“See ya later, Starsk,” Hutch said over his shoulder, as he opened the door to the rhythmic knocking that always announced Molly’s arrival.
“’Kay,” Starsky said, smiling at the vision that was his partner. Sixty years old, but, in Starsky’s eyes, he still looked like the young, green, whippersnapper that Starsky had felt an immediate bond with the moment that he saw him at the Police Academy. Hard to believe that was almost thirty seven years ago. Of course, they’d both aged and Starsky was more than aware of their older selves, but he could damn well see what he wanted to, couldn’t he?
“Hey, Molly.” Hutch hugged her.
Starsky waved. They’d both referred to Molly as their daughter for many years. The only children they’d both had the pleasure to parent, or rather god parent, belonged to other people, but that didn’t matter. Molly and Kiko were family, so were Rosie and Cal. All of their offspring called Starsky and Hutch, Gramps S and Gramps H.
“Old Grumpy here doesn’t want to go shopping. His ankle’s playing up again,” Hutch said.
Hutch had found the joy of present giving when the younger generation had kids of their own. Not that he had ever been stingy when it came to gifts for the kids, but he liked to give presents when he wanted to, not when society dictated. A speech Starsky had heard many times.
Starsky’s ankle had been a constant joke throughout their career. He always seemed to be twisting it at the wrong moment. This time, Starsky had an ulterior motive in declining the shopping trip to buy Christmas presents for their grandchildren. One that Molly was aware of, and was a happy collaborator.
“Oh, poor Starsky,” she said sympathetically, turning her back to Hutch and winking at Starsky. “Did you give Hutch the list we talked about? My little ones took ages getting their lists as long as possible. Just like their Gramps S, they said.”
“Yes,” Hutch confirmed, digging in his pocket and pulling out a handful of papers as proof. “I’ve got all the Santa’s lists, not just Carly’s and Josh’s. This will take us all day.”
Starsky detected a slight tinge of the old Hutch in that last sentence. He grinned. “Have fun,” he said playfully.
Hutch shot him a dirty look. “I always do. Can’t think of anything better to do with my day than spend it with my darling Molly.” He ruffled her hair, as he’d done when she was younger. “Come on, Molly. Let’s get this show on the road.”
“Later, Starsky.” Molly waved as Hutch pulled her out of the door. “I’ll see you at our Christmas Day party, if I don’t see you before.”
“Don’t forget my present,” Starsky shouted at the closing door. He listened to the footsteps walking around the porch, and heard the whine of Hutch’s latest beater as the car pulled away. Holding his breath, Starsky checked the bowl on top of the piano by the door, where Hutch usually threw his keys and wallet. Empty, thankfully. Hutch occasionally forgot to pick up his wallet and would come back for it. Starsky wanted to be sure that Hutch wasn’t about to walk in on him while he dealt with Hutch’s Christmas present.
Heading for the study at the back of the house, Starsky grabbed a root beer from the fridge. He closed the study door and settled in front of the laptop that Hutch had bought him for his birthday. Starsky preferred a desk top, but he hadn’t wanted to upset Hutch and had gracefully accepted the gift. Now though, he pushed it to one side and hit the button on his ancient Mac.
Going online, he downloaded a free version of Photo-Shop. Kiko had been giving him lessons on photo manipulation, and he was ready to try out his idea. One that would also allow him to finally get a secret off his chest. One he’d been keeping from Hutch since their first Christmas as a couple at the cabin.
First step was the photographs. Feeling too lazy to get up, he walked the wheeled computer chair across the bare floor boards. His old army chest was nestled under a low window. The hinges screeched when he opened the lid. Starsky winced. He had not opened the chest in a long while.
Starsky fished around inside until he found the brown leather photo album with the reunion pictures from his army squad. The six of them had made a pact to get together every ten years, on the date that they’d been shipped back to the US. Barring the odd one or two guys, all had kept their promise to each other. Starsky had recorded every bash in this album. He flipped through the pages.
Eight pages in, he stopped, looking at the smiling faces of the group, before carefully prizing apart the two pages that he’d stuck together a long time ago. The photo concealed within dropped through the newly made gap.
Starsky had chosen that hiding place for this special photo because his old army chest was the one place Hutch never looked. Early on in their friendship, he’d told Starsky that he felt guilty that he’d never seen the action Starsky had. He’d said that Starsky seemed older than he actually was, because of the differences in their past.
Starsky hadn’t seen that hidden photo of Hutch in years, but could recall every detail in his mind like it was yesterday.
Certain that Hutch was tied securely and suspended from the center support post of their cabin, Starsky patted his lover’s stomach, feeling Hutch’s firm muscles under his hand. Striding to the fireplace, he turned and stared appreciatively at the bound and decorated Hutch. “Beautiful. My beautiful Golden Angel.” He closed his eyes, and swallowed deeply.
“Hey, partner. Don’t you go getting all soapy on me,” Hutch chided from his perch.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Starsky opened his eyes and raised the camera to his left eye. “Oh, God. You look even more amazing through the view finder.” He took a couple of shots, and the Poloroids slid out the front of the camera. “Front and side view. So you can see yourself in all your glory.” He put the developing photographs on the counter. “Takes a few minutes to develop.” He sat cross legged on the floor about three feet away from Hutch. Starsky tilted his head back, in a slow and lecherous survey of Hutch from his feet to his head.
Hutch’s skin reddened under Starsky’s scrutiny.
Starsky loved that he was one of the few people who could make Hutch blush with a simple look.
“You look like a little pixie from up here,” Hutch said. A famous Hutch tactic, put the focus onto someone else.
Starsky closed one eye. “You’re not that far off of the ground.” He tickled the bottom of Hutch’s right foot.
Hutch giggled. “Feels like it.”
“Those pictures should be developed now.” Starsky sprang from the floor and skipped over to the counter. Picking up the first one, he peeked under a corner before ripping the two pieces apart. He repeated the process with the second. “Perfect,” he crowed. Pivoting on his heel, he held a photo in each hand. “Behold the Hutch Angel Human Christmas Tree.” He poked the images under Hutch’s nose.
“Move them a bit further away. I can’t see a thing.”
Starsky held the snaps up higher and a couple of inches back. “Well?” he asked, nervously awaiting Hutch’s approval.
“It’s the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I would bear hug you if I could.”
“You really like it?” Starsky asked incredulously. He stepped to Hutch’s side and cuddled him, pillar and all.
Receiving Hutch’s approval at the time had meant everything, and still had the power to make Starsky feel all warm and fuzzy. The Hutch human Christmas Tree had probably been his most outrageous idea ever.
Then reality had set in.
“Guess I’d better burn these now that you’ve seen them,” Starsky said sadly, staring at the photos. “Seems a shame to destroy such beauty.”
“May I have one last look before you do?” Hutch sounded as disappointed as Starsky. “It would be too risky to keep this sort of stuff. Imagine what would happen if someone found those pictures.”
Starsky leaned his head back. “Yeah. Even if I put you in a full mask. IA would have a field day if they found pictures of bound masked men in our apartments.” He laughed. “I would love to see their faces though. The fun we could have.”
Hutch rolled his eyes. “And the implications on our careers.” He mimicked their superior officer. “Starsky. Hutchinson. What in the blazes are you two doing with such filthy material?”
“And don’t try to tell me you are undercover as a porn photographer and his favorite model. I am not IA. I know what assignments you have,” Starsky finished, laughing so hard that tears ran down his cheeks and he held his sides.
“Don’t, Starsk. It’s not easy to laugh when you’re stretched out like a rubber band.”
Starsky showed his partner the prints again. “You seen enough yet? You should have been a model instead of a cop. Preening over yourself like this.”
The memories, and the photograph in his hand, had Starsky wishing that Hutch was here. His current hard-on would go to waste. He wanted to be groin deep in Hutch. Instead, he closed his eyes.
Burning the first picture, Starsky watched as the image was slowly consumed by fire. Painful emotion shot through his body. He couldn’t do this.
With Hutch tied up and his back to the kitchen, Starsky made a hasty decision. He slid the other photograph into his duffel bag. What Hutch didn’t know, he wouldn’t worry about. It was the riskiest thing that Starsky had ever done.
Starsky fingered the photograph. The only secret he’d ever kept from Hutch.
Until this Christmas.
They were both retired, having kept their pledge to give up police work for good when Starsky turned sixty. They’d both reached their career goals: Hutch had taken over Dobey’s job as Captain of Homicide, and Starsky had been head of the Crime Lab for the last five years.
They could live as they wanted to. They were finally living as a couple; in the house they’d been renting to tenants for years. This picture was a first and a second beginning. No lies, no secrets, just them.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, Starsky scooted back to the desk, laying the photo on the scanner bed of his printer, turning the paper image into a digital file.
Opening Photo-Shop, he imported the file and searched for a second one.
More memories. Only not such good ones. The Christmas after Terry’s death. Hutch had been Santa for Terry’s school Christmas party in 1976, after much coaxing from Terry and Starsky. That December had been both traumatic and enlightening for Hutch, he’d told Starsky a few years back. He’d seen joy in the students’ eyes as Santa. Endured the pain, as had Starsky, of Molly’s loss of her father. It had also been the start of many wonderful Christmas’s with Molly and Kiko.
In 1977, the school still had the Santa suit, and Starsky had volunteered to be Santa, in Terry’s memory. He and Hutch had continued with the afterschool clubs she’d set up, so entertaining the students at the annual party kept Terry in their hearts.
Recently, Starsky’d had this weird idea of combining the two pictures—he as Santa, Hutch bound on the post. He wasn’t sure why it seemed like a good idea, but there it was.
After what seemed like hours of cropping pictures and combining the images, Starsky had what he hoped looked like one picture, not two imitating one. Would Hutch like the manipulation? Starsky chuckled at the word play. Hutch usually did.
Starsky printed the completed image, mounting it in the simple frame that he’d bought, and then wrapped it in red and gold swirly paper.
He hoped that Hutch would like the gift. After he got over the shock of seeing something he’d thought destroyed years ago, that is. Starsky was prepared to weather the lecture as long as Hutch was pleased with his efforts. He’d seen the tears in Hutch’s eyes when he’d looked at the developed Polaroid in 1982.
Starsky rubbed his belly. He was suddenly very hungry. Glancing at the time in the bottom right of the screen, he was shocked to see 2:53. Would Hutch and Molly still be shopping? Those lists were quite long. Maybe they were enjoying a healthy sushi at Hutch’s latest health food discovery, Shima, which had opened a few blocks away from Venice Place. It pained Starsky that Molly preferred Hutch’s healthy way of eating these days. She’d shown so much promise as young Pete, who would happily eat salami for breakfast.
Starsky turned over in bed, facing the back of Hutch’s head. He nuzzled Hutch’s neck, nipping gently.
Hutch pushed into Starsky’s body. “Morning,” he mumbled sleepily.
Starsky flung his arm over Hutch’s body and continued biting. Hutch still had the most amazing neck, made for sucking and ravishing. “Morning,” he said, with a mouthful of flesh.
“I won’t have any skin left if you keep going,” Hutch guffawed.
“So nothing.” Hutch moved his head to one side, provocatively stretching the area under Starsky’s mouth. Total surrender.
Just how Starsky liked it. He sucked harder, tasting the rising blood. He thrust his erection between Hutch’s buttocks, rutting like an animal. Hutch surrendered meekly. Starsky clamped his leg over his lover’s thighs to prevent any attempt to escape, but Hutch made none. He lay, totally in sync with Starsky’s motions, until Starsky couldn’t hold it any longer. “Hutch,” he growled emptying his load into Hutch’s crack.
“I love you, Starsk,” said Hutch, gripping the arm that was holding him captive.
Coming down from the mountain, Starsky became aware that Hutch was still hard when his foot touched Hutch’s cock. “You didn’t come,” he said, a little bewildered. Was he losing his appeal?
“You didn’t say I could,” Hutch whispered, stroking the spot he’d been holding tightly.
Starsky only controlled Hutch’s orgasms in a session, not in general love making. This made Starsky want to cry. “Aww, babe,” was the best he could manage.
“Merry Christmas, Starsk.” Hutch turned his head and kissed Starsky. “We don’t have to be at Molly’s party until six p.m. I can’t wait to see the kids open their presents. Carly is going to love those ice skates we got her. She’s getting to be a great ice dancer.”
Starsky smiled. “I bet that Josh will love his mini iPad even more. He keeps stealing Kiko’s when Molly takes the kids to visit.”
Still the competitive Starsky! There was time when Hutch would have bitten and turned that comment into a game, but he just laughed, stroking Starsky’s shoulder. “They’ll both love everything they receive, I’m sure. Let’s focus on us; we’ve got all day together. Your wish is my command. I belong to you, forever.”
This time, the tears came. Starsky couldn’t stop them.
“Don’t get all soapy on me, old man,” Hutch said softly as he licked the salty tears off his lover’s face. He had a special present in mind for Starsky, now that they were free from the realities of working for a living. “It’s Christmas, your favorite time of the year.”
Starsky sniffed. “Merry Christmas, blintz. I love you, too.”
Hutch watched as Starsky reached into his nightstand drawer. “What are you doing?”
“Getting your Christmas present.” Starsky handed over the foil wrapped rectangle. “You get to open the first gift this year. Open it.”
Hutch would have said that Starsky had already gotten a gift today, seeing that Starsky already had one orgasm, and it wasn’t even seven yet. He took the package; it was heavier than he expected.
He sat up and yanked at the ribbon.
“No, wait,” Starsky almost shouted.
“What?” Hutch said, alarmed at Starsky’s tone.
“Remember that I love you, and this is the only thing I’ve ever kept from you,” Starsky said, sounding anxious.
Now Hutch was worried. Starsky’s expression was baffling. He looked scared, but of what? The package seemed harmless enough. It was Christmas morning. What could be inside that scared Starsky, and why give it to Hutch if it was so potentially volatile?
“Okay, go ahead, kid.” Starsky grinned uncertainly.
Hutch ignored the diminutive reference, another Starsky-lighten-the-mood mechanism, and ripped the paper quickly. “What the…?” He stared at the image looking back at him, half familiar, yet not.
“Surprise.” Starsky seemed rooted to the spot, his leg a few inches away from Hutch’s, without touching. Another sign of his insecurity.
“This was supposed to be burned,” Hutch said slowly, not quite understanding how this altered picture came to be. It wasn’t exactly how he remembered.
“I know,” Starsky said quietly. “I couldn’t, Hutch. I just couldn’t. Not both of them.” He twisted the bed linen in his hands. “That’s been hidden away, until the other day, when you went shopping.” Swallowing, he continued. “I wanted you to see it. I wanted to be in the picture with you. It’s Christmas.”
Realization hit Hutch. “That’s the Christmas after…”
“Yes, it is,” Starsky confirmed. “Photo-Shop. Kiko showed me how. I wanted to do something special, like then. A first for Christmas. You loved those photos.”
“I did, I do.” Hutch laughed loudly. “I love it, I love this. I’m glad you didn’t destroy them both.” He turned to Starsky. “But you could have told me.”
“I couldn’t. You would have worried too much about it being found.” Starsky put his hand over Hutch’s, stroking the glass in the frame with his thumb.
Hutch nodded. “I would have. You know me too well. But this,” He shook the framed image, “is amazing.” Tears threatened to escape from his eyes. “Now you’ve got us both gushing like old women.”
“You look so beautiful,” Starsky said, wiping a fugitive drop from Hutch’s cheek. “Then, now, and always.”
For those who haven’t read it, this story is a sort of follow on from A Christmas Cabin.
Also the mentioned Santa Hutch story can be found here- There’s Always Time to Play Santa. This was a secret Santa story for Verlaine and a collaboration between wightfaerie and Dawnwind.