sleeping embraced every night, eating breakfast in the bed together, or talking about memories, projects and dreams while sitting on the sofa with Starsky’s head on Vicky’s lap, while she fingered his curls. It was in these times that Vicky, terrified, listened from Starsky's own lips, all the frightening things that had happened in his life. The Simon cult kidnapping, his poisoning by Bellamy, and all that had almost cost his life.

It was in these quiet days that she realised he was the bravest man she would find. Not just because he had survived all that fate had thrown at him, but because he could keep alive his passion for his work, and his zest for life.

In other happier moments, he showed the girl that he was actually an excellent guitar player and singer, owner of a beautiful voice.

Some days Hutch and Jenny spent a lot of time there too... Suddenly, November was nearly finished, and Thanksgiving Day had arrived.

That year was very special. Not because they would see their families again. In fact neither Hutch, Starsky nor the girls, would see their relatives this time, but maybe at Christmas. Together they would do on that day something special for all things that they were grateful.

They would spend the day in Starsky´s place with Vicky and Jenny. The two girls were cooking a delicious turkey...despite the constant incursions in the kitchen by Starsky and Samson.

*******

"Dave...Dave honey...Where’s the black pepper?" Vicky asked engrossed in the task of stuffing the large turkey.

"What?" Whispered Starsky from behind, very close her ear, taking his girlfriend by her waist, as Jenny smiled.

"Aaahhg!" Vicky shouted out. "David Starsky...Do you want to scare me to death?"

"No sweetheart...I want only a kiss." He surrounded Vicky with his arms making her to turn round and kissing her.

"Come on, come on, Vicky...We have a lot of work still to do here...Dave, please, leave us alone for awhile, Right?"

"Okay Jenny, but just for awhile."

Five minutes later, Starsky said.

"Vicky?"

"Yeah?" she answered turning to look at him.

Click. The sound of a shot from Starsky’s camera.

"No, Davy! I’m just looking horrible right now." The girl was wearing an apron printed with yellow flowers, her brown curls tied in a braid, and her nose stained with flour.

"I don’t think so honey" Starsky  assured.

"SAMSON!" Jenny shouted out. The dog had put his legs on the kitchen table and, absolutely calmly, had stolen a baked potato from the serving dish.

"HUUUTCH! I Need a cop NOW!...Hutch, please. Get this man, and this dog, out of here, or phone a Chinese restaurant, so that they can bring us food! We can’t work like this!" Jenny protested.

Hutch just smiled as he leaned against the frame of the kitchen door. He was really happy. Happy seeing Starsky and the girls joking and laughing in the kitchen. Happy smelling the delicious smells that came out the oven...Happy seeing the happiness of his best friend.

And that’s the way the day continued. All of them grateful for what they had.

A while later, as they sat around the table, Jenny spoke.

"I thank God that he has allowed us to be here today. That our paths have crossed the way of two good men. That he gave us peace again. That he has put a smile in Vicky’s heart and an extraordinary human being in her life. Never did I think that she would find a man, that he would respect her, he’d love her, and he would take care of her like David does...For all this I’m grateful."

Then it was Vicky’s turn.

"A times, I never thought that we would see this day. Or perhaps that I wouldn’t see it. That I would have nothing to celebrate and to be thankful for. Now I know I was wrong. I should thank God for having the love of the best friend than anybody could find, and to have the love of the most generous and stubborn man, who has the most beautiful soul in the world...He was some kind of miracle for his best friend Hutch, a year and a half ago, and now, he is a miracle for me also...I was very near a dark abyss this time, but he took me from there. He looked for me, found me, and he has given me a life again. A beautiful life...I want to thank God for that."

When Hutch began to speak all eyes were already shining.

"There is just one thing that I can say. Just one thing I can thank God for, something that already I thank him for every day since Starsky recovered his health and his life...My best friend, the best friend than I have in the whole world, is a man that is always giving. He always thinks of others before himself... I thank God because Starsky is here today, loving us how as only he knows how. And I thank God also, that he has brought into his life a brown curly-haired, angel named Vicky to make him happy."

"I don’t know if right now I can speak." Starsky´s said. "Really, I don’t know. In fact, I don’t know even if I should do it ...I have so many things to thank God for that perhaps this will take too much time. God has given me a beautiful and good life, in spite of the risks, the danger, the deep sadness at times, or the pain, but every day gives me more reasons to follow my way. And more love to go through everything." On saying those words he looked lovingly at Vicky. "I just want to thank God for that."

It was a special and beautiful Thanksgiving day. One of those days that the passage of time could not wipe from their memories.

When, days later, Starsky felt more recovered Vicky began to look for a job, and finally she got back her place at the veterinary surgery where she had been working previously.

Soon, Starsky could return to work too...And the days flew past.

A couple of days before Christmas, Vicky came back to Starsky’s apartment, with Jenny, and on opening the door both stood speechless. The whole lounge was filled with beautiful Christmas ornaments, and in a corner, there was a wonderful Christmas tree.

"Oh! Jenny. Look at this...It’s...beautiful!" Then, from the bedroom, Starsky, Hutch and Samson, came out... All three wearing brilliant Christmas garlands around their necks.

" Do you like it sweetheart?” Starsky asked smiling broadly. “Hutch and I, we did it for you."

" Dave... This...this is so beautiful..." Vicky couldn’t stop the tears.

"Hey, Vicky, come on. We haven’t done this to make you cry, but to tell you that this is a Christmas you will not forget." Starsky said embracing Vicky.

"You can be sure of it Vicky. I know it well... I’ve enjoyed more than one unforgettable Christmas with Starsky." Hutch teased

"I have something more for you." Starsky said heading to his bedroom and returning a moment later with a small box in his hand. He gave the gift to Vicky.

"Hey Starsk...If this is going to be a private party, Jenny and I, maybe we should go." Hutch joked, although he knew perfectly what the small box contained.

"No Blondie. Stay, please. You too Jenny. I want our best friends to be here right now.

"Vicky, this is for you. Open it, honey" Vicky, opened the small box, her eyes shining with emotion. Inside there was a gold ring with a beautiful diamond in the center.

"Dave...What?"

"I know that we have only met each other just for a few months ago, and if you don’t want to, or you need time to think, I’ll understand, but I’m totally sure of my feelings...Vicky...Do you want to be my wife?"

The girl stood in silence a few seconds, looking at the ring, and drying her tears with the back of her hand, while Starsky looked expectantly at her, with his hands on her waist. In the lounge the silence hung heavily until Jenny spoke.

"Oh for God sake! Vicky, say something, please! ...Yes David. Vicky is absolutely crazy for you, and wants to be your wife!"

"JENNYYY!" Starsky, Hutch and Vicky shouted with one voice.

"I´m sorry, I´m sorry...but  this girl make me very nervous at times!"

Then Vicky, spoke.

"I...I...Dave...Yes. My God! Yes...I want to be your wife....I love you, I love you so much..."

If someone else had been in that place right then, it would have seen, how Starsky and Vicky kissed each other with a kiss full of love...While Hutch and Jenny watched the scene, with their arms surrounding each other waists, their heads very close and tears of happiness tarnishing their eyes.

Part Five

 Christmas day loomed early in Starsky´s apartment. Ever since Vicky had accepted his proposal of marriage he had been living on cloud nine. They had visited Huggy and the Dobey’s to tell them the news and so far everyone had been delighted for them both. Today though was the day Starsky would tell the one person who meant more to him than either Hutch or Vicky. Rachael Starsky would be waiting for his breakfast phone call and this year she would be in for a surprise like no other. Starsky wondered how his mother would react. He knew she would be upset that she and Vicky had never met but that was something he intended to rectify as soon as possible, or as soon as Dobey could be persuaded to give him some leave! He hoped with all his heart that she would be happy for him, he so wanted them to get on.

Nervousness and anxiousness drove Starsky and by 9.00am, when he was due to phone, he had completely cleaned the apartment and had everything together ready for when Hutch would arrive. The two would be spending Christmas day with Vicky and Jenny in the house across the road. Since the day it had been ransacked the whole interior had been thoroughly cleaned and decorated and an alarm fitted. Vicky had been adamant that she would return there, unwilling to allow Billy to drive her out of the home she had built up on her own. Starsky had insisted on the alarm for his own peace of mind and she had willingly agreed. Starsky glanced across the road and, not for the first time, felt like pinching himself just to make sure that it was real and he wasn’t in some kind of dream. Thinking back over the last couple of years he knew how lucky he had been. Almost killed, he had fought back and returned to a job he loved with a friend he also loved. Vicky had been the icing on the cake and had brought the joy back into his heart that had been missing since the death of Terry.

Thinking of Terry took Starsky away from the window and into his bedroom. Slowly he crossed to the dresser and picked up the silver frame that held a smiling Terry. He had taken the photograph himself on a day when they had gone for a picnic on their own. Lovingly he ran his finger round the outline of her face as he sat on the edge of his bed.

"I loved you Terry, more than I could have thought possible and I would have given everything for you to still be with me as my wife. It wasn’t to be though, that maniac Prudholm made sure of that. I never thought I would find someone to take your place Terry but Vicky has. You’d like her, I’m sure of that. She’s so like you, only she looks after stray animals not children. Guess that’s why she likes me so much, Hutch always says I’m like a stray puppy." Starsky grinned before continuing.

"Its time for me to move on now Terry. Vicky and I are to be married in the spring. Be happy for me my love."

For a few minutes Starsky simply held the frame to his chest, eyes closed, lost in his memories. Then he turned to the dresser and slowly pulled out the bottom drawer. Gently he laid the precious photograph in the drawer and closed it, closing with it a part of his life that he would always hold dear. He was wrong he realised, Vicky hadn’t taken Terry’s place; she had made a special place of her own alongside of it.

A loud banging on his front door brought Starsky back to normality and he left the bedroom without looking back. As he walked across the room he could hear Hutch’s voice calling him.

"Starsky, come on, its me. Open the door before I drop everything." Starsky laughed and opening the door deliberately stood blocking the entrance.

"Hi Hutch, having problems?"

"Very funny Gordo. Unless you want the smell of wine to permeate your carpet for the next six months I suggest you get out of the way and let me in. Even better you could give me a hand with some of this lot." Hutch had a precarious hold on a dozen different bags and boxes, the top one of which was filled with half a dozen bottles of wine and was in imminent danger of slipping.

Starsky stretched up and took the offending box then moved away from the door allowing his partner and friend inside. He watched fascinated as Hutch carefully put his load on the floor.

"I know the girls asked you to get a few things Blintz but there was no need to buy out the whole store. Starsky rubbed his wrist as he spoke. The plaster had been removed earlier that week and Starsky was just beginning to get full use from his wrist. Again he thanked his lucky stars that it had been his right wrist broken not his left. That would have meant he couldn’t have gone back to work for a while. It would also have meant, Starsky realised, that he would have been unable to hit Hutch the way he had that day he had faced up to him at Huggy’s. He knew he still had to make up for that one!

"Still aching partner?" Hutch pointed to the wrist Starsky was favouring and he immediately stopped.

"Yeah, a little, but nothing that will make any difference. Did you bring the box I asked for?"

"If you mean the one from the butchers with the present for Samson yes I did. Though how you ever managed to find a bone that size is beyond me Starsk. That dog will love you for ever and a day when he gets his teeth into that."

"Hey! Don’t you knock Samson. If it hadn’t been for him things could have been a lot different right now, buddy."

Suddenly the telephone rang and Starsky became instantly serious.

"Ma! Damn I’m late! Now she’ll be worried in case I’m ill or something. Why didn’t you tell me what time it was Hutch?"

Starsky strode across to the phone, leaving Hutch with his mouth open, head shaking at his partners back. He bit back the retort he was just about to make, realising how nervous Starsky was about talking to his Mother. He watched as Starsky took a deep breath before picking up the receiver.

"Happy Christmas Ma...Yeah I know I was supposed to ring you. No, everything here is fine. Hutch turned up just as I was about to ring you, sorry!"

Hutch watched as Starsky´s face lit up in the full grin he knew so well.

"Ma says happy Christmas Hutch. Listen Ma I’ve got something to..."

Hutch laughed to himself as he realised that his partner was having his usual problem of getting a word in edgeways.

"Ma would you listen for a moment" Hutch winced as Starskys voice echoed across the room and he saw Starsky shrug his shoulders to him.

"No, I’m sorry Ma, I didn´t mean to shout but I have something important to tell you and I need you to listen." Starsky took another deep breath. "Ma, I’m getting married.

Hutch watched his partner’s face as Starsky continued telling Rachael about the girl who had stolen his heart. When he finally saw the grin return to Starsky´s lips, Hutch knew it was okay and unconsciously uncrossed the fingers he hadn’t even realised he had crossed.

"Yeah, Ma. I´ll bring her to meet you just as soon as I can arrange it with Dobey. In the meantime you better go buy a new hat." Starsky listened as his mother spoke some more. Gently he broke in, hearing the tears in her voice and unwilling to continue any longer before he too began to cry.

"Listen Ma I´ll call you again tomorrow and you and I can have a real long chat. I have to go now, Hutch is waiting. I love you Ma. Take care."

Starsky hung up the phone and stood staring at it for a few moments. He jumped a little as he heard the cough just behind his left shoulder.

"Everything okay Starsk?"

Starsky turned to see a concerned Hutch watching him.

"Yeah Hutch, everything’s fine. At least it will be once Ma meets Vicky. She’s really happy for me buddy. I wish she lived closer.."

"Hey, once the holidays are over well go see Dobey together and get you the time off so you can take Vicky to New York. The two of them can have real old chinwag and they’ll get everything organised so fast you’ll be an old married man before you know it!"

Starsky gently poked Hutch in the ribs. "Less that of old, partner. I’m younger than you don’t you forget it!"

Both men laughed before Starsky spoke again.

"Thanks Hutch, for everything. You’ve always been there, partner. I don’t know what I would have done without you sometimes. I promise you Hutch, nothing will ever change between us. Vicky understand how it is with us and she accepts it just like Terry did."

"I know Starsk, I know. She told me the same thing a couple of days ago." Hutch moved his arms to hold Starsky´s. "I owe you as much as you owe me buddy, were equal. I couldn’t be more happy for you and I know you and Vicky will have a long life together. I love you both Starsk and nothing will ever change that either." Hutch pulled Starsky forward and for a brief moment hugged the friend he had nearly lost but had managed to hold on to against all the odds.

A loud coughing from the doorway parted the two men and they turned embarrassed faces towards the door. Huggy Bear stood, leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe, arms crossed and a smile on his face.

"Now that’s a scene that could take some explaining to the right person, if you get my drift fellas."

Huggy shifted and, pushing himself upright he turned to pick up a parcel lying just behind him before entering the apartment.

"Hey Hug, Merry Christmas. What brings you out and about so early?" Starsky moved away from Hutch as he spoke, the colour in his face slowly turning back to normal.

"On my way to my cousins for lunch so I thought I´d stop by and leave you guys a little something to help celebrate." Huggy handed the parcel to Starsky and moved to stand next to Hutch. "Well you gonna open it or look at it? I promise it ain’t gonna bite!"

Starsky peeled off the paper and peered inside the box. A huge chocolate gateau filled it. Covered in cream the smell was enough to make Starsky´s lips water and he closed his eyes as he took a deep breath.

"Oh man, Hutch, get a load of this. Huggy you are an artiste. The girls will love it. Thanks." Starsky moved into the kitchen area gently carrying the box in front of him.

Hutch turned his back and spoke softly, "Did you manage to get it Hug?"

"Yeah man, it wasn´t easy but I got it. You owe me one for this Hutch." Huggy quickly handed over a small package to the smiling blond who took it and hurriedly hid it inside his jacket.

"Thanks Hug. I´ll make it up to you." Hutch turned to face Starsky again.

Huggy moved away to the door. "Hey bro... I gotta split. Have a good day and kiss that beautiful fiancée for me Starsk."

"I will Hug and thanks again. See you for lunch tomorrow." Starsky watched as Huggy sauntered out of his door then turned to Hutch.

"You gonna give me a hand with some of this lot. The girls will be wondering what’s keeping us."

*******

Vicky and Jenny were just beginning to think they would have to go and knock for their guests when they heard banging on the doorstep and the sound of glass breaking on the step. It was followed by a fit of giggles that instantly had Samson at the door his stump of a tail moving back and forth so fast it could hardly be seen and his back end moving along with it.

Jenny moved to open the door and hold on to the dog but Samson was to quick for her and shot out of it in an instant heading straight for the owner of the giggles he had heard. Before Starsky knew what was happening he was flat on his back, the full weight of the dog on his chest and a wet tongue washing every inch of his face. Letting go of his burden Starsky grabbed at the huge neck and pushed with all his might.

"Samson, get off! I had a shower before we came here."

It took Starsky a good few minutes to finally extricate himself from under the dog and regain his feet, by which time he was soaking wet from the contents of the bottle of wine that had slipped from Hutch’s grasp as they reached the door.

"Oh man. Vicky! I´m sorry, what a mess!" Starsky looked up to see his best friend, girl friend and friend desperately trying not to laugh in his face. Looking down again as the wine slowly dripped off of his clothes to form a puddle on the floor beneath him he too began to snigger and before long all four were laughing until their sides ached.

Samson suddenly sneezed loudly as the effects of licking up the spilt wine finally reached his nostrils. Turning to look at the huge dog Starsky took another look at himself also.

"I think, if its okay with you guys, I’d better go and change". So saying he turned and hurried back across the road and up the stairs to his apartment listening to the giggles and sneezes coming from behind him.

Hutch finally managed to get a hold of himself and picking up the rest of the bags he moved on into Vicky’s home. It was the first time he had been back since the repairs and he looked around admiringly. Vicky had excellent taste and the house had a happy atmosphere around it. For a moment Hutch really envied his partner and friend. Even when he had been married his home never felt as welcoming as this house now did. Vicky watched as his eyes roamed and she seemed to sense his mood.

"You’ll always be welcome here Hutch, you know that I hope." Vicky looked into his eyes as she relieved him of some of his bags.

"Yes I know Vicky. Thanks. It’s gonna take a little getting used to not having Starsk there whenever, well you know. But I promise not to become a bad penny. If you get fed up with me, or you think I´m in the way, then say so. Promise me."

Vicky nodded slightly and moved on into the kitchen, Hutch following and Jenny bringing up the rear.

"Did you get the surprise?" Hutch heard a whisper in his ear as Vicky bent to put things away in the cupboards. Smiling he turned to Jenny and winked, patting his pocket as he did so. He winked as he turned back to offer his help.

By the time they had finished Samson was once again at the front, door his stumpy tail wagging furiously, his huge feet on the door, his nose pressed against the window. This time though Hutch made it to the door and took a firm hold on his collar before he could knock Starsky flat once again.

"Thanks buddy, a guy can only change his clothes so many times in one day." Starsky bent and made a fuss of the animal in front of him. "Hey Hutch, only you could make a collar on Christmas day!"

Hutch groaned loudly and turned to finish helping Jenny in the kitchen. Vicky wound her arms around Starsky and kissed him lightly on the nose. "Happy Christmas, Dave."

Starsky returned the kiss and for a moment the two were so engrossed in each other that they forgot everything and everyone around them. A loud cough from just behind then both made them jump and brought them out of their own little world.

"I said, coffee anyone or do we get to open our presents yet?" Jenny was standing with her eyes watching the twinkling lights on the tree under which lay a small pile of neatly wrapped presents.

"What say we have both?" Starsky joined Jenny and bent as though to make slight adjustments to the silver and red decorations. Unseen by all but Jenny he slipped two small packages from his pocket and hung them onto the tree. Turning back he saw Jenny grinning at him and he winked back holding his finger to his mouth as he did so.

Jenny moved so that the others couldn’t see the action and tried hard to suppress the giggles. For the first time in a long time she knew that Vicky and herself were going to enjoy this day. For too many years Vicky had spent it in fear of what Billy would do to her and she had spent it worrying about her friend. This year they would both know the real meaning of Christmas. They had both been to the midnight service at the nearby church and both had fallen in love with the people who had welcomed them to the service. They had enjoyed the simple service and joined in with the carols as they rang around the tall building. Jenny had thought that Hutch would have liked it but both he and Starsky were on duty that night until four in the morning. This was the first year for them that they would have Christmas day off, usually the pair offered to work allowing their married colleagues to be with their families. Suddenly Jenny realised that this would not only be the best Christmas in a long time it could also be the last she, or Hutch, spent with their friends. This time next year Vicky and Dave would be married and would surely want to spend the day together. For a moment Jenny felt a tinge of sadness enter her thoughts. Turning back to face the others she spoke softly.

"Vicky, Dave, everyone has their own tradition. When I was a child, we would all open our presents after breakfast. My Mum would have made a roaring fire and wed all sit around it, my brother and me on the floor, and pass the presents round watching each other’s faces as they were unwrapped. This will be your home soon, time to make your own tradition."

Starsky and Vicky looked at each other. Then Vicky’s head fell as she walked across to join her fiancé.

"We always used to be at our grandparents, then I married Billy and well .. you all know what that was like." Starsky gathered her into his arms, holding her tight and gently kissed the top of her head. For a moment the silence hovered around them all until Hutch broke it with by clearing his throat.

"I remember Christmas morning early, about six, sitting at my Granddad’s feet as the dawn broke. Wed watch it together and exchange our presents before anyone else was about. It was our special time before Dads business colleagues invaded the house, and Mum spent the day rushing round entertaining them. My Sister and I were pretty much left to get on with it then so the time spent with Granddad were extra special. After he died things were never the same, until I came here and met Starsky. Its pretty hard to be miserable with one of Santa’s helpers for a partner."

"You’d have made the perfect scrooge Hutch. Think yourself lucky I came along when I did or you’d be well on your way for a visit from the three Christmas ghosts." Starsky threw the comment back at Hutch without thinking then blanched visibly as he saw his friend flinch.

"I do Starsk, have done for a long time. I knew I could get through the day as long as you were around somewhere with your continual enthusiasm and crazy decorations. Somehow it was like it used to be in those early hours." Hutch spoke softly and personally. He too had realised the same thing Jenny had. Next year he would probably be back to spending the day at work longing for it to all be over.

Again the silence hung over them, until Starsky released his hold on Vicky and moved to take hold of both Hutch and Jenny’s hand. Placing their hands together he then took one of Vicky’s placing it on top then he gently covered all three with one of his own.

"Like Jenny said, its time to start our own tradition in our own home. I never knew what it was like to feel unloved at this time of the year. When Dad was alive we would all sit up and watch as the clock ticked past midnight then we would all exchange one special gift. Later, when I came here to live with Aunt Rosie, I was encircled in the fun and laughter that always filled her home especially when the family were altogether. I cant help loving Christmas, it brings up so many happy memories in a life of sad ones." For a moment Starsky lowered his head, then swallowed and looked back up at the three people who meant so much to him. "From today, our first Christmas, our house and our hearts will always be open to both of you. If you can get here then eleven o’clock will be the time we all gather together under our tree to exchange gifts and celebrate. If you’re too far away then well place your gift in a special place by the fire until you can get here. Either way I pray that we, the four of us standing here, will always be together on this day." Again there was silence during which Hutch and Starsky exchanged looks. Hutch’s was questioning as if to confirm what he thought he had heard. Starskys was soft and gentle, his eyes talking to his partner the way they had always done, reaffirming what he had just said.

This time it was Vicky who broke the silence. "What say we get this tradition on the road?" Bending down she picked up a brightly wrapped parcel and handed it to Jenny. "This is from me to you as a special thank you for always being there for me."

Jenny took the parcel and slowly unwrapped it as the others settled themselves on the floor around the tree. Inside Jenny found a photograph in a silver heart shaped frame. It was picture of the two of them taken just on Vicky’s hen night. It was to be the last time for a long time that they would both look so happy and relaxed. The next day Vicky and Billy were married and Vicky’s life descended into a personal nightmare.

"Thanks Vicky, I´ll treasure this always." Jenny turned away as her eyes watered and she felt Hutch’s arm go around her shoulder. For a few seconds they stood together then Hutch turned her round towards the tree and pointed at Starsky. He was picking parcels up and reading the labels. Each one with his name on was duly squeezed, shaken and prodded before being unceremoniously ripped apart. Laughing the two joined in the fray along with Vicky and it wasn’t long before almost every parcel had been opened and they sat beneath a pile of torn wrapping paper and ribbon. Starsky was busy trying on the pullover Hutch had brought for him as Vicky produced a camera and hurriedly snapped his photo before he knew what was happening.

"Hey! Not fair. I’m the photographer around here. Least I would be if Id remembered the camera." Starsky was a little cross with himself for forgetting it. He had purposefully left it out loaded with a new film the night before but the arrival of Huggy with the gateau and hutch with so many bags to carry had made him forget it.

"Starsky didn’t your mother ever tell you not to pout? My Nan always told me the wind would change and Id stay like it." Hutch was grinning at his partner.

"Wondered how you came to look the way you do Blintz, now I know!" Starsky ducked as a cushion flew over his head and landed on the floor behind him. It was returned as fast as it had arrived and Hutch caught it before it hit him straight in the face. For the next five minutes pandemonium broke out as the two carried out their pillow fight with the cushions. It was brought to an end by Samson who, deciding that it was unfair for the humans to have so much fun without him, decided to jump in the middle on top of Hutch.

"Geez!" the sound was muffled as Hutch fought desperately to remove the weight from his chest and head.

Vicky and Jenny tried to pull him off but the pair were laughing too much and neither had the strength left. Inspiration struck Starsky and he picked up the one remaining parcel under the tree that was unwrapped. Calling Samson’s name loudly he pushed the parcel under his nose so he could get a really good smell. As soon as he had the dogs interest Starsky dropped the parcel on the floor in the kitchen and watched as the big dog tore into the paper. Five seconds later he emerged with the biggest bone Vicky or Jenny had ever seen. Stumpy tail wagging Samson turned towards the back door and demanded to be let out into the yard where he lay with his prize between his front paws lovingly licking it. Scrambling to his feet Hutch thanked Starsky then made his way to the kitchen where the smell of cooking was drifting around the room.

"Hey Vicky, what time’s dinner?" Hutch sniffed the air appreciatively.

"Well it will take you and Hutch about ten minutes to tidy this lot up while Jenny lays the table so that’s when."

The next couple of hours went past in a blur as the two men tidied and the girls laid out dinner, and all of them sat down around the table to eat it. They had opted for a traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and all the trimmings but it was followed by Huggy’s gateau and a toast was made to their absent benefactor. The washing up was in the dishwasher and Starsky made to pick up the wine bottle and take it through into the sitting room. He was stopped by Hutch who grabbed it before he could pick it up and put it into the fridge. "You’ve had enough Starsk. How about a coffee?"

"If I wanted coffee Id have made one. Come on Hutch its not every day we get to enjoy a good wine in fine company and we don’t have to work tonight if you remember. Dobey gave us two days off." Starsky looked peeved as he made to retrieve bottle but Hutch refused to budge from the door.

"Ah-ah Starsk. Like I said you’ve had enough!" The Hutchinson finger was waved in Starskys direction and he stopped, changing direction he instead grabbed a beer from the shelf in front of him and opening it took a long swig from the can. He was astonished to find it pulled smartly from his hand.

"Hutch what the hell! What’s the matter with you? In case you hadn’t noticed I’m a grown man and I only had two glasses of wine with lunch. One beer ain’t gonna turn me into Jack the Ripper." Starsky was getting angry, his eyes flashing at his partner.

"No but it will put you over the limit and I’m not about to let that happen." Hutch was manoeuvring himself past his irate partner with care. "Come here, I got something for you, pal."

Starsky followed Hutch through to the sitting room and watched as he picked up his jacket and pulled something from the inside pocket. Catching it as Hutch threw it across the room towards him he was slightly baffled by the small box he now held in his hands.

"Don’t stand there looking at it Starsky, open it!"

Vicky moved to stand beside Starsky as Jenny smiled at them both and moved to stand next to Hutch.

"That’s from Hutch, me, Captain Dobey, Huggy and about a hundred other guys you know Starsky. It comes with all our love." Jenny spoke softly as Starsky continued to turn the package over.

Finally Vicky could stand the suspense no longer. Taking the box from Starsky she began to open one end then gave it back to him.

"Open it Dave." She asked smiling.

Starsky tore open the other end and using two fingers he pulled the contents from inside the box. There in his fingers he held a miniature model of his beloved Torino, complete in every detail.

"Turn it over Starsk." This time it was Hutch who spoke moving forward to watch as his partner gently held the car in front of him.

Starsky did as he was told and found, taped to the bottom, a key. It was a key he would recognise even in the dark and he pulled it from the model.

"My car key. Hutch if this is some kind of a joke it ain’t funny." Starskys voice was almost a whisper and there were tears in his eyes.

"No joke Starsk. Like Jenny said this comes from a lot of people. We all know how much that striped tomato of yours meant to you so. Well, go and look out the back Starsk, Huggy should be there about now."

Starsky slowly crossed the room to the back door then paused to look again at his partner.

"Hutch?"

"Go partner, well be right behind you." Hutch nodded towards the door and Starsky delayed no more. Throwing it open he went out into the small yard and crossed to the gate. There outside the fence was his Torino. Slowly he opened the gate and walked around it. There was no sign of the accident on the freeway, no sign of blistered paintwork from the fire. Lovingly he rubbed his hand across the bonnet before putting the key into the lock, opening the door and slipping into the driving seat. Huggy, who had moved out of sight as he heard the door open, now moved around the car and, opening the passenger door, he helped Vicky into the seat next to Starsky.

"Take them both for a spin Starsk. Well be inside when you get back." So saying Huggy shut the door and stepped back. For a moment nothing then he heard the unmistakable sound of the Torino’s engine as Starsky gunned it to life then roared away down the alley.

It was an hour later that Hutch, Huggy and Jenny caught the sound again. Jenny rose to open the door and watched as Starsky opened Vicky’s door and, taking her arm, led her up the front path. Once inside Starsky walked straight to Hutch.

"How Hutch? At the hospital Vicky said..."

"I know what Vicky said Starsk. But she didn’t reckon with Merle, and a lot of good friends who came up with the money. We were going to save it for a wedding present to you both but you’ve been wandering round the precinct like a bear with a sore head from having to ride in my car that Dobey suggested we give it you for Christmas. It took a lot of secret phone calls but Jenny made most of them for me. I had the easy job of keeping you occupied and out of the way."

"I don’t know what to say Hutch. She’s perfect again. How do I ever thank you?"

"You don’t Starsk. I seem to remember going off a cliff and being found by a guy who scoured every scrap yard and dump he could until he found the right car. I think this just about makes us even don’t you?"

"Man, that took some finding I can tell you." Huggy broke in. "The guy at the scrap yard thought Starsky was stark raving mad when he offered him three times more than he paid for the thing in the first place."

"Yeah Hug, but it was worth it to see your face, Hutch."

"Same here Starsk, same here."

Vicky had moved across to the fire and stood looking at the tree. As she gazed at the decorations she suddenly spotted the two extra ornaments hanging on it.

"Hey, what are these doing here?" Vicky bent or a closer look and realised they weren’t ornaments but carefully wrapped parcels about two inches square. Gently she reached out and took them both down. Looking at the labels on each she held one out to Hutch. She recognised the writing instantly as being Starskys.

"Dave what are these, and when did you put them there?" Vicky looked questioningly at Starsky who moved to stand next to her.

"Hutch and Jenny aren’t the only one to have secrets V. Do me a favour though and open them together will ya?" Starsky took her hand and led her to stand with Hutch who looked at her and shrugged his shoulders.

"I learnt a long time ago to play along when he gets like this. It’s usually more fun." Hutch turned the tiny parcel over in his hand. "Ready Go!"

Together Hutch and Vicky carefully unwrapped their parcels revealing red tissue paper. This they undid to reveal half a gold heart shape, Hutch had right, Vicky left.

"Put them together." Starsky whispered softly.

Hutch and Vicky did as they were asked and read the words revealed on the back. To Hutch and Vicky. I give you all my heart, with love.

"Dave that’s beautiful. I love you so much." Vicky was crying and Starsky kissed her gently

"She’s right Gordo. It is." Hutch too had tears in his eyes and Starsky laid a hand on his shoulder.

"I didn’t now how else to say it Hutch."

"I´d say you found a pretty effective way Starsk. Thanks."

The sound of the telephone ringing brought them all back and Jenny moved to answer it.

"Hello? Oh! hi Captain Dobey Yes he’s here. Hang on a minute and Ill get him." She held the phone out to Starsky who took it warily.

"Hi Cap what’s up?"

"Nothing Starsky Rosie wanted to wish you the compliments of the season. She misses her Uncle Dave and Uncle Ken dropping in this year.

"Yes sorry Cap we never thought. Put her on." Starsky indicated for Hutch to come and share the call. At hearing her Vicky was immediately curious and grabbing Jenny they both headed for the extension in the bedroom. Picking it up they were just in time to hear a young voice sing Silent Night across the telephone line.

"That was lovely Rosie, thank you. Hutch and I will be over to see you in the morning. Take care of yourself honey." Starsky gently hung up the phone. Turning to look at the girls as they left the bedroom he said. "Well I don’t know about you guys but I think that about rounds off today pretty well don’t you?"

Wrapping his arm around Vicky’s waist together they walked across to the window and watched as the first stars began to twinkle in the night sky. Hutch and Jenny joined them closely followed by Huggy.

"Its been a long, hard slog Hutch but we made it. Finally lady luck seems to be smiling down on us." Turning he looked into Vicky’s eyes. "If I could have one wish V, it would be that we could always be as happy as we are right now, surrounded by those we love the most." So saying he pulled his fiancée into a long and loving kiss.

Smiling, Hutch, Jenny and Huggy moved away to leave them alone. Hutch couldn’t help hoping that his partner wasn’t tempting fate but for now he too would enjoy the happiness.

*******

The day of Starsky´s wedding, dawned bright and clear with promise of a warm, dry day. Fortuitous thought Hutch since they were to exchange their wedding vows on the beach in front of a few special friends. There had been a long route to get there but finally they had made it. It had been a rough ride made worse for Starsky by the fact that his Mother wasn’t sure if she would make it or not. Starsky had managed to take Vicky to meet her at the end of January and had been relieved when the two women had got on so well. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that Vicky wasn’t Jewish. Not that it had mattered a jot to Starsky but it had to his Mother. She had longed to see the day her eldest son would stand before the rabbi and make his vows. There was no way now that this would happen and for a while it had threatened to spoil the relationship she had always cherished with her son. Rachael Starsky though was nothing if not sensible and had quickly realised that he only thing that really mattered was the happiness of the young couple and had very quickly learnt to hide her disappointment. She liked Vicky and could see how much Vicky loved her son. This in itself made her a special person as far as Rachael was concerned. Together the two women had planned the special day and, with a lot of help from Jenny and Hutch, things had all come together. Then, two weeks before the big day Rachael had fallen ill with flu which had turned to bronchitis and had ended up in the hospital for a short stay. Unable to get more time off Starsky had fretted, almost making himself ill, until Vicky had stepped in and gone to New York on his behalf. Every night she would phone Starsky and let him know how his Mother was progressing until the day when she was allowed out of the hospital. A week later Vicky had left New York to make final preparations for her wedding with the news for Starsky that his Mother was okay but would probably not be well enough to make the journey.

Hutch walked up the stairs to Starskys apartment aware that this would be the last time he would ever do it. As from tomorrow the place would be up for let and Starsky would be across the road with his new wife. Part of him felt sad for what seemed like the end of an era. When he and Starsky had first met at the academy he was the one who was married and Starsky the bachelor. As from three pm today that would all change. Starsky would be happily (he hoped) married and he would be on his own. Despite everything Starsky and Vicky said he knew that he would not continually interrupt them. He had already told himself that midnight phone calls were out and nights playing monopoly could be no more. Part of his heart ached for what he would lose. The biggest part though was happy that he was a part of this special day. After everything that Starsky had gone through in his life, right from losing the Father he adored to almost losing his own life at the hands of Gunther’s goons, Starsky of all people had won the right to a little happiness. Sometimes, when the two had had a hard case and they had gotten drunk together they would talk of their dreams. For Starsky it had always been the same, a wife and a couple of children to love and care for. Now at last one of their dreams looked as though it might be coming true and Hutch couldn’t be more happy for his friend and partner.

Hutch let himself into the apartment and looked around. He had promised Starsky that he would be there to cook him his favourite breakfast in lieu of his Mum. Hutch knew how much it was hurting that she would not be there and had tried to keep his friend cheerful. What Starsky didn’t know was that Hutch had been in constant contact with Rachael and right now she was heading for the airport along with his own Mother who had taken it upon herself to take matters into her own hands. Once Hutch had explained the problem to her she had arranged for Rachael to have the best possible care that money could buy and it had resulted in her making wonderful progress. All that remained was to get her to Bay City and weather and flights willing Mrs Hutchinson would make sure she was there somehow. It was amazing what a little money could do Hutch thought. He had hesitated for only a second to ask for his Mothers help but for Starsky he would do anything. It had taken only a few moments to explain things to his Mother and he knew he had done the right thing. Hutch’s Mother may never understand the relationship he had with Starsky but she long ago accepted it, knowing how much the two relied on each other. She knew of the many times Starsky had been there for her son, sometimes keeping him alive by will power alone. She was one of the few people who knew how Starsky had risked all for Hutch after Forrester had forced him onto heroin. This was her chance of saying thank you and she had grasped it with both hands.

Hutch could hear water running in the bathroom and knew Starsky was in the shower. Heading for the small kitchen area he proceeded to hunt through the cupboards for the making of pancakes. He had even brought the maple syrup and ice cream. Laying the ingredients on the worktop Hutch began to mix the batter, listening as he did for the sound of Starsky finishing in the bathroom. So it was that as Starsky emerged Hutch was just dishing up a mound of pancakes complete with maple syrup and ice cream, which he placed in front of his partner along with a mug of steaming coffee.

"Happy wedding day Gordo. How did you sleep?" Hutch and Starsky had been at Huggy’s bar until midnight when they had come back to Starskys place for coffee. Once there they had talked until the early hours before Hutch finally left to get some sleep.

"Don’t ask Hutch. My eyes have so much grit in them they could line a birdcage. I saw every hour tick over. Finally dropped off about an hour ago." Starsky took a mouthful of the coffee before attacking the pancakes hungrily. "Hey Hutch this is good. Almost as good as" He stopped and dropped the fork he was using. Pushing himself away for the table he walked across to the table where his phone stood. "I thought she might ring this morning Hutch, you know, to wish me luck or something"

Starsky looked like a lost boy and Hutch’s heart ached for him. For an instant he was going to tell him the truth but then managed to stop himself. Rachael had made him promise not to say a word in case things went wrong and she didn’t get there. She didn’t want to upset Dave anymore than she already had done. Picking up Starskys plate Hutch dropped it into the sink. He would come back later and sort everything out, for now it could stay there.

"Hey Starsk, you remember to pick your suit up for the cleaners yesterday?" It was a mundane question but the only one he could think of off the top of his head. Anything to get Starskys mind back to the here and now.

"Yes Hutch I remembered. It’s hanging up with yours on the back of the bedroom door." Starsky turned away from the telephone and Hutch breathed a sigh of relief. "What if she changes her mind Hutch?"

"Vicky! She wont Starsk. She loves you too much. I called her before I came here and she told me to tell you no to be late." Hutch smiled. "Calm down Starsk. Its the bride that’s supposed to get nervous, you know. Where’s the ring?"

In the drawer by my bed. Hang on a minute and Ill get it." Starsky disappeared into the bedroom and Hutch waited for him. When he didn’t come back out Hutch went looking for him and found him sat on the side of the bed with the picture of Terry in his hands. Starsky looked up as he walked over and sat down.

"I was just thinking Hutch. This should have been her day. Instead she’s lying beneath the ground and here I am getting ready to marry someone else. Do you think shed understand Hutch?" Starsky had tears in his eye and he looked at Hutch as though desperate for an answer.

"Not only would she understand Starsk, shed wish you well. Terry loved you as much as Vicky does. But she’s dead Starsk and there’s nothing you can do to alter that. Lord knows you tried. You have to let her go, let her rest in peace. You’re a lucky man Gordo. Most only find one woman in their life to love, you found two. Terry was then, Vicky is now. Don’t destroy what you have with Vicky with memories of Terry, she wouldn’t want that. Besides, no-one can live on memories alone Starsk."

"Yeah, guess your right Hutch. Sorry!" Starsky turned away and opening the bottom drawer he tenderly replaced the photograph in its place.

For a moment there was silence then Starsky got up and handed something to Hutch.

"Here. Don’t lose them whatever you do or I promise to shoot you in front of everyone." Starsky smiled and dropped two rings into Hutch’s outstretched hand.

Hutch grinned. "She finally persuaded you I see." Hutch knew that Vicky had been determined for Starsky to have a ring like hers and he had been equally determined not to. "What changed your mind?"

"Well I finally realised that I loved Vicky too much to fall out with over something as silly as wearing a wedding ring." Starsky shrugged his shoulders.

"Well it sure took you long enough. I thought I was going to have knock some sense into that thick skull of yours." Hutch laughed and the two men walked back out from the bedroom. "What time is the car coming for Vicky?"

"Eleven thirty. The ceremony starts at midday so that should give her enough time to get there. I told her wed leave about ten minutes earlier so wed be out of the way. Jenny was adamant that I didn’t see Vicky before the ceremony." Starsky cast a glance at the clock on the wall. One hour to go and he would be married. It would change his whole outlook on life he suddenly realised. From this day forth he would have responsibilities, have someone else to consider before he acted. For a moment the thought frightened him and he visibly shivered. Hutch caught it from the corner of his eye and he looked questioningly at his partner. "Sorry Hutch, I just realised something. There’s no going back from this is there? "What if it changes us Hutch, you and me, how we work. Id hate that."

"It wont Starsky. You’ll always be there for me same as I am for you. Me and Thee Starsk, not even a wife could alter that." Hutch’s voice was firm and confident as he answered. In truth he had asked himself the same question over and over but had always arrived at the same answer. The two of them had gone through too much together to think that they would ever not be there for each other just because one or the other had a family.

"You sound pretty confident about that Hutch. I hope you’re right." Starsky turned away from his partner to look through the window at the house across the road. "Wonder how Vicky feels right now?"

*******

"What if he changes his mind Jenny? I don’t think I could bear that" Vicky sat in front of the mirror in her bedroom as Jenny brushed her hair for her.

"He won’t Vicky. You know how much Dave loves you, and he’d never do anything to hurt you. Besides, Hutch is with him and I made him promise to make sure they get there on time. Stop worrying; you’re doing the right thing." Jenny smiled in the mirror at the face of her friend. Last night she and Vicky had talked through the last few years burying the bad memories well in the past where they belonged. Billy had survived; he would spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, and some time in a penitentiary hospital first, in jail after, and would never be able to hurt them again. Today Vicky would start a new life and she would know what it meant to be happy with a good man who she loved dearly. Jenny thanked God for the day Dave Starsky came into her friends’ life albeit via a damaged telephone.

The two girls continued in a comfortable silence and ten minutes later Vicky was ready. She looked at the reflection in the mirror. Jenny had managed to get her wayward curls to behave, at least for the moment, and her hair neatly framed her face as the curls ran softly down each cheek. Small silk flowers had been woven into them and they sparkled as the light caught them. The eyes that looked back at her were sparkling and Jenny had applied just enough make up to show them off. It was all topped off by a small diamond tiara that Edith Dobey had lent her. On her finger she wore her grandmothers eternity ring and around her neck she wore Starskys heart. The something blue she had around the top of her leg. Jenny had bought it for her. The garter was dainty, blue with a white lace trim and tiny pink flowers. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. This time I’m going to do it properly! For a second Vicky’s thoughts shot back to her first wedding day. She and Billy had exchanged vows in the registry office in front of total strangers. This time she would be doing it in front of a priest and a rabbi and more friends than she thought she could possibly have. Rosie Dobey had been overjoyed to be her flower girl and Jenny would be her Matron of Honour. More importantly though, this time she knew it would be the right man waiting for her. Dave loved her, of that she had no doubt whatsoever. A kinder, gentler, more loving man she had yet to meet and she felt extremely lucky to have found him.

Vicky’s daydreams were interrupted by a knocking at the door and Jenny’s voice coming up the stairs.

"Vicky. The car´s here. Dave and Ken have just left so the coast is clear you can come down."

Rising from her seat Vicky stood for one last look at herself. She smoothed the creases from her wedding gown as she did so. The close fitting dress was simple and finished at calf level in deference to the beach. A single red rose was fixed over her heart and the bodice showed off her figure to perfection. Making one last adjustment to her sandals Vicky turned and left the bedroom. At the top of the stairs she stopped, hearing a male voice in the room below. The voice was so familiar and suddenly filled her with a sense of happiness as she ran down the stairs as fast as she could. At the door of the dining room Vicky stopped. There, standing with his back to her talking to Jenny, was her father.

"DAD". Vicky shouted and threw herself across the room and into his arms. "You came! Oh Dad!"

"Hey. Did you think I would miss the most important day in my little girl’s life?" The old mans voice was soft and choked with emotion. It had been a long time since he had held his daughter in his arms and it felt so good. "Your Mother and brother are waiting in the car behind yours to follow you to the ceremony." He stepped back and took in the sight of his daughter. "You look beautiful Vicky. This Dave fellow had better deserve you."

Vicky and Jenny both laughed. "He does Dad. The question is, do I deserve him?" Vicky’s face became serious. "You’ll like Dave Dad."

"Well from what Jenny has already told me and from the way you look he doesn’t seem too bad. Anyone who can make you look so radiant must have something going for him. Come on lets get you to him."

Father and daughter left the house arm in arm and Jenny followed up behind. Just before she got into the car Vicky turned to her best friend.

"Thanks Jenny for everything. There are times over the last few years when I didn’t think I would survive, when I had nothing left to live for. But you were always there. You got me through it all and out the other side. Ill always be eternally grateful for that. Ill never be able to repay your friendship."

"Hey, seeing you so happy is reward enough. Just promise me that you’ll name the first girl after me." Jenny smiled and held her friends hand for a brief moment. "Now come on before Dave thinks you’ve stood him up."

"Terrific, Were not even married yet and already you and Hutch have named our children for us!"

Laughing together the two girls got in the limousine.

Starsky and Hutch arrived at the beachfront and were met by Edith Dobey and a very nervous looking Rosie. Starsky bent in front of the youngster and grinned at her.

"Hey pumpkin, you look beautiful." Starsky kissed her cheek.

"Do I really? I wanted to look just right for you Uncle Dave." Rosie’s cheeks blushed.

"That’s really kind of you Rosie. If Vicky decided to stand me up then I just might have to marry you instead." Starsky stood and looked at Edith who was looking him up and down. "Will I do Edith?"

"You’ll do just fine Dave, just fine." Edith Dobey nodded her head in approval at the man before her. Dressed in a black suit and bow tie Dave Starsky was transformed from undercover detective to the most handsome man she had seen for a long time.

Starsky felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned around. Harold Dobey stood wiping his brow with the ever present white handkerchief.

"I just wanted to shake your hand and wish you well, Starsky. I’m glad one of you two has finally taken the plunge and decided to settle down. Maybe things will be a little quieter around here."

"Thanks Cap." Starsky took the hand offered knowing the meaning behind the words spoken. Both he and Hutch knew that this big man had a soft spot for them both and they for him.

"Hey partner, its time you took your place, shell be here any minute." Hutch steered Starsky through the people gathered for the ceremony. He was amazed at the number of people there.

"I thought wed arranged a small ceremony Hutch. Where did everyone come from?"

Hutch laughed. "Dobey gave everyone the ok to drop by if things were quiet. I guess it is! Seriously Starsk, they all asked if I thought you’d mind them coming for this bit just to wish you well. I couldn’t say no, could I?"

"Guess not, Hutch. Man I never knew I had so many friends." Starsky and Hutch made their way to the front of the crowd where a small gazebo had been set up, duly decorated with white and silver balloons. Waiting for them were the Rabbi from the local synagogue who Hutch had been to see on Starsky’s behalf and had agreed to take part in the ceremony, along with the priest from the little church Jenny and Vicky had attended on Christmas Eve and a few occasions since. Together the two men had put together a service which would entwine both faiths and at the end of which the couple would be married in the eyes of both religions. Starsky shook the hands of both men then turned to take his place. As he did so the crowd once again began to part and Starsky felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.

"Starsk, take a look." Hutch whispered in his ear and Starsky looked up. A small woman was slowly making her way to the front of the crowd assisted by a taller, confident woman. Behind them, a little way behind but nonetheless there, was a younger version of Starsky.

"MA, Nick!" Starsky felt his knees go weak and he would have fallen if it hadn’t have been for Hutch quickly grabbing his elbow.

The old woman shook off the arm of the younger one and held her arms out. Starsky stepped forward and took his Mother in his strong arms.

"I don’t believe it! Ma…you came! I thought…"

"You thought Id miss the most my own sons wedding! Did I miss your Bamitzvah?" Rachael Starsky was gently smiling as she loosened her sons grip and stepped back a little. "Let me look at you Davy." For a few seconds the two just looked at each other each trying to take the other in. Starsky was still trying to get over the shock of his Mother being there. The last he knew she was still to ill to make the long journey. Rachael was fighting her own emotions too. "You look just like your father Davy. He would have been so proud of you." Stretching upwards Mother kissed son and for a brief moment no-one else mattered. Then Starsky heard a slight cough from just behind his Mothers shoulder and he looked up to see his brother Nick standing behind her.

"Hey Dave. Thought Id come and see my big brother bite the bullet. Ma tells me this Vicky is beautiful, too good for you, anyways." Nick smiled almost shyly at his brother. Starsky looked at him for a moment before holding out his hand. As Nick took it he pulled him towards him.

"It’s good to see you to Nick. It’s been too long."

"Come on Rachel, let’s get you sat down before the bride arrives." Starsky looked around as the younger woman who had escorted his Mother took her arm and led her to a chair at the front. It took him a few moments to work out why the face looked quite so familiar. It wasn’t until Hutch came and ushered him to his place as well that he realised.

"Hutch That’s your mother!"

"Yeah Gordo, I know."

"But what’s she doing with Ma?"

"Looking after her Starsk. How do you think she got here?"

"But...I…Hutch" Starsky was totally confused and Hutch decided to take pity on him.

"I knew how upset you were that your Mother was too ill to get here Starsk, so I called my mother and explained the situation. She sort of took over from there and arranged for your mom to have special care then she arranged one of Dad’s jets to get her here. You know what my Mother’s like when she gets a bee in her bonnet, Starsk, anything is possible!"

Starsky swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat. He knew what it must have cost Hutch to go to his mother asking for help. "Thanks Hutch."

"You’re welcome Starsk."

From their left came the strains of a piano accordion, courtesy of another of Huggy bear’s cousins, who began to play the wedding march and once again the crowd parted. Starsky and Hutch watched as Vicky slowly moved towards them on the arm of her Father, Jenny and Rosie following them. Hutch and Starsky moved forward in to place and Vicky took her place beside her husband to be.

Afterwards Starsky had to admit to Hutch that he could remember nothing of the actual ceremony other than the bit where he and Vicky were asked do you take this person, does anyone know of any just cause, where he was convinced someone would speak out and ruin everything, and the moment they exchanged their wedding rings. He knew he would always remember slipping the gold band on Vicky’s finger, his hand trembling as he did so. The next thing he knew both priest and Rabbi had declared them man and wife, and he was kissing his new bride, long and hard, proving to the whole world how much he loved her, much to the delight of those watching.

Hutch stepped back and looked around him. At the front Rachael Starsky was gently dabbing her eyes. Son Nick stood with his hand on her shoulder, his own Mother sitting beside her, whose eyes were also shining. Starsky and Vicky were in a world of their own and, with a jolt, Hutch realised that he was no longer his friends only partner, nor the most important. The Dobey family were mingling with the rest of the guests and everyone was smiling happily. Suddenly he felt rather than saw someone at his shoulder and he turned to see Huggy standing beside him.

"Beautiful ain’t it bro?" Huggy looked at Hutch with a little concern. "She may be his wife now Hutch but you’ll always be his partner." His eyes searched for Hutch’s and the two pairs locked.

"I hope so Hug. Starsky deserves all this and I couldn’t be happier for him but I guess a little part of me feels lost. Does that make sense?"

"Hey Hutch. Eight years is a long time together. You wouldn’t be the person you are if you didn’t feel a bit like that. And Starsky wouldn’t be the person he is if he allowed this to affect Me and Thee. You two are a team Hutch, nothing, not even a wife, could change that. Besides, I know Vicky a little and I don’t think she would want to even try."

"Thanks Hug. Come on, lets get his show back to the hotel. There’s a wedding cake to cut."

Slowly people began to disperse and Starsky and Vicky were able to make there way to the waiting limousine. Just before they got in Starsky reached into his pocket and took something out.

"Here you go Hutch. Drive her carefully. A lot of good friends got her back into condition and I don’t want you crashing her gears."

Hutch caught the keys to the Torino as Starsky threw them.

"Me crash the gears? That’s a good one Starsk, coming from the king of the handbrake turns. See you at the hotel. Jenny can I offer you a lift." Hutch opened the passenger door and Jenny eased into the seat. Pulling away from the kerb Hutch made sure to burn the tyres just a little as he and Jenny sped away.

Vicky and Starsky had chosen an informal buffet for their reception since neither of them had expected their family to make the event and Hutch and Jenny had done them proud. This meant they could both wander freely amongst their guests and both took the chance to seek out their friends. Vicky manoeuvred Jenny into a quiet corner and hugged her fiercely.

"Hey What’s that for?" Jenny looked at her friend and could see unshed tears making them glisten. "No tears Vicky. This should be a happy day."

"I am happy Jen. I don’t think that anyone could be happier than me right now. I want to say thank you for all this." Vicky waved her arm indicating the room and people around them. "Dave and I weren’t expecting anything like this. We said a quiet do, remember?"

"Eeerrr, yes, well Sorry Vicky but it was like playing Chinese whispers. As soon as one person heard about you and Dave so another would appear. In the end Hutch and I just made it open house. Look around you Vicky; you’ll never be short of friends again."

"None of them could ever be as good a friend as you Jenny. I hope you know that Ill always be there for you too." Vicky’s face was serious for a moment hoping that her friend would understand what she was trying to say.

"I know Vicky, I never doubted it." Jenny took Vicky into her arms and again the two friends hugged. Both knew this was a new chapter in their lives just beginning and both looked forward to it with eagerness and just a little intrepidation.

Starsky finally managed to corner Hutch late on in the evening. He found him by a window gazing out over the lawn.

"Penny for them Hutch." Starsky held out a glass of wine to his friend who took it and toyed with the glass.

"I was just thinking it was a beautiful night Starsk. The stars will be through anytime soon."

"You gonna make a wish Hutch? Starlight, Star bright and all that stuff."

Hutch laughed quietly. "I already made my wish Starsk, early this morning and again as you and Vicky took your vows. I think a third time would be considered a little greedy don’t you?"

Starsky looked upwards as the first star appeared. "For you maybe Hutch but I can still try." He turned slightly to watch the star twinkling and to think about his words. "I wish that you will never feel left out Hutch. Our house will still be open to you same as my apartment was. We’ve been best friends for too long to let it drift apart. I owe you so much, including my life." Hutch glanced up and flinched. "It’s true Hutch. When I was lying in that hospital bed I had a choice. Don’t ask me how I knew I just did. I could have let go and drifted away, no more pain, no more fighting the evil that surrounds us. Or I could fight back. Know why I fought back Hutch? You. I couldn’t bear the thought of you being left on your own with no-one to watch your back and I didn’t trust anyone else to do it for me. I could have let go Hutch but I didn’t because of you and you were there when I came back, holding me when the pain got too much, doing all the things I couldn’t do, taking all the flak I threw at you and never blinking an eye. You’re my brother Hutch, simple as that."

Starsky raised his glass to Hutch and sipped the wine. Hutch fought hard to hold his emotions as he did the same.

"Brothers Starsk."

The music began to reverberate around the room and calls for the happy couple to lead the dancing began to echo around the room. Huggy appeared at their elbows.

"Sorry to break this up guys but your bride awaits you Starsk."

Starsky handed his glass to Hutch pausing to look into his eyes. A brief raising of his eyebrows was returned by an almost unperceivable nodding of Hutch’s head. The moment was quickly over, but so much was said without words. Starsky made his way across the room and took Vicky in his arms. Gently and smoothly he led her around the room as the guests watched them slowly, beginning with Hutch and Jenny, others joined in. The evening continued on into the night until slowly guests began to drift away leaving a few close friends remaining along with Starsky’s family, Hutch’s Mother and Vicky’s family. Starsky and Vicky had danced with everyone and were now back together dancing another slow dance; arms entwined around each other’s bodies, their lips occasionally seeking each other’s out. Hutch and Jenny stood together watching.

Suddenly Jenny began to laugh. "You see this Hutch?" The girl continued laughing.  “Have you ever seen something like this in your life?" More laughter

“What?" Hutch asked now totally disconcerted.

"I´m not sure about something, Hutch...Are we in a wedding...or in some kind of national convention of brown curled haired people...Look at them. They are all alike, Vicky, her dad, her mom, her brother, Dave, Nick, Mrs Starsky...Even that waiter! You know? I think it’s not very difficult to imagine how Vicky and David’s kids will be...I think you and I, we are the only non dark and curly-haired people here...It’s like a science fiction movie...Brrrr. Frightening!" Jenny faked a shiver, and with a deep voice said. "The invasion of the curly heads ...If you love your straight and blond hair...If you don’t want to be one of them, then...don’t approach them...Or soon you’ll be one of them!"

Hutch burst into laughter too, but when finally he thought that he would be unable to breathe from laughter was when Starsky, asked Jenny for a dance...And Vicky asked him!...

It was nearly midnight when Starsky and Vicky slipped away into the night. They would spend what remained of the night in their new home and in the morning Hutch was coming to drive them to the airport where Starsky had arranged flights to Hawaii for two weeks. As far as they were both concerned life had finally taken a change for the better.

If only it could be that simple!

THE END

 

 

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