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“I hate Fall.” Starsky plopped onto the garden bench.

Hutch spun around, trowel and dirt flying from his gloved fingers. “What? When did this happen? Are you hurt?” On his feet in a flash, he was by Starsky’s side, concern all over his flushed features.

“Not ‘fall,’ as in ‘took a tumble,’ dummy,” Starsky corrected quickly, not wanting Hutch to go into protective mode. “Fall, as in Autumn.”

Hutch sat down beside him and took his gardening gloves off. “You don’t hate Fall, Starsk. You love it! Halloween. Thanksgiving. You start your Christmas shopping, leaving outrageous hints all over the house about what you want.” He picked up Starsky’s hand and kissed the palm. “What’s this all about anyway, you love the Fall. Leaves turn red and gold…”

“And brown,” Starsky added sullenly.

“No more grass to mow until Spring.”

“Always looks like it’s dead, t’ me.”

“That’s because it’s dormant,” Hutch explained, for probably not the first time. “It doesn’t need to be green for a while.” Turning to look fully at him, Starsky had to look away from the intensity in the meltingly blue eyes. “What’s goin’ on, Starsk?”

“People leave in the Fall,” Starsky muttered. “They go away and never come back. My pop was killed, Helen and Gillian died --”

“Starsky,” Hutch interrupted gently, “people come back, show up, or just get together in Autumn, too.” After a few silent seconds, Starsky met his partner’s sparkling gaze. “Do you remember the first time we made love?”

Starsky’s funk dissolved as if it had never been. “‘Course I do.”

“Ah, but do you remember what day it was?”

Starsky thought for a beat but couldn’t come up with the answer. “No. I don’t.”

“It was the Autumnal Equinox, September 22, 1979.”


“You’d had a terrible P.T. session, initial deep tissue massage.”

Starsky shuddered involuntarily. “Shit, yeah, I remember that!”

“They didn’t warn you, didn’t want you to tense up that much more, but it was evidently awful. You were hurting so badly when you came home, you were almost crying.”

“Remember that, too.” Starsky shook himself as if trying to shed the memory.

Hutch put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. “Nothing to be ashamed of. You’d taken yourself completely off the pain meds and you were in agony.”

“You made me lie down and gave me one of your patented back rubs.”

“During which you fell asleep.” Hutch didn’t attempt to hide his pleasure at having been able to take Starsky’s pain away, allowing him to rest.

Starsky sat up quickly and tried to dampen the heat he knew was rising in his neck and face. “I woke up with a hard-on.”

“You sure did.” Hutch’s smile brightened the entire back yard. “The first one you’d had since the shooting.”

Starsky squinted, trying to give the impression that Hutch’s face was just too bright to look at. “The smile you’re wearing right this minute, pal, is exactly like the one you had on that day, too, as I recall.”

“Your memory’s as sharp as the proverbial tack, Starsk,” Hutch replied, reminiscently. “I was so happy, I kissed you. I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t head over heels in love with you for one more second.”

“You kissed my cock, too, you lecherous beast,” Starsky said, grinning. “I came in my shorts before we could even get ‘em off.”

Hutch kissed him gently on the mouth. “Today is the first day of Fall, you know.”

“I know,” Starsky said, huskily. “Wanna celebrate?”