Chancellor's Tale

"Why is there a wolf sitting in the middle of the kitchen?"

It wasn't the first question Hutch expected to hear upon walking into the house. It wasn't exactly the second or third, either. But with Starsky, you had to expect potentially anything -- so he wasn't completely surprised. It might have been the forty-third thing. Hutch continued towards the bedroom, to hang up his coat. "I dunno, Starsk. What kind of wolf is it?"

"Looks like a pup, that's what kind."

That answer had been only slightly less expected than the question. Hutch dropped his coat over a chair and headed towards his partner. He found the man kneeling in the kitchen, trying to coax something towards him. "Starsk? What are--" he stopped when he saw over Starsky's shoulder. There was a wolf pup sitting in the kitchen. "Why is there a wolf in the kitchen?"

Starsky glanced over at him, with a look that said 'been there, asked that, catch up already'.

Hutch ignored him as he realized -- "That thing is real!" The pup was standing, now, wagging its tail. Hutch backed away carefully. "I'm calling Animal Control."

"Ah, Hutch!" The downcast tone was expected. Hutchinson even knew what was coming next. "Can't we keep him?"

They'd had this discussion before. Nearly a hundred times since they'd moved in to the house -- Starsky wanted a dog. Hutch kept pointing out that they had practically no yard and it would be unfair to keep a pet that needed daily attention when they were never sure when or if they'd be home work-nights. His partner understood that, but it didn't stop him from going nuts over their friends' dogs, the neighbors' dogs, and the puppies they saw in the pet shop windows. Hutch would start to feel guilty about it, until the next time they got home at 3 am.

"Starsk, it's a wolf. Not a dog--"

"Yeah, but it's just a baby. We can't give it to Animal Control -- there's no telling what they'd do with him."

From the sound of his voice, Starsky was still kneeling on the kitchen floor. Hutch shook his head, knowing his lover couldn't see it.

"Don't shake your head at me, Hutch. You don't know what they'll do with a wild animal. They might put him down."

"And they might turn him loose in the (preserve). Besides, what are we supposed to do with a wild animal?" Hutch reached for the telephone directory. He caught sight of a piece of paper that hadn't been there when they'd left. He picked it up.

"Dear Ken,

I hope you don't mind. We needed to find a good home--

"Starsk!"

"What?" His partner came into the room, alerted by Hutch's tone. He kept reading, aloud.

"I hope you don't mind. We needed a good home for Chancellor. I know you'll be able to handle him -- and he will take good care of you as he grows older and more experienced. I know mine does. Please call me if you have any problems; the obsession about the deli will go away, I'm sure, in time. It's signed Blair." Hutch gave Starsky a perplexed look, which was returned in kind.

Starsky saked, "Why is Blair giving us a wolf? I didn't know he had a wolf."

"He does," Hutch recalled. "But it isn't real. It's a spirit guide." Hutch walked very slowly towards the kitchen. The wolf pup was still sitting in the middle of the floor. It began wagging its tail as soon as it saw Hutch. "Chancellor?"

The pup gave a yip, and ran over. It pounced on Hutch's foot, growled once, then sat on it and looked up.

"Aww... he's cute!"

"Starsk, you're not helping."

"Hey, does that mean he's a spirit guide, too?"

Hutch regarded the not-so-small animal balanced precariously on his foot. It certainly felt heavy enough to be real. "I'm not sure... But how else would Blair have gotten him in here?"

"The front door?" His lover offered. Hutch just looked at him. Starsky shrugged. "This is Blair we're talking about."

"I'll give you that. But he's in Washington -- I talked to him three days ago and he didn't mention coming down to LA."

"Well, then either he mailed the wolf down here, or it ain't really real." Starsky was beside him now, looking down at Chancellor. Chancellor seemed to be enjoying the attention although it remained mostly focused on Hutch.

"This is ridiculous. I'm calling Blair." Hutch tried to move his foot out from under Chancellor. The pup tipped off, then scrambled up and leapt, placing its front paws on Hutch's legs. As Hutch stepped away again, Chancellor followed.

"I think he likes you."

"I think you're both nuts." Hutch muttered it only half-serious, but wasn't prepared for the wide-eyed, sorrowful expression that appeared on the pup's face. Hutch stopped trying to walk away, and regarded the wolf again. It stared back up at him, now sitting on its haunches. It seemed to be pleading with him.

He recognized the expression from seeing it on his partner's face. Hutch sighed. "What?" He asked, his tone gentler than his own stern expression would have indicated.

Chancellor thwapped his tail once, on the floor, then raised a paw.

Hutch knelt down in front of the pup, ignoring Starsk's sudden expression of triumph. They were not keeping the pup. Not necessarily. All the reasons for not having a dog applied to not having a wolf -- as well as all the reasons for not having a wolf, period. Chancellor licked him on the nose, and Hutch got the distinct impression that someone wanted a salami.

He fell backwards, staring at the pup with astonishment.

"What?" Starsk was beside him, a hand on his back so he wouldn't go crashing all the way to the floor. "What happened -- you never been licked by a dog before?"

"He...."

"He what?"

Hutch couldn't believe it. Chancellor had... had... Hutch blinked. Chancellor was climbing up onto him, sorrowful expression completely gone. He looked at the pup again, into his eyes.

Salami, and maybe some muenster. Or Gouda.

Hutch looked at Starsky. "I think maybe he's a spirit guide."

His lover just nodded. "OK."

"No, Starsky, I mean it!" Hutch rubbed the wolf's head, wondering if there was a reason he could feel the animal, if it were actually not real. Chancellor lolled his tongue.

"I know, Hutch. Does this mean we're keeping him?"

"I don't think he have a choice..." Hutch said slowly, staring at the now-happy wolf. He wasn't sure his stomach could take much more happiness, and gently pushed the wolf off his lap. Chancellor whirled around, chasing its short tail for a moment before jumping back up onto him. "I mean, spirit guides don't normally ask if you want 'em around...."

"Fantastic! We're gonna need a couple bowls, one for water, one for food. And some toys -- probably a bone, too, since he's a wolf an' all. And--"

"Starsk!" Hutch finally got his partner's attention.

"What?"

"What do we need all that for? He's a spirit."

"Yeah? So? He's gonna get hungry, and if we don't get him toys he's gonna tear up your shoes. Trust me. I'll head down to Kramer's and get some stuff. We can go to PetWorld this weekend and get everything else we need." Starsky gave Chancellor a pat, and a grin; Chancellor gave Starsky a sniff before looking at Hutch, then back at Starsky. Apparently satisfied, he began playing with Starsk. Hutch just watched them for awhile from his spot on the floor.

Just what he needed. A spirit guide who was going to be ask much of a handful as his partner. He already had more than enough..... Hutch thought for a moment. "Hey, Starsk?"

"Yeah?" Starsky was still rolling around with the wolf.

"How come you can see Chancellor? I mean, if he's my spirit guide -- shouldn't he be invisible to everyone else?"

Starsky looked over at him, flat on his back with Chancellor on his chest. Chancellor had his muzzle under Starsky's forearm. Hutch couldn't tell who was trapping whom. Starsky was giving him an only mildly-confused look. "Why shouldn't I be able to see him? I'm your partner aren't I?"

"Yeah but--" He stopped. There was always the possibility that he didn't want the answers. Maybe he should just call Blair, tell him he'd get Blair back for this one, and leave things otherwise alone. Besides, from what he knew about spirit guides, he suspected that maybe now that the introductions were over Chancellor would only show up when he was needed -- when Hutch needed a little guidance.

"Hey Hutch? We got any salami?"

Maybe not.


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