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Wuemsel's Fanfic Corner

The Ransom Fund


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Starsky was worried. A feeling he didnīt particularly like nor couldnīt actually deal with unless he had something to do about it.

But that wasnīt the case.

Instead of being there with him when his partner faced the monster of monsters, he was seemingly locked up in his own apartment, afraid to leave in case Hutch might call.

Sighing deeply, he sank down on the couch, staring at the black TV screen, then let his gaze wander over the carpet heīd vacuumed at least a hundred times over the slowly passing day. Heīd also washed CLEAN dishes and had re-arranged some of the items on his shelves.

In short--heīd reached his own personal point of going nuts.

Checking his watch, he sighed again. Two hours since heīd last thought that maybe itīd be a good idea to call Hutch, let him know he was there, though he wasnīt. But then he didnīt know if the blond and his guest were at Venice Place, anyway. Besides, he didnīt want to disturb anything good that might be happening. There COULD be something good going on, right? They COULD be talking.

'Oh, who am I trying to kid?!'

He was just contemplating about finally turning on the TV, when a faint knock came from the front door, so tentative heīd almost missed it. Off like a shot, he bounced over to the door and opened just in time to stop Hutch from knocking once more.

His hand still hovering in the air, the blond lifted his brows in surprise, then smiled wearily. "Hey."

"Hey," Starsky replied , instantly convinced that, 'nope, they didnīt talk.'

Holding the door open for his friend, he stepped aside a little, the strange mixture of sympathy, concern, anger and pure affection that always swept through him at exactly those occasions, rising.

"Had a nice lunch?" he asked, watching Hutch more shuffle than walk over to the couch, where he sank down heavily.

"Yeah, peachy. Got a beer?"

Starsky smirked, let the door fall shut. Producing two bottles of beer from the fridge, he returned to the couch and sat down on the easy-chair next to his partner. "That great, huh?"

"Oh yeah," Hutch nodded sarcastically, throwing the lid of the bottle over his shoulder unconsciously.

For once, Starsky let him get away with it.

"Better even," the blond continued, then took a large gulp from his beer. "Didnīt have so much fun since..." Trailing off as if searching for an adequate comparison, he finally bowed his head as he once more lifted his beer. "NEVER had SO much fun, I guess."

Unseen, Starsky winced slightly. He knew that look in his partnerīs eyes. The 'Hutchinson, Sen. Has Left The Building'-look.

'Right,' the curly haired man thought, swallowing down rising anger he didnīt want Hutch to see reflected on his face, 'and none too early, it looks.'

Not that Mr. Hutchinson, Sen. COULD leave any building too early as far as Starsky was concerned. Especially not Venice Place. Though he would never have said it--because you just didnīt say that sort of things about your best friendīs father--he absolutely detested the man. Hated him.

And a Dave Starsky didnīt hate easy.

"Heīs gone now?" he asked after a moment, unnecessarily of course, just to keep the conversation going. Sooner or later his friend would share the events of yet another lunch from hell spent with the head of the Hutchinson Clan with him, he knew that. It was just a matter of time. Just a matter of waiting.

"Huh?" Hutch asked, lifting his head as if snapping out of a trance. "What?"

And, gee, Starsky hated waiting. "Your Dad. Is he gone now or did he want to stay overnight after a-"

"Did I ever tell you Iīve been kidnapped when I was a kid?"

Taken completely off-guard by the question, Starsky stared with his mouth still open. "Uh... Ah... Wh..." he stammered, obviously not going to be released by Hutch, who just blinked at him questioningly. "Wh-what?" the smaller man finally managed. "What dīyou mean, 'kidnapped'?"

Despite the content of their conversation, the blond shrugged casually. "You know, kindnapped. Taken. Captured. Held against my will." He paused, seemingly thinking about other synonyms and shrugged again. "Kidnapped."

Starsky doubted his eyes could grow any wider. His mouth opened and closed against his will, until he once more regained his speech. "Wh-when?"

Again, Hutch shrugged, not aware that his partner decided to physically restrain him if heīd do that ONE MORE TIME. "Dunno, when I was twelve or so. Eleven, I think. Really a long time ago. I was just a kid."

Silence followed, Hutchīs fingers busy scrambling the label off the innocent bottle, while his partner watched him with growing unease.

Starsky waited as long as he could, but after a few seconds couldnīt restrain himself any longer. "Well, NO, Hutch," he burst out, "you NEVER told me `bout that. Please do now!"

"Huh?" Hutch said, slightly confused, and looked up to meet his friendīs appalled gaze. "Oh. Yeah, sorry." With a sigh, he put the bottle onto the coffee table and leant back again. "Sorry, Starsk, Iīm sorta..." His voice trailing off, he winked with a weak gesture. "Never mind. I shouldnīt have brought it-"

"Never mind?!" Starsky cut him off incredulously. "Youīre tellinī me youīve been KIDNAPPED when you were just eleven and... Okay," he interrupted himself, drawing in a deep breath. "Sorry I yelled at you. Itīs just..." He sighed. "If you donīt wanna talk about it, thatīs fin... Well, you know what, actually itīs not. Hell, Hutch, you canīt come here and tell me something like this and then do your 'Blintz Withdrawal Show' on me!"

"My what?" Hutch asked with a confused smile, somewhat touched by his friendīs reaction. He really hadnīt considered his revealing to be such a shock for his partner. But then, he thought, if it were the other way around...

"Calm down, Starsk, okay? Itīs not my horrible youth trauma or somethinī. It wasnīt that terrible and I donīt wake up at night screaming because of it, either. I just thought Iīd... uh... mention it," he finished lamely, twisting one corner of his mouth to an apologetic wry smile at his ludicrous statement.

His partner studied him closely, all agitation draining from his face, until only sympathy remained. Something had driven Hutch to reveal this particular memory today.

Or someone.

"Okay," the curly haired detective nodded curtly at the blondīs words. "What happened?" He wasnīt sure if he meant back than or earlier that day.

Neither was Hutch, but he chosed to answer the easy question first. "It was on my way home from school. I donīt remember that much," he continued after a moment, leaning forward to grab his beer again. "Just that I heard someone approaching me from behind and then, uh... Well, next thing I know I woke up in complete darkness. Not for long, though," he added as he saw his partner arching his brows in concern. "They, uh, kept me sorta... sedated most of the time."

"Did they hurt you?"

At the softly uttered question, Hutch couldnīt help but smile. Leave it to Starsky to first of all think of that. Not 'Who were they?' or 'What did they want?', but 'Did they hurt you?'

"No," he assured, glancing up at his friend from where he was once more tearing tiny pieces of damp paper from the beer bottle. "No, they didnīt hurt me. Like I said, I was out most of the time. Chloroform. I never saw or heard a thing."

Frowning deeply now, Starsky slid to the edge of the chair as if unconsciously wanting to be nearer. "How long?"

"Uhm, I donīt really..." Hutch started, looking away, thinking. "Maybe two days. Two and a half. Something like that. It all went pretty smooth. They were pros. You know, didnīt hurt the kid, didnīt keep him too long, didnīt have him catch anything," he said as if reading from a 'Ten Steps to a Successful Kidnapping'-Book.

"They did everything right weīve been told kidnappers usually do wrong," he added ironically, smirking.

Starsky watched, biting back a soothing reply, sensing his friend didnīt need that but his own private way of dealing with things like that--sarcasm. His voice, though, was still soft, caring, when he asked, "You never found out who they were?"

Grimacing slightly, Hutch shook his head. His gaze dropped to the bottle. The label was almost completely gone. "Nope. I always thought they were somehow... connected to, uh, one of my Dadīs clients, but..." Another wry smirk. "Couldnīt have said that, could I? And then it doesnīt really matter, anyway. My parents never called the cops, just paid, and... We donīt really... talk `bout stuff like that, you know?"

Almost shyly, he peeked up at Starsky as if seeking understanding, though he knew he wouldnīt find it. It was a tactic heīd developed some time ago--leaving it to Starsky to react to his familyīs ways like he himself would have wanted to but just couldnīt.

Truth was, he didnīt understand his parents, either.

"Yeah," Starsky replied, suppressed exasperation evident in his voice, "I know."

Smiling slightly, almost apologetically, Hutch glanced down as if ashamed.

"Hey," Starsky said after a short pause, gently nudging the blondīs knee until Hutch looked up. "Your parents paid?"

"Yep," Hutch nodded in mock seriousness. "Every single penny. That was the one thing they told me when they came to see me in the hospital--the sum."

"Hospital?" Starsky repeated, instantly appalled again. "I thought-"

"They," Hutch cut him off, stressing the word to make it clear he meant his kidnappers, "brought me to a hospital. And the nurses informed my parents."

"What?"

Giving a short sigh, Hutch explained, "They, uh..." He took a sip from his beer. "They threw me out of a car before the ER entrance. But," he added quickly, seeing concerned cobalt blues widening in shock, "I was unconscious, anyway. Didnīt feel a thing." Watching Starsky slowly stand to sit down on the couch next to him, he smiled despite his following words. "I had to stay a few days. Not long. Just, you know, 'cause of all that chloroform and, uh, dehydration and..."

Noticing the pain working into his partnerīs eyes at his account, he cut it off, gentled his voice as if trying to take over the comforting part. "Gordo, donīt look like that. It wasnīt that-"

"You call that not hurtinī?!" Starsky interrupted him. "God, Hutch, you were a kid! Dehydration..." he muttered to himself, before glancing at Hutch again. "Those guys oughta be glad you donīt know who they were! Iīd... What?!" he asked in a high-pitched voice at Hutchīs chuckle, though amused himself, having to admit he sounded like the imbodiement of a mother hen. "I mean it! No one kidnaps my partner!"

Laughing, Hutch patted his arm. "Thanks, buddy. If I ever find them, Iīll let them know theyīre in danger."

Joining in for a moment, Starsky contemplated about his next question, but when Hutch seemingly lost himself in thoughts again, scratching at blank bottle glass now, he took a deep breah as if bracing himself. "Hutch, what happened today? I mean, hey, donīt get me wrong, but whyīre you telling me this today? Of all days?"

Hutch didnīt answer. Every sign of amusement drained from his features.

"What did you father say to you?" Starsky tried, glancing at his friend, but keeping his distance. "Hutch?"

"Uhm..." the blond started, not looking up. "I-I... I always wanted to... uhm..." He sighed deeply. "Oh man." Briefly closing his eyes, before looking at his partner, he said: "I saved money. When I started to earn my own money, you know, after the academy, I-I saved some of it every month. T-to... I wanted to pay it back," he said and paused as if he only then realized what his words truly meant. What his action symbolized.

"I wanted to pay my parents the money back. All of it. So I started to save a bit every month. My 'Ransom Fund'," he added with a wry smile.

Starsky stared at him much like before, his chin traveling south.

Hutch glanced up, then away again. "Stupid, huh?"

"No," his partner hurried to say, dismay coloring his voice. "No, not stupid. Not at all. Just... Did you really feel you had to do that?"

Hutch didnīt answer.

"Theyīre your parents, Hutch. I mean, sure, theyīre fu... Uh, theyīre... mean," he quickly corrected, missing the blondīs amused grin, "but theyīre still your Mom and Dad. They love you. Donīt you think theyīre glad they paid, no matter how much it was? Hey," he continued after a short pause, when Hutch still hadnīt looked up at him, "cīmon, Blintz, look at me."

Slowly, Hutch complied. The sadness in his light blue eyes was almost more than Starsky could endure. Still, he forced himself to say his say and not just hug the miserable figure. "I donīt think they ever wanted you to do that. It wasnīt your fault, and they know it. Theyīre just too..." He shrugged helplessly, before finishing, "weird to admit it, but theyīd do everything for you. Theyīre your parents," he repeated himself.

Hutch looked at him, visibly moved by his words. Yet, there was something shimmering in his eyes Starsky couldnīt quite read. Something scary, though. "Hutch," he started again after a pause, turning on the sofa and dragging one leg up so that he fully faced the blond. "What is it? Cīmon, tell me. What happened today?"

No answer. Just the bobbing of Hutchīs Adamīs apple as he swallowed back a few tears.

The silence unnerved Starsky, and he couldnīt help reaching out to nudge Hutchīs cheek affectionately. "Hey," he urged. "You can tell me. Did your father say something?"

'One day,' he thought, unable to push back the flood of thoughts, 'Iīm gonna call that son of a bitch and... Oh, Dave, cīmon, shut up, willya? Itīs Hutchīs DAD for crying out loud!'

"Hutch," he repeated, almost pleading by now, and was finally rewarded with a shaky breath and Hutch lifting his hands to wipe over his eyes.

"Uhm..." the blond started and to Starskyīs dismay smiled nervously. "He... H-he asked `bout, you know, i-if I was seeing anyone right now, and I said no, well..." The smile grew into a very sad laugh that tore at Starskyīs heart. "I-I told him Iīm... you know, dating, but not..." His gaze dropped once more as he continued, "I just told him the truth. That I havenīt had a real relation-ship for some time now. That I havenīt met the right girl, yet." If possible, his tone grew even more sad. "The kinda crap I always tell him."

Starsky felt himself frown in shared pain, but remained silent. The expression on Hutchīs face made it clear that that had been the wrong answer for Mr. Hutchinson, Sen.

"I donīt know what was with him today," Hutch continued with a sigh, "normally, that line works." Sarcasm covered his feelings again, his inner shield rose almost visibly.

Yet Starsky knew him too well to fall for it. "Hutch," he said quietly. "What did he say?"

Hutch glanced up, blinked, looked down, his voice just above a whisper. "He said Iīm too old to look for the 'right girl'. He said that i-if... if I wouldnīt, you know, settle down soon, Iīd never make it. H-he said..." Again, rising tears had to be swallowed back. "He said that itīs important to have a family to... to have children, b-because of the, uh, the survival of the family, yaddah, yaddah." Again, a bitter laugh broke free. "God, heīs so full of this shit, isnīt he? Survival of the family. Jeez."

"Hutch," Starsky said, not demanding, not impatient, but just enough of a sound to stop his partnerīs self-defending rambling. They hadnīt yet reached the part thatīd really hurt.

Hutch closed his eyes. "He said that Iīm..." He trailed off.

"He said youīre what?" Starsky urged ever so softly.

"Stupid," the blond whispered, not opening his eyes.

Starsky could have screamed with fury, but found his voice miraculously quiet. "He said youīre stupid?"

Hutch nodded. "Yep." He sniffed. "He said that if he had waited for the right one, heīd st-still be waiting, that Iīm too naive. Too soft. Too... stupid. He said Iīve never grown up and never will, th-that Iīll always be waiting a-and..." His voice broke badly, but he caught it, cleared his throat. "That Iīll always be alone. B-because no one will ever have me. No one will have someone as weak as me. He said Iīm a... a failure, a..." He drew in a deep breath, before his voice could break again, and rubbed his forehead, his eyes open now. "I failed to follow my duty as a member of the Hutchinson family."

The fact that his friend missed to add 'he said' to his description wasnīt lost on Starsky.

"Iīm never going to have a family, a-and I... I donīt WANT to have a family like... like THAT," Hutch continued, a brief flash of anger tinging the words. "I donīt want to be a father like he was. Is," he added and for the first time since his outburst, shot Starsky a quick, almost frightened look. "I donīt wanna be like him. But I donīt want to be... alone," his voice faded to a whisper, "either."

Watching the tall, strong, tough street cop Ken Hutchinson almost huddle in the corner of his couch, looking so lost, so alone, so utterly and completely desperate, Starsky couldnīt help but wonder with all the naivety within himself, how anyone could ever look at the man and WANT to hurt him like that. How anyone who knew Hutch could say those things to him. How a father could watch his son emotionally writhe under the impact of his words, and just keep on tormenting him.

'Maybe Iīve been wrong after all,' Starsky thought as he still watched Hutch silently studying the bottle in his hands, 'maybe your father doesnīt love you. Maybe your father canīt love anyone. Maybe he really is what I always thought he is.'

"Your Dad really said all that?" he heard himself ask, shocked, and inwardly cringed at his tone.

Hutch nodded and looked up. At his partnerīs expression, he smiled humorlessly. "He had one of his better days." The grin faded. "Iīm... Iīm not like... him, huh?" he asked tentatively as if afraid of the answer. "Right? Starsk? Iīm not like m-my D-Dad, am I?"

Seeing that his friend was on the verge of tears, Starsky reached out to draw him in a comforting hug. Gratefully, Hutch sagged against him, bathing in the relieving sensation that someone cared about him after all.

"God, no, Hutch, of course youīre not," the smaller man answered almost grimly, "youīre not like your father. Your fatherīs an asshole, and youīre a great person. Thereīs a difference."

Feeling Hutchīs chuckle against his shoulder, he smiled. "Uh, sorry. Shouldnīt have said that."

"Nah, `sokay," Hutch grinned, relaxing a little. "I wonīt tell him you said it."

'Maybe you should,' Starsky thought, but remained quiet, stroking Hutchīs hair for a few seconds, before he pushed him away gently to look at him. "Hutch, you donīt believe a word he said, right?" Bending to look into a quickly withdrawing gaze, he repeated, "Right?"

Hutch shrugged. "Dunno."

"Oh, Blondie, come on, since when do you give a damn `bout what your father thinks, huh? Heīs just mean. Of course youīll have a family one day, and youīll be a great father, and you know it. Kids love you. And women do too," he added with a grin. "At least until you show `em your car."

Hutch cuckled slightly at that, but didnīt look up.

"And when youīll have a family, itīll be a REAL one, not what you ha... I-I mean... Oh, sorry Blintz, I know I shouldnīt say that, but gee, if your old man was here now, Iīd-"

"I know," Hutch cut him off with a grin. "I know. Itīs okay, Starsk, I understand."

"No, you donīt," Starsky insisted when the blondīs sad gaze traveled down again. "Iīm serious. How can he SAY things like that to you?! I donīt get it! What the hellīs wrong with this man?! Doesnīt he know his sonīs the greatest guy on earth?! How can he say youīre stupid?! Youīre NOT stupid, youīre a fucking genius! I mean, me, okay, I know Iīm not Whathisname-"

"Einstein," Hutch mumbled, grinning slightly when realizing itīd been a Starsky-comfort-crack.

"Yeah, that guy," Starsky continued, not letting on heīd been joking.

"Starsk, cīmon, youīre not-"

"Shut up," Starsky cut him off gently. "My show now."

Amused, Hutch obeyed, raising his hand in an 'after you'-gesture, his heart filling with grateful affection for this man who always--ALWAYS--knew what to do or say to make things better. And if it was 'shut up'.

"And how can he say youīre too soft?! Iīd love to see HIM doing our job one day! And..." He had to stop to draw in air, Hutch watching with an amused grin. "How the HELL can he say youīve never grown up?! I thought he met ME?!"

Now, the blond really had to laugh, and shrugged for an answer. He had to admit it was sort of touching that Starsky remembered every single accusation heīd told him about.

"AND," Starsky said after yet another breath, holding up one hand, "wait, Iīm finished in a sec--how can you BELIEVE him?!" The question was almost squealed out, his voice cracking. "Youīre not stupid, youīre not naive, youīre going to have a great family one day and youīre NOT alone!" Listening to his own words, he repeated in a more quiet, earnest voice, "Youīre not."

Silence followed, filled with unspoken words, as the two detectives looked at each other, a smile spreading on both their faces.

"I guess I know that," Hutch finally said.

"You GUESS you know that?"

The blond chuckled. "I know it."

"Hm-mm," Starsky nodded like a teacher after having heard the right answer on second try.

"I havenīt said yet why I told you `bout my Ransom Fund."

Frowning as if just remembering that, Starsky tilted his head to one side. "Right. So, why did you?"

Hutch paused, looked at him nervously, then down, then up again, then down.

"Cīmon, Blondie, spill it."

"I want to... buy this house youīve been talking about." There. Heīd said it. When only silence answered, he slowly lifted his head, his brows arched questioningly.

Starsky stared.

"Uh... Starsk?"

"You what?!"

"I want to buy a house with you. A real house," Hutch added after a second, rolling his eyes, "not something like that heap you came up with the last time."

Starsky stared.

"W-well, itīs not THAT much what Iīve got," Hutch continued, starting to ramble a little, "but it should suffice for something we both like. And that we donīt have to tear down and re-built," he wise-cracked, still referring to the desaster theyīd experienced the first time Starsky had come up with the idea.

"So," Hutch shrugged, feeling suddenly unsecure as his partner still hadnīt uttered his opinion, "what dīyou say?"

Starsky blinked, closed his mouth, blinked again.

"Y-you donīt wanna buy a house with me anymore?" Hutch asked.

"No," his partner hurried to say. "I mean, yes. I mean, yes, I still want to, but... Hutch, you never liked the idea."

"Well, I do now."

"Why?"

"What dīyou mean 'why'? `Cause youīre my best friend and I want to, uh... Why did YOU want it in the first place?" he asked, feeling himself getting exasperated, since he had imagined the conversation to be completely different.

"I liked the idea of having a house," Starsky answered quietly. "As an investment."

"With me."

"Yeah, with you."

"So, what, now you donīt like the idea anymore?" Hutch demanded, not understanding. "I donīt ask you to, I donīt know, LIVE with me or something, I just-"

"You just," Starsky interrupted him softly, "want to do something with the money you saved to show your parents what you thought of them a long time ago, and the first thing you wondered was what I would like."

A small frown crawled over the blondīs forehead. "The way you say it it suddenly sounds dumb."

"No," Starsky shook his head with a smile, "not dumb. Just very... hutchy."

"Hutchy," Hutch repeated tonelessly.

"Yeah," Starsky grinned, gesturing. "It sounds like something youīd do."

"Maybe thatīs because I AM doing it."

"But I donīt want you to do it."

"Why not?!" Hutch shot back, angry.

Yet Starsky remained calm, as always when he sensed that for once it was his partnerīs turn to act unreasonable. "Because this has nothing to do with me. I think itīs great that you want to do something with your Ransom Fund, because itīs horrible that itīs THERE," he said raising his brows.

Sometimes, Hutch couldnīt help but wonder when his friend had become so unendurably wise...

"I think you SHOULD do something with it," Starsky continued, "but not for me."

Hutch bowed his head.

"Whatever you do with the money has to be for YOU." A pause, then, "But if you want my opinion, Iīd highly advice you to get a new car." He waggled his brows, and Hutch laughed, before turning serious again.

"If I... do this," the blond said, putting his bottle back on the coffee table, "itīd be for me."

Starsky sighed. "Hutch-"

"No, listen. Youīre right, I did think of something for us, but... Well, US," he repeated, gesturing with his index finger between them. "I donīt want to give it back to my parents, because I..." He chuckled. "Because my Dad pissed me off majorily today."

At Starskyīs stifled laughter, he himself giggled for a moment, then continued, "He doesnīt deserve it, anyway. If he didnīt want me back, he shouldnīt have paid."

"Aw, God, babe, donīt say that," Starsky pleaded, his brows arched to a sick puppy look as he felt his share of the pain that flickered through his friendīs eyes. "Iīm glad he paid."

Hutch smiled. "See? YOUīre glad." The smile faded. "HEīs not." He paused. When he spoke again, determination brightly colored his words. "I want to have something together with you. And if itīs a house, than itīs a house." A sudden snort introduced a wry grin. "Donīt get me wrong, buddy--NO fixer upper this time. Either the thing is in one piece or itīs a scratch on the list. Got that?"

Starsky smiled, but didnīt nod. He wasnīt convinced yet, Hutch could see it.

"I guess," he started once more, bit his lip, and studied the floor once more, "I want to have some... security."

"Security?"

Hutch nodded, didnīt look up. "If we have a house, we can always... I-I mean, then, one day wh-when you have a family, you could live there a-and..." He laughed nervously. "I donīt know, maybe thereīll be some little room under the roof left for old Uncle Hutch, too. I-I mean... I..."

A sudden sniff cut him off. Starsky bent forward, trying to look into Hutchīs face, but didnīt quite manage. "Hutch?"

"I donīt want to be alone." The miserable whisper was followed by a small whimper, almost like a stifled sob, and Starsky instantly slid nearer on the couch, laying one arm around Hutchīs shoulders as the blond sniffed against tears that threatened to fall. "Iīm *sniff* sorry Iīm such a baby. *sniff* Iīm just... *sniff*" His voice dropped even more, as he closed his eyes and let his head fall forward into his hands. "God, Starsk, I hate him."

"I know, Hutch," Starsky soothed. "Itīs okay. I hate him too."

Hutch laughed through his sniffle, glancing up at his partner. "Heīs not that fond of you, either, you know."

"Gee, whoīd have thought."

Chuckling some more, the blond leaned back again, facing Starsky. "If you really donīt want it, we donīt have to buy a house. I just liked... the idea," he grinned, using Starskyīs words.

The other one smiled. "You know, Blintz, coming to think about it, I sorta like the idea of having old Uncle Hutch available every time Mrs Gordo and I want to have an evening off. And," he added, his grin widening, "I guess I can handle six or seven little Blintzes too when you and-"

"Six or seven?!"

Laughing at his friendīs mock shock, Starsky waggled his brows. "Yeah, I figured that we could have equally large teams for the Sunday Baseball-"

"Dream on, Gordo," Hutch chuckled, and asked, "So--you mean that?"

"I definiately want to have lots of ki-"

"`Bout the house, mushbrain."

Starsky grinned. "Yeah. Mean it. If you do."

"I do."

They sat in silence for some time, both suddenly lost in dreams of the days to come.

"Hutch?" Starsky finally asked in a low voice.

"Hm?"

"How much was it?"

"What?"

"The ransom."

"Oh." A pause. "350 000."

Silence. No whistle, no 'wow', nothing. Then, "Good deal. Iīd have paid more."

Hutch smiled. "Oh yeah?"

"Sure. You know how expensive an original Blintz is on the free market?" NOW the whistle came. "Prohibitive."

Laughter broke through the silence that soon fell again, like a blanket, over the two dreaming friends.

THE END

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