The story was originally published in the mixed-media zine Red Hot Lovers. Special thanks to the author for providing the files and giving permission for it to be posted to the archive. Comments on this story can be sent to: who will forward it to the author.




Sylvia Bond


Hutch drove Starsky to his place after picking up his bag of things, and tried not to demand to be told what was wrong. It was obvious that something was, but you couldn't push at a guy like Starsky. He was liable to get out of the car at the first opportunity. And Starsky, for his part, stared fixedly out the window, not so much as turning around when Hutch softly touched the back of his dark head.

"You okay?" he asked then.

"Fine," said Starsky. He spared Hutch a glance and then turned back towards the window. "I'm just fine."

No you're not. You're wound up like those rubber bands inside of golf balls. And any second, you're going to start snapping apart.

But you couldn't say that to Starsky. You had to approach with the stealth of an Indian, or a security guard at a museum. Hutch tried again.

"You sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

Not "yeah" or "uh-huh" but, yes. Not like Starsky at all.

Hutch pulled the LTD in front of the Torino that was parked in front of Venice Place.

"What's my car doing here? What am I doing here?"

Hutch got out without answering right away, grabbing Starsky's bag and heading up the stairs in silence. Trying not to limp. "Thought I'd keep a better eye on the Tomato while you were in the hospital if it were here."

On the landing, as Hutch was reaching for his key, Starsky took his arm.

"I was going to take you out to dinner, that's why I went to the station, but . . . " It was an apology, which seemed strange, as Starsky had done nothing wrong.

"Another time." Hutch tried to smile, but he knew it was thin. Putting his concentration on unlocking the door, which normally required about one-tenth of the attention he was giving it, he wondered how in the hell he was going to get through his friend's shell. And what had erected it.

Once inside, he threw his stuff on the couch and headed toward the kitchen. "Want some coffee? Maybe we could order a pizza."

There was no answer from Starsky, who merely threw himself on the couch.

"What happened with Bright?" Hutch asked, keeping his voice soft. He pulled two beers from the fridge and walked into the living room.

Starsky got up and began to walk away. In his own place, he would have walked to another part of the apartment, shutting himself off. But since Hutch had basically the one room, there was no escape. Blocked by the piano, Starsky made a left and walked behind the couch out to the greenhouse. Now Hutch had to put down the beers and follow him; he didn't want to lose Starsky behind the greenery. But the second he entered the greenhouse, Starsky came out again, brushed passed him and headed towards the kitchen. Hutch grabbed him easily and pulled him over to pin him against the back of the couch. He held him firmly with his two hands, forearms straining to be gentle yet not let go.

"Starsky, damnit, don't carry this yourself. I'm here. Let me help."

He began to hear little noises coming from his partner's throat, like breath passing too quickly or not at all. And Hutch knew that if he didn't do the right thing, and quickly, Starsky would lock it up inside and it would never see the light of day. Whatever it was.

Hutch bent his head forward, so that they were eye to eye, though Starsky was staring at the floor. Closer now so that he could feel the breath from Starsky's lungs on his cheek, smell the sharp tang of anger.

"Did he . . . did he hurt you again?"

Starsky let go. All at once, his body leaned forward and his head buried itself against Hutch's neck. And the tears were hot and slow against Hutch's bare skin. He held him there, Starsky in his arms, Starsky's arms clutching around his waist, shudders passing through the dark form held so tightly against him. He felt the words before he heard them.

"What?" he asked softly. "Babe, tell me."

Starsky raised his head a little, lips still against Hutch's collarbone. "He told me he knew already."

"Knew what?"

There was a large gulp, and Hutch thought that Starsky was trying to swallow the words before he could say them. Get rid of whatever it was.


"He knew who I was." The words came out all in a rush. "Didn't need you to tell him."

For a moment, Hutch didn't think he'd heard right.

"Bright knew?"

"I wasn't gonna tell ya, Hutch, but how could I not?" Strong arms squeezed at Hutch's waist, and Hutch found himself standing absolutely still, the world was still as if everything was completely frozen. "And then he told me how he bashed your knees with that two-by-four."

"Starsky, he's lying."

"But he said—"

"Starsky," said Hutch sternly, "if that were true, I'd still be laid up in the hospital. He's lying, I'm telling you. I'd remember something like that."

"But, but then he says you never told him my name anyway, never told him anything. Is he lying about that, too?"

Another shudder from Starsky and Hutch dipped his head, ignoring the bright spark of thought that maybe he hadn't done anything wrong. "Babe, it's all right, it's over now."

"No," Starsky was practically moaning now. "No, it's not."

"Why isn't it?" It's got to be over, it has to be. He didn't know how much more of Bright's leftovers he could manage.

"I wanted to kill him," hissed Starsky. "Wanted to so bad, oh, Hutch, what he did to you. I never wanted to kill someone before, an' he hurt you for no reason . . . "

More crying now, a high keening coming from the back of Starsky's throat as if the pain had driven it there and was keeping it there by a knife's blade.

Now Hutch was shaking, and trying to keep it from Starsky, held so tightly in his arms, was an impossibility. He didn't know what made him more furious and helpless all at the same time, the fact that Bright had done what he'd done to both of them, or the fact that he'd so recently upset Starsky and for no reason.

He dipped his head again, and brought up a hand to lift Starsky's face. Starsky was crying hard now, eyes wide open, staring straight at Hutch.

"I'm sorry, Hutch, I'm sorry . . . "

"It's not that you wanted to kill him, Starsky," Hutch said, his voice low, "it's that you didn't."

Starsky took a deep breath, and shook his head, thumping it against Hutch's chest. "Whatzat s'posed to mean?"

"I hate him too, probably would want to kill him if I ever saw him again . . . hope I never do." If he ever did, he'd probably panic and start stuttering. God, he hoped he never saw Bright again. "But thinking it isn't the problem."

"But it's wrong," Starsky insisted, pulling himself upright, "it's wrong to hate this much."

"Not," replied Hutch, his hand going to Starsky's damp face, "when the reason for it is love."

Starsky slumped in his arms. "Which one of us is he lying to?" he asked, low.

"Does it matter?" asked Hutch, stroking the back of his partner's neck. "His whole life is a lie; he doesn't count for anything in our world."

"But he's the reason you wouldn't let me forgive you," protested Starsky.

"No, he's the reason I can't forgive myself." He caught Starsky's startled expression and felt himself go a little pale. "I'm working on it," he amended quickly. "I really am."

"So you're saying he does matter." It was almost a question.

Hutch took a deep breath. "We can't let it," he decided. "If we do then he's still got both of us strung up in that dark, grey room forever."

Starsky pulled himself out of Hutch's arms to smile up at his partner. Trust Hutch to get to the heart of the matter. Whether Bright had lied or not was unimportant, and it only remained that what he had done was only as significant as they allowed it to be. And, which it seemed, Hutch was not willing to allow at all.

"I'll forget about killing him," said Starsky, feeling like he was only half joking, "if you forgive yourself."

"Dirty pool, Starsky," said Hutch, tipping his head.

Starsky just smiled and stepped away. "I'm gonna get me a beer, now," he announced. "You gonna order that pizza, or what?"

When the pizza arrived a half hour later, they settled on the couch with their beers in silence. While Starsky inhaled half the pizza, Hutch nursed his beer and his single slice, morosely nibbling on the crust.

"What are you thinking about?" asked Starsky.

Hutch let out a sigh of air. "Just wishing I could turn back time."

"How far?" asked Starsky, wondering, as he often did, where it was exactly that his partner got these obscure fancies, but willing to go along with them, nevertheless.

"Oh, I don't know . . . just to before."

Starsky didn't have to ask before when, but his friend's chin was almost touching his chest. Weighted down, no doubt by some pretty heavy, and probably bleak, thoughts.

"Why don't we," he said, forcing himself to be bright, licking the last of beer from his mouth, "take it back to that conversation in the car."

"Which conversation," said Hutch without lifting his head.

"You know, the one we had before . . . the one about . . . "

"Is this the one about the alligators in the sewers of New York?"


"Blue pigs?"


"The one about how you always wanted some woman to . . . "

"Definitely not that one." Starsky smiled to himself. Hutch was already interested, his head having tipped back and his free hand reaching for another slice of pizza. He was so very easy to distract sometimes.

"This," he began slowly, "is the one about me and thee. The one where you were going to tell me something, something about us."

There came only a nervous flick of Hutch's blue eyes, round and soft. He looked especially vulnerable then, Starsky had always thought, and at the same time it was the only expression he couldn't do on purpose to manipulate Starsky. It was a true face, solid, straight to Hutch's soul.

"You know the one I mean," said Starsky, knowing that Hutch did. "We'll go back to that conversation and pick it up from before Bright, before all of this other junk."

"I'm not that good a pretender, Starsky," came the soft reply.

"This was your idea, babe."

Only silence met him, that and Hutch's ducked head.

"C'mon, Hutch, do it for me."

It occurred to him, suddenly, that he would be able to get a lot of things out of Hutch right now with all the guilt he was carrying around, a fancy meal, a backrub, a favor, whatever. And it was up to him, and only him, to make sure he didn't abuse his friend's state, to make sure he only pushed Hutch for something really valuable.

"The conversation began," he prompted, "'I never thought of myself as gay.'"

"Yes, I remember."

"And I said, 'like Blaine.' And then we both agreed it was a lifestyle."

"Yes." Small.

"And at the end of all this, you said you needed to work out something, work it out slow. Work out what, Hutch?"

He was staring at Hutch, he realized, and then, remembering that a watched pot does not boil, made himself look at his hands.

"I wanted to make sure," said Hutch, quietly, "that you knew how much I love you."

"Surely you know that I know that."

"But sometimes, sometimes I don't seem to be able to express it, express it in a way that there's no way you'll misunderstand."

"How can I possibly misunderstand it when you're always saying it?"

There was a big, long pause. Starsky had come to the realization, several minutes before, that there was something very important to what Hutch was working through, something that would make him all soft-voiced and still. And when the moment came, the second really, that the outer shell of the man melted away with a big shouldered sigh, it was very hard not to watch the real man emerge. Like wanting to touch the inner throat of a newly opened lily but knowing that you'll smudge it if you do, Starsky found himself almost sitting on his hands.

"Sometimes," said Hutch to his knees, "sometimes, when we're in a room of people and you're about to go wandering off, I want to take you by my side and shout MINE! Other times, and it doesn't matter who's around, I want to give you a kiss, to let you know how much I like being with you, you know?"

"Yeah," said Starsky, wondering why none of this seemed to be anything new. It was obvious that for Hutch it was very difficult to say, but Starsky was finding it exceedingly easy to hear.

"Then," went on Hutch, now addressing the backs of his hands along his upper thighs, "when I told you you were my date, at first it was funny, then it wasn't."

"I didn't mean to make a game of it, Hutch, I only thought—"

"It was true. You were mine, at least I always considered you that . . . "

Hutch trailed off, and Starsky realized with a growing horror that the blonde head had dipped once again and that Hutch was holding the bridge of his nose. Then he flipped his head up, took a deep breath and looked away.

"Considered you enough mine to give away, when all I wanted to do was keep you."

Hutch stopped. Then he sighed, and spared a glance that fell in Starsky's general direction. "I suppose you know all that, even like it in a way, belonging to someone, or as you and I like to say, with someone."

"Is this," asked Starsky, "where I'm supposed to tell you that this isn't anything new."

"Now would be a pretty good time," replied Hutch, almost smiling.

"It's not, you know," said Starsky, low. "Telling me you love me is enough, Hutch, you don't have to keep finding new ways."

"But sometimes," Hutch said, as he had before, "what I want to do is show you . . . like lovers do."

Lovers? thought Starsky, wondering why he wasn't more amazed.

"Knowing you is not enough, being with you is not enough." Hutch took a deep breath. "Sometimes when I see you, all I want to do is crawl inside of you, inside your skin, become a part of you. And loving you, making love to you, keeps forcing its way into the picture."


As if given permission by the fact that Starsky had not, as yet, laughed in his face, Hutch continued, still addressing parts of himself and Starsky that could not possibly be called upon to reply.

"It's not sex," he told Starsky's calf, seriously, "not like I picture it anyway, you know, like with Becky, that stewardess from Pasadena . . . "

"I remember," said Starsky, picturing the state of shambles his apartment would always be in after a visit from Becky.

"It's more like when being with someone is enough and sex only adds to it, like a spice."

"Like icing," Starsky added.

"You sound like you understand." This was aimed at Starsky's midsection.

"Well, I do and I don't, Hutch."

At long last, Hutch looked at him fully, his blue eyes round, soft-edged, head ducked slightly as if waiting for clues to tell him which way to leap.

"I understand it," Starsky went on, "because I know how sex can sometimes become secondary when you're with someone you love. Sex is just play, and the real love," here he paused to put a thumb to his own chest, "the real love is in here."

Again the slow gaze, the expectation that Starsky would understand him without words. Starsky tapped his chest again with his thumb. "Here is where you are, Hutch."

Hutch ducked his head again, and Starsky could see the long jaw working.

"What I don't understand," he continued softly, "is how this arises out of your saying that I was your date." He leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees, so that he could look up into Hutch's face, even though the other was curled over.

Hutch brought his hands to his face, and Starsky scooted over and reached up to pull them away. Hutch let him.

"Just go slow, Hutch, I'll wait."

"P-part of the love that I feel, that knowing and being known—d-damnit, this is so hard to say aloud—"

"It's only me, babe," said Starsky.

"That knowing and being known sort of crosses some line, and I can't go back, not that I'll ever know when I stepped over in the first place."

Starsky was only a little confused. "What line is that?"

"You know how when you work with a lady cop, or even with the women in the office, the two of you decide, by mutual and unspoken consent, from the very beginning that this is not a sexual relationship?"

He nodded.

"It doesn't matter if she's married or not married, ugly or pretty, whatever. It's an agreement. Unspoken, and yet . . . yet there is the tension, that the possibility for sex is there."

"Yes, and?"

"Working with other guys, with Dobey, whoever, and especially with you, there never was that sexual tension. Even from Blaine I never felt it, because sex never entered our conversation."

"This," added Starsky dryly, "is also not new."

"This tension," Hutch continued sitting up, frowning, "is still not there, not between you and I . . . anyway, it's not tension, it's more like a pulling instead of pushing and pulling, like tension, you see?"

A pulling. "I've felt a pull sometimes," said Starsky, frowning, "like a magnet." He almost found himself embarrassed at this, but caught Hutch nodding.

"And then," Hutch went on, "I feel like I want to pull you over that line, the one working partners are never supposed to cross. At the same time . . . " Hutch's hands went to his knees again, sliding the palms along the fabric. "At the same time, though I know I can pull you over, I can't make you want it. I don't want to make you want it. I especially don't want you to want it in the normal way, the way even I think of it most times, but in this other way." Hutch stopped and lifted a thumb to his chest. "To express what's in here, like you said, where the real love is."

"Not having sex, you mean," said Starsky, "but making love."

Hutch took this for permission, but he did not, most certainly did not, want to take what Starsky did not want to give. He reached up his left hand and brought it to the other man's cheek. His movements were almost jerky, his arm felt so stiff, and the side of Starsky's face was rough. In spite of all that, Starsky's eyes slid closed for a second as if that touch were the softest he'd ever known. Then his eyes opened and he reached out, and with the tips of his fingers, pushed away the hair from Hutch's eyes.

Both of their touches dropped away suddenly, and they sat for a moment on the couch, staring at each other. Hutch noted that Starsky was breathing overly hard for a man who was simply sitting, that he had managed to place most of his body on the couch, and had not relaxed a single muscle. How to begin? Where does one first touch a man with passion, when one has touched that man all over in friendship? He eyed his partner, noting the crook of one knee brought up against the back cushions of the couch, the inside seam of his blue jeans straining with the pull of the leg.

Very tight jeans. Very, very tight.

He wanted suddenly to ask, how do you run in those, they're practically painted on, but remembered that it might be the same as with a woman, for whom one doesn't break a romantic, passionate mood with a intended-to-be-funny comment about how long it must take her to get so much makeup on. Hutch simply reached out and laid his large-palmed hand almost casually on the lower inside of Starsky's thigh. Starsky twitched but did not move away. Did not brush Hutch's hand away as if it were an irritant. In fact, he was watching it quite closely, as if it were some unknown object whose actions neither one of them could predict.

Hutch slid his hand slowly upward towards Starsky, his thumb pressing along the seam itself. Found Starsky's leg warm and taut beneath his fingers, and the awkwardness floating away. He leaned in to kiss Starsky's mouth.

As Hutch leaned in to make the kiss more of a reality, hips and legs moving in to slide along Starsky's, he realized how warm Starsky was all over. How much he smelled like Ivory soap, how pliable his skin seemed the cotton shirt, how his legs almost matched the length of the couch as the two of them unfolded to use up all of it.

"Can you, can you put your head there?" Hutch asked, whispering, smiling into Starsky's wiry hair as the other eased his head into the hollow between Hutch's shoulder and his neck. A sudden urgency was fighting with the restraints of caution, an urgency that was licking little fires up the back of his arms, his legs, tightening his stomach, and anywhere else it could think of. He used his arm, now tucked beneath Starsky's waist to pull the other man into him, and his free hand yanked at what seemed to be yards of cloth from Starsky's waistband. He unbuttoned the buttons as fast as he could, so much more awkward since they were on the side opposite from where they usually were, and laid his hand on Starsky's chest. It was springy with rough, curly hair, and Hutch drew his hand back, astonishment dropping his jaw.

Starsky, smiling a little, placed his hand on the back of Hutch's and pulled it close to lay it on his dark chest once again. Hutch watched, fascinated, as Starsky tipped back his head and sighed.

All of it seemed suddenly a tad bizarre, and Hutch looked down at himself to realize where he was. Half undressed with his best friend, about to reach for the parts of Starsky which would pleasure him the most, to kiss that mouth which suddenly seemed so much more delicious than it ever had, shaking with the wanting of it. One hand absently stroked the muscles of Starsky's ribs, the other, curled around his head, had entangled itself it that dark, forever tousled hair.

This was his reward. This was his gift for betraying the person he loved most in this world. Even if had all been a deception to entertain Bright's twisted sense of justice, the fact remained that Hutch thought he had surrendered that one person from whom he now had no right to expect any love at all. And yet, there lay Starsky. Eyes half closed, watching him in that very still way that he had, almost expressionless, except if you looked very closely. Very closely to see that dark light of the man inside, to whom much was serious and important, so important that it had to be hidden by the facade of the clown, the boy-child.

Hutch realized he was shaking.

Wordlessly, Starsky reached up to touch Hutch's lips with one finger. "Don't go backwards, Hutch, 'kay? Kiss me some more."

Hutch got the sudden, quirky impression that Starsky had watched him, forever it seemed, kissing so many women and had, perhaps, wondered from time to time what he was doing that made their knees buckle so. What kept them coming back, even thought he went through them like pocket handkerchiefs, and had a dozen waiting in line.

"You never seem to be at ease with any of them," said Starsky, thoughtfully, his hand moving down to trace the bone of Hutch's jaw.

"You a mind reader now," asked Hutch in perfectly normal tones, as if they were simply sitting there, instead of wrapped in each other's arms.

"I know you like I know me," replied Starsky simply.

Never at ease, Starsky had said, and Hutch knew it was true. You never knew when a woman was going to get pissed off and turn on you. Never knew when that the special thing you had done only yesterday which drove her crazy with passion, would today make her crazy with anger. Up and down like some damn roller coaster, and you always had to have one eye on the track and one on her, just to make sure you didn't fall out when she decided to jump. But Starsky wasn't like that. You never had to think about yourself when you were with Starsky, you could just be. Like being on a carousel, going round and round, up and down, and let yourself float away on the music.

His hand was still stroking Starsky's side when Hutch focused on his friend's face again. "I'm going to . . . I want . . . here, sit up like this."

As Starsky moved up the couch, Hutch moved down, one hand around his waist, the other undoing the tight jeans with long fingers.

"You're kidding," said Starsky, voice rising.

"'fraid not."

From the ear that was almost next to Starsky's chest, Hutch could hear the low, rising groan. There was almost an air of disbelief in the following silence as Hutch worked the zipper and slipped his hand into the warmth between Starsky's legs.

"You don't have to."

Hutch spared a moment to press the side of his head against Starsky's stomach. "But I want to. It'll be like being inside of you."

It was different, seeing it done from this angle. Usually he watched as the woman pushed the hardening sex towards her mouth. Smiled as she flung her hair out of the way, and caught her sparkling eyes just before she lowered her lips around the rosy head. Now it was him, his large white hand gently urging upward the flesh between Starsky's legs, trailing his fingertips in the curling pubic hair. Now it was his eyes that caught Starsky's and he smiled, feeling wicked in his enjoyment of the shock on Starsky's face. It was a pleasured shock, as if Starsky were receiving something unexpected that he never thought he wanted, never thought about wanting, but found, suddenly, that he wanted very much.

Starsky's sex was just about to the point of hardness, still soft and dry. Hutch moved his cheek along his length as he'd had one woman do to him, and then moistened its base with his tongue, as he'd had another woman do. He did this over and over until the other's penis seemed hard enough, as Starsky had described the sensation, to drive spikes with. Then he lifted himself on one arm and descended, until the entire hardness was encased in his mouth.

Pulling away suddenly from the moistness, he checked Starsky's expression. His partner's eyes were closed solid, and Hutch remembered his friend remarking that, at this point in any sexual encounter, his whole world became a single mouth. A point at which any mouth would do.

Not this time, babe.

He gently yanked Starsky's jeans halfway down his legs, pausing to plant a gentle kiss on the fading bruise, and ran his hot hands on Starsky's hips. Starsky was blinking as if surprised, and Hutch reached up to pull the other's shirt away from his shoulders. He planted his hand in the middle of the furry chest.

"I don't want you forgetting that it's me."

"No way," Starsky groaned softly. "No fuckin' way."

Hutch positioned himself so he could clasp the back of Starsky's damp neck with one hand, and control his sex with the other. Most women couldn't do that kind of reach for long, he knew, so he knew it would be something new for his partner. He allowed Starsky's dark head to fall against the arm of the couch, as he knelt on the floor beside the other's hips.

"Pillow?" asked Starsky suddenly.

This stopped him short. "What?'

"Pillow?" asked his friend again. "Pillow?"

"You want a pillow?" Hutch was confused.

"No, you."

Something soft was tossed against his head, and Hutch smiled as he pushed it beneath his knees. Trust Starsky, in the middle of everything, to think of his partner instead of himself. He leaned in, clasping the dark head with both hands, and kissed the already parted lips.

"Can you be selfish?" Hutch whispered there.

"Maybe," came the almost inaudible answer.

"Tell me what you want."

There was a pause as the bare chest lifted with a double jerk, and the dark head pulled slightly away. Starsky seemed to be wiping away a sudden sweat from his forehead on the cloth of the couch. Hutch eased his flat hand between his partner's face and the couch. They both knew that Hutch would do whatever Starsky wanted, and Starsky was as hesitant as if this were his heart's desire.

"I want you to . . . I want you to suck me off. Swallow everything. No towels."

The blue eyes darkened in his direction, lashes and mouth solemn, and Hutch hid the thought that it wasn't very much to ask.

"Then I'll really be inside you," said Starsky.

Starsky was already all around him, in every facet of his life, his dust in Hutch's pores, his breath in Hutch's lungs. Arms surrounding him every minute of the day, and there was never even a fraction of a second where Hutch did not feel the force of his attention. This then, would be next in the joining, the merging of who they were, belonging to each other, and becoming of each other. Hutch smiled, his mouth barely moving.


He lowered his head once more, his one hand on the back of Starsky's neck once again, the other between his legs. Furled his tongue around the ridge of flesh, soaking in the heat with his lips. It was easy to build up a rhythm, his head moving up and down the length, his hand stroking wherever it landed, a rhythm built on love. Easy to know when to grip harder on the base of Starsky's cock, easy to read the moans in Starsky's chest that had not even freed themselves and back off just enough to keep his partner on the edge.

Starsky tasted just on the near end of salty, clean enough to be sweet, and the fluid that was easing itself forth something else altogether, something hot and essentially himself.

"I'm going to suck you dry," whispered Hutch. "I'm going to suck you till you can't come anymore."

His partner stiffened slightly, eyes slowly shutting with the pleasure of anticipation. Face glowing with a sheen of sweat.

Hutch began to move again, move his mouth and lips along Starsky's length, tonguing the stiffened veins, both hands together now, pushing and drawing away the hardness. It was an unrelenting rhythm. And Starsky with him, hips rising and falling with Hutch's hands, his own hands fists that gripped at nothing, and searched the open air. Starsky's whole body was sweat now, and Hutch ran one hand briskly along the other's chest, knowing the cool air would add to the whirlwind, and paused to wipe his own forehead and take that sweat and add it to his friend's. The couch began to squeak beneath them.

Starsky was on the verge. Hutch's eyes flicked up to catch the white teeth in a grimace, and, never pausing in his own motion, reached up to cup the back of Starsky's neck again. Its dampness there echoed the dampness of mouth and the flesh beneath his other hand. He could feel it, could feel the pulse of Starsky's release coming closer like a rushing hurricane. Stopped his mouth for one second, and then began to suck very hard.

The cords on Starsky's neck stood up like iron bars, and his whole body stiffened as if frozen. Then, shattered from within, a cry from his throat leaped out, tattered, as if restrained by a thousand hands.

Let go, Hutch thought, let it go.

The pumping of Starsky's cock began almost immediately, and Hutch continued to suck. Suck and swallow; Starsky the fountain spilling and he the ground beneath.


It wasn't the lack of breath, Hutch knew, but something else. Will you swallow, Starsky was asking, will you take all that I am?

All that and more, my friend.

He opened his throat even more, pushing the pulsing of Starsky's sex further back, swallowing by reflex now. And not only desire, but friendship and love made him keep the liquid swallowed, made him keep it down where his throat wanted to say, too much, it's too much, too fast. So much, it was a rock hard jet at the back of his throat, a force to put out fires. Or ignite them.

Hutch continued sucking, continued nursing at it until Starsky's hardness began fade into gentleness, and he felt Starsky's soft hands on his hair.

"Oh, stop, oh, god, stop," eased the voice from Starsky's lips, his whole body trembling, "I'm dissolving. Oh, man."

Hutch wiped his mouth gingerly on the back of his hand, and, his lips still moist with Starsky's fluid, placed a kiss on one streaming hip.

"We're going to have to hose this place down," whispered Hutch as he eased himself along Starsky's length. He folded Starsky in his arms, and Starsky buried himself in Hutch's shoulder, shaking, his legs moving restlessly against Hutch's longer ones. His partner's dark hair was matted with sweat, and it softly ran down the sides of his face. Pretty soon he would feel cooler to the touch, but right now he was a bonfire.

"Nobody," said Starsky, his voice pale with wonder, "nobody, I mean, all of it Hutch, Jeezus."

"You're in me," returned Hutch contentedly, using the tail end of someone's shirt to wipe his face, "in me, through me, running in my veins."

He put his arm back around Starsky as the dark head lifted. Then came that smile, the ear-to-ear Cheshire Cat grin, those white teeth shining against the sweat.

"You're next, blondie, so get ready."

Hutch smiled in return, then pretended to frown. "You were about to pass out a second ago."

"I recover fast, babe."

As Hutch's head fell back to rest against the arm of the couch, he allowed his frown to fade away peacefully. Allowed the heat to fade into a glow, and realized that he didn't even need to tell Starsky that he needed 10 minutes of shut eye before he would be ready for anything else. Didn't need to tell Starsky to rest his head against his shoulder so that Hutch could pull him closer. But maybe, he thought as he faded into sleep, he should tell Starsky later what a pleasure it was to have Starsky's body relaxing against his. To have Starsky dropping off into sleep in two seconds flat and to have his own self-awareness shutting down a half-second later.


The courtroom was crowded, and in that late September and the maintenance, who couldn't figure out if it was too late for the air conditioners or too early for heat, had done the easiest thing and left them both off and all the windows closed. Hutch was beginning to feel he was in a sauna, or a fully dressed suit-and-tie straight jacket. Standing room only, and though he and Starsky had been key players in Bright's prosecution, they had been shuffled backwards by the media blitz, and the strong line of men in blue who let the cameras forward so far and no farther. The recent six months of trial, though light-speed fast by legal standards, had seemed interminably slow, and Hutch was glad to see the end of it all. Whatever the outcome.

Bright, in his wooden chair at the defendants table, looked unaffected by the heat, though Hutch could only, and for a few seconds at a time, see the back of his head, it was cocked at its usual jaunty angle. He remarked that though the dark, curly head of his partner standing in front of him was cocked at the same angle, he was close enough to see the sweat marks on the shirt collar. What a difference proximity could make.

It was expected that in minutes, the jury would be finished, the judge would come out and sentence would be passed. Hutch had little doubt as to the outcome of the trial, and had continued to tell himself, over the course of the past days, that he was unworried. Starsky, however, had not been able to remain as calm and had paced holes in his sneakers and drunk enough root beer to drown a camel.

"Do we hafta be there, Hutch, do we hafta?"

That was his "take care of me" voice, and Hutch had looked at him, shaking a scolding finger. "It's important, Starsky," he said, trying to remember why.

The chamber doors opened and the jury filed out to sit in their two rows. Then the bailiff came out and announced that all should rise, completely unnecessary since everybody was on their feet anyway, and the judge floated out in his black robes.

He must be boiling, thought Hutch.

The legalities of the date and time were read out and Hutch found himself staring at the back of Starsky's head. Thinking of the past six months not of the sex they'd been having, at least not sex in the way he'd always defined it before, but of the love they'd been making. It had been in the new way, with touches and kisses, and strokes, and closeness. They could barely count a handful of orgasms between the two of them, all of them complete accidents. Of course, those had been outrageously good, but it was nice that they hadn't been everything. In fact, nothing had been said of them at all, unless he counted Starsky's grunted, "I'll have to remember how I did that," only the day before yesterday.

Now the judge was reading out the date and time and in this county of and city of Los Angeles . . . and Hutch found his heart tightening and his hands moving into fists. It suddenly became very important that Bright got the book thrown at him. He'd been only pretending, he realized, when he'd been telling himself and acting like he didn't care. Drug trafficking, kidnapping, assault on an officer. He did care. Cared a lot.

In front of him, he saw Starsky's dark head move to one side, and the jean-clad knees waver from their stiff, straight lines.

"Starsk?" he whispered, putting his mouth next to Starsky's ear.

"-tch," came the reply.

Starsky had been standing too still for too long, knees locked in that hot room. His face was the color of paper. Hutch, unclenching his fists, moved the single step forward and pushed his hand under Starsky's dark blue jacket to lay it gently on his hip.

"Got you," he said softly. "You wanna get out of here?"

The other nodded, and no one, as all eyes were straining towards the front, paid them any attention.

"Let's go," murmured Hutch turning, pulling Starsky with him. "Excuse me, excuse me."

Various persons, not too many as they were already at the back of the room, let them pass. No one looked at them directly, only lifted their gazes beyond them in the other direction.

Hutch opened the huge wooden doors as quietly as he could, and walked Starsky over to a bench by a water fountain. He set him down and briefly searched his pockets for a handkerchief or even a scrap of napkin. Nothing. He pulled off his tie and wet it thoroughly in the stream of water, waiting for what felt like forever for it to run cold. Finally he decided that not that cold was probably better, and carried the dripping tie across the linoleum.

Starsky's head lolled backwards against the wall.

"What's the verdict?" he asked.

Hutch wiped his friend's face with the thick end of the tie, running it over Starsky's mouth and neck. "I didn't hear," he replied.

Starsky licked his lips. "How could you not hear? It's all I can hear, just above the ringing in my ears."

Hutch paused for a second and then ran the thin end of the tie along Starsky's nose. "What's it saying?" He really did need to know.

Starsky smiled. "Guilty," he said. "Guilty and sentenced for 100 years, no less than 75."

For a second, Hutch couldn't believe it. But Starsky wouldn't lie, not about that. Hutch slumped back on his heels and faded to the cool floor, one thigh down, the hand with the wet tie in it curled around the other propped up knee. The tie was cool through his pant leg and he felt Starsky's arm around his shoulders, the hand pulling along the side of his neck. He allowed it to until his head was resting completely against Starsky's thigh. Felt the soft kiss of lips through his hair.

"There ya go, Hutch. I love you."