Hutch paced at the foot of the escalators in Baggage Claim, barely sipping on his coffee as he kept glancing at the top of the winding stairs. The airport was exceptionally crowded today with tourists flying in from the cooler states for their summer vacation in the California sun. They were still technically on duty, with their guns in their shoulder holsters under their coats. Anything could happen to them at any moment and Hutch was glad they were prepared. The plan was to meet them at Baggage Claim, retrieve their luggage, and then it was off to the Dobeys' where Edith had offered to look after the twins while they finished up at the station.
He had spoken to his sister, Kendra, on the phone late last night and was a bit annoyed that she wasn't as worried as he was about letting the girls fly alone.
"They'll be fine, Ken," she had said. "I'll be meeting with their attendant at the airport in the morning."
"How the hell did you become the calm one in the family?" he asked.
"Probably because I have a brother who worries for everybody else. They're really excited to fly tomorrow. We had a hard time getting them to calm down for bedtime."
Hutch laughed. "Starsky's excited, too. He said he has a surprise for them."
"Aw, that's sweet. What is it?"
"He won't tell. Says the surprise is for me, too."
"I'll bet it's Disneyland."
"Jesus, I hope not," he huffed.
"You'll call me when you have them?"
"Of course, I will."
Hutch stood still in front of the escalators tapping his foot when Starsky approached him, eating a donut.
"Will you sit down?" he asked. "You're makin' me dizzy walking back and forth."
He sighed and joined his husband on one of the benches in front of the stairs.
"See?" he said, tapping Hutch's bouncing knee. "You can still spot them from here."
Hutch was tapping his finger on his styrofoam coffee cup.
"Will you relax? They're gonna make it."
"They've never traveled alone, Starsk, or have even been on a plane."
"I'm sure they're having the time of their life, watching the in-flight movie, filling up on all of that free soda."
Hutch grinned. "Kendra doesn't feed them a lot of sugar so no doubt they're taking advantage." He looked at Starsky. "Which, by the way, doesn't give you leeway to fill them full of sugar either."
Starsky frowned. "Why not? It's their summer vacation! I can't give them ice cream for dinner?"
"Not tonight, at least. Edith's gonna be cooking a big spaghetti dinner for the kids. Dobey said he dusted off his Clue board game for them to play."
"We should've warned them to never play that game with him. I swear he cheats."
Hutch laughed. "Bet you wouldn't say that to his face."
"Nah, 'cause he'd get me in the lounge with the lead pipe. Edith gonna save us a plate?"
Hutch raised his eyebrows. "With four kids and Captain Dobey in the house?"
Starsky sighed. "Guess it's sandwiches for us again."
"Baggage for Flight Fifty-Four from Duluth will be unloading at Carousel Eight-D."
Hutch looked around, but Starsky assured him, "It's down that way, babe. Well, guess they made it off the plane. Feel better?"
"I won't feel better till I see them," said Hutch as he eyed the escalators again, sipping his now cold coffee.
"Shame we gotta work late tonight...their first day here," said Starsky.
"Gotta finish up that wonderful paperwork before we can have the week off, hon."
"Still, it's rare we have one of those. I'm looking forward to it."
He squeezed his husband's bicep, making him smile.
"I am, too, Starsk."
"Heyyyy, you guyyys!!"
They looked toward the escalators to see their nieces, Layla and Lola, waving at them with big smiles as they descended, having greeted their uncles with the customary Electric Company greeting they always gave them over the phone.
Hutch set his coffee cup on the floor, nearly tipping it over as he jumped from his seat. Starsky laughed as he watched him run up the escalator and picked them up in each arm as they hugged his neck. The attendant with them, a young black girl with a straight ponytail, beamed at their little reunion, and Hutch set the girls down so they could rush at Starsky.
Two eight year-olds grabbed his waist in a tight hug as Starsky tried not to drop his donut, but to no avail. They fell to the floor with it in a laughing heap.
"Hi, Uncle Davey!" they shouted.
He sat up and kissed the tops of their blonde heads. "Hey, Lay-Lo! How was the flight?"
"So much fun!" said Layla.
"Hey, Uncle Davey. Guess what the movie was," said Lola.
"Uhhhh, was it Citizen Kane?"
"The French Connection?"
"It was King Kong," said Layla. "The really old one!"
Lola bounced on her feet. "And we had two Cokes...each!"
Starsky winced as he got off the floor. "Each? Don't tell Uncle Ken."
"Too late. I heard," said Hutch before turning to the attendant. "Do you need my ID, miss?"
She laughed. "No, sir. This was all the proof I needed."
"Well, thank you so much for looking after them...um..."
"Thank you, Charlotte. Girls! Come tell Miss Charlotte thank you. I hope they weren't too much trouble for you."
"Not at all. We had a blast. It made my long trip easier. I got one more short plane ride to go. Oregon, family reunion."
The girls ran over to her and said together, "Thank you, Miss Charlotte."
"You're welcome. Now you ladies have a good visit to sunny California."
She waved at them as she walked to the escalator going up.
Starsky clapped his hands. "Okay, Lay-Lo. Let's get those bags. Which carousel is it again?"
"Eight-D," said Hutch and the twins.
"Nooo!" the girls giggled.
"Hey, Uncle Davey," said Lola, "did you bring the cool car?"
"Yeah!" said Layla. "Can we turn on the siren? Please, Uncle Ken?"
Starsky flashed Hutch a smug grin. He had sent a picture of the Torino to the twins with their last birthday card and they were excited to ride around in it.
"Why, yes," he said, rather loudly. "I did bring the cool car."
Hutch grinned back at him. "And no, you can't turn on the siren."
"Tomorrow," said Starsky.
They arrived at the carousel and Starsky playfully nudged Hutch in the side.
"Hear that? I have the cool car."