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Goblin Market part two

Chapter Text

 

 

Starsky stared at the jumble of papers on the floor, with mystification and horrified fascination.  Something or somethings in this pile had angered Hutch and made him go running from their apartment without any explanation, unless his outpourings of words in a language Starsky didn’t know qualified as explanation.  Well, he’d deal with that rude behaviour later, he thought.  But in the meantime….

In the meantime, Starsky picked up the papers and organized them into a neat pile.  He carried them over to a couch and put them down on the table in front of him.  There, he thought, as he sat down to study them.  Mess dealt with. Superficially, at least. He sat and stared at the pile for a while, trying to make sense of the mystery.  Why send all this by courier?  Most people sent papers by computer.  It was faster, easier, and just as verifiable.  There must be a reason.  Privacy? 

The courier, who had worn a uniform, had saluted Hutch, and handed him the papers with a deep bow, all without speaking. Hutch had nodded, taken the papers politely and said farewell.  When the courier bowed again and left, he had ripped open the envelope, read a few pages, sworn in various languages, thrown the papers on the floor and stormed out of the apartment without an explanation, polite or otherwise.  The behaviour of the courier was unlike that of any courier Starsky had ever encountered.  None had ever bowed to Starsky in his experience so far.  His uniform was unlike any Starsky had encountered either.  A courier for a military organization?  A powerful household?  Hutch had told him his family was powerful.

Starsky considered this event with his heart as well as his mind, as he had learned to do since meeting Hutch.  Hutch had been looking for a response to his message to his family asking for help with the mystery of the native species on Eldorado – the Goblins as they were commonly called.  Clearly this envelope of papers was not the response he’d been expecting.  He’d been hoping for help, and had received…this mess of papers.  From a courier.  Who bowed to him, no less?

Starsky sat before the table and began to sort the papers into several piles.  One pile was made up of extremely important-looking official papers covered in fancy seals, but in a foreign language.  Another pile was of small plastic cards, some of which seemed to be from various banks and other financial institutions.  These cards were partly in that foreign language, partly in the common tongue, descended from English.  The third pile was composed of legal-looking papers in English, though the legal form of the language made it difficult for Starsky to understand. 

The last thing on the table was a small red bag, tied at the top with a seal of some kind.  When Starsky put it down, it clinked.  Interesting. 

Starsky checked out the plastic cards next.  Some kind of credit cards?  Perhaps. Though such cards were old fashioned compared to the usual metal disks, they did still exist.  The fact that all this paper had been transferred by human courier showed him that Hutch’s home world might well be old-fashioned.  The name Hutchinson appeared on each of them, along with other words which might be names.  Might be. 

The fancy, official, seal-bedecked papers proved at least as unconquerable as the legal documents.  Starsky put the last of them back down on the table and admitted defeat.  It was clear he was not going to be impressing Hutch with his astounding detective abilities tonight. 

At that moment the subject of his speculations came through the door.  He walked in, calmly.  Came and sat down on the couch beside him. ‘I guess you’re wondering why I went running out like that?’ he ventured.

‘No.  Seems like your normal kind of behaviour,’ Starsky replied, blandly.

‘Okay. So I’m always like that.  But in this particular instance….’

‘I figured it had something to do with….’

‘All this paperwork?  Yeah.  My family is too much sometimes.’

‘So I gather.  Hutch?  What is all this paperwork?’

‘You tell me.  You have it sorted out.’

‘Not really. Okay.  I gather these pages are something really official and important. These plastic cards?  Money of some kind.  Legal papers here.  And this little bag.  No idea.’

‘Little bag?  Huh.  Didn’t see that.’ Hutch opened the bag and poured out the contents onto the table.  ‘Well,’ he said.  ‘I guess they’re serious.’

‘Serious about what, Hutch?  And who are they?’

‘Long story.’

‘Hutch!’

‘I need some coffee before telling it.  It involves politics and deep family backstory and….’

‘Hutch!’

Hutch got up and put on the coffee machine, while Starsky fumed.  ‘Patience, boy.  I need my coffee.  I really hoped they might just give us some advice, financial help, names of people we could blackmail. Stuff like that.’

‘Blackmail?’

‘I should have realized.’  Hutch poured out two cups of coffee and came back to the table.  He handed one to Starsky and took a big mouthful of his own. ‘Of course they want something meaningful in return.’

‘Of course,’ said Starsky.  ‘Who doesn’t?  What do these particular people want in return?’

‘They want me to return,’ said Hutch.  ‘I should return home and take up my position in the family.  But my position seems to have changed.  I’m a bit higher up in the hierarchy.’  He picked up the small items he’d tossed down casually on the table.  ‘At least according to these.’ 

‘They look like a kind of rank symbol, yes.’

‘Yes.  They are.’  Hutch sorted through them.  ‘These are mine,’ he added.  They were made of stones, similar to diamonds.  Or maybe they were diamonds.  “And these are yours,’ Hutch continued.  He handed the red stones to Starsky.

‘Mine?’

‘Yours.  As my second in command or something like that.  It’s hard to explain until I tell you the whole story of my home world, and my culture that I thought I’d escaped from.  And no, don’t worry, they aren’t going to imprison me or torture me. It’s just…. I don’t want all that wealth and power, Starsky.  I never did.  I like being a cop.  Even here with all the problems.  I like living a simple life with you. But what do I do?  Refuse them?  Give up on helping the Goblins?  Give up helping you regain your good name and your freedom?’

‘Hutch.  Hutch.  You don’t owe me….’

‘Yes, I do.  I do.  I owe you the love and trust you’ve given me.  I owe it to the Goblins to help them.  I just hoped….’  He took another big gulp of the cooling coffee.

‘Hutch?’

‘Yes?’

‘Why don’t you tell me the story so I can help you work it out?  Okay?  What do these red stones mean?  What do you mean, second in command?’

Hutch sighed, and let his head fall back against the back of the couch. 

‘Is it that bad, darling?’ asked Starsky.   ‘Are they going to imprison or torture me?  Are you some kind of king or something and I’m the whipping boy?’

‘No to all of that.  No, they won’t torture you.  Not on my watch.  It’s not that bad. No, I’m not a king, just a…a prince I guess.’

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Starsky got up and paced about the room for a few minutes.  ‘So,’ he said at last.

‘So?  So, what?’

‘So, you’re a prince – of something – and never thought to tell me?’

‘Well, first of all….’

‘Oh, no.  I’m not listening to one of your long lists of reasons why.  Just highlight a few things for me, okay?  Important stuff.’

‘Sure.  First of all, I wasn’t a prince when I met you.  I didn’t even know I was a prince until I saw those rank badges, and then I told you right away.  And second of all, it means nothing to me.  There.  Just two numbered points.  Does that meet with your approval?’

‘Fine.  Makes sense now that you’ve explained.  At least the first part makes sense.  But.  Why does it mean nothing to you?  It’s your culture, your family.  Hutch….’ Starsky sat on his lap, and looked down into his eyes.  ‘Hutch, you have a family who knows you and sees you, and seems to care about you somehow, and gives you a high rank.  My family abandoned me.  I…I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t get all….’

‘You have the right, Babe.  And you are right.  I must sound disgustingly ungrateful, for what must seem like an idyllic family situation.’

‘No family situation is idyllic.  Humans are….’

‘I’m only half human, Starsky, but I don’t know which side of my family is the most problematic.’

‘Well, maybe that’s why I love you so much.  You’re only half human.  But which half?  Your top half or your bottom half?’

‘Let’s go to bed and I’ll show you.’

‘No, no.  Not yet.  Sorry for changing the subject but I need to know more.  What was the name of your planet again?’

Ans Runuath.  Our world.  Ans means our or ours.  Runuath. World.’

‘Ah yes. I remember you told me that. But I don’t think you ever told me the name of your mysterious family.’

‘Sigh.  Your curiosity never ends.’

‘Hutch!’

‘I need more coffee.  Okay.  Okay.  The Aehnar.’  Hutch got up and started the coffeemaker again.  ‘That’s the name of our clan, I think you’d call it.’

‘Sounds Elvish,’ Starsky suggested.

‘Not hardly.  What more do you want to know?’

‘Well, they’re kind of my family, now, right? Or don’t you want that?’

Hutch turned, his eyes bright and fierce.  ‘You are my family.  The only family I really need, but….’

‘No,’ said Starsky.  ‘You do need your family.  We need them.  Maybe they need us.  Come on, Hutch.  Whatever resentments you have, you’ll be happier if you give them up.’

‘Like you did, I know.  I’m not a good person like you.’

‘You are so a good person.’  Starsky jumped up and pulled Hutch into his arms.  He whispered into his hair, ‘You are the best person I have ever known. Far better than I will ever be. Why don’t you forget about that fresh pot of coffee, and come to bed with me, okay?’

‘Okay,’ said Hutch.  ‘I’ll show you that bottom half you’re so interested in.

 

It was early the next morning.  It looked as though Hutch had been awake for some time, thought Starsky, judging by the coffee pot and breakfast dishes and his wide-awake eyes. 

‘What’re you doing, Babe?’

‘Checking out all those papers and cards. I don’t know what some of them actually are.  I’ve tried scanning them, but I’m having no luck.’

‘You know who we should go see?  Your banker buddy, Ming.’

‘Just what I thought, too.  He’s very useful.’

‘If he weren’t,’ said Starsky.  ‘I’d suggest you arrest him.’

‘He’d probably enjoy it if you ask me.”

 

The sun was just rising as they left Metro in Hutch’s flyer.   Ming was already in his office and at work as they entered.

‘Hey, Ming, Hutch thinks you’d like him to arrest you!’

‘Starsky!’

‘Oh, I would.  Please, Hutch.  Just for the experience.’

‘Well, he can’t.  I won’t let him.  I’m the only one he can put in handcuffs or tie up just for fun, so you’re out of luck.’

‘Ignore him, Ming.  I have a better problem for you.’  Hutch dumped the envelope of papers and cards out on his desk.  ‘Can you identify all this for me?  Our computer has given up.’

‘Wow!  If I solve all this, will you arrest me in spite of Starsky’s objections?’

‘We’ll negotiate your reward later.’

‘You guys are tough.  Okay.  What is all this supposed to be?  Where did it come from?’

‘My family sent it to me,’ said Hutch.

Ming looked up, an expression of shock upon his face.  ‘Your family?  You’re in contact with your family?’

‘It appears so,’ said Starsky.  ‘They know about me, and we’ve been asked to go home.  Hutch isn’t sure.’

Ming had been scanning the papers and cards Hutch was handing him, one by one.  ‘Hutch,’ he said.

‘Yes, Ming?’

‘This is a lot of money.’

‘I figured.’

‘What do you want to do with it?’

‘Put it in Starsky’s bank account if you please.’

‘I don’t need it,’ Starsky declared. ‘Why do I need it?’  He wondered how much money Ming, of all people, would consider a lot.  He was a bit scared of the possible answer.

‘In case anything happens to me, and you’re left homeless, of course.  Don’t ask stupid questions, Starsk.  What about this card, Ming?’

Ming scanned the latest card, and stared at his computer screen.  ‘Hutch?’

‘Yes, Ming?’

‘Why is your family sending you blackmail material about Gunther and his gang?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Metro was bustling by the time they made it to work.  For some reason, they were garnering a lot of strange looks from their co-workers.  When they knocked on Dobey’s door, and their Captain looked shocked at their entrance, Hutch asked, ‘What’s up?’ 

‘I might ask you the same.  What’re you doing here?’

‘I work here,’ said Hutch.  ‘So does Starsky.’

‘Okay.  So it’s all fake news, you being royalty, and going home to rule over the masses?’ 

‘No.  Well, sort of. I guess.’

‘Which is it?’

‘I’m not royalty.  Exactly.  I’m a prince of my home planet.  I need to go home to sort it all out.  But I’m not royalty, I’m just a cop here at Metro. And even if I stayed home, I wouldn’t be ruling over masses of anything.’

‘Hutch….’

‘I need to fill out a form for a leave of absence to deal with an urgent family concern, and then I’ll be back.  Starsky has to go with me, because he’s involved and besides, I can’t leave him here unprotected.  Though, in fact, these papers will show that his status has greatly increased with my promotion to a prince so, he’s already a lot safer than he was only a few weeks ago.’

‘Hutch….”

‘What’s the problem, Dobey?’

‘You’re royalty on your home planet, and you want to go on working here?  Hate it that much at home?’

‘No.  I don’t hate my home.  But being royalty means nothing.  Not to me.  Being here and helping people means something.  This is useful.  You got a problem with that?’

‘No.  I just think if I had the choice….’

‘You’d choose differently.  Okay.  But this is me, so I need to fill out those forms.  I’ll finish writing up our cases and pack for the trip.  Not sure how long I’ll be gone, but I will be back.  In the meantime, Jensen and Brockton are a good team.’

‘I can run the department myself, Hutch.’

‘I’m just trying…. Never mind. My family sent us a package of information about Gunther and his organization.  It could be used to blackmail him in an emergency, if he came after Starsky while I wasn’t around.’

‘Hutch.’ Starsky smiled at him, gently.  ‘Blackmailing him won’t solve my problems permanently.  I’d still be a convict. And why wouldn’t you be around?’

‘Yes. That’s why I put it in my safe.  But like I told you, you can use it in an emergency to get him off your back if he threatens you.  I want Dobey to know about it beforehand.  And you never know what might happen, right?  I want you to have all available options, even if I’m not around for some reason.  In the future.’

‘How’d your family get blackmail info on a guy like Gunther?’  Dobey asked.

‘Oh, that’s on a need to know basis,’ said Hutch. 

‘Need to know?’

‘Yeah.  You need to blackmail someone?  Let me know and I’ll see what my family comes up with.’

‘Blackmail is….’

‘Illegal, and immoral, Captain.  I know.  But useful.  And for a price.  Not money.  My family doesn’t need money.  My price is to go home and settle my family obligations…. Don’t look like that, Starsky.  It’s worth it to me -- if I can prove your innocence.  You’re my husband, after all.  That package of info is a promise to help me do so. And there’s more to it, remember?’

‘The Goblins.’

‘Yes.  The Goblins.’

 

 

The Goblins were at home in their usual place.   Their friends Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, and Tar Baby – as Starsky had christened them one incredible day -- were happy to see them.

Hutch had brought them several interesting buttons, and Starsky had found a few old coins in a local thrift store.  They offered these in exchange for the furry fruits that were the Goblin specialities. 

When this exchange was finished to everyone’s satisfaction, Hutch sat back and told them his news.  ‘And so, you see, I will be away for a while. Not too long, I hope.  And when I return, maybe I’ll have the power to make sure the goons can’t come after you again with impunity.’

The Goblins sat and listened to him, carefully.  When he finished, Brer Fox and Tar Baby conferred together for some minutes in the Goblin language.  Then they approached Hutch.  Brer Fox nodded at him, then pointed at Tar Baby.  ‘Take ‘ith’, she said. 

Tar Baby nodded emphatically.  He pointed to himself.  ‘Take ‘ith’. 

‘You want to go with us?’

Tar Baby nodded.

Hutch looked at Starsky, and grinned.  ‘Well, why not?’ he said.

Tar Baby bounced up and down as if offered a treat.  He grabbed Starsky’s hand and gestured excitedly to Hutch.  ‘Come!’ he said. 

He led them to a tree – not the Morgan tree, Hutch was relieved to note – and vanished into a cave under the roots.  A few moments later he emerged with a woven bag over his shoulder.  He grinned up at them, proudly, and Hutch smiled back. 

‘Ready?’ asked Hutch.

‘Ready,’ said the Goblin.

Chapter Text

 

‘Well, if it isn’t my favourite law enforcement officers!  And…and their friend Tar Baby,’ said Huggy.  He added, ‘I’m never sure if that name is racist or not.’

‘He’s never appeared offended by the name,’ said Starsky.  ‘He seems amused.’

‘He seems amused at being called a Goblin,’ Huggy pointed out.  ‘So maybe lots of things amuse him.’

‘Yes.  Well, he has attempted to teach us how to pronounce the name his people call themselves, and his personal name.  He’s even more amused at the way we mangle those words,’ said Hutch.  ‘But we do keep trying.’

‘How do you communicate with each other?’ asked Huggy.

‘Let me tell you,’ said Starsky. ‘It appears to be a kind of mental telepathy.  Between Hutch and the Goblins, I mean.  I swear, Huggy.’

‘Well, Hutch is weird enough, that’s true.  What are you guys up to, bringing Tar Baby around here?’

‘We’re getting him more accustomed to being around a lot of humans,’ said Starsky.  ‘It’s a scary proposition for anyone, even humans, being around other humans, and we need to know if he can handle it.  Or not, as the case may be.’

‘We’re leaving in a few days on a visit to my home planet,’ Hutch explained.  ‘Some of my family are human.’

‘What about the rest of them?’ Huggy wondered.  ‘Starsky?  Has he ever explained that?  What he really is, I mean?’

‘After much effort, and threats to never let him torture me again, I managed to get the name of his home planet, and his family name.  That’s it so far.  Except…the other half of his heritage are not Elves.  That narrows down the field a bit.’

‘More than I ever learned,’ said Huggy.

‘Yeah, well, it’s a big secret, so….’

‘It’s not a big secret,’ said Hutch. ‘I just don’t like talking about my home and family.  That part of my life is over.  Or I thought it was.’

‘You really want to get involved in this situation, Starsky?  Not knowing what you’re in for, following this guy into the unknown?’

‘Huggy, I am involved.  Where he goes, I go.  Even if he’s heading to Hell, I’m with him.’

‘Starsky….’

‘Hutch!’

‘Starsky, I’m glad of your company, but I don’t want you to feel you have to….’

‘I have to, Hutch.  It’s in my soul.  You’re in my soul.’

‘That’s why.  That’s why I’m never going to torture you again.  Quit joking about it.  It’s never going to happen.’

Starsky shrugged.  ‘Okay.  I don’t really want it anyway, for myself I mean.  I don’t enjoy it.  But whatever you need from me, it’s yours.’

Hutch took his hand, and kissed it.  ‘This is what I need from you,’ he said.

‘That’s why I’m trusting this man so much, Huggy.  He trusted me when he knew nothing about me.  When I was just an ex-con, sent here to work in the mines, he trusted me.  And he treats me like a prince.  He’s the real prince.  So I trust him.  However weird his home planet is, I trust him.’

‘But you still want to know more about me.’

‘Of course I do.  I want to know all about you.  You fascinate me.’  Starsky reached out and traced the beautiful line of Hutch’s mouth.  ‘This fascinates me.’

‘Okay, you two,’ said Huggy.  ‘Time you were heading home, I do believe. Will I see you before you head on out into mystery territory.’

‘Yeah, we’ll say goodbye before liftoff,’ Hutch assured him.  ‘Don’t worry.’

 

It was getting dark, and the Fence was already lighting up, as Starsky drove them home.  Tar Baby pointed at it and smiled.  ‘Keep out,’ he said. 

‘Yes,’ said Hutch.  ‘Exactly.  Starsky, were you serious when you said you’d follow me anywhere?’

‘No, it was all a joke.  Really, Hutch.’

‘Well, if you had been serious, would you go with me to see Morgan before….’

‘Morgan?  The tree?  Now?’

‘Morgan.  The tree.  Now.’

‘It’ll be dark soon.’

‘I know.  I’ve tried to find the tree in daylight, but they all look alike to me.  Maybe in the dark?  We were safe that night with the Goblins.  Maybe we’ll be safe tonight.’

‘I said I’d follow you into Hell, Hutch.  I followed you that night.  You’re in my soul.’  Starsky turned the flyer toward the Fence.  ‘Where should I put us down?  Inside the Fence, or out?’

‘Out,’ said Hutch.  ‘Close to the forest. You okay, Tar Baby.’

The Goblin grinned.  ‘Okay,’ he said.  ‘We okay.’