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The small crowd left the cinema chatting, laughing, re-telling this or that particularly great line from the film theyīd just seen.
 
The sky was already dark, the cityīs own neon glow creating an artificial day.
 
"Well," a scratchy voice, soft, yet raw, like old velvet, broke through the mostly youthful chatting hanging over the place in front of the cinema. It belonged to a tall, blond man in his late 50ies, who had left the building last, in a very slow stroll, a smaller, brown haired, very dreamy looking man of the same age at his side.
 
"You still flattered, Starsk?"
 
The other one just kept on grinning. Heīd started doing that, when the title had appeared on the screen, and he had not stopped ever since.
 
The blond rolled his eyes and sighed. "Starsky."
 
"Huh?" Starsky made, casting his friend a puzzled glance. "What?"
 
"I asked if youīre still as flattered as before, now that youīve seen the thing."
 
"What, are you kidding?!" Starsky exclaimed excitedly.
 
Hutch couldnīt help but smile at the manīs ever young ability to show enthusiasm. When that journalist, whoīd met them at a police ball one day, had written a very nostalgic article about them and how they "should be role-models for the generation of cops this poor present has to offer", Starsky had spent hours of reading and re-reading the article out loud to everyone whoīd fail to run when seeing him, but that had been NOTHING compared to his reaction, when a bunch of young writers had called to ask for their permission to use them as basic characters for a movie.
 
To say that Starsky had gone into hysterics at that would have been an understatement, and even Hutch had had to admit that it was, indeed, very flattering.
 
So theyīd both talked to the writers, answered a lot of question, told a few stories (and, as far as Starsky was concerned, ASKED a lot of questions too), and then they had been waiting for months to see the result.
 
Only a few things theyīd been told about it beforehand.
 
"I canīt believe theyīre gonna have the tomato in it!" Hutch had groaned, when Starsky had told him one evening. Theyīd been sitting at Starskyīs place, playing Monopoly.
 
"Isnīt that too cool?!" Starsky had grinned eagerly. "They said it could be, like, our brand. You know, the two cool cops and theyīre absolute kicker of a car!"
 
"You know something, Starsk? Maybe I donīt want to see it after all."
 
But Starsky had just widened his grin, taking a sip of his beer. "I donīt get it why they wanted us to have met on duty, though? Whatīs wrong with the academy?"
 
Hutch had just shrugged and suggested, "Uniforms? You never see the cool cops in uniform, do you?"
 
"Says Americaīs movie expert number one," Starsky had joked, but hadnīt waited for a reply and instead had asked with mock suspicion,
 
"So, what did you tell them?"
 
Innocent faded blue eyes had settled on him. "I just answered questions. Why, what dīyou mean?"
 
Starsky had flashed him a wry grin. "You know exactly what I mean, oldtimer. Did you make yourself look cooler?"
 
"No," Hutch had replied indignantly. "Course not. Did you?"
 
"No," Starsky had instantly answered, raising his hands in defens. "Been telling nothing but the truth."
 
"Right. Soīve I."
 
And theyīd exchanged a knowing look.
 
"Nothing but the truth, huh?" Hutch asked now, as they started to slowly walk down the street from the cinema to a bar they liked in that part of the city. "Why didnīt you ever tell me you were always late on the job, because you had to do your daily exercises? Iīd have understood, buddy."
 
"Hey, I DID work out," Starsky defended himself. "At... some point," he finished lamely.
 
"Uh huh. Starsk, I know youīre old and all, but that was me."
 
"No, honest," Starsky insisted, "when we were like REALLY new on the job, I DID jog every day."
 
"For about a week maybe."
 
"So? No lie still. And youīre one to talk, anyway!"
 
"Huh?!" Hutch made innocently.
 
"Right! Thatīs what I thought too!" Starsky exclaimed. "How much did you have to pay them that they made you look so... casually cool? Or so that they wouldnīt have their guy gulp an eelgrass shake at the beginning of every scene?"
 
But Hutch had heard nothing beyond, "You think I was cool?" As a sudden thought hit him, though, a frown replaced the smile. "By the way, did YOU tell them I used to take money from corpses?"
 
"Uhm..."
 
"And that I was a coward?"
 
"I didnīt use exactly that word," Starsky said after a moment of thinking.
 
"Thanks so much, partner."
 
Starsky grinned. "Cīmon, as if you didnīt like it. Made the guy look cooler than you ever were."
 
Shooting him a dirty look, Hutch grumbled something to himself.
 
"Besides," his friend continued, "YOU told them I shot a pony, didnīt you? That about makes us even."
 
"But that really happened!"
 
"So? Me saving your ass a hundred times happened too, but I didnīt see that in it. And," he added as he thought of something else, "since weīre at it, anyway, did you HAVE to tell them the cocaine-story?!"
 
Hutch laughed out loud. "Wasnīt that just great?! You never told me you see cartoon birds when youīre on drugs!"
 
"Thatīs so funny, Hutch," Starsky muttered in annoyance, though, of course, heīd loved that scene. He still was in too excited a mood to mean anything serious, anyway.
 
"Hey, cīmon, no sweat, buddy, huh?" Hutch managed to chuckle out, when he could talk through his laughter again, patting his friendīs back. "They said 'tell us a funny story about your partner' and, uh, I did."
 
Starsky shot him a glance.
 
"I did add that you never needed any drugs to make a fool out of yourself on the dance floor, though," Hutch grinned.
 
"Yeah, like you DID add that you got both those cheerleaders afterwards, right?" Starsky sneered. "Forgive me if my memory fails me, but didnīt they stay at the club? I seem to vividly remember you blaming that on me the other day."
 
"Well, old man," Hutch replied sarcastically, "as youīve JUST seen, your memory DOES fail you. Screens donīt lie, do they?"
 
Starsky cast him a glance that was supposed to look annoyed, but he couldnīt hide the grin in his eyes.
 
"But," Hutch continued, "speaking of lies - what was all that about you going straight after the book?"
 
"What dīyou mean?"
 
"What do I MEAN, Starsk? All this 'against regulation'-stuff your film-you kept on telling. I canīt believe they bought that! You donīt know regulation even now."
 
Starsky just shrugged. "Appearantly I do. Screens donīt lie."
 
"Right," Hutch nodded. "Wonder what Rachel would have thought about suddenly having been a super-cop."
 
"Hey, that was NOT my idea. I told them my Dad was a cop, and they said mother would work out better, movie-wise."
 
"Hm," Hutch made and snapped his fingers at another thought. "AND what was that about you being a better actor than me?! Iīve always had better undercover stories."
 
"Thatīs SO not true!" Starsky contered. "And you know it."
 
"Oh do I?"
 
"Iīve just always been naturally gifted," Starsky said indignantly. "Was about time someone made it clear you learned everything you know from me."
 
"Hm-mm," Hutch nodded in slow-motion in a 'yeah, suuuuure'-kind of way, before stating, "They sure got your temper right, though. That guy had your moves down to perfect. He even looked as ridiculous as you when running. Did you show him how?"
 
"I really liked that guy!" Starsky exclaimed in child-like, irrational defens.
 
"He was okay,"  Hutch teased. "Oh, hey, what was this snitching thing about? You never did that. I mean," he added in mock indignancy, "not that I ever gave you REASON for such a report. Iīve never broken regulation, anyw-"
 
"Careful, Hutch, donīt forget who youīre talking to," Starsky cut him off with a laugh. "Iīve been there."
 
When Hutch hushed himself at that, Starsky laughed again, then answered, "They wanted to know if we ever, like, fought, when we didnīt know each other that good. So I told them `bout that time you punched me at the academ-"
 
"You punched me first!"
 
"Anyway," Starsky waved, and Hutch rolled his eyes, "they didnīt like that. Said itīd be less... movie-like or so, I guess." He shrugged. "They wanted me to make a mistake, so they could show me crying, and I said itīd be ok-"
 
"Right!" Hutch exclaimed. "That! You NEVER cry! Did you really tell them that?!"
 
"Uhm... Linda, this assistant, she, uh, said itīd make the character appear more... cute," he smiled sheepishly.
 
"It sure makes you appear more whiny," Hutch contered. "Poor, sensitive Starsky-Pooh."
 
"Says the guy who carries me to bed, kisses me and tries to seduce me with his chanting."
 
Hutch sighed, amused though. "Yeah... fascinating what they made out of 'yep, weīre pretty close', isnīt it?"
 
Starsky grinned affirmatively, and a moment of silence passed, as they walked on, then suddenly felt they had the same thought and glanced up at each otherīs eyes.
 
"I didnīt tell them," Hutch finally said, lifting his hands defensively. "I swear."
 
"Well, I sure didnīt, either," Starsky stated.
 
"I REALLY didnīt," Hutch repeated at his friendīs doubtful look. "Why would I? Iīve never been that embarrassed again inn my life! I had to show my navel, for crying out loud!"
 
"Youīre tellinī me," Starsky muttered. "Iīd to go see 'Dragonheart' with the kids a few years ago. I had my eyes covered for the whole thing."
 
Hutch laughed, patting Starskyīs back in mock sympathy, but then frowned. "Okay, if you didnīt tell them, and I didnīt tell them..."
 
Starskyīs eyes wandered up to meet Hutchīs. "You donīt think they called Dobey, do you?"
 
Hutch waggled his head. "I DO think that THAT would be the ONE story heīd tell them."
 
"Yeah," Starsky nodded, and after a moment added, "Well... at least I got to shoot him for it."
 
Their eyes met - and they laughed, even stopping in their slow stroll.
 
"Huggy would have liked it," Hutch stated, when theyīd walked on a bit, his tone melancholy and warm.
 
"Oh yes," Starsky laughed. "Thatīs for sure. Heīs the coolest of all. And-"
 
"He wins," Hutch interrupted him, finishing the sentence.
 
"Right." Pause. "You told them that, didnīt you?"
 
Shooting Starsky a quick look, Hutch kept his silence. His friend nodded knowingly.
 
"Heīs probably telling all the other guys up there itīs all true right now," he said after a moment.
 
"UP there?!" Hutch joked.
 
Theyīd arrived at the bar and silently decided to have a drink together to finish the evening.
 
"To old times then, huh?" Starsky asked, when they sat on the counter, nursing their beers.
 
"Yeah."
 
"I really liked that film, you know?" Starsky stated with a dreamy grin.
"We were SO cool."
 
Hutch laughed slightly. "Yeah, we sure were, buddy boy."
 
They sat in silence for a while, two old friends, having a drink together, sharing each thought without a spoken word.
 
When Hutch looked up at one point, he found Starsky studying him with a small smile, and gave a nod. "Yeah, I know. I miss it too."
 
"It was," Starsky started, paused and continued, "strange, wasnīt it? Seeing 'us' doing the job again?"
 
"I know."
 
"I mean..." Again, Starsky stopped himself, and when he spoke on, he looked directly at Hutch, who knew the words before theyīd been uttered. "Weīre not THAT old really."
 
"Starsk, donīt start now," Hutch sighed and took a sip of his beer. "You donīt want to go there tonight, do you? After youīve just seen how absolutely incredibly old you are? That movieīs of the retro-genre. When we were that age, retro was the 40ies!"
 
"Aw, cīmon, Huuutch," Starsky whined. "Iīm not talking `bout working the streets again, just-"
 
"Yes, you are," Hutch interrupted him. "Thatīs what private eyes do. And youīre just excited because of this movie now," he chided. "Shut up and drink your beer."
 
"You really ARE getting old, Blintz, dīyou know that? Old and grumpy."
 
"Iīm still younger than you."
 
"On the paper, fitness freak," Starsky shot back and earned a mockingly hurt expression that faded into a smile. Ever since heīd recovered from the shooting that had nearly cost his life so many years ago, Starsky had clung to life with all his might, and he really was in better shape than Hutch these days, since - true to the film theyīd just discussed - he DID work out. Now at least.
 
"That," Hutch said accusingly, "hurt."
 
But Starsky only looked at him with child-like wide eyes. "Cīmon, you never really said 'no' to the idea."
 
Hutch sighed, met his friendīs gaze and looked away again. "Letīs just drink to old times, Starsk, okay?"
 
"Letīs drink to new ones."
 
"How about we just drink?"
 
"How about you admit you like the idea?"
 
Hutch looked up at him with an annoyed sigh - and suddenly had to smile at what he saw. The color of his friendīs once midnight blue eyes might have faded over the years, but whatever else lay in it never had.
 
"You know," Starsky stated, unaware of the sweet, melancholic, warm, memory-colored wave that washed through his partner in that moment, "Iīll keep on nagging until you say yes, anyway, so you can do it right now just as well."
 
And with that, he touched his glass to Hutchīs that still sat on the counter in a self-contend gesture, not looking at his friend and therefor not seeing heīd already won.
 
THE END (?)

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