Part Three



M. Decker and C. Davis

Part Four

    Cops walking through the corridors, talking, laughing, sunk deep in themselves; a young punk being dragged cursing and yelling down the halls by some bored blue suit; a gray-haired woman sitting quietly in the corner, crying-- it was a normal evening at the Police Department. There seemed to be a rightness to all the activity about him, something that keyed in with a renewed peace within himself. It felt good.

    Hutch felt a smile building on his mouth. The squad room was almost empty, except for a couple of cops sitting behind desks typing. Starsky was one of those, hunched over his antiquated typewriter, brow furrowed, totally lost in this hated chore. "Dobey got you slaving away over a hot set of keys, Starsk?"

    Starsky jumped, obviously startled by the silent approach. "Jeez, give a man a heart attack." He yanked out the offending paper and scowled at it and then at the tall blond. "Made me mess it up. Again."

    Hutch plopped gracelessly into his own chair and grinned. "Sorry," he said, sounding anything but.

    A wary look shaded the other man's eyes as he wadded up the paper and tossed it into the wastepaper basket. "Thought you'd be taking the whole day off."

    "Didn't need it." Hutch yanked open his drawer, pulled out a clean sheet of paper, and stuck it into his own machine. "After the aspirin and a few homegrown remedies hit my system, I thought I'd come down and finish my report." He noticed the questioning stare. "Anyway, I needed to talk to Marianne."

    "Did you get your absolution?"

    A small part of him flinched under the too acute question. "You could say that." He sighed and sat back in his chair, stretching out his legs. A light throbbing still pulsed in his head. He ignored it. "We talked about a lot of things." About ships and shoes and sealing wax and commitments and taking hold of your own life.... You helped me see a lot of things clearly again. What I really want. Who....

    "And...?" Starsky sounded like he begrudged asking the question.

    "And I think she's going to be okay with Fitch out of her life. She's turning state's evidence. What she knows will put him away for good. Murder One for starters."

    "That should make Stanton happy." Another piece of paper was slid into the carriage of Starsky's typewriter.

    Hutch rubbed his fingers over his temple, trying to ease out the remaining tension. "Not really. He wanted to put Marianne up on accessory charges. I talked to the D.A. this afternoon and we came to an understanding. That helped him change his mind."

    A low whistle slipped past Starsky's lips. "You're really on Stanton's shit list now."

    "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." He stared intently at the man sitting across from him as if seeing him for the first time.

    Starsky was the one who broke eye contact, shifting his attention back to the report. "You care for her, don't you," he mumbled awkwardly.

    "Yeah, but not enough. Or the way she needed." Everything I have to invest in a relationship is already taken up by one curly haired, blue eyed idiot. Not much left for anyone else. What would you say to that, Starsky?

    "I'm sorry, partner." Starsky's intense gaze bored into him. "The right one'll come along someday."

    Hutch stared at him, sending a silent reply. He noted with surprise the sudden blush stain his partner's cheeks. Starsky turned away abruptly and buried himself in a sudden flurry of clattering keys. I can still get to you, Starsky, can't I? A small flicker of hope glowed into life, warming him. He had faced some truths in the morning's early light. His self-examination had hurt, but it gave him the first sense of peace since their aborted affair had ended. He would live his life as best he could, continue to wine and dine and bed the ladies, but he knew who it was he loved. If Starsky could never honestly face his own feelings, then at least he would be true to himself. I won't push it, lover. I've finally admitted I still love you, want you. I'd lose you if I pushed it, so I guess it's in your court now. He sighed and turned his attention to the unpleasant task of putting life and death, love and hate, trust and betrayal down in the tense lifeless sentences of a police report.


    The rhythmic flashing of the neon signs across the street was hypnotic, Starsky admitted as he rubbed tiredly at his eyes. He stretched in his chair, trying unsuccessfully to get the kinks out of his back. Glancing at his watch, he grimaced when he saw it was only a few minutes after 3 a.m. He still had another hour before Hutch took over and he could lay down and get a little sleep. It was just their bad luck to draw the night shift on this stakeout. It was yet another one of the drawbacks of being single, nobody thought they'd mind all-night stints. He wondered for the hundredth time if their snitch was on the up-and-up when he said a major drug trade was going to come down some time this week at Ye Olde Sex Shoppe across the street. Normally, they would not have been brought in for a drug bust, except one of the delivery men was reported to be a murder suspect they had been looking for. He suddenly realized the brilliantly lit words SEX, ADULT MOVIES, and XXX, flashing their advertisements against his eyeballs were starting to get on his nerves. He turned and grabbed his coffee cup. Why the deal had to go down in a porno shop was beyond him. Couldn't crooks show a little more class? At least there had been a fourth-rate hotel right across the street so the stake-out could be done in relative comfort. He couldn't vouch for the cleanliness as he studied the grime coated window. He gulped down the last swallow of his lukewarm coffee and replaced the cup on the table in front of him.

    A soft snore, issuing from the area of the bed behind him, made him turn. Hutch lay sprawled like a giant starfish across the turned down sheets, mouth slightly parted, dead to the world. You don't look very tough now, partner. In fact, by the light of the dim street lamps, he looked like the old Hutch. Vulnerable. Not like the Hutch of the last year. He shook his head, still confused over the number of abrupt changes his partner had thrown at him. He knew something was different ever since Marianne, but he was almost afraid to try and analyze it. Thankfully, it seemed as if Hutch were more at peace with himself, yet all the while he seemed to be waiting for something. Sometimes it made him damned nervous. Hutch stirred, muttered a few unintelligible words, then settled back into sleep. Starsky absently noted how the light shimmered in his partner's hair as it moved against the pillow. He never could get over how gold the other man's hair was, how soft to the touch. He felt a tightness constrict his chest as he wanted to reach out and.... What the hell! He jerked back the hand he had unconsciously extended, as if it had been burned. Seems I can't stop playing with fire. He swung back to the window, staring fixedly down into the street. Every time I think I've got this out of my system I.... Think, damnit, think about something else. Someone else. He thought about a new policewoman he had just met at the station. She really was something in the looks department - great legs, a fantastic body, soft, golden hair. His heart started slowing from its frantic beat of a moment before as he lovingly built the image. He'd even managed to obtain the promise of a date with this luscious morsel. What was her name? Kira, that was it. She was special, he could sense it already.


    The echoes of the explosion still rang in his ears. The acrid smell of smoke drifted in the confines of the room. Starsky pushed himself up on one elbow, marginally grateful that his encounter with the grenade had left him in one piece. Kira was already moving. It did not really surprise him that she was crawling towards Joey, ignoring him. The day-old pain flared into renewed life. Then he found himself making eye contact with Hutch and a terrible relief poured through him. His partner was all right.

    "Starsky, are you okay?"

    He nodded wordlessly. Struggling slowly to his feet, Starsky surveyed the wreckage. "I'll call for backup and some medics." He stared for a moment at Kira who was still comforting the suspect, then staggered to the phone. Madam Bouvet, the owner of this classy establishment, was already fluttering her hands, gesturing at the damage. He ignored her. The voice on the other end of the connection was cool and detached, taking down the information with a competency that was somehow infuriating. Within minutes cops were crawling all over the place. Then the ambulance arrived, appropriating Joey from Kira's comforting arms. He controlled the urge to smash something.

    The rest of the evening passed in a confusing blur, Joey had been taken to the security section of the hospital, and the three of them returned to the station to write reports on the successful completion of their case. He tried to block out feelings, concentrating on the repetitive, mind-dulling task of typing. The image of Hutch, emerging from Kira's bedroom, tucking in his shirt, kept intruding. The look on his face--guilt. The look on her face--anticipation. His fingers stopped on the keyboard. She set us up! And they had let her. The ensuing fight had appeared to be repugnant to her, but what the hell had she expected? What had she wanted? He hoped she had gotten it, 'cause he wasn't going back for more. Not this time.

    Kira left without a word; he didn't care. That told him more about his feelings than anything else had to up to now: he didn't love her. His anger was not directed at her. He felt a familiar gaze fixed on him. Hutch was standing at his desk as if wanting to say something. He couldn't talk to him now, not to the source of his anger. After all, it was Hutch's fault. It had to be. He pretended not to notice and continued typing. The figure finally turned and quietly left the room.

    The clock said 2:10 a.m. when he scrawled his signature on the finished report. He was bone tired, but felt incapable of sleeping. Was it really less than twenty-four hours since his picket-fenced fantasies had collapsed? He laid the sheets of paper on Dobey's desk and wearily made his way to the parking lot. The cool air felt good on his skin as he left the overheated building. The stars seemed very bright tonight, one of the few times the L.A. sky was clear enough to really show them. Hutch would have been pleased that he had noticed. The thought was painful and he thrust it away. He made his way slowly towards the place he had parked his car when a familiar shimmer of gold ahead of him drew his attention A cold knot of dread clenched his stomach. The tall figure leaned comfortably against the Torino, straightening as he approached.

    "What are you doing here? I thought you finished twenty minutes ago." Hutch, go away. I can't handle you right now.

    "My car's dead. It won't turn over."

    Starsky squelched the urge to make a crack. That was from the before time. "So?"

    "So, I need a lift."

    "You've got to be kidding."

    The calm Nordic features did not register the least surprise. "It's too late to argue. Are you going to give me a lift or not?"

    Starsky felt as if someone had pole-axed him. A loud crash from the direction of the building as a late night janitor emptied some trash into a dumpster brought him out of it. A dull flush of anger stained his cheeks. "All right, dammit. Get in."

    "Can't, the doors are locked."

    Starsky cursed under his breath. Fumbling with his keys, he finally got his door open. He slid into the driver's seat and slammed the door closed viciously. Hutch got in as soon as the other door was unlocked, to the accompaniment of an angrily growling engine. The Torino took off to the musical sound of squealing tires.

    The driver waited for the expected words. Minutes passed and Starsky stole a look over at his passenger. Hutch was comfortably seated, long legs stretched out before him, calmly looking out the window. With no reactions to goad him on, he reluctantly brought the car down to a closer approximation of the speed limit, praying this ride would end soon. He had no idea what Hutch's game was, and he was sure he didn't want to find out. The silence was getting to him when he pulled up in front of Venice Place.

    "Okay, here you are," Starsky said over the high-idling engine. The door opened and Hutch placed one foot in the gutter. Then he paused and stared at his partner. Starsky could feel the penetrating gaze, forcing him to turn and meet it. He was being manipulated and he didn't like it.

    "We've got to talk, Starsky." The words hung dead between them.

    "We don't have anything to talk about, pal."

    A long sigh echoed in the enclosed darkness. "It'll never be resolved if we don't."

    "Get out."

    "No." The word was soft, but filled with steely determination.

    "Get the hell out of my car. " Starsky could hear the slight quiver in his voice and hated showing that weakness.

    "You're coming upstairs with me and we're going to talk. Even if I have to drag you there."

    "Right now all I want to do with you is beat your face in." His voice was edged with ice, wanting the outlet violence would bring.

    "If that's what you think will make you happy, you can try. But I'm not going to let you use me as a punching bag. Remember, I can give as good as I get." Hutch's eyes were chunks of blue ice in the dim streetlight. "But whatever it is you decide, we'll do it in my place." The ensuing silence was filled with worlds of possibilities.

    Starsky was the first to move. He snarled an obscenity as he propelled himself out of the car, slamming the door shut behind him. "You want to talk. All right, I'll talk. But you may not want to hear what I have to say," he yelled over his shoulder as he took the stairs two at a time. He found the key over the door and let himself into the darkened apartment. He could hear Hutch's even tread ascending the stairs behind him. Flipping on a light, he waited, standing like some wild animal backed into a corner.

    The tall blond halted in the doorway for a moment, obviously realizing they were balancing on a thin line. He closed the door gently, leaning for a moment against its solid support. "If you want to punch me, I'm here. But it won't solve a bloody thing." He took a few steps into the room.

    A dangerous pressure began building inside him, demanding violent release. Starsky turned suddenly and slammed his fist against the wall, the pain focusing his anger and hurt. Dark eyes flashing, he swung back to face his partner. "Damn you. I've trusted you with my life, with everything there is, and you do this to me."

    "I know," Hutch said evenly, a deep sadness shadowing his face. There was a long pause before he continued. "But haven't you wondered why? You haven't asked me that one, very important question." He took another step closer. "Can it be you're afraid of the answer?"

    "Don't play mind games with me, Hutch, I'm not in the mood for it."

    The blond jabbed an accusing finger at his partner. "Don't give me that, Starsky. That's all you've been doing, ever since you met Kira." Taking a deep breath he plunged ahead. "I'm not going to excuse what I did. It was wrong. But that's not what's important. What's important is why you told me you loved Kira when it was a lie."

    "Are you crazy? If this is some sort of justification...."

    "Shut up, Starsky. Let me get this out, then you can have your say." He took advantage of the resulting silence and continued. "I thought I had my life under control these last couple of months, but then you laid this whole thing with Kira on me. Telling me you loved her. I couldn't take it." He turned his back to Starsky, hands clenched into fists at his sides. "I was so jealous I didn't know what to do."

    Starsky felt the anger drain from him and a lost sensation gradually took its place. His voice sounded unsteady in his own ears. "You can't be saying you loved her." A shiver crawled up his spine at the hollow laugh that issued from the other man. Hutch slowly turned towards him with a haunted expression on the fair face.

    "It wasn't Kira I was jealous about, you damned fool."

    Starsky was sure that someone had just cut off the gravity, eliminating every safe, familiar tie with terra firma. His legs lost their strength and he sat back heavily on the sofa behind him. Listening to the continuing torrent of words, he distantly wondered how Hutch had managed to turn the tables and was now the injured party. The truth always was the sharpest weapon of all.

    "Not something you wanted to hear, was it?" Hutch continued remorselessly. "After San Francisco you laid down the rules. Unilateral decision on your part. You never once asked me what I wanted. Never wanted to know what I felt." He paced forward, looming over Starsky like an avenging angel. "Well, now you're going to hear. I'm in love with you, Starsky. Have been ever since last summer." Declaration made, it was as if the energy that had powered him had been exhausted with this last outpouring. He sat down carefully next to his paralyzed partner. "I wanted you to know where I'm coming from so this fiasco won't be repeated."

    "I thought you'd gotten over that," Starsky finally whispered.

    "Did you?"

    The accusation cut razor sharp, drawing blood. The events of the last few days rearranged themselves in Starsky's mind. Then the last few months shuffled into a new pattern. Oh, shit. The interior of Starsky's mind was chaos. Within the space of a few minutes his whole carefully constructed universe was showing huge, gaping gaps in its surface. He sought desperately to latch onto the anger that had fueled him for the last few hours, but it had traitorously deserted him. He had nothing left to hide behind. Hutch had been honest with him. How could he be anything but to him? His mind, giving him no choice, relentlessly took him back to the time he had bedded Meredith, all the while fantasizing she was the man next to him. All the other times he had gotten off with a phantom Hutch, only to confront the flesh and blood version the next day, pretending it had never happened. Liar.

    Hutch closed his eyes. "I also realize that you have a right to have second thoughts after what I did. After that last night in San...."

    "You know shit about that last night." Starsky muttered.

    "You hated it...."

    "I loved it."

    Hutch leapt to his feet. Slowly, red splotches started to stain the skin across his cheekbones. "You sonovabitch. You mean to tell me that this last year has been nothing but one big perverted game for you?"

    Starsky got up from the couch. "The sex, Hutch. I loved the sex. You knew that. It was all the other stuff that scared the hell out of me." He took an instinctive step away from the blond. "Up there we could have it all. We could be together, and if anyone saw, who were they gonna tell? We were in a...microcosm. Don't you see, nothing we did there affected us."

    "You've got to be kidding."

    "I meant, we could come home and be what we always were, with no one the wiser."

    "I'm beginning to think that we never were 'what we always were'." He moved towards Starsky. "And I think all that other stuff is a crock."

    "It was important." Starsky paused for a long moment and stared at his partner. "At least I thought it was."

    "You tried to fool yourself, but you never really did, did you? So you tried to fool me."

    Starsky smiled tightly. "Did I?"

    Hutch folded his arms across his chest "You'd be Oscar material, if I thought you had been acting. But after many years of close association, I believe your idiocy comes naturally. I just think you're an asshole."

    "I was just trying...."

    "We've been through that already. Do you realize you caused hair to grow on my upper lip? That I wore that crummy Hawaiian shirt because you bought it for me? That every time I saw you I had to pretend you hadn't ripped out my heart, thrown it away and left me bleeding?" He flung his arms wide. "And all in the name of 'friendship'. You can be a real bastard sometimes."

    Starsky waved his hands in front of his irate partner. "Wait a minute. I thought you wanted us to make up."

    Hutch gave a curt nod. "I do. If only for self-preservation. I couldn't handle another year like this last one."

    "Just checking." He took a step towards Hutch. "Okay, how about if I tell you I've jerked off thinking about you, about us. That being with you was something I wanted more than anything, but I couldn't tell you that? Because if I did I knew sooner or later we'd end up in that brass bed of yours and then what...?" He looked down at the floor. "Then I'd have to admit that I've fucked up."

    Hutch reached out with one hand as if to close the small gap between them, but stopped halfway to his goal. His arms slowly returned to his side. "You mean to tell me that you've put us, me, through all of this because you couldn't admit to being wrong? You egotistical, self-centered...prick."

    "Hey, wait a minute! What I'm trying to say...."

    "Well, you're going to have to do a damn sight better than you are now, buddy," Hutch thundered.

    Starsky grabbed his partner by the shoulders and delivered a hard, deliberate kiss on the compressed lips. Hutch got his hands up between their bodies to push at the chest pressed tightly against him.

    "Let go!" He managed to pull himself free. "God, I feel like I'm in the middle of a Gothic novel," he muttered. "You're changing your mind awful fast here. Just a few minutes ago the only thing you were contemplating was a right cross. Now you're.... Don't rush into this without your eyes being wide open. Because I'll kill you if you change your mind. Again."

    Starsky understood Hutch's reservations about his abrupt change. Hell, he didn't quite understand it, either. But he did know that for the first time in a year he felt like there had been a truce called between himself and his partner. Now, he just had to arrange a permanent cease-fire. Hutch was right, he had been an asshole of the first degree. And he was damned tired of it. "I think my eyes are open wide enough. Finally. They've been closed for almost a year." Starsky tentatively slid his hand up his friend's arm, gratified with the catch of breath his touch engendered. "It's time I finally saw clearly again."

    "You were right about one thing, though. There are problems we would have to face, compromises we'd have to live with. We could never be open about us being lovers while we're cops. "

    No shit. But I want you anyway. "Thought you said you wanted me?"

    Hutch ran his fingers distractedly though his hair. "You don't know.... I just want to make sure that you've thought out all the contingencies."

    "You sound as if you want me to be a damn computer." He stopped suddenly, inspiration flooding his mind. His voice was suddenly toned with great seriousness. "You're right, of course. There'd be a lot of garbage we'd have to deal with, and a lot of that still bothers me. But there'd be a lot of good things, too. Sort of evenly balanced, don't you think?" He reached behind, sliding his hand into his pants' left rear pocket. His fingers made contact with a coin. "How 'bout if we toss for it? Leave it up to Lady Luck."

    "You're going to do what?" Hutch stammered. "You're going to leave our lives up to a random coin toss?" As Starsky drew out the coin, he fell silent, a strange, almost amused expression settling on his face.

    The coin spun in the air. Before he could catch it, a large-boned hand darted out and captured it. Hutch covered the coin that now rested on the back of his hand. "You choose," Starsky ordered, before Hutch could lay claim to the choice himself. He knew it was the double-headed one, and from the way Hutch was looking at him, he probably knew, too. But did Hutch know that he knew that Hutch knew? It was making him dizzy. Of course, there was only one answer.

    Hutch pocketed the memento without checking it. "Heads."

    "How long have you known?"

    "About this?" Hutch patted his pocket. "I noticed that whenever we flipped for something you took a quarter out of your left rear pocket. Not where you keep your change, Starsk. And the odds of you winning ninety-two times in a row...."

    "I have not."

    "... if you weren't cheating are astronomical." Hutch paused for a moment. "What would you have done if I had called 'tails'?"

    Starsky shrugged. "I would have just had to throw you to the ground and offer you mine."

    "Is that what you're doing now? "

    A ruddy flush was starting at his collarbone. "I was going to get around to it eventually." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Of course I would have liked to have been a bit more subtle. Kept you guessing for a little while...."

    "Kept me guessing for a year. Isn't that long enough?"

    Starsky took a deep breath, and let it out in an extended sigh. "Would it make you feel better if I told you, again, that I love you?" The look he got in response was not ecstatic. "That didn't come out right, did it?"

    "Don't force yourself, Starsk. You already said it was the sex you loved." Hutch's voice was, strangely, only slightly bitter.

    "You don't get it, do you? I loved you long before the sex. I loved you without the sex. Then we had sex, and now you think we have to change the meaning of the word somehow. I still love you. I don't like it when we fight. I'd do anything for you...."

    "Even fuck?"

    "Yeah, Mr. Eloquence, even fuck." He punctuated the last word with a one-handed shove against the taller man's shoulder. "Getting off is one of my favorite pastimes. And you do it so well."

    Hutch crowded in on Starsky, getting right in his face. "If you loved the sex, and you love me, why the hell did you want to break it off?"

    "Because I wasn't fuckin' ready, you great hulking oaf." Starsky cut his tirade short and contritely raised his hand to gently wipe Hutch's moustache with one finger. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to spit in your face."

    Hutch gave a bark of a laugh and stepped back. "So, where does that leave us?"

    Starsky shrugged. "I don't know. I'm tired of being unhappy. I'm tired of feeling alone. I'm tired of making the wrong choices." He reached out and took his partner's hand. "At this point, I'm more than willing to try it your way. Mine sure as hell didn't work." The fantasies of a house with a white picket fence didn't quite shatter, they just rearranged themselves. Someone to be with, someone to be there. And love. And be loved. Hutch. Well, why the hell not?

    "You're ready, now?"

    "I'd rather be with you than without you, and I'd rather be with you than anyone else. I love you, and you're a great screw. Let's get married."

    True to form, Hutch was still hesitant. "But what do you want...?"

    Starsky cut him off. "Look, why don't we just jump in and see if we can swim? If we want it to work out, it will. Now, give me a hug, 'cause I feel like I've just made some kind of commitment to you and you're just standing there arguing with me."

    Hutch's arms circled him, and Starsky found he was being crushed against his partner. Groin to groin, he felt what the pressure was causing to stir. Breath was warm against his ear as Hutch whispered, "You really think we can make a go of this?"

    "Trust me, Hutch."

    "Please, don't say that. I never believe you when you say that." He rotated his pelvis enticingly against the shorter man's. "Promise me the moon and the stars. I'm a sucker for that sort of talk."

    "Okay, let's go in to the bedroom and I'll make you see stars. Them, and those nasty little squiggly things that crawl behind your eyelids when you shut 'em too tight," Starsky promised.

    "You're patently weird, Starsk. How could I resist?" He reluctantly loosened his hold. "How about if I grab a couple cans of cold beer and meet you in bed."

    "What? No champagne?"

    Hutch gave him an even look. "I haven't had much cause for stocking any, lately."

    "Next time I'll bring over a magnum...but you already have one, don't you?"

    Hutch laughed, and it was wonderful to hear. "God, I hate to admit this, but I think I've missed your warped sense of humor most of all."

    Been a long time since I felt this good. Starsky shoved his partner in the direction of the kitchen. "Go get the beers; after all of this I want to get to the important part of making-up."

    When Hutch joined him, Starsky was looking down at himself, his pants at half-mast. Then he looked up at Hutch rather sheepishly. "Sorry. I know it's not polite to point."

    Hutch reached out and cupped the extended member in his palm, then tilted it back and pressed it up to Starsky's belly. "That's okay. I don't think I'll be able to hold it against you for long."

    "I think that's about long enough; and don't touch me with those cold cans. Sex. That's what I want. Outta those clothes and join me in bed."

    "Join you? I hadn't noticed you were coming apart." Hutch chuckled at his own attempt at humor.

    "Get naked, Hutchinson." Starsky followed his own advice and got out of his pants before he tripped over them. Other articles fell to the floor in rapid succession. Once settled in the big bed he watched with fascination as Hutch fumbled out of his clothing, then strolled over and got in with him. He popped the top of the beer, took a gulp, and raised his free hand to his forehead, touching his temples with thumb and ring finger. "The amazing Starsky is reading your mind, and the answer is 'No'."

    Hutch laughed, reaching out and caressing a shoulder. "That could get you into a lot of trouble. How do you know what I was going to say?"

    "We're partners, right?"

    "Yeah...." Hutch clinked his drink to Starsky's.

    "Partners share. Keep the relationship equal, right?"


    "So you were gonna say, 'That last time in San Francisco I made love to you, Starsky. Now, I am offering you my lily white body to do with as you please.' Right?"

    Hutch snorted. "Perhaps, in essence."

    "Well, what I'm saying to you is, no. Not this time. Later. Maybe tomorrow. I've been thinking about this for a long time, and there're a few things I'd like to try. Tonight, okay?"

    "You think I'd say no?" Hutch shifted a little closer. "So, what's the game plan?"

    "We can neck for a little bit, get that out of the way, then I'm gonna put my legs over your shoulders and you can fuck me senseless. How's that sound?" He took a long swig of his brew, then reached over and placed the can on the floor.

    "Spoken like the true poet you are, Starsk." He captured the expectant lips with a deep kiss. Rolling over on top of the smaller man, Hutch pinned him to the bed and leaned to set his drink next to his lover's. He then kissed him until Starsky signaled a stop by trying to inhale his tongue. "Get serious," Hutch demanded of the gasping man.

    "Right, serious." While Starsky regained a modicum of composure, he stared up at Hutch's flushed face. If I hadn't been so damn eager, maybe we could have been a little better prepared. "I hate to ask, especially at this point, but you got any stuff?"

    "Stuff?" Hutch echoed, his mind obviously still on more important matters.

    "Slippery stuff."

    Hutch blinked. "Oh. You don't think beer would work, huh?"

    Starsky guffawed. "Not unless I drank a case of it."

    Hutch sighed as he levered himself off the bed. "I'm sure I can come up with something. Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that." When he returned to bed he was clutching a bottle, his large hand obscuring the label.

    "What is that?"

    "Never you mind. It'll do just fine."

    A brief scuffle ensued and Starsky triumphantly gained control of the container. "Purple Passion Love Oil," he read. "Don't tell me, I don't want to know."

    "It was a gift," Hutch explained. He opened the bottle and poured a generous amount of the oil into the palm of his slightly shaking hand and started to coat his erection with it.

    "Let me help." Starsky added his hands to the one already busily at work. "I promise, Hutch. Hearts and flowers and romance after." He stared deeply into the light blue eyes. "Right now, I just want you inside me again."

    Hutch stared at him open-mouthed. "Boy, when the walls finally come down, they really shatter. You're giving me stage-fright."

    Abruptly, Starsky lay back and transferred his hands to his own cock, stroking and pulling to an inner tempo. He spread his legs wide, bending his knees and planting his feet on the mattress, inviting Hutch to kneel inside the open space.

    Hutch bent over him, balancing on one arm, his free hand reaching down and under. Starsky felt the rhythmic squeezing and responded by canting his hips forward, offering better access. The cornsilk framed face was about six inches from his own. He felt Hutch's hand slide under his buttocks, angling its way between them, fingers spreading to allow room for the play of one particular, questing digit. The reality of its entry into him caused a contraction in his abdominals, and a quiet grunt of pleasure escaped his lips. The addition of another finger, and more movement of the large hand felt better than he had recalled, or imagined. He moved with it, appreciatively.

    "That's nice...." Before he could say any more, his mouth was captured and a slick invader was claiming its territory, while the probing fingers below were working their own magic. He raised his arms to encircle the broad torso. Go ahead. Try it, lover. Make your fingers touch your tongue. Hutch drew back, breaking away from the enclosure of his arms and freeing his encased fingers, to sit on his heels.

    He stared down the length of his own body to his partner's blood engorged column rising out of the tangle of golden curls. Yep. It's still huge. Smiling in a way he hoped was reassuring, he extended a leg so Hutch could get it over his shoulder. Not rushing you, am I? Because I can't wait. Hutch grasped his calf and together they managed to position him. The other leg followed quickly enough. Now, as he supported himself on his upper back and shoulders, he was confronted by his own hard cock pointing at him. Wonder if I can shoot myself between the eyes.... If these absurd contortions hadn't been necessary for him to get what he wanted, he would have laughed. Hands stroked his flanks and ass, leaving flame in their wake.

    Hutch seemed slightly hesitant. "You sure you want to get this acrobatic tonight? You've only done it once before."

    "Only in reality. C'mon, the blood is rushing to my head," he hissed.

    Hutch's caresses traveled to his penis. "Still? If this gets any fuller it's liable to burst." Hutch smiled, inviting him to share the jest.

    Starsky's eyes narrowed. "Prick tease."

    "Moi?" Even in the heat of the moment Hutch could still speak French. "I've had a hard-on for about a year. I'm used to it."

    "Then for god's sake, put it to some use for once. Fuck me, damnit." The last word came out as a squeak. As he had been talking, Hutch had positioned himself over his target and entered. "Holy shit!"

    Hutch seemed to be having a little difficulty balancing his rigid body. "Will you relax?!?" he pleaded.

    "I'm trying!" Panting and gasping, he tried to convince his spincter that it wasn't trying to surround an elephant. "Christ. Wait a minute. Don't move." He imagined things in sequentially smaller sizes; water buffalo, kangaroo, armadillo, till he found something he could accept. Hutch's cock. That wasn't so bad, The pain started to recede with his acceptance. Relaxing with a hiss of expelled breath, he looked up at his partner, who was as obviously relieved at this newfound composure as he was. Maybe more so. "Whew. You alright?"

    "Yeah, I think so." He looked down at Starsky's semi-deflated organ. "Probably better off than you are." A little rubbing from the both of them brought the flagging cock back to life. "Ready now?"

    Starsky nodded. "As I'll ever be." Hutch moved slowly inside him. To his disgust, after being responsible for this position, Starsky found that he couldn't really do much more than lie there and take it. His own counter-movements were constricted by the fact that he was, for all intents and purposes, standing on his head. He reached past his legs and grabbed Hutch by the biceps. He was now balancing on the middle of his back. The need to move with his partner made him try a few rocking motions, but the strain of keeping his head and shoulders lifted was too much. He dug his nails into the straining arm muscles for a moment before letting go and dropping back. Soon each thrust was driving his back into the mattress as Hutch exultantly nailed him to the bed. Their voices mingled expletives. One particularly exquisite thrust sent thrills of electricity through his body and he moaned. Hutch, gentleman that he was, repeated the movement. He distantly heard his toes crack as they clenched down towards the balls of his feet. Tiny little firecrackers. They heralded a complete Fourth of July display as he found that elusive pinnacle and fell over it. He did not shoot himself between the eyes. He missed. Hutch was panting his name, over and over. He waited, sated and completely relaxed, for the big blond to climax.

    It must have been good for Hutch, because after a prolonged hoarse shout, Starsky was supporting a dead weight. After what seemed like eternity, Hutch must have realized that he was bending his partner almost double, because he rolled off. Starsky shifted slowly to his side to face him. "Thank you," he whispered into damp blond hair.


    "I love you."

    Intertwined, they drifted off to sleep.

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     Starsky slathered soap all over his body, letting the effect of the strong, hot water dispel the last traces of sleep. A loud succession of off-tune lyrics poured from his mouth. He grinned as Hutch's protests could be heard all the way from the bedroom through the door and over the sound of the shower. He sang louder. Wiping away the condensation on the mirror with the edge of a towel, he peered into the moisture-clouded surface. A familiar face smiled back. A small portion of him wondered if this idiot grin might be a permanent condition, but shuffled it aside as being totally unimportant. He was halfway through shaving when Hutch appeared in the reflecting surface, peering over his shoulder. It was totally appropriate that the blond had a matching expression plastered on his face. "Think it's permanent?"

    "I want it to be."

    "Not that, dummy." Starsky turned and flicked some shaving cream at the suddenly serious man. "These smiles that don't seem to go away."

    The matching smile was back. "Well, if it is, we'll look awful strange trying to be tough with some street punk."

    Turning back to the mirror, he finished the last touches on his shave. "Then we can be known as the laughing lawmen. Confuse the hell out of 'em." A pair of warm arms snaked around him and Hutch briefly nuzzled his neck. He was released and a large hand impacted with his bare bottom.

    "Shift your ass into gear, partner. I need to use my bathroom."

    A little later, Starsky lay on the couch, arms folded beneath his head, staring up at the ceiling. He could hear Hutch fumbling around in the bedroom, trying to get dressed quickly. It was a simple exercise in futility. Even if they had been ready fifteen minutes ago, he still needed to stop off at his place and pick up a clean change of clothing. His things still smelled vaguely of explosives and the bottom of a dance floor. He drew the line at wearing anything of Hutch's. He'd be swimming in it, and the only thing of his still here was one torn pair of jeans. They were going to be late anyway you looked at it, but after the events of last night, who cared? It was worth a hell of a lot more than a measly chewing out by Dobey....

    There had been silence for a couple of minutes, and he was just beginning to doze when a pair of demanding lips covered his own. Their kiss was a long one and they only parted when Starsky had to pull back, gasping for air.

    "Ready?" Hutch asked conversationally.

    "What are you, half-fish? You're not even breathing hard."

    "I can't help it if I have more stamina than..." The rest of his words were cut off when the smaller man pulled him back down for a rematch.

    Starsky was so involved he hardly registered the insistent ringing of the phone. He clung tenaciously to the body which was perversely trying to get out of his embrace.

    "Starsky, the phone. I gotta get the phone," finally penetrated the erotic fog shrouding his mind. He grinned sheepishly at Hutch and relaxed the clinging circle of his arms. He felt hot and bothered and with about as much control as if he were fifteen again. It was wonderful. The not so inconsiderable weight pressed down on him as his partner reached, fumbling for the receiver. Grabbing him around the waist, he pulled the other man's shirt out of his jeans. Hutch was simultaneously trying to bat his hands away and reach for the phone. Just as the latter had been accomplished, Starsky's teeth closed lightly on vulnerable flesh. The resulting 'hello' into the phone was so disguised by an explosive giggle that it was completely unintelligible. Starsky was about to try another attack on his ticklish armful when the other's body stiffened, telegraphing distress. He pulled back and was arrested by the forbidding expression on the closed-in face.

    "Yes, this is Hutch." A long pause. "Yeah, I hear you. After work?" Hutch sat up, running his fingers distractedly through his mussed hair. There was a deep frown on his face. "I don't know.... All right, all right. How about The Pits?"

    There was another brief silence. "Yeah, see you then." He carefully replaced the receiver and got up without looking at his partner.

    "Who was it?" Starsky asked gently. Troubled eyes turned to meet his own probing gaze.


    He must have shown something in reaction, because the next thing he knew, Hutch was beside him again, hands tightly gripping his arms. "Hey, it's okay," he soothed, hoping to god it was true.

    Hutch sighed and tried a weak smile. "She wants to meet me and talk. I thought it might be a good idea. You know, get it over with as quickly as possible, and The Pits is good neutral territory."

    The memory of his own talk at Huggy's made him feel very small.

    "If you don't want me to go, I'll call her back and cancel." Hutch looked very unsure of himself.

    "To be perfectly honest," Starsky paused dramatically, then leaned in and stole a quick kiss, "I don't want you to get within fifty miles of the lady. And it has nothing to do with not trusting you," he added hastily, seeing his partner opening his mouth for a lengthy explanation. "It's just after everything that's gone down, my primeval instincts are at high idle. I think you're right, you should meet with her. "

    Hutch got up, hastily tucking in his shirt, trying to make himself presentable again. "I won't screw it up this time," he promised solemnly.

    "Good, because you wouldn't want a really jealous Starsky on your hands, lover."

    "Jeeze," the blond chuckled weakly. "You mean yesterday's performance didn't qualify?"

    "Nope." He waggled his eyebrows. "This individual is a one-person man, and when I put my brand on someone...." There was a blinding display of teeth.

    "No more complications. Promise." Hutch shrugged into his black leather jacket. "Come on, Othello, we've got to go earn an honest living."

    "All right," Starsky grumbled, retrieving his own from the kitchen chair. "But I want some quality time for the two of us. Alone. No distractions."

    "You better believe it," Hutch agreed, holding open the front door. "I want that romance and candlelight you promised. I'm not the kinda boy who's satisfied with a quick tumble between the covers."

    "Gripe, gripe, gripe." He sauntered enticingly over to the tall blond, giving him his million dollar smile. "How about I take you out to dinner tonight. Someplace with candles, soft music, and fine wine."

    Hutch's eyes narrowed as he studied the other's innocent expression. "Never let it be said that I look a gift Starsky in the mouth. It's a date." He waved Starsky out the door, locking it behind him.

    "Great, then we'll come back here or to my place and practice making a short, blunt human pyramid."

    The blond turned around slowly and stared, watching as Starsky brushed past him, heading down the stairs. The words, "And you still remind me of Guildenstern," floated back up to him. Hutch grinned, as he took a quick look behind him. Damn, but life was wonderful sometimes. He started whistling as he emerged into the sunlight .


    Hutch peered around the corner of the squad room door. It was all clear; no Dobey in sight. They had been due in an hour ago, and considering their captain's obvious displeasure with their recent behavior this was not an intelligent move on their part. He gave his partner the all clear sign. Starsky sidled past him, moving quickly for his desk. Following quickly on his heels, Hutch almost made it to his own safe haven when the melodious tones of his superior officer froze him as his hand closed on the back of his chair.

    "Hutchinson," Dobey bellowed from his office. Unfortunately the open door gave a clear view of their desks.

    His eyes locked with Starsky's, and the other man just gave a fatalistic shrug. Hutch straightened and turned around with a false smile painted on his face. "Yeah, Cap? Anything wrong?"

    "Get in here," Dobey said, standing in his open doorway. "I want to talk to you."

    Hutch waited for Starsky to be given an identical command, but none was obviously forthcoming.

    "If you're waiting for an engraved invitation...."

    He moved. Dobey closed the door behind them and sat behind his desk. He threaded his fingers together, staring over his hands with a stern expression. "Sit down, Hutch. This is a friendly talk, so relax."

    "Listen, Captain, if it's because I was a little late...."

    Dobey dismissed the words with a wave of his hand. "No. What I wanted to talk to you about is what I saw yesterday between you and Starsky. You're partners, but it didn't seem to me you realized it. You weren't working together and that could be fatal on the streets."

    Hutch realized this needed to be cut off before they were both embarrassed. "Captain, uh, I don't mean to interrupt, but it's okay. Starsky and I had some, shall we say, misunderstandings. We..." he cleared his throat, "cleared them up last night." His smile died at the forbidding look that appeared on the black man's face. Storm clouds at night, a distant part of his mind registered.

    "Then why are you two hours late...."

    "One hour."

    "...this morning. This is a police department, and we need our officers in here on time."

    "I realize that, Captain. But you see, Starsky and I had a lot of things to talk over last night. It was really late when we got to bed." He hoped the flush he felt staining his face was not obvious.

    "Well...," Dobey began, his face already less forbidding.

    Hutch thought it as good a time as any to bring up a request for a few days off. He hoped he wouldn't have to grovel too much.

    A pair of anxious blue eyes met his return to the squad room. "My turn?" Starsky asked.

    "Nope, he was mostly worried about us." Hutch lowered his voice as he continued, coming around to sit on the corner of his partner's desk. "I told him that we made up and that all is wonderful in policeland. And since we talked long into the night resolving our differences, he didn't even mind us coming in late this morning. In fact, I convinced him that we needed a couple days off to ourselves, to make sure that this wouldn't happen again. It's no honeymoon, but it's the best I could arrange on such short notice."

    Starsky just shook his head, but there was a definite twinkle in his eyes. "Well, it'll just have to do. And the next time we get called on the carpet, I'll let you do the talking. We'll probably end up lieutenants."

    "I knew it was only a matter of time before you acknowledged my greater intellect and...."

    "...cock," Starsky interjected in a stage-whisper.

    Hutch shut up. He looked around quickly, but no one was close enough to have heard. "What am I going to do with you?"

    Starsky got up and headed for the door, Hutch trailing along behind. "I have a few ideas along that line, but I'd prefer to discuss them later. Right now our beat awaits." He held the door open for his partner.

    "I'll drive," Hutch announced firmly. "I had enough of your driving last night."

    "But I thought your car was...."

    Grinning, Hutch pushed past the human doorstop. "Don't you know by now you shouldn't believe everything you hear?"


    They had busted a small time pusher, broken up a knock-down drag-out between two teenage boys, and hauled in a drunk and disorderly. A perfectly ordinary day on the Metro beat. And he had enjoyed every minute of it, Starsky realized, stealing a look at his partner. They exchanged a smile, and the desire he had put on hold for most of the day started demanding some attention. The next couple of days were something to be anticipated. They walked down the hall towards their squad room, squeezing past a scaffold and a few dozen paint containers.

    "Guess we're taking off just in time," Hutch looked back at the mess.

    "It'll save your allergies, that's for sure," Starsky agreed. "I don't want you in any less than perfect health. It could really screw up some plans I've made."

    "An apt choice of words, if I say so myself," Hutch replied, a wicked gleam in his eyes.

    "Tsk, tsk, Hutchinson," he admonished sweetly, pushing his way into the squad room. "And you had the gall to...." What he had been about to say died in his throat as he got a good look at his desk. He approached it slowly, taking in the sight of a huge spray of yellow, long stemmed roses. Propped against the crystal vase was a small white card. He turned around, speechless, to find Hutch staring at him expectantly.

    "Hey, Starsky," Bill Page, a plainclothesman, called from across the room. "Didn't know your girlfriends sent you flowers."

    "When you've got it, you've got it," Starsky shot back. He was rewarded by a round of laughter from the men in the room. He ignored them and carefully opened the envelope and read: I promised you yellow roses, and I never forget a promise. Starsky could feel his eyes filling. He coughed once, trying to clear his throat. He looked and caught the expectant gaze directed his way. "Damn you," he whispered, "how'd you know how to get to me?"

    "Need you ask?"

    Starsky shook his head. He reached out and lightly touched one of the gold petals. "They're beautiful. But then, so are you," he whispered. He noted with pleasure the pink flush his words engendered.


    It was almost quitting time when Hutch had to make a last minute trip down the hall to R&I for a file. Normally he would have bitched and complained about the necessity of the leg work, but on this day nothing was bothering him. He was glad he had given into his lunchtime impulse and phoned in his order for the roses. Starsky's expression would be something he'd remember for the rest of his life. It seemed as if every time he looked up, Starsky was stealing sidelong glances at the yellow blossoms, or reaching out to touch them. The fact that his lover obviously had a wide romantic streak, as well as an earthier side, gave him a number of interesting ideas for the future.

    His high spirits plummeted as soon as he returned to the squad room. There was a tense set to Starsky's shoulders and a tightness to the lips that signaled trouble. He sat down, putting the file to one side, willing the other man to return his glance. What could possibly have happened in the few minutes he had been gone? Finally, the angry eyes made contact with his. "Okay, what happened?" he asked gently.

    "I think we're both being played the fool," Starsky observed caustically.

    "What are you talking about?"

    "Got a call a few minutes ago. From Kira. She wants to meet me after work at The Pits to talk about the 'situation'. She absent-mindedly neglected to tell me you'd be there, too."

    "Damn. A nice confrontational situation ready-made." Hutch leaned forward, elbows propped on the desk. "So, what are you going to do?"

    "I don't know." He spread his hands helplessly. "On the one hand, most of what happened between us was self-inflicted. She was just sorta the catalyst."

    "And on the other?"

    "I think this stinks."

    "Yeah, on both counts," Hutch conceded. "But she was right about one thing, she never told either of us that she loved us with a capital 'L'."

    Starsky unconsciously rubbed at his forehead with one hand. He sighed. "I dunno. Maybe the whole thing was my fault."

    "No, that's not right either. I think all three of us can take a bow. But that's neither here nor there. It's over, that's what's really important."

    The first small smile curved the corner of Starsky's mouth. "Yeah, you're right, but I still don't want to let this go." He gave Hutch a conspiratorial wink. "Not without us getting a little of our own back.

    Hutch considered a minute. "And how do we go about doing that?"

    "Let's make the lady an offer she can't refuse."

    Hutch shook his head. "No. I'm not about to help you put a dead horse in her bed."

    Starsky laughed as he headed for the door. "I had something a little more lively in mind."

    Hutch caught up with his partner outside the squad room. "That's a dangerous game. Suppose she accepts," he hissed.

    Starsky's shrug was eloquent. "Who says we couldn't refuse? After all, we've only got two days off, I'd hate to waste any of that."

    "Don't think of it as just two days, you've been off for most of your life."

    "More Hutchinson humor?" Starsky accompanied the shake of his head with a dirty look. Abruptly his expression became startled. "Hold that elevator!" he called as he turned and sprinted back down the hallway. "I forgot my flowers."

    He watched the retreating form, his amusement tinged with affection. There was a year to be made up for. They'd never be able to do that in just two nights, but it was a damn good start.


    The breeze off the ocean was chill and a full moon, almost obscured by the overcast sky, occasionally highlighted the white peaks of cresting waves. The two men walking along the hard packed sand of the shoreline seemed oblivious to the sinister atmosphere. As a matter of fact, they couldn't have cared less. They were happy just to be there.

    The dark haired man took a sharp turn and headed up to drier sand, his blond shadow by his side. He turned and stared off over the crashing water, then made to seat himself, his motions arrested by a hand on his elbow.

    "Don't sit there, the sand is too cold. Let's go up to the benches."

    Starsky glanced dubiously up the beach. "I think I'd like to rest here for a while."

    Hutch was unzipping his jacket. "At least sit on my...."

    Starsky slapped Hutch's hands aside and zipped him up again. "Keep it on. You go catching pneumonia and who will I have to mother-hen me?" He lowered himself down carefully and patted a space next to him. "Sit."

    "You just want my ass to get cold, too," Hutch accused.

    Starsky laughed. "No, actually I wanted to use you as a windbreak."

    "Oh." The tall man sank down beside his companion.

    Starsky played hourglass, letting the dry grains sift though his lightly closed fist. "It was nice of Keith and Rolf to let us have our old room again."

    Hutch stretched long legs out in front of himself. "It's off season. They'd've probably let us have their room if we wanted it."

    Starsky snorted. "Chintz? No thanks."

    "What makes you say that? For all you know it could be mahogany paneled."

    "With a statue of David on the dresser."

    "Only if you had been posing while I wasn't looking."

    Starsky brushed off the grit that was sticking to his hands. He sighed. "Don't think anybody'd want to sculpt me now." He received a glare from Hutch, so he wagged a finger at him to stave off the impending lecture. "Beware of men with that lean and hungry look," he warned.

    "Yeah, I'll remember that. Think you can make it up to those benches now? I'm freezing my butt off." Hutch stood, offering his hand. Starsky pulled himself up and they brushed each other off. Making their slow way up the beach, Hutch kept a secure hand gripping Starsky's upper arm, steadying him so he wouldn't stumble. "You know, I've been thinking, and I can't say that I have anything personal against chintz...."

    "Don't do that to me, Hutch."

    "You can't judge a man by his bedroom, you know."

    Starsky stopped walking. "Bedroom? Chintz goes in kitchens. Didn't your mother teach you anything? Velvet drapes in the bedroom. Ain'tcha got no class?"

    Hutch started them walking again. "Well, we'll decorate that house when we come to it."


    Up in their second floor bedroom at one-eleven Elm it was a lot warmer. Starsky sat on the edge of the bed, munching one of the ever-present chocolate chip cookies. Hutch sat behind him, massaging his shoulders and neck. "I think he was too polite to say anything, but Keith gave me a really weird look when we checked in this afternoon."

    "Oh, he was probably just trying to recall if he'd seen you before."

    "Yeah. I look different than that other guy you brought up here. You remember, the cute one?"

    Hutch paused. "No, I never brought any cute guy here. Just you." The shoulders he was kneading slumped. "C'mon, Starsk, I was joking. You're gorgeous."

    "No, I'm...."

    "He was probably just surprised you lost so much weight. You know how many people would love to lose twenty pounds? I'll be surprised if he doesn't ask you what your secret was."

    Starsky leaned back into accepting arms. "Think I should tell him?"

    "Nope." Hutch nuzzled the sweep of neck so close to his mouth. "Don't think he'd go for it. A little too expensive."

    Starsky laughed. "Tell me about it." He caught Hutch's roving hands and wrapped himself in the strong arms. "So, what's on the schedule, oh Keeper of the Sacred List."

    "There isn't one," Hutch confided. "Figured you'd have just about had it with schedules after the last couple months."

    "Really." The minutes stretched out in companionable silence. "Any ideas for tomorrow?"

    "Well, we could go back to the Labyrinth."

    Starsky turned slightly in his lover's arms. "I don't want to go back. Took us a year to find our way out the first time."

    Hutch leaned forward and placed a kiss on the waiting mouth. "Yeah, but we know more now. I'll bring a ball of string."

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The End