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Starsky winced as the passenger door to the Torino slammed shut with an ear-popping thunk. "Hutch, dammit!" he cursed under his breath as the blond strode away. The Blintz was seriously pissed off; of that there was no doubt.

Starsky sighed and momentarily considered driving away to avoid facing the music; but, for one thing, this was his apartment. Avoiding Hutch meant avoiding his own bed, and he really was craving it right about now. Anyway, ditching Hutch wasn't really an option; if he left things in this state Starsky would just have to pay ten times over in the days to come. And a Hutch left to his own devices was known to think himself into a positive frenzy. Better to go in and get him to let loose in a great flood of Hutchinson rage. Then Starsky could pass out.

He eased out of his car, mindful of the post-adrenaline shakiness in his legs. It had been a pretty bad scene, tonight. Actually, Hutch had a right to be angry; Starsky had made a whopper of a mistake in trusting that snitch, Harrison, and trying to go for the solo bust. If Hutch hadn't tracked him down just in time...

Guess I'd better suck it up and apologize; get it the hell over with, he thought with a sigh. He wearily climbed the steps up to his apartment.

~ ~ ~

"Two weeks! Two fucking weeks out of rehab, and still not a hundred percent—don't think I haven't noticed…and you decide to pull this shit."

Oh, yeah, Hutch was on a fine tear. The swearing was a dead giveaway. "Hutch, the shoulder's fine, ferchrissake. Board wouldn't have cleared me—"

"Oh, like you and I don't know how to wrangle the fucking Board. You could shoot their course in your sleep; you're that good. But it's total bullshit. You aren't ready—"

Starsky felt his own temper start to rise at Hutch's words. "Am, too, Mommy. And anyway, that's not what you're pissed about."

"Oh, yeah? Well, Great Guru, tell me why I'm pissed."

"Because I went in without you, of course. Ever since that stupid Vic Monte thing you can't stand to let me out of your sight."

Hutch's eyes slitted. "This isn't about me. This is about you sticking your fool neck into the noose just to prove you're still a bad-ass—"

"How the hell could I have known it was a set-up, Hutch? Harrison played me..."

"Goddammit, Starsky, you knew Harrison was bad news. I told you, and you just kept brushing me off.  But it doesn't matter; even without Harrison you would've found something else to cut your teeth on. You just had to go out there and prove something."

"I wasn't trying to prove nothing!" Starsky shouted. "Except that I don't need you to be my goddamn baby-sitter!" Starsky regretted the words the instant they shot out of his mouth. Because, after all, they weren't true—he had needed his partner. If Hutch hadn't showed up, he would be dead meat right now.

Hutch appeared to be having the same thought, because his face turned even redder. He stalked up to Starsky and grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him to punctuate his next words.

"You stubborn bastard; you did so have something to prove, and I want to hear you say it," Hutch growled.

Starsky opened his mouth, but pride appeared to have a lock on his tongue.

"Say it, Starsky!" Hutch's voice was low and dangerous, "Say it, or I'll..."

"You'll what, Hutch? Turn me over your knee?" Starsky jeered, then swallowed. Oh, shit.

When Hutch absorbed the taunt his face froze, and his eyes started to burn like blue blazes. Starsky couldn't remember ever seeing Hutch in such a rage; at least, not one directed his way. Gonna punch me now, I'm guessing. God knows I deserve it. Starsky cringed, fully expecting to be slugged by his outraged friend.

Hutch grabbed his shirt and hauled him almost off his feet. Starsky closed his eyes; Hutch hitting him wasn't something he wanted to watch.

But instead of the anticipated blow, he felt his head gripped firmly by angry hands, and he opened his eyes just as Hutch pulled him forward and took his mouth in a punishing kiss.

Time took a powder. Starsky's thoughts slowed to glacial speeds as he tried to understand what was happening. What the fuh... Hutch? A sudden surge of excitement pulled him like a riptide, sweeping him somewhere sweet and hot.

Just as suddenly, Starsky was released. His partner was staring at him in shocked silence, the blood draining rapidly from his face. Hutch lifted one palm defensively, and then shook his head as if denying what he had just done.

Before Starsky could kick his stuttering brain back into gear, Hutch was gone; in three quick strides he shot out the door, leaving an echoing silence in his wake.

~ ~ ~

Dazed, Starsky walked over to the kitchen and opened the cabinet above the fridge. He grabbed the seldom-used bottle of whiskey he kept there and uncapped it, taking a very healthy swig before setting it on the counter. The liquor shuddered through him, melting some of the fog, and he took a couple more swallows.

Hutch kissed me. Starsky floated in the unreality of it for a little while before shaking his head. Don't. Just can't think about this right now. The effects of the stressful day combined with the whiskey to pile on his shoulders, dragging them down as he walked over to his bed. He kicked off his shoes and crawled under the covers fully clothed and pulled them over his head. The darkness seemed to swirl behind his eyelids as exhaustion pulled him down, down.

~ ~ ~

The next morning, Starsky awoke stiff, headachy, and with his groin throbbing from some already-forgotten dream. Groaning, he rolled out of bed and hobbled over to the bathroom to begin his morning routine; then he went to the kitchen to make some coffee. The whole time, he tried desperately not think about what had happened the night before; but it was lurking in his mind, stalking his thoughts.

Starsky sat with his coffee and tried to lay it all out in a logical fashion. Time to put on my Vulcan beanie. Help me, Mr. Spock. He snorted. Okay, issue number one: Hutch kissed me. He paused to replay the kiss and went away for a bit, then shook himself. Stick to logic, he thought sternly.

So, yeah, Hutch had kissed him. But that wasn't really an issue, was it? That was just the reality that prompted the issues. What were the real issues? First issue, then: Hutch is attracted to me, I guess. He wants to...what does he want, anyway? Starsky lacked, as Mr. Spock might say, the necessary data. But it was a pretty fair assumption that Hutch wanted more than the taste of Starsky's rosy lips, even if apparently Hutch, himself, was unaware of it. From the look on Hutch's face at the time, it had been as much of a surprise to him as it was to Starsky.

Yet, for some reason Starsky didn't feel too weird about it. He already knew Hutch loved him. He'd always known it, but nothing had brought it home more strongly than waking up to see Hutch standing by his hospital bed after Starsky had been shot by those hit men at the Italian restaurant. The blond was a trembling, exhausted wreck; so strung out on worry for Starsky he could barely keep himself upright. But there he was, waiting, just in case Starsky woke up. The smile Hutch had given him when Starsky opened his eyes...well, how could you put a limit on that kind of love? Was he supposed to say, "Sorry, Hutch, you love me too much." Guess even I'm not that much of a damned fool. So, the first issue was not really an issue, as far as Starsky was concerned.

Okay, issue B...what is issue B? It was right there on the tip of his mind a few minutes ago. Something more about the kiss. Something he had almost missed at the time; it was so sudden and shocking, and his brain was too fried to think straight, until now. But it had something to do with—

Starsky jolted up in his chair as this morning's dream returned to him in a rush. Hutch kissing him, stroking him, burning him with his touch. Oh, God. I'm pretty sure guys aren't supposed to dream about their partners that way. Except, well, see issue one. Actually, the two issues pretty much canceled each other out, didn't they?

Starsky heaved a deep breath and came out of analysis mode. He was surprised to discover he had a hard-on.

Suddenly, he really, really needed to talk to Hutch.

~ ~ ~

Since it was their day off, Starsky couldn't rely on cornering Hutch at work; and the blond either wasn't answering his phone, or he was already holed up somewhere. Probably biting his own arm off, at this point. Hutch's capacity for guilt was legendary, second only to Starsky's mother's ability to dish it out.

Starsky began his search in Hutch's neighborhood. He hit a couple of the parks near Hutch's house, and then swung by The Pits to eat lunch and ask Huggy to watch out for his partner.

Huggy eyed him after receiving the request. "All right, what have you done this time, amigo?"

"I didn't do anything, Hug," Starsky replied disingenuously and then squirmed under the look Huggy gave him. "Okay, maybe all I did was get into a little trouble off some intel from that crumb, Harrison."

"Told you not to trust that guy, didn't I? Brother, you know you ought to listen to the Bear when he speaks."

"Yeah, yeah, Hug. Just tell me if you see Hutch, alright? Only, don't tell him, capishe?"

"I dig ya, Starsky."

Starsky used Huggy's phone to try Hutch's place again. Still no answer. Next, he cruised down to the Venice Pier. A couple of times he had caught Hutch fishing down there, even though eating any sea life from these waters would mean certain death. But Hutch just liked the act of fishing; he said it reminded him of childhood trips with his grandfather.

Starsky had no luck at the pier, and he was starting to get a little peeved. If Hutch had wanted to be found, he would've been, already. That meant he really was avoiding Starsky, which hardly seemed fair since he was the one who did the kissing.

As Starsky walked back to his car a flash of yellow caught the corner of his eye. He turned his head and saw a lifeguard station in the distance; atop it, a yellow flag with a large black circle was whipping in the wind. Riptide, Starsky thought, and dreamily walked out onto the beach toward the blue building. As he neared, he felt a sense of the inevitable when he saw Hutch sitting on the sand beside the wooden ramp that led up to the office.

Hutch seemed to sense his approach. He looked up briefly, and then looked away. "How'd you find me?"

"How do you think, Blintz?"

Hutch sighed and nodded, then got to his feet and brushed the sand from his pants. "So, where do you want to do this?" He avoided Starsky's eye.

"Do what, babe? Jesus, you sound like you're going in front of the firing squad." Starsky crossed to stand in front of his friend. "This is me, Hutch."

Hutch looked at him for a long moment and then nodded, his posture a little less tense. "Let's go back to my place, huh?" He suggested, quietly. Together they walked back to the Torino, each lost in his thoughts. The short trip passed in silence.

~ ~ ~

At Hutch's house, Starsky grabbed a beer and sat down on the couch while Hutch paced, his motions jerky once again.

"Hutch, c'mon and sit down. You're making me dizzy." Hutch grimaced and took a seat on the couch, leaving as much room as he could between them. Starsky noted the distance and sighed inwardly.

"Look, Hutch—"

"Wait, Starsk," Hutch interrupted, "Just let me say this, it's been eating at me since last night."

Starsky said, gently, "Go ahead, buddy."

Hutch rubbed his hand over his face, "I know you must be thinking all sorts of stuff. I can't even guess, really. But, I just want you to know I would never do anything...I mean, I would never want to risk our friendship, or partnership, for anything. That other thing..." Hutch gestured vaguely off to the side, " doesn't matter. I mean, it matters, but, please...." Hutch's voice dropped low. "Please, don't let it matter, Starsk. I couldn't stand it if we couldn't be like we've always been."

"You finished, Hutch?" he asked, calmly.

Hutch nodded and swallowed.

"I don't want us to be like we've always been, Hutch." Starsky went on quickly when Hutch winced, "I want us to be...more."

Hutch's head jerked up and his eyes widened as he looked at Starsky. "More, how?"

"Well, I'm just working on assumptions, here, because you haven't said the first thing about why you kissed me last night. But if you meant it, I just wanted you to know..." Starsky paused, uncertain how to phrase it. "Well, I wanted to tell you I'm game."

"You're game," Hutch repeated tonelessly.

"Yeah, I'm game. Game to try." Starsky shifted over on the couch until his knee touched Hutch's leg. He watched in fascination as a series of expressions passed over Hutch's face. Disbelief, fear, confusion and, surprisingly, peevishness.

"You're game. Well, that's something. I kiss you once and suddenly you're Adventure Boy, ready to swing any which way?" Hutch's voice was incredulous.

Big dummy. No wonder he can never keep a girl. "Not 'any which way,' Hutch," he responded patiently, "Your way." He thought he'd better be absolutely clear, since his friend was still, evidently, unwilling to believe. "I want you," he said, simply, and watched as the words finally sunk into that blond skull.

Hutch blinked and looked down. "Wants me?" he muttered to himself as Starsky watched. It could almost be comical, if it weren't so painful, to see his friend struggling to believe that he could be wanted.

"Hutch," he prodded, "You still haven't said."

"Huh?" Hutch looked up. "Said what?"

"Whether you meant it. When you kissed me." Starsky smiled encouragingly at him, and was surprised when suddenly Hutch flushed in anger.

"Oh, I meant it. You drive me fucking crazy, you know that?"

Starsky was taken aback. He couldn't fathom what had set Hutch off, now. "Wha-what're you talking about?"

Hutch stared at him in disbelief, "Don't you remember what we were arguing about last night?"

Starsky winced with chagrin, "Oh, crap."

"Yeah, 'oh, crap,'" Hutch said, his voice rough, "And now I'm supposed to, what, have you be everything? Not that you aren't, already." Hutch faltered momentarily. "But now, God! How can trust you not to get yourself killed over some stupid stunt and…."

Starsky started to get a little peeved, himself; "I can't play it safe just to keep you happy. I mean it's my fucking life, Hutch."

"It's not! It's not yours, it's our life! Don't you know that by now? Don't you know I couldn't...if you..." Hutch had to swallow hard before continuing, "I couldn't, Starsk. Go on. Without you."

Starsky looked at him wordlessly while Hutch went on, his voice uneven.

"I saw him. He had you cold, Starsky, and all I could think was, 'no time, no time.' I only had one shot at stopping him...." Hutch leaned in, his face only inches from Starsky's, and he whispered, "It was the restaurant, all over again. I saw you dead. Dead."

Starsky found his voice, and finally said what he knew Hutch had needed to hear, all along. "I am sorry, Hutch. I promise, I won't do it again. I swear it."

Relief washed over Hutch's face, and he sat staring into Starsky's eyes. Starsky didn't breathe as he stared back; he watched as Hutch's face changed, his eyes growing deep as the sea.

Hutch brought his face forward those remaining inches, and pressed his lips to Starsky's.

This time, Starsky was ready for it, and he grabbed hold of Hutch before he could pull away, pressing his hand at the back of his neck and deepening the kiss. He felt Hutch's gasp of surprise against his mouth, and then Hutch's tongue was slipping between his lips, invading his mouth.

Damn! Blondie can kiss. The unreality of the situation struck him; but so did the utter rightness of Hutch's taste in his mouth, Hutch's hands sliding down to his back, holding him close. Starsky moaned as he felt it again; the current that rushed fast in his veins, spreading warmth wherever it passed.

Hutch's tongue moved sweetly against his until Starsky had to pull back, the awkward position cramping his swelling erection.

"Hutch," he whispered, "Let's get naked. I want you naked."

Hutch's eyes glowed hotter, and he nodded. They awkwardly lurched up off the couch and stumbled to the bedroom, where Starsky practically strangled himself getting his shirt off. Hutch seemed to be having troubles of his own working his belt buckle. Starsky won the race and watched as Hutch unhooked his pants and shoved them off his waist, his erection tenting the front of his underwear.

The heat in Starsky's belly grew so hot it felt icy. "Hutch," he said hoarsely, but couldn't continue.

Hutch looked at him dazedly, his face flushed and a little sweaty. "What? Starsk?"

Starsky cleared his throat, "I, uh. What do we do now?" he asked, helplessly.

Hutch pondered that for a moment, then responded, "Whatever we want, I guess." He grinned wickedly.

Starsky smiled back. He moved forward and put both hands on Hutch's shoulders, and then stroked them down Hutch's chest. Hutch was as smooth as a seal, not hairy like Starsky. The muscles under his hands were firm and warm. He rubbed his palms against Hutch's pecs, raising the nipples.

Hutch gasped a little, and Starsky thought, whimsically, Petting. Haven't petted anyone since High School. Hutch reciprocated by putting a hand on Starsky's waist, softly skimming his belly before stroking around to his back. Such a small touch, but again Starsky felt that sweet pull. He followed it, letting his groin press against Hutch's and rubbing their cocks together.

Hutch groaned and grabbed Starsky's ass, increasing the pressure between them. "C'mon," he begged, and pulled Starsky over until they both tumbled onto the bed. Hutch lost no time in rolling on top of Starsky. The feel of their skin against each other was making him feel light-headed.

"Drowning…." he muttered.

Hutch raised himself on his arms and looked down into his face. "What's that, buddy? Can you breathe okay?"

Starsky shook his head, solemnly. "Drowning in you, baby blue."

Hutch's eyes softened, and he leaned down to plant a kiss on Starsky's mouth, Hutch's tongue parting his lips forcefully. Starsky moaned a little, and suddenly he couldn't stand it anymore; he wanted, no, needed to feel Hutch's fully naked body against his. He reached to pull down Hutch's underwear, sliding his hands to grip Hutch's bare ass.

Hutch shuddered and joined him in tugging until their underwear was partly off, exposing their cocks. Then Hutch lowered his hips and their throbbing erections made contact.

Hutch groaned in Starsky's ear and started moving, rubbing their hot flesh together with delicious friction. Starsky's underwear was trapped under his balls, pushing them up so that Hutch's long shaft was sliding against them, as well. The sensation was incredible. They were both moaning and panting, skin touching from thigh to cock to chest. Starsky reached between them and used his hand to press the head of Hutch's cock against his stomach as it moved.

Hutch gasped and started pumping harder against Starsky, groaning his partner's name in time with his thrusts. He moaned low, "Oh. Ohhh," and then stilled. Starsky palmed the crown as it began to pulse, shooting into Starsky's hand. "GOD, Starsk!" Hutch cried.

"Hutch." Starsky whispered his name as the blond's body shook with pleasure. Starsky withdrew his hand to clean it on the sheets, and then he put his arms around his friend, rubbing his back. Hutch pressed his cheek against Starsky's, and turned his head to kiss his temple. Then he shifted to the side, his right hand remaining to caress Starsky's chest lazily.

Starsky made an agreeable noise, and Hutch looked down at him, his face enigmatic as he eyed Starsky's still-aching erection.

Starsky swallowed under the assessment. Nothing he ain't seen before, he reassured himself; but this was different. Hutch was looking down at him as if he were a work of fine art. Or...a gourmet feast, he amended, and watched helplessly as Hutch scooted down and lowered his head. He touched his lips to Starsky's cock, and Starsky jerked at the sensation.

"Hutch!" he cried out. Hutch looked up at the sound and they locked gazes for a long moment. Then Hutch’s lips curved and he bent his head.  Raising Starsky's rigid cock with his right hand, he took him in his mouth.

"Ohhhhhhh. God. Hutch." Starsky felt Hutch's tongue sliding over him, stroking him tentatively, then more firmly. His stomach muscles contracted as pleasure battered at him. "Ohhhh, babe."

Hutch started moving his hand in time with his mouth. The only noise in the room was Starsky's harsh breathing and the moist sounds of Hutch sucking on his cock. God, he is sucking my cock. Starsky forced his eyes open so he could watch. The image of Hutch's mouth bobbing up and down on Starsky's shaft almost tipped him over the edge. He reached up to put a hand in the fine blond hair, resting his palm on Hutch's head and urging him to pick up the tempo. He was so close....

Hutch sped up, working his tongue on the underside of Starsky's cock. His big hand continued to stroke the shaft, his thumb rubbing against the swollen vein. He changed the rhythm subtly, and Starsky cried out, "OH Jesus, Ohhhh...." He froze as the pleasure took him, his mind reeling and tumbling as he felt the rush of fluid swell and burst out of him into Hutch's mouth.

Hutch hung on, sucking him until the pulsing slowed to a stop. Then he gently released Starsky's cock and swallowed.

Starsky gave a soft moan and rubbed his hand over his sweaty face, unable to believe what had just happened. He looked down to see Hutch looking up at him. He looked apprehensive, as if fearing a belated reaction. Aw, Hutch. Can never quite believe, can ya? Suddenly, Starsky wanted more than anything to wipe away that uncertainty that always seemed to gnaw at his partner when it came to matters of the heart.

"C'mere, Blondie," he said, gruffly, and Hutch crawled up to join him. Starsky grabbed him by the back of the neck and hauled him in for a deep kiss, reveling in the taste of himself in Hutch's mouth. He felt the delicious lassitude of a good orgasm steal over him. Not just good, but fucking great. He pulled back from the kiss and settled his head on the pillow.

"Jesus, Hutch, that was incredible. Can't believe you did that for me," Starsky felt a little bashful, wondering if he'd be able to do as well for Hutch.

Hutch cleared his throat, "Don’t believe it either.”  He gave a cautious grin, “Was it really…okay?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Came so hard my teeth hurt.”

Hutch laughed and leaned forward to kiss Starsky’s cheek.  His lips moved against Starsky’s skin as if he were speaking, but there were no words. Starsky heard them, anyway.

Starsky's voice was a little hoarse, "Hutch, you know you...mean everything to me, too."

"I know that, you dummy," Hutch pulled back and smiled; then his face grew serious, "Only..."

"Only, what?"

"I need you to promise me something, Starsk."

"Anything, Hutch."

"Good. Promise me you won't get shot or anything. Ever again." Hutch's tone was joking, but the look in his eye was pure sadness.

Starsky responded to the look with utter sincerity, "I promise, Hutch."

"Cross your heart? No being kidnapped, running into burning buildings, falling from radio towers?"

Starsky yawned. "I swear it. And you have to promise, too."

"Yeah?" Hutch caught his yawn.

"Yeah. No car bombs, no food poisoning, no...vicious squirrel attacks. No running the dishwasher the same time as the air conditioner. No sand in your shorts. No turning in your taxes late."

"Okay. Promise. And you promise not to eat any more of those heart-clogging burrito bombs."

"You're pushing it, Blondie. You're really pushing it." Starsky closed his eyes at last, drifting to the feel of Hutch's breath stirring his hair, and he sighed as sleep gently towed him under.



September, 2004
San Francisco, CA