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White Rabbit

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Starsky crashed through the brush, ignoring the branches swatting at his arms and legs. He slowed to a trot and stopped suddenly, cocking his head.

"I hear you!" he cried with glee and bonded to his right, a trail of sound guiding his steps. Close, I'm getting close.

A cloud ran over the sun, making the greens deeper, making the light fade to silvery gray. He tripped over something and came to a tumbling halt in a small glade. Awkwardly, he found his feet and brushed off the twigs and leaves that clung to him like frightened children.

The sound of panting alerted him that he was not alone. By a jumble of rocks like a giant's toy blocks, he saw a dark inlet of branches. And, through a gap, a splash of gold.

"I see you," he chuckled, and the branches shook. Starsky crept on cat feet, his sneakers soundless in the damp dirt and grass. He peeked around into the shelter of cool green.

There Hutch crouched, his face pale beneath a coating of dirt, sweat-gleamed streaks running down his cheeks like tear tracks. His blue eyes stared up in wonder and not a little fear.

Starsky smiled wide. "Hello, Alice."

~oOo~

The camping was Hutch's idea, of course. Starsky could think of about a hundred other activities that would be more fun, including wrestling Fireball Cannon in a summer frock, or spending their weekend cleaning out Dobey's garage. But it was Hutch's turn to pick, so camping it was. Bugs in Starsky's food, dirt in his shoes, leaves as toilet paper—except, of course, he had packed his own—and a scattering of nice, juicy mosquito bites to scratch all the way home.

Not to mention the squirrels.

Starsky shuddered as Hutch pulled his latest junker of a Ford into the campground parking lot. His partner was already grinning and out the door by the time the car had finished its dying asthma attack. Starsky slowly climbed out.

Hutch took a deep breath and flung his arms out theatrically, throwing his head back. His hair caught the rays of sunlight dappling through the leaves of the tall tree beside him.

"Just smell it, Starsk," Hutch said, tilting him a broad smile.

"Smell what? Bear poop?" Starsky grumbled.

"Nature, babe. No exhaust fumes, no rancid garbage, just fresh, clean air." Hutch took another noisy inhale, this time through his nose, and promptly sneezed.

Starsky smothered a laugh.

"Let's get unpacked and hiking. I want to find a good campsite away from the usual yoyos," Hutch said, his enthusiasm undimmed.

Starsky sighed and started to unload the trunk. His heavy pack had an aluminum frame and about a thousand zippered compartments. Once he'd finished packing his clothes and other essentials, he'd stuffed every remaining pocket of space with packets of cookies, pretzels, potato chips and candy bars. He might have agreed to spend the weekend in the middle of Nature, but that didn't mean he had to starve to death in the process.

Only, when he started to heft his pack, he noticed it was suspiciously light. He patted one of the pockets, expecting to hear the telltale crackle of cellophane, but the compartment was empty. Frantically, he checked the other pockets, but they were all in the same vacant, dismal state. His food stash was gone.

"Hutch!" he yelled, and his partner trotted up, his own heavy pack already strapped on.

"Where's my food?" Starsky asked evenly.

Hutch gave him a meaningful look and Starsky's mouth dropped open.

"You didn't."

Hutch crossed his arms. "You have a lot of nerve calling that junk 'food,' Starsk."

"You bastard. I'm going to kill you. I'm going to kill you dead and drop your bloody corpse into a ravine. They'll never convict."

Hutch looked unrepentant. "You promised to stay in training even after you re-qualified for the street. Said you felt too good to go back to your rotten ways."

"But I'm on vacation," Starsky said, hearing the whine in his voice.

"A deal's a deal," Hutch said, and turned away, the canteen on his pack banging against the open trunk with a musical 'bong.'

Starsky sighed and slung on his own backpack before slamming the trunk closed viciously. He followed Hutch down the trail, focusing his eyes on the center of Hutch's backpack, wishing he had built-in lasers to fry that peanut Hutch called a heart.

"Oooh, look! A squirrel!" Hutch called out.

Starsky growled and plodded on.

~oOo~

He approached his prey cautiously, wary for signs of bolting. Hutch looked frozen into place, his eyes so wide the whites showed all the way around. His pupils were dilated, the black almost swallowing the blue.

"Shhh, pretty, pretty," Starsky said in a soothing whisper as he lowered himself into a crouch. But just as he did, Hutch jolted and fled in a flash of green and gold. Starsky's hand leapt out and passed through the air behind the scuttling figure.

He jumped to his feet and followed, but the ground beneath him seemed to move sideways. He tilted and collapsed into a roll, gravel digging into his palms as he tried to cushion his fall. He found himself on his back, staring up at the darkening sky, the clouds sweeping fast overhead like a rushing river.

"Curiouser and curiouser," he murmured. Above the torrent, the sun winked in and out.

"Hutch," he croaked out, "come back. You gotta see this."

~oOo~

They hiked for a full hour before Hutch finally declared they were far enough off the beaten track. He got busy setting up the tent. Starsky didn't offer to help. The last time he had tried he'd screwed up somehow, and the damned thing had collapsed in the middle of a rainstorm.

Instead, he collected rocks to make a ring for the campfire, clearing the space inside, and a two-foot circle without, so there would be no danger of the fire spreading. He made a couple of careful trips to the edge of the woods to gather enough branches for the cooking fire. And he hoped they would be making it soon. He was getting hungry.

Once base camp was set up, Hutch grabbed his fishing rod and led Starsky to the river that snaked along the trail.

"We'll be lucky if we get a nibble," Hutch confessed. "This is pretty much the last fishable river within a hundred miles. All the others are polluted."

"Polluted?" Starsky repeated, concerned. "You sure this one isn't, too?" Just what I need—poisoned fish.

Hutch laughed. "It's fine, I promise. I checked it with Fish and Game before we left."

"If you say so," Starsky said, resolving to make sure he gave the fish a miss, assuming Hutch managed to catch any.

But he did. Hutch stood midstream on some boulders and hauled in two fish within minutes of each other, yelling with excitement. He was laughing when he cast a look back at Starsky across the river where he sat watching.

Hutch looked so goddamn happy, his cheeks flushed and his eyes sparkling with delight, that Starsky found his grumpy mood lifting at the sight. He has no idea how good he looks, Starsky thought, admiring his friend. Hutch had traded his moustache for a couple of day's facial growth that he kept trimming back.

It made him look younger than the world-weary facade he'd been wearing for the past couple of years. Starsky liked the new look. A lot. Lately he'd found himself noticing other things, too—like the cut of Hutch's broad shoulders, or the way his chest sloped so intriguingly into his waist. He even liked the way Hutch's ribs stood out a little more than average, as if they couldn't quite contain the powerful runner's lungs beneath.

And lately, as recently as last week, Starsky had found himself staring longingly at Hutch's ass, watching the way his cheeks flexed when he walked. It was, Starsky had to admit, a worthy phenomenon to observe.

He figured it was envy. Starsky was proud of how far he had come since his encounter with Gunther's assassins, and he'd worked hard to restore his body to its former healthy shape. Every day he felt stronger and more flexible. He thought he didn't look half bad for an aging cop with enough bullet holes in his hide to ruin his chances at ever making a good lampshade. But he sometimes felt overwhelmed and a little intimidated by Hutch's smooth, tanned perfection. Starsky was all too aware of the marred landscape of his own flesh, the surgical scars and entry- and exit-wounds that formed ridges and shiny craters on his chest and back.

Maybe Hutch knew that, somehow. Hutch didn't undress around him much anymore, perhaps unknowingly making allowances for his partner's self-consciousness. Hutch probably wasn't even aware of making the change. So often they compensated for each other like that, without thinking. But Starsky missed being able to see his partner in his golden glory. And he missed the casual freedom they used to have around one another.

Hutch splashed up to the bank, interrupting Starsky's musings. In his hand he held up a fishing line with two listless-looking fish.

"Lunch!" said Hutch.

Lunch? Starsky's stomach said dubiously.

"Rainbow trout, Starsk. And I have just the thing to put on them. A trick my grandpa taught me."

Starsky grunted.

 "Don't grunt," said Hutch. "That's not at all a proper way of expressing yourself." He said it primly, but with a smile on his face. Starsky found himself returning it involuntarily.

"Something my mom used to say to me," Hutch explained sheepishly. "Hand me my knife so I can gut these fish." Starsky gave it to him and Hutch prepared the fish deftly, rinsing the filets and his hands in the river afterwards.

Back at the camp, Hutch hummed to himself while he started the fire and set the fish to cooking. It was all very strange to Starsky that a guy who grew up in a stuffy, uptight family should be so into getting dirty and camping out in the wild.

Of course, Hutch had a lot of little contradictions like that. The way he kept his house as neat as a pin, while his car was a disaster area. Or how reserved and restrained he was about laughing and letting loose with good feelings, but could jump into a rage and blow a gasket like nobody's business about something trivial and stupid.

Hutch went digging through his pack, and he held up with a jar labeled 'ORANGE MARMALADE.' "Ta-da!" he said. "Goes great on trout."

Starsky's stomach gave another lurch of protest. He was starting to get seriously worried about this lunch.

"Crap." Hutch looked around the fire, "I left my fly set down at the river. Keep an eye on the fish, would you? They're almost done." Hutch went jogging off.

Starsky looked down at the fish. He leaned lower over the pan. The scent that sizzled up to him was distinctly unappealing. He looked back the way Hutch had gone, and then looked back down at the fish. After a little while, the fish started to smell even worse. Kinda singed-smelling, truth be told. And then the singed smell was replaced by a downright burning stench. Starsky smiled, and then smiled a little wider still. He backed away from the fire and went into the bushes behind the tent.

Before long he heard Hutch whistling as he returned. The song cut off mid-note, to be followed by an ominous silence. Then, "STARSKY!"

Starsky unbuckled his belt, undid his jeans, waited a beat, and then stepped out from behind the bush.

"What's up?"

"What's UP?" Hutch sputtered at him, "My fish…they're…you were supposed to be watching them. They're completely ruined!" He hastily yanked the pan off the fire.

"Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go," Starsky said, looking down to refasten his pants. "I'm sorry, Hutch, really." He tried hard to put sincerity into it.

Fortunately, Hutch was too busy poking through the remains of his charcoaled lunch to carefully examine Starsky's expression. Hutch made a little moan of sadness and then rose heavily to his feet. He went and grabbed his fishing pole.

"What're you doing?" Starsky said, dreading the answer.

"What does it look like I'm doing? I have to go catch a couple more." Hutch trudged off with his shoulders slumped.

Starsky's guilt lasted about a minute and a half. That was how long it took for him to remember just who had emptied his backpack of all his carefully stashed treats. He started whistling to himself as he went into the tent and rifled through Hutch's pack to see what else was edible. But it was all healthy junk: fruit, wheat bread, a couple of zucchini, some canned creamed corn, and something Hutch called 'gorp.' Nuts and raisins and stuff.

Starsky looked up from his hunt, his nose alerted by some kind of heavenly smell. The burned fish stink had been replaced with something wonderful. He rose to his feet and followed it, hearing some voices and the sound of a guitar coming from further down the trail. Oh please let them have enough to spare.

About fifty yards away he came upon a small camp. A girl who looked about twenty was sitting by the fire, tending the pot of something wonderful. She had long, blondish-brown hair, and was wearing layers of skirts and blouses. The young man beside her was dressed similarly, his hair almost as long.

Hippies, thought Starsky. The guy looked a little familiar to him, but then all hippies tended to look alike to him.

"Hi," he said cautiously, not wanting to startle them. He shouldn't have worried. They both looked up with that floaty, detached gaze that spoke of heavy weed smoking. But he wasn't being a cop today, Starsky reminded himself.

Besides, they had food.

"Hiya, brother," the woman said. The man looked back down at his guitar, not responding.

Woman, you ain't my sister, Starsky thought. Some of his disapproval must have shown on his face, because she gave him a chiding look.

"Don't be up-tight, brother. What's your name?"

"I'm Dave."

"Hi, Dave. I'm Harmony," she said dreamily.

Of course you are. "Look, I hate to be a mooch, but do you think you can spare some of that?" Starsky gestured toward the big pot simmering over the fire. "See, I burned the fish my partner was cooking—"

"Partner?" the man asked, looking up.

"Yeah, my pal, Hutch. I'm afraid I ruined our lunch."

The man looked thoughtful, and exchanged a glance with the girl. He nodded at her questioning look. "Sure, why not?" he said. Something in his voice made Starsky feel uneasy.

"It looks like some kinda soup," Starsky said, hesitantly.

"French onion and mushroom," Harmony said. "I make the best. It'll blow your mind."

"Sounds great," Starsky said, and it did. "I'll run and get something to hold it. Be right back."

He hurried back to their camp and dug out a battered aluminum pot from the cook set. There was no sign of Hutch. Apparently he was having trouble catching more fish. Starsky practically ran back to the hippies' camp, his stomach making angry noises all the way. When he returned, the man and woman were still in the same position. He could imagine them sitting just like that for hours, lost in their pot-induced dream world. It was creepy. But the soup still smelled great.

The girl ladled out a healthy portion and Starsky thanked her.

"Blessings on you," she said as he walked off holding the pot by the handle, careful not to spill any.

Back at the camp, he found a very grumpy Hutch staring at the fire. He had taken out the loaf of wheat bread and was munching on a piece.

"Where did you go?" Hutch asked, and then his eyes dropped to the pot of steaming soup. "Where the heck did that come from?"

"I think I had better hunting luck than you did, Blintz. Found a couple down the way with a big pot of soup. Lunch is on!"

Hutch grumbled a little in reply, but didn't hesitate in grabbing a bowl to get his share. After a sip, he raised his eyebrows.

"Hot!" he said, waving his hand at his mouth

"Mmm," Starsky agreed happily. "Nice and peppery."

"You know, Starsk, sometimes I wonder if it's all the spice you eat that makes you so hot-tempered."

Starsky groaned.

They ate the soup with the bread, both giving little smacking sounds of approval. There was enough for two cups each. After they finished, they stretched out by the fire, leaning against a couple of boulders.

"What about dinner?" Starsky asked.

Hutch shot him a disbelieving look.

"Not now, dummy. I mean are you expecting to hunt us an elk or something?"

"I've got a couple of cans of chili in my pack," Hutch said.

Starsky wondered how he had missed those during his search. But he was feeling too good to worry about it much. His belly was at last full, and his limbs felt all warm and loose. He looked across the fire at Hutch, who seemed similarly contented, a small smile on his face. He must've felt Starsky's gaze on him, for he turned his head and met his eyes.

Hutch. Starsky felt a sudden flood of affection for his blond counterpart. They had fallen down a deep, dark hole this past year, but eventually had clawed their way out of it, bloody yet unbowed. Hutch had been well on his way to burnout, but Starsky had managed to look beyond the bitter actions to find his friend again and pull him to his side.

I do that for him. Just like he does for me. Just like Hutch had eased the worst of Starsky's pain and frustration during his rehabilitation, always trying to keep him in good spirits with his stupid jokes or his determined optimism. Or sometimes just by being an emotional punching bag for Starsky's outbursts as he lay in his hospital bed railing against what the world, and Gunther, had done to him. And he remembered how Hutch had so carefully hunted down the man himself, and locked him away. For what he had done to his partner.

Sometimes Starsky wondered what Hutch would have done if he had died.

He realized with a start that he was still staring into Hutch's eyes. The heat of the fire caused Hutch to waver a little in his vision. Starsky blinked and, as if suddenly released, Hutch looked away.

"Hutch," Starsky started. His voice sounded strange, as if the pepper from the soup had done something to his voice. He tried again, "Hutch."

Hutch looked back over at him. His eyes seemed oddly dark.

"What would you have done if I hadn't made it?"

Hutch's face contorted, his eyes squeezing shut. "Don't ask me that. Don't ask me to think about that," he said, his voice rough and anxious.

"I wanna know, Hutch. I need to know you would've…been okay."

Hutch's face slowly smoothed again, and it was a long time before he responded. He sounded calm when he said, "I wouldn't have. Nothing would ever have been 'okay' again." He rolled over and climbed to his feet, starting to tidy up his dirty bowls and utensils.

He cleans when he's upset. It was startling for Starsky to gain a new insight into someone he knew so well. Maybe he had already known it. He watched in silence as Hutch dirt-scrubbed his dishes and then used some of their bottled water to rinse them.

"Gimme those," Hutch said, indicating Starsky's bowl and spoon.

Starsky held them up, but didn't rise to hand them over. Hutch gave a snort of disgust and then walked over to retrieve the items. When he reached to take them, Starsky grabbed his forearm and tugged Hutch down until he was kneeling beside him.

Hutch looked the question, his forehead creasing with confusion.

Starsky rose into a squat to face him, still clutching his arm. "Hutch, what we do, we do it because it's right, it's needed. But sometimes it costs us."

Hutch nodded, still looking confused.

"But it gives us something, too. It gave me you. What I have with you."

The confusion turned to surprise, and something else that Starsky couldn't identify. Hutch turned his head, evading Starsky's gaze.

"I thought you hated soapy scenes," Hutch said.

"I do. I always have, I guess because they never seemed…" Real. Starsky trailed off, not wanting to reveal so much. But Hutch's eyes were back on him, and they held deep understanding.

"But it's different now," Starsky continued. "We're different now. I can tell you this much: if you hadn't survived the plague, I never would've been okay again, either."

Hutch closed his eyes and held them closed, taking a short breath and heaving it out as if in pain. When he opened them again, they were too bright, and too dark. Starsky saw it then, and suddenly he couldn't breathe. This is what he'd been feeling. This is what he'd known, but hadn't been quite willing to admit, even to himself.

It was all there in Hutch's eyes.

Slowly, so slowly, Starsky started to lean forward, tilting his head, his breath stopping in his throat—

And Hutch fell back, stumbling away on his knees before rising to his feet.

"What's happening? What's happening?" Hutch muttered, starting to pace next to the fire.

Starsky stood and put his hands out. He was having trouble keeping his balance for some reason. "It's okay. It's okay, Hutch."

"No…there's something. My head is…I swear I feel so strange. This isn't…" Hutch stopped and looked at Starsky in alarm. "I feel too good, Starsky. It feels like I've been…drugged."

Drugged? Impossible. But Starsky felt good, too, that kind of relaxed good like you get from painkillers. All the little hurts that had dogged him since Gunther were absent. He just felt…good.

"Oh, shit. The soup." Starsky looked at Hutch helplessly. "Goddamn hippies—"

"Hippies? You took soup from hippies?" Hutch sounded outraged, but something about the question tickled Starsky's funny bone, and he started laughing.

"Starsk, no." Hutch came over to him and grabbed his arms. "Don't lose it. We need to do something. We're on something."

But Starsky was still laughing, the echoes of Hutch's outrage ringing in his head. 'Don't ever take soup from hippies.' I bet that's another thing his mom drilled into him.

Hutch shook him a little and Starsky's laughter finally stopped. But now he was conscious of Hutch's warm body, so close, and what had just almost happened between them, something that he hadn't known he'd been waiting an eternity for. And he was damned if he was going to let this opportunity go by. Before Hutch could react, Starsky reached up to hold his head, and then he leaned in quickly and pressed his mouth against Hutch's.

And it was good. Boy, it was good, the sweet lips moving under his just for a moment, before Hutch yanked himself away.

"No, dammit. You're not yourself. This is nuts." Hutch's voice was starting to slur, and he looked like he might fall over. He swayed on his feet, and Starsky reached out to support him, but Hutch pulled away again, moving around to face him over the fire.

"What kind of soup was it? What did they give us?"

Starsky had to stop and think for a second, trying to recall what the girl had said. "She said onion. French onion and…mushroom." Oh crap. Magic mushrooms.

But Hutch looked relieved. "Not so bad. I was afraid it was acid. I think mushrooms aren't as heavy a trip." But there was an uncertain tone to his voice. "At least it's not an opiate." His eyes reflected an ancient horror.

"How long?" Starsky still wasn't scared, except in a remote sort of way. Hutch seemed more in control than he was. Starsky was starting to have trouble seeing around the glittery bits of rainbows that were shards of sunlight glancing off of surfaces. Like Hutch's hair. Hutch's hair had a halo of colors surrounding it.

"Beyoo-ti-ful," Starsky murmured.

"Starsky. We just have to hang on. Four or five hours, tops." But Hutch's voice was far away and unemphatic. He sat down on a log across from the fire and put his head in his hands.

Starsky approached him as if in a dream. He knew the moment Hutch became aware of him by the stiffening of his body, but Starsky didn't let it deter him. He sat next to his friend and put an arm around him.

"What're you afraid of? 'S only me. You know that, don't you?" Starsky was starting to have trouble forming words. He ran his hand up Hutch's spine to bury his fingers in the blond strands at the back of Hutch's head.

Hutch dropped his hands and gave a moan of dismay. "This isn't…you don't know what you're doing, Starsk. I can't—"

"Can't, schmant," Starsky said, and leaned over to nuzzle Hutch's neck. Hutch shivered under the wet caress. Starsky kept at it until he felt heat beneath his lips and a trembling under his hands. He crept stealthily along Hutch's jaw line on a direct course for his lips. He felt Hutch shudder.

And then with a groan, Hutch tore himself away and bolted.

~oOo~

It was one of the few times Starsky was grateful for his army training. Tracking Hutch wasn't too hard in the soft dirt. He did lose the trail a couple of times, but managed to backtrack to pick it up again. He kept getting distracted by the sounds of the leaves brushing his shirt and the sway and creak of the trees, which was almost like music. He felt if he smiled much more, the ends of his mouth might meet behind his head. In fact, he had been grinning so wide and so long that the muscles in his cheeks were fatigued and trembling.

His surroundings were starting to look familiar. When he broke through the last hedge of bushes, he found himself back on the trail a mere twenty feet from the hippies' campsite. But they were long gone. He'd thought that guy looked familiar. Maybe he had made Starsky as a cop. Maybe that was why….

Going on pure instinct now, Starsky sped back down the trail to their camp. He had a feeling his quarry had headed for his burrow. When he came upon the tent, he heard a low moaning coming from inside that made him sure of it. He ducked his head and went in.

"Hutch."

His partner blinked at him, his mouth working but no words escaping. His hair was damp with sweat and threaded through with an occasional twig. Gently, Starsky reached up to tug them out before combing Hutch's hair with his fingers.

"Just wanna love you, baby. Let me?" Starsky pleaded, his fingers moving down Hutch's cheek to stroke his lips. Then he felt the full lips move, and Hutch's tongue came out to lick delicately at his fingertips.

"Oh, babe." Starsky leaned over and Hutch reached up to grab his shoulders, pulling him down for a kiss. His lips were hard and urgent against Starsky's, his tongue slippery and frantic. Starsky reached up to knit his fingers into Hutch's hair, holding him desperately close. They kissed and kissed; time seemed irrelevant as they worked their lips together until they were raw. It was like a hunger that could never be satisfied, but Starsky was game to keep trying.

After a while, unable to bear the pressure in his groin any longer, he got to his knees and started struggling out of his clothes, watching avidly as Hutch pushed aside the sleeping bags to do the same.

When he was naked, Starsky dropped down onto his partner, matching hot skin against skin. Hutch moaned; there was a despairing tone to it that made Starsky wonder, but not for long. The feel of Hutch's hard cock against his was driving all other thoughts out of his mind. He couldn't believe how good it felt, touching a man like this. Touching Hutch like this.

Starsky leaned down and snaked his tongue along Hutch's neck, delighting in the immediate, convulsive response from his partner, who wrapped his legs around him to pull him even closer. Starsky moved his hips, sliding his cock along Hutch's. Hutch moaned again, this time the sound pure pleasure, and Starsky grunted as he thrust.

But it wasn't enough. He wanted all of Hutch. He wanted to crawl inside the golden skin of him and live there forever.

"Need to get closer. Closer," he muttered.

He felt Hutch go still, and Starsky raised his mouth to look into his face.

Hutch stared at him so long he started to wonder what Hutch was seeing. At last, Hutch closed his eyes and spread his legs wide so that Starsky fell between them, his aching cock knocking up underneath his balls. Starsky gave a slight motion with his hips and moaned when he felt the crown slip against the smooth skin there.

"Something. We need something," Starsky said, and reluctantly he pulled away from the warm body beneath him to dig frantically through Hutch's pack.

Twilight had fallen, and he was working in the dusky light filtering green through the walls of the tent, searching with shaking hands through the pocket where Hutch had put his shaving stuff and other toiletries. Starsky found and discarded a tube of toothpaste and a bar of soap, settling finally on a bottle of what looked like suntan oil. He opened it and smelled coconut. He gave a satisfied sound and turned.

In the faint light, he read the expression on Hutch's face, eager, yet also resigned and somewhat apprehensive. Starsky went back to stretch out beside him, putting aside the lotion to lay a hand on Hutch's cheek. The soft whiskers there were a sensual tease under his palm, and he brushed them lightly as he smiled into Hutch's face.

"Just me, baby blue. It's only me."

"No 'only' about it," came the husky reply.

Starsky had to kiss him for that. But the kiss quickly built to the same hot fierceness as before, and finally, his balls throbbing, Starsky had to pull away. He lifted Hutch's knees and pushed them toward his chest and Hutch grabbed them, holding himself open.

Starsky wanted to take his time, love Hutch slow and long, drag his mouth all over the smooth, soft skin and prepare him gently for the taking. But there was a trembling urgency in his groin and thighs and a muzzy cloud of lust fogging his brain, and when it came to it, he just slicked his fingers and slid them quickly inside Hutch's tight opening, hearing Hutch gasp and groan as he moved them out and then in, spreading the oil as far as he could into Hutch's ass. He felt Hutch jolt suddenly and give a shudder when his fingers went deep. He added more lotion and went into him with three fingers, the tight muscle clenching in protest.

"Easy now, babe," Starsky muttered, and grasped Hutch's cock with his other, oily hand, stroking its length.

"Oh. My God." Hutch groaned.

"Like that, sweetheart?"

Hutch's reply was nonverbal, and Starsky felt him relax around his fingers at last. Starsky thrust in and out a few more times and then pulled out his fingers and smoothed his cock until it was dripping oil. He moved into position, feeling lightheaded with anticipation, and put Hutch's long legs over his shoulders. Then he looked down.

It was so dark now he could barely see Hutch's expression, but he could still see the gleam of his eyes, beckoning him. Starsky took hold of his cock and slid the head up to Hutch's anus. He kept it there, his heart beating hard at the feeling of that opening waiting to embrace him. And then, staring into glimmer of Hutch's eyes, he thrust hard.

Hutch's mouth opened in a soundless gasp, and Starsky felt his heart pound with the pleasure of feeling that heat surrounding him, enfolding him. He pushed again, harder, deeper, and this time Hutch cried out.

"Starsk! Oh God."

"Stay with it, babe." Starsky begged and pumped his hips out and in, carefully jacking deeper into the tight tunnel of flesh. When he was halfway inside, he stopped and let loose the breath in his lungs, trying to hold onto his control until Hutch could relax. It was difficult. He felt every flutter and clench of that strong muscle tingle along his nerves and straight into his pleasure center, urging him to pound in hard.

Suddenly, Hutch's thighs relaxed, and Starsky felt himself slide deeper, the crown of his cock bumping over Hutch's prostate.

"Ahhhhh." Hutch groaned, jerking his hips, and Starsky pulled back a little to ride the same sweet spot inside his partner, hearing his soft panting moan. Starsky moved in and out, in and out, and soon Hutch's cries began to increase in volume. Starsky paused to adjust Hutch's legs so they were hooked onto his arms and then, bracing his hands against the ground, he bent low over Hutch, shifting into a long, hard stroke that took him deep inside.

"Starsk. Starsk," Hutch chanted roughly, and lifted his head and grabbed the back of Starsky's, pulling their mouths together. Starsky could feel Hutch's slick, rigid cock trapped between their bellies. He thrust his tongue past Hutch's lips as he continued pumping his hips. And then Hutch moaned into his mouth as he came, his cock jerking between them, his ass gripping Starsky's cock like a loving fist.

The sensation sent Starsky over the edge, his every nerve screaming with pleasure from his scalp to his balls, which tightened as they shot their load deep into his partner's body.

"Hutch, oh Hutch," he moaned against his lips as wave after wave struck him. Finally, utterly spent, he eased himself down onto Hutch, feeling the sticky dampness of come binding them together. Hutch's legs dropped down and he gave a sigh, which caught in surprise when Starsky's limp cock slipped from his ass.

"Hutch," Starsky whispered again, and he planted a kiss in the center of the broad chest. He could sense the still-rapid pounding of Hutch's heart throbbing against his lips. Starsky felt a sudden burst of emotion, so powerful it rolled over him like earthquake, and he snaked his arms under Hutch, hugging him tight.

Abruptly, exhaustion overtook Starsky. As he slipped into sleep, the last thing he was aware of was Hutch pulling the sleeping bag up and over him, covering him like a blanket. Starsky tumbled down into the dark.

~oOo~

There was something wrong. Starsky awoke cold and tired and nude, with a headache battering at his skull, and a stomach cramp digging into his gut like knives. He lurched upright and almost knocked over the tent before remembering where he was. He staggered outside and into the bushes where, with a groan, he unloaded his painful bowels.

Of course, he'd left his toilet paper in the tent.

Cleaning up was a disgusting chore. Starsky went back for his toilet paper and did a better job of it. The whole messy affair had been enough to drive the previous day's events from his mind for the moment, but after he had washed up and pulled on his pants, it all came back to him with a shock.

Hutch. Oh, God. Shame burned through him. In the sane light of day, what had seemed quite natural and inevitable under the influence of the drug was suddenly revealed as a selfish, aggressive act. He had literally hunted Hutch down and forced himself on his partner.

But he liked it, a tiny voice argued, only to be drowned out by his growing guilt. And a sadness, too. For if they had been building toward this, he would have wanted it to be different. Something more…tender, somehow. Not the mindless, heated fuck they'd engaged in. He knew Hutch had gotten pleasure out of it too, but at what cost?

"Hutch?" he called out, wondering if his partner wasn't suffering the same intestinal aftereffects of the drug. Starsky beat the bushes around the camp, but didn't find his partner. Finally he threw on a shirt and headed down to the river.

Hutch was there. Sitting on the bank, his back turned toward Starsky, his shoulders slumped. A twig cracked under Starsky's foot and Hutch stiffened, but didn't turn to face him. Starsky approached cautiously.

"Hey, buddy," he said, seating himself in the sandy dirt next to his partner. Hutch didn't reply with their usual, 'Hey, yourself,' but he flicked Starsky a glance. His blue eyes were bloodshot, the lids swollen.

"You…okay?" Starsky asked. Stupid question.

Hutch didn't respond for a long moment, and Starsky closely observed his profile, trying to get a clue to what he was feeling. Hutch didn't look angry. He looked desolate, lost, as if something had been taken from him. Starsky was afraid he knew what that was.

And he had done the taking.

He hunted for words of apology, and they came out stilted, gruff. "Hutch…I just want you to know I-I would never...if it weren't for the drug…" I would never have hunted you. Forced you.

Hutch made a gesture, a strange chop of the hand. Now he was starting to look angry.

"Don't. Don't say anything. It never happened," he said, his voice deep and uncompromising.

"Hutch, get serious. We can't just pretend—"

"We can. It never happened," Hutch hissed, and he pushed to his feet quickly and walked away toward the camp, leaving Starsky with his mouth hanging open and his stomach doing a dance of disappointment and dismay.

Right, Blondie. Like that'll work. With a sigh, Starsky rose as well, brushing at the sand clinging to his seat. He trudged back, a sour tang of regret in his mouth, the heaviness of his heart reflected in his slow steps.

~oOo~

At work that next week, whether they were sitting at their desks or cruising their beat, silence hung like a thick curtain between them. But Starsky thought the cause wasn't just what had gone down in that small tent, the groping and grinding and the animal heat. Something had happened earlier, by the campfire. The whole day was a blur since then, a tattered rag of memories wrung of sense. But there had been something powerful in that moment when they were relaxing by the fire, and Starsky had looked at Hutch, and Hutch had said something. Or almost said something, and Starsky had heard it. And then Hutch had run away, and it was lost.

The radio squawked. Hutch responded and Starsky spun the wheel of the Torino in a tight U-turn. Hutch hung up the mike without comment, and out of the corner of his eye, Starsky saw him checking his gun.

Not your usual 211. For starters, the guy was wearing a clown suit, complete with big, floppy red shoes and a giant ruffled collar. But there was a black pistol in his hand, no laughing matter. The partners looked at each other and then back through the large window of the liquor store before they ducked down and around the corner.

"I'll take the back?" Starsky jerked his head.

"Go," Hutch responded.

Even as he scuttled away, Starsky felt a shiver of portentous dread. Too much lay between them unspoken and unresolved. What had seemed like all the time in the world had been shaved down to one single second, the arch of Hutch's pale eyebrow, and that one last word: Go.

Starsky sped around to the back of the shop, careful to keep low as he passed the side window. A black and white rolled up in the alley, siren silent, and Starsky delayed until he could tell the emerging uniforms to cover the back exit. Then he pushed in alone, his fingers tenting on the door as he eased it open.

To his left, cases of beer lined the walls, making the passage narrow. He felt anxious—he was late getting into position—so he sneaked quickly along in the dim light, hearing muffled voices coming from the front. One was high-pitched and sounded desperate. The other, his partner's, was rough and loud and steady.

Starsky's heart was pounding in his ears with unaccustomed panic, and he couldn't make sense of what was being said. He crouched low at the end of an aisle and peered around the side of a snack display. He froze.

He saw his partner standing tall in the open between Starsky and the clown-faced perp. Hutch was reaching out for the gun clutched tightly in the clown's white-gloved hand. The gun that was aimed straight at him.

NO! HUTCH! Starsky couldn't breathe, couldn't speak. He raised his Beretta in slow motion, chillingly aware that he had no clear shot. He saw the gloved hand squeeze and felt his heart stop dead in his chest, iced over with abrupt terror.

And a stream of water shot out of the gun, hitting Hutch in the face.

Starsky lowered his automatic, shaking in reaction, and watched in stunned shock as Hutch wiped his face with his sleeve and took the water pistol from the clown, chiding him in gentle tones as he cuffed him.

Time started again. Starsky took a breath—gasping it in—and Hutch turned his head. "Starsk?" He called out, "You there? It's all clear. Come on over."

Starsky took a few more shuddering breaths, calming himself. He came around the stand of chips to find Hutch cuffing the clown, who was sobbing. Tears glistened down his greasepaint-covered cheeks. He stood passively as Hutch read him his rights, responding only after being prompted.

Hutch gave Starsky a quick, frowning glance, and Starsky realized he'd been staring for far too long at his partner's face, and at the dampness on his collar—all that remained of the clown's assault. Starsky shook himself and followed Hutch and the perp outside.

More uniforms showed up, and Hutch turned custody of the clown over to the arriving officers. One of them went back inside to take the clerk's statement. Starsky was glad Hutch hadn't insisted they take the loser in themselves.

"We'd better go in and type up the report," Hutch said, and Starsky nodded dumbly. It wasn't until they were in the Torino and on the road back to Metro that the reaction finally set in. He clutched his hands tight around the steering wheel, suddenly furious, hot blood suffusing his face.

"I almost shot a clown," he grated sideways, keeping his eyes fixed on the road. "What the fuck were you doing?"

He heard puzzlement and a little bit of an edge in Hutch's voice. "Didn't you hear me? I said it loud—'I can tell that's just a toy; now hand it over before you get shot.'"

Oh. "I was delayed getting in. Had to position the uniforms." He swallowed. "You scared the shit out of me. I thought you were a goner." His voice had a strange catch on the last words and he hastily shut his mouth. He could feel Hutch's eyes on him, but refused to lift his own from the street unrolling before him.

"Well, I'm fine," was all Hutch said, but the undercurrent was so strong Starsky thought he would drown in it.

'Fine'. Says he's 'fine'. Yeah, everything's fine and dandy, Hutch. Except we haven't said a word to each other—except about work—ever since the river. Ever since that day. And I can't stop thinking about it and wanting it all over again, even though I obviously screwed you in the head when I screwed you up the ass.

Maybe that was what was causing this distance between them. Not that Starsky hadn't taken 'no' for an answer, but Hutch hadn't…minded. Just another thing that Hutch might never forgive him for.

Maybe Starsky should offer to even up the score.

The thought gave him a chill—not of disgust, but the good kind that shivered into his balls, making his cock twitch. And as he drove them back to the station, he started to make some plans.

~oOo~

Their clown's name was Adam C. Gertz, and his greasepaint hadn't survived all the crying and face-rubbing he'd indulged in on the way in to the station. Patches of pale skin had appeared around his eyes, making him look, if possible, even more pathetic. Hutch volunteered to type up the arrest report, so Starsky had time to run out to the grocery store, where he acquired some props for his evening plans.

They wrapped up and clocked out, leaving Dobey, as ever, fixed at his desk like a monolith that would require ropes and a tackle to be moved. When Starsky popped his head in to say good night, Dobey gave him a look that said he had noticed the strain between the partners, and if they didn't get to the bottom of it soon, he would start interfering. Starsky gave the captain a nod, and saw him frown in acceptance.

 Since Hutch's junker had blown an important gasket the day before, he was relying on Starsky for a ride home. Starsky found for once he was grateful for his partner's terrible taste in cars. As he turned down Ocean Avenue he cleared his throat.

"I picked up some stuff for dinner."

"Asking yourself over?" Hutch asked, his voice gritty.

"Yup."

Hutch started to speak again but Starsky cut him off in a hurry.

"Don't say anything, Hutch. We're going to your place. I'm making you dinner."

Hutch grunted, but didn't respond. When Starsky looked over at him, he caught the telltale sign of jaw muscles twitching and flexing.

Starsky ignored him and parked in front of Venice Place. He let Hutch go on ahead while he grabbed his grocery bag from the trunk. But he was only a few steps behind Hutch, which gave him a nice view of his partner's ass as those long legs climbed the stairs ahead of him.

Inside, Starsky set his bag down on the kitchen table and watched as Hutch prowled back and forth like a caged lion.

"Siddown, Hutch, take a load off," he suggested, to Hutch's wordless grunt.

Have it your way, Blondie, Starsky thought, and he pulled a six-pack from the bag, popping the caps off a couple and waiting until Hutch swung by before offering him a beer. Hutch took it but didn't drink. Starsky watched, bemused, as Hutch finally shrugged off his jacket and gun. He slouched down on the couch, propped the beer bottle up on the arm, and then regarded Starsky evenly.

Enough was enough. Starsky's nerves were jittery as it was, and he wasn't sure he could take more of this silent treatment before he blew a gasket himself. He took off his own gun and laid it on the side table, then seated himself opposite Hutch.

Starsky cleared his throat and dived in. "We gotta talk."

Hutch's brows contracted dangerously, his eyes narrowing down to slits. "I told you before. It didn't happen."

Stubborn bastard. "What about me, Hutch? Don't I get a say?"

Hutch looked surprised, and then gave a weary sigh. "You already said. You never would've done it. You were drugged. I was drugged. Can't we…?" he drifted off, glancing away, apparently at a loss.

"I was trying to tell you how sorry I am—"

Hutch's eyes changed. "Sorry? You don't have anything to be sorry about," he said, sounding wistful.

"But I do. I am," Starsky said sincerely.

Hutch chewed his lip. "Are we talking about the same thing, here?"

It was an odd question. "What the hell else could we be talking about, Hutch? I hunted you down. I made you—"

"Shh." Hutch said. "Wait a second." He considered Starsky for a while, his shoulders tense, but it was a different kind of stiffness. It was that focused, concentrated tautness that took him when Hutch was thinking about a case.

"We went wrong somewhere," Hutch said, his voice distant and distracted. "I can almost finger it.…"

"I know where we went wrong, Hutch, but it wasn't really our fault."

Hutch looked up, his eyes clear and intent. "Where?"

"I'll show you." Starsky got up and grabbed the grocery bag from the kitchen. He pulled out two items, one in each hand. He saw Hutch's expression grow puzzled.

"Fried fish sticks." Starsky held up the package. "They didn't have any fresh trout at the corner bodega," he added with a wry smile.

Hutch frowned.

"Orange marmalade." Starsky held up the second item. He saw comprehension dawn on Hutch's face.

Then Starsky reached into the bag a final time and pulled out a red and white can, holding it so the label was pointed toward Hutch.

"Cream of mushroom soup."

Hutch was starting to look pissed.

"Hear me out, babe," Starsky said. "See, the way I figure it, you didn't really have a choice. What I want to do is…give you back your choice."

Hutch swallowed and said, almost in a whisper, "What about you? Don't you want a choice?"

Starsky shook his head. "I don't need it. I mean I've already made mine. It all depends on you, Hutch. See, here's your time machine. Whichever one you want, well," he shrugged, "that's what I'll make you for dinner. So, which is it gonna be? Fish, or soup?"

Hutch just stared at him. Starsky wished at that moment that he had telepathic powers so he could dig into the gray matter hiding behind those crystal blue eyes, which were revealing nothing at all.

"Can I…can I ask you a question, first?"

"Sure, anything," Starsky promised blithely.

 "When you said—back at the camp—that you wouldn't have…'if it weren't for the drugs'…what did you mean?"

Starsky tried to think back to that cold, sick morning. His stomach churned just remembering it. "I told you already. I was trying to say I was sorry…for not taking 'no' for an answer."

"I thought you meant…." Hutch's face cleared, and he stared down at the table, at the defrosting package slowly condensing water onto the surface of the coffee table, and then at the red and white can of soup.

"You know, I hear fried food is very bad for you," Starsky offered helpfully. "Soup is much better for your health. And I know how you like to eat healthy, Hutch."

He saw a smile of disbelief cross Hutch's face.

"You like soup, huh?" he asked, his voice improbably low and husky.

Starsky took a deep breath before replying. "I like it a lot," he admitted. "Only, I like to…eat it slow. Really appreciate it."

Hutch stared at him, his eyes going wide again, like they had that night across the fire. Starsky realized he was sweating a little.

"What about you, huh? Do you like…soup? Do you maybe wanna try it?"

"I think soup is great," Hutch said slowly. "I think soup is…is fine."

Starsky exhaled in pure relief. "Just 'fine'?" he kidded gently.

"All right, mighty fine," Hutch admitted sheepishly, looking down.

"Hutch." Starsky was having a little trouble breathing. "Look at me, babe."

Hutch raised his eyes, slowly. The heat in them raised Starsky's own temperature about twenty degrees, fast. This is it. It's really gonna happen. He'd been so intent on Hutch's reactions he'd forgotten the end he had been struggling toward. And now Hutch was looking at him with so much intensity he suddenly felt nervous.

Some of his uncertainty must have been reflected in his expression, for Hutch's gaze softened, the hunger muting. But Starsky didn't want that. He wanted that look, the hot blue that said Hutch knew exactly what Starsky had been feeling back in the forest with his quarry almost within reach.

"So, babe. How do you want your soup?" Starsky asked, raising an eyebrow suggestively. Reaching into the bag a final time, he pulled out a pristine tube of lubricant, looked at it for a moment, and then tossed it over to Hutch, who caught it automatically. Hutch looked down at the label, and when he raised his eyes again, the heat was back, multiplied, so that Starsky could almost see it as waves rising in the air.

It took mere seconds for them to rise and close the distance between them, and then, oh, God, those hungry lips were back on his once again, sucking at him, tasting so sweet. Hutch's warm breath was puffing out of his nostrils, washing against Starsky's cheek. When he took his next breath, Starsky pulled the air from Hutch's lungs, pushing his tongue into his mouth. He felt strong hands grip his head frantically tight, and felt a little dizzied at the power of his own response. He had wondered if maybe the drug was why the sex had been so incredible, so intense and powerful and unbelievably good that first time, but this kiss was proving that theory dead wrong.

No, it was them. It was Hutch, touching him, wanting him so badly. Seeing Hutch out of control, all his careful detachment shattered, was making Starsky's cock harder than a gun muzzle and just as eager to fire. And feeling Hutch equally hard, pressing against him, moaning with need, was making it pretty likely he would shoot, and pretty soon, unless they backed off.

Starsky put his hands up on Hutch's shoulders, but it took a concerted push to get him to ease up. When Hutch finally pulled back, his face was flushed, the intent stare softened and hazy with desire. Starsky swallowed. For me. All for me.

Without speaking, he tugged at Hutch's shoulder, getting him moving toward the bedroom. Behind him, Starsky grabbed the lube and started unbuttoning his shirt, pausing as he watched Hutch strip off his own. Starsky stood for a moment, admiring the broad, smooth back and almost flawless tanned skin.

 Hutch turned. Already stripped of his shirt and pants and shoes, he stood in his socks and plain white boxers. Starsky's eyes dropped automatically to Hutch's crotch and the thick hard-on pressing against the front seam, a sliver of red flesh peeping through the gap.

Starsky's heart thumped hard. He dropped the lube on the bed and started tearing at his shirt, getting it open and off. He was gazing so intently at the bulge straining at the fabric of Hutch's underwear that it took him a moment to realize the abdomen above it was unnaturally still, as if Hutch had stopped breathing. Starsky looked up.

Hutch was staring at his chest.

The moment went on too long, and Starsky's certainty was shaken by Hutch's frozen expression.

"Maybe you changed your mind, huh?" Starsky said finally, swallowing an impossible lump.

Hutch shook his head and then raised it, looking straight into Starsky's eyes. He spoke, his voice like a silvery frost. "There was a while there, when I was sure—dead sure, Starsk—that you wouldn't make it. I gave up on you," he admitted slowly. "I gave up, in here." He raised his hand to his chest and ended on a whisper, "It was like a betrayal, somehow."

Aw, Babe. Starsky was speechless.

"And now, look at you," Hutch said, wonderingly, "You proved me wrong. You proved all of them wrong."

"No," Starsky said. "We proved them wrong. Together. You were there." He shook himself. "And, anyway, you want to talk about that shit, or you wanna go to bed and eat your damned soup?"

Hutch's face changed, the brooding look changing in an instant to an impossibly wide grin, and then he pounced. Starsky almost jolted back when he felt Hutch's big hands yanking open his jeans and then hauling them down his legs.

"Oh, I want my soup," Hutch growled. "I want it bad." He went down onto his knees, freeing Starsky of his shoes and socks, and Starsky automatically put his hands on Hutch's warm shoulders for balance. Hutch finished with his task and raised his head. Starsky found himself fascinated by the proximity of Hutch's mouth to his erection. Six inches? Five? Suddenly no inches, as Hutch pressed his face into his groin.

Starsky groaned wildly. Oh man. Oh man. "Goddamn, Hutch, what're you—"

"Shhhh." Hutch cautioned him, his breath blowing cool against Starsky's hot shaft. And then he felt it: Hutch's hand gripping him, and a slow, meandering wetness, traveling up from the base of his cock to pause just below the head, stroking him there, making him crazy.

Starsky groaned, his hips bucking against his will, and Hutch pushed him back, holding him still. Starsky looked down just in time to see Hutch swallow the head of his cock.

"Hutch. Oh, God." The soft yet firm pressure of Hutch's tongue teasing him, and the gentle suction of his lips, were tender and exquisite. He felt himself throb madly with pleasure, his cock stiffening to peak hardness in the time it took him to gasp a single breath. It was better than any drug, this pleasure, and affected his head as profoundly, because suddenly he couldn't think at all, could only feel every stroke and glide of that beloved mouth, doing things to him he'd never dared dream of.

Hutch's hand was on his balls, tugging, pulling down, and then he gave them a slight turn, twisting the sac.

"God. Ohhh." Starsky couldn't control his mouth. "Beautiful…so good, Hutch."

More of Hutch's mouth claimed him, and Starsky's knees started to get weak. He grabbed at Hutch's shoulders, clutching them roughly before his hands traveled up to his head to feel it in motion, feel it rise and fall over his cock. He felt his balls move in Hutch's hand. He was close to coming, and he squeezed his eyes shut, tightening his grip on Hutch's head to warn him. Hutch released him, his hair catching in Starsky's fingers as he pulled away. Starsky opened his eyes and looked down.

Hutch licked his lips. "I think my soup is hot." He gave a small smile at Starsky's groan and then rose to his feet and pushed him toward the bed. Starsky stumbled a little, his head feeling light, but his cock and balls feeling so heavy, as if any second they'd be dragging on the floor from the sheer weight of the blood trapped inside them.

Hutch gave him a gentle nudge from behind and he collapsed onto the bed, catching himself with his hands. He started to roll over onto his back but suddenly Hutch was there, trapping him against the bed, his long weight covering him. Hutch must've lost his boxers somewhere, because his erection tried to bury itself between Starsky's cheeks. It felt sexy and scary as shit. He'll never fit, Starsky thought, although he had taken plenty of women up the back door himself, and he knew it was just a matter of gentle preparation. The kind he hadn't given Hutch on that fateful camping trip.

Hutch was licking and sucking at his ear now, and humming deep in his throat, a low rumble as he pressed his hips down on Starsky, gently thrusting against him. Starsky shivered under the assault as Hutch languorously nibbled at his earlobe and licked delicately around the edge of his ear. Then suddenly Hutch rolled off of him to rest his cheek against his back, the facial hair a soft rasp against his shoulder as Hutch kissed and sucked his way down…and down.

"What're you up to, Blondie?" Starsky asked shakily.

"M'just gonna try out my soup," Hutch mumbled, and his lips dragged across Starsky's lower spine, the slick wetness of tongue stroking knowingly at the top of his crack.

Oh, shit. Starsky had always wanted to try this. He'd just never gotten the balls up to ask any of his girlfriends to do it. And here Hutch was….

 "Hutch!" The big hands parted his buttocks, and Starsky felt the strange and utterly wonderful sensation of Hutch's whiskers against the tender flesh between his cheeks, and then the incredibly dark, ball-tingling slide of that soft, wet tongue slipping down into his crack until it reached his asshole. Starsky groaned in disbelief as it started licking at him, over and over, circling the flesh there.

"Jesus," Starsky whispered, and Hutch laughed softly, the exhalation blowing against Starsky's anus. Then a slick, wet finger joined the tongue, stroking him soft and hard, soft and hard. Starsky's ass started clenching and relaxing involuntarily, and he shifted his hips against the bed, trying to adjust the angle of his weeping hard-on while Hutch kept at him, making him hotter and hotter with each tender lick.

"Please, please," Starsky mumbled against his forearm, which was trapped under his mouth. He started humping the mattress but Hutch's mouth kept on him, and when Starsky raised his ass on one stroke, Hutch's tongue penetrated him.

"Fuck!" Starsky yelled, startled. He was going to come and Hutch wasn't even touching his cock. He felt cold air hit his sensitized anus as Hutch pulled back. There was a pause as Hutch fumbled with the lube, but Starsky was only peripherally aware of it, lost in the haze of sensation. And then he felt a slick finger slide home in one smooth stroke.

Starsky bucked against the mattress, crying out as he was penetrated, groaning as the finger moved deeper. It felt big. Starsky had always been aware that Hutch had big hands; hell, he'd even speculated on the corresponding size of Hutch's erect cock. But he'd never imagined what that one long finger could do to him, that it could give him so much pleasure, stroking him from within, moving deep to nudge against the small gland behind his nuts.

Starsky was in heaven. He moved his hips up and down, mashing his cock against the mattress for some desperately needed relief, and then pushing back against that finger that probed him so knowingly. He panted with the effort, sweat dripping between his cheeks to join the moistness already there.

Just as he was completely sure he couldn't possibly take any more, that Hutch was a cold-hearted, ass-teasing tormentor who was trying to shock his heart back into early retirement, a second finger pushed in beside the first, stretching him painfully but deliciously wider. It suddenly occurred to Starsky that Hutch's cock was a fair amount bigger than his fingers, and he groaned at the thought.

Hutch's fingers eased out of him. "Doing okay?" Hutch asked on an uneven whisper. The proof that Hutch was as shaken as Starsky made him feel slightly better.

"Get the show on the road, babe," Starsky responded cockily, but his stomach was trembling a little. He heard Hutch exhale harshly, the sound raw desire, and then Hutch rose over him again to blanket him, rolling him onto his side and hugging him fiercely, hands drifting hungrily over his chest.

Starsky felt overwhelmed. That was a whole lotta Hutch, rubbing against him, wrapped around him. At the same time, his body arched back against Hutch's of its own volition, and he moved his ass against the hard cock that was waiting to claim him.

Hutch hissed. "Watch it," he said breathlessly, "Want you too bad right now." His lips found the back of Starsky's neck and kissed him, his breath hot against his nape. Then Hutch's right hand came down to take possession of Starsky's cock.

"Ahhh," Starsky couldn't help the moan of delight, and he thrust eagerly into Hutch's tight fist, pulling back to press his ass against Hutch's cock. Hutch stroked him, feeding his fire, until he hardly recognized himself. He was writhing like crazy, every nerve craving more stimulation.

"You're so hot, babe," Hutch whispered in his ear. "So hot in my hand."

"Dammit, Hutch, get on with it," Starsky gasped, alarmed to hear himself begging for Hutch's cock. Starsky could feel the big body trembling against him at his words.

Aw, Hutch. Starsky lowered his voice, saying, "Do, it babe. Really want it. Wanna feel you." And, oh, man, he did want it. Wanted to feel it in him, learn what this terrifying, dangerous pleasure could be like. A memory from that afternoon in the tent popped into his head, how he had felt, going into Hutch. He wanted Hutch to know what that felt like, too. Like all the world was contained in that one place where they met, flesh within flesh.

There was a pause while he waited, listening to Hutch slick himself up. Starsky was tense and expectant—thinking and not thinking, both. He almost didn't want to know what was about to happen to him. In all his life, he had never thought about willingly being on the receiving end of this particular act.

So he blanked his mind, and just let himself feel the gentle warmth of Hutch's hands, touching him again, testing his opening, and then guiding himself to Starsky's anus; a cold, slick, thick pressure, poised there for just three beats of Starsky heart. He shuddered just as Hutch pushed hard, and spread him open with his cock.

"Holy fuck," Starsky whispered. It was painful. He found himself very, very grateful that Hutch halted then, not moving further. He felt suddenly ashamed of how he had rushed Hutch in the tent, because right now it was all he could do not to pull away. But Hutch waited, and slowly, Starsky could feel his muscles giving, accepting, easing. He sighed, and Hutch pulled back, then pushed in deeper.

"Ahhh," Hutch moaned near-silently, his breath moving against Starsky's neck. The sound of his enjoyment hit Starsky right in the balls, and the pressure eased as he relaxed, feeling the beginnings of pleasure in the slow, careful movements. Hutch was so cautious that after a while, Starsky got impatient and rolled his hips back, helping in his own impalement.

Hutch gasped and grabbed his hip as if to stop him, but then he pulled on it, sinking even deeper into him. And then Starsky felt it, like a ribbon of heat curling from behind his nuts to twist up his cock—Hutch had found that magic spot that his fingers had toyed with earlier.

Starsky groaned and heard himself pleading for more of it, more of that dark magic. Hutch gave a soft laugh and Starsky shivered as the thick crown rubbed shallowly against it over and over. Hutch was really moving, now, the lube smoothing the way, and he reached over him to rub his chest and palm his nipples.

"Oh, God, Hutch. Touch my cock. Please, baby." Starsky wanted it so badly at that moment, to feel Hutch's hand on him.

"Not yet," Hutch said low, a deep murmur in his ear, and Hutch's mouth closed around his earlobe to suck and lick. "So good, Starsky. Fucking you…I'm fucking you," he groaned his pleasure. Starsky shivered and jerked as the sound and meaning vibrated down his nervous system.

The head of Hutch's cock was pumping Starsky's sweet spot like one of Charlie McCabe's fictitious oilrigs—a great, inexorable piston of pleasure. Starsky lifted his right leg and slung it around Hutch's hip, hearing him moan with appreciation at the deeper penetration. Iron fingers dug into Starsky's leg, holding him fast as Hutch picked up the pace. Starsky was in a different place—all feeling, and the slick sound of flesh, and his own moaning, pouring from his lips, and Hutch's groaning whispers of pleasure and praise. And then finally Hutch reached to gather Starsky's cock in his big hand.

"Jesus. Jesus. JESUS," Starsky cried out, as Hutch stroked his cock, punishing him inside and out with raw pleasure, and he felt his balls clench into rocks. "Oh God, Hutch, HUTCH!" Starsky shouted and came, jerking helplessly with the intensity of his climax. He ejaculated like a pressure hose, bathing Hutch's hand with his come in a pulsing stream, feeling his ass relax and then tighten uncontrollably around the hard shaft inside him. "Oh. Oh," he said, more weakly, his cock still spasming, almost synchronized with the pounding rhythm of Hutch's cock.

While he was coming, Starsky had vaguely heard Hutch moaning in his ear, but the big body was still thrusting fast and hard. Hutch released his cock and Starsky felt him halt in mid-stroke, moving deep and then pushing Starsky's leg off his thigh and to the mattress with one slippery hand as Hutch shifted into a squat. And then he started to really fuck.

Starsky groaned as the new angle slammed Hutch's cock into his prostate again and again. His own cock gave a belated spurt of semen and Starsky cried out in sharp pleasure. He'd never felt anything like it.

Hutch was grunting now—low, animal grunts, a sound Starsky had never heard out of him before. Starsky started to think he was never going to survive this, or maybe not with his ass intact. But then, finally, he heard a low moan, almost of pain, and Hutch plunged deep and froze, his hand squeezing Starsky's hip convulsively as he came. Starsky could feel it, the pulsing wax and wane of the thick shaft.

"Ahhh, Starsk." Hutch gave a plaintive sigh, his hand slipping down to Starsky's belly, and he eased slowly to the side, his cock turning in Starsky's ass. Starsky gasped. He felt Hutch breathe deeply, and then his hand drifted down to cup Starsky's flaccid penis, as if to see if there was any more pleasure to be stripped from the abused organ.

But Starsky was dead there. He was dead everywhere—Hutch had snuffed him, killed him with his cock. Starsky lay on the bed completely limp and imagined the headline:

Man Killed Dead by Incredible Fuck

"I just don't understand it," Detective Sergeant First Class Kenneth Hutchinson was heard saying. "One moment I was fucking him with my rock-hard, nine-inch dick, making him scream my name and come all over my hand, and the next minute he was just this…squishy blob of protoplasm." Hutchinson looked deeply distraught. "It was a mess. I ended up having to replace the mattress."

The dead man could not be reached for comment.

Starsky laughed a little to himself, then winced when the movement brought home the fact that Hutch was still inside him, and still, apparently, semi-erect. "You ever gonna get that monster out of my ass?" He was only partially joking.

"Sorry," Hutch said, sounding embarrassed, "that happens sometimes when I get too… Hang on, this might be a little—"

He didn't finish. He didn't need to. Starsky felt every inch of that semi-hard cock as it slowly withdrew from his body, and he suppressed a groan of pain. Still, afterward he found he felt strangely empty. Okay, now you're getting weird, Davey. But it was true, how much he had loved it. He was surprised to realize he liked it almost as much as he had enjoyed fucking Hutch.

Hutch shifted behind him until they were touching closely, sharing the sweat on their skin. Then he slung his arm over Starsky's and lightly rubbed his chest with his palm.

"That was…Jesus. Incredible. Think I almost died," Hutch said, echoing Starsky's thoughts. "Was it…?" Thankfully, he didn't finish the unworthy question; he just sighed and drew him closer. Starsky lay in a puddle, too wasted to move anything but his hand, which joined Hutch's over his chest.

Soon enough, though, his lower body woke up to register a serious complaint, and he hurriedly sat up and scrambled off the bed to head to the bathroom, waving a hand at Hutch's concerned "You okay? Starsk?"

Starsky sat on the john and wondered if he would always associate sex with Hutch with intestinal cramps. Vaguely, he knew there was…stuff he could do to take care of the problem, but the thought was too gross for words at that moment. He finished up and gave himself a good swab down with a wet washcloth, then decided to brush his teeth while he was at it. He located the spare he kept in Hutch's medicine cabinet and started brushing. Bent over the sink, he heard a knock.

"Starsk?" Hutch sounded tentative. Starsky's heart gave a little twist. He looked up into the mirror as the door opened. Hutch had pulled on his boxers and was standing there, looking concerned.

It suddenly occurred to Starsky that this was the way it would be now. Of course, Hutch's physical well-being had always been in his care, from the earliest days of their partnership. And as time passed, Starsky had started to feel responsible for Hutch's emotional well-being, too.

And now he guessed his definition would have to expand further, to include Hutch's heart.

Starsky finished brushing his teeth and rinsed. "Wanna use my toothbrush?" he offered magnanimously. Considering where Hutch's tongue had been a little while ago, he thought it was pretty generous of him.

Hutch gave a tiny smile. "Nah, I think I'll use my own. You mind if I grab a shower, though?"

"Go for it," Starsky said. "I'll lock up." As he passed his partner he slid a possessive hand onto his waist and gave a quick kiss to the side of Hutch's mouth. He saw the tiny smile break into a broad grin just as he walked away.

His heart. Guess it's mine, now. Which is only fair, since he's the reason I got mine beating again. Starsky didn't remember it, of course, but Dobey had told him later. Dobey had said it was a miracle, but Starsky just considered it a perfect example of how the universe always made much more sense than it appeared to at any given moment.

Starsky heard the shower running as he went around shutting off the lights in the living room. He stopped and stared at the thawed-out box of fish sticks puddling onto the coffee table.

With a grin, he disposed of the soggy mess and wiped down the table, then took the can of mushroom soup and placed it on Hutch's bookshelf. He smiled to think of Hutch's reaction the next time he reached for a book.

Hell, he'd probably even blush.

Starsky went back to the bedroom and eyed the mussed-up bed sheets with distaste, then quickly stripped the bed and located a fresh set in Hutch's bureau. By the time Hutch had emerged from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, Starsky was propped up in bed waiting.

Hutch had an odd smile on his face as he approached the bed. Starsky waited expectantly for him to drop the towel and join him, but Hutch just stood there.

"What's up?" Starsky scratched at his chest absently, fingering his scars. They always started itching at bedtime; it was the damnedest thing.

"I was just thinking—" Hutch cut himself off and looked uncertain.

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea, babe," Starsky said, grinning.

The put-down must have worked, because Hutch rallied and gave him a slightly irritated look.

"What I was thinking was…it's been a long, long time since I…cared about someone." He looked away, and Starsky noted the flush along his neck. "Not that I haven't always…what I mean is, this way. And I was just thinking it'll be nice to have you to…to come home to." Hutch sounded abashed, but determined. "That is, assuming you want to…."

"You're stuck with me, babe," Starsky answered the unspoken question, then grinned as he said, "Only, we're together all day, so how we gonna 'come home' to each other?"

Hutch seemed relieved at the assumption that they'd be together, regardless. And Starsky liked that just fine. He watched, amused, as the habitual crinkle appeared between Hutch's pale brows. He was obviously giving the problem serious thought. Then his expression lightened.

"I know—I'll move my daily run from the morning to after our shift. Then I can come home to you afterward." He smiled at the thought, and Starsky felt his innards turn to pure goo.

"Won't work," he said firmly, trying to keep a straight face.

"How come?"

"You'd be ruining my favorite part of the day," Starsky said. He pulled down the covers in a not-so-subtle hint for Hutch to come to bed already.

"I don't get it," Hutch said, but he crawled onto the other side of the bed and stuck his legs under the sheets, his towel still around his waist.

"It's like this. Every morning, I wake up, do my routine, read the paper, drink a cup of java. And between waking up, and while I'm doing all that stuff, the whole time in the back of my head I'm thinking, 'Soon I'll get to see Hutch.'"

Hutch's mouth dropped open.

"So, if you're not off doing your run, how the hell am I gonna get to have my favorite part of the day?"

"Uh—" Hutch started hoarsely, then cleared his throat. Starsky's smile widened. He's such a sucker for that mushy stuff. So damned easy to make him happy.

"I guess…I could jog before you wake up in the morning, and go to the gym in the afternoon?" Hutch offered at last.

Starsky nodded. "Okay, I suppose that'll work. But then what about you?"

Hutch looked down at his hands, which were folded neatly over the towel covering his lap. "Then, I guess…my favorite time will be…right after the moment I wake up, when I see you next to me and realize I'm not still dreaming."

Starsky felt himself blush. "Oh, man." Right in the gut. He reached over and grabbed Hutch by the shoulders, pulling him down and kissing him hard in retaliation. Hutch's lips tasted of mint, and of Hutch. Starsky had only tasted him a few times, but he was already flat-out addicted. This is crazy. In bed with Hutch, kissin' him.

Hutch was moaning into his mouth again, that low, low sound that Starsky couldn't hear as much feel on his lips, his tongue and with his cock. Starsky reached down and tugged at the damp towel, trying to pull it from Hutch's hips so he could get at him. Starsky's ass was really sore, so he wasn't sure about doing that again just now, but maybe if Hutch were game for another trip to Wonderland….

"God, Starsk. Wait." Hutch pulled back and put a hand on his chest. "I have to tell you something."

"It's just that…you know as well as I do that you would never have…if it weren't for the soup," Hutch stammered, and then looked disgusted with himself. "I just need you to know that I—that I already knew before all this happened. What I wanted…" He looked directly into Starsky's eyes. "And who I wanted it from. But you—"

"I know what you're thinking," Starsky interrupted, "but it isn't so, no how."

"Starsk—"

"Look, Blintz," Starsky said coaxingly, reaching over to tug at Hutch's towel, "whaddaya say you lean back and let me suck on your cock for a while, and then afterwards we can have a nice long debate about whether or not it's your fault I've suddenly turned into a big homo."

"Uh," was Hutch's only response, because by that point Starsky had taken hold of the thick shaft and was stroking it, feeling it swell within his hand. Hutch moaned, and Starsky smiled and lowered his mouth.

"Feed your head," he whispered, and sucked him in.


Finis.

June 25, 2005

San Francisco, CA