Blanket Optional
by Candy Apple

SHSVS "A Day in the Life" Showcase Vignette

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Starsky pulled a large, flat blanket box from under the bed, assuming, foolishly, he might find a blanket there. With almost all of Hutch's bedding in a giant laundry bag destined for washing, he'd had a real interesting time finding enough linens to make up the bed. Still, it was getting late, and both had voted to delay the trip to the laundromat until morning.

That's us. Life of non-stop glamour. First weekend off in months, and we'll be kicking it off with breakfast at McDonald's and a trip to the laundromat with a bag of cum-stained sheets. We even managed to fuck up the bedspread. Oh, well. I guess that means we had a hell of a Thursday night.

Opening the blanket box, he muttered a curse under his breath as he found that it was filled with papers. Papers. Not blankets. Not linens. Not even clothes. Hutch had a blanket box full of papers. Under his bed.

"Always knew you were weird, Blondie," Starsky mumbled, about to put the blanket box back in place. Something caught his eye then, and he paused. A large greeting card envelope sitting atop one of the stacks of papers bore his name in Hutch's handwriting. It wasn't addressed for mailing--it simply read "Starsk" on the cream-colored paper.

Hutch was in the kitchen, washing the dinner dishes. Sitting there looking at the envelope, Starsky had no problem figuring out the ethical thing to do with it: put it back. Or, if the curiosity was truly killing him, he could ask Hutch about it. It could be a card Hutch wrote and was saving for some occasion, but for what? It wasn't near any occasion that warranted a greeting card. He turned it over and found it wasn't sealed and, for a moment, almost flipped the pointed flap upward and pulled the card out to read it. Then, turning it back over, he stared at the writing on the front again.

"Starsk?" The name was spoken softly from behind him in Hutch's voice, as he read it written there in Hutch's writing.

"I was lookin' for a clean blanket. Kinda thought you might have one in a blanket box," he said. "Uh, Hutch, what's this?" He held up the card. "I didn't mean to spoil a surprise or anything, but I thought you'd have blankets in here."

"Yeah, well, my storage options are limited in this place." Hutch walked over to where Starsky was sitting and took the card out of his hand. "You didn't read it?"

"No. I wanted to...but I kinda figured if you wanted me to read it, I'd'a gotten it by now."

"It's not really the right time on the calendar." Hutch joined Starsky sitting on the floor by the side of the bed. "It's a birthday card."

"My birthday's in March, Hutch. You bought my card already?"

"No, dummy. I bought it for last year...and then I got you a different one." Hutch shrugged. "So I just hung onto this."

"So, uh, can I read it? I mean, you did get it for me and it must'a been nice, or you wouldn't'a saved it all'a this time. Right?"

"Right." Hutch looked at it a minute. "You know, when you were shot, I read this card a couple times, and I kept thinking it was a damn fool thing I did by not giving it to you. There were things in here...things I wished I'd said before it happened."

"I'm here now, and I'm fine. How about lettin' me read it?" Starsky asked, holding out his hand. "Unless you want me t'wait 'til March."

"No, I think I've waited on this long enough," Hutch said, chuckling and handing Starsky the card.

Starsky opened the envelope carefully, sliding out the large card. It was burgundy, a sort of matte finish paper with swirling gold writing. All it said on the cover was "I Love You." There were no balloons or chesty girls or bad jokes. Not even a hokey picture of a cake. Just those three little words. Starsky ran his fingertips lightly over the cover, which had the image of two birds in flight embossed into the paper.

"It's beautiful," Starsky said, looking up at his partner. "Most beautiful card I ever saw."

"You haven't even opened it yet, buddy," Hutch responded, smiling.

"You thought sayin' 'I love you' was too sappy?"

"We weren't lovers then, babe. I didn't know how you'd take it. When I read the card, it just said all the things I felt about you. When I got it home, I realized it sounded like a card you'd give a lover, not a friend. I went out and picked up something I thought was more...appropriate, I guess."

Starsky finally turned back to the card and opened the cover. He read the inside verse silently:

When I tell you I love you,
I want it to mean more than when anyone else in the whole world says it...

I want it to mean that your happiness is everything to me,
and that I want only the best for you always, no matter what it takes...

I want it to mean that you're more important to me than anything else in my life...

When I tell you I love you,
I want it to mean that you're a part of me and I'm a part of you,
and no matter what happens in this world,
we'll be together forever, sharing our lives and our happiness...and our love.

Happy Birthday

The last words wavered and floated on the page, as words do when read through tears. All the things he wanted to say in return to his partner for the incredible sentiment and emotion in the card were trapped in his heart, unable to move past the lump in his throat.

"I didn't leave the hospital too often when you were really bad, but one of the times I stopped home to get some fresh clothes, I took this out and read it again." Hutch shrugged, his own eyes looking a little too bright. "Sat here and cried like a baby, wishing I'd had the balls to give it to you before...before it was too late. I...I f-felt that way for years. Making love was just...expressing what was there all along.

"I never read anything so beautiful." Starsky swallowed, not caring that a tear slid down his cheek. "I never saw anything as beautiful as you, babe." Starsky moved over to pull Hutch into his arms, and the embrace was returned firmly. "I'll keep it forever. Along with you," Starsky said, smiling.

"I meant every word of it," Hutch said quietly, holding on tightly. "I meant it then, and I mean it now."

"I keep thinkin' we can't find the words, but you came awful close, darlin'," Starsky said in a strained voice, pulling back a little so he could cover Hutch's mouth with his, the two of them melting together into a long kiss.

"I'll get the lights, babe. Turn back the bed for us?" Hutch asked, smiling and resting his forehead against Starsky's.

"Bring a bottle'a wine, and you got a deal."

"We still don't have a blanket," Hutch said.

"Do we need one?"

As the two men lapsed back into fevered kisses and heated caresses, an unspoken agreement was reached that a blanket was purely optional.

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Author's note: The verse used in this story appeared in a Hallmark card. Unfortunately, they don't cite authors, so I can't either. My thanks to them for making a card that was perfect for our guys.

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