Charlotte Frost


A Sequel to Girlfriend


Todd Runyan started across the grass just as the sun disappeared behind a cloud. He hoped the game was in a late inning, so the boys wouldn't be finishing in the dark.

There were four Little League games going on at Payson Park. From all of them emerged the serious chatter of little boys.

"B-b-a-a-a-t-t-t-e-r-r SWING."

There were cries of delight and murmurs of disappointment as a batter swung and missed. At one game the voices stilled at the sharp crack of the bat. A ball reached high into the air. Todd was now close enough to identify the uniforms, and realized a player from Sam's Hardware Tigers had made the hit.

But then more murmurs as the outfielder caught the ball. An out.

There was no scramble to exchange positions, so it wasn't the third out yet for the Tigers. Todd wondered again what inning it was.

As he approached the back of spectator's bleachers, he looked over at the dugout and tried to pick out Danny from the row of boys. Unsuccessful, his eyes scanned the playing area. His eight-year-old son stood swinging a pair of bats in the warm-up box. Another kid was up now - Mrs. Crandall's smart-aleck son, Roger - and then it would be Danny's turn.

Todd sighed and slowed his pace. He considered letting Danny know he was there, then decided against it. If Danny struck out, as he almost always did, he would be less embarrassed if he didn't know his dad witnessed it. If he happened to get a hit, then Todd could tell him that he'd gotten away from work in time to see the big moment. He could imagine Danny's smile if that happened.

Todd rested his elbow against the last bleacher seat. Danny seemed to be smiling more often these days.

Roger Crandall swung at the first ball. It glanced off the side of the bat and bounced to the ground, rolling speedily toward the pitcher. Roger flung his bat aside and raced toward first base, but the pitcher snatched up the ball and threw it hard to the first baseman. The latter caught it before Roger reached the plate.

"Oh, dear," Mrs. Crandall said from the bleachers. Todd was standing a few feet from her, and he could see her face pinch with dismay. She always took it badly when Roger didn't perform well.

The players maintained their positions. It must be the second out of the inning. Todd felt a sense of dread. It would be up to Danny to make the fatal third mistake. Todd wondered what the score was. Glancing at the little chalkboard between the dugouts, he saw that it was two to one, the Tigers leading at the bottom of the eighth. At least when Danny struck out, he wouldn't be costing his team the game.

Todd felt both sympathy and hopelessness as his son stepped toward the plate. Coach Starsky was right there with him, speaking enthusiastically and doing something with Danny's hands on the bat. Enviously, Todd watched the easy way the coach communicated with his son, how he patted him on the back and squeezed his shoulder. He seemed to really believe that Danny could learn something from his last-minute coaching. Danny appeared to be listening, as though he hadn't already given up on the idea of doing anything more than striking out.

Todd held his breath as Coach Starsky stepped away and the pitcher prepared to throw.

The ball looked low, but Danny swung with a confident, upward motion. A large crack split the air.

"Go!" Coach Starsky yelled over the shouts of excitement from the other players.

Danny dropped the bat and ran as hard as he could, fists clenched.

Todd watched, amazed as the ball landed hard past the right outfielder, and then bounced farther away. The outfielder scrambled for it.

Danny charged past second base, heading for third. The outfielder threw the ball to the pitcher.

Danny saw the throw and ran harder. He stumbled and fell, reaching for third plate. The ball landed solidly in the third basemen's mitt.

"SAFE!" the umpire announced.

Danny got up and brushed himself off, keeping his foot squarely on the white bag that designated third base.

Coach Starsky shook a raised fist at him. "Atta boy, Danny! Good hit!" Then he turned his attention to the next player stepping up to the batter's box.

Danny nodded professionally, not giving way to the huge grin he had to be feeling inside.

The next batter was the best hitter on the team. Todd felt a sense of destiny. If Danny got batted home, and actually scored a run, it would be the pinnacle of his young life. He'd been playing Little League the past two summers, and he'd never gotten anything more than a single. Usually, he struck out. Now, he had hit a triple, and was poised to make his first journey to home plate.

When had his son grown from being an inhibited, self-conscious youngster into a child confident enough to make a hit like that? Todd shook his head. He felt ashamed that his own parenting had nothing to do with it. Danny had always struggled so hard, always an outsider among his peers, and all Todd had done was watch with sympathy, completely incapable of fixing the situation.

But someone had tapped into Danny, found an area of ability, and given him the confidence to apply himself.

Todd knew who that was. He'd seen Coach Starsky in action during practice sessions. He'd been patient with Danny, and not just in the beginning. He'd taken the time to show him the skills necessary to play baseball successfully. He hadn't dismissed him as a loser, as prior coaches had done. And he hadn't singled out Danny for special attention, either. He'd treated him as a team member, giving him the same coaching as everyone else. Except Coach Starsky took the time to study each player's individual weaknesses, and help them overcome them. Todd remembered thinking at that first practice session that Coach Starsky seemed to take his coaching of eight-year-old boys a little too seriously. Todd had been concerned that Starsky might place too much emphasis on winning, rather than playing for fun. But Danny seemed to be having more fun this season, because he wasn't being dismissed outright by the coach or other players.

Still, Todd had never expected the coach's attention to result in a hit like that.

Crack! The star hitter had come through.

Danny charged for home plate.

Todd's heart swelled with pride as his son bounded across the diamond embedded in the dirt, while the second baseman scrambled to throw the ball to first. The first baseman caught it, and the star hitter was out. But, thanks to Danny, the Tigers now led three to one.

Todd yelled, "Good one, Danny!" His son was jogging back to the dugout, after receiving a slap on the hip from the coach.

Danny looked up, then a huge grin spread across his face as he recognized his father. He waved.

Todd waved back, realizing with a sense of guilt how much his presence meant to Danny. Why hadn't he made the effort to attend more games?

As the players exchanged places now that the Tigers had three outs, Todd climbed into the bleachers and sat beside the other parents. Most were women. Team mothers. The fathers tended to be too busy with work, or were out of town because of divorce, or simply refused to be in the same place as their ex-wives.

Though Todd had been divorced from Danny's mother for two years, the bitterness had eased enough that he could tolerate being in her presence. But she had no desire to attend Danny's baseball games. "That's your job," she'd told him.

Todd tried, but felt resigned to being an inadequate father even before Danny had been born. He hadn't particularly wanted children, but thought he should try not to be a lousy father. As Danny grew to be a shy and self-conscious boy, Todd felt he'd failed at that, too. But with Danny playing ball as well as an average kid, he felt a sense of hope for them both.

"That was a good hit Danny made," Mrs. Crandall said from a few feet away.

Todd nodded. He'd never felt comfortable around the team mothers. "Yes! I'm glad I got here in time to see it."

She went back to her knitting.

Danny was now in the outfield, and likely to see little action. Todd let his attention wander and noticed the blond man who was approaching the playing field from the opposite side of the park. Todd had seen him before. The blond man had two leashed dogs, one a black and white pointer with a stub for a tail, the other a little brindle mutt. The blond man sat on the sparsely occupied bleachers across the diamond. He seemed to interact a lot with the pointer, while the smaller dog lay down and seemed to accept being ignored.

The blond man was Coach Starsky's partner, Todd knew, for Starsky was a detective during his day job. He'd heard that they even lived in a house together.

The inning was boring, for the pitcher walked two players, making Todd wonder if the Tiger's two-run lead was in jeopardy.

Murmurs came from behind him. Todd glanced back to see Mrs. Ellison, the catcher's mother, talking to Mrs. Crandall, and trying to hold a newspaper in the breeze that blew across the park. Todd knew which article they were discussing. He'd seen it at lunch and had felt the same disbelief and fear that any parent would feel.

In Pasadena, a Little League coach had been arrested for molesting children. Three boys had told their parents the coach had forced them to have sex with him. The story said that more boys might be stepping forward to implicate the coach.

A parent's nightmare.

Todd watched as Coach Starsky walked away from the pitcher's mound, where he'd just taken a time out to have conference with the hapless pitcher. Starsky's thick curly hair stuck out from all sides of his baseball cap. The coach was upbeat, encouraging, and energetic. He obviously loved coaching kids.

Todd wondered if that's what the parents in Pasadena had thought about their coach.

Todd looked back to the opposite bleacher. He wondered why Starsky's partner bothered to come to the game, since he seemed bored.

Todd listened as more parents joined the discussion about the coach in Pasadena.

A cheer went up from the field as the pitcher, finally, struck out a batter. In the dugout, Danny was talking with the other boys, laughing, obviously still excited about the run he'd scored. He was no longer an outcast, no longer a loser. He was one of the team. Accepted.

"What do you think about this, Mr.... Ranson, is it?"

Todd turned to face Mrs. Crandall. She was looking at him expectedly, some of the other mothers gathered around her, and he felt sweat run down his back. He didn't want to get involved....

"It's Runyan. Todd Runyan." He hoped the correction would distract her.

"That was Danny who the coach smacked on the butt a little while ago," she said. She had dark curly hair and sunglasses that made it difficult to see her eyes. But her mouth was set in a hard frown.

Mrs. Ellison, on the other side of Mrs. Crandall, said, "He does touch the boys an awfully lot, don't you think?"

Todd shrugged. "Professional players touch each other all the time." He wondered if they would pick up on how defensive he was feeling, on how he didn't want to be a part of this.

Another woman - Todd didn't know her name - leaned down from the row above. Whispering, she said, "That blond man over there... that's his partner, isn't it?"

There were nods of agreement.

"I've heard they live together."

"They do," Mrs. Crandall said. "I remember something being said about it during one of the practice sessions." She paused, snorting. Then, "What do you think?" It seemed to be a rhetorical question, for she spoke some more. "They shack up together just to share expenses or something like that?" Her tone made it obvious that possibility wasn't believable. "Can you imagine what a gold mine this is for Coach Starsky? A whole team of innocent little boys."

Todd swallowed, a sense of doom gathering.

"Now just a minute," Mrs. Ellsworth said. "Tommy loves Coach Starsky. He's a good coach. Tommy wouldn't feel that way if - "

Mrs. Crandall shook the newspaper, interrupting her. "Don't you think those parents in Pasadena thought the same thing about their sons' coach?"


* * *


"Here's your little mutt." Hutch offered Girlfriend's leash. The game had ended, the Tigers winning three to one. He and the dogs had gotten plenty of exercise with a walk around the park, and Hutch was ready to go home.

"You take her," Starsky said as he reached down to pet Girlfriend. She was wagging her tail excitedly. "I gotta take a couple of the boys home. I'll just be a few minutes."

Hutch knew that Starsky was concerned that the parents wouldn't appreciate their sons riding with a strange dog, especially one who wasn't particularly friendly and loved only one human: her master, known in the household as "Uncle Starsky". "All right," he said. "Why don't you pick up some fried chicken on the way home?"

Starsky frowned. "Why don't you? You'll be going right by there."

"In case you haven't noticed, mush brain, I'll have a couple of dogs in the car with me, and they may get to the chicken before we do."

"Not if you tell them no," Starsky insisted. He'd always been more interested than Hutch in making the dogs obedient.

Hutch sighed heavily, wondering what he could say to that.

"All right," Starsky grumbled, waving a hand. "I'll pick up the chicken." He gave Girlfriend a final pat, then turned away toward his car, where a couple of his players were waiting.

Satisfied that he'd gotten his way, Hutch turned toward the other side of the park. "Come on, boys and girls," he said. The two dogs followed him to his green Mercury.


* * *


Starsky was back to his usual cheerful self when he came home with a barrel of chicken under his arm. "Too bad you didn't see when we scored," Starsky said, bringing it into the kitchen. After setting the bucket on the table, he knelt and greeted Girlfriend properly, who was spinning around and wagging her tail excitedly.

"Yeah?" Hutch prompted, though he was more interested in the grapes he was picking off a vine.

"Yeah. A lot of the kids had good hits in the third inning. Then, in the eighth, Danny Runyan got a triple, and then got batted in. Man, was he excited. He hasn't always been a very good player - kind of withdrawn and stuff. And, better yet, his dad was there to see it." Starsky was putting pieces of chicken on the plates Hutch had already set on the kitchen table.

Hutch grunted, taking the grape vine with him to set on the table between them. As they both sat down, he said, "Seems like most of the parents at those games are the mothers."

"Yeah," Starsky agreed forlornly. "Usually the fathers are working and stuff. Or, you know, the parents are divorced and the fathers don't live in the area any more. And then the mothers sit there and knit and read the paper and don't always pay attention. Imagine how that makes the kids feel." He bit into a drumstick.

Hutch supposed it was only natural for Starsky to feel protective of the players under his charge. He decided to change the subject. "We might have a lead on the Salas murder," he said around a mouthful of chicken.

That perked his partner up. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. After you left for the game, I was able to get a hold of that Whitehall guy. We need to talk to him again tomorrow. He knows someone who had the motive, the weapon, and the opportunity to kill Salas."

Starsky wiped his mouth. "Terrific."

Hutch eyed his lover's lips, wet with grease. "You missed a spot."

Starsky ran a finger along his lips. "Did I get it?"

He loved it when Starsky didn't pick up on the game right away. "Not yet."

Starsky again rubbed his fingers all over his lips. "Now?"

"I'll have to check it out later," Hutch deadpanned.

"Oh." Starsky bit into a new drumstick. After chewing a moment, he warned, "You better be damned thorough."

Hutch smiled sweetly. "I intend to be."


* * *


Starsky swore as the last of the sun disappeared over the horizon. He was sitting on the back patio, an array of screwdrivers and other tools spread around him, along with various parts of the gas grill which he'd hoped to have finished putting together well before dark. But the fates were against him.

The grill wasn't needed until the weekend, when Huggy and the sisters next door, Toni and Annette, would come over for a barbecue. But the Oakland Raiders were hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football tonight, and he and Hutch had intended to assemble the grill prior to the game. Unfortunately, the project had been much more involved than they'd anticipated and had caused more than their usual level of bickering. Hutch had gotten so irritated, he'd abandoned the project to watch the pre-game show. Starsky had stubbornly stayed on the patio, determined to finish. But now it was dark. He could no longer work, since the patio light had gone out over two weeks ago, and he and Hutch were each waiting for the other to buy a new bulb. And now, because of this stupid grill - and the assistance from his partner, who had turned out to be no help at all - he'd probably missed the entire first half of the game.

"Fuck," he muttered.

A brindle head looked up at him.

Starsky patted Girlfriend. She was at her usual place at his side. And he knew Hutch's dog, The General, was at his usual place at Hutch's side, on the sofa, watching the game with his master. While I'm trying to get this fucking thing put together. And because Hutch is too damn lazy to buy a light bulb, I can't finish it tonight.

But as he petted the dog, he found his temper easing. "Sorry, Girlfriend," he said, "didn't mean to swear. Guess we better go inside and see what those two lazy bums are up to, huh?" He stood and felt his forty-one-year-old bones protest from sitting on the concrete too long.

Starsky pushed back the sliding glass door that opened into the kitchen. He closed it after Girlfriend trotted in behind him, annoyed that a fly had also managed to slip inside.

"What's the score?" he called as he took a beer from the refrigerator.

"Seventeen to ten, Oakland," Hutch replied from the living room. The living room was dark with only the glow from the television set visible from the kitchen.

Starsky looked in the cabinet for the Doritos, then realized Hutch must be hogging them all. He entered the living room just in time to see Oakland complete a long pass, the crowd cheering wildly.

"All right!" Hutch approved. The blond favored the Raiders, though he respected the 49ers as well. He grabbed a handful of Doritos from the sack on the coffee table. Then he said, "There's six minutes left in the half," before shoving the chips into his mouth.

Starsky noticed that The General was curled up at his master's side. Hutch scratched his ears.

The next play was a run that only produced a yard.

"This is a good game," Hutch said. His tone clearly implied You should be watching it with me.

Starsky bit his tongue and refrained from pointing out that he'd been working his ass off trying to get the damn grill put together, and he would have been able to finish the job if somebody in this household had bothered to get a new light bulb for the patio. He also noticed that Hutch was wearing his robe and his hair was damp. Obviously, he'd showered before the game - relaxing as though he'd actually done anything to help.

Starsky turned back to the kitchen. He reached for the cabinet that contained the dog treats. "Snack time," he called. Girlfriend whimpered at his feet as The General came bounding into the kitchen. He gave each of them a rawhide chewie, then opened the sliding glass door. "Outside." They both ran to the yard.

Starsky sighed, wondering if he should go back in the living room and sit by Hutch. He always hated it whenever they went to bed still feeling snappish toward each other. While bickering was a natural part of them, it sometimes got to the point of genuine irritation, like when they'd been trying to put the grill together. Their bad feelings festered as Hutch watched the game and Starsky kept working on the grill alone. If they went to bed without making up, it would be a long, restless night. And that sucked.

Howard Cosell said there was five minutes and forty seconds left in the half.

Life is too short to be grumpy with each other for stupid reasons, Starsky decided. His creativity went into overdrive.

He walked down the hall to the bathroom, and spent some time cleaning the dirt from beneath his fingernails. After drying, he took a hand towel from the linen closet, and then found the K-Y in the bedroom. He came back into the living room and tossed the items onto the sofa. "Take off your underwear."

Hutch barely glanced up. "Why?"

"Because I have to get you ready for half time."

Hutch sighed as though he were being asked to do something strenuous, but he got up from the couch enough to pull off his underwear, eyes still on the TV screen. "All right, first down!" he cheered. Then he plopped back on the couch, robe open, legs spread invitingly. He took a big swig of beer.

"Wrong," Starsky said, amused. Though, granted, that swelling flesh did look awfully tasty. "Come on, stretch out, on your stomach."

Hutch didn't look at him, but got up on one knee, and put his beer on the coffee table.

"Why don't you get rid of that robe while you're at it."

The center snapped the ball as Hutch took off the robe and grabbed a sofa pillow, resting his arms on it as he lay facedown. "Shit," he grumbled when the running back was tackled.

Starsky pushed Hutch's left leg off the edge of the couch, to the floor. Though he seemed completely attentive to the game, Hutch spread his legs. Bending his other knee, he rested it against the sofa's back. The awkward position raised his ass a few inches off the cushion.

Mmm, Starsky thought as he sat down behind Hutch. He wasn't sure which of the exposed areas before him he wanted to start with.

Howard Cosell announced that there was exactly three minutes left in the half.

Starsky bent his head to Hutch's nicely plump scrotum. He lapped at the furred pouch, using a wide tongue, and the stray hairs tickled his taste buds pleasantly.

Hutch reached beneath himself and stroked his cock.

"Quit!" Starsky smacked a muscular thigh with the back of his hand.

Hutch released himself and called out encouragement to the running back carrying the ball.

Speaking of balls....

Starsky carefully squeezed the generous pouch, his tongue heading up to the perineum. He pushed firmly, knowing how delightful pressure could be on that special area. Hutch made a little grunt, but it was difficult to know if it was from what Starsky was doing or what was happening on the television screen. Starsky's fingertips replaced his tongue, stroking, his tongue moving to the bottom of Hutch's crack, snaking up into that hidden area.

Hutch cursed when a timeout was announced, but he spread his legs more.

Not yet, Starsky chided. He straightened, looking down over the top of that white butt. He parted the crack, moistened his mouth, then slid his tongue down the seam.

Hutch's butt wriggled but he was silent now that a commercial was on.

Starsky thought about reprimanding him to hold still but he didn't want to lose his place. He had to work up more moisture halfway down, but his tongue still stayed at the deepest part of the crevice, dancing there, as saliva ran from his mouth to start its slow trek down that narrow crack. Then he licked downward again, carrying the lubrication faster to the recess below.

Then his tongue was there, feeling that wrinkled texture and swirled around Hutch's tender skin, pressing deeper to deposit a larger helping of spit. His hands spread the cheeks wide, and he took a time out of his own to kiss all around the newly exposed region. And then, as a contrast, he darted his tongue at the very center.

It was never difficult getting past Hutch's opening, for Hutch liked having any part of Starsky up his ass. That trust had been strong from the very beginning. As Starsky circled his tongue around the rim of the barrier, he felt a quiver go through Hutch. He pressed deeper as, as expected, the muscle relaxed enough for him to gain entry. He stiffened his tongue and darted it in and out of the newly accessible area, taking tremendous satisfaction in Hutch's groan.

The game was back on, and it sounded like there could be only one play before the two-minute warning. Starsky didn't know if Oakland still had the ball. He didn't know if Hutch knew, either.

Starsky eased up, kissing gently as he backed out of the crevice. He and Hutch both had their different ways of ass licking. While Hutch's attentions were intense and non-stop once he had Starsky writhing and whimpering, Starsky tended to relax and enjoy himself, alternating intensity with a casual, but no less loving, demonstration of his affection

He kneaded Hutch's buttocks in his hands, then parted them again. Using a wide, lapping tongue, he favored the outer area with slow strokes. This technique had a way of relaxing Hutch, rather than tantalizing, and he enjoyed tasting the different textures of hair, delicate skin, and feeling the depression of the opening there.

There was another commercial on for the two-minute warning, and Hutch was silent - but obediently still - as Starsky leisurely loved that intimate region.

When the game was back on, Starsky put his lips against the opening and sucked. Hutch shuddered and trembled, and Starsky felt goosebumps break out along his ass. Taking immense satisfaction in the reactions he'd created, Starsky shifted and pressed his face in deeper again, swirling his tongue around the outer skin. He worked up more saliva, and used it to further lubricate the opening.

Though he couldn't move much with his legs spread so wide, Hutch tried to push back, demanding penetration. Starsky accommodated him, darting his tongue inside as best he could, as Hutch tried to open and grip the slippery flesh. Starsky's own shaft was hard instantly, knowing it was going to get the full benefit of that clinging tightness in the very near future.

Starsky went back to swirling his wet tongue along the outer rim. He heard an emphatic "Oh, God" and knew it had nothing to do with the cheering crowd. That pleased him and he rewarded Hutch with smacking kisses along the outer area. "Mmmm," he sighed with satisfaction for the pleasure he felt while doing this for Hutch.

With his lips and tongue still busy, Starsky let go of the right buttock and felt along the sofa for the plastic tube. He picked it up, deftly worked the cap off, then held it as he forced his tongue in deeply, pressing up into the tightness. Hutch shuddered. Starsky pulled back with a deliberate, slow movement, loving how that greedy ass muscle tried to cling to his tongue.

Starsky straightened and squeezed ointment along his left hand. Hutch collapsed against the sofa pillow, heavy-lidded eyes staring at the TV set.

Starsky grinned. Reaching down with his coated fingers, he felt along the wet, wrinkled recess, then pushed in with his index finger. Hutch's sphincter muscle gripped the invading digit. Hutch had never needed much foreplay for comfortable fucking, but Starsky enjoyed providing patient stimulation when he was in the mood. He slowly pushed the finger in deeper, loving the way the muscle clenched it possessively, trying to draw it inside Hutch's eager body. Starsky waited until the opening relaxed, then pushed in as far as he could go.

Hutch groaned, a long, drawn-out sound as his eyes closed.

Starsky glanced at the TV and saw that there was forty seconds left of play before half time. He finger-fucked Hutch with short stabbing motions, then pulled back to the rim. His middle finger worked its way in beside the first one, and Hutch moaned loudly. Both fingers rocked against the bottom of Hutch's rectum, feeling for the quarter-sized gland. Once again, ass muscles worked overtime, trying to absorb the fingers in deeper. Hutch was no longer watching the TV. Instead, he seemed to be in some far-off world of his own.

Starsky took pity and removed his fingers, so Hutch could at least see the end of the half. Besides, he needed to get undressed. He used his feet to work his shoes off while he pushed his pants down. He stroked his aching erection as he stepped out of his clothing. He decided not to bother removing his shirt.

Starsky looked at the television screen. Oakland was running out the clock rather than executing another play. He reached for the remote control and muted the television. Straightening, he stood next to Hutch's face, his legs pressed against the sofa.

Hutch obeyed the silent request and opened his mouth.

Starsky closed his eyes as soft wetness enclosed him. Hutch was so familiar with how to please him that the blond could orchestrate an ejaculation whenever he wished. But Starsky knew he wouldn't do that now. Hutch wanted to be filled from the other end. His hands were gently squeezing Starsky's balls, trying to make Starsky harder without sending him over the edge.

The sensations were so good... the way Hutch did this. Starsky stroked the sides of Hutch's face with gentle fingertips, then let the digits drift back until they outlined the shape of his ears. Then one of Starsky's hands reached up and settled in fragile hair, wanting to say "I love you" as tenderly as possible.

"Mmm," Hutch said, sucking noisily now.

Starsky's balls tightened and he wondered if Blondie had misjudged. Quickly, he stepped back, wincing at the wet sound his shaft made as it fell from between full lips.

Hutch stared at Starsky, his mouth hanging open provocatively. His tongue appeared and, so slowly, it circled around his lips. He only released Starsky from his gaze when he closed his eyes and then deliberately swallowed... as though savoring the memory of that flavorful flesh.

Starsky's loins quivered. He wanted to ram his cock down that skilled throat. Satisfy that hungry mouth. Dangle his firm balls along that pale chin. But he'd gotten Hutch prepared for other activities. Not for the first time, he wished he had two pricks, so he could satisfy each end of Hutch simultaneously.

Starsky glanced back at the silent TV set. The Monday Night announcers were talking against the background of a marching band. He shoved the coffee table out of the way, and stood before the sofa, soothing his taut erection. "It's half time," he announced. Hutch had opened his eyes again, waiting to see what Starsky was going to do next. "Get on your knees and face the wall."

Starsky moved to pick up the K-Y while Hutch obeyed. He squeezed some onto his fingers and applied it to the head of his flaring prick. Hutch knelt on the cushions in the center of the sofa, his hands resting against the back. He looked a little awkward and uncertain.

They'd fucked on the couch before, of course. But the mechanics could be confusing at times. And what Starsky had in mind for this little interlude was something they hadn't tried before. But if it worked like he imagined, it would be so good....

He stepped behind Hutch and inserted two fingers up inside that slick, waiting ass. He loved feeling up inside there, knowing that it was his to do with as he pleased. Loved knowing what it felt like back there, and how much Hutch loved every little move of his fingers. "Spread your legs more," he instructed thickly. He almost always had to tell Hutch to do that. Make more room for his huge cock.

With those long thighs wide-spread on the cushions, Hutch's ass was perched just over the edge of the sofa. Perfect.

Starsky withdrew his fingers and used them to take himself in hand. He guided his thickness up against that wrinkled orifice. Resisting all instincts to plunge deeply, he instead pushed just a little, so just part of the head disappeared into Hutch.

His whole body throbbed. "Sit down on it," he directed breathlessly.

Hutch was so damn good to him. That tight orifice opened and pushed down on Starsky's prick, engulfing the head.

"Ohhhhh," Starsky groaned deeply as more of him was swallowed up, millimeter by millimeter.

Most of it was inside when Hutch suddenly reversed direction and slowly pulled up, his tight walls massaging Starsky's baby-soft skin.

Starsky gasped loudly. And then was afraid of losing his beloved sheath. But it started to sink again. It was subtle, but Starsky could tell those muscles were more relaxed now. And they sunk steadily, past the point where they'd reversed direction before.

Hutch was sitting on his prick.

Starsky tossed his head to get sweaty bangs out of his eyes. Then, safely ensheathed, he reached around Hutch's waist, inside those strong thighs. His left hand picked up Hutch's partially erect shaft and stroked it firmly.

Hutch groaned and he tightened around Starsky.

Sweat ran down the side of Starsky's face. It would take so little to put him over the edge. But that wouldn't be fair. He took a deep, deep breath, then exhaled. "Pull off just a bit."

Hutch started to raise himself again. Before releasing each centimeter of flesh, his muscles hugged it longingly.

"Shit," Starsky swore. Hutch had had too much practice at getting his ass fucked. He knew all the tricks. Could probably pull the cum right out of Starsky from muscle movement alone, if he wanted to.You don't want to do that, Hutch. Gotta a better surprise for you.

Only the head of his prick was enclosed. "Sink back," Starsky demanded. He took a firm grip on Hutch's length.

Slowly, he pulled his hand off the front of that generous shaft, as Hutch sunk, just as slowly, back down on him.

Hutch groaned... deep and long.

"That's right," Starsky panted. "Fuck my cock with that beautiful ass of yours, and my hand will fuck yours real nice."

Hutch pulled off, faster now, and Starsky gripped the shaft again at the base. He pulled his hand up and off as Hutch sat back down on his prick.

Hutch had the idea now. He propelled himself up and down Starsky's thick erection, and Starsky simultaneously rewarded him with a similar movement along his big, throbbing cock. His right hand reached around and fondled his partner's heavy ball sac... kneading... squeezing.

Hutch's head fell back, and he groaned more intently.

Ah, yes.... This was working great. Starsky almost felt like he was jerking himself off, except that it was Hutch's massive flesh instead of his, but his own prick was enjoying it right along with Hutch's. He tightened his grip now, preparing to send Hutch to nirvana, working his hand just the way Hutch loved.

He was doing too good a job. Hutch had stopped moving and now simply groaned... over and over again... as Starsky worked with the sensitive organs. That shaft was huge in his hand, and he could scarcely keep a good grip on it. Sensing that Hutch's release was imminent, Starsky moved his hips back and felt his prick slide out until just the first couple of inches were inside. He hoped he could ride out the upcoming wave....

Hutch growled from deep within his chest, and then a multitude of muscles were spasming in a delicious way around Starsky's cock. Hutch cried out, and Starsky watched semen burst forth in a joyous stream to the back of the sofa.

Shit, forgot to put the towel down!

He was grateful for the distracting thought, for it helped him enjoy those flexing muscles as they massaged his crown, without tipping him over the edge. He put his hand back to the base and stroked Hutch's shaft once more, taking tremendous satisfaction in the additional fluid that dribbled on the seat cushion.

Then he let go.

Hutch groaned and his upper body sagged against the top of the sofa back. Starsky knew that his big blond would also appreciate being able to move his legs, but Starsky wasn't done yet. He gripped Hutch's hips, then drove his prick up deep inside him.

"Ohhhh," Hutch gasped with satiation.

Starsky quivered all over. And then he pumped... powerfully... deeply... and when he felt the sensation nearing the peak, he pulled almost all the way out, letting the crown of his prick enjoy the tight sphincter muscles. And then he rammed back in with one long, smooth stroke. He grabbed Hutch's shoulders and undulated backwards once more.... And then release was upon him as he shoved forward....

Starsky's growl was deeper than Hutch's, but not quite as long-winded. He closed his eyes, gasping for breath, waiting for the last of his sperm to pump into Hutch. And then he withdrew and staggered to one side.

Hutch slowly drew his legs together and straightened. He gingerly slipped into his robe, then plopped back down on the couch in the same spot as before. He reached for the remote.

Starsky grabbed the towel and starting wiping up the semen that hadn't dried. He heard Howard Cosell say that the teams were back on the field for the second half, and the kickoff would ensue after a commercial break.

Starsky cleared his throat and sighed as he moved into the bathroom on wobbly legs. He spent a while rinsing out the towel, then used warm water to wet it again. When he came back into the living room, Hutch was sitting relaxed, sipping his beer, sated eyes fixed on the television.

Starsky scrubbed at the residue that had already dried on the back of the sofa. He knew that, while Hutch's eyes were watching the kickoff, the back of the blond's mind was thinking about what had just taken place. And that would go on throughout the rest of the game: Big Blondie's brain circuits reaffirming over and over again what a delight it had been to get an unexpected fuck at half time. So, when the game was over and they went to bed, Hutch would be very horny. He'd put Starsky into a crouch on the bed and tongue his ass relentlessly. Only after Starsky was shaking all over and crying out repeatedly would Hutch bring out the ultra-firm pillow and push Starsky's hips down on it, so that enticing, rounded globes were presented to him. He always favored the "bottoms-up" position; he said it made Starsky's ass feel like the most perfect of cushions. And he'd insert his greased-up prick between those mounds and hump frantically. It would last a long time, because Hutch had come just a couple of hours before, and also because they weren't as young as they used to be. And after Starsky would start to worry about his partner having a heart attack from all his exertions, he'd start talking dirty - something his upper middle class partner seemed to cherish. He'd tell Hutch to fuck his hot, tight ass hard and deep with his huge, thick prick, and Hutch would get even more excited and pump deeper and faster. And then he'd come, screaming like crazy. And they'd curl up together and fall right to sleep, the squabble over the grill too ancient and insignificant for either of them to remember in the morning.

Starsky grinned as he headed for the shower. Life was beautiful when you knew a post-game celebration was inevitable, regardless of which team won.


* * *


Todd felt his heart pound as he pulled up behind a green Mercury. He noted the little red house with the white trim. Yes, he was sure this was it. He'd stopped here once before to pick up Danny's baseball glove, when his son had accidentally left it behind at the game. Coach Starsky had taken it home and called Todd, and then given him directions to the house.

Tonight was a practice night, and Coach Starsky shouldn't be home. Todd both hoped, and dreaded, that the presence of the Mercury meant that the blond one was here. By confronting Starsky's partner, instead of Coach Starsky himself, he hoped it would help prevent any bad feelings that the coach might otherwise develop toward his son. Especially if this meeting went badly.

With a sense of destiny, of a turning point, he made his way up the sidewalk. He could hear dogs barking inside, warning him away, and wondered if he should heed them. After all, who was he to do what he was about to do? Why was he getting involved? Did it really have to come down to a face-to-face confrontation?

He had always thought himself a coward. Everything would be simpler if he still was, for then he wouldn't feel the need to do this.

He pushed the doorbell and the barking intensified.

The door opened and the blond man stood there, holding the screen open a crack. "Yes?"

Todd found line one of his rehearsed speech easy enough to remember. "I'm Todd Runyan. My son plays on Coach Starsky's team."

The blond man had kneed the dogs out of the way, and the animals had quieted. He opened the screen wider. "I'm afraid Coach Starsky isn't here right now. It's a practice night." The tone in his voice said, "If you were a good parent, you'd know that."

"Yes, I know," Todd said quickly, heart pounding more heavily. The blond man had blue, piercing eyes. "I didn't come here to see him." He held his breath. "I came to see you."

Suspicion danced across the other man's features, and his eyes narrowed. "Me?" he asked in a deceptively soft voice. "Why?"

"If you'll give me a chance to explain... it's very important. And... and I think you'll want to hear me out."

A deep frown appeared beneath the mustache. But he held the door open and grabbed the collar of the larger dog. "Come in."

Todd stepped up and held out the back of his hand to the larger dog in a non-threatening manner. The smaller dog was sniffing suspiciously at his feet. The pointer seemed satisfied and Todd patted his head as the blond man let go of his collar. He thought about making small talk and asking the dog's name, but he didn't want to appear friendly when he knew what he had to say would only cause pain.

"Sit down," the blond offered, indicating the sofa. "Can I get you something?"

Todd sat but quickly shook his head. "No." He swallowed and forced himself to meet the other man's eyes. "I'm afraid you aren't going to like what I have to say," he said by way of explaining why he didn't want to get too comfortable. It had seemed natural to finish the sentence by addressing the blond man by his name, but.... He cleared his throat. "Excuse me, I'm afraid I don't even know what your name is."

The other sat heavily in an easy chair next to the sofa, looking very wary. "Ken Hutchinson," he answered levelly. "I'm a detective with the Police Department. I'm Coach Starsky's partner."

"Yes, I'd heard that you were Coach Starsky's partner. That's why I'm here."

"What's this all about?" Hutchinson demanded.

Todd's gaze dropped toward the floor. "I came here to warn you."

"About what?" Hushed. Afraid.

If the speculations about Hutchinson and Coach Starsky were true, Todd thought, then he imagined they tended to be afraid a good part of the time. What if they were ever found out? Being afraid all the time didn't seem like much of a life.

Of course, Todd himself had always been afraid. And he'd thought his son would grow up afraid, too.

Todd forced himself to look up again, and he took a deep breath. "I'm sure you heard about the Pasadena coach who's been accused of molesting his players?"

Hutchinson nodded. "Yes." His expression grew even more wary.

Todd lowered his gaze with shame. "The other parents - the team mothers mainly - have been talking. And I've overheard a lot of what they've said. I hope to God I'm over-reacting, but I'm afraid that there's going to be trouble for Coach Starsky because of this."

Hutchinson's response was a whispered plea, directed at no one. "No."

"I hope I'm wrong, " Todd said again, as sincerely as he could. "But they keep talking about... about how Coach Starsky touches the boys." The blond head snapped up, the eyes outraged. "And - and there's been talk," Todd lowered his voice with embarrassment, "about what he and you... what your relationship is to each other."

Sadness and disbelief now dominated the other's face. "Do they think...," he whispered, then trailed off. "Do they actually think that Coach Starsky has done anything to their boys?"

"No, no," Todd said quickly, sorry he'd caused that fear. "No. No one is trying to claim Coach Starsky has done anything... inappropriate. But the fear is there. That it could happen. You've got to understand, Mr. Hutchinson, a story like that affects parents deeply. They all know it could one day be their kid. And they don't want to look back after the fact and say they could have prevented it when they saw it coming."

Anger now. "What do you mean 'saw it coming'?"

Todd was having a hard time catching his breath. This is exactly why he should remain a coward and never get involved in other people's lives. He always caused pain. When had he ever entered another person's life and left them feeling something good from their association? He tried to stay cool, treat this situation the same way he would a tense board room meeting. "Like I said before, the parents have been talking among themselves about how Coach Starsky touches the boys."

"Touching is wrong?" Hutchinson demanded. "Showing a child love is wrong?"

Todd spent a long time wondering how to answer. In fact, he wasn't sure why Hutchinson was expecting him to have the answers. But he did know certain facts. "Look, Mr. Hutchinson, you know as well as I do that no one would hold it against him if they could think of Coach Starsky as just an ordinary guy. But the mothers see you at the games, and there's speculation about why you're there... about just exactly what kind of friends you and Coach Starsky are, so to speak. When you add in what that creep coach did in Pasadena, you can't blame the parents for being concerned."

"And that's why you're here?" Hutchinson demanded sharply. "Because you're 'concerned' about what Coach Starsky might do to your son?"

"Yes, I'm concerned," Todd said, having known all along that any anger from the blond man would be directed at him, simply because he was the messenger. "But not for the reason you think. Coach Starsky has done right by my son, Danny." He lowered his eyes. "In some ways, he's been more of a father to him these past few months than I've ever been." He looked back up. "I don't want to see Coach Starsky the victim of some sort of paranoid witch hunt. But I don't know how to stop it. So, I thought the least I could do was warn you. Maybe you and he can figure out a way to stop it. I sure hope so." He stood, anxious to get away and leave behind the hurt he'd caused this sad, angry man. "That's all I came here to say."

The detective was hunched forward in his chair, eyes flaring with those very emotions.

"I'll show myself out."

He'd made it to the door when there was a desperate, "Wait."

Todd waited impatiently, hand on the knob of the screen door.

Hutchinson stood, turning toward him.

Todd swallowed, realizing just then what a formidable person he had just offended.

But Hutchinson's voice was soft, though his eyes were still pained. "Why did you want to warn us? Why do you care?"

Todd had asked himself those same questions, and avoided finding an answer. But he could not lie to this man he had just hurt. "Because my brother is a homosexual. And his life is hell." He pushed open the door and walked out.

* * *


Hutch's heart had been immensely heavy ever since Todd Runyan's visit. Now it was heavier still.

He stood back against the sliding glass door of the kitchen, head bowed, his hands noting the coolness of the window, a contrast to the summer evening outside.

Starsky had his rigid back against the refrigerator, beer in hand, his mouth working frantically, his eyes glaring with anger, his chest heaving. But he had not said anything. Not since Hutch had finally delivered the full message, which had taken a long time because of Starsky's explosions of disbelief and... his deep hurt.

Finally, words again. "I care about those kids!" Starsky bellowed.

"I know," Hutch said simply.

"What?" Starsky demanded rhetorically, gesturing with the beer bottle. "So, I'm not supposed to encourage them? Show them I care? Because I lay a hand on their shoulder or something, that means I wanna take them behind the dugout and...." His teeth ground together. Suddenly, his arm flew backwards and the beer bottled collided with the stove, shattering. He looked at the remaining lower third in his hand, then, face twisting in rage, crashed it down against the edge of the counter. More glass and beer covered the kitchen.

Girlfriend, who had been under the table, slunk to the other side of the kitchen with her tail between her legs.

Starsky glared at her, then approached her.

Hutch watched worriedly; his partner's stance hadn't softened. He wondered if, for the first time, Starsky might take his anger out on his precious pet. But Starsky only scooped her up in one hand and, walking across shards of glass with sneakered feet, opened the glass door as Hutch stepped aside, and gently tossed her out onto the patio.

Relieved, Hutch went to fetch The General, who was chewing on a toy around the corner. He silently took the dog by the collar and guided him along the edge of the kitchen opposite the glass. He pulled the door back and tossed the toy out into the yard, grateful when General followed. He slid the door shut and straightened.

Starsky's chest still heaved, as he covered his face with his hands, then rubbed frantically at his hair.

Softly, Hutch said, "It's possible nothing will happen."

Starsky's head snapped up. "Does it fucking matter?" he demanded. "Whether they file a formal complaint or not, the fact of the matter is they think I want to molest their children!" His teeth clenched again and he looked around as though needing something else to break.

Hutch tried to distract him. "Ironic, isn't it?" he whispered. "We always thought, if it came to something like this, it would happen at the Department."

"Right," Starsky said, nostrils flaring, "but instead I'm lower than slime because I goddamn care!" Some of the anger in his voice was replaced by desperation. "Just the other day, Tommy Ellison hit a home run. His first home run. His mother was in the bleachers. And I looked over at her while he's running the bases, and she's got her goddamn nose buried in a goddamn magazine. Her son is having the greatest moment of his life, and all she can goddamn care about is reading Max Factor ads. And most of these kids' fucking fathers don't even know their sons play baseball, let alone give a flying fuck about being there to encourage them or praise them for doing well, or even just for trying." His thumb hammered his chest as he screamed, "And I'm the bad guy!"

Hutch closed his eyes, assaulted by so much hurt and anger that he fell deeper into his own despair. There was absolutely nothing he could say that could soothe this much pain.

He heard the sound of a cupboard, and as he looked up, Starsky took a glass and flung it against the opposite wall. It shattered. He took the next glass and hurled it at the same spot. It, too, shattered. With each glass, Starsky threw more forcefully. When the glasses were done, he started on the plates. They were heavier, and he threw them even harder. The fourth one hit the wall so hard that the clock came crashing to the floor, shattering.

Hutch had never seen a flare of temper last this long. Usually, it didn't take much to bring Starsky back to earth when he lost it. Maybe standing idly by while his partner took his anger out of the dishes hadn't been the best choice. "Starsky, stop it."

Starsky looked at him, eyes flaring, his arm pulled back with another plate. Defiantly, he threw it as hard as he could, and paint chipped off the wall from the impact.

"Stop it!" Hutch hissed, stepping over to him just in time to wrestle Starsky for the next plate. Starsky had the upper hand, and he ended up throwing it to the floor at their feet. Then he wrenched away from Hutch's grip. He left the kitchen and went down the hall toward the bedroom.

Hutch knew that he should follow to see what Starsky would do next, but he had no wish to. He couldn't imagine any worse damage than the war zone before him.

The only thing Hutch knew for certain was that he had to get the mess cleaned up. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to let the dogs in before bed, and they'd never been left out all night. Already, darkness had fallen.

Sighing heavily, he grabbed a broom from the corner and started sweeping. First sweeping the glass from the stove to the floor, and then the multitude of shards, large and small, all over the linoleum. When he had everything in a large pile, he pulled the trash can near. Then he bent and scooped glass with the dust pan and dumped it into the trash. Each scoop felt very heavy.

As he worked, he realized that the house was silent. He didn't know what Starsky was doing, but at least it was fairly safe to assume he wasn't breaking anything else. Hutch wondered if he shouldn't have told Starsky - that had certainly crossed his mind after Todd Runyan had left - in case the whole thing blew over and the parents never said anything. But this situation had already caused an irrevocable change.

The glass blurred before Hutch's eyes as he continued to work. He could never again go to one of Starsky's games. He'd always considered the Little League games something that Starsky did separate from himself; just like he himself tended to invest a lot of time in walking and jogging with the The General - activities that Starsky and Girlfriend rarely got involved in. Still, there had been a freedom in knowing that he was always welcome at Starsky's games if he did decide to stop by the park, and watch unobtrusively while Starsky helped young lives better themselves. Starsky's coaching involved a lot more than just teaching kids how to play baseball. He used baseball to teach the kids other important things about life - teamwork, leadership, and tolerance for another's strengths and weaknesses.

Even if all that still went on after this blew over, Hutch would never again be able to stand back and watch it. Stand back and feel proud of all that Starsky accomplished. It would be too risky. Even if Starsky coached an entirely different team next summer, they wouldn't dare risk causing talk among the parents if Hutch simply dropped by to see how it was going.

Innocence lost.

Hutch snorted at himself, trying to find humor in the idea that they had any innocence left. But it wasn't funny. They'd always known something like this would probably happen, but they had expected to be defending their lifestyle before Internal Affairs. Not before parents who thought the charismatic Coach Starsky might have lewd thoughts about their little Johnny.

Hurts so much. Hutch dumped the last full dust pan into the trash. He stood and ran the broom over the floor again, finding yet more tiny shards. When he finally had those cleaned up, he stood over the stove and lifted up the burners, absently picking up small pieces of glass and tossing them into the trash. When he couldn't find any more, he turned to the sliding door where the dogs were waiting and let them inside. While The General bounded happily around the kitchen, Girlfriend trotted off down the hall to find her master.

He'd never hurt her, Hutch knew, recalling his moment of fear when he'd thought Starsky actually might. But Starsky would never hurt an animal. Or a child.

How could those parents possibly think....

Hutch turned out of the kitchen, down the hallway. Perhaps Starsky had gotten rid of enough anger that he could at least recognize Hutch as a friend instead of another foe in this incredibly hostile world - a foe who'd had the nerve to deliver such gut-wrenching news.

All the lights were off in that end of the house, and when Hutch entered their bedroom he was relieved to see that Starsky was curled up beneath the covers in bed, albeit stiffly and staring into darkness.

Hutch undressed silently. And then he slid into bed beside him, sighing out loud when he realized that anger still covered the other's body like a bulky cloak.


* * *


Starsky grit his teeth when he heard Hutch's sigh. The last thing he wanted to do right now was tend to any needs of Hutch's. He was too smothered by his own hurt and outrage.

The mattress rocked as Hutch settled, not touching him.

The air was thick as neither spoke for a full two minutes.

A hand settled on his shoulder. Gentle voice. "Starsky...."

Starsky wrenched his shoulder away. Harshly, he spat, "If you want to fuck, I'm not interested." He knew he was being a total jerk.

Still soft. "You're not the only one hurt by this."

Starsky closed his eyes and clenched his jaw. How dare Hutch say I hurt, too when Starsky hadn't had a chance to get over his own pain first. His voice was carefully level. "You haven't been accused of being a child molester." If Hutch got technical and said some stupid-assed thing like you haven't been accused yet, either, Starsky was going to turn around and slug him.

Instead, the bed rocked heavily, and then the mattress was lighter as bare feet padded against the hardwood floor. "Asshole," Hutch snarled. And then the tall silhouette was disappearing down the hall. A few moments later sound came from the living room and the glow from the television set lit the hallway.

Starsky let out a breath of relief. Thank God. At least the TV filled the house with noise. If Hutch would have tried to sleep on the couch without turning on the television, then the silence would have been utterly oppressive.

Starsky closed his eyes and his thoughts returned to where they'd been ever since he came home from practice and Hutch had told him about Todd Runyan's visit.

Starsky loved coaching Little League. Even more than he'd imagined. It seemed to fill a void that was left by the fact that he and Hutch could never have children. He liked helping those kids learn more about themselves and about life, while trying to help them be the best they could playing the game of baseball.

And now he was a monster. By virtue of being automatically associated with a monster he didn't even know in Pasadena. An assumed monster because his handsome partner showed up at the games on occasion. An assumed monster because he showed those kids affection and approval. Because he patted them on the head or the shoulder or the butt.

Starsky blinked repeatedly as the worst of the hurt pierced his gut yet again. When he was a kid, he loved getting that kind of attention from an adult he looked up to. Especially a male adult. It made him feel loved and secure and that he'd done something good to earn it. That he'd taken another step toward manhood because someone already there approved of him. Boys yearned for recognition from men... especially men whom they wanted to be like.

Even in adulthood, the yearning was there. Or, perhaps, it wasn't really yearning; just a grateful willingness to accept that affection and approval whenever it was offered. And Hutch had offered and offered and offered....

Starsky cringed, hiding himself farther beneath the covers. He was going to have to go out there and apologize to Hutch. Apologize big-time. Hutch had put up with his screaming and yelling and violence. Starsky had heard him out there cleaning up the mess.

Ah, shit, Hutch, I know this hurts you, too. Hurts you like crazy. He wondered what it had been like for Hutch listening to Todd Runyan tell him what the parents were thinking. Starsky supposed that he should feel grateful that there was one parent on their side. Yeah, he'd done good by Danny Runyan. That kid used to be so bashful and self-conscious and completely lacking in any confidence whatsoever. And Starsky had worked with him without giving him special attention; just catering to his specific needs when it was his turn at practice or in the games. In fact, the amazing thing about Danny was that it had actually taken very little to turn him around. Just a little bit of instruction, a little bit of praise, and a little taste of success... and Danny was now on his way to growing up to be a confident, capable man.

And now, if the parents had their way, there would be no more success stories like Danny Runyan.

Starsky clenched his fist against the pillow, feeling the sadness take hold.


Starsky's eyes opened wide. The word - an endearment they didn't use often any more - had been spoken in a very soft voice. A soft voice Starsky didn't deserve. More importantly, it was for him to go to Hutch and apologize. Not vice versa. "I'm sorry," he said sincerely, before Hutch could say it first.

Now a touch of humor. "Is it safe for me to come back to bed?"

Asking permission to be in your own bed. Ah, Hutch, I'm so sorry. "You left the TV on," he accused playfully, but he was sitting up and pulling back the covers.

"So," Hutch said. He came around to his side and got on the mattress.

Starsky wasted no time in putting his arms around that big, strong form and snuggling up to him. He made a "Mmm" noise when Hutch's arms pulled tight around him.

Starsky buried his face against his partner's smooth chest. "Just hurts so much."

A large hand pressed against the back of his head, holding him closer. "I know."

"I know it hurts you, too," Starsky said sadly, though he knew he didn't need to say that.

Hutch kissed his hair. "I know."

"It's just... the injustice of it all."

"I know."

Starsky tilted his head back, so he could see the outline of Hutch's face in the darkness. "Is there anything you don't know?"

A hand now rested against his hip. "I wasn't sure I was still in love with you while I was cleaning up the mess you made."

Starsky knew he didn't mean that. Nevertheless.... "What about now?" His head was still tilted back.

Soft chuckle. "You're impossible."

"That's what makes me lovable. Right....?"

Hutch started to say something, and then those soft, full lips were upon Starsky's. They pressed in a way that Starsky recognized as one intended to shut him up... or at least change the subject. He started to melt as a tongue darted out to draw a leisurely line along his lips. Just when the attention starting to become more arousing than affectionate, Hutch released him, and rested his stubbly cheek against Starsky's.

Starsky sighed. As much as he hated to admit it, he finally said, "Maybe I shouldn't feel that way about those parents, huh?"

Hutch tilted his ear closer. "Hm?"

"I just feel so pissed off that they'd think that about me. But maybe... maybe I shouldn't really blame them for being worried about their kids. I mean, if I were a parent and I'd read something like that in the newspaper, and if I had the slightest reason to think anyone who was an authority figure to my kid might be the 'type', I guess, who might do something... well, I wouldn't just sit idly by."

"You haven't done anything," Hutch pointed out. "Not even the slightest thing."

"Well...," Starsky wondered, "maybe it's wrong that I - you know - touch those kids and stuff. Maybe I shouldn't touch them, Hutch."

"Starsky, I can't believe you're serious."

Starsky was grateful that Hutch saw it that way. "I guess you're right."

"Do you think," Hutch challenged, "that that coach in Pasadena was anything like you? Do you think he did anything that would have given anyone a reason to be suspicious? He was probably the straightest-acting coach there was. And those kids couldn't have possibly looked up to him - not after what he did to them. They would have been terrified of him. But way too scared to tell their parents. All these parents here have to do is ask their kids what they think of you. That'll be the only answer they need as to whether or not you've behaved the least bit inappropriately around them. And I'll guarantee you that every one of those kids will have nothing but good things to say."

That was a nice thought. And maybe it was really that simple. Maybe that's how he should approach the parents when he confronted them about this.

Hutch relaxed more heavily against the pillows, but his arms tightened around Starsky. "Remember when I was strung out?"

Starsky blinked. Hutch was going a zillion years back in time. "Yeah?"

"I would've still kicked it, Starsky, as long as you'd guarded that door. As long as you were in the room. As long as you prevented me from getting a fix. And I would have stayed off of it, for no other reason than wanting you to not be disgusted with me. Wanting your approval."

Starsky wasn't sure if what Hutch was saying made any sort of sense, let alone being able to agree with him. He waited for Hutch to make his point.

Instead, the blond seemed to change the subject, his voice very soft. "You know, when I was a kid, there were certain things that were expected of me. Certain things that I expected of myself."


"You know, I had a lot of friends. I was active in a lot of things. And I," self-conscious laugh, "never hesitated to give advice to any of my friends. Tell them how they should live; whether it was how to be better in a certain sport, how to do well on a test in a certain subject, things like that. And, you know, a lot of my friends looked up to me. I always had an answer. I was a problem-solver. And I enjoyed being one. Helping other people."

Starsky had no idea where Hutch was leading and stayed silent.

"In high school, I'd been going steady with a nice girl. I really liked her a lot. And when she dumped me because - hell, I don't really remember why - I was pretty shook up about it. I remember telling my parents and they just sort of seemed amused. You know, like it was typical high school trauma. Nothing they needed to worry about."

"Yeah?" Starsky prompted when Hutch paused.

"Jack Mitchell was my best friend in high school."

"I remember him," Starsky encouraged.

"Well, I remember, so vividly, going over to Jack's house after this girl had said she wasn't going to see me any more. I felt so... devastated... that I was being dumped by somebody I really liked. She was my first real love and, of course, Jack knew that. So I went over to his house, feeling lower than low, and drowned my sorrows with him over a beer. And -" Hutch suddenly stopped.

"What?" Starsky nudged him, caught up in the story, though still having no idea as to its point.

A harsh laugh. "He was... sympathetic. But... not like I'd wanted. I mean, he was telling me to 'cheer up' and all that and saying that I had my whole life ahead of me and there would be plenty of other women I'd fall in love with and on and on and on."


Hutch hesitated, as though unsure of the right words. Then, "It was like he was trying to solve the problem for me, but he wasn't addressing me - the hurt I felt. And it was like - it's hard to explain - but I really got the sense that I'd disappointed him."

"Because a girl dumped you?" Starsky asked in disbelief.

"No, no. Th-that I'd needed something from him. I needed - wanted - something. Wanted his compassion. But it wasn't supposed to be that way. Kenneth Hutchinson was supposed to be the one who helped everybody else. But when he needed help, it was too scary for others to deal with. It meant he was other than what they'd thought. He wasn't the strong, perfect, all-knowing person he'd presented himself to be. So, instead of wanting to help him when he needed help, they were instead disappointed in him. And they turned away."

Starsky thought his heart was going to break. "Ah, Hutch." He took an arm that was around him and clasped it closer, petting along it. He'd never known Hutch had ever felt like that. Never known it at all.

And it occurred to him that this was the first time in a long, long time that he and Hutch had snuggled together in the dark and simply... talked.

"I remember the moment so vividly," Hutch went on. "The moment, in Jack's house, when it consciously crossed my mind that I could never be a person who could be weak - vulnerable - in front of others. Because they would always think less of me if they caught a glimpse and saw that I was an ordinary person."

Starsky petted the arm he held.

"But it wasn't," Hutch snorted now, "like I even felt sorry for myself, when I realized that. It was just," Starsky felt a shrug, "a fact. And from that moment on I saw more clearly how I fit into the world. So, it was actually a good thing. An enlightenment. I was supposed to go through life helping people. But people weren't supposed to help me back, or it would ruin their trust in me. So I just... accepted it."

"Jesus, Hutch." Starsky drew a deep breath. Then his brow furrowed. "So, what does this have to do with... well, you started out talking about the heroin thing."

"Yes," came the eager reply, as though Hutch were anxious to tie the two subjects together. "Like I said, Starsky, I would have kicked it as long as you were there. Even if you'd treated me with disgust. Because it would have hurt too much to disappoint you, so I would have tried like crazy to never disappoint you again."

"But...," Starsky struggled to understand, "I wasn't disgusted with you, Hutch. Or disappointed. Jesus, none of that was your fault."

"Right. But it not being my fault didn't change the fact that what I'd been turned into made me lower than slime. I was helpless. Needier than a two-day-old infant. I'd crashed through the rule I'd made at Jack Mitchell's place about never needing anybody. And—" Abruptly, he stopped again, his voice dry.

Starsky kissed his chin. Then kissed all along his jaw. "Tell me," he commanded gently, after settling back against the smooth chest.

Hutch swallowed. Then, finally, "I-I guess it's hard to explain. B-but... I'd been lower than slime, Starsky. Lower than slime for what I'd become. But...," very soft now. "But... you loved me, anyway. I was weak, incredibly vulnerable, and you weren't disappointed in me. You weren't disgusted by me. I didn't come away feeling that I'd let you down."

"Of course, you hadn't." Extreme tenderness.

Hutch's voice was stronger now. "As the fog began to clear over the next few days, weeks, months maybe... and I looked back at what had happened with a clearer mind, I came to realize that - that - that... that it had actually happened to me. That I'd been thoroughly needy and dependent, but someone was more interested in taking care of me than being disappointed in me, than judging me for needing them. I had thought I'd never be allowed that in my life. Things like that weren't supposed to happen to me." Soft and strained now. "All that love... It meant so much."

Starsky felt overwhelmed by the confession. What he had done at that time had seemed perfectly normal. Natural. Someone he loved very, very much was suffering terribly, and he'd done what he could do for him. Which certainly hadn't seemed like much. In fact, he'd caused Hutch tremendous pain by not giving him what he wanted, what he craved, what he was certain he had to have to survive. So, all he'd been able to do to compensate was... love him. Hold him and hug him and pet him and speak softly to him and encourage him. It was all Starsky had been able to give.

Gentle fingertips brushed along Starsky's forehead. "Am I making any sense at all?"

Starsky tilted his face up while still keeping his cheek against the smooth skin. "Sort of." He found the nearest hand and squeezed it. "It's just... well, gee, Hutch, there'd been times before that when I'd helped you. You know, when you were feeling really down. Like when you went through your divorce. You were a mess for a long time. I helped you then, didn't I? Without judging you or being disappointed in you?"

"Yeah," Hutch agreed quickly. "But... I guess that mess was dragged out over such a long time... it seemed like just a normal part of life." Pause. "I guess it took the heroin thing to really blow the picture up in front of my face and bring home the fact that you were somebody very, very, very special in my life. Beyond the fact that you watched over my backside on the streets. Someone incredibly precious. I liked... being loved like that. Almost...," heavy breath.

Starsky squeezed his hand again. "Almost what?"

"Almost to the point of being addicted to it. As soon as I found out how good it felt to have someone love me even when I was weak... I.... I started craving it. Wanted it even more. Looked for any excuse to interact with you, especially physically."

"And I loved it, too," Starsky pointed out. He considered a moment, then, "I guess I never really thought about it before, but I liked the way we were always so all over each other. And, you know, it's not like I'd ever been that way with anybody else." He squeezed the hand again. "Just you, Hutch."

They were silent for a while, gently petting each other. Then Hutch said, "You be good to those kids, Starsky. You never know when the love that you show them will be something that means a whole, whole lot somewhere down the line. When they might look back and realize it taught them something... something they couldn't get from their parents. Or from their other friends. That love is good. And, more importantly, they deserve it."

Starsky sighed quietly. Not sure the kids I coach are as messed up as you were, Hutch. Then he reluctantly turned to the more immediate problem. "Gotta figure out what to do."

"Tomorrow," Hutch said. His arms tightened. "Sleep for now. I'll hold you for a while."

Starsky wasn't sure that sleep would come that easy, but he enjoyed where he was right now and didn't want to lose the closeness they were feeling. But something was missing. He tilted his lips up. "Kiss?" But it was more a demand.

Soft lips touched his, then pressed.... A tongue licked diligently along Starsky's mouth. Shit. As depressed as he'd been feeling, there was nevertheless a stir at his groin. It didn't seem to matter which end Hutch's tongue tended to; it always sent waves of pleasure through him.

But Hutch pulled back and then relaxed.

Starsky knew that sleep definitely wasn't going to come soon. He was almost tempted to request that Hutch fuck him for the sole purpose of pounding the tension out of his body. But he had the feeling Hutch wasn't in the mood; otherwise, he would have continued the provocative kisses.

Starsky sighed sadly. "You know, what I really hate is that those parents are imagining what you and I do together... and making all the wonderful things we feel together into something dirty."

"Only dirty in their minds," Hutch reminded.

"I know, but...." Starsky sighed again, starting to feel even more depressed, now that the anger was spent. "I wish, sometimes, that I could share how much I love you with other people. That they could see how beautiful it is between us. But, instead, they're going to make it into something filthy and evil." It certainly wasn't the first time they'd had a conversation like this; but it had been a while.

Hutch's fingers gently massaged his arm.

He relaxed even more against Hutch's chest, wanting to bury himself in that strong body. "I love the life we've made for ourselves, Hutch. I know we've always known, depending on how bad the fallout was, that we might have to give it up and start over somewhere else if IA ever wanted to act on their suspicions." They both knew that there had to be suspicions. But they were good cops. No one in the Department would want to lose them unless the political implications caused too much pressure. "But this...," Starsky swallowed thickly. Then, sadly, "I really didn't think I could I ever feel pain like this. As long as we were together and both healthy and happy, I didn't think there was anything on Earth that could hurt this much." He straightened, then circled his arms around Hutch's neck and rested his cheek against the top of the blond man's shoulder, needing the closeness.

Hands petted up and down his back. "Of course, we can be hurt like this," Hutch said. "Just because we're fortunate enough to have someone we love so much doesn't mean we aren't still human."

Hutch was right. And none of this precluded them from still being very capable of hurting each other. "'M sorry I was such a prick earlier," Starsky said in a small voice.

Hands tightened against his back. "Love means never having to say you're sorry," Hutch quoted tenderly.

Starsky raised his head, glad to have an excuse to get away from the more depressing subject. "That's a stupid saying. The person you love the most is the person to whom it's most important to say 'I'm sorry'."

"Maybe so," Hutch relented. "But I think what that saying means is that even if you don't say you're sorry, the other person won't love you any less. Any bad thing you've done or said is automatically accepted, because the love is unconditional." He planted a kiss against Starsky's neck.

"Hmm," Starsky said, thinking that kiss seemed awfully tantalizing for being such a light touch.

Hutch straightened a little, his arms lowering to rest at Starsky's waist. "If you really want to show how sorry you are, then tomorrow why don't you go to K-Mart and get some new dishes and some lawn chairs and whatever else we might need for the barbecue. And a new clock for the kitchen. And also a light bulb for the back porch. I'll get the food."

Oh, yeah. They were having the sisters from next door, Toni and Annette, and Huggy over tomorrow. Starsky balked at the thought of company. "Think we ought to tell them what's going on?" he asked doubtfully.

A finger ran down his nose in a scolding gesture. "Of course, we'll tell them. When we're hurting like this, buddy, is when we need to let our friends be around us, instead of pushing them away."

That made so much sense. Starsky bent and rested his cheek against his love. "You're right." He suddenly felt more optimistic; this was something they didn't have to face alone.

They rested quietly, but Starsky knew sleep was impossible with so much to think about. He finally pleaded, "I want you deep inside me, Hutch. So deep that you pierce my heart."

Gentle hands settled on the sides of his face, tilted it up. Starsky looked into those eyes he could barely see in the darkness. Then they slowly closed, as Hutch bent his head.

Hutch's breath exhaled against Starsky as a hairy lip settled upon his, then pressed in a way that, finally, left no doubt as to its intent to arouse.

Yet, even then, Starsky sensed hesitation. And he knew why. With the tension they'd felt all evening, Starsky knew his body would be more resistant to invasion than usual, despite his desire to take Hutch deep inside himself. That meant more foreplay than ordinary would be necessary, which meant Hutch would be particularly intent on working his tongue back there to try to relax Starsky as much as possible before penetrating him with increasingly larger digits. But Starsky hadn't washed up since showering before work early this morning. And he knew neither of them was too keen on disrupting the current mood to make a trip to the bathroom.

But practicality was going to win. Hutch ran his soppy tongue from Starsky's mouth to his ear. Then he enticingly whispered, "Let me put you in the shower, clean you up, pamper you and baby you, bring you back to bed... and love you." And then his tongue was back at Starsky's lips, circling around them, as though promising that the trouble would be worth it.

Starsky had no doubt of that. He'd been such a complete ass earlier this evening... and all Hutch wanted to do in return was love him.

His big blond wasn't waiting for an answer. Instead, he kissed Starsky on the neck, gently pushed him to one side, then got out of bed. He took Starsky's hand, and Starsky followed willingly, feeling eager now.

The bathroom light seemed a rude intrusion. Hutch got the water going while still holding Starsky's hand. And then he beckoned him into the tub. Starsky didn't do anything, for Hutch had promised to take care of him. He let his love turn him this way and that, soaping appropriate areas, then carefully rinsing him off. Hutch then let go to tend to his own bathing, and Starsky took the opportunity to drop to his knees. He took the partially erect shaft in his mouth, savoring it, enjoying the way the water bounced off the back of Hutch's shoulders to cascade in a circle around them both.

Hutch groaned appreciatively and hardened in a way that Starsky found very satisfying. He worked leisurely on the flesh, not wanting to tease it too intently, and pulled down on the heavy scrotum, easing the most intense sensations. Hutch's upper body was twisting a little as he bathed and rinsed. And then he tugged on Starsky's shoulder.

Starsky rose to his full height, and beautiful blue eyes met his own. There was a trace of sadness in their depths, and Starsky found himself wishing that they didn't need to prove to each other how this was all worth it. But they were both very conscious that their joining would be something for them alone, something that many people - if not most people - wouldn't approve of. But they were going to defy those attitudes and do it, anyway, telling themselves that it didn't matter what others thought, even though the ache in both their hearts proved that it did.

Strong arms wrapped around Starsky, then rocked him back and forth. He rested his head on Hutch's shoulder, eyes closed against the stream of water. Those hands traveled down to his rear, gripping his buttocks in a way that he always found very stimulating... and which gave him a tremendous feeling of security. Covering his ass in the most literal fashion....

Hutch turned the water off. Starsky was beckoned from the tub, and he stood quietly while he was toweled off, slowly and carefully. Hutch knelt before him and, with reverence, leaned forward to take Starsky into his moist mouth.

"Oh, babe." Starsky laid an appreciative hand on the top of Hutch's golden head. He hadn't thought he had the energy to come, but the sensation was already building. Hutch swallowed around him, then drew his head back with a long motion, while also keeping his mouth snug around Starsky's flesh. It was incredibly stimulating, watching and feeling Hutch pulling off his cock, but then gobbling it back up just before it would have fallen from his lips. The suction was incredible, the pulling sensation not quite anything Starsky had experienced before.

"Jesus God," he swore with reverence, "you're gonna pull the cum right outta me."

Hutch stopped pulling back then, but he now sucked Starsky to the back of his throat... and kept swallowing.

"Ohhhh," Starsky threw back his head. "That's so beautiful, babe. That's so damn beautiful." Hutch was the most incredible lover he'd ever known, and he petted his head frantically, wanting to love him as much as possible without moving and disrupting the ecstatic sensations.

Then he was at the peak, and he bellowed loudly as fluid and sensations flushed through him, rushing out of his barrel... filling up Hutch's throat....

Starsky collapsed to his knees as soon as he was released. He swallowed, breathing heavily, then looked up at that soft, pleased face across from him. He wrapped his arms around Hutch's neck. "Feel a little better," he admitted in a whisper, then touched his lips to the partner's. "But I still want you deep, deep inside me." The orgasm had relaxed him nicely, even if meant he wouldn't be able to come again when they fucked.

Hutch kissed him. Then embraced him. A soothing hand slid up and down Starsky's back, the affection he felt making him all the more eager to have Hutch inside himself.

Hutch stood, taking Starsky's hand, and led the few steps it took to cross the hall and enter the darkened bedroom. He bent and pulled out the extra firm pillow that had been a gift from Huggy many years ago. It was placed on the mattress, and Starsky positioned himself on top of it, on his back, so that his hips were elevated. As Hutch got on the mattress, Starsky reached down and pulled his cheeks apart, while folding his legs back to his chest, showing his eagerness for Hutch to tend to him, so they could be joined.

The bed rocked with Hutch's weight as he got settled. A moment later, Starsky felt that talented tongue at his center, dancing around his sensitive region, then licking diligently with a strong sense of purpose.

This was such a special thing that Hutch did to him. Such a beautiful and precious thing. When they joined with each other, Hutch was on the bottom about three-fourths of the time. It was automatic. Starsky only took the submissive role when he particularly wanted to get fucked, as with tonight, or if Hutch particularly wanted to do the fucking, which wasn't all that often. Therefore, Hutch seemed to treat those rarer occasions when he was on top with a degree of worship, almost as though it were a sacred act. His preparing Starsky this way, in addition to being necessary foreplay, also had an air of ritual, as though Hutch needed to pay homage to Starsky before taking his pleasure from him. Hutch's well-practiced tongue had to be one of the most erotic tools on Earth.

Usually, that moist flesh had Starsky writhing and crying out within a matter of moments. But Starsky didn't feel very sensual right now... just needy for his partner's strength and security. Still, the sensations at his opening - Hutch was now swishing his tongue around the rim - made Starsky shiver. The next thing he knew he was uttering little noises of delight. He moved one of his hands and placed it between his legs to pet Hutch's hair. He felt Hutch's head dip and bob, which allowed that tongue to be as thorough as possible.

New noises penetrated the darkness. Wetness. Thick saliva sandwiched between talented tongue and tender skin. Starsky drew a deep breath and slowly released it, trying to help Hutch along. He knew Hutch wouldn't quit until his asshole changed "texture" - a word Hutch had used when Starsky had bashfully asked him about his technique a long time ago. Hutch had to feel the muscle relax to a specific degree - and he considered only himself worthy of making that judgment - before he'd stop and use his fingers. He'd only use one finger until he felt the Starsky's flesh reach a certain texture, and only then would he resort to two. And he wouldn't fuck Starsky until he could comfortably put three inside there. Starsky didn't think he really needed to be treated with so much caution anymore, but Hutch still seemed to want, to need, to go through the ritual. Granted, there were a few rare occasions when they skipped it completely - Starsky had a fond memory of getting fucked while bent over the kitchen stove quite a number of months ago - but, for the most part, the foreplay followed the set pattern. It made Starsky feel so worshipped and loved.

Starsky shuddered as that tongue touched a nerve in a new, different way, and he felt saliva start to run down his crack.

"Ah, Hutch," he whispered appreciatively. The blond's tongue continued to work, so diligent, loving him so much. Starsky suddenly felt heavy-hearted, knowing that others would consider what Hutch was doing to him to be filthy, degrading, disgusting. Some might even consider it evil. He closed his eyes and tried to force back the thought, sorry that he'd allowed it to enter his mind. Allowed the outside world to enter this sacred place between them.

Hutch paused. Kissed the back of his thigh. Then waited.

Starsky knew he'd just destroyed all the good work Hutch had done, and he was sorry. He was tense again, his heart beating rapidly. Trying to sound cheerful, he whispered, "Let's just do it. Okay?" He let his legs unfold and relax.

"No," Hutch replied simply.

Starsky rolled the single word around in his mind. Hutch's tone hadn't been defiant. Or angry. Or stubborn. Just refusing. Refusing to rush when Starsky wasn't ready. Okay, okay, you win. Starsky sighed, trying to get the air circulating through his lungs again. He folded his knees back to his chest and gripped them.

Hutch's tongue went back to work... so patient. Since he hadn't asked what was wrong, he obviously had a pretty good idea of what had been going through Starsky's mind. His tongue slowed, and then his lips touched Starsky's skin. Gentle, butterfly-soft kisses brushed against Starsky's asshole.

"You beautiful thing, you," Starsky said with love, feeling the heaviness lift from his heart.

The eager tongue moved up to his balls, washing them. Then Hutch tried to draw both ovals into his mouth at once, creating a peculiar sensation that caused Starsky to squirm and make a noise of delight. For a moment, all sensation left him. And then his asshole tingled, and it was a moment before he realized that Hutch was sucking at it, trying to draw the skin into his mouth.

"Oh, God," Starsky whimpered, feeling a quiver race through his body. Hutch didn't always do that. Just... sometimes. Apparently, when he thought Starsky needed something extra.

It must have worked, because now Hutch straightened and stretched to grab the lubricant from the nightstand. Starsky let his legs relax, his feet finding purchase on the mattress, his knees still drawn up.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Hutch asked tenderly while fussing with the tube of gel.

Starsky grunted, loving the pride that Hutch took in his ability to properly prepare his partner for fucking. "That tongue of yours ought to have a damned patent."

"Uh-uh," Hutch corrected in an enticing voice. "A patent isn't necessary, because it's only for pleasing you. " He reached between Starsky's legs.

Starsky felt the greased digit go in without any problem at all. He gripped it tightly, having learned that technique from Hutch when the tables were turned. Gripping and relaxing tended to make one's passageway very conducive to being visited by a big, huge cock.

Hutch pulled the finger out. And a moment later two were in there. They rubbed upward, pressing against Starsky's prostate.

Starsky groaned, feeling that incredible sensation behind his balls. "You're so damn good to me."

"Of course, I'm good to you. I love you, stupid."

Starsky felt a bubble of laughter well up. It came out as a soft chuckle, and felt very good.

Hutch had pulled out and now had three fingers working their way in. Rarely had Starsky made it through the "finger hierarchy" in such a short time.

"I want you so bad," he said simply.

"Like this?" Hutch asked gently, while his trio of fingers felt inside. "From the front?"

Starsky nodded. It was the way that provided the deepest possible penetration. They could be so close to each other.

He sucked in a silent breath as the fingers bowed out, stretching him wide. Then he made a conscious effort to grip them... hold them... then release them.

Hutch carefully pulled them out, then pushed back in with a fucking motion. With his free hand, the blond applied gel to his phallus.

"Mmm," Starsky said as the in-and-out motion continued. He throbbed with the knowledge that Hutch was getting himself ready.

"All right, my love," Hutch said tenderly. He'd pulled his fingers out and taken his phallus in hand, positioning himself between Starsky's legs.

Starsky drew back his knees and hoisted his legs over Hutch's shoulders. He felt a hot, moist thickness poking at his asshole. "Real deep, Hutch."

Hutch nodded. He aimed it more accurately, then pushed with a steady, practiced motion.

Starsky closed his eyes and let out a breath as he felt himself part, making way for that thick spear of flesh. It didn't hurt... just made him feel very full. And very special when he heard Hutch's little moan of delight.

It took an extra push before the last inch was fully ensheathed. Starsky grunted from the extra pressure; he'd rarely felt so deeply penetrated. He opened his eyes. Hutch was gazing down at him, eyes shining with love. He placed his hands against Hutch's chest and rubbed them around, massaging that smooth skin. "Fuck me good."

Massive flesh pulled back, then slammed into Starsky, creating a smack as body met body. The motion repeated... again and again and again.

Starsky's hands were still on Hutch's chest, but now they were merely bracing against him, as Hutch slammed into his body. He closed his eyes, focusing on the beautiful sensation of Hutch moving within, filling him... over and over. He concentrated when Hutch next pulled back, and waited, imaging his heart inside his chest. When Hutch slammed back in, he imagined that thick spear tearing through his intestine and reaching up inside his body to penetrate his heart... like a valentine.

Starsky groaned at the poignant image, and knew he wanted even more of Hutch. "Fuck me," he demanded. "Fuck me good and hard."

Hutch obeyed, hips moving faster, pounding against Starsky's ass rhythmically. "Feels so good."

"So good," Starsky agreed. He forced his eyes open as his body was buoyed back and forth with more powerful thrusts.

Hutch's bright orbs met his in the darkness. "Gonna come."

"Come deep inside me, Hutch. Plant your seed way up inside me."

Hutch squeezed his eyes shut, as though the image created by Starsky's words was too much to bear. And then he was crying out, pounding more shallowly now, gripping Starsky's shoulders.

"That's my love," Starsky approved. It was a rare treat, watching Hutch throw his head back as his yell gave way to inarticulate murmurs, his hips coming to a sudden stop, but not before pressing hard against Starsky's rear.

Hutch's eyes opened as he panted, sweat dripping from his forehead to Starsky's chest. "Oh, damn," he finally said. A couple of deep exhalations, then, "We should try it this way more often."

"Yeah," Starsky agreed. "I love watching you get yours."

Hutch ducked his head bashfully, then withdrew with great care. He collapsed to the mattress.

Starsky carefully dislodged himself from the pillow, feeling an ache from having his legs folded back for so long. He tossed the pillow to the floor, and also brushed the tube of gel from the bed. He took a moment rearranging the covers, then pulled open the drawer of the nightstand and handed Hutch a towel.

Hutch groaned and rolled toward him. After using the towel and tossing it aside, he rested his head against Starsky's shoulder. Starsky reached down and stroked damp bangs.

They stayed like that for many minutes. Eventually, Starsky heard the deep breathing of sleep. He pulled the covers more snugly around them both.

He drifted into unconsciousness for short periods throughout the night. But genuine peace remained elusive.

* * *


"Oh, you guys, that's awful," Annette said when Starsky finished explaining the crisis in their lives that had developed the past week.

Hutch was grilling burgers and hot dogs. Starsky had handed out drinks to their guests - Huggy, and the two middle-aged sisters from next door, Toni and Annette. All but Hutch were sitting in lawn chairs in a semi-circle next to the patio. The dogs moved from chair to chair, seeing who they could bribe into feeding or petting them by using a sad-eyed approach. Huggy shook his head. "Unbelievable." He snorted into his beer bottle. "And you're supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in this country."

Toni was munching on a handful of chips. "What are you planning to do?"

Starsky sighed. "There's a game tomorrow. I'm going to pass out a flyer inviting all the parents here Tuesday evening. I figure, for starters, that it'll be good for them to see that I live in an ordinary house just like anyone else. You know, that there's not whips and chains and things like that all over."

Annette looked at their cook. "Is Hutch going to be there for the meeting, too?"

Hutch looked up, while turning over a burger, causing a harsh sizzling noise. "I want to be."

Starsky sighed again, for he and Hutch had already been through this. "I don't want him there. I've got to stand up to them on my own. Can't have them thinking I'm some sort of woosie fairy who needs my big strong lover at my side."

"Yeah," Toni said, "but it might show how 'together' you are, if Hutch is there."

"That was my point," Hutch said quietly.

Starsky shifted. "If Hutch is there, then most of the mothers are going to be looking at him and wondering what he's doing wasting himself on someone like me. And in addition to that, they're all - mothers and fathers both - gonna be imagining Hutch and me together... doing things to each other. And they aren't going to listen to a damn word I say."

Huggy smiled wryly. "Yeah, on lonely nights, I always use the fantasy of you and Hutch together to get myself goin'."

Annette chuckled. "You're terrible."

"What are you planning to say exactly?" Toni wanted to know.

Starsky shrugged. "I haven't figured all that out yet."

Toni shook her head. "The world is so hypocritical, it's amazing. Maybe you ought to point out to them that if they automatically assume you might do something to their sons, then are they assuming that a heterosexual male coach will automatically molest their daughters?"

Hutch looked at Starsky. "She's got a point."

"Wait a minute," Annette said. "This isn't a heterosexual versus homosexual issue, is it? I saw a movie once where they pointed out that being a pedophile has nothing to do with one or the other. It's a different 'sexuality' altogether. A homosexual is no more likely to be a pedophile than a heterosexual. In fact, wasn't that coach in Pasadena a model citizen? A heterosexual and a family man and a good community member and all that?"

"Yeah," Huggy agreed.

Hutch was placing burgers and hot dogs onto a serving platter. "What gets me," he said, "is that Starsky shouldn't have to justify himself, and how we live, at all. No other coach in Little League is expected to do that. But he's going to stand up in front of those parents and prove to them that we live in a normal house, try to prove to them that there's nothing abnormal about the fact that we love each other, prove to them that his only interest in their sons is trying to help them better themselves." Having taken the last hot dog, Hutch slammed the grill cover shut with his spatula. "He shouldn't have to proveany of it."

There was silence as Hutch placed the platter on a small table with the tomatoes, onions, pickles, and other condiments. "Eat up."

As the guests got up to take a paper plate and get their food, Annette said, "You know, this problem with people having these wrong ideas about homosexuals is all circular."

Huggy cleared his throat. "Please keep in mind, Miss Annette, we all aren't college graduates."

There were a few chuckles, then Annette said, "I just mean that if most people's vision of the word 'homosexual' was a couple like Hutch and David, then they wouldn't have a problem with it."

Starsky asked, "So, what do you mean by circular?" He sat back down with his food and patted the chair beside him, hoping Hutch would sit down, too, rather than try to find reasons to keep playing the host and stay on his feet.

"If more people knew you and Hutch were homosexuals," Annette explained, "then more people would be calmer about the whole issue. But because of what people will think, you stay in the closet. And by staying in the closet, you're unintentionally perpetuating the situation, so it will continue to be necessary to stay in the closet. If everyone came out of the closet at once, then no one would ever have to stay in. The rest of society would just have to accept you, because there would be so many of you."

Hutch did sit down, biting into a burger.

Starsky thought about what Annette said. It did make him feel good to see how helpful their friends were trying to be. He was glad that they hadn't tried to call off the barbecue, though he certainly hadn't felt up to company. It was all he could do to drag himself through K-Mart earlier today to get all the supplies they needed. Though he and Hutch had gone to sleep in each other's arms last night, Starsky had felt all the more depressed when he woke up this morning.

Toni said, "Here's something you might think about. If your talk with the parents doesn't do much good, maybe you ought to offer to coach a Little League team for girls."

Starsky shifted uncomfortably, feeling his masculinity bristle.

"I mean," Toni went on, "if they're concerned that you're some faggot who wants to play with little boys, then how could they possibly object to you coaching girls? From their point of view, it should make you 'safer' than having a heterosexual man coach the girls."

Annette reminded, "But pedophilia doesn't have anything to do with hetero- or homosexuality."

"But most people don't know that," Toni insisted.

"Yeah, Starsky," Huggy teased as he got up for seconds, "you could coach a whole team of little ballerinas running all over the soccer field."

Hutch wasn't laughing, but Starsky could sense his partner's relief at the humor. He carefully cleared his throat. "Uh, no offense, ladies, but I'm afraid that I find it kinda hard to take girls' sports very seriously."

Both mouths dropped opened as the sisters' faces filled with exasperation.

"Why you - " Annette took a pickle from her burger and threw it at him, "male chauvinist!"

"Yeah," Toni said, "I can't believe you're serious."

Huggy was laughing while he put onions on his burger. "You've done it now, my man."

Starsky was surprised at the sincere outrage. He shrugged sheepishly. "It's just... you know, it's not like those little girls can ever grow up and use sports in their lives."

Noises of disbelief greeted him.

Starsky turned to Hutch. "I think I'm offending our guests."

The blond chuckled softly. "I think you are, too."

Huggy walked behind the detectives on the way back to his chair. He took off his baseball cap and slapped Hutch on the head with it. "Hey, Blondie, your bald spot has grown since I last saw you."

The sisters laughed wickedly, as though the reminder of that common male flaw was some sort of vindication for the gender offense they'd suffered.

"Thanks a lot, Huggy," Hutch said sardonically.

"Any time." Their friend sat back down in his seat and fed The General a corner of cheese from his cheeseburger.

"David, this is just what we've been talking about." Toni was calmer but her voice was intense. "Prejudice. The prejudice that you're suffering at the hands of the parents. Pardon me, but you're just as guilty if you think girls' sports are pointless."

Starsky flinched. Then, "It's just that men and women have different needs in their lives. No matter how good a baseball player or a soccer player a girl might be, it's not like she can go on to make a living at it."

Annette blinked. As though speaking to a child, she said, "David, have you ever heard of something called women's liberation?"

Hutch laughed out loud. Then he stood up. "You're on your own, partner."

Starsky didn't mind that he was being abandoned. It felt damn good to hear Hutch laugh.

"Now you're double-teamed," Huggy noted, "'cause you're not getting any help from me, either." Huggy settled more comfortably in his seat, as though relishing the fireworks.

"Look," Starsky tried to sound convincing, "it's not that women don't deserve the strides they've made, but what are they supposed to get out of learning the stuff that sports teaches? Leadership and cooperation and teamwork and all of that?"

Both sisters were trying to speak at the same time, then Toni yielded to Annette, who said, "That's exactly why women haven't gotten further than they have. Because of chauvinistic attitudes that try to keep them in the kitchen. Women do need to know about leadership and teamwork and cooperation. Especially leadership, if they're going to survive in a man's world. And where are women supposed to learn that? The schools sure as hell aren't teaching it. Sports is the best way."

"Girls need praise and encouragement, too," Toni put in. "It means just as much - if not more - to little girls than to little boys to have an adult they like and respect tell them that they're doing a good job. Show them how to have enough confidence in themselves to swing a bat, or kick a ball. And you were talking about showing affection - girls probably need that more than anything. Because the only time girls get affection is when someone is focused on the fact that they're girls. They don't get loved just for being a person. They only get praise for being sex objects; but even then, it's a contradiction, because while men are admiring the fact that they're sex objects, their mothers are telling them what little tramps they are for being so attractive to men. On one hand, you're supposed to be desirable; but on the other, you're a tramp for being desirable."

Annette rolled her eyes. "Toni, don't get into all of this."

"All right, sorry," Toni said contritely.

Annette sighed. "Society's attitudes aren't David's fault."

Starsky wiped his forehead. "Phew. For a moment there, I was starting to feel like I was singularly responsible for women burning their bras."

Huggy laughed.

Hutch was chuckling, too, while cleaning up the grill. He said, "There's store-bought cheesecake for dessert, if anybody's interested."

Toni was silent for a moment, then she leaned forward. "What I'm really trying to say is that you always hear about how somebody's childhood got screwed because of some stupid little innocent remark that their parents made to them that had all sorts of negative consequences for the child. But it works the other way, too. Sometimes just the smallest little thing can have the greatest, most positive impact on a child's life."

Starsky was thoughtful. Almost like what Hutch was saying last night about appreciating how much I showed I loved him while he was going through the most horrible pain of his life. I had no idea that it had meant so much.

Girlfriend put her front paws on Starsky's leg, wagging her tail hopefully.

"There's my little princess," Starsky said, lifting her up and placing her in his lap. "See?" he pointed out to everybody as he let her roll onto her back. "Girlfriend doesn't think I'm a chauvinist." He rubbed her bare tummy. "She knows I love her for herself."

"Yeah," Annette sighed, "sometimes it seems that people treat animals a lot kinder than they treat each other."

Starsky felt a hand pat his hair, and he looked up to see Hutch standing over him.

"You get bashed enough for one day?" the blond asked with sympathy.

"Yeah," Toni said apologetically, "I guess this conversation did get sort of intense." "Our fault," Hutch soothed, his arm wrapping affectionately around Starsky's neck as he squatted behind him. "I guess we're both a little edgy. We didn't have a fun night last night."

Hutch's cheek now rested against Starsky's. They had never been very demonstrative in front of their friends; but neither had they tried to avoid showing their love. Right now it felt awfully good to feel Hutch's support. Starsky let the weight of his cheek rest against Hutch. While one hand kept petting Girlfriend, Starsky reached up with the other and held Hutch's arm.

"Yeah," Annette put in, "I can imagine it hit pretty hard. It's hit us hard. You guys deserve better."

"Thanks," Hutch said softly.

Huggy pointed out, "Everyone has prejudices. I'd never trust anyone who claimed they didn't. But the important thing is to admit them to yourself, because only then can you take steps to make sure you don't hurt anybody because of them. So, when you talk to those parents, you need to help them recognize what they feel, and then show them that they don't have to act on it."

"Huggy," Starsky sighed, "it's downright scary when you get deep."

The others laughed.

With his chin resting on Starsky's shoulder, Hutch asked, "Does anyone want any more food before I feed the dogs?"

Toni got up. "One more hot dog."

"I'll wait for dessert," her sister said.

"Cheesecake sounds good to me, too," Huggy said.

Hutch straightened, squeezing Starsky's shoulder as he did. Then he went inside the house.

"What do you think's going to happen?" Annette asked.

Starsky shrugged. "I don't know. I just know that, if any of the parents are determined to make a stink, there's nothing I can do to stop them."

"Just wait until you talk to them," Huggy assured. "People develop a whole new attitude when they have to look into the face of someone they want to condemn. I bet most of them back down real fast."

"That's been the hardest thing," Starsky said. "Being accused - even if not formally -- without being able to confront my accusers. Hutch was saying that I should have the meeting next weekend, so more of the parents should be able to come, but I can't wait that long. This thing is driving me crazy." He paused, then softly, "It's hard on Hutch, too."

"At least," Toni pointed out, "one parent cared enough to warn you."

"And I suppose," Annette said, "it's possible that nothing will come of this at all. Sometimes people like to talk, but it never goes beyond that."

Starsky had already thought about that. "I doubt it would have stayed at that level. It's too early in the summer. Those parents see each other all the time. And... see me, touching their kids." He hated the fact that some part of him still questioned if he were wrong to have done that. Of course, regardless of how the meeting with the parents came out, he'd always be careful of his actions in the future.

That was the damage that had already been done.

* * *

Todd sat staring at the carpet. He was one of many parents in the home of Coach Starsky and Mr. Hutchinson. Only, Hutchinson wasn't home. Surely, that was intentional. "I know you're all wondering why this meeting has been called," Coach Starsky began. He was pacing in front of the parents, who were sitting in the chairs arranged around the living room. "I felt it was necessary."

There was a pause, but Todd couldn't bring himself to look up. He could sense the tension in the other parents, especially Mrs. Crandall, who sat in the back, wearing her tight frown.

"Please hear me out," Starsky continued, "and don't interrupt. I promise I'll answer questions when I'm finished." Todd heard him draw a deep, deep breath. "I know we've all heard about the Little League coach in Pasadena and how he was arrested for molesting his players. Stuff like that is any parent's nightmare. Nobody wants to know that something like that could happen to their child. But, unfortunately, it does happen.

"Because of the publicity in the case, it's only natural that some of you would start wondering if it could happen to your son. I know you don't want to believe it could ever happen, but the fact that it didhappen in Pasadena makes you start feeling a little nervous and ready to look for signs."

Todd heard Starsky take another deep breath. The room was otherwise completely still.

"I want to help you understand your concern for your children and how you might view other people who are around your children."

Todd sensed increasing tension in the parents.

"If you've been wondering if that blond man you see at the games, and I, share this house, it's true. His name is Kenneth Hutchinson and he's my partner. We've been detectives with the LAPD for nine years. Before that, we were in blue together. Before that, we went to the Academy together. We've made many important arrests. Most recently, we solved the case of the murder of Javier Salas, the owner of Salas TV Shop on Second and Main. We're good cops. Our arrest records are available to the public, if you don't want to take my word for it. We've been single-handedly responsible for taking a lot of slime off the streets."

Todd furrowed his brow. He'd never made the connection before, but now he remembered seeing Coach Starsky's and Hutchinson's pictures in the paper a number of years ago. He was amazed, never realizing that Danny's team was being coached by a famous policeman.

"I know a lot of you have speculations about what Hutchinson and I are to each other. What we do in our private lives is nobody's business but our own. But, still, I can understand the ignorance and prejudice that could make good parents like you wonder if a seemingly nice guy like me could hurt your children in the worst possible way."

There was a sound of paper, and Todd finally looked up. Coach Starsky was handing something out to the parents. When Todd received his copy, he saw that it was some xeroxed papers, bound together with a fat staple.

"I'm hoping what I've handed out," Starsky said after returning to the center of the room, "will help you understand about pedophiles. It's a compilation of articles and statistics, almost all from the LAPD's child abuse division. There's a lot of information in here that you might find surprising. I'm not going to read it to you, because you can read it on your own time, but I do want to point out some of the more interesting facts. If you turn to page fifteen - " there was the noise of pages turning " - you can see where it talks about how a pedophile can be either a homosexual or a heterosexual; it's not like you can point to someone on the street and know that they're a pedophile. In fact, if you recall from the newspaper articles, everyone in Pasadena was shocked at what the coach was doing. He was one of the last people anyone would have suspected."

Starsky drew another breath. "Now look on page seventeen. Here's a list of warning signs that you need to talk to your kids about. And don't think you'll be putting ideas in their heads. Eight or nine years old is not too early to talk to your kids about sex. Trust me, they already know far more about sex than most of you want to believe. And they need information to protect themselves." He shook his own copy of the handout. "Talk to them about this stuff, about what happened in Pasadena. Explain to them that they should never let anyone else touch their private parts. Make sure they understand that they should never feel too ashamed to tell an adult they trust if something ever does happen to them. And then ask them outright if anyone - including me - has ever touched them in an inappropriate manner. If they say anyone has, you need to report it to the police immediately." He flipped toward the back of the handout. "The last page has a list of important phone numbers, including that of the child abuse division of the LAPD."

Todd noticed that some of the parents were leafing through the handout; others letting it rest in their laps. He stole a glance at the faces of some of the parents who had been the most vocal against Starsky during the games, and he noticed their expressions were hard and tense.

"If you're concerned," Coach Starsky's voice now wasn't quite as strong, "that I might do something to your kids, then asking your sons about it should put your suspicions to rest. Ask them what they think of me. Tell them why you're asking. Let them decide if I'm worthy of being their coach."

A pause. Then, "If, despite everything I've said, you're still not comfortable with the idea of me coaching your sons, then ask yourself this: Would you be okay about me coaching your daughters?" Another pause. "I think the answer to that is no. Because I don't think the problem is that you really think I'd do anything to harm your sons. I think the problem is that you've made assumptions about my private life, and it makes you uncomfortable, and therefore you'd just as soon not have me involved with your children at all, sons or daughters. I don't think any of you object to what I do when I coach; you object to what you think I am." His voice grew heavier. "And that is the worst, and the most hurtful, form of prejudice. Because there's nothing I can say to enlighten you, when you've already made up your minds and closed them off."

Todd felt his stomach tighten. He would never have the courage to stand up in front of a group of people, especially those he knew to be hostile toward him, and say things like this.

The coach's voice was calmer now. "If any one of you still want to take your concerns to the Little League office, there's nothing I can do about it. If some of you want to take it to the press, there's nothing I can do about that, either. But just know that, if you do it'll cause a lot of hurt and pain." He shook his head. "Neither Detective Hutchinson or I deserve that."

Todd stood up. "He's right," he said, facing the parents who looked up at him in surprise. He felt his voice tremble. "I don't know how many of you know my son, Danny. But, I'm ashamed to admit, I haven't been the father to him that I should have been. But he's become a different person this summer, thanks to Coach Starsky. He's enjoying playing like he never has before, he has confidence in himself, he believes in himself. I never thought I'd see him like that. And it's all because Coach Starsky took the time and patience to bring out his potential." Todd shook his head. "You can't ever convince me that Danny's association with Coach Starsky is anything less than one hundred percent positive. I don't want Danny to lose such a great coach." Todd sat back down, feeling a flush come over him from having the nerve to stand up like that.

Finally, there was a softening of Coach Starsky's face, even a slight smile. "Thank you for that," he said simply. Then he scanned the sea of faces. "What about the rest of you? Do any of you have any questions about the handout or anything else I've said?"

A woman on the couch raised her hand part-way.

"Mrs. Stanford," Starsky acknowledged.

"Well," she hesitated, "I don't think any of the parents have thought you've actually done anything to their children." Her tone indicated that perhaps Starsky had gone overboard in defending himself.

He appeared thoughtful. Then, "Look, maybe that's true. But what you don't seem to understand is how much it hurts," he put his hand to his chest, "to know that anyone would even have the slightest passing thought that I might do something like that, just because the coach in Pasadena did." He indicated the handout. "Also, this is a good as place as any to dispense important information about pedophilia - information that you and your children need to know."

Todd relaxed, now that everything was out in the open. But he cringed when Mrs. Crandall's sharp voice spoke up.

"Even if you aren't a pedophile, you still might be a homosexual. We can't have somebody like that coaching in this community."

Feeling sympathy for the hardship his brother had endured all his life, Todd stood up and faced Mrs. Crandall. "Yes, he 'might be' a homosexual. I might be. You might be." He took satisfaction in the way her eyes widened at the last. "But we'll never know. And that's as it should - "

"Maybe we should ask him," she interrupted boldly.

"Then we'd better get every other Little League coach in this room and ask them the same thing." Todd paused, feeling the tension building in the room, along with his own anger. "There's no reason why Coach Starsky should be treated any differently than any of the other coaches. If we ask him, then we ask all of them. And what would be the point? Mrs. Crandall, does your husband get asked aboutyour sex life at his job?"

She bristled, obviously considering sex with her husband to be a sensitive subject.

"Yes, he's right," another father said, as Todd sat down. "I and my wife have been hearing this talk about Coach Starsky the past couple of weeks. Frankly, I'm embarrassed that it's come to this." Apologetically, he said to the coach, "I only came because I wasn't sure what the meeting was about. If I'd known this was the subject, I would have stayed home. You're a good man - a good coach and a great policeman to the community - and I'm sorry you've been put through this."

Starsky nodded with a wry, grateful smile.

"Wait a minute," another woman said. She was sitting next to Mrs. Crandall. "I'm not going to apologize for being concerned about my son. Perverts exist everywhere, and they could have good jobs and seem like decent upstanding people. But you never know what people are really like, what'll they do." She looked at Starsky directly. "I can't prove anything. But I think you get a little too close to the boys. Always touching them. Besides which," she stood, "if my ex-husband ever got wind of any of this, there's no telling what he'd do. He hates 'faggots', as he calls them, and he'd never stand for Bruce being on a team coached by one. I'm leaving." She dropped her handout to her chair and turned toward the door.

Starsky stood squarely between her and the door. Looking her in the eye, he challenged, "So I'm guilty until proven innocent?"

She looked him up and down. "I don't know who's guilty and who's innocent. I just know I don't want to be involved, because I'm afraid of what Bruce's father will do. In fact, I'm having Bruce transferred to another team, just to be safe." She moved past him to the door.

After the door slammed shut, Starsky turned to face the parents. "Anyone else?"

Todd wanted to cringe from the embarrassment radiating from the ones remaining in the room. He knew some wanted to answer the challenge, but they might not have the courage to get up and walk out.

"My son Tommy likes you," Mrs. Ellison blurted, as though explaining why she didn't walk out, too. "He talks about you all the time. If I tried to get the Little League office to transfer him, I don't think he'd ever forgive me."

When there was silence, attention turned to Mrs. Crandall, as the other parents were waiting to see what she would say. She shifted in her chair, twisted her mouth. Then she said, "I'll keep my son on the team, but I'm going to keep an eye on the coach."

"Why?" Todd wondered out loud. "Coach Starsky has done nothing wrong. All he's done is be a good influence on our sons. Why should he be under any special scrutiny? The villain in this whole situation is the coach in Pasadena. What the coach there did isn't Mr. Starsky's fault."

"Mrs. Crandall can keep an eye on me," Starsky cut in easily. "If scrutinizing me closer will put her mind at ease... well, I'm sure I'll pass her inspection favorably." He now seemed a touch amused.

The other parents visibly relaxed. "I'm sure you will, too," said the other father who had spoken up before.

Everyone else was silent.

Starsky clapped his hands once. "That's it then. Thanks very much for coming. And for listening. And please do read over that handout. There's a lot of information there."

The gathering dispersed quickly, as the parents were also anxious for it to end. Todd stood up more slowly, trying to hang back without being obvious. He was relieved when the last parent was out the door.

Coach Starsky turned from the door to face him. "Mr. Runyan, thanks for coming. And thanks for the heads-up about all of this."

Todd nodded. "I hope this is the end of it. It's hard to know what someone like Mrs. Crandall might do. She's really been the big instigator in all of this, getting everybody else worked up."

A weary sigh. "Yeah, I can see that now. But hopefully the things I said had an impact." He brightened suddenly. "Hey, Danny's turned out to be quite a little hitter, hasn't he?"

Todd felt the pride flush through him. Danny had hit a double in the second inning on Sunday, and then followed it up with a single in the eighth. Between those tries at bat, he'd been walked a number of times, for the other team's pitcher was pretty lousy. But, for the first time, Danny hadn't struck out during a game. "Yes," he said simply, making his way to the door. "Thanks for all you've done for him."

"And thanks for all you've done for me."

Todd shrugged, feeling self-conscious.

"I mean it," Starsky insisted. "Standing up in the meeting tonight took guts. I really appreciate it."

"Yeah, well, goodnight." Awkwardly, Todd held out his hand. Starsky shook it, and then Todd walked out the door, anxious to be alone with his thoughts.

Never before had anyone ever told him that he had "guts".

* * *

Hutch was grateful that he was managing to negotiate the sidewalk in a fairly straight line as he made the last few steps home. He'd crossed the line of inebriation after downing beer after beer at Huggy's while waiting for time to pass. Starsky knew where he was, and Hutch assumed his partner would have called if the meeting had been disastrous. Still... it was impossible not to worry. And though he completely understood Starsky's reasons for wanting to talk to the parents alone, he still hadn't liked it. He had wanted to be there. He couldn't remember the last time either of them had faced a crisis alone. Maybe there hadn't been a last time.

He groggily bent to pet an excited General as he walked into the house. As usual, Girlfriend barely acknowledged him, since she had eyes only for her master, who was in the kitchen, applying paint to the spot on the wall that he'd bombarded with dishes less than a week before.

"Does this mean," Hutch greeted hopefully, "that the meeting went well?" Surely, touching up the spot was some sort of closure.

But Starsky merely shrugged. He was still bent over the spot with a brush and hadn't looked up. "Hard to say with absolute certainty."

Hutch sat heavily in a chair, feeling the effects of the booze. "How did it go?"

Starsky set the can on the counter and opened the refrigerator. "Actually, it went pretty well." He pulled out a beer. "Want one?"

Hutch waved a hand. "Already had too much."

Starsky studied him a moment. "Oh." He took a bottle for himself, then grabbed a can of peanuts from the cupboard. He sat down opposite Hutch and started munching them. "I guess it went okay, all things considered. It seemed like everyone was actually listening to me." He reminded, "They wouldn't have been that attentive if you were there."

Hutch didn't bother arguing, especially since it was a moot point now. He took a handful of peanuts, thinking it might help absorb the alcohol in his system.

"One of the parents walked out."

"Really?" Hutch asked, feeling hurt on his partner's behalf.

"Yeah. Said she was pulling her son off the team because she was afraid of what her ex-husband would say about the whole thing... you know, that the coach might be a faggot."

Hutch felt pain slice through him. "Ah, buddy...," he said sorrowfully.

But Starsky merely shrugged. "It's okay. Really it is. And, you know, considering the way group psychology works, some of the others could have then gotten up the courage to walk out behind her, but they didn't."

"Did you hand out the stuff?" Hutch wondered, anxious to change the subject. They'd put a lot of effort into getting all the copies from the child abuse division in time for the meeting.

"Yeah. I hope they read it, and talk to their kids about it."

"Was Danny's father there?"

"Yeah," Starsky replied. "He even stood up and told everyone how good I'd been for his son. And also got onto Mrs. Crandall's case when she was sayin' I should be asked outright if I was a homosexual or not. Todd speaking up like that really helped."

Hutch nodded, glad that Todd Runyan had shown up, even if he hadn't been a parent whom the meeting had been directed at.

"You know," Starsky said, looking weary, "it really is a good thing you weren't there. 'Cause you woulda made a scene when that parent walked out."

Hutch thought about that, then snorted. "Yeah, I guess I would have."

"Woulda ruined everything."

Hutch took another handful of nuts. "Thanks, partner. I love you, too."

Starsky grinned. After taking a big swig of beer, he said, "You know what I've been thinkin' about?"

Hutch shook his head.

"What a hypocrite I am."

Hutch blinked, straightening in his chair. "What do you mean?"

"I was standing up in front of those parents and talking to them about prejudice. But when I think about what Toni and Annette were saying on Saturday... well, like they said, I'm just as guilty of being narrow-minded."

Hutch wasn't sure he had the energy to battle this tonight, so he merely shrugged. "We're all narrow-minded in our own way."

Starsky was thoughtful for a long time, slowly sipping his beer. Then he said, "If I had a daughter, I wouldn't want her to be limited. I mean, I'd want her to have strong self-esteem and self-confidence and all of that. And not just because she was Daddy's girl. I'd want her to have all the tools and qualities for success for her own sake. " Long pause. "And if she played softball or soccer or something, I wouldn't want her coaches thinking of it as a joke. I'd want them to encourage her, and help her take pride in herself and her accomplishments."

"Starsk," Hutch asked, batting his eyes innocently, "is there an illegitimate young lady out there that you haven't told me about?"

Starsky thew a peanut at him.

"Ouch," Hutch flinched when it hit his nose. His reactions were far too slow to defend himself.

"Big baby," Starsky accused. He picked up a couple more and threw them.

Hutch tried to dodge them, but Starsky kept throwing larger quantities. The dogs got excited and started sniffing at the peanuts landing on the floor.

Still trying to duck the oncoming bullets, Hutch grabbed the can and tossed the remaining contents at Starsky's chest.

"Now look what you did," Starsky complained, staring at the little nuts scattered all over his shirt.

Hutch grinned. "You look good enough to eat." He wondered why he was trying to start something that he wasn't going to be able to finish.

Starsky brushed at his shirt, making the peanuts fall into his lap. "You're drunk."

Hutch shrugged. "Doesn't mean you don't look good."

"And you shouldn't have driven home in your condition." The voice was scolding, but Starsky was still brushing at his clothes.

"That's what Huggy said."

Starsky looked up. "Huh?"

Inebriation didn't keep Hutch from noticing how worn out his partner looked. "Huggy brought me home."

"Oh. He shoulda come in and said hello."

Hutch slowly shook his head. "I think he thought it best if we were alone together for awhile."

Starsky sighed, finally giving his partner his full attention. "Guess that means we gotta stop by there and pick up your car tomorrow."

"Guess so."

"Well, I may look good enough to eat, but you're too loaded to do anything, and I'm too tired to do anything. So why don't we just put ourselves to bed?" He paused a moment, watching the dogs vacuum the floor. "They'd better not throw up from eating those."

"Hey, boy," Hutch whispered enticingly to The General, who wagged his rear at the attention from his master, "Uncle Starsky says don't throw up."

"Yeah," Starsky complained, standing up and stretching, "like he listens to anything Uncle Starsky says."

Hutch decided bed sounded like a good idea. He stood, as well, realizing his legs felt a bit wobbly, and wondering if being technically middle-aged meant he couldn't hold as much liquor as he used to.

Starsky's arms were around his waist, then his lips were kissed Hutch. "You smell like a brewery." One of his arms was pulled around Starsky's neck and, though he was capable of walking under his own power, he allowed himself to be partially carried through the house, sensing that Starsky needed to take care of him.

Without judgment, Starsky asked, "How come you felt like you had to get plastered, anyway?"

"Nothing else to do," Hutch said simply, "but... wait."

"Well," Starsky sighed as they staggered down the hall, the dogs following, "your waiting's over. And everything is fine. So, you don't have to worry any more."

When they reached the darkened bedroom, Starsky dropped him to the mattress. Hutch lay there, unbuttoning his shirt. He managed to remove his clothing, leaving his underwear. When he was finished, he watched his partner complete his own undressing, and wondered at the fuzziness he was feeling.

Starsky plopped onto his side of the bed, hugging the pillow. "Mmm, feels good," he sighed gratefully. "'Night, boys and girls," he told the dogs. The General had curled up in his basket, and Girlfriend had her usual spot on the hardwood floor, next to Starsky's side of the bed.

Hutch stretched alongside Starsky, needing to be close.

His partner apparently didn't get the message. He kissed Hutch quickly, then turned his head away. "Goodnight."

Hutch got up on an elbow. "I'm so proud of you," he said, the words coming from the very bottom of his heart.

That got his partner's attention. Slowly, Starsky turned over. "Proud? Why?"

Hutch's throat felt thick. "For not letting this come between us and destroying us. For standing up to those kids' parents. For thinking about what Toni and Annette said and being willing to change your mind."

Starsky's hand reached up and stroked gently along his cheek. "You always get mushy when you're drunk."

Hutch didn't know if that were true or not. He just knew that there was something he badly needed to get off his chest. "I - I...," he hesitated, not sure how to put his feelings into words. "I... I think... I think I'm a little bit... in love with you."

"Just a little bit?" Starsky's tone sounded very pleased. Very tender.

"I...," Hutch wondered why he was having so much trouble. The booze was supposed to loosen his tongue, not strangle it. He lowered his face closer to Starsky's, noting the outline of the eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks in the darkness. The eyelids and forehead. The chin and ears, head full of thick, curly hair. "I... I... I think... I think I want to fall in love with you all over again. I want to be in love again. Ineed to be in love again." He whispered softly, "Can't help it."

Starsky's arms wrapped around his back. "Well, as long as I'm the person you fall in love with, I don't see a problem."

Hutch bent and kissed wetly along Starsky's lips. When he pulled back, he wondered, "How can other people stand not having you?" He felt pain for the neglect of all the other billions in the world.

Starsky pulled Hutch's head down to his furred chest. "Because they can't miss what they've never had, that's why." He sounded so sure of himself.

Hutch lay there as a strong, masculine hand stroked along the back of his head. He knew it felt his growing bald spot with each stroke. He was resigned to the fact that he'd probably lose all his hair by sixty-five, if not before. Some men were defensive about what nature was doing to them. Hutch felt that his eventual baldness was... accepted. He'd be loved, regardless. His still-handsome sweetheart wouldn't leave him for someone younger and more attractive. "I love you," he whispered.

A hand paused along the back of his neck. And then there was lots of shifting around. Pillows moving, mattress creaking. When it ended, his upper body was lying at an upward slope, and both arms were around him.

"You need to go to sleep," a gentle voice directed. "I'm gonna be right here holding you. And in the morning, we'll be late for work, so you can show me how much in love with me you are."

He wanted to show Starsky right now, but his liquor-laden bloodstream wouldn't cooperate. So he settled more heavily against the strong chest and closed his eyes.

After a few moments a pair of fingers tilted his chin upwards. "You know what, Hutch?"

He waited.

"I'm absolutely crazy about you." And then a hot breath was against Hutch's mouth, hungry lips finding his.

"Mmm," Hutch approved, glad that Starsky hadn't been able to resist.

"Mmm, yourself," Starsky said with affection. Lips now trailed up Hutch's face, into his hair. Then a kiss of finality was left on the top of his head. "Go to sleep, you beautiful thing, you."

As Starsky's arms tightened around him, Hutch let himself drift. He wondered why this incident with the Little League parents had ever seemed like much of a crisis. He and Starsky were together. And they were in love.

Nothing could touch that. Ever.

* * *

Hutch had just put the last of the groceries away when Starsky walked in carrying a big, bulky bag that said Dairy Queen on the side. Tucked beneath his other arm was a baseball cap and the notebook he used for coaching.

"What's all this?" Hutch asked as Starsky dropped the bag onto the kitchen table, and the other items into a chair. His partner reached down to pet Girlfriend, as she was jumping up at him and wagging her tail frantically. "Obviously," Hutch said in reference to the ice cream, "you must have won."

"Not just that," Starsky said happily. "Little Danny Runyan hit a home run, bases loaded. And, you know, I've always told my players that if anyone hits a home run, everybody on the team gets treated to a banana split." He started pulling contents out of the bag and transferring it to the freezer. "Only, I forgot that a banana split is an awfully big treat for an eight-year-old stomach, so there's lots of leftovers."

Hutch blinked, watching as container after container was put in into the already-crowded freezer. "You really aren't thinking we're going to eat all those."

Starsky shrugged. "If we don't, we can give some to the dogs." He sat down and petted Girlfriend, now that she had jumped into his lap. "Any beer?"

Hutch pulled out a couple and handed him one. "Yeah, I just got back from the store." He, too, sat down, The General settling at his feet. "So, was Danny's dad there?"

"Yeah, he's always there now," Starsky replied after taking a long swallow. "And he was excited as hell. 'Course," he shrugged with a grin, "it really shouldn't have been a home run. But those little squirts on the other team had lots of errors and couldn't get to the ball as fast they should have."

Hutch laughed, imagining little boys trying their hardest to scramble after a live ball. "Guess what else happened today?" Starsky said after taking another swig.


"One of the Little League guys stopped by and was asking me if I wanted to coach football this fall."

Hutch smiled, feeling a cloud of emotion well up. It had been six weeks since the meeting with the parents, and nothing more had ever been said about Coach Starsky being a potential child molester, or about him being in a homosexual relationship. Surely, the parents talked amongst each other. And surely, some of them had even talked to their sons. But any snickers or disapproval never went beyond simple talk. "So, what did you say?"

"I said if they needed any coaches for any of the girls' teams, I'd be more interested in that."

Hutch chuckled with affection.

"He said they needed more indoor volleyball coaches for the girls, so that's probably what I'm going to end up doing."

Hutch felt that strong pride again. But he needed to ask, "Buddy, you sure this is really what you want to do? You aren't just trying to prove some point, are you?"

Starsky was introspective for a long moment. Then he said, "I've thought about it a lot. And, you know, what I really enjoy most of all about all of this is teaching. Teaching kids about themselves and about life. How to have confidence in themselves and be able to work together as a team. I'm good at it. And I don't see why I should ignore fifty percent of the population; you know, not let them have the benefit of my skills. Toni and Annette were right. Girls need that stuff, too. And more than ever now, since more doors are opening for them. I'd like to do my part in helping them walk through those doors successfully. I'll do boys' baseball again next summer."

The mushiness he'd felt in recent weeks flushed through Hutch again. He wondered if there was any chance of going to bed early. "You make me horny when you get all righteous and just."

Starsky grinned at him, scolding, "You're always horny these days."

"So? You have a problem with us violating each other on a daily basis?" Daily wasn't quite accurate, but it sounded good.

Starsky shifted in his chair in a manner which, Hutch knew, meant he was getting a hard-on. "All right, you beautiful blond thing. Go get showered up and lie on the bed, and when I've finished my beer and had something to eat and taken my own shower, I'll come in and violate you."

Hutch grinned and whispered, "Promise?"

He could tell that Starsky was trying not to laugh. "Promise."

By the time Hutch was in the shower, he heard the microwave going. That meant Starsky was just heating something up to scarf down. He was glad that Starsky wasn't going to take too long. When he came out of the bathroom, he toweled himself dry, then got on the bed. He lay in the center with his legs spread and worked his growing length with his hand, bringing it to full erection. When he heard Starsky coming down the hall, he stretched his arms out from his body, so he lay completely spread-eagle on the bed; his thick, long penis bobbing in the air.

Starsky halted in the doorway. "Oh, my God," he drawled, "look at that."

Hutch grinned at him, stomach heaving with the need to take in more air.

Starsky ran his tongue along his lips. "Mmmm-mmm." He stepped into the room and started to undress. Then he warned, "You'd better not play with yourself while I'm in the shower."

Hutch watched Starsky hop on one foot while pulling off his shoe. "No promises, so you'd better not be long," he warned in return.

Starsky growled and pulled off the rest of his clothes in an incredibly economical motion. He stepped to the bed and bent so that his face was a half-inch from Hutch's. "When I get out of that shower, I'm gonna devour you, from head to toe. My tongue is going to taste every inch of you."

Hutch drew a deep breath. Starsky had done that to him once before. A long time ago. Had licked every inch of his body. It had been incredibly loving and beautiful. And had taken a long time. Which was why he wouldn't be able to enjoy it now without help. "Suck me first," he pleaded.

Starsky shook his head. "Uh-uh. Because if I suck you, you'll fall sleep, and licking you all over won't be any fun."

"No, I won't," Hutch protested, realizing that was probably why Starsky hadn't done it since that first time. He just now remembered the falling asleep part. Starsky had licked his front side from head to toe, and then finished by sucking him. He'd then turned him over and started on the bottom of his feet. Hutch had fallen asleep while that tongue worked up the backs of his legs.

"Yes, you will," Starsky insisted, amused. "This time, I'm going to start with your back side first, and then turn you over and do the front. Sucking you is going to be the very last thing that happens."

Hutch released a heavy sigh, not sure if he was going to be able to survive the evening.

Starsky kissed him and headed into the bathroom.

Hutch craned his neck to look at his needy cock. When he slumped back to the bed, it occurred to him that he might get fucked while Starsky was working on his backside. That was a relief. He'd come then. And then he'd get all hard again while Starsky was bathing his front side, and then he'd get blown for the grand finale, and it would be all right when he fell asleep afterwards.

Mmm, he decided, relishing the thought of what was to come. A byproduct of what had been. All their many years together. So many ups and downs; but the ups far, far outweighing the downs.

"Love him so much," he whispered out loud.

He realized he was still spread-eagled on his back, so he rolled over onto his stomach, stretching his limbs out again. All ready to fulfill Starsky's desires.

Now. And forever.


This story has the sequel A Question of Merit

This story originally appeared in the fanzine HEART AND SOUL 5, published by Charlotte Frost in 1999.

Early comments on this story are posted TBA.

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