Starsky slid out of the pickup truck and stomped through the snow to join Hutch at the foot of the veranda. “I can’t believe I’m actually here.”
“You’re welcome,” Hutch said, admiring the view in front of them.
“I can give you a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea. So, if you think I should be grateful to you for dragged me into the middle of the Minnesota wilderness—”
“It’s not like I forced you to come.”
“—to spend our first Christmas off in years in a—” He flapped his mittened hands and shuddered. “—in a cabin… Well, you’re crazy.”
“And have you already forgotten that the town, where we just picked up our supplies, is a ten-minute drive away?”
Starsky hugged himself and looked around. “What about neighbors?”
“What about them?”
“If we have any, they’d better not be Satanists.”
Hutch shook his head. “When I was growing up, I spent a lot of summer and winter vacations in cabins like this and never saw a single Devil worshipper.”
“Maybe your freaky family kept them away, like garlic keeps away vampires.”
“That sounds about right.” Hutch clapped his partner on the back with gusto. “Well, I’d love to stand here in the driveway listening to you complain all day, but unless you want the groceries to freeze, we should get them inside.”
To Starsky’s surprise, the interior of the cabin was anything but rustic—nothing at all like Captain Dobey’s.
“This kitchen looks like it belongs in a showroom, Hutch,” he said as he put two bulging paper bags on the marble countertop. “The whole place does. So, what’s the catch?”
Hutch grabbed Starsky by the elbow and led him back outside. “There’s no catch. Vermont—not Minnesota—is America’s winter playground and, therefore, a lot cheaper. And the travel agent found us a good deal. End of story.”
“We couldn’t go somewhere civilized, huh? Like Mexico or the Bahamas?” Starsky hauled more bags out of the truck.
“On our salaries?” Arms full, Hutch hip-checked the Ford’s door closed. “We couldn’t afford one room at a tropical resort, let alone the two rooms we would’ve had to book.”
“Besides, I thought you’d like all the privacy we’ll have here.”
“The privacy, yes. But not the trees and the snow and the bears.”
“Bears?” Hutch herded Starsky up the stairs to the front door. “They hibernate during the winter. Mostly.”
“What do you mean, ‘mostly?’”
“If there were any, I’m sure the Satanists used them as sacrifices.”
“Ha-ha. You’re a funny guy, Hutch. A regular George Carlin.”
“You know what else is funny? That you think those groceries are going to put themselves away.” Hutch began unpacking the bags. “I’ll fill the cupboards. You can do the fridge.”
Starsky raised his hands in surrender. “No way! What if there’s a snake in there?”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Hutch grumbled, then swung the refrigerator door open to reveal – nothing but a box of baking soda. “Satisfied?”
The answer was a shake of Starsky’s head and an upward glance.
“The freezer?” Hutch asked, incredulous. “How would a frozen rattlesnake hurt you?”
Starsky harrumphed. “Could’ve been put in there just before we arrived and now it’s mad.”
“You know I love you – but you’re an idiot.” Hutch opened the freezer door and jumped back. “Oh my god!”
It took Starsky less than a second to scoot several feet away. “What? What is it?” he demanded, clutching at his chest.
“These,” said Hutch, waving a full ice cube try in Starsky’s direction. “You could lose an eye if I threw these at you.”
“You’re going to lose more than an eye if you don’t stop trying to scare the crap outta me!”
“Looks like I succeeded,” Hutch muttered under his breath.
“What was that, pal?”
“I said, let’s finish up in here so we can bring in the suitcases and then work on the tree.”
The store where they’d bought beer and wine had a Christmas tree lot beside it, and Starsky had insisted they get a six-foot Norway spruce. He’d also talked Hutch into stopping at the town’s five and dime for lights and ornaments.
Once their luggage was inside, they headed back to the truck one last time. Hutch got there first and scooped up the bags with the lights and decorations.
“Wait a minute!” Starsky protested. “Why do I have to carry the tree? There might be something hiding in it.”
“Like a squirrel or a chipmunk. Or a rat.”
Hutch rolled his eyes and pushed the packages toward Starsky. “Fine. I’ll do it.”
Starsky blocked his path. “Untie it before you take it into the cabin. And shake it to make sure you don’t bring anything else in.”
That earned him another withering look.
“I’m beginning to think it would’ve been worth taking out a loan to go to Mexico after all,” Hutch told Starsky as he removed the tree’s bindings on the veranda and inspected it for stowaways.
Convinced that no outdoor critters would be running around indoors, Starsky was eager to put the tree up and start decorating.
But Scoutmaster Hutchinson was marching to a different tune and wanted to unpack their clothes and toiletries before doing anything else.
“Did you know you’re the bossiest person on the planet?” Starsky told him, struggling to shed his heavy coat and other winter gear while propping the tree against the wall.
Hutch just shrugged, kicked off his snowy boots, and headed for the kitchen. “I’m going to find some rags or a mop to clean up the mess we’ve made. You go ahead and find the bigger bedroom.”
The cabin had two bedrooms, one being significantly larger than the other. By the time Hutch was done drying the wet floors, he expected Starsky to be ready to work on the tree.
He should’ve known to expect the unexpected with Starsky.
“Starsk?” Hutch padded into the room, scratching his head. “I thought you’d be done by now.”
The suitcase was sitting unopened on the floor beside Starsky, who was staring at the king-sized bed with his hands folded under his chin.
“I know you’re going to make fun of me,” he said quietly, “but could you look under the bed? And, uh, in the closet?”
Hutch swallowed his laughter. “Sure, babe. Anything to make you feel more comfortable.”
He got down on his hands and knees, lifted the bed skirt, and pronounced the space between the box spring and the floor empty and safe. “Not even a single killer dust bunny,” he teased.
There was nothing or nobody ready to spring from the closet, either. Hutch also checked each and every dresser drawer and behind the heavy drapes – just for good measure.
“Thanks,” Starsky said, finally willing to meet his partner’s sparkling eyes.
Hutch gathered him in for a full-body hug. “It’s okay. And yes—when we put our stuff away in the bathroom, I’ll take a peek behind the shower curtain for you.”
It was adorable how grateful Starsky was, and Hutch refrained from needling him while they put up and trimmed the tree.
About an hour later, they stood in the living room appraising their handiwork. It was fully dark outside, and Hutch had turned off all the lights in the cabin so that the only illumination came from colorful little bulbs that adorned the Norway spruce.
“Turned out pretty good, don’t you think?” Starsky asked.
Hutch nodded and put his arm around his better half. Except for the whistling of the wind through the pines, the night was perfectly, beautifully silent.
Then his stomach rumbled, which prompted Starsky’s to do the same.
“Let’s have the lasagne and garlic bread tonight,” Hutch suggested.
“It’s frozen solid,” reasoned Starsky, “and I’m too hungry to wait for it to cook.”
“You’re afraid of what may be lurking in the oven, aren’t you?”
Starsky puffed out his chest. “No, of course not. Like I said, I’m just starving.”
They agreed to a quick and simple meal of thick pea soup from a can, sandwiches piled high with fresh deli meats, and pickles, potato chips, and beers on the side. And while the soup was heating on the stove, Hutch gave the oven the old once-over to keep Starsky from obsessing about it for the rest of the evening.
“What should we do now?” Starsky asked after they’d eaten and done the dishes. He waggled his eyebrows at Hutch.
“How about making out on the couch in front of the fireplace?”
Starsky stretched like a sleek black cat, offering a glimpse of his flat, fuzzy belly. “I’d be up for—hey! What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m making a fire.”
The cabin had come with an ample supply of cut wood and kindling.
Starsky ran his hands through his hair. “What if it catches fire?”
Hutch found some long matches and lit some newspaper he’d scrunched up in a neat semi-circle. “It’s supposed to catch fire, dummy.”
“I don’t mean the logs,” Starsky snapped. “I meant the creosote inside the chimney. If it’s dirty, it could catch fire and burn or asphyxiate us to death.”
“I’m sure the creosote is clean, Starsk. Otherwise, the owners wouldn’t risk renting the cabin out. So relax.”
But Starsky was too distracted by thoughts of an imminent fiery or smoky demise to be part of a decent make-out session.
“Okay,” Hutch declared with a sigh as he stood and offered Starsky a hand. “It’s been a long day and we could both use a long night’s rest. C’mon.”
“Don’t forget to unplug the Christmas tree, Hutch, or—”
“I know. I know. Or it’ll go up in flames and we’ll die in our sleep.”
Starsky pouted prettily through his entire bedtime routine but seemed generally apprehensive before getting into bed.
“Now what?” Hutch asked, even though he knew exactly what the problem was.
“What if there’s something under the covers?”
“Something that rattles or hisses, perhaps?”
Starsky’s face went white. “I was thinking something with eight legs that spins a web, but thanks for putting that image into my head.”
With a flourish, Hutch turned down the bedding. “See? No reptiles or creepy crawlies. Now take off your bathrobe and climb in. I’m cold.”
“That’s what you get for standing around naked in the winter in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.”
Hutch turned off the bedside lamp, slipped between the sheets, and drew Starsky close, nibbling the side of his neck.
“Damn it, Starsky! What are you afraid of this time?”
Starsky pulled back and tried to study Hutch’s face in the darkness. “I—I just wanted to say that I’m okay with this place now. And the only thing I’m scared of is that our week here will go by too fast.”
“To tell you the truth, that scares me, too.” Hutch leaned in and kissed him. “Happy Christmas vacation, Starsk.”
“You, too, babe.”
Poor Starsky, he really, truly hates the great outdoors! Very sweet look at Starsky’s vulnerable side with a lot of funny lines. Nice job, thank you!
Thanks so much for your kind words, Keri! I shouldn’t have made Starsky so silly/fearful, but once I got that idea into my head, it just wouldn’t go away and shut up. So, I went for the laughs. Glad you enjoyed it!
Absolutely loved your story. You got their characters perfectly – I could hear and see them bantering as I read. As Keri said, so many funny lines… you’ve put a huge smile on my face.
Many thanks and merry Christmas.
You really made my Christmas Eve, Paula! (My hubby and I are the last people in the office – I’m being a big naughty, as you can see – so your lovely comments are a balm for my Soul !)
I hope you have a fantastic Christmas, too, and a very Happy New Year!
Sweet and funny…and love! What more could a story need?
I very much enjoyed this awesome story.
Thank you, m. butterfly, for sharing this beautiful gift!
Your kind words are much appreciated, Nancy! Almost nothing makes me happier than writing about “our boys” and being able to share my stories with like-minded S/H fans. Take care and thanks again!
Many, many thanks to Santa Flamingo and Santa Cyanne for not only making this great Advent Calendar possible but for also including that gorgeous image with my story! It’s so pretty and absolutely perfect in reflecting the uber-cabin look I had in mind. Love you two! Merry Christmas!
Yum, wouldn’t mind sharing that meal with them. Hutch was so kind and patient with Starsky. I hope they have a wonderful holiday week.
Aww, that was really sweet! It’s nice to think they’ll someday have a vacation where the only danger is that their time will go too fast…
Thanks for the lovely fic!
Poor Starsky! Hopefully he’ll get to enjoy their vacation now. This is so sweet; I love that Hutch is being so patient, and even indulges Starsky further by getting a Christmas tree.
The snowy scene at the end is a wonderful surprise!
Merry Christmas, and thank you.
Oh, this is so lovely! Silly Starsky is sometimes the best Starsky, and it’s perfectly in character with his scaredy cat act in Satan’s Witches! Thank you for the laughs and the beginning of a beautiful holiday for them.
Lol. Love it. Starsky, the not great outdoor type. Hutch lives his man, whatever. Funny and cute. Thank you.
That should be loves his man. Stupid autocorrect ?