(c) September 2012 by Charlotte Frost


Huggy Bear drove slowly up the gravel lane that led to the small, white house in dire need of a paint job.  With the surrounding trees, he would be tempted to call the dwelling a cabin.  Yet, it wasn't quite that primitive and rustic, judging from the outside.  Though he'd been here just a couple of days ago, armed with a few bags of groceries, he hadn't been invited inside.  This time, he had more grocery sacks, as well as some fresh clothes, and a whole lot of newly purchased pillows. 

Huggy braked and parked in front of the railing that surrounded the porch, which looked like it could use a few nails for added support.  The Torino was parked at the side of the house.

The front door opened.   Starsky, dressed in jeans that were looking baggy from too much prolonged wear, emerged with a brief wave.  His expression didn't contain its usual cheer, but at least it wasn't as grim as it had been a couple of days ago. 

"Hey ya, Hug," Starsky greeted quietly, as Huggy emerged from his car.

"How is he?" Huggy asked, moving toward the trunk.  He decided not to comment on Starsky's breath.  He'd brought toiletries this time. 

"Resting a little more comfortably, but still sleeping a lot."  Starsky nodded toward the house and dropped his voice an octave.  "I don't want to wake him."

Which meant, Huggy knew, that he wasn't going to be invited in, once again. 

He inserted the key into the trunk and opened it.  It was full, mostly of fluffy pillows extending from plastic shopping bags.  "Do you need help?"

Starsky reached in to grab a few.  "Yeah, let's just leave everything on the porch, and I'll bring stuff inside as it's needed."  Then he muttered, "Not much room inside."

They were silent as they moved department store sacks, and an old suitcase with clothing, from the car to the porch.  That left the grocery sacks.  As they each took a couple, Huggy said, "I brought you a deck of playing cards, and a three-in-one chess/checker game set.  Some magazines, too."

Starsky brightened.  "Great.  You're the best."

They moved back to the car, now that all the supplies were on the porch, and Huggy took out his wallet.  "Here's your credit card back."

"Great.  Thanks."  Starsky took out his wallet and placed the card inside.

Huggy lowered the lid of the trunk, waiting until it was just a few inches from the car before slamming it, so it wouldn't make much noise.  Then he leaned back and crossed his arms.  "So, how long do you think you're going to be here?"

Starsky shrugged.  "Not sure.  Depends on how quickly he recovers."

Huggy wet his lips and shifted nervously.  "You say the word, and I'll find out who did this."  He already knew a lot, because of various comments that had come his way, considering how most people on the streets knew his connection to his two detectives friends.   Yet, Starsky had told him shortly after Hutch was found and hospitalized, that he didn't want Huggy running anything down -- at least, not yet.  It was as though Starsky wanted to keep what happened to Hutch between the two of them. 

Starsky seemed restless to get back to his immediate task.  "I'll let you know."  He squeezed Huggy's arm. 

Huggy nodded, recognizing the dismissal.  "Just let me know if you need anything else."

"Thanks, Hug.  You're the best."  Starsky turned away.

Huggy got in his car and started the motor.  He focused on backing the car into a wide arc, so he could then turn it around to start down the gravel lane. 

Hutch had been in the hospital for two days after he was found in an alley, severely beaten, though there hadn't been any broken bones, beyond cracked ribs.  It was the obvious job of a professional who wanted it to hurt, but had wanted his victim to live.  When Hutch was released, Starsky had whisked him away to the privacy of this house, which was owned by Starsky's uncle Alvin.   

This had all taken place within a week after Starsky and Hutch had made the papers for finding a kidnapped five-year-old girl.  They had rescued the girl, unharmed.

Somehow, the two events seemed connected, though Huggy didn't know in what way.  Hutch and Starsky had found the little girl, via drastic investigation and questioning of anyone who might have known those involved.  A few days after the girl's safe return, Hutch had been beaten to a pulp.


Starsky quietly put away the groceries and toiletries.  He had washed up as best he could, considering the lack of a shower, changed into fresh clothes, and gratefully bushed his teeth in the dirty bathroom sink.  This house was an ideal place to keep Hutch safe, except that it was rather filthy, for it had been unoccupied for over a year.  It was something that had landed in his uncle's lap, for some kind of debt owed to his used car business.  Al had intended to fix it up and sell it, but hadn't ever gotten around to the project.  At least, the furniture had been kept relatively clean, via being covered in plastic. 

Starsky hadn't been sure how important it was to keep Hutch away from their apartments.  When he had been allowed to visit Hutch in the emergency room, when Hutch was only partially conscious and in great pain, Hutch had stated only two clear sentences.  One was a muttered, "The score is settled."  The other had come out more firmly:  "Leave it alone, Starsk."

Starsky didn't know why Hutch had been so viciously attacked.  As angry as he was that Hutch had obviously gotten involved in something dangerous, independent of his partner, he had also trusted those statements, and decided that being at Hutch's side was more important than pursuing whoever was responsible.  He had surprised Huggy when he'd discouraged him from finding out anything about Hutch's beating.  He wanted Hutch to tell him what had happened.  And why.  Then he'd determine how to proceed to settle a score of his own. 

Not that being at Hutch's side was much comfort.  The hospital had kept Hutch under a series of non-morphine pain killers.  Most all of his internal organs had been badly bruised.  So, he was either going to have to spend a lot of time in a drug-induced sleep, or else be in a lot of pain until his body eventually healed. 

Starsky had wanted to get Hutch away to some place safe, not only on the off chance that someone might come looking to finish the job, but also to get away from nosy reporters.  Starsky and Hutch had been heroes after finding little Rebecca Newson.  Then a few days later, one of Bay City's finest had been found in an alley, severely beaten. 

After Hutch had been released from the hospital, Starsky had brought him to this house.  He'd managed to carry Hutch inside and put him in the twin bed near the door, since that had the firmer mattress.  The house was less than seven hundred square feet, most of it in the main room.  There was a small bedroom, hardly bigger than a closet, off to one side, as well as the bathroom.  The bedroom was empty, and Starsky had been sleeping, what little bit he could, on the other twin bed in the main room. 

It was mid afternoon, and Starsky turned away from the kitchen sink when he heard Hutch shift restlessly. 

He had brought the pillows inside and stacked them near Hutch's bed.  Now, he began opening one up, no longer concerned about noise caused by the rustling of sacks.

Hutch was dressed in flannel pajamas and curled on his side, facing Starsky.  His face moved in and out of grimaces, as he shifted his arms beneath the covers.  He no longer had the mustache.  He had apparently shaved it sometime between when Starsky last saw him, and the beating.  Starsky wondered if removing the mustache could in any way be related to what had happened to settle some mysterious score. 

Now, Starsky, placed his hand against Hutch's neck, because it was a rare spot on his body that didn't have any bruising.  "Hey, there, Hutch," he said tenderly.  "You're in a safe place.  I'm right here.  I've got some pillows for you, if you want to try opening your eyes."

Hutch's breath got heavier, as it often did when he discovered that, no matter how he moved, there was still a lot of pain.  The heavy breaths only increased his agitation, since he had a bruised diaphragm and abdomen.

Starsky knelt next to the bed.  "Try to hold still."

Hutch's expression changed, and he appeared to be listening.

"That's it.  Open your eyes a moment."

Hutch's two black eyes cracked open.

Starsky patted the top of his head.  "That's my buddy boy.  You're gonna be fine, Hutch.  I've got some pillows here for you, so we can give you better support."

Hutch groaned feebly.

Starsky wasn't sure how to interpret that sound.  He reached to lift Hutch's head and pushed the flat pillow aside.  He placed the new, fluffy pillow beneath him.  "Try that," he said, while slowly releasing Hutch's head to its comfort.

No reaction, which Starsky thought was an improvement.  "I've got plenty more here, but first, you probably need to take a whiz."  He waited.

Hutch had closed his eyes again, but his arms were slowly moving beneath the covers, as though returning to the impossible task of trying to get more comfortable.

Starsky grabbed an empty glass milk bottle from the nightstand, and placed in on the floor next to him.  He rose as he pushed the thin bed clothes back from Hutch's lower body.  "Hold still and let me do this."  With a practiced motion, Starsky used both hands to push the pajamas down Hutch's hips.  He reached down to grab the bottle, just as he took the exposed phallus in hand.

Hutch was making disagreeable grunting noises.

"Hang on.  Whenever you want to do this yourself, just let me know."  Starsky brought the head of the tender flesh up against the opening of the bottle.  "Piss, Hutch."  Though it was a command, he try to keep his voice soft and soothing.  "Give yourself some relief."

Hutch gasped, because his tender bladder made it hurt to urinate.   Starsky said, "I know.  But the piss is going to come out one way or another, so give yourself some relief, when you have a little bit of control."

Hutch groaned softly as the noise of liquid hit the inside of the bottle. 

"Atta boy, Hutch," Starsky said in his gentlest tone.  "You're doin' real good."

There wasn't much, before the noise stopped.  Which meant Hutch needed to get a lot more liquids into him, and Starsky hoped that solid food would follow soon. 

Starsky looked into the bottle and was relieved that the color was a brownish-yellow, which was an improvement over the reddish-brown color that it had been at the hospital.  Hutch wasn't released, of course, until the doctors were convinced that he was starting to heal, and his injuries didn't need further treatment, only time.

Starsky put the bottle on the floor, pushing it away as far as he could, and then made quick work of pulling up the pajamas around Hutch's hips.

"All right now," Starsky whispered as he picked up another pillow.  "How about we get you sitting up a bit?  I think you'll be more comfortable."

It was an exhausting process, because Hutch wasn't able to help, and he could only groan in protest when Starsky tried to shift him.  But it was worth it.  Eventually, he had Hutch in a reasonably vertical position, with pillows supporting his lower back, and some higher up, so Hutch could rest his arms.

After releasing an exhausted breath, Starsky sat next to Hutch on the bed, and rested his arm along his shoulders.  "It's gonna be okay.  I know you're hurting a lot, but you're getting better." 

Hutch was turned slightly toward him, eyes slit, and he made a grunting noise of effort.

Starsky said gently, "I think if you try real hard, you'll be able to get out a coherent sentence.  Or, how about just a single word?"

Hutch closed his eyes a moment.  When he opened them, he forced out, "Where?"

Starsky smiled, feeling the warmth go through him.  "See? You're getting better."  He rubbed his thumb along Hutch's far shoulder.  "We're in a little out-of-the way house that my Uncle Al was given, to pay some kind of debt.  You're safe here, Hutch.  It's quiet and peaceful, even a little bit woodsy.  Though in dire need of a good cleaning." 

With a whimper, Hutch shifted just a bit closer, so he could rest his forehead against Starsky's side. 

As Starsky melted inside, he wondered if he'd ever bring himself to honestly express how angry he was with Hutch.  He stroked the exposed side of the blond head.  "I'm right here, and I'm going to keep being right here, for as long as you need me."

They were quiet for an extended moment, while Starsky's fingers continued to gently massage.

Then Hutch grunted, his eyes opening and staring at the nightstand.

Starsky glanced at it.  "You want water?"  A pitcher and glass were there.

Hutch seemed to make an effort.  Then, "Pills."

There were an array of prescription bottles next to the water.

Starsky's fingers kept up their stroking.  "We're gonna wait a while, Hutch.  You've been sleeping for two days since being released from the hospital.  It's time for you to start re-engaging with life a bit."  While there was no question of Hutch's pain, Starsky was starting to get concerned that Hutch might be desiring to escape whatever mental anguish he was feeling, as well as the physical.  For that matter, the way Hutch's face looked, and his longing for a foreign substance that would take all pain away, reminded Starsky a bit too much of the incident with Ben Forest. 

Hutch closed his eyes with a tired sigh, and his weight grew heavier against Starsky's side.  After a time, he muttered, "Rebecca?"

"She's fine, Hutch.  Home with her parents, safe and sound."

Starsky wondered, yet again, how Hutch's current state was linked to the Rebecca Newson case.  Or, if it even was at all.

More silence.  Then Hutch started to get agitated, shifting restlessly and making continuous grunts of disagreement, due to the pain of his motions.

"Hutch," Starsky said firmly, "try to hold still, as best you can.  We need to get you eating, so I'm going to get up and heat up some chicken soup.  Let's sit you back up."

Starsky reluctantly slid off the bed, and then spent a while making Hutch reasonably vertical, and then moving pillows around until Hutch stopped being restless.  Starsky then encouraged Hutch to down a glass of water.  Afterward, he said, "You can doze while I make some soup.  Or, you can watch me."  With a smile, he said, "I'll be close enough to make conversation, if you want."

Starsky worked in silence.  The first time he glanced behind him, Hutch's eyes were closed, and he was lying still.  The second time Starsky looked, Hutch's head was turned toward him, his eyes open and appearing more alert than a few minutes ago.  It was encouraging that Hutch was apparently able to focus.

Starsky brought a bowl of chicken soup to the bed, using a pot holder.  "Okay, buddy boy," he said as he carefully sat on the  bed, next to Hutch.  "We need to do this real slow and easy, so we don't spill it on you."  The hand with the spoon went around Hutch's neck.  "Try to sip some."  Starsky brought a spoonful of soup to Hutch's dry, cracked lips.

Hutch reached up with an unsteady hand, as he moved his head slightly forward, and made a slurping noise.

"Want to do it yourself?" Starsky asked hopefully.  He placed the spoon in Hutch's hand, and then held loosely to his wrist, to help him guide it back to the bowl, and then scoop up another spoonful.

"There you go," Starsky said tenderly.  He released Hutch's hand, and rested his own hand on Hutch's shoulder, and gave it little squeezes of encouragement.  "You're doing real good there."

Hutch finished most of the bowl, before turning his head away with a tired sigh.  Starsky straightened and took the bowl in both hands, and then tilted it back to his own mouth, to finish it off. 

Hutch seemed to be swirling his tongue around the right side of his mouth.

As Starsky put the empty dish on the end table, he said, "You've lost a tooth in the back.  You'll need some dental work, when you're ready."  He squeezed Hutch's near shoulder.  "I'm got some fresh fruit.  How 'bout a banana?  That'll be something soft for you to chew on, that should fill you up."

Hutch's eyes fluttered tiredly, as he let his hand drop off the right side of his jaw.

"Okay?" Starsky prompted.  "I'm going to get a banana."

Hutch was gazing at the covers blankly, so Starsky carefully got up from the bed and went to the refrigerator.  He peeled the banana as he returned.

He placed it in Hutch's hand.  "Think you can eat that?  Take your time."

Hutch chewed slowly and mechanically.  Starsky was encouraged that his partner was at least able to do a little for himself.  In fact, he decided that the next time Hutch needed to piss, they were going to make the difficult trip to the bathroom.  Hutch was physically improving, which made Starsky all the more concerned about Hutch's mental state.  He wondered how much longer he himself was going to tolerate not knowing why this had happened.

Hutch almost drifted off in mid chew.  Starsky grabbed the banana out of Hutch's hand and finished it off.  He then gave Hutch his pills.  He made sure he was comfortable, sitting somewhat vertical.  As night fell, he hoped Hutch would continue to get his rest.


Starsky was awakened by groans.  When his eyes opened, he saw that it was dark out.  He picked up his glow-in-the-dark watch on the stand between the beds, and saw that it was 2:10 in the morning.  He'd left the light on in the bathroom, so it wasn't completely dark. 

He'd been sleeping on top of the covers, dressed in sweats, and now went over to Hutch's bed.  "Hutch?"  He reached to the nightstand to turn on the lamp.

Hutch's eyes were partially open, and he was making small, pained movements of shifting.  Starsky reached to place a hand on his shoulder.  "What is it?  You need to piss?"

Hutch nodded.

"Okay.  Okay.  Listen, buddy boy, we're going to get you up and walk to the john."  He started pushing the covers back.  "All right?"

Hutch grunted disagreeably.

"Come on, Hutch.  It's time to get out of bed.  I know it hurts, but I'm going to help you."

It took a long time, just to get Hutch turned so that his legs were on the side of the bed.  He was gasping and groaning, and was starting to get irritated with the demands Starsky was making of his person, and Starsky considered that to be a healthy sign.

"Grab hold of me all you need to," Starsky directed as they prepared to stand.  "On three.  One.  Two.  Three."

He felt a moment of guilt, for Hutch cried out as he let Starsky hoist him to his feet.  His hands took a vice-like grip on Starsky's clothing. 

"Let's give you a sec," Starsky gasped, trying to steady Hutch without grabbing any part of him too tightly. 

Hutch was also gasping for breath, and making feeble noises, but stayed on his feet.

"You're doing great.  Now let's start moving, slow and easy.  Keep leaning on me."

It was very slow going, but Starsky felt validated that he hadn't pushed too hard when Hutch seemed to move slightly faster with each step, as though encouraged by his own progress.

As they reached the small bathroom, Starsky began to push Hutch's pajamas down his hips.  "We're gonna sit you on the can, so you can take all the time you need."

That, too, was a slow process, with Hutch groaning loudly, his arms wrapped around his torso, as he bent to sit down.

Starsky watched Hutch a moment, to make sure his position was stable, before turning to the bathtub.  "This place doesn't have a shower, so I'm going to run some bath water so we can get you washed up.  I think you'll feel a whole lot better then."  He turned on the faucet and watched brown water come out for a moment.  When it was clear, he put the stopper in place.  As he fussed with the water temperature, he was glad to hear brief urine streams hitting the toilet. 

When Starsky was satisfied with the water temperature, he stood and turned to Hutch, who was sitting hunched over.  Starsky squeezed his shoulder.  "I'm going to leave you alone for a few minutes, in case you're able to do a number two.  But if you start feeling dizzy or anything, you call me.  And let me know if the tub starts to overflow."  He stood back and waited.  Hutch blinked, but didn't look up. 

As Starsky worked at tidying up their dwelling, he wished that it didn't feel like he was talking to himself so much.  He hoped that, if he could get Hutch cleaned up and feeling more alive, Hutch would start participating in conversation.

There was one particular conversation Starsky was anxious to have -- even in the middle of the night.

When he heard the toilet flush, he felt another moment of triumph.  He grabbed a Tupperware bowl, and made his way back to the bathroom.  He shut off the tub faucet, and then knelt before Hutch.  He patted a bare knee.  "How about we brush your teeth before putting you in the tub?  I think you'll feel a whole lot better."

Hutch merely drew a breath, and then grunted.

Starsky clarified, "You can stay where you are."  He indicated the bowl.  "You can spit into this."

Since Hutch still wasn't being talkative, Starsky moved to the sink and opened up a second toothbrush Huggy had brought.  He put toothpaste on it, wet it down with a dribble of water, and then filled the glass he'd put on the sink.

"Here, Hutch," he said, standing beside him, and carefully lowering the toothbrush, while bringing up Hutch's hand to hold it.  "If you can't do the brushing, I'll do it."

Hutch grimaced as he took the toothbrush, and put it into his mouth.  He ran the it along his teeth, and had to periodically stop to gasp in pain, even though he was sitting fairly still.  Starsky kept the Tupperware handy.

Eventually, Starsky handed Hutch the glass of water, and Hutch drank awkwardly from his hunched-over position, and weakly spit out the water into the bowl Starsky held.

Starsky rose and put the bowl and glass in the sink.  He grabbed a hand towel and dabbed it along Hutch's lips.  Then he knelt before him.   He would have liked to run an electric razor over the peach fuzz on Hutch's face, but it was too bruised. "That feel better?"

Hutch managed a nod.

Starsky gently patted his knee, careful of bruises.  Hutch was looking more alert.  "Okay, buddy.  Now we've got to get you into the tub.  I know it's gonna hurt, but you'll feel so much better to get washed up.  So, let's get you on your feet for just a sec.  I'll take your clothes off first."

Starsky took care of unbuttoning the pajama top, until he could carefully remove it from Hutch's arm, then his torso, and finally the other arm.  He then took the ends of the bottoms and pulled them off of Hutch's legs.

He tossed them out to the easy chair in the living room.  Then he prompted Hutch to stand, which was accomplished with a renewed round of gasps and pain-filled groans.  Finally, he got Hutch to step into the tub, which thankfully had a rubber mat at the bottom, to discourage slipping. 

Hutch was exhausted by the time he was seated, and he kept his eyes closed for a while, gasping for breath, which he tried to keep short, so he wouldn't hurt further still. 

Starsky took a new washcloth that Huggy had purchased, and began going over Hutch's back with light strokes, and skipping over bruised areas completely, and instead letting the water cascade gently down Hutch's skin.  He went into the kitchen and got a pan, so he could pour water over Hutch's head, and then apply a little shampoo.

He was so intent on the bathing, that he was startled when a pair of fingers brushed across his arm.  Starsky sat back on his haunches and looked into Hutch's bruised face.  The blue eyes within black circles now looked brighter as they gazed it him.

"Thanks," Hutch whispered.

Starsky felt himself soften.  He assumed Hutch meant it as an blanket acknowledgment of all the effort Starsky had put in taking care of him these past days. 

Starsky managed a brief grin, realizing how full of emotion he was.  He put the washcloth aside.  "Think we've got you all cleaned up."

Hutch seemed to be trying to hold his gaze.  His throat muscles worked, and he said in a low, raspy voice, "Don't get revenge.  Please."

Starsky drew a deep breath and released it.  Firmly, he said, "I've trusted you about that so far, Hutch.  But you're going to have to give me a damn good reason why whoever did this to you shouldn't pay."

Hutch looked away.

There was some secret lurking there, obviously.  Starsky said more gently, "Let's get you ought of the tub and dried off, and dressed back in your pjs.  I think maybe we should sit you out in the easy chair.  It's pretty firm and has plenty of room for pillows.  Maybe I'll make some hot tea and... cheese and crackers?"  Hutch's gaze was still averted.  "And then you're going to tell me what happened.  And why."

Hutch closed his eyes a moment, and didn't reply.

After the hot bath, Hutch was moving a little easier.  Or at least making a point of not complaining as much. 

Still, it was some time before Starsky had him settled in the easy chair, where he was curled up with a quilt, and pillows placed about for extra support.  Starsky brought him a plate of crackers with cheese spread, plus hot tea.

After Hutch had eaten a few crackers and sipped the tea, he glanced about.  "What time is it?"

"About four in the morning."  Starsky was on the sofa, at an angle to the easy chair, and allowed his mouth corner to twitch.  "Perfect time for a hear-to-heart, buddy."  Then his voice firmed.  "So, let's get started."

Hutch's gaze was on the wall over Starsky's head.  "What day is it?"

Starsky had to do some calculating.  "Tuesday morning, I think."

In a quiet voice, gaze still on the wall, Hutch said, "Last Tuesday, you and I had figured out that Teddy Jones was one of the thugs in Rebecca's kidnapping."

Starsky nodded.  "Uh-huh."

"We parted ways to try to find people who knew Teddy.  I went to his last known employer, Ed Seaton." 

Seaton owned a furniture manufacturing plant.  He was suspected of numerous white collar crimes, but nothing had ever been able to stick.  They had interviewed him a time or two in the past, due to distant connections he had to other crimes.

Hutch was silent a long moment.  Then, "Time was so critical.  On the way over there, I was thinking about what I could use to get Seaton to reveal everything he knew about Teddy Jones."  Hutch drew a deep breath, and then swallowed painfully.  His eyes darted to Starsky.  "We know that he swings both ways. And I-I remembered that he likes blonds.  Obsessively."  His eyes moved away again.  "Once, when we needed him for information on that bribery case a few years back, he sort of tried to flirt with me, after you'd left to talk to another employee.  I just walked away.  Then."

Starsky drew a breath of his own, his stomach clenching.

"When I got past his thugs last week," Hutch went on, "I tried the usual threats of getting his manufacturing plant shut down because of health violations and things like that."  Pause.  "He wasn't falling for it.  Kept denying that he knew anything about where Teddy was.  I pleaded with him, that a little girl's life was at stake.  He said he'd help if he could, but he didn't know anything about Teddy's whereabouts."

Starsky waited, his heart beating faster.

Hutch swallowed, staring at the wall.  "I... I think, you know, that any guy is curious what it would be like.  At times."  His voice softened to a bare whisper.  "To do it with another guy."

Starsky remained silent, a concrete brick forming in his stomach.

"If he was lying about not knowing anything, I knew there was one thing I could offer to get him to tell me about Teddy."  After a long silence, Hutch said, "I said that I knew what he wanted from me.  And I'd give it to him, if his information was good."

Starsky fought down the anger that started brewing.    

Hutch continued to stare at the wall.  "He said he wanted me to show up at six o'clock on Thursday, without my mustache, because he didn't like it, and without my gun or my badge.  Spend the evening with him."  Hutch drew a shaky breath, and then swallowed.  "I agreed."

Damnit, Hutch....

"Turns out, he knew exactly where Teddy Jones was living."

Going to Teddy Jones' apartment is what led to locating where Jones and two others were keeping Rebecca Newson.  They had found her, safe and sound, Wednesday afternoon, and those responsible were in custody. 

How crucial Seaton's information had indeed been.  But at what cost?

Starsky realized he was staring at the floor as the nausea started to brew.  Seaton was a wealthy, sleazy, fiftyish business man, with a thin frame and dyed black hair, and a tiny black mustache.

After some time, Starsky realized that Hutch hadn't spoken for a while.  He glanced up to see Hutch still staring at the wall.  "Then what?" he prompted, as levelly as he could manage.

Hutch closed his eyes.  It was a long moment before he opened them.  "After we rescued Rebecca, and did the reports, and Dobey gave us the rest of the week off....  I had about twenty-four hours to think about the meeting with Seaton."  Hutch closed his eyes again, and rubbed his face against the back of the chair, as though seeking its comfort.

Starsky was tempted to go to Hutch.  Gather him up and hold him close while hearing the rest -- which couldn't be anything good, considering Hutch's condition.  Yet... why was Hutch beat up, if he gave Seaton what he wanted?

Starsky decided to maintain the small distance between them.  "And?" he asked, his voice grim. 

Hutch kept his eyes closed.  "I shaved off my mustache that morning.  But as the day wore on.... "  Hutch's voice was suddenly small.  "I decided I couldn't go through with it."

Starsky's mouth fell open, as he felt the brick in his stomach start to disintegrate. 

Hutch went on, "I knew I couldn't just not show up.  He'd have his goons hunt me down.  Make me pay for going back on my word."  Hutch swallowed, and grimaced as he moved his hand protectively over his stomach, and then opened his eyes to stare at the wall again.  "Just before the banks closed on Thursday, I pulled out everything I had in checking and savings.  It was about seven hundred dollars.  At least, I could pay him, to show that I didn't take it lightly that I was backing out of our deal.  But I knew it was unlikely that he'd let money pay for his injured pride.  I figured he'd want his goons to rough me up a bit, and I considered that an acceptable payback."

Starsky firmed his jaw, wanting to scream and yell at Hutch for arranging some kind of deal that Starsky wasn't a part of.  And then, worse, deciding to handle it without letting Starsky know the situation he was in. 

Starsky's anger came out in one sputtered sentence.  "He could have killed you!"

"No," Hutch gasped.  He tried to shift in the chair, and then groaned.  After a moment, he looked at Starsky and pleaded in a tight voice, "Give me some credit here, buddy.  Seaton isn't a murderer.  He's a prideful, arrogant, sleazy businessman.  But he's into white collar crime."  Hutch managed to shake his head.  "I knew he wasn't going to kill me."  His eyes darted to Starsky's.  "I wouldn't have done that to you."

Despite the soothing words, Starsky flippantly said, "So, getting the crap beat out of you was acceptable 'payment' -- on top of paying him seven hundred dollars?"

Hutch's gaze returned to the wall.  Wearily, he said, "I didn't think it would be so bad.  I went to his office at six on Thursday, unarmed and without my badge, just as a show of respect.  Told him I'd changed my mind, but that I thought seven hundred dollars should make us even.  Of course, it didn't.  He tried to persuade me to change my mind back.  When I wouldn't, he told his goons to 'show me the price for going back on my word'."  A long pause.  "They grabbed me and took me to another room.  I took a swing at them when I had the chance, but it was just for show.  I let them beat on me, and figured if I didn't fight back, they'd lose interest pretty quick."  Hutch swallowed.  "I was wrong.  When I realized they weren't going to let up, I started trying to defend myself, but it was too late, because I could barely move.  I just remember, finally, hearing them say, 'Let's dump him somewhere', and I knew it was over."

Breathing heavily, Starsky said, "You should have come to me, Hutch.  You should have told me what you had promised, and that you couldn't go through with it, and then we could have figured something out."

Quietly, Hutch said, "It was my deal.  I had my reasons for backing out, and I was willing to accept the consequences."  He met Starsky's eyes again, his voice strained.  "I'm not sorry I made the deal, because it saved Rebecca.  And I'm not sorry I backed out of it."

Starsky felt himself deflate at those sincere words.  But he demanded, "How did you go from feeling 'curious' to feeling that there's no way you could go through with it?"

Hutch grunted, but then his face contorted in pain.  He took a moment to recover his breath, while resting his cheek against the back of the chair.  His eyes sought the wall again, and he said, "There's only one man I'd ever want to experience that with."

Starsky's mouth fell open, as he held his breath.

Hutch continued, now sounding satisfied, "If it only happens in my fantasies, I'd rather leave it there -- pure and untouched -- than soil it with somebody I don't want."

Starsky's mind rapidly tried to leaf through any other possible candidates to explain Hutch's words, but couldn't find any.  Voice unsteady, he said, "Damnit, Hutch, if you want a prick up your behind because you're 'curious', I could have obliged you at any time."  He quickly stood, feeling a need to move, his hands on his hips.

Hutch looked up at him.  "After the what we found out about John Blaine, I knew I could never say anything to you.  The whole idea was too upsetting."

Starsky blinked, feeling he was in foreign territory, and wondering how he could not have known this about this man he was so close to.  "Are you saying you've been wanting me since... since...."

"Buddy," Hutch interrupted in a placating tone, "it's not that simple.  No, it's not like I've been lusting after you.  But...," he trailed off for a long moment.  Then, "I just... fantasize about it sometimes."  He lowered his gaze.  "I don't mind if it stays a fantasy."  Then, softer, "It stays perfect, that way."

Starsky had the uncomfortable feeling that he'd let Hutch down.  "Hutch, it's not like I'm such a prude that I'd, you know, be turned off or something.  Refuse to do it with you."  Then he boasted, "You get it interested, I'll put it anywhere you want it to go."  Starsky suddenly realized that he was making a big assumption.  Abruptly, he asked, "Which one of us is on top in your fantasies?"

Hutch's mouth corner twitched, as though he understood why Starsky needed to ask.  Quietly, he replied,  "I can imagine it either way.  But I get turned on a lot faster thinking about you... claiming me."

Claiming?  Starsky felt a shiver go up his spine.

He stood staring at Hutch, amazed that Hutch could talk about this so casually.

The blue eyes within black circles looked at him again.  "You don't need to fix this for me, buddy.  It's not like I require that from you, to feel happy.  Whole."  His voice firmed.  "I don't want you going after Seaton.  I'm the one who backed out of our deal.  I paid the price.  It's over.  Done with."

Starsky huffed, "Except, in addition to beating the crap out of you, he also has your seven hundred."

"Doesn't matter," Hutch whispered.  "Just let it alone, Starsk."

Hutch suddenly put his hand to his face, and then a released a powerful sneeze.  "Oh, God," he moaned, his face pinched closed, while his arms wrapped around his covered torso.  "Oh, dear God."

Starsky stepped closer, feeling completely helpless.  He brushed the back of his hand against Hutch's hair, which was still damp.  "Ah, Hutch."  He rested a knee on the wide arm of the chair.  "What can I do?"

It was a long moment before Hutch gathered his breath.  "You're doing it.  You're here."  He managed a hint of a smile.  "I knew, with what I was facing when I went to Seaton's on Thursday, that you'd take care of me afterward."

Starsky realized, "And you knew I'd be asking questions."

"I couldn't deal with that part of it, right then.  I just had to face the music with Seaton."  Then Hutch asked, "What does Dobey know?"

"He knows you've been brutally assaulted.  But, despite being semi-conscious at the hospital, you were so emphatic about the 'score' being settled, that I was able to convince him not to put anyone on finding out who was responsible, until I had a chance to talk to you.  I probably ought to drive into town today and see him.  There isn't a phone here."

"What are you going to tell him?"

Starsky furrowed his fingers through Hutch's hair.  "I'm going to tell him that it was a personal matter that's settled.  You don't want to press charges."  Grimly, Starsky said, "I don't want to press charges.  So, nothing would be gained by pursuing it.  Hopefully, he trusts us enough that he'll go for it."

Hutch gazed up at Starsky.  "You'll let this go?"

 "I'm not happy about it, but what choice do I have?" 

"Thanks," Hutch said in a whisper.  He rested his head tiredly against the back of the chair.  Then he asked, "How long are we going to stay here?"

"I wanted to make sure you were safe, Hutch, since I didn't know what had happened.  Not just from those responsible, but from the press, too, but hopefully the Rebecca case has died down by now.  I suppose we could return home."  Starsky shifted to rest his hip on the sofa arm.  "But when I talk to Dobey, I'm hoping he'll give us the rest of the week off.  You're going to need that long, anyway.  We've had some tough cases lately.  I was sort of hoping that maybe, when you feel well enough, we could get away for a few days.  Drive up the coast.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  To unwind."  He added softly, "Talk about things."

Hutch said, "You don't have -- "

"I know," Starsky cut him off.  "Maybe I want to."  He realized he might have turned a corner that he could never get back around, by saying that.  He thought back to the John Blaine case from a couple of years ago.  "With Johnny Blaine, it was so unexpected.  Him being the ideal family man, and all.  Meaning so much to me when I was young.  I didn't know how to deal with the idea that somebody so important to me, was actually so different from what I thought I knew of him."

Hutch gazed at Starsky.  "What about me?" he asked quietly.  "Do you feel that you don't know me?"

Starsky bristled at the thought, but then his mouth corner twitched.  "Ah, Hutch, I don't think there's really anything all that strange about having fantasies about us."  He shrugged.  "I have, too, but just as a passing thought.  You know, when a date would ask if we'd ever done it.  Stuff like that."  He brushed his hand along Hutch's forehead.  "I just never had a reason to think about it seriously."  He let his voice drop an octave.  "We mean so much to each other that, maybe it's like a natural next step."  He knew he wasn't given himself time to think this through, but he wanted to believe that introspection wasn't necessary.

Hutch gazed up at him, as though he'd just been given an unexpected gift.  After a long moment, he said, "Just don't want us to get a few weeks or months down the line, and you start feeling like you felt obligated to get involved in something you never wanted."

Starsky presented a gentle, scolding expression.  "Give me some credit.  I know who I love."  His hand dropped from Hutch's hair to his neck.  He massaged with a trio of fingertips.  "Who means so, so much to me."

Hutch closed his eyes, his expression one of contentment, which seemed so odd, in the midst of his injuries. 

Starsky added, "It's not like we have to worry about getting carried away, before we're ready.  There's no way I'm crawling on top of you, while you're hurting so much.  Besides," Starsky gently teased, "I'm going to need time to get over my insecurities about not owning up to your expectations.  Fantasies are one thing.  Reality...."

Hutch tried to shift, and the pain-filled grunts were back.  He managed to free an arm, and placed his hand on Starsky's leg.  "Reality is right here."  The hand gave a light pat.  "That's what's always meant the most."

Starsky felt warm inside.  "You're getting mushy," he accused with a smile.

Hutch drew a careful breath.  Seriously, he said, "I'm really hurting, buddy.  The hot bath was nice, but...."

"I'll get your pills.  Think you want to try sleeping in the chair for a few hours?"

"I know I don't want to try to get up, that's for sure."

Starsky went over to the nightstand and counted out pills from the prescription bottles.  He brought them over to Hutch with a glass of water, since he assumed the tea had cooled.

Starsky then turned his attention to washing dishes.  He was feeling very protective of Hutch, after his partner had revealed so much, and he wished there was some way he could curl up with him and hold him close.  Unfortunately, not only would that be physically painful for Hutch, but there wasn't any furniture in the house large enough to allow it.

He also considered the conversation he and Hutch had had, and wondered if he was able to appreciate the profundity of it, in terms of what it meant for them.  Hutch had had fantasies, but apparently only about his partner.  It sounded like he didn't have any prior experience trying the other side of the fence, since he'd emphasized there was only one person he wanted that from -- and was so intent on only getting it from that one person, that he was willing to get the crap beat out of him to keep the idea "pure".

Hutch had drifted into some semblance of sleep, when Starsky was ready for sleep of his own.  He'd turned off all the lights, except the bathroom.  It would be dawn within an hour. Though his twin bed beckoned, he decided to lie on the sofa, since it was much closer to Hutch.  He studied the sleeping form, imagining loving him.  The thought made him feel warm inside.  He did wonder if it would be closing a door to some fantasies of his own, about having a nuclear family with kids, a dog, and a picket fence.  He supposed that was one of the things they needed to talk about if they got away for a few days -- what they expected from each other, as far as other relationships.

For that matter, he wasn't entirely sure what Hutch was wanting from him.  He didn't know the details of his fantasies.   Did Hutch want it demanding or gentle?  Did he just want to go straight to the bottom line, or did he like the idea of lots of foreplay?  Did he want to be wined and dined first, or taken straight to bed?

As Starsky considered how to approach asking Hutch about those things, he drifted into sleep.


Starsky was awakened by pain-filled groans and cracked his eyes open. 

It was daylight -- maybe seven or eight in the morning.  Hutch was trying to get up from the easy chair.  He was managing, but movement obviously hurt profoundly. 

If Starsky helped, it would still hurt.  He considered whether to let Hutch achieve some independence.  Just as Hutch was finally making it to his feet, while hunched over with his arm protectively across his middle, Starsky asked, "Want some help?"

Hutch grunted and staggered away from the chair.  "It won't matter," he said tightly.

Starsky closed his eyes again, while listening to Hutch's efforts in the bathroom, where he hadn't bothered shutting the door. 

When he heard Hutch returning, Starsky opened his eyes.  "Does it still hurt to piss?"

"Not like it did.  Weird color though."

"Not as weird as it was at the hospital," Starsky told him.

Hutch gathered his breath as he stood awkwardly next to the chair.  "I'm going to try the bed."

Starsky threw his quilt aside.  "Okay.  I'll get the pillows."

He grabbed some and waited by the bed, as Hutch slowly lowered himself to the mattress, groaning.

This time, when Starsky tried to place pillows about, Hutch was able to help to some degree. 

Hutch lay on his side, facing Starsky, his eyes closing.

Starsky knelt next to the bed, feeling reluctant to move away.  He rested his chin on the edge of the mattress.

After a long moment, Hutch opened his eyes and reached out to Starsky, his hand brushing across his hair.  Softly, he said, "You took this all pretty calmly.  What I said."

Starsky gazed at those blue orbs, grateful that they appeared so much happier.  He decided, "There's nothing to object to about it.  Only that," he swallowed thickly, "I wish you would have told me what you planned to offer Seaton.  And then -- "

"There wasn't any time," Hutch said with gentle firmness.  "All that mattered, when I went to Seaton, was that he get us to Teddy Jones, so we could save Rebecca.  Whatever I could do to make that happen, I was going to do."

"Except, ultimately, you didn't.  Do what you said you were going to do."  Starsky gathered his courage.  "If it would have been somebody else -- somebody more attractive, more appealing -- do you think you would have gone through with it?"

"No," Hutch replied in a gruff whisper.  "I've tried, before, to fantasize about it, with somebody else."  He slowly shook his head.  "No matter what kind of face or body I try to imagine, it always turns into you."  His expression softened, and his thumb brushed along Starsky's cheek.  "This isn't about trying the other side of the fence, buddy.  What this whole thing has shown me, is that I don't really want it... unless it's with you.  And being with you is an idea I like very much."

Starsky gazed at Hutch, trying to sort through his own feelings.  Amazement and pride was emerging strongest.  "You're the bravest man I know."

Hutch snorted, and then winced.  But he said, "Or one of the most cowardly, depending on how one chooses to look at it."

Starsky straightened and picked up Hutch's hand.  He brushed his fingers along it, and then intertwined their digits.  "I'm glad that, you know, we're sort of forced to take it slow.  Then we can both know that we went in with our eyes wide open."

Hutch stroke Starsky's cheek again, and then closed his eyes.

Starsky rose and bent over Hutch, brushing his finger along his bare upper lip.  "You going to grow back the cookie duster?"

Hutch's eyes opened.  "I'm not sure.  What would you prefer?"

"It doesn't particularly matter."  Starsky then realized, "I guess, in a way, I prefer you without it.  But if being without it makes you think of shaving it off, for him...."

Hutch sighed and closed his eyes.  "We'll see."

Starsky squeezed Hutch's hand, and then moved to his own bed.


It was md morning when Starsky had washed up, dressed, and now leaned down to Hutch, who was still curled in bed.  Thankfully, Hutch looked more comfortable than he had recently.  "Hey."

Hutch's eyes fluttered open.

Starsky smiled at him.  "I'm gonna drive into town.  See Dobey.  If he gives us more time off, I'll stop at our places and get some more clothes and stuff.  Water the plants.  Then I'll come back here, and we can leave whenever you feel well enough."

Hutch gazed up at him.  Carefully, he asked, "Has anything changed since we last talked?"

Starsky reached to brush a thumb along the side of Hutch's nose.  "Don't you go doubting me.  I wouldn't do that to you."  It made him feel more secure, that Hutch had such insecurities.  He wanted to have the opportunity to reassure and show how worthy of he was of Hutch, in this way.

Hutch's expression softened.

Starsky asked, "You gonna be okay by yourself?"

"Yeah."  Hutch lowered his gaze for a moment, and then said, "Try not to be gone too long."

Starsky nodded, then glanced toward the kitchen table.  "There's a deck of cards, if you manage to get up."  He thought about offering to bring them to Hutch, but decided he'd prefer that Hutch make the effort to move around.

There was nothing more to say, but Starsky was reluctant to move away, as they looked at each other.  He then acted on instinct and lowered his head.  Purposely, he bypassed Hutch's lips, and planted his own lips on the broad forehead.  "See you later."

He abruptly turned away.


As Starsky drove, he wondered if he had any idea of the consequences of what they had put into play.

His love for Hutch was steadfast and unshakable, and not something he needed to contemplate.

But the physical aspect....

No, that wasn't right.  The physical was something they relished in their relationship.

It was the idea of the sexual that was new.

Sort of.

They had always flirted with each other to some extent, hadn't they?  Because it was fun, and it was easy, due their absolute trust in one another's intentions.  To say nothing of their security in their own heterosexuality. 

Starsky squirmed in his seat while stopped at a light.  What would going down this new path mean for them?

Our private lives are private, he decided. 

I wonder if Ed Seaton knew Hutch was a virgin.  It sounded like he didn't, the way Hutch told it.  He apparently assumed Hutch might be interested, since he'd come on to him in the past.

Of course, if a guy was going to come on to another guy, Hutch would be an obvious target.

He's just so damn good-looking.

And yet, Starsky realized as he pressed the accelerator, the good-looking Hutch wanted him

Only him.

Hutch had been willing to take a severe beating, to make sure that Starsky was the only one allowed to penetrate his body in any way.

Starsky swallowed down lump in his throat.  I want to be so worthy of you, buddy boy.

Starsky wondered what it would be like between them, when the moment came.

He then realized he didn't want to fantasize about it.  Hutch already had fantasies.

Starsky wanted to play them out.


"This is damned irregular."  Dobey sat back with a sigh.

"Look," Starsky said, "this didn't happen to Hutch because he was a cop.  It's strictly a personal matter, and he doesn't want it pursued.  He'll never want to press charges, so there's no point in trying to make a case of it.  That'll save the Department lots of money, time, and effort."

"You'd better not be saving the perpetrator for a personal vendetta."

"I've got a lot more important things on my mind," Starsky insisted.  "Like helping Hutch get better.  He needs time.  I'm asking that you give both of us the rest of the week off.  He can barely even get around by himself."

Dobey's jaw hardened.  "If I hear of you -- either of you -- going after somebody for this...."

Starsky leaned forward to emphasize his words.  "It's over and done with.  That's the way Hutch wants it, and so that's the way I want to play it, too."

"All right," Dobey said unhappily.  "I'll close the case."  He picked up a pen and jabbed it Starsky.  "You just make damn sure I'm not sorry for this later."

Starsky nodded.  "No problem."  Then, as Dobey relaxed, he pressed, "What about the rest of the week off?"

Dobey waved a hand.  "All right.  Go ahead.  You're no good to me, anyway, when you're worried about him."


Starsky was gone longer than he'd intended, so it was with relief that he finally drove up the lane to the little white house at the edge of the woods.

He decided to leave everything in the trunk for now, and walked up the steps.  He opened the door to find Hutch sitting at the kitchen table with a solitaire game laid out, looking bored.  Starsky still wasn't used to seeing him without the mustache.  "The case is closed and we have the rest of the week off."

Hutch looked up and nodded.

"I got clothes and stuff in the trunk.  But since it's already going on three, I figure we may as well get an early start tomorrow.  That is, if you're up to it."

Hutch shrugged.  "It hurts sitting in bed, or sitting in a chair, or sitting in a car.  What's the difference?"

Starsky tilted his head.  "Sounds like somebody's in a droll mood.  But at least you got out of bed."

Hutch tossed a card aside.  "I want to go outside.  Like a walk or something."

"Sounds like a good idea.  I just don't know how far we'll get until we run into a neighbor.  We're not exactly out in the wilderness."

Hutch braced a hand against the table, and started to stand.  "Just want some fresh air."

As Starsky moved to assist, and put his arm around Hutch, he wondered how it would feel touching him now.

It didn't feel different, but maybe it would later.

He wasn't sure if he wanted it to be different, or not.

There was a trail in the woods, at the back of the house, and they started along it, moving very slowly.  When they came near a large boulder, Hutch said, "Let's rest."  He started to sit down.

Starsky helped him, until Hutch was seated securely on the hard stone.  Then he straightened, with his hands in the back pocket of his jeans, and looked around.  "Hopefully, when my uncle gets around to fixing the house up, he won't have any trouble selling it."

"It's weird having the beds in the front room.  I wonder what that's about."

 "Maybe the last people to stay here were brothers or something, huh?  Maybe they spent most of their time away, so they didn't need many comforts of home.  Or maybe it was just a getaway type of place."  Starsky was still taking in the view from all directions -- he could hear the two-lane highway nearby -- and realized Hutch had fallen silent. 

When he looked at Hutch, Hutch was gazing at him.

Starsky tried a reassuring smile.  "I'm the same person, pal."

Hutch's eyes lowered.  "I hope you aren't doing this just for me."

Starsky said, "Of course, it's just for you.  Getting you away safe.  Trying to nurse you through all your hurts."  He knew Hutch didn't mean that.  So, his voice softened as he knelt before him.  "As for the rest of it, I'm gonna get pissed off if you try to over-think this."

Hutch's eyes darted to his, but he otherwise didn't react.

Starsky placed a hand on the nearest knee.  "You ever think that other people are doing all kinds of things behind closed doors that nobody else ever knows about?"

"You're rationalizing."

"Well, I'd like to think that if this all hadn't happened now -- and I wish it hadn't, for your sake -- eventually something was going to be said by one of us."

Hutch tilted his head.  "I thought you said you hadn't really thought about it, except as a passing thought."

Starsky considered that.  "You know, I'm thinking that maybe the reason I never thought in terms of wanting you is because, for a long time now, I've felt like I've already had you."

Hutch blinked, his expression softening.

"We've always come back to each other, Hutch.  No matter what else has ever gone on with us, and whoever else either of us might get involved with, it's always you and I that end up being together.  Taking care of each other."

Hutch swallowed, his gaze lowered.

Starsky went on quietly, "Maybe you were the braver one, because you weren't afraid of imagining what form of expression you wanted from all that unity we've had."

Hutch reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers along Starsky's cheek.

Starsky closed his eyes a moment.  Then he reached up and clasped Hutch's hand, bringing it down.  He opened those fingers, and then traced a slow pattern along the palm.  "It's kind of nice to think, after all these years, that there's still some things we have left to discover about each other.  To share with each other."  He looked up.

Hutch's eyes had grown moist.

Starsky rose to his feet.  "Ah, you big, mushy blondie."  He traced Hutch's dry lips with a finger.  Maybe they should try it....

He stepped closer and leaned slowly down, licking his lips, making his intentions clear.

Hutch's breath quickened as he tilted his head up.

Starsky laid his hand on Hutch's cheek while completing the downward motion.

As contact was made, he pressed gently... hesitantly....

Hutch murmured a noise

Starsky was feeling fuzzy all over.  Warm and alive and....

He pulled back, smiling.  "I hope it was as good for me as it was for you."

Hutch released a breath.  "That's certainly an incentive to recover."

"Is it as good as your fantasies?"

"Better."  But Hutch sounded hesitant.  After a moment, he admitted, "We really don't kiss much in my fantasies."

"Now I'm really curious."

Hutch looked away.  "Big omission on my part," he said simply.  He started to shift, and then seemed to think better of it.  "Buddy?"

Starsky waited.

"I don't want us to be different.  You know, than we've been."


"You already seem different.  Like... like... we're dating or something.  Like you're trying to be careful and say the right things."

Starsky wanted to protest that he didn't know what Hutch meant.  Then he admitted, "I want to be worthy of you."  His throat felt tight.

Hutch's eyelashes fluttered, as he tilted his head.  "Moron.  I'm crazy about you.  The last thing you should be worried about is proving something to me."

Starsky grinned, feeling lighter.  "All right, then."  He stood.  "Come on, let's head back.  I'll beat the pants of you at checkers."


They ended up playing on the coffee table, with Hutch reclined on the sofa, so he could use pillows to help offset various aches and pains. 

Starsky sat cross-legged on the floor, opposite the sofa, and they had the coffee table shoved close to Hutch, so he wouldn't have to reach far to move pieces.

Starsky felt he was winning, and eased his concentration away from the game.  "You think you'll feel ready to leave tomorrow, early?"

Hutch moved a piece on the board.  "More ready than you, I bet."

"I'm for getting up early enough to beat rush hour traffic."  Starsky paused.  "'Sides, I'm probably going to be restless tonight, imaging you and I sleeping together in the very near future."  He nodded over his shoulder.  "Too bad those beds are so small."

Hutch's eyes were on the board.  "It would probably hurt too much, anyway, to have you jostling the mattress."

"Well, I hope that, by the time we stop at a hotel tomorrow night, you'll being able to tolerate me being near you, in a bed."

Hutch drew a quiet breath.  "You might be the one uncomfortable, since we're not going to be able to do anything."  When he looked up, his expression appeared a tad challenging.

Starsky shrugged.  "Just want to hold you close.  Haven't been able to since...."  He lowered his eyes to the board.

Hutch was silent, his own eyes on the board.

Starsky moved a piece.  "You know, if you'd been wanting to talk to me about this, you sure could have chosen a less painful way to get my attention."

Hutch looked up and muttered, "It was for Rebecca."

"I know," Starsky relented softly.  "But I'd have to think, for you to come up with the idea of offering yourself, that some part of you was wanting something to happen.  Some how, some way."

Hutch's eyes were back on the board.  "Maybe someday I'll feel like analyzing it."

Starsky was wanting to say something about how much it meant that Hutch had saved himself for him, in a manner of speaking.  But he didn't know how to, without sounding corny or overly mushy.

Hutch pushed the board away.  "I yield."  He rested his cheek against the sofa cushion.  "Guess I'm ready for some dinner, and then bed.  What do we have around here?"

Starsky rose to his feet.  "There's some canned ravioli stuff, if you want something heated up."


As he'd predicted, Starsky didn't sleep well, and he was ready to get out of bed by four AM.  While Hutch took a very long time going through some semblance of morning ablutions, Starsky got the car packed.  They were going to leave a lot of stuff behind, but they could clear out the house at a later time. 

They were ready to leave by six, and Starsky brought along an armful of pillows to the car, so they could help support the areas where Hutch felt his aches and pains most strongly.  

Once they were on the road, Starsky made an exit onto a highway that would take them northeast.  He asked, "How about we go to Yosemite National Park, and then maybe on to Lake Tahoe?"

Hutch managed a shrug.  "Fine.  Whatever."


After being on the road a couple of hours, with the sun having risen, Starsky reached over and squeezed Hutch's knee.  "You doin' okay?" 

"Things are feeling pretty stiff," Hutch said.  He'd been dozing most of the morning, which wasn't very comfortable in the Torino.

"Yeah, we need to stop for gas soon, maybe find a place for some breakfast."

They did just that a few minutes later.  It was an ordeal getting Hutch out of the car and on his feet, and then to the men's room.  There was a diner next to the gas station, and they slowly made their way toward it, Starsky doing his best to support Hutch. 

Despite the physical difficulty, Starsky was heartened that Hutch was a lot more mentally alert than he had been since the beating.  They were able to keep up a conversation during breakfast, though Hutch's bruised face and painful movements did get some odd looks from the employees and other patrons.  At one point, a young child, near the cashier, pointed and exclaimed, "Look at that man!"  His mother quickly scolded him.

Starsky watched the mother escort her son outside the restaurant.  He looked back at Hutch, prepared to say something reassuring.

Hutch was putting jelly on his toast, and appeared relaxed and nonchalant.

A truth hit Starsky right then:  Hutch wasn't the least bit embarrassed about having had the crap beat out of him.

His bruises and pain were battle scars.  Only, in his case, there hadn't been a battle, since Hutch hadn't fought back.

Instead, the pain and bruises were badges.  Worn proudly.  Protectors of chastity.  A testament to the depth of Hutch's love. 

Starsky muttered, "Goin' to the john."  He quickly left the booth, his eyes watering.


They drove all day, and Starsky felt that Hutch was at least enjoying the beautiful scenery, as his expression had softened as he watched out the window, between interludes of dozing.

Starsky felt he'd reached his limit for being able to drive alertly by late afternoon.  They drove past the main Yosemite Park area and proceeded to lodgings that were farther away and less expensive.  In the morning, he'd see if Hutch wanted to spend time at Yosemite or continue on to Lake Tahoe.

It took some searching and various stops, but Starsky finally found an inn that had an available room with a king-sized bed on the first floor, so Hutch wouldn't have to deal with stairs. 

Starsky got Hutch settled onto the bed, supported by pillows, while he took care of moving their belongings out of the car.  Then he slumped across the foot of the bed and fell asleep for over an hour.  He was awakened by his growling stomach.

Hutch bypassed Starsky's suggestion of room service, which Starsky considered a positive sign that Hutch was willing to leave the premises in search of dinner.


It was dark when the arrived back at their room.  Starsky helped Hutch through a shower, and then getting dressed in fresh underclothes.  He spent a while getting him settled under the covers after Hutch took his painkillers.  When they were both satisfied, Hutch was sitting up against the headboard, near the center of the bed.

Starsky then took his turn in preparing for sleep, though sleep wasn't on his mind. 

He closed all the curtains, and turned out all the lights, except the small lamp over the bed.  He carefully got on the mattress, beneath the covers, and slid over to Hutch.

He turned off the overhead lamp, so the room was completely dark.

Softly, Starsky said, "Let's see how close we can come to me holding you.  Okay?"

"You're going to have to do all the moving."

"I know, baby.  Stay right where you are."

Starsky grabbed some pillows that hadn't been used, and put one between his and Hutch's sides.  He used another to prop his upper body closer to Hutch, and he slipped his arm around Hutch's shoulders.  "Okay?"

"Yeah," Hutch said in a pleased voice.

Starsky inched closer.  "Any chance of you putting your head on my shoulder?"

He felt Hutch trying to shift.  There was a grunt, and Hutch reached behind him to move a pillow, and then he tentatively put his head against Starsky's shoulder.

Starsky ran his fingers through Hutch's hair.  "Think you can relax against me, or does it hurt?"

"Doesn't hurt any more than anything else." 


After a few moments, Starsky felt Hutch's weight grow heavier against his shoulder.

With the arm that was around Hutch, Starsky massaged into his shoulder.  "Let me know if anything I do hurts."

"Don't worry," Hutch replied with a hint of amusement.

Starsky grinned, but let silence reign for an extended moment. 

Then he whispered, "Hutch?  It's completely dark, and it's just you and me here.  I was wondering if you might be willing to tell me a little bit about what you've fantasized about us.  Just so I sort of know how you imagine it."  He quickly added, "Only if you want to."

There was a loud swallow before Hutch said, "I've imagined it lots of different ways, buddy."

"Do you have a favorite scenario?"

Starsky could feel Hutch starting to shift, and then abandon the attempt.

"Only if you want to," Starsky reminded in a whisper.  He placed a hand against Hutch's upper chest.

Hutch wet his lips, but then hesitated.

"It's okay," Starsky assured.  He knew he was asking for something exceedingly personal and private, even by the standards of their unusually close partnership.

"I guess," Hutch began, "the most common variation is, like, we've had a really tiring day, and we're at my apartment.  And you're puttering around, having a beer or whatever, and I just want to stretch out and go to bed.  So, I underdress down to my briefs, and collapse, face-down on the bed.  You come in and say something about a massage, and I'm like, 'Sure, great.'  So, I start dozing off and you're rubbing along my back, and it feels really good."

Hutch swallowed.  "And then, you start rubbing at my rear.  And it's like a normal part of the massage.  Except, over time, I realize that your hands are moving really slow, and you've pulled my briefs down.  I'm sort of puzzled, because you've never done anything like that before.  And I'm getting really hard.  But I'm not sure if I should say anything, or even why I should say anything.  You know what you want, and I can't see any reason to tell you to stop, so...."

Starsky rubbed a thumb along Hutch's chest, encouraging him to continue.

"I'm still sort of dozing off, and when I become more alert, I realize that you've taken off my underwear.  I'm so hard that I start undulating against the bed, and I'm wondering what you're thinking.  Whatever you're thinking, I want you to know that I'm okay about it, so I don't try to hide how turned on I am.  And yet... yet... I keep my eyes closed.  Because part of the thrill is not being sure what you're going to do.  And then, all of a sudden, you're no longer touching me.  And I'm really worried and disappointed, but I keep my eyes closed and don't say anything.

"And then, I hear the snap of your jeans.  Hear your fly.  You're undressing.  And I'm thinking -- hoping -- you have a huge hard-on, but I'm afraid if I turn to look, it'll spoil everything.  So I... wait.  And I can hear you breathing.  I know you want me and that...that," Hutch's voice was suddenly choked, "means everything."

Starsky lightly rubbed his hand along Hutch's chest, his heart beating with compassion.

"And then, I can hear you coming to the side of the bed, where the nightstand is.  You open the top drawer, where I keep, you know, supplies.  You take something and go back around to the end of the bed.  I'm hoping it's lubricant, because there's a tube there.  But I don't open my eyes.  And I think I can hear you applying it to yourself...."  Hutch drew a breath.

Starsky waited a long moment, and then gently asked, "You can't tell me the rest?"

There was a quiet snort.  "I've usually come by the point, buddy.  I usually don't ever get to the main event.  You know?"

Starsky tilted his head to kiss Hutch's hair.  "I'm glad you told me."  He waited a while longer, and then prompted, "Do you want to tell me another one?"

Hutch swallowed loudly.

Starsky sensed that there was something heavy or unusual about whatever Hutch was thinking, since he was hesitant, even after what he'd just revealed.

"It's just us here," Starsky reminded.  "Me, you, and the dark.  It's safe."

Hutch took a breath.  Then he said, "We're at my place.  But we're tense with each other.  Like, maybe we had a close call that day, or something.  I keep thinking you're going to leave, because I don't know why you'd want to hang around when we're irritated with each other.  But I'm glad you aren't leaving.  I'm like, trying to peel potatoes or something, for dinner.  Every time I see you through the corner of my eye, you're staring at me.  Really intense.  I'm wishing that whatever it is you want to say, you'll just say it.  Clear the air. "

Hutch swallowed again.

Starsky waited.

"So, finally, I yell at you.  'Just say it.  Tell me what you're thinking.'  You've still got that real intense look on your face.  Your eyes are almost wild-like.  And you say," Hutch drew a heavy breath, " 'get undressed.'  Like an order.  And I'm stunned.  Part of me is thinking I couldn't have heard you right.  And another part of me knows exactly what's going to happen, and a shiver goes up my spine, because I want it so bad.  And yet another part is rationalizing that what's going to happen is because it needs to happen, as a release valve.  It's just a physical expression of what's going on inside you.  It doesn't mean anything special."

Starsky's heart beat faster.

"I look at you like you're crazy.  But I know that you know that I'm going to do exactly what you want.  And I know you're not going to say it again.  So, I put the potatoes down, and turn to face you fully.  And I undress.  And I'm all hard, and I'm hoping it means something to you that I want it.  And you're eyes are like, taking me all in, though you still seem angry and intense.  And then you say, 'On your knees.'"

Starsky reached down and squeezed his groin through his underwear.

"I do.  Part of me is wondering why I don't just say no.  But I do it.  Because I want to, and I'm glad it's what you expect of me.  You've still got that wild, intense look on your face.  And you're breathing really hard.  And I'm quivering.  You step closer to me, so your groin is right in front of me.  And then, real fast, you jerk your snap apart and just as you start to unzip, your cock springs forth, forcing your fly down."

Starsky reached inside his underwear, and stroked his firm length.

Hutch made a noise of regret, and started to move his hand. 

"No, don't," Starsky gasped, pushing his underwear down to free his erection.  "Don't touch me until we can do it together.  Just keep making love to me verbally.  Keep going."

He stroked himself, as Hutch said, "I hardly even notice how huge you are, because I'm so eager to get my mouth on it, that I gobble it down.  And suck.  I feel like I'm in heaven.  I know I shouldn't want it so bad.  But I do.  And I know that you know it."

Starsky stroked himself more firmly.

"And then you step back, and you say, 'Stop.  It's got another job to do.  Stand up.'  I stand up.  You say, 'Turn around'.  I turn around, shivering.  You say, 'Put your hands against the wall.  Bend over'.  I do.  Without hesitation."

Starsky worked himself faster, listening to his own harsh breath.  He suddenly pulled his arm from Hutch's shoulders, and pushed his t-shirt up and out of the way.

"And then you step closer, and I'm expecting to feel your huge, hot cock rip me open.  But instead, you touch the side of my ass with your fingertips.  So tender, like a caress."  Hutch drew a heavy breath.  "And then I know.  This isn't about physical need.  You wouldn't have touched anyone else like that.  You want me."

Starsky cried out as release overtook him.

He let himself fall into the abyss of sensation, and then spent a long moment catching his breath.

As he slowly returned to awareness, he felt Hutch trying to kiss his shoulder through his t-shirt.

Starsky released a deep breath.  "Ah, man, Hutch.  That was somethin'."  More importantly, he realized peripherally, he had a better understanding of what Hutch wanted from him, sexually.

Hutch said in a light voice, "That's usually the part in the fantasy when I come, too."

Starsky turned his head to look at him in the darkness.  "You never reach the point of us actually fucking?"

"Sometimes.  But I have to sort of start there, to last that long."

Starsky shifted slightly to turn toward him.  He put his hand against Hutch's chest.  "Before long, my love, you won't have to fantasize it." 

Hutch reached up and squeezed his hand.

Starsky became aware of the cooling moisture on his belly.  He pulled his shirt down over it, and then patted the clothing against himself.  He yawned loudly.  "I'm definitely ready for some shuteye now.  But first," he said tenderly, "how about a goodnight kiss?"

"Mm," Hutch murmured.

Starsky turned and straightened.  He brushed his thumb along Hutch's lip, making sure he knew exactly where it was.  And then he lowered his head, and planted his lips against those so-soft ones.  "Mmmm."

When he pulled back, Hutch drew an airy breath.

Starsky assured, "We're gonna be so good together, Hutch."

"We're already good together."

"And only gonna get better."  Starsky asked, "You want to try to lie flat?  And then maybe I can spoon myself around you?"

In answer, Hutch slowly started to gather himself.

Eventually, they worked it out.  Starsky fell asleep, curled around Hutch.

When Starsky stood before the two muscular goons -- the men that hurt Hutch -- he slowly reached into his holster and pulled out his gun, offering the handle.  Then he took his badge from his jeans pocket, and placed the leather on top of the pistol.  "David Starsky, here to see Ed Seaton.  I'm a friend of Ken Hutchinson."

"I heard him," came through the open office door at the back of the room.  "Show him in."

Ed Seaton, with his greasy, thin hair, parted on one side, blew smoke into the air, as he sat back on his elaborate chair.  "How can I help you, Mr. Starsky?'

Starsky stepped close to Seaton's desk, not caring that the two goons had posted themselves inside the office.  "You have something that doesn't belong to you."

Seaton stubbed out the cigarette in an ashtray.  "What would that be?"

"Seven hundred dollars."

Seaton gazed at Starsky a moment, and then grinned with a snort.  "I don't know what you're talking about."

Starsky shook his head.  "You don't get to go to the well twice, Seaton.  You made Hutch pay," Starsky jerked a thumb over his shoulder, "via your two-bit goons.  You don't get the money, too."

Another snort.  "He offered it.  As a way of trying to weasel out keeping his end of a bargain for some extremely important information."  Seaton's eyes narrowed.  "You cops ought to know better than to not keep your word.  How would you ever get any information from anybody?"  More slowly, he stated, "Isn't seven hundred dollars worth that little girl's life?"

Starsky didn't let his expression change.  "You extracted payment twice.  You can't take back what your goons did, but you're returning the seven hundred."

Seaton's mouth corner twisted into an ugly smile.  "Or what?"

Starsky put his hands on the desk and leaned closer.  "Or else you'll never be able to spend another minute of what remains of your life, free from looking over your shoulder."

The goons both stepped closer.

"And there's nothing these two fucks-offs will be able to do to spare your pathetic hide.  Or give you peace of mind."

Seaton swallowed, and then sat back.  "I can be a reasonable man.  We'll split the seven hundred."  He took out a key and turned toward a safe at the back of the office.

"Uh-uh," Starsky said.  "The full seven hundred.  Nothing less."

Seaton's voice hardened. "It was actually six hundred and eighty."

That was probably true, Starsky thought, since Hutch had mentioned the money as being "about seven hundred", but he didn't want to give an inch to Seaton at this point.  "Seven hundred."

Seaton hesitated, and then reached to open the safe.  He counted out some bills, and then turned to throw them on his desk.  "Get the fuck out of my office and out of my life."

Starsky gathered up the money.  Holding it in one hand, he held out the other, shaking his finger.  "Let me tell you one thing, Seaton.  You better be kissing the ground every goddamn day, that Hutch was willing to leave this alone.  Because otherwise, there ain't no hole in this town big enough for you or your two goons to crawl in, that would have protected you from my retaliation."

Starsky held the frightened man's gaze a moment longer, and then abruptly turned.  He grabbed his gun and badge from a file cabinet, and brushed past the two goons on his way to the door. 


Starsky waited until they were at Hutch's apartment that evening.  Hutch was doing much better, and had started back at work two days ago.  Though Hutch had expressed plenty of willingness to please Starsky in the bedroom, Starsky hadn't been interested in pursuing anything until he knew Hutch was recovered enough and had the painkillers out of his system.

It wouldn't be long now, and then Starsky could put into motion some fantasies of his own he'd been thinking about, thanks to Hutch's detailed revelations about what excited him most.

As they sat on opposite ends of the sofa, sipping beer with their feet intermingled on the cushion, Hutch said, "I guess I'll have to ask Dobey to sign a request for a payroll advance. Otherwise, I don't know how I'm going to be able to pay rent this month."

Quietly, Starsky said, "You don't have to do that, Hutch."

Hutch gazed at him a moment.  "I don't really want a loan from you, buddy.  I'm not sure that I want this new part of our relationship to start out that way."

Starsky smiled.  "You don't need a loan, Hutch."  He straightened to reach into his back pocket and pull out his wallet.  He counted out the bills, and then tossed them to Hutch.  "Seven hundred dollars.  All yours."  Feeling enormously pleased with himself, Starsky returned the wallet to his pocket. 

Hutch's mouth fell open as he reached to gather the money.  "From Seaton?"


"What did you do?" Hutch asked worriedly.

"Told him I wanted it back.  Don't worry, Hutch.  His motherfucking goons were right there in the room.  He knew he had no right to that money, after what those jackasses did to you.  You took your lumps and paid with a whole lotta pain.  There was no reason to pay with money, too."

Hutch closed his eyes, his face softening.  "I love you."

Starsky teased, "You're telling me that with your eyes closed?"

Hutch's expression was amused when his eyes opened.  Then he said, "I want to show you.  So much."

Starsky was abruptly off the sofa.  He leaned over Hutch, kissing him gently on the lips.  "Me, too.  Let's give it a few more days, partner."  More seriously, Starsky said, "Then I can be firm with you, and take what I want."

Hutch looked away, his breath heavy.

Starsky brushed his fingertips along Hutch's lips.  "I'm gonna go, so there's no chance of anything happening prematurely."  He could see the disappointment forming on Hutch's face, and resolved to make it up to him in the very near future.  Starsky leaned close again.  "I love you so very, very, very much."  He kissed Hutch.  For a long time.

Hutch groaned when they parted.

Starsky squeezed his arm.  "I know, baby.  But everything in its proper time, and we got work tomorrow.  Maybe this weekend...."  He let the thought trail off.  He leaned down a final time.  "I'll be thinking about you and missing you tonight."  He kissed Hutch again, and then straightened.

Hutch took Starsky's hand and brushed it along the side of his face. 

Then Hutch let go.

Starsky turned and left with a smile.




Comments to regmoore@earthlink.net or post here

Background on This Story



Main Menu Starsky & Hutch Menu Story Menu