(c) March 2014 by Charlotte Frost




Starsky rolled over onto his side and punched his pillow.  The new position didn't bring any more comfort than it had a few minutes ago.

"I can't take you out anymore, Hutch.  You keep insulting my friends."

Hutch had been riled when they'd met with Artie Solkin today, to see what he might have known about the beating death of teen Jimmy Shannon.  Solkin was a two-bit sleazy version of Fagin from Oliver Twist.  He wanted teenage boys and young men around him.  The latter spoke its own truth. 

There was nothing at all socially redeeming about Artie Solkin.  But then, there often wasn't anything social redeeming about many of the slime balls they came into contact with during the course of their jobs.  The other slime balls didn't rattle Hutch the way Solkin did.  Starsky had had to rein in his own reaction to pure sleaze in human form, to balance out Hutch's tumultuous emotions.

What's the matter, buddy boy?  Maybe things aren't going so great between you and Abby, huh?

They'd had a nice day at the park, until the discovery of the Shannon's body had sent them into work early.

Starsky sighed.  Eventually, Abby would leave.  Just as Andrea would.  They always did, leaving both himself and his partner perpetually single.  There were a lot of advantages to that.  It was just such a hardship every time a new breakup occurred, especially when it would be with someone Hutch had been seeing, off and on, pretty close to a year now.

Starsky's eyes closed.  At least, I'll have you all to myself again, during our time off.

Content with that thought, he drifted into sleep.


PART ONE - 18 Months Later

While wheezing for breath, Starsky gratefully shoved Ernest Whistles at the uniformed cops that have arrived on the scene.  "Take him and book him for attempted robbery.  We'll catch up the paperwork this afternoon."

The two patrolmen nodded, and took the suspect away.


Starsky looked over at the Torino, where Hutch was standing next to the open passenger door, the microphone in his hand.  "We've got a body near Second and Willow."

"No rest for the weary," Starsky muttered with a sigh.  He moved to the car, glad that a body meant that they wouldn't be chasing any more suspects before their shift was over.

After they were on their way, he asked, "They say what killed the guy?"

"No, just that there's a body."

"Second and Willow," Starsky muttered, taking a right.  "That's not a high crime area, beyond the usual burgularies."


Starsky glanced over at Hutch.  It still was odd to him, seeing the hair growing on his partner's upper lip.  Though it was getting to be an old joke, he quipped, "You need to shave."

Hutch ran his finger along the baby hairs.  "They're coming in pretty good now."

Starsky grunted.  He'd never seen Hutch with facial hair before, so he wasn't sure how it was going to look.  "Most women say that they don't like facial hair."

"If I ever get serious enough with anyone again," he said in a pragmatic tone, "then I'll shave it, if she wants me to."

After what had happened to Abby at the hands of Tommy Marlow a while back, and then her walking out when she and Hutch were both still healing from injuries, Hutch hadn't been able to bring himself to being optimistic about the idea of a relationship.

Hutch tapped his side window.  "You just missed it."

Starsky braked sharply, looked in the rear view mirror to make sure the mid afternoon traffic was clear enough, and then made a sharp U-turn across the center yellow lines.  He muttered, "I thought Willow came after Walnut."

"Only if you're coming from the other direction."

Starsky made a left onto Willow, and they could see a couple of patrol cars parked at the curb.

They got out and approached the covered body on a grassy area near a house, next to the sidewalk.

"What have you got, O'Brien?" Starsky asked the nearest officer.

"Somebody called it in.  We don't know how long it's been here."  He nodded at the house.  "No one is home.  Nor in any of the houses around here."

Starsky turned his attention to Hutch, who was already kneeling and pulling the blanket back from the body.  He watched his partner's expression harden, as he gazed at the face.  Starsky knelt down to look.

"Artie Solkin," Hutch said quietly.

Starsky felt relief at the name.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, he thought sarcastically.  Then he studied Solkin's face.  It was heavily bruised.

Hutch was pulling the cover back, obviously looking for a cause of death.  "This was too nice a neighborhood for him to die in."

Starsky glanced around.  It wasn't an upscale neighborhood, but it was better than most of the inner city areas. 

"Here we go," Hutch said.  He flipped the blanket up, so Starsky could see.  "Knife wound."

"Not before they had a little fun with him first."  Starsky watched a dark black station wagon pull up.  "Coroner is here."

Hutch covered Solkin back up, snorting, "If they would have kept him in the joint, rather than cutting him a deal to turn on Marlow, he'd still be alive and we wouldn't have to investigate his death."  His voice hardened, as he stood.  "Like we give a shit."

Starsky could swear that he could see Hutch's skin crawling.  Artie Solkin was dead.  He could no longer offend Hutch's sensibilities.  But Hutch was getting agitated, just like he used to when having confronted the living Artie.

Starsky rose to his feet and squeezed Hutch's side.  "He can't hurt anyone anymore, Hutch."

Hutch shook his head.  "All the lives he's touched... they're damaged forever."  He walked away.

Starsky gazed after him.

He had to make an effort to deal with the guys that drove the meat wagon, as well as wrapping things up with the patrol officers.  Then he quickly moved to the Torino, where Hutch was waiting inside the car.

As soon as Starsky was in his seat, Hutch nodded out the windshield.  "He wasn't killed here.  Somebody would have seen him before now.  He wouldn't have had any reason to be in an area like this.  I bet he was dumped here within the past couple of hours."

"Yeah.  O'Brien said that the call came in anonymously, and referred to 'some dead guy'."  They sat silent, and Starsky looked over at Hutch.  "Time to come clean, partner."

Hutch frowned at him.  "About what?"

"About why Artie gets to you so much."  Starsky watched the other police vehicles drive away.

Hutch snorted, his hand running along his leg.  "The sleaze ball that he is -- was -- doesn't get to you?"

With determined calm, Starsky said, "Lots of sleaze balls get to me.  But not like Artie gets to you."  Hutch looked away.  Starsky quietly pressed, "You need to get it off your chest, Hutch."  He listened to Hutch swallow.  "I should have pressed you on it during that Jimmy Shannon case last year, but I convinced myself that maybe you and Abby were having problems.  But now Artie is dead -- thank God -- and you're almost as riled as when he was alive."

Hutch tilted his head away from Starsky, and rubbed at his fledgling mustache.  "I'm asking you to let it go."

Starsky felt regret that he wasn't going to honor Hutch's wish.  "I can't."

Hutch drew a quiet, defeated breath. 

Almost whispering, Starsky said, "I'd like to think that there's something you want to tell me.  To free yourself of whatever hold he has over you." 

Hutch closed his eyes a moment.  Then he said, "Maybe we can share a six pack after shift, huh?"

Relief filled Starsky, and he squeezed Hutch behind his knee.  "Sounds great."  He turned the motor.  "Now, I say we go visit that sleazy hotel Solkin liked to stay at."


"Artie hasn't been here for at least a year," the hotel clerk told them.  "He moved out after he got arrested, after the freak he was friends with did those murders.  Once he testified at all those hearings, he said he was leaving town.  Trying to get a new start."

Hutch scoffed, "'There's no such thing as a 'fresh start' for scum like him."

Starsky tried not to feel discouraged.  "Did he stop by here when he was back in town?"

The clerk appeared perplexed.  "Back in town?  Artie's back in town?"

Hutch leaned over the desk.  "Who else did Artie like to hang out with, when he lived here?"

"I don't know.  I don't know other people's business."

Starsky raised his voice.  "You know everybody's business in this joint.  Who did Artie have come visit him?  Who called him?"

"Well," the clerk hesitated, "there was that Frank fellow."

"Frank who?" Hutch demanded.

"Uh, uh, Frank Stills."

Calmly, Starsky asked, "What did Frank Stills want with Artie?"

"I don't know.  I think he got work for him."

"Where does Frank hang out?" Hutch asked.

"I don't know!  I only know him, because he came here to see Artie."

Starsky asked, "How often?"

The clerk shrugged.  "Maybe a couple of times a month."

Hutch presented a phony smile.  "Thank you.  We appreciate you being an upstanding citizen and helping out the police."

As they exited, Starsky said, "Let's get Huggy on it."



Huggy said he'd heard the name Frank Stills, but didn't know anything about him, beyond him being someone who hired out jobs that many wouldn't touch.  He said he'd see what he could find out.

Starsky and Hutch went back to the police station to write up their reports on the day's events.  Then they called it quits for their shift.

As they entered the parking garage, Starsky said, "We gotta stop for beer."

Hutch was silent beside him.

Surely, Hutch wasn't thinking he'd forgotten their plans for an apparently heavy conversation.  Starsky looked at him.  "My place or yours?"

Hutch sighed quietly.  "We can go to your place."

So he could leave when he'd had enough, Starsky knew.

As they approached the Torino, Starsky patted the small of Hutch's back.  "It'll be okay, buddy.  You'll feel better after talking about it."

Hutch didn't respond.


Starsky waited until Hutch was on his second beer.  They'd ordered pizza to be delivered, but it wasn't expected to arrive for 45 minutes. 

Starsky was sitting in the wide-backed chair.  "So, buddy, what's the story on Solkin?  You have some kind of past contact with him, that I don't know about?"

Hutch was on the sofa, his feet perched on the edge of the coffee table, gazing at the surface of the table.  He shook his head.  "No, I haven't had any contact with Artie that you don't know about."

Starsky waited.

Hutch ran his hand back through his hair.  "He reminds me of somebody."

Starsky slowly sipped his beer.  "Yeah?"


Hutch gazed at the table top an extended moment.  Then, "One summer, when I was fifteen, it was the year that Jack Mitchell's family moved into the neighborhood."  He glanced at Starsky.  "Remember him?"

Starsky nodded.  He'd met the ill-fated Mitchell when he and Hutch had worked on a case in Las Vegas.

"We didn't get to know each other until school started that fall.  I had other friends, of course, but none that I was ever as tight with as I would be with Jack.  There was this one boy, Harold, a couple of years older than me.  He came from a more rundown area of the neighborhood.  His father had left when he was young, and it was just him and his mother."  Hutch drew a breath.  "Even though Harold was older, he wasn't very good with school work.  His mother knew someone at the school, who knew my mother, and it was decided that I'd tutor him once a week, for some pocket change.  So, Harold and I became a little bit friendly that summer."  He paused to stare at the table.

Starsky was about to prompt him, when Hutch continued, "One day, when our hour was up, we decided to walk the few blocks into town, where there were some shops where the kids liked to hang out.  He was old enough that he never asked his mother for permission for anything.  Since my mother knew I was with him, it didn't matter how we were spending our time, as long as the tutoring got done.  Anyway, as we were walking, he asked me if I wanted to meet this really cool guy.  I thought it sounded kind of odd, since he didn't say what was so cool about him, but I didn't see any reason not to."  Hutch swallowed slowly, his expression far away.  "So, we walked into town, in a bad area, where there were a few porn shops.  At the end of the street was an old apartment building.  Harold rang the buzzer, and told the person that answered, 'I've brought a friend with me.'  I thought it was kind of weird how he said it."  Hutch's eyes finally moved to Starsky.  "Like... like I was a prize or something."  He waved a hand.  "That's over-stating it, but...."

Starsky nodded, as he felt his stomach twist in trepidation.  "Then what happened?"

"We were let in, and went up the creaky steps to the second floor.  There was a man standing in his doorway.  White-haired, potbellied guy.  I was really surprised that Harold had gotten friendly with an old guy like that.  We went inside the man's apartment, and I just felt really weird about it.  I mean, it was a strange conversation, this old guy asking me how school was going and what I was studying.  I couldn't imagine that he was genuinely interested, or why he'd bother with small talk like that.  Then...," Hutch's gaze settled on the far wall for a long moment, "this guy -- Stanley was his name -- he asked me if I'd like to make some easy money.  I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was uneasy about it.  Harold was nudging me, like, 'Of course, you do.  It's easy, Ken.  You'll like how easy it is.'  And then Stanley tells us that we just have to go stand at a corner, a few blocks away, and wait for a guy to give us a paper bag.  And then we bring the paper bag back to Harold."

"Money laundering?" Starsky asked.

Hutch shrugged.  "I guess so."  Then he nodded.  "Yeah, surely.  Looking back, it had to be gambling activity going on along that strip.  Anyway, the bag was stapled shut and we weren't supposed to look in it.  I felt weird about the whole thing.  There was obviously something wrong about it, since it was a secretive-type thing -- Stanley said I couldn't tell anybody -- but my mind wasn't able to comprehend, at that time, how it could be considered criminal activity, to take money for handling a paper bag."  Hutch fell silent, his expression distant.

"So, you did it?"

Hutch looked at Starsky.  "Yeah.  Or, rather, I accompanied Harold to the corner, and waited with him.  I never touched the bag.  We took it back to Stanley, and he paid us.  Patted me on the shoulder, said that I could make money like that on a regular basis.  I guess he noticed how uneasy I seemed, because he made a point of assuring me that there was nothing wrong with making money easily, but it was a 'special secret' that I couldn't talk with about anybody."  He drew a long breath.  "We left after that.  I went home, and I couldn't stop thinking about it -- how dirty I felt.  I didn't understand why Harold was okay about it.  I was real quiet at dinner, and my  parents noticed, so then I decided I wasn't going to see Stanley anymore.  I'd just tell Harold that my parents paid me an allowance, and I didn't need to make any other money."  He looked at Starsky.  "So, that's what I did.  Harold was disappointed, but," Hutch shrugged, "it's not like he could intimidate me into going with him to Stanley." 

Starsky watched Hutch gaze at the table again.  Quietly, he asked, "What aren't you telling me?"

Hutch's eyes darted briefly to him, as he snorted.  "I knew I couldn't ever see Stanley again, because he could intimidate me.  Even though he made me feel uncomfortable, I knew I'd let myself get talked into whatever he wanted.  So, I made sure I wasn't ever around him again."

Starsky felt himself relax.  "You were a strong kid, Hutch.  You could have gotten sucked into a bad situation, but you held to your own sense of right and wrong."  Then, he realized, "I guess you were so tough on Artie Solkin, because you felt like you had to put up that tough exterior, to protect your teenage self, maybe, huh?"

Hutch was frowning.  "There's more."  He looked up, and said unsteadily, "I-I need another beer."

Starsky tried not to let his concern show, as he leapt to his feet, and moved to the refrigerator.  He drew a long, quiet breath, while pulling a beer from the carton.  He decided against one for himself, since it sounded like the heaviest part of Hutch's story had yet to be told, and he wanted to be completely sober.

After tossing the bottle to Hutch, he sat back down.  He brushed at imaginary lint on his jeans, while watching Hutch twist off the cap.

Hutch quickly took a large swallow of beer.

Starsky waited, his trepidation increasing.

Hutch rested his head back against the sofa, his gaze on the ceiling.  "The summer ended.  School started.  I was a Sophomore that year.  Some of Harold's grades improved, but I never saw him around much."  Hutch bowed his head.  "The-the-the following spring... he-he-he killed himself."

The stuttering was hard to miss, though Starsky didn't understand the reason.  Gently, he asked, "Did anybody know why?"

Hutch quickly shook his head.  "I had my suspicions, but I didn't know what to call it.  How to put a name to it."

Starsky furrowed his brow.  "What do you mean?"

Hutch gazed at the far wall.  "That one time I went with him to see Stanley, the way Stanley interacted with him... I didn't know what to call it."  Abruptly, he looked at Starsky.  "I knew what a queer was, but I didn't think it was that."

Starsky was trying hard to follow along.  "You didn't think what was that?"

"They way they interacted.  It was... different.  But it didn't make me think Harold was queer."  Hutch's voice softened.  "Looking back...."

Starsky resolved to be patient.

"I don't really think Harold was fond of Stanley.  Not at all.  He was roped in by him.  The way Stanley touched him... Harold didn't return it.  But he allowed it, because... what else could he do?  Stanley was a father figure to him."  Hutch's lip curled.  "In the worst sort of way."

"You think Stanley molested Harold?"

Hutch's eyes darted back and forth, and then he nodded his head.  "Yeah.  It's how, now, it all fits."  He took a long swallow of beer.  Then, more calmly, "Harold must have felt terrible about it.  But he had nobody to turn to.  After he killed himself, I never said anything to anyone, because I didn't know how to talk about it... the things I felt.  I was naive about stuff like that.  I couldn't define what my gut was telling me."

The doorbell rang.

"Pizza," Starsky announced, jumping to his feet. 

As he searched his billfold for cash, Starsky wasn't sure the interruption was a good thing.  It wasn't often that Hutch was so forthright about his past.  Still, after leaving the pizza on the coffee table, he took the time to grab more beer and paper plates from the kitchen.  When he returned to the living area, Hutch still appeared contemplative.

"Eat up," Starsky encouraged, grabbing a couple of slices for himself.

Hutch remained still, gazing at the far wall, his beer resting on a thigh.

As Starsky chewed, while sitting on the floor opposite the sofa, with the coffee table between them, he considered Hutch's most recent words.  After swallowing a few bites, he carefully asked, "Hutch?  Did you feel guilty about Harold killing himself?"

Hutch's eyes darted to him.  He cocked his head to one side.  Then, "I'm not sure.  I felt... something.  Regret, of course."  His eyes narrowed.  "I'm not sure it could be called guilt, if only because I don't think I could define what I was feeling guilty about."  He sipped his beer.

"Did he leave a note?"

Hutch shook his head.  "Not that his mother ever mentioned.  Not much was said about it.  His family wasn't particularly well known, and it was kind of hush-hush.  People didn't talk about it out loud.  It was like an embarrassment, you know?"  Hutch took another sip, and then shrugged.  "His mother moved away within a year.  I remember feeling glad, because then I wouldn't have to think about it anymore.  Plus, that section of town got bought up by a real estate tycoon, who built office buildings there, so I'm sure Stanley had to move away."

Starsky ventured, "So, it did bother you, if you were thinking about it enough to feel relieved, later."

"Well, sure, it was... confusing.  Everything about Harold was confusing.  He was older than me, but he needed tutoring from me.  He had that weird relationship with Stanley.  He didn't have a father, and most everyone in our neighborhood had a typical, nuclear family."  Hutch sighed.  "And then he up and kills himself."  He reached for a pizza slice.

They ate in silence for a few minutes.  Then Starsky decided to conclude, "So, Solkin got under your skin so much, because he reminds you of Stanley, and how he probably molested Harold, and messed him up so bad that he committed suicide?"

Hutch's gaze was on the pizza box as he chewed.  "Yeah."

Starsky thought he could now put the subject of Artie Solkin to rest.  But something that Hutch had said a little while ago was nagging at him.  He wasn't certain what the best way was to ask about it, without putting his partner on the defensive.  He decided to approach his concern in a roundabout away. 

After swallowing a last bite of pizza slice, Starsky licked at his finger tips.  "You know, Hutch, that seems pretty mature on your part, to have reached that conclusion about Stanley molesting Harold."

Hutch's eyes moved to him briefly.  Then Hutch's expression became a scowl.  "Hindsight is twenty-twenty.  It's only looking back, from a more mature perspective, that I think that's what happened."

Patiently, Starsky said, "Yeah, but you instinctively knew that something weird was going on between Stanley and Harold, even if you didn't have the words to explain it to yourself.  And you seem awfully sure of it now, for not having any new information to go on."  He hesitated.  Then, "And... you know... you said you felt intimidated by Stanley."

Hutch was still frowning, but remained silent.

Starsky softened his voice, as he felt his stomach tighten.  "Hutch?  When you were in Stanley's apartment, with him and Harold, was Harold the only one that Stanley was touching... in an 'odd' way?"

Hutch's mouth immediately opened, as though to protest.  Then he shut it, his face now perplexed as he gazed at the coffee table.

Starsky waited, his heart beating faster.

Distantly, and without looking up, Hutch stuttered, "He-he scared me."

"Stanley?" Starsky quickly clarified, his heart breaking at the frightened little boy in Hutch's tone.

Hutch nodded three times.  "Yeah.  He scared me."  He swallowed thickly.

"Because...?" Starsky gently prodded.

Hutch's eyes widened as he stared at the pizza box.  "I was sitting on the little sofa in his apartment, next to Harold.  And Stanley.... There wasn't enough room for him to sit there, too, but he sat down right beside me, so that we were pressed together.  I didn't like it.  He was rubbing my leg.  My thigh. I-I-I didn't know what to do.  I jumped up, moved away.  Tried to act casual, like I just needed to stretch my legs.  I thought maybe I was strange, because I didn't like it.  I started talking about how we needed to get going.  I didn't - I didn't - I tried not to sound scared.  I didn't understand why I was scared.  But I just wanted out of there."

Starsky swallowed heavily, as Hutch sat staring at the pizza box with wide eyes.

After a long moment, Starsky quietly prompted, "Then what happened?"

"Harold said that we should be leaving.  I was so relieved.  He got up.  And so did Stanley.  He draped his arm over my shoulder, and was just sort of rubbing me.  Rubbing at my shirt.  I tried to act like it didn't bother me, because I didn't want Stanley or Harold to know how scared I was."  He drew a deep, deep breath.  "We left a few minutes later."

Starsky felt relief.

Hutch finally seemed to come back to the present.  Casually, he said, "I joined the wrestling team when school started up again."

Starsky blinked, not sure he'd heard the last correctly, it was such a non sequitur.  "What?  Wrestling team?"

Hutch nodded, and reached for another pizza slice.  "Yeah.  That was the year I got serious about wrestling.  Got really good at it.  Was on the team in college."

"Why?" Starsky asked simply.

Hutch chewed a moment, swallowed, and then answered in an obvious tone.  "To show how tough I was.  I wanted everyone to know how tough I could be.  How strong."

Starsky felt he was missing something.  "As opposed to... scared?  It bothered you that Stanley had scared you so much?"

"No, because -- "  Hutch abruptly quieted, his expression startled.

He dropped his paper plate to the coffee table with a partially eaten pizza slice, and was suddenly on his feet, his back turned to Starsky.

"Hutch?" Starsky asked worriedly.  "What is it?"

Hutch turned to one side, his fingers rubbing along his fledgling mustache.  "That son of a bitch," he muttered.


Hutch snorted, shaking his head.  "All this time, I never even realized....."

"Realized what?"

Hutch turned toward Starsky, his eyes closed, as though absorbing some new fact into himself.

"Tell me."

Hutch rested his hands on the back pockets of his jeans, and opened his eyes.  "When Harold and I were getting ready to leave Stanley's apartment, and Stanley had his arm around me, he called me a pretty boy."  Hutch's jaw firmed.  "He told me it was something wonderful, nothing to be ashamed of."  His expression was now distant.  "But I knew what it meant.  I knew what it meant he saw in me.  Scared the hell out of me.  So, I started wrestling when we went back to school that fall.  Figured that was the best way to show how tough I was, and that I wasn't a pretty boy."  He shook his head once more.  "Never made that connection until now."

Starsky wondered what to say.  He had so often envied Hutch's good looks.  Now, he could see where those good looks had been the source of a great deal of fear.  After a long moment of silence, he casually said, "Well, if your purpose is to prove how tough you are... how strong... how dependable.... you'll never get any argument from me about those traits, buddy boy."  He intentionally hardened his voice.  "I'd take issue with anyone who claimed otherwise."

Hutch allowed a faint smile to cross his face.

"Come on," Starsky prompted.  "Finish your pizza."

Hutch moved back to the sofa and sat down.  He picked up the pizza slice.  "You know, it was really dumb of me to let Artie get to me the way that he did."  He took a large bite.

"Well, obviously, you've had some pent up feelings about Stanley, via Harold.  Artie brought those feelings out.  You just didn't know why you were so angry with him."  Starsky considered, "I guess your anger at him was more anger that was really meant for Stanley."  He relented with a shrug, "Not that Artie Solkin deserved anything better.  He was as slimy as they come.  He just seemed to be smart about making sure the guys he messed around with were of legal age."  As that thought sunk in, Starsky realized, "I'm glad that you never went back to see Stanley.  That you had a strong enough sense of self that you didn't need him to approve of you."

Hutch chewed slowly, thoughtful once again. 

Starsky finally prompted, "What?"

Hutch looked away, swallowing the last of the pizza.  Though he remained seated, he looked like he wanted to jump out of his skin.


Hutch released a heavy breath, his gaze still avert.  "Nothing," he said, shaking his head.

"Come on, that's not fair.  Don't hold back now."

Hutch's hands rubbed along his thighs, with an aggressive motion.  "Na.  Trust me, you don't want to hear it."

"I'll decide that." 

Hutch closed his eyes, as though resigned.  When he opened them, he looked at Starsky.  "I-I was a teenager, you know.  Got really interested in girls -- in sex -- when I went to high school the next year.  Sometimes...." he trailed off, his head cocked.


"You know, I had girlfriends at that age, but not any I was close enough with that we'd do much more than kiss.  So, you know, I thought about sex pretty much all the time."

Starsky quickly interjected, "And beat yourself raw, like every adolescent boy does.  Go on."

Hutch snorted softly, and then said, "Sometimes... I'd wonder about it.  Wonder what would have happened if I'd gone back to Stanley's.  Wondered what he would have done."  He grimaced.  "I guess a part of me was sort of excited about the thought.  Stanley was surely long gone, but I still sometimes wondered 'what if''."

Starsky thought he knew what Hutch was hinting at.  He decided to assure, "Look, when I was fourteen, I read a dirty book once, where one guy sucked another guy's cock.  For a long time after that, I'd beat off, thinking about a guy sucking my cock.  Until the day when Sally Jefferson let me put my hand down the front of her shirt.  After that, I beat off all the time to remembering how if felt to squeeze her tits -- she was built -- until I actually got to fuck."

Hutch appeared relieved, which made Starsky feel relieved

"Come on, Hutch, all your cock cares about, at that age, is that it gets stimulated.  It doesn't care what does the stimulatin'.  What you fantasize about to feed it doesn't mean anything.  Besides, it was safe to fantasize about Stanley since he wasn't around.  There wasn't anything for you to be afraid of."

After a thoughtful moment, Hutch softly relented, "Yeah."  He took his beer from the coffee table and finished it.

Starsky grabbed another pizza slice, leaving one.  "Come on, finish it off."

Hutch took the remaining piece.  "Is there more beer?"

"Coming right up."

After Starsky retrieved beers for them both, they ate and drank in silence.

Eventually, Hutch sat back and patted him stomach, a slim smile lighting his mouth corner.  "Guess this was more than you bargained for, huh, buddy?"

Starsky shrugged.  "It answered my question."  He cocked his head.  "Sounds like it bought back some memories for you.  I hope that isn't a problem."

Hutch drew a quiet breath.  "I guess there's nothing wrong with a little self-reflection."

"Nope."  Starsky gathered up the box.  "I say we watch a few sitcoms."  He wasn't sure he wanted Hutch driving home in such a contemplative state, to say nothing of all the beers.

While Starsky took the pizza box to the trash, Hutch got up to turn on the television.  "Sounds good."


Hutch's eyes came open.

There was sunlight out the window, and he glanced at the clock.

7:40 AM.  He almost never slept that late.  He was going to be late to work, but at least he and Starsky had agreed they would go in separately today.

Hutch rested his head back against the pillow, since he was resigned to being late. 

Why had he slept so long?

He and Starsky had watched TV last night until the news came on.  Then Hutch had driven home.

What had made him so tired that he slept so soundly through the night?

Hutch placed his hand behind his head.  He been talking to Starsky about memories from adolescence.  That weird guy, Stanley, that he'd met only once.  The hapless Harold.

Starsky had listened.  Been sympathetic.  Been supportive.  Even when Hutch had admitted that he sometimes wondered what would have happened, had he returned to Stanley.

Starsky had then said that he'd beaten off repeatedly to the fantasy of a man sucking his cock, until he'd had the experience of putting his hand down the front of a girl's shirt.

Hutch furrowed his brow.  Had Starsky really fantasized about that?  Or had he just been trying to make Hutch feel better?  And... if Starsky had actually fantasized about that, had he just up and stopped, once he'd had a more direct experience of what a girl felt like?

That didn't seem likely.

Hell, Hutch fantasized about guys sometimes.  Just like he fantasized other scenarios that he'd never actually want to do in reality.

Sometimes, he even fantasized about Starsky.  Or would start out thinking about him.  Then he'd end up getting distracted by some other fantasy.  Even in the safety of imagination, his cock considered Starsky off limits.

He grunted.  If he sucked Starsky's cock, just once, would Starsky use that as later fantasy material?

Of course, he would, Hutch's ego insisted.  I'd make it so good, he wouldn't want to ever fantasize about anything else.

Would he really be able to make it good?

Hutch frowned.  That would be a disaster, if he tried to suck Starsky's cock, and was very bad at it.

If he'd only he'd had some skill in how to please a man.  That was something Stanley could have shown him.

Hutch threw the covers aside, feeling disgust for inviting Stanley into his thoughts.  His feet dropped heavily to the side of the bed.

How bad could it be, if I did something like that for Starsky?

For that matter, how would he ever talk Starsky into it?

Hutch grinned to himself as he made his way to the john. 

It wasn't like Starsky would turn him down. 

"Hey, buddy, I'd really like to give you a blow job, so you've got some new fantasy material."

What was Starsky going to say?  "Uh, no, Hutch, I don't think that would be a good idea."  Not hardly.

Hutch had to stand before the toilet a while before the contents of his bladder got through. 

Starsky would be surprised, though.  Probably confused.  Puzzled.  Perhaps feeling unsure of Hutch.

That would be the hardest thing -- Starsky doubting him.  Hesitant to trust.

Hutch shook himself dry and move to the sink, amused at himself.

Why the fuck am I even thinking about this?


Starsky sighed loudly as he looked at the clock.  8:20 AM. 

It was unusual for Hutch to be late.  He wondered if Hutch had had a rough night.  By the time his partner had left his apartment last night, Hutch had seemed in a good mood, considering all the laughing they had done, courtesy of the primetime sitcoms.

Still, Hutch had had all that baggage to unload.  Including something he hadn't particularly wanted to tell Starsky.  About, after Stanley had probably moved away, adolescent fantasies speculating on what could have happened.

Dobey emerged from his office.  "Where's Hutchinson?"

"He's not here yet.  Why?"

"What do you mean, why?" Dobey bellowed.  "He's supposed to be logged in at 8:00 AM sharp.  Where is he?"

"He had an appointment," Starsky decided.

"What appointment?"

"Doctor's appointment.  Eye doctor."  That sounded harmless enough.

"What are you two doing about the Artie Solkin murder?"

"We're trying to find witnesses and retracing Artie's steps the past month."

"What's your best lead?"

"Some guy that used to visit Solkin's apartment, before he left town.  He'd hire people for rough jobs, like breaking Eckworth's legs."

The squadroom door opened, and Hutch walked in.

"About time you showed up," Dobey said.

Starsky met Hutch's eye as he asked, "How did it go at the eye doctor?"

Hutch gazed back at him an extended moment, and then said, "I don't need glasses yet.  Hopefully, not until I'm fifty."  He moved to the coffee maker.

Dobey headed to the door, "I'd better see some progress on the Solkin case by the end of today."

As soon as Dobey was gone, Starsky slid up to Hutch. 

Hutch grinned, "Eye doctor, huh?"

"Where were you?"

Hutch sipped his coffee.  "I forgot to set the alarm.  Overslept."

Softly, Starsky asked, "You okay?"

Hutch gave him a warm smile and a quick nod.  "Fine."

That was all the reassurance that Starsky needed.


In early afternoon, they dropped in at Huggy's for lunch.

Huggy nodded at them, as they came up to the bar.  "I was about to call you.  Why don't you take a corner booth?"

"Make sure you bring us some burgers and some beers," Starsky said, as they pushed away from the bar.

They found a dark corner booth.  Hutch plopped down with a sigh, hoping that Huggy had useful information for them on Frank Stills.  The other leads they had, which were weak to begin with, weren't turning anything.

Sitting across from Hutch, Starsky muttered, "I hope he has something.  Otherwise, Solkin is going to remain in the deep freeze, waiting for someone to claim the body."

They hadn't been able to find any relatives. 

Hutch decided against commenting that the morgue's storage unit was where Solkin belonged.  He really was ready to be over the bad taste in his mouth that Solkin had always brought -- thanks to his partner's patient listening last night.

Hutch couldn't keep his warm smile from showing when he looked at Starsky.

Starsky eyes twinkled at him, and he was about to speak when Huggy arrived with a tray.

"Here you go," Huggy said, placing beers before them.  Plastic baskets with hamburgers and fries followed.  Huggy then propped the empty tray next to the corner of the both, and sat next to Starsky.

Starsky had already taken a healthy bite of burger.  He nodded at Hutch.  "You notice anything different about our golden boy here?"

Hutch endured Huggy's puzzled scrutiny, while not even sure himself what Starsky was talking about.  He just knew that he relished Starsky calling him 'golden boy'.  It was said with love.  Not with the sleazy intent of someone like Stanley, back in Minnesota, who had called him a "pretty boy".

After a long moment, Huggy shook his head in puzzlement.  "Nope."

"He's got peach fuzz on his upper lip."

Hutch had considered that topic a possibility, as he quietly relished Starsky's attention.  But Huggy's puzzlement, even greater now than a moment before, made Hutch want to relieve him of his confusion.  "I'm growing a mustache.  Just started a few days ago."

"Hard to tell with so little lighting," Huggy defended.  Then he said, "Why would you want to grow a mustache?  Modern women don't seem to care for facial hair much."

Starsky glanced at Huggy and quipped, "Then how come women aren't falling all over you?"

Hutch laughed out loud, his heart beating with love at his partner's quick wit.  Apparently, with those words, he approved of the mustache.

That made Hutch feel good.

Starsky sobered while lowering his voice.  "Come on, what did you come up with on Stills?"

Huggy shook his head.  "I've got nothing for you, I'm afraid.  Stills was a bad dude who took on wicked jobs that other people don't like, and then would farm them out cheap to others."

"Like Artie Solkin," Hutch said.

"Exactly.  Stills is rumored to be behind the beating of that baseball player, Lloyd Eckworth."

"We remember all that," Starsky said.  "What we're looking for is if Stills might be behind the beating and murder of Artie Solkin."

Huggy held up his hands in an empty gesture.  "Frank Stills disappeared a good year or so ago.  Some say he left town.  Some think he got the tables turned on him, and somebody might have done away with him.  But it's all rumor.  I couldn't find anybody who knew anything concrete, or who knew somebody who might be able to give you more.  Sorry."

Hutch released a heavy breath.  "Well, keep your eyes and ears open, in case you hear anything more."


Starsky looked at Hutch with the resignation of a failed case.

PART TWO -- Six Months Later

Hutch stepped out of the shower, briskly using a towel along his skin, after having had a long day at work.

He grimaced and slowed his motions.

Ouch.  It hurt there and there.

Hutch examined the bruise along his left ribcage.  Then his right.  He turned to face the bathroom mirror and lowered the towel.

The bruises looked dark and angry against his pale skin.

Bruising brought about by anger.  Betrayal.

From his partner.

Hutch wondered if he'd left bruises.  He hoped not.  He remember trying to hold Starsky away, in order to defend himself from his partner's half-hearted punches.

He rubbed his hand along his stomach.  Yes, it was very tender, right there, where one of those punches had landed.  If Starsky had really been trying to hurt him....

Hutch felt a flush of shame and turned away from the mirror.  He bent to towel off his legs.

Funny, that he hadn't noticed the bruises the past couple of days.  Only now, after he and Starsky had apparently made up in front of Kira.

Hutch scoffed at his use of the word apparently.

They had made up.  That's why he noticed the bruises.  They seemed wrong.

Hutch flung the towel away.  Even though I deserved it, he admitted.

He moved into the sleeping area and found clean underwear.  A mental chatter began in his mind about how he sincerely hadn't meant for anything to happen between himself and Kira when he'd gone over to her house.  That he'd tried to talk to her about the situation the three of them were in, and she hadn't wanted talk from him; in fact, had seemed to be laughing at him for his concern about Starsky's feelings. 

He was a healthy male.  What was he supposed to do when she made it clear that it was only his cock that she was interested in?

Stop defending it, he scoffed at himself.  Doesn't matter now.  Starsky is okay about it.

Hutch found himself smiling and feeling warm inside, as he continued to dress.

And then felt Starsky's punches as his wounded partner expressed his extreme hurt.

Hutch sat on his bed.

Starsky hadn't been angry, as much as he'd felt hurt.  And betrayed.  If he'd been outright angry, Hutch knew he might not be able to walk very well right now.

Starsky was an intense, passionate man. When he hated, his hatred ran deep.  When he loved, he loved deeply.

Hence, trying not to genuinely hurt me, because he loved me, too.

Hutch bowed his head.

Want to make it all better, buddy.

In his mind's eye, Hutch saw the now-familiar scenario of himself on his knees before his partner's stout cock.  He wanted to gobble it down, worship it, guide Starsky's intense passion toward pleasure.

A few days ago, when he'd parted Kira's shapely ass-cheeks and briefly tongued her hidden opening, he'd wondered what Starsky would taste like there.  Though, with Starsky, he'd bury his tongue in, as deeply as it could go.  He'd feel and taste the sparse hairs, smell the intense, raw, masculine scents....

Starsky would demand more, and Hutch would push his tongue in even deeper.  He would hardly be able to breathe, with has his face pressed so deep.

Then Starsky would announce that he was so turned on, that he needed to fuck.

Hutch would dutifully turn around and get on his knees.

Stop thinking about it, he scowled to himself, rising to his feet. 

This had become a habit, always thinking about it.

Why?  Do I really want that from him?

Hutch thought back to his adolescent fantasies of what might have happened, had he ever gone back to visit the sleazy Stanley. 

But hadn't he started thinking about Starsky, not because of remembering Stanley, but because he was fascinated by what Starsky had told him?  About having his own adolescent fantasies of a man sucking his cock?

I want to be that man.

Hutch put his hand to the doorframe.

Was there any chance that Starsky wanted that -- even if he hadn't realized it or admitted it to himself, once he'd started having experiences with girls?

What would it take for him to admit it?

Stop it, Hutchinson.  What's the point of thinking about all this?  Starsky would hardly be interested.

Or would he?

Hutch's stomach growled and he moved to the kitchen, with the intent to throw together something for dinner.

The phone rang.

He moved back to the living area to pick it up.  "Yeah?"

Starsky's serious voice said, "Huggy called.  Frank Stills is back in town."

While Hutch quickly rifled through his mental database of current cases, Starsky seemed to read his silence accurately and supplied, "Artie Solkin's associate.  Somebody Huggy knows saw him at the bus depot.  He's got a room at the Mitchell Hotel, that place just a couple of blocks down the street.  I'll pick you up."

"I'll be waiting outside," Hutch said, hanging up.  Yes, his place was closer to the part of town where the bus depot was.

He quickly put together a chicken sandwich, and ate it while standing next to the counter.  As he did so, he considered his recollections of the Solkin case.  They hadn't really gotten anywhere with it, when Solkin's murdered body was found six months ago, and he hadn't particularly cared, beyond the bruising of his professional ago.

Now, perhaps, this could be a solved case in a short time.

Hutch gathered his jacket and gun, and went down to the sidewalk to wait.


When the Torino pulled up, Starsky looked grim and determined.

Hutch wondered if Starsky felt as he did -- that he hoped that the Solkin case might miraculously come to a quick conclusion, so that it could be put behind them.

As they moved away from the curb, Hutch asked, "Did Huggy say anything else?"

"Uh-uh.  I guess we're just lucky that one of Huggy's feelers remembered that he'd asked for information on Stills six months ago."

They were silent the rest of the drive.

Hutch wondered what Starsky would think, if he were to know of his recent thoughts -- thoughts which had nothing to do with Frank Still or Artie Solkin.


Starsky leaned back against the door of Frank Stills' seedy room, his arms crossed.

He had to admit that the mustache Hutch had grown a while back tended to make him look more intimidating to those who didn't know what big mushball he was.  He had a way of projecting himself so that he appeared taller and more stout than he actually was.  The mustache added to that image, as well.

For the time being, the projection was working.  It hadn't taken much tough-cop talk to get Stills to open the door.  He was a short, slim man, a couple of inches smaller than Starsky, with light sandy hair and a pointed chin, and blue eyes that darted about nervously.  Now, he wiped at the sweat along his face with the back of a sleeve, as he sat on the edge of his unmade bed.  "All right, all right!  I admit I did some dealings with Artie.  So what?  I paid him and didn't ask questions about how he did the jobs.  I know he had some freaky juvenile delinquents working for him, but I never met any of them."

Hutch paced in front of Stills, projecting impatience.  "Why did you leave town?"

Stills shrugged nervously.  "Some of my clients got squirrely when they heard that Artie got arrested.  Some knew he's the one I'd hired to do some of the jobs.  They didn't know what he might say when he was given immunity, and somebody suggested I do something to take Artie out."

"Looks like you did just that," Hutch huffed, still pacing.

"No, no!  I don't do jobs myself.  I hire people.  But just for easy stuff.  Never murder  But everything was getting too complicated, so I decided it was a good time to visit some relatives back in Ohio."

"That's nice," Starsky piped up, deliberately calm.   He pushed away from the door, his arm still crossed, and stepped toward Stills.  "See, this is the problem Hutch and I are having.  You're the only one we know who had any relationship with Artie Solkin at the time of his death.  So, that doesn't look so good for you.  Therefore, it's in your best interest to tell us who else might have wanted to harm Artie."

Still drew a shaky breath.  "If I give names -- and I have no way of knowing if any of them were actually involved -- then I'll have to leave town again."

Hutch tilted his head and feigned compassion.  "Ahhh... what?  Your relatives back in Ohio don't want you to go back and visit some more?"

Starsky nodded.  "My partner brings up a good point.  Why is it that you returned to town in the first place?  We figure that you must have thought that, with Artie gone six months now, it was safe to return and go back to your old ways of setting up jobs that others don't want.  Which comes back to you knowing a whole lot more about Artie's demise than you're letting on."

Stills shook his head.  "I don't know nothin'!  I swear, I don't.  When I was back in Ohio, I'd heard that he'd left town, too, after the court case was over.  I'd didn't even know he'd come back and been killed, until a couple of weeks ago."

Hutch shook his finger at Stills.  "Which brings us right back to you feeling it's safe to return."

Starsky calmly said, "And which brings up back to you knowin' a whole lot more than you're letting on.  Which means you may as well tell us, before we're going to find out, anyway."  He hoped that bluff would work.

Hutch firmly said, "And before we let it be known that you're back in town, so maybe a few people might rattle you, so we don't have to."

Stills jumped to the dresser and grabbed a sheet of hotel stationary, and a short pencil.  "All right, I'm giving you some names," he said as he began to write.  "In print, so nobody can trace the handwriting back to me.  But I'm telling you, I don't know if any of these people are the ones that put the hit on Artie."

Starsky looked at Hutch triumphantly, and said to Stills' back.  "Who said anything about a hit?"

Stills suddenly paused, and then said hurriedly, without looking up, "You said Artie was murdered."

Starsky approached Stills, as he continued to write.  "Well, there's murder.  Such as murder of passion.  Accidental manslaughter.  Things like that.  And then there's murder -- capital murder.  The deliberate planning before taking a life.  Hiring out is a clear indication of intent to murder."

"If someone was hired to off Artie, I don't know nothin' about it."  Still straightened, holding out the paper in front of him.  "Here.  Here's people who knew Artie did jobs."  As Starsky took the paper, Stills wiped his arm across his forehead and whined, "Now I have to leave town again."

Starsky handed the paper to Hutch.  "Now, Frank, there's no need to leave town.  The only people that know you gave us this information is me.  And Hutch.  We aren't going to tell, are we, Hutch?" he looked at Hutch.

"No."  Hutch leaned toward Stills.  "Not a soul.  Unless we find out that you had something to do with Artie's death.  Then there's no where you can hide, where we can't find you."

Starsky could swear that he could see relief filter through Stills' body, which made him believe that Stills truly didn't know anything about Solkin's' murder.

Starsky leaned toward Stills with a feigned smile.  "Have a nice evening."


When they'd exited the hotel, where the Torino was parked beneath a street lamp, Hutch held up the paper and began to read, "Thomas Mellon, William Marks -- I remember hearing that he died last month -- Timothy Cox, and Paul McCartney."

Starsky looked up as he went around to the driver's side, keys in hand.  "Paul McCartney?  What, Stills was snowballing us?"  He unlocked the door.

"Well, John, George, and Ringo aren't on the list, so maybe it's a legitimate Paul McCartney.  I've only heard of William Marks , I think."

Once seated, Starsky reached over to unlock Hutch's door. 

As Hutch got in, he said, "I think we need to show this list to Huggy."

"Yep.  And just because Marks died last month, that doesn't mean he couldn't have hired out for a hit on Artie six months ago."  Starsky pulled away from the curb.

"Right.  Marks was involved in running gambling activities.  I bet we find out the others are involved in the same sort of white collar crime."

"I believed Stills, at least at the end.  I don't think he knows who killed Artie."


They were silent as they drove through the streets.  Upon stopping at a light, Starsky glanced at Hutch, just as Hutch glanced at him.

Starsky turned his attention back to the light, eager for it to change to green.

It seemed, lately, that Hutch had been glancing at him a lot, with a look of....

Starsky mentally shook his head.  He couldn't define it.  Maybe gratitude that things had turned out okay for them, after Kira.  Still, he couldn't see a smile in Hutch's eyes at these times.  It was almost as if Hutch wanted something.

Starsky didn't know what more he could do.  He'd forgiven and wasn't interested in looking back.

The light turned green, and he eased the Torino forward. 

Besides, if he thought about it, it rattled him to realize that he'd hit Hutch.  Not hard, but he'd had to do something to lash out and express his anger.

He would never hit a woman, no matter how angry he might be at her.  (And had been.)  But he'd attacked Hutch.

Starsky mentally snorted, realizing that he'd drawn a parallel between hitting a woman and hitting Hutch.  As though Hutch was a wife.

Pretty much damn married, he decided, in his own defense.

Thank God for that, and the unified team it made them, which had saved their lives, and that of others, time and time again.

"You're awfully quiet."

Starsky reacted to the interruption of his thoughts, despite the soft tone.

Now, soft amusement, with underlying concern.  "Why are you so jumpy?"

A few lies popped into Starsky's head.  He braked and turned into an alley, that would lead them to the Pits.  Now moving slowly in the darkness, he glanced at Hutch.  "Hutch, we really are okay.  Right?"

Hutch looked over at him.  "You mean about the dance hall case?  Yeah.  I'm okay, partner."

"I am, too," Starsky replied.  He wanted to feel relief, but what had Hutch meant with that question?  The dance hall case as opposed to... what?

He pulled into the small parking area behind the Pits.  Was there something else that had gone on recently, that could for any reason be a source of unease between them?

Starsky couldn't bear not knowing.  He left the motor running, and looked over at Hutch.  Trying to keep his voice quiet -- light -- he asked, "What else would I be talking about, besides the dance hall case?"

Hutch's mouth fell open, before he quickly looked away.

"Hutch?" Starsky pressed.

Now an exaggerated shrug.  "You know, all this Artie Solkin stuff coming up again."

Starsky deflated.  He thought he'd helped Hutch work through his issues about Artie Solkin, however many months ago.  Levelly, he asked, "Artie still haunting you?  Or, rather, the memory of that guy... Stanley?  And that student you tutored that killed himself?"

A gentle smile lit Hutch's hairy mouth corner, as he bowed his head.  "It's not all that grim and serious.  I just meant, you know, that I'd hoped the whole Artie Solkin thing was over and done with, and we wouldn't have to deal with the case any more."

Starsky said casually, "Unsolved cases always come back to haunt us.  That's why we need to solve them."  He felt the inclination to get out of the car, to get on that very path to resolution, but he wanted to make sure that Hutch didn't have more to say.

Starsky felt a warm squeeze on his leg, just behind his knee, as Hutch cocked his door handle and prompted, "So, let's get on it."

Starsky also opened his door.  "O-kay."  But he still felt that something was bothering Hutch.

He comforted himself with that thought that, surely, Hutch would tell him when he was ready.  When... whatever... mattered enough.


Later that evening, in his robe and standing over the stove, Hutch spent a long time steeping his tea.

Sometimes, it was darned annoying that Starsky, at the very least, matched his own finely-tuned detective skills.

It was one thing if he'd reserved his fantasies for nights alone in his bed.  But those fantasies, and thoughts about them, had seeped into his daily life.

He needed to get rid of them, or say something to Starsky.

What the hell could I possibly say?

What could he say that would be okay?

What do I want from you, buddy?

Hutch himself couldn't answer that.  For months now, his mind had toyed with the idea of sucking Starsky's cock, so he could enjoy thinking that Starsky would use that fantasy to masturbate to, rather than others.

Would I really want it to stop at that?  I suck his cock once, and then I'd stop thinking about it?

He would hardly stop thinking about it, once he'd had an opportunity to do it.  Unless it all went so badly, that he felt foolish.  Or, worse, that his actions had interfered with the trust they had as partners.

It was pointless, thinking about all of this within his own mind, and not knowing what Starsky would do or say.

Some action, of some kind, needed to take place.

Maybe I should just tell him what I've been thinking.  Let him decide how he wants us to handle it from there.

That would put all the onus on Starsky to deal with Hutch's fantasies.  That hardly seemed fair.

A couple of months ago, they had chased a suspect into an open field, where recent rains had left the ground muddy.  They'd eventually collared the man, and had been covered in mud, upon returning to the Torino.  They turned the suspect over to a black-and-white, and stopped by Starsky's place to clean up, since it was closer than the station.  Starsky had shed his clothes on the way to the bathroom and jumped into the shower.  Hutch had undressed in the bathroom, careful to keep his clothes on the linoleum tile, rather than the carpet, as he removed them.  Starsky had emerged from the shower a few minutes later, which he'd kept running, and smacked Hutch on his naked rear with the back of a hand, while grabbing a towel.  "Your turn," he'd said, and moved past.

Hutch had always relished the easy, trusting relationship they had, which allowed for those moments. 

Once he said something, they would never again share those innocent, intimate exchanges.

One can't be innocent forever, he decided.  Everyone has to grow up sometime.

He wondered if he actually believed that.


"Okay," Starsky decided, as they emerged from the office building into the sunshine, "we can scratch Cox."  Cox had had only one arrest in his life, a bribery charge that had been reduced to a misdemeanor.  He'd been out of the country in the months surrounding Solkin's death, and seemed sincere in his dismissing of Solkin or Stills having anything significant to do with his life.

Hutch said, "And since we can't find anybody who knew Marks' dealings with Still or Solkin, let's focus on Thomas Mellon, until Huggy can come up with something on McCartney."

Starsky snapped his finger, trying to remember their last conversation with Huggy.  "Mellon was last known to run some kind of used car financing company."

"Yeah.  You got some dimes?  Let's start calling the financing companies."

Hutch was leading them toward a phone booth on the street.  Starsky would rather have returned to the station and find out information faster, and in a more comfortable environment -- especially since he wasn't sure how much change they had between them -- but he could see that the phone booth still had its directory intact, where it was chained to the inside of the booth.

Hutch was smiling, as though he relished the task ahead. 

For that matter, Hutch had seemed awfully relaxed the past few days, as though something had shifted for him, in a good way.

Starsky didn't know why that would be, but he was content to enjoy the result.


Starsky had been to the convenience store down the block twice, in order to exchange dollar bills for dimes. 

"The guy says he's out of dimes," Starsky grumbled, as he handed Hutch a couple of more coins.  "Which one are you on?"

Hutch pointed to the phone book.  "Premier Kar Financing."

Starsky took up his now-familiar stance of holding the phone book with one hand, and placing his finger beneath the Easy Kar listing.  "Two six seven," he read.  After Hutch had dialed those three numbers, Starsky read off the remaining four digits.

After dialing the last one, Hutch shifted, the phone to his ear.

Starsky moved closer and listened to a receptionist answer.

"Uh, yeah," Hutch said, "I'd like to speak to Paul Mellon, please."

At that point, the receptionist would usually ask "Who?" or say that Hutch must have a wrong number.

This time, Starsky felt a sense of triumph, when he heard her say, "He's on the other line.  Who's calling, please?"

Hutch quickly pushed down the button to hang up the phone.  "Pay dirt."

Starsky eagerly put his finger back on the listing.  "1452 Rosewood.  That's just a few blocks from here."

Hutch grinned as they moved away from the booth.  "See, I knew this was a great idea."

"Just as long as it gets results," Starsky muttered.

They were in the Torino moments later.  As they pulled away from the curb, Hutch said, "How about we kick off our weekend with you coming over for the baseball game tonight?"

"The Dodgers suck this year," Starsky grumbled.

"We can change the channel."

Hutch really seemed to want him to come over.  And God knows when either of them was going to have a date again.  After the Kira situation, Starsky hadn't been very interested in pursuing other relations, and Hutch apparently wasn't, either.

"Sounds good," Starsky said.  "I'll bring ribs from Jose's."


"Police," Hutch said, as they held out their badges to the receptionist at Premiere Kar Financing.  ""We'd like to speak to Mr. Mellon."

"What's it concerning?" she asked, picking up the phone.

"We'll speak with him about that."

She apparently decided not to argue. 

Starsky browsed at the dime store paintings on the wall.  This was a typical business in the area -- furnishings that were made to look appealing, but were quite cheap, if one looked closely enough.  It catered to a lower economical class of clientele.  This fit in with the type of people that Artie Solkin mingled with.

It took a few more minutes before they were invited to stand before Mellon's desk, the office door close behind them.  Mellon was a graying man with side burns, dressed in a cheap suit.

"What can I help you gentlemen with?"

Starsky said,, "When was the last time you spoke with Artie Solkin?"

Mellon looked from Starsky to Hutch.  "Artie Solkin?  I don't know the man."

Hutch firmly said, "Don't bother denying that you know who he is."

Starsky took a risk and lied, "Solkin tells a completely different story."

Mellon's faced changed.  "Tells?  You mean lately?"

"Yeah," Hutch pressed, "why would that surprise you?  You know that Solkin, of all people, will do anything for a cheap buck.  He doesn't care whose pocket it comes out of."

Starsky added, "He rolled over on that freak boyfriend of his, who committed a murder a year or so back."

Mellon blurted, "And then he left town."  He quickly amended, "I heard he left town!"

Hutch presented an overly sweet smile.  "And here you said you'd never heard of the man."

"It's a name I haven't heard in a while," Mellon defended.  "What has Artie Solkin got to do with me?"

Casually, Starsky said, "And then he came back to town."

"I heard rumors that he was offed," Mellon said.  "I never knew if they were true or not.  I didn't have any reason to care."

Hutch asked, "So what did you use Artie for?  To intimidate some of your clientele when they didn't make their monthly payments?"

Mellon wiped at his forehead.  "Look, when I once complained to a fellow businessman about how much it costs to collect late payments via the courts, he said there were other ways of getting people to pay.  I felt weird about it, but my business was about to go under.  So, I took this guy's advice, and I contacted somebody named Frank Stills.  I never even met the guy.  Paid him via leaving some cash for him with an acquaintance.  He told me later that somebody named Solkin was going to harass the client."  Desperately, he said, "I thought that was all there was going to be to it.  Harassment.  But then I heard the client was beat over the head.  He later died.  Freaked me out.  I can't collect from a dead guy!  So, I was done with that whole scene.  I decided that the court system was going to have to work for me, as slow as it is.  Whatever this Solkin character might be telling you, he never met me.  Or talked to me directly.  I only dealt with Stills, and that was by phone.  I'm not sure why Solkin would even know my name."

Hutch leaned on Mellon's desk.  "All right then.  We've just got one question for you.  What's the name of the business associate who turned you onto Stills?"

Mellon's smile was full of relief.  "It's an easy name to remember.  Paul McCartney.  That's really his name."

Starsky felt the thrill of puzzle pieces falling into place.  "Where can we find this Paul McCartney?"

"He runs a pawn shop on 31st Street.  That's his legitimate business, but it's open odd hours.  I don't know what all he's got going on, on the side.  I've never asked."

As Starsky and Hutch shifted to turn toward the door, Mellon quickly said, "Don't tell him I told you.  Please don't."

Starsky glanced at Hutch, who then said, "I thought you two were friends."

"Just acquaintances.  Maybe had lunch every few months or so, when we saw each other around.  We referred clients to each other.  But if he hired someone who got beat over the head, imagine what he could have done to me, if he's pissed that I ratted him out."

Starsky said, "We'll take it under advisement."

They exited Mellon's office.


Hutch put tin foil over the leftover ribs, and then placed them in the refrigerator.

So far, so good.  He and Starsky had dropped by the pawn shop of 31st, after leaving Mellon's office, and it had a clock on the door, showing that the owner would return at 10:00 AM tomorrow.  Hutch wasn't sure if they would stop by then, or wait until Monday.  Artie Solkin had already been dead six months.  A few more days to find his killer -- especially when they were no mourning relatives to demand expedient justice -- was hardly going to matter.

Besides, Hutch couldn't be sure how the weekend was going to go.  He had his hands full with just getting through this evening.

They'd stuffed themselves with ribs, had a couple of beers, while watching the game.  It was now half time, and the game wasn't going particularly well.

Hutch straightened and wiped his hands with a towel.  All right, Hutchinson, it's now or never.

He moved briskly into the living area and turned off the television.

Starsky looked up in surprise.  "Why did you do that?"

Hutch smiled in an attempt to keep his nerves from showing.  "I want to play a game."

"Game?  You mean, like Monopoly?"

Not hardly.  "No.  Not a board game.  A game about trust."


That definitely had Starsky's attention.

Hutch nodded toward the bedroom.  "Come with me."  He turned to lead the way.  There was a standing lamp on in a far corner, keeping the room from being completely dark.

Behind him, Starsky's puzzled voice asked, "You mean trust between you and me?"


Now that both were in the sleeping area, Hutch turned to Starsky.  He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his hand cuffs.  He dangled him before Starsky's eyes, while keeping his smile.

Starsky looked from the cuffs to Hutch.  "You want to cuff me?"

"Yep."  Hutch moved behind Starsky.


Hutch chuckled softly as he applied the cuffs.  "Stop asking so many questions.  This is about trust."  His heart flipped over at the fact that Starsky offered no resistance.

When he stepped back in front of his captive, Starsky was regarding him with wide, curious eyes.

Hutch had to take a breath.  He's so beautiful.  He took a step closer.

Now or never.

Hutch bent his head.  He placed his lips over Starsky's, refusing to hesitate, and took one upper arm in a steadying grasp.

The surprise was there, but so was the trust.

Starsky allowed it.  Relaxed his mouth, even moved his head the short distance back and forth, that Hutch moved.

Incredible.  Hutch knew he just didn't mean Starsky's lack of reaction.

He wanted to dive into that pool of breath.

Except he was losing his own.  Hutch pulled his mouth away, but kept his head bowed, trying to discourage conversation.

Still, Starsky managed to mutter, "Is there some upcoming gay undercover job that I don't know about?"

Hutch replied, equally soft, "No."

He placed his mouth over Starsky's once again, and moved his free hand down -- slowly -- along the front of Starsky's shirt.  Then, rubbed it across his belly.

Starsky managed to rip his mouth away.  Breathlessly, fearfully, he said, "I'm not made of steel."

Hutch whispered toward his ear, "Let it happen."  He was determined to not say anything more.

He covered Starsky yet again, and then moved his hand down to the top of Starsky's jeans.  His fingers worked the snap apart.

Starsky gasped, but Hutch wouldn't let him move away.  He continued his frontal attack, and pressed his hand against Starsky's full crotch, and Starsky arched against him, gasping.  Hutch then allowed him to breathe, but only for the briefest of moments.

It took some coordination, but Hutch refused to give either of them an opportunity to think.  He began to use both hands to push down Starsky's jeans and underwear.  Once they'd finally been encouraged to drop below Starsky's knees, Hutch pushed him back, until he sat on the edge of the bed.

In one swift move, Hutch released Starsky's mouth, dropped to his knees, parted Starsky's thighs as much as the pooled clothing would allow, and placed his mouth over the stout erection.

He gobbled it down, until it touched the back of his throat.  He momentarily coughed, and then eased off, and then sucked avidly.

"Hutch," Starsky gasped, "God, Hutch.  God."  Then, "Take off the cuffs!  They aren't needed."

That was a demand that Hutch wasn't interested in refusing.  While careful to keep his mouth busy, he did what he needed to, in order to reach into his right pocket.  He felt around for the uniquely shaped key.  He pulled it out.  And then, determined to keep sucking his prize, he reached around Starsky with both hands.

It took some moments before he could get the key placed into the slot.  He turned, and the cuffs dropped free. 

Just as he moved his hands to Starsky's bare thighs, Starsky own hands clasped the sides of his head.  Then one hand tenderly moved down to Hutch's throat.

"Dear God, Hutch," Starsky whispered.  He applied slight pressure to Hutch's chin.  "Get right against the underside, baby."  His other hand tried to shift Hutch's head. 

Hutch ran his tongue along the stout flesh, finding where the head separated from the shaft.  He licked along that ultra tender spot.

"Oh, yeah, right against there."

Hutch sucked more earnestly.

"Man.  Man, Hutch."

Hutch wanted to stop thinking about what he was doing, and just enjoy the fact that he was getting to do it.

It was a universal truth that anyone who controlled a man's pleasure, controlled the man.

He didn't want control, as much as he'd wanted the opportunity to feel the power exuding from the center of this special man's being.

Both of Starsky's hands rubbed tenderly about Hutch's head, mussing his hair.  "I'm gonna come pretty soon," he gasped.  "You wanna swallow it?"

Hutch made a noise of what he hoped was agreement, and then did a slight nod.

"So, so, amazing Hutch," Starsky cooed, his hand dipping inside the back of Hutch's shirt, and rubbing there.  "Man, this is somethin'.  Gonna come, baby.  Gonna come real soon."

Though he wanted this to continue as long as possible, Hutch was also aware of how tired his jaws were becoming.

"Yeah, baby." Starsky rubbed more firmly at Hutch's flesh, as though desperate for further contact.

There was silence for a few moments, except for Hutch's avid sucking.

Starsky drew a deep, halting breath.  "Gonna... explode."

More silence.  And then a growl/cry that increased in intensity.  And then bitter fluid was shooting onto the back of Hutch's mouth.

He waited for the most intense noises to stop, and then swallowed.  The flavor was strong, and he shivered.

Starsky plopped back on the bed with a groan.

Refusing to think, Hutch quietly removed Starsky's footwear, and then worked off his jeans and briefs.  He lifted Starsky's ankles, and placed his legs on the bed, noting that Starsky's eyes were closed, as he continued to take deep, quiet breaths.

Hutch lifted the skirt of the bedspread, and pulled it over Starsky's nakedness.  Then, he removed his own shoes and sat back on the bed, keeping his feet clear of Starsky's form.

Without opening his eyes, Starsky shifted closer, his hand against Hutch's shirt, over his belly.

That made Hutch feel soft inside.

He closed his own eyes, tilted his head back against the headboard, and waited.

He didn't know how long it was, before Starsky spoke in a flat tone.

"Was this to make up for Kira?"

Hutch's heart sank at the suggestion.  God, no.

He opened his eyes and looked down at Starsky, whose face was turned away.  He placed his hand on his hair.  "No.  God, no."

Starsky shifted to look up at Hutch, his wide eyes full of curiosity.  "Then... why...?"

Of course, Starsky deserved an explanation.

Hutch felt naked and exposed.  "There was that time, a few months back, when I told you why I hated Artie Solkin so much."

Starsky slowly nodded.  "There was that Stanley guy, and that friend who committed suicide."

"Yeah, and," Hutch tilted his head bashfully, "I told you that later, after Stanley left town, I sometimes fantasized about what might have happened, had I ever gone back to see Stanley."  Hutch was careful to not sound accusing.  "You said you had read a dirty book as a teenager, where a guy sucked another guy's cock, and it turned you on.  I didn't know if you were just trying to make me feel better, and it wasn't really true.  But if it was... you said that you stopped thinking about a guy doing it, once you had a chance to feel up a girl."  Hutch drew a breath.  This all sounded so ridiculous, spelled out.  "I didn't believe you."  He bowed his head, to escape Starsky's sharp gaze.  "And, if it wasn't true, and you did still sometimes fantasize a guy doing it to you... I-I wanted to be that guy."

He dared to look up.

Starsky's face softened into compassion.

When Starsky didn't seem to know what to say, Hutch clarified, "If you did still think about it sometimes, I-I wanted to be the one you fantasized about."

That got a reaction.  Starsky said emphatically, "If you mean you were intending to do something memorable," he drew a breath, "you certainly did that."  Then, cautiously, "You ever do it before?"


Starsky rubbed his fingers along his forehead.  "Man."

Hutch realized what he very much wanted to know.  "So... when you said you used to jerk off, thinking about another guy doing it... was that really true?"

Starsky seemed surprised that Hutch would question his statement.  "Yeah."

"But, really, you didn't ever think about it again, after getting to do stuff with girls?"

Starsky made a little shrug motion, a tiny smile at his mouth corner.  "Maybe I did occasionally."

That's all Hutch needed to hear.

Starsky shifted to lay down alongside Hutch, his hand on Hutch's chest.  "What about you, buddy boy?"  Then, "You know, tonight's events were rather one-sided."

Hutch reached for Starsky's hand and clasped it, intertwining their fingers.  "It's enough that you seem okay about it."

"Ah, Hutch, martyrdom isn't exactly your style."  Starsky then furrowed his brow.  "Were you intending this to be just a one-time thing?"

Hutch felt his heartbeat quicken.  "I-I couldn't really think very far ahead."  He decided to confess, "Just kept thinking these past months, how I've wanted to be the one you fantasized about -- if you ever fantasized about it at all."  Hutch glanced away.  "I guess you could say I got sort of obsessed about it." 

Gently, Starsky said, "I guess I noticed that something seemed a little off.  But then, these past few days, you seemed... different.  In a good way."

Hutch drew a breath.  "I decided to make a move, I guess you could say."

Starsky glanced to the edge of the bed.  "You thought you needed to handcuff me?"

"It was a precaution.  I wasn't sure how you would take the idea.  I felt I had to at least get you to the point of no return."

Starsky's hand rubbed up to Hutch's chest.  "I think you had me at the first kiss."

Hutch smirked, "But you thought it might have something to do with an undercover job."

"Well, if someone would have said, 'Your partner wants to blow you, I'd have a hard time believin' it."

"Hence, the handcuffs."

Starsky's hand rubbed more aggressive circles along Hutch's chest.  He propped up on an elbow.  "I think you have on way too many clothes."

Hutch felt the pull to go with anything Starsky said.  But he met his eye.  "I don't want to even things up, just to even things up."

With that, Starsky moved his hand down and rested the flat of it over Hutch's crotch.  "I think he doth protest too much." 

Even with minimal pressure, Hutch felt himself respond to Starsky's willingness.  And then Starsky was leaning over him, his lips coming down to meet Hutch's, hot and determined.


Starsky's eyes opened.  The lamp was still on in the corner.  Hutch was on his side, dozing, his naked back to him.

Though he couldn't see over Hutch to the nightstand, he guessed that it was the middle of the night.

Remnants of Hutch's flavor was still on the back of his tongue.

It had taken him a long time to bring Hutch off.  He hadn't seemed to be doing it right.  But he'd wanted, so much, to please Hutch, as Hutch had pleased him.

Whatever he'd accomplished in getting Hutch off, he wasn't sure it was as gratifying as just plain kissing Hutch.

So many years together.  They'd never wanted to cross this line.

And yet... here they were.

Hutch flat voice said, "Your silence is deafening."

Starsky looked over at him, already sorry for the Kira comment he'd made a while back.  He hadn't known how else to explain Hutch's actions to himself.  "So's yours."

Hutch rolled over, propped on an elbow.  "I don't want any promises from you.  I don't need that.  I'm the one who made this happen."

Starsky's mind was trying to race ahead.  Promises that you can't/won't keep, Hutch seemed to be saying.

He addressed the deflective hurt in Hutch's tone.  "Don't start doubting me, without even giving me a chance."

Hutch's expression softened then.

Starsky shifted to lie with his head on Hutch's chest.  "We've always loved each other, Hutch.  A whole lot.  It's never occurred to me to take it to this level, but now that we're here...."  He searched for what he most sincerely wanted to say.  "Let's just see where it goes.  Huh?"

Hutch's hand landed in his hair, fingers curling into the strands.  Hutch took a deep, cleansing breath.

Starsky shifted again, and propped his chin on the back of his hand, so he could look into Hutch's eyes.  "Can you handle that?"  Upon receiving a nod, he indicated the bed, and said with a touch of amusement, "I'm not exactly wanting to be anywhere else this weekend."  That was a truth he felt whole-heartedly.

Apparently, Hutch did, as well.  With his eyes locked onto Starsky's, Hutch inserted a finger into his own mouth.  He drooled liberally on it.  Then he brought that hand around to Starsky's rear, felt along his cleavage.

Starsky quivered.

The finger gently worked its along his crack, until it found the recess.  It carefully poked at him.

Starsky wasn't sure if he was ready for this, but his spread his legs to accommodate.

The finger tip just barely made its way inside.  Then it was removed.

His eyes still on Starsky's, Hutch placed the finger back into his mouth, and then licked and sucked at it eagerly, his eyes closing in worship.

Starsky's entire lower body trembled.  He growled deep in his throat, loving Hutch's succinct demonstration of what he was willing to do.

He crawled more fully on top of Hutch, and then claimed his blond's eager mouth.


Mid Monday morning, they both got out of the Torino at the curb of 31st Street.

"He's in," Starsky declared, noting that a clock wasn't on the door of the pawn shop.

He let Hutch walk ahead of him.  Then he could get a brief eyeful of his ass.

The weekend had been magical.  Starsky couldn't believe the things that Hutch had been willing and eager to do.  Though the activities had been Hutch's show from the start, it became apparent that Hutch was wanting Starsky to take the dominant role in most things.  That included the moment, last night, when Starsky had pushed himself between Hutch's willing ass cheeks.  At least, the spirit had been willing.  Hutch hadn't been able to hide his surprise at how much it had hurt, despite Starsky's great care in going easy.  Once sheathed by Hutch's body, Starsky hadn't been prepared for the intensity of the intimacy.

A bell attached to the door rang as they entered the pawn shop.

A dark-haired man, courtesy of  a toupee, dressed in a business suit was behind the counter, looking over documents.

From the doorway, Starsky held out his badge and spoke loudly.  "Paul McCartney, police."

McCartney looked up.  "Police?"

As they approached the counter, Starsky felt a sliver of pity.  It was always fascinating to watch a criminal try to quickly decide the best path to take for his own freedom and survival, when confronted with the moment of being "caught".

"What?" Hutch  prompted as they reached the counter.  "No 'good morning', 'how can I help you, officers?'"

McCartney growled, "What do you want?"

They had discussed their strategy in the car.  Starsky said, "Where can we find Artie Solkin?"

McCartney snorted.  "I thought you cops had snitches.  Solkin's been dead a while now."

"Well," Hutch batted his eyes, "then that doesn't look too good for you.  See, the way we hear it, you wanted somebody dead, and Solkin was the one to carry out the dirty work.  But if he's been dead a while, I guess that leaves you as the primary suspect in the recent murder we're investigating."

"You're bluffing.  Solkin only did work through Frank Stills.  Why don't you find Stills."

"Oh, we found him," Starsky said.  "See, Stills only hired Artie when people like you wanted a job done.  Plus," Starsky said casually, "there's the minor fact that Artie and his juvenile delinquents committed murders that had nothing to do with Stills."

"If you know that, then what do you want with me?  I've never harmed anyone."

"With your slimy bare hands, of course not," Hutch said.  "The law is a little more flexible than that.  It doesn't really specifically care who pulled the trigger, or held the baseball bat."

"But, of course," Starsky put in, "you already know that.  It must have been pretty nerve wracking for you, having Solkin turn for the prosecution on a case a while back.  Artie felt so threatened by the likes of you that he had to leave town."

"Stop wasting my time.  If you've got something to arrest me for, arrest me, and my lawyer will have me out in a few hours.  Otherwise, get the fuck out of my establishment."

Hutch looked at Starsky.  "I guess we should leave, Starsk.  Then we can go back and get formal statements from Frank Stills and Paul Mellon, and combined with old statements from Artie Solkin, God rest his soul, then we can come back with a search warrant and tear this place apart."

"Yeah, and since Stills and Mellon already fear for their lives from the likes of Mr. McCartney here, well... we know if anything happens to them, who'll be behind it."

Hutch put a hand to his forehead, and then shook his finger at Starsky.  "You know, Starsk, since now we know that Artie Solkin is dead, I'm starting to think that Mr. McCartney here must have had something to do with it."

Starsky tilted his head thoughtfully.  "That does make a lot sense, Hutch.  Maybe, just for that reason alone, we can come back here with a search warrant."

"It works both ways!" McCartney shouted.

They turned to him. 

McCartney rubbed the backs of his fingers along his lips.  "You guys really think that creep Solkin wasn't capable of making threats?  With those crazy, insane characters he associated with?  Everyone who knew him didn't know if they might be the next one he'd off.  Getting involved with Artie was practically a death sentence in itself.  The guys was a loon who hung out with loons."

"Oh," Starsky said with feigned sympathy, "so, you needed to off him, before he offed you."

McCartney bellowed, "He wanted me to pay for him to get a good lawyer!  I refused.  He said I'd be sorry."

Hutch demanded, "So, who did you pay to off him?"

"It wasn't supposed to happen!  I just wanted Solkin rattled, in case he was going to talk to the cops about other cases.  It worked.  He left town.  I didn't know the guy I hired was going to finish the job when Solkin returned over a year later.  He had the gall to call me, after all that time, and demand the second half of his fee for finishing the job!"

Calmly, and not showing his relief at the confession, Starsky asked, "Who was it that offed Solkin?"

McCartney closed his eyes and drew a deep, deep breath.  In a tone of doom, he said, "I hired a professional."



At his apartment that evening, Starsky sat down beside Hutch on the sofa.  They both had beers.  "Hopefully, Oregon will come back with something on that David Sloan fellow."

"Even if not, McCartney is going to get locked up for setting up Solkin's murder."

"Yeah."  Starsky took a sip of beer.  "I admit I wasn't sure this case was ever going to be solved."  He looked at Hutch with a grin.  "Are we good or what?"

Hutch clicked is better bottle against Starsky's and chuckled softly.  "We're good."

Starsky rested his head against Hutch's shoulder.

Hutch circled his arm around Starsky, to rub along Starsky's arm.  He tilted his head thoughtfully.  "You know, it's weird, but I almost feel like I should thank Solkin."

Starsky gazed up at him, thinking that Hutch looked just as edible from this angle.  "Yeah?  Why?"

"It's because of him that you and I had that talk that one night.  That's what led to you telling me about that dirty book you'd read, and then me thinking about...."

"How much you wanted to suck my cock?" Starsky finished.  He couldn't help but note, "My cock is in love with your mouth, bushy caterpillar and all.  For that matter, my mouth is love with your mouth."  He decided he may as well add, "My asshole is in love with your mouth, too."

Hutch's snort held the tone of a scold.

More seriously, Starsky said, "I'd like to think that we would have reached this point eventually, anyway, and it wouldn't have had anything to do with Artie Solkin."

Hutch was thoughtful a moment.  "Yeah."

"So, as I see it, you're free to hate him all you want."

This time, Hutch's snort held humor.

Starsky reached to place his beer on the coffee table, and then snuggled up next to Hutch.  "And speaking of 'reaching this point'...."  He pointed his face up.

Hutch met him half way.





Thanks to Nancy for the inspiration.

Comments to regmoore@earthlink.net



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