This story was originally printed in the S/H zine TURNED TO FIRE, published by Idiot Triplets Press in 1994. This zine is still in print and available from Special thanks to Daphne G. for translating this story to an electronic format. Comments about this story can be sent to Flamingo who will forward them to the author.


He found Hutch on the beach just as he'd expected, and Starsky paused a safe distance away. Certain the blond was not aware of his presence, he savored the rare opportunity to watch his partner unobserved. No one could deny there was something about Hutch, an aura even Starsky couldn't quite describe. Everything about his presence spoke of strength - and also an inner vulnerability.

The powerful broad shoulders weren't proudly thrown back now but instead slumped forward, imparting Hutch's heartfelt defeat. Starsky felt his own heart ache just watching, sensing the discouragement in his friend.

Though he knew it wasn't really his fault, Starsky shouldered a large share of the blame for the incident. If it hadn't been for his being in danger, Hutch never would have had reason to doubt so, to question their partnership or his own self worth. Though his life hadn't actually been endangered, the risk caused by Hutch's inability to cover him was something Starsky could not deny. As he slowly crossed the sand toward the lanky figure, Starsky wondered if Hutch would ever be able to trust himself again. He was almost afraid to hear what his friend would have to say.

"I wondered how long it would take you to find me." Hutch's voice was subdued, almost cool, speaking before he ever looked around. "I thought you knew all my secret places after all these years." His pace never faltered as he continued walking without lifting his eyes or head. "Guess this must've been the last stop on your list."

"No, actually it was first," Starsky replied, falling into step at the taller man's side. "I just decided to give ya some time alone before I came out."

"Thanks. I appreciate it. I had a lot to think through. I still don't have all the answers, but it's easier now."

"Good - I think." Starsky tried to catch a glimpse of Hutch's averted face. "Care to share what great revelations you've made so far?"

"Nothing great," Hutch answered, shrugging. "I've decided to resign, that's all. That way you can have a new partner, and it'll all be over and done."

"Resign?" Starsky yelped. "New partner? Hutch, you can't be serious!" Stunned, Starsky stopped walking as he stared at his friend. "What do you think that's gonna resolve?"

"Everything, I hope." Hutch nudged a mound of sand with the toe of his shoe as he finally stopped. "You'll have a partner you can trust and I'll be . . . gone."

"But I have a partner I trust. And I sure as hell don't want him gone." Starsky reached out to lay a hand on Hutch's arm. "What happened today was just one of those things that happen. Doesn't mean it'll happen again. I wish you'd just forget it, Hutch. I almost have."

"Until the next time I damn near kill you," the other man shot back. "You'd sure as hell remember then. Don't try to humor me about this, Starsky. We both know damn well what happened - I froze."

"Yeah, I know you froze. I also know I'm still here and don't have a scratch." Starsky tightened his grip on Hutch's arm until he looked up. "You've had something heavy on your mind lately, I know that. I don't know what it is, but I do know it's tearing you apart. Once you work out whatever that is, you'll be fine."

"And if it's something I can't work out? Then what?" Defeat filled Hutch's crystal blue eyes. "Are you willing to risk your life every day because of my problems? Forget it, Starsk. It's over. Time for you to break in a new partner and me to go."

"Not till I know why I have to lose this partner," Starsky replied, searching Hutch's face. "I've been trying not to pry by not asking, but this gives me the right to know. What the hell has you so strung out? You've been this way for almost a month now. What's going on?"

"Leave it alone," Hutch requested. "Don't make me tell you - please." In the brief moments he met Starsky's gaze, Hutch's heart showed in his eyes. When he looked down, he had to swallow hard before he spoke. "Believe me, it's better you don't know."

"Better for who?" Starsky demanded, grasping Hutch's shoulder roughly. "Must be you 'cause it sure as hell ain't me. Damn it, Hutch, I love you. I don't wanna be partners with nobody else. I wanna know what's going on so I can help you. So we can make things right again. Don't shut me out anymore, babe," he begged. "Please."

For a fleeting moment Starsky thought Hutch was about to tell him. He even opened his mouth to speak. But before any sound emerged, he shut it and turned away, sadly shaking his head. In the brief moments of ensuing silence, Starsky stared intently at the handsome face; his next words were the last hope he had of learning the truth.

"It's me, isn't it?" he said quietly. "You're trying to get away from me." It was the only thing he could imagine Hutch wouldn't tell him after all their years of partnership. "Don't I at least have the right to know what I did? It only seems fair."

"Aw, Starsk, no," Hutch murmured miserably. "You didn't do anything. And I don't want to get away from you; it's just the opposite, in fact."

Catching a glimpse of Hutch's suddenly horrified expression, Starsky knew his last words were the key, though under quick analysis, they didn't make sense. Until an image flashed through his mind - Hutch's expression when Starsky held him after the shooting episode earlier that day, how his eyes had been filled with passion and need. What Starsky theorized seemed impossible . . . yet it made perfect sense. It was the moment he had dreamed of and prayed for, the one he had been certain could never be. He reached out and took Hutch's face between both his hands.

"It's us, then," he guessed. "The way you feel about us, I mean. Something's changed and you don't know how to handle it. Am I right?"

Though he couldn't free his head from Starsky's grasp, Hutch's gaze remained steadfast on the ground. Starsky saw the long lashes blink rapidly several times before Hutch finally gave a nearly imperceptible nod.

"Babe, that's nothing to be all that scared of," Starsky told him, smiling when Hutch's eyes shot up. "If that's what you've been torturing yourself over, you're nuts. Why didn't you just tell me so we could talk it out?"

As he released his hold on Hutch's face, Starsky couldn't resist caressing the whisker-rough cheek then tracing the outline of the rugged jaw. He watched the soft blue eyes trail after his fingers, and couldn't mistake their hungry look. When his finger brushed across Hutch's lips and lingered, he felt his partner respond instinctively with hesitantly pursed lips.

"Come here, ya big lug," Starsky whispered, pulling the lanky blond close. "I love you, you idiot. Don't you know that yet?"

With their bodies pressed so tightly together, Hutch couldn't deny his feelings then, the indisputable proof pressing against Starsky's groin with such intensity and heat it couldn't be ignored. Though his instinctive reaction was to pull away from the unfamiliar sensation, Starsky deliberately pulled his partner closer instead . . . the low moan which escaped Hutch's throat a few moments later said it all.

"Let's go home," Starsky said then, running his hand along the strong, tanned arm. "I know nobody ever comes down here, but I'd rather not take any chances with this. Something tells me we don't want an audience for what's likely to happen next."

"What does happen next, Starsk?" Hutch whispered, searching Starsky's eyes. "I know you love me and you want to help me, but this is just going too far."

"Why don't you let me decide that, huh, blondie?" Starsky ruffled Hutch's hair and grinned. "Right now what I want is to get someplace more private than this damn beach."

Without giving him more time to argue, Starsky draped his arm around Hutch's shoulders and steered him up the beach. He knew without asking they'd end up at Hutch's - it was closer, if nothing else. And the way he felt at the moment, Starsky knew they couldn't reach seclusion any too soon. He was surprised by how much he disliked breaking the contact when they headed for their respective cars.

Following Hutch's battered Ford up the highway in his Torino, Starsky realized he still felt stunned. So much had happened so quickly he almost felt lost. Though the afternoon's robbery and exchange of gunfire was nothing new to them, Hutch's failure to cover him was. It had only happened once before, he remembered, shortly before Gillian's death. Apparently allowing Hutch to fall deeply in love was hazardous to Starsky's health.

Does he really love me that much? Starsky wondered. Somehow the thought seemed incredible. Though several months had passed, Gillian's name still brought a sad smile to Hutch's lips. Has he loved me like this the whole time we've been partners, or is this something new? Starsky had often thought of expanding his relationship with his best friend, but always passed it off as impossible. Now, it seemed, the impossible had become not only possible but probable at last.

Neither spoke when they arrived at Venice Place. They simply parked their cars and went in. Starsky saw apprehension in Hutch's every move as he stripped off his jacket, gun, and holster, all the while keeping his back conspicuously turned. Starsky quietly locked the door behind them, then observed his friend.

It wasn't long before Hutch turned toward him, though only for a quick glance at first. In those fleeting seconds Starsky saw a myriad of emotions cross the handsome face. Certain Hutch was too frightened to do anything more than stand there, Starsky elected to make the first move . . . Without a word he crossed the room, took Hutch in his arms, and initiated a full mouth kiss.

At first Hutch held himself rigid, barely responding to Starsky at all. Then as the kiss deepened, Hutch virtually melted into Starsky's arms, as if surrendering both his body and soul. Still stunned by the fact it was Hutch he was loving, Starsky melded himself to the hot, needy body he held - even in those first, literally breath-taking moments, he knew he had never wanted anyone more.

Though he was never quite sure when or how it happened, Starsky soon realized they had both shed their clothes, only their underwear left to conceal their ardor then. As Hutch ran a hand down his chest and paused to further stir an already-aroused nipple, Starsky couldn't withhold a soft moan. He considered it nothing less than a miracle when he was able to slide his hand down the front of Hutch's shorts in response.

"Starsk? Are you . . . s-sure?" Obviously short of breath, it apparently took effort for Hutch to speak.

"I'm sure, babe." Starsky felt his fingers trembling as he slipped his hand past the waistband of Hutch's shorts. "Or maybe you'd rather we go get more comfortable first," he suggested, reluctantly forcing himself to pause. "It might be even better that way."

Though he looked less than convinced Hutch nodded, then looked around in an apparent attempt to reorient himself as to their whereabouts. It was a short walk from the living room to Hutch's bedroom, but the trip seemed endless to Starsky as he followed his friend. Once in the room, beside the bed, Hutch turned toward him uncertainly.

"Starsk, are you sure you really want to do this?" Hutch himself sounded less than convinced. "I mean, if you're just doing this because of what I said earlier - I don't want it unless you want it, too."

"Believe me, buddy, I want it," Starsky replied, smiling, taking hold of Hutch's hand as he spoke. "And even if you don't believe what I'm sayin', I don't think you can argue with this."

Using a light grip on Hutch's wrist to guide him, Starsky placed the timid hand over his swollen groin. He was forced to bit back a moan as Hutch shyly began to explore, his long fingers experimentally stroking Starsky's length beneath the straining briefs. Unable to idly stand by, Starsky reached out and began an exploration of his own.

In less than a minute the blond detective was groaning, his need clearly greater than Starsky's own. Starsky was amazed at how quickly Hutch began to arch against him, the heat from his cock passing through the fabric to Starsky's hand. It didn't take long before Starsky became impatient with the impeding fabric and tugged Hutch's shorts down past his hips, sorely tempted to do the same with his own. Then he caught sight of his partner's cock.

Fully erect, the proud shaft curved slightly in toward Hutch's flat belly, the deep rose crown glistening with the single bead of pre-lubrication at the tip. Gazing at it, Starsky was surprised by both the length and circumference, having expected it, like Hutch, to be long and lean. Starsky felt himself blush as he reached out to take the heavy organ in his hand.

"Starsk. Aw, geez." The words sounded like a breathless whisper to Starsky's ears, and he smiled as Hutch arched his hips toward him, the heavy shaft seeming to grow even more in his hand. Starsky ran the tunnel of his hand up and down the straining penis almost reverently.

"Oh, God! More."

Happy to oblige, Starsky sensed what his partner wanted, his own body craving release as well. Temporarily putting his own needs aside, he focused on his companion and set about bringing him satisfaction as he best knew how. As the palm of Starsky's hand skimmed lightly over the moist, turgid head Hutch moaned louder, then a moment later drew a sharp, gasping breath. It was the moment Starsky had been awaiting, and the pace of his stroking hand increased accordingly.

He marveled at Hutch's ability to grow still larger in the seconds before his orgasm started, delighted when, at the final instant, the blond cried Starsky's name. Starsky was likewise amazed at the quantity of fluid his lover shared with him, showering them both with his liquid love. Hutch collapsed down onto the bed as soon as he finished, his legs obviously incapable of supporting his weight anymore. Starsky grinned, pleased by the thought of how thoroughly his partner had been drained.

But Hutch still had the ability to surprise him, Starsky realized as he prepared to sit down when, seemingly from nowhere, Hutch's hands reached out, capturing his hips. Before Starsky had time to do more than catch his breath he felt Hutch removing the last of his clothing, his white shorts joining Hutch's somewhere on the floor. Starsky felt both flattered and embarrassed as he heard his partner's next soft words.

"You're beautiful," Hutch murmured, near-reverence in his tone. "Really. Come here."

Obediently stepping closer, Starsky inhaled sharply when he felt Hutch gently touch him, the light fingertips touching his balls. He was harder than he could ever remember, aching, yet Hutch's touch made his shaft stiffen even more. Out of instinct he arched into the shyly tender caresses, trying not to reveal his desperate need. Then he felt Hutch's fingertip run up and down the underside of his erection, and couldn't hold back a moan.

Never had anyone's touch made him feel like this did. Of course no one else had ever been Hutch. Closing his eyes as his partner continued to stroke him, Starsky struggled to retain control. With any other man, he wouldn't even have been horny; it was just Hutch he craved. As the blond detective continued to stroke and fondle, then closed his hand around him and began stroking in earnest, Starsky knew the inevitable end wasn't far away.

He clutched Hutch's shoulders and moaned as he felt the telltale churning beginning, his balls drawing up tighter than he could ever recall. He shouted his partner's name at the final moment, all vestiges of control gone by then. The next thing Starsky knew he was spiraling somewhere toward heaven as he gave himself to his new lover at last.

He slowly came back to earth with his legs trembling as he opened his eyes and looked down, his gaze falling on the light blue eyes he had loved for so long. Finding those same eyes now gazing up at him with loving adoration, Starsky felt his heart dissolve. Bending down, he wrapped his arms around Hutch's broad shoulders and hugged him tight.

"I love you," he said softly. "Even more now than I did before. I never thought things like this could ever happen for us, but man, am I ever glad!" His back protesting, Starsky uncurled himself and sat down at Hutch's side, waiting for his friend to speak. He was surprised when he looked over and found Hutch staring at the floor unhappily.

"Hutch? Hey, buddy, what is it?" Starsky wondered what he might have said wrong. "Didn't you enjoy what happened between us? Wasn't this what you wanted, too?"

"Of course it was what I wanted. And I loved it," Hutch answered morosely. "I just can't help thinking about what really brought us here. Starsky, what we've found out about our feelings doesn't change what happened earlier - no matter how you say it, I still froze during that shooting. I could have gotten you killed."

"Hey, no way," Starsky scoffed. "Besides, that was before the big revelation. Now that everything's out in the open, you're gonna be fine. It was just all the secrecy that was getting' to ya, that's all. Now that we're being honest with each other, you'll be fine."

Though he knew Hutch was still far from convinced, Starsky believed in what he told his partner, that together they would be fine. Just as their beginning as partners and friends had been auspicious, so was their start as lovers as well. Starsky knew it was just a new facet of love for them, and he spent the rest of the night proving his belief to Hutch as well.