© August 2011 by Charlotte Frost




Starsky wished that Linda Newman didn’t live in a small apartment with a roommate.  If she lived alone, they could go to her place after a date, and then Starsky could leave sometime during the night and return home.


However, since she did have a roommate in a small apartment, they came to his place after their dates.  Which meant he had to spend his mornings in her company.  After two months, he still hadn’t figured out if he liked her enough to want to wake up to her.  In fact, a couple of times he had decided he was going to break off their relationship.  But each time he’d reached that decision, and had intended their next date to be their final one, he’d ended up enjoying her company immensely.  So, he’d kept seeing her, and this morning he was back to questioning how much he actually liked her.


She was plainer looking than the women he usually dated, with long dark hair and minimal makeup, but she was also a little more serious, a little more stable.  She had a full time job at the library, but hoped to get the money together to return to school to complete her degree in marketing.  She could be a bit demanding, but Starsky respected the fact that she had her own life, with her own goals and desires. She also expressed interest in his job, which felt flattering.  Mostly though, she could be quite entertaining in bed, and he had to admit that such skill was one of the main reasons he kept going out with her.


This morning, however, he wished he could be alone with his thoughts as he prepared to go into work.  Hutch was going to start an undercover job later today, and while it didn’t seem particularly dangerous on the surface, it made Starsky a little edgy.  A final meeting was scheduled for this morning with the captain of the Robbery division, John Branson, who was borrowing his and Hutch’s services, due to vacations and illness having made manpower scarce.


Linda was standing at the kitchen counter, buttering a bagel.  “Sure you don’t want one?” she asked.


Starsky sat on the sofa and began pulling on his shoes.  “No, I’ll find something to eat when I get there.”  Or he’d stop along the way.  At least he wouldn’t need to pick up Hutch since they were taking separate cars. 


She had taken a couple of bites of bagel and sipped her coffee, just as Starsky finished with his shoes.  He was about to grab his holster when she said, “David?”


When he looked up, she smiled warmly.  He realized he wasn’t being very hospitable, for reasons that weren’t her fault, and approached with the intent to give her a decent farewell kiss.


“David,” she said, lowering her eyes as he stopped in front of her, “next week is my birthday.”


“Oh.”  He never would have known that.  “Then why don’t I take you out to a nice dinner to celebrate?”


She slipped her arms around his neck, and became more sensuous than she normally was outside the bedroom.  “I have a special request,” she whispered enticingly. 


He really wasn’t in the mood for this, but he indulged her, whispering, “Yeah?  What?”


“Well,” she appeared almost bashful, “there’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”


He waited.


“I know you and Hutch are really close.  Of course, I don’t know exactly how far that closeness extends.  But… what I’d really, really, really like…”


Starsky’s heartbeat quickened and his stomach tightened at the mention of what was most sacred to him.


“… is for that handsome blond partner of yours to join us for my birthday dinner.  And afterwards.”


A half dozen realizations hit Starsky at once.  The first was that she had really liked Hutch more than him all along.  He’d run into situations like this time and time again.  When it came to girls, Starsky often got the leftovers, because any woman attractive enough to have any man would almost always choose Hutch over him.  This was hardly the first time that Starsky had dated a woman, only to find out that she saw him as a way of being metaphorically closer to Hutch if, for whatever reason, she wasn’t able to date the blond Adonis herself.


The second realization was that he should have stopped dating Linda weeks ago.


The third realization was that he had no interest in celebrating her birthday in any way, shape, or form.


The fourth realization was that he needed to respond to her request.  But he didn’t trust himself to be rational.


The fifth realization was that he was extremely angry.  Some distant memory was tugging at his mind, reminding him of a time when he’d felt this exact same anger.


The sixth realization was that, for both he and Linda’s sakes, he needed to leave immediately.


He muttered, “I’m already late. Gotta go.”  He quickly turned away, grabbed his jacket and holster, and rushed out the door.





Starsky had been driving for ten minutes before the need to flee left him, leaving a tumult of emotion in its wake.  He didn’t want to go into the meeting for Hutch’s undercover job while stewing like this.


He pulled into a breakfast deli and bought a danish and coffee.  Then he sat in his car and ate while determined to face his reactions head on.


He let the anger well up.  Anger from years ago.  When he and Hutch had thought nothing of taking whatever girls they’d picked up for the night to a motel room with two beds.


It was another typical tomcats-on-the-prowl night.  Hutch had been divorced six months prior, and he had eventually loosened up about the idea of sex with near strangers, as well as having shed any bashfulness that had existed about humping a girl when others were in the same room.


They were all at least a little inebriated.  He and Hutch each indulged their chosen girl for a while, and then finished with fornication.  Dozing followed, and then after an hour or so somebody suggested that they switch off, as it was apparent all were ready for a second round of lust. 


Starsky lay alongside the woman Hutch had so recently pleasured, and began kissing her breasts as foreplay to get himself fully aroused again.  From the corner of his eye, he wasn’t surprised to see Hutch kissing the girl that was now his – on the lips, and then down her body.


Starsky had a nipple and surrounding tissue stuffed into his mouth, and pinched the other nipple in a way that caused the body beneath him to writhe and squeal.  He was now ready to penetrate her at any time – put his cock where Hutch’s had recently been – but he was trying to prolong the anticipation. 


The other girl was also writhing and moaning.  Starsky glanced over to the other bed, not surprised to see Hutch’s face buried in her muff, obviously working her magic button expertly.  Starsky was just about to give his own bed partner his complete attention, when he saw Hutch move a little lower, and then start tonguing where Starsky’s cock and recently been, pressing his face close.


Starsky’s first thought was that, in all the sexual excitement and degree of inebriation, Hutch didn’t realize he was eating out whatever was left Starsky’s sperm, along with the feminine juices.  His second thought was that cum which was an hour old had to be thoroughly gross.  His third thought was that, perhaps, Hutch was fully aware of exactly what it was he was tasting – and apparently loving it, because he wasn’t letting up.


That’s when the anger had hit Starsky full force.  He had no idea where it had come from.  With grim determination, he turned his attention to mounting the girl beneath him, and reaching climax as quickly as possible.  Then he headed for the bathroom to be the first in the shower, relieved that Hutch was now finishing, thrusting with long, deep, graceful movements of his hips.


That was the last time they ever had sex in each other’s presence.  The next time something along that line got mentioned, Starsky came up with an excuse as to why he couldn’t participate.  After a few rejections, Hutch didn’t mention it again.  As the passage of time brought maturity, Starsky eventually looked back and was almost appalled at his and Hutch’s behavior in those early years.  He assumed that Hutch felt similarly about their indiscreet past.


Starsky had never analyzed the anger that had descended upon him so unexpectedly in that motel room.  Now he was determined to face it head-on, as that exact same anger had taken him by surprise just a little while ago when Linda had said she really, really, really wanted a threesome with Hutch.


Where was the anger coming from?


Both times had involved the subject of Hutch and sex.  And a girl.


Starsky released a heavy breath and rubbed at his forehead.  He pushed aside his half eaten danish.


If Hutch was going to consume his cum, why did a girl have to be a go-between?


If they were going to be thrusting their cocks together, why did Linda have to provide a thin membrane that would separate them?


Why didn’t they just eliminate the female in the middle and have sex with each other?


“Jeezus God,” Starsky whispered. 


He took a large swallow of coffee.


Three-way sex with Linda wasn’t going to happen under any circumstances.  So, just the fact that she suggested it didn’t mean anything, in terms of Starsky’s relationship with his partner.


That just left that long ago night in the motel room.  But the actions of uniting the two partners sexually, with Starsky’s cum, had been something Hutch did by himself.  Starsky hadn’t participated in the sharing.  And for all he knew, in the heat of sexual lust, maybe it hadn’t consciously occurred to Hutch that he was lapping up the remains of his partner’s semen.


So, none of it necessarily meant anything.


So, why was he spending so much time contemplating it this morning?


Because, he answered himself, his anger had surprised him.  Both times.  If he and Hutch were going to have sex together in any way, shape, or form, he didn’t want anyone else as a go-between.


Okay, his feelings on the subject were a fact.  But he and Hutch weren’t going to be having sex together, so the “if’” factor was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.


Starsky finished his coffee.  Content that he’d reached an understanding with himself, however inapplicable this new revelation would always be, he started the motor and turned his thoughts to Hutch’s undercover job.




Hutch looked bored in Dobey’s office.  He was dressed in his beige corduroy coat and slacks, slumped in his chair, his feet stretched in front of him.  Starsky was in another chair, and John Branson was standing to one side.


Branson was fiftyish, dark haired, and with a brusque, no-nonsense personality.  He said, “I didn’t bother reading your report.  Just take it from the top and tell me what the setup is.”


Starsky resisted the temptation to point out that if Branson had bothered attending their prior discussions, he would have had some idea of what was going on.  But Branson hadn’t felt it was necessary to “babysit” two veteran detectives, even if borrowed from another department.


Hutch straightened in his chair.  He took a moment to scratch at the corner of his mustache.  Then he said, “My name is Winston Taylor.  I’ve got a long history of jewelry theft from high-class residences, and I take great pride in my work.  What I’m most proud of, and arrogant about, is that I’m so good that I’ve never had to hurt anybody.  Hurting someone while doing a job is a sign of a low life, and an inept and inferior being.”


Starsky had to smile at Hutch’s cleverness at coming up with that part.  It would be a way of minimizing the likelihood that any innocents would get hurt during the undercover job.


“I’m going today to meet with Jacob Littleton, who your Department says heads the theft ring that’s been doing some damage on the east side of town.  We know he has at least a couple of underlings.  I’ve talked to him a couple of times on the phone, saying we could help each other out, since he focuses on larger items like paintings, statues, and furniture.  We have a meeting set today at two o’clock, at a small building in the warehouse district near Chandler and 24th.   If all goes well, he’ll agree to let me participate in a job.  What we don’t know is if he’ll give me something right away, or if I’ll have to wait a while.  His group has been pulling two to three jobs a month, so the wait shouldn’t be long.”


Starsky put in, “Of course, it’s possible that Littleton might not trust Hutch, in which case this whole thing will be a bust.”


“Or,” Dobey said, “he might want to keep Hutch close at hand for the first job or two, to make sure he can trust him.  All we’re looking for is to catch Littleton and his gang in the act.”


Branson looked at Starsky.  “What’s your role in this?”


Starsky replied, “Covering my partner’s back.  I’ll be hanging around the outside of the warehouse and following wherever I can.”


Branson asked Hutch, “You won’t be wearing a wire?”


“No, it’s too risky.  I expect them to search me.  I’ll have some concealed weapons, but I expect them to find them.”


Starsky said, “I’ll be doing whatever I can to keep Hutch in my sites whenever he’s with Littleton’s people.”


Dobey noted, “We expect the undercover work to go on for a few weeks.  But hopefully, Hutch will be able to be at home a good part of that time, waiting to be given a job.”


Hutch said, “Unless they insist I have to stay with them.  I’ll try to avoid that, if at all possible.  Winston Taylor considers himself superior to the vast majority of human beings.  So, I’m not going to be comfortable hanging out with some thugs.  Unless they don’t give me a choice.”


That was the part that made Starsky nervous.  In such a case, it was unlikely that Hutch would have any way of trying to signal him that he was being held as a prisoner of sorts.  Starsky would just have to assume it if Hutch never emerged from the warehouse where the meeting was scheduled.


Still, despite all the unknowns, this was a less risky venture than many others they had been involved in, especially considering that Hutch was going it alone.  It wouldn’t do for the haughty character he was trying to create to need a partner.  His character of Winston Taylor only wanted to work with Littleton because of his greed for more easy money.


Branson crossed his arms.  “Good enough.  It sounds like a pretty basic setup.”  He shifted and said to Hutch, “Best of luck to you.”  And then to Dobey, “Thanks for letting my Department borrow your men.”


“Of course,” Dobey said.


Branson left. 


Hutch said to Dobey, “If they keep me a prolonged period of time, if I have any kind of access to a phone, I’ll call here.  Starsky and I have worked out some code words that I’ll use to indicate whether everything is fine, or I’m a prisoner, or I need to be pulled out, or whatever.”


“Good enough,” Dobey said.  “Make sure I have a list of those code words.”


Starsky pointed to Dobey’s inbox.  “It’s right there.”


“Great.”  Dobey looked from one to the other.  “I guess that’s it.  Be careful, Hutchinson.  Don’t let Winston Taylor become so cocky that he invites trouble.”


Hutch stood, and said, innocently,  “Of course not, Captain.”


As they left their superior’s office, Starsky reached up and clasped the back of Hutch’s neck.  “We still have time for lunch before your appointment.  Let’s go to Huggy’s.”





They took separate cars, so they could leave in separate cars.  Hutch was driving a rented blue Chrysler New Yorker, to match the image of a highly successful thief. 


As Huggy served their meals, he said, “Oh, and Starsky, Linda Newman called.  She said you owed her a phone call and an explanation for walking out.”  He looked uncomfortable.  “Uh, she also said, and I quote, ‘I thought you were more secure in your masculinity.’  Unquote.”


Huggy quickly turned away.


Hutch’s eyebrows darted up as he bit into his burger.  “I thought you broke up with her.”


“Wish I had,” Starsky muttered.  He couldn’t believe that she’d leave a message like that with Huggy, whom she’d met only twice.


“Sounds like she’s really pissed at you to leave a message like that.”  Hutch’s sympathy carried the tone of a question.


Starsky shrugged, shoving fries into his mouth.  “I don’t care.  I should have broken up with her when I made the decision to do so the first time.”


“What changed your mind?”


Starsky shrugged again, remaining focused on devouring his fries.  “She’s good in bed.”


“Huh,” Hutch said after a moment.  “She doesn’t seem like the type.”

Starsky snorted.  “Believe me, she is.”  He added in a mutter,  “Adventuresome,”  


“She wanted more adventure than your masculinity can handle?”


It wasn’t a crack.  Hutch’s tone was one of merely searching for more information and trying to understand the bizarre message Linda had left.


“Come on, Hutch, I don’t want to talk about it.  She’s history.”  As Starsky bit into his own burger, he suddenly realized that Linda might be the type to make his life difficult.  After swallowing, he said, “Hey, uh, do me a favor?”




“If she happens to call you about her birthday wish, turn her down.  Anything she says, you aren’t interested.”


Hutch gazed at him for a long moment.  Then he put a hand up and starting tapping at each of his fingers, as though counting.  “Being a detective,” he began, “I would say that we’ve got the subject of sex, judging by her comment.  We’ve got her being adventuresome, according to you.  We’ve got her birthday coming up.  And we’ve got you suggesting that she might be calling me about her birthday.”


Dammit, Hutch was too good at this job.


Hutch wore a contemplative expression, and then nodded slowly.  “Conclusion:  her birthday has something to do with sex, and me and you.”


Starsky looked away again, releasing a heavy sigh.  “Drop it,” he said firmly.


“Starsky,” Hutch said, picking up his burger, “I don’t even like her.”  He bit into it.


“Good.”  Then, trying to ease the tension he was feeling, Starsky shrugged and said, “Maybe when we were wild and young, but….”


Hutch chuckled softly.  “Maybe you would have been willing back then, but I wouldn’t have been.”


What about now?  Seemed the logical next question, but Starsky had no reason to ask it.


Hutch was slowly eating his fries.  “I know things got a little crazy with us when it came to girls, but that was a line I wasn’t going to cross.”


He’d said it as though he’d thought about it, while speaking in the past tense.


“Thanks,” Starsky said quickly, “about Linda.”


“Are you going to call her and end it?”


“Yeah,” he said softly, “but not until I know you’re safe at home tonight.”


Hutch glanced at the clock on the wall.  “I guess I’d better get going.”  He sipped his drink.


Starsky drew a breath.  “Yep.” 


They both stood.  Starsky left some bills on the table, waved at Huggy, and then followed his partner out into the sunshine.  They had to walk a bit to get to where Hutch’s rented car was parked. 


As Hutch retrieved his keys from a pocket, Starsky reached to squeeze his side.  “Take care of yourself.  I’ll be right behind you as much as I possibly can.”


Hutch nodded and opened his car door.




The building was a single story with dirty white concrete siding.  It was one of the smaller buildings in the industrial complex.  Hutch pulled up in the gravel parking lot where there were two other vehicles, both rather beat-up looking for someone like Jacob Littleton to be driving. 


Hutch got out and found the door locked.  He didn’t see a bell, so he knocked.


After a moment, the door opened. 


A round-faced thirtyish man with sandy hair greeted him with a gun.  Behind him was a short, trim man with dark hair and a brief mustache.


Hutch didn’t react to the weapon.  “Winston Taylor here to see Jacob Littleton.”


“We’ve been expecting you,” the man with the gun said.  He and his companion stepped back.  “I’m Bart.  Come in.”  The door was closed behind Hutch and he was standing in a hallway.  “Frisk him, Gabe.”


Hutch held his hands away from his body.  Gabe opened his coat and took his gun.


“We’ll take that,” Bart said, sounding as though he was enjoying himself.  He stuck Hutch’s gun in the front of his slacks.


Gabe ran his hands down the outsides of Hutch’s legs.  “He’s clean.”


What a bunch of amateurs.  Gabe was so careless that he didn’t even feel the little pistol that Hutch had strapped to the inside of his ankle, nor the pocketknife that he had inside a sock.


“All right,” Bart said.  “This way.”  He started down the hall.  He indicated the first door on the right.  “In here.”


Hutch entered a spacious room that could have been an office, but now seemed to be used primarily for storage. 


Hutch was still holding his hands away from his body, and he turned to face the other two.  “What’s with the gun?  You have my piece.”


“Just shut up and move over there.”  Bart waved the gun and nodded toward the far wall.


Hutch went over to it. 


Bart reached into his back pocket and tossed a pair of handcuffs to Gabe.  “Cuff him to the pipe.”


There was a water pipe that ran the length of the wall and disappeared around a corner.  It was built so that it was an inch or so away from the wall. 


Gabe grabbed Hutch’s hand and circled a cuff around it.


“What the fuck is this?” Hutch demanded.  “I’m here to see Jacob Littleton.  I’m not liking your little games, you jerk offs.”  He glared at Bart.


The other end of the cuff went around the piping.


Bart looked a little nervous, and Hutch took great satisfaction in knowing that he’d intimidated him. 


“Mr. Littleton isn’t here right now.  You’ll have to wait.”


Incredulous, Hutch demanded, “In cuffs?”


“We don’t trust you,” Bart said.  “And if you’re serious about meeting Mr. Littleton, you’ll be happy to wait.”


“And if I don’t want to be bothered?” Hutch challenged.


Bart grinned, but it was a nervous gesture.  “You’ll have to wait to see if he’ll let you go.”


Gabe giggled.


Bart lowered the gun.  “You’ve got plenty of room.”  He nodded toward the pipe, looked around and grabbed an office chair, and then shoved it toward Hutch.  “There’s a chair.”


Hutch snorted.  “Great.  When Mr. Littleton arrives, I’ll let him know what a couple of morons he has working for him.  This wasn’t exactly the welcome that I was looking for.”


Bart exchanged a glance with Gabe, as though they didn’t understand why Winston Taylor was so unhappy.  Then Bart said, “We can’t have you just walking around.  We don’t know shit about you yet.”  Then, “Just relax.  Mr. Littleton will be here soon enough.”


“When?” Hutch demanded.  “Our appointment was for two o’clock.  I’m not a patient man and don’t appreciate being stood up.”


“You can discuss that all with him.  Come on, Gabe.”  They turned and left the room, shutting the door behind them.


Hutch released a breath.  He had thought Jacob Littleton a bit sophisticated, but that was getting harder to believe with a couple of morons working for him. 


For now, he was resigned to being bored.  He walked along the length of the pipe, testing how easily he could move by sliding the handcuff along it.  Fairly easily, it turned out.  Then he moved in the opposite direction and followed the pipe around the corner.  It was a short but broad hallway.  There was a pair of restrooms opposite the wall with the piping, and then the piping disappeared past a pair of double doors, which were locked.


Hutch considered the irony of having the restrooms nearby, but being handcuffed to the pipe so that he couldn’t reach either of them.  He didn’t need to urinate, but he wanted Winston Taylor to express his dissatisfaction with his conditions. 


Hutch unzipped his fly, and felt a wicked delight as he urinated against the wall, across from the restrooms.  It was a bit of a challenge to get himself zipped back up, one handed, but he managed. 


Then he slid back around the corner and decided to sit in the chair provided.


Damn, he was bored.




Watching with binoculars from around the corner of a nearby building, where he had parked the Torino, Starsky saw Hutch enter the one-story building at gunpoint.  That in and of itself wasn’t alarming.  Littleton’s group would naturally be suspicious of a new man trying to enter their ranks.


Now there was nothing Starsky could do but wait.  He supposed, at best, Littleton and Hutch would meet for an hour, hopefully agree to work together, and Hutch would leave to go home and await further instructions.


Starsky began looking around for a better vantage point.  Most of the surrounding buildings were higher than the single story building.  He selected one with two stories, and which appeared abandoned, and began climbing up the ladder on the outside of it.  From the roof, he hoped he could get a view into a few of the windows of the building where Hutch was.


He paused to catch his breath after reaching the roof.  Then he walked around, noting the one-story building below.  He could indeed see a few windows.  He raised his binoculars and trained it on the nearest window, but couldn’t see anybody inside.


A large elm tree had grown beside this particular building, in between it and the one story building.  Starsky considered that, if he was able to get into the tree, he could see farther into some of the rooms of the one story building.


Starsky studied the branches.  The ones nearest the building he was on appeared to be thick enough to support his weight.  There was a series of strong branches going almost to the ground.  If he could make it to the first one, he would be able to maneuver to any number of elevations and have a better chance of seeing into the windows.


Starsky made sure the binoculars were secure around his neck.  He discarded his jacket and let it fall to the ground, as he didn’t want it catching on any of the branches.  Then he crouched along the edge of the roof.


He leapt to the tree. 




The wall clock didn’t work, so Hutch didn’t know precisely how long he’d been sitting in the office chair, but he was pretty certain it was at least an hour.


He heard footsteps approaching.  He stood, pushed the chair away, and leaned casually against the piping.


The door opened and Bart held a gun on him.  Gabe stood a few steps back.


“About time you got here,” Hutch said.  He gestured.  “I took a piss around the corner there.”


Both mouths dropped open.  Then Bart said, “Oh.  Sorry about that.”


“You dumb fucks don’t know the first thing about how to handle a hostage.”


“You aren’t a hostage.”


“The hell I am.  And I’m not very happy about it.”  Hutch shifted.  “But now that I get to see Jacob Littleton, maybe it won’t be necessary to beat the crap out of you to show my disdain for your hospitality.”


Bart ignored his words.  “Do you know first aid?”


Hutch blinked, caught off guard by the question.  Then he said, “What?  Did one of you of you morons blow off your own toe?”


“If you know first aid, I’ll let you out of the cuffs.”


Hutch furrowed his brow.  “Is Mr. Littleton injured?”


“He’s not back yet.”  Impatiently, Bart repeated, “Do you know first aid?”


It was obvious that Bart wanted the answer to be yes.  He was worried about something.


“Of course, I do,” Hutch said.


Bart seemed relieved.  “Uncuff him, Gabe.”


Gabe approached Hutch, pulling keys from his pocket, and skittishly released the cuff around Hutch’s wrist.  He quickly stepped back, as though afraid of what Hutch might do.


Hutch rubbed at the offended wrist.


“This way,” Bart said.  He stepped back into the hall.


Hutch moved through the doorway and down the hall.  He passed one door, and then Bart said, “On your right.”


Hutch entered the room on the right, which appeared similar to the one he had just left.


A man was on the floor, his back against the wall, his right hand cuffed to the piping above his head.   The whole left side of his body was scraped and bleeding, his clothing torn.


It was Starsky.


Hutch clamped down on his reaction.  Starsky was conscious, but looked miserable.  The most blood was coming from a wound at the left side of his head.


“Who the fuck is this?” Hutch demanded, not taking his eyes off Starsky.  He watched a mouth corner twitch, as though Starsky was trying to smile.


Good.  Starsky was aware enough to know that Hutch was there.


“Cop,” Bart replied.  “We caught him snooping around outside.”


“He fell out of a tree!” Gabe announced gleefully.


“Fell out of a tree?” Hutch repeated.  It was difficult to tell if there were any broken bones.  Buddy, what were you doing in a tree? 


“Fix him up,” Bart demanded.  “I’m sure Mr. Littleton will want to find out what he knows about our operation.”


Hutch found himself hoping that Littleton never showed up.


He glanced back at his captors.  “All right.  Get me a first aid kit, water to clean him up, drinking water, towels, lots of antibiotic cream….”  He stepped closer, knowing that Starsky’s shirt had seen its last day, and maybe the jeans too.  Then he glanced back at his captors.  “He’ll need something for clothing, like sweats.  He needs something clean to lie on – a mattress.  Blankets.”


“This isn’t a damned department store!”


Hutch turned fully, letting the urgency show in his eyes.  “Then drive into town and get me what I need.  If you want me to fix him up, I’m going to need the right kind of supplies.  If this cop dies, it’s on your shoulders.  He’s too valuable as a hostage.”


“Get the first aid kit,” Bart told Gabe.  As Gabe left the room, Hutch turned back to Starsky and stepped closer, and then knelt in front of his partner.  He desperately wanted to be alone with him, but for now, he gently examined the wound on his head.


“His injuries don’t look life threatening,” Bart said.  “Why would he die?”


Hutch looked behind him.  “Infection, you dumb ass!  He could have tree bark inside his skin.  And it looks like he has a concussion.  They can be deadly.”  Hutch released a breath.  He actually doubted Starsky had a concussion, because it looked like a scalp wound from scraping against the bark, but he wanted to keep his captors rattled so they would obey him.


Hutch was hesitant to tear the rest of the shirt, because he didn’t know how much pain it might cause.  Carefully, he removed Starsky’s empty holster.  Then he began unfastening the buttons of Starsky’s shirt.  He was fighting the urge to soothe and reassure, since Bart was still in the doorway.


“Here’s the first aid kit,” Gabe said as he entered the room.  He placed it next to Hutch.


“Good,” Hutch said, reaching to open it.  “Now uncuff him.”


Gabe looked back at Bart. 


“I can handle him,” Hutch snapped.  “If he gives me any trouble, I’ll-I’ll hurt him.”  He almost choked on his own words.


“Uncuff him,” Bart ordered.


Gabe had the same skittish movement as he moved to Starsky’s right side and unlocked the cuff.  Starsky’s hand collapsed and he groaned.


Gabe moved in a wide arc around Hutch, and then came to Starsky’s injured side.  He stood looking down at him.  “You’d better not do anything, cop.”  Then pulled his leg back and landed a forceful kick on Starsky’s ribs.


Starsky jackknifed, crying out.


Hutch threw himself on Gabe, slugging him in the face.  “YOU GODDAMNED SONOFABITCH!”  He got on top of him, and wrapped his fingers around his throat.


Bart rushed closer with the gun extended.  “Enough!”


Hutch eased his grip but he felt the blood rush to his face as he screamed at Gabe, “You never, never attack a man when he’s already down!  You hear me?  Never!  Only cowards do that!”  He looked up at Bart, ignoring the gun in his face.  “Is that what this organization is?  A bunch of cowards?  If that’s the case, I want nothing to do with it.”


Bart looked troubled, but said, “Calm down.  Let Gabe up.”


Hutch said to Gabe, whose hand was on his injured cheek, “You’re too stupid and too cowardly to have reason to exist on this earth.”


“Knock it off!” Bart insisted.


Hutch shifted to one side.


Gabe quickly crawled way, and then got to his feet near the door, his hand still holding his cheek.


Hutch shook his finger at Bart.  “If you learn one thing about me, it’s that I don’t do things half-assed.  If I’m going to fix that cop up, I’m going to do it right.”  He got to his feet, eyes still on Bart, who backed up from him warily.  Hutch was desperate to go to Starsky, who he could hear painfully gasping for breath.  But he thought it more important to push his advantage while he could.


Bart’s eyes were staring up at Hutch, even as he had his gun thrust in front of him.


Hutch came closer, whispering, “Let me tell you something about interrogation.  Torture doesn’t work.  When a man is in pain, kindness is what makes him trust you.  Once you’ve earned his trust, that’s when you question him.”


Bart blinked a few times, as though he had never considered that.


Hutch continued, “I’m going to be kind to him, so he’ll trust me.  Then I will do the questioning, when he’s ready.  Since you don’t know how to take care of him, he’s my prisoner.”  He allowed his voice to soften.  “Get me the supplies I need.”


Hutch turned away and went back to Starsky.  He was relieved when he heard the door shut behind him.


Starsky was still slumped to the right, but his breathing wasn’t as harsh.


Hutch grasped the cheek that wasn’t scraped.  “I’m so sorry about that, buddy.  I didn’t see it coming.  Easy does it.”


Starsky closed his eyes, and made the slight motion of a nod.  Then he gasped, “You need to calm down, Hutch.”


“These guys are idiots.  I’ve got the upper hand.  They’re afraid of me.”


Starsky opened his eyes and looked at him.  “Don’t get too cocky,” he gasped.  “Please?”


Hutch squeezed Starsky’s right shoulder.  “Listen, buddy.  I’ve still got the pistol strapped to my ankle.  These guys would be easy to take, if we need to get you out of here.”


Starsky’s breathing evened out.  He swallowed and then said, “Let’s not give up so easy, huh?  I don’t want to be the reason this job fails, if we can help it.  You’re taking care of me, right?  I know I didn’t break anything.  Though I might have cracked ribs now.”


Hutch stroked the side of Starsky’s head.  “What the hell happened?  Did you really fall from a tree?”


Starsky managed a slight grin.  “Yeah.”  He took a breath.  “I was trying to get closer.  I made it from the roof of another building to the tree, but then when I started to go down lower, my foot slipped.”  He grimaced as he attempted a chuckle.  “It was a long way down, but the branches were breaking my fall the entire way.  I landed upright, pretty much.”  He took a few breaths.  “But those guys heard the commotion and they were on me.  I lost my gun on the way down.”


Hutch started to speak, but he heard footsteps.  “Here they come,” he warned.  He pulled the first aid kit closer and took stock of the supplies.


The door opened.  Bart walked in alone, carrying a box.  “Here’s a bunch of supplies.  I sent Gabe to the store for other stuff.”


“What about water?”


“Tap water is in the jugs,” he indicated the box.  “And there’s bottles of drinking water.”


“When is Mr. Littleton going to get here?”


“He got waylaid.  He might not make it back today.”


That seemed to indicate that Bart had talked to Littleton recently.  Hutch wondered if Littleton knew they had a hostage.


Bart asked, “Do you need help with him?”  It was clear what he hoped the answer would be.


“No,” Hutch said firmly.  “I know what I’m doing.  I just need the supplies.”


“I’m keeping the door locked, Taylor.  I still don’t trust you.”  Without another word, Bart left, closing the door behind him.  Then there was the noise of the door being locked.


“I think he’s the only one here,” Hutch noted to Starsky, clasping his cheek again.  “If we decide to get out of this, now’s the time to do it.”


Starsky carefully shook his head.  “I feel like shit, but I think we’re in a pretty safe spot, considering.  Let’s see how far we can take this.”  He managed a small grin.  “Littleton might be all the more impressed with you, if you’ve got yourself a hostage that you’ve taken care of well enough to question.”


Hutch squeezed his shoulder.  “I told those guys that I was going to be nice to you, to earn your trust.  So, we don’t have to pretend too much.”


Starsky’s hand lightly patted Hutch’s leg.  “That’s my Hutch.  Always thinking.”


Hutch let himself smile at his partner’s fortitude.  But now he softened as he said.  “Okay, buddy, time to get you fixed up as best we can.  First, let’s get rid of the clothes.”  He reached to finish unbuttoning the shirt.


As Hutch worked at carefully removing Starsky’s right arm from the sleeve, his partner said, “So, Littleton isn’t here?”


“Right.”  Hutch moved the shirt around Starsky’s back, and then grimaced as he pulled the torn left side away from the matting blood. He watched Starsky wince as he tried to remove his left arm from the sleeve.  “They acted like he would be here a little later, but they just now said he might not get here today at all.”  Hutch worked the sleeve off.


While Hutch studied the sight before him, he said, “I’d just as soon him not return today.  I doubt I’ll be able to push him around the way I have those two morons he’s got working for him.”  He met Starsky’s eye.  “When he arrives, he could separate us.”


“Let’s take our chances.”


“If he tries, I’ll do my best to be real possessive of you.  I think those goons are already convinced that I’ve got a screw loose.”  Hutch managed a smile.  “A thief at the top of his profession ought to be allowed a few eccentricities, huh?”


Hutch’s eyes went back to the scrapes and abrasions all along Starsky’s left side.  His left arm appeared mostly spared, as though it was raised as he fell, so that it was the side of his torso that took most of the impact against the branches.


“What do you think?” Starsky asked.


“I’m thinking I really wish I could get you into a shower.”


Starsky managed a grin.  “Now he tells me.”


Hutch grinned back, but he said, “Those wounds need to be flushed out to get all the debris out.  It’s going to be a real mess trying to do it with finite bottles of water and towels.”


He settled his hand on Starsky’s forehead.  It felt warm, though it was too soon for infection to have set in.  “I want to get your temperature.”  He searched in the first aid kit and pulled out a thermometer.


His mouth fell open as he pulled away the covering and studied the small bulb at the end.  Oh, he’s going to love this. 


Starsky started to open his mouth, and Hutch said, “Buddy, trust me, you don’t want this anywhere near your mouth.”




“It’s a rectal thermometer,” Hutch said with frustration.  “Somebody has messed with the supplies here, or else this kit was intended for children.”


“Oh.  Well, I don’t feel that bad, Hutch.”


“I’ll need to be sure, but we can put it off for now.”


The scrapes along Starsky’s side disappeared into his jeans.  Hutch reached to unsnap them, and straightened on his knees.  He pulled the loosened clothing away from Starsky’s waist as he tried to see how far the abrasions went.  “You think it’s all the way down your leg?”  He looked up.


Starsky nodded.  “Yeah.”


“There’s no way we can bandage all this without turning you into a mummy.  I think our best bet is to flush it all out, and then cover it in ointment.”  Gently, Hutch added, “I hate to get you naked without having anything else to dress you in.  I hope those jerks are going to bring some clothes.”  The last thing he wanted was for Starsky to be left so vulnerable when exposed to the enemy.


The blood was mostly dry now, but removing the debris from the tree bark was what Hutch was most concerned about.  He met his partner’s eye.  “How are you feeling?”


“Better, since I’ve been sitting here a while, except my ribs hurt.”  He indicated where he’d been kicked.  “But I’m sure it’s going to feel sorer ’n hell when I try to move around.”


Hutch rose up and examined the head wound.  “Does your head hurt?”


“It hurts a lot on the one spot, but I don’t have a headache.”


“Good.  But when the bad guys are around, act really miserable.  If I can keep them worried about a concussion, all the better.”  Hutch studied the wound another moment, eager to clean the blood away.  “I think that could use a few sutures, but at least it’s just a scalp wound.”


“Hey, uh, Hutch?”


Hutch settled back and met his partner’s eye.


Starsky took a breath, and then released it.  “There’s something lodged in my butt cheek.”


“You mean like a splinter?”


“Yeah.  But it feels big.  Really hurts.”


Hutch looked at the way Starsky’s weight had remained mostly on his right side, especially after being kicked.  “The left one?”




The lock rattled, and Hutch began sorting through the supplies that were in the box that had been brought. There were a lot of towels, thankfully.


Bart entered with a gun in hand, and placed a partially folded blanket on a nearby table.  “I was able to find that.”


Hutch asked, “Is there any kind of shower facility here?”  He heard Starsky taking deep, gasping breaths, playing the part he was expected.


“You’re kidding, right?”


He wasn’t, but Hutch said, “Then I’m going to need a lot more towels and water.  All the debris has to be flushed out of his wounds.  It’s going to create a mess.”


“Gabe will be bringing stuff like that back with him.”  With irritation, Bart said, “I’ve decided to let you have a mattress.  I’ll bring it in.”  He gestured with his chin.  “There’s a sink over there.  I assume it works.”


Hutch looked over.  It was around the corner of the wall Starsky was resting against.  It was small, but it was a sink.  He nodded, but refrained from saying, “Thanks,” because Winston Taylor wasn’t one to express gratitude.  Instead, he asked, “Is Gabe getting some kind of clothing?”


“Yes.  The damn cop had better be worth all this trouble.”


Hutch countered, “Maybe you should have thought of that before you took him at gunpoint.  You just don’t go grabbing a cop – especially an injured cop – without having some kind of plan about what you intend to do.”


Bart grumbled, “Yeah, yeah, you and all your smart-ass answers.  I’m getting damned tired of you, Taylor.  Don’t forget that I’m the one with the gun.”  He held it up.


That’s what you think.


Bart left and the door was locked again.


“Be back in a sec, buddy.”  Hutch squeezed Starsky’s shoulder, and then took the thermometer from the first aid kit.  He took it over to the sink, grateful that he wouldn’t be dependent upon the goons for such a basic need as water. 


Hutch was pleasantly surprised to see an old bar of soap there.  He turned on the faucet, both hot and cold, waiting for the water to get lukewarm.  Rust came out of the faucet initially, but eventually cleared.  Hutch spent a moment rinsing the bar of soap until it no longer looked dirty.  Then he held it over the glass barrel of the thermometer, so soap dripped along it.  When he was satisfied that he’d cleaned it as well as he could, he put it back in its sleeve and turned off the water.  He then went to retrieve the blanket.


He knelt back down by Starsky. “Okay, buddy, time to lose the pants, since they’ll be bringing something to dress you in.  I’ve also got a blanket here.”


The door rattled again, and then a striped twin mattress was shoved into the room.  “There’s your friggin’ mattress,” Bart said.  He’d barely gotten it into the room before he shut the door and the lock was turned.


“Things are looking up even more,” Hutch said, squeezing Starsky.  He went to get the mattress.   He dragged it until he was next to Starsky, and then laid it flat.


“How do you want to do this?” Starsky asked when Hutch knelt back in front of him.


“I don’t want you to lie on it until I’ve flushed everything out, because it’ll just get wet.  But maybe you can rest your head on it, huh?  At least until I can get your rear taken care of.”


Hutch removed his jacket, and folded it up at the edge of the mattress.  He grabbed the blanket and folded it in half, and then he placed it on the floor between the mattress and Starsky, near where his jacket was.


He took Starsky’s right arm.  “Think you can lie down there?” he asked gently.  Hutch couldn’t really help support him, since he didn’t think he could touch him anywhere on his left side and avoid the scraped, bleeding skin.


Starsky gingerly pushed off the floor, and maneuvered himself onto the blanket, and then laid his head on the pillow of Hutch’s jacket.  He sighed heavily.


Hutch patted his bare back.  “Try to relax as best you can, and let your buddy do all the work.”  He noted that Starsky had some scraping along his back, but they were small scratches that had barely bled.


He began unbuttoning his sleeves.


Starsky asked, “Why do you think Littleton hasn’t come back?  You had a firm two o’clock appointment, right?”


“I thought so.  He sounded eager to meet with me.  They had me handcuffed in another room until they brought me in here, but they acted like he would be back any time.”


“You’ve only seen the two goons?”


“Yeah.  I haven’t heard anyone else.”


Hutch rolled up his sleeves, and then moved to Starsky’s feet.  He untied Starsky’s shoelaces and slipped off the Adidas.  He didn’t see any reason to remove the socks.    


The left leg of Starsky’s jeans looked like it had been through a rough time, but it was only at the buttock that it was torn through.  Hutch looked inside the tear and found a chip of bark submerged in the flesh.  It looked to be about a half inch wide, and was sticking out an inch or so.  The jeans had moved around it so that the bark was actually inside of them and not sticking through the clothing itself.


Hutch grabbed scissors from the first aid kit and cut at the tear to make it larger, so the jeans could be more easily moved over the bark.


“Time to get these off, buddy.  I’ll try to be real careful.”  As Hutch reached to lower the fly, Starsky used his good hand to push at the clothing, and he tried to move his hips as best he could.


Hutch grabbed jeans and underwear on the left side and pushed them to Starsky’s hip bone, and then he very carefully pulled at them with one hand, while holding Starsky’s buttock still with the other.  “Easy, easy,” he said, pulling the cloth as far away from the skin as he could to keep it clear of the embedded bark.


Finally, jeans and underwear were down at Starsky’s thighs.


Starsky released a heavy breath and collapsed against his makeshift pillow.


“I’ll take it from here,” Hutch assured. 


Starsky closed his eyes gratefully.


Hutch shifted, and then grabbed all the clothing and pulled it down Starsky’s legs.  Once clear of his feet, he grabbed some towels and placed one over Starsky’s exposed groin, and the other over most of his rear, save the part where the bark was embedded.  He hoped that they weren’t going to be interrupted while he was tending to this particular injury.


The outside of Starsky’s left leg was scraped, from his hip down to his knee, but not as badly as his upper torso.


“Looks damn painful,” Hutch said.  He touched the bark and barely moved it, and Starsky reacted with a heavy gasp.  “It’s lodged in there pretty good.”


Starsky swallowed.


“I don’t know how deep it is,” Hutch went on gently, placing his hand on Starsky’s hip.


“Just pull it out,” Starsky said, resigned.


“Okay.  On three.  Try not to move, okay?”  Hutch firmly grasped the bark.  “One… two… three.”  He yanked.


Starsky made an incoherent noise with his eyes squeezed shut.  Then he gasped, “Godalmighty.”  He released a few sharp breaths.


Hutch looked at the bark.  Over an inch had been inserted.  “You’re going to be damn sore for a while.”  He laid the bark at the edge of the mattress so Starsky could see it.


The wound began bleeding. Hutch grabbed a towel and a jug of water.  He held a towel just beneath the wound, and then poured water over it, trying to clear it of debris.  He was glad to know that Starsky was up on his tetanus shots.


After rinsing more, he placed a dry part of the towel over the wound and pressed.


“Agh!”  Starsky protested.


Hutch took Starsky’s left hand by the wrist.  He guided it to the towel.  “Here, keep pressure on that.”


Hutch opened a large gauze pad and smeared antibiotic ointment on it.  “Let me move the towel.”


Starsky lifted his hand, and Hutch replaced the towel with the gauze.  He placed Starsky’s hand back over the gauze.  “Hang on until I can tape it in place.”


Starsky muttered, “Might be limpin’ for a few days.”


Hutch was working with the tape.  “Yeah, I don’t think you did yourself any favors getting into that tree.”


“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”  Starsky closed his eyes and released a breath.


“Move your hand.”


Starsky let his hand slip away from the gauze, and Hutch taped the square piece securely in place.  “That should do you.”


Hutch put the roll of tape down and picked up the thermometer.  He removed it from its casing and opened a small jar of Vaseline.  He rubbed the grease along the barrel.  “Buddy?  Can you move your leg at all?”  He gently pushed at Starsky’s left leg, encouraging it to bend at the knee.


Starsky grunted as he moved it a bare inch.  “Hurts.  Why?”  His eyes were still closed.


“Because I’m going to get your temperature while I’m in the area.”


Starsky groaned.


“Shouldn’t hurt,” Hutch said as consolation.  Since he didn’t have as much access as he would like, he pulled a lower butt cheek to one side.  “One rectal thermometer coming up.”




Hutch could see enough to insert it without having to search for the opening.  When he thought an inch had disappeared inside, he took Starsky’s hand by the wrist again.  “Here.  Hold it in place.”  He waited until Starsky had grasped it.  “Just relax and don’t take it out until I say so.”  He looked at Starsky’s watch and noted the time.


Starsky muttered, “Feels like I’m playing with myself in front of you.”


Hutch laughed softly, and then took a large towel and unfolded it.  He draped it over Starsky’s lower body, covering his rear.  “Better?”


Instead of answering, Starsky grumbled, “Linda would approve.”


Hutch was about to ask Linda who?  But then he remembered their conversation at Huggy’s.  “You shouldn’t let her get to you.”


“Shoulda dumped her a long time ago.”


“You can tonight, except I don’t know if we’re going to be out of here tonight.”


Starsky closed his eyes and his head relaxed against the mattress.  “Dobey’s gonna freak when he doesn’t hear from me by the end of the day.”


“I’ll see if they’ll let me use the phone a little later on.  I’ll have to figure out some way to hint to Dobey that you’re with me.”  Hutch was thoughtful a long moment.  “If I’m able to leave by the end of the day, I have to take you with me.  We’ll need to come up with a way for that to happen.”


“Aren’t they going to want to question me or something?”


“To see how much you know about their operations.  But I might be able to over-ride them on that.  You have a concussion.  You aren’t making sense.  I’m the one who’s taken care of you, so I have rights to you.  There’s nothing in their MO that suggests these guys are killers.  At this point, they’d probably just as soon have you out of their hair, especially since I’ve taken away all their fun.”


“Unless Littleton sees it differently.”


“Yeah,” Hutch sighed.  “He’s the wildcard.  It’s starting to worry me that he missed our appointment.  I think I need to razz these guys a little and try to find out more.”  Hutch turned Starsky’s left wrist so he could see the watch.  “You can hand it over.”  He flipped the towel up, and a moment later Starsky held up the thermometer.


Hutch took it and wiped off the Vaseline with a tissue.  He spent a moment studying the shimmering mercury.  “One-oh-two point one.”


Starsky mumbled, “Don’t feel that hot.”


“Rectal temperature can be as much as a degree higher than oral.  So, that would be about one-oh-one orally.  Borderline fever, buddy.  I want to keep monitoring it after we get you cleaned up.”


Hutch went to the sink and cleaned the thermometer for later use.


When he returned to Starsky, he opened a packet of aspirin and dropped them into Starsky’s hand.  “Take these.”  He opened a bottle of water and handed it to Starsky.  “Wet your throat first.”


With some effort, Starsky hoisted himself up on an elbow.  He took the water and drank from it, then popped the pills into his mouth.  He swallowed more water, and then handed the bottle back to Hutch.  He lay back down.


Hutch put the water aside and grabbed a bunch of towels.  “Let’s see how efficiently we can get all those scrapes taken care of.”  He clasped Starsky’s shoulder and hip.  “Tilt forward just a little bit, so I can control the direction of the water.”


Starsky shifted slightly.  He was on his right side, leaning toward the floor. 


“I’m going to work with a section at a time, pouring water over it, and use a towel to soak it up.”  He reached to squeeze Starsky’s shoulder.  “Sorry, pal.  I’m sure this is going to be uncomfortable.”


Starsky closed his eyes.  “Just don’t wake me.”


“Right,” Hutch said doubtfully. 


He decided to focus on where the scrapes were the worst along Starsky’s left side.  The more minor wounds could wait. 


Hutch started at Starsky’s waist.  He put the towel beneath the torn skin, and then took a jug of water and gently poured it over the abrasions.


“Oh, God,” Starsky muttered, but he remained still.


Hutch watched as the towel he was holding turned wet with blood, and was relieved to see a few small splinters of wood appear.  He moved the towel a few inches up Starsky’s side and repeated the process.  Then he replaced the soiled towel with a new one and kept going. 


After he made it up to the side of Starsky’s chest, he became worried about running out of towels.  Then he heard footsteps.  “Here they come,” he whispered to Starsky, and reminded, “You feel real bad.”


Hutch straightened as the lock turned.  Bart opened the door, gun in hand, and then Gabe, his cheek bruised, entered with a large sack in each hand and placed them on the floor, well away from Hutch.  He quickly scurried away.


“There’s the rest of your supplies,” Bart said.  “How is he?”


“Not quite all there and he has a fever.  When is Littleton going to get here?”


“We don’t know.”


“What the hell happened?” Hutch snapped.  “He knew I was coming at two.  What, he just blew me off?”


Bart’s face was impassive.  “He ran into a complication.”


What complication?  You’ve obviously been in touch with him since I got here.  It’s about time you started showing some respect and telling me what’s going on.”


Bart nodded at the supplies.  “You’ve gotten plenty of respect.  We’ve given you every damn thing you’ve asked for.”


“Except producing the one man I came here to see.  Does he want me to join this operation or not?”


Bart looked nervously at Starsky, as though wondering why Winston Taylor would speak of their operation in front of a cop.


“He’s out of it,” Hutch assured.  Behind him, Starsky groaned, and then followed up the noise with a few harsh pants.


Worriedly, Bart asked, “Do you think he could die?”


“Not if I can help it.  But he could take a turn for the worst at any time.  In that case, I suggest we leave him somewhere where the police can find him.  I don’t want a death on my hands.  That’s a failure I can do without.”


“It’s not our fault he fell out of the damn tree!”


“You brought him inside and cuffed him.  That’s kidnapping a cop.”  Hutch let that sink in, and then said, “But right now I’m more interested in when I’m going to get my appointment with Littleton.  I wasn’t planning on spending all afternoon here, you know.”


“Look,” Bart said, flustered.  “You can walk out the door if you want, but forget about ever working with Jacob Littleton, because he won’t hire someone who doesn’t show enough commitment to stick around and ride out a little setback.”


Hutch considered a moment about which way to go.  He demanded, “If I’m free to go, then why are you holding a gun on me?”


“Because I don’t trust you, Taylor.  I’ll escort you out the door if you want to leave.  And you can take the stupid cop with you, because I don’t want to mess with him, in his condition.  But as long as you’re here, you’re locked in this room, because I don’t trust you enough to have you wandering around.”


“And I’m starting to wonder if I can trust Jacob Littleton.”  Hutch shook his finger at Bart.  “The next time he calls you, I want to talk to him.”


“We’ll see about that,” Bart said, lowering the gun and closing the door.


After the door was locked, Hutch moved to grab the bags.  He brought them next to Starsky.  “So far, so good partner.”  He pulled out more towels, a huge tube of antibiotic ointment, a lot of bottled water, a blanket, and a jogging outfit.


Starsky said gruffly, his eyes still closed.  “Did I hear him right?  We’re free to go?”


“Yeah, sounds like it.  But if I do, the game is off because he claims Littleton won’t want anything more to do with me.”  Hutch grinned.  “All the more reason to stick it out and see if we can keep my cover, huh?”


Starsky managed a grin, his eyes still closed.  “Sounds good.”


Hutch softened and squeezed Starsky’s arm.  “Buddy, any time you think we need to pack it in, just let me know.  At the very least, I should be able to get you out, even if I stay here.”


Starsky opened his eyes.  “Hey, my job was to back you up.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m still doing that.  Someone’s gotta do that while you’re playing this cocky Winston character.”


Hutch squeezed Starsky’s arm again, not having expected any other answer.  “Okay.”  He went back to the first aid kit and opened a bottle of rubbing alcohol.  He poured it over a pair of tweezers.  “Buddy, I need to look for any splinters that didn’t rinse out, and pull them out with tweezers.”  He patted the top of Starsky’s head that wasn’t matted with dry blood.  “Hopefully, there won’t be many, but I know I saw a sliver or two.”


Starsky’s eyes were closed again.  “’Kay.”


Hutch wished he had a magnifying glass.  But since he didn’t, he ended up stretching out on his stomach so he could get as close as possible to the now-clean wounds, most of which were no longer bleeding, but they looked raw.  When he spotted a splinter, he grabbed it with the tweezers and yanked.  Starsky’s protests were usually a sharp in-drawn breath, but he tried to stay still.


Eventually, Hutch was done.  He took the cap off the fat tube of antibiotic cream and squeezed a large mound onto his fingers.  He began to rub it into the abrasions, leaving a thin film as he moved up Starsky’s side.


“God,” Starsky gasped.  “Oh, man, that’s sore.”


“I know.  Sorry, buddy.”  Hutch kept at his task. 


When Starsky’s side was coated with the ointment, Hutch went back to using the water and towel, focusing on the residual scrapes and cuts that he found on various parts of Starsky’s body.  He eventually finished with more applications of the cream.


Over a half hour later, all that remained was the wound on Starsky’s scalp.  Since it had clotted so well, Hutch hated to disturb the healing, but he wanted to be sure that there wasn’t any debris in it.


Starsky seemed to be partially asleep, and Hutch reluctantly felt it necessary to disturb him.  He squeezed his shoulder.  “Buddy?”


Starsky’s eyes fluttered.


“I need to sit you up to take care of your head.  Okay?”


“Yeah,” Starsky replied without enthusiasm.  He started to raise himself up, and Hutch grabbed him by the right shoulder and helped him into a partially sitting position.  “Tilt your head down.  I’m sorry, buddy, but I’m going to have to open the wound to flush it out.”


“Guess I’ll live through it.”  Starsky bowed his head.


“I’m sure you will.”  Hutch put a fresh towel against the side of Starsky’s head.  Then he held a jug over the wound and began pouring the water over it.


Starsky gasped and tensed as the scabbed blood began to loosen.


“Sorry,” Hutch said again, as the water continued to pour.


Finally, the scab gave way and a couple of flecks of wood were carried away by the water stream.  “Good thing I did this,” Hutch said.  “You had a couple of splinters in there.”


“Man, that hurts.”


The jug was empty just as Hutch decided he’d done enough.  The towel at Starsky’s forehead was nearly soaked through, and Hutch laid it aside.  “Hang in there,” he prompted, picking up the tweezers.  “I need to see what else in is there.”  The wound was bleeding and Hutch dabbed at it with gauze, trying to stem the flow while getting a closer look.  As best he could tell, no other debris was embedded.  He took Starsky’s hand and held it against the gauze.  “Hold that.  You can raise your head up.”


Starsky did.


Hutch prepared another gauze pad with ointment, and used it to replace the first one.  Eventually, he had it taped into place, and he let Starsky drop his arm.  “Keep sitting up a minute.”


With both hands free, Hutch maneuvered the blanket out from beneath Starsky.  He placed it over the bare mattress.  Then he said, “Okay, pal, time for a nap, huh?”  He gently took his right arm.  “Up you go.”  He took his folded up jacket and put it at the top of the mattress.


Groaning, Starsky crawled onto the mattress, using his left side as little as possible.  Finally, he collapsed onto his right side, with his head resting on the makeshift pillow.


Hutch took the sweats out of one of the sacks.  “How about some clothes?”


“Sounds good,” Starsky muttered breathlessly. 


“Do you want your underwear back on, even though they’re ripped?”




Hutch found Starsky’s jeans, with the underwear inside, and separated out the white briefs.  He put Starsky’s feet through them, and then pulled them up his legs.  Starsky used his hand to help pull them up the rest of the way, and then shifted as little as necessary to get them around his hips.


Hutch unfolded the new sweat pants and then worked at getting them up Starsky’s legs.  With more maneuvering of Starsky’s hips, the pants were secure.


Hutch held the sweatshirt.  “Starsk?  I think we’ll leave the shirt off for now, huh?  It’ll rub against the ointment.  I’ve got a new blanket here.  How about if I just place that over you?”


“Sounds good,” Starsky said in a quiet voice.


Hutch took the new blanket out of its packaging.  Then he stood and unfolded it.  He draped it over Starsky, and then knelt down to tuck it more securely around him.  “How’s that?”


Starsky’s eyes opened partway.  “Great.”


Hutch smiled warmly as he sat on the space on the mattress next to Starsky.  After all his careful work, it felt good to relax, though he wished he had something to support his back. 


He reached to place his hand inside the blanket, and rubbed slowly across the back of Starsky’s shoulders.  “How are you feeling?”


“Everything was throbbing while you were cleaning, but now it’s not so bad.  My ribs hurt, but not as bad as when they’ve been broken.”  He took a breath.  “My butt really hurts.”


“Yeah, that was pretty deep, buddy.  I’ll want to take your temperature again a little later to make sure it’s going in the right direction.”  Hutch’s fingers gently kneaded the flesh they were rubbing across.  “Rest while you can.  Okay?”


“Mmm.  What are you going to be doing?”


With a gentle chuckle, Hutch asked, “You don’t want me to keep this up?”  He kneaded even more firmly.


“You’re too wired to do that for long.”


That was true.  Still Hutch’s fingers worked while he said, “Pretty soon I’m going to bang on that door and see if they’ll let me out to use a phone.  I’d like to get a feel for what they’ve got going on here.  I mean, is this just a meeting place, or do they live here?  I doubt this mattress has been stored here by the prior tenants, so maybe the goons, at least, sleep here.  I’ll try to see if I can call Dobey.  I’m thinking of what words I can use to let him know you’re with me.  But first, I’m hoping that I can get them to tell me what’s going on with Littleton.”


Softly, Starsky said, “You need to ease up, Hutch.  Maybe if you weren’t so belligerent with these guys, they would be more willing to open up to you.”


“Winston Taylor doesn’t have any patience for assholes.”


“They know next to nothing about Winston Taylor.  Besides, surely Taylor isn’t one-dimensional, right?” 


But being difficult is more fun, Hutch wanted to say.  Instead, he suggested, “Help me figure out what kind of code I can use on Dobey to let him know you’re with me.”


Starsky gave him a baleful look, as though not appreciating the change in subject. 


Hutch continued to rub along Starsky’s back, the gesture now more affectionate than healing.


Starsky’s mouth corner twitched.  Then he grinned.  “How about something like ‘The Torino is empty, but the contents are secure.’”


Hutch sighed.  “I need to have a reason to mention Torino and contents.  I was thinking of pretending that I’m calling my girlfriend.”


Starsky closed his eyes while his expression was thoughtful.  Then he muttered, “‘We can’t take the Torino on our date, but I cleaned it out earlier today, and brought everything inside with me.’”


“That might work.”  Hutch then furrowed his brow.  “Uh, buddy, where is the Torino?  Is it sitting outside where these guys can see it?”


“No, I parked it a few buildings away, where other cars are parked.  They shouldn’t be able to make the connection.”




Hutch finally pulled his hand back.  They sat quietly for a while, and Hutch was thinking ahead and trying to imagine worst-case scenarios.  His partner was vulnerable, but not so injured that he couldn’t defend himself to some degree.  “Buddy, where’s your jacket?”


“I took it off before I jumped into the tree.  It’s lying out by the next building somewhere.  Why?”


“You don’t have your pocketknife?”




Hutch bent to reach into his sock.  He pulled out the pocketknife he had, and felt under the blanket until he was able to place it in the left pocket of Starsky’s sweats.  “I’m giving this to you, just in case things get a little hairy.”


Starsky swallowed and nodded.


Hutch was getting restless, and he abruptly stood.  He went over to the first aid kit and brought it with him as he set back down on the mattress.  “Let’s get your temperature once more before I try to get them to let me out.”


“I don’t feel any worse, Hutch.”


Hutch removed the thermometer from its sleeve and began shaking it down.  “Indulge me, okay?” 


Starsky sighed.


Hutch checked the thermometer, and then shook it down some more.


Starsky muttered, “Don’t feel like getting undressed again.”  Nevertheless, his hands started moving beneath the blanket, and he was grunting with the effort, and gasping at the pain of his movement.


Hutch checked again, and the mercury had moved to an acceptable level.  He opened the jar of Vaseline and spread it along the glass.  It occurred to him that he could offer to have Starsky take his own temperature, but he was afraid that his partner would make too much of a production of it.  Plus, it would probably be difficult to reach with all the abrasions.


Hutch lifted the blanket and saw the Starsky had gotten the sweats and underwear halfway down his hips.  With his free hand, Hutch pulled them down more.


“Easy, buddy.”  He pulled a butt cheek aside, and then inserted the thermometer.  He took Starsky’s hand and brought it down until he could grip the glass.  “Hold it there.”


Starsky released a breath.


Hutch checked the time on Starsky’s watch.  Then he picked up the tube of cream and took off the cap.  “Your sweats have rubbed some of the ointment off.”


“Yeah, I’ve got some on the inside of my arm, too.” 


Hutch looked up and could see some of the cream along the inside of Starsky’s left arm, where it had brushed against his side.


“I’m going to rub some more in.  I’ll try to go easy.”


Starsky closed his eyes and grimaced as Hutch worked. 


After Hutch was finished with the cream, he got a towel and wiped at the ointment along Starsky’s arm.


“Has it been three minutes?”


Hutch looked at Starsky’s watch.  “Yeah.”


Starsky removed the thermometer and held it up.


Hutch took it and wiped off the Vaseline.  After studying the mercury, he said, “It’s gone down slightly.”


Starsky was trying to pull his pants back up.  “Good.  That’s the last time you’re taking my temperature with that thermometer.  Otherwise, I’m going to start thinking you like sticking things up my ass.”


Hutch assisted with the clothing.   “Trust me, buddy.  If I was going to stick something up your ass because I liked it, it wouldn’t be a thermometer.”


Starsky suddenly went still, his hands on the waistband of his pants.  Then he grinned as his head collapsed against Hutch’s folded jacket.  “I’m not sure I like where this conversation is going,” he muttered.  Then, “It’s a good thing Linda isn’t here.  She’d probably be so excited she’d be playing with herself.”


Hutch furrowed his brow as he spread the blanket back over Starsky.  “How come you’ve gotten so upset about her?”


Starsky grimaced.  “I didn’t like what she suggested for her birthday.”


“Then why not just say no, and leave it at that?”


Starsky closed his eyes and released a long breath.  “This isn’t the time to be talking about this.”


“You brought it up,” Hutch defended gently.  When Starsky didn’t respond, he took the thermometer over to the sink and cleaned it.  He made a mental note to talk about the subject later.  Starsky was one who put things behind him pretty easily, so the fact that he’d brought up Linda’s name a couple of times since they’d been in this room was very telling.


When Hutch was back near his partner, Starsky nodded toward the door.  “What do you think is going on?  Seems kind of weird that they haven’t checked up on us, doesn’t it?”


“Yeah.”  Hutch squeezed Starsky’s shoulder.  “I’m going to see if I can get them to come to the door.  You okay?”


“Yeah.  But if you’re gone longer than fifteen minutes, I’m going to start to get nervous.”


“Give me a half hour, buddy.  I’m going to want to call Dobey, and then see if I can get them to tell me anything.”


“Okay.  Half an hour.  After that, I’m going to assume that you need help.”


Hutch squeezed his shoulder again.  “Fair enough.”  He brushed his thumb along Starsky’s cheek, and then stood.





Starsky watched with slit eyes as Hutch banged on the door.  It took a while before it opened, and even then it was just a few inches.  “Yeah?”


Hutch demanded, “I need to make a phone call.”


“How’s the cop?”


“No worse.”  More aggressively, Hutch said, “Are you going to let me use the phone, or not?”


“All right,” came the grumbled voice, and then Hutch disappeared through the door. 


After the door closed, Starsky relaxed against the mattress.  Hutch, you really need to try some tact with these guys.


When Dobey had first approached Starsky and Hutch about the undercover job for Robbery, Hutch hadn’t seemed very interested.  But once it was decided that he would be the one to go undercover, he had started working on his character with relish.  The more he developed the idea that Winston Taylor looked down on others and didn’t suffer fools kindly, the more enthused Hutch became about the job. 


That must have been a Tuesday, Starsky thought with a sigh.  Because on a Wednesday, Hutch’s philosophy might be, “Let’s all be positive and try to get along.”  On Thursday, it might be, “Life sucks.”  On Friday, it might be, “Is this all there is?  There’s got to be more to life than just breathing in and out.” On Saturday, it might be, “Isn’t that the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen?  How can you be such a heathen that you can’t appreciate a beautiful sunset?”  On Sunday, it might be, “You know, Starsk, it’s really important to give something back.  Not having anything to do with money or a job, but just help others just because it’s the right thing to do.”  On Monday, it might be, “I don’t know why we even bother.  The bad guys always seem to win.”


The development of the Winston Taylor character must have happened on a Tuesday, because that’s when Hutch was in an exasperated, “It’s sure annoying being the only smart person when surrounded by a world full of fools” philosophy.


Of course, no matter what day of the week it was, the one constant about Hutch was that he loved his partner.  Starsky closed his eyes and smiled, mentally tracing his injuries – the injuries that no longer hurt anywhere near as much as they had before Hutch’s attentions.  Starsky’s butt cheek throbbed the most, but he appreciated what an efficient and effective job Hutch had done in doctoring it, and most especially his partner’s tender manner.


Thank God for the one constant, because otherwise Hutch’s yoyo personality could be rather trying at times.  He could go from chuckling warmth and enthusiasm, to self-questioning and depression within a very short time.  In the past year or so, his extremes of emotion had taken on a more severe edge.  Even a short time ago, when he’d belted the Gabe goon for the assault on Starsky, Hutch’s reaction had seemed rather overblown, especially considering he was undercover.  Never mind that Starsky had felt a desire of his own to rip Gabe’s balls off in retaliation – just as soon as his ribs quit hurting so much.


Of course, with his usual quick-thinking skill, Hutch had made the over-reaction work for himself, and for Starsky, and quickly developed a situation that allowed for all the private nurturing that had been delivered the past hour or so.


Starsky didn’t even mind that Hutch had stuck that thermometer up his butt.  Twice.


And, now, Hutch was all puzzled about Starsky’s multiple mentions of the soon-to-be-ex girlfriend, Linda.


Starsky sighed out loud.  He supposed he really shouldn’t have brought her up.  Maybe Hutch would forget about it.


Just like he himself should forget about that oh-so-casual mention Hutch said about sticking something other than a thermometer up Starsky’s ass if it were for reasons of pleasure.  Despite all the flirtatious comments they tended to make toward each other, that particular one had caught Starsky off guard with its brashness.


Still, Hutch had only been kidding.


Buddy, I don’t think I could handle that huge thing of yours up my ass.  Can’t imagine it would fit.


Linda would have enjoyed the view though.  Or maybe not.  Surely, she was most interested in them pounding her at the same time. 


Starsky grimaced.  He needed to stop thinking so much.  Linda was going to soon be history.  Like Hutch said, he needed to let go of his annoyance about her suggestion.


He looked at his watch.


Fifteen minutes Hutch had been gone.  Starsky listened, but couldn’t hear a thing.





Hutch was sitting at a desk in a yet another office-looking room, speaking into the phone.  “Yes, honey, I know I told you we’d go to any early dinner, but things have changed.”


The two goons were watching him from a distance, Bart holding the ever-present gun.  At first, they were sitting close, but when Hutch glared at them with a, “Do you mind?  I’m calling my girlfriend.”  They tried to at least pretend to give him some privacy.


Dobey’s quiet voice asked, “You sure you’re all right, Hutchinson?”


“Yes, sweetheart, like I’ve been saying.”


“And Starsky’s with you?”


“Uh-huh.”  Hutch had already spoken the code words, and he knew Dobey was verifying previously stated facts for his own comfort.


“And he’s fine, too?”


“Yeah, well, when I have some spare time, maybe I’ll take the dog to the vet and have him checked out.  But I’m pretty sure it’s minor.  Maybe they’ll want to put a few stitches in some of those cuts if they don’t heal on their own.”


Hesitantly, Dobey asked, “Starsky has minor injuries?”


“Yeah, like I said.”


“You sure you don’t need to pull the plug on this?”


“Honey,” Hutch protested while lowering his voice, as though to speak more intimately, “I don’t know why you would say something like that.  Everything is fine.  We just need to give our relationship a little more time.  And don’t you worry about Fido.  He’s a pretty resilient old boy.”


The head goon sighed loudly.


“If you say so,” Dobey said.


“I-I need to go.  I’ll call you tomorrow.  Love you.”  Hutch made kissing noises, and then hung up the phone.


Bart grumbled, “Can’t believe an asshole like you has a girlfriend.”


Hutch let the comment pass.  He sat back and folded his arms.  “All right, gentlemen,” he said with obvious sarcasm on the last word, “it’s time for you to tell me what’s going on with Littleton, and why he hasn’t arrived.”


The goons looked at each other. 


Hutch pressed, “I’m starting to wonder if you’ve offed him or something, and are trying to take over his operation.”


“What the fuck?” Bart growled.  “If Gabe and me did something like that, do you think we’d still be waiting to see what to do with you?”


“Then tell me why he hasn’t shown up for our appointment.”


“It’s no big deal!  He’s figuring out our next target.  He had to lose some people who noticed he’s been parking on the block.  He’ll probably have to pick out another target now.”


Hutch couldn’t believe these guys were actually giving him that much information.  They were apparently somewhat rattled, as well, by their boss’s delay in showing up.


Hutch decided to rattle them some more.  “Another target isn’t the only thing that has to change.”


“What do you mean?”


“I mean that the cops obviously know this is the base for your operations.  So, you’ve got to find a new base.”


Bart looked at Gabe, and then back at Hutch, his hand tightening on the gun, as though in dismay.


“What else have you learned from that cop?”


“Not much.  He’s in too bad a shape.  I just know they’re going to be looking for him when he doesn’t call in.”  Despite having gone through the trouble of calling Dobey, Hutch considered that there really wasn’t much purpose to be served by hanging around any longer.  “It’s time to ditch him.”  The other two appeared hesitant, and Hutch pressed, “I found a big, fat splinter lodged deep in his ass.  Something like that could cause blood poisoning.  I want to ditch him before he gets seriously ill and the cops come looking around here for revenge.”  Hutch looked around the desk area, and noticed a wallet.  “Is that his badge?”


When the men didn’t answer, Hutch went over to it and picked it up.  “What about his gun or anything else you took off of him?  We may as well give it all back, so they don’t come looking for it.  In the meantime, you’ve got to find other digs.”


“How are you going to ditch him?”


“I’ll take him in my car and dump him somewhere, and call the cops anonymously and tell them where he is.  That’ll get rid of him.  Then you guys need to clear out of here, and don’t leave any evidence around of what you’ve been up to.  And then the cops will be back to square one.”


“But what about Mr. Littleton?”


Hutch shrugged.  “Obviously, this day hasn’t turned out like any of us intended.  You guys get moved, and Mr. Littleton will need to call me when he’s ready to reschedule.” Hutch sighed with exaggerated patience.  “I’m ready to forgive and forget, and pretend this day never happened.  We all need to start over.”


Bart eyed Hutch skeptically.   


Hutch held out his hand.  “I’d like my gun back and the cop’s gun.  Mr. Littleton can contact me at the same number as before.  If I don’t hear from him within three days, I’m going to assume that he’s lost interest in us pooling resources.”


Hutch prompted.  “My gun.”


Bart lowered the gun his held and moved to a desk.  He opened a drawer and handed Hutch’s gun to him.


Hutch shoved it into his holster.  These guys are too easy.  This is pathetic.


He held out his hand again.  “The cop’s gun?”


Bart said firmly, “Think I’ll keep it.”


Hutch rolled his eyes.  “If that gun ends up killing somebody down the line, you want to be blamed for it because it was in your possession?”  While Bart seemed to consider that, Hutch pressed, “Why give the cops reason to come here and look for something?  Why borrow trouble?  If they get the cop back with all his possessions, and you guys have disappeared, they aren’t going to be very interested in you anymore since they’ll have nothing to go on, and not much motivation to chase after you.”


Bart hesitated, then put his own gun down and opened another drawer.  He handed Starsky’s Beretta to Hutch.  Then he grumbled, “Might as well take his binoculars, too.”


“All right,” Hutch said, accepting the binoculars that he hadn’t realized Starsky had lost, “I’m going to drive my car around to the door, and then you’re going to help me put the cop in my car.  And then we’ll call it a day.”


He turned and left the room. 


He would have liked to tell Starsky what was going on, but he thought that would be pushing it.  Instead, now that the decision had been made to leave, he was most concerned with getting Starsky out of there quickly and safely, and he headed out to the parking lot.


Hopefully, his undercover case was still intact, and Littleton would be calling him for another meet within a few days.





Starsky heard the door open.  He lay on his mattress and started panting, while he tried to take stock of what was happening.


With slit eyes, Starsky watched as Bart stepped into the room with the gun out.  Starsky’s heart quickened as he wondered where Hutch was.  He didn’t dare ask, as that would be giving the impression of too much awareness.


Bart merely stood there, looking at him, with the sadistic Gabe following a few steps behind.


Starsky swallowed thickly.  Hoping to get some kind of reaction, he gasped, “Water.”


Gabe and Bart looked at each other.  Then Bart said, “You’ll be out of here soon enough.”


Starsky wondered what that meant.


Hutch briskly entered the room.  Starsky noticed that he had his gun in his holster.


Hutch pushed the blanket back without preamble.  Then he grabbed the sweatshirt and said, “Let me get him in this.”


Starsky was grabbed by his right side and he was prompted into a partial sitting position. He grimaced at how the movement hurt his abrasions.  Hutch’s hands weren’t gentle, but nor were they rough when they pulled the sweatshirt over his head.  Starsky gasped when his arms were manipulated into the sleeves, as he was aware of how sore he was all over.


Hutch then picked up his jacket that had been used for Starsky’s pillow, and put it on.


“All right,” Hutch said.  “Pick up his feet and let’s take him out.”


Apparently, they were leaving.  Starsky wondered if that meant the case had been blown.  He hoped not. 


Hutch gripped him by the shoulders and lifted, holding Starsky close enough to him so that his head could rest against Hutch’s stomach.


Bart lifted Starsky’s feet.


It was awkward, and he’d rather not have been carried out like this, but Starsky knew he had to give the appearance of being in at least somewhat bad shape.


They went down a hallway, and then Gabe must have opened a door that led to the outside, for Starsky was carried out to where the breeze was slightly chilly and night had fallen.


“In the backseat,” Hutch said.


The doors had already been opened, and Starsky was rather rudely jostled as Hutch moved to one side, and let Starsky’s head and shoulders collapse to a car seat.


“Just a sec,” Hutch said. 


After a long moment, Starsky was aware of his shoulders being pulled from the opposite side, and his feet being shoved into the car.  He couldn’t stifle a gasp when his weight landed on his left butt cheek.


Doors were closed.  No words were spoken.


Then Hutch was in the driver’s seat.  The engine was started, the heat turned on, and then they were moving.


“We’re clear,” Hutch said.


With some effort, Starsky shifted onto his right butt cheek and groaned.  “What happened?”


“Nothing,” Hutch said.  “That’s why I figured we may as well leave and take our chances that Littleton still wants to meet with me.”


“No word from Littleton?”


“No.  They told me he was trying to stake out their next target, but apparently people in the neighborhood noticed and that caused him to re-think the next target.  Supposedly, that’s why he’s been waylaid.”


“Do you think the case is dead?”


“Hope not.  I told the goons that if I don’t hear from him within three days, then I’ll assume he’s no longer interested in teaming up with me.”  Hutch nodded toward the front passenger seat.  “I’ve got your badge and your gun and your binoculars.”


That was great news.  “How did you manage that?”


Hutch sounded exasperated.  “Those goons are such amateurs, it’s unbelievable, Starsk.  They need someone to lead them around by the nose.  I had to point out to them that the cops obviously know where they were, and that they needed to move their operation elsewhere.  So, I figure their priority is going to be moving all their stuff out that might tell what they’ve been up to.  Hopefully, Littleton will contact me, so we’ll know where their new digs are.”  After a pause, he said, “I got our guns back just for the asking.  I think they were tired of dealing with the both of us.”


Starsky wished Hutch wouldn’t be so dismissive of the fact that they both were safe.  “Where are we going?”


“Hospital.  You need to have sutures put in your head and your butt.”


Starsky grimaced.  “My butt really hurts.”  He hated the idea of having to go to an emergency room – especially since it was likely to mean a long wait, considering he wasn’t serious – but he knew he needed to be looked at.


They were stopped at a light, and Hutch reached back and patted Starsky’s thigh, since that was the closest thing he could reach.  “Do you feel worse?  Like maybe you’re getting a fever?”


“Don’t think so,” Starsky said.  “It’s just really sore.”


“They’ll surely give you something at the hospital for it.”


“We’ll need to get my car.  And hopefully my jacket.”


“That’ll have to wait until tomorrow.  I’m sure we’ll be a few hours at the hospital.”


They were moving again, and Hutch took away his hand. 


Starsky let himself drift into a doze.





Four hours later, they were at Hutch’s apartment.  Hutch, at least, needed to be there up to the next three days, to see if Littleton was going to call.


Starsky had been sutured with little fuss, and the doctor had declared that Hutch had done a good job with the initial first aid. 


They’d had a light dinner, and now Starsky was stretched out on the sofa on his right side, dressed in briefs and a T-shirt, covered in a blanket, and waiting for the painkillers to help him drift into sleep.  He was aware of Hutch sitting at the kitchen table, catching up on correspondence to friends and family.


There was a knock at the door, and Starsky grunted in dismay, coming partially awake.  He figured it was around nine o’clock.


“Who could that be,” Hutch muttered unhappily, getting up from the table and moving across the living room.   He stopped at the door and called, “Who is it?”


“Linda.  Starsky’s girl.”


Starsky groaned.  “Hutch, I’m not up to this.”  He wasn’t going to break up with her in his current condition, and certainly not with Hutch looking on.


Hutch opened the door partway.  “Hi, Linda.”


“Dave’s not at his apartment, so I figured he was here.”


“He is,” Hutch said with forced patience.  “But he had some minor injuries on a case today, and he’s woozy from painkillers.”


“Oh, poor guy.”  Then, “Aren’t you going to let me in?”


Hutch stepped back.  “Just for a few minutes.  He needs to rest.”


“David,” she said as she approached the sofa, “what happened?”


“Fell out of a tree,” he admitted, as she knelt next to the sofa.


“Fell out of a tree?”


“Yeah.  Got all scraped up.”


Her hand rested in his hair.  “Oh, poor baby.”


“Yeah.  I’m trying to sleep off the worst of it.”


She looked up.  “Hutch, can you leave us alone a moment?”


Starsky quickly said, “Linda, no.  It’s his apartment.  Geez.”


Hutch said pointedly, “There’s really not anywhere I can go and not hear you.  The apartment’s not that big.”  He didn’t want to offer to step outside.


“We’ll talk later,” Starsky said.  “Okay?  Now’s not the time for a private conversation.”


“It’s almost sounds like you’re trying to get rid of me,” she said with puzzlement.


Hutch said, “We’re on an undercover job.  We have to hang out here because we’re waiting for a phone call.  It could be a few days before we get it.”


She looked up.  “I thought it was you that was on the undercover job.”


“Starsky’s my backup,” Hutch said with impatience.  “He’s involved, too.”


“Even though he’s hurt?”




“It’s not that serious,” Starsky said, his eyes closed.  “Just need some rest.”  Then he added, “I can’t really socialize for a while, because of the case.”


“Sounds like a lot of commitment, for one phone call.’


“Police work is like that sometimes.”


“You’re not going to be returning to your apartment?”


“Probably not.  Not until we get the phone call and know what’s going to happen next.”


“Couldn’t you rest better at your own apartment?  At least you can recover on a bed, instead of on a sofa.”


“Me and Hutch’s sofa are old friends,” Starsky muttered, still keeping his eyes closed.  “’Sides, this is the number the bad guys have.  They’re going to be calling here.”


She sighed heavily.  “You and I have a lot to talk about, David.  When you’re up to it.”


He let his eyes slit open.  “Yep, we do.  But it’s going to have to wait.”


“I didn’t appreciate the way you walked out on me this morning.”


“This isn’t the time,” Hutch interrupted.


She stood.  “Okay, I’m leaving.”  As she moved to the door, she threw over her shoulder, “You two lovebirds have a good time together.”


Hutch sighed as he closed the door behind her, and then locked it.  As he moved back across the living room, he asked, “You need anything, buddy?”


Starsky was already trying to dismiss Linda from his mind, and he muttered, “Just to get back to sleep.”


He felt a hand pat his head, and then Hutch asked, “Anything I can do?”


Starsky snorted.  “Yeah.  Wait until she gets back home, and then call her and tell her I’m dumping her.”


Soft chuckle.  “Na.  That kind of dirty work I’m not doing for you, pal.”


“She likes you more than me, anyway,” Starsky muttered.


Hutch rested his hip on the arm of the sofa.  “I find that rather hard to believe.”


“Why do you think she suggested… you know.  Certainly not the first time someone’s dated me, to somehow get closer to you.”


“Buddy, I wasn’t getting any kind of vibe from her that she feels anything toward me other than annoyance that I’m taking up her boyfriend’s time.”


Starsky’s eyes were closed.  “Women are like that.  I read a survey about it.  When they like a guy, they ignore him.  That’s why men have to try so hard to get women, and have to risk all the rejection.”


He felt a large hand pat his cheek, careful of the scratches there.  “Trust me, buddy.  I have zilch interest in seeking her out, or indulging her in any way, shape, or form.”


Starsky felt sleep begin to claim him.  “Should have dumped her the first time.”





Starsky was feeling substantially better the following morning, at least physically.  It was all he could do to not roll his eyes as Hutch paced around the living room, the phone in one hand, and holding the receiver to his ear with the other.


“Are you sure you have the right people?” Hutch demanded of Branson.  “I’m telling you that these morons that Littleton has working for him are such zeroes upstairs that it’s hard to imagine them assisting in any kind of theft job.  They didn’t even find the gun I had strapped to my ankle.  And I had to point out to them that they needed to change locations, since Starsky snooping around outside meant that the cops knew where they were holed up.”


Even sitting on the sofa – most of his weight on his right butt cheek – Starsky could hear Branson’s sharp voice through the receiver.  “Calm down, Hutchinson.  They would hardly be the first dumb criminals the Department has come across.”


“I’m telling you,” Hutch insisted, “this is a new breed of moronic behavior.  I’ve never seen anything like this before!”


Starsky rested his head on the back of the sofa, while Hutch ranted some more.  Finally, Hutch relented, “Hopefully, Littleton will call and this case will be back on track.  I’ll let you know if and when I hear from him.”  He hung up.


With a heavy sigh, Hutch placed the phone on the coffee table and sat down next to it.


Starsky asked, “Are you upset that this job has turned out, so far, to be easy?”


Hutch merely looked at him.


“Really, Hutch, would you’ve rather have been held in the one room, while they had their fun with me in the other, while I was cuffed to the pipe?”


“Of course not,” Hutch said softly.


“What?” Starsky pressed.  “Is it like it demeans your macho self image or something that an easy case with stupid criminals seems to have fallen into our laps?”


Hutch seemed about to say something, but no words came out.


More levelly, Starsky asked, “If it’s not the case, then what’s got you so riled lately?”


Hutch bowed his head and appeared thoughtful a moment.  Then he replied, “Nothing.”


“Could have fooled me,” Starsky muttered.  Then he asked, “When’s the last time you had a date?  Maybe you just need to get laid.”


Hutch glared at him, but that was the extent of his protest.  Then he shook his finger at Starsky.  “If you dare try to set me up with someone….”


“That’s not what I had I mind,” Starsky said.  “I just wish you’d make an effort to find yourself an outlet.”


Hutch was silent for a long time.  Then he said, “Think I’ll go down to Vinnie’s and work out.”


“Good idea.  I’ll stay here, and if Littleton calls, I’ll say I’m your brother from out of town or something, and ask him if he wants me to give you a message.”





The next punch packed so little power that Hutch almost missed the bag.  He dropped his arms, panting and sweating heavily.


“Think you’ve had enough,” Vinnie noted.  “Why don’t you hit the showers?”  He grabbed Hutch’s forearm and began to unlace the boxing glove.


Ten minutes later, Hutch emerged from the showers.  He dried off and then sat on a cement bench with a towel wrapped loosely around his lower body.  When the one other occupant left, Hutch turned to lie back on the bench and rested an arm over his eyes.


Lately, it seemed that nearly everyone had been telling him to calm down.


As much as he wanted to rebel against the advice, too many people had suggested it for him to be able to claim that it was a “them” thing rather than a “him” thing.


He drew a deep breath, released it, and searched inward, trying to listen to the signals of his body.


Getting laid would be nice.  But he had no interest in a relationship, and the older he got, the harder it seemed to find a woman who was agreeable to a no-strings-attached roll in the sack.  It was so much easier when he and Starsky used to date from the same pool of stewardesses.  But those non-committal relationships had waned, for both of them, after they had each experienced more serious relationships, albeit with sometimes disastrous results.  It was hard to go back to the shallow when one had had a taste of something meaningful.


Hutch didn’t have any interest in meaningful now.  He couldn’t imagine having the energy necessary to keep another person happy.  Oh, sure, he’d welcome such a relationship with open arms if it were easy.  If he could just sit back and be catered to, without the other person making any demands.  But no woman worth her salt would be agreeable to that kind of situation for very long.


In truth, he probably wouldn’t be very agreeable to it, either.  It was just a nice fantasy to indulge in, on occasion.


Hutch released a breath.


Even now, exhausted from his workout, Hutch could feel the blood moving through his veins, making him edgy.  If something annoyed him – say, a couple of guys loudly entering the locker room and interrupting Hutch’s peace – he’d sit up and say something to them, and probably not politely.


Okay, he could admit it:  he seemed to be looking for confrontations.




To feel alive, some part of his mind answered without his permission.


What did he need to make him feel alive?  A vacation?


He had no desire to go anywhere.


I want somebody to love. 


Wasn’t that a song?


He lay there, trying to pin down the tune. 


I need somebody to love.


A Beatles tune, he remembered now.  He let the lyrics play out in his mind, and then recalled the title.  With a Little Help from my Friends.


Hutch snorted out loud.  Starsky.  The word friend – though it was hardly expansive enough – automatically brought Starsky to mind.


Starsky was there all the time, whether Hutch had a “when my love is away” situation or not. 


Starsky was concerned about him.


I’m okay, partner, Hutch silently assured.


Still, he couldn’t disagree with Starsky’s assessment.  Getting laid would be a very nice thing.


Hutch couldn’t even think of anyone he could approach to see if they might be interested in dinner, and then….


He mentally snorted.  There was always Linda, if Starsky were to be believed.  Of course, he’d promised Starsky that he wouldn’t indulge her in any way, shape, or form.


Not that he liked her at all.


Though, admittedly, when one was desperate enough, attraction held a lot more power than liking.


Except, he wasn’t attracted to Linda, either.


Weird, that she had apparently wanted to bed them both.  At the same time.  Hutch still found that hard to believe about her.  She’d never hinted that she was the least bit interested in him.  Not that he’d seen her very often.


Maybe it wasn’t a matter of interest.  Maybe she just wanted to know what dual penises could do for her.


It was difficult to blame a lady for wondering about that.  Wouldn’t any woman want two cocks at once, if she had the opportunity?  Of course, a lot of women weren’t too keen on taking it up the back end.


Hutch let his thoughts wander, even though they were causing a stir, since he was alone. 


He couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel.  His and Starsky’s cocks pounding against each other, while embedded deep within a warm body.  If Starsky ejaculated first, would Hutch’s cock feel it?  Or would the sensation be too subtle to notice?


He’d had some women tell him that they couldn’t feel anything when he ejaculated inside them, whatever pleasures their bodies were experiencing from the overall sensations of intercourse; and had had other women tell him that they could feel the stream shooting against their tissues.  None had ever felt the “hot sperm” that the porno books wrote about.


Back to his fantasy.


As they both emptied their loads in the imaginary scenario, Starsky’s face lowered and he pressed against Hutch’s lips.  Mmmm, Hutch thought now, loving the warmth, his partner/buddy/pal/friend/everything’s hot breath claiming him in a delicious way.


Hutch pulled the arm away from his face and sat up abruptly.  In the fantasy, the woman had disappeared and Starsky was on top of Hutch, kissing him.


Though no one was around, Hutch pressed the towel against his growth as he quickly headed back to the showers.





Starsky had carefully washed up at Hutch’s apartment, considering his sutures and abrasions.  Then he’d helped himself to fresh briefs and a t-shirt.


He’d next called Dobey to update him on his condition.  As soon as that condition was discussed, Dobey bellowed, “And what’s the matter with Hutchinson?”




“I just heard from John Branson down in Robbery.  He was wanting to know if Hutch was always so hostile and belligerent, quote unquote.  I almost told him no, but realized it was a lie, when I stop and think about Hutch’s mood of late.  What’s going on with him?”


“Uh,” Starsky quickly searched for something intelligent to say, “I don’t think there’s anything going on.  I think he just sort of got caught up in the, you know, arrogance of the Winston Taylor character he’s created.”  Starsky cheerfully said, “Can’t blame an outstanding cop for really getting into his undercover role.”


“Hmph,” was all Dobey said.  Then, “I don’t like it.  You can let him know that either he needs to calm down, or he’s going to be ordered to see the Department shrink.  Got that?”


“Yes, sir.”


“All right then.  Let me know as soon as he hears from Littleton.”


“Will do, El Capitan.”  Starsky saluted, and then hung up the phone.


What to do next?


Dammit, he knew what he needed to do next, since Hutch was still at the gym.  He wasn’t looking forward to it, but he was eager to be relieved of the burden that he felt whenever he thought about Linda.


Breaking up by phone was pretty cowardly.  But he didn’t mind letting her have the victory of thinking he was a coward.


Starsky didn’t have Linda’s telephone number handy at Hutch’s apartment, so he called information, and scribbled it down on a magazine that was on the coffee table.  After hanging up the phone, he took a deep breath, and then took the receiver.  He dialed the number.


It was answered on the third ring.  “Hello?”




“David.  Hi.”  She sounded pleased.


“Uh, listen.  I’m just going to say this straight out.  I know it’s really cowardly of me to do this over the phone, but I don’t want to put it off.  I don’t want to see you anymore, Linda.  It’s just not working.”




“I’m sorry.  But I’m just not interested in seeing you anymore.  We had a good time, but….”


“Does this have to do with my birthday wish about Hutch?”


Damn, he wished he’d broken up with her the first time he’d thought it.  “Hutch doesn’t matter.  It’s not working between me and you, Linda.  For me, it isn’t working.”


The lock on the front door rattled, and then Hutch entered.


Starsky rushed to finish the conversation.  “I’m really sorry, but that’s the way it is.”  He started to pull the phone away from his ear.


She rushed to say, “Can’t we at least talk about it?”


“I’m not interested.”  Starsky quickly hung up, feeling shitty.


“Linda?” Hutch asked, pulling off his jacket.


“Yep.  That’s the end of that.”  Starsky released a sigh.


“Did Littleton call?”  Hutch headed to the kitchen.


“Nope.  But I talked to Dobey.”  Starsky limped a little as he followed his partner, who opened the refrigerator.  “Hey, uh, don’t kill the messenger.”  Hutch looked at him with a carton of milk in hand.  “But, uh, Dobey said, and I quote ‘Tell Hutch he needs to calm down or I’m going to order him to see the Department shrink.’  Unquote.”


Hutch grimaced, and then drank milk from the carton.


“Branson squealed on you,” Starsky said.  “Didn’t like your hostility.”


Hutch put the milk away.  “Yeah, well, whatever.”


Starsky took a breath.  “Can’t say I blame them.”  He braced for the explosion.


Gently, Hutch said, “It’s all right, partner.”




Hutch patted his shoulder.  “I hear you.  It’s okay.”


Starsky felt puzzlement along with his relief.  “You must have had a good workout or something.”


Hutch shrugged and moved to the faucet.  He began filling with water the sink that had dirty dishes, and squirted in dish soap.  He rolled up his sleeves.  “It was fine.  Felt good.”


Starsky opened a drawer and found a clean dishtowel.  “Yeah?  What did you do?”


Hutch turned off the water and began washing a plate.  “Boxed.”


“The whole time?”


“Yeah.”  Hutch rinsed off the plate in the other sink and handed it to Starsky.


Starsky dried the plate.  “Guess that’s a good way to work off excess aggression.”  Using his right arm, he put the plate in its spot in the cupboard, and then accepted the rinsed glass Hutch handed him.  “How come you’ve been feeling so aggressive?”


Hutch shrugged, his hands still in the water.


Starsky put the dried glass away.  “Just… lonely?”


Hutch glanced at him briefly with a smile.  “I don’t get lonely being around you, buddy.”  He handed over another plate.


Starsky lowered his gaze bashfully, feeling a warmth wash through him.  “I meant… you know.”  Slowly, he dried the plate.


Hutch continued to wash and rinse.  “Ever notice that it’s harder now than it used to be?  Finding somebody?”


Starsky continued to dry and put dishes away.  “I guess we have different criteria now than we used to.”


Hutch snorted harshly.  “I’ll say.”


Starsky felt a bit uncomfortable as he said, “It’s kind of weird to look back and remember the things we used to do.”


Hutch seemed equally uncomfortable.  “Guess we were young and wild and a bit crazy.”


“So were the girls,” Starsky reminded.  “It wasn’t all one sided, you know.”


Hutch rinsed a handful of silverware and handed it over to Starsky.  “Sure was a heck of a lot easier to get laid.”  He pulled the plug from the sink, and then rinsed his hands under a stream of water.


After Starsky had dried each piece of silverware and put it away in the drawer, he handed the towel to Hutch so he could dry his hands.


Hutch looked Starsky up and down.  “How’re you doing?”


“Better.”  Starsky lifted his t-shirt, and lightly brushed his fingertips along the scabs.  “Most of it is healing pretty good.”


Hutch bent to look.  “You haven’t kept the cream on it that the doctor gave you?”


“Just the worst sections.”  Starsky indicated a spot where it was most sore.  “I want to get some over-sized t-shirts, so I can have some covering over them, but it doesn’t rub at the scabs so much.”  When Hutch straightened, Starsky said, “We need to get my car, anyway.  Thought I’d head home until you hear from Littleton.”


Hutch gazed at him.  “You think you can drive okay with your sore butt?”


“It’s a lot better than it was yesterday.  You know, if I don’t have to sit too long on it, it ought to be okay.”


Hutch placed his hand against Starsky’s cheek and examined his head.  “That seems to be doing okay.”  


“So, whaddya say?  How about we get my car?”





They drove to the industrial complex and stopped near the one story building, and Starsky carefully retrieved his jacket, where he had dropped it.  After he got back in the car, they both sat gazing at the building where they had been the day before.


“Tempting to go check it out and see if they’re still there,” Hutch said.


“Can’t risk them seeing us together.”


“I know.”


Hutch turned the rented New Yorker around and drove past a few buildings until he came to where the Torino was parked.  “Catch you later, buddy.”




Hutch watched Starsky limp slightly as he moved to the Torino.  He waited until Starsky was in the driver’s seat and had the motor started.  Then he drove away.





Hutch trotted up his staircase.  He stopped part way.


Somebody was sitting outside his apartment door, and now they stood.


Linda Newman.


Oh, no.  Hutch slowly made his way up the remaining steps.  “Hello,” he greeted warily.


She smiled.  “Hi, Hutch.  Dave broke up with me.”


“I heard.”


She stepped close to him.  “So, I’m free to shop around.”


God amused Himself with dirty little tricks sometimes.  Hutch had really wanted to get laid, and the perfect opportunity was standing right in front of him.


But a few moments of mindless pleasure was only going to lead down a long, long road of pain and hell.  “Not interested,” he said firmly, taking a step back.


“You don’t know me,” she said in a friendly manner.  “You might find that I’m nothing like you expect.  People think that those who work in libraries are stuffy and unimaginative.”  Her voice dropped to a husky whisper.  “I’m not.”


He felt a physical part of himself respond to her allure.


He thought of Starsky’s words just yesterday.  “Do me a favor….”


“Go away,” Hutch said firmly, moving past her to reach overhead for the house key.  He didn’t want her to know he kept it over the doorframe, but he needed to lock himself away.


“Afraid you’ll like it?” she whispered, her hand brushing along his back.


He unlocked the door and turned to look at her.  “No.  I’m afraid of the hurt it’ll cause unnecessarily.  It bothers me greatly that you haven’t thought of that.”  When she still gazed at him hopefully, he said, “I don’t like you, Linda.”  He stepped into his apartment.


She still stood there, unfazed by everything he’d said.


“Goodbye.”  He closed the door.


He never heard her move away.  A half hour later, he opened his door a crack, just to check.  He breathed a heavy sigh of relief when he saw that she was gone.






It was the next afternoon that the phone call finally came.  “Hello?” Hutch greeted.


“Is this Winston Taylor?” asked a vaguely familiar voice.


“Yes, it is.  Littleton?”


“Speaking.  Seems that things got a little sidetracked the other day.”


“Have you moved your operation?  The cops know about that warehouse off of Chandler.”


“Yes.  From what Bart and Gabe told me, they had a cop for a hostage, but you let him go.”  Accusing.


“He was injured,” Hutch said forcefully.  “It could have been serious.  I didn’t need the trouble, and I’m sure your goons didn’t, either.” After a pause, Hutch reminded, “I’m not into hurting people, Littleton.  I’m into robbing them of their fine, expensive things.  When you’re a pro at robbery, nobody gets harmed.”


“Gabe has a rather severely bruised jaw as proof of your pacifism, Taylor.”


“He was being an asshole.”


Soft chuckle.  “He can be that.”


“So, are we going to meet now, or what?”




“Where are you?”


“We’ll do it a little differently this time, Taylor.  Come into town and park your car along Elm Avenue, between 18th and 19th Streets.  Get out and stand on the sidewalk.  Since the boys know what you look like, we’ll come to you.”


“All right.  What time?”


“Ten o’clock tomorrow morning.”


“I’ll be there.”


As soon as Hutch hung up the phone, he dialed Starsky.





Starsky sat in the Torino at the curb of Elm Street, watching as Hutch was escorted across the street and into a white Chrysler LeBaron.  When the car pulled away from the curb, Starsky followed.


He grimaced when he had to make a turn.  He had a folded towel carefully placed in his seat to ease the strain on his left buttock, so that his right one took most of his weight.  Still, it started hurting when he was sitting for a prolonged time.  The pain pills helped, but he wasn’t able to stay off his left buttock to the degree that the doctor had recommended.


At least, it wasn’t much of a challenge to keep up with the LeBaron.  It was staying in the city, and after twenty minutes, Starsky realized that it wasn’t headed anywhere specific; but instead just driving around.  That meant that all Littleton wanted to do was talk to Hutch.  It was a safe assignment, for now.


Starsky hoped that, even though the two annoying goons were present, Hutch was able to keep his cool.  After Hutch’s workout at the gym, and his indirect acknowledgment that he’d been behaving rather hostile and aggressive lately, his temper seemed to have cooled to a marked degree.


Good boy.


Still, Starsky was curious as to why the gym workout had made such a difference.  For that matter, he was pretty certain Hutch still hadn’t done anything about finding a date.


Of course, they’d already talked that through, to some extent.  It just wasn’t that easy anymore.  For either of them.  Since dumping Linda, Starsky didn’t know when his next romantic evening was going to be, either.


The LeBaron had returned to Elm Avenue.   Starsky found a parking spot on 18th Street, and watched Littleton’s car stop next to Hutch’s New Yorker.  Hutch got out and unlocked his car door. 


Starsky waited until Hutch pulled away, and then he also pulled out to begin his own trip to the Pits, where they had agreed to meet.





Starsky made sure they sat in a booth, so he could lean his right side against the wall, and take the pressure off his left butt cheek. 


“There’s a job scheduled for Tuesday morning,” Hutch said.


Today was Friday.


“But he won’t tell me what it is until Tuesday morning.”


“Did he make it sound big?’


“Yeah.  He’s promising me at least five thousand, as soon as he can get the stuff fenced.”


“Then I’ll have to follow you Tuesday.  As soon as you guys are on the property, doing your thing, I can call in reinforcements.”


Hutch nodded.  “Just be patient until we actually have the stuff loaded up.”


“Right.”  Starsky waited, and when Hutch didn’t add more, he said, “That’s all Littleton had to say after driving you around the city for half an hour?”


Hutch shrugged.  “He made small talk during most of it.  Just trying to feel me out, you know?”


“Think he trusts you?”


“No wholly, obviously.  But I think he’s impressed with my credentials.”


With a grin, Starsky asked, “Those goons happy to see you?”


“They kept their mouths shut.”


Huggy approached them and placed two cheeseburgers on the table.  “The special.  Unless you want something else.”


Starsky glanced at Hutch, who shrugged, so Starsky shrugged, too.  “That’s fine.”  They hadn’t had a chance to order yet. 


Huggy leaned close and said, “Uh, just so you know, that girl Linda has been calling and asking after you guys.”


“What?” Starsky asked in disbelief.


“Yeah, she called a couple of times today and wanted to know if you guys had been in.”


“If she calls again,” Starsky said firmly, “keep saying that you haven’t seen us.”


“She’s bad news,” Hutch put in, before taking a bite of his burger.


“Your wish is my command.”   Huggy moved away.


Hutch said something with his mouth full.


Starsky looked up and swallowed.  “Huh?”


Hutch also swallowed.  “She came to see me the other night.  After I dropped you off to get your car.”


“What for?” Starsky demanded, feeling a sense of danger.


“To see if I wanted to be her next boyfriend.  I didn’t.”  Hutch sipped his beer.  “She was sure persistent though.”


Starsky gazed at Hutch a long moment.  After their conversation about how difficult it was to get laid these days, he wondered how hard it might have been for Hutch to turn her down.  In a lowered voice, Starsky said, “I don’t have any claim on her.  I mean, if you’re interested….”


Hutch’s expression became exasperated.  “I’m not attracted to her!”  He focused on his fries.  “She gives me the creeps.  Especially considering her recent behavior.”


Starsky supposed Hutch had had his share of “creepy” women the past few years.  He shuddered at the memory of Diana Harmon.  Then he muttered, “I wonder why she’s been calling Huggy.”


“Maybe she’s one of those women who can’t take no for an answer, and doesn’t ever want to consider a relationship to be over.”


Starsky thought back over the past few months.  “She always struck me as very stable. Level headed. That’s one of the things I liked about her.”


Hutch sighed and looked at Starsky directly.  “Guess we never really know what’s going on inside another person, huh, partner?”





Hutch had the radio playing on Sunday while picking up around his apartment, whistling.  The Beatles song Little Help from my Friends came on, and Hutch’s mood became more melancholy.


I need somebody to love.


He stopped whistling while he listened to the lyrics.


I want somebody to love.


Then, later, I get by with a little help from my friends.


Hutch felt a smile pull at his lips, as he considered that the song could be about Starsky and him.


And, of course, a zillion other friendships between people.


His interest was piqued as the last question-answer pairing was sung.


What do you see when you turn out the lights?  I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine.


Hutch stood holding a towel that he’d picked up from the sleeping area.


If Starsky were with him when the lights were out, he’d feel very comforted by that.  And know that such comfort was his.  Starsky was his. 


In a sense, he’d felt that way many times in the past.  When he was scared, hurting, or needful.  Starsky’s arms rubbed and petted.  His soft voice soothed.  His sheer caring could make Hutch feel like he was the only person who mattered in the world.


Hutch closed his eyes.  I want somebody to love.


Not just anybody, he realized now.


Hutch did have Starsky to love, day in and day out.  He took advantage of that as much as he could.  They spent an enormous amount of time together.  Enjoyed each other immensely.  Sometimes, life felt as though it had coalesced into their own little world.  Where all there was, was each other.


Hutch sat on the bed and bowed his head. 


He was aware of the silence in the apartment, despite the radio having gone to an obnoxious commercial.


It seemed that the longer he and Starsky were together, the more they depended on each other.  For everything. 


What would their lives be like a year from now?  Three years?  Five years?  Ten years?  Would they be even more dependent on each other?  Spend even more time together?


There won’t be room for anyone else, Hutch realized.  There almost isn’t now.


Why not speed up the process?


He wasn’t sure how to do that.  Or, even if he could, if doing so would interfere with whatever path nature had selected for them.


Hutch closed his eyes again.  He thought back to when he’d been alone on that bench in Vinnie’s locker room.  He’d imagined Starsky on top of him, kissing him.  So loving.  That thought had started with the fantasy of them sharing a girl.  But, in his mind, the girl had disappeared quickly.  And there was only he and Starsky.


It would feel so good.  Impossible for it not to.


I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine.


Hutch smiled and whispered out loud, “You really are mine, aren’t you, buddy?”


He found a deep comfort in that.





Starsky parked Hutch’s LTD along Daffodil Street.  He’d decided to drive it as a precaution, since he didn’t want to risk Littleton’s people noticing that a fancy Torino had been following them each time they picked up Hutch.  He no longer sat on a towel, but he still tried to keep most of his weight on his right side as often as possible.  He barely limped when he walked.


It was mid morning on Tuesday, and the white truck that said “All Good Furniture” on the side had parked at the house at the end of the block, nearly a quarter mile up.  Starsky got out his binoculars and watched.


These were pros, all right.  Within sixty seconds of entering the house, the two goons were loading up furniture.  Starsky didn’t know what Littleton was doing, but he knew Hutch would be going after the jewelry, since that was Winston Taylor’s specialty. 


Scanning other houses on the block showed that they appeared to be unoccupied, the homeowners at work or out on other business.  No one would know that their neighbors were about to be completely cleaned out.


Not this time, Starsky though with satisfaction.


In less than ten minutes, the theft crew closed the door to the back of the truck, and Hutch emerged with a small briefcase in hand, no doubt with jewelry, Littleton at his side, talking to him.  They both joined the two goons in the front of the truck.


The truck began to pull away from the curb.


“Now!” Starsky called into the LTD’s radio.  “All units move in!”


Within seconds, the block was swarming with police cars.






In Dobey’s office a few hours later, Branson said, “I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out.  Good work, gentlemen.”  He was leaning back against a file cabinet.


Hutch ran his finger down a list of stolen merchandise that had been compiled.  “This looks like all of it,” he said with satisfaction, and then looked up.  “I’ll get this down to the DA’s office.”  He rose from his chair.


Starsky watched him leave.  Hutch had received some scathing verbal abuse from Littleton, when it became apparent that Hutch was the only one in their group not being arrested.  There were threats, too, but that was pretty typical of unhappy criminals.


“Hutchinson had me worried for a while there,” Branson admitted.  “I didn’t like his attitude.”


“He’s an outstanding cop,” Dobey said simply.


Starsky felt it necessary to add, “He was just really into his Winston Taylor role.  It bled over to when he wasn’t undercover.  He’s a really good actor when he needs to be.”


Branson grunted, as though not quite convinced of the explanation, but he said, “Thanks again for letting me borrow your men, Dobey.”  He waved briefly, and then left the office.


Dobey’s eyes met Starsky’s.  “You sure Hutchinson is all right now, whatever his problem was?”


“Yep.”  Though Starsky really wasn’t sure why.  More forcefully, he said, “He’s fine, Captain.  I mean,” he shrugged, “you haven’t seen him be ‘hostile and belligerent’ the last few days, have you?”


“No, but I haven’t seen him that much, either.” 


“Trust me.  He’s fine.  He was cool as a cucumber when we were arresting Littleton and his goons, and Littleton was shouting all kinds of obscenities and threats.”  Starsky grinned at the memory.  “Hutch just smiled at him.”


Dobey grunted.





The next afternoon, Hutch had left early for an appointment to have his teeth cleaned.  After waiting the requisite hour for the tooth polish to be absorbed, he made himself a sandwich to go along with his beer, both of which still tasted a little funny.  Then the phone rang.




“Hey, uh, I just remembered that this is the eighth day for my stitches.  So, how about you take them out?”


“Sure.  Why don’t you come over here, since I know I have all the supplies on hand.”




Hutch moved around the apartment, gathering supplies.  He rinsed scissors and tweezers in rubbing alcohol, and then laid everything out on a towel, which was on the nightstand next to the bed.


He and Starsky were well experienced with removing each other’s stitches.  Hutch remembered one particular occasion, years ago, when he’d been at Starsky’s place, removing sutures from a cut in his forearm.  Starsky’s current girlfriend had dropped by during the procedure, and she’d eagerly taken an interest, saying, “Let me see.  I’m really good at taking out stitches.”  Starsky had replied, “You may as well let Hutch finish, since he’s almost done, anyway.”  Hutch had felt touched by that.  It was as though Starsky was saying, I trust Hutch just a little bit more than anyone else – even for something as simple as this.


When Starsky arrived, he was wearing dark red sweats.


Hutch gestured to the sleeping area.  “I’ll need the lamp in the bedroom.”  When they entered the room he said, “You’ll be able to sit up better when I remove them from your head, if I take the ones out of your rear first.”


Starsky stood next to the bed, near the nightstand with the lamp.  “How do you want to do this?”  He began pulling off his shoes.


“I need the light where the stitches are.  So, why don’t you drop your pants and lie across the pillow here.”  Hutch moved it a few inches from the headboard.


Starsky pushed his sweat pants down to the bottom of his rear, and then laid facedown on the bed, weight on his elbows, his hips on the pillow, and his legs hanging off the side of the bed.


Hutch moved the lamp closer to the edge of the nightstand.  Then he took the tweezers in his left hand, and the scissors in the right.


“How did it go at the dentist?”  Starsky asked.


“Okay.”  The tweezers held the knot of the thread, while the scissors pressed against Starsky’s skin and cut the thread.  “No cavities, Mom.”


Starsky grunted.  Hutch knew it was because he himself almost never had cavities, while Starsky had a mouthful of fillings.


“Easy does it,” Hutch said.  He grasped the end of the thread with the tweezers and slowly pulled, watching it emerge from Starsky’s skin.  He was all too aware that removing the thread too quickly could result in a surprising amount of pain.


No complaints had emerged.


Hutch put the tweezers aside and grabbed a tissue, which he placed on Starsky’s lower back.  He took the tweezers in his right hand and pulled at the first stitch.  He dropped it onto the tissue paper.


“Has Linda tried to contact you anymore?”


Hutch glanced up briefly, and then went back to removing the sutures.  “No.  Why would you think so?”


“Just wondered, since it was looking like she wasn’t going to go away that easy.”


“Maybe she just felt that she had to try a little extra hard to hang on, for pride’s sake.”


Three sutures were left, and the next one was tight against the skin.  “Sorry, pal.  There’s one here that’s kind of embedded.”  They’d both been through this before.  Hutch had to press down hard with the tweezers to grasp it, and they grabbed a tiny bit of skin.


Starsky drew in a sharp breath.


Hutch released the skin and tried again to grasp the stitch.  He pressed harder on the flesh that he knew was tender.




The tweezers had it, and Hutch pulled the stitch out with a feeling of relief.  “There.”  He dropped it onto the tissue.  “You know, Starsk, if you look at it from her standpoint, she’s probably feeling that she didn’t do anything wrong, so she’s probably wondering why she suddenly got dumped.”


“Yeah?”  Starsky’s voice carried puzzlement.


“I mean, based on what you’ve told me, it sounds like you got pretty ticked when she mentioned what she wanted for her birthday.  Instead of just saying no, you apparently walked out on her or something.  And then there really wasn’t room for conversation when she came over that same night, after you fell out of the tree.  Then the next day, you tell her on the phone that she’s history.”  Hutch placed the final stitch on the tissue.  “I can see where she might be feeling kind of confused.”


Hutch took the tissues with the sutures and put it on the nightstand.    “Not that it excuses her behavior since then.”  He lightly brushed his fingers along the scar.  “They’re all out.  How does it feel?”


“Just still sort of hurts.  Deep down inside, you know?”


“Yeah, that was a pretty deep wound.”  Hutch took a gauze pad from the box and opened the wrapping.  Then he squirted ointment on the pad.  “You’ll need to keep it covered for a couple of more days or so.”


“At least I can walk without a limp now.”


Hutch placed the pad over the fresh scar, and Starsky reached back to hold it in place.


While Hutch took the tape dispenser, Starsky said, “I know I didn’t handle the situation with Linda the best.  I just got really pissed off at what she suggested.”


Hutch pulled out a strip of tape.  “Why the over-reaction?”


Firmly, Starsky said, “I’m not sharing you with anybody, Hutch.”


Hutch felt his heart beat faster as he nudged one Starsky’s fingers out of the way.  He put the tape over the gauze, and gently pressed it along Starsky’s skin.  Delicately, he said, “From her standpoint, I’d think she felt she would be the one doing the sharing… letting two men have her at once.”


After a moment, Starsky said, “Maybe so, but that’s not how it felt to me.”  He sighed and turned his head away.  Then he muttered, “Guess I’m sort of possessive of you.”


Hutch put a second strip of tape in place.  He squeezed Starsky’s hand, and then released it.  “I’m not complaining.”  He took the hem of the sweats and started to pull them up.  “All done with this end.”


Starsky pulled his pants around his waist as he shifted to sit up.  He drew his legs onto the bed and removed the pillow from beneath him.


Hutch waited until Starsky figured out a comfortable position.  Starsky ended up curled at the edge of the bed, facing Hutch, the pillow against the headboard to support the right side of his head.


“Feels good to have those stitches out of my ass.”


Hutch shifted closer and moved the lamp a little, so the light was brightest over Starsky’s head where those sutures were.


As Hutch went to work with the tweezers and scissors, Starsky said, “I was going to break up with Linda, anyway.  Kept going back and forth on it.”


“Yeah, but she didn’t know that, right?”  The edge of the thread was cut, and Hutch grasped it with tweezers.  “Here we go.”


Starsky’s mouth corner twitched.  “Funny that you seem to be trying to defend her.”


“Just trying to understand her,” Hutch said as he slowly pulled the thread away.  “I’m just saying that if she causes any more trouble, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to spell things out for her.”


“Don’t see much point at this juncture.”  Starsky paused as Hutch used tweezers to get at the first stitch.  “Besides, it really isn’t any of her business how I feel about you.”


Hutch blinked his eyes rapidly, as he took the stitch and placed it on the tissue paper that was still on the nightstand.  It amazed him at times, the simple things Starsky said that could touch him so deeply.


“How many of them are there?”


“Four.  Three left.”  Hutch removed another.  “Now two.”  As he removed the remainder, he was aware of Starsky’s eyes studying his face in the light of the lamp.


Softly, Starsky asked, “Do you know how I feel about you, Hutch?”


Hutch put the tweezers aside, his stomach doing flip-flops.  “Think so.”  He glanced at Starsky briefly, and then reached for the box of gauze.  “Unless you’ve been holding something back from me.”  He let his tone carry the hint of a question, though he strongly doubted there were any startling declarations to be revealed.  He put ointment on the gauze.


Starsky’s eyes had lowered, but he reached up to hold the gauze in place. 


While Hutch worked with the tape, he was aware of Starsky’s eyes rising to look up at him again.  “You’re everything to me, Hutch.”


Hutch tilted his head away, as he smoothed a second piece of tape into place.  His throat was closing.


The fingers that had been holding the gauze now brushed along Hutch’s.


Hutch’s fingers briefly brushed back, and then he took his hand away.  He reached over to turn off the lamp.  The room went dark.


Hutch didn’t dare allow time to think.  He quickly slipped off his shoes, and then he sat on the small space on the bed between Starsky and the edge.  As he’d hoped, Starsky moved aside, which then allowed Hutch more room, until he was able to get a leg curled beneath him.  Hutch rested back against the headboard, the pillow supporting his lower back, and he took Starsky in hand, and pulled his partner against him, so that Starsky was sitting curled on the bed, his back and right side resting against Hutch.


Hutch put his arms around Starsky, while careful of the abrasions.  “I-I’d just like to be like this.  For a while.”


Starsky relaxed against him.


Hutch rested his cheek against the curly hair.


“Everything okay, Hutch?”


“Uh-hm.  Better than okay.”






Starsky rubbed his face against Hutch’s shirt, which had the top few buttons open.


“Easy, boy,” Hutch said softly.


Starsky halted the movement.  Then he simply relaxed his weight against Hutch.


Hutch closed his eyes in gratitude at the understanding.  But Starsky deserved greater elaboration.  “Buddy?  You’re not exactly a hundred percent, and I’m kind of on the edge, you know.”


After a long moment, Starsky clarified, “You mean, you’re about to lose control and you think I might not be able to handle it, with my very minor injuries?”


Hutch forgot to breathe.  “Something like that.”


“But you like holding me?”


Hutch hugged Starsky against him, breathing again.  “Holding you, taking care of you, is an old habit.  I don’t associate it with… you know….”


Starsky released a breath.  He pulled at one of Hutch’s arms, and then held it against his chest. 


Holding on was an old habit, too.  Hutch felt a renewed tenderness drift through him.


After a time, Starsky asked, “What’s going to happen when I’m a hundred percent?”


Hutch smiled against Starsky’s hair.  “I guess we just let nature take its course.”  He wondered if it was possible that fantasy could come true.


“Mm.  I wonder what’s going to happen when we let nature do the directing.”


For himself, Hutch had some specific directions that he hoped could be followed.  It had been such a warm, loving thing, imagining Starsky on top of him, kissing him.  “Buddy?”


“Yeah?”  Starsky had titled his head back, as though trying to meet Hutch’s eyes in the darkness.


“Um.… Hey, uh…. I, um….” 


The hand resting against Starsky’s chest was squeezed.  “What is it, buddy boy?”  Concerned.


Hutch swallowed loudly.  He wondered if this really needed to be stated right now, but he’d already piqued Starsky’s interest, and it was too late to take it back.  “I just… um….  Well, um….”


A warm hand settled on his shirt.  “You can tell me, Hutch.”  Such a soft whisper.


Hutch closed his eyes.  He felt his voice tremble when he spoke.  “I’d really like… really like… for you to top.”  He released a heavy breath.




After an extended moment, Starsky asked with puzzlement, “You mean all the time?”


Hutch started to reply, but his voice was strangled.  Then he said, “At first, at least.”


He could almost feel Starsky’s brain circuits working.


“Sure,” Starsky agreed quickly.  But then, worriedly, “We’ve always been a pretty equal partnership.  I don’t think I could handle it being like that all the time.”


“I know,” Hutch relented.  He wanted so much to be the recipient of Starsky’s raw power and masculinity.


After a few additional moments, Starsky asked, “Can I kiss you?”


“No,” Hutch said immediately.  He softened his voice.  “It’s too much, buddy.  I won’t be able to handle it.”


With compassion, Starsky asked, “You really feel that you’re that close to losing it and going crazy on me?  It’s not like you’re even trembling.”


“That’s because I’m holding you, silly.”  Such a comfort, that.


“Mmm.”  Starsky curled into an even tighter ball and relaxed more heavily against Hutch.  After a moment, he said, “In the interest of full disclosure, know I’m starting to get a hard-on.”


Hutch merely grunted.  In all their care-taking of each other over the years, they’d each been witness to plenty of errant erections.  Sometimes they dealt with them with humor, sometimes with reassurance, and sometimes with sincere indifference.


Starsky went on.  “It’s not the ‘oops, where did that come from?’ kind.”  His voice softened in its seriousness.  “But the ‘I really, really want something to happen’ kind.”


Hutch found a shoulder and squeezed it.  “If you feel you need to leave, that’s okay.”  But he didn’t loosen his hold.


“Part of me is hoping you’ll change your mind.  About waiting until I’m a hundred percent.”


Hutch rested his mouth against the curly strands.  “I want to wait.  Please.”


The hand against Starsky’s chest was patted.  “’Kay.”


Hutch wondered if he could distract Starsky.  “I’ve been thinking recently of a song.”




“Yeah.”  Hutch rested his chin on top of Starsky’s head.  “You know that Beatles’ song about getting by with a little help from your friends?”




“There a line toward the end of that song.”  Hutch stated it, rather than trying to sing it.  “‘What do you see when you turn out the light?  I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine.’”  He squeezed with the arm that was around Starsky.  “The lights are out, and I know that it’s mine.”


A warm, soft chuckle answered him.  “That’s why you wanted to be here like this?”




“Good thing I needed my stitches taken out tonight.”


“You would have come over anyway, if I’d asked you to.”


“That’s true,” Starsky said softly.  He stroked along the arm he held.  “We always pretty much do whatever each other asks, don’t we?”




“Hey, uh, Hutch?”




Starsky swallowed audibly.  “You know, when I first told you what Linda wanted for her birthday, and we were talking about how we used to get a bit crazy with girls, you said something about how you would never have crossed that line.  You know, sharing a girl.  Indirectly having sex with each other.”


Hutch wondered why they kept talking about Linda so much.  Except, this question really wasn’t about her.  “It’s true.  I thought it through way back then.  Decided that me and you would never cross the line that separated us from having sex with girls, and having sex with each other, however indirectly.”


“But now you’re willing to cross it.”


Hutch tilted his head while recalling his recent thoughts, and then snorted at the irony.  “Back then, I was thinking of all the problems it could cause down the line.  Whether there were suspicions at work, or one of us fell in love with a woman.  There were too many risks for us to go down the road, however much we might write it off to booze or uncontrollable lust.  But the other day, when I turned Linda down – because for a moment there, I was tempted, buddy – I quickly thought ahead to all the potential problems she and I getting together could cause.  Like hurting you.  Giving me what I needed only briefly, just to be stuck with a relationship I didn’t want.  Confusing her.  So, I guess it was like coming full circle.  Now, you and I being together is the safe, correct side of the line.”


Starsky made a noise of agreement.  “I’m glad you see it that way.”


“Funny how life works out.”


“Yeah.”  Starsky stroked Hutch’s hand again.  Abruptly, he asked, “You thinking maybe we can sleep together?”


“No way.”  But Hutch was touched by the suggestion.


“Yeah, you’re right.  I suppose I’d just be sleeping innocently away, and big, bad, uncontrollable blondie would steal my virginity and rip me open with his big monster dick.”


“That wouldn’t happen,” Hutch said firmly, though he knew Starsky was mostly joking.  Then he gentled his voice and pleaded, “It’s not so bad to wait a little bit, huh?  Have some anticipation?  Get used to the idea?”


Starsky released a heavy breath.  “Hey, can you get the lamp?  I think I need to go.”


Hutch knew it was inevitable.  He reached to switch on the light.


Starsky disentangled himself from Hutch’s grip.  Then he stood.


Starsky smiled warmly at Hutch.  “No, it’s not so bad to wait and have some anticipation and get used to the idea.”  He reached out and trailed the back of his hand along Hutch’s face.  “Just not my first choice.”


Hutch closed his eyes at the hand’s tender feel.  When it left, he opened his eyes.  He stretched out his legs as Starsky took his shoes from the floor.  Starsky sat on the bed and began to put them on.


When the laces were tied, Starsky rested his hand on Hutch’s denim-clad leg.  His eyes twinkled.  “Still sort of hoping that you might change your mind about tonight.”


Hutch shook his head.  “Heal up, Starsky.”


Starsky ran his hand along the left side of his jogging outfit.  “It’s not that serious.”


Hutch remained silent, though he couldn’t help but grin at this man he loved so much.


“Okay.”  Starsky released a heavy sigh and stood.  Then he leaned down at Hutch.  “You know, I can do really chaste kisses.”


“Go, buddy,” Hutch said gently, but firmly.


Starsky straightened, and the released another sigh.  “So, I guess, it’s business as usual tomorrow, huh?”


“Guess so.”


Starsky looked thoughtful and slowly nodded his head.  “This is going to be a lot of fun, Hutch.”


Hutch loved it that Starsky thought so.  “Yeah.”     


“I’d tell you I love you, but I’m not sure that it’s a good habit for us to get into, since it might slip out at the wrong time.”


“I can live with saying it out loud only on rare occasions.”


Starsky grinned slyly.  “You need to get laid, Hutch.”


“No one’s complaining about my temper anymore, are they?”


“No,” Starsky admitted.  “Funny how that went away, without you getting laid.”


Hutch shifted slightly.  “Guess it was just a matter of knowing that I could have it whenever I wanted it.”


Starsky made an amused grunting noise.  Then he nodded, while lowering his gaze.  “Yep.  This is going to be a whole lotta fun.”


He turned and walked away.





Starsky had become obsessed with checking his wounds and abrasions.  He did so now, for the nth time since arriving home.  Most the scabs were ready to fall off, if he just lightly brushed his fingernails along them.  A few were a little more tender.  His butt cheek carried a distant ache that was hardly noticeable most of the time.


The thing was, though, he wasn’t sure that, when his wounds were completely healed, anything was going to actually happen between him and Hutch.  It didn’t make sense that his not-quite-perfect health was the reason Hutch didn’t want to do anything yet.


Nor did it make much sense that Hutch had acted like he was incredibly horny – “on the edge” – and that had made him not choose to have sex with Starsky the other night.


There was one thing that Starsky was certain of.  Hutch was scared.  That’s why he wanted to delay.  Starsky just didn’t know what it was, exactly, that Hutch was afraid of.


Of my cock, maybe?  Starsky could understand that.  He was certainly intimidated by the idea of taking Hutch’s thick length inside his body.  But Hutch had stuttered through an apparently difficult confession that he wanted Starsky to top.  So, it didn’t follow that he was resistant to the idea of being penetrated.


The topping thing was something Starsky was still trying to wrap his head around.  His big strong blond – who could be fiercely intimidating, when he wanted to be, and was the single most toughest person Starsky had ever known – had practically pleaded to be allowed to yield to Starsky.


At the time they had talked about it, Starsky had assumed Hutch was referring to intercourse.  Now, he wondered if Hutch had meant he’d wanted Starsky to “top” in the sense that he wanted Starsky to take control of the entire sexual spectrum of their relationship.  But if so, that didn’t really make sense, either.  Hutch had been the one calling all the shots the other night, setting all the boundaries. 


Unless he wants me to relieve him of that responsibility…?


But that didn’t make sense, either.  If Hutch wanted Starsky to take charge of things, then why would he have been so specific about his own desire to wait?  He’d even said, “please” at one point.


Starsky sighed.  Buddy, the worst part about waiting is that it leaves too much time to think.  It made much more sense to Starsky for them to go crazy on each other, and let all the psychological stuff work itself out along the way.


Lord knows, there was psychological stuff. 


Starsky grinned.  You never let things get boring, do you, buddy boy?


But then, things were currently fun, too.  The past few days, Starsky and Hutch would sometimes catch each other’s eye.  And then they’d grin at each other, like little boys who knew that they’d had gotten away with something deliciously naughty.


Starsky was cherishing those moments, too.  I guess there’s something to be said for waiting.


But the not so fun moments were that they seemed to have stopped socializing outside of work.  As though to stay out of temptation’s way.


Starsky was surprised to find just how much he was accustomed to socializing with Hutch.  Things were sure feeling lonely now.


He brushed at his scabs again.  Come on, hurry up and disappear.






Later in the week, he beckoned Hutch to the men’s room on the other side of their floor, which wasn’t as busy as the one they normally used.


“Down here,” Starsky said after they entered and no one was there.  He tugged on Hutch’s hand, leading him past the doorless stalls, and into a small area where the trash receptacle was.  He pushed the trash can out of the way, so they could stand there and not be immediately seen, if anyone was to walk in.


Hutch hadn’t said anything, but seemed to have an air of trepidation.


Starsky grinned as he quickly took off his holster and gun.  He let them drop to the floor.  “Look, Hutch.”  He pulled his shirttail out of his pants, and raised it up, revealing bare skin.  Starsky ran his fingers along the smooth flesh on his left side.  “All healed up.”  His voice dropped to an enticing whisper.  “I’m healed, all over.”


Hutch gazed at Starsky’s flesh.  Then he looked away.


“So,” Starsky continued in an enthusiastic whisper, “how about getting together tonight?  Maybe go out to a nice dinner?” 


Hutch rubbed his hand over his face, and was looking everywhere, except at Starsky.  “Um… um….”  He appeared as bashful as Starsky had ever seen him, which was sort of endearing.  “N-n-not dinner.”


Starsky was a little disappointed, but he said, “Okay.”  He ducked his head, tried to catch Hutch’s eye, but Hutch was too determined to look away.  “Then… my place?  We’ll fix something there?”


“Not food,” Hutch gasped.  His eyes were lowered.


“Okay, no food.  You just wanna go straight to….” Starsky trailed off, trying to understand the root of Hutch’s discomfort.


“I-I-I’ll be there.  What time?”


Starsky followed Hutch’s gaze to the floorboard of the men’s room.  “I don’t think you’re going to find the time over there.”


Hutch closed his eyes for a long moment.  Then he opened them and gazed determinedly at Starsky.  “What time?”


“Seven,” Starsky said.  He reached out to grip Hutch’s arm.  “You’re shakin’ like a leaf, babe.”  He squeezed the arm.  “Hutch, we don’t have to….  I mean, we can go really, really slow.  Keep it simple at first.”


Hutch looked away again, swallowing thickly.  “We don’t need to,” he said softly, studying the vent on the far wall.


Needing to clarify, Starsky asked, “We don’t need to go slow?”


Hutch quickly shook his head.


Starsky squeezed the arm he still had in his grip.  “Hutch, what’s got you so jumpy?  How come you can hardly stand to look at me?  Is it that you’ve changed your mind about us going down this road?”  Starsky wasn’t sure that he could bear that.


Hutch closed his eyes and quickly shook his head.  “Don’t ever think that.”


That was a relief.  “Okay.”  As gently, as tenderly as he could, Starsky asked, “What’s got you so scared?”


Hutch’s breath grew heavier.


Starsky pressed, “It can’t possibly be because you’re afraid of me?”


Desperate eyes fastened onto Starsky’s.  “I’m afraid of me.” 


Starsky gazed back at the sincerity in those depths.  His mouth was dry as he whispered, “It’ll be okay.”  He squeezed Hutch’s arm again, anxious to reassure.  “I’ll make sure it’s okay.”


Hutch rested his back against the wall.  He released a heavy, heavy breath, and then looked off to one side.


Starsky knew they shouldn’t risk being in a public restroom for very long, but this was too important for there to be misunderstandings.  Very soft, he asked, “What are you afraid you’re going to do, Hutch?”  Thoughts flashed through Starsky’s mind of how, that night in the darkness, Hutch had appeared to be afraid of what would be unleashed if they had indulged where their thoughts had gone.  That hadn’t made any sense to Starsky.  He’d watched Hutch make love, years ago when they had sometimes did it with nameless girls in the same room.  There was nothing unusual in how Hutch went about having sex.


Hutch drew a desperate breath.  “Mess it all up,” he replied with lowered eyes.


Starsky’s stomach twisted with compassion.  He reached up and settled his hand on Hutch’s hair.  “Hey.  This is us we’re talkin’ about.  It’s not like we just met and are starting down a path to gettin’ to know each other.  We’re just… expanding on things in way that comes natural for us, right?”


Instead of answering, Hutch asked, with eyes still lowered, “You’re going to top, right?”


Starsky furrowed his brow.  “Right.  But are you talkin’ literally or metaphorically?”




Starsky was enormously puzzled as to why it was so important.  But there could be only one answer.  “Then yes to both.”


He lovingly stroked the hair beneath his hand, and whispered tenderly, “All right?  It’s gonna be okay, buddy boy.”  Then, softer, “I just want to love you, Hutch.  That’s all.”


Hutch nodded, closing his eyes.  “I’ll be there.”  And then he moved past Starsky and made his escape.





Hutch seemed to be finding all sorts of excuses to go on various errands throughout the building.  In the meantime, Starsky was reviewing the file of a case that had happened eight months ago, and was finally going to trial.  He and Hutch would be testifying next week.


As Starsky read the reports in the file, he felt pride at the recollection of how Hutch had returned a round of gunfire during a shootout at a construction site, and then grabbed Starsky out of the way from where he had been pinned in a vulnerable position.  All of Hutch’s actions had been brave and courageous – not that that was anything new.


Then, such a short time ago, Hutch had been down in the men’s room, appearing as uncertain as Starsky had ever seen him.  And reiterating that he wanted Starsky to dominate him.


Guess we never promised each other it was going to be easy when we partnered up together.  Actually, it could be a lot of fun.  If Starsky could just get past his puzzlement and surprise at this new facet of his big blond’s behavior.





Hutch’s brain was in turmoil.  It was twenty after six.  Still too early to leave for Starsky’s place, since it took less than twenty minutes to get there.  Unless he got stuck in traffic.  While he and Starsky tended to show up at each other’s place with little respect for time, it somehow mattered tonight that he not be too early or too late.


He fretted over what to wear, even though he knew it was silly.  He ended up with jeans and a plaid shirt.  He’d used an enema before showering, though he had no idea what to expect of tonight’s activities.


He knew he’d thrown Starsky for a loop.  Starsky always viewed the world around him with such simplicity.  He didn’t deal well with complications – or partners that surprised him.


Still, the one constant was that Starsky loved him.  Wanted to please him.


Hutch reached beneath the sink for a bottle of brandy.  He grabbed a shot glass from a cabinet and filled it halfway with the liquor.  He sat back against the counter and took a sip.


He already felt like mourning.  He couldn’t remember when it was that he and Starsky had agreed to cross the line.  He remembered how wonderful it had felt to hold Starsky in the darkness.  But he couldn’t remember what words were spoken that meant they both knew what was eventually going to happen.


He wished he could remember the precise moment when they had decided they were going to make love to each other.


Hutch took a larger swallow of the brandy.


His nerves were shot.  He wanted this so much.  But he was afraid of it.  Afraid of what he might do or say.  Afraid he might soil the one perfection that existed in his life.


He held the glass to his chest.  Starsky loves me.  He mentally held on to the solidity of that.  Starsky had been at his side for a decade now.  And while that fact brought a balm of security, Hutch didn’t pretend that their bond was impossible to break.


There was a reason why he couldn’t hang onto love relationships for very long.  Hutch didn’t know what that reason was, but it obviously existed.


He took the last swallow of the brandy.  He’d only killed ten minutes.  He needed to kill another ten before it was time to leave.


What the hell.  He grabbed his keys and walked out the door.


Dusk had fallen, and Hutch was acutely aware of his surroundings as he trotted down the steps, as though all of his senses were heightened.  The soft, cooling breeze against his skin.  The feel of the wood beneath his feet, as he descended the stairs.   The shrinking visibility as darkness settled over the city. 


The dark blue, newer-model LTD, parked behind his old brown LTD.


He inserted his key into the lock.




It wasn’t until a door slammed that it registered with Hutch’s brain that someone had called his name.  Apparently, his hearing wasn’t as focused as his other senses.


He looked up.  A dark-haired woman was dressed for a night on the town, and approached briskly.  She smiled warmly at him.  “Hi.”


He had to study her for a long moment, before recognition struck.  “Linda, what are you doing here?”  His voice was surprised, and he quickly schooled his expression to neutrality.


She said, “I thought I’d take a chance that you were home.”  Then she added, “You haven’t called me.”


“What?” he demanded.  “Why would I have called you?”


Her smile grew more sensual.  “You have my number written down on a magazine in your apartment.”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“I came by the other day, just to talk.  You weren’t here, and I let myself in – just for a moment,” she quickly assured.


Hutch’s mouth fell open, and he felt a stab of anger at her having trespassed into his apartment.


“It was just because I had to use the restroom.   And then I saw a magazine on the coffee table with my number written on it.”  The sensual smile was back.  “I think we can drop these little hard-to-get games, don’t you?  David’s a big boy.  You shouldn’t worry about hurting him when he hasn’t been much of a gentleman to begin with.”


“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hutch repeated.  “I’ve never had your phone number.  I don’t need your phone number, and I don’t want your phone number.”  His voice hardened.  “Not interested.  How much clearer do I have to be?”


Huskily, she asked, “How can you turn me down when you don’t know what I can do for you?”


Hutch opened the car door and let his anger show.  “Get lost.”  He got in the car and closed the door.  He rolled down the window part way, and then started the motor.  “Listen, Linda.  I don’t know what your problem is, but the next step is a restraining order.  Then you’ll be arrested for coming anywhere near me.  I’m not interested in your games.”


“You’re the one playing games!” she said angrily.  “My phone number was on the magazine.”


“You try to get into my apartment again, and you’ll be arrested for breaking and entering.”  Hutch pressed on the accelerator.


He watched in the rearview mirror as he drove away from the curb.  After a moment, he saw her headlights come on.


He made several unnecessary turns, and got on the highway.  Though he was fairly certain she wasn’t following him, he drove around another fifteen minutes to be sure.  The last thing he wanted was for her to arrive at Starsky’s apartment when both of them were there.


He thought about what she was saying about her phone number in his apartment.  He decided it must have been Starsky that had written it down at some point.  And she’d invaded his space, saw the number, and completely misunderstood what it meant.


Hutch snorted out loud, thinking about how, the other night, he had suggested to Starsky that maybe Linda deserved some kind of explanation for being so abruptly dumped.  Now, he didn’t know where that compassion had come from.


Diana Harmon all over again, he thought with a shudder.


At least, whenever they got rid of this loose cannon for good, there wouldn’t be any more such women in their lives.


Hutch felt himself smile.  As he got off the next exit and turned the car to head to Starsky’s, he felt the shimmer in his veins all over again.  Destiny was at hand.  He merely needed to embrace it.  The only way he trusted himself to do that successfully was to let Starsky lead the way.






It was ten minutes past seven and Hutch still hadn’t arrived.  Cold feet, pal? 


Or just drawing out the moment?


Starsky knew that he’d spent a ridiculous amount of time contemplating what to wear, to say nothing about how he was going to… ur… handle Hutch when his big blond arrived.


In the end, Starsky settled on his ordinary jeans and a button-down shirt.  If he got into something more comfortable, it would be too easy for things to come off.  And he intended to savor their time together, despite Hutch’s assurance that things didn’t need to proceed slowly.


You aren’t the only one with a say in this, pal.


He had, however, yielded to Hutch’s insistence that he hadn’t wanted dinner first.  Starsky really would have liked dragging out the preliminaries over a candlelit date.  But Hutch had seemed so adamant about it that Starsky had gotten used to the idea of taking Hutch straight to bed.


Still, he intended to have a little fun with Hutch before things got too serious.


Make that a lot of fun.


A knock sounded at the door.


Starsky took a breath and opened it.


Hutch stood there, leaning against the door frame.  He met Starsky’s eye, and then quickly lowered his gaze.


“Good evening,” Starsky said.  He grabbed Hutch’s hand.  “Come on, Blondie.”


He had all the lamps on in the bedroom and led Hutch there.  He dropped the hand.  “Take off your shoes.”  When Hutch gave him that bashful glance, Starsky clarified,  “That’s all.”  Then he grinned.  “For now.”


Hutch leaned one hand on the nightstand, and he pulled off his shoes with the other.


Starsky gestured with his head.  “On the bed.”  He had made it before Hutch’s arrival.


Hutch placed his hands on the covers, as though uncertain.


Starsky watched him.  “Just slide over to the middle, on top of the covers, on your back.”  He grinned.  “And relax.”


Hutch did as told, except for the last part.  His eyes sought the ceiling, and his chest was visibly rising and falling.


Starsky slowly got on the bed and straddled Hutch around the waist, letting his knees take most of his weight.  “Easy, easy.”  He took Hutch’s hands in his and pressed them gently down against the mattress.  “We don’t want you to hyperventilate.”


Hutch closed his eyes, gasped heavily a couple of breaths, and then released a long, slow breath.


Starsky watched, fascinated.  He wasn’t sure if it was excitement or fear that was driving Hutch’s physical reaction.  But Hutch seemed to have calmed just a bit, and then he turned his head to one side and opened his eyes, looking back to watch Starsky.


Starsky smiled warmly at those eyes.  “You know, I intend for a lot of nice things to happen to you tonight.”  He released his hands and moved to the buttons of Hutch’s shirt.  He started at the top, unbuttoning them.  “I want to play with you a while.”  More seriously, he said, “But I don’t want to torment you at all.”


As he continued to work with the buttons, Starsky firmly said, “I want you to tell me if you don’t like anything I’m doin’.”  His voice gentled.  “This is us, babe.  We’ve got way too much trust to threaten it with some silly miscommunication.”  He parted the last button and pushed the shirt flaps back.  He took his hands away from Hutch and met his eye.  “Do you I have your promise that you’ll let me know if you don’t like anything I’m doing or saying?”


Hutch quickly nodded.


“’Kay,” Starsky said, softening.  He ran his hands up Hutch’s exposed torso, and watched Hutch draw in a breath, gasping, his eyes seeking the ceiling.


So excitable, Starsky marveled.  And yet, how familiar this flesh was.  Starsky had tended to it so many times, whether to heal and nurture, or just to rub along it in reassurance, sometimes to hold onto in a moment of fear.


He was ready to be a little more daring.  “The eyes are the window to the soul.”  He grinned at Hutch’s averted gaze.  “Since your eyes are all over the place,” he noted with gentle amusement, “I think I need another indicator to let me know exactly how you’re feeling.”


Starsky slid back to sit on Hutch’s thighs.  He parted the snap to his partner’s jeans, and Hutch’s chest started heaving as he closed his eyes.


Starsky fought with the zipper a moment, then carefully lowered it.  He was met with a formidable bulge, encased in white cotton.  Starsky yanked the cotton down, not wanting yet to touch the flesh, and watched the firm column spring free.


He grinned.  “I’d say, judging by this, that you’re real happy with how things have gone so far.”  Starsky now shifted to kneel beside Hutch.  “I’m going to do something I’ve been dying to do for quite a while now.”  He leaned over Hutch, and then reached to run his finger along the mustache.  He took a moment to get used to the feel of the brusque hairs.  Then he leaned down.


Hutch watched him, his respiration increasing to thick pants.


Starsky brought his face close, and then rested a hand in Hutch’s hair.  He settled his lips on Hutch’s.  And then pressed.


Hutch whimpered, and Starsky was aware of his right arm moving.  But Starsky was too engrossed in the kiss to think about much else.  He recognized the flavor of brandy.  He opened his mouth more, relaxing into the warm, fuzzy feeling, until Hutch’s desperation for air made him pull back.


When he released those plush lips, Hutch tilted his head back and closed his eyes.  He cried out softly.


Starsky looked back, and was amazed to see semen shooting from Hutch’s cock, as Hutch’s hand now slowed its pumping motion.  The white stream splattered onto the pale skin of his belly.


Starsky straightened as his mouth fell open.   Hutch had ejaculated just from kissing?


Hutch’s hand now lovingly soothed his cock.  Then he released it, his arm flopping to the bed.


Starsky looked at Hutch’s face.  His eyes were slit as they gazed at the ceiling, his respiration slowly decreasing.  Then he gave an airy sigh, swallowed, and met Starsky’s eye.


Starsky was relieved that Hutch didn’t seem embarrassed.  He slowly rubbed his hand along Hutch’s smooth chest, softly cooing, “So, so sensitive you are.”  Then, lovingly, “You’re amazing, Hutch.  I think I’m starting to understand why you were afraid of things getting too heavy when neither of us was ready.”  Except, he’d never seen Hutch behave like this with a girl.  Only now.  With him.


Starsky slowed his motion along Hutch’s chest and looked at the white puddle and accompanying droplets on the lean belly.  He grinned and licked his lips.  He’d assumed he would end up swallowing it sometime during tonight’s activities.  Starsky shifted until he could comfortably lower himself to Hutch’s torso.  He stuck out his tongue and licked at the uppermost droplets. 


Hutch gasped and grabbed Starsky’s hair.  Then he quickly eased, as though fearful of gripping too tight.


It wasn’t the most palatable flavor, but no less so than his own.  Starsky moved down, cleaning as he went, delighting in the quivering of Hutch’s torso.  When he came to the puddle, he began lapping it up.


Hutch’s hand petted now – long, tender strokes along Starsky’s head.


When Hutch’s flesh was clean, Starsky used long strokes of his tongue for good measure.


Hutch gasped loudly.


Starsky grinned at Hutch’s sensitivity.  Then he straightened and said, “Let’s put this away for a while.”  He took the limp flesh and tucked it back inside Hutch’s underwear.


His grin widened and he turned to face Hutch.  “Fair’s fair.”  He straddled Hutch’s chest and unsnapped his own jeans.  “Now you get to see what I’m thinkin’.”  Starsky lowered his fly and pushed down the waistband of his briefs.  He took out his partial erection, let it rest on Hutch’s chest, acutely aware of how close he was to Hutch’s uniquely shaped mouth.


Hutch reached out and closed his hand over it, as though capturing something precious.  Then he let it rest back on his flesh and petted along the top of it.  He gripped it and pressed it along his skin, closing his eyes, his breath quickening.


He seemed to almost pull on it, and Starsky shifted closer.  Hutch now rubbed it along his throat.


Hutch’s eyes opened.  “Will you unbutton your shirt?” he asked in a low voice.


It was the first words he’d spoken since he’d arrived.


Starsky moved to comply, and quickly loosened the buttons on his shirt.  He pushed the flaps back and away.


Hutch’s other hand went to the hair of Starsky’s belly, and followed the trail up to Starsky’s chest.  He closed his eyes as the hand spread out along the fur.  For a moment, he squeezed around a nipple, and Starsky thought Hutch was instinctively feeling for soft breasts.  But then he squeezed more purposely at the pectoral muscles, groaning appreciatively.


Starsky held his breath, fascinated, as the hand continued to explore the masculine parts of him.  Hutch was like a blind man, trying to memorize tactile sensations.  His eyes were still closed, and his left hand continued to rub Starsky’s thickening phallus against his soft skin, while his right hand continued to feel along hair and muscle.  Hutch’s respiration was increasing with each passing moment.


After a time, Hutch let the firm flesh rest against his shoulder.  His eyes opened just long enough for him to reach into Starsky’s underwear.


Starsky groaned in amazement as that sure hand cupped his balls in a firm, satisfying way, while managing to be exceeding considerate of their delicateness.  The hand rolled them, massaging in a way that only another man could understand.


Starsky gasped out loud, trying to spread his legs more.  “Jeezusgodmotherfuckingcock.”


Hutch groaned, loud and long.


Starsky took his cock in hand and rubbed the leaking tip against Hutch’s collarbone.  He wondered if he could get Hutch to put his mouth on it without risk of coming too quickly.


Suddenly, Hutch’s actions ceased, and he let his hands drop to the bed.  He opened his eyes and looked at Starsky.   “Starsk?” he said in a barely audible whisper.


“Anything you want, baby,” Starsky responded automatically.  He hoped Hutch wanted to suck it.


“Will you….?” 


Starsky searched his eyes, needing to be certain of what Hutch wanted.


Hutch gulped loudly, closed his eyes briefly, and then said in the same soft tone, “I used an enema.”


Starsky’s mouth fell open.  You didn’t have to do that.  In all their caretaking of each other over the years, things had gotten quite messy at various times.  He’d had no intention of shying away from that now, when pleasure was the goal.


He really hadn’t wanted to do that act so soon in this fledging aspect of their relationship.  But he didn’t know how to say no to Hutch.  In the same soft tone, he asked, “How would you like me to do it?”


“Whatever’s most comfortable for you.”


“Shouldn’t I be asking that of you?”


Hutch reached up and captured the leaking erection that was resting against the crook of his neck and shoulder.  “I want to feel you.”  He stroked meaningfully along the taunt skin.  “Feel you thrusting.”


Starsky blinked as he felt himself throb.  “Um…. Then, uh, maybe, you can be at the end of the bed, and I can stand behind you?”  He quickly said, “But let’s give it a few minutes.  Please?”


He hadn’t yet gotten to what he really wanted to do tonight. 


Starsky abruptly moved off of Hutch and stretched out alongside him.  He shifted closer until their bare chests were touching.  He moved one hand against the back of Hutch’s head, holding him, as he moved in for a kiss.


Starsky kissed Hutch… slowly… lovingly.  Petted along the back of his head.  He paused just long enough to say, “You taste so good,” and was gratified when Hutch kissed back eagerly, his body starting to quiver.


Starsky took his hand away from Hutch’s head and placed it inside of Hutch’s shirt flap.  Then he rubbed firmly as he moved it down Hutch’s back, and then into the waistband of his jeans.  When he felt a buttock, he grabbed it and squeezed as hard as he could.


Hutch gasped loudly, breaking the kiss. His mouth nuzzled against Starsky’s cheek, as he murmured, “Yes, yes, yes.”


Starsky’s eased his grip, only to knead that generous flesh with his fingers.


Hutch’s hand abruptly dived inside the back of Starsky’s jeans.  He mirrored the action, taking Starsky’s buttock in a vice grip.


Starsky groaned loudly against Hutch’s throat.  There was nothing like a strong, firm, masculine hand gripping him so possessively.


He tried to buck with his hips, wanting to give his straining cock some relief.


He’d wanted to snuggle with Hutch and feel him up for a long time tonight.  But that was going to have to wait.


Starsky staggered to his knees.  “Let’s get undressed.”  He stood on unsteady legs and began to remove his clothes.


Hutch rapidly did likewise, while not leaving the bed.  When he was naked, he rose up on all fours.  He swung around so that his rear was at the edge of the bed, where Starsky was.


“Easy, babe,” Starsky said, his hand settling on Hutch’s lower back.  He really wished they had led into this more gradually, but there was no denying that Hutch knew what he wanted.  “Hey, uh, you ever, you know, been on the receiving end?”


Hutch quickly shook his head.  Then he reached between his legs and gave himself a couple of strokes.


“Didn’t think so,” Starsky said.  With both hands, he lovingly felt along Hutch’s buttocks, this motion so much different than a few moments ago, when he had intentionally been trying to arouse.  “Easy, baby.  I really, really need you to try to relax, or it’s never going to fit.”


Hutch released a long, deliberate breath.


Starsky took his forefinger and skimmed it along Hutch’s ass crack, until finding the recess.  He could only remember touching him there once.  Years ago, when Hutch had been weakened from the flu, and Starsky had administered a suppository, thinking Hutch was too out of it to insert himself.  Starsky wasn’t even sure if Hutch had ever known that Starsky had done that.  It was the type of thing they always did for each other.


Now, Hutch felt very clean.  Tight.  Brief hairs around the wrinkled area.


Starsky stepped back and opened the drawer of the nightstand.  He grabbed a new tube of lube and broke the seal.  After removing the cap, he squirted a good helping onto his fingers, and let the tube drop to the bed.


His other hand rubbed soothingly along Hutch’s back, while his left hand felt at Hutch’s opening with a forefinger.  Starsky felt apologetic as he pushed, forcing the tip inside.


Hutch reached back and stroked himself some more.


Starsky persevered with the single finger, his own phallus becoming interested again, after having softened from his prior concerns.


“Easy does it,” he chanted as he explored further with the finger, moving it around the tight muscle.  “Easy, easy.”       


He wondered if it would help Hutch relax if he distracted him.  He moved his right hand down to Hutch’s scrotum and grabbed his balls.  He rolled them around in his hands.


Hutch gasped, and his upper body collapsed to the mattress, his hand releasing himself.


“That’s my buddy,” Starsky encouraged.  His circling finger could already feel some relaxing of the muscle.  “Man, this is heady.  Playing with your balls, like they’re my own.”


Hutch’s respiration increased.


“I can play with your cock, too, like it’s my own.”  Starsky shifted his hand so that it stroked along the firm barrel.  How powerful Hutch’s cock felt.  How powerful it felt to Starsky to have it in his grasp.


“Fuck me,” Hutch pleaded.


Starsky felt a powerful surge between his own legs.  He inserted a second finger, but not without having to push harder than he would have liked.  “Relax, Hutch,” he beckoned, keeping up the stroking motion with his other hand.


He began a thrusting motion with the fingers, hoping to encourage the firm flesh to adapt to the rhythm.


“Stroke behind my nuts,” Hutch gasped.


For a moment, Starsky didn’t understand what Hutch was saying.  Then he realized his fingers were in a unique position.  He released Hutch’s cock to feel where his scrotum was attached to his torso.  Then from inside, he stroked along that same region.


“God,” Hutch gasped.  “Oh, my God.”  He pushed back onto Starsky’s fingers.  “Oh, god.”


Starsky felt a surge of masculine pride that he could give Hutch so much pleasure.  The opening was much more elastic now. 


Hutch began stroking himself again.  “Fuck me before I come.”


“Easy, baby.”  Starsky withdrew the fingers.  He grabbed the lube and applied it to the head of his fully erect cock.  Hutch was stroking himself more slowly, as though trying to extend his pleasure.


Starsky placed a gentle hand on Hutch’s right buttock.  “Easy does it,” he cautioned as he brought his cock up to the slick opening.  “Easy, easy.”  He thrust, the head of his cock pushing inside.


Hutch made a sharp noise of pain, his whole body tensing.  But he gasped, “Yes.  Yes.  Yes.”


Starsky responded to that voice, while watching Hutch’s body language.  He carefully pressed further.


“God,” Hutch said in a tight, pained voice.  But he still he encouraged, “Yes.  All of it.”


Starsky pushed through the firm muscle.


“Thrust hard,” Hutch demanded.


As much as he wanted to cuddle with Hutch, to the degree their positions would allow, Starsky couldn’t deny his partner’s wish.  His flanks came to rest against Hutch’s ass, and he looked down, amazed that his thick cock was inside of Hutch.  Then he pulled back an inch, and then slammed against Hutch with as much force as he could muster.


“Yes!”  Hutch rapidly stroked his cock.


Starsky pulled back farther, and then slammed harder.


With Hutch’s excitement fueling him, Starsky grabbed Hutch’s hips with both hands, planted his feet more firmly, and then undulated back and forth with long, harsh strokes.


Hutch continued to cry out, “Yes!” but now the tone was deeper, huskier.  The motion of his hand pulling up and off had a more deliberate rhythm.


When Starsky felt his own climax building, he said, “Come for me, baby.  Explode all over the bed.”


He couldn’t believe his cock was up Hutch’s ass.  He shifted his grip and plunged harder.  Sweat burst through his pores as his scrotal pouch slapped against Hutch’s.


Hutch growled deep within his throat.  Then he threw his head back and made a guttural noise that gradually shifted to a high-pitched cry.


Starsky felt the muscular contractions inside Hutch’s ass, and that excited him so much that he ejaculated fiercely, crying out with joy, feeling the immense satisfaction of his cum filling up his partner’s purified bowels.


They both collapsed, gasping desperately, Hutch flatted on the mattress, and Starsky on top of Hutch, still embedded within. 


Starsky waited until he got enough breath back to be able to straighten somewhat.  “Easy, easy,” he warned, bracing a hand against Hutch’s rear.  Carefully, he withdrew, hearing the wet sound of the lube.


He collapsed beside Hutch.


Starsky knew he was drifting into sleep.  He squeezed whatever flesh he could reach.  “Hey, come ’ere,” he beckoned, still breathless.


Hutch groaned and awkwardly got on his arms, and then collapsed with his head sideways along Starsky’s chest.


Starsky closed his eyes and spread his fingers along Hutch’s back.  He felt Hutch’s slowing exhalations tickling the hairs of his chest.


He smiled and let sleep take him.





Starsky rose to consciousness with the feeling of something moving along the skin of his chest.  He opened his eyes.


Hutch was lying alongside him, his chin propped in his hand, his other hand drawing diagrams along Starsky’s chest.


“Hey,” Starsky greeted, reaching up to rest a hand in Hutch’s hair.  He realized it was the same hand that had lube on it and had been inside Hutch, but he doubted his partner would mind.


Hutch smiled warmly.  “Hey yourself.”


There was no sign of the skittish bashfulness that had been present before.


“How you feeling?” Starsky moved his hand down to Hutch’s rear and patted it.


Hutch made the half-hearted motion of a shrug.  “Like I’ve been made love to by your fantastic cock.”


While Starsky felt a surge of male pride, Hutch added more seriously, “You’re the most masculine man I’ve ever known.”  With that, he ran his hand along Starsky’s chest.


Starsky blinked, unable to fathom that.  He loved hearing it, but hadn’t viewed himself in quite that way.  A man’s man, of sorts. 


He reached out to put his on hand on Hutch’s chest and let it rest there.  “And you’re the strongest person I’ve ever known, the toughest person I’ve ever known, and yet the most sensitive lover I’ve ever had in my bed.”  That sensitivity would require delicate handling, he realized, and felt he was up to the task.


Hutch leaned over him.  “I want to be the only lover in your bed.”


Starsky nodded.  “Yes.  That what I’d intended all along.  You’re mine.  I’m yours.”


Hutch lowered his face, closing his eyes.  A moment later, full, plush lips settled on Starsky’s own.  It felt so sweet that Starsky felt as though he were floating on a mattress of air.


There was a loud, gastro noise.  Hutch pulled back with a knowing smile.


“Was that you or me?” Starsky asked, putting his hand on his stomach.


“I think you.”


‘Yeah, probably.  I wasn’t able to eat anything tonight.”


“Me, either.  Had some brandy.”


To calm his nerves, Starsky realized.  He remembered what Hutch had said about his fears, when they had been in the men’s room, and he reached up and rubbed the back of his hand along Hutch’s cheek.  “You know we’re going to be okay.”  He now brushed along Hutch’s mustache with a thumb.  “We want this to work, so it’s going to work.”


Hutch merely nodded, as though that was as much of a commitment as he could make.


Starsky grinned.  “Pretty incredible that we both came pretty much at the same time, considering it was our first.”


Hutch closed his eyes.  “You felt good,” he said simply.


“You felt incredible.”  Starsky shifted and reached to take Hutch by the arms.  “But there’s still all kinds of other stuff I want to do with you tonight.  You know, get under the covers and just fool around and kiss each other and feel each other up.”


Hutch grunted approvingly. 


“But I think we should eat something first.”  Starsky added slyly, “Build up our energy.”  With an effort, he hoisted himself into a sitting position.  “I’m going to take a quick shower.  You’re welcome to join me.”





Starsky put a robe over his nudity and went into the kitchen to pull out every possible ingredient available for sandwiches.  Hutch joined him a moment later, dressed in his underwear and one of Starsky’s t-shirts.  When he lowered himself to a chair at the table, he sat gingerly.  When Starsky gave him an inquiring look, Hutch merely gave him a warm smile.


Starsky joined him and they went about making sandwiches to their individual preferences.  They ate for a while in silence, and then Hutch belched softly and looked over at Starsky.  Shyly, he asked, “Do you remember when it was exactly that we decided to make love to each other?”


Starsky licked mayonnaise from his thumb.  “Hmm?”


“I was trying to remember exactly what moment it was that we decided to cross the line.”  Hutch shook his head regretfully.  “But I don’t remember what was said exactly.  I know it was that night, in the dark.  I’d just taken out your stitches.”  His expression was open as he looked at Starsky.  “How did we cross from one side of the line to the other?”


Starsky wanted to come up with the answer, since it seemed important to Hutch.  “I remember we were snuggled up together.  But that’s nothing new.  Oh,” he brightened.  “I remember.  I rubbed my check against your chest, and you seemed to think it was a come on.  I don’t think I really meant it that way, but you started talking about wanting to wait.  And my mind had already been going down that road, so I knew what you meant.”


Hutch’s mouth twisted into a semblance of a smile.  “It was just that easy, huh?”


Starsky nodded, feeling pleased with them both.  “Yeah, I guess it was.  Guess that says something, huh?”




Starsky realized that, considering his mind had been indeed going down that road, he might be able to get a mystery of his own solved.  He shifted in his chair.  “Hey, uh, Hutch, I have a really stupid question to ask you.  The answer doesn’t mean anything now, but I’m just kind of curious, if you happen to remember.”


Hutch studied him.  “Remember what?”


“You know, when we used to take girls to motel rooms?  The very last time we did that… well,” Starsky swallowed thickly, admitting to himself that this was a really stupid thing to be asking of Hutch, after all this time.  “When we were all ready for round two, we switched girls.  Do you remember that?”


Hutch drew a deep breath and released it.  “That was a long time ago, buddy.”  He furrowed his brow.  “Why do you remember it?”


“Because when you were making out with the girl that I’d just banged, you went down on her and had your face buried in her crotch.  You know, licking her out.  After I’d come inside her.”


Hutch looked away.  “Geez, buddy.”


“I’m not trying to embarrass you,” Starsky said quickly.  “But I’ve wondered, you know, considering how horny we all were, and drunk to some degree, if you realized that you were eating my spunk.  Or if you were just caught up in the lust of it all and didn’t realize what you were tasting.”  He hurried to say, “It doesn’t matter now, I know, but there’s a reason why I’ve wondered about it.”


Hutch released a heavy breath.  “I-I sort of remember.  Being with two girls and switching off.  We didn’t always do that.”  He was thoughtful, and then shrugged.  “I-I guess I was conscious of the fact that I was tasting you as well as her.”  He shrugged again, this time with a highly exaggerated movement.  “I was just caught up in the lust of the moment.  I mean, it never really mattered to us who was doing what to whom, or had done what to whom.”


Starsky nodded quickly, wanting to reassure.  “Right.  I didn’t mean it as a judgment or anything.”


Hutch looked at him squarely.  “Why have you been thinking about that?”


Starsky leaned forward, eager to share this part.  “Because it made me really angry.  I didn’t understand why at the time, and I didn’t try to analyze it.  But now I realize it’s because I felt that, if you were going to eat my spunk, why not get it directly from the source?  I didn’t like the idea of us having to go through a girl, you know?”


Hutch looked thoughtful.  “You felt that way all those years ago?”


“No.  Like I said, I wasn’t conscious of what I was feeling.  But the memory came back, all these years later, when Linda suggested a three-way.  I felt really angry then, too.  Only, this time, I analyzed it.  And that’s when I realized it was the idea of us needing a girl between us to make love to each other, in a manner of speaking, that was making me angry.  I didn’t want a girl to have to be between us for it to happen.”


Starsky wasn’t sure if Hutch had been listening to the last few sentences.  He was staring off to one side. 


“What?” Starsky demanded.


Hutch blinked and quickly shook his head, as though to clear it.  “Linda.  She was at my place tonight.”


“WHAT?”  Were they never going to be rid of her?


“Yeah, just as I was getting in my car to come over here.  She had pulled up to the curb.  She was all dressed up to go out, and dropped by to see if I was home.”  He looked at Starsky suddenly.  “Did you write down her phone number on a magazine in my apartment?”


Starsky thought back.  “Yeah.  I got her number from Information, when I was going to call her to break up with her.  I wrote it down on a magazine.  Why?”


“She let herself into my apartment the other day,” Hutch said grimly.  “When I wasn’t there.  Claimed she had to use the restroom.  But she saw her phone number written down, and thought it meant I was interested.  So, tonight, she was trying to tell me to stop playing hard–to-get.”


Starsky couldn’t believe it.  “Of all the godforsaken…..  Maybe you should get a restraining order.”


“I threatened that.  Also told her I’d arrest her for breaking and entering the next time she trespassed into my apartment.”


“Do you think it did any good?”


Hutch sighed.  “I doubt it.  She’s a real piece of work, partner.  That’s why I was late tonight.  I drove around a while, to make sure she wasn’t following.  The last thing I wanted was for her to show up here.”


Starsky abruptly left his chair and went over to the window that looked out onto the street.  He had to wait a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dark.  “Was it her blue LTD?”




Starsky released a breath.  “It’s not out there.  Thank God.”  He turned back to Hutch.  “Maybe you should get a restraining order, Hutch.  Show her that you mean it.”


“Maybe.  But I also feel that it would be playing into her hands, in a sense.  You know, giving her the attention that she’s seeking.”


“But at least you’d have cause to arrest her if she came anywhere near you again.”


“Yeah.  I guess we can discuss this more later, huh?”  Hutch stood and began putting the perishables away in the refrigerator.


Starsky watched him a moment, feeling himself go soft all over.  He looked at the clock.  It was after eight.  “Hey, uh, Hutch?”


Hutch paused at the refrigerator.  “Yeah?”


“I think I’m going to call Dobey at home and tell him that we need some days off.  Then we can take off somewhere and just focus on us for a few days.  I think – I think we need that.”


Hutch closed the refrigerator, and then said, “If we take off, we just have to come back.”

Starsky smiled at the logic.  “Don’t start getting pragmatic on me.”  Then, more seriously, “I think it would be good for us to have a space to figure stuff out.  You know, how we’re going to be together from here on out.  How we want to live, how we’re going to present ourselves.  That sort of thing.”  More softly, he said, “And, you know, love each other a whole lot while we’re away.”


Hutch went back to the table to remove dishes.  “Dobey might not agree.”


Starsky grinned.  “Not so long ago, he was saying that you needed to calm down.  I have every intention of using his concern against him.” 




They ended up at a beach house, two hundred miles away. 


On the third day of the four-day weekend, they lay dozing in the bed together, naked, in the middle of the day.  The sun and salty air blew in from the open bedroom window.


Starsky had already lost count of how many times they’d fucked.  Hutch wanted it – a lot.  He wanted the pounding, and Starsky wanted to cuddle close while doing it.  They’d compromised by frequently using the spoon position, so Starsky still had a fair range of movement when he thrust, but he was able to hold Hutch close to him, his hands loving up and down his big blond’s front side, while his thrusts satisfied Hutch’s demands. 


He found it funny that Hutch had been so insistent that Starsky take charge of things, but Hutch still seemed to be the one who set all the boundaries and was most specific about what he wanted.


The important thing was that Starsky could please him, and nothing made Starsky more joyful than that. 


Hutch hadn’t ever given any indication of wanting to top.  And while Starsky had a difficult time fathoming that, he also was somewhat relieved, for he wasn’t too keen on taking that huge thing of Hutch’s inside himself.  He had little doubt the day would come eventually, but at least he was going to have plenty of time to get used to the idea.


For that matter, they’d had very little oral sex.  They tended to kiss and grope each other, and then work up to the main event.  When they returned home tomorrow evening, they would still have plenty of room for sexual discoveries and explorations.


The nicest part, Starsky thought, was after the loving, when they fell into a doze.  That’s when they tended to snuggle together, almost like they’d always been in the past, when they just wanted to be together and didn’t otherwise feel a need to do anything for each other.  The being together was a satisfying end in itself.


Hutch’s eyes drifted open, and Starsky smiled warmly at him.  “You’re wearing me out, babe.”


Hutch snorted with a grin of his own.  “Just say no.”


Starsky chuckled.  “Right.  Like I could ever say no to you.”


Hutch shifted so that his head landed sideways on Starsky’s chest, looking up at him.


Starsky ran a finger along Hutch’s mustache.  “How you feeling, Hutch?  I mean, since we’ve been here?”


Hutch’s grin changed into a warm smile.  “Every once in a while, you have a bright idea.”


“I wish we didn’t have to go back tomorrow,” Starsky admitted.  “Kind of nice, not having to worry about anything, except pleasing each other.”


“You’d get bored,” Hutch said, settling more comfortably against Starsky’s chest.


“I’m not sure about that.”


“I am.”


Starsky stroked Hutch’s hair.  “How about you?  What about those fears you had?”


Hutch swallowed thickly.  “When we’re together, everything seems okay.  You know?”


Starsky felt the warmth drift through him.  “I’ve been thinking about that.  About us keeping two apartments, when we’re going to be together most of the time.”


Hutch’s expression grew thoughtful.  “With as much time as we’re going to be spending together, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing for us to each have some space of our own.  At least, until we reach a point of constantly missing each other.”


That sounded reasonable.  And yet… “I’ve already felt like I miss you most of the time.  It’s been like that for years, Hutch.  That why we spend so much time together outside of work.”


Hutch grunted.  “I guess so.  Still, we need to see how this plays out, day-to-day, before we make any rash decisions about moving in together.”


Starsky’s fingers now moved slowly along Hutch’s shoulders.  “How do you want to play it at work?”


“Like we always have, I guess.  If we start being too careful around each other, people are going to think something’s up.”


“Eventually, people are going to start noticing that we never date.”


“That’s their problem,” Hutch said firmly.  “Why should we ever have to explain ourselves about that?”


Starsky stroked between Hutch’s eyes and down to his nose.  “You’re scowling,” he accused gently. 


“I’m not going to start worrying about what people think, just because we’re loving each other in a different way.  I don’t want to start getting self-conscious about this, Starsk.  We’ve never been worried before about how others see us.”


Starsky sighed.  “I suppose you’re right, though a part of me can’t help but think it won’t be that simple.”


“We don’t owe anybody any explanations,” Hutch emphasized.  “If we don’t make a big deal out of it outside the privacy of our homes, there’s no reason for other people to.”


“That makes sense.”  Starsky squeezed Hutch’s shoulder.  “Hey, lazy bum, how about we take a walk on the beach?”





They walked along the water’s edge in their sweats, the late afternoon sun beginning to dip into the horizon of the ocean.  There were other rented cottages along the beach, but most of the inhabitants appeared to have gone inside for the afternoon, so that Starsky and Hutch were alone.


Starsky hooked his arm through Hutch’s, leaning against him as they walked.  “You know what’s the most amazing thing to me?”


“What?” Hutch asked.


Starsky stopped, and waited until Hutch faced him.  “That you’re probably one of the top most eligible bachelors in the entire city, and you’re mine.”  He beamed at Hutch.


Hutch chuckled bashfully, and they walked on.  “I’m not sure I’d be much of a worthy catch to most people.  I certainly haven’t been up until now.”


“Your days of rejection are over, Hutch.  Both of ours are.”


Hutch put his arm around Starsky’s shoulders.  “I hadn’t thought about it like that.  A nice thought, for sure.”


“And so are our lonely nights.”


Hutch stopped this time.  He reached out brushed his fingers along Starsky’s forehead.  “I haven’t had many lonely nights, buddy.  If they got that lonely, you were always there.”


“Mm,” Starsky said.  “I think I’m going to melt into a puddle of mush.”


Hutch laughed softly and prompted Starsky to turn, so they started walking back toward their cottage.


Now, their arms were around each other’s waist.  After walking in silence a while, Starsky said, “It seems pretty amazing, doesn’t it, that we both came to this same point in our relationship at the same time?”


Hutch considered a moment. “Not so much, I don’t think.  We’ve always read each other pretty well.  Maybe we were picking up subconscious vibes off of each other.”


“If so, I wonder which one of us had the vibe first.”


“Maybe Linda is responsible for giving you the vibe, and I picked it up from you.”


Starsky groaned.  “I can’t believe you’d bring her up.”  He gently smacked Hutch in the ribs.  “Let’s not talk about her.”


“It might be true though, in a sense.”


Starsky grunted, not wanting to believe it.





Their arms dropped away from each other as they went up the narrow porch steps, Hutch leading.  The sun had almost set, and most of the cottages had porch lights on.


Hutch stepped across the threshold and held the door open for Starsky.  The door slammed shut behind them as Starsky said, “I’m starving.  I think we should drive into town.”


“I don’t think so,” a voice said.


They both looked toward the bedroom where Linda Newman emerged, gun in hand. 


Starsky gasped in surprise.


I can’t believe this, Hutch thought.  Then his cop instincts kicked in.  We can overpower her.


Immediately, he took a step toward the kitchen, which was directly opposite the front door.  He was relieved that Starsky took a step sideways, separating him from Hutch, and dividing her attention.


“Ken,” she said, turning the gun toward Hutch, “David can tell you that I know how to use this thing.”


Hutch took another step toward the kitchen, hoping Linda would move out of the doorway of the bedroom.  Starsky took another step and was close to the wall of the living room.


She frowned at Hutch.  “Stop moving.”


Hutch took another step.  He couldn’t go into the kitchen, because that would block him off from her, so now he moved closer to Linda.


She abruptly turned the gun on Starsky.  “Keep moving, and I’ll blow a hole through his groin.”


Hutch stopped.  “What the hell is that supposed to accomplish?” he reasoned.  “You really think I’d love him any less?”


“What do you want, Linda?” Starsky demanded.


“I think we should have a little talk,” she said.


“About what?” Starsky asked angrily.  “I don’t want you.  Hutch doesn’t want you.”


“So talk,” Hutch said in a gentler tone.


“Men,” she said with disgust.  “You think you own the world.”  Her gaze was on Starsky. 

“The entire time I was going with you, you were banging him.  So,” she looked from one to the other, “who goes up whose ass?”


“You want to talk about deceit,” Starsky said in the same angry tone.  “How about, the entire time you were with me, you really wanted him.


“I just wanted a piece of the action,” she protested.  “Is that really too much for a girl to ask?  You men always feel like you’re the ones who get to say what goes and make all the rules.”  She laughed harshly.  “Guess what, gentlemen?  The world is changing.”


“Yes, it is,” Hutch said.  “Women can make more choices now.  So, you can find somebody to love, rather than trying to force it from someone.”


“You don’t want either of us,” Starsky said.  “You wouldn’t be holding a gun on us if you did.  That’s not the way you behave when you’re in love.”


“I never claimed to be in love.  I just wanted sex, like you men always do.  But women aren’t supposed to behave that way, are they?  Then they’re just sluts.”  She abruptly swung the gun around to Hutch.


Starsky took a silent step toward Linda, but he was still a half dozen steps away.


“Your little games,” she said with disgust, “writing my number down, and then saying you weren’t interested.”


I did that,” Starsky practically shouted, and her gun turned back to him.  “I called Information when I was at Hutch’s place.  He didn’t have a damn thing to do with it.”


Hutch took a step forward.  He was four steps away from her.  Two, if he lunged.


“What do you want from us?” Starsky repeated.


Hutch took another step.


She glanced briefly at Hutch.  “I’ll kill him,” she warned.


“Why?” Hutch demanded.  “What has he done to you?  If you hurt him, you really think I’d have any interest in you?”


“It would just be revenge,” Starsky said, taking a step closer.  “What’s that supposed to do?  How would that make your life better?  You’d be spending what’s left of it in prison.”


“Drop the gun, and we won’t press charges,” Hutch said, grateful for his ability to lie.


She shook her head.


“You gonna kill us?” Starsky demanded.  “And then what?  You really think no one’s gonna know?”  He took another step.


“You can’t kill both us,” Hutch pointed out.  “Shoot one, and the other is on you, and you spend the rest of your life in prison, assuming you don’t get the death penalty.”


Starsky put in, “And assuming the one left behind doesn’t grab the gun and blow you away, just for sport.”


Hutch took another step, close enough to reach to the gun with minimal effort.  As she started to turn the gun on him, Starsky demanded, “Why are you here?  What do you want?”


She turned the gun back to him, and Hutch distracted her with a sharp, “Hey!” just as he moved toward her, and brought his hand down beneath her wrist and shoved the gun upward.


She struggled against him, and it clattered to the floor.  He overpowered her, dragging her to the floor, as Starsky moved to take the gun and engage the safety.


Hutch lay on top of Linda, while she struggled frantically beneath him.  He knew there was nothing to be done, except to let her rage expend itself.  He glanced up at Starsky.  “Call the cops, and then get something to restrain her with.”


Starsky nodded and moved toward the kitchen.





A few days later, Huggy had joined them in a corner booth at the Pits, beer in hand.  “She was one relentless chick,” he said.  “It’s amazing she found where you guys were vacationing.”


“She worked in a library,” Starsky said.  “She was good at research and finding out things.”


“Now she’s in the cuckoo house,” Hutch put in, “so she can spend all the time in the world researching mental illness, I guess.”


Starsky held up his beer glass.  “I propose a toast.”  He waited until the others lifted theirs.  “To the end of women who relentlessly pursue men who don’t want them.”


“Here, here,” Hutch said, and the three men touched their glasses together.


After Huggy took a sip, he said, “I hate to be negative, but how can you ever be certain that another cuckoo woman won’t get her talons into one of you two?”


Starsky grinned at Hutch, watching his blond duck his head bashfully.  Then he looked at their friend.  “We just know, Hug.”


“I’ll drink to that,” Hutch said happily, and he took a healthy swallow.


Huggy looked from one to the other.  “It’s apparent that there’s an undercurrent going on that I’m not privy to.”


Starsky held up his glass.  “I’ll drink to undercurrents.” 


Huggy glanced behind him.  “I think I’m needed by the help.  Later.”  He got up and left.


Starsky slid closer to Hutch, who said, “He’ll figure it out eventually.”


“Probably sooner rather than later.”


“Probably Dobey will, too.”


“Probably.”  Starsky patted Hutch’s knee.  “I’m ready to head home and to bed anytime, pal.”  One of the great benefits of their nightly activity was that they both fell asleep easily, so they woke up refreshed and ready to face the day.


Hutch took another large swallow of beer, and then set the glass on the table.  “Lead on.”


Starsky got up from the booth, and paused to place a few bills on the table. 


As Hutch moved out of the booth, he placed his hand on the small of Starsky’s back. 


Starsky smiled as they walked out of Huggy’s and into their new future.







Thanks to Keri T. for proofreading.

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