Starsky checked the living room one more time and then tossed a catalog under the sofa when he heard the car pull in the drive.
"Here we go, Puppy," he said as the little three legged gray cat ran towards the door meowing. "Daddy's home and he's bringing guests so best behavior okay?"
He wasn't sure if the reminder was to their cat or himself. He smoothed down his shirt—a blue checked oxford that Hutch always liked him in and smoothed his dress pants, the need to make a good impression making his heart race just a little.
He grabbed his cane and stood up as the door opened.
"Starsk, we're home," Hutch called out, his voice fading and a smile lighting his face as he saw Starsky standing there. He stood to the side and motioned for two people to walk in ahead of him.
"Mom, Dad, this is Starsky," Hutch said.
Starsky stepped forward to greet them—Richard and Lillian Hutchinson were tall, fair-haired, and were wearing the same smiles their son did.
"Dave or David," Starsky said and held out his hand. "I don't really think you need to call me Starsky."
Richard took his hand, shook it carefully as if he was afraid he'd throw Starsky off balance. "I'm so happy to finally meet you, David."
"Kenny's told us so much about you over the years, I feel like I already know you," Lillian said and she gave him a kiss on one cheek.
"Unfortunately, 'Kenny' is rather closed mouth about you so we'll have a lot of catching up to do," he said to both of them. "And before I forget."
He stepped to the side to pick up a bouquet of roses. "For you, Mrs. Hutchinson."
"Lillian, please," she said and took the roses, inhaling the delicate scent. "They're lovely. White roses are my favorite flower."
Starsky nodded. "I did find that out from Hutch." He gestured towards the hall. "I can show you to your room. There's a vase there for the flowers. And if you both want you can rest before dinner. I didn't know if you'd be tired so I didn't start anything and…"
"David," Richard said. "It's fine. Relax."
Starsky took a deep breath. "Yeah, sorry."
"I'll get your luggage," Hutch said and disappeared out the door.
"Kenny told us you got a full scholarship to Jameson College" Richard said. "Have you picked a major?"
Starsky felt suddenly small. What did he have in common with Hutch's college professor parents? Who was he kidding? "No. Not yet."
Hutch came back in, loaded with bags and Starsky reached out before realizing he still wasn't capable of carrying a regular size suitcase.
"David?" Lillian asked. "Would you show me the garden? Kenny told us all the work you've done on it."
Relieved Starsky nodded and led her towards the back of the house. "C'mon Puppy."
"Puppy?" One of Lillian's blond eyebrows rose. "I thought the cat's name was Poppy."
"That's your son's name for her," Starsky said. "Her real name is Puppy."
As the cat trotted along beside them, Lillian laughed. "I can see why."
Hutch and Richard were out on the patio arguing over the best way to grill the flank steak Starsky had marinated while Starsky and Lillian sat in the living room enjoying the peace and quiet.
"Thank you for coming," Starsky said. "He needed this."
"How are you doing?" Lillian asked.
"I'm getting there," Starsky told her. He looked out towards the patio. "You know this is the first time I've seen him so relaxed in months."
Lillian smiled. "This is the first time we've seen him this happy in years."
Starsky nodded. "He saved me, you know."
"I think it was more a mutual saving," Lillian said. "He told us you kept him from being shot."
Starsky shrugged. "I don't really know. I can't remember much about it except waking up and seeing Hutch there."
Lillian patted his hand. "He loves you so much, David."
"I love him," Starsky said. He took a deep breath. "I know I'm not the man you would have chosen for him—hell, I'm not even the right sex."
Lillian placed her hand on his cheek. "You're exactly the person for him, David and don't you ever doubt it for one second." She looked out towards the patio. "Just as he was the perfect son for us when we were approved for adoption."
"Lillian, I think this is going to be the beginning of a perfect friendship. I want to hear all the stories about little Kenny."
Lillian nodded. "Well, has he ever told you about the time he decided to drive his sister downtown to go Christmas shopping?"
Starsky shook his head.
"He was six at the time…"