A bouquet of roses and lots of thanks to Solo and SHaron for all their help scanning and proofing these classic stories of Constance Collins! This story originally appeared in the zine Adult Situations 4. 

Comments about this story can be sent to: VenicePlaceAngel@aol.com

Aries/Virgo
by
Constance Collins

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"Aries likes to generalize, hates to bother with details, and is bored by meticulous analysis. Virgo is meticulous , likes to analyze details, and abhors generalities. That gives you some idea of the distance between these two Sun Signs to begin with...

"The thing of which Virgo is seldom aware is that Aries senses unerringly whether the Virgin's concern over his welfare stems from genuine devotion, affection, and friendliness - or merely from a dutiful obligation. And when it stems from the latter, the Ram would just as soon try to manage alone as to accept help from someone whose true sympathy and heart isn't involved in the offer, however much he... may need Virgo's assistance and advice..."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"Look, you can't cook your own dinner with your arm in a sling, and if I'm going to make you a meatloaf, I have to know what's in it."

"Please don't make me a meatloaf," Starsky said under his breath, "I don't wanna be a meatloaf." Louder, he added, "Nobody asked you to come over and cook for me."

"You can't cook with one hand -"

"Can't fly on one leg," Starsky agreed, only half-listening.

Hutch was puzzled. "What does that mean?"

Starsky looked up from the book he was reading. "Huh? Oh. It means, if you're gonna have one drink, have two. My father used to say it."

Hutch pondered that, but it still didn't make any sense. "OK, sure. Now will you get in this kitchen and help me?"

This time Starsky didn't raise his head from the book. "I told you what's in it. What's the problem?"

"You told me!! You said some of this and some of that -"

"I said hamburger and onions and green peppers and bread crumbs and steak sauce and ketchup and -"

"Hold it, hold it, I haven't had any time to write any of that down, and you haven't said how much of anything -"

Starsky sighed, put down the Nero Wolfe, and padded into the kitchen. On the counter sat approximately three pounds of hamburger, an enormous Bermuda onion, a huge mixing bowl, several measuring cups and spoons, and a pad of paper and pen. Starsky stopped dead. "What's all this?"

"What do you mean?"

Starsky motioned toward the measuring cups and spoons. "What're you gonna do with those?"

"Measure the ingredients," Hutch said with some asperity. "What did you think?"

"I think you're nuts, that's what I think. Now, wha'd you want?"

"I want you to tell me how much of everything to put in this stupid damn meatloaf."

"Nobody told you to make me a meatloaf," Starsky said reasonably. He picked up the hamburger, unwrapped it awkwardly with his one good hand, and dropped it into the bowl. Then he picked up the onion and tossed it at Hutch. "Here, peel this and chop it up. Real fine."

"You see, you can't cook with one hand," Hutch began. "And I didn't ask you to make the meatloaf, I just want you to tell me -"

"Look," Starsky said, exasperated, ''I don't know how much of everything you use. I go by feel. If you have to have exact measurements, I'll make the meatloaf while you watch and take notes. It's the only way I can think of."

This plan went smoothly until Starsky found that he had no ketchup. Scanning the contents of the refrigerator, he came across half a bottle of barbecue sauce. "Here, open this for me."

Hutch watched as Starsky poured it into the bowl. "You didn't mention barbecue sauce," Hutch protested.

"I'm outta ketchup," Starsky explained.

"So you just substitute barbecue sauce?" Hutch asked.

"Right."

"But how do you know to do that? And do you put in the same amount of barbecue sauce as you would ketchup?"

"No."

"Then how do you know -"

Starsky sighed. "Look, Hutch, I learned to cook from my grandmother. After a while she had me doing it. At no time was I allowed to cross-examine her about which ingredients she used, or why. There were certain things you didn't do around my grandmother, and one of them was question her cooking. If you did, she'd send you to bed without supper. You wanna get sent to bed without supper?"

Hutch shook his head.

"Terrific. So forget the damn stupid meatloaf. I can do the rest of this; just gotta mix it up and stick it in a pan. Never said I loved you 'cause you could cook." To himself, he added, "If I did, I'da never said it."

"I heard that. I only came over to do this because you can't cook with one hand. Or fly on one leg."

Starsky gave him a push. "Go sit on the sofa and read me my book while I finish this. An' from now on, stay outta the kitchen. Keep tellin' you, you're purely ornamental anyhow..."

"Tomorrow night I'm cooking dinner," Hutch said firmly.

And you're not going to like it.

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"... Rams initiate all their actions from pure feeling - they trust their emotions and are skeptical of undue practicality. Virgos are practical, they trust their mentality, and are skeptical of pure feelings and emotions. When Aries people are upset, they'll usually shout it from the rooftops and open their grievances to air them out. When Virgos are upset, they keep it buried inside and shut up their grievances to gather the rust of resentment. Rams are careless of their physical strength, yet they're seldom chronically ill. Virgos are extremely careful of their physical health, yet they frequently complain of assorted symptoms of illness..."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"You haven't said a word to me since this morning. If you're pissed off, I wish you'd tell me what you're pissed off about! I'm not a goddamned mind-reader, you know!"

"I don't even know why you're here," Hutch said coldly. "I told you I want to be alone."

"But that's all you told me! I know you're mad at me; I want to know why."

"And I told you I don't want to talk to you right now," Hutch said tightly. "Will you go home?"

"Hutch, don't do this! I can't stand it when you clam up on me. If you're mad, tell me why and we'll -"

"I don't want to talk to you. There's nothing to talk about..."

"If there was nothing to talk about, you wouldn't be so mad at me."

"I'm not mad. I just want you to go home."

"If you're not mad, why do I have to go home?"

"I think you're a damned fool, and there isn't anything I can do with you. "

"Wanna bet?" Starsky asked, trying to look seductive.

Hutch gave him a nasty look. "You go through these spells where you intentionally put yourself in a position where you're damned likely to get yourself killed - and it makes me furious! This morning that kid came this close -" thumb and forefinger pressed tightly together "- to blowing your brains out with a .44, and you just walk right up to her like she's handing you a telegram!" Hutch stopped, not wanting to loose the rage he felt. "Go home," he said curtly.

"She wasn't gonna shoot me, Hutch," Starsky said quietly. "She was scared - geeze, if somebody'd done to me what her old man did to her, I'da been scared, too. She just wanted somebody to help her -"

"She shot both of her parents -"

"She was scared! And she didn't shoot me, did she? She handed me the gun."

"Starsk, I don't think my nerves can take any more of your grandstand plays."

"Who was grandstanding?" Starsky asked indignantly. "I knew she wouldn't shoot me."

"How?" Hutch demanded. "Just tell me how you knew."

Starsky stood thinking about it. ''I don't know. I just - I just felt it."

Fatigue washed over Hutch. Shaking his head, he closed his eyes and collapsed on the sofa. "You just felt it," he murmured.

"Right," Starsky agreed, happy this explanation was being accepted.

"Like you 'felt' the gas gauge was wrong on that loaner Merle gave you?" Hutch asked sarcastically.

"I was right, wasn't I? Spent the whole day with the arrow on empty and never had a problem. I told Merle about it; he said he'd check it out."

"And like you 'felt' that Davis would confess if we just kept after him for 'a few more minutes' -"

"I said I was sorry. You ever gonna forgive me for that? How was I supposed to know -"

"Three hours, Starsk. We wasted three hours questioning him, then his wife came in and confessed. Davis didn't know a thing about it."

"A guy's got a right to make one mistake! An' anyhow, he was acting damned guilty."

"One mistake! You think you've made only one mistake in your life?"

"I never said it was the only mistake I'd ever made. Hey, you okay?"

"Hungry is all."

"I'll order pizza."

"Starsky, pizza every night is not a healthy -"

"I don't eat pizza every night."

"You eat junk food practically every meal."

"And I'm in perfect health. But you look like hell. Back bothering you again?" Starsky walked around behind Hutch and began massaging his back. "Geeze, you're all in knots. Lay down on your stomach; 's'easier that way."

Hutch stretched out, and Starsky knelt on the floor next to him.

"Life sucks, you know that?"

"I've thought so, now and again. Why'd ya mention it?"

"Your idea of a well-balanced meal is all the chemicals and preservatives your stomach will hold, and you feel fine. I eat exactly what I should..."

"Just goes to prove all those books you read on nutrition don't know a thing. Ya gotta live the way ya gotta live."

"Let me write that down," Hutch mumbled, cradling his head in his arms.

"Go on to sleep," Starsky said gently, still rubbing Hutch's back.

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"... Both of them are usually quick to help others, although their motivations are somewhat different. Arians do it because it makes them feel good to be the cause of happiness since it proves to them that they can pull off a minor miracle anytime the occasion arises. Virgos do it because it gives a Virgin the nervous twidgets to stand by and see confusion adding up to chaos, when a little clear thinking would, in their practical opinion, untangle all the snarls. It's instinctive for Virgo to step in, take a nip and tuck here and there, then go on his or her way without either waiting for or desiring any thanks. Aries won't wait around too long for thanks either, but you'd better believe the Ram desires it. If it isn't forthcoming, Aries will be both hurt and angry, unlike Virgo, who doesn't really expect too much of people anyway, and is therefore capable of shrugging off any ingratitude by chalking it up as just another one of the many imperfections of human nature..."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"Hafta spend the whole damned night finishing up this damned paperwork - I had other plans for tonight, but no, I get to type!"

Hutch looked up from his own typing, surprised by this sudden outburst from Starsky. "What's wrong with you?"

"I just told you! This is not the way I wanted to spend a Friday evening.''

"Not my idea of a great time either," Hutch agreed. "But the paperwork has to be done -"

"I know the paperwork has to be done. It just shoulda been done this afternoon!"

"Hey, it was just as much your idea to try and get the lady's car running as it was mine."

"I know that. I wanted to help her, too." Starsky went back to his typing.

"We had to do something," Hutch added. "She was right in the middle of the intersection. If she was still there at rush hour, the traffic would've backed up clear to Oregon."

Starsky looked up from the typewriter again, mouth slightly ajar. "That's why you wanted to stop and help her?"

"Sure. What did you think? Anyhow, my idea was to call a tow truck, remember?"

Starsky was at a loss for an answer. "You were serious? About the tow truck?"

"Sure. What's wrong with that? She needed help -"

"Exactly! So we tried to help her -"

"- and between the two of us we eventually got her car started. So what're you so upset about?"

"She griped about how long it was taking us, she kept checking our IDs like she thought we were impostors -"

"Lady's got a right to be cautious."

"And when we finally did get her stupid Pinto started, not only didn't she say thank you, she nearly ran over my foot when she tore off!"

"She was in a hurry to get home. We were in a hurry to get here, remember?"

"I've never been in a hurry to get here," Starsky muttered.

"And Starsk, the way you're dressed, if you stopped to help me with my car, I'd be in a hurry to get away from you, too. You don't look trustworthy."

"I'm very trustworthy!"

"You dress like a felon." Hutch smiled at Starsky's outraged look. "In fact, most felons I've met dress better than you do."

"If I saw that rust-bucket sitting by the side of the road, I'd assume it was abandoned."

"Ha ha, very funny. Maybe if you didn't dress like a degenerate, strangers might not be so prone to distrust you."

"Strangers like me fine," Starsky defended himself, going back to his typing.

"Sure they do. It's the people who know you who don't trust you."

Starsky looked up, frowning. "Shut up and let me type."

"Sorry to have bothered you," Hutch murmured.

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"...Yet no matter how close Aries and Virgo may be, Aries will feel deeply Virgo's frown of displeasure when he... is late for an appointment, goofs off, or becomes careless and irresponsible. It's never as easy for the Ram to enjoy work as it is for the Virgin. What Aries views as harmless procrastination, Virgo interprets as an almost sinful waste of valuable time. Of course, after office... or family obligations are properly attended to (all of which may take endless time and attention) when there are no guilty twinges because everything is nicely snuggled away in its own cubbyhole - the Virgins often lead rather interesting and, in rare cases, even shockingly unorthodox private lives, when they lose their compulsive worries..."

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"Over a hour late. I don't believe this - he's set a new record for lateness! Late for work, late for the movie last night - for all the money he spends on watches, you'd think he'd learn to tell time! This is insane. I'm not going to spend any more time waiting around for him. I'll drive myself to work, if he can't handle it - and then stranding me here while he picks up a surprise! I don't want a surprise, I want to go home, have dinner and relax... not to mention those Christmas cards I've got to address, and presents to wrap... which is all Starsky's fault, too; I never should have let him talk me into buying presents, he knows how I feel about Christmas presents -"

Engrossed in his mental complaining, Hutch didn't notice the Torino pulling up, or Starsky getting out and walking over to him. "Hey, you ready?"

"Do you know how late you are?" Hutch demanded.

Starsky looked at his watch, pushing buttons until the time finally appeared on its face. "Yeah, I'm - oh, a hour and forty minutes. Sorry, I kinda lost track of time -"

"Lost track of time," Hutch repeated coldly.

"Yeah, well, it took me a lot longer than I thought to get it - it hadn't come in yet, and then I got to talking to Candi -"

"Candi? Who's Candi?"

"... and I guess I lost track of time. I said I was sorry."

"You're always sorry. I'm getting tired of your sorries. From now on I'm going to drive myself to and from work - you're the most irresponsible, unreliable - I have things to do this evening, and standing around in the parking lot, waiting for you, was not on my list -"

"Was standing around in this parking lot, yelling at me, on the list? 'Cause if not, could you get in the car and yell at me on the way to your place? I'm hungry, and I want dinner."

Too indignant to reply, Hutch got in the car and slammed the door shut. Starsky couldn't see what the big deal was, but he wisely refrained from saying anything more until they got to Hutch's apartment. "Am I invited in?" he asked meekly. Hutch gave him a stern look, got out of the car, and went inside. Starsky took a large box out of the trunk and slowly followed Hutch up the stairs, wondering how long he would stay in his snit.

Hutch was waiting at the top of the stairs, holding the door open, watching him with absolutely no curiosity. If he doesn't like this, I'm gonna throw it at him, Starsky thought. Buy some people an early Christmas present and what do you get for your thoughtfulness? Jumped all over. Starsky walked past Hutch and into the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind him.

"I thought you wanted dinner," Hutch called through the door.

"Yeah, well, gotta do this first."

"What're you doing in there?" Hutch asked suspiciously.

"Go address a Christmas card; I'm busy."

Forty-five minutes later Starsky emerged from the bedroom, exhausted but triumphant. He thought he'd never get the damned thing finished, and starving, no less. If there wasn't dinner waiting for him he'd probably cry.

Hutch looked up from his Christmas cards. "Hi. Long time no see."

"Yeah. Anything to eat?"

"Baked chicken. It's in the kitchen."

"Terrific."

Hutch followed Starsky to the kitchen, watching as Starsky filled a plate with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and peas. Then he got them a couple of beers from the refrigerator and sat down across the table from Starsky, watching him eat. "What've you been doing in the bedroom for so long?"

"It's a surprise. How's the Christmas cards goin'?"

"About half done."

"Wha'd you buy me for Christmas?"

"It's only December first. I don't want to start having this silly argument until we're at least into two-digit dates."

"Does that mean you're not going to tell me?"

"Very good; you figured that out quickly."

"It's not for nothing I'm a detective."

"Then I'll stop spreading all those nasty rumors about you sleeping your way to the top."

"This ain't the top, Hutch; it's more like the middle. I might be willing to sleep my way to the top, but ain't no way I'd sleep my way to the middle."

"When I make commissioner, I'll be sure you get promoted to lieutenant, sometime before you retire."

"You'll be lucky to end your career directing traffic."

Hutch hadn't been anticipating this response. He nearly choked on his beer.

"Y'ok?"

"Yes, thanks. How's the chicken?"

"Terrific. You're not a bad cook, when you use real food."

"That's another discussion I don't want to have."

"How many digits do the days have to have before I can criticize your cooking?"

"At least four."

"OK," Starsky agreed, finishing his dinner. He put his plate and fork in the sink. "Ready for bed?"

"Sure."

Just outside the bedroom door Starsky grabbed Hutch from behind.

"You couldn't wait two minutes?" Hutch asked, amused, exasperated, and somewhat aroused.

"I don't want you to go in there."

"Why not? What did you do to my room?"

"It's your Christmas present. Close your eyes."

"I almost like getting shot better than I like most of your surprises."

Starsky left Hutch standing by the bedroom door while he turned out all the lights in the apartment. Then he went back to Hutch and led him into the bedroom.

"Is this all really necessary? Couldn't I just open my present under the tree like everybody else?"

"I spent forty-five minutes setting it up! I'd have to take it all apart... and anyhow, I want you to try it out."

Hutch sat down on the bed, waiting. Why does he have to do things like this?

"OK, lay down on the bed. On your back."

Hutch kicked off his shoes and did as he was told, wondering what Starsky had in mind. Obviously not what he'd thought earlier - he hadn't even suggested Hutch take off his clothes.

And then it started. Hutch's first thought was that they were having an earth tremor; then he realized that it was the bed vibrating. Unnerved, Hutch sat up quickly. "What the hell -?"

"Well, wha'd'ya think?"

"You attached a vibrator to the bed?!"

"Uh-huh. See, to do it right you gotta take off the mattress and put these things in between it and the box -"

"Starsky, why?"

"Don't you like it?"

Hutch lay back down, considering. Vibrating beds, X-rated movies, and all the other one-hour motel room crap had never held any particular appeal. What he found erotic in sex was not something that could be electrically enhanced. On the other hand, the vibrating did feel wonderful.

"Well?" Starsky persisted, sitting cross-legged on the bed. "How's your back feel?"

"How's my -?" Hutch sat up again. "You did this for my back?"

"Sure, wha'd you think? Asked your doctor if he thought it would help and he said it was worth a try. Does it help?"

Hutch lay back, pulling Starsky with him. "It feels great."

"Why else would I do all this?" Starsky asked, suddenly suspicious.

"No rea--"

"Look, the day comes I need vibrating beds or red lights or any of that shit to get you interested, I'll pack up and sleep alone."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"Because Virgos are so analytical and fond of clarity, Aries people are inclined to look on them as picky and cold. Far from being cold, however, Virgos are the most inwardly sentimental of all the Sun Signs. (The important word in that sentence is 'inwardly.' It causes all the misunderstandings.) Their very discrimination itself implies high ideals for things and people to live up to, and when they don't - well, anyone would be cranky once in a while, from being so constantly disillusioned. Virgos are frequently nervous around Aries people because the Virgins dislike being openly firm. The Arian impulsiveness can cause Virgo to feel secretly inadequate because of being helpless to change a situation, so they'll sometimes try to cover the feelings with a judgmental attitude - a kind of silent disapproval. It doesn't really matter what kind it is. Any kind of disapproval will annoy Aries, even if it's only vaguely implied and not verbalized. It is, nevertheless, felt or sensed. The typical Aries man... isn't looking for reasonable discussions or cool , sensible Virgo remarks about right and wrong, what's proper and practical, and what is not. Rams respond beautifully to generosity of spirit in others - and quite unpleasantly to stuffiness or criticism. Aries will often rebel and struggle for identity in a close association with a Virgo because he... considers calm, rational talks a cold substitute for affectionate warmth, friendliness, and an open-hearted manner."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"I don't like being kidnapped," Hutch said, rather tentatively.

"You're not being kidnapped," Starsky told him. "I'm just taking you someplace."

"You blindfolded me and you're taking me someplace against my will. What do you call that?"

"I only blindfolded you so it'll be a surprise when we get there. I didn't tie you up. I didn't threaten you. You're not unconscious. And that ransom note I left Huggy, well, that was just a joke; he doesn't have that kind of money."

"So you're an incompetent kidnapper. If you wanted to pull off a really good kidnapping, you'll need my help."

"If this was a kidnapping, I'd say I was already getting your help."

Hutch had to laugh. "Good point. You're abducting me with my cooperation. How long till we get there?"

"You sound like Nick when we drove to Niagara Falls. Every fifteen minutes he wanted to know when we'd get there."

"You've been driving for over two hours and this is the first time I've asked."

"How'd you know it's been over two hours?"

"I've heard that silly watch of yours beep twice. It beeps every hour, right? Now look, I've been very tolerant so far -"

"Tolerant? What is it with you? Every time I try to do something nice for you, you put on your martyr expression and act like you're doing me a big favor. I oughtta turn the car around right now, but I'm not going to. If I didn't make you do new stuff once in a while you'd - what's it called when a person stops moving forward and dies?"

"Atrophy."

"Right, you'd atrophy."

"I won't try new things? I practically had to drag you to the only two Ingmar Bergman movies you've ever seen -"

"OK, I take it back. You're willing to try new things, but only if they're not any fun. Why is that? What's wrong with having a good time?"

"Nothing's wrong with having a good time," Hutch said quietly. "I like having a good time."

Starsky reached over with his right hand and stroked Hutch's cheek. "Just ain't easy, huh? Ya gotta learn to take it easy."

"How can I take it easy with a maniac like you around?"

"Relax, we're almost there."

"Nothing makes me as nervous as you telling me to relax," Hutch complained.

"There's nothing to be nervous about."

"You're not helping. The last time you said that, I couldn't walk in the morning."

"You didn't relax," Starsky told him.

It felt to Hutch as if Starsky was making numerous 360-degree turns. "What're you doing?"

"Just -"

"Don't tell me to relax -"

"We're here."

Starsky stopped the car and untied Hutch's blindfold.

Hutch looked around, blinking, letting his eyes get used to the light. After a moment he realized where they were. "The Midnight Pass? I can't believe you drove all this way to get us to this rat-trap motel! The rooms are like closets, they don't have room service, the mattresses and pillows are filled with rocks -"

The wistful look on Starsky's face stopped him. After a few minutes Starsky said, "I thought you'd remember. This's where we came that first weekend, when we wanted to be alone. And what I remember is the beach and how deserted it was."

Hutch was chagrined. He remembered the beach, and very fondly. The problem was, he hated surprises and this had been one helluva surprise.

Starsky was watching him, face full of apprehension.

"The beach was nice," Hutch agreed softly. He felt dreadful about ruining Starsky's surprise. "What made you think of doing this? I don't even have any clothes with me or anything..."

"Dobey gave us some time off, so I packed us some stuff. Anyhow, as I recall, you didn't wear a lot of clothes the last time we were here."

"Well, that's true."

"So, ya wanna check in? Maybe we can get the same closet we had before."

"It's got to be better than San Francisco," Hutch said, getting out of the car. "You're the only person in the world who thinks a view of Alcatraz is romantic."

"Who was lookin' at Alcatraz? I was lookin' at you."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"... Yet, when there's a favorable aspect between the Sun and Moon in the charts, Aries and Virgo can grace one another with many mutual blessings. In an Aries-Virgo association where there is such a harmonious Luminary influence, the Ram may surprise himself... by following Virgo's quiet example and paying serious attention to Virgo's always well-meant and helpful advice. And the Virgins will surprise themselves too, by allowing the Rams to coax them into losing many of their inhibitions and dropping a few layers of their usually sedate behavior. All it really takes for this combination to blend smoothly is for each person to spend more time concentrating on the virtues of the other, rather than dwelling on the differences."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

Hutch unpacked the clothes Starsky had packed for him, his pent-up feelings of anxiety slowly dissolving. Starsky had managed to put together several color-coordinated changes of clothing. And not only did the colors go together, but the pieces of clothing he'd picked were most of Hutch's favorites. He'd packed none of the loud, flashy, ugly shirts he'd bought for Hutch over the years. Hutch was astonished. Even the clothes Starsky had packed for himself were neatly pressed, tasteful and clean. Hutch didn't even recognize several items; he wondered if Starsky had ever worn them. He started to ask about them, then changed his mind. The worst way to get Starsky to do what you wanted was to make a big deal out of it when he did.

Starsky stood in the bathroom, trying to wash the sand out of his hair. They'd been sitting on the beach, watching the waves, when Hutch had begun dribbling sand down the back of his shirt. Starsky had tried to retaliate, but Hutch had pushed him down in the sand and thrown handfuls of sand in his hair, laughing like a lunatic. Starsky had fought back only because it was never any fun to attack someone who wouldn't fight back, but he'd enjoyed Hutch's spontaneous insanity. It didn't happen often; certainly not often enough to suit Starsky. Trying to get Hutch to loosen up and enjoy himself was practically a full-time occupation. He more than appreciated Hutch's ability to calmly, coolly analyze a situation without letting his emotions interfere with his thought process (valued it even when it drove him crazy). On the job it was a godsend, but applying that same attitude to your life was a pretty cold way to live. Maybe Hutch was finally getting the message.

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"... It's true that both of them lean toward purity of purpose. Each wistfully longs for the beauty of the spirit and seeks a shining ideal. Aries and Virgo ride together on a mutual search for truth and loveliness... The Ram blindly and instinctively believes they'll find what they're looking for, despite all disappointments and the apparent impossibility of success. Virgos have little or no hope of ever actually discovering the Holy Grail, and even if they did, you can be sure they would find a chip on it."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"Do you ever wonder why we became cops?" Hutch asked, sitting up. They had been lying on the beach, staring out at the waves, watching the sunset and eating ice cream.

Starsky took his cone and lightly tapped Hutch's nose with the ice cream. "No. Leave me alone."

Hutch wiped his nose with the back of his hand. "It was just a question."

"It was not. If I wanted to be analyzed, I'd see a shrink."

"Sometimes I think you should," Hutch began, shutting up fast when he saw the ice cream coming close. "All right, all right. You fight dirty."

"Who threw sand in whose hair?"

"Hey, there's sand all over the beach; you had as much opportunity as I did."

"Well, if you ate like a normal person..." Starsky peered into the paper cup Hutch held. "What is that?"

"Yogurt."

"Of course. Heaven forbid you should eat something just 'cause it tastes good -"

"I don't want to discuss food with you."

Starsky sighed. "I became a cop because I wanted to be a cop. What's to understand? And what's this we business?"

Hutch turned to Starsky, a look of stunned hurt on his face. Before he could say anything, Starsky brushed his nose with the ice cream again. "Will you cut that out?"

"All I meant," Starsky said gently, "was since when do we ever do the same things for the same reasons?"

"You're right about that," Hutch agreed.

"So, if you're trying to figure out why you're doing something, why're you asking me? I never know why you do anything."

"I can accept that. It's just that I feel like we're wasting our time."

"I'm not wasting my time; I think I'm doing a damn good job. We help people. Maybe not everybody, and maybe not all the time, but we do help people."

Hutch shook his head and lay back down. "This just isn't what I had in mind."

"Nothing ever is," Starsky agreed. "You just gotta learn to make the best of it."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"... Aries and Virgo often confide things in each other they would never tell anyone else. They seem to sense that the mutual trust implied by intimate confession won't be violated - and it seldom is, though the Ram may find it hard to conceive of how the situation described by Virgo could ever have developed, considering his... own outlook.

Likewise, the Virgin will sincerely sympathize with the Ram's experiences, even while privately failing to comprehend why they were ever permitted to occur."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"These guilt trips are getting really boring," Starsky said, but his voice was full of concern, not annoyance. "It's been over a year since she died; it's time you were getting over it -"

"Starsky," Hutch began, but he was too drowsy to go on.

"Hey, I'm serious. She didn't get killed 'cause of you, she got killed because of her. Just 'cause they used your gun doesn't make it your fault."

"I know it, OK, and I don't want to talk about it."

"Answer me one thing," Starsky said, leaning against Hutch.

"What's the question?"

"Why'd you marry her?"

Hutch thought for a while. Starsky snuggled against him, yawning. "I was in love with her," Hutch answered finally.

"Oh. Never thought of that."

"Don't be a smartass."

"Then give me a serious answer."

"I don't know, OK? I thought I was in love with her; do you like that answer better? And while we're on the subject, your taste in women hasn't always been the best. I don't understand where you even find -"

"But I never married any of them -"

"All right, you want details, I'll give you details. Will you tell me why you're lying on me?"

"Feels nice."

Hutch started to say that pretty well summed up why he married Vanessa, but somehow he didn't think Starsky would appreciate it. "Will you get off me?"

"Uh-uh." 

Hutch sighed. "I married Vanessa because she was beautiful and I thought I was in love with her and I didn't know what she was like. I think that's pretty much why she married me."

"Because she thought you were beautiful?" God knows I do.

"Because she didn't know what I was like. We hadn't known each other very long, neither of us had been in LA very long - I think we were just lonely." Then, after a moment, "I can't remember what it felt like, being in love with anyone before you."

"Yeah, I know what you mean." Starsky grinned, making Hutch nervous. "Lemme ask you something -"

"Can we change the subject?" Hutch asked. That look on Starsky's face meant something embarrassing was coming.

Starsky kissed Hutch's neck. "D'ya ever think about - other people - when we're together?"

"Sure, all the time," Hutch agreed easily. Starsky bit him. "Ow - hey! It's not true, I take it all back, all right?"

"So?" Starsky asked, now kissing the spot he'd bitten.

"You think I'm going to answer a loaded question like that?"

"I think now you have to."

"When I'm with you, I think about you."

"Well, that's the right answer. Is it true?"

"I don't lie to you."

"OK," Starsky agreed.

"You forgot to ask the other question."

"What other - oh, that one. Don't need to; I already know the answer. I've always thought about you, too, no matter who I was with. You're blushing again." It was only a guess; the sun had been down for nearly an hour.

"Shut up."

"Terry said something kinda funny once. Maybe not so funny." Starsky's eyes were dark as the twilight and far away. "She said I spent a lot of time just trying to get your attention."

"Trying to get my attention? If there's anything you've always had, it's my attention."

Starsky nodded, but Hutch wondered if he believed him. Unbidden, one of Vanessa's casual cruelties came back to him. He practically stands on his head to get you to notice him; maybe I should tell him it isn't that big an honor being admitted to your bed.

"What?" Starsky asked, as if he'd heard what Hutch was thinking, but hadn't quite understood. He'd been doing that a lot lately, and Hutch found it unnerving.

"I didn't say anything. Vanessa was jealous of you, you know."

"Pretty stupid," Starsky murmured.

"Why was it stupid? She knew."

"Knew what?"

"How much you mean to me. How much I love you."

"Know what's really stupid? That whole damned murder investigation. Simonetti and Dryden out to frame you. They were just aching to hang you out to dry. They wanted it so bad they overlooked the most obvious suspect."

"Wheeler?"

"No," Starsky replied. "Me. 'Cept for using your gun. I'da -"

"Why would you shoot Vanessa?" Hutch asked, perplexed.

"'Cause I hated her guts. 'Cause she scared the shit outta me, coming back like that. I'd seen what number she'd done on your head - who knew what she'd try and pull?"

"You don't trust me?"

"You're a marshmallow," Starsky answered. "You're worse than that Frederick in that stupid Pirates of Penzance - honor is everything! - But ya don't pay enough attention to real life. And you give too much of yourself to people who don't deserve it, people you can't help, people who can't use it. No wonder you're burned out -"

"You don't have to stand on your head," Hutch said, pushing Starsky back in the sand and kissing him.

"What?"

"I'm paying attention."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"... As far apart as they seem to be at first glance, however, Aries and Virgo can stumble upon some happy surprises when they hike along together and take care to avoid the thistles, brambles, and thorns of disagreement. In the Ram, the Virgin can find someone really worthy of helping toward achievement, someone who will generously shower Virgo with a warmly enthusiastic and touching gratitude in return, someone who may even be able to unlock the little doors of those Virgo inhibitions and private longings. In the Virgin, the Rams can find the sincere appreciation they need - and a heart as honest and loyal as their own. Virgo can teach Aries to discover beauty in small things, to know the wisdom of waiting - to believe in the eventual success of patience. Aries can teach Virgo to discover and believe in themselves."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

"What's that?" Starsky asked, pointing up.

"There? The North Star."

"What about that?"

"Big Dipper. How many times have I told you all this?"

"Hundreds. Thousands. Millions. Why, you getting tired of it?"

"No."

"Think there's life on other planets?" Starsky asked.

"Sometimes I have trouble believing there's intelligent life on this planet."

"I thought you were out of that cheery mood."

"Sorry."

"Anyhow, who said anything about intelligent? All I said was life."

Hutch laughed.

"D'you ever wonder if maybe all those astrology people are right, that everything we do and everything we are is ruled by the stars?"

"Speaking of lack of intelligence, Starsky, we control our own destinies; the stars have nothing to do with it."

Starsky shrugged. "Pro'bly right."

* * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

All quotes are taken from Linda Goodman's Love Signs, copyright 1978. All opinions are those of Ms. Goodman alone. I, personally, do not believe in astrology; I just thought it was an interesting coincidence how nicely everything fit. - The Author.