To follow was to surrender, Hutch thought, but that was not the way he'd ever seen himself in his fantasies of loving Starsky. Even so, Hutch yielded to Starsky and let himself be led. If it meant he was about to lose himself, give himself over, then that's what would happen. He could still make sure it would be the best loving of Starsky's life. He could still give Starsky everything he had.

    "I love you," Hutch murmured impulsively as they entered Starsky's room.

    Starsky kissed him on the mouth, lightly, carefully, as if trying to reassure him. "That makes me happy, Hutch." Then Starsky left him for a moment standing ill at ease in his room, as he moved around the dimly lit space.

    The whole room looked, smelled, felt like Starsky, and that warm familiarity helped Hutch relax. The bed seemed inviting, just as it must have to all its other guests. It was neatly made up with one corner turned down, the colorful patchwork and velvet quilt smoothed over clean blue sheets and plumped pillows. Had Starsky made up the bed in anticipation of Hutch's presence? Or did he always keep the place ready, just to be prepared, like a good boy scout?

    Starsky had placed a collection of candles all around the room, small votive candles in blue glass lamps, dozens of them clustered in little groupings. They were lined up on the dresser and around the bed, on the headboard and the night table. Quickly, efficiently, Starsky went about lighting the wicks. The scattering of little flames glowed blue in the blue room, darkening the rich color of the sheets. Then Starsky turned off the bedside lamp so that only the candles provided any light. They gave off a soft, warm illumination in the dark room, an easy glow that was homey and comforting.

    "How's that?" Starsky asked, sounding concerned. His eyes were etched in worry. "A little less scary?"

    Hutch smiled to see his friend work so hard to reassure him. Hutch had thought that was his responsibility, to make sure their lovemaking went perfectly. He didn't know why he felt that way when Starsky always tried to please him, always tried to make him feel comfortable, be happy. It was just one of the many reasons he loved him.

    "That's nice, Starsk," Hutch assured him.

    Starsky moved up to him, brushed his fingertips against Hutch's cheek. "You make me feel like a virgin, Hutch. Like I've never done this before. Like it's all new again. As far as I'm concerned, no one's ever been here before you. My partner. My best friend in the whole world. My lover." He leaned in for a chaste, soft kiss, and Hutch felt his knees go weak.

    "You and your way with words," Hutch parroted back at him.

    Starsky kissed him again, mouth closed, and Hutch sighed, enjoying this quiet moment as his fever cooled.

    "Got big plans for you," Starsky murmured. "Wanna give you so much, but I hardly know where to start. Hutch?"

    He heard the hesitation in his friend's voice, and opened his eyes onto Starsky's worried expression. What had happened to his confident predator? "What is it, Starsk?"

    "How--? When--? That is, I mean--" He swallowed and looked uncomfortable.

    "Just spit it out," Hutch told him, wondering, after what they'd just done, what his partner could find so uncomfortable to talk about.

    Starsky's voice was barely above a whisper. "How'd you learn that stuff, Hutch? What you did to me? That was--incredible. I mean, nobody ever did me like that." He kissed Hutch quickly and hugged him close as if to take the sting out of his question.

    "If you're asking me if I've ever had a man before," Hutch said patiently, amused by his sudden bout of insecurity, "the answer is no."

    "I didn't mean it to come out like that," Starsky insisted, but Hutch knew him well enough to know when he was embarrassed. "I just never expected, never thought--you just surprised me, is all. You were so good to me." He rubbed his thumb over Hutch's lips so gently, Hutch wanted to do it all over again. "It's--a hard act to follow, babe."

    "I just remembered what felt good to me. I just used my own experiences. I wanted to give you that. The best I could do." Hutch shook his head. "But, if all you wanted to do was hold me till we fell asleep, that would be fine with me. Just knowing you want me, that you'd let me touch you, let me please you, even if it was only once-- That's more than I ever expected."

    "'Let you' please me? Ah, Hutch. I've dreamed about it. Dreamed about your hands on me, at least. Tried not to let myself dream too much--" He moved against Hutch then, laying gentle kisses on his cheeks, his eyes, his nose. "Will you 'let me' please you now? Or let me try?"

    Hutch swallowed a dense lump that had just grown in his throat and nodded, no longer trusting his voice.

    "Good," Starsky whispered, running his hands up Hutch's bare back, leaving a trail of goose bumps in their wake. "My party now."

    And Hutch remembered where he was--in the predator's lair--and rejoiced to finally be captured.

    Starsky's mouth kept moving lightly, teasingly, leaving soft closed-mouth kisses all over Hutch's face before those gentle lips moved lower over his jaw, finally kissing their way down Hutch's long throat. Hutch suddenly became aware of how painful his cock had become, trapped forever, it seemed, in corduroy pants that felt as if they'd shrunk two sizes.

    Everywhere those strong, full lips pressed, Hutch's nerves ignited, until he stood trembling under that soft mouth moving so lightly, so tentatively over him. Did Starsky have no idea of the effect he was having? Or was this torture deliberate, calculated?

    His gentle lips moved carefully, kissing their way over Hutch's bare shoulders, his collarbone, the hollow of his throat.

    Hutch couldn't take it, it was too gentle, too sweet, too agonizingly slow. He couldn't believe this was Starsky doing this, his rapid-fire, drives-too-fast, firecracker of a partner, loving him as if they had centuries to get to where they were going. Hutch felt as if he'd left all his patience in the living room.

    He reached out, touched his bronzed shoulders, stroked his graceful arms. Starsky's hands settled on his waist, tightening slightly in reaction. Hutch stroked Starsky's back gently, then slid his broad hands to his fur-covered chest, carding his fingers through the soft whorls of hair scattered over the well-defined pectorals. Discovering the tiny nubs of Starsky's nipples, Hutch played with them carefully, stroking them with his thumbs, then pinched them lightly between his fingers.

    Starsky stiffened, and with a gasp, nipped Hutch's throat, making him jump. Smiling, Hutch pinched the nipples again, a bit harder this time, pulling a low growl from his lover. But before he could do it yet again, his hands were captured in a tight grip.

    Pinning Hutch's wrists in the small of his back, Starsky murmured, "Just can't behave yourself, can you, not even for a minute? Told you, this was my party. Am I gonna have to cuff you to get you to hold still?"

    "I want to touch you," Hutch complained, his head tipped back, leaning into Starsky's mouth, the warm breath blowing in his ear making him wild. "Want to love you."

    "You already did," Starsky reminded him, "in spades. You trying to kill me? Now, c'mon, Hutch, fair's fair. My turn. Keep your hands to yourself, or I'm gonna have to get tough with you."

    Hutch grinned at his playfulness, and grasped his own wrist in an attempt to comply. "Oh, yes, sir! Whatever you say, sir! I never imagined this masterful side of you, Starsk."

    His partner just chuckled, and it was a low, wicked sound. "You don't know the half of it, partner."

    The subtle threat sent another shiver up Hutch's spine, as Starsky's hands moved to his waistband. Just having him that near his groin made Hutch's cock pulse, and the sound of his descending zipper nearly pushed him over the edge. Hutch's grip on his own wrist grew painful.

    "Starsk, be careful," he whispered. "I'm right on the edge."

    "Thought you might be," Starsky told him. "S'okay. We're gonna slow this down a little. Just catch your breath, babe. And relax."

    As soon as he said that, Starsky slipped his hands into Hutch's pants, moving to slide the cords down his legs. He groaned as he watched his partner strip him. Helpfully, Starsky pulled shoes and socks off as well, then deposited the whole bundle of clothes off to the side. As soon as he had Hutch nude, he shed his own jeans and footwear, then took a moment to really look at Hutch.

    The piercing gaze was almost enough to undo him as his indigo eyes raked over him unashamed, blatantly examining his nearly hairless body, his jutting, furious cock. Hutch stood rigid with need and expectation.

    "It's like I've never seen you before," Starsky said simply. "Like I just met you, yet still know you as well as I do." Cautiously, he reached out a burnished hand, grazed Hutch's arms, leaving goose bumps and hunger behind. Hutch's cock bobbed, beckoning, imploring, even though Hutch knew that right now he couldn't endure Starsky's touch.

    "You feel so good in my hands," Starsky murmured throatily. "So different from a woman, but so good to touch."

    Starsky's other hand came up to examine him by feel, even as his deep blue eyes watched and catalogued and appreciated every part of him. The tender scrutiny was more than Hutch could take. He'd never felt so naked, so open, and so at risk. His heart hammered wildly and his body was suddenly covered in a slick sheen of sweat that glimmered in the candlelight.

    It didn't help that Starsky stood totally bare and completely beautiful before him. Compulsively, he released his wrist and reached out toward his well-formed body, only to have Starsky admonish, "Uh, uh, uh!" and wag a scolding finger. "Cuffs are still a possibility." Obediently, Hutch pulled his hands to his back, even though the self-imposed restraint was excruciating.

    Starsky's hands moved gently over him, sliding over his chest, touching his nipples tenderly, stroking his waist, his hips, his thighs. Starsky rubbed his back, his abdomen, petted his ass. His hands roved willingly, lovingly, touching everywhere but the place Hutch ached for him to touch the most, even though that touch might be the last thing he could endure.

    By now Hutch was quivering, strung bow-string tight. He was breathing open-mouthed, almost gasping, his head tipped back, his eyes shut once more. This wasn't love-making, it was torture, nothing less--the most exquisite he'd ever known. He knew he couldn't last much longer, that if Starsky didn't do something serious soon, Hutch was apt to lose all restraint and pounce on him.

    Then suddenly Starsky encased one of his nipples in warm wetness, and Hutch's cock reacted so strongly, it nearly slapped his belly. He cried out, and his hands flew up to cup Starsky's dark head until the sharp nip of teeth reminded him of his promise. He pulled his hands back as his knees sagged. Starsky sucked his other nipple next and Hutch thought he'd collapse under the sensuous pleasure, and wondered how Starsky had ever managed to stand upright while Hutch had taken his cock.

    His tormenting hands were still at work, making everything that much more intense, playing with him, teasing him, moving willfully wherever they wanted to.

    Hutch started shaking his head. This had to stop, it had to. "Starsk! Please!" His voice was a helpless rasp as he struggled for needed air.

    "Ready to go to bed with me now?" Starsky asked softly, as if he were bargaining with a reluctant lover.

    Hutch opened his eyes, forced himself to look into the fathomless eyes of his tormentor. Starsky's eyes were endless, impossible to fill, and Hutch fell headlong into them. Could he deny his anything? "Yes! Yes! Just, please--!"

    "Easy," Starsky murmured. "Easy, babe. Come to bed with me? Be mine, now?"

    The questions seemed so simple, but Hutch knew they weren't. To agree would be to capitulate, he knew Starsky well enough for that. But he couldn't stop his mouth. "Oh, yeah. Yours. Always." He was lost now.

    Starsky made a soft purring noise in his throat. "That's nice, Hutch. Mine. Always. That makes me happy." He reached behind Hutch, took one of his hands, freeing the invisible restraint he'd placed on them. Pushing the covers back from the blue sheets, Starsky climbed into the center of his own bed. Kneeling on the mattress, legs slightly spread, his sex lolling at half-mast against his thigh, he tugged at Hutch's hand, urging him to join him.

    Hutch suddenly had the sensation that he was about to cross some invisible border and enter a territory where the rules were foreign to him. He wished he knew what Starsky had in mind--but then again, maybe it was better that he didn't. He placed a knee on the bed, and slowly clambered onto the comfortable expanse.

    "Gotcha now," Starsky whispered, smiling triumphantly.

    Hutch felt as if Starsky had just tightened a fist around his heart. It was so very true; Starsky had him now.

    "Lay down," Starsky ordered gently, one hand on Hutch's shoulder to guide him onto his back.

    Trembling uncontrollably, Hutch obeyed. But he was seconds away from explosion. The tension in his body, in his cock, was unendurable. He tried to tell Starsky, to warn him, but he seemed to already know.

    "Take it easy," Starsky soothed. "We're gonna slow this down till I can catch up. You've got to trust me. I've got too much to share with you to let you go off on me now."

    Hutch could only groan in response.

    Starsky was leaning over Hutch as he lay diagonally in the bed, stretched corner to corner. Starsky was bowed over his body; his halo of brunette hair made him blend into the room, and nearly disappear in the dim candle light.

    Hutch could barely see his outline in the mirror over the bed, but he could see his own paler skin clearly enough. His blond hair was like a beacon where it splashed over the dark blue pillow, and his eyes had this half-dazed, half-shocked expression that surprised him. He wondered if he'd looked like that all night. Hadn't this originally been his idea? Wasn't he supposed to be the seducer here? In the mirror, he looked completely taken by surprise, and worried about it, too.

    In spite of that, the images were exciting to him. He could see the curve of Starsky's spine, the knobs of his backbone, his muscular back, the curve of his beautiful ass. Glancing back to the man himself, he could see his handsome, furred chest, his heavy, dark phallus half-erect and growing, his strong thighs. Realizing that the mirror would allow him to see almost all of Starsky at once, he relaxed a little. The contrast of his coloring against his partner was really quite beautiful.

    Starsky noticed his fascination with the mirror and glanced up. "Hey, handsome, you're not gonna get lost staring at your own gorgeous bod and forget about me, are ya?"

    Hutch had to smile into those bright, indigo eyes. He slid a hand into Starsky's dark curls and became fascinated by their texture as they twisted around his fingers. "Wasn't my bod I was looking at, hotshot."

    "No? Then who's?" Starsky chided, his smile as warm and companionable as it always was.

    "Who else is here with me?" Hutch asked, and pulled a lock of hair. "I was staring at you. You're beautiful, and you know it. So can the coy act. But more than that--we're beautiful together, Starsk. Like we were made to be here this way."

    Starsky looked back up at the mirror. "I think you're right, Hutch. How come it took us so long to figure it out?"

    "I think it's cause you're kind of dense," Hutch said solemnly, then waited for him to react.

    It took a beat. "I'm dense? You're the one who, after figuring' it out, wouldn't do anything about it for three months. So, who's denser, huh?"

    Hutch's laughter felt liberating, and when Starsky rolled against him, pressing his nude body against his, their shared humor rumbled between them.

    "We'll be okay if we can laugh in bed," Starsky promised him seriously. "Tomorrow, and the next day, and all the tomorrows comin'. If we can just keep laughing in bed, we'll be fine."

    "You're the wisest man I've ever known," Hutch said, meaning it. "Even if you are a little dense."

    "Well, wha'd'ya say we find out how hot this dense, wise man can make his lover?" Starsky murmured, nosing his way under a shock of blond hair until he found Hutch's ear. He blew into it gently and murmured, "How hot can you get a Hutchinson before he loses it completely?"

    "I can't take it when you do that!" Hutch complained, leaning into Starsky's mouth.

    "When I do what?" Starsky asked, feigning coyness, then ran the wet tip of his tongue all around his ear rim.

    Hutch shuddered violently and dripped pre-come onto his own belly. "Starsk--please!" It was a strangled plea as Hutch struggled not to beg.

    "Please what?" Starsky teased, sliding his tongue deep into Hutch's ear.

    "I can't believe you!" he complained, wracked with delightful shudders. "It's bad enough at work, in the car, playing chess--but you're even aggravating in bed!"

    Starsky chuckled warmly. "I'm gonna aggravate you to death, Hutchinson! Wait and see!" Then he drilled his tongue wetly into Hutch's ear again, just to watch goose bumps lift all over his fair skin.

    "Damn you!" Hutch hissed, rolling against his lover and grabbing a fistful of dark hair. Hutch's mouth found Starsky's and plundered it roughly, making Starsky groan in surprise. Shaking, Hutch rubbed his turgid phallus against Starsky's hip, desperate for skin-to-skin contact, and seconds away from meltdown.

    But Starsky had to know that, because he slid away from the contact, even as he grabbed Hutch's wrist and dug a thumb into it to get him to release his hair. Starsky pulled out of the kiss, leaving Hutch gasping, trembling, aching for him.

    Starsky looked entirely too amused. "Sorry, Hutch, but I only like to speed in the Torino. I told you, we gotta slow this down."

    "Too late for that," Hutch insisted, reaching for him. Starsky was pushing his luck if he thought he could successfully play hard-to-get now.

    Starsky placed a palm on the center of Hutch's chest and pushed him down onto his back. "Come on, easy, Hutch, easy. You always this quick to fire?"

    "Quick?" Hutch sputtered, outraged. "How much time do you think we spent in the living room--? Don't you think that had any effect on me? Never mind the living room! What about all that flirting by-play of yours in the car, in the restaurant? You can just forget that innocent look, partner, I know what you were up to. And it worked! I've been standing at attention for so long I feel like I'm in a parade!"

    Starsky was really laughing now, and Hutch couldn't help but join him. "Yeah, yeah, I hear you. All that's well and good, but it's still my turn, ain't it?"

    "Keep this up, Starsky, and you're gonna forfeit!" Hutch threatened.

    "Not yet, though," Starsky insisted. "Just let me have my way a little longer. You won't regret it. Come on now, Hutch. Settle down. Take it easy." He leaned over his supine form and kissed Hutch's mouth as gently as he had when they were standing. It made him weak, made him want to give Starsky everything he could possibly want. "Still my turn?" he murmured against Hutch's mouth.

    "Yeah," Hutch breathed. "Your turn. Just--have mercy, will you?"

    Starsky only smiled. "About as much as you had for me."

    Hutch swallowed and closed his eyes. He was in big trouble.

    Starsky eased onto his knees beside Hutch's hip and started using his hands again, making Hutch sigh. Those fingers touched his arms, his chest so delicately, as if he were something fragile or precious to be examined with care. Hutch watched his partner's hands, those same hands that could knock a man senseless, or fire a gun with pinpoint accuracy, or steer a speeding car through heavy traffic. They were surprisingly small, those hands, and finely shaped, not heavy or coarse, and not nearly as big as Hutch's hands. They were like sculptor's hands, smooth and well-groomed, and now they were shaping Hutch, molding him, turning him into whatever Starsky wanted him to be, making him feel whatever Starsky wanted him to feel. Hutch trembled under those beautiful hands.

    "That's right," Starsky crooned, "just take it easy. Everything's gonna be fine." He turned away, and Hutch heard him pull open a drawer in his night stand, then he turned back. "You can shut your eyes if you want."

    Hutch shook his head, his eyes moving between Starsky's face and the mirror overhead. "Want to see you. Want to watch you."

    "Okay," Starsky agreed, smiling, as he manipulated something in his hands. He rubbed them together for a moment, then moved back to Hutch's body to stroke his chest.

    His palms had warm lubricant on them, a thin film of something sensuous and fragrant. As Starsky's oiled thumbs stroked Hutch's nipples, he groaned, his back arching up responsively. Starsky grinned then, that wonderful, toothy smile that made Hutch's heart swell, made him grin in return. Slick fingers rolled his small, brown nipples, pinched them, stroked them liquidly until Hutch was thrashing, gripping the blankets. Then Starsky's mouth lowered, taking one of the nubs between his lips, flicking it lightly with his tongue. Hutch's whole body clenched, his need to orgasm boiling in his balls, at the base of his cock.

    Starsky's mouth moved to the other nipple, licking it, teasing it, nipping it lightly as he continued to stroke and pinch the first one. His oiled hand slid down Hutch's flank, and his hips bucked up, searching, pleading for that precious touch. But nothing could rush Starsky, not even the whimpers Hutch couldn't keep from escaping.

    His torturing mouth moved lower, kissing its way down Hutch's sternum, over his ribs, down his flat stomach, until the slick, hot tongue discovered Hutch's navel and licked it slowly. Starsky nipped his way around the navel, each gentle bite making Hutch lurch uncontrollably.

    "Starsk, dammit, I can't take this!" Hutch complained. "Oh, god, please, just do it, make me come, get it over with. You're driving me insane!"

    Starsky chuckled, clearly enjoying having Hutch at his mercy. "Easy, babe, easy. It's gonna happen. You just gotta give it time."

    "You're pushing your luck, Starsk," Hutch threatened. "Remember, I'm no ninety-eight pound defenseless woman!"

    Starsky's eyes roved appreciatively over Hutch's body. "Oh, I'm not about to forget that, partner. Not for a minute." His eyes moved back to Hutch's face. "I'm gonna start to touch you, Hutch. So hang on. Take a deep breath. You're not gonna come."

    "I'm not?" Hutch said doubtfully, sucking in air like a bellows.

    "No. Not yet. Hold onto it."

    Hutch shook his head. Starsky was asking the impossible.

    As Starsky's dark, curly-haired head moved over Hutch's groin, he groaned and bit his lip, feeling like he was watching a slow-motion car accident.

    "Hey, Hutch," Starsky said suddenly, his voice sounding weirdly normal, "wha'd'ya think the Dodgers are gonna do this year? Think they got a hope for the pennant?"

    The question threw Hutch completely, forcing his brain to examine the words, interpret them into some kind of logic, and then fit them into this intimate situation. He couldn't. "Wha--What?" he stammered, just as Starsky blew a cooling stream of air over Hutch's cockhead. He gasped sharply at the subtle sensation washing over his sensitized flesh. The delicate pleasure soothed him yet delighted him at the same time, and for the briefest moment, eased his terrible ache.

    "So, wha'd'ya think, Hutch?" Starsky insisted, then blew on Hutch's cock again. "Think they can do it? Come on. Answer me."

    Hutch shook his head, his mind bouncing wildly around the improbable question, when all it wanted to do was examine the incredible delight in his groin. "How the hell should I know what the Dodgers will do? And frankly, I don't really care! Why are you asking me this anyway?"

    "To distract you," Starsky told him patiently. "Why else? Hutch, I'm gonna touch you now. And you're not gonna come."

    "Oh, no?" Hutch said dubiously. As far as he was concerned, it was completely out of their hands. Hutch's body was on automatic pilot and, baseball questions be damned, it had one objective only.

    "No, babe," Starsky insisted. "You're not gonna come. I'm not gonna let you." Dimly, Hutch was aware of Starsky re-lubricating his hands, then watched, fascinated and terrified both, as Starsky's left hand moved towards his throbbing shaft.

    Hutch bit his lip hard to keep from pleading, and finally--finally--that warm, smooth, sculptor's hand enclosed his agonized flesh. He fell back onto the bed, his eyes rolling up as the reality of Starsky's touch crashed through his nerve endings. "Oh, god!" he gasped, and closed his eyes as that warm, slippery palm surrounded him. He felt the surge rumbling in his balls, felt it rushing through his canals, gathering in his cock.

    All this, just from one touch of his partner's hand.

    "Easy, Hutch," Starsky ordered, tightening his hand just below his crown. But the words were meaningless, Hutch's reaction unstoppable.

    Then Starsky's fingers moved up under the ridge, and tightened, tightened hard, squeezing the top of the shaft. The sensation was unique in Hutch's experience, and electric. It felt like someone had touched a cattle prod to his glans. He lurched and shouted, as Starsky's ruthless fingers clamped down harder and held firm for a long moment. And then they released.

    Hutch blinked, trembling. He was still hard, still terribly excited, but the irresistible urge to come was gone. Subsided. For now.

    "How--?" Hutch croaked, his voice shattered. "How did you do that? What did you do? And where did you learn that?" He propped himself up on his elbows and looked at his friend accusingly. "And don't even think about giving me a song and dance about Gene Autry and the westerns you saw when you were a kid!"

    Starsky's eyes twinkled mischievously and he looked impossibly pleased with himself. "No, Gene Autry never did nothin' like that in the movies! Least not the movies I got to see." His expression softened and his voice grew serious. "All I did was stop you from comin'. It isn't hard to do. You'd be surprised what a guy can learn in Vietnam."

    Hutch looked into blue eyes that suddenly looked older than they were and entirely too wise. But it was a cunning intelligence, that predator's intelligence that rattled Hutch so much. Rattled him and lured him all at once.

    "You're scaring me, Starsk," Hutch whispered.

    That made Starsky smile. "You can handle it now, though, can't you? Whatever we want to do? You're not gonna lose it on me, are you?"

    "No," Hutch assured him. "I'm okay now."

    "Good," Starsky said, smiling slyly. "Now I can do what I really want."

    Hutch felt ice settle in his gut at the same time fire ignited in his groin.

    Starsky collected more lubricant from a small tidy tube he had spirited by his leg, and rubbed his hands together to warm it. "Now I'm gonna really touch you, Hutch, please you so good--like no one else ever has."

    He said it like a challenge, like he felt he had to live up to some impossible objective. Hutch suddenly realized how much pressure Starsky was feeling as his new lover. He wondered if his partner saw himself inadequate to this task because he wasn't a woman--feelings Hutch had entertained himself. Hutch's women were usually beautiful, radiant creatures, somewhat ethereal. He came by them easily, went through them just as easily, and now Hutch realized Starsky must be comparing his dark masculinity with their grace and feminine sexuality only to see himself coming up short. Starsky couldn't help competing, it was part of his nature. But this playing field was completely uneven.

    Before Starsky could reach for him, Hutch cupped his face in his hand and said softly, "You already have, Starsk. You've already pleased me more than anyone else ever has. Just by wanting me--and giving yourself to me."

    Starsky froze, his eyes meeting Hutch's in tenuous surprise.

    "I wouldn't lie to my partner," Hutch promised.

    "Okay," Starsky said dubiously. "That's nice to hear. Don't mean I can't make it even better, though. 'Sides--I want to. Wanna rock you to your soul, Hutch."

    Hutch nodded, releasing the handsome face. "Sure, partner. It's your turn."

    Using that same gentle, exploratory touch, Starsky grasped Hutch's manhood tenderly in his left hand as his right one carefully eased around his sac. Hutch couldn't help the shudder that racked his frame as Starsky slowly, methodically stroked him, rolling his balls gently at the same time. It was exquisite, and Hutch allowed himself the pleasure of just enjoying Starsky's touch. He sighed delightedly, gasping his lover's name softly over and over, as Starsky stroked him smoothly, teasingly. It was the best he'd ever had, as Starsky used his own knowledge of what felt good to him to please Hutch now.

    Starsky watched as Hutch's excitement built tantalizingly, delightfully. But soon, he could see Starsky's body tense with excitement and need. It seemed as if he were gathering himself, coiling for the spring. Hutch couldn't help but respond when his indigo eyes trapped him where he lay.

    "I need more from you, Hutch," Starsky murmured. He wasn't exactly asking, but he wasn't demanding either.

    How much more? Hutch almost blurted. All of me? Everything I am? Everything I have? Aloud, all he could say was, "It's yours."

    Starsky swallowed hard. "I love you, Hutch," he whispered, then his head dropped down.

    Hutch watched, open-mouthed in amazement, as his macho partner kissed his crown tenderly, then licked the bubble of pre-come from his slit. The sensation was so shocking, so intense, Hutch actually drew away, his legs shaking. Starsky only moved closer as his hands kept up their amazingly silken stroke along his shaft and around his balls. When Starsky hesitantly slid his mouth around Hutch's wide glans, enveloping it in wet heat, he had to strangle a shout even as his hips lurched up helplessly. Automatically, Hutch's hands moved to Starsky's head, his fingers tangling desperately in his long curls as he tried to manipulate his beautiful lover.

    But Starsky only grabbed his wrists as he had before and pulled them away, pinning them to the bed. Pulling his mouth off Hutch, he ordered, "Don't rush me!" Then, holding Hutch's hands down, he took his angry cock back in his mouth again, moving, if possible, even more slowly.

    Hutch had never had anyone love him so painstakingly before, nor had he ever seen Starsky exhibit this much patience for anything. It was the most sublime agony, the sweetest suffering he'd ever endured, as Starsky mouthed his cock, licked his shaft, toyed with his slit, and sucked the crown. Starsky made him wet, hard, hot; his cock throbbed with bone-shaking pleasure. He'd never imagined Starsky could be like this, not like this, this tender-mouthed, lingering lover worshipping his cock like it was all he ever wanted.

    But, of course, Hutch knew it wasn't all he wanted.

    Finally, when Starsky had him shaken to his core, had turned him into a shivering, whimpering wreck, only then did he release Hutch's wrists. His legs had spread wide as Starsky loved his cock, and Starsky climbed in between them now. Hutch's brain was a maelstrom of desire and need, and he took little note of Starsky's change in position, of his manipulating the lubricant he still kept nearby. Hutch was beyond noticing details that didn't center directly on his body.

    But he definitely noticed when Starsky slid his hand under his rear. When Starsky slipped a lubed finger around the ring of his anus, Hutch jerked away in surprise. But his hand was as relentless as it was gentle, and his loving mouth so seductive, Hutch soon couldn't resist his forbidden touch. Amazingly, he found himself spreading his legs wider, anticipating the next silken contact with a terrifying delight. And then it was there, tentative, light, careful. Just a touch, oiled and warm, and so slick, so sweet. Hutch was amazed when his body responded, shocked when he felt his hidden port relax against his teasing fingers. He groaned. Starsky's mouth moved lower over him even as his hand learned Hutch's secrets.

    Starsky's fingers stroked his clenched ring, toyed with him, tantalized and trained him to this delight. He'd always liked it when women played with him there, but that had just been a tease, with women. He'd never been in jeopardy with women, never had to fear what their playful touch might presage. Not like now, with Starsky.

    Without warning, Starsky's small slippery finger slid inside him, just the tip, and Hutch nearly rocketed off the bed. He gasped Starsky's name and tried to shove his cock completely down his throat. Starsky just rode him, maintaining his control, both fore and aft. Hutch couldn't believe how good it all felt. Didn't want to believe how good it felt. And he sure didn't want Starsky to know how good it felt--but it was too late for that already.

    Starsky knew. Starsky knew everything. Starsky knew Hutch. He couldn't imagine how he'd come by such intimate knowledge, but he knew Hutch. He knew just how to move his hand, just how to use his mouth, he knew just how to make Hutch crazed with desire for him. And Hutch was suddenly afraid that Starsky knew just how to make him want this.

    His finger moved slowly, insidiously, piercing him, teaching him things about himself he didn't think he wanted to know. He moved deeper, stroking slowly in and out, taking Hutch, shaping him, changing his desires, his needs. And all the while his mouth was on him, never letting him forget who was loving him, who wanted him.

    "Starsk! Starsky!" Hutch called desperately.

    He released Hutch's cock with a tantalizing lick, then searched his face. Starsky was panting. "Is it good, babe? Come on, tell me Hutch. Is it?"

    But Hutch was suddenly speechless. Was it good? What a feeble word to describe what Starsky was doing to him. Fumblingly, Hutch touched the wet, swollen lips with his blunt fingers. "Oh, god, Starsk--!" He shook his head, struggling for air, for something eloquent to say. Wasn't he the verbal one of the two of them? The poet? The songwriter? He couldn't utter a single thing.

    Starsky smiled. "That good, huh? Never saw you speechless before." His smile faded, and his blue eyes darkened, narrowed. "Time to get serious now, Hutch. I'm wantin' you bad."

    He felt a snake uncoil in his gut. Oh, shit. He's gonna get serious? What does he think he's been all along? Hutch glanced at the mirror, saw that same worried expression on his face.

    "Wanna make it so good for you," Starsky promised. "Want you to love it, and love me doin' it."

    He had to close his eyes. If it was going to happen--if his life, and his image of himself were about to change irrevocably--he wished Starsky would just get on with it, and not include him in the planning of it. He'd never be the same after this. He didn't know who he'd be or what he'd be, or how he'd feel about what he was, but he knew he'd never be the same.

    Starsky lowered his mouth to Hutch's pulsing flesh again as his probing finger moved deeper into Hutch's core. Hutch clutched the sheets with frantic strength as fierce sensations exploded in his brain and behind his eyes that he couldn't even catalog. When Starsky suddenly slid a second finger inside him, Hutch's body revealed the depth of its training as it opened willingly for the secondary invader. All Hutch could do was groan low.

    Starsky had always been a man of his word, and he was keeping it now. He was making Hutch love this. He was panting, sweating, riding Starsky's hand that kept taking him over and over. He couldn't remember ever being this hot, this excited, this needy for more and more stimulation. Desperate to communicate with the man turning his world upside down, Hutch released the sheets and gripped his sun-bronzed shoulders, his hands clutching desperately. It must've told Starsky what he needed to know, because he changed the rhythm of his hand, twisting it wickedly, pumping it harder into Hutch's body as Starsky's mouth took him deeper down his throat.

    His third finger changed everything, bringing Hutch's new reality into such sharp focus he couldn't bear it. He tried to move away, but Starsky was too powerful a force to evade. Finally, there was nothing to do but choke back a cry and accept. And why shouldn't he accept it? It was wonderful.

    He moaned softly, wanting to spread wider so Starsky could open him better, move deeper into him, love him more intensely. He sucked in air and managed to gasp, "God, Starsk--love you!"

    Starsky purred around his cock, and slowly drew off. "Love hearing you say that," he murmured, his own voice ragged. Leaving his left hand buried inside Hutch, Starsky edged closer and fumbled, one handed, with the tube of lubricant. Hutch watched him in the mirror, unable to blink, unwilling to pull his eyes away for an instant.

    Starsky was so hard now, so incredibly hard.

    "You want me, Hutch?" he asked softly, almost hesitantly. "You gotta want me, Hutch, gotta want this from me."

    Hutch stared at him, startled. Starsky was asking his permission? He was almost too far gone to think, to make decisions. He wasn't even sure what Starsky wanted him to say. And he wasn't at all sure what he wanted for himself, his own pleasure.

    "Hutch? You want me?" Starsky asked humbly, his eyes wide, full of doubt and hunger.

    How could he resist those eyes? Hutch smiled, suddenly sure. "Of course I want you. Who else could I want, could I trust, but my partner, my best friend in the whole world? It really is who-do-you-trust time. And I trust you."

    Starsky grinned, looking almost relieved. Then he slipped his hand under Hutch's knee, and lifted it carefully. Placing it over his shoulder, Starsky rubbed his bristly cheek against it tenderly and that gentle gesture went straight to Hutch's heart.

    I'm about to get royally fucked by my male partner, Hutch realized in a moment of instant clarity, and I'm being a total romantic sap about it. Yes. That was the truth, he knew. Then he went all soft inside and all he could think was, God, I really do love him!

    Starsky had turned back to the task at hand. Hutch watched as he fumbled again with the lubricant and realized that Starsky's hand was shaking, that he was more nervous than Hutch. In spite of the pressure of the fingers still slowly working him, of his vulnerable, open position--one leg slung over Starsky's shoulder, the other spread wide--Hutch had to smile. Starsky still needed his partner's help, even here, even now.

    "Hey," Hutch murmured, catching his attention. He held out a hand. "Let me do that."

    Starsky blinked, then sighed and gave Hutch a dazzling smile. He held the tube out so Hutch could unscrew the lid, then squeezed a healthy dollop onto Hutch's fingers. Gently, almost reverently, Hutch spread the gel over Starsky's cock, greasing him liberally. Starsky trembled as Hutch touched him, and their eyes locked.

    Then Starsky squeezed more lube onto the hand still working inside Hutch. He felt the cool gel being pushed up inside him and shivered from the sensation. Finally, Starsky squeezed some over Hutch's cock, and used his free hand to coat his angry red flesh. That surprised him a little, but then, he hadn't planned any of this.

    Moving forward on his knees, Starsky told Hutch, "I love you," in a tone that told him just how much.

    "I love you, too," Hutch assured him.

    Hutch felt his hand withdraw, felt something wet and blunt and warm replace it. That first contact of Starsky's flesh against his was like a gentle kiss, followed by a slow push. Then Hutch felt the pressure, felt himself being opened wider, felt the pressure increasing as Starsky's crown slid into him. It felt good, surprisingly good, and Hutch wondered why he'd worried so much--until his body rebelled.

    Every muscle in his ass clamped down behind Starsky's ridge and fought, totally against Hutch's will, to expel the invader who wanted nothing more than to pleasure him. Hutch gasped and his whole body went rigid.

    "Oh, no!" he cried out, having no idea what to do, how to deal with the shocking pain, the complete rejection of what he thought he wanted. On those rare occasion when he'd indulged himself with women, it had been at their initiative. Their experience in the act had made it seem easy. None of them had ever reacted like this. He wouldn't have thought it would've made a difference, but maybe this was easier for women--they were accustomed to being penetrated.

    "Easy, babe, easy," Starsky soothed, stroking his legs. His voice was strained.

    This had to be hurting him too, Hutch thought dimly, when he could think at all. The pain was incredible, intimate, scary, overpowering.

    "You gotta breathe, Hutch!" Starsky ordered him, but right now that was impossible. Then Starsky placed a palm on Hutch's diaphragm as if reminding him how to breathe. Hutch focused on that palm and sucked in a shaky breath. "It'll only last a few moments, Hutch. Breathe deep. Try to relax. Oh, damn, you're tight!"

    Hutch shook his head even as he fought for air. It was no good. This was agony. It couldn't possibly work. His eyes filled and a tear slid down his face. "Starsk!" he gasped, wanting to beg him to stop, to pull out.

    "Hutch, please!" Starsky pleaded. "You gotta relax, babe!" He wrapped his hand carefully around Hutch's greased erection and stroked slowly.

    The added sensation completely overwhelmed him, the pleasure lighting him up inside. He trembled, and suddenly his body opened.

    He gasped, pulling air into his lungs, his spine and rear relaxing all at once. The pain was gone. There was a dull ache remaining, but it was tolerable, a mere shadow of the lancing agony that had centered in his ass. He could handle this. He'd be okay now. He reached for Starsky, gripped his shoulder.

    "Oh, yeah," Starsky breathed, as if vastly relieved. "Oh yeah, that's better. I'm gonna move now. Tell me if it gets bad again."

    He nodded, too wiped to speak, to think, to reason. He focused on the words, "...gonna move now...." and wondered dimly, move where? As Starsky shifted his hips, and adjusted the leg slung over his shoulder, Hutch realized, Oh--into me.

    The pressure inside him increased exponentially as Starsky slowly entered him little by little, pushing in a bit, then pulling out. It was slow and difficult, but the intense pleasure Hutch felt at each slight withdrawal was brain-numbing. Starsky was sucking in air desperately, struggling to control himself, and sweating like a stud bull. Hutch couldn't believe how cautious he was being, how much time he was taking, how important it was to him to make this good for Hutch. And it was good. Impossibly, wonderfully, frighteningly good. Starsky was inside him, inside him, and just as he promised, he was making Hutch love it.

    Suddenly, he felt the odd sensation of Starsky's sac brushing against his rear. He looked up, caught the nearly glazed expression on his partner's face. "You in me? All the way?" Hutch rasped in wonder.

    Starsky nodded. "All the way. You okay? Feel all right?"

    "All right?" Hutch giggled, fighting hysteria. "All right? Damn, Starsk." He swallowed hard. "No one ever made me feel like this."

    Starsky closed his eyes as the words washed over him. "Same here, Hutch. You're--you're so tight, so hot. It's unbelievable." He closed his eyes, clearly struggling to maintain his self-control.

    Hutch reached up, grazed his fingertips over Starsky's passion-glazed face. "Hey. Come on now. You're in. Let's see how hot you can make a Hutchinson."

    Starsky shook his head just slightly. "I'm scared of hurting you."

    "I'll let you know if it hurts," Hutch promised. "Come on now. We both want this." Only then did he know that was true. He really did want this. It surprised and pleased him.

    Starsky opened his eyes, and they stared at one another for a moment. Then Starsky turned his head, kissed Hutch's fingertips, and then rubbed his cheek against Hutch's palm. "You're really mine now, Hutch. All mine."

    Hutch smiled, hearing the slight insecurity in his voice. He'd been afraid of the ghosts of Starsky's women when he'd come in here, never realizing how the shadow of Hutch's women rattled Starsky. He could hear it in his voice, and knew it fueled his demand for Hutch's body. And he understood it better than Starsky would ever believe.

    Hutch held Starsky's rough cheek and whispered, "I'm all yours. Only yours."

    Starsky's smile lit up the room. Wrapping his right arm around the leg slung over his shoulder, he leaned forward on his knees and started to move.

    He took it slow at first, careful, the way Hutch knew he would, and that was wonderful for Hutch. The pressure of his heavy manhood sliding inside him was an amazing erotic discovery, and instinctively he found himself tightening around him. They both groaned when he did that, it was that good.

    Cautiously, Starsky shifted a bit, changed his angle, but maintained his steady, gentle pace. Hutch felt himself falling into the intense pleasure, marveling at the strange sensation of being penetrated, taken, and overwhelmed by another man's strength and passion. It was as addicting as heroin, but so much sweeter. He moaned his lover's name, his head thrashing on the pillow, his body blooming with love and need as he drowned in raw sensation. Starsky was fucking him. His Starsky. His partner. His best friend in the whole world. His incredible, wonderful lover.

    Starsky shifted again, sighing as he did, and Hutch felt him pick up the pace. As he did, he started stroking Hutch's cock again, and the combination of being fucked and stroked was almost too much. He cried out in sheer delight, tightening hard around Starsky's cock even as he humped up into his hand.

    Starsky's expression was pure concentration as he worked. Sweat dripped off his nose, down his chin, as his abdomen tightened with his pumping. In the mirror, Hutch could see the muscles in Starsky's back ripple with the effort of loving him. Starsky looked so beautiful as he fucked it made Hutch want to weep.

    Starsky shifted again, and Hutch anticipated a quickening of his stroke. He tensed, but this time, the shift really changed something. On Starsky's next impaling push he struck something deep inside Hutch, something that shocked him with an electric charge of pleasure.

    Hutch shouted Starsky's name, and his indigo eyes latched onto his. A small smiled crept over Starsky's face. He hit it again, then again, and Hutch realized he'd been looking for it, deliberately trying to find it, whatever it was.

    "What the hell is that?" Hutch sputtered weakly. "What are you doing? Damn it, Starsk--I can't take that!"

    "Sure you can, babe. It's your prostate. It's real sensitive. Feel good?"

    Hutch's head thrashed "no" on the pillow, but he was lying, and Starsky knew it. It was too good, too powerful, as that heady sensation washed over him, flooding his senses, making him wild. He moaned uncontrollably with each stroke, tightening rhythmically around the heavy flesh inside him as he gripped the sheets, clutched the pillow, and clawed at Starsky's shoulders.

    Starsky lifted Hutch's other knee up so he could lean closer, and suddenly he was kissing Hutch roughly, so hungry for his mouth he just took it, plundered it, and all Hutch could do was yield. Starsky owned him now, was taking him any way he wanted and Hutch felt helpless under his driving need. It was a new sensation for Hutch, to feel helpless in bed, and the scariest thing about it was how much he liked it.

    Starsky pulled out of the kiss and the two men stared at each other as if they'd never seen one another before. "I didn't know it could be like this, Hutch," Starsky whispered, sounding totally amazed. "Not like this. Between us. I mean--"

    Hutch stroked his cheek with the back of his hand. "Me, neither. Starsk. It's too good. I--I don't know how much longer I can hold out."

    "You close? You almost ready?" Starsky sounded strangely expectant.

    "Yeah. Please, babe, don't hold me off again. I couldn't handle that a second time."

    Starsky shook his head. "You kiddin'? I been reciting batting averages for the last five minutes, trying to keep it together, waiting for you to catch up."

    Hutch gripped Starsky's arm. "Can we--can we do this together?" It seemed too improbable to him that they could be that well synchronized.

    Starsky's eyes glittered. "Let's try. Hang on for just another minute."

    He sat back on his heels and lifted Hutch's other leg and slipped it over his shoulder. Gripping Hutch's hip in one hand, and taking firm command of his cock with the other, Starsky gritted his teeth. He moved in hard now, and Hutch clung to the sheets, his eyes widening at the shocking impact.

    "Hang on, babe," Starsky muttered, as he started stroking harder, faster, really pounding into him. Only then did Hutch realize how much he had been holding back.

    "Oh, god, Starsk!" Hutch cried out, the intense sensation overwhelming him.

    Again, again, again Starsky nailed him, while still stroking his erection hard and tight. Everything Hutch endured suddenly seemed to gather inside him like a typhoon, making him want, need, more and more. His body tightened down around Starsky's plundering shaft until it all coalesced into one magnificent raw sensation. Finally, it burst, rushing through his body, paralyzing his legs, tightening his balls, hardening his cock and the cock inside him into steel shafts. Every bit of their heat and passion poured out of his body and into his body at the same moment in an intense, rushing torrent. He heard Starsky cry out his name as he groaned low in shocked surprise. Molten seed flooded him as he released his own, spattering them both with hot fluid that escaped in jagged bursts that were so pleasurable they were almost painful.

    Finally, the last spasms shook him, and his body sagged, every muscle complaining, every bone unhinged. Starsky sagged over him, holding himself up against Hutch's knees. He shook violently, trembling, just as Hutch's legs were. Starsky rubbed his face against Hutch's knee, then gently eased them off his shoulders. Then he rubbed his face with his hand, his shoulders shaking.

    Hutch grabbed that hand and pulled it away from his face. Starsky's cheek was wet as he turned away, but Hutch touched the tear track, wiping it dry. "What's wrong, babe? Why are you sad?" Did he regret what they'd done already? Hutch's heart lurched.

    Starsky wiped his face with the back of his hand and sniffled. "Not sad, Hutch. Just--never felt so much before. Look at me! I'm turning into a total sap for you! I'm the one who hates soapy scenes, and just look at me." He sniffled again, then struggled to smile. "Just can't believe you let me do that. Can't believe how you made me feel. Can't believe you'd give me so much of yourself. It was beautiful. Really, really beautiful."

    "For me, too, Starsk," Hutch murmured.

    Starsky nodded, then looked a little sheepish. "Hope you feel that way in about ten minutes, partner." Cautiously, he edged back, then withdrew from Hutch's body.

    His eyes widened at the shocking sensation and the sudden stab of pain. He bit his lip to keep from exclaiming.

    "Hang on, babe," Starsky told him, clambering out of the bed. "I'll be right back."

    "Hey," Hutch complained, shifting uncomfortably. Suddenly every nerve ending in his rear was complaining--the same ones that, moments before, had been singing Starsky's praises! "Don't we get to lay around and hug during the afterglow? Where are you going?" Damn, but his ass was killing him!

    He heard Starsky enter the bathroom, heard water running. Was he taking a shower already?

    Finally, his partner returned, looking worried. "How ya doin', babe?"

    "I'd be doin' a lot better if you'd come back to bed," Hutch complained. He shifted and winced, and Starsky saw it.

    "Not yet, Hutch. Come on. You're hurtin'; don't lie about it. You gotta come with me, and we'll take care of it."

    Starsky tugged at his arm impatiently. In the distance, Hutch could still hear water running. "And when did you get your mail-order proctology license, Dr. Starsky?" He tried to force his legs to move, but they were still trembling and he wasn't entirely sure they would support him. "Can't we do this in the morning?"

    "Uh-uh. Come on, buddy." Starsky smiled at him tentatively. "Want me to carry you?"

    "A fireman's carry? No thanks." He winced again as his feet hit the floor.

    Starsky slid an arm around Hutch's back. "Not a fireman's carry. It's just to the bathroom. I could manage."

    Hutch smiled at Starsky's solicitousness in spite of his aches. "Just give me a shoulder, partner. We'll get there together."

    Starsky slung one of Hutch's arms over his shoulder and held him securely around the waist. It was a good thing, too, because as soon as his weight was on his legs, his ass, back, and thighs all sent urgent messages of abuse to his brain. He groaned as they made their way to the bathroom.

    Starsky had piled thick blue towels onto the toilet lid. The tub was nearly full, and fragrant steam curled above the filmy, soapy water. It suddenly looked very inviting.

    "So, is this what the doctor orders?" Hutch asked as he carefully placed one foot in the tub.

    In a terrible German accent that was as least as bad as his Bogart, Starsky said, "Jess, dis is mine own prescription for all my patients. A nize, hot herbal bath, mit un salts, and udder stuff. Now, sit yer tender ass down there, Blondie." Starsky didn't release his grip on Hutch until he'd eased into the water and settled back.

    Hutch sighed at the relief he felt from the warm water gently bathing his tender tissues. "Oh, that's good, Starsk, that's really great." Then he cast a sideways glance at his partner. "And just how many 'patients' have you had to treat this way?"

    Starsky was still wearing that sheepish expression, the one he always gave Dobey when he got caught in something. "Oh, I've had the occasional one, here and there, now and then. Never had one so tall before. Or so big. Or so male." He batted his long lashes and worked at looking endearing. Hutch thought he didn't have to labor nearly so hard. "You gonna tell me you never did it with a lady before?"

    "No--I just never thought I needed to give them 'medical treatment' afterwards. We just usually--fell asleep! Of course, it was usually their idea, so they undoubtedly had more experience than I did. And I think it's fair to say I wasn't quite so--enthusiastic in my performance." He cast a baleful eye at his friend.

    Starsky grinned, and kissed the corner of his mouth. "You bring out the best in me, partner. Y'always have. And, it's supposed to get easier once you get used to it."

    Hutch stared at him. Once he got used to it? What kind of plans did Starsky have for his future?

    Starsky must've realized what that sounded like. He looked away from Hutch and muttered, "This should help a lot, though. You'll see. You'll be your old self in the morning."

    Hutch shook his head. "I don't think so, partner. I'll never be my 'old self' again."

    Starsky looked pained. "You're not sorry, are you, Hutch? I don't think I could take that, if you regretted this. You're still all man, Hutch. Still the second-toughest cop in LA. And I meant what I said to you in bed. I don't do pillow talk. I love you, buddy. I mean that."

    Hutch smiled warmly, in spite of the remark about the "second-toughest cop." Touching Starsky's cheek with a wet hand, he murmured, "No, I'm not sorry. Hey, everything we go through in life changes us. The shooting changed us, changed us forever. And this changed us, too. It certainly has changed the way I saw myself, what I thought I was, who I was. It's not a bad change, Starsk, it's just--different. Just like our making love--it might take some getting used to. But I meant what I said, too. I'm yours now. Only yours."

    Starsky sighed, and grinned. "We're doing it again."

    "Soapy scene number twelve, huh?" Hutch asked. "Sorry. We'll get over it."

    Starsky took a big sponge from the shelf over the toilet and dipped it in the warm water, and began washing Hutch's shoulders. "You feeling better?"

    Hutch exhaled in a rush and sank lower in the tub. "Yep. This is great."

    "Think you could soak here for a few minutes while I hit the shower in the other bathroom?"

    Hutch nodded.

    "Now, don't fall asleep!" Starsky warned as he grabbed a towel and moved toward the door. "I don't wanna come back here and find you under water."

    "Then make it quick," Hutch warned, as he lathered the sponge and washed his groin. "I think I've only got about fifteen minutes of alertness left." He shifted in the tub and realized a lot of his pain had subsided into a dull throbbing--almost pleasant--memory. Now, if they could only manage to stay off day-long stake-outs for the next couple of days--

    Starsky grinned and jogged out the door, giving Hutch one beautiful flash of his tight ass as he left. Mmmm, he thought. His own persistent fantasies resurfaced even as his exhausted body tingled in the soothing water.

    He wondered how Starsky would feel if Hutch attempted to reverse their roles, or did Starsky entertain notions that tonight's scenario would be their established pattern? Hutch wasn't sure his image of himself could support permanent submissiveness to Starsky's hyper-masculinity. His partner had been overbearingly macho enough before they'd gone to bed. Starsky's ability to overwhelm him in bed could seriously unbalance their partnership, if Hutch wasn't careful. He pondered the situation only as much as his fatigued mind would let him.

    By the time Starsky returned for him--clean, dry and smelling great, his dark hair in damp ringlets--Hutch had dozed off twice in the tub. With gentle coaxing, Starsky managed to get him rinsed and dried. He towed Hutch back into the remade bad--Hutch was too sleepy to figure out when Starsky had managed to do that--and tucked him in, then managed to blow all the little candles out before climbing in beside him. The last semi-conscious sensation Hutch had was of Starsky's warm body pressing against his spine as he gathered Hutch in a protective and possessive embrace. He felt a soft kiss placed at the base of his neck, and cuddled back into Starsky's arms, feeling more at peace and happier than he could remember.

    He decided to worry about his self-image tomorrow.