Starsky pressed his lips together and turned his head, trying to drink water from his thermos upside down. The trouble was, he'd never in his life managed the feat-and besides, it was a dubious cure for hiccups at the best of times. He hicced in the middle of the sip, spilling water down his favorite red shirt.

"Starsky, what are you doing?" Hutch asked irritably from the passenger side of the car. He took a quick photo of the quiet house on Camino Grande as if willing someone to walk out the front door.

Starsky kept the next hiccup internal, his belly and chest bouncing with the force of the jolt. Less chance of needlessly annoying Hutch that way. It had been a long and very boring stake-out; four days of staring at the same boring house with no evidence or conclusive information about syndicate boss Alfred P. Sloan to show for it. He glanced sideways at his partner, understanding his irritation but unsympathetic. Hutch didn't have to deal with the damned spasms.

"Tryin' to cure hic-" Starsky started, another onslaught interrupting with a loud hic.

"Sugar," Hutch said succinctly, massaging his temples with the look of someone with a persistent ache.

"Which we don't have readily available," Starsky snapped, smothering the next one with a hand over his mouth. Felt like a bomb went off in his chest. "Damn," he muttered, defeated.

"Don't drink so much soda," Hutch advised, pointing to the collection of brightly colored cans in the back seat.

"Soda has sugar in it!" Starsky retorted. "I thought you said sugar was good for hic..." He gulped air with the hiccup and burped.

"Involuntary quivering of the diaphragm out of sync with your lungs," Hutch said.

For once, there was none of the snotty know-it-all tone in Hutch's voice. "How'd you know all that?" Starsky asked.

"Reader's Digest," Hutch snickered, cocking his head in sudden interest of the front of the house.

"See something?" Starsky sat up straighter, despite the hiccup that vibrated through his torso.

"Movement at the window." Hutch raised the camera with its high powered lens to focus on the upstairs. "Someone twitched a curtain, I think."

"Watching us-" Starsky clamped his mouth shut to muffle the hic, causing him to bounce in his seat. "While we watch them. Like a damned Mexican stand-off."

"This isn't the OK Corral," Hutch said sarcastically, dumping the camera in Starsky's lap.

Surprised by the sudden weight, Starsky had to clutch the expensive piece of equipment, and gasped when Hutch grabbed him by the shoulders, abruptly kissing him.

Starsky opened his mouth to-he wasn't sure what exactly. Not protest. Not at all. He surged into Hutch, wanting more, wanting something he'd really never even thought about previously.

"Starsk!" Hutch broke the kiss short, pushing him back against the car seat.

"You're the one who...!" Starsky began, then saw what Hutch was pointing at. After four days of surveillance, they finally had some action, exactly when Starsky had other matters in mind. The large metal gate to the property was opening with a rending creak that suggested it wasn't often used, and a man was climbing into a green BMW. "It's Sloan!"

His brain apparently unfogged by rampant lust, Hutch was already on the horn to dispatch to get a car tailing the BMW by the time it rolled out of the driveway. From down the block, a dark, unremarkable sedan pulled onto the road as if merely cruising for a parking spot.

"Back-up in place, dispatch," Hutch affirmed and hung up the mic.

Stunned by the events of the last two minutes, Starsky sat back, making no move to turn the key in the ignition. He inhaled, staring at Hutch. "What the heck was that?"

"Stopped your hiccups, didn't it?" Hutch gave him a fond, yet somewhat superior smile.

"Yeah." Starsky drew the word out into more than one syllable. "You coulda just scared me, y'know, like Dracula."

"Wouldn't have been as much fun," Hutch said, curling his fingers around Starsky's lax hand resting on the steering wheel. "You can't tell me you didn't like it. I have that effect on people."

"On people?" Starsky squeaked. He almost didn't want to admit that yes, indeed, he did want to do it again. "Was like some kind of sucker punch!"

"You going to drive?" Hutch asked, one eyebrow raised. "We probably need to write out reports."

"And then?" Starsky turned his palm so that he and Hutch were holding hands, there in the car. It felt more than nice. It felt perfect. He regretted having to let go so that he could turn the key. "Once we clock out?"

"Your call, babe," Hutch snorted a laugh. "We could go to Huggy's, have a beer, or to my place to practice our...punching skills."

"You got beer at your place?" Starsky focused on steering the car towards Metro, his mouth so dry he could barely speak. What he needed was to exchange a little spit with Hutch-on a regular basis.

"You know I do."

"Cause beer is carbonated."

"It is, at that," Hutch said as if it were news to him.

"Which makes me burp," Starsky mused. "And sometimes hiccup. What'd you say caused that?"

"Involuntary quivering of the diaphragm..." Hutch started.

"Yeah." Starsky nodded, satisfied. He and Hutch were, as usual, on the same page and it was a lot of fun. He didn't have to think any farther than that. Right now, they both knew what they wanted. "I think I may start hiccupping again."

"I think I know what will cure that." Hutch smiled and winked at him.

The end

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