"What is it with you and holidays, huh?" Starsky groused as they walked into the Precinct. "Christmas, New Years, now this?"
"Look," Hutch snapped, turning to face him. "Holidays were hard enough before. Trying to face them like this, it's... well, it's...." She made a strangled sound and buried her face in her hands for a moment.
Starsky didn't know what to say, so he rubbed her shoulder for a moment. When her head finally raised, he smiled his lopsided grin. "Hey... at least you're not goin' it alone."
She looked incredulously at him, then slowly began to smile. "Thanks."
"Anytime." The elevator doors opened and the partners walked into the bullpen.
It was a slow day -- they were just doing paperwork on a few cases. Starsky found himself idly tapping his pen on his desk as he watched Hutch typing her reports.
There has got to be something I can do to cheer her up, he thought. Slowly, an idea dawned. "Hey, Hutch, I'm gonna get somethin' to eat. You want anything?"
She glanced up at him. "Where you gonna get it?"
He waved a hand toward the door. "Machine."
Her nose wrinkled. "No, thanks." She turned back to the typewriter. "See you in a few minutes."
Starsky slid out into the hallway and dug into his pocket for change. Sliding a dime into the pay phone, he dialed a number from the phone book.
"So, what've you got planned for Valentine's evening?" Starsky casually asked as they climbed the stairs to Venice Place.
"Same as every evening -- little TV, little music, little beer and --" Hutch's voice trailed off as she saw the box in front of her apartment door. "What the hell...?"
Starsky nudged her. "Why don't you go see?"
"Okay, you, what did you pull now?" she asked with a teasing smile as she picked up the box. The card made her frown. "Diamond Florist?" she read. "'To K. Hutchinson' -- Starsk, what the hell?"
Giving him a look that clearly telegraphed her belief that he'd lost his mind, Hutch opened her apartment door. Once they were inside and seated on her couch, Hutch opened the box.
Starsky watched her eyes go huge and a hand fly to her mouth. "Ya like it?"
"Like it?" she whispered, unable to take her eyes from the box. "...Starsky...."
He smiled, watching her touch each flower as if to ensure she wasn't dreaming.
Long-stemmed roses. Twenty-five of them. Twelve pink -- meaning 'I like you' -- and twelve white -- friendship flowers -- arranged in a heart-shaped pattern. At the centre of the arrangement was a single red rose.
"...Starsky...?" she whispered, looking up at him with large eyes.
"Read the card."
"Card?" she found it, opened it.
K, it read. Barbie may be the body, but you're still the same Blintz inside. You know the language of the flowers. This says it all. D.
She looked back at the flowers, then up at him. Her mouth was hanging slightly open.
He nodded. "Valentine's Day is a holiday about feelings. Not just between lovers, either." He wrapped a long arm around her shoulders and kissed her temple. "Happy Valentine's Day, Hutch."
Gingerly, she touched the red rose, fingering its soft petals. Then she turned and threw her arms around his waist. Her head sank into his shoulder as if it belonged there.
He wrapped his arms around her, closing his eyes as he rocked her gently.
"Thank you," she whispered at long last. "Thank you...."
"That's what friends do," he whispered in return.
She smiled, pulling away and scrubbing at her cheeks. "Well... I... wow...."
Starsky chuckled. "I'd better be going."
"Yeah... might be best." She stood and opened her door. "Night, Starsk. Thank you."
He moved to the doorway and squeezed her hand. "Anytime, Hutch. See you tomorrow." Then he was gone.
Hutch closed the door and moved back to the table. She lifted the flowers and began hunting for something to put them in.
She smiled as she considered this selfless hit to the wallet her partner had taken for her. Aw, Starsk... I'm lucky to have you as my best friend....
Starsky walked down the steps to the Torino and got in. He lay his head against the back of the seat and let out a very long sigh.
Aw, Hutch... you're the best friend I got... and it's killin' me t'keep this inside. But the risk to our friendship's too great -- I'll hurt forever if I gotta rather'n tell ya I love ya....
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