The Unveiling

Type: Slash
Summary: The two guys go to a high-class restaurant to celebrate Starsky's first birthday after Gunther's shooting.

Notes: This story was my Secret Santa gift to Margaret.  I hope you liked it, sweetie!


Hutch parked the Torino right in front of the Bistro. Taking a deep breath, he looked beside him. "Well, are you ready?" he asked his partner.

It took a while for Starsky to react. Finally, he looked back at Hutch. "You’re taking me to dinner at the Bistro?!"

Hutch’s eyes sparkled joyfully.

"Man, now I know why you insisted on me wearing my best suit." He looked out the car’s window one more time and blew a soft whistle. "Are you sure you can afford it?" He turned his head back to his partner abruptly, a worried expression marring his features.

"Starsk, if I couldn’t afford it, we wouldn’t be here, don’t you think? Give me some credit," Hutch winked at his friend, realizing his unintentional pun.

Starsky let out a short laugh. "Not too much credit, I hope," he said, his eyes returning to the luxurious entrance. "Okay, let’s get on with this," he decided, opening his door and exiting the Torino.

Hutch followed him.

The inside was just as luxurious, but not overly elaborate. Dark greens and blues filled the restaurant. A soft, golden glow, coming from a myriad of chandeliers and wall lamps gave the place a cozy atmosphere.

A distinguished man in his late forties and dressed up in a tuxedo went to meet them. "Good evening, gentlemen," he greeted the newcomers.

"Good evening," Hutch greeted back. "We have a reservation in the name of Hutchinson."

Calmly, the maitre ‘d checked the reservation book. "Hutchinson... Yes, here it is. Follow me, please," he made a gracious gesture with his hand and showed them inside.

Starsky studied the place with wide open eyes. He had seen places like this in the movies, but he had never visited one for real. He could hardly keep his jaw from hitting the floor.

The maitre ‘d led them to a small booth in a quiet corner of the restaurant. It was an almost private table, mostly hidden from the others; a tiny island of intimacy in a fairytale world.

"Bon appétit, gentlemen," he said politely, bowing his head courteously.

"Thank you," Hutch replied, taking a seat.

"Huh... oh, yeah, thank you," Starsky imitated his partner’s demeanor, practically flopping into his chair. He studied the cutlery and the glass cups, even the tablecloth and the napkins, so artistically folded. He picked up his by the pointed tip that stuck out. "I bet they have someone employed only to fold the napkins like this," he whispered to Hutch.

"No doubt," Hutch smiled, picking up his napkin, unfolding it and dropping it unceremoniously on his lap.

Starsky’s attention was immediately drawn to the fresh red rose in a thin vase, right on the center of the table. "Hutch."

"Yeah?" Hutch was busy, unbuttoning the neck button of his shirt and loosening his tie a little. He always felt uncomfortable eating with his throat and neck so constricted.

"The other tables don’t have roses in a vase."

To Starsky’s surprise, a soft flush colored Hutch’s cheeks.

"Well, you see... Ahhh, I-I ordered a few extra things when I made our reservations. I hope you don’t mind."

Hutch’s stutter always was Starsky’s undoing, and this time was no different. "No problem," he shrugged nonchalantly. "You know about this more than I do. As long as you didn’t order the menu, too..."

Hutch looked away.

"You didn’t, did you?" Starsky asked, bending forward in alarm.

"Good evening, gentlemen," said a kind female voice.

A pretty woman, with the loveliest hazel eyes and long, wavy brown hair appeared in front of them.

"My name’s Margaret and I’ll be your waitress for the evening. Please, don’t hesitate to ask me whatever you wish to make your dinner as enjoyable as possible."

"Why, thank you," Starsky smiled up at her, his innate charm reasserting itself unconsciously.

She returned the smile, offering them the menu. "May I suggest...?" She began.

"Excuse me, miss," Hutch interrupted her respectfully, "I already ordered the menu over the phone. Hutchinson."

"Oh, of course!" She nodded. "Do you want it right away or you’d rather start with some appetizers?"

"Please, serve it now. We have a long evening ahead," Hutch told her, looking at his partner with a wink.

"Yes, sir," the waitress left, heading for the kitchen, leaving a soft, feminine perfume behind her.

"Hutch..." Starsky wasn’t very convinced of Hutch’s choices.

"Starsk, trust me, okay?" Hutch’s eyes flashed. "I wouldn’t bring you to a place like this, only to make you eat something you’re not going to enjoy. And on your birthday, at that."

Starsky detected an undercurrent of hurt in his friend’s voice and he reached out to him. "Okay, pal. I’m sorry." He squeezed the big hand, conveying his trust.

Hutch’s eyes smiled again and he returned the pressure, his gaze being instinctively drawn to their joined hands. The sight of the rings on Starsky’s pinkie brought a smile to his face, and he fingered them, unable to help himself. "It’s so good to see them back here where they belong..." he trailed off.

Starsky smiled sadly, his mind returning for a moment to the ten months-long nightmare they had just survived. After the ambulance took him to the hospital, all the belongings Starsky carried with him, his rings included, were placed in a plastic bag and handed to Hutch, who clung to it as if he was holding on to his partner’s very life, keeping it anchored to this world.

When Starsky survived against all odds, Hutch gave the rings back to him, needing this small bit of normalcy after so much horror. When he was released from the hospital, Starsky surprised Hutch by giving him his rings, telling him to give them back to him the day he was told he could return to the Force.

And the day had arrived at last. Today wasn’t only Starsky’s birthday. Today was the day doctors had told him he was free to return to his job as a street cop. On Monday, the hardest time of their lives would be officially over, and things would return to the way they had been last spring.

Or would they?

No one could answer that question, especially not them. There were a lot of fears and insecurities to face. Only time would tell.

"They belong to you now as much as they belong to me, Hutch," Starsky said, his eyes infinitely grateful and loving.

Hutch’s gaze softened.

"Erm, excuse me."

The two men gave a start and returned to the reality surrounding them. The waitress was showing them a bottle of champagne.

"Dom Perignon 1966, as you ordered, sir," she told Hutch. "You want it very cold, I presume."

"We do," Hutch smiled up at her, releasing Starsky’s hand unhurriedly.

Margaret returned with an ice-bucket filled with ice cubes, and after serving them, she placed the bottle in the bucket, covering it with a white napkin.

Hutch raised his glass in a toast. "To us, partner."

Starsky raised his and clinked it with his friend’s. "Me and thee, forever," he saluted, throbbing inside with happiness. Hutch’s answering grin made his blood sing in his veins.

Starsky took a small sip and swallowed slowly, letting his taste buds enjoy the effervescent, thrilling liquid bursting on his tongue. He wanted tonight to last forever, not only because Hutch was probably spending six months’ pay on it, but because he wanted to soak up his partner’s affection. He wouldn’t have survived without it. As a matter of fact...

"Gentlemen," Margaret announced, putting a huge plate with two giant lobsters on the table.

"Hutch!" Starsky exclaimed, smiling from ear to ear, excited like a five year old.

"Ten months late, but I hope it’s worth the wait," Hutch returned the smile, butterflies soaring in his stomach at his partner’s boyish enthusiasm. How much he had longed to see that joyous face again!

"It is, believe me!" Starsky couldn’t take his eyes off of the plate before him, his stomach roaring at the gorgeous sight.

The waitress returned with a smaller plate, full of canapés and all sort of sauces to accompany the lobsters, if they so wished.

"Enjoy," she told them with a lovely smile.

"Thank you," the two men replied in unison.

Starsky picked up his knife and fork and looked at the lobsters, mesmerized.

"What are you waiting for?" Hutch asked, delighted by his partner’s enraptured expression. "Go for it!"

"You won’t have to tell me twice, Blondie," Starsky countered, diving for the nearest lobster.


Neither of them spoke for nearly ten minutes, as they satiated their hunger with the lobsters. They merely exchanged knowing looks and shining smiles. Finally, Starsky broke the comfortable silence.

"These sauces are delicious, Hutch, but I feel stuffed already. I don’t think I can handle a second course."

"I know," Hutch nodded. "Me neither; that’s why there won’t be a second course, only dessert. So, take your time and eat as much as you want; just remember to leave some space for the dessert."

"You got it," Starsky replied, taking another sip from his glass to wash down his mouthful. "Hey, Hutch."

"Hmmm?" The blond said, around his own mouthful.

"Do you think I’ll be the same cop I used to be?"

Hutch choked on his lobster and coughed a few times to catch his breath. Alcohol always made Starsky talkative, but not moody. The fact that it was champagne this time instead of beer perhaps had something to do with it. "I don’t know, Starsk," he honestly answered. "I guess we’ll have to wait and see, huh?"

Starsky wasn’t satisfied by his partner’s answer, and his eyes reflected it.

Realizing his friend needed to talk about this now, Hutch complied with a sigh and offered him the most sincere answer he could give. "I expect us both to be a bit rusty in the beginning. I mean, we haven’t worked together for almost a year, and it’ll show. But eventually, we’ll get back on track." He smiled reassuringly.

"And if I can’t keep up with you and back you up and keep you safe, what then? Will you ask for another partner? Will I have to take the lieutenant exam? Will we...?"

"Starsky," Hutch put up a hand, stopping the string of possibilities. "You’ve been certified fit to return to the streets. We still don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’ll consider our options should we ever find ourselves in that situation, okay?"

"But we’re not talking about something unrealistic. This could be the real thing in just a few weeks," Starsky argued.

"In that case, if we find out you can’t keep up anymore, then we’ll take the lieutenant exam together, as I’ve been telling you for months," Hutch settled.

"But Hutch, that’s not fair to you. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you," Starsky insisted on his well-worn argument. "You’re too good a cop to waste your abilities behind a desk."

"I’ve also been trying to make you understand that I have no intention of taking another partner. I refused to have one these past few months, and that’s not going to change now. We started this journey together, and we’ll get to the finish line together, whenever that happens." Hutch’s decision just just as firm. "If I can’t be a cop with you, the job won’t have much lure for me anyway."

"Oh, Hutch," Starsky melted in his chair. He didn’t know what to say.

"If we can’t be cops together, we can be something else." Hutch let out a naughty smile. "Maybe we could take on that job at the porn studio, what do you think?"

Starsky laughed out loud. "What a pair we’d make!" His eyes saddened for a second. "The Scarred Man and the Blond Blintz."

Hutch closed his eyes, berating himself for his stupidity. Since the shooting, the subject of nudity was a touchy one for his partner. His self-image had been altered forever, and until Starsky learned to accept himself there was nothing he could do, except dreaming and wishing for something that would never be, as he had been doing for some time now. "You’ve always been beautiful to me and you’ll always be, Starsk." The words left his lips before he could hold them back.

Starsky’s gasp made Hutch open his eyes. He looked down and saw his fingers intertwined with his partner’s in an unbreakable grip.

His heart started beating savagely in his chest and trying to cover his slip, he reached out and held Starsky’s other hand, his eyes flashing with an intensity unknown to them. "And when you realize this too, love will come back to you, stronger than ever," he promised, passionately.

Starsky’s hands returned the pressure tenfold, and with an edge of despair.

"Ahem. Dessert, gentlemen?" Margaret’s soft voice seemed to come from afar.

"Ahhh, sure. Yeah," Hutch replied, struggling to come up with an intelligent answer.

The waitress removed the plate with the remains of the lobsters and then their plates.

Hutch filled their glasses with what was left in the champagne bottle. "Don’t drink until she brings the dessert," he instructed, with a nervous little smile.

"Oh, okay," Starsky acquiesced, putting down his glass.

The two minutes it took Margaret to show up with the dessert were filled with an unnatural tension. The two men avoided looking at each other until the strange feeling in their hearts went down, and made it safe to look again into each other’s eyes.

"Here we go," Margaret put down a silver bowl full of strawberries with a flourish. "And just in case you are especially sweet-toothed, some whipped cream, too." She placed a smaller bowl beside the strawberries. "Just remember: licking your fingers is not allowed in this restaurant," she winked at them and left.

There was a long pause, until Hutch finally reached out and picked up one strawberry.

Starsky followed his example, and the first few strawberries were eaten in silence.

The tension was mounting and Hutch didn’t know what to do. His feelings for his partner were wreaking havoc inside him, and he couldn’t control them. He took a deep breath and let it out in a shaky sigh, feeling tiny and miserable.

All of a sudden, a fingertip with whipped cream on it smacked softly the tip of his nose.

That was all it took for the tension to evaporate as if it had never existed. Hutch burst out laughing and looked up at his partner’s naughty face. The child inside him came to life with a vengeance, and he buried his forefinger in the bowl of whipped cream. "We’re not allowed to lick our fingers, but she didn’t say anything about not being allowed to lick each other’s fingers," he wriggled his eyebrows playfully.

Starsky wriggled his eyebrows back at him and lunged forward like a little tiger, taking Hutch’s finger in his mouth.

For the next five minutes, they invented the most imaginative ways of eating strawberries and whipped cream until both bowls were emptied. They fed each other and drank from each other’s glasses or with an arm wrapped around the other’s arm. They didn’t care about who could be looking at them. They were the center of each other’s world and that was all that mattered.

"Damn, we ran out of strawberries, Hutch," Starsky stuck out his lower lip, in a childish pout.

"Yeah, can you believe it?" Hutch crossed his arms in frustration and dropped them on the table, like a spoiled brat. Suddenly, his features shone with hope. "Did you like your birthday dinner?"

"It was the best I ever had, partner," Starsky’s face lit up with joy.

"I’ll have to move in with you for the next six months, until I pay for it, I’m afraid." The blond made a mischievous apologetic face.

"Terrific! My place was never the same since you left..." Starsky’s voice faded away, realizing what he had just said.

Their eyes met and they couldn’t look away. They swallowed hard.

"Have you finished?" The waitress made yet another one of her timely appearances.

Hutch looked up like a deer caught in the headlights. "Huh? Oh, oh, yes, we have. Thank you."

When Margaret was leaving with the two empty bowls, he called after her. "Oh, you can bring the bill now, please." He reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. "And a defibrillator, too," he muttered to himself, taking out his brand new VISA card with a shudder.

Starsky covered his mouth with his hand to muffle his splutter.

Thirty seconds later, Margaret returned with a plate in hand that didn’t contain the bill, but a sort of small cake. "On the house," she told them with a smile, putting the plate on the table.

The two men stared at the heart-shaped cake with a lit candle on top.

"I overheard this was your birthday," she explained timidly, addressing Starsky. "And we have these cakes reserved for couples only."

A silence that could have been cut with a knife followed the waitress’ words.

"C-couples? Couples, you said?" Hutch stuttered in a ghostly voice.

Confused by the two men’s reaction, Margaret looked from one to the other alternately. "Y-yes. I assumed..." Her lovely face flushed, when she realized she had made a royal blunder. "I-I mean, when I saw you holding hands, feeding each other and... Well, just the way you look at each other..."

Wanting to disappear into nowhere, Hutch’s face went redder than the lobsters they just had for dinner. His heart seemed about to beat right out of his chest.

"I didn’t mean to embarrass you," Margaret tried to cheer up the two upset men. "I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions. The cake’s still on the house; and the rose, too," she feebly cracked.

Starsky looked at the red rose and instinctively, he reached out and took it out of the vase. He began moving it around between his fingers, absently. "Honey, will you excuse us for a sec?" He asked, without looking up at her.

"Of course," she said, scurrying away, downcast.

Hutch put both hands on the table. The right one found his napkin and he squeezed it so hard that his knuckles went white.

There was nothing he could do. It was out in the open now. His reaction to Margaret’s words had given him away. He could only pray for Starsky to take the truth elegantly, and not withdraw from him to not give him false hope. Lord only knew how would tonight end.

Unable to stand the searing feeling of his partner’s... his beloved’s eyes on him, studying him, seeing right through him, he let go of the napkin and put up his hand, covering his face with it as much as he could.

"Hutch..." Starsky began, tentatively, "...do you...?"

"I do, Starsk. I do." Hutch didn’t let him finish. Both of them knew what they were talking about. "I do." He felt the words burning a path down to his soul, sealing his fate.

There was a long pause, filled with something he didn’t dare to guess.

"How long?"

The voice was so gentle that Hutch looked away, at the other tables, where dozens of people talked and laughed and ate, unaware of the fact that the life and happiness of the guy sitting across them was about to be decided. He rolled his eyes at the irony. God, he had never felt so isolated and singled out! "Long before you got shot," he finally confessed, looking at everywhere but the table and his companion.

The loving touch of a warm hand on top of his own made him turn his head as quick as lightning. Starsky held him in a strong grip. But it wasn’t only a reassuring grip, even a friendly one. It was more like... like... the fingers entwined with his in a gesture full of meaning.

Hutch looked up at the shining face, that smiled at him with more love than he remembered seeing there.

"I do too, Hutch. I do, too."

And those words sealed their lives for all eternity.

"W-when?" Hutch’s eyes filled with helpless tears, and he blinked furiously to get rid of them. This wasn’t the time or the place. Those would come later.

"When Lionel died," Starsky answered, guilt consuming him for an instant. "That was the moment I realized I loved you above everyone and everything. Enough to leave an innocent man unprotected to get to you. Enough to not regret that decision," he looked down, deeply ashamed of what he was admitting.

"Oh, babe!" Hutch exclaimed, bringing forth his other hand and placing it on top of theirs. "If it means anything to you, I’d have done the same thing if I had been in your shoes. That was one of the reasons why I quit. You had become the single most important thing in my life. I couldn’t carry on with my duties as a cop when my oath was to you only."

Their eyes met and said it all.

"I guess that my worries about not being able to keep up with you in the streets are unnecessary now," Starsky simply stated.

"Yes, I guess they are," Hutch nodded. "Which also leaves out the job at the porn studio."

They laughed bashfully, like teenagers. A reaction that surprised them, but in an incredibly pleasant way. They looked down at their interlaced fingers. Nothing had ever felt so right.

"Hutch," Starsky said, without looking up. He was totally captivated.


Hutch’s voice had a new quality to it that filled Starsky’s skin with goosebumps. "What did you have in mind when we left here?"

Hutch swallowed audibly, forcing himself to reply in a coherent manner. "Taking you to the movies. I know how much you wanted to see ‘Alien,’ and after... what happened, you missed the film. I found a theater in Santa Monica where they still show it."

"And would you mind... taking me home instead, so I can get to know you better?"

Delightful shivers ran up and down their spines.

Hutch squeezed their hands fervently. "You already know me better than anyone in the entire world, Starsk," he reminded his friend, in a tremulous voice.

"But there’s this whole side of you I still don’t know, and I don’t want to wait anymore." Starsky plucked up his courage. "Will you be my birthday present, Hutch? And let me be yours?"

They raised their eyes from their hands to each other’s pupils.

"For the rest of my life, partner. For the rest of my life," Hutch’s eyes misted again, and he smiled.

By silent mutual agreement, they let go. Hutch turned his head and looked for their waitress. Their guardian angel in disguise. "Margaret," he called softly, seeing her standing a few feet away from their table.

The woman walked up to them, still visibly self-conscious about her juvenile slip.

Hutch smiled up at her. "Please, bring the bill now. My partner and I want to become a couple as soon as possible."

The waitress’ eyes opened wide when the meaning of Hutch’s words sank in. She looked at the dark-haired man, who treated her to a breathtaking toothy grin.

"Oh, yes, sir!" And she left in a rush with a little squeal of joy, while Starsky blew out the candle on the cake, winking at the man he loved.