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When Starsky awoke, it was still dark in his bedroom. The alarm clock said half past four in the morning and he wondered
why he couldn't sleep any longer. He had ambivalent feelings about it. Somehow, he felt as if it was a special day for him,
on the other side, he had the disturbing foreboding that something uncomfortable was awaiting him. He stretched his limbs
and yawned broadly. He then heard the front door open. Horrified for a moment he froze and cursed himself for leaving his
gun on the kitchen table.

"Hey hey, anybody at home?"

Starsky released a deep breath hearing the familiar voice of his partner and best friend, Hutch. And at once, he knew what
his bad feeling was about. Hutch had promised him a surprise trip as a birthday present and Starsky had the sinking feeling
that Hutch was planning one of his exhausting hiking or camping trips.

"Who's disturbing a poor man's sleep in the middle of the night?" Starsky complained getting up slowly to trudge toward
the bathroom.

"Get ready, buddy, a wonderful weekend is waiting for you. Didn't I tell you that you deserve a special birthday this year?"
Hutch was in a cheerful mood and it was almost unbearable, Starsky decided as he slammed the bathroom door behind him.

Hutch chuckled and went into the kitchen to make some coffee with lots of sugar for his grumpy friend. When Starsky emerged
from the bathroom, Hutch was busy in the bedroom rummaging through Starsky's closet.

"Leave my stuff alone! You're a pain in the neck!" Starsky took the towel from his waist and regardless of his nudeness;
he slapped Hutch's behind with it.

Unconcerned by Starsky's crabby attitude Hutch found what he was looking for. He held Starsky's boots in his hand and started
to put them in the bag that was lying on the bed.

"No! No way am I going on a "back to nature trip" with you again!" Starsky exclaimed and tried to grab his boots out of
Hutch's hands again. Hutch held them a little higher so Starsky wasn't able to get them. The blond took a step back, stumbled
over his own feet and fell backward on the bed, yelping when he hit part of the bag. Starsky lunged at his friend lying on
the bed and they wrestled for the shoes until Starsky found Hutch's ticklish spot on his side. Laughing hysterically Hutch
gave up.

Realizing what a picture they were giving with Starsky lying naked atop him Hutch found his voice and said teasingly, "Mornin'
Simonetti," as he looked at the door.

Starsky jerked and fell off the bed. Hastily covering himself. When he heard Hutch's hearty laughter, he relaxed and calmed
down. "Wanna give me a heart attack?" he pouted as he looked for his underwear.

"Not at all, buddy," Hutch smiled and put the boots in the bag, along with Starsky's red sweater and his favorite jeans.
The bag seemed already to be filled but Starsky wasn't up to more questions about the contents. After getting dressed, he
sipped from his now-cool coffee.

Hutch was carrying his bag to the door and Starsky knew he had to surrender to his friend's idea of a special birthday
trip.

"There's only one thing that gives me comfort," Starsky said plunging into the passenger's seat of Hutch's old car.

"That is?" Hutch asked absent-minded, starting the car.

"It can't be worse than last time at Dobey's cabin when we..."

"Forget it, buddy. I'm planning to give you a birthday you'll tell your grandchildren about," Hutch smiled and squeezed
Starsky's knee. As always, Hutch's touch had a calming effect on Starsky and soon he leaned his head against the window and
closed his eyes.

"Wake me when we are at our hotel in Vegas so I can take care of the ladies at the pool," Starsky joked half asleep. Hutch
only smiled.




Hours later Starsky woke up, feeling nauseated because of the lurching of the car. He opened his eyes to see desert all
around them. Hutch was desperately trying to keep the car on track in the soft, deep sand.

"Hutch! Stop it! I'm gonna be sick!" Starsky fought his nausea praying that they wouldn't be stuck.

"Can't stop," Hutch hissed, his face sweat beaded. At that moment, the car made a strange sound and came to a halt.

"Rien ne va plus," Hutch mumbled and turned an embarrassed face to Starsky. "I'm so sorry, buddy. Wanted to show you the
beauty of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. You know there's a trail that leads down to the valley and we could have ridden
on a donkey. Instead, we have to work the car out of the sand. If you don't mind pushing the car, I try to get us out of here."
Hutch's worried eyes met Starsky's and a wordless Starsky got off the car to push it forward. Hutch accelerated but the wheels
sank even deeper into the sand.

"Let me try," Starsky said. They exchanged positions and with a slow, rocking motion, Starsky finally managed to get them
free. Hutch panted from the exertion from pushing the car, but he was relieved to be able to take Starsky where he had planned.

They arrived at the North Rim when the sun was low. Golden light covered the rocks and both men were stunned by the beauty
of the sunset.

"It's special, isn't it?" Starsky said leaning into Hutch. "It reminds me of the sunset I was watching with Terry... that
evening when she got the news that there was no chance of healing."

Starsky paused and Hutch put his arm around Starsky's shoulder. Starsky continued, "Ya know, Hutch, when we saw the sunset,
all the bad thoughts disappeared. We only saw the beauty of nature. All was gonna be all right... well at least we thought
so."

"I know, buddy," Hutch said and tried to distract his friend: "Look over there. That's the trail I intended to use to go
down the canyon. But it's too late to do it today. Let's find a place for the night. Sunday is your birthday and I want to
spoil my best friend."

"Okay, where're the five star accommodations?" Starsky said in a lightened mood as he dragged his friend back to the car.

"Well, I thought a good motel would do just as well," Hutch said with a smile. "Though if we had the chance to go down
the trail there would be real Indian tipis where tourists can stay the night. That would be special, wouldn't it."

"Don't feel sorry about that," Starsky added quickly. "You know I love my hot shower, a soft bed -- at least a little luxury..."

Hutch nodded. Carefully he drove back to the main road. It was dark when they arrived at the little village.

"Look, there's a diner, and next to it a motel," Starsky pointed to the illuminated buildings. "I'm starving. What about
a pizza or some burritos and..."

"Why not?" Hutch smiled.

After the extra large pizza, Starsky settled back and yawned. "That was just excellent, Hutch. Let's get a room in the
motel next door. Have to catch up on my sleep."

"Your wish is my command." Hutch got up to talk to the owner of the diner. Obviously, both establishments belonged together.
He came back to their table not looking happy.

"I'm sorry buddy but they have no vacancy here. I was told that there's a craft show of Indian Art this weekend and there
probably won't be a room for us at all." Hutch was rubbing his eyes; he felt a headache coming.

"Then we have to go on driving to the next village," Starsky said full of determination. "C'mon, and it's my turn to drive."

Tiredly they walked to the car. Starsky started the car and soon they left the village and followed the road to the next
place. Hutch closed his eyes and was almost asleep when he heard Starsky's hissed exclamation.

"Shit!"

"What?" Hutch asked sleepily.

"No vacancy here, no vacancy there. I don't believe in miracles tonight. We'll have to sleep in the car, I'm afraid," Starsky
sighed.

Hutch adjusted his long legs and stretched carefully. "Then you'll enjoy the luxury of this wonderful car..."

"...full of empty cans and Styrofoam cups," Starsky added sourly.

"What's over there? Seems to be a little farm. Turn in." Hutch had spotted a little house surrounded by a white fence.

"It isn't a motel, Hutch," Starsky objected but figured it was at least worth a try. There was a bell at the entrance gate,
which they rang, but nothing happened. "As I told you," Starsky started when a woman's voice from a little loudspeaker asked
them what they wanted.

"Do you have a room for us? We need a bed for tonight," Hutch said, not very hopeful.

The voice hesitated for a moment, then the woman said: "If you don't mind, I could give you my sister's room. She's visiting
her daughter. But there's only a single bed in the room."

"We have sleeping bags with us," Hutch hurried to say. Some minutes later, they were standing with their bags in a little
room. "I'll make you a good breakfast," the old lady smiled, showed them the bathroom on the other side of the hall and wished
a good night.

"Ya know, the flowered wallpaper reminds me of my grandmother who lived..."

"...over the Italian restaurant, I know buddy," Hutch said suppressing a yawn. He got out his sleeping bag and unrolled
it on the floor.

"The bed is yours," he said, leaving the room for the bathroom.

When he came back, Starsky was lying in the sleeping bag pretending to be asleep.

"No way," Hutch chuckled, "it's your birthday-weekend. You take the bed."

Starsky showed no reaction. Hutch thought about it for a moment, then he rolled out the other sleeping bag to lie down
on the floor next to Starsky.

It didn't take a minute that Starsky realized what Hutch was doing. "Seriously, Hutch, think of your back. I want you to
sleep in the bed."

He got no answer. Starsky sat up and looked longingly over to the bed. "It's ridiculous," he mumbled. Having a soft bed
in front of them and they were lying on the floor.

"Hutch?" Starsky whispered and heard Hutch turning around carefully.

"Hmm?"

"If you don't mind we could both... hm I mean..." Starsky was at a loss of words but Hutch's soft smile showed him that
he understood.

"Not the way you thrash around, pal," Hutch said jokingly, sitting up too. They locked glances and began scrambling out
of their sleeping bags. With a contented sigh, Starsky sank on the soft mattress, followed by Hutch. They arranged their limbs
until they felt comfortable. Starsky forgot what he had wanted to say and drifted off. Soon both men were breathing in synch.




"Thank you for a delicious breakfast, Mrs. Fuller," Hutch beamed at the old lady while Starsky was still munching on another
piece of toast.

"Where are you going today?" Mrs. Fuller asked.

Hutch answered, "We'd like to hike along the North Rim, and they say it's wonderful there."

"Really?" Starsky forgot to chew.

"Yeah, we should hurry, we have to get to our camping site before dusk," Hutch noticed and ignored Starsky's distraught
expression.

Once in the car Starsky looked out the window without saying anything. He even didn't object when Hutch chose a radio station
with classical music.

Hutch tried to hide a chuckle. If only Starsky knew...

"Couldn't call Ma yesterday evening," Starsky mumbled following his depressing thoughts.

"You can talk to your mom later," Hutch tried to cheer his friend up.

"You mind if I take a nap?" Starsky asked quietly.

Hutch smiled softly. "Not at all. It's good that you are rested for our hiking tour. You'll see it's wonderful there."

"Sure," Starsky said without any enthusiasm. He fell asleep dreaming about climbing steep rocks. Once he almost fell and
Hutch saw the sudden movement Starsky made in his dream. Hutch followed the planned route. Glancing over to Starsky, he saw
his friend was sound asleep.

The hours passed and they neared their destination. "Wake up, buddy and get ready for the fun!" Hutch said humming a song.

"What fun?" Starsky said still half asleep. "Need my boots then..."

"I'm not so sure," Hutch nudged Starsky in the side to get his full attention. He stopped the car and looked intensively
at his friend. Dark blue eyes were focusing on him and Starsky gave Hutch a wary glance.

"Are ya laughing at me, making fun of me because I'm not such a nature freak as you? You know that..."

At this moment, Starsky realized where they were parking. His eyes widened and he only mumbled, "I can't believe it. Tell
me that it's a dream." Hutch only smiled.

"Circus -- Circus" was standing in big letters at the luxury hotel. Around them people were entering and leaving the hotel.
Music waved from the inside; the neon signs sparkled everywhere.

Starsky said softly: "Las Vegas -- I always wanted to go to Las Vegas. Hutch, did you lose your way or did you do that
on purpose, teasing me with the hiking tour and ending here."

Hutch blushed.

Intuitively Starsky reached over to pull Hutch close. "I can't tell you how much that means to me. You're the best, you
know that?"

"No soapy scenes please." Hutch reminded him, blushing even more.

"It had to be said." A big grin spread over Starsky's face. "Okay, I'm ready for the fun. Are we really staying here?"

"Yep, so get out of the car," Hutch said taking their bags out of the trunk.

A uniformed man approached the car and climbed behind the steering wheel. "Hey, wait! What...?" Starsky shouted, then was
interrupted by Hutch.

"It's valet parking, pal." Starsky calmed down and followed Hutch into the hotel.

Starsky was speechless when they entered their suite: two adjoining bedrooms and a large bathroom with Jacuzzi. "I've only
seen this in the movies," Starsky was said, obviously impressed, then he looked worried. "It's too expensive for us, Hutch.
We can't afford it."

"Don't worry," Hutch smiled. He opened his bag and put out black pants.

"Wow! And what about me?" Starsky looked down at his jeans.

"Check your bag, dummy," Hutch snorted, "what do you think I did all the time at home while you were in the shower? By
the way, do you want to shower first?"

"No, you go first, Blondie. I'll check the surroundings. Be back soon."

Starsky left their room, found one of the numerous elevators and went down to the lobby. Like a child at Christmas, he
walked around, saw the people gamble and was fascinated when he heard the announcement for the next circus act.

"How much is the entrance?" he asked a man in a livery.

"It's free," he was told. I must be dreaming, he thought when a delicious smell caught his attention. There was a big restaurant
in the hotel and in big letters, it said: "All you can eat." When Starsky read the price, he couldn't believe it. He was in
paradise! And he had to tell Hutch right away, what he had found out. He turned to hurry to the elevators when he bumped into
somebody.

"Ouch!" The voice belonged to a young lady who looked angrily at him. "Can't you look where you're going?" she hissed.

"No paradise," Starsky only mumbled and was about to apologize when another voice behind him laughed.

"Lucy, chill!" Starsky turned to look in a beautiful face with laughing green eyes. "My name is Brenda. Nice to meet you.
My sister sometimes has a bad temper but she can be very charming too."

"Hope so," Starsky said and a smile crossed over his face. "Nice to meet you, Brenda and--" he held his hand out to the
other woman.

"I'm Lucy," she said and they shook hands.

"What are you doing here?" Starsky wanted to know and both women laughed.

"Trying our luck. If you want, we can meet after dinner to show you how to gamble," Brenda said and Starsky was mesmerized
by her beauty.

"Sure," he assured them thinking about his clothes.

"I'll see you later then -- by the way I'm David Starsky and I'm here with my friend." He looked after the women and couldn't
hide the feeling of a very promising weekend.

"Hutch, we've got a date for tonight! I've met two gorgeous women. At least one of them is really nice." He heard Hutch
say something in the other room and stepped in. Hutch was standing in front of a big mirror fighting with his tie.

"Wow, buddy, leave me a chance with the ladies too," Starsky snorted and approached his friend to help him with the tie.

"Give me an hour and maybe I can compete with you," Starsky said and disappeared in the bathroom to get ready for their
first night in Las Vegas, city of the lights.

When they entered the restaurant to have dinner even Hutch had to admit it was superb. Never ending counters with delicious
food that they could eat and drink as much as they wanted. Starsky's growling stomach was the sign to get into action and
soon they had their plates fully laden.

"Hutch, over there they have burritos. Haven't seen it before. Can't we get another plate..."

"You should empty this plate first, buddy," Hutch said and nudged his excited friend to the cash desk.





One hour later...

"Hutch, you could present me whatever you wanted I couldn't eat it anymore," Starsky said rubbing his belly. Hutch smiled
at his friend, a little concerned though. Starsky had tasted from almost everything they offered. Fortunately, he had a stomach
that was used to this kind of eating.

"Rien ne va plus, huh? Well, do you want to get some rest after this meal?" Hutch asked and got the expected answer.

"Are you kidding? Now let's enjoy the night life of this wonderful place," Starsky grinned and got up stretching.

"There are thousands of slot machines and I've seen the roulette tables in the big hall over there. C'mon, can't wait to
learn the right way to gamble and win millions..." Starsky was leading the way, dragging Hutch with him to the gambling hall.

Stunned, they looked at the crowded place. Starsky felt comfortable in his dark blue suit. Grateful, he looked at Hutch
who wasn't looking so bad either in his beige jacket. Hutch pointed to the roulette tables and they moved over to watch the
gambling activities.

"Don't wanna play high stakes," Starsky explained seriously after a while. "Do you think I should play five dollars on
red?"

"You'll get at least a fifty per cent chance, but you have to buy some chips first," Hutch reminded him.

No sooner said than done. With an amount of fifty dollars they started. Being careful at the beginning Starsky played one
five-dollar-chips at the time. Luck was with them and soon the pile of chips in front of them grew larger.

"Let's play my favorite number," Starsky proposed and he ignored Hutch's skeptical face.

Shortly before the croupier said his "Rien ne va plus" Starsky threw ten chips on number five. He held tight on Hutch's
sleeve holding his breath in excitement.

The golden bowl slowed down and...

"Number five! Hutch, we've won!" Starsky's excitement was unbridled. He grabbed his stunned partner and swirled him around.

"Ouch! How rude!" he heard at that moment and he knew he was in trouble again. He kept his arm round Hutch's shoulders
when he turned and looked into two pairs of amused and angry looking eyes.

"May I introduce you to Brenda and Lucy," Starsky said conventionally and added: "Meet Ken Hutchinson, my partner."

Lucy's eyebrows rose at the last words and Hutch hurried to say: "I see you know my best friend David, so what about having
a little fun?"

"Fun is always okay," Lucy said noticing the large pile of chips at Starsky's place. The ladies joined them giving advice
what number would come next and it really seemed that they were their lucky fairy.

Hutch got more courageous too and played some more of his chips at a time. It was when Starsky leaned over and whispered
into Hutch's ear: "Buddy, I'm not feeling so well. Think I have to go to the bathroom. Be back soon." Starsky got up and Hutch
noticed his pale face and the sweaty forehead.

"Wait! I'm coming with you," Hutch said and turned to Brenda and Lucy. "Would you take care of our chips please? We'll
be right back."

"Is something wrong?" Brenda asked concerned and Starsky gave a little smile: "Nothing remarkable. Play for me the number
five again, would you?" Brenda nodded and Hutch followed Starsky to the bathrooms.

Breathing heavily Starsky leaned over a sink. Hutch handed him a wet paper towel and when Starsky didn't react Hutch wiped
Starsky's sweaty forehead.

"I guess it was one of the burritos," Hutch tried to lighten the mood but Starsky only groaned.

"Don't talk about food, Hutch -- please!"

"At least drink some water," Hutch said softly and ran his hand along Starsky's back. He felt the muscles relax under his
touch. Starsky smiled, drank some water and splashed his face with it.

"Ready for the next round," he exclaimed moving towards the bathroom door, followed by a head-shaking Hutch.

"Where's our table, Hutch?" Starsky asked him looking around a little confused. "I was sure we sat there but where are
Brenda and Lucy? Can you see them?" Hutch took a closer look and after having recognized their croupier Hutch had a bad feeling.
The friends locked glances and said in unison: "They're gone with our money!"

"Don't want to believe it though," Starsky mumbled remembering the friendly Brenda.

Restless Starsk walked through the other halls; Hutch followed him asking some of the local staff if they had seen two
women. He gave a vague description but with so many people around nobody had noticed them.

Suddenly, Starsky leaned against a wall. He began sliding down when Hutch supported him and helped him stand back up.

"What's wrong? Don't worry about the chicks and our money. We don't need it," Hutch tried to calm his friend down.

"My stomach. Think I'm gonna be sick, Hutch. Can you take me to our room?" Starsky whispered and Hutch didn't hesitate.

He led his friend to an elevator and hoped that Starsky could compose himself until they had arrived at their suite.

As soon as they entered their room, Starsky got rid of his jacket and disappeared into the bathroom.

Concerned about his friend Hutch waited a moment, took off his jacket and looked for some aspirin in his bag. Maybe it
could help his friend.

He heard the flushing of the toilet and Starsky appeared holding his stomach. "What can I do to help you?" Hutch was at
Starsky's side steadying him.

"I've got an upset stomach," Starsky whispered, gave Hutch a tired smile and didn't object when Hutch settled him in his
bed.

"Great nightlife, huh?" Starsky joked lamely and curled up when another wave of pain hit him.

"Should I call a doctor?" Hutch asked but Starsky shook his head.

"Remember, Hutch, when I ate a little too much at Dobey's anniversary? What helped me best was your stomach rub afterwards
-- and the warmth of a hot water bottle or something like that..." Starsky's voice trailed off.

Hutch thought it over. He needed an empty bottle, so he couldn't take the champagne he had brought to toast Starsky's birthday.
Anyway, Starsky's well-being was more important than a bottle of champagne. Carefully Hutch retrieved the bottle from his
bag, opened it, tasted it (it was good!) and filled two glasses from the bar with it. The rest he poured out.

Refilling the bottle with hot water took a while and when he entered Starsky's bedroom his friend was thrashing around.

"Shhh, I told you, no thrashing around," Hutch joked softly. He touched Starsky's shoulder and motioned him to lie on his
back. Immediately Starsky seemed to relax a bit, but he was obviously in pain.

"Okay, now, pal, be prepared for the famous stomach rub, invented by Doctor Kenneth Hutchinson," Hutch said softly. He
warmed his hands on the hot bottle and lay his hands on Starsky's stomach.

"Shirt..." Starsky mumbled and Hutch understood.

"Want me to take off your shirt? Right away, buddy." Gently Hutch pulled the shirt out of Starsky's pants. To get better
access he unbuckled the belt and unsnapped the pants.

Placing his hands on the tense stomach muscles made Starsky flinch at first. Then he felt the warmth of Hutch's fingers
and uncramped.

Hutch didn't do anything but keep his hand on the stomach. After a while, he moved his hand in soothing circles to ease
the tension.

"Feels really good," Starsky murmured relaxing more.

"Feeling better?" Hutch asked and Starsky nodded.

"Okay, here's your hot water bottle." Hutch wrapped the bottle in a towel and lay it on Starsky's stomach. "Hold it as
long as you need it. If you need help getting undressed, just holler," Hutch proposed and Starsky almost chuckled: "Thinking
about nightlife in Vegas I had a different goal." Then he got serious. "What would I do without you, you big lug."

"No soapy scenes, remember?"

Hutch got off the bed to leave the room when his glance fell on the two glasses with champagne.

"Oops, in case you're interested: It's after midnight -- Happy birthday to you!" Hutch looked at the half-dressed figure
pressing a hot water bottle against his stomach and laughed affectionately.

"You kinda guy, you know that? I've saved a little champagne to have a toast with you." Hutch put one glass on the nightstand
and took the other in his hand. "What can I say to the man who is more than a brother to me, who watches my back and who cares
for me more than for himself, who--"

"Tell him that I love him -- and now stop the soapy scene and let me taste the champagne!" Starsky insisted and sat up.
The water bottle rolled off the bed.

They clinked glasses. Relieved Hutch noticed that Starsky wasn't as pale as before. They locked glances; no words were
necessary to express the way they felt for each other.





Sunday morning...

"Only toast, Hutch," Starsky murmured.

They were sitting in the large dining room of the hotel. It was amazing how many different people crowded the place. Families
with children, older people, young couples and single women looking for the big surprise in their life.

"Our beautiful ladies from yesterday have vanished," Hutch stated and Starsky shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't care anymore -- though I had a lucky streak," Starsky mused. Then he tried to look ahead.

"What are we going to do on my birthday, Blondie?"

"Well, we could drive down Sunset Boulevard, The Strip," Hutch suggested, "but later I have a little surprise for you.
At lunch time we should be back."

"Can't you give me a clue about it?" Starsky was begging like a child.

Hutch only said, "No chance."

Driving around they saw a different Vegas in the daytime. Young homeless people, people who were drunk in the early morning
hours... They left the city to explore the surroundings. When the desert began, they turned to go back to their hotel.

Walking through the entrance hall, Starsky said in excitement, "Hutch, I forgot to tell you that they have a circus act
and it's all free! Let's watch a show later, okay?"

"Your wish is my command," Hutch chuckled.

Having a light lunch in a small restaurant, Starsky noticed a certain nervousness in his partner. "What's wrong? Don't
tell me that your stomach is giving you trouble now," Starsky worried.

"No, I'm fine. Only have an errand to do. Stay here for a while, okay?" Hutch hurried out of the room. Starsky waited patiently.
Probably Hutch had ordered a present for him and had to pick it up right now.

He looked out of the window watching the people passing by. Maybe these crazy girls Brenda and Lucy... A big black man
was walking towards the entrance. Starsky chuckled; the resemblance with Dobey was just amazing -- it WAS Dobey! Starsky jumped
up and turned towards the entrance of the restaurant, the stood rooted to the spot.

"Ma?" Rachel Starsky linking arms with a certain blond entered the restaurant; behind her Captain Dobey and, dressed all
in purple, their old friend Huggy Bear.

Starsky almost lost his composure.

"Ma!" In two long strides, he was by her side hugging her tight. "How's it possible that you're here?" He kissed her and
wouldn't let go.

"Well, there are airplanes, buddy," Hutch teased and Starsky knew that the surprise was all due to him. Releasing his mother
Starsky grabbed his partner and wrapped him into a bear hug.

"How can I thank you, buddy?" Starsky whispered in Hutch's ear.

"Kiss me later," Hutch whispered back and got the expected slap on his head.

"Captain Dobey, thanks for coming. Where're Edith and Rosie?" Starsky sounded disappointed until Rosie, Dobey's daughter,
appeared around the corner and threw herself into his arms. Edith joined them too and after Huggy had clasped hands with Starsky
in their unique way, they all sat down to talk.

Hutch felt as happy as Starsky. It had been his plan to give his best friend a special birthday weekend and though there
had been some disturbances, he could see that Starsky felt comfortable being with dear friends and his mother. Hutch chuckled
thinking of how hard it had been to convince Rachel to attend her son's birthday. The flights were too expensive she had objected
and at first, she didn't want to accept Hutch's help.

Looking at his pocket watch Hutch said: "We should go and watch the circus show now. It's going to start in 15 minutes."
Starsky was all excitement and the little group moved to the big hall where you could already see the stage and the equipment
hanging down from the circus dome.

"We've got reserved seats," Hutch said and nudged Starsky forward past the rows.

"Hey, I thought we have reserved..." Starsky began. He was interrupted by Hutch's softly spoken words, "Buddy, this is
my special birthday gift to you. You always wanted to take part in a magical show, presenting with a beautiful lady a legerdemain."
Starsky nodded, not knowing what was happening.

"I arranged with the artists to let you take part in such a circus act. Do you agree?"

"How can you ask this? Of course! I always wanted to let a white rabbit disappear," Starsky beamed at Hutch. Then he looked
around. "Where's the beautiful lady?"

Hutch led him to a small door and knocked three times. A man opened the door and let Starsky in. Hutch went back to the
birthday guests and informed them about the anticipated surprise. Spellbound they watched the door open and a gorgeous blonde
appeared in a very tight glittering suit. Open-mouthed Hutch watched the man behind her.

Starsky wore very tight dark blue leggings and a silver top revealing his muscular chest. His dark curls were draped with
a blue bandana glistening in the spotlights when the moderator announced "Angelina, the queen of magic on surface and in the
air!"

The audience applauded politely. The music set in and Starsky was led onto the little stage. He had a black top hat in
his hand and put it on his head. He took it off and nothing was in it! He looked puzzled and all laughed. Now Angelina filled
the hat with water and motioned Starsky to put up the hat again. He looked quite uncomfortable and Rosie whispered to Hutch:
"That's mean! Uncle David is going to be wet."

"It's only a trick," Hutch calmed Rosie down. Starsky put the hat on his head -- and nothing happened! The audience cheered
and clapped hands. Starsky thanked for the applause lifting the hat -- and a white rabbit was sitting on his head!

"Bravo!" Hutch shouted when suddenly all lights were switched off.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen," the little orchestra produced a drum roll, "we present Angelina, queen on surface and
in the air with her dramatic search for the peace dove! We proudly announce the special appearance of Davidovski, king of
the magic! Can he help her to find the peace dove? Here they are: Welcome high there under the circus dome: Angelina and Davidovski!"

Hutch hadn't paid attention to Starsky. His heart skipped a beat when he saw his friend standing on a little pedestal just
under the dome.

"Oh no, buddy, you're afraid of heights! You weren't supposed to do that!" Helplessly Hutch watched the female artist swinging
back and forth. Each time she reached the pedestal Starsky handed her a little box. Swinging back, she opened the box but
it was empty. She did some stunts in the air and the audience was excited. Starsky stood motionless and Hutch could imagine
the fear Starsky must feel looking down from this height.

"Buddy, how can I help you?" Hutch mumbled

Suddenly Starsky pointed to the other side of the hall. The moderator took the chance to excite the audience.

"A dramatic moment, ladies and gentlemen! Davidovski seems to have an inspiration where the peace dove could be hidden."
The music played on full blast now. On the spur of the moment Hutch followed the direction of Starsky's arm. He got up and
moved in the darkness towards the exit. He stopped when he saw two well-known faces half hidden behind a curtain. Brenda and
Lucy! Hutch looked up to his far away friend -- but their minds were connected.

Buddy, I'm with you. I've found the ladies thanks to you. Now finish your show. I'll help you to come down. It'll be our
show!

"Don't move, you're under arrest." Taken by surprise they remained speechless when Hutch led them outside and instructed
a security guard to take care of the frauds.

Behind him, the audience cheered and clapped and Hutch hurried inside again. He couldn't believe his eyes. Starsky was
swinging with Angelina through the air, a white dove was flying around them. "Where the heck was the dove hidden?" Hutch asked
himself. With an elegant movement, Angelina let herself fall from the swing and landed after a double salto in the net.

More applause came up. The moderator was waiting for Starsky to do the same to end the show but Starsky seemed to be stuck
on the swing. Hutch looked up but Starsky looked with unseeing eyes in the distance.

"I'm coming!" Hutch shouted. He informed Angelina of his plan and began to climb up the small ladder that was hanging down
from the dome.

The moderator got into action again. He gave a sign to the musicians to continue.

"What's wrong with Davidovski? Does he have another inspiration?" The music grew louder. Hutch was standing on the small
pedestal now. He had never been afraid of heights, opposite to Starsky. When Starsky was swinging his way, Hutch called him.

"Starsk, swing a little more so I can reach you." The next time he said: "Well done, a little more."

The third time Hutch could take hold of the swing. He grabbed it and jumped onto it. Now he was standing on the swing,
Starsky sitting between his legs. "Good buddy, now we're safe soon." Starsky didn't react. Hutch was worried but he had to
reach his partner somehow.

"I want you to stand up. It's easier for me to help you then," Hutch said with determination. Slowly Starsky looked up
at him recognizing for the first time who was with him on the swing.

"Hutch?"

"Yeah, buddy, it's me. Wanna go down with me? Let's show them the meaning of Me & Thee," Hutch said soothingly. "Stand
up now... Okay, you're doing fine. I'm just behind you. When I say 'Go!', we both jump. I'm holding you and we're landing
safe in the net. You ready?" Starsky stood on the swing now like Hutch. He leaned back and felt Hutch's solid presence.

"I'm ready," he whispered.

"Go!" Hutch shouted. He put one arm around Starsky's chest and made a step off the swing. Starsky acted in synch and both
men went down in the net. Murmuring filled the air. Then frenetic applause set in. Wrapped round each other both men remained
in the net catching their breath. Far away, they heard the moderator speaking of the inspiration Davidovski had had, having
found his long lost brother. The music ended. Helpful hands reached up and finally Hutch had his partner safe on the ground.

"What a show! I always thought you were afraid of heights," Rachel said admiringly. "It was wonderful when you two jumped
at the same time. Though I must admit the leggings are a little too tight."

"I don't think so at all," Angelina butted in. She kissed Starsky on the cheek and said: "In case you need a job, ask for
me. I never had such a gorgeous partner." Starsky blushed as he was led by Angelica to the backstage door.

"That was a circus act I'll never forget," Dobey said winking at Hutch. The others agreed.

"It's a birthday Starsky won't forget," Huggy added.

"You betcha!" He heard behind him. Starsky joined them his arm around Angelina's waist. They had changed clothes, only
some glitter still clung to Starsky's curls.

Concerned, Hutch looked at his friend but obviously, Starsky had overcome the shock of being high up below the circus dome.

Starsky released Angelina and stepped to Hutch's side. "Don't worry, partner, I'm okay," Starsky said, wiggling an eyebrow
and looking back at Angelina.

Hutch understood, but suddenly he frowned.

"There's something I have to know though," he said pensively. "Starsk, you were looking for that peace dove and when I
came back into the hall a dove was flying around. Where was it hidden?"

Starsky smirked and whispered into Hutch's ear: "Didn't you notice Angelina's bust size? The dove was hidden in a special
pocket there and I was allowed to open it."

Heads touching both friends chuckled.

Then Starsky turned to his friends and exclaimed: "Thank you all for this unforgettable birthday! Now let's enjoy Las Vegas!"

"What about climbing up again with me to look for the peace dove?" Angelina smiled and Starsky only said: "Rien ne va plus!"


The end




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