by Charlotte Frost 

(c) January 2013




"Starsky!  Hutchinson!"  Dobey's voice bellowed from his office. 

The two detectives looked at each other, shrugged, and moved as one to their superior's doorway.

"Yes, Captain?" Hutch asked, an inflection of innocence in his voice.

"What are you two still doing here?" Dobey demanded with a wave of his arm.  "You need to get going, if you're going to make it on time for the seminar, and I want you to damn well make it on time."

Starsky began to speak, and Dobey cut him off.  "I'm tired of discussing it!  It's your turn this year to represent this precinct and bring back the information on all the new state laws that have gone in effect for 1979.  You ought to be damn grateful that they hold such a boring seminar out in such a nice area."

Starsky piped up, "Yeah, Hutch, we should be grateful.  There's golf courses out that way.  What better way to spend the remaining day and a half of the week, than playing a few rounds of golf?"

Dobey countered, "You had better be signed in to the seminar, when I call them later this afternoon to check that you both are in attendance.  Now get moving!"

They turned away from the door.  There was nothing more boring than a seminar on the finer details of changes in the law.  God awful important things, such as, you couldn't handcuff a suspect's hands behind his back if he complained of a wrist injury, even if no such injury was apparent to the arresting officer.

Hutch didn't understand why the state just couldn't hand out a sheet with a list of changes.  Instead, the state held a ridiculous day-and-a-half seminar, so they could bore everyone to death with overhead slides and dry erase boards. 

"We'll take my car," Starsky announced, grabbing his jacket from the back of his chair.  "I'll get us there by one p.m. sharp."

"Why?" Hutch demanded, following his partner out the door of the squad room.  "I vote for being twenty minutes late or so.  Even thirty.  Maybe an hour."

Starsky grinned.  "Don't worry, Blondie.  We'll get properly signed in, and then during the first break, we can make our escape.  Maybe get in a game of tennis, since we don't have time to stop and get our clubs."

Hutch snorted.  The talk of sneaking away appeased his inclination to rebel against attending something he didn't believe was really all that necessary to attend.  He knew they were going to obediently sit through the whole damn thing, anyway, but it was fun to talk as though they weren't. 

Starsky glanced at Hutch as they trotted down the back stairway that led to the parking garage.  "Your mustache needs trimming."

Hutch automatically reached up and ran his fingers along it.  He supposed that it was getting rather bushy.  "Stop at a barber shop and I'll get it taken care of."

Starsky snorted.  "You wish."

"So do you," Hutch shot back as they reached the garage. 


"Told ya you shoulda trimmed it," Starsky said a half hour later.  They were driving along, with Starsky trying to snatch bites of his hamburger, and eat a few fries, while steering the Torino through traffic. 

Hutch kept brushing at his mustache, which was catching debris from his lunch.

"Why don't you just shave it off?"

"Because I like it," Hutch replied.  He was enjoying that Starsky was paying so much attention to it. 

After taking a sip of soda, Starsky asked, "You know what's really stupid about these seminars?"

"I can think of quite a number of things.  What did you specifically have in mind?"

"All the changes in the law went into effect January 1st, but we don't get to hear the finer details of them until April 5th."

"Yeah, that's pretty stupid," Hutch said with a nod.  "What?  You expect the government to work efficiently?"

Starsky grunted.  He pushed the paper remains of his lunch aside.  "Get rid of this."

Hutch considered a retort, but instead gathered up the paper and stuffed it into the paper bag.  He tossed it to the backseat, and then brushed his hands against his jeans.

Starsky said, "Maybe we'll hook up with some foxy girls at the hotel."

Hutch felt himself respond at the suggestion.  It had been a while.  After a moment, he said, "Hopefully, we won't spot anybody until this thing is over with for the day.  I could do without sitting next to you all afternoon while you have a woody."

Starsky chuckled.  "Yeah, even you might start looking good, if I can't have what I'm fantasizing about.  Scruffy mustache and all."

"That's why I keep it scruffy," Hutch decided.  "So you'll keep your hands off me while you're fantasizing."

Starsky snorted.  Then he muttered, "Don't know why people at these seminars think that anybody is paying attention.  Every guy in the room is daydreaming about getting laid as soon as the seminar ends for the day."

"Maybe so, but nobody's jeans are as tight as yours, so you'll be the only one who's obvious."  Hutch felt smug, having scored a point in the cut-down department. 

"I can make it not show," Starsky said, equally smug.  "I know how to shift it just right, so it's straight down and no one can tell."

"It's a wonder it doesn't get strangled and damage itself."

Starsky glanced down at his crotch.  "Hey, Brutus.  Big blond Romeo here is worried about you hurting yourself."

Hutch grabbed the steering wheel with one hand, to jerk the Torino back to their lane.  "Keep your eyes on the road!"

"Calm down," Starsky said, taking control back.

"You do know where you're going?" Hutch asked after a moment.

"Yeah.  We take 32 through the canyon, and then cut up Highway 14.  That'll get us there faster than the interstate.  Everybody goes that way to DeClay City."

Hutch couldn't disagree.  This particular annual seminar had been held at the Bentley Hotel for quite a number of years now, in the small little resort town of DeClay City.  It had been a good four years -- the first that they were in plainclothes -- since he and Starsky had been assigned to represent their precinct. 

A moment later, Starsky turned onto Highway 32.

Hutch announced, "I'm taking a nap."

Starsky quipped, "You aren't going to wait for the seminar to do that?"


Starsky had been driving in silence for nearly half an hour.  The road through the canyon was sparsely populated in the middle of a Thursday.  Hutch had reclined his seat slightly, and appeared to be dozing.

The Torino maneuvered around a corner, and Starsky braked.  "What the -- "

Hutch straightened.  "What?"

"There's friggin' construction."  Starsky pulled to a stop in front of a barrier.  A big sign said "Detour" that pointed to a rough-looking road on the left. 

Hutch grunted.  "The workers must all be at lunch.  If we were construction workers, we wouldn't be going to stupid seminars."

Starsky looked at the road to the left.  "That can't be right.  Does that look like a detour to you?"

"It's a road.  It probably leads to another road that'll put us back going north."

Starsky looked past the barrier, where much of the road was in the shadow of trees.  "What kind of construction are they doing here?  I can't see anything.  Maybe we should just go around the barrier."   The lane in the opposite direction was clear.

Hutch grunted.  "What?  And then have to turn around when we come to some big hole in the road, or something?  Come on, let's go."

With a sigh, Starsky turned the Torino to a sharp left and started up the detour road, which appeared way overdue for repaving.  "Sheesh, it's this road they ought to be doing construction on."

"What time is it?"

Starsky glanced at his watch.  "Twenty till.  We're gonna be late."

"So.  Dobey's not really going to check in with them.  Even if he intends to, he'll never get around to it.  All we need to do is come back with the seminar packets."

Starsky didn't reply.  After ten minutes of driving through countryside, he said, "We should have come to another detour by now, that puts us back north."

"It's got to be up here somewhere.  Or maybe this road hooks up to another road that'll get us into DeClay City the back way."

"Yeah, I guess," Starsky muttered.  "If so, it has to be a new road.  I know that much."

They went over a hill and came to another construction barrier, which stretched across both lanes. 

"What the fuck?" Starsky demanded, braking.  "Now what are we supposed to do?"

"Huh," Hutch said.  "That doesn't make any sense.  We couldn't have possibly missed a detour a while back."

"Of course, we didn't!"

Hutch abruptly got out of the car.

Starsky did, too.

Hutch was looking back from where they came.  "Ï know this isn't a busy area, but doesn't it seem strange that we haven't seen a single car since taking the detour?"

Starsky felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck. 

A shot rang out, and a the left front tire of the Torino hissed with escaping air.

Starsky dove behind his open door.  "What's going on?"  He reached for his gun.

"I don't know!" Hutch answered back, from where he was also crouched behind his door.

Another shot rang out, and Hutch suddenly gasped.  "Aargh!"

Starsky heart kicked into high gear as he glanced across the seat.  "Hutch!  You hit?"

Hutch crawled on his stomach into the seat.  "I think it's just a crease.  My ankle."

Fearing his own legs might get hit, since gunshots had come from both sides of the Torino, Starsky leaned back into the driver's seat, and bent his legs at the knees.  Still, he realized, "We're sitting ducks."

"No shit!"

"We've been set up, but good.  Any ideas who?"


Starsky wondered how bad Hutch's leg was.  "What do you want to do?"

Hutch released a heavy breath.  "Somebody went through a lot of effort to corner us.  They must want something.  There haven't been any more shots."

Starsky grumbled, "How come that doesn't make me feel better?"

There was the sound of a motor, from the direction they'd come.

"Somebody's coming," Hutch said,

Starsky shifted awkwardly, and tried to peer between their seats at the back window.  He saw a jeep with the top down.  "It's stopping."  He saw a man get out and prop a bullhorn at the top of his open door.  Another man got out of the passenger side and propped his rifle on top of his open door.


The driver said through the bullhorn, "Starsky, Hutchinson.  Throw your guns out to the road, and then get out slowly with your hands up.  You're surrounded."

"What do you think?" Starsky asked.

"We know there's at least two guys that we can't see, and now the two in the jeep.  I don't see that we have much choice."

"They want us alive," Starsky noted.

"At least, for now."

"That's what I like at a time like this," Starsky muttered, "a positive thinker."  Worriedly, he asked, "Can you walk?"

"Won't know until I try."

The voice with the bullhorn said, "You've got ten seconds, or we'll take you by force.  There's no escape."

Hutch released a breath.  "I think we're going to have to give up.  See what they want."

"Yeah," Starsky said with a frown.  With a sinking feeling, he tossed his gun out onto the road.

He heard Hutch do the same.

"Slowly," the bullhorn voice said.  "Both hands in the air."

Starsky put his hands up and slowly emerged from the Torino.  Toward the jeep, he called, "He's wounded in the leg."  He watched Hutch struggle to his feet.

The man with the rifle came out from behind his door, walking slowly toward them, the gun aimed at Hutch.

Two other men emerged from the pasture areas on either side of the Torino, also with rifles.

Starsky watched as their own weapons were picked up from the road.  The jeep's driver, with short, sandy hair and wearing dark sunglasses, was now walking toward them, a pistol in hand.

When he was close enough that Starsky didn't need to shout, Starsky asked, "What do you want from us?"

"I don't want anything from you.  But that man who's paying us does.  His reasons aren't my concern."

Starsky wasn't sure what to make of that.  He nodded at Hutch, who had one hand on the top of the Torino, as though to steady himself.  "Let me take care of his leg."

The man closest to Hutch said, "Looks like he's bleeding pretty good."

Starsky drew a breath, and wished they didn't have the car between them, so he could see Hutch's leg.  "How you doin', buddy?"  He was aware of the passenger from the jeep having quietly moved past Hutch, and was coming around the front of the Torino, where Starsky had his back to him.

Hutch muttered, "Just needs to be bandaged."

"We'll take care of it," the man with the sunglasses said.  He nodded behind Starsky.

Starsky felt a sense of doom and started to turn around, braced to defend himself, for he feared getting hit on the back of the head.  But his arms were grabbed, and then moist, sweet-smelling cloth was pressed against his nose and mouth.

He felt himself passing out, as he continued to struggle.  Hutch....


Starsky's head was throbbing. 

He shifted as he came to consciousness, and was aware that he could barely move his arms.  They seemed to be restrained above him.  His jacket had been removed.

He was in a sitting position and moved one leg, and then the other  He could do that.

Slowly, he opened his eyes.

He was on the floor of a room with a old, ratty, long-napped yellow carpet.  Across from him, Hutch was also sitting, slumped over, without his jacket, his holster empty, his hands cuffed above his head to some kind of metal loop protruding from the wall.

Starsky tried to look up, and couldn't quite see, but assumed that he was cuffed the same way -- probably with his own cuffs.

Hutch's left leg had a white cloth wrapped around the ankle.  It was stained with blood on the lower portion, as were Hutch's tan corduroys.  After studying the injury as well as he could across the ten feet of the room, Starsky realized that the cloth wasn't very secure, and seemed to have shifted in whatever movement was required to bring him and Hutch here.  He was worried about how filthy the carpet was, with Hutch's ankle resting against hit. 

Starsky pondered whether the greatest kindest would be to allow Hutch to remain unconscious, or to try to rouse him.

For now, he decided on the first option.

He looked around.  No window.  There was a dirty overhead light on.  It was impossible to tell what time of day or night it was.

Starsky guessed it was late afternoon.  He supposed that it was chloroform, or something similar, that had caused him to pass out.  He kept smelling it with every breath, and wondered if it had taken an ongoing dose to keep him asleep for a prolonged time.

 He spent a moment testing the cuffs, and the metal in the wall felt frustratingly secure.  His head hurt more from the effort.

Hutch groaned, his eyes still closed.

In a calm voice, Starsky said, "Hey, buddy.  You waking up over there?  Huh?"

Hutch's upper body slowly straightened, and his face grimaced as his hands pulled against the cuffs. 

"Relax, Hutch.  Try not to move your arms."  It was so frustrating to not be able to be with Hutch, and ease his transition into consciousness. 

Hutch's eyes fluttered open.  "Huh?"

"Easy does it, buddy boy.  Try to stay still.  I'm afraid we're in a bit of a jam."

Hutch started to move his left leg, and then clenched his teeth, drawing a hissing breath.

"Eeeasy, Hutch."

Hutch furrowed his brow, and then looked directly at Starsky.  "Where are we?"  He looked up at his arms with a grimace.

"Don't know.  I woke up just a few minutes ago.  Did they chloroform you, like they did me?"

"Yeah, I saw them attack you, and then the guy came over to me.  I didn't put up a fight, since I was out-numbered, and it was obvious that they wanted us alive."

"That one guy talked like they were just paid help.  I wonder for who."

Hutch muttered, "I'm sure we'll find out eventually."

"How does your ankle feel?"

Hutch frowned as he turned his lower leg slightly.  "Hurts.  They didn't do a very good job of wrapping it up."

"Do you think it's really just a graze?"

"A deep one."  Hutch bent his knee and tried to pull his lower leg closer to his body to get a better look, but then scowled and changed his mind.  "Maybe the bullet went through."

"Try to be careful on this carpet.  It's not very clean."

Hutch snorted, as though to say there wasn't much he could do.

Starsky sighed.  "I hope Dobey was serious about calling the hotel to see if we arrived."

Hutch grunted.

They heard footsteps.

The door to the room opened, and Starsky saw past it enough to decide that they were in a house.

A balding, grey-haired man of medium height stood before him with Starsky's gun in his hand.  The facial features teased at the edge of Starsky's consciousness. 

Hutch asked, "Who are you?"

The man grunted, and Starsky felt a chill of familiarity go up his spine.

"I'm the one in charge here," the man declared.  "I don't need to answer your questions.  But that one I will."  His attention turned to Starsky.  "I'm Walter.  I believe you know my brother, George, quite well."

It took only a moment for Starsky to connect the dots.  He had a sinking feeling.  "Walter... Prudholm?"

A sly grin developed at Walter's mouth corner.  "That's right.  My older brother isn't too happy these days, living away his life in prison."

It had been so gratifying, after Terry's death, that rather than being sent back to the mental hospital, as George Prudholm expected, a judge had decided, upon hearing all testimony from those involved, as well as various mental health professionals, that Prudholm was fully aware of his actions, and should therefore serve his life sentence in the state penitentiary.

Starsky spat, "He's right where he belongs."

Walter snorted.  "Perhaps so.  But I put family first, and George needs something to keep him entertained.  He's going to receive some interesting pictures from me, the next time I visit him."

His stomach twisting at the unknown, Starsky tried to remain casual as he asked, "Just what do you have in mind?"

Walter looked at Hutch.  "I had to dock my henchmens' pay, for bringing one of you in... damaged."

Starsky said, "Let me bandage him up proper."

Walter ignored him and called, "Todd!"

Starsky exchanged a hopeful glance with Hutch as they heard more footsteps.  A tall lean, twentyish man with thick hair to his shoulders entered the room, a 35mm camera in hand.

Walter said, "Put that down for now."   When Todd did, Walter held out the gun to him, "Hold this.  Keep it on the blond one here."

Starsky's glance at Hutch was wary.  What did Walter want?

When Walter's hands were free, he reached down to the open buttons at the top of Hutch's shirt, and placed his hand against his chest.  He rubbed.

Hutch jerked abruptly on his cuffs, his eyes as wide as Starsky had ever seen them, and then spit at Walter.

Starsky's heart raced, while watching Todd move side to side with the gun, as though unsure of what to do.

Walter abruptly straightened.  He placed his foot on Hutch's left ankle and pressed.

Hutch cried out, and tried to kick at him with his other foot.

Walter moved away.

Starsky realized that he was twisting within his own cuffs, as panic brewed.  "Goddamn you!  What kind of creep are you?"

Walter gazed at Hutch, who was panting and sweating.  Then he shifted to look at them both.  "Maybe it was fortunate that you got wounded.  I can see how I can use that to insure both of your cooperation."  His gaze rested on Hutch again.  "George never mentioned just how good looking the pig Starsky's partner was."

Starsky scoffed, "What the fuck are you talkin' about?  He's got that ridiculous mustache and he's wounded.  Is that the kind of man you are, huh?" Walter's attention turned to him, and Starsky pressed, "Why don't you try something with a real man?  Or, are you such a fucking creep that the only people that you can have are those who are defenseless?"

Walter's eyes narrowed as he approached Starsky.  Todd now turned the gun on him.

Starsky watched, refusing to show fear, as Walter approached.  Maybe if he thinks I'm experienced....

Walter placed one hand on Starsky's head, his fingers loosely grabbing his curls.  With his other hand, he did as he'd done to Hutch, feeling inside the top buttons of his shirt.

Starsky felt a quiver go up his spine, and nausea develop in the pit of his stomach.  Anything is worth keeping him away from Hutch.

Both hands paused for a moment, and then Walter abruptly moved away.  "Nah.  Too hairy."

Oh, shit.  What is he gonna do to Hutch?

Walter looked back over at Hutch.  "We can do this the hard way, or the easy way.  If we do it the hard way, your leg's gonna be hurting mighty bad."

Still somewhat breathless, Hutch spat, "Go to fucking hell!"

"Your choice."

There was a noise outside, like a car motor.  Or a jeep.  Walter and Todd both looked toward the door. 

Walter nodded at Todd.  "Come with me.  They aren't going anywhere."

They left, closing the door behind them.

Hutch gasped, "I'm going to fight him every step of the way."

Starsky's heart sank.  "Hutch, we've got to do everything we can to get out of this alive."

As though he hadn't heard, Hutch said, "If his dick comes anywhere near my mouth, I'm biting it off."

Starsky felt a deep fear twist his chest.  "Hutch, you can't.  You can't risk making him so mad that he kills you.  Okay?  I'll do everything I can to keep him distracted.  But, please," he heard his own voice quaver, "don't be yet someone else I lose to Prudholm.  Please, Hutch.  I couldn't bear that."

Hutch was shaking his head.  "I'm not going to put up with anything he tries with me."

Desperately, Starsky said, "Hutch, come on.  We've got to think of a plan.  Maybe we can keep him going back and forth between us, or something.  It looks like he just wants pictures.  Let him take the fucking pictures, if it keeps us alive, at least until we can figure something out."

"I'm not going down without a fight," Hutch insisted.  "I'm not going down like that."

"Hutch, look at me," Starsky pleaded.  "Look at me, buddy."

Hutch did, his gaze defiant.

Starsky slowly shook his head.  "Don't do this to me.  Don't make me watch him kill you.  Don't provoke him to that degree."  Then, hopefully, "Maybe you can just go slack or something, and he'll lose interest.  Act a lot more hurt.  I'll keep trying to demean him, so maybe he can't get it up or something.  We've got to work together, if we have any hope of getting out of this."

Finally, Hutch seemed to soften slightly.

"Okay?" Starsky pressed.  "We've got to make survival our priority."

Hutch's eyes began to dart around the room.  He muttered, "It almost happened to me once before."

"What?" Starsky asked, recalling how wide Hutch's eyes were when Prudholm first touched his chest, and how frantically he'd yanked on his cuffs.  "What do you mean?"

Hutch's gaze was on the far wall.  "A long time ago," he said distantly.

They heard footsteps. 

Starsky was aware of the sound of a motor moving away, the vehicle obviously leaving.

The door opened.

Walter stood there, with his gun in hand, Todd behind him.  He moved over to Hutch, who was glaring at him defiantly.  "Now, where were we?"

Starsky tried, "He's in bad shape.  He needs his leg tended to."

"There's no time for that," Walter replied distractedly.  He moved over to Hutch and put the gun to his head, and with his other hand he reached to his hair.

Hutch began breathing frantically, glaring at him.

Starsky yanked on his cuffs, and kicked with his feet, though no one was near him.  "Stay away from him, you lousy piece of shit!  I bet you can't even get it up anymore, since you can't find anyone who wants you."

Walter slowly straightened and moved away from Hutch.  He stated, "You don't want me near him."

Starsky was silent, unsure of where Walter's thoughts were headed.

"You see," Walter went on, addressing Starsky, "most men in your situation would be thinking, 'Thank God it's going to happen to him, and not to me.'  But you're protecting him."  Abruptly, he asked, "Have you had him?"

Starsky thought frantically, wondering how to play this.

"No," Walter decided, "I don't think you have.  When a man has known another man's touch, he wouldn't react with such blatant fear."  He nodded at Hutch.  "He fears the unknown.  He smells of it."

Walter turned to look back at Starsky, holding the gun loosely.  Todd had picked up the 35mm camera.

If he comes a little closer, I can maybe trip him.  I don't think Todd is much of a threat, and I can't hear anyone else around.

Walter said, "Maybe you want him for yourself."

"Maybe lots of things," Starsky hedged.  Walter seemed to be staying carefully out of kicking range.

Walter rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  "This might be even better than I originally intended.  George will love it."

Starsky still wasn't sure what was going to happen.  He looked across at Hutch, who had a sheen of sweat on his forehead, and could also see the confusion in his eyes.

Walter extended the gun at Starsky.  Voice firm, he said, "I'm going to have Todd let you out of the cuffs.  Then you're going over to your partner, and you're going to put on a show that George is going to like.  And I'm not talking soft core."

Starsky's dominating feeling was one of relief.  He was going to be released and be with Hutch.  As for the rest....

He gulped.  Hutch was now slumped to one side.  Starsky wasn't sure if it was from despair, or from fever and pain.  Hutch had said something about it "almost happening before", and now those unpleasant memories had been brought back to the surface.

I don't want to be the cause of more bad memories.  You've got to trust me, Hutch.

Starsky didn't have a plan, but he refused to believe that he was going to have to violate the person he loved most in the worst possible way.  Besides, it's not like I'm going to be able to get it up for something like that.

Walter reached into his pocket and tossed the keys to Todd.

Todd put the camera aside, and moved warily to Starsky's cuffs.

He doesn't want to be here, Starsky decided.  He felt heartened that Walter was the only real threat at the present time.  Don't know when someone else might be coming back.

Starsky's right arm dropped to his lap, as that cuff was released. 

Walter's expression firmed at this new freedom.  "You try anything at all," he said firmly, "you'll be shot," he glanced at Hutch, "and he'll pay for your having pissed me off."

His left hand was released, and Starsky rubbed his wrists.  "We both want the same thing."  He nodded at Hutch.  "For me to be with him."

Walter moved back a step, and motioned with the gun.  "All right.  Slowly.  Move over to him."  He glanced up.  "Todd, get the camera and start snapping pictures."

Starsky moved on his hands and knees, aware of Todd having dropped the keys to the carpet to pick up the camera.  "Hutch, easy."  He looked at the bloodied bandage and gently placed his hand on Hutch's upper ankle.

"None of that," Walter said.  "I'd better see some action, or I'm going to take over."

Starsky swallowed and met Hutch's bright eyes.  Trust me, he silently pleaded.

Hutch closed his eyes, as though resigned to what was going to happen.

Starsky abruptly straddled Hutch's thighs, letting his own legs take most of his weight.  Walter was a few feet behind him.  He put both hands on Hutch's face, feeling how warm it was.  Hutch still had his eyes closed, and Starsky rubbed into his hair, wanting to be soothing, while also giving some semblance of enjoying himself.

Walter warned, "This had better get interesting really fast."  There was the sound of his fly unbuttoning.


Starsky made a decision.  He leaned down and planted his lips on Hutch's.

They were dry, cracked, and unresponsive.  The mustache tickled him. 

"I want to see something hot!" Walter yelled.

Starsky had an idea.  He moved his mouth to Hutch's earlobe, the side away from Walter, and gently bit down on it.  He was aware of the sound of the camera.  He breathed into Hutch's ear, "Fight me."

No response.

Starsky insisted, "Fight me.  Trust me.  Fight me."  He moved his mouth down and bit Hutch's earlobe again -- harder.

Hutch yelped and yanked on his cuffs.  He jerked his head away, gasping, "You bastard."

Starsky felt a thrill of success go through him.  He grabbed Hutch's head with both heads.  "Hold still, bitch."  He pressed his lips against Hutch's once again.

Walter laughed.  "That's more like it."

Hutch struggled, and Starsky pressed harder. 

Starsky rubbed his hand along the exposed part of Hutch's shirt.

Hutch tried to kick with his good leg, but Starsky's weight held him.  Starsky wasn't even sure if it was a conscious reaction of Hutch's, or if Hutch was sincerely protesting the motion that had so offended him a short time ago, when Walter had touched him.

Walter said, "I'd better be seeing some flesh real soon here."


Starsky released Hutch's lips, and Hutch jerked his head away, muttering, "I'm going to kill you."

"Maybe," Starsky said in return.  "But not until I've gotten what I've wanted."

"You tell him, pig," Walter taunted.

Starsky reached down to his jeans.  He was going to expose himself, before he'd ever expose Hutch to this bastard. 

He realized that he had responded somewhat to all the physical stimulation, and he hoped that was in their favor of keeping Walter interested.  He leaned down to rest against Hutch, and ground himself against him, as well as he could in their awkward position.

Hutch thrust with his hips.  "Get off me!" he said angrily.

Starsky grounded harder, and felt himself respond more avidly.

Walter said luridly, "You show that pretty boy who's boss."

Starsky unsnapped his jeans with one hand, while keeping his other hand rubbing at Hutch's chest. 

He leaned forward again and said huskily, "Tell me you want it."  You moved his mouth back to Hutch's ear.  In a breathy whisper, he said, "Trust me. Fight me."  He bit hard into the shell of Hutch's ear.

"Bastard!" Hutch jerked his head away. 

Blood splattered along the side of Hutch's head, and Starsky tasted iron.  Sorry, baby. So sorry.

"Tell me you want it!" Starsky yelled.

"Fuck you!" Hutch shouted back, jerking his cuffs and turning his face away as far as he could.

Starsky undid his zipper, wondering if he could get away with dry humping, as long as Hutch kept fighting.

He reached into his pants and felt his erection, bringing it out of his underwear.  "Yeah, it wants you, Blondie," he said.  He leaned down and kissed Hutch's turned away face, and moved to his lips, while also pressing himself against Hutch.  "Feel how much it wants you." 

Hutch started to turn his head, as though to kiss back.

Starsky held still, barely moving his lips, and felt Hutch's lips and mustache slide along his cheek, which made him shiver.

Realizing what Hutch wanted, he turned his head, so those lips and could nuzzle at his ear.

"He m'st'b'ng."

Bulls eye.  Starsky straightened, taunting, "Keep calling me names, you filthy bitch.   Keep threatening me."

His erection getting downright distracting, as it longed for more friction.

Now or never.

Starsky abruptly turned, leaping off of Hutch, and at Walter, who was holding the gun loosely in his left hand, while masturbating with his right.

Walter shot the gun haphazardly, and a bullet went into the wall, a foot from Hutch.

Starsky grabbed that left wrist and shoved it up and back, and Walter let out a wail as the bone was heard snapping, the gun dropping to the floor. 

Starsky kneed him in the crotch, and then turned away to grab the gun.  When he turned around, ready to fire, Walter was pulling a smaller pistol out of his pocket.

Starsky fired.

Walter jerked back from the impact to his chest, and dropped back against the wall, and then slowly slid to the floor, leaving a smear of blood, his head lolling to one side.

Starsky jerked the gun at a noise near the doorway.

Todd had dropped the camera and was running out.

Starsky picked up the camera and opened the back.  He yanked the film out.

"Easy, Hutch," he muttered, looking around on the carpet and finding the keys.  He went over to Hutch, who appeared more alert, but also more haggard.  "I'm gonna get you out of here, buddy."

Hutch nodded his head, his expression one of relief.

Starsky released one hand, and gently placed in Hutch's lap, rubbing behind where the skin was torn at the wrists.  Then he released the other.

He placed his hand against the side of Hutch's head.  "How we doin', huh?"  He saw Hutch's bleeding ear, and fought the inclination to tend to it.  That injury was hardly their biggest concern.

Hutch nodded toward Walter.  "You sure he's dead?"

"I'll check in a minute.  Then I need to make sure no one else is here, though I haven't heard anybody.  I'll call for help."  Starsky leaned his forehead against Hutch's, wanting to steal a moment for them.

He felt a hand squeeze his thigh, and a renewed sense of relief went through him.  He straightened slightly and nodded at Hutch, while brushing at the corner of his mustache with a thumb.  "I knew we could get out of this, if we worked together."

Hutch closed his eyes, as though wanting to block out any thoughts of the last few minutes.

Starsky squeezed his hand.  "Stay here, Hutch, and let me check things out."

Starsky reluctantly moved away, his gun in hand, and over to the slumped body of Walter.  He felt for the ceratoid artery, and there wasn't a pulse.  Fucking bastard. 

He stood, realizing his pants were still unsnapped, with the fly open.  His cock had shrank back in all the activity, and it felt like a victory that he didn't think Walter had actually seen much of it, the way he'd stood behind him.  Only Hutch had felt his forced desire.... 

"Be back in second, buddy."

Starsky moved stealthy through the house, which was one floor, and was relieved that no one else was around.  Dusk was settling, and a clock read 6:40 PM.  From a window, he could barely make out Todd running in the distance, along the road the led up to the house, which appeared to be in the country.  There were no other dwellings in sight.  There weren't any vehicles around.

Starsky couldn't find a telephone.

Heart sinking, Starsky went outside and looked around.  The road leading out disappeared into a valley.  He couldn't see any other roads.  Whatever Walter's intentions had been for them -- which couldn't possibly be anything good, after he was done getting the pictures he wanted -- surely he was going to need help.  When they'd heard the vehicle drive up a while ago, he wondered if Walter had sent those men away with instructions to come back at a specific time.

We can't risk staying here, Starsky decided.  We can't risk walking down the road, and those guys in the jeep finding us.  He wondered if Todd was fleeing altogether, or if he was going to bring back reinforcements.  Starsky felt the former more likely, but he couldn't count on it.

He holstered his gun, and went around to the back of the house.  A half mile away were woods.  We need to get there before dark.  It'll be cover.  And then look for a road in the morning.

He didn't know how well Hutch might be able to move.

Starsky relieved himself in the bathroom, and then began to ransack the house.  He couldn't find a first aid kit.  He did find a small flashlight and some antibiotic cream, as well as aspirin.  There were band aids, but no gauze.  He found a pillow case in a closet and put his supplies in it, which included the second pillow case, that he could cut into strips.  He discovered their jackets in a bedroom and put his on.  His pocket knife was still inside his pocket.  He also found Hutch's Magnum.

In one closet, he found a walking cane.

From the kitchen, he grabbed a box of snack bars and some crackers.  He couldn't find a canteen, but there were plastic storage containers in a cabinet.  He filled a couple of quart-sized ones with tap water, and sealed the lids over them, and put them in the pillowcase.  Then he grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it with tap water.  He drank heartedly, and then filled it again.

With the glass in one hand, Hutch's jacket tucked under his arm, and the pillow case in the other, he moved back to the room where everything had happened.

Hutch was still on the floor, leaning against the wall, gasping.  He'd pulled his leg closer, bending at the knee, and was grimacing while examining it.

Starsky let the supplies drop to the floor, but held out the glass as he knelt beside Hutch.  "Here."

Hutch accepted it, and drank thirstily.

"Leave some for aspirin."  Starsky reached into his pocket and took out a tin case.  He opened it up and took out three.  "Swallow these."

While Hutch obeyed, Starsky nodded at his ankle.  "How is it?"  He reached into the pillow case.

"Hard to tell.  Hurts."

"I can't find any gauze, so let me at least rub in some ointment."  Starsky found the tube and took off the lid. "Sorry, but this is probably going hurt."

"Did you call?" Hutch asked.

Starsky didn't look up from where he took the makeshift wrapping off of Hutch's ankle.  "There's no phone."  After a moment, he forced himself to look up and meet Hutch's eye.  "We can't stay here, because we don't know if the goons might be coming back."

He examined Hutch's ankle.  The bullet had hit just deep enough to go in and out, causing two wounds.  They appeared raw, tender, and swollen.

Starsky took the tube of cream and squeezed it onto the first wound.

Hutch drew a tight breath while Starsky spread it around.  "We just have the one gun?"  He nodded at Walter's body.  "There's his."

Starsky looked up.  "I've got your gun, Hutch.  We've got fire power.  But they're four guys with a lot more fire power, and you're wounded.  But just as important, we've got to go for help.  There's only one road leading out of here, and I'm afraid of meeting up with them, since they're probably coming back.   There's some woods about a half mile in the other direction, that we need to make before it gets completely dark.  I figure we should try to stay there until morning, and then we can look for a public road and wave somebody down."

Hutch swallowed thickly.  "I don't know how far I'm going to be able to go."

"For now, we've just got to make it to the woods, Hutch.  No way am I leaving you here. I found a cane."

He applied ointment to the exit wound, trying to ignore Hutch's noises of pain.

Starsky then pulled out the pillow case and began using his pocket knife, cutting it into strips.

Hutch said, "He mentioned having paid the guys.  Maybe they aren't coming back."

Starsky should his head.  "Not likely.  Surely, when he was finished with us," he nodded toward Walter's body, "he was going to need help getting rid of us.  Besides, for all we know, maybe Todd is going for reinforcements."

Starsky wrapped the strips around Hutch's ankle, and tied them.

Hutch was panting.  "I think it needs to be cleaned out."

"I know.  I don't have the right supplies, and we can't afford to take the time here.  You've just got to go another ten hours or so, Bronco."

Feeling a sense of foreboding, Starsky rose up on his knees with the tube in hand.  "Turn your head and let me get your ear."

Hutch did.

Starsky put a hand on Hutch's head to hold him still, and then squeezed a dab of ointment onto Hutch's ear, where the wound had clotted.  In a low voice, he said, "Sorry, Hutch.  I know that hurt."

With a matching softness, Hutch scolded, "Stop it."

When Starsky put the tube back on the ointment, he sat back on his haunches, forcing himself to wait until Hutch looked up and met his eye.

Hutch said, "You played it the way you had to."

Starsky looked away, wondering why the words were only minimally soothing.

He reached for the cane.  "Let's see if we can get you on your feet.  You can take a leak, and then we need to get out of here."


It was frustratingly slow going.

Starsky stayed at Hutch's right, so Hutch could use the cane to balance his left side. But darkness had fallen, and with moving along countryside, there were frequent stumbles.

What's more, Starsky had his left arm around Hutch's waist, and his right carried the pillow case slung over his shoulder, thereby compromising his own balance.

They were both panting heavily when they reached the woods.  Starsky would have preferred to travel farther into the trees, but he didn't think Hutch was up to it.

"Let's stop here," he gasped, next to the largest tree he could find with his flashlight.  He dropped the pillow case.  "Down you go, Hutch."

He steadied Hutch, and they both awkwardly slid to the ground.

Starsky got Hutch settled against the tree.  He whispered, "Be quiet a sec."  He listened to the stillness of the night.  In the distance, back farther through the forest, he could hear a car motor.  And then another.  He struggled to his feet and looked toward the noise.  He saw headlights moving.

Relieved, he sat back down.  "There's some kind of road, maybe a mile away.  That's where we'll head at dawn."

Hutch was still gasping hard.  "Maybe you should go there and see if you can wave somebody down."

Starsky shook his head.  "I'm not leaving you, and I think it's less likely that somebody would stop for a stranger at night.  Besides, we both need to rest."  Hutch needed it, in particular.  "At least, from here, we can see the house and if anybody is going to be looking for us."

Starsky turned his attention to the pillow case.  He took out a throw blanket that he'd grabbed before they left.  He and Hutch both had their jackets, Hutch's being his heavy black leather one, but he suspected the temperature could still be rather chilly by the middle of the night.

He took out the snack bars and crackers.  "How's the ankle?"

"Throbbing like crazy."

"Maybe some food will take your mind off it."

Starsky realized that he himself was famished.  He finished off two snack bars, and started in on the crackers.  Hutch ate more slowly, and downed one snack bar, and a handful of crackers. 

Starsky helped Hutch drink from one of the plastic containers.  He took a moment to feel Hutch's face, and was concerned about the heat there.  The aspirin didn't seem to have helped his fever much.

When Starsky had their supplies put away, he said, "I'm for getting as much shuteye as we possibly can.  I think you need rest more than anything, buddy."  Starsky shifted.  "I think I can give you some semblance of a pillow, and enough covering to stay warm."  He couldn't see Hutch's expression in the darkness, but he squeezed his shoulder.

It took some doing, but Starsky eventually had prompted Hutch's arms out of his jacket, and then draped it around his shoulders.  He did the same with his own jacket.  Then, he maneuvered himself between Hutch and the tree, so that it was his back that was resting against it.  He spread his legs and patted his shoulder.  "Come on, Hutch.  Time to get comfy and sleep."

Hutch's only response was a weary, heavy breath. 

Starsky helped guide him, and didn't respond to Hutch's gasp of pain, as he moved his injured leg to the degree necessary.  Finally, he was settled on his side, his head resting against Starsky's chest.  Starsky resettled Hutch's jacket around him.  Then he reached for the throw blanket, and spread it across them both.

Starsky rested his hand on Hutch's sweaty head, and lightly brushed his fingers along his cheek.  "I'm right here, buddy.  It's okay to rest.  We're gonna be here a while."  This is what he'd been wanting to do for Hutch, ever since waking up in that room at the house.

Hutch's head grew heavier against his chest, and Starsky's throat tightened. 

Such trust, that he relished so much....

He wondered at himself, and the surge of emotion he felt that Hutch was allowing this.

Is it possible that I'm feeling guilty?  

The images were in his mind.  Biting Hutch's ear.  Calling him "bitch".  Grinding against him.

What had that been like for Hutch?  What had it been like to have the most trusted person in his life demeaning him that way, and pushing his hard-on against him?  Especially when he'd said it had "almost" happened once before.

Starsky wanted to ask Hutch about that "once", but now was hardly the time.

"Starsk?" Hutch whispered, without moving.

"Hm?" Starsky tilted his head down, so his ear was closer to Hutch's mouth.

"You resting?"

Starsky closed his eyes as another wave of emotion washed over him.  "Yeah, baby."

He laid his cheek against the top of Hutch's head, determined to blank his mind and try to sleep.  They were so tuned to each other, that Hutch could sense Starsky's inner thoughts to some degree.

So tuned, that they both participated in actions they did not want, at gun point, and were able to bring those actions around to where they were both in synch, and get themselves out of a deadly situation.

Secure in the knowledge of what they were together, Starsky gradually dozed off.


Starsky didn't know how much time had past when he was awaked by the sound of a motor.  He opened his eyes, while still resting his head against Hutch's, and saw headlights in the distance, by the house.

Hutch didn't rouse.

Starsky tried to stay still.  What were the chances that the men would come hunting for them, if the man who paid them was dead?

He decided to wait, rather than disturb Hutch's peace, if it turned out to not be necessary. 

Eventually, he heard voices in the distance, as the country air was so silent.  He caught the words "bastard" and "dumb shit".  After a short time, the vehicle left the premises.

Thank you, God.

Starsky glanced at his watch.  11:20 PM.

He closed his eyes.


It was Hutch's movement that awakened him the next time.

Hutch moaned as he shifted restlessly, and Starsky felt the heat coming from his head.   

"It's okay, Hutch," Starsky soothed, while reaching within their coverings to squeeze Hutch's shoulder. 

He waited for Hutch to come fully awake, before he shifted enough to reach inside his own pocket for the tin of aspirin. 

"Huh?" Hutch muttered feebly.

Starsky wondered at Hutch's awareness.  "It's okay, buddy boy.  We're in the forest, waiting for dawn.  I'm going to get you some water and more aspirin, so you feel better.  ''Kay?"  He glanced at his watch.  2:10 AM.

He rummaged around in the pillow case and brought out a container of water.  He had to help a lot more this time, before Hutch was able to drink and swallow the aspirin.

When Starsky had Hutch settled back against him, he murmured, "Try to relax and go back to sleep."  Inside of Hutch's jacket, he ran his hand up and down his back.  "I'm right here.  Right here."

Hutch tilted his head up, so that he was breathing against Starsky's neck.

"Ah, Hutch."  Starsky cupped the side of Hutch's face with his free hand.

Hutch whispered, "Get help?"

Starsky brushed his thumb along Hutch's cheek.  "As soon as it's daylight, we'll be able to get help.  Got a few more hours, pal."

Starsky tightened his arm around Hutch's back, and cradled the sweaty, blond head against his chest.  "Relax, buddy.  Relax.  You need your rest."

After a moment, Hutch grabbed a handful of Starsky's shirt.

Starsky swallowed thickly, while squeezing Hutch tighter.  "Atta boy, Hutch.  Hold onto me all you need to."

Hutch breathed against Starsky's neck, "Trust."

Starsky furrowed his brow, not sure he'd heard the word correctly.  "I know, Hutch.  We trust each other, and that always gets us through."

Hutch muttered, "Trusted Coach Hobart.  Shouldn't have."

Starsky held his breath, waiting for more.

When no more was said, Starsky calmly prompted, "Why not?"

In a childlike voice, Hutch replied, "Pulled down my pants."

Starsky's heart twisted.  "How old were you?"


Starsky blinked.  What had happened at the house a half mile away had opened a memory from when Hutch was seven.  Ah, Hutch.  Ah, buddy boy.

Hutch went on, "Said to trust him."  Then, his voice on the verge of breaking, Hutch said, "Never again."  He tried to shake his head against Starsky's chest.

Starsky squeezed Hutch tighter and closed his eyes.  "No, Hutch, you were right to never trust him again."  Hopefully, he said, "But you can trust me.  I'll protect you.  We'll be home in a few hours."

Hutch released Starsky's shirt and brought his hand up.  He patted it against Starsky's chest.  "Always protect."

Starsky swallowed.  "Yes, Hutch, I'll always protect you."  Even when I'm biting you and making you bleed.

What would Hutch think about that when he was fully recovered?

Hutch seemed to have forgiven him, back at the house.  But he'd been hurting then, too, and needful.

There was silence, but Starsky knew that Hutch wasn't asleep.  He gently prompted, "Is there anything else you want to tell me about Coach Hobart?"  Then, softer, "It's okay to tell me, Hutch."

It was a long moment before there was a reply. And then Hutch said in a hushed whisper, "Scared me."

Starsky remembered the wild look in Hutch's eyes when Walter had touched his chest.  Walter had seen it, too.  And known what it meant.

Starsky withdrew the arm that was around Hutch, inside the jacket, and rubbed at his back instead.  "You don't need to be afraid any longer.  I'm here.  I'll protect you, Hutch.  Always.  Always."

Hutch was quiet and still.  Eventually, his breathing grew deeper.


When Starsky became more alert, he glanced at his watch.  It was 5:15 AM.

His bladder was in desperate need of relief.

He did his best to try to maneuver stealthy out from beneath Hutch, but Hutch began to wake.

"Take it easy," Starsky soothed, while climbing to his feet.  He moved a few steps away and unzipped.  He called back over his shoulder, "Just taking a leak.  I'll help you in a minute, Hutch."

He heard a groan, and then a pant, and then a sigh.

He glanced back again.  "Hutch, it's okay.  I'm right here.  It'll be daylight in a half hour or so."

As he zipped back up, he turned around.

Hutch was trying to stagger to his feet, using the cane, with his other hand braced against the tree.

Apparently, Hutch couldn't wait any longer, either.

Starsky studied Hutch as he hobbled in a semi-circle, and then there was the sound of his fly unsnapping.

There wasn't any sign of the child from last night.

Starsky squatted down by their supplies.  He wondered when the next time would be that he felt full.

When Hutch staggered back around, Starsky asked, "How does it feel?"

Hutch gasped, "At least as bad as yesterday."

Starsky rose and grabbed Hutch by the waist.  "Let's sit down and eat and wait for daylight.  There's more aspirin."

After Hutch was sitting down, Starsky felt his forehead with the back of his hand.  "You're still pretty hot, buddy.  We'll have to make it as close to the road as we can.  And then I'll try to wave somebody down."

Hutch rested his head back against the tree.  "It's infected.  I can feel it.  It's all tight."

Starsky handed Hutch the box of crackers.  "Well, let's see if we can get some energy into you.  It might be slow going, but I don't want to leave you behind until we're close enough to the road that I can see  you."  He reached to squeeze Hutch's knee.  "Just have to hang on another hour or so, buddy."


It was painfully slow going, once again.  After they emerged from the trees in the early morning, and could see the road a quarter of a mile in the distance, Starsky stopped at the base of a small hill.  "Let's rest, Hutch."

They both panted heavily, as they awkwardly lowered themselves to the ground.

"I think you need to go ahead," Hutch said, his hair in disarray from sweating.  "Surely, somebody will stop to help.  This is Friday, right?  Rush hour will be starting."

Starsky muttered, "Whatever qualifies for rush hour around here."

He heard a noise in the distant sky, back toward the house.

Starsky realized a helicopter was moving their way.  "Stay down, Hutch."

He felt a mixture of hope and trepidation.  Surely, Walter Prudholm hadn't been powerful enough to have a helicopter at his disposal.

The early morning sun glinted off the side of the chopper.

Starsky recognized the logo.

He felt joyous, and squeezed Hutch's hand.  "It's a police helicopter!"

He rushed away from the hill, waving his arms.   The chopper began to turn in his direction.

Starsky watched it, still waving, as it began to lower.  Eventually, the wind kicked up around him, as it hovered some thirty feet in the air.

The pilot held up a finger and made a circular motion.

Starsky recognized the symbol of the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle.   He gave a thumbs-up, nodding vigorously.

The pilot gave a thumbs-up back, and then the helicopter started to move away. 

Starsky ran back to Hutch and collapsed breathless beside him.  "Help is on the way, buddy boy.  Help's on the way."

Hutch moaned, "Thank God."


Hutch spent all day in the emergency room.  They drained the developing infection in his ankle, sutured the wounds, and gave him a sponge bath.  Once his fever began to lower, they allowed him to be released.  He was given a prescription of penicillin.

Upon arriving at Hutch's apartment, Starsky guided him into the sleeping area, and then sat him on the bed.  "I'll get you some fresh undies."

Hutch hadn't been able to rest much in the emergency room, with all the surrounding commotion.  Therefore, he appeared tired enough to sleep.

Starsky pulled briefs from a drawer and tossed them to Hutch.  "There you go."

He helped himself to the john, while listening to Hutch struggle with the clothing.  He'd already had a chance to go home, to clean up and change clothes, while Hutch was being treated.  Dobey met them at the hospital and, it turned out, had actually called the hotel to make sure they had arrived for the seminar.  When the answer was still no after two additional calls, he'd become concerned.  Then he'd heard from the police in the area about the Torino being found in a ditch.  Later that night, a Todd Harrington had called the police to tell them what he had witnessed at Walter Prudholm's house.  His lawyer had talked him into coming forth with what he knew, rather than waiting for the police to catch up with him.

The house, which was some thirty miles from where Starsky's car was found, had been rented by Walter Prudholm the past three months.  Todd knew little about the hired henchman, so the police were still looking.  He did know that Walter had paid a janitor at the police station to come up with the information about the seminar that Starsky and Hutch would be attending.  The henchmen had come up with the idea for the phony detours.  Todd hadn't known what Walter had intended the eventual fate of Starsky and Hutch to be.  He'd merely been hired to take pictures for some forced bondage.  He hadn't known how serious things were going to get.

Now, Starsky came back into the sleeping area, just as Hutch was slowly getting beneath the covers.

Starsky helped settle the blankets over him.  "There you go, buddy.  Back in your own bed, nice and comfy.  I don't want to hear anything outta ya, except snoring."

Hutch glanced up at him with hopeful eyes.  "You're staying, right?"

Starsky felt trepidation as he leaned closer, but tried not to let it reach his voice. "Yeah, Hutch, I'm staying."  He wondered why Hutch would ask that.  He wanted to remind him, "I'll always protect you," but he wasn't sure that adult Hutch would understand his need to say that.  We've got some talking to do.  Maybe Hutch had something of his own he wanted to talk about, before they settled back into the routine of their lives.

Hutch's mouth corner twitched, and he nodded.  Then he closed his eyes.

Starsky moved to the living area and turned the television on low.  He dozed off and on through the night.


It was going on five in the morning when Starsky heard Hutch hobbling around.

Eventually, Hutch moved into the living area and turned on a lamp next to the sofa.  "Good morning," he greeted dryly.  He was wearing sweats, and was using a cane from the hospital.

Hutch made it to the kitchen and started coffee, and then hobbled back to the sofa. Starsky moved his legs so Hutch could sit on the opposite end.  He then straightened, so that his weight was against the arm rest.

For a long moment, neither of them said anything.

Starsky ventured, "Hutch?  Can you tell me what happened when you were seven, with Coach Hobart?"

Hutch started, turning to look at Starsky.  "How did you know about that?"

"Well, at the house, when were left alone for a few minutes, you said something about how it 'almost' happened to you once before.  Then, last night in the woods, I guess you were sort of delirious from the fever.  You told me that you were seven when it happened, and his name was Coach Hobart."  Starsky swallowed with difficulty, before adding in a low voice, "You said that he pulled down your pants."

Hutch blinked rapidly, and then ran his hand back through his hair.

Starsky said quietly, "I figure however much you might have buried that memory, it's been brought back to the surface.  Maybe it would help to talk about it."

Hutch gazed at the floor a long moment.  Then he shrugged.  "He was my Little League baseball coach."  He looked up, and then settled back against the arm of the sofa, carefully drawing his leg up.  "It's so ironic, you know, because my aunt came for a visit one day in the summer.  I guess something had happened in her town.  Of course, I was too young then for anyone to tell me the details.  But she took me and my sister aside once, and told us very seriously that if anyone ever wanted us to take off our clothes -- besides our parents or a doctor or nurse -- that we should run away as fast as possible."  Hutch's expression grew distant.  "Then, when she repeated it, she said that we should run away from anyone who wanted us to take off our clothes, or touch is in our private areas, unless it was our parents, a doctor or a nurse, or someone we trusted."

When Hutch fell silent for a long moment, staring past Starsky, Starsky prompted, "And?"

"Just a couple of weeks or so after that, Coach Hobart told me to come with him after a practice session.  He said that he'd told my parents he would take me home.  He took me into the men's room at the park.  It had started to rain and no one else was around."  Hutch closed his eyes.  "He put his hand into the top of my jersey and rubbed at my chest."

Starsky held his breath.

Hutch shook his head, his eyes still closed.  "I knew something was wrong with what he was doing.  And then he asked me if I trusted him.  I said yes.  Then he said that he was going to do something special to me, and it would be our secret and I wasn't supposed to tell anyone else, or something bad would happen."

Starsky wished so much that he could have protected Hutch back then.

Hutch opened his eyes, staring into space.  "Then he pulled my pants down.  I was terrified.  My aunt had said that I shouldn't let anyone do that, unless they were my parents or a doctor or a nurse.  But she'd also said it was okay if it was someone I trusted.   I trusted Coach Hobart."  Hutch's eyes darted to Starsky.  "I couldn't reconcile those two concepts in my seven-year-old mind -- that I shouldn't let someone like Coach Hobart pull down my pants, and yet it was okay that it was him doing it, because he was someone I trusted."

"Hutch...," Starsky said sorrowfully.

Hutch swallowed thickly.  "I'm not sure I remember what all he did, because I was so confused as to whether it was all right, or if I should run.  I think he was fondling me.  But then he turned me around, and sort of shoved me against the wall, so I was bent over.  I remember him running his hard cock along my ass crack.  That terrified me.  I ran out of there, pulling up my pants, so I could run faster.  I think he was so full of lust at that moment, that he was caught off guard."

Starsky remembered Hutch whispering in his ear, at the house, "He m'st'b'ng."  He'd known that's when Starsky should make a move.

Starsky asked hopefully, "Did you tell anyone?"  His mouth was so dry, he could hardly get the words out.

Hutch shook his head.  "I couldn't.  Because I thought I had done something wrong.  I knew I'd done the right thing by running, but I didn't think an adult would understand that I'd run away from somebody I trusted."  Hutch now appeared to be fully in the present.  "When I got to be a teenager, and learned about sex, I knew for certain that what Hobart had done was wrong.  That I was right to have run.  I realized, then, that I probably should have told somebody.  But it didn't matter by that time.  Hobart didn't try anything like that again with me.  He quit the League shortly thereafter, I think because he was afraid I would tell."

Starsky bowed his head as they sat silent.  He was somebody that Hutch had trusted, and he'd violated Hutch in some ways yesterday, however necessary for their survival.  And yet, last night, child Hutch had reiterated his trust in Starsky.  That Starsky would protect him.

Starsky was unable to swallow down the lump in his throat.  He abruptly stood.  "I'll get the coffee."

He spent a long time, making a cup for each of them.  When he finally returned to the sofa, his head was bowed when he held out Hutch's cup to him.

He slowly stirred his own coffee as he sat back down, and saw that it was starting to get light outside.

Hutch took a few sips.  Then he asked, "How come you can't look me in the eye?"

After considering possible answers, Starsky decided on an easy out.  "You know why."

Incredulous, Hutch asked, "Do you feel guilty?"

Starsky rejected some possible arguments, and decided to simply admit, "Of course, I do."

"Oh, my God, buddy.  You got us out of there alive.  Without that prick Prudholm being able to do anything."  Hutch's voice firmed.  "I don't deserve your guilt, and neither do you."

Starsky gazed at the sofa.  Then he said, "I can tell myself those arguments. It's just not that simple.  Especially with knowing what happened to you before...."

After a long moment, Hutch said forcefully, "It was a hell of a lot more bearable having you do those things to me, than it would have been if it were him.  Your actions, harsh as they may have been in the moment, were acts of love."  More gently, he added, "I know you were trying to protect me.  That scumbag Walter Prudholm was right about one thing.  He said that any other man in your situation would be glad that it wasn't happening to him."  His expression softened as he shook his head back and forth.  "You never cease to amaze me."

Starsky swallowed, wanting so much to deserve Hutch's words, and also knowing that it would have been equally true, if their situations had been reversed.  "I just wish it wouldn't have happened."

"And that's my fault," Hutch said.  "You knew something wasn't right about that detour.  But I insisted that we take it."

"Hutch, it looked legit."

"But you knew it wasn't.  So, you aren't the only one with a reason to feel guilty."

Starsky let that sink in.  "I guess we can't look back."

"No.  We got through it, buddy."  Hutch's voice softened.  "That's what's important."

"You felt so strongly about Prudholm touching you, for a minute there it sounded like you were willing to lose your life, rather than have him molest you... or worse.  Scared the hell out of me."

Hutch was thoughtful for a long moment, staring at the floor.  Then he said, "If I could save myself at seven, I wasn't going let something like that happen to me as an adult."  He looked squarely at Starsky.  "But when it got down to it, I wasn't going to leave you alone, if I could help it.  I knew you'd try everything you could.  And you did."

Starsky closed his eyes and released a heavy breath.  When he opened, he said, "Your my everything, Hutch.  I've lost so much if my life.  If I were to lose you, too...."  He abruptly drank his coffee, needing to cover the intensity of his emotions.

Hutch reached to place his cup on the coffee table.

Starsky did as well.

They sat silent, Hutch gazing at Starsky for a long moment.

Finally, Starsky asked, "What?"

Hutch's mouth corner twitched.  "Stay there."

Puzzled, Starsky watched while Hutch gathered himself, and then, with a few grunts of pain and effort, slid over to Starsky, so that he was hovering over him.  He pushed Starsky's outer leg so that his foot fell to the floor, thereby leaving Hutch between his limbs.

Hutch gazed into Starsky's eyes.  He whispered, "I'm harmless, right now."  He lowered his head.

His lips were still a little dry, a little chapped.  But the connection between them had a softness and a willingness that Starsky felt helpless to combat. He wanted to turn his head away, and protest what was happening, but Hutch only pressed harder.

Finally, when he was released, Starsky gasped, "There's nothing harmless about you."

Hutch shook his head once, insisting, "I won't harm you."

Starsky wanted it, since Hutch obviously did, when their lips reconnected once again.

Hands felt his belly, beneath his shirt, and then they were working on the snap to his jeans.


It was his only coherent thought.

Sensation was building, and Starsky gasped between their connected lips when he felt his erection being unveiled from his underwear.

Hutch had to turn his head away when he reached beneath Starsky and cupped his buttocks. He hoisted those hips upward, and Starsky moved frantically against the cotton of Hutch's sweats.

Then Hutch paused, and Starsky groaned with frustration, wondering if Hutch was trying to torture him.

Hutch lifted his own sweat shirt, and then lay back down against Starsky, so that Starsky's erection felt bare flesh, which was so much more thrilling.

Now, both hands held Starsky's butt again, and encouraged him to undulated upward.

"Give in to it," Hutch prompted

Starsky had no other option.  The sensations built, as his cock was loved by silky flesh, while large hands continued to squeeze his buttocks.

Starsky threw his head back and cried out, his loins quivering with the most exquisite of sensations.

He released conscious thought.  For as long as he was able.

Eventually, he was aware of Hutch's peripheral struggles.  And then Hutch lay partially against him, while letting most of his weight rest against the back of the sofa.

A hand rubbed along his chest, and Starsky opened his eyes.

Hutch was looking at him, warm and loving.

"Why?" Starsky wondered.

"Because you needed it."  Pause.  "To show you that I don't have any bad feelings about any of your actions."  Pause.  "To show you that I'm not afraid of you.  Or of your passion."  Hutch's eyelashes fluttered.  "Starsky, Walter Prudholm is the one who brought back those memories of when I was seven.  Not anything that you did."

Starsky's eyes watered.

Hutch's hand rubbed again.  "I get nothing but love from you."  A slow smile built.  "And sometimes some annoyance. Sometimes, lots of annoyance."  A tiny shrug.  "Some days, I could kill you."

Starsky couldn't help but grin then, but he still felt full of emotion, and couldn't find a proper retort. 

Hutch said, with the same softness, "Don't let anything that almost happened when I was seven, stop us from loving each other however we choose."

Starsky quickly sobered.  "What does that mean?"

Hutch's expression was also serious.  "I think you know what it means."  Finally, Hutch's gaze lowered.  It was a moment before he was able to look up again.  "We've never put boundaries on how we love.  Sometimes," he ducked his head again, and then looked back up, "it's seemed that we've been building toward something all these years.  If that's true, I don't want anything to stop where we're headed."

Starsky blinked, refusing to examine those words right now.

Hutch offered, "Want me to let you up?"

They were as open with each other as they had ever been. 

Starsky reached to slide his hand behind Hutch's neck.  "No."  He prompted Hutch to rest his head on his chest.  Then he furrowed his fingers through fragile strands of hair.  "Let's just stay like this for a while."

They lay silent, resting against each other.

After a time, Starsky swallowed.  He felt a need to say, "It wouldn't be anything like that, with us.  I would be so gentle.  I wouldn't say any of those things I was saying -- "

A finger pressed gently against his lips.  "Shhh."  Hutch's other hand found his, and squeezed.  "You think I don't know that?"

"I hate that I treated you like that, acted or not.  That I could get hard in that situation."

Quietly, Hutch said, "We both know any healthy man would, if there's enough friction.  Thank God your behavior was convincing enough to be a distraction to that pervert."

It was a fact that Hutch's forgiveness was thorough and complete.

Starsky lay still, letting the freedom of that knowledge sink into his bones.

Hutch moved a hand along his arm.  "Maybe, some day, you'll want to show me how gentle you can be."


It was going to be at least a week before Hutch was able to return to work.

Starsky didn't get any such leave.

On Monday morning, he was in the squad room when Dobey summoned him.

Starsky entered his superior's office and closed the door behind him, and then stood before Dobey's desk.

Dobey said, "George Prudholm hasn't been informed yet of his brother's death.  The law enforcement in that county is asking if you want to do the honors."

He could go to the prison, and have the satisfaction of letting George Prudholm know that, this time, it had been a loved one of his that perished.  And yet, the idea of delivering such news didn't feel like something Starsky needed to do.

Silently, Starsky wondered at his lack of need for some kind of revenge for all the grief that George Prudholm had cost him, especially when he now had such a perfect, law-abiding opportunity.

"Starsky?" Dobey prompted.

Starsky realized he'd been silent too long.  "Tell them thanks for the offer, but... no.  I've got more important things to do today."  He abruptly turned and left the office.

He wasn't sure what was going to happen between him and Hutch in the near future.  But he did know that there was a future for them.

That was the one thing in his life that was solid.  Stable.

He was far more interested in looking forward, than he was in looking back.

A future with Hutch was all that mattered.




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