This story first appeared in "Blue Eyes and Blue Jeans 2" published by The Idiot Triplets Press in 1995. This zine is still in print and available from Thanks go to Belladonna for typing and proof-reading. Comments on this story can be sent to who will forward them to the author.



Isabel Ortiz

"Be careful what you wish for — you just might get it." Hutch shook his head ruefully as he stood in the decidedly misnomered "express" lane, waiting for the cashier to ring up his groceries and hearing the words echo in his head for the umpteenth time that day. How many times throughout the years had he silently — and sometimes not-so-silently — willed his irrepressible dark-haired counterpart to shut up? Too many. Given the option now, he knew he'd gladly suffer the trifling irritation of those times when his partner's effervescence had had clashed with his own desire for peace and quiet; right now, he'd give just about anything to hear that voice talk to him, crack a joke, even read to him from his seemingly inexhaustible supply of trivia books . . . What was the one Starsky'd just gotten his hands on? The Book of Lists? God, he'd been driving him crazy with that one . . . but even that would be better then this. Anything would be preferable to this maddening, enforced silence. And today, of all days . . . A cruel twist of fate, to be sure.

On impulse, he snatched a copy of Weekly World News from the rack above the conveyor belt to add to his other purchases. Starsky would get a big kick out of the picture of Farrah Fawcett's two-headed alien love-child dominating the front page. Hutch had made a habit these past weeks of bringing his partner little things like this to cheer him up? One day he'd brought him a small stuffed ring-tailed lemur that had caught his eye in a toy store window: "Look on the bright side Starsk, you could be stuck being sick in Madagascar." Another day he'd come home with an Etch-a-Sketch: "Did you know that Martin Luther reformed the entire Church while he was recovering from a cannon-ball injury? All throughout history people have used periods of convalescence to do great things; I was thinking that maybe you could work on developing your basically non-existent artistic skills." That comment, of course, had earned him a particularly nasty look, but soon the dark head had been bent over the little device, busily etch-a-sketching away. "Fuck you" had been the very first message he's composed on the little screen. (A blissful hour or two later "Thank you" was the second.) And yesterday . . . ahhh, yesterday. Hutch smiled even now to remember his wicked stroke of absolute genius: Starsky had loved the Rubik's Cube — for about fifteen minutes.

Absently now he thumbed through the tabloid. Perfect, just perfect. He couldn't wait to see the huge smile it would generate. Hutch had taken it upon himself to try to make his bored and fidgety partner smile as often as possible during these taxing days. Compulsory sick leave was not Starsky's idea of fun, but Dobey had insisted, pointing out that a cop with laryngitis would be about as useful around the station as a seeing-eye dog with cataracts. Besides, the doctor had prescribed rest.

"It's an extremely common viral infection, you know," they'd been informed a week ago. "And it's not surprising that it should follow so closely on the heels of your influenza, David. Just keep on doing what you're doing," he'd smiled reassuringly. "Lots of rest, lots of liquids, but no alcohol, no tobacco. Avoid smoky places like restaurants and bars. You don't want your larynx irritated any more then it already is." Starsky had opened his mouth to croak a reply — at that point he'd still had the ability to whisper, albeit it hoarsely — but had been interrupted immediately by Dr. Jansen's, "No, don't even try to talk. You need to rest your voice above all, or you might lose it completely for a while."

"Gee, that'd be such a tragedy," Hutch had interjected. "I've always wondered how to get him to shut up for more then five minutes at a stretch." Starsky's scathing glance in his direction had said that his attempt at levity hadn't been much appreciated. The patient had then turned back to the doctor, rolling his eyes as he complied with the instructions. "How long?" had read the hastily scrawled note.

"Oh, if it happens, I'd say from three to five days. Complete voice loss usually doesn't persist for more then a week. If it does, make sure to let me know right away." The doctor had smiled at Starsky's cleverly pantomimed voiceless emergency phone call; Hutch had just been embarrassed. "Point taken — get him to let me know," he'd amended with a nod at the abashed blond. "But remember, it may not even come to that. I don't think there's any reason to be overly concerned."

Starsky had shot a meaningful glance at his partner after that comment, a look that clearly said, "I hope you heard that!" Hutch had pointedly ignored him; mentally reserving the right to be as concerned as he felt was necessary.

This damnable Catch-22 was just another element of Gunther's legacy, something else they'd simply learned to live with. Intellectually, Hutch knew that shouldn't over-react to this sort of this, but he simply couldn't help himself. Of course, the flu bug going around the department wasn't all that serious — he'd had a touch of it himself even before Starsky had come down with it, and knew firsthand that it was more aggravating then dangerous. The doctor had assured him that getting laryngitis, too, was common. It could happen to anyone. No real reason to worry. Starsky would only be sidelined for a little while longer. No big deal. He'd get lots of TLC and chicken soup and anything else Hutch could think to get for him. Everything would be fine. Besides, it could be interesting, having a silent Starsky around the house for a while. At the very least it was a truly . . . novel concept.

But that had been then. Now, after merely three days of hearing only his own voice around the house, Hutch was discovering all over again that you don't know how much you depend on something until it's been taken away. He found himself missing the familiar tones — he even missed Starsky's singing, thought he'd never, ever admit it to his closet Caruso-wannabe. It wasn't as though Starsky wasn't communicating with him, because he was. Most thoughts he could convey easily enough with his body language and facial expressions, and Hutch wasn't a half-bad lip reader. An ever-present note pad sufficed for elusive specifics. On the whole, though, they hadn't really even needed the pen and paper. Hutch wasn't sure if it was that Starsky was a great communicator or if he was just an expert Starsky interpreter. Probably a little bit of both . . .

Still, he missed having his lover read to him from the morning papers. He missed the infectious sound of his laughter. He missed the verbalization of his pleasures as they made love. Most of all, though, he missed hearing the way the most beautiful voice in the world would whisper three little words into his ear every single night as they snuggled up for sleep . . . Oh, he still got the message across, but somehow it just wasn't the same, and tonight, tonight of all nights, Hutch wanted desperately to hear them.

"Have a nice day," the woman at the register told him dutifully, handing the distracted cop his change and receipt.

"You, too," came the automatic reply.

And it was a nice day — early evening, actually — sunny and warm, and as Hutch stowed the paper bags in the back seat he charged himself mentally with remembering that. If Starsky was making the best of a lousy situation — and he was — then he could do no less. It was their anniversary, after all, and that alone made the day glorious.

L.A.'s rush-hour crawl was making him restless though. Starsky would be expecting him, and Hutch didn't want to keep him waiting long. Christ, a glacier moves faster than this . . . He drummed his fingers impatiently in the steering wheel. Truth be told, he couldn't wait to get home himself, couldn't wait to see his lover, to share some precious time with him on this most special of days. Furthermore, his curiosity had been piqued; he knew that Starsky had some sort of secret up his sleeve — he'd been positively glowing with excitement about it over breakfast. You are so damn cute sometimes. Mentally revisiting the memory, Hutch chuckled aloud as the LTD crept along . . .


He was surprised upon waking to find his lover already out of bed. Starsky always woke him on this particular day with "The Special" — an extra-big, extra-long bear hug — and a verbal reminder of precisely how long had passed since they'd become lovers in every incredible sense of the word. He wondered briefly if Starsky, in the blurring of time that often accompanies being sick, had perhaps forgotten the significance of the date. His concern, of course, has been groundless; he'd found his answer in the form of the sloppily drawn arms and hands connected to the words FOUR YEARS decorating the Etch-a-Sketch propped up on his nightstand. I guess this isn't our average, everyday kind of anniversary . . . Not even stopping long enough to don a robe he carried the gadget into the kitchen, finding his industrious lover busy with a big bowl and a wire whisk. Smiling, he leaned the toy against the toaster, pointed to the drawing, and with a mock-impatient "Ahem!" waited for Starsky to produce the real thing. He wasn't disappointed. A long minute later Hutch released him, lifting his hand to the other's forehead. He'd felt the heat as they'd embraced and was worried that Starsky's fever had returned.

"You feel a little warm, babe. Have you taken your temperature?"

Starsky shook his head and with a wave of his hand indicated his thoughts on that subject.

"I know, I know, but I think maybe the fever's back, even if you are feeling better. Maybe you shouldn't be up."

His response to that was a look that made Hutch think for the millionth time since Starsky lost his voice that there was no one on the planet more expressive then his partner, perhaps no one in the entire universe more capable of speaking volumes without uttering a single word.

Hutch decided to change tactics. "It's just that I think that maybe you'd like to save some energy for tonight . . . "

The instinctive darkening of the indigo eyes was more then enough to let Hutch know that his message had been received — and perfectly understood. As they moved into another embrace the naked blond felt the softness of terry cloth all along his front and warm palms rubbing circles down his back, sliding down to lovingly caress his butt cheeks, reaching even further down and between to lightly finger his balls. His reaction to the delightful sensation was instantaneous — goose bumps all over.

"Hmmmm . . . .nice," he breathed into a curl-covered ear. "Happy Anniversary to you, too."

Starsky shifted in the embrace and drew back smiling, looking at Hutch with deep blue eyes that glittered. Those eyes came nearer and nearer and finally blurred to Hutch's vision as he felt warm minty breath caress his face. He shut his eyes and surrendered to the sensation of soft lips claiming his own, lips which nibbled at his, tasting, teasing, followed by a tongue tracing their shape, pressing closer and closer, seeking entrance, hungrily pleading to be let in.

Hutch lifted his head, denying entrance to the roaming tongue now exploring the sensitive skin of his throat. "I haven't . . . brushed . . . my teeth yet," he explained between gasps.

The raspy exhalation of breath against his throat would have been a laugh has Starsky's voice box been cooperating. Without ceasing his vampiric ministrations, Starsky rapaciously urged his lover backwards until Hutch felt the coolness of Formica against his bare bottom. Hutch knew this predatory move, knew this sudden feral energy, knew what it meant . . . Oh God . . . They'd done it in here before, but not often; he found the relative novelty of the location supremely exciting. Starsky's gonna do me, right here and now . . .

Hutch gripped the edge of the counter tightly with both hands to compensate for his rapidly vanishing equilibrium. A slight chill in the kitchen contrasted intensely with the electric heat his love was generating. Hutch was almost always horny early in the morning, and his dark-haired devil was taking shameless advantage as he voraciously kissed and licked, blew and sucked, nipped and teased what felt like very inch of the blonde's throat and shoulders, chest and sides. So good . . . He knew he was hard, felt himself getting harder still. With his eyes closed Hutch catalogued the textures that were Starsky against his skin — here the soft rounded bulb of his nose, there the silk of his hair . . . Gossamer breath, soft lips . . . The rake of his nails, the tip of his tongue . . . He heard his own breathing quicken, shorten; his entire body was awake, alive, aware . . .

The warm wetness of the devouring tongue and insistent stroking of long, slender fingers around his swollen cock were fast melting away the last remnants of his lucidity. He grasp the curly head and brought it to a nipple, pressed it down, held it there, wanting, needing . . . Oh God, God, he loved having his tits sucked . . . No, he loved having Starsky suck them . . . Yes, like that . . . Hard and long and sweet like he was doing now till they were so hard and tight they almost hurt . . . Hard like his cock below . . . Hard and aching, hard and longing, lusting . . . "Please, oh God, Starsk, please, please . . . " He hadn't even know what he'd been saying at that point, but he knew that his lover had understood when he felt soft curls going south, felt familiar hands stroking up and down trembling thighs, felt his burning rod soothed, sheathed in softness . . . "Yeeesssss . . . "

He sensed his lover settling down at his feet and then he was drawn deeper and deeper into that moist heaven . . . He was in him, in him, Starsk was pulling him in . . . Wanting him . . . He had to look then, had to see, opening his eyes and dropped his gaze to where — God, yes . . . The swelling in his heart was somehow transmitted to his cock, for it grew impossibly harder at the sight, light disappearing into dark, again and again . . . Me in him . . . He shut his eyes again, overwhelmed by his lover's rapturous look of intense concentration. He loves me . . .

His mouth was dry, his breathing labored, erratic, a counterpoint to the regular rhythm his lover had established. Close, so close . . . There were hands on his balls, on his ass, in his crack . . . He moaned, the only language he knew, the only way to let his lover know how good this loving felt, how steamy and sweet . . . He gasped at the penetration of a single slender digit. Starsky in me . . . The fragmented thought quadrupled the potency of the sensations as he embraced the welcome intruder from within, squeezing tight. The familiar guest responded with an internal massage that propelled him urgently to the edge. "God, yes," he breathed. "Oh God, almost . . . almost . . . " He began to thrust with a primal intensity, striving for release, craving it, hungering for it . . . He exploded in Starsky's mouth after one last mind-blowing spasm of nearly unbearable sensation. His lover took all of him, sucking and swallowing, prolonging his pleasure . . .

He drifted slowly back into his body, into reality, stroking the soft curls he had grasp so desperately mere moments ago as their owner lovingly drew out the last twinges of delight, knowing just how to withdraw, just how to fondle, just when to stop. "I love you . . . " was the longest speech the exquisitely dismantled blond could manage, long moments later. His lover just smiled up at him from the floor.

Hutch wanted very much to reciprocate, and said so, but Starsky, surprisingly, declined. "What's wrong, Starsk?" He asked, suddenly worried. "Are you sure you're feeling O.K.?"

Obviously not wanting to chance being misunderstood Starsky penned a quick note. "I'm fine," it read, "Just a little tired. We'll save it for later, O.K.? If you're still, uh, up for it, that is . . . "

Hutch smiled. "Count on it." he replied, contenting himself with a long and satisfying hug. Holding his partner close he whispered, "Thanks, babe — you were fantastic. Have I told you lately how wonderful it is to wake up to you every morning?"

His lover of four years pulled back to give him a dazzling smile, letting him know that his words were definitely appreciated. A peck on the cheek sent him off to the bathroom to get ready for work, and when he reappeared twenty minutes later a simple but splendid breakfast was ready and waiting for him. He took a moment before sitting down to deliver the kiss that he'd denied Starsky before, then settled down to the whole wheat waffles served with hot apple compote for him, real maple syrup for his sweet-toothed companion. Fresh squeezed orange juice and steaming mugs of strong coffee completed the spread. Hutch was, frankly, impressed.

"This looks fabulous, Starsk. Did you get up early just to do this?"

A smug smile gave him his answer.

"You're gonna spoil me, you know, all this special treatment."

The curly head nodded vigorously, as if to say, "You bet!"

Hutch had to laugh. "You're a nut, you know that? That's probably why I love you so much."

They ate in contented silence for a while and Hutch finally sat back, replete with good food and good feelings, savoring the richness of his second cup of coffee. "That was great, lover — you're turning into quite the gourmet. Thank you. For everything."

Starsky waggled his brows and the gesture made Hutch think that there was more behind it then a simple acknowledgement of gratitude. "What?" he asked.

His partner shrugged, far too innocently.

"O.K., buddy, what's going on here? I'm getting worried."

Starsky made an elaborate production of leaning back in his chair, clasping his hands behind his head and looking around the room, pursing his lips as if whistling.

"O.K., that's enough," grumbled Hutch. He reached for the note pad and held it out with mock sternness.

Starsky glanced at the offering with disdain, then looked away. He was obviously having trouble maintaining a straight face.

"You're not gonna tell me, are you?"

The mime clasped his hands, nodding his approval, a sarcastic schoolteacher indulging the unerring, if slow, uptake of a feeble-minded student.

"Very funny." Hutch finished his coffee. "Do I get to find out later?"

Starsky considered the question for a long moment, brows furrowed as if in intense concentration, then his face broke out in an enormous grin.

"That'd better be a 'yes'," threatened Hutch affectionately as he rose from the table. "Well, I'd love to sit around all morning playing twenty questions with you, but unfortunately I've got to get going — I'm already late." He glanced around guiltily at the state of the kitchen. He'd had every intention of doing the breakfast clean up, but now . . . "Look, Starsk, do me a favor, huh? Leave the dishes for me? I'll do 'em when I come home."

Starsky's indifferent shrug and silently mouthed, "Don't sweat it," indicated that it wasn't a big deal to him.

Hutch came around the table and crouched beside his generous lover. "I'm serious. Here you're the one that's home sick and somehow I'm the one getting all the breaks." He tousled the curls gently, fondly. "Why don't you just take it easy today, huh? Get some rest. I'll make us a real nice dinner when I come home and then . . . " He brought his mouth to Starsky's for a slow, sensuous joining that tasted of citrus fruits and honey and promises to keep . . . "And then we'll just play it by ear." He whispered, the taste of his lover still lingering on his lips . . .


Hutch tasted them again, re-living the memory, the delicious thoughts and the anticipation they engendered throughout his entire body the only things standing between him and Murder One if the asshole in front of him didn't make his goddamned left turn now. If he didn't get home soon they wouldn't be eating until later — the Paul Muni special wasn't something you could rush. Their usual m.o. on their anniversary was to find some outrageously expensive restaurant for a blowout celebration, but given Starsky's condition, they'd decided to forego that route this year and have a quiet, intimate dinner at home. Hutch had thought long and hard about what to prepare, but in the end there was only one answer; the Paul Muni special would probably never make Julia Child's list of top ten gourmet meals, but it was still Starsky's favorite. The light-blue AMC Hornet finally made its turn, and Hutch lost no time putting pedal to the metal. Barring disaster, he'd be home in fewer then ten minutes.

He turned his thoughts to the hours ahead. It was important to him that this evening be special. Starsky really have been feeling lousy for most of the past few weeks, first with that flu bug that had left him tired and achy . . . and now this laryngitis thing . . . Hutch sincerely hoped that this latest virus was nearing the end of its course. Yet, through it all, Starsky had barely complained. In fact, he'd seemed to be making extra-special efforts to keep the blonde's own spirits up, to distract him from his worry, to assuage his concerns. Like this morning . . . I love him so, so much . . .

As often happened, the thought filled Hutch nearly to bursting with that deep, crazy love; he suddenly wanted to shout it to the world, sandblast it into a mountain, paint it across the sky. Right now he wanted very much to demonstrate that love, to express all that he felt for his other half, to find a special way to tell him so that the other would always understand and never forget just how beloved he was.

He knew deep down that Starsky knew, had to know, but still, nothing Hutch ever thought to say or do felt like it was really enough. There had to be something he could do. Something special. Tonight he really wanted to try. Tonight he would . . . What? Make dinner? What was so special about that? O.K., so they'd exchange gifts over dessert, but even that was vaguely pedestrian, they did that every year. It was . . . expected. Conventional. Damn it, why hadn't he started thinking about this earlier? Dumb Hutchinson, really dumb . . . Two-headed alien love-children might make him laugh, but is that the best you can do? He'd been so caught up lately in everything else, he just hadn't thought, hadn't planned, just hadn't . . . Shit. Now he was almost home. Now it was too late.

He pulled into the driveway of their cozy Spanish-style ranch, killed the engine, and slowly moved to gather the packages from the back seat. There was nothing else to do. Extra-special would just have to wait. He mounted the steps that led to their door, hoping his love was feeling better, up to dinner and maybe some slow dancing afterwards. He allowed himself a smile at the though. The Paul Muni special and a sexy outfit would have to do for now. But you deserve so much more, babe . . . God, what you give me . . . And I want to give you so much . . . And it's never enough; it's never, ever enough . . .

Hutch resolutely pushed the self-deprecating thoughts aside as he awkwardly fished for his key. He was home now, with Starsky, and that was what mattered. Besides, Starsky loved him just the way he was. This was their anniversary, this was a celebration, and Hutch wasn't going to let some weird mood swing ruin it for either of them.


What the . . . ? For a moment Hutch had the crazy impression that he'd gotten mixed up and had come home to the wrong house, entered someone else's living room. Stunned was too mild a word for his reaction. This is incredible . . .

Starsky popped into view headfirst, emerging from the adjoining kitchen area sporting a grin the size of a football field, and a floppy white chef's hat procured from God-only-knew-where. The full-length professional apron he wore bore multi-colored marks and streaks and splotches of indeterminate origin. He looks ridiculous . . . Hutch hadn't the faintest idea what to do or say, so he remained standing in the foyer, grocery bags in hand, senses reeling, eyes opened wide and mouth agape. Belatedly, the thought broke through his bewildered amazement that he, too, must look ridiculous.

A graceful, expansive gesture from the wizard himself invited him to take in very aspect of their magically transformed abode. Soft light from at least twenty strategically places candles illuminated the enchanting tableau. Tearing his eyes from his partner's patented, impish grin Hutch allowed his gaze to slowly traverse the transfigured space . . . Vanished from the walls were Starsky's photographs, their Escher's and Dali's, even the poster from last year's Monterey Squid Festival that Starsky had insisted upon hanging. Now they were adorned with a different variety of framed prints, large and small . . . the Greek Islands . . . Athens . . . the Parthenon and the Coliseum . . . the deities and mortal heroes of Homeric lore . . . Gone was the traditional arrangement of their furniture, the sofa and chairs pushed against the far wall, making room in the center for a magnificently set table for two, complete with blue and white china plates . . . crystal goblets . . . white cloth napkins . . . a real linen tablecloth . . . a small card that read "RESERVED" folded next to the colorful ceramic vase containing a spectacular arrangement of lilies, irises, hyacinths, and baby's breath . . . Best of all, a deliciously enticing sweet-nutty-tangy-citrusy scent was wafting in from the kitchen . . . Our very own Greek taverna . . .

Hutch was speechless.

The coup de gras was Starsky slowly and rhythmically beginning to dance for him, bobbing up and down as he grapevined his way to the stereo, snapping his fingers to a silent beat. Soon the turntable was spinning, filling the space with the unmistakable sounds of a bouzouki band playing a traditional Greek rebetika as the enthusiastic Zorba pranced and twirled with abandon all around the room, clapping his hands.

When the dancer's chef's hat flew off his head, Hutch couldn't restrain himself any longer and burst out laughing. His soft chuckles were soon gleeful, high-pitched chortles that verged on the uncontrollable. The groceries slide from his grasp as he himself slid slowly down the smoothly plastered wall, giving in to the joke and the magic of the moment. He kept trying to say something; kept trying to meet Starsky's eyes, but every time he looked up he found himself at the mercy of yet another bout of hysteria.

"Starsk, you are certifiable," he finally gasped. Wiping at his eyes, vaguely astonished that his side-splitting convulsions of mirth hadn't resulted in asphyxiation. "I . . . I always thought . . . that the Paul Muni 'Special' was . . . supposed to be . . . pot roast!" Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that his comment hadn't been all that funny, but he was so punchy at the moment that it just didn't matter and he helplessly and gustily indulged himself in one last round of unbelted merriment.

Eventually his inventive personal lunatic urged him to his feet. Wiping the last wet vestiges of hilarity from his eyes and ignoring his aching flanks, Hutch allowed himself to be drawn into the final passes of the impromptu zebekika. This is crazy, this is nuts — this is so much fun! This is what I love about him . . .

Their dance ended in a literally breath-taking embrace, Hutch crushing his lover joyously to his breast then leaning backwards to lift him a good six inches off the floor, spinning him around once then twice in a surge of unmitigated delight. He set him back on his feet and lifted his large hands to either side of the other's face, breathlessly seeing his own love and joy reflected in Starsky's twinkling eyes. He brought his open mouth to his companion's and their tongues met, dueling and dancing in sync with the celebratory music, the long kiss playful at first, turning tender and sweet towards the end. "Hmmmm . . . this is wonderful, Starsk, just . . . hmmmm . . . just wonderful," he breathed into the last of the kiss. "You never cease to amaze me. I assume this means you're feeling better?"

His arms were clasped around his nodding lover's waist in a light embrace as he once again surveyed the room appreciatively. He wondered where everything had come from, but of course he wasn't a detective for nothing. "Let me guess," he speculated, "the brother-in-law of some friend of a friend of another one of Huggy's cousins has some kind of connection with someone who works at one of the classier establishments in Greektown, right?"

Starsky's smiling shrug indicated that his partner wasn't all that far off. Some things in life are rather predictable, Hutch reflected with amusement. But not you, he thought, his gaze returning to his lover's smiling face. "This is a wonderful gift, babe, maybe the best ever," Hutch whispered. "I love you, you know that?"

He gathered Starsky close yet again, silently thanking the powers that be for whatever part they had played in keeping his treasured man alive and whole and in his life. "You make me so happy." He added, tightening his hold. It was Starsky who finally and reluctantly broke the embrace along with the mood, glancing at his watch and nodding towards the kitchen.

"I don't know what you're making," Hutch commented as together they gathered the abandoned grocery bags, "but it sure as hell doesn't smell like gyros." He drew in a lungful of pungent air. "Hmmmm . . . . Whatever it is smells delicious. I guess this means that the other Paul Muni special's on hold 'til tomorrow, huh?"

Starsky nodded emphatically.

Hutch stowed the groceries, hiding the Weekly World News until a more appropriate moment. His lover indicated that dinner would be ready in about twenty minutes before turning his attention first to the thick sweet-smelling sauce simmering on the stove, then back to the feta cheese he'd obviously been in the middle of crumbling when Hutch had come home. Twice he slapped away an exploring hand.

"What can I say?" defended Hutch, nibbling on the bit of cheese he'd been quick enough to pilfer on his third attempt. "All these years of living with you, how can I not pick up your bad habits?"

Starsky gave him a withering look and once again tapped his watch meaningfully. Hutch got the hint. "O.K., O.K., I'm going already," he said, stealing a quick kiss before leaving Starsky to the last of his preparations. As Hutch went to wash up and dress for dinner, he decided that his black slacks and collarless shirt would replace the jeans and checked flannel he'd donned that morning — this was, after all, a classy establishment. More importantly, though, he knew that his lover liked him in black.


Dinner was served promptly.

Hutch stifled his instinctive reminder of doctor's order as Starsky opened the bottle of Roditas; this evening would not allow the intrusion of such mundane, overbearing concerns. Tonight was a night for celebration, and if his lover wanted to drink wine, then Hutch was not going to even try to stop him. Starsky, obviously expecting to have to do some sort or battle over the issue, looked pleasantly surprised as Hutch merely accepted the glass handed to him with a smile. He raised it to his partner's and they clinked the crystal in solemn honor of their lives together, of their commitment to one another, deeply and completely savoring both the wine and their silent communion: gratitude and wonder for the years gone by, hope and joy for the years to come.

After that Hutch was treated to a meal to rival the finest Greek repasts in his memory.

For openers, fresh hot bread served with saganaki; Hutch provided the obligatory "OPA!" as Starsky lit the cheese, expertly extinguishing the flame with a few squirts of lemon. They fed each other slices of bread dripping with the soft melted cheese, alternating bites with sips of the dangerously sweet rosť that went down like Kool-Aid. The main course was tender, juicy lemon broiled chicken with a walnut honey glaze over vegetable pilaf. Hutch thought he detected hints of both cinnamon and garlic in the rice; he was pleased to discover he was right on both counts. The meal was complimented by an artistically arranged spinach, tomato, and feta cheese salad and a bowl of wonderfully flavorful marinated olives.

They ate slowly, contentedly, savoring every bite. Hutch was blown away by the sheer perfection of it all, and said so. He wanted very much to know just how Starsky had managed everything, how he'd come up with the idea, prepared the menu, but there was no possibility for a conversation involving such specific detail. I'll have to ask him later . . . Once again, Hutch bemoaned the fact that their celebration was marred by the unfortunate timing of his lover's illness. No, don't think like that. Take a hint from Starsk and just go with the flow, enjoy . . . There was nothing to regret; everything was perfect. Just perfect.

They lingered together over the last of the Roditas, sharing looks and touches that were all the communication they needed at the moment. The candlelight cast a soft, romantic glow all about them, emphasizing the intimate nature of the moment and the warmth of the wine within. Finally it was time for dessert, elegantly presented brandied apricot sundaes whose smooth sweetness was cut by thick Greek coffee. As was their custom, Hutch now went to retrieve his gift to Starsky and then sat back sipping the last of the bitter brew.

"You'll forgive me if I go a little traditional on you, Starsk, but someone has to maintain a sense of propriety in this household. And ones fourth anniversary is customarily commemorated with silk and linen," he commented as the wrapping paper was carefully removed, revealing a box which contained a pair of off-white linen slacks and a deep blue long-sleeved shirt of raw silk. We did it again babe, colors of the evening, right in sync . . . Starsky's expression said at once that he unequivocally loved the gift and that his lover's rationalizations weren't fooling him one bit.

"O.K., so I'm exaggerating the part about propriety," Hutch relented reaching to unfold the slacks and hold them up appraisingly at Starsky's waist.

The reply to that was, expectedly, a flashy wiggling of his hips capped by an exaggerated pelvic thrust. Hutch laughed. "You really think you're pretty sexy, don't you?" he asked, knowing what the answer would be.

Starsky just kept smiling at him, though, and then the blond remembered all over again. Tonight was different. Tonight there could be no snappy comebacks from his lover, none of the titillating sexual innuendo that Starsky expertly used as prelude to their foreplay. Not unless . . . . Without further conscious thought, Hutch leaned over until his lips brushed his lover's ear. He lowered his voice suggestively, confessing, "I got hard in the store when I saw this outfit, you know, imaging you wearing it."

Starsky drew back at that, staring at his companion with eyes gone big as saucers. Hutch noted the reaction with surprised pleasure and glowed inside. He wasn't usually this erotically frank in his manner; that was Starsky's department. But lots of things were different about tonight and this had . . . definite possibilities. Intrigued and encouraged, he continued huskily, "I actually can't wait to see you in them, you unbearably sexy man, and I've been waiting for quite some time . . . Why don't you, uh, see if they fit?"

Starsky smirked and moved to comply with the whispered request, leaving a smiling Hutch to clear the remnants of their meal. Smiling and hopeful, because maybe . . . Just maybe . . .


Hutch stacked the 45's on the turntable, pleased with the selection he'd culled from their respective collections. He sensed Starsky enter the room behind him and closed his eyes before turning, willing himself to envision the sight first in his mind's eye; when he finally looked, he knew it had all been worth the wait.

As far as Hutch was concerned, even on the most mundane of days there was no one on earth sexier then his darkly mysterious lover — but tonight, on their own special night, just standing there smiling in the flickering candlelight, Starsky was absolutely devastating. The European-style slacks and flowing dark shirt accentuated his slender musculature as he stood, then emphasized his feline grace as he moved, lifting his arms and displaying himself with confidence. He turned slowly, allowing his lover to look his fill, obviously proud of his ability to please the other in this way.

Hutch finally found his voice, a low, throaty sound. "You like?"

Starsky nodded slowly.

"Me, too."

The blond took a moment to set the turntable spinning before opening his arms in invitation. Starsky moved into them and Hutch was struck anew by the perfect fit of their bodies nestled together as they began to slowly dance, arms around and cheek to cheek. Hutch tightened his grip; holding his lover close, loving the warm feel of Starsky pressed against him, close enough to feel the beating of his heart. Beautiful . . . They moved together in a slow, sensuous rhythm, listening to Sam Cooke's magical voice filling the room, flowing through them, connecting them . . .

Halfway through the song Hutch began to softly echo into the curls beneath his lips the familiar and much-loved words:

You send me
I know you send me
Darling you send me
Honest you do

Ooooh, whenever I'm with you
Ooooh, whenever I'm near you
You send me
Honest you do

Oooohh, I know I know
Whenever you hold me
Whenever you kiss me
You send me
Honest you do

Hutch knew that Starsky liked it when he sang to him, and there was something about this particular song that struck deep chords in both of them. Tonight Hutch thought the melody particularly beautiful, the simple words especially meaningful, and he continued to hum softly, resting his cheek against the soft curls he loved, content for the moment to simply hold the man he adored.

The song ended, another began. They adjusted their rhythm and movements, as always in perfect sync with one another. The music was taking over now, and Hutch let it. They didn't need words. Not now. Maybe not ever. The love they felt for one another was speaking its own silent language as they held on to one another, slowly rocking and swaying about the candlelit room.

Dancing was one of the many, many things they did supremely well together, and was another of the many, many gifts that Starsky had given to him over the years. In spite of his musical talents, Hutch knew he hadn't always been the epitome of grace on the dance floor, but something about dancing with Starsky over the past few years had changed him significantly in the regard. The life-loving man with the gypsy moves had show his somewhat stiff and awkward partner how to loosen up and simply let go — how to let the music flow through his body, how to engage with it on a primal level, how to manifest it smoothly, physically, with his entire body and soul, like he was doing now. Starsky had taught him to love the rhythmic movement which to him meant celebration of life in its purest form, and now their synergy was nothing short of extraordinary. Sometimes they'd go out to a club to dance, reveling in the knowledge that together they turned heads and broke hearts; most satisfying, though, were times that like now, when they would dance in the privacy of their own home, cocooned in a sensuous world of music and movement known only to them.

Tonight all the music Hutch had chosen was slow and sweet, like their dancing; it was easy music, melodic, softly romantic without being saccharine. They listened and moved as one, bodies pressing together in a flowing, familiar embrace. Their world had shrunk down until nothing existed save themselves and the sensuous rhythm they maintained; the feel of their bodies moving, merging, the music swelling without and within, weaving a spell, tangibly connecting them on multiple levels of body, mind, and spirit. Hutch felt high, drunk on life and love, totally aware. He felt every sense he possessed heightened and sensitized, noting with clarity and intensity that way Starsky smelled, all citrus and sandalwood with hints of deep pine and exotic spice; the way he felt in his arms and moved against him, strong and solid and real and warm; the softness of his silk, the roughness of his cheek; the living weight of his hands at Hutch's nape and waist; the salt of his skin where Hutch's lips brushed his temple.

"You're incredible," he heard himself whisper into a sensitive ear, feeling soft tremors course through his lover's body at the caress of his breath. "I love dancing with you. It makes me feel so good, you know? Just holding you like this . . . So sweet, so close, like it could go on forever, just like when we're making love."

Hutch felt the smile against his shoulder, and knew his earlier instincts had been right. I'm gonna show you, babe, and I'm gonna tell you . . . All night long . . .

Maybe, just maybe . . . Perhaps for once it might come close to being almost enough.

Without breaking their established rhythm Hutch continued to whisper, pitching his voice low and intimate, for his lover's ear only. "I love the way you look in this shirt, the way you feel in it . . . It's a little exotic, a little mysterious, just like you . . . and such a blue . . . Closest color to your beautiful eyes I've ever seen in my life, babe, and I knew I had to see you in it. And just thinking about you in it got me so turned on . . . Yeah, right there in the store, just like I told you, I got so damn hot for you I thought I'd come just from thinking about it, right then and there."

The slight increase in temperature against his face told him that Starsky was already blushing. You ain't heard nothing yet, babe . . .

"So, of course, I bought it," he nuzzled into an ear. "And then I came home." He paused to slowly kiss the ear beneath his mouth, felt the shiver down the spine beneath his stroking fingers. "And you were making stir-fry and listening to Fleetwood Mac. Remember? I was so hot I couldn't wait to get my hands on you." He pulled Starsky's hips infinitesimally closer to his own, pressing them lightly together, rubbing ever-so-subtly groin to groin, feeling the effects of his words on them both. "Remember?"

A nod from his partner. Hutch could feel the other's heartbeat growing stronger, faster.

"Know what I was really thinking about when I took the wok off the stove?"

A shake of the head.

"Let me show you."

Hutch pulled back enough to place his hands between them, lifting them to Starsky's chest. He began to slowly unbutton the shirt, watching the silky blue material fall away fold by fold, parting in an ever-widening "V", giving way to an enticing swath of equally silky dark brown. He lifted his eyes briefly to Starsky's face and saw in the captivating features an enduring blend of anticipation and surprise. This is so unlike me . . . Relax, babe, I think you'll like it. Hutch smiled his most brilliantly devastating smile.

"Yeah, I was just waiting for this very moment, thinking about it, imagining how sexy you were gonna look wearing this, about how sexy it was gonna feel taking it off." The shirt was now unbuttoned to the belt line, and Hutch made no further move to remove it, rather contenting himself with slowly brushing his fingertips up and down the revealed hair, slipping in underneath to touch the nubs that hardened under his feather-light strokes.

His voice lowered even further as he continued his tactile exploration of the dark chest. "That happens so often Starsk. All I have to do it think about you. No one's ever turned me on the way you do, made me so hungry, so ready all the time, so much wanting to show you all the time how much I love you, how much I need you. Sometimes it just hits me, all this love, all this need, and it's all the same thing and it just makes me so crazy and all I wanna do is get to wherever you are, to be with you, to get naked with you, to make love with you 'til I think I'm gonna die from the joy of it . . . "

Hutch's words were cut off by a demanding, hungry mouth covering his and they were caught in a maelstrom of mutual desire. Hutch welcomed the probing tongue deep into his mouth, danced his own around it in a moist, heated duel, a liquid firestorm. He secured his hold as he deepened the kiss, felt strong hands stroking his body from shoulder to thigh, stroking and squeezing, reaching around to cup his buttocks, pressing and releasing, grasping at this back as if they could not get enough of touching him, of inflaming him . . .

With a gasp he broke the kiss, captured the hands, brought them to his front, invited them to undo the buttons, to lift the material up and away. He felt the cool air sooth his rapidly heating flesh as the shirt was tossed haphazardly aside, then he leaned into his lover, rubbing his bare chest against Starsky's, enjoying the dual sensations of fine silk and body hair against his smooth skin. "Nice. Starsk, so nice . . . " he murmured. "You kiss like a hurricane when you're getting turned on like this, it's incredible." He brought his mouth to its mate for a taste, then continued. "But you're not fooling anyone, you know, and tonight, buddy, I'm hosting the talk show."

He laughed aloud at the expression on his lover's face, leaned to once again kiss the lips parted in shocked surprise. "You can kiss me like that all you want, babe, but you're still not shutting me up tonight."

A quizzical, uncertain look crossed Starsky's expressive countenance and Hutch turned momentarily serious, tenderly caressing his lover's cheek, pausing every now and again to gently trace lips and eyebrows with his long fingers as he spoke.

"You're so beautiful in candlelight, Starsk. All night long I've been thinking that, watching you, loving the way you . . . — No, no, no, don't even think of turning away from me, beautiful man. I'm talking to you. Yeah, I'm making you blush a little, right? Right through here? And here? Good . . . That's just the way I want it . . . You've always been such a smooth talker, babe, but you know something? Two can play at that game. Only I never do, 'cause you're so damn good at it. All day long I've been going crazy thinking about it, thinking about how much I'd've wanted to hear your voice tonight. Thinking about how much I've been missing everything about it, everything you always say to me, the way you tell me you love me . . . I was really starting to feel sorry for myself earlier too, you know? Thinking about how much I love you and feeling like there's never a way to let you know just what that feels like to me, just what it means . . . But then right after dinner it hit me that . . . that this is my golden opportunity. For once you're not gonna be able to change the subject, joke me out of it, or even tell me to cut the soap. Not that you'd want to, not tonight, anyway. 'Cause deep down? Deep down I think you might like knowing, just like I always do. But mostly, Starsk . . . Mostly I wanna tell you so maybe you'll really know just how much I love you, how much being with you means to be, how wonderful you make me feel. So tonight . . . "

He grinned, then, reclaiming the lightness. "Tonight, for once, I'm gonna get the last word. And the first word, and every word in-between. I'm gonna love you though the floor tonight lover, and you're gonna hear all about it, every step of the way."

The look that his lover gave him in reply was priceless.


Erotic talk was its own reward, Hutch decided some time later as he knelt next to the sofa, bathing Starsky's erection with his tongue. For over an hour now they'd been dancing together, kissing and caressing, shedding articles of clothing one by one, slowly building up the sexual tension now fairly crackling between them. Hutch had given free rein to his seductive lexicon, reveling in the power he'd suddenly discovered to tantalize and tempt and arouse with words as well as touch. Why had he never before said these outrageous things to Starsky? His words were by turns loving and sweet, lewd and licentious. Everything he thought, everything he felt, everything his lover made him feel on every level imaginable . . . He'd told it all, and had watched as his lover responded to the words, blushing with pleasure, trembling with anticipation and finally swelling with arousal, with desire for what only he could give.

Now there were no more words for either of them. The raspy breaths from above seemed loud in the now-quiet room, and the tension-taut limbs within his grasp told him that Starsky's ultimate release was coming nearer and nearer . . . but Hutch didn't want it to be over with so soon. He wanted to draw out the pleasure, to make it special, really special, to make it last until they could share it, together, make it forever, together.

He drew off the pulsing organ, replacing his mouth with his hand, stroking the wet erection carefully, lovingly. "Wait for me, lover," he whispered, and after a moment the dark head on the sofa pillow nodded. Hutch knew that it hadn't been easy; he'd brought him right up to the edge and he'd been close, so very close . . . For long minutes Hutch continued to bestow loving caresses along the length of the body laid out before him, touching and tasting his way from head to toe and back again.

The tastes and scents were so very intense . . . incense, fine brandy . . . earthy, intoxicating, utterly addicting. Hutch's own arousal was now threatening to overwhelm him, too — ungentling his caresses, turning them hard and urgent as he climbed up onto the sofa and raised himself on his arms above his lover, allowing their twin erections to brush and touch like two live wires, erotic electricity. He felt his body break out in sweat, felt Starsky's tongue lapping along his chest as they moved now to different music, to an altogether different rhythm . . . Soon he wouldn't be able to hold back, either. "God, babe, what you do to me . . . " He rose to sit back on his haunches above Starsky, still groin to groin, brought his hands down to rest on either side of the slender waist, stilling all movement, regaining control. After a moment he opened his eyes and found his voice. "Shall we move to the bedroom?"

His partner smiled a smile that Hutch couldn't quite interpret in reply as he nodded. They rose and stretched, then shared an almost platonic embrace as they took a last look around their Greek taverna, still awash in the soft glow of flickering candles. "I'll never forget this, Starsk," Hutch whispered. "Not for as long as I live."

Prudently, then, they went about the room extinguishing the flames. Four candles were spared the fate of the rest, lighting their way as they stepped around tables and chairs and articles of clothing. Starsky still hasn't stopped smiling his enigmatic smile and as they made their way into their bedroom Hutch couldn't help but wonder, He couldn't possibly have another surprise up his sleeve . . . could he?

But this was Starsky . . . and if Hutch had learned anything from their long, eventful partnership it was that where Starsky was concerned . . . anything was possible.

Setting the candles on their respective dresser tops, the pair lost no time in returning to one another's arms; passionate kisses stoking their barely banked fires. But before Hutch could topple his usually willing partner onto the bed, Starsky squirmed out of his embrace and pulled away.


Again, that maddeningly enigmatic smile. Then, a finger over his lips and a hand gently closing his eyes. I don't believe this . . . But Hutch played along, wondering at the rustlings he identified as the spread being pulled down, the pillows fluffed . . . The presence returned, as did the hand that meant he was to keep his eyes shut. What now? He allowed gentle hands to guide him to the bed, sit him down, then push him slowly back . . .

It took him a moment to identify the exquisite sensation, and the moment he did his eyes flew open to look — suspicion confirmed, and nothing in the world could have stopped the next words from slipping out of his mouth, "S-Starsk . . . how the hell much did these cost?"

Starsky's grin told him that he didn't really want to know, and then before his thoughtless outburst was allowed to completely destroy the mood they'd so carefully woven he was jumped upon, passionately attacked, pinned beneath his lover's lithe body and rolled upon the delectably decadent dark blue silk sheets gracing their bed. Silk linens . . . Hutch suddenly caught on to their significance and laughed, holding his lover tight, not caring if their purchase meant they'd be eating macaroni and cheese for a month. "You nut . . . you've been . . . "

He was cut off by a fierce, hot tongue and fingers everywhere, touching in a whirlwind of need that would no longer be denied. His body responded instantaneously in kind, passion instantaneously reignited, an inevitable spontaneous combustion of desire. He didn't know what he'd been meaning to say anymore; it wasn't important, it didn't matter. Nothing mattered except loving and being loved. Incredible, these feelings, these sensations, everything heightened by the specialness of the day, the romance of the evening, the intense, extended foreplay, the raw sensuality of his partner in action, the hedonistic quality of the silk against his skin . . .

He was rolling over it again and again . . . Starsky obviously meant for him to enjoy the extravagant gift to the fullest. He'd gathered up a corner section of the top sheet and was now trailing it lightly all over him, brushing it against his chest, his shoulders, his nipples, his belly, stroking down past his throbbing erection, down his legs and back again, light as a feather, exciting, exquisite, the sensations a pleasure that tempted and teased, making his body tingle with anticipation, craving more and more . . .

The silk sheet was replaced by lightly stroking fingers . . . Starsky, kneeling between his outstretched legs, knew what he like, how he loved to be touched and teased . . . His body arched in a silent plea for more stimulation and Starsky was there, quick to increase the area of contact, spreading warmth and desire and unadulterated love in equal measure.

Starsky leaned over him then, reaching towards the nightstand, and Hutch couldn't help flicking out his tongue to taste whatever part of his lover's body happened to pass by. He knew that Starsky was retrieving the tube of KY and licked lips gone dry with anticipation. Soon now, any moment now, he would feel slender, slick fingers anointing him from within, stretching him, preparing him . . . But those same slick fingers now curled lovingly around his cock and when Hutch opened his eyes there were no words needed for the communication that passed between them.

You want me? Hutch's eyes asked.

Please, babe, now, Starsky's answered.

God, yes . . . Anything . . .

Hutch took the tube from Starsky with trembling hands, praying that he'd have the control he'd need to make it good for Starsky, to not finish too fast. Inside of his lover was where he most loved to be, but he feared their roller coaster foreplay would hasten the result, and he wanted to take this loving slowly, very slowly . . .

He rolled his lover over and bent to kiss, very gently, the lightly furred small of his back before squeezing a generous amount of lubricant onto the fingers of his right hand. With his left he stroked the muscular cheeks of the perfectly rounded ass, slowly parting them until he found the familiar pucker of flesh that was his alone to know. He touched it then and his world came very close to exploding. He felt the blood rushing through his veins, felt again that familiar sensation of being so high, so powerful, so masterful, so on top of the world and so very much in love with the man lying quiescent before him that . . . My God . . . He needed to tell it, to share it, somehow. He didn't know if there were even words at all for this, but still, he needed and wanted so very much . . . .

He lay down beside Starsky, still fingering the secret entrance to this beloved's body, molding himself close, resting his head against the smoothness of a shoulder, nuzzling it, stroking it with his cheek, like a cat. His whisper, when it came, barely seemed to be in his own voice. "Have I ever told you that this is my favorite part?"

The dark head turned and Hutch kissed the warm flesh beneath his lips.

"Getting you ready for me . . . Oh, Starsk, there's nothing like it in the world. When I touch you here, slip into you, reach up deep inside of you with my finger, feel you opening up for me . . . " A second digit joined the first and Starsky's body quivered in reaction as Hutch found his prostate.

"There's nobody else who gets to be this close to you, nobody else you want like this, nobody else who feels you relaxing and opening and accepting more and more . . . Only me." A third finger, and Starsky gasped with pleasure, clutching the silk sheets tightly. He was shaking now, seemingly desperate with need.

"And I feel you so hot and tight around me and I feel you squeezing me, reaching for me deep inside, wanting me . . . "

Hutch felt sweat break out all along the strong back, rubbed his face against it, sharing it, tasting it, and knew that it was almost time. Starsky's hips were thrusting backwards now against the pressure of his hand and he was obviously ready for more, wanted more, wanted what only Hutch could now give him. He slid across his lover's body, slipping up and over, positioning himself. He was rock solid and clamped down hard at the first brush of his engorged penis between the slippery cheeks . . . He couldn't lose it yet, not yet . . .

He guided himself to the entrance, pressed the head of his cock against it, and then did absolutely nothing. He lay perfectly still, becoming absolutely aware of the feel of living, breathing flesh beneath his, savoring the intimacy of the moment. "Right now, Starsk, it's like I've got everything I've always wanted, ever needed, and never dreamed of having, right here and now, like this with you. I . . . I can't explain it, babe, but it's like I'm poised at the edge of a cliff with you, and we're about to take off, and I know that we're gonna soar, you and me, together we'll fly . . . but flying's so intense, you know? You can't understand it when it's happening, you can't think about it, you can't capture it, you just do it and it's beautiful but . . . but right now, just before it happens . . . Right now I can feel it, I can begin to understand it, a little . . . Here is where you are, right here, and you're letting me in . . . " His voice cracked on that last, the emotion was so intense, but he continued.

"And we're so close, babe, so together, and when we're together like this I really believe that all this is really real . . . I feel so real, babe, this feeling makes me real . . . And you can't know what that's like, and it's all the time and I just love you so much . . . I wanna take you with me, make you feel so good, make you feel like everything you are to me, so . . . so special, Starsk. So special . . . "

With a sigh he pressed in, entering slowly, reverently, aware of every centimeter, every electric tingle, trying to capture every nuance of sensation . . .

"You feel like heaven, babe . . . Me in you . . . "

Fully sheathed, captured by love, he began to move, responding to his lover's response, establishing a rhythm, drawing out, pressing in, drawing out, pressing in . . . "I love you so much . . . "

He grasped Starsky's shoulders, bent over his back, looked down and between to the point where they were truly joined, watched himself sliding in and out . . . The sight was nearly his undoing and he gasped in helpless response, falling upon the back arching up to meet his every stroke, pressing himself more tightly against it as his hips rose and fell faster and faster, as his breathing quickened to match his lover's straining gasps of pleasure. They were coming closer now, closer and closer, flying higher and higher, soaring up out of control, and then they were there, coming together, their bodies clenched tightly into one as the spasms shook them both, over and over again . . .


Hutch slowly awoke from his post-coital nap. He gathered the warmth that was Starsky closer to him, and as he shifted position felt the patch of sticky dampness against his thigh. Do these have to be dry-cleaned? Thankfully he had regained just enough awareness to keep himself from speaking the thought aloud.

He opened his eyes and found Starsky lying on his side, staring at him with wide, luminous eyes. Hutch didn't speak; instead searching the deep blue gaze for the words that might have been said had the circumstances been different. He couldn't begin to imagine them . . . Starsky's steady gaze told him only that he was loved beyond measure; beyond that, his lover seemed truly speechless. Was it enough?

Hutch reached out to touch an errant curl, twisting it around his finger, dropping it to gather up a handful for the springy stuff, bringing the head closer to his for a long, long kiss.

"I love you, David Michael Starsky," he declared when it ended.

The words were spoken back to him, mouthed silently, but it didn't matter anymore that his lover had lost his voice. He'd get it back soon enough, and then maybe they'd talk about this night . . . Hutch could tell that Starsky was drifting quickly towards sleep, and the thought made him somehow proud.


He opened his eyes.

"I really wore you out, huh?"

A sleepy, satisfied grin.


The eyes opened again, if not quite as widely as before.

"I . . . I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary again."

Starsky smiled, mouthed an appropriate reply, and then yawned. Hutch chuckled.

"O.K., lover, c'mere and go to sleep."

Starsky snuggled close and was soon fast sleep. Hutch felt himself drifting off too, when it suddenly occurred to him that he hadn't ever given Starsk the Weekly World News.

Tomorrow, Hutch decided. We have tomorrow. And we'll take as many as we can get for as long as we possibly can . . .

As he was falling sleep his last conscious thoughts were vague musings about what the traditional fifth anniversary gifts were supposed to be . . . He'd have to look it up as soon as possible — it might very well take a year's worth of planning for him to think up something special enough to top Starsky's fourth . . . .