“Marry me,” Starsky asked one warm summer morning as he and Hutch lay contentedly in each other’s arms.
“What?” Hutch exclaimed, bemused.
Propping himself up on his elbow, Starsky looked deep into Hutch’s eyes, reaching out to gently caress his partner’s cheek. “You heard me.”
Hutch caught Starsky’s hand in his own. “I heard you, babe, but I don’t understand the question. It’s 1979. Two men can’t legally get married and you know that.”
“And no man -- or woman for that matter -- can be revived by a defibrillator after flatlining, but yet here we are.”
“That’s different.” Hutch protested.
“No, it’s not. We can do anything they want us to do, within reason.”
“Yeah. If it’s somewhat reasonable, doesn’t go completely against reality, and allows for some degree of plausible deniability, we can do it. In fact, we’ve already done some things that went against reality, like I just mentioned, and no one’s really complained.”
As a pleasant breeze wafted in from the open greenhouse windows, the familiar “Koo-KOO-kook” cooing of a Eurasian collared dove calling to its mate could be heard in the distance.
Hutch listened to the sound while he considered Starsky’s argument. “Well, I agree with you in principle, but it’s the ‘within reason’ part we disagree on. So how ‘bout we just cherish what we have right now? You and me, together. You know I love you, Starsk, but I just can’t see how we can get married.”
“I love you too, ya big blond dummy.” Starsky turned onto his back and sighed. He’d have to try again another day.
“Have you thought about my idea at all?” Starsky tried to sound casual as he picked up and inspected a large pumpkin from the farmer’s market stand. He held it up in both hands and turned it over, looking for any imperfections.
“Your idea?” Hutch asked, perplexed and momentarily distracted as he watched a butterfly flutter amongst the colorful rainbow of flowers that were for sale.
“Yeah, about us gettin’ married. You think the kids would like this one?”
“Oh come on, Starsk, you’re not still thinking about that, are you?” Hutch nodded his approval of the pumpkin, grabbed a handful of red roses, and took out a $10 bill from his wallet.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love bein’ your lover and all, Blondie, but callin’ you my ‘boyfriend’ makes us sound like a couple of teenagers. We’re 36, for chrissakes!”
“You want to marry me just so you can call me your husband?” Hutch asked, laughing, as a faint blush crept up on his cheeks. He couldn’t help but feel flattered. In fact, he sort of felt like a teenager with a crush every time Starsky flirted with him, which was basically all the time, but of course he would never tell Starsky that.
Pretending to see something interesting on the ground, Hutch bent down until he was sure that the pink had faded from his cheeks. Then he noticed Starsky’s blue Adidas.
“Your shoe’s untied there, buddy.”
“Think you could tie it for me, seein’ as I’ve got my hands full holdin’ this pumpkin? Make sure you tie the knot tight enough so it doesn’t come loose again.”
Hutch welcomed the distraction, but Starsky wasn’t giving up just yet.
“I want to marry you because I love you, Hutch, and I want everyone to know about it.”
Hutch hesitated as he stood beside the Torino, as an almost shy smile appeared on his face and he could feel the blush start to creep back into his cheeks again. But he managed to compose himself as he got into the passenger side of the car. He couldn’t let Starsky know he was getting to him. “I still think you’re living in a fantasy, Starsk. Not only can we not get married legally, but I have a feeling that not everyone we know would be as accepting about it as you think. Your Ma and my dad, for example. Other cops.”
“I’m tellin’ ya, Hutch, you’re wrong, and we can do whatever we want.”
“Within reason,” Hutch reminded him. “How ‘bout I think it over? Okay?”
“Okay,” Starsky replied dejectedly, letting Hutch win this round for now. He just had to figure out a way to get through to Hutch that they could really do this.
When they arrived at Venice Place, Starsky set the pumpkin down on the kitchen counter as Hutch pulled out a vase from under the sink and rustled around in the drawer to find a carving knife. They both turned at the sound of a knock at the door. “It’s open!” Hutch yelled.
“Wait ‘til you see the pumpkin me and Hutch got! You’re gonna love it!” Starsky exclaimed as Kiko and Molly approached. “What do you think? Are we gonna make the world’s greatest jack o’lantern or what!”
“I think it’s perfect!” Kiko answered.
“Yeah, this’ll work,” Molly observed, setting a candle down next to it as she inspected the pumpkin.
“Hey, what do you two think about me callin’ Hutch my boyfriend?” Starsky asked the two teens.
They both laughed. “Well, what else would you call him?” asked Molly.
“Starsky wants us to get married so he can say I’m his husband,” replied Hutch.
“And because I love you,” Starsky reminded him. “Don’t forget about that part.”
“Oh, you can do that?” Kiko asked Hutch.
“Starsky seems to think we can.”
“Think of it this way, kids. If a voodoo priest can brainwash me into tryin’ to kill Hutch by flingin’ some powder in my face while chantin’ some made up mumbo-jumbo, then I don’t think it’s a stretch for me and Hutch to get married.”
“Hmm,” Kiko answered in consideration.
“He has a point,” Molly shrugged, looking at Hutch.
“I’ll think about it,” said Hutch. “In the meantime, why don’t you three bozos start carving this pumpkin while I get dinner ready?”
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!” Starsky merrily crooned as he and Hutch began to set up the tree on the coffee table. “Maybe I’ll convince Hutch to marry me some day!” Taunting his partner, he playfully held a spray of mistletoe, adorned with sprigs of aromatic rosemary, above his head.
Hutch leaned over and kissed Starsky beneath the fragrant herbs, and then he walked over to the piano, sat down, and serenaded his partner in response. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…Starsky, you’re delusional, is all I have to say.” He concluded the ditty with a loud bang on a discordant key and then proceeded to play the first four notes of Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus.” Da-DUM-da-DUM!
Starsky frowned. “Aw, Hutch, do ya hafta be such a Scrooge? Won’t you at least consider it?”
“Starsk, you’ve been on my case about this for five months, and the last time I checked, two men still couldn’t get married, and 1980 isn’t looking too promising on that front, either.”
“Hutch, I keep tellin’ ya, we can do so many things that other people can’t do. Remember that time you were trapped under your car in the canyon for three days?”
“Well, of course I remember, even if I don’t talk about it much.”
“How’s your leg?”
“It’s fine, you know that. Why?”
“Because in the real world, an injury like that would have likely landed you in the hospital for months, and you would’ve ended up with a permanent limp or worse. But instead, your leg healed up in a couple of weeks. That’s not realistic and you know it.”
“I disagree. No one really knows the extent of my injuries. My leg could have been pinned under the car just enough for me to not be able to pull it out, but not enough to cause any permanent damage.”
“What about how I lifted up your head? They say never to do that if you’re not sure if there’s a neck injury.”
“But I didn’t have a neck injury, so it was fine. Besides, you just wanted to kiss me.”
“That’s true, I did. And putting my lips on yours after I’d been worried to death about you tasted like sweet nectar to a starving hummingbird. But that’s exactly my point. Because you were in a lot of pain and you were suffering from dehydration, hyperventilation—“
“You mean hypothermia,” Hutch teased.
“Yeah, that’s what I said. But the last thing anyone would want in that situation is a kiss from their lover. No, what they’d REALLY want was a drink of water and some aspirin.”
“I’d never turn down a kiss from you, loverboy. And make that morphine, not aspirin. And you DID give me water after you kissed me.”
“Okay, so the doctors gave you morphine at the hospital, but it didn’t have any negative effect on you, despite you havin’ a previous heroin addiction. Explain that!”
“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong, Starsk! Because you told the doctor I was allergic to opioids, so they gave me Percocet instead. And although I’m pretty sure they knew exactly what you meant by ‘allergic’, fortunately they didn’t ask any prying questions.”
Starsky sighed, knowing he’d been out-maneuvered, but he remained determined to find some way to convince Hutch to marry him. “Don’t you wanna spend Christmas together as a married couple?”
“Of course I do. But that’s just not possible. But what IS possible,” Hutch said, leaning against Starsky from behind and wrapping his arms tightly around his partner’s waist, “is spending Christmas with my partner, lover, and best friend. There’s no one I’d rather be with.” He nuzzled his head against the back of Starsky’s neck and began kissing him there. Then he slowly began to run his hands from Starsky’s waist down to his groin, as Starsky squirmed against him. “In fact, I’ve got just the gift for you…” Hutch continued, unzipping Starsky’s fly as Starsky suddenly forgot all about his proposition, at least temporarily.
The pristine white snow that blanketed the front yard of the big Minnesotan house had been disturbed here and there by two sets of men’s boot prints, while on its double-front doors hung two heart-shaped grapevine wreaths bejeweled with bright red berries that welcomed visitors from near and far.
“So what would you say if I were to marry your big lug of a son?” Starsky asked Hutch’s mom as he threw a snowball at his blond partner, missing his head by mere inches.
“I’d say that was a wonderful idea!” gushed Mrs. Hutchinson as she handed the boys two steaming mugs of hot cocoa topped with whipped cream. She looked at her son. “And I know your father would agree.”
“Not you too, Mom!” Hutch exclaimed, exasperated. “Gay marriage is still not legal, you know. Nothing’s changed just because the calendar says February 1980.”
“I know, Ken, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!” she chirped happily, and Hutch knew that Starsky had gotten to her. “Besides, don’t you WANT to marry Dave?” she asked, serious now.
“Of course I do, Mom. I love him more than anyone in the world. He’s everything to me. I just don’t think he’s being realistic.”
Mrs. Hutchinson reached out and ruffled her son’s soft blond hair, just as she’d done countless times before, when he was a child. “I understand that Dave survived those bullets because of you. He told me all about it. Dave came back from the brink of death the moment you returned to the hospital. He said the doctors couldn’t explain it.” Then she turned to Starsky and smiled. “Don’t give up on my son. He’ll come around someday,” she said.
“How can you be so sure?” Starsky asked.
“Because he’ll do anything for you.”
Starsky smiled back at her.
As the partners strolled through MacArthur Park one fine spring afternoon, two large ducks waddled over to the shores of its tranquil lake and set themselves gently afloat, their fluffy, downy brood following in their wake. Starsky bent down and picked two newly-emerged flowers from the grass, handing one to Hutch while chanting, “He loves me, he loves me not, but will he marry me?” as he slowly pulled each petal off his flower one-by-one.
“He loves you with all the fiber of his being,” Hutch answered. “With all his heart and all his soul. But he still can’t legally marry you.”
“Aw, come on, Hutch! It’s been almost a year since I first asked you. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just say yes anyway, even if we can’t get married legally.”
“Aha! So you admit that it can’t happen!” Hutch was exultant.
“I admit no such thing,” Starsky huffed. “We CAN get married, and we WILL, if I have anything to say about it.”
“Starsk, John Blaine couldn’t even date another man publicly, so what makes you think we can get married?”
“Because, buddy boy, we’ve got something that John Blaine didn’t have.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“Fanfiction writers!” Starsky uttered triumphantly. “They can write us any way they want, within reason of course,” he made sure to add.
But Hutch was ready for him this time. “Well, so could the script writers, and they wrote John Blaine as not being able to come out as a gay man.”
“But that’s exactly my point, Hutch! The script writers wrote what they wanted, whether it was realistic or not. And if they’d WANTED Blaine to come out publicly, he would have. Just like they wrote your leg being okay after you were pinned under that piece of crap you call a car. And just like they wrote you not having any lasting effects from your heroin addiction, and me coming back from flatlining, and doppelgangers who knew in advance exactly what clothes we’d be wearing, and magic Dalmatians, and—“
“There was nothing magical about that spotted dog!” Hutch protested.
“Well, there must have been, because he knew exactly where we would be and showed up just in time to save us. How do you explain THAT?”
“I don’t have to explain it.” Hutch shrugged. “Some things are just a coincidence.”
“Hutch, listen to me, will ya. Fanfiction writers have a lot of leeway in what they write, because they can just point to how much the script writers got away with. I mean, take that vampire guy – he jumped 25 feet to the roof of the next building. You said it yourself!”
“But he wasn’t a real vampire, Starsk, he just thought he was.”
“But that doesn’t explain how he was able to jump so far. But forget about vampires for a minute—“
“You’re the one who brought it up!”
“I know. But consider this – that poison that Bellamy injected me with. There’s no way I would have been back at work in two weeks with no permanent effects on my central nervous system—“
“You don’t know that for sure. The script writers could claim plausible deniability because it was a made-up poison, so no one could say for sure what it would really do to you.”
“Okay, fair enough, but what about your botulism? That’s a real thing! And you shoulda been in real trouble by the time I found you. And the antitoxin isn’t a cure-all, because it doesn’t reverse the nerve damage caused by the toxin, it just stops it from causing any more damage.”
“More plausible deniability. No one knows how many hours it’d been since I ate the soup ‘til when you found me in Pardee’s car. Nor how long I was in the hospital. It could have been months, for all anyone knows.”
“You’re bein’ deliberately obtuse, ya know that?” Starsky said, beginning to get exasperated. Then he got an idea. “How about when you slept with Kira after I told you I loved her?”
“How about it? You know how sorry I was about that.”
“I know, but it was so out of character for you, but they wrote it anyway and didn’t even bother to come up with an explanation of why you did it.”
“Yeah, but while the script writers tried selling it, none of the fans were buying it. So you’re gonna have to come up with another explanation, meathead, because that one falls short.”
“Okay then, how about this? The plague!” This time, Starsky was sure he had Hutch pinned to the mat.
“The plague?” asked Hutch. “What about it? I got sick, the doctors cured me, and now I’m fine. The end. So what?”
“Think about it, Hutch!” Starsky said excitedly. “We both had contact with Jake Donner but only you got sick. And even though you and I spent 72 hours in isolation together, I never got sick. In fact, I never got so much as a sniffle! How do you explain that, huh? And when they gave you the serum made from Callendar’s blood, they never even considered whether his blood type matched yours. See, don’t you get it yet?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Hutch, as long as the fans WANT to see a certain outcome for us, they won’t question its validity, as long as we don’t act out of character. Instead, they’ll smile and cry and shout and cheer for us the entire way. And besides, who’s gonna accuse fanfiction writers of writing something unrealistic, when so much unrealistic stuff is already canon because the script writers did it first!”
“Canon?” Hutch asked.
“That’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell ya, dummy! I didn’t just come back from the brink of death after I was shot by those machine guns. I really died, Hutch. That’s what flatlining is. But somehow, I defied all the odds and came back. I came back to you. Because WE wanted it. And because THEY -- the writers and the fans -- wanted it.”
Spying a stand of large shade trees nearby, Hutch walked towards them and chose one to stand behind for privacy as Starsky followed. He thought about what Starsky had said. And then he thought about it some more. Finally, he put his arms around Starsky’s neck and pulled him close.
“Well?” Starsky implored, looking into Hutch’s eyes with an expression that was deadly serious. “Hutch, I promise that I will love and honor you all the days of my life. My love will only grow stronger for you with each passing day, and you will feel no want, because I will be your shelter and your warmth. Me and Thee, forever.”
Hutch smiled shyly as a pink blush spread across his cheeks, but this time, he didn’t try to hide it. He looked at Starsky and in a trembling voice replied, “Starsk, I want to share my life with you, through the best and the worst of what is yet to come, for as long as we both shall live. My heart, my mind, and my soul are yours always. Me and Thee, forever.”
He noticed then that Starsky’s eyes had filled with tears and realized his own eyes had done the same.
Starsky reached up his hand to gently brush a pink cheek. “Ken Hutchinson, will you marry me?”
Hutch took a deep breath and tried to compose himself. He looked into Starsky’s eyes. And then finally, he answered.
A warm summer breeze rustled gently through the beach grass as white gulls sailed gracefully overhead and foamy waves lapped gently at the soft sand of the California shoreline. The clear evening sky boasted a spectacular array of colors, from deep blues and lush purples to soft pinks and flame orange.
“Who woulda guessed that this whole time I was a legally-ordained marriage officiant?” Huggy asked the crowd of friends, family, and fellow cops who’d gathered to celebrate the happy couple.
“Given all the different jobs you’ve had over the past five years, we all shoulda known,” Dobey remarked as Edith held his hand and laughed heartily as she gathered Cal and Rosie close.
Ten-year-old flower girl Rosie, wearing a ring of dainty white flowers, fragrant lavender, and shiny green leaves atop her head, and a crisp white linen dress edged with delicate, airy tulle, looked adoringly at her two uncles standing together at the altar.
“And now folks, let’s get down to business.” Huggy had suddenly become serious, or at least as serious as he could muster for the occasion. Ring-bearer Molly, age 15, dressed smartly in a dark gray tuxedo adorned with a boutonniere made from a single purple rose and a spray of delicate rice flowers, handed Huggy the pillow bearing the two rings.
“It’s finally gonna happen!” she leaned over and whispered to her brother excitedly as Kiko shushed her.
Mrs. Starsky took a step closer to Hutch’s parents and put her arm around Mrs. Hutchinson while handing her a tissue. Then a hush fell amongst the crowd as the nuptials began.
“Do you, Kenneth Richard Hutchinson, take David Starsky to be your lawfully-wedded husband, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, to love and cherish always, ‘til death do you part?”
“I do,” answered Hutch, smiling as he held Starsky’s hands in both of his and slid the ring onto his partner’s finger.
“And do you, David Michael Starsky, take Kenneth Hutchinson to be your lawfully-wedded husband, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, to love and cherish always, ‘til death do you part?”
“I do,” answered Starsky, his hands just ever so slightly shaking as he slid the ring onto Hutch’s finger. “Just as long as I don’t actually hafta call him Kenneth,” he choked out, suddenly overcome with emotion. But he smiled broadly at the sound of the wedding guests giggling at his joke, and as he and Hutch locked eyes on each other, the crowd seemed to fade away, and for a moment it was just the two of them.
But in fact, partners David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson had already long ago made a lifelong commitment to each other, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do they part, and even that one time when together they beat back Death, ensuring that they would NOT be so easily parted.
“And now, by the powers vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and...” Huggy paused for a moment as he briefly surveyed the crowd before resuming, “…husband. You may kiss the groom!”
Arms encircling each other, the two men leaned in close and pressed their lips together in a sacred covenant, after which it was Huggy’s turn to introduce the happy couple. “Ladies and gentlemen and those of other persuasions, may I present to you…Starsky & Hutch.”
The audience erupted in cheers and applause as birdseed was giddily tossed in the air and congratulations, handshakes, pats and hugs were heartily offered.
Then the partners, hands entwined, gently leaned their foreheads together, closed their eyes, and smiled.
One Year Later
“Hey, Starsk?” Hutch asked one warm summer evening as he and Starsky lay blithely falling asleep in each other’s arms.
“Yeah?” Starsky replied drowsily.
“How do you feel about kids?”
“Ya mean, in general?”
“No, I mean…how do you feel about us having kids some day?”
“Well, ya know I’ve always wanted to have a kid or two. And even more so with you. But how?” Starsky yawned as he leaned his head against his husband’s.
“Do you suppose male pregnancy is within reason?”
“Oh, thank God! I was afraid you were gonna say it was fine.” Hutch breathed a noticeable sigh of relief.
“But adoption, though, that’s definitely doable.”
“Adoption, huh? I like that. How about one boy and one girl?”
“That sounds terrific. We can talk about it some more tomorrow. Now go to sleep, babe.”