Summary: Starsky is threatened in his apartment by an evil creature from South America.
Author's note: This is a little lighthearted fun after my last story. Spiders are the only thing in this world that I truly fear, and the ones we have in Texas can be enormous. The rainy weather has brought a lot of them inside lately, and I've been having a terrible time of it. I swear those suckers give me nightmares.
It's not rational, and my husband can attest that when it comes to eight-legged monsters, size does not matter--little ones are just as evil as big ones. But of course, in any story dealing with my boys, the bigger the better.
The Starsky I know and love is no wimp, but one of my guilty pleasures is stories where he fears the little things in life, so...here we go. Enjoy!
"Did you remember the rootbeer?" Starsky asked anxiously, peering into the bags of groceries Hutch had just carried up the steps to his apartment.
"Right here," Hutch sighed, setting down a sixpack of glass bottles. "Starsky, the things you eat are atrocious. Remind me never to shop for you again."
"Hey, it's your fault I got sick and couldn't go myself. If you hadn't made me eat that seaweed sandwich--"
"Watercress," Hutch corrected. "It was watercress, and you know very well that's not what made you sick. You were probably coming down with something already."
"Yeah, well funny leaves in my sandwich didn't help any," Starsky grumbled, poking through the bags. "What is this?" He extracted a small carton.
"It's yogurt, Starsky," Hutch replied patiently, taking it from his friend and stashing it in the refrigerator. "It's good for you."
"So is cod liver oil, according to my mother, but you won't find any of that in my apartment, either."
Hutch merely snorted in response.
"Come on, Hutch, I'm hungry. This is the first time in days I've had an appetite. Didn't you get me anything I can eat?"
"Of course I did. If you'd quit complaining and help me put this stuff away, you'd find a selection of frozen goodies to warm your unhealthy little heart. I just thought I'd get you a little nutrition to go along with the junk."
Encouraged, Starsky dug into the second bag, and smiled broadly when he pulled out a box of frozen tacos. "I didn't even know they made these," he crowed. "Now I am in heaven."
"They're new. The company probably made them just for you."
"Well I'll do my best to keep 'em in business," Starsky replied, turning on the oven and studying the cooking directions carefully. "You want some?"
"No thanks." Hutch pulled a banana off the bunch he'd bought and lay the rest on the counter. He peeled and ate it while Starsky put the tacos in the oven. "I hope you don't relapse after eating that stuff."
Starsky frowned in mock indignation. "I ain't gonna relapse as long as I keep eating normal food and not that weird stuff you like. That's the last time I let you order for me at a restaurant, buddy."
"That's what you get for going to the john just before the waitress came to take our order."
"I trusted you! Now I know why women do it."
"Do what?" Hutch asked, puzzled at the odd twist the conversation had just taken.
"Go to the restroom in pairs. They don't trust each other."
Hutch sighed, tossing the banana peel into the trash. "I don't even want to discuss the odd habits of women. I have to go now, Starsk. Is there anything else you need?"
"Nope. Thanks, Hutch."
Starsky barely noticed the door closing behind his partner, so intent was he upon his tacos.
After he'd wolfed them down, along with an ice-cold rootbeer, he felt better. So much better that he almost forgave Hutch for the yogurt. Although he still had no idea what he'd do with it. He certainly wasn't going to eat it. Maybe if it sat in his refrigerator long enough, Hutch would feel sorry for it and have it for breakfast one day.
Starsky cleaned up the kitchen from his lunch, but found himself still wanting something. Dessert would be great, but Hutch hadn't brought him any ice cream or popsicles. He sighed, his eyes roaming over the kitchen, until they lit on the bananas.
Okay, sweet, not nasty--something he could eat that would even make Hutch happy. Not the ideal solution, but it would do.
Absently plotting the things he would fill his partner's refrigerator with the next time Hutch was sick, Starsky reached out to pull a banana off the bunch. He lifted, twisted--
--and took two rapid steps backward, his eeeyes as wide as saucers.
"Gah!" he yelled, shaking his finger where the creature had touched it.
Two long, hairy black legs probed between the bananas, as if searching for flesh to feast upon. Starsky took another step back, bumping his leg against the edge of the table. His eyes never left the bananas.
Finding nothing, the legs began to move forward, to be joined by six more, as well as a body large enough to send Starsky's heart racing toward triphammer level.
This was no spider, this was a monster!
It had crawled out of its nest slowly, but now that it was free, the tarantula decided to take a quick look around its new home. It skittered across the counter and down the drawers to the floor.
Starsky let out a noise that could have been called a scream, and raced for the bedroom. He slammed the door shut and leaned against it, breathing heavily. His hair tickled the back of his neck, and he slapped at it, certain the creature had managed to hitch a ride while he wasn't looking.
"What am I supposed to do now?" he moaned to the room at large. "I can't go back out there with that thing in my kitchen!"
He thought about calling Hutch, but the mental image of his friend's hysterical laughter when he had to come rescue Starsky from a spider made him reject that idea. He was a grown man, and a cop besides. He faced down scary criminals all the time and never flinched. Surely he could deal with one little spider in his house.
Only the thing wasn't little, he remembered with a shudder. It was HUGE. Still, it was a hundred times smaller than he, so therefore he could beat it, right? How big a brain could it possibly have, anyway? Not one the size that could beat Hutch at chess, Starsky would bet his life on that.
Reinforced with the knowledge of his own superiority, Starsky turned around and made himself open the bedroom door. A quick glance around the room showed nothing out of place, except the kitchen table, which had been pushed aside when he made his mad dash for safety.
"Probably gone already," he told himself, taking one step into the living room. "More scared of me than I am of it." Even as he said the words, he knew they were a lie. He'd nearly freaked up at Pine Lake when Hutch had made spider-fingers on his back while he'd been unloading the car, and Starsky had been willing to forego entering the cabin altogether if it meant not having to meet the spider who had built the enormous cobweb over the door. If it hadn't been for more serious matters taking over...
He shook away the thought. That was seven years ago, and this was the here and now. And right now, he had to make sure the eight-legged intruder was gone. Resisting the urge to grab his gun, Starsky instead opted for taking off his left shoe. If he saw the tarantula, he could smash it with that.
What he hadn't reckoned on was the utter fear of certain things creepy-crawly that he tried to hide from the world, himself, and especially his partner. It just wasn't manly. What woman was going to want a man who ran screaming in terror at the sight of a little bitty spider? Cockroaches were different-- he'd grown up in New York City. Cockroaches were a fact of life, no matter how clean you kept your house. They were almost like little members of the family. He'd even raced them at Cabrillo State during their case there, picking them up and holding them without a qualm. But this...
"Ugh," he commented, taking another step.
So far, so good. No octi-intruders spotted. Maybe one more step...
Then he looked up. He was a cop. He was trained to look up. He wondered why he hadn't done it before. Maybe it was the subconscious knowledge of what he'd see when he did. Whatever the reason, he was looking up now, and what he saw on the ceiling directly above him made him lose his balance and fall on his butt.
"Ahh!" he yelled, scooting back into the bedroom and slamming the door once more. "Geez! Why do these things always happen to me!"
After catching his breath, Starsky sat on the end of the bed, his eyes still on the door as if expecting the tarantula to use its unfair advantage (eight legs to his two) to twist the doorknob open. When that didn't happen, he dropped his eyes to the floor.
There! Under the door! Had he really seen what he thought he had? No way. It had to be a figment of his imagination. He was just getting spooked now. And yet...there it was again. A black, hairy leg feeling its way under the door. And then another.
With a genuine scream this time, Starsky grabbed a pillow off his bed, stuffing the edge of it under the door. He narrowly missed brushing the tarantula's legs with his fingers again, causing another scream.
"Holy crap!" he yelled, backing away and standing in the middle of the room, breathing so hard he was near to hyperventilating. "Get out of my house, you little monster!"
The tarantula didn't comply. Instead, it began exploring the edge of the crack under the door, the part the pillow wasn't long enough to block.
Starsky jumped onto the bed, and decided the time for pride was long past. He grabbed the phone and punched in Hutch's number without even looking at the buttons. The call was answered on the fourth ring.
"Starsky, if you're calling to complain some more about--"
"Hutch!" Starsky interrupted in a strangled whisper. "I need you to come over right away. There's a-an intruder in my house."
"Are you all right?" Hutch demanded, all teasing suddenly gone from his voice.
"Yeah." Starsky continued to whisper, as if by doing so he could fool the tarantula into thinking there was no potential victim in the bedroom. Maybe it would go explore the bathroom instead. "Just hurry, Hutch!"
"I'll radio the station and have them send--"
"No!" Starsky gripped the receiver harder when a third leg joined the first two probing beneath the door. "Just you, Hutch, please! I'll be all right until you get here. Just--HURRY!"
Hutch didn't even bother answering, he just dropped the receiver back into its cradle and ran for the door. He made it to Starsky's place in record time, and raced up the stairs as quietly as possible, gun drawn and at the ready. He tried the door and found it locked. He considered kicking it in, but hated to do the damage if it proved to be unnecessary. Instead, he fished his keyring out of his pocket and used his spare key.
Hutch stood back as the door swung slowly open. Nothing happened.
"Starsk?" he called. "You okay?"
"Hutch, I'm in the bedroom."
Hutch walked slowly into the apartment.
One of Starsky's sneakers lay on the floor outside the bedroom, and something else, something small and black... Hutch leaned forward for a closer look, and realized what he was seeing. Half a tarantula was on this side of the door, and half was on the bedroom side, squirming past something Starsky had obviously shoved there to block its path.
Just then, he heard Starsky yell, "Go away, you little bastard!" There was a crash at the door as Starsky threw something. The tarantula paused in its exploration for a moment, then continued its relentless efforts to reach the bedroom and his terrified partner.
"Hutch, can you get it? Hurry! It's almost inside!"
The obvious panic in his partner's voice made him tamp down on the laughter that wanted to erupt. He looked around the apartment for something to trap the tarantula in, and spied Starsky's glass cookie jar, half full of peanut butter cookies. Quickly, Hutch dumped the cookies into the trash and carried the jar over to the bedroom.
"C'mere, little fella," he coaxed, using Starsky's shoe to urge the tarantula back away from its bedroom goal. The creature clung to the sneaker, and Hutch was able to drop it into the cookie jar and put the lid on with no trouble at all.
"All right, Starsk, it's safe to come out," he called, no longer bothering to hide his amusement.
"Really?" Starsky asked doubtfully from the other side of the door. "If this is one of your jokes, Hutch, it ain't funny."
"No joke, I promise. I have it trapped in your cookie jar."
The bedroom door opened a crack, and Starsky peered through. Seeing his friend was telling the truth, he opened the door wider. Hutch held the jar up in front of Starsky's face--just to show him that the intruder was caught, he would swear later--and Starsky drew back so quickly he lost his balance. He landed on his butt once more.
This time, Hutch nearly dropped the cookie jar when helpless laughter overtook him.
"Be careful!" Starsky screeched from his spot on the floor.
Hutch managed to control himself enough to set the jar safely on the floor, then succumbed to what he saw as utter hilarity.
Five minutes later, when Hutch had finally managed to control himself--almost--Starsky stood up. He rubbed his aching rear and picked up his lost sneaker. When he sat down on the sofa to put his shoe on, Hutch began laughing anew.
"Now what?" Starsky asked, already resigned to being teased for the rest of his life over the incident.
"It touched your shoe," Hutch pointed helplessly. "Had to use--use it to get it--into the jar." And went off into gales of laughter again.
"You know, you're not a very nice guy sometimes."
"Aww, Starsk, I'm sorry, it's just that the idea..." More laughter.
Starsky sighed. He avoided looking at the tarantula while he picked up his pillow and straightened his bed. He pushed the dining room table back into place, made a great show of dropping the rest of the bananas into the trash, and turned to his partner. Hutch had finally managed to get himself under control, for which Starsky was grateful.
"What are you going to do with it?" he asked, still not letting his eyes rest on the invader.
Hutch, on the other hand, was fascinated. "Maybe I'll keep him for a pet."
"You do," Starsky threatened, "and our partnership is over. I mean it, Hutch. How could I come to your place ever again, knowing that monster was there?"
"Oh, all right, you baby," Hutch agreed with a grin. "I'll give him to my neighbor. She has one pet tarantula already. Maybe she'd like another."
"You're kidding!" Starsky stared at Hutch, clearly not believing his ears. "Susan has a pet spider?"
"Yep. Name's Bruno, I think."
"Bruno. And you've met Bruno, I take it?"
"Oh, sure. He even crawled on my arm once. Cute little thing."
"Hutch, spiders are not cute."
Hutch put his hand over his mouth to cover the laugh that wanted to bubble up again. "Don't worry, Starsk, I'll take the big, bad, nasty tarantula away with me. And the next time you have an intruder in your apartment--" This time Hutch was unable to resist, and the sentence went unfinished.
Starsky waited for Hutch's laughter to die down before asking, "What did you do with my peanut butter cookies?"
Hutch sobered at once. "Uh--I think I need to wash my hands. Be right back." He disappeared into the bathroom.
Maybe if he worked things just right, he could grab Bruno's cousin and get to his car before Starsky discovered he'd dumped his precious cookies in the trash. That probably hadn't been the best option, he conceded as he reached for the towel to dry his hands, but he hadn't been thinking about cookies at the time.
Wiping his hands on the towel, Hutch felt something hard and wriggly touch his fingers. Startled, he jumped back, and watch in horror as a very large, brown cockroach dropped from the towel to the floor. Its antennae waved curiously as it considered which way to run, then apparently decided Hutch's foot looked enticing.
Hutch stood paralyzed as the cockroach explored the edge of his shoe. When it began to make progress, actually climbing up his foot, his paralysis broke immediately.
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