(c) June 2011 by Charlotte Frost


Starsky kept glancing at Hutch as he steered the Torino through traffic on the way to work. His partner had a far-away distracted expression, a little smile having settled at the corner of his mouth.

Nothing that had happened since he picked his partner up this morning could account for that smile.

"Who was she?" Starsky finally asked. Whoever she was, she hadn't stayed the night, because Hutch was alone this morning when Starsky picked him up.

"Hmm?" Hutch glanced at him. Then he waved a hand. "Nobody. I didn't have a date last night. Why?"

Starsky braked at a red light. "Why?" he asked in disbelief. "Because you've been wearing a stupid little smile on your face ever since I picked you up this morning."

Hutch shrugged dismissively.

Starsky studied him, knowing how he could get a rise. "I guess it must be because you find my personality so charming in the mornings." He grinned as he pressed the accelerator, the light having turned green. "Being in my company makes you happy."

Hutch looked at him sideways with a long-suffering expression.

Starsky chuckled. "No?"

Hutch had his arm out the window and tapped the frame of the car. "Not hardly." But he was still smiling.

"Okay then, what?"

Hutch was silent.

Starsky resorted to whining. "That's not fair. If you're really happy about something, I have a right to expect you to share it with me."

Hutch chuckled softly, while tilting his head bashfully. "You won't believe it, so it doesn't matter."

Starsky was all the more intrigued. "Okay, I won't believe it. Tell me anyway."

Hutch bit his lower lip, obviously considering whether to tell or not.

Starsky glanced at traffic, and then moved to the right lane. "Come on, Hutch, tell me. Otherwise, I'll be bugging you all day, and you'll end up telling me anyway. So, why don't you save us both the trouble?"

Hutch sighed quietly. He shifted in his seat, and then said, "Okay. But I don't want to hear that you don't believe me."

"Promise," Starsky vowed.

"I had this dream." Hutch's grin widened, which intrigued Starsky all the more. He had to make an effort to keep glancing out the windshield to maneuver through traffic.

Hutch asked, "You know, how in small towns, they usually have a big water tank with the town's name on the side?"

Starsky tried to blink away his confusion at the question. "Yeah?"

"Well, in this dream, I lived in a small town like that. And the water tower," Hutch laughed softly, and then said, "you won't believe it."

"Tell me!" Starsky insisted, exchanging his attention between the road and Hutch. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Hutch this amused.

"Well, instead of one of those dome-shaped water towers, up on stilts, this particular town that I lived in had a water tower shaped like a huge, erect cock, towering into the sky."

Starsky burst out laughing. "W-What?" He had to brake in a hurry, because a car turned in front of him.

"Yeah, I'm serious," Hutch laughed. "The water tower was in the shape of a cock. But better yet... it was my cock."

"Huh?" Starsky asked on a high note. "Whaddya mean it was your cock?" And then he laughed again.

Hutch was laughing too. "I just somehow knew that it was sculpted after my cock. Like I'd won a contest or something. The dream wasn't that detailed, but I felt kind of smug about it, looking at the water tower, because I knew it represented my cock."

Starsky almost doubled over laughing. He abruptly turned into the lot of gas station and put the Torino in park. Then he wrapped his arm around his stomach and laughed some more. "You've got to be kidding me!" he said when he could speak.

"I swear," Hutch said, raising a hand. "That was the dream I had last night."

Starsky wiped at his eyes. "Oh, man, Hutch. So, then what happened?"

Hutch shrugged. "Nothing. It was a short dream. I was just walking down the sidewalk of this small town, the sculpture of my cock reaching in the sky in the distance, and feeling really good about it, you know. And as people passed me on the sidewalk, I liked knowing that they knew that it was my cock the water tower was an effigy of."

Starsky couldn't believe it. This was too hilarious. And Hutch was too amused for it not to be true. "So, it was like this pale, well-cut hard thing shooting sixty feet or whatever into the sky?"

Hutch nodded, laughing.

"Did it have a hole at the top for the... uh, water... to shoot out of?" Starsky was still laughing.

"I don't know," Hutch admitted.

"Did it, like, have some sort of balls at the base?"

Hutch shook his head, chuckling. "I couldn't see the base, because it was in the distance. I don't think so."

Starsky took a deep breath, grinning widely. "Ah, man, partner. That's rich. That's incredible." A thought struck and he laughed again. "Did it have the town's name on it?"

Hutched laughed more, too. "I think. I can sort of remember black writing on the side, near the top, but I don't remember what it said. I don't know what the name of the town was."

Starsky was exhausted, but he still laughed some more, and then rubbed at his eyes. "Wow. That's my partner, the big blond stud with the sixty foot cock." He finally was able to draw a calming breath. "So, that's why you're in such a good mood this morning?"

Hutch shrugged. "Well, yeah, what a great thing to have one's cock be chosen to represent the town." He chuckled again. "Not your everyday dream."

"So," Starsky began delicately, "did you wake up all horny?"

"No, it wasn't like a wet dream or anything. It wasn't arousing. Just... nice."

"Ah, man," Starsky sighed as he shifted into drive. "I can't imagine ever forgetting this. Man, Hutch. I wonder what Freud would say." He turned back onto the street.

"Probably that I have a healthy pride in my cock," Hutch replied smugly.

Starsky couldn't get the image out of his mind. Apparently, Hutch couldn't either, because anytime they looked at each other while at their desks, they started chuckling.

They eventually made an effort to avoid looking at each other and just focus on the files for the cases they were currently working.

"Starsky! Hutchinson!" Bellowed from Dobey's partially open door.

Starsky exhaled a heavy breath. Obviously, their superior was too lazy to get up from his chair to summon them in a normal tone.

They entered Dobey's office. "Yes, Captain?" Hutch said.

Their superior held out a file. "Here, take this. It has information on where Johanson's body was found. You need to take a road trip and check it out."

Starsky took the file and opened it wide enough so Hutch could also see it. After a moment of reading, he said, "This is out near Liddington." To the best of his recollection, that was a rural town. "What's that, west of here?"

Dobey nodded. "About fifty miles. You'll know when you're approaching because of the water tower."

A grin lit the side of Starsky's face. "Water tower?" He felt Hutch's interest, beside him.

"Yeah," Dobey said. "It's easy to see because it dominates the whole town. The area there is flat. So, you'll know you're getting close when you see the water tower."

"Hmm," Starsky couldn't resist musing, "a nice big, sixty foot erect structure to welcome us."

"Sixty feet?" Dobey said with puzzlement. "Water towers are usually around a hundred and thirty feet high. My uncle used to help build them."

Hutch was shifting restlessly from foot to foot.

Starsky didn't dare look up at Hutch. But he couldn't help but share his thoughts. "Wow. A hundred and thirty feet. That's... that's quite impressive." He barely glanced toward Hutch. "Even more impressive than I could have imagined."

Though they weren't touching, Starsky could sense Hutch shaking beside him with repressed laughter.

Dobey was looking up at them both. "What's the matter with you two? All morning, I've heard you giggling out there like two school girls."

"Nothing, Captain," they muttered in unison.

Dobey waved a hand. "Then get going. It's going to be a two-hour round trip."

It was so nice to make the 50-mile drive with such a content partner. For a while, they stopped chuckling about water towers, and dropped into their usual banter about inane things. But Hutch was grinning the entire time.

When the sign said they had ten miles left before reaching Liddington, Starsky said, "Maybe you're psychic, Hutch."


"Well, I mean, how ironic is it that you had a dream about a water tower last night, and now we're on assignment to look out for a water tower."

Hutch laughed softly. "Nah, it's got to be coincidence. I don't think Liddington's water tower is going to look anything like the water tower in my dream."

Starsky laughed too. "You never know."

"I think that would be illegal," Hutch said. Then, with mock seriousness, "Besides, the townspeople wouldn't have any reason to know what my cock looks like."

Starsky shook his head, laughing more.

Then it came into view. A towering water storage tank, but actually the tank itself was rather small, as it set upon the huge stilts. "That's rather disappointing," Starsky admitted.

Hutch merely grunted.

They spent less than an hour there, perusing the site where the body was found and talking to witnesses.

Three days later, Hutch was driving his Ford LTD to Starsky's apartment to pick him up. They'd left the Torino in the lot of a tire store the prior evening, since it was due to have all four tires replaced today.

Hutch had gotten an earlier start than usual, so he knew it was unlikely that Starsky would be ready when he arrived. He'd go up to the apartment and mosey around, and b.s. with his partner while Starsky got ready for work. It would get the day off to a good start, even if the b.s.ing was bickering. They were good at bickering, and it was comfortable, like a favorite old t-shirt, or the affection that an old married couple felt for each other.

Upon reaching the landing, Hutch knocked once and then let himself in.

He stopped and slowly closed the door behind him, as he tried to take in the sight before him.

Starsky was standing near the kitchen, facing the door. He was in pajamas, the top hanging open. His expression was one of distress, his eyes bloodshot, his arms clamped against his body, as though to hug himself.

Hutch stepped forward. "Buddy?"

Starsky drew a shaky breath and met Hutch's eyes. "My mama died this morning."

"W-What?" Hutch asked in disbelief, closing the gap between them. No, no, no. He was full of questions, but priority one was opening his arms.

He grabbed Starsky in a desperate hug, clasping the other to him, and felt relief when Starsky put his arms around him and held on. "What the hell happened?" Hutch asked as he rubbed Starsky's back. Starsky's chin was hooked over his shoulder, and Hutch pressed the back of his head, holding him there. "You were just talking to her last week."

Starsky turned his head to rest his cheek against Hutch's shoulder. "Heart attack," he choked out. He clutched at Hutch's jacket.

Hutch closed his eyes. "I'm so, so, so sorry." He began a gentle rocking motion, while rubbing large circle's against his partner's back. "Ah, buddy." He couldn't even begin to imagine how much this hurt. He'd not yet lost a parent. Starsky had now lost both.

Starsky choked out a couple of sobs and Hutch thought his heart would break.

"I'm so sorry," he said, still stroking Starsky's back.

Starsky made a move to pull back and Hutch let him, but held onto Starsky's arm to guide him the few steps to the sofa. Starsky collapsed on the cushion, learning against the arm rest.

Hutch said down next to Starsky, facing him. "When did it happen?" he asked tenderly, brushing his hand back through Starsky's hair.

"A few hours ago," Starsky managed, staring into space.

Why didn't you call me? Hutch wanted to ask, but he could imagine Starsky was trying to absorb the shock, and plus he'd known Hutch was coming over, anyway.

"I don't really know many details," Starsky went on, not looking at him. "Nicky called a little while ago and said they'd taken her to the hospital around midnight, and she had just passed, after they'd worked on her a few hours." He sniffed. "He was really freaked out."

I can imagine, Hutch thought. The highly immature Nick was probably seeking stability and a sense of direction from his older brother.

Hutch clasped one of Starsky's hands. "Who else knows?"

Starsky sniffed again. "My Aunt Rosie and Uncle Al are making arrangements for us all to fly back to New York. I'll be heading over to their house in a little bit."

Hutch squeezed his hand. "Ah, partner." Then, "I'll let Dobey know what's going on."

Starsky closed his eyes a moment. When they opened he said sadly, "She loved me so much, Hutch." Finally, he turned to look at Hutch, and then his eyes filled.

"I know," Hutch whispered. He leaned down to rest his head against Starsky's. He placed his other hand on Starsky's bare stomach. "She was a special lady," he said. "I wish I would have met her more than that one time she visited." He had liked Starsky's mother very much, and loved the way she had fussed over him, as though she had considered Hutch an adopted son.

"You always think there's gonna be more time," Starsky sniffed.

Hutch rubbed his cheek against Starsky's hair, and let his hand continue to rest on his partner's stomach. He felt he could feel so many things at that point of anatomy -- the tension, the grief, the desire to be comforted when it was impossible to feel such.

He raised his head when Starsky dropped his own head back against the sofa, gazing at the ceiling.

Hutch hated seeing the red, swollen eyes. He rubbed gently across Starsky's belly.

Starsky closed his eyes and reached to squeeze Hutch's arm. After a moment, he said, "Not sure how long I'll be gone."

"Take all the time you need. I'll handle things back here."

Starsky's expression appeared contemplative. "I think Ron Porter is going to break the liquor store murder wide open," he said, breathing calmly with his eyes closed. "You need backup when you go to arrest him."

"I have to find him first," Hutch said.

"You will."

The phone rang from the kitchen.

Hutch shifted away.

Starsky quickly padded to the kitchen where the wall phone was, and then lifted the receiver. "Hello?" he said in a subdued voice.

Hutch went over to him.

"Seven-thirty tonight? Okay..... Yeah, that makes sense. I'll need to get packed and stuff....." Starsky's hands fiddled with the phone cord. "Yeah, well... I'll be over in an hour or two." Then, firmly, "My partner is here." The latter was stated in a tone of, "I'll be all right."

Hutch placed a hand on Starsky's shoulder and squeezed.

"You're calling Nicky?" Starsky said into the phone. "Okay, great..... Uh, do you have someone to give us a ride to the airport? Because I'm sure Hutch can..... Oh, okay. That's fine." There was a long pause while listening, and then Starsky softly said, "I'll be over in a bit. Bye." He hung up. Then he said, "The flight is at 7:30 tonight. The neighbor will take us to the airport. They didn't get a return flight, since we aren't sure when we're coming back." He swallowed thickly.

Hutch couldn't help himself. He wrapped his arms around Starsky again and pulled him close. "I'd give anything for you to not be going through this." He squeezed mightily.

Starsky's head rested against Hutch's shoulder. "Keep tellin' myself that this is natural, you know, losing a parent. But," his voice choked, "it just feels so devastating."

Hutch murmured against the curly hair, "There's no way you can be prepared for something like this."

"Need to pack," Starsky said. But he made no move to separate.

After a moment, Hutch relaxed the embrace, and rested his chin on top of Starsky's head. "You going to spend all day, then, with your aunt and uncle?"

"Yeah. They're hit pretty hard, too." One hand grabbed Hutch by the jacket and squeezed. Then, after a moment, "Hey, uh, will you drive my car, so it's not sitting in one place while I'm gone?"

Hutch didn't have the heart to say no. "Sure. Do you need me to drop you off at your aunt and uncle's, then?" It was forty minutes away.

"You'll be late for work."

Hutch squeezed one more time and then released Starsky. "Doesn't matter. I'll call Dobey and let him know what's going on. Why don't you start packing and I'll give him a call." Hutch reached for the phone while Starsky moved away.

It was difficult making it through the day, because Hutch's mind kept being pulled back to the thought of Starsky, and his aunt and uncle, all huddled together with their grief. And not being able to leave for New York until tonight.

It was difficult, too, not knowing exactly when he could expect his partner back. Working solo was never fun. It made him feel unbalanced.

Before the day was over, Starsky called him and, in the quiet voice of the grieving, told Hutch that the funeral arrangements had been made, and the service would be on a Friday, three days hence. He also went through their current cases with Hutch, as though desperately needing something else to focus on.

The next morning, Hutch ordered an expensive floral arrangement to be sent to the funeral home.

Hutch didn't hear from Starsky again until Friday evening, when he was at his apartment.

"Thanks for the flowers," Starsky said softly.

Hutch was lying on his bed, still dressed. "Sure," he replied with matching softness. "How was the service?"

"It was fine." Starsky seemed hesitant. "I'm not sure when I can get back."

Hutch furrowed his brow, but said, "Take all the time you need." Then, when silence stretched, save for voices in the background, he gently asked, "Everything okay, partner?"

"Yeah, it's just...," Starsky's voice grew quieter, "... there's just stuff to take care, and...." he trailed off for a long moment. "Some of the stuff is kind of hard to settle."

Hutch wasn't liking the sound of this. "You mean, as in who gets to have the china?"

"Sort of," Starsky said distractedly.

That seemed weird. Hutch hadn't considered Starsky's family to be one that would argue about such things; but then, he was only familiar with a few relatives. He ventured, "You can't talk right now?"

"Not really."

Hutch longed for a private conversation. "If you get a chance, maybe you can get to a pay phone? Call me collect, okay?"

Starsky snorted, as though he appreciated the effort Hutch was making. "Might have to be the middle of the night or somethin'."

"That's okay," Hutch rushed to assure. It was bad enough to be without his partner, but all the worse that Starsky was sounding uncharacteristically glum. He'd seen his partner through tragedies before, and usually Starsky would make an effort to rally. He was a man who preferred to be cheerful and upbeat whenever possible.

Abruptly, Starsky asked, "So, what's happening at the salt mines?"

They spent a few minutes talking about their cases. Then Starsky said, in the same low voice as when he'd first called, "Some other relatives are wanting to make some calls, so I need to get off the phone."

Hutch swallowed. "Take care of yourself, buddy, okay?"

"Yeah, sure."

And then the line went dead.

Hutch lay there a moment, telling himself there was no point in worrying about what was going on in New York when there wasn't anything he could do about it.

Absently, he scratched at his groin through his jeans, wishing he'd changed into more comfortable sweats. When he scratched again, he realized he'd been doing that quite a bit lately, whenever he didn't think anyone was looking.

He made a point of taking his hand away and sighed.

The next day, as Hutch stood in the bathroom with a sack of his drugstore purchases, he carefully lowered his jeans and underwear. Damn. The rash was fully visible now. And it was tormenting him. He hadn't had a case of jock itch since he was a teenager, and he didn't think it had been this bad. Grimacing, he reached in the sack from the drugstore and pulled out a tube of ointment. He applied it liberally.

It was the following night -- or early hours of the morning, actually -- that the ringing phone disrupted Hutch's sleep. His first thought was Oh, no, who died? and then his sleep-laden brain remembered that Starsky's mother had died, and this might be the man himself.

Hutch got up on an elbow and eagerly reached for the phone. "Hello?" The clock said it was 2:10 AM.

A formal voice said, "I have a collect call from David Starsky. Will you accept the charges?"


"You sleepin', Hutch?" The voice was still quiet and subdued.

"Yeah, that's okay," Hutch assured quickly. He sat up and rested back against the headboard. "What's going on, partner?"

"Just the usual crap. You know, situations like this bring out the best and the worst in people."

Then why don't you come home? Hutch wondered. He asked, "How much longer, do you think?"

"I think I need to stay a couple of more days. So water the plants and stuff."

"Yeah, sure."

"It's like," Starsky said, "I really don't want to be a part of all this, but I do think I have a bit of stabilizing influence over the family." He drew a heavy breath. "She loved me a whole lot and I'll always carry that with me. I don't need any of her things."

Hutch didn't like how depressed Starsky sounded. He made an effort to change his partner's tone and became more cheerful himself. "I took my car in for a tune-up, since I'm driving your circus wagon. Earl says it's going to cost a fortune this time." He waited.

Starsky said. "Mm."

Hutch closed his eyes, sorry that giving Starsky an opportunity to bad-mouth his car hadn't worked at getting a rise out of him.

Starsky tried though. "So, you have any hot dates while I've been gone?"

"Not hardly," Hutch replied. He rubbed at his groin. "I'm out of commission, partner."


Hutch realized that this was a subject that might get his partner out of his funk. "I've got friggin' jock itch. The rash is really bad."

Starsky's subdued tone didn't change. "Are you doing something for it?"

Hutch had wanted Starsky to tease him, not express concern. "Yeah, you know, I've been using a cream."

"Is it helping?"

"Too early to tell yet."

"Maybe you need to see a doctor, if it's really bad."

"Let's hope not." Hutch shifted in the bed. "Itches like crazy. I have to keep trying to find privacy, so I can scratch. And apply more cream."

"Scratching will just make it worse."

"No shit."

"Well, I guess," Starsky said, his voice still low, "it's a good thing I'm here and you're there. Otherwise, it would drive me nuts to see you squirming in your seat all day long."

"You're going to have to live with it, anyway, because I doubt it'll be cleared up by the time you come back."

"Well, it had better be getting better," Starsky said firmly, "or you're going to see a doctor."

Hutch didn't want to have this serious conversation. He wanted to hear Starsky laugh. He remembered, a week or so ago, when Starsky had laughed so freely when Hutch had told him about his water tower dream.

Starsky said, "I'll let you know as soon as I've got a flight scheduled."

"Hey, buddy? When your plane is flying over the countryside, and you're looking out the window... look for water towers."

Long silence. And then Starsky chuckled softly.

Hutch felt his heart flip over. He added, "Notice the shapes."

Another chuckle.

Hutch closed his eyes, savoring the sound.

Starsky seemed to hesitate a moment. Then he said, "I love you, Hutch."

Hutch felt his heart beat faster. "Yeah, well, keep that in mind when I'm squirming all over the place, after you get back." He boldly added, "I'll need lots of love and patience."

"And a doctor."

Hutch growled.

Starsky said, "Maybe God is punishing you for having that water tower dream. You know, you were getting too smug and full of yourself about your privates."

Hutch grinned. "God also gave me the dream, so I'd have to think He approves of me being really proud of my cock."

Starsky laughed, a heartfelt, free sound.

Hutch now grimaced. "Just can't do anything with it for a while."

Starsky sighed, but it was a happier sound. "I think this conversation has deteriorated, Hutchinson. It seems we're spending an awful lot of time talking about your private areas."

"We can talk about yours," Hutch offered.

A grunt sounded through line. "Nothing happening with them while I'm out here."

"No childhood sweethearts to romance, huh?"

"Nah. One is married and another weighs about two hundred pounds."

"Then," Hutch said more seriously, "that's all the more reason for you to return home."

"How are you doing?" Starsky asked abruptly. "Besides the jock itch."

Hutch shrugged. "Feeling a little lopsided, pal."

"Yeah. Me too."

"I think Huggy is lopsided, too. He doesn't like it when one of us is away. Messes with his head."

There was silence for an extended moment. Then a quiet, "I'll let you know as soon as I have a flight arranged."


"Goodnight, Hutch."

The next day, Hutch stopped by Starsky's apartment on his way to interview a witness. He'd first stopped to pick up a barrage of magazines, and after dutifully watering Starsky's plants, and leaving his mail and newspapers in a neat pile on the coffee table, Hutch sat down and began leafing through the colorful magazines. Any photograph he could find with a water tower in it, he marked the page. It had been so uplifting to hear Starsky laugh last night, that he wanted to give his partner every opportunity. He intended to leave little reminders around his apartment, for Starsky to unexpectedly find at various times.

After half an hour, he had a few photos of water towers. Now to cut them out. Hutch went in search of scissors. Where would his partner keep a pair of scissors?

He went to a small desk in the living room and opened the drawer. It was stuffed with paper, writing devices, a dead spider, and who knew what else. Hutch opened up smaller drawers and didn't find scissors. He went back to the main drawer and pulled it out, dumping the contents to the floor. He sat down next to the mess of paper and other items. No scissors. Hutch began to gather the papers, with the intent to put them neatly back in the drawer.

Some were letters, and he felt a stab of pain as he realized the return address on the envelopes were that of Starsky's mother. There were larger papers, and as Hutch flipped them over to look at them, he saw that some were clippings of articles, some old enough to have yellowed around the edges.

One article had a sentenced underlined. The sentence said, "Statistics indicate that one in five males have had a homosexual experience at some point in their lives."

Hutch furrowed his brow and skimmed through the article. It was about homosexuality versus mere sexual experimentation. He leafed through the other articles, finding similar subject matter.

Why would Starsky have these? Could it possibly be research for a case? If so, why we would he have kept them? And what case would that have been?

As he started moving the papers into the drawer, Hutch then saw a photograph. He picked it up. It was one he'd seen before. An adolescent Starsky with John Blaine. He remembered when, at the Blaine's residence after John's death, Starsky had told him, "He was real proud of me."

Hutch continued to put the articles neatly back into the drawer, his heart heavy. Starsky had been trying so hard to understand his mentor. Why he was what he was.

But then Hutch came across the underlined sentence again. Statistics indicate that one in five males have had a homosexual experience. Why was that underlined? Having a homosexual experience definitely didn't mean one was necessarily a homosexual, per the various articles. Heck, Hutch himself remembered when. as a twelve-year-old, the fourteen-year-old Ted Parker had taken Hutch's hand and put it down the front of his pants. Hutch was scared to have felt the firm flesh. And excited. "Grip it," Ted had demanded. Hutch had, and then was relieved when, a few doors down, he heard his mother calling him for dinner. He had made a point of never being alone in Ted's presence after that. Though a part of him occasionally wished that circumstances would have prompted such. And then he would have found out what more could have happened.

Now, he supposed that incident qualified as his life's singular homosexual experience.

Hutch put the drawer back in the desk. In the entire set of articles, there had been only that one sentence underlined.

Did Starsky have a homosexual experience once? And perhaps he was trying to comfort himself with the fact that it was normal?

Was it possible that the experience could have been with John Blaine? The thought twisted Hutch's stomach -- the idea of the older Blaine taking advantage of a worshipful youngster. But he also seriously doubted it. Starsky surely would have mentioned something when he had talked to Hutch about his feelings during the Blaine case.

Hutch stood and took a deep breath, getting his equilibrium. The fact was, he didn't know why the articles were in Starsky's apartment or what they meant. It was silly, and even potentially harmful, to make assumptions, especially when he was unlikely to ever know the reason for them.

He decided to return to the task at hand. He found a pair of scissors in the kitchen and moved back to his magazines. He painstakingly cut out the various photographs he found with water towers in them, often eliminating the surrounding subject matter, so that only the water tower remained. In the back of his mind, he wondered that, if Starsky did indeed have some insecurities about past events that may have happened in his life, if what Hutch was now doing would actually upset him.

But Hutch couldn't believe that. Starsky had loved hearing about Hutch's dream about the water tower. It was the only thing that had made him laugh last night. What a beautiful sound that had been in the midst of his partner's sadness.

Now Hutch was going to give Starsky more reasons to laugh, even though it was unlikely that he would be here to witness them.

He placed one picture in the silverware drawer. He placed another in the jar that held an array of pens and pencils near the phone. He went into the bedroom and folded a picture and placed it in the pocket of a shirt. Then he pulled open a drawer with jeans, and tucked another picture deep in the pocket.

There was one picture left. Hutch moved around to Starsky's bookcase. The Playboy collection was in disarray, with some magazines stacked sloppily, as though they'd been browsed through multiple times. Hutch looked through nearby books, noting that they had similar sexual themes. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex and Were Afraid to Ask was one. Hutch pulled out a book that was thick enough to have lots of pictures. He browsed through it, and felt himself twitch at the explicit, full color photographs. It was in English but had been published in Switzerland. There were chapters of different positions for various types of activities. Hutch's turning of the pages slowed as he studied the provocative photographs. This one was titled "Analingus". He felt the sweat break out on his back as he studied the erotic images, which displayed different positions and all genders. When he turned the next page, the book suddenly bent down in his hand, as though the binding had been most worn at that point. More tongue action was represented.

Hutch wondered if Starsky would notice if he borrowed this book and took it home with him. Lord knows, he was going to be stuck with making his own self happy for the next two weeks or so, until his rash cleared. These types of pictures would fuel his fantasies to an extreme degree. He was already aroused.

But he didn't feel right about it. Hutch placed the book back on the shelf. He picked up another book, holding it by the spine, curious about where it would fall open. The binding was so worn that it almost broke apart, and Hutch had to bring up his other hand to steady it.

It was a chapter on homosexuality, in a book about taboos regarding various sexual activities.

Are you okay, buddy? Hutch wondered. Was this more research concerning John Blaine? If so, did that mean Starsky hadn't touched this particular chapter in three years' time?

Hutch skimmed the paragraphs, which talked about how a heavily bonded male friendship shouldn't be assumed to be an indication of homosexuality.

Hutch furrowed his brow. Is this about... us? Is he needing reassurance about us?

He again cautioned himself to not assume too much. He had brought this on himself, by getting into Starsky's personal things. Not that they each hadn't always welcomed the other fully into their lives, but this was a bit too much like sneaking around behind his partner's back, and his unanswered questions were his punishment.

Hutch drew a breath and reminded himself why he was here. He had one more picture of a water tower to put somewhere, so Starsky would find it and smile at their joint amusement of the sheer ridiculousness of a dream-like water tower being shaped like a beautiful, perfectly erect cock. His cock.

He wondered if Starsky would eventually reach the point of wanting to one-up him. Maybe declare that he had a dream of his own cock being a 200-foot nuclear submarine.

Funny, how Starsky had been so content to enjoy and take satisfaction in Hutch's dream-state prowess, just as Hutch had.

What to do with this final photograph?

Hutch held the open book in one hand, the photograph in the other. He found his hand with the photograph moving to place it inside the book. He closed the book over the photograph and placed it back on the shelf.

If Starsky hadn't looked at the book in a long time, and wouldn't any time soon, then he'd never find that photograph, so no harm done. But if he did find it in the near future, and noticed between which pages the photograph had been placed... well, that might make for an interesting conversation. And then Starsky could share with Hutch whatever it was that was troubling his heart about the subject.

Satisfied with his activities the past hour, Hutch gathered up his magazines and left the apartment.

Finally, two days later, he was at the airport in early afternoon to pick up Starsky. His partner's aunt and uncle were still staying in New York a while longer.

Starsky emerged into the terminal with a grim expression and wearing sunglasses.

Hutch held out his arm, and Starsky moved into it, putting his own arm around Hutch. They held each other loosely as they walked through the airport.

"How was your flight?" Hutch asked after a moment.

"Long," Starsky replied.

Hutch knew that there had been a two-hour layover in Denver.

Since his partner didn't seem very talkative, Hutch waited until they approached the Torino in the parking lot. Then he turned to Starsky and reached to remove the sunglasses from his face.

Red, puffy eyes gazed back at him.

"Ah, buddy," Hutch said softly, his heart twisting. He bowed his head, while squeezing Starsky's shoulder.

Starsky took a steadying breath. "There's been so much stuff to take care of," he said in a choked tone. "And it just hit me, while we were in the air, that she's never coming back." He swallowed thickly. "She's really gone, Hutch."

And so only now, after all the details were behind him, was Starsky actually starting to grieve.

Hutch gently replaced Starsky's sunglasses over his eyes. "Want me to drive?"


They got into the Torino and drove out of the airport. Hutch had been so eager to get his partner back, but it was apparent that it was going to be a while before things returned to normal. He reached over and briefly squeezed Starsky's arm.

After a moment, Starsky asked, "How's the rash?"

Hutch snorted. "Better when I'm not reminded of it."

Starsky didn't apologize. "Is it getting any better?"

"No worse."

After a few moments, Hutch asked, "What do you want to do, partner? Want to go home?"

"Actually, I think I'd like to go into work. I've had too much time to be with my own thoughts when I was on the plane."

"Okay," Hutch said.

Hours later, Hutch was at his own apartment when the phone rang. He had been dropped off by Starsky, who had assured him that he didn't require company as he settled into a life without having a mother.

"Yeah?" Hutch answered.

Starsky's voice was amused. "You have a really weird obsession with water towers, Hutchinson."

Hutch laughed softly. Starsky had found a picture. Just one? Or more than one? He didn't want to ask, because that would clue his partner in that there were more to be found.

Hutch shrugged. "What can I say? They make me smile." He decided not to point out the obvious: They make you smile, too. That was the important part.

"Weird place for a picture. In with the silverware."

Starsky had only found the one. Hutch shrugged. "So, I'm a little weird."

Starsky made a tsk, tsk noise against his teeth. "I'm sittin' here, trying to have a major grieving fest, and I stumble across a phallic water tower."

Hutch played with the cord of the phone. "Well," he teased, "I suppose it's in the eye of the beholder whether it's phallic or not."

"Right," Starsky said doubtfully.

Hutch's voice softened. "You okay, buddy?"

"I am now."

Hutch closed his eyes. His plan had worked. Putting stupid pictures in his buddy's apartment had made a huge difference in his partner's mood.

"See you tomorrow," Starsky said quietly. He hung up, and Hutch kept the phone to his ear for a few moments longer, listening to the dial tone.

Starsky was returning more to his cheerful self with each passing day. He couldn't handle being down for very long. It felt way too unnatural.

As they drove along the street in mid-morning, Hutch gestured up ahead. "Pull in here, will ya?"

Starsky did as asked. It was a gas station. "What for?"

Hutch popped open the glove compartment and pulled out a tube of cream. "I gotta, uh...."

Starsky sighed as Hutch got out of the car and walked briskly to the men's room. The wriggling, scratching, and moaning hadn't been too bad, but still it was noticeable. And it didn't seem that Hutch was getting better. Starsky turned off the ignition.

Hutch returned a few minutes later and got back in the car.

"Hutch, you have to see a doctor."

"No, I don't. I'm not dropping my pants in front of some stranger when it isn't necessary."

"It's not getting any better! You need something stronger than the over the counter stuff."

Hutch placed the tube in the glove compartment. "Come on, let's go."

"Hutch, look. You can go see my doctor. He's the grandfatherly type. You won't be embarrassed, I promise. And he'll give you some stronger stuff that will take care of it, and you'll wonder why you suffered so long."

"Let's go, Starsky."

Starsky didn't budge. "What about me?" he pleaded. "That condition is contagious. The more we hang out together, the greater the chances that I could pick it up from you. And let me tell you, partner, that's a gift I can do without."

"It's not like I've been using your towels," Hutch muttered.

Starsky didn't reply. He simply waited.

"All right, all right," Hutch said finally, not looking at him. "Make me an appointment with your doctor and I'll go in."

Starsky patted Hutch's knee. "That's my reasonable buddy."

Three days later, Hutch was in an exam room, wearing a white paper gown, while Starsky sat in the waiting room.

"All done here," the doctor said, straightening. "You can go ahead and get dressed. I'll look at this under a microscope and make sure it's what we think it is." He held a slide where he'd taken a small scraping from the inside of Hutch's thigh. "I'll be back in a few minutes." He exited the room.

Hutch let out a breath as he stepped into his underwear. This really hadn't been that bad. And Starsky was right -- he'd liked the soothing seniority of the physician, and it really hadn't bothered him that much to have his groin area looked at closely by the older man.

After he finished dressing, Hutch sat down in a chair. He began looking through the magazines and picked up a popular title. Amongst the selection of contents listed on the cover was Homosexuality in the 1980s. Hutch blinked. He knew that Starsky subscribed to this particular magazine. Would he go right to that article? Was homosexuality a topic that he still had an interest in? Or had it waned long ago?

It bothered him that he didn't know the answer.

He picked up the magazine and turned to the article. It was mostly a lot of boring statistics. He skipped to the conclusion, which said that, thanks to the open sexuality of the 70s, homosexuality was likely to be a lot more accepted in the 80s. There was sure to be more homosexuals willing to come out of the closet.

When the doctor returned he said, "Yep, it's good ol' jock itch." He handed Hutch a slip of paper. "You'll need to get this prescription filled for a topical cream. It needs to be applied one to two times a day. There's possible side effects of burning and itching. If it gets too bad, we'll have to switch to an oral form of treatment."

Hutch stood. "Thanks, Doc. How soon before it should clear up?"

"A couple of weeks. Even when the rash goes away, you should keep using the cream another week to be sure."

Hutch released a heavy breath. "No sooner then, huh?"

"Probably not, unfortunately."

"When will I know that it's no longer contagious?"

"Generally, when the rash has completely gone away. But again, I would give it an extra week just to be certain."

Hutch nodded, not liking that he'd already suffered from this condition for over two weeks, and now he was going to have to deal with it for another few weeks.

The physician gave his shoulder a brief squeeze. "I know it takes patience, but once it's over, it's over." He handed Hutch another piece of paper. "Here's a sheet with recommendations on how to avoid jock itch in the future."

Hutch nodded thanks, though he felt he already knew the basics on the subject. For some reason, he'd been unlucky, or just happened to come into contact with the fungus somehow.

"Be sure and call me if you have any questions later."

"Thank you, Doctor." Hutch exited the room.

He stopped briefly at the receptionist, but she said, "You're all done here. We'll file the insurance claim with the city workers' union."

When Hutch turned to the waiting room area, Starsky gave him a smile and put down the magazine he held. Hutch got just enough of a glimpse to see that it was the same magazine that had been in the exam room. He wondered what article Starsky had been reading.

They exited together, and Starsky asked, "So, what did he say?"

"Nothing surprising. Yes, it's jock itch. More cream, but a stronger kind than what I'd been using. Still going to probably be two weeks of treatment. And another week after that, just to be sure." Hutch released a heavy breath as they emerged into the sunshine.

Starsky patted his back. "At least you've got a battle plan now. So, did you like old Dr. Greenburg?"

"Yeah, he was okay."

"I say we get lunch at Huggy's. Do you need to stop somewhere and get a prescription?"


They picked up the prescription and, after arriving at The Pits, Hutch excused himself to the men's room and applied the first helping of the ointment. He couldn't wait for his life to get back to normal, so he didn't have to keep finding privacy -- to both scratch and to keep applying soothing cream.

When Huggy served their burgers, Starsky nodded at an attractive woman who had taken a place at the bar. "Who's that?"

Huggy looked over, and then replied, "A secretary from downtown who stops in on occasion."

"Mmm," Starsky said appreciatively.

"Uhhh," Huggy hesitated, looking from Starsky to Hutch, and then back to Starsky, "actually, Starsky, the last time she was here, you two had just left. She asked me if I knew anything about 'the handsome blond one'." His gaze settled on Hutch.

In other circumstances, Hutch would have been glad to boast about having been chosen over Starsky. But he hardly felt up to it, considering his present medical circumstances.

Huggy continued, in a soft voice, "I told her I'd introduce you the next time you were in."

"Not right now," Hutch said firmly. "Another time, okay?" He bit into his burger.

Huggy's face fell, and he looked at Starsky.

Starsky said, "It would just be saying hello, Hutch."

With annoyance, Hutch said, "I'm just not up to it. Give me a break here."

After watching Hutch a moment, Starsky said, "Tell her we're in the middle of a hot case, and we're not allowed to socialize while we're on duty."

"You're having lunch," Huggy pointed out.

"Yeah, but she doesn't have to know that we're allowed to socialize during lunch."

"Another time," Hutch emphasized.

Huggy held up his hands in a placating gesture. "Whatever you say." He moved away.

Hutch released a breath and focused on his burger.

After a long moment, Starsky asked, "You okay?"

Hutch had to make a point not to snap in reply. "Yeah. I just, you know, don't want to start something that I'm not going to be able to finish for another three weeks or so."

Starsky sighed loudly. "Yeah, well, I have a feeling that your mood is only going to get worse while you're having your forced period of celibacy."

Hutch didn't bother replying.

After eating, they slipped out, Hutch grateful that the woman had struck up conversation with someone else and didn't seem to be paying attention to them.

As they approached the Torino, Starsky reached deep into his pocket for his keys. He looked puzzled for a moment, and after pulling out his keys, he retrieved a folded piece of paper. "What's this?" he muttered, unfolding it.

Hutch watched as Starsky's expression slowly changed from puzzlement to a grin. Then Starsky looked at Hutch. "Just how many of these pictures did you leave around my place?" He chuckled.

Hutch shrugged.

Starsky handed him the picture of a water tower. "Just think," he said, unlocking the door to the Torino, "when you're all nice and better, you'll have a proud, happy, erect phallus shooting straight up into the air."

Hutch grinned, and joined his partner in the car.

After shift, they ended up at Starsky's place, with the promise of leftover lasagna. Hutch removed his jacket and holster, and then plopped down on the sofa, and noticed a merry-go-round figurine on the end table. "What's this?" he asked, picking it up.

Starsky had a beer in each hand. "The only thing I took from my Mom's." He tossed a beer to Hutch. "It's a music box that she really loved. Plays 'Moon River'."

Hutch put the beer on the table, and spent a moment winding up the merry-go-round. After placing it back on the end table, he listened to the first few notes. Then he looked up at Starsky, met his eye, and gently asked, "How are you doing?"

Starsky shrugged. "Okay, mostly. You know, it sorts of sneaks up on me sometimes. The deep sense of loss." He took a sip of beer.

Hutch assumed those times where in solitary moments, because his partner seemed to have otherwise adjusted, day to day. There were brief moments of melancholy, but they never seemed to be very intense.

While Starsky turned to heating up the lasagna, Hutch took an interest in the magazines on the coffee table. They included the same issue of the magazine that had been at the doctor's office. Hutch picked it up, and sat back against the sofa. He pretended to leaf through it, watching as his partner put the lasagna in the oven. "Hmmm," he stated in a casual voice, and then read, "'Homosexuality in the 1980s.'" No reaction. Starsky had reached into the refrigerator for other ingredients. "Buddy?"

Starsky held a tub of margarine and glanced over at Hutch.

Hutch asked, "You ever think about John Blaine?"

Starsky shrugged. "Sometimes. Why?"

Hutch considered how to answer. Then he replied, "Just wondered if, you know, you left all that behind, or if you sometimes revisit what he was, and what that meant to you."

Starsky fiddled with the lid on the tub of margarine. "The way I see it, what he was didn't really have anything to do with me. You know. Who he slept with outside his marriage," another shrug, "what did that have to do with me?" He turned back to the refrigerator.

"Nothing." Hutch finally reached for his beer and popped the lid. After taking a sip, he said, "You ever feel like he should have told you, or that you should have known?"

Starsky had pulled a bag of peas out of the freezer. He was silent for a moment. Then he said, "Doesn't really matter now, does it?" Then he tilted his head. "Why are you thinking about this, Hutch?"

Hutch indicated the magazine on the coffee table. "Seems like homosexuality keeps being a bigger and bigger subject. More celebrities and athletes admitting that they're gay. I think, as time goes on, most everyone is going to start hearing about people they know who are gay, that they never would have thought that about."

Starsky muttered, "I still don't think that has anything to do with me. It doesn't affect me, whomever other people decide to sleep with." He turned his attention back to preparing dinner.

Hutch sipped his beer, wishing there was some way he could get Starsky to talk to him about the articles Hutch had seen in his desk drawer, and the book that fell open to a chapter on homosexuality.


Hutch looked up. Starsky was gazing at him with concern, one hand on an overhead cabinet.

"Hutch, did you find something out recently about somebody you know? And that's why you're thinking about it?"

Hutch came toward the kitchen with his beer in hand, and shook his head. "No." He watched Starsky pull out a serving dish. "But, like I said, I think that it's more likely as time goes on, and-and I'd like to reach the point where it doesn't shock me. You know, that I can be okay with it." He reached down to scratch at his groin.

Starsky's eyes darted down and then back up. "You shouldn't be scratching." He turned to preparing the peas.

"Easy for you to say."

"That new cream helping at all?" Starsky moved back to the refrigerator and pulled out an onion.

"It kind of burns," Hutch admitted with a grimace. "I'd like to think that means it's working."

Starsky glanced up from where he tended to the stove. He said, "But jock itch... it's not on your cock or your balls, right?"

"Right. Those parts are fine. It's everything else in that area that's pretty gross right now."

Starsky grinned as he glanced up at Hutch. "At least it shouldn't hurt, then, to... you know... help yourself out during your celibacy."

"No, it doesn't hurt," Hutch admitted after a moment. "Just not my first choice." He wondered if this might be a good time to ask to borrow the book Starsky had about sex positions, with all the colorful pictures, since it was such provocative fantasy material. But that would mean admitting he had been snooping around.

Of course, if they had the comfort level with each other that they could discuss the state of his genitals, it seemed any other subject ought to be easy.

Hutch put his beer can down and rested his hands against the kitchen counter. "Hey, uh, buddy?"

Starsky was chopping an onion into the peas and glanced up.

"I, uh..." Hutch took a breath, "I was looking for some scissors when I was here one day while you were gone and," he gestured vaguely to the desk against the living room wall, "I ended up looking in a drawer there, and it was so stuffed that I pulled it out and dumped everything on the floor, and...." He trailed off, watching Starsky's reaction.

"Yeah?" Starsky's face hadn't changed while he waited for the rest.

Hutch shrugged. "I, uhm, saw where you had some articles and things about Johnny Blaine." He gestured lamely. "Actually, stuff on homosexuality."

Starsky continued to peel the onion.

Hutch finished with, "That's why I was asking you those questions. I just wondered if you had been, you know, researching, and trying to understand John Blaine better."

"Sort of," Starsky admitted after a long moment. He opened the oven and peaked in. "I think it's heated up." He turned off the oven but left the pan in. "You want anything else besides peas and lasagna? I don't have any garlic bread."

Hutch reached for an orange in a fruit basket on the counter. "I'll take this." He moved to the table and put it in his spot. Then he turned around and watched Starsky sample the peas.

"It needs another couple of minutes," Starsky declared. Then he looked up. "Hutch, those articles are from a few years ago. I've just never bothered cleaning out the drawer."

Hutch nodded, knowing that had been one possibility. Then, delicately, he asked, "Did they help?"

"I dunno," Starsky muttered with a sigh. "They were talking about homosexuality objectively. Kind of hard to take those sentences and apply them on a more personal level."

Hutch recalled the one sentence that had been underlined. "Well, it's been said that one out of every five men have had a homosexual experience."

Starsky quickly added, "Yeah, but that doesn't make a guy a homosexual. The act and the desire are two different things. I mean, any straight guy can get drunk and have a sexual encounter with another guy. Doesn't mean he's not straight."

When there wasn't any further elaboration, Hutch said, "Spoken like a true scholar." He hoisted himself up to sit on the counter.

From where he stood next to Hutch, Starsky pulled out a couple of plates. "How come you're thinking about this?"

Hutch squeezed Starsky's shoulder. "Just wanted to make sure my buddy wasn't brooding over something that he needed to talk about."

Starrsky gave him an affectionate smile, and then grabbed an oven mitt and pulled out the lasagna. "Well, actually," he said while focusing on the food, "it was kind of the other way that I was mulling over."

Hutch waited, not knowing what Starsky meant by "the other way".

Starsky cut into the lasagna, making large squares. "You know, after what you said that once." He glanced up briefly, while scooping a large square onto each of the two plates.

"About what?"

"About us spending seventy-five percent of our time together."

Oh. Hutch had only been joking around. Sort of. He'd felt a need to get it out into the open, considering how unsettling the case had been, especially for Starsky.

Starsky drained the water from the pan of peas. "If a guy can have sex with another man and not have it mean anything, then wouldn't it follow that two guys cannot have sex at all, and yet...," he suddenly looked up and met Hutch's eye, "they mean everything to each other?"

Hutch gazed back into his partner's open expression, amazed that Starsky had just up and said that. He thought he might faint from sheer feeling.

Starsky divided the peas between their plates. "Time to eat up." He handed Hutch a plate.

Hutch grabbed his beer and they moved to the table. After settling down, he was acutely conscious of the fact that he hadn't said anything.

Apparently, he didn't need to. After Starsky had taken a bite, he looked squarely at Hutch and said, "If it came down to it, I'd rather be called a homosexual and be with you, than not have you in my life."

Hutch furrowed his brow while studying the silverware. "But we're not -- "

"Some people might think we are. Depending on how they want to apply those definitions." Starsky took a few more bites. Then he said, "Think about it, Hutch. I probably know more about your cock and balls than anybody you've slept with."

Hutch felt a grin at the corner of his mouth. Starsky's statement might be true at the moment, but.... Hell, he really didn't want to squabble over semantics. "I-I-I..." he began. Then he took a breath and closed his eyes, focusing on a full sentence. "I just love you so damn much." He opened them.

Starsky finally glanced away, a shy smile lighting the side of his face. Then he was contemplative. "You know," he said seriously, "after losing Ma, I've been thinking about how, when you get down to it, there's so few people that ever really love you in a lifetime. And I've just lost one of them." He met Hutch's eye. "Makes me want to hang onto the rest all the more."

Hutch felt prompted to reassure. "You don't need to hang on. I'm always going to be here." After a thought, he added, "Whether you want me to be or not."

"I'll always want you around," Starsky said simply.

Hutch grunted, "I'll remind you of that the next time you slam the door in my face because you've got a girl over." That had happened on more than a few occasions -- when Hutch had shown up unannounced and at an inopportune time. And vice versa.

Starsky grinned. "Well, a man has to have some moments of privacy." He ate a few more bites. "And speaking of privacy, why don't you take some of my girlie magazines home with you. You know, for inspiration."

Hutch chose not to comment. It wasn't like he didn't have his own masturbation material, but Starsky had a wider variety to choose from. And besides, he really wanted to borrow that book with the full color photos.

He waited until they were finished eating. Then he moseyed over to the bookcase. He spent a few minutes browsing through magazines, and then grabbed a trio because he was expected to. Then he took the book on positions, keeping it beneath the magazines. He wasn't trying to hide it, but he didn't want to be blatantly obvious either. As his eyes roamed the shelf a final time, he was aware of a more worn book on one shelf. That was the one with a picture of a water tower inside, between the pages that reassured that closely bonded male friendships weren't necessarily indications of homosexuality. How concerned he'd been the other day, when he'd discovered it. But after tonight, with Starsky so forthright about his feelings, that concern had fallen away.

Starsky knew exactly where he stood and exactly how he felt. Which was so completely different from when they'd worked the Blaine case and Starsky had been trying to sort through his feelings. Whatever internal musings he'd gone through had apparently brought him to an amazing peace about the whole thing.

Hutch envied him.

He gathered up his jacket and gun. "Thanks," he told Starsky, who was grinning at him. "For... uh... dinner." He moved toward the door.

"Enjoy yourself," Starsky said cheerfully.

Starsky drew a shirt from the closet and yanked it off the hanger. Yep, this would do. He put his arms through the sleeves and began buttoning it.

He heard a crinkling noise against his chest and looked down at the pocket. There was a folded paper inside. He pulled it out and unfolded it.

It was a water tower. A round stout one, on high stilts, with checkered coloring on a gray background.

Starsky grinned and shook his head. Hutch and his water towers. It amused him no end that Hutch had been sneaking around his apartment, planting pictures.

Hutch was one in a million. So much effort, just to give Starsky a chuckle.

Starsky refolded the picture and put it back in his pocket. He continued to dress, thinking about the frank conversation he and Hutch had had the other night. Hutch trying to coyly lead up to a certain subject, and then outright saying what was on his mind. Starsky hadn't seen a reason to respond with anything other than honesty.

He sat on the bed and began to put on his shoes.

Funny that, for all that open conversation, Hutch never said how he felt about the subject of homosexuality as some might apply it to their partnership. He'd just sat there and stuttered, and closed his eyes, while saying , "I just love you so damn much."

Such a heartfelt statement. One of those things that Starsky knew he would savor for a very long time. They were just words. Even somewhat common words. But the sincere feeling behind them was all Hutch.

For that matter, Hutch had never said that much about the subject during the Blaine case. His focus had all been on Starsky's feelings.

Appreciate your concern, Starsky thought now. But I don't need it anymore. So, what about you, buddy? You're good at asking lots of questions with compassion and sensitivity. And yet, your own heart seems to somehow manage to stay neatly tucked away.

Now dressed, Starsky stood up and stretched mightily, enjoying the feeling that went through his body. He was ready to face the day.

It could be a fun project, he mused, to bring Hutch's heart out of hiding.

"How's your rash?" They were sitting in the Torino a few days later, waiting for a suspect to show up at the sleazy motel across the street.

"Better, I guess."


"Yeah." Hutch shifted restlessly, then grumbled, "I'm so damn tired of this." He glanced at Starsky. "Feel like I can't even remember what it was like not to have this itch."

Starsky patted his knee. "Sounds like you've turned the corner though. Just give it a little more time, Hutch."

"Like I have a choice."

Starsky glanced at the motel, then turned his attention to the magazine he'd brought with him. He leafed through it, then read, "'Homosexuality in the 1980s.'" He mused, "So, do you think society is going to be more open about it the next decade?"

Hutch glanced over at him. "Huh?" Then he returned to staring at the motel.

"According to this article, the sexual openness of the 70s has paved the way for homosexuality to be more accepted in 80s. This article predicts that more celebrities and athletes will be publicly admitting that they're gay."

Hutch shrugged, gaze still on the motel. "Homosexuality has been around as long as mankind has existed on this earth." He shook his head. "It's weird the way our 'modern' society has such a problem with it. Throughout history, various cultures have thought it's no big deal." He glanced at Starsky. "It seems like societies keep going back and forth about it." He grunted with disapproval. "Religion has a hell of a lot to do with it."

"So, you think it's normal?" Starsky asked casually, still leafing through the magazine.

Hutch snorted. "If it's not, then why are some people born that way? What, God made a mistake with them? And how come some animals are gay?"

Starsky looked up sharply at that last statement. "Animals?"

"Yeah. Some animals of various species have been observed to demonstrate homosexual behavior."

"Really?" Starsky asked on a high note. "How do you know?"

"Read it somewhere once."

Hmm. Starsky had never heard of anything like that. "But... does that mean they never mate? I mean with a female to reproduce?"

Hutch shifted restlessly. "I don't remember the details, Starsk. Just something I read a while back." He was silent a moment, staring at the motel. Then he said, "I just think it sucks that people have to hide themselves. You know? I mean, if Joe Blow down the street is humping guys, how does that harm me?"

Starsky snickered. "If his name is Joe Blow, I'm not sure it's humping he would be most interested in."

Hutch glanced at him. "Funny." But he was grinning.

Starsky fell silent. His partner was being pretty open with him right now. He wondered how he could make the topic more personal. "So, since one out of every five men have had a homosexual experience, have you had one?"

Hutch answered with surprising ease. "When I was twelve, a fourteen-year-old boy took my hand and shoved it down the front of pants. I felt his hard-on. Then my mother called me into dinner, so nothing else happened. I made a point of never being alone with him after that."

"It scared you?" Starsky asked with concern.

"Yeah. But...," Hutch shrugged elaborately, "... I admit it sort of excited me, too. I mean, a part of me wished more would have happened. You know, I was just reaching puberty and my cock was starting to become the center of existence. And it was still going to be a few years before I even had a chance to feel up a girl."

Starsky laughed softly, well remembering what early puberty was like.

Hutch suddenly looked at him. "What about you?"

Fair was fair. Starsky said, "When I was thirteen or fourteen, an older boy showed me how to jerk off. I mean, I was already sort of doing it, but he had a better technique. I was kind of amazed at how un-shy he was, stroking himself in front of me, and telling me how he liked squeezing at certain points and things like that. Then he grabbed my cock and did it to me. Like an expert. I wasn't complaining."

"It happened more than once?"

Starsky shook his head, remembering. "Nah. He then wanted me to put my mouth on it, and I was really uncomfortable with that. It seemed too gross. I told him no. He tried talking me into it for a while, but then gave up." Starsky felt a distant shudder. "Considering how much older and stronger he was, he could have tried to force me. But he didn't. But I didn't seek out his company any more after that, even though I appreciated that he'd shown me how to make it feel a whole lot better when I played with myself."

"This might be him," Hutch said, looking eagerly out the window.

They both watched the man walking up the street on the opposite side. Then, with disappointment, Hutch said, "He's got a goatee. Not him."

They both watched the motel a few minutes more. Then Starsky relaxed in his seat and said, "I guess you could say I returned the favor later."

Hutch glanced at him. "What?"

"I returned the favor when I was older. When I was eighteen, I showed a younger boy how to jerk off. I didn't touch him or anything, just did it in front of him. He was tormented and everything, because he thought he might go blind and all that crap. I wanted him to be okay that it was normal. So, I showed him how much I enjoyed doing it to myself, and that I didn't feel ashamed. And I hadn't gone blind or grown hair on my palms."

"That was considerate of you," Hutch said sincerely.

Starsky mused, "Don't know if that's considered a homosexual experience, since we didn't touch each other."

"Does it matter?"

Starsky shrugged. "Guess not." Then, "I mean really, Hutch, what would adolescent boys do without older boys to show them the ropes? It's really stupid all the crap society lays on young people about jerking off."

"I think things are loosening up now," Hutch said hopefully. "I think society is even willing to admit that women masturbate."

Starsky felt himself throb, and he grinned. "Yeah. Nothing quite like a lady being willing to do that in front of you."

Hutch looked over at him with an eager smile. "Yeah? Who?"

"I'm not telling. 'Sides, she's moved out of state." But that had certainly been exciting. Her being willing to play with herself in front of him, merely because he'd requested it.

Hutch grimaced. "We need to stop talking about this."

Starsky took a certain pride in the fact that he could verbally arouse Hutch, though he didn't have any wish to torment him. He reached for what he hoped was a somewhat neutral, if related, topic. "Since you know you're on the way to healing, why don't you have Huggy introduce you to that secretary lady who was asking about you."

Hutch turned to him with an appalled expression. "It's too soon."

"Maybe she won't want to sleep together on the first date. You can slowly date and romance her the old fashioned way. She might appreciate it."

Agitated, Hutch said, "But what if she does want sex on the first date? If I tell her I have a rash, however temporary, she's not going to want anything else to do with me. That's all she'll remember about me."

Feeling reasonable, Starsky said, "It's not like jock itch is a venereal disease."

"Yeah, but it's a fungus, like athlete's foot. It's still contagious. You think a woman wants to risk getting anything down there?"

"You could sixty-nine each other."

"Starsky, it looks thoroughly gross. I don't want anybody to see me like this. Hell, I haven't even let you see it."

That was true enough. Not that Starsky had had any desire to see it. Hutch tried to be in the PD's locker room as little as possible, and when it was necessary, he hid himself away in a doorless toilet stall, with his back turned. The other guys tended to honor that unspoken request for privacy, and if any looked like they wanted to approach Hutch with a smartass comment, Starsky discouraged them with a lethal glare.

Starsky wanted to ease the mood. "You just want me to see you in the form of gigantic, erect water towers."

Hutch chuckled then, which made Starsky very happy.

Starsky slapped Hutch's knee. "You'll get your pride in your good looks back soon, Hutch. A week or so from now, this will all be behind you."

A week later, they were parked at a curb, waiting for a snitch.

"How's the rash?" Starsky asked, while leafing through a hot rod magazine. He'd tried very hard not to badger Hutch by asking every day.

"It's gone," Hutch said quietly.

Starsky sat up straighter. "Really? That's great!"

Hutch snorted. "Doc says to keep using the cream another week, just to be sure it doesn't come back. Believe me, partner, I don't want to go through this again, so I'm following Doc's orders."

"But at least you can start lining up conquests."

With annoyance, Hutch said, "Starsky, they're dates, not conquests."

Starsky grinned good-naturedly. "Okay, then you can start lining up dates."

Hutch didn't respond.

Starsky turned the page of his magazine, and his eyes fell on an ad that had a picture of an auto shop. A water tower was in the background. He felt giddy, even as his cock twitched. "Look, Hutch." He held up the magazine. "Water tower."

Hutch glanced at it. He grinned, but then sighed heavily. "When's the last time you had a date, partner?"

"Not in a while," Starsky replied obediently. Then, more softly, as he just now remembered, "Not since Ma."

Hutch looked over at him with compassion. After a long moment, he said, "I think you're ready, you know?"

Starsky grinned. "You mean because I'm starting to get turned on by pictures of water towers?"

Hutch looked out his side window. "I felt the twitch from here."

Starsky laughed softly. They were so attuned to each other at times, he actually believed that Hutch could sense his cock throbbing.

He brought the magazine down to his lap.

With annoyance, Hutch said, "Don't tell me you're going to hump the page."

Starsky grimaced. "Ease up, Hutchinson. Just resting my arms. Sheesh." After a moment, he said, "Besides, you're the one who started the whole water tower thing."

Hutch looked over quickly and defended, "Only because you made me tell you about my dream."

"Of course, I did. With you smiling so nicely that day, how could I not ask. My normally grumpy partner, all smiles. That was a day to remember."

"I'm not grumpy," Hutch said, subdued.

"Not all the time," Starsky admitted. "But sometimes you are. Of course, I hardly notice anymore because I just accept it as part of your normal personality. I couldn't have been partnered with you this long otherwise."

Hutch merely grunted.

With a dust rag over his shoulder, Starsky took his stack of Playboy and similar magazines and straightened them. He straightened other publications too, and took the rag to dust at the bare spots left on the shelf.

Hmm. Something was missing.

After a moment, he realized what it was. The nice thick book with full color pictures of every position imaginable for every sex act known to man.

For a moment, he felt alarm that it was missing, but then realized that Hutch must have taken it.

Enjoying the idea of Hutch being turned on by looking at all the photos, as himself had been numerous times, Starsky went to restraighten a stack of other books. He sat them up properly on the shelf, so he could see the titles on the spines. One book fell on its side, and Starsky picked it up to straighten it again. A paper fell partway out of the bottom.

Puzzled, Starsky took the book and opened it to where the paper was. It was a picture of a water tower.

Ah, Hutch. Even as his heart felt fuzzy, Starsky's center began to fill with blood. I'm worse than Pavlov's dogs. Yet, he realized it was a happy thought.

As he removed the clipping from the book, Starsky recognized the pages the book was open to. He'd read them over and over and over. Years ago. When he'd first admitted to himself how much he loved Hutch. And he'd wondered what that love meant. Was puzzled at how intense he and Hutch's feelings were for each other. How open they were. He'd never seen any other partnerships or male friendships behave the way he and Hutch behaved toward each other. Yet, at the same time, he knew he'd never forsake that love for anything. It was too precious. Too addictive. To do otherwise would be like going to Heaven and then telling God, "Nah, I don't want to be here. Send me to Hell instead."

How much he'd changed since then. The case of Johnny Blaine three years ago had thrown him, but no matter what mental gyrations his mind had gone through in trying to explain it all to himself -- and wondering if he or anybody at all really understood the nature of human sexuality -- he'd never questioned that the greatest joy in his life was the love that he shared with Hutch. That love was what was most important to protect, above everything else.

Starsky left the book on the shelf, and sat down on the floor, Indian style, staring at the picture of the water tower.

He imagined Hutch's pale erect cock, in place of the picture.

He rubbed his crotch soothingly.

How much fun, how much humor, had he and Hutch gotten from images of water towers in recent weeks? Just because of some silly dream. They'd maintained the vibe throughout, the water tower images becoming yet another form of silent communication.

That communication had been used primarily for the purpose of laughter, which had sometimes been badly needed. Now Starsky wasn't so sure what the purpose was.

Hutch's groin area was supposed to be completely healthy now. But his big blond still hadn't done anything about lining up dates.

For that matter, Starsky hadn't either.

It was the greatest erection that had ever existed.

Freshly showered, Hutch sat naked against the headboard of his bed, the covers up to his thighs, loving the sight of his pale, steel-hard cock reaching toward the ceiling, as the support of his fingers kept it at a ninety degree angle. His balls were nice and thick, the skin of his thighs and groin area its usual pale color. He'd applied the last helping of ointment yesterday afternoon and considered himself over and done with the annoying condition that had plagued him for so long.

Now, he was free to love and admire his own body in the way that was natural to him.

Hutch ran his fingers up the underside of the barrel, careful not to squeeze too tightly. He wasn't sure yet what he wanted to do with it. For now, he was content to admire its sheer magnificence. Hell, it was damn worthy of having a water tower built in its image.

He heard the door lock rattle.


The last thing he wanted right now was company. In fact, he was so annoyed that he decided not to get up and throw on a robe. He carefully stroked the underside of his prize flesh, determined to keep the erect posture.


Hutch grit his teeth as he heard Starsky's footsteps come closer. He pulled the covers over his groin, but otherwise wasn't interested in hiding what he was doing.

Starsky came into the sleeping area, holding a book. He paused and grinned. "Hiya. What are you doing?"

Hutch's teeth were still grit. "Trying to have a private moment with myself."

Starsky stepped around the bed. He laid his book on the table next to it, which had other publications upon it, and then took off his jacket. His holster followed.

Dammit, Starsky was staying.

Starsky sat on the edge of the bed, resting against the headboard, his clothed arm touching Hutch's bare one. Casually, Starsky said, "By my calculation, you should be done-done with your condition."

"Yes," Hutch said, voice tight, "done-done." He stroked himself once beneath the covers, more determined than ever to maintain his full erection.

"I want to see it, Hutch."

It wasn't like he was going to be able to hide it from Starsky.

Hutch flipped the covers away. He breathed deeply, stroked it once more, and then kept his hands at the base, letting Starsky take in the full effect. A cream-colored bead appeared at the tip.

"Man, Hutch," Starsky said breathlessly, "if I was the mayor or something of a town with a water tower, I'd sure want the water tower to look just like that. It's so awesome, so handsome, so gorgeous."

Hutch's heart was pounding, and the ache in his groin was downright demanding. He warned, "Starsky, if you don't get off this bed right now I'm going to throw you down and take advantage of the first orifice I can get to."

Hot breath was at his ear. "That's what I'm counting on."

Hutch shivered as his heart tripled its pumping speed. He watched Starsky get up from the bed, and then begin undressing in a matter-of-fact manner. Clothes fell away and Starsky kept his eyes on Hutch's stout spear. In matter of seconds, Starsky's eyes had changed from softness to smoldering desire.

Starsky got back on the bed, thick erection jutting from him, and straddled Hutch's legs.

Hutch felt smothered, as though he couldn't breathe. Precum was dripping down the side of his cock.

"Listen, Hutch," Starsky said in a low, gruff voice. "I want it edgy, and I want it raw. No tender, sweet, gentle stuff. We can do all that later."

Hutch fought for breath as he stared at the smoldering depths.

Starsky lifted Hutch's trembling hand. "Give me your finger."

Hutch wasn't sure what he meant, but he let Starsky's take hold of his middle finger. It bumped into Starsky's hard cock, then his balls, and then was being draw downward and back.

Hutch felt hot, wrinkled skin. Then smooth ointment. He gasped in surprise.

"That's right," Starsky said breathlessly. "I'm all ready for this magnificent thing of yours." He gazed at Hutch's straining phallus. "I wanted to make sure I get first dibs."

Hutch was trembling all over as his hand was released and he drew it back.

Starsky's eyes darted to the nightstand. His expression seemed to soften has he reached for the fat book. "I thought I might find this here," he said with approval. Then his eyes met Hutch's. "Which section did you like best?"

Hutch couldn't breathe. He gasped, "All of it." He had both hands on his cock now, trying to soothe its frantic need.

"Yeah, of course you do," Starsky said with compassion. "My buddy has been a bit deprived of late." His voice took on a deeper quality. "And I know exactly what my Hutch needs. Edgy. And raw." He leaned closer to Hutch. "Which position do you want me in, baby?" He stroked Hutch's cheek.

Hutch closed his eyes, gasping as he mentally traced the feel of those hot fingertips.

"This is no time for bashfulness," Starsky insisted. "Tell me and I'll do it."

Hutch didn't want to fuck according to a sex manual. But he knew he needed to answer Starsky's question. With his eyes still closed, he gasped, "Deep." Then, more softly, he forced out, "Really deep."

Starsky grabbed his arms, tipped them both over. And then Starsky was rolling onto his back, bringing Hutch with him. "That means face to face." Then, gruffly, "Raw, Hutch. Real raw."

He was poised over Starsky, the nerves all through his body demanding that he do what Starsky was allowing. Starsky was maneuvering his ass up onto Hutch's lap.

Hutch's heart wanted something else. "Kiss?" he pleaded with slitted eyes.

His arms were pulled, bringing his upper body downward. Their lips found each other, and Hutch didn't know which flesh belonged to him and which to Starsky. It was such a perfect blending, that they shared the same hot breath, the same tongue, the same lips....

Starsky's hands were in Hutch's hair, rubbing desperately.

Hutch lunged against Starsky's groin.

The grip on his arms tightened and Starsky held him away. "Not fair," he said hotly. "No lunging until that beautiful thing of yours is all the way inside me. Deep, Hutch. Really deep."

Hutch felt a momentary loss as to what to do next, how to ease the deep, sweet ache that permeated every fiber of his being.

Starsky's hips landed on Hutch's lap, his legs spreading. One went over Hutch's shoulder, the other around his torso.

His cock landed at Starsky's cleavage.

Hutch looked down. That exposed wrinkled center looked so closed off to him. So innocent.

"Raw and hard, Hutch. I want every millimeter, and that's what your cock wants, too."


Hutch took himself in hand. Pressed at the closed off portal. Lunged.

The tight heat engulfed him and he closed his eyes, listening to Starsky growl approvingly.

Gravity was in his favor, and he braced against the bed with both hands, as he felt himself sink, sink, sink, firm flesh welcoming him.

Then he lunged a final time, and felt his pubic hairs against Starsky's ass.

Gasping, he let his eyes drift open.

Starsky was panting heavily, watching him, both hands still on Hutch's arms.

They gazed at each other.

Starsky whispered, "Fuck me, Hutch."

Hutch quickly shook his head. He wanted to stay right here, even though his cock throbbed with a demand for further friction He was deep inside his love, sharing the same space.

Starsky's eyes broke away and stared at the ceiling. He softly said, "This is incredible."


Hutch knew that the gymnastics of their positions wasn't going to last long. But he wanted to take every second that he could.

Starsky eyes met Hutch's, and they stayed like that for a long moment.

Then Starsky seemed to focus inward.

Muscles worked around Hutch's cock, stimulating it.

Dammit. Hutch pulled back a ways, and then slammed down hard, rocking the bed.

Starsky grinned hotly.

Hutch pulled back farther this time, and slammed down even harder.

That felt so good that he pumped rhythmically, with long, plunging strokes. The sensation was building so beautifully. He braced one hand against the bed, so the other could feel along Starsky's hairy chest. His fingers pinched a tiny nipple.

Starsky grunted in approval.

He then grabbed Starsky's hard cock, but his hand was slapped away. "Dessert," Starsky growled.

Hutch closed his eyes, narrowing his existence to the sensation surrounding his cock, and feeling it travel deliciously down the tunnel of Starsky's body. And then pull back, just to repeat the journey.

The trigger was being cocked, and Hutch plunged harder and faster, his heart quickening to an extreme degree.

He yelled out, loud and long, throwing back his head, as the exquisite feeling of orgasm washed through his entire body.

He quivered all over, and then fell silent, gasping as he collapsed onto Starsky. He felt Starsky's legs fall away.

Hutch lay panting for a long while, sweat cooling on his forehead.

Gentle fingers brushed through his hair.

Hutch closed his eyes at their tender feel.

As his breath quieted, Starsky softly said, "Withdraw slowly, Hutch. You're in really deep."

Hutch managed to get on his elbows. He carefully pulled out, but still heard Starsky's indrawn gasp, when his cock lost its warm sheath.

Hutch moved along that loving body and kissed Starsky's chin. Then his cheek, then across his nose. He finally settled on his lips, and wondered if he'd been summoned by God and was floating up into Heaven.

They kissed for a long time.

Hutch finally pulled away, and rested his head on Starsky's chest, facing the erection that bobbed along his stomach. Since Starsky had referred to it as dessert, Hutch felt he should put his mouth on it. But he was too exhausted to attempt a good job. He reached out, gripped it firmly, and stroked.

Starsky gasped.

Hutch was nothing if not efficient. He established a steady rhythm, felt it throb as he loved along it. When it got really thick, he paid special attention to the underside, just behind the head.

Starsky released a happy grunt, and it wasn't long before fluid was spilling out onto Starsky's stomach.

Hutch closed his eyes, and spent a moment petting along Starsky's thigh with a pair of fingers. Then he found the energy to hoist himself into a sitting position. He looked behind him, on the floor, and grabbed one of the towels that he kept handy. He wiped at the puddle.

He folded his arms along Starsky's chest and shoulder, and gazed up at the dozing form. "Starsk?"

"Hm?" Starsky barely opened his eyes.

"Is it okay now to be gentle and tender and sweet?"

"Um Hm."

Hutch kissed the nipple beneath his mouth. He leisurely ran his fingers along Starsky, noting the texture of various creases and protrusions.

After a time, Starsky's hand also began to explore. Hutch moved farther across Starsky's torso, so he could feel new places. He felt a hand on his rear, and he parted his legs invitingly. He felt the same exploring, casual touch along his ass crack, and then gently across his hole.

After some time Starsky finally drew a deep breath, and Hutch settled on the pillow next to him.

They gazed at each other for a long time.

Hutch tenderly asked, "You feel okay? I assume you're a virgin."

"A bold virgin," Starsky boasted.

Hutch waited.

Starsky admitted, "My ass feels like it got plowed through by a freight train."

Hutch guessed, "Or a water tower?"

Instead of replying, Starsky reached out and ran a thumb along Hutch's cheek, then his lips. He whispered, "I love you so much, Hutch."

Hutch's eyes watered. "You said something about wanting first dibs."

A tender smile answered him. "I know I said that. But I want the whole ball of wax."

Hutch nodded, his heart full. "Good," he said in a strained voice.

After a moment, Starsky asked in the same tender voice, "What do you want, my love?"

Hutch swallowed thickly. "It-It-It took us so many years to get to this point. Incredible years. I want to take it slow." He thought of the book with the explicit pictures. That was great for self-gratification, but... "I don't want us rushing to feel like we have to do everything right away." He drew a deep, deep breath. "I feel I could want nothing more than to spend the next two weeks just feeling you up." His eyes moved along Starsky's body to emphasize his point. Then he said, "I want to enjoy the feast. Savor it."

Starsky got up on an elbow, gazing into his eyes. "You got it," he whispered, taking Hutch's chin. Then they kissed, long and leisurely.

Eventually, they settled back on the bed. Hutch admitted with a soft chuckle, "I was really pissed when I heard you at the door."

"It was time, Hutch."

Hutch wondered where Starsky's confidence came from. But he was distracted by a memory. "Did you bring something with you?" He glanced around.

Starsky nodded toward the nightstand. "I found another water tower picture today, inside a book." He propped his head in his hand and asked with amusement, "Just how many more of those am I going to be finding?"

Hutch did a quick calculation. "I think that's the last one."

Starsky reached out so his finger could draw a pattern along Hutch's chest. "Did you just happen to stick it in a book, or did you notice what pages you stuck it between?"

Hutch grasped the finger and gently squeezed it. "I noticed. The book fell open to those pages, like they'd been read over and over."

Starsky met his eye. "That particular book goes back even before Johnny Blaine was murdered. I loved my partner, my buddy, my friend, so,so,so much, and I was trying to define that love for myself."

Gently, Hutch asked, "Did your feelings scare you?"

"No. Not my feelings, because you were so accepting of them, and were sharing your own with me." Starsky hugged a pillow as he turned to face Hutch, rolling onto his stomach. "But I couldn't put a name to it, and I felt that I should be able to. The word friendship didn't even seem to begin to cover what we were to each other. But we sure as hell weren't homosexuals -- at least, not how I understood the word at the time."

"What about now?" Hutch wondered.

Starsky shrugged. "I don't feel a need anymore to put a name to it. I haven't for a long time. I just want to live it. Live these feelings. Be able to express this incredible love that I feel for you. Because I still love you so,so,so much, Hutch. That love has never waned, only strengthened."

Hutch closed his eyes and drew a deep breath, and then released it. When he opened them, he said, "You're my hero."

Starsky swallowed thickly. Then he gently teased, "You're just saying that because you got to put that beautiful, huge, healthy, water tower cock up inside me."

Hutch throbbed at the reminder. Then he noted, "Your own beautiful cock is going to get its chance. Soon."

Starsky shook his head with a widening grin. "Uh-uh. You said you want it slow, Hutch. So we're gonna go slow. You might have to be begging for weeks before I oblige you."

Hutch snorted and looked away. He supposed he'd asked for that.

He placed his hand behind his head and rested back against the pillow.

Yes, slow. No reason to rush. He and Starsky had felt so much love together over the years. Had shared an intensity that very few people ever got to experience with another human being. And now there was an even better future ahead of them.

He closed his eyes and drifted, savoring the wonderment.

"Starsky! Hutchinson!"

They looked at each other in puzzlement, and then moved as one to Dobey's office.

Dobey was standing and indicated the file open on his desk. "What the hell is this?" He picked up a picture. "There's no label or anything to indicate what it has to do with this case."

"Uhh," Hutch began, "what case is that?"

"The grocery clerk murder." Dobey waved the picture. "How is a water tower involved? This looks like it was clipped from a magazine."

Starsky reached to grab the clipping. "It doesn't have anything to do with the case. It just got in the file accidentally. Relax, Captain."

"What do you mean, relax?" Dobey bellowed. "This Department can't afford to have sloppy files like this." He jabbed a finger at the clipping Starsky held. "Where the hell did that come from, anyway?"

"Does it matter?" Starsky reasoned. "It's just a harmless clipping." He reached to take the file from Dobey's desk. "Don't worry, Captain. Hutch and me will make sure the file is straightened out."

Dobey sat back down, muttering under his breath.

Starsky and Hutch quickly exited Dobey's office. They made a point of not looking at each other, as Starsky tossed the clipping into the trash. Hutch dutifully tried to neaten the file.

Pictures of water towers tended to show up in various places within the squadroom where they worked. It was their way of saying to each other, "I'm thinking about you" when it seemed the fates were against them, and they couldn't show their love each other as often as they would like.

Shown or not, that love was always there.


Thanks to Keri T. for proofreading.

Comments to regmoore@earthlink.net or post here

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