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Disclaimer: This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No profit is being made from it. No infringement on anyone’s copyright is intended.
© June 2002
Starsky and Hutch sauntered into The Hot Seat, a seedy bar on Ash Avenue, just after two on a bright Monday afternoon. They were both wearing sunglasses, doing everything they could to fend off what Starsky had taken to calling “that unrelenting orb.” Pulling off their glasses, both men stood blinking in the dim barroom light, waiting for their eyes to adjust. In the few moments that took, each man sensed eyes staring at him.
Sitting at a booth near the back of the bar, a blonde in a tight-fitting, sleeveless black dress had spotted them when they entered. Her cool eyes glinted with recognition, a small and appreciative smile working its way onto her fair face. “Oh, my,” she muttered.
As the images in the room took on normal shades of dark and light, the detectives warily scanned the bar, hoping to spot their contact. They walked into situations like this frequently, and never seemed to get used to the idea that for long seconds, a possible enemy could have them in the crosshairs. Although they weren’t expecting trouble, somehow, trouble often seemed to find them. Not this time.
Hutch saw her first. Starsky was looking at each occupied barstool when he felt Hutch’s light touch on his stomach. “She’s in the back,” he said.
The blonde watched them with amusement as they strolled toward her, each of them searching the area for any possible threat. They looked wilted. The Santa Ana heat had obviously worked against them already that day. This heat wave had lasted two days and was expected to run for at least one more. Starsky looked entirely uncomfortable, even though he was wearing his lightest weight jacket to conceal his sidearm. She noticed that his hair was a lot shorter than he usually wore it, and the top three buttons on his shirt were characteristically unbuttoned. He had dirt on the front of his jacket and all of his clothing looked damp, but he still had that adorable swagger in his gait. Despite that, she knew her heart would always be with the big blond walking beside him.
Hutch looked as rough around the edges as his partner. His clothing was just as damp and bedraggled, but he had a bruised jaw as an accessory. His face was sweaty and he was breathing a little hard, but the thing that caught her eye the most was his hair. The normally straight, well groomed hair looked different that day -- almost like he’d been caught in a wind tunnel. Sweat dampened, the pale, short hair had taken on a slight curl, and was completely out of control. As the object of her fondest desire stood back to let his equally sexy partner slide into the seat across from her first, she could only think of one word to describe him. Tousled.
“Hi, handsome Hutch,” Sweet Alice drawled. “Hi, Starsky. Y’all look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. What’s the matter?”
Both men fought the urge to be annoyed at that observation, especially given the day they had already had. They glanced at each other, seeing how off kilter they both looked for the first time, and they laughed.
“You’ve got us on that, Sweet Alice,” Hutch replied with a smile, reaching out to pat her hand.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Starsky said, playfully. “I think you look a lot worse for wear than I do.”
“Ha, ha. That’s pretty funny coming from you, Mister Bruised Knuckles,” Hutch replied as he reached over and tugged Starsky’s left hand across the table for Alice’s inspection.
“They wouldn’t BE bruised if it weren’t for you, Super Cop.”
“It wasn’t my fault -- ”
“Boys, boys, don’t fight, now,” Alice interrupted. She knew them well enough to realize their typical banter was good-natured, but she was a little worried about how Starsky’s scabbed and bruised knuckles got that way, and why he would tease that Hutch was responsible. She pushed two large glasses of ice water at them. “Drink,” she said. “I figured you’d be needin’ water, what with the heat and all.”
They thanked her. The cold water was the best part of their day so far. “What do you have for us, Alice?” Starsky asked.
“An address,” she answered, “but that’ll keep, trust me. What happened?”
Although they really didn’t have time to explain, neither one of them wanted to hurt her feelings, and they suspected she wouldn’t talk until they told her. They both knew her attraction to Hutch was the biggest factor in her willingness to provide any information she could to help them, but they didn’t care. She’d always been straight with them, and she cared about them. They always treated her with dignity, despite her participation in the oldest profession. For that, she would be eternally grateful to them both.
A look passed between the two men. Starsky took Hutch’s slight nod as his signal to proceed. “Hutch hasn’t been feeling too good, Alice. He just came back to work two days ago. Naturally, he thinks he has something to prove.”
“What?” Hutch interjected. “I do not.”
“Yes, you do,” Starsky said, turning his focus on his partner. “Why else didn’t you wait for me before jumping in at that warehouse?” Before Hutch could protest, Starsky explained what had happened to them.
Earlier that day, they had responded to a call for assistance breaking up a fight in a local sweatshop. All units were called to the garment district, where an angry group of workers had started an altercation, probably partially fueled by the unrelenting heat. Starsky’s attempts to get his partner to hold back a bit, letting him take the lead, fell on deaf ears. Hutch was well enough to return to the streets, but he still felt easily winded, something he hadn’t hidden from his vigilant partner.
Starsky tried to keep an eye on Hutch, noticing when he had the breath nearly knocked out of him by a body blow. After he broke apart two more combatants and passed them to a pair of newly arrived uniformed officers, he turned back in time to see a big man hit Hutch in the jaw, hard enough to drive him to the ground. Before Hutch had time to climb back to his feet, Starsky was on the man who had hit him. Angrily slugging it out with the much-bigger man, he barely realized what was happening when Hutch and another officer pulled them apart. Hutch assured Starsky that he was all right, while the other cop steered the struggling suspect toward the exit.
“See how he is?” Starsky asked Alice. “If I’d known he was gonna push so hard, I wouldn’t have allowed him back on the streets.”
Starsky rubbed his banged up knuckles. “You look like hell, and what were you thinking? You’ve just gotten over bronchitis, for God’s sake!”
Alice put her hands up, as if in surrender, and said, “Stop.” She didn’t try to hide it as she giggled at them when their jaws dropped open and they both glared at her. First, she turned to Starsky. “He’s right, Starsky. Every time something happens to him, you’re all over him like a duck on a June bug. You hover.” Hutch laughed, but his mirth quickly faded as she turned her attention to him. “And you! He’s right, too. Y’all both push it too hard and you do look a little… tously.”
“Tously?” Hutch repeated.
“That’s right, tously. You should listen to your partner.” Hutch couldn’t believe she was siding against him.
“As fun as this is, boy, I have places to be. You can find what you’re looking for at St. Theresa’s Convent on Del Rey. Ask for Sister Katherine Mary.”
She slid out of the booth, waving off the money they tried to give her. “Not this time, y’all. It just wouldn’t be right.” Hutch took her hand and kissed it, enjoying the blush it brought to her cheek. She attempted to smooth the unruly blond hair back a little. “One of these days, Handsome Hutch.” That said, she quietly left the bar.
The men had asked her to look for a missing girl. Hutch’s parents had called them about a friend’s eighteen-year-old granddaughter who had left Duluth, telling her best friend she was headed to Bay City with her boyfriend. Later, they discovered he had abandoned her. She had been missing for three months and they suspected she was one of the many young girls who ended up on the streets, prostituting themselves to survive. Just like Alice had, long ago. She had gladly agreed to look for the young woman, found her, and taken the grateful girl to the convent for safety, until she could meet Starsky and Hutch. Alice had risked a lot, and she was trying to prevent the girl’s angry pimp from finding out who had gotten her away, something that would have been impossible to hide if she’d been there when the detectives came to collect her. Her anxious parents were waiting for her at a nearby hotel.
When Starsky took off from the curb, Hutch pulled out a comb and made a half-hearted attempt to straighten out his hair. He was beginning to think it was just making it worse, when he heard Starsky say, “What the hell is ‘tously’ supposed to mean?”
Hutch turned to him with a grin. “You know, tousled. That ‘wind blown’ look. Some women find that sexy, partner.”
“Oh, brother. Well, sit your non-sexy, tously self back and rest till we get there. Our shift’s over after we deliver Jennifer to her folks. Then, I’m taking you home so you can get un-tously and grab some zees. Understood?”
They drove on in silence for a few minutes. Then, Hutch said, “Alice really is sweet, isn’t she? I wish she’d let us pay her.”
“Yeah, but I think she just wanted to help Jennifer. Maybe she wanted to help keep her from winding up in the same boat. Alice has a good heart. She loves you, you know.”
Hutch nodded. Whatever Alice’s motivations, he was glad she had come through for them. He couldn’t help hoping that maybe someday Alice would take him up on his offer to give her bus fare back to her hometown. He was still smiling at that thought when they pulled into the convent parking lot.