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Hutch pulled to a stop in front of Starsky's apartment.  He turned off the motor and sat in silence.

After the unfortunate, accidental shooting of Emily Harrison six months ago, Hutch had stopped by a brooding Starsky's apartment, hoping to inspire him with a casual demeanor and attempt to focus on police work.  He had failed badly.  Thankfully -- God, thank you -- Emily Harrison had recovered her sight.

Now, over a week ago, Starsky had suffered the loss of Melanie, a young woman he had started dating exclusively.  She was a law clerk in the DA's office, and had turned down Starsky's first three advances.  The rejections had only prodded him on and, finally, she had relented.  Starsky made her laugh, and Hutch could see, the few times he was with them, how her eyes glowed with love toward his partner, as though Melanie saw in Starsky everything that she was not, but wished that she were. 

Starsky and Melanie had been dating for five months.  That abruptly ended when a semi on the interstate swerved to avoid a braking car, causing the driver of the semi to lose control, and the massive vehicle tumbled off the bridge, crushing two cars on the road below.  One of those cars had been Melanie's.

The worst of it was that there was no one to blame.  The driver of the semi had also been killed.  There weren't any court cases, no one to hunt down and find.  Nobody to take revenge against.  Just grieving parents and other relatives, all from Wisconsin, where Melanie had grown up and lived before moving to Bay City two years ago.

The funeral was over, the relatives gone.  Everything could go back to normal.  Except Starsky had taken vacation days and was holed up in his apartment, and had stopped answering his phone.

The Torino was in the driveway.  Hutch wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not.  In some ways, he would have preferred to think that Starsky took a trip somewhere, if only for a change of scenery.

Or maybe Hutch was just dreading the upcoming conversation -- if Starsky would even allow such.  Hutch had a new strategy this time, different from what he'd used in the Emily Harrison situation.  Granted, he didn't have reason to think that it would be any more effective.  Still, he had to try.

"Wish me luck," Hutch muttered to the air, as he got out of his car.  He hoped Starsky was interested enough to have looked out the window to see who had parked on the street.  Even if Starsky's defenses were therefore up, surely he didn't think he could simply make Hutch go away.

Hutch climbed the stairs, and then knocked a couple of times.  "Starsk, it's me."  He waited.

Silence.

"Starsk, I'm not going away."

He felt the vibration of feet against floor.  Heard the deadbolt being pulled back.  The door opened, but Starsky was already moving away.  He was wearing a brown robe.

"At least, you're alive," Hutch noted as he entered.  He pushed the door shut behind him.  "You weren't sleeping, were you?"  It was early afternoon on a Wednesday, a day that Hutch had off. 

Starsky had reached the kitchen, and now looked at him, frowning at what Hutch assumed was a disagreement with the placating subject matter. 

His dry, red eyes begged for rest.

Hutch sat down on the sofa and decided to be more assertive, per his new plan.  "This is getting to be a habit, partner."

Starsky was leaning back against the counter, and now crossed his arms.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Emily Harrison.  Rosey Malone.  Now Melanie.  You're hurt, wounded, or grieving, and you hole up to lick your wounds."

Starsky's eyes deepened.  "Well, excuse me, if ten days isn't enough to recover from the woman I love being up and killed in an instant."  He challenged, "How many days do you think I should get if you bought it, Hutch?  Two or three?"

Hutch briefly closed his eyes while tilting his head, fully aware of the anger behind Starsky's words.  "My being here isn't about your need to grieve."

Starsky straightened, intrigued.  "What's it about?"

"It's about me."

Starsky looked worried now.  "What about you?"

Hutch almost felt bad for the manipulation, however true his statement had been.  He got up and went over to Starsky, leaning back against the counter, beside him.  "I'm working with Johnson on a couple of cases.  I'm supposed to be counting on him to watch my back, you know?  But the trust isn't there.  I don't want to get involved in a shootout, with him at my side."

He heard Starsky swallow. 

Hutch went on.  "When you're off kilter, I-I'm off kilter.  I need you back whole.  For me."

Starsky was silent.

Hutch said, "You know, there was a time when, if one of us was hurting for any reason, we turned to each other for solace.  More and more, it seems that you want to hide away."

Starsky pushed away from the counter. "You're a fine one to talk."

Though Hutch was grateful to get a reaction, he asked, "What do you mean?"

Starsky turned.  "The Finch case.  Marianne Owens.  You're under in a very dangerous situation, and you hardly communicated at all."  He pointed his finger at Hutch and angrily said, "You get the crap beat out of you, and Huggy says there's a contract on you," Starsky's voice raised, "and I don't hear from you until hours later!"  He abruptly jerked away.

Hutch was baffled by the sudden anger, aimed at him, but part of him was also wallowing in Starsky's caring. 

Starsky quickly turned toward Hutch again, his hands in the pockets of his loosely-tied robe.  "And when I'm trying to talk to you about the case, at the station, you walked away from me!"

Hutch straightened, feeling anger of his own.  "Of course, I did.  You were lecturing me about being a cop."

"Ha!" Starsky bellowed triumphantly.  "The same lecture you try to pull on me when I blinded Emily Harrison.  And when I was in love with Rosey."

Hutch blinked.

Starsky waved an arm and turned away, pacing to the other side of the living room.  Then he turned back to face Hutch, his tone one of desperation.  "Being cops has always meant a lot to us, Hutch.  But caring about each other used to mean more.  Somehow, that's gotten lost along the way."  He glanced to one side, muttering, "So, pardon me, if I don't come crawling to you when I hurt inside."

Hutch felt an instinct to analyze what Starsky had said, but his heart wasn't in it.  He reached for common ground.  "At least, we can agree that things have gotten off-kilter with us.  Can't we also agree that we both want things to get back to the way they were?"  He heard desperation in his own voice.

Starsky gazed at him.

Hutch pressed, "I'm willing to try.  Are you?"

Starsky turned away again.

Hutch felt a sense of alarm.  "I need you."  He realized that there was a greater truth.  "I-I need you to need me."

When Starsky turned toward him again, his expression had softened.  "Yeah," he said quietly, gaze still averted. 

Hutch pressed, "It's been hell watching you deal with Melanie's death, and-and-and not being able to hold you."  Starsky had always seemed to make sure there was a distance between them -- in intent, if not in physical space. 

Unsteadily, Starsky said, "It's not that easy, Hutch."

"It used to be," Hutch said quietly.  "It used to be automatic, that when one of us was devastated, the other was right there, giving strength."

While Starsky gazed at the carpet, Hutch demanded in the same, soft tone, "What's so different now?"

Starsky muttered, "I'm not up to analyzing it."

Hutch felt his mouth corner twitch, at how they had ended up on the same page.  "Neither am I."  When there wasn't a reply, he confessed, "Just wanna hold you."

Starsky shifted with discomfort.

Hutch insisted, "I really need for you to let me give you that."  He realized, then, how much he was asking.  With the space between them, he was wanting Starsky to yield, come over to him, and be vulnerable, after having already expressed a degree of anger.

He moved away from the counter and approached Starsky, whose gaze was still lowered, and reached out.  When his hand landed on Starsky's tense shoulder, he said, "Just want to be here for you, like always."

Since he wasn't being rejected, Hutch stepped closer, and loosely circled his arms around Starsky.

Starsky made the barest hint of a gesture, turning toward Hutch.

Hutch closed his eyes gratefully, tightening his arms, and Starsky shifted to rest his head against Hutch's shoulder.

Hutch squeezed even tighter, feeling himself melt inside.  "Ah, buddy."  After a moment of relishing the warmth, he said, "You look like crap, partner.  Maybe you can rest a little now."  He took a step toward the sofa.

He was relieved when Starsky moved with him.

As Hutch brought Starsky to sit on the sofa, and then lie back against him, he realized that Starsky was nude beneath the robe.  He pulled the Afghan off the back of the sofa.

When Hutch felt settled, his back leaning on the crotch of the sofa, he had Starsky lying in his arms, the curly head on his upper chest, Starsky's face near his neck, and the Afghan wrapped around them.

He doubted that there was anything he cherished more than the weight against him.

Hutch curled his fingers into Starsky's hair, whispering, "Just try to relax for a while.  Maybe get some sleep.  I'm not going anywhere."

The weight grew heavier, as trust was renewed, and Hutch realized that Starsky's hand had loosely gripped his side.

Beneath the Afghan, Hutch rubbed gently along Starsky's shoulder blades.  "Rest, buddy," he whispered.  "I've got your back."

Starsky drew a deep, relaxing breath, and eventually went still.

Hutch tried to blank his mind, but he was too alert to take an afternoon nap. 

Starsky was right.  Hutch had used the "you're a cop first" lecture in a couple of situations when Starsky had hidden away to lick his wounds.  During the Rosey Malone case, it had worked, and Starsky had grudgingly responded to Hutch's urgings to quit wallowing in self-pity.  But during the Emily Harrison situation, Hutch's attempts to rally Starsky with the same "you're a cop first" lecture had only driven Starsky further away.  Then, when Hutch had been at a loss as to how to juggle his growing emotions for Marianne Owens, against the need to bring the Finch case to a successful conclusion, he hadn't appreciated it one damn bit when Starsky had pulled his own version of Hutch's "your a cop first" lecture.  He had walked away, losing all interest in communicating further.

At least, his new approach this time, in the form of an "I need you" lecture, had worked.  Hutch dared to tighten his arms around his burden, fearful of disturbing what was perhaps Starsky's first taste of genuine rest in the past ten days.

 


Hutch's muscles were getting sore, but he was reluctant to move.

He found his mind wandering to a place he didn't want it to go.  His and Starsky's losses.  So many, it seemed.  So many deaths.  Far more than most people in their mid 30s should expect to weather, and that was just the tragedies.  Additionally, there were the women one or the other had loved, which had chosen to walk away.

That's why we need each other, pal.  So we know that, whatever else happens, there's somebody we can each count on to pick up the pieces.

Hutch rubbed his cheek against Starsky's head. 

Starsky grunted, and then shifted ever so slightly, which put more weight on Hutch's sore spots.

"Hey, come on," Hutch beckoned.  "Let's put you to bed, okay?"  Though he hated to disrupt the warmth between them, he started to shift.

Starsky made noises of protest.

"Come on, partner, to bed.  Then you can sleep all you want."

It took some prompting, but he finally had a dazed Starsky sitting up.  Hutch stood and rubbed the circulation into his own legs.  Then he beckoned Starsky to his feet, and guided him to the bedroom, continuing to reassure that Starsky could then fall back to sleep.

The covers were already pushed aside on the bed.  "Come on, in you go."  Hutch worked at removing Starsky's robe, while Starsky staggered into bed. 

Starsky crunched his face in disapproval, when he was naked on the mattress, curled on his side.

Hutch grabbed the covers and settled them.

Starsky muttered, "Cold."

"That's because you left the covers open, and you're naked, silly."  Hutch rubbed Starsky's limbs, above the covers.  "I'll find you some pjs."  Hutch turned away and went to the dresser.  At the bottom of a drawer, he found flannel pajamas, and brought them to the bed.  "Here, put these on."

Starsky didn't move from his curled up position.

Hutch grabbed at the covers, and pushed the pajama top against a protesting Starsky, hoping its warmth would rouse him.  "Come on, put these on, so you can go back to sleep."

Starsky began to make a half-hearted effort, and Hutch helped him.  Hutch's motions were hurried, and he reminded himself of what he'd told Starsky earlier.  "I need you to need me."  Hutch then slowed his dressing of Starsky, deciding to relish the fact that his partner was allowing this.

Hutch didn't bother buttoning the top, and pushed the bottoms beneath the covers.  "Put these on."  He tried to help, while keeping the covers over Starsky. 

After Starsky had lazily pushed his legs through, Hutch pulled the clothing around his hips.  Then he resettled the covers, and tucked them in.  He leaned close and whispered, "Go back to sleep, buddy.  I'm going to be right here when you wake up." He firmly squeezed Starsky's shoulder, lingering for a moment.

After straightening, he watched Starsky a moment longer, satisfied that he was falling back to sleep.

Hutch left the bedroom and went looking for something to do.

 


Starsky's apartment was reasonably well-kept for a man who hadn't been very interested in life, of late.  Hutch threw out some moldy cheese, did the dishes, and straightened the counters.  He found hamburger in the freezer, as well as some buns, and set them out to thaw.  If Starsky was in need of rest, Hutch assumed he also was in need of food.

There were some papers near the phone with scribbling about funeral arrangements, and various names and phone numbers, many with a Wisconsin area code.  Hutch resisted the temptation to throw them away, since it wasn't his place to do so.  Instead, he opened a drawer at the end of the counter, where he knew Starsky kept various sundry supplies.  He placed the note pages in it, and then stood gazing at the drawer.  After a moment, he pulled out an unlabeled file folder and flipped it open.

Melanie's picture was on top, an apparently impromptu shot taken at the park, probably courtesy of a passerby, as Starsky was also in the picture, with his arm around Melanie.  Beneath that was a photograph of Terry Roberts.  She was smiling, but also had a scolding look, with her hand slightly raised, as though to say, "Don't you dare take my picture."  The next was one of Starsky and Terry together, at what appeared to be a carnival.  Terry was smiling, while Starsky looked a little more serious.  Beneath that, Hutch found a photo of Starsky and himself standing on top of the Torino, there arms around each other's shoulders.

Hutch smiled warmly as he gazed at the photo.  We were so young.  Though it was taken perhaps five years ago, at most, it may as well have been a lifetime ago.  So many losses since then.

Starsky's smile was warm and satisfied.

Such contentment. 

Impulsively, Hutch flipped the photo over.  There wasn't anything written on the back.  He checked the others, and they were also blank.  The only two other photos in the folder were ones of Starsky's Uncle Al and Aunt Rosie, plus an older, posed portrait of the entire family, when Starsky looked to be about eight years old, and brother Nick, a toddler.

The most important people in his life. 

Rosey Malone hadn't made the cut.  After all, Starsky had known her a very short time.  Nor had the late Helen, a fellow police detective that Starsky had been in love with.

Hutch slowly closed the folder.  I'm the only one left alive, who isn't family.

You're thirty-five this year, buddy, and there's not a whole lot of people who have touched your heart in a deep way, are there?

Hutch put the file folder in the drawer, and closed it.  He held still, feeling the soft beating of his heart.  I'm one of the privileged few.

He felt more determined than ever that he and Starsky were going to count on each other again.  No more hiding away, alone, to lick one's wounds.

 


Hutch had found a novel to read.  He was curled on the sofa, a lamp light on, when he heard stirring from the bedroom.  The clock indicated that it was nearly eight in the evening.   

Hutch put the book aside, just as he heard Starsky's leaving the bed with a sigh, and moving to the bathroom.  He entered the bedroom, where the only light was from the bath, as well as the living room lamp, and Starsky had disappeared around the corner, and could be heard using the john.

Hutch crawled onto the mattress, on the side opposite the open covers, and then sat back against the headboard.

When Starsky emerged, he deadpanned, "Oh.  Look who's in my bed."

Hutch snorted, glad to hear the humor, as Starsky reached to turn off the bathroom light, darkening the room.

Starsky crawled back into bed.  Once settled with the covers over him, he was partially sitting up, and leaning against Hutch.

Hutch draped his arm around Starsky's shoulders.  "How you doin'?"

Shoulders shrugged.  "Okay, I guess.  I mean... what can I do?"

Hutch drew a deep breath.  "Yeah."  Then he said, "You know, I can probably talk Dobey into giving me a day or two off.  Maybe we should take a couple of days somewhere, so you can get out of here."

"Ï need to go back to work, Hutch."

Hutch was glad to hear that.  "Okay."  His arm tightened.  "Glad to have you back."  A moment later, his stomach growled.  "I hope you've got an appetite."

"I could eat."

"I set out some hamburger."

Starsky leaned more heavily against Hutch, as though showing a lack of eagerness to leave the bed. 

Hutch closed his eyes, relishing that weight.  After a long silence, he said, "I didn't know you were mad at me about the Finch case.  You didn't say anything."

Starsky released a sigh.  "There didn't seem to be much point.  I figure you'd just walk away again."

Hutch considered that.  "I suppose we could sit here and try to analyze things the past few months, but I think I'd rather just agree that we're going to move toward each other from here on out, when things get rough, rather than pushing each other away."

Starsky shifted just enough that his arm could comfortably circle around Hutch's waist.  "Sounds good to me."

Hutch squeezed Starsky against him.  "It's been so damn hard, these past days, knowing you were hurting so much, and not being able to do anything about it."

"You're here now."

Hutch felt himself smile.  "Think you're ready for some food?"

"Not yet," Starsky pleaded.

"Okay."

They sat in silence for over a minute.

Hutch wondered, "You falling asleep again?"

"No.  I'm too hungry."

"Then let's get up and eat."

Starsky shook his head against Hutch, murmuring, "Uh-uh."

Hutch felt his heart swell.  "You're such a big baby."

"Mm-hm."

There was another extended silence.

Quietly, Starsky said, "Melanie and I never talked in bed."

Hutch's chest tightened.  "You didn't?"  He wasn't sure what else to say.

Starsky resettled his head against Hutch's shoulder.  "Na.  You know, most women want some kind of interaction afterwards.  Melanie wasn't like that.  She'd roll over and fall asleep."

Hutch remained silent.

"Sometimes, I've wondered if she actually liked me."

"Oh, come on," Hutch scolded.  "She could pretty much have had her choice of men.  She wouldn't have been going out with you, if she didn't like you."

Starsky shifted to rest back against the headboard, and then sighed.  "I kept pushing her.  Maybe she only went out with me to get me to leave her alone."

"Somehow, Melanie doesn't strike me as the kind of girl who would do a man's bidding, unless she wanted to."

"We never said we loved each other."

Hutch tried to be reasonable, despite his surprise.  "Maybe neither of you were ready for that.  Maybe your relationship hadn't gotten that far."  Still, he felt relieved at the thought.

"Don't think I've ever dated a girl that long, where we were just fooling around." 

Hutch furrowed his brow.  "Surely, you and Melanie weren't just fooling around."

"No.  I really liked her.  But I don't know if we would have ever gotten married or anything.  I didn't feel the same way about her, you know, that I did about Terry."

Hutch thought of the pictures in the cabinet drawer.

"I'm not even sure I felt about her the way I did Rosey Malone."

"Come on, buddy, you and Rosey Malone hardly knew each other.  It's not exactly a fair comparison.  That was a 'love at first sight' thing that I bet never would have lasted."

Starsky sighed.  "You're probably right."

After a moment, Hutch carefully asked, "What's the point of all this, anyway?  Do you feel guilty that you never told Melanie you loved her?"

"I dunno," Starsky admitted, resettling the covers over himself.  "I guess I never was really sure, within myself, where I stood with her.  And now she's gone, so I'll never know how serious things could have gotten."

Hutch felt grateful that things hadn't gotten more serious between Melanie and Starsky than they'd already been.  "Well, it was serious enough, huh?"  He shifted, so he could rest his forehead against the top of Starsky's head. 

Starsky made the slightest gesture of a nod.

Hutch decided to say, "I love you, you big goof."

"Yeah," Starsky said with contentment.  "We've always had that, haven't we?"

"Yep.  Even when we aren't talking to each other."

Starsky swallowed.  After a long moment, he said, "There was a time, a few months back, before Melanie, when I was asking a gal out that was the cashier at a convenience store on Twelfth and Larkspur.  You know that place?"

Hutch raised his head.  "Sure.  We've stopped there a lot."

"Yeah.  Maybe too much.  See, she told me she didn't want to go out with me, because she felt that dating me would be like dating us both.  She'd seen us a couple of times at the bar down the street, off duty.  She said that she'd once dated a 'mamma's boy', and it had been a disaster, because his mother had been so involved in their relationship, and she didn't want to date a ''buddy's boy', because she felt it would be a similar thing."

"A buddy's boy?"  Hutch wasn't sure what to make of that.

"Yeah.  I guess, you know, maybe that stuck with me.  Subconsciously."

Hutch furrowed his brow, relieved that there might be an explanation for their recent behavior toward each other.  "You mean, that's why you sort of put some distance between us?  And when you were dating Melanie, I didn't see much of you?"

Glumly, Starsky replied, "I guess.  And maybe you sort of retaliated in kind, huh?"

Hutch considered that.  "Not intentionally.  I guess I just felt maybe, that since you were being so distant, there wasn't much point in me trying to pretend that things were like they used to be."  He swallowed thickly, his heart heavy.  "But after Melanie's death, and knowing you were holed up here, bearing your pain alone...  I-I-I just couldn't stand to be kept away anymore."

Starsky turned toward Hutch and snuggled back against him, as well as he could while Hutch was above the covers.  "You're a big mushball."

Hutch put his arm around Starsky's covered form, relishing the moment.

There was a loud gastric noise.

"Come on, buddy, let's get up and eat."

It took a few seconds, but Starsky finally threw the covers aside.

 


While Starsky sat at the table, eating stale potato chips, Hutch cooked the burgers and filled his partner in on the cases he was currently working.

Hutch moved to the refrigerator to look for pickle relish.  As he opened the door, he saw Starsky looking at him through the corner of his eye, wearing a bittersweet smile.

"What?" Hutch asked. 

Starsky made a little shrug motion.  "The morning before the accident, I was sitting here at the table, reading the newspaper.  Melanie was cooking eggs.  You cooking now, it reminds me of that."

Hutch reached for the pickle relish, and moved back to the stove.  "I assume she didn't have a mustache."  He glanced back to see Starsky's grin widen.

"No," Starsky said.  "And she was wearing a see-through nightie."

"Well," Hutch said over his shoulder, after turning the burgers, "I'm not going to put on a nightie for you."  Still, he was cheered by Starsky's humor.

When the food was ready, they ate in silence.  After Starsky had downed two cheeseburgers, he was continuing to shove chips it his mouth.  Gradually, his expression became more troubled.

"What?" Hutch prompted, swallowing the last of his burger.

Starsky glanced at him, and then took a long drink of soda.  He gazed at the table top, frowning.  Then he swallowed said raggedly, "I can't do it anymore, Hutch."

Hutch's heart skipped a beat.  "Do what?"

Starsky released a heavy breath, and then looked up.  Sorrowfully, he said, "If I get serious about a girl, the best possible outcome is that she leaves me."

While Hutch was momentarily relieved that Starsky wasn't talking about life in general, as he'd feared, his instinct was to soothe the hopelessness Starsky felt.  Yet, he had been thinking the same thing, about both of them, earlier today.  He reached for Starsky's shoulder and squeezed firmly.  "Yeah," he said softly.  "I know it seems like that."

"It is like that."

Hutch knew it would be pointless to try to come up with examples of when Starsky had fallen in love, and it hadn't ended badly.  He himself didn't have a much better track record.  He gently said, "Let's just take it one day at a time, huh, pal?"

Starsky nodded, his head bowed.

Hutch tried some conversation about the weather, but that didn't rouse his partner.  Instead, Starsky looked up at him, his mouth grim.  "If something ever happened to you, Hutch...."

Hutch felt as though he was melting inside.  Gently, he said, "Nothing's going to happen -- not with you back at my side."

"A semi could fall off a bridge and crush you."

Hutch decided to change the subject.  "Hey, how about getting out of this place for awhile?  Maybe catch a movie?  Go bowling?"

Starsky shook his said.  "Na.  I think eating has made me sleepy again.  If I'm going to go back into work tomorrow, I think I need to sleep as much as I can."

Hutch was glad that Starsky was willing to get caught up on much needed rest.  "Okay."

 


Three weeks later, Hutch slid into the Torino next to Starsky, who was reading a magazine.  He'd just emerged from a phone booth.  "The line is disconnected, and Information didn't have anything listed under his name, or his mother's."

"Hmm," Starsky said, looking out the windshield.  "I guess we need to visit Huggy, then."

"Yep."

Starsky closed his magazine and, with his eyes still on the windshield, reached over and stroked the top of Hutch's head.  His hand moved back and forth.

Hutch furrowed his brow.  "What are you doing?"

The side of Starsky's mouth formed a grin, as he glanced at Hutch.  "I was just reading that petting an animal helps people live longer, because it lowers their blood pressure, and things like that.  Just thought I'd test the theory, and since I don't have a dog or a cat...."  He took his hand away.  "Hmm.  Can't say I notice that I feel any different."

Hutch was torn between scolding Starsky for his behavior, or bursting out laughing.  Neutrally, he said, "Come on, let's go."

Starsky turned the motor with a contemplative expression.  "I think the theory needs more testing."

"Goofball," Hutch said mildly.

He was so glad that Starsky had recovered from Melanie's death, and it seemed like they were back to old times, when humor came easily, and they spent most of their off-duty time together.

 


They arrived back at the station, after meeting with Huggy.  Once on their floor, Hutch made a side trip to the men's room.  When he emerged and approached the squadroom, he saw Starsky smiling, while sitting opposite a young woman with long, dark hair, whom he was speaking with.  The woman's back was to the glass window, so Hutch couldn't tell who she was.

As soon as  Hutch pushed the door open to the squadroom, Starsky looked up.  "Speaking of the devil."

The woman's head turned and she was out of her chair, smiling with her arms open.  "Hutch!"

Hutch was just able to realize who she was, as he wrapped his arms around her, and swayed her back and forth.  "Miss Nancy Blake!  How are you?" As he set her back on her feet, he asked, "It's been what - ?" he glanced at Starsky, "a couple of years?"

Starsky said, "A few years since the heist case on the docks."

Hutch had seen Nancy Blake and her mother a time or two since the unfortunate case with Billy Desmond, who was supposedly going to marry Nancy, but turned out just to be using her, because she worked at the docks, and knew when valuable shipments would be arriving.  Hutch had grown up next door to her in Duluth, and she and her overbearing mother had ended up moving to Bay City eight years ago. 

She now raised on her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek.  "Too long!"  She brushed her finger along his mustache.  "I see that you've grown a caterpillar."

While Hutch chuckled bashfully, Starsky said, "It's hard not to notice."

She went on, "I was doing some errands this way, and realized I was near the police building, so thought I'd drop in."

Hutch glanced at the clock.  "Looks like you came at the perfect time, too.  How about we grab some lunch?"  He looked at Starsky.

Starsky waved a hand and moved over to the file cabinets.  "You two go ahead."

Nancy looped her arm through Hutch's.  "Lunch sounds great."

 


After they'd been seated in a booth at a diner down the street, and the waitress had taken their order, Hutch asked, "So, are you still working for Security at the docks?"

"Yes.  It's got good benefits, and I've been there so long now, it would be hard to imagine leaving."

"And how's your mother?"

Nancy sighed.  "Mom moved back to Minnesota."

"Oh."  Hutch hadn't been expecting that.

"Yeah," Nancy said with discomfort.  "I started seeing this guy, Carl."  Her eyes lit up.  "He has bright green eyes and sandy-colored hair, down to his neck.  He's muscular and very handsome.  And, well, I moved in with him.  Mom didn't approve.  Leaving was her way of expressing how much she disapproved."

Hutch hadn't expected something like living together before marriage from a simple girl like Nancy.  He shrugged.  "More and more young couples are living together first.  Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't have married Vanessa, if I'd known what we were like together under the same roof."  She seemed to relax at his lack of judgment.  "How long ago did your mother leave?"

"It's been a few months.  It's felt odd, her not being around," Nancy smiled gently, "but I think it was way past time for me to have my own life.  I needed to grow up."

Hutch looked her over.  "I'd say the change has done you well."  Still, something seemed a bit "off" to him.

She gazed back at him, while running her finger along the rim of her glass of iced tea.  "So, what about you? Anybody special in your life?"

Just Starsky.  "No, I haven't had anybody serious in a while."  They all turn out badly -- for me and Starsk both.

She put down her glass and rested her chin in her hand, while continuing to gaze at him.  "Society is a lot more open minded these days."

The waitress put a basket of rolls on the table, and Hutch spread his napkin in his lap, wondering why Nancy had made her statement so succinctly. 

She took one of the rolls.  "So, you and David are still partners?"

He felt himself soften.  "Yeah.  Neither of us could handle being partnered with anyone else, I don't think."

She drew a deep breath, and then focused on buttering her roll.

Hutch wasn't sure why he felt uncomfortable.  He also reached for a roll  "So, this man you're living with -- who is he?"

"Carl works for the firm that insures the cargo on the ships.  Once, when he came by the office, he asked me out."  She smiled.  "Things continued on from there."

Hutch guessed, "Older guy?"

"No.  Thirty-two and very successful."  Nancy smiled broadly.  "And handsome.  He's very liberal."

Hutch furrowed his brow on that last sentence.  Then he shifted in his chair.  "Nancy, I get the feeling there's something you're trying to tell me.  What is it?"

She eyed him.  "That obvious?"

Hutch tried a reassuring smile.  "I am a detective.  Is something wrong?"

"Oh, no," she said quickly, brushing at crumbs along her plate.  "Nothing is wrong.  But I admit that I have a specific reason for wanting to see you."

Hutch wasn't sure if that made him relieved or concerned.  "What is it?"

She glanced about the diner, which was filled with conversation, and folded her hands on the tabletop.  She leaned forward, her voice lowered.  "Carl is very open minded and free spirited, including in bed."  She paused.  "So am I."

Hutch felt as though he'd entered the twilight zone.  Plain, proper Nancy Blake, whom he'd often thought of as a little sister, was discussing her sex life with him?

He sat silent.

She said, "He's what they call 'bisexual'.  He's done it with guys before.  And we were sort of wondering, you know, if you might like to join us."

Hutch blinked, wondering if he could possibly have heard correctly.

He blinked again, feeling himself blush, as he lowered his voice to a near whisper.  "Uh, Nancy, I'm not interested in anything like that.  For one thing, I don't swing that way.  For another, I'm not into group sex.  But most importantly, you're like a little sister to me, and I'm not interested in going down that path with you in any way, shape, or form."   He took a bite of bread, wondering if he sounded angry.

She didn't seem fazed.  "You don't have to hide anything from me.  Even Mom and I used to talk about it."

Hutch furrowed his brow.  "Talk about what?"

"You and your partner."

It was a moment before it clicked with Hutch's brain what she was saying.  He forced a smile.  "No, no, no.  If you're thinking that Starsk and I.....  No, we both like girls."

"So does Carl.  But, you know, he can still enjoy a man."  She shrugged.  "I guess, I just thought... you know, that you wouldn't have any hang-ups about it."

Hutch quickly shook his head.  "I'm afraid I'm not quite that liberal."

She furrowed her brow.  "So, you and David have never...."

"No," Hutch scowled.  "I love David with all my heart, but it's not like I'd ever want to sleep with him."  He reached for his iced tea, realizing that a part of his mind was questioning his own words.

The waitress brought their food, and Hutch took a moment to still his thundering heart.

When they were alone again, Nancy said, "I guess Mom and I were always wrong then."

Hutch frowned.  "You and your mother think that I sleep with men?  Starsky in particular?"  He didn't want to believe they'd ever talked about him like that.

She smiled.  "You've always been so good looking, that surely you attract men.  And you and David seemed so... intimate, I guess, with each other, that I think we just assumed...."

Hutch tried to keep his voice level.  "Well, you assumed wrong."

"I hope you aren't offended."  Finally, she seemed genuinely worried about how he was taking all of this.

Hutch tried to feel casual, and shrugged.  "I guess not.  I'm just caught off guard, I guess."  He tried a smile.  "I wasn't expecting the child I grew up next door to, to ever be talking to me about things like this."

"Sorry."  She offered her own congenial smile.  "We don't need to say anything else about it.  I just know Carl will be disappointed, after I told him how good looking you are.  You're the type of guy that he likes.  He's really particular."

Hutch released a slow breath, wondering if he could drum up enough appetite to eat his chicken sandwich.

You've changed, Nancy.  It made him feel sad.

 


Carl Renton stuffed his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket as he watched through the window of the diner.  Kenneth Hutchinson was indeed a good looking man, just as Nancy had promised.  He had followed them to the diner, so that he could get an eyeful, without Nancy letting on that she knew he was watching.  He wondered how long it would be before Ken would be willing to come over to the house.

He hoped it wouldn't be long at all.  Maybe it could even be tonight.  Hopefully, Ken was well experienced and wouldn't be at all shy, and would relax easily into the pleasure they all could give each other.

 


It wasn't until Starsky turned off the Torino's motor, that Hutch was aware they were parked next to a bar that wasn't open.

Hutch looked over at Starsky in puzzlement.

"Come on, out with it," Starsky said.  "You've been brooding ever since you got back from lunch with Nancy.  So, don't try any more of that 'She's living with a boyfriend, and her mother went back to Minnesota' small talk crap."

Hutch drew a quiet breath.  He supposed he had indeed been brooding.  It was so difficult to reconcile the Nancy he'd seen a few hours ago, with the one that he'd known for so many years.  Without looking at Starsky, he said, "She propositioned me."

"Propositioned you?"

"Yeah.  On behalf of her and her boyfriend both."

"Wha'?" 

Hutch scoffed, glancing at Starsky briefly.  "Yeah, her boyfriend is bisexual.  They want a man to join them in their bed."

"Nancy?"

"Yeah, Nancy."   Hutch shook his head.  "It's like she's a completely different person than the one I thought I knew."

Starsky released a heavy sigh.  "Well, maybe now that she's out from beneath her mother's thumb, her real personality has emerged."

Hutch pleaded, "I've always felt like she's been a kid sister to me.  You know?  And here's she's asking me to sleep with her and her boyfriend both.  I mean," he looked Starsky, "how am I supposed to take something like that?"

Starsky shrugged.  "I assume you turned her down."

"Of course, I turned her down!"

Starsky gave him a scolding look.

"Sorry," Hutch muttered.  He shifted restlessly.  "I mean," he said in a level tone, "even if she hadn't been attached and just asked me to start dating her, there's no way I would have been interested.  I don't see her like that, you know?"

"Yeah."

Hutch clamped his lips together on the next thought that came to mind.  He really didn't want to share the rest of his and Nancy's conversation with Starsky.

There was a long silence, then Starsky looked over at him.  "Did she really expect you to be interested in a three-way with another man?"

Hutch shrugged elaborately, looking everywhere, except at Starsky.  After a long silence, he prompted, "Come on, let's go."

Through the corner of his eye, Hutch watched Starsky gaze at the steering wheel.

Then Starsky asked, "So, it is like she thinks you do group sex as a regular thing?"

Hutch brusquely admitted, "I think she thinks I've done it with guys."

"Really?"

Hutch drew another long breath, shifting restlessly, and gazing out the windshield.

Quietly, Starsky asked, "What aren't you telling me?"

Hutch closed his eyes.  Sometimes, he wished Starsky wasn't a detective.  He admitted, "She claims that she and her mother both would talk about how you and I were probably doing it."

"What?" Starsky asked, incredulous.

"Yeah, can you believe that?"  Hutch snorted. 

"Mrs. Catholic Blake?"

"Yes!"  Hutch ran his hand along his leg.  "My male ego dived off a cliff, hearing that."

"Well," Starsky said quietly, "it's not like they're the first people who've thought we were humping each other."

"Yeah, but she talked like they actually believed it!" 

After a moment, Hutch realized they were still parked.  He looked over at Starsky, who had gone back to gazing at the steering wheel.  "How come we're still sitting here?"

Starsky muttered, "Just thinkin'."

Hutch was intrigued by the seriousness of Starsky's tone.  "About what?"

"Me and you."

"What?" Hutch snapped, his heart beating faster.

Starsky slowly straightened in his seat, and then cocked his head to one side.  "You know, after Melanie, I just keep thinking that I don't want to get involved with anybody else again.  I just can't, Hutch."

Hutch felt compassion overtake his trepidation.

"And then I start listing out, in my mind, the good things I have in my life." Starsky's voice softened.  "You always land on top of that list, Hutch."

Hutch looked over at Starsky, his chest swelling.

"And then," Starsky continued, drawing a deep breath, "I think, what about sex?  What am I going to do about that?  I don't want to go through life without sex.  But I don't want to start a relationship with someone, just to have sex, even if the feeling was mutual.  So," Starsky looked squarely at Hutch, "I start thinking about, maybe, you and I having sex together."  His voice softened to a bare whisper.  "It could be our little secret."

Hutch rubbed his hand over his mouth, realizing that he should feel bad about telling Nancy he'd never sleep with Starsky.  "Buddy, I...."

"You don't need to say anything," Starsky soothed.  "I'm not asking for anything from you.  I'm just telling you what I've been thinking.  That's all.  Just kind of ironic that this situation with Nancy has come up."

"I'll say."

After a pause, Starsky said, still soft, "I'm just putting it out there, Hutch.  That's all.  If you ever start thinking about it, too, just let me know."

Hutch closed his eyes, tilting his head toward the side window.  He felt his hand clasped, and then squeezed.

"Just know I'm still the same person.  The same Starsky, who has your back.  You don't need to be afraid that anything is different."

Hutch wasn't sure if it were possible for his heart to beat any softer.  He opened his eyes, while his hand returned the squeeze.  "I know that.  I just --"

"Uh-uh," Starsky scolded quietly.  "No explanations needed.  I know you've had a lot sprung on you today, in more ways than one.  If you ever reach a point where you're sure, just let me know."

Hutch realized he was staring at the dashboard.  After a long moment, he asked, "What if I want to talk about it first, before I can decide anything?"

Starsky swallowed.  "We can do that, if we need to.  I just-just don't want to go around and around about it, and then decide that it shouldn't happen.  That is something that I couldn't take."

Ah, buddy.  Hutch was torn between wanting to carve out some space of his own, try to make sense of what had been said that past few minutes, and with wanting to be with Starsky more than ever, just for the sense of security it brought.  Without looking at Starsky, he murmured, "I love you."

Starsky grinned and scolded, "Mushball."  Then he started the Torino.

 


Carl gazed out the window, where the rain was falling.  He'd let Nancy know how disappointed he was in her, that she hadn't persuaded Ken Hutchinson to join them in their bedroom games.  He had no reason to disbelieve her rendition that Hutchinson had claimed to have never bedded a man before.  That now made the idea of having him join them all the more appealing.  An innocent lamb, bereft of the pleasures that only another man could bring him.

Nancy would be finished crying tonight, after he'd given her something more pleasurable to think about, than his anger with her.  Then, tomorrow, they would form a plan.

 


Hutch heard the first drops of rain hit the window, and rolled onto his other side, re-settling his head on the pillow.

How was he ever going to be able to sleep again, after what Starsky had told him?

He wondered if he should have seen signs of what Starsky had been thinking.  The only thing he'd known for certain, since Melanie's death,  is that they'd returned to their prior closeness.  That had felt wonderful, as though all was right the world.

Obviously, it had felt wonderful to Starsky, too -- so much so, that he had apparently decided that sleeping with his male partner would enhance those good feelings even more.

Would it?  Hutch wondered now.

He tried to imagine what it would be like, him and Starsky in bed together.  The warmth and trust would be so intense.  When it came to the mechanics, Hutch was surprised to realize that he really didn't have any objection to the idea of playing with Starsky's privates... taking his cock into his mouth....

As for the idea of Starsky possibly penetrating him, as well as the reverse... he couldn't find any place inside himself that objected. 

Why does the idea of sex together seem so natural?

He loved Starsky.  He just did.  With all his heart.

Isn't that what making love is for?  To express love for the person you love?

They would have to keep it a secret.  But they pretty much kept to themselves, anyway, so keeping their relationship in the closet didn't seem like it would be that difficult.

Ah, buddy.  Should I tell you tomorrow?  Or should I make you wait a bit?  Hutch smiled to himself, amused by the idea of toying with Starsky's head for a while, thereby titillating them both.

He frowned a moment later.  He was so brave, bringing it up, and not knowing how I would react.  Of course, me talking about Nancy gave him an opening.

Hutch sighed.  He really didn't want to think about Nancy anymore.

No, he had much more pleasant thoughts to ponder.

 


The next day, they drove separately into the station.  A fresh murder case sent them to the streets in the Torino, and they had a confessing perpetrator in custody by noon.  Giddy from that success, they hit the streets again for another case that was a few days old, and a lot more frustrating. 

Starsky stopped by an outdoor restaurant, and asked Hutch what he wanted.  Hutch waited in the Torino, deciding that he was ready to say something.

When Starsky returned, they spent a few moments sorting through their food.  Then, after taking the first bite of his chili dog, Starsky said, "I got to thinking about Nancy."

Hutch was disappointed in the subject matter.  "Yeah?" he asked, chewing on a fry.

"Maybe she's replaced her mother's domination with this boyfriend she has.  Maybe that's why she seems so different.  Instead of having a caring mother telling her what to do, she now has a bisexual boyfriend telling her what to do.  Such as finding men to join them in bed."

Hutch sighed.  "Maybe."

"I mean, she's used to being under somebody's thumb.  So, it doesn't figure that she'd just up and live an independent life.  She's probably one of those women who needs a man that's going to tell her what to do -- especially in her mother's absence."

Hutch was sipping his iced tea, and then snorted.  "That supposed to make me feel better?  That she has a controlling boyfriend?"

Starsky shrugged.  "Just sayin'."

Hutch wanted to change the subject.  He kept his gaze on his side window, while he slowly ate his sandwich.  Then, without turning his head, he said, "I'm on board with you, partner."

Starsky paused in his chewing.  Then, levelly, he said, "Okay."

Hutch was relieved that Starsky hadn't asked what he'd meant. 

He heard Starsky swallow, before gently saying, "Maybe we should give ourselves some time to get used to the idea, you think?"

Hutch chest filled at the idea that Starsky needed to get his equilibrium.  "Yeah.  It's just that we've got the next two days off."  Today was Tuesday, and their "weekend" was Wednesday and Thursday. 

He felt a hand on his thigh.  Starsky said, "So, you want us to get rolling on whatever this new life is going to be for us?"

Hutch shrugged and looked at Starsky, feeling his heart flip over.  "I'm just thinking I don't want to go two full days without being around you."  His voice had gotten rough, and he wondered where this strong emotion was coming from.  It's not like he and Starsky hadn't been discussing plans for their days off throughout their years together.

"Wanna drive somewhere?  Just let whatever happens, happen?  Not force anything?"

Hutch guessed, "You afraid of what it's going to be like?"

Starsky presented a lopsided grin.  "You just had to ask, didn't you?"

Hutch laughed softly.

"Of course, I'm scared," Starsky said.  "Being in bed with another guy is one of those root fears that I grew up with.  I mean, I want to love you with all my heart, with everything I am."

Hutch's heart swelled.

Starsky continued, "I've just sort of avoided thinking too much about the, you know, process, I guess you could say.  I mean, I know intellectually what's supposed to happen when it's two guys.  It's just -- "

"Yeah, same here," Hutch assured quietly.  "We can just, yeah, go for a drive wherever we want.  Just feel our way.  And if it's not quite time yet, then nothing heavy needs to happen."

Starsky took his hand away from Hutch's leg, and gazed out the windshield.  "Maybe we ought to head toward Vegas.  We can be sure nobody knows us, or cares what we're doing."

"If we do that, maybe we ought to ask Dobey for an extra day."

"We can try, though I doubt he'll go for it, with still needing to solve this Patterson murder."

"'There's always another murder to solve.  Besides, it can't hurt to ask."

"Yeah, okay."

Starsky started the Torino. 

As they backed out of their parking space,  Hutch realized that he felt enormously happy.

 


Dobey was still at lunch when they returned, so they focused on updating the Patterson file with their most recent information.

Their phone rang, and Starsky began to reach for it, but Hutch grabbed it first.  "Hutchinson."

Starsky watched as Hutch said, "Nancy, hello.... Uh-huh?... Your boyfriend can't come and get you?...  Uh, yeah, sure, I can do that."  Hutch scribbled on his notepad.  "Jake's Auto Shop?  Yeah, I know where that is."  Hutch started to rise.  "Be there in ten minutes."  He hung up and looked at Starsky.  "Nancy's car has broken down and is in the shop.  She needs a ride back to work."

Starsky wondered, "What about her boyfriend?"

"He's clear on the other side of town, seeing a client.  Since it's at Jake's, she thought it would be easier to call me." Hutch grabbed his jacket.  "I should be back in an hour, tops."  He headed for the door.

 


The afternoon dragged on.  No Hutch.  No Dobey.

If they couldn't get the extra day off, Starsky wondered if they should scrap the idea of going to Vegas.  They'd spend so much time driving, that they wouldn't have much time left for entertaining themselves.  Of course, they were unlikely to be indulging in the usual amusements.  They'd want to spend all their time together, focused on each other.

Starsky's heart swelled in his chest.  How easily Hutch had handled the suggestion of them sleeping together.  The more Starsky thought about it, the more right it seemed.  The world was changing, after all.  People were starting to accept that the love of one's life might come in an unusual package.  It apparently hadn't taken Hutch very long to figure that out for himself

As for the mechanics, Starsky preferred to leave that for when they were alone together.  They'd work it out.  They always did.

 


Starsky got involved in making phone calls concerning the Patterson murder.  Eventually, he heard Dobey in his office, from where he'd entered through the hall door.

Just as Starsky hung up the phone, Dobey emerged into the squadroom.  "'Where's Hutchinson?"

"He's giving a lift to a friend with car trouble."

Dobey grunted.

Starsky's eyes had gone to the wall clock.  It was going on three.  He squelched a flare of jealousy that Hutch must have taken Nancy somewhere, maybe to get coffee.  Maybe the mechanic at Jake's had said he could fix her car within a couple of hours, so Hutch decided to spend time with Nancy while they waited.  Except, Starsky had thought that the plan was to take her back to her job at the docks.  Surely, after work, her boyfriend would then pick her up.

"Where are you on the Patterson murder?" Dobey demanded.

"We've got it narrowed down to one major suspect, Anthony Grimes.  He doesn't have a place of residence, but tends to flops at friends.  A girl he sees off and on said he calls her about once a week, from a pay phone, just to chat.  Since he just talked to her a couple of days ago, it's probably going to be a few days before he calls her again, but she said she'd let us know."  This would probably be an ideal opening to request Friday off, but Starsky had a feeling that Dobey wasn't in the best mood.  Plus, he wasn't sure he was in the mood himself at the moment, with wondering why Hutch wasn't back yet.

"Then put that aside and get going on that weapons theft."

Starsky saluted.  "Yes, El Capitain."  Once Dobey had returned to his office, he sighed.  The weapons theft was a case that had been going on for six months, where over two dozen guns and rifles had been stolen from an ex-military man.  It was a case he and Hutch had mostly lost hope of ever finding those responsible. 

 


It was nearly four-thirty.  Using police assets for personal use was frowned upon by the Department.  Still, being one of said Department's top cops had its privileges.  Starsky picked up the phone and dialed the extension to Dispatch. 

"Dispatch."

"This is Sergeant David Starsky.  Please patch me through to Zebra Three."

"Please hold."

Starsky waited.  And waited.

"Zebra Three is not answering."

Starsky sighed.  "Okay.  Thanks."

He dialed Information and got the number to Jake's.

"Jake's Auto Body," came the gruff greeting.  "We're just about to close, so make it fast."

"Yes, this is Sergeant David Starsky with the police, and we're trying to find someone.  Was there a Nancy Blake that left a car at your shop today?"

"Uh, yeah.  The blue Mercury that needed a tune up?"

Tune up?  The hairs on the back of Starsky's neck stood up.  That's a far cry from having broken down.  "Uh, yeah.  Was there a blond guy with a mustache that picked up Nancy Blake from the shop?"

"I don't know.  She was waiting on the sidewalk for someone.  I wasn't paying attention."

"Well, uh, can you give me the address and phone number that's on her paperwork?"

"Hang on," the man grumbled.  A moment later, he read off the address that Starsky recognized as being from the docks, and a phone number that, because it was easy to remember, obviously belonged to a business.

Nancy give them her work information, instead of her home information?  Of course, it would be easier to be gotten a hold of at work.

"Okay, thanks very much," Starsky said quickly.  He dialed the number the man had given him.

The phone rang.  And rang.  Starsky's heart clinched as he looked at the clock.  It was ten of five.  Businesses were closing for the day.

Finally, there was an answer.  "Security office.  How can I help you?"

"Yes, I'd like to speak with Nancy Blake, please."

"Nancy's on vacation this week."

Starsky's stomach clenched.  "You sure?"

"Yes.  I work here in the office with her.  She's off this week. Why?"

"Uh, this is David Starsky with the police.  I need to know her address and phone number."

The woman's tone became guarded.  "I can't give that out over the phone, and I would need Mr. Wilkins' permission.  You could be anybody, saying you're the police."

"All right, I'll be there in twenty minutes."

"We'll be closed.  I'm out the door right now, and no one else is here.  It'll have to wait until tomorrow."

"Fine, I'll be there first thing tomorrow morning."  Starsky slammed down the phone.  He marched into Dobey's office.  "Something's happened to Hutch."  His stomach churned at the words.

Dobey paused in dialing his telephone.  "What?  What happened?"

"I don't know!  But he's not back yet, and I've made some calls, and the answers aren't making any sense."

Dobey hung up his phone.  "What are you talking about?  You said he was giving a friend a lift."

"The friend lied.  She told Hutch that she needed a lift back to work, but someone who works in her office says that she has the whole week off.  And I called the auto shop where Hutch was picking her up, because she supposedly had car trouble, and the guy said the car was just in for a tune up."

Dobey shrugged.  "Most women would consider needing a tune up to be car trouble."

Starsky demanded, "Then what about her lying about needing to be taken back to work?"

"Maybe Hutchinson misunderstood."

"Then how come he's not back yet?  He's been gone nearly four hours!"

"Have you called her place?"

"I don't where it is," Starsky said, exasperated.  "She moved in with a boyfriend, according to the lunch conversation Hutch had with her yesterday."  He released a long breath.  "As soon as I leave here, I'm going to visit the apartment building where her and her mother used to live.  But I doubt she's there, since she supposedly moved in with the boyfriend, and her mother has returned to Minnesota."

Dobey furrowed his brow.  "Are you saying that some old female friend of Hutch's is wanting to cause him harm?"

"I don't know!"

Dobey grunted.  "Well, you both have the next two days off.  If she's a female friend, maybe...."  Dobey trailed off pointedly.

"No, no.  It's not like that.  Hutch was like a big brother to her."  And we were planning on spending our time off together.    "When we had that heist case on the docks a few years ago, this old friend of Hutch's, Nancy, was the one being used by Billy Desmond to get information on when ships were coming in with specific cargo.  He was pretending he was going to marry her."

Dobey appeared thoughtful.  "I remember that case with Billy Desmond and his gang of thieves.  He killed Ed Jamison."  He looked up at Starsky.  "But why would Nancy have something to do with Hutch disappearing?"

"That's what I need to find out!"

Dobey presented a rye smile.  "Come on, Starsky.  You and Hutchinson are so blatantly over-protective of each other, that you jump to conclusions for the slightest reason."

"When have either of us ever been wrong?" Starsky challenged.  "When it concerned one of us being is in danger?"

"'We've got to give it a couple of more hours, at least.  I can't go putting an ABP on him, just because we haven't heard from him in a few hours.  Hutch might come through the door any minute."

Starsky wondered how upset Hutch would be with him, if he revealed all he knew about Nancy to Dobey.  Hopefully, Hutch would show up soon and he'd find out.  Starsky pushed the door shut behind him and lowered his voice, as he dropped into a chair.  "Look, Cap'n, there's more to this situation with Nancy and her boyfriend.  But I need this to be just between you and me."

"I can't promise that," Dobey scowled.  "Not if Hutchinson is truly in danger."

"Then at least to keep it on a 'need to know' basis only."

Dobey gazed at him.  "All right."

Starsky released a sigh.  "Hutch was pretty rattled after having lunch with Nancy yesterday.  He hadn't seen her in a while.  Nancy was a simple, naive, proper Catholic girl.  But now, not only did she move in with a boyfriend out of wedlock, which shocked her mother so much that she left the state, but this boyfriend is bisexual."

Dobey waited.

Starsky swallowed.  "And she was propositioning Hutch, wanting him to join her and her boyfriend in a three-way.  Hutch was upset that she'd think he would want to sleep with her, when he views her as a little sister.  Never mind the idea of sleeping with the boyfriend."

Dobey shifted with discomfort and muttered, "Maybe Hutchinson changed his mind, and decided to make it into a long weekend.  That's his personal business."

Starsky felt like he wanted to jump out of his skin..  He wouldn't do that!  Hutch is MINE.  But that much he wasn't going to tell Dobey.  He merely shook his head.  "He wouldn't change his mind like that, after being so upset about the idea."  Starsky changed his argument.  "He kept saying how different Nancy was.  I'm thinking it's because of the boyfriend.  Like, he completely controls her.  Maybe he wanted Hutch to join them badly enough, that he's manipulated Nancy into...."  Starsky trailed off, refusing to voice the ugly thought that came to mind.  Surely, it's nothing like that.  Surely, the boyfriend wouldn't force himself onto Hutch....

He tried to swallow, and couldn't complete the act.

Quietly, Dobey said, "Go ahead and see if you can clear Nancy, at least."

Starsky nodded.  "I'll check her old address tonight.  Then, tomorrow, first thing, I'll drop by the Security office at the Port Authority, and get Andy Wilkins to give me information out of her personnel file."

Dobey shook his head.  "You haven't got enough to go on, to get a warrant for that."

"He'll give it to me for the asking.  He'll remember me and Hutch both from the Billy Desmond case, and if I tell him I'm worried that Nancy could be in danger, I can't imagine that he'd object."

"All right then.  If Hutchinson shows up, no matter how late, give me a call."

"You got it."  Starsky rose and quickly left.

 


Everything was hazy. 

When Hutch finally obtained a conscious thought, it was I've been drugged.  Surely, with some kind of sedative.

He opened his eyes.

He was lying on his back, on one side of a king sized bed, on top of the covers, in a bedroom that was unfamiliar.  He was naked.  What the -- ?

He started to gather his limbs beneath them, and found that he could only move them a short distance.  His arms were restrained above his head, with some kind of leather binding, but a brief experiment proved that he could move each hand six inches or so.  The same for his feet.

His heart beat faster, and he scolded himself to think, rather than to panic.

He had picked up Nancy from the sidewalk in front of Jake's Auto Shop.  She'd said she'd called her work, and they gave her the rest of the afternoon off, so she'd asked Hutch to take her home.  Once arriving in front of her boyfriend's house, Nancy had said she would be offended if he didn't come up and sample her new recipe for a healthy breakfast smoothie.  So, he had come up.  She'd suggested he sit in the living room, while she worked in the kitchen, which was near enough that they could carry on a conversation.

Then she'd brought the blended drink out to him, and Hutch had downed it hurriedly.  He had been looking forward to him and Starsky spending their days off together, as a way of starting the new segment of their relationship that they'd agreed upon.

Hutch couldn't remember anything after that, except waking up here.  The decor of this bedroom appeared similar to that of the living room.  On the nightstand was a clock.  5:45 PM.  He must have been out three or four hours.

Starsk will be wondering where I am.  Probably upset that I haven't gotten back yet.  Maybe worried.  Hopefully worried and deciding to find me.

He looked to the right and saw that the door was partway open.  He called out, "Hey!"  With that effort, he realized that he was still woozy.

There were voices in the distance, one male and one female.

Hutch was about to call out again, when footsteps moved along the low-napped carpet, and then appeared in the doorway.

It was a thirtyish-looking man, about five-five in height, with short sandy hair, and a trim, muscular build.

Hutch thought that he looked dangerous, despite the thin smile as he moved into the room.

"Hello, Ken."

"Who are you?" Hutch demanded, as toughly as his fogged state would allow.

"I'm Carl, Nancy's boyfriend.  Sorry for the inconveniences," he nodded at the bindings, "but it sounded like you weren't going to be willing to cooperate."

"You've got that right."

"No matter.  I have various ways of encouraging your cooperation."

Hutch's heart beat faster.

The smile broadened in a sinister way.  "All that can be avoided, of course, if you'd simply like to join Nancy and I for a long evening of exquisite pleasure."

Hutch sputtered, "I'm not interested.  Where I come from, no means no."

Carl sat on the opposite side of the bed, a leg curled beneath him.  He crossed his arms.  "I'm a unique individual, if I may say so myself.  The thin line between pleasure and pain fascinates me.  I prefer pleasure, but when one is resistant to pleasure, it is fascinating how pain can subsequently make one eager for pleasure instead."

Hutch wasn't even sure he comprehended what Carl was saying.  "Do you realize I'm a cop?  The whole police department will be looking for me."

"You have two days off."

Hutch's mouth fell open.  He now recalled that he'd mentioned to Nancy at lunch yesterday that he had Wednesday and Thursday off.  He was about to say, "I have a partner who won't wait that long to come looking", but he decided he didn't want to give that away.  Instead, he firmed his jaw and asked, "Then what?"

"That's up to you.  I have absolute confidence that you'll come around to my way of thinking, like Nancy did."  Carl looked toward the door and barked, "Nancy, come in here."

Nancy entered, smiling at Hutch.

Hutch made a desperate attempt to cross his legs, and cover his nudity, but the bindings wouldn't let him.  How humiliating.  "Nancy," he pleaded, "what are you up to?  Why are you assisting Carl in this?"

Carl said, "Show him."

Nancy crossed her arms over her torso, and then lifted her pull-over shirt, until it rested at her neck.  She turned her back to Hutch.

Hutch's eyes widened at the scarring there, which looked like they were made with some kind of whip.  "My God," he gasped, shifting his eyes to Carl, "what have you done to her?"

Nancy dropped her shirt and turned around.  She laughed softly.  "It's all right, Ken.  I've known pleasure like I've never experienced before, thanks to Carl."

"Nancy, that isn't love.  My God, he's got you brainwashed, if you think that it is."

"Nonsense," Carl said.  "Nancy was very naive and hesitant, when we first started sleeping together.  I used a whip on her, until she lost all resistance and broke down crying.  Then I expertly licked her cunt, and sucked her tits, over and over again."

Hutch started at the use of such vulgarity, with Nancy standing right there.  He was all the more alarmed that Nancy seemed unfazed.

"Then I fucked her like she'd never been fucked before," Carl concluded.  "She was hot and eager for the pleasure, after feeling the whip.  Of course, I only had to be harsh with her a few times."  He clasped her hand and smiled at her.  "Now, she's hot and eager for pleasure, at most any given time.  Aren't you, my hot little bitch?"

She smiled back, and then sobered as she turned to Hutch.  "I didn't know anything, Ken, when I met Carl.  I'd lived such a sheltered life, and dated men that have so little knowledge of how to please a woman.  I had no idea what my body could feel.  Carl has made me come alive, and be the woman I was meant to be."

Hutch spat, "I'm quite happy with my sex life, thank you, and I don't want any part of this shit."

Firmly, Carl said, "Nancy, leave us.  Shut the door."

"Yes, my love."  Nancy turned and walked away, closing the door behind her.

"Let me put your mind at ease about one thing," Carl said, his voice hard despite the words.  "I don't do rape.  My exhilaration is in making anyone I want, want me.  When I touch you in pleasure, it'll only be because you asked me for it."

Hutch rapidly shook his head.  "'That's not going to happen.  I don't sleep with people I don't have warm feelings for."  His lip twisted.  "And you're about the most despicable man I've ever met, who isn't behind bars."

"I think you'll change your mind about that."  Carl stood. 

Hutch felt trepidation as he watched Carl move around the bed and come to his side.

Carl looked down at him.  "And so we will begin."

Hutch could only regard him warily.   Then a fist slammed into his jaw, causing him to cry out as his head snapped to one side.

"I didn't use my full strength," Carl informed him.  "You will feel pain, in various ways, until you decide you'd rather have pleasure instead."

"Fuck you," Hutch gasped, his head still to one side.

"I'd very much like that," Carl said with amusement.  "I'll leave you alone for a while, to ponder your predicament."

Once the door was closed behind Carl, Hutch rested his head against the pillow.  Dear God.

Starsk....

 


Starsky didn't know how long he'd been standing at his apartment window, looking out at the darkness.  It was going on eight, and he wished so much that it was eight the next morning, so he could find out whatever information the Port Authority had on Nancy Blake.

As he'd feared, the apartment manager where Nancy and her mother used to live had no forwarding address.  They had moved out three months ago.

He had alerted Huggy that Hutch was missing, and Huggy assured him that he'd put feelers out on the streets.

Starsky had gone to Hutch's apartment, on the distant hope that Hutch was there, perhaps holed up to reconsider the recent decision they had made for themselves.  But there wasn't any indication that Hutch had been there since breakfast.

Was it in any way possible that Hutch's disappearance had nothing to do with Nancy, and was instead because he might have gotten cold feet about their plans to have a different style of life together? 

However much that might be true, Starsky just couldn't fathom that Hutch would, perhaps, take off on his own, without leaving Starsky any kind of message. 

Please be all right, Hutch.  Whatever reason you've up and disappeared, please be okay. 

If Hutch was dead, then they would never know the new level of love that they could have achieved.

That was an unbearable thought. 

Starsky choked out a gasp.  You can't be dead, Hutch.

Was it possible that perhaps a disgruntled suspect from years back had gotten a hold of Hutch, after he dropped Nancy off somewhere?

Morning, please hurry and get here.  Starsky needed to get hunting.

 


Hutch knew he needed to get past his anger and disbelief, to figure out how to get out of this mess.

First, he considered ways that Starsky could find him.  Nancy had indicated at lunch yesterday that she and Carl lived near Chambers and Poppins.  Starsky wouldn't know that.  Starsky did know that Hutch had picked up Nancy from Jake's Auto Shop.  He also knew where Nancy worked.  He'd likely start there, trying to figure out where Nancy and Carl lived.  However, Hutch was pretty sure that he'd never mentioned Carl by name.  In fact, he only knew his first name.

Yet, surely Carl, if not Nancy, would be smart enough to know that the police would be looking for where Nancy lived, in order to find Hutch?  Perhaps Hutch's bird in the hand was that they genuinely believed they had two days.  Though Nancy knew Starsky was Hutch's partner, of course, she likely didn't have any concept of just how close they were, despite her claims of the suspicions she and her mother had shared.

A big question was -- was Hutch's car still parked out front?  If Starsky could convince Dobey that Hutch was missing, before Carl decided the LTD needed to be moved, then maybe a passing cop would notice it, and call it in.

Hutch shied away from the thought that Starsky might be thinking that Hutch up and disappearing had something to do with the new aspect of their relationship they'd decided to embark upon. 

You know me, buddy.  I would never up and take off on you, like that.  When I said I was on board, I meant it.  I want this so, so much.  Hutch almost choked on the idea that, just when he was about to start down a path that he was as excited about as he'd ever been, he'd ended up in this predicament -- another man wanting him badly enough to kidnap him.

For his own sanity, he had to believe that Starsky had already started looking for him.

For a second train of thought, Hutch considered simply pretending to play along with Carl and Nancy.  How bad would it be, to have sex -- if it even got that far -- with two people who now disgusted him?  He'd make his move for freedom, as soon as he had the chance.  He'd almost decided on that course of action, until he considered that maybe his feigned eagerness to have a threesome wouldn't necessarily mean that the cunning Carl would let him completely out of his binds.  That would be the worst -- giving in, sharing something with Carl that he should be sharing with Starsky -- and still not have it lead to his freedom,  Plus, he didn't doubt for a moment that Carl possessed a weapon, though he hadn't yet had reason to reveal such to Hutch.

He was going to have to urinate soon.  Surely, they weren't going to leave him to piss on himself.  If they let him up to use the john, then surely Carl would have to have some kind of weapon to keep Hutch in line.

Thirdly, Hutch wondered if he simply took whatever pain Carl wanted to dish out for two days, until Hutch would be expected to show up for work on Friday morning.  But then, what would happen?  Surely, Carl's plan wasn't to simply let Hutch go, when he'd have to know that the DA would have every intent to file a load of felony charges, the most serious of which would be kidnapping. 

Have they intended to kill me all along?

Or have they been hoping that I'd be so enamored of the pleasure they can give me, that I might run away with them, or something insane like that?

He still couldn't believe the change in Nancy -- what Carl had done to her, while completely convincing Nancy that the whippings he doled out had been for her own good.  Still, he wanted to believe that if he could get Nancy alone, he might be able to get through to her, and turn her against Carl.

Hutch investigated the inside of his cheek with his tongue, which was quite painful from Carl having slugged him.  Physical pain, he could handle.  But how bad would it get, before Starsky found him, or he was able to convince Nancy to help him escape?  Or, would he become so incapacitated, that he couldn't take advantage of an opportune moment to overtake his captors?

 


As soon as Carl entered the bedroom, Hutch said, "I have to piss."

Carl called over his shoulder, "Nancy, bring the piss bottle."

Piss bottle?  Hutch didn't like the sound of that.

Carl went over to a dresser, and pulled open a drawer.  He took out a pistol.

Nancy came into the room, and handed Carl a plastic spray bottle, with the lid removed, and then turned and left, closing the door behind her.

Carl approached the bed.  "Let me be clear on one rule, Ken.  Anytime you disobey me, Nancy will be severely punished.  Such punishment will take place in this room, so you have to witness it."

Shit.

"I'm going to release one of the bindings on your hands, so you can piss into this bottle.  You try anything at all, I will punish Nancy."

As Carl held the gun with one hand, and extended an arm to untie one of the leather straps, Hutch was hesitant to make a move.  If he wasn't successful at over-powering the muscular Carl, then he wasn't sure he could forgive himself for whatever pain he might cause Nancy.

It was too soon to make a move.  Maybe he should feign gradual complacency, so he could catch Carl off guard at a later point, once Carl had started to trust him, or otherwise feel he was making progress with getting Hutch to come around to his way of thinking.

His left hand was now free, and Carl had stepped back with the gun.  With his right hand able to move just a few inches, Hutch wasn't sure how he was supposed to piss, especially with Carl watching him.

He was grateful when Carl moved away, and then wondered if feeling grateful toward his captor was the first step toward being brainwashed into Carl's way of thinking.

Feeling horribly exposed, Hutch got up partially on his right elbow, and used his left hand to guide himself into the opening of the bottle.  He released a long, slow breath, and was relieved that his bladder started to empty.

He almost filled the entire bottle. 

"Nancy!" Carl barked.

When Nancy came into the room, Carl said, "Empty the bottle."

She came around the bed and took it from Hutch, and them moved to open the door to a bathroom.

Carl said, "You feel such relief now.  That is how it is with pain and pleasure.  Pain gets increasingly uncomfortable, and then unbearable.  So, the pleasure -- the relief -- is all the more eagerly sought."

Hutch wasn't interested in Carl's philosophies, so remained silent.

"Lie back, so I can bind you again."

The toilet was being flushed in the bathroom.  "Nancy, the gun."

Nancy came out of the bathroom, and took the gun that Carl handed her.

Hutch wondered if there was any chance that she would actually use it.

He again decided to cooperate for now, and let Carl re-tie the leather strap that restrained his left hand.

Hutch wanted to ask his next question, with Nancy in the room.  "You're going to kill me, aren't you?  After you're done playing your little games?"

He watched Nancy looked worriedly at Carl, as Carl presented a slight smile.  "I'm hoping it won't come to that.  You have no idea of my skills.  I have given many self-declared 'I'm straight' men such immense pleasure, that they come back of their own free will, seeking more.  I hope that you will come around to that way of thinking, and not want to press charges.  Many such men will still insist that they are 'straight', as though they truly believe that gender has anything to do with sexual pleasure.  No woman can know better than a man, how to please another man.  Pleasure is something that all living creatures seek.  Whether it is to fill a hungry stomach, piss or shit to relieve pressure, or seek warmth when one is cold, or to achieve the most exquisite of orgasms... living creatures do not avoid pleasure, when they can have it."

Hutch felt compelled to protest, "Some of us don't feel much pleasure, unless love making is with someone we feel genuine affection for."

"Believe what you wish, for now.  I can change your beliefs.  Nancy, the candle."

Hutch wondered what was in store for him, when Nancy left the room.

 


Starsky's eyes opened wide in the darkness.

He was lying on top of his bed covers, in his underwear, getting whatever rest his mind would allow, for he knew that genuine sleep wasn't possible. 

It had suddenly crossed his mind that Hutch might indeed be with Nancy and Carl, but of his own free will.  What if, because of anticipating sex with Starsky, Hutch had decided to get an education in how to please another man?

The thought made Starsky angry -- after so very much wanting them to figure it out together -- but also brought relief.  At least, such a decision on Hutch's part would mean that he was all right, and nothing was happening to him that he didn't want to happen.  And maybe he would show up at daylight, ready to leave town with Starsky, so he could demonstrate his newly-acquired knowledge.

Please show up this morning, Hutch.

Yet, surely Hutch wouldn't have done any such thing, without getting Starsky some kind of message to explain his absence yesterday afternoon and last night.  Plus, such an idea still didn't explain why Nancy would have said she needed a ride back to work, when she'd had the entire week off.  Unless Dobey was right, and Hutch had simply misunderstood Nancy's intentions, when he'd left to pick her up.

Maybe Hutch had taken Nancy home, and it turned out that Carl was there.  Maybe, Hutch had decided he would make use of their proposition, and gotten so caught up in the bedroom activities, that he hadn't gotten around to considering that Starsky would be worried about him.

Maybe.

 


The candle wax hadn't been so bad.  Having candle wax slowly dripped on his chest and stomach had been a tolerable pain.  Carl was fully aware of how mild it was; in fact, he seemed to drip wax on Hutch only to give his hands something to do, while he droned on and on about his philosophy of the contrast between pleasure and pain.  Hutch had closed his eyes and tuned him out.

Maybe that had been a mistake, for he had no idea what was coming a few minutes later.  A fist had landed in his diaphragm, and Hutch had cried out loudly as he jackknifed as much as his bonds would allow.  He couldn't catch his breath, and had suffered a momentary panic that he was going to die.

He had since recovered his breath, but was terribly sore there.

In the meantime, he'd been given water and two energy bars, which he'd slowly eaten, trying to avoid as long as possible whatever discomfort was going to happen next.  He was also trying to decide if he should make a move, before Carl tied him again.

Carl was a strong man.  If Hutch slugged him, he surely wouldn't be able to free all his bindings before Carl recovered enough to retaliate, to say nothing of perhaps Carl firing a fatal shot with the gun.  Plus, any subsequent retaliation would take place at Nancy's expense. 

Hutch didn't want to risk hurting the brainwashed Nancy, unless he could be reasonably certain that he had a good chance of overtaking Carl and getting away.  So, he had allowed his free hand to be tied again, while determined that he would consider future opportunities.

He had glanced at the clock and saw that it said 5:30.  In the morning?  He thought so.  The bedroom didn't have any windows.  That meant 5:30 Wednesday morning, which was supposed to be his and Starsky's first day off.  A full day of enduring pain, and then tomorrow, as well.  Maybe even the next day, if Carl decided that it would take at least a full day before the police decided that they had a genuine missing person case, when Hutch didn't show up for work Friday morning.

Please, buddy.  I need you to find me.  Soon.

Hutch began to wonder if he'd be able to hold out.  Would it be so bad if he agreed to let Carl or Nancy pleasure him?  He preferred that such be from Carl, if only because he didn't think he'd ever forgive himself for having sex with his pseudo little sister.  Sex with Carl would be the lesser of two evils.

Don't start considering it, Hutch scolded himself.  Can't let him get to me.  Whatever happened to him externally, he had to keep his internal spirit strong.  Please, Starsky.  Please find me.  Before I end up agreeing to something that I don't want to do.

The bedroom door opened, and Hutch tensed.

Nancy and Carl entered, Carl leading Nancy by the hand.  They halted on the far side of the bed.  Carl said, "We think it's time for you to get a little demonstration of what you've been resisting."

He turned to face Nancy, and they kissed.  A moment later, they began to undress each other.

Hutch turned away, as much as his bonds allowed, refusing to watch.

He and Starsky hadn't kissed at all yet.   Such a thought was almost sweetly amusing.  They had agreed to embark on their new journey, without even knowing if they would enjoy kissing each other.

Of course, we'll enjoy it, Hutch decided.  It would be the most wonderful thing....

The bed rocked, as the space next to him was filled with two bodies, though they seemed careful not to touch him, which wasn't that difficult, since he was facing away, partially on his side, at the edge of the bed.  It wasn't long before there was wet, smacking noises, and Nancy made groaning noises that Hutch was familiar with, since he considered himself to be a pretty good lover when it came to giving head.

Hutch realized that he had an erection.  That, he could forgive himself for.  Cocks tended to have minds of their own, and Hutch wasn't responsible for whatever indirect stimulation his received.

Think of Starsky.

He wished so much that he was with Starsky now.  Starsky would hold him and nuzzle him, and murmur words of reassurance, while he helped Hutch escape from here.  Be tender with his sore spots, make "atta boy" noises of encouragement.

When they went to bed together, there would be warmth and gentleness between them.  A sharing where the pleasure would be the natural byproduct, rather than the goal, of their togetherness.

Nancy screeched in orgasm.  "Oh, Carl!  Carl!"  Heavy breathing.  "Oh, my man, Carl."

For a moment, there was only the sound Nancy recovering her breath.  Then, "Spread your legs, you hot little bitch."

Hutch wasn't sure he'd ever hated anyone, as much as he hated Carl.

Moments later, more screeching, and then the mattress rocked relentlessly, as there was the sound of flesh firmly slapping flesh, while the noises from Nancy escalated. 

Suddenly, the motion and sounds stopped.  Then, "Turn over, you worthless little whore."  Mildly rocking of the mattress.  "Get your ass up in the air.  Tell me you want it."

God, no, Hutch thought hopelessly. 

Nancy said, "Fuck my tight little hole with the huge Carl cock.  Finger my pussy."

"Hold still, bitch."

The next distinctive sound was a soft cry of pain.

So much for technique, Hutch thought miserably, even as he dribbled fluid against his lower stomach.

The mattress was rocking again.  It took a few moments, but Nancy began another round of screeching noises.

Thank God, Hutch thought, when it sounded like the two of them climaxed together.

After recovering their breaths, they left the bed.  Hutch wanted to roll over onto his back, but was embarrassed by his erection.  Thankfully, it was starting to soften, as his diaphragm hurt more when he stretched out his legs as much as his restraints would allow.

Nancy went into the bathroom, and left the door open as she sat on the toilet.  Carl followed her, and ran water in the sink.  A moment later, he emerged, using a wet towel along his cock.

Casually, he told Hutch, "She's all yours, if you want her.  She's got well-trained cunt muscles.  You don't even have to do anything.  She'll sit down on you, and milk the juice right out of your cock."

The toilet flushed, and Nancy emerged from the bathroom.  She stood next to Carl.  "Please let me pleasure you, Ken.  You'll feel so much better.  Don't take as long as I did to stop resisting."

Hutch's heart sank with sadness on the last.

She took a couple of steps closer.  "Or let Carl pleasure you.  He's very good.  I've seen him send men to ecstasy."

I don't think he's as good as you think he is, Hutch thought defiantly, recalling her cry of pain.

Nancy reached out and laid a hand on his thigh.  "Please, Ken."

That gentle touch felt so good.

Carl lunged at Nancy, and gave her an open-handed slap across the face.  '"Bitch!"

She cried out, turning away while covering her face.

Hutch pulled at his restraints.  "Leave her alone!"

"He's only to receive pain until he requests pleasure!" Carl shouted at her.   "He's still in resistance!  His pleasure will be all the greater, the longer he keeps resisting.  It's his right to resist."

Some part of Hutch was confused.  Was Carl glad that he was resisting?

Had he somehow played into Carl's plans by refusing to allow himself pleasure?

 


Starsky's heart sank as he stared at Nancy Blake's personnel file, while standing next to Andy Wilkins' desk.  "Dammit, all this shows for her address and phone number is the last address where she and her mother lived."

Mr. Wilkins said, "It's not unusual for employees to be lax about informing Personnel that they've moved.  Like I told you, I wasn't aware that she had moved in with a boyfriend.  I suppose I'm old-fashioned, but I wouldn't have expected something like that from Nancy."

Starsky suspected that it was more a deliberate decision on Nancy's part to have not informed anyone of where she was currently living, rather than an oversight.  He sighed.  "Is there anybody here that Nancy would have talked to about her personal life?  What about that gal I talked to on the phone yesterday, right before she closed up the office?"

"Oh, that would be Shelley."  Mr. Wilkins stood and moved to his office door.  "Shelley, can you please come in here?"

A tall, blond, thirtyish woman entered.

"Shelley, this is detective David Starsky."

Starsky shook her hand.  "I'm the one who talked to you on the phone before closing yesterday.  Mr. Wilkins can vouch that I really am a police officer."

"I'm sorry about that."

"It's okay," Starsky quickly assured.  "You did the right thing.  But I have reason to be worried about Nancy's safety.  I need to find where she is right now.  We're trying to track down her boyfriend.  Did she ever tell you anything about him?"

She seemed to shiver, and crossed her arms.  "He came by once to pick Nancy up.  Gave me the creeps."

Starsky's heart beat faster.  "What do you mean?"

"Just the way he looked at me.  It wasn't like how men normally look at women.  He was just so intent about it.  Like he could see inside me."

"Did Nancy ever talk about him?"

"She talked like he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  After meeting him that once, I felt worried for her.  But I didn't say anything.  It wasn't my place to get involved in her personal life."

"Look, Shelley, I need you to think really hard.  Did Nancy ever mention anything, about where he lived?  Or mention going shopping at stores nearby?  Anything that could give us a clue as to where he is?"

"Well, I know he works for All Is Safe Insurance Company, which insures a lot of cargo that goes through the docks.  I know that's how they met."

Mr. Wilkins said, "I can give you their number.  Maybe you can find out something through their personnel office."

 


Hutch had to stop his mental gyrations.  He needed to focus, make a plan.

He had decided such time and time again, it seemed.  Each time, he got distracted with wondering if he was playing into Carl's plans by refusing to seek pleasure.  Yet, if he sought pleasure, that seemed that it would also be playing into Carl's plans, to say nothing of feeling all wrong....

Then he would decide that thinking about it, and feeling as though right and wrong revolved around Carl, was definitely wrong, and definitely playing into Carl's sinister plans.  And then he would think again that he needed to make a plan to escape.

Now, he was all the more distracted by blood in his eye.  Carl had slugged him in the left eye, and it was swollen partially shut, and a cut above the eye was leaking blood, thereby causing that eye to constantly water, as it tried to clear the blood, which in turn made Hutch's vision blurry.  He could clear it a little, by rubbing his face against his shoulder, which hurt quite a bit, and only helped his vision for a moment or two.  He knew it needed to be flushed out at a hospital.

He snorted forlornly.  Fat chance of ending up at a hospital anytime soon.

A doorbell rang.

Hutch's heart accelerated.  Starsky? 

Carl rushed into the room, calling over his shoulder, "Don't answer it yet!"

Please be Starsky.

Carl went to the nightstand next to Hutch and took out a scarf.  He wrapped it around Hutch's head and tied it, gagging him.

Then he grabbed the gun and left the room.  Hutch heard him say, "Whoever it is, tell him to go away."

There was the sound of a heavy door opening.  Then voices, including Nancy's.  Carl's angry voice then said, "No, we don't want whatever you're selling.  Get the fuck off my property."  The door was slammed shut.

Not Starsky.

Hutch's heart sank.

Time for Plan B.

What a minute.  Had there ever even been a Plan A?

 


Starsky slapped the file folder down on Dobey's desk.  "Carl Renton.  He was fired from All Is Safe Insurance two months ago.  He was suspected of defrauding the company of over fifty thousand dollars the past six years, by forging signatures and claiming to have signed up new clients for insurance, thereby earning a commission check, but then the new clients wouldn't ever pay, and then the insurance company would have to drop them.  After they got suspicious and investigated further, they discovered that the companies Carl was filling out paperwork for never existed.  But Carl still got his commission for signing them up.  Once they fired him, they decided not to prosecute, since it would be too expensive to gather all the proof together.  They were just glad to be rid of him."

Dobey's eyes were on the file.  "Any priors?"

"A few domestic disturbance calls, reported by neighbors, with various girlfriends, but the girls wouldn't press charges.  The police always reported the girls looking bruised and battered.  There was one that filed charges, hence a police record, but she changed her mind about testifying.  The women were too afraid of him."  Indeed, the photo in the file was of a short, but muscular man that Starsky didn't doubt could be dangerous.  If he's dared hurt Hutch....

"What about an address?"

Starsky ran his hand back through his hair.  "He uses a post office box number.  I checked with the post office, and it turns out that the residential address they have on file for the PO Box is bogus.  We need someone to stake out the post office, in case he or Nancy goes there."

Dobey looked up at him.  "What's your next move?"

Starsky leaned over Dobey's desk.  "Captain, we have to put an ABP on Hutch, and on Carl Renton, and Nancy Blake."

Dobey sighed, slowly shaking his head.  "I don't think we have enough to prove that Hutch didn't decide to just up and leave town for his days off."

"No, no, Cap'n, Hutch and I had agreed to go out of town together for our days off.  We were even going to ask you for an extra day, before Hutch went missing.  There's no way Hutch would blow me off like that, without even leaving me a message."  He refrained from adding they had intended it to be a special time for them both.  "To say nothing of how he never reported back in for duty yesterday afternoon."

"Yeah," Dobey grunted, "that's not like Hutchinson."  He eyed Starsky.  "You really think this Carl and Nancy have done something to Hutch?"

"It all fits," Starsky insisted, "with the way Hutch felt Nancy's behavior was so bizarre, and her wanting Hutch to join them in a three-way.  Nancy would never have initiated a conversation like that.  I think this Carl probably has her completely under his thumb, and used her to try to get Hutch into his bed.  When it didn't work... maybe they decided to kidnap Hutch."

"That's all so speculative, as well as far-fetched."

Starsky pushed, "Whether I'm right or not that it has anything to do with Carl or Nancy, there's no denying that something's happened to Hutch."

"Yeah.  All right."  Dobey reached for his phone.

Starsky quickly said, "In the meantime, I'm going to try to find people that have known Carl."

 


Carl held his gun on Hutch.  "I'm going to untie you, and then you're going to turn over onto your stomach."

Hutch remembered Carl's casual declaration that he didn't "do rape".  That didn't ease his trepidation.  He looked into Carl's eyes with his one good eye.  "No."

"Nancy!  Get in here!"

Nancy came briskly into the room, smiling.  As soon as she was a few feet away from Carl, Carl raised his arm and slapped her hard across the face, which sent her falling back against the wall, crying out.

"Are you insane?" Hutch shouted.  "You're going to kill her!"

Carl turned the gun back to Hutch.  With deadly calm, he said, "Let's try this again.  I'm going to untie you, and you're going to turn over, ass side up.  Otherwise, I'm going to do to Nancy what I have in mind for you."

No.  God, no.  Hutch wasn't sure if he was pleading for himself, or for Nancy.

With false gentleness, Carl said, "You're awfully good looking.  I'd prefer to not mess up your face anymore than I already have.  So, we start working on other areas, or Nancy will pay for your disobedience."  He moved away and grabbed Nancy by the shirt, hoisting her up.  "Get up, bitch.  Untie Ken.  Let's see if he wants to cooperate, or would prefer to see you beaten instead."

Nancy approached the bed with her head lowered, her hair obscuring her face, though Hutch could see the tear streaks and her troubled frown.  As she silently worked with his bonds, he desperately tried to catch her eye.  If he could give her a signal, she could try to divert Carl when Hutch was loose, and then he could (hopefully) wrestle the gun away from Carl.

She wouldn't look at him.

"Don't worry about Nancy," Carl said, while Nancy untied the straps.  "She'll have her cunt over my face before the day is over, because she can't resist the pleasure I give her, especially when it follows pain." 

Hutch muttered, "You're a sadist, sociopath, and psychopath, all rolled into one."

"Perhaps.  But I enjoy myself a lot more than those who live their lives by rules that nature never meant for man to have."  He quickly said, "Just one arm and one leg at a time."

Nancy stopped, where she had started to unbind Hutch's second wrist.  Instead, she moved to his feet.

"Just don't forget, Ken, that you have different rules than Nancy.  She has no say in whatever I decide to do with her.  Her presence insures your cooperation.  But you can cause your own pain to stop at any time.  All you have to do is say you want pleasure instead, from either me or Nancy.  Or both of us.  I know you think you're being strong and ethical by choosing the pain.  But, you see, it won't matter, in the end.  Ultimately, the pain will become unbearable, and you'll plead for the pleasure.  And then, it'll turn out that all your resistance will not have mattered at that point, other than the increased high you get from contrast between pain and pleasure."  Hutch wasn't looking at Carl, so he only heard the amusement in Carl's voice.  "I think you rather like the pain.  It reassures your sense of integrity.  However, I submit that your integrity is false.  There's no meaningful purpose to it.  It only prolongs the inevitable."  Now, a soft chuckle.  "And that's fine by me.  I rather enjoy the head games that you play with yourself."

Hutch wanted to crawl into a hole and hide, so Carl couldn't dissect him so accurately.  So Nancy couldn't see his humiliation.

He wanted somebody to hold him.  To wrap him in blankets, so his nudity wouldn't show.  So he couldn't be seen through.

Starsk....

"Step back, Nancy.  Ken, turn over, as much as the straps will allow, for the moment."

He had his right arm and leg free.

Feeling some sense that he was sealing his own doom -- but he couldn't bear to cause Nancy to be hurt anymore -- Hutch rolled to the left as far as he could onto his stomach, considering left arm and leg were still bound.  He gasped at how the motion hurt his tender diaphragm.

Carl directed, "Re-tie his right arm and leg, and then release the left ones."

I've been in this situation before, Hutch realized.  Ben Forest's henchmen had kidnapped him.  Beat him, and he'd proudly resisted, refusing to reveal Jeanie Waldon's location.  Then they introduced something intensely pleasurable, before eventually taking that pleasure away.  He'd wanted the pleasure then.  Wanted it very much.  They'd withheld the pleasure for a prolonged period, and asked him again what they wanted to know.  Eventually, the pain had become unbearable, and he gave away Jeanie's location, and had been rewarded with the pleasure he'd so desperately wanted -- and needed.  He hadn't accomplished anything at all, by refusing to give away Jeanie's location when they'd first battered him.  Ultimately, they had gotten what they wanted from him, and all his resistance had done was turn him into a junkie.

Starsky saved me, his mind wanted to insist, as though that made all aspects of the situation okay.

Please save me now.

"All the way over, Ken."

Hutch's left arm and leg were free.  He finished rolling over onto his stomach, and grunted at how the give of the bed hurt his diaphragm even more.  He had to be careful how he laid his head on the pillow, so it wasn't on the side with his injured eye and cheek.

"Nice," Carl said, sounding sincere.  "I eagerly await the moment when you let me have at that gorgeous, white ass." 

That's for Starsky, Hutch thought defiantly.  Only him.

He was, indeed, proud of his defiance.

He also now had all four limbs tied again.

"I'm getting a boner as we speak." Carl chuckled.  "Nancy is going to get a few mouthfuls of load, before my cock calms down.  But first, I don't want to disappoint your need to resist."

No.  Please.

"Nancy, bring me the riding crop -- the one that hurts the most."

 


Starsky sighed while sitting in the Torino, outside a gay bar, that had been sparsely occupied, since it was a little past noon.

The picture had firmly emerged that Carl was the worst sort of sadist.  Starsky had been able to track down a homosexual that admitted to having sex with Carl.  He'd said he never wanted to see Carl Renton ever again.  What had been promised to be an evening of pleasure, had turned out, for this particular man, at least, to be one of little pleasure and a lot of pain.  When the man had had enough and wanted to leave, Carl didn't want to let him.  Finally, the man, who was six-four, had punched Carl and pushed him away, and then left. 

With his heart in his throat, Starsky had asked if the man thought Carl was a rapist.  He was only somewhat relieved when the man firmly replied, "No, I don't think so.  He gets his kicks from power, but not in personally forcing himself on people.  His big thing is making people hurt enough, that they beg for pleasure from him.  I've run into a few other guys he's had sex with.  Most speak of him with disdain, but I guess a few liked it with him."

Unfortunately, Carl and the man had had their liaison in a motel room near Chambers and Poppins, and he hadn't known where Carl lived.

Still, Chambers and Poppins was within a few blocks of the post office where Carl had a PO box.

He's got to live in that general area.

Starsky was about to reach for the radio, when it beeped.  "Zebra Three, come in please."

Starsky lifted the microphone.  "This is Zebra Three."

"Patching you through Captain Dobey."  A moment later, Dobey said, "Starsky?"

"Yeah?"

"Hutchinson's car as been spotted, parked at the corner of Fairfax, a residential street near Chambers and Poppins.  The officer that found it is going to start knocking on doors, and see if anyone knows how the car got there."

Starsky excitedly said, "Chambers and Poppins jibes with information I just found out.  I don't know the actual street, but Renton has got to be around there.

"I'm headed out that way myself."

 


Hutch couldn't escape the relentless pain along his buttocks.  Being hit again and again with a riding crop, at full force, had hurt like a sonofabitch, eventually causing him to cry out and beg for it to stop.  Worse, Nancy had been in the room to witness his humiliation. 

If only I could crawl into a hole, hide myself away....  Or bury himself under a mound of sheltering blankets.  What bliss that would be, to be securely wrapped and sheltered from eyes that enjoyed his pain.

Hutch knew the beating could have been worse.  He didn't think any of the skin had been broken.  That would surely have happened, if Carl had used a whip with a lash.  Hutch had no doubt such a painful device was in his future, considering what Carl had done to Nancy's back.

"Suck that cock like you whore you are."

Hutch wished his could shut his ears off.  He'd closed his eyes and buried his face into the pillow, as much as the pain of his eye and cheek would allow.  He supposed Carl was having Nancy suck his dick, while gloating at Hutch's red, stinging ass.

He didn't know how much longer he could bear being in this torture chamber.

Just ask for pleasure, his mind offered.  All the bad stuff will then go away.  It's that easy.  Tell Carl you'll feel pleasure by pleasuring him.  Wait for a moment when Carl is in the middle of orgasm, and then attack him.

But what if Carl still had Hutch bound when he had sex with him?  Then Hutch would have given in, and gained nothing for it, except the self-loathing that he'd stopped resisting, just to please Carl.

Please, Starsk.

 


Eight cops were knocking on doors, as was Starsky.

"No," a resident told Starsky, "I don't know anything about a brown LTD on Fairfax, or how it got there.  Parking is always a problem in this neighborhood.  Sometimes I have to park three blocks away, and walk home."

Starsky showed her the mug shot of Carl.  "You ever see this man?"

"Why, yes, I think so.  A time or two.  He has a different way about him, that's hard to explain."

Hope flared.  "Where have you seen him?"

She pointed.  "I think he lives in that house up there.  The one with that black Thunderbird in front of it."

Starsky's heart kicked into high gear.  He didn't have a photo of Nancy.  "You ever see anyone else at that house?"

"I think I saw a young woman once.  Long, brown hair.  I'm not sure if she lives there."

Starsky felt that he wanted to jump out of his skin.  "Thanks!  You've been a tremendous help."

 


Hutch's eyes snapped open. 

He didn't know what had alerted him.  He was alone in the bedroom, though the door was open.

He heard quiet voices.   Nancy was saying, "What if he doesn't break, before the police expect him back at work on Friday?"

"Don't be such a stupid bitch.  He'll break, like you did.  He wants to, just like you did.  He has to reach the point where he feels he has no option, and he can't bear the pain anymore.  Admitting he wants pleasure is the only way out."

"It's taking so long."

"We still have the rest of today, and all day tomorrow.  Believe me, he's hurting more and more.  Though I might use you to speed things along a bit.  He can't bear to see you hurt, no matter how much I reward you with pleasure afterward."

God, no.

Hutch heard footsteps on a tiled floor.  Nancy voice said, "All the dogs in the neighborhood having been barking for a while now.  It's relentless."

"Must be fucking salesmen in the area.  Again.  Don't worry about it.  If anyone comes to the door, don't answer.  If they persist, I'll come to the door with a fucking gun.  Ought to blow their heads off, the way they're so bothersome.'"  There was the sound of a chair scooting back.  "I'm going to gag Ken, as a precaution."

"He needs more water."

"Wait until the neighborhood calms down."

Yes, water would be bliss.

Instead, Carl came into the room and, without a word, tied the scarf around Hutch's mouth.

It was so hard to breathe, with him being face-down, and having the gag.  His throat was so dry.  His eye still watered constantly, though the cut along his brow had long since clotted and new blood was no longer dripping into his eye.

His stomach was growling, though he didn't feel he had much of an appetite.

The doorbell rang.

Starsky?

"Don't answer it," Carl said, having left the bedroom.

There was pounding on the door.  Then a distinct, "Police!  Open up!"

STARSKY!

Hutch tried to call out through the gag, but all he made were muffled groaning sounds.

"Cops!" Carl exclaimed in surprise.  There was fear in his voice.

"What are we going to do?"

"Shut the fuck up."

Hutch heard a trigger being cocked.

"Open the door, Nancy."

NO.

"There's more than one."

"Shut up and open the door, you fucking bitch.  I'll take the first one out, at least."

The first one would be Starsky.

Hutch tried harder to make a noise, to be a distraction.  His eyes watered with his helplessness.

"Open the damn door!"

Hutch heard a door pulled back, then scuffled movement, and then a shot rang out.

NO! NO! NO!

Nancy was screaming.

"'Where's Hutch?" Starsky barked.

Hutch wanted to sob with relief.

"WHERE?"  Then a muttered, "Never mind.  Take her, Sommers.  HUTCH!"

He had no way of signaling where he was.

It didn't matter.  A moment later, Starsky's voice had softened considerably, while being much closer.  "Hutch, Hutch.  My God, Hutch."   Then loudly, "Get me some water, call an ambulance, and keep everybody out."

A gentle hand touched the back of his thigh.  "Ah, Hutch, babe, I'll get you out of here in a second."

Hutch strained against his gag, wanting to warn Starsky not to be kind to him, or Starsky would suffer painful consequences.

"I'm right here, I'm right here," Starsky murmured, his hand now feeling extraordinarily comforting while it rested on the middle of Hutch's back.  The other hand lowered Hutch's gag. 

"Hutch."  The hand on his back and now moved to his hair, and stroked.  "Hutch?"

Hutch could barely make out Starsky's concerned, relieved face, considering his bad eye, and his good eye partially pressed against the pillow.

"Hang on, hang on.  I'm untying you.  It's gonna be okay."

Hutch latched onto the soothing words.  But his attention quickly turned to each touch from the gentle hand.

He wanted those gentle touches so much that he couldn't bring himself to warn Starsky not to touch him with kindness.

"Here's water," a new voice said.  "Ambulance is on the way."

"Great.  Let the paramedics through, but keep everyone else out.  Close the door."

"Hang on, baby," Starsky was chattering, as Hutch gradually felt each limb freed of its leather strap.

"Okay, okay, let's roll you back a little.  Not all the way."

No, Hutch did not want to roll onto his back.  His butt hurt too much.

"Wait a sec," Starsky gasped.  Hutch felt movement of the mattress, and then softness all along his back.  "Okay, move back as much as the pillows will let you."  Starsky was trying to turn him, and Hutch felt blessed relief, as softness took the weight of his back, while his hip joint had contact with the bed.

"Hang on, hang on."  Hutch's upper arm was squeezed, and then Starsky moved away.

Hutch tried to focus his vision, and saw Starsky opening a closet that Hutch hadn't been aware existed.

"Here we go," Starsky muttered, pulling a folded blanket off a shelf.  As he approached the bed, Starsky unfolded the blanket, shaking it.  Then he draped it over Hutch.

Hutch grabbed at the edge that landed near his chest, and pulled it up to his neck.

Finally, he had cover.

Starsky moved to the dresser and took a glass of water.  "Here's some water, Hutch.  Let me help you drink it."

Hutch licked his dry, cracked lips in anticipation.

Starsky was kneeling next to the bed.  "Let me hold your head up."

It was awkward, because of the way he was lying partially on his side.  But the glass was tilting, and Hutch drank greedily, even as he was aware a lot of the water was spilling from his mouth, and running in a slant down his chin.

He was breathing heavily when the glass was pulled away.

"Eeeasy," Starsky whispered, putting the glass aside.  "Hutch?  Hutch?"

Hutch tried to meet Starsky's inquisitive eyes, as Starsky held the good side of his face in one hand.

Starsky gazed back at him.  "How are you doing?"

Hutch knew what Starsky wanted from him.  He wanted him to break into a smile, nod his head, give some indication that all was well.

He was so glad that Starsky was here, but he didn't think that all was well. 

Starsky's expression softened.  "You hurt anywhere that I can't see?  Hm?"

That was too difficult of a question to answer.  Hutch both side-stepped and expressed his worry.  "He hurt Nancy."

"She's being taken care of."

Hutch closed his eyes, and pulled at the hem of the blanket.  He moved his bare legs, trying to get them under the blanket.

"Hang on," Starsky whispered.  He squeezed the fingers that were around the blanket's hem, and then turned back to the closet.  He pulled out a quilt, and then turned and spread it over Hutch's lover body, overlapping the blanket.

Hutch felt the warmth as the quilt was tucked around his feet and legs.

"There you go," Starsky said, as he continued to press both coverings against Hutch's body.  Then he was kneeling at the side of the bed again.  One hand clasped Hutch's fingers that were holding the blanket, the other settled on Hutch's chest, above the blanket.  "Easy, buddy boy, the ambulance is on the way."

The hand on his chest moved down, and Hutch gasped when the pressure reached the bruising.

Starsky quickly moved his hand back up.  "Sorry, sorry.  Sorry, Hutch."

Hutch wet his lips again.  "H-Home."  That's where he wanted to go.  So very much.

Starsky's hand stroked through his hair.  "I'll get you home as soon as I can.  The ambulance is on the way, and you need to be checked out at a hospital.  They can flush your eye and give you something for the pain."

Hutch closed his eyes again, wishing he could feel relief.

"Hutch?  Try to relax, okay?  Rest against me."

The hand on his head applied slight pressure, and Hutch realized that Starsky had leaned closer, so that Hutch's cheek could rest on his arm.

"Relax, baby."  A hand rubbed along his back, above the blanket.

It indeed felt good, resting his head against Starsky's arm, the hand feeling so warm and soothing along his back.

If he enjoyed this warmth and comfort, was he no longer resisting, and giving Carl what he wanted?

He choked out a gasp.

"Ah, Hutch," Starsky said sorrowfully.  He shifted, so he could duck his head and catch Hutch's eye.  So gentle, he whispered, "Is there something you want to tell me?"

Hutch gazed back at him, very much wanting to tell him how confused he was about what was and wasn't going to please Carl, but he didn't know how he could possibly make Starsky understand.  He didn't have the energy to form all the words.  Instead, he managed, "Carl?"  His voice trembled.

"He's dead, Hutch."

Hutch blinked.  Carl was dead.  He should feel relieved.

He didn't feel relieved.

There was a soft knock at the door.  Hutch gasped.  His fingers moved from the blanket to Starsky's arm.

A muffled voice said, "Ambulance just pulled up."

Starsky said in a slightly raised voice, "Send them in."  Then to Hutch, "'The paramedics are coming.  It's going to be okay, Hutch.  I'm going to stay right with you."  He squeezed Hutch's hand that had grabbed his arm.  "We're all gonna take good care of you."

 


"Starsky."

Starsky turned away from Hutch, who was lying on his side in the emergency room, covered up, and had fallen into some semblance of sleep, after being given a muscle relaxant, and having ointment smeared liberally on his rear.  Starsky squeezed Hutch's shoulder, said, "I'll be right back," though he wasn't sure that Hutch heard him.

He joined Dobey in the doorway, and both took a few steps into the hall.  Starsky kept glancing inside the room, to make sure Hutch was still relaxed in whatever state of sleep he'd managed to obtain.

Dobey said, "I had just pulled up, as the ambulance drove away.  How is he?"

Starsky released a breath.  "The physical stuff isn't too bad.  He got slugged in the jaw.  He has a cut above his eye that got blood in his eye, but they've flushed that all out.  It just might be sore for a few hours.  He got belted in the solar plexus."  Starsky shifted with discomfort.  "His rear end got beat pretty good with a riding crop."

"Riding crop?"

"Yeah, that's what he said  it was."

"He's talking?"

Starsky shifted again.  "Yeah.  He's pretty shook up, but he can talk when he puts his mind to it."

Dobey muttered, "What about sexual assault?"

Starsky was relieved to shake his head.  "No sign of any, which is in line with Renton's MO."

"Thank God for that, at least.  Have you heard anything about the girl, Nancy Blake?"

Starsky grimaced.  "'They're already admitting her to the psyche ward.  She's a hysterical mess.  She looked like somebody had beaten the crap out of her, and she's got older scars on her back.  Like, from a whip."

"Dear God."

"Yeah.  I think Hutch probably witnessed some of what happened to her.  He was concerned about her."

"What are the doctors saying about releasing Hutchinson?"

"They're monitoring him, but expect to let him go within an hour so.  I'll take him home."  He looked squarely at Dobey.  "We need some days off, Cap'n.  I doubt he got any kind of rest, while Renton had him.  I need to get him home, get some decent food into him, and get him some real sleep, in a place where he feels secure.  Then see where his head is at."  He carefully avoided thinking about what this experience might mean for the new future they'd expected to have together.

"Well, this is Wednesday.  You might as well take off through the weekend.  If he's up to questioning, get a report from him.  And write one up yourself.  Oh, and I had an officer bring your car here."

"Great."

Through the corner of his eye, Starsky saw Hutch's eyes fly open, and his head raised slightly. 

"Gotta go, Cap'n." 

Starsky entered the exam room, while a nurse was asking, "How are you feeling?"

Hutch was looking around.  "Fine, fine," he answered hurriedly.

Starsky found a hand, and clasped it.  "Hey, buddy boy."

Relief came over Hutch's features.  "Starsk?"

"Yeah."  He tried a smile.  "Let me find a doctor and see if we can get you out of here."

 


Hutch slowly became aware that his front side was against the front side of another body.  The chest hair meant that it was male.

His heart accelerated.

He carefully opened his eyes and saw darkness, with the glow of a lamp from a nearby room.  He was wrapped in blankets, which he very much appreciated.  He recognized the bedspread beneath as his own.

The scents around him were comforting, and familiar.

The body next to his shifted slightly, and a sleepy voice asked, "You okay?"  Fingers massaged his shoulder, through the blankets.

They were on their sides, facing one another.

Hutch felt relief overtake him.

While some part of him wondered if it was all right to feel relief, he moved his head back, and Starsky's hooded eyes came into view.

Those eyes blinked, and then opened wider.  Starsky said, with satisfaction, "You're looking more alert."

Starsky's arms were around the blankets.  Starsky himself didn't have any covering.  He was in his jeans, but didn't have a shirt on.

"What day is it?" Hutch wondered.

"Wednesday still."  Starsky shifted to look past Hutch.  "About eight in the evening.  I brought you home from the hospital about four hours ago."

Hutch thought about that.  "I picked up Nancy from Jake's... yesterday?"

"Yeah."  Fingers reached out and brushed along Hutch's chin.  "I know it probably seems you were held a lot longer than that, Hutch.  You'll have to tell me the details later, but I know you went through a pretty rough time."

Hutch bowed his head.  "It was my choice."

Now the backs of Starsky's fingers brushed along Hutch's good cheek.  "What do you mean?"

Hutch closed his eyes.  "Carl --," Hutch suddenly remembered, "he's dead?"  He looked at Starsky.

"Yes."

"What happened?  I heard you call 'Police' outside the door.  Nancy said something about there being a bunch of cops, and Carl said, 'At least, I can get the first one.'  And he was telling Nancy to open the door."  Hutch's voice trembled.  "I knew you would be the first one, and I was gagged, and there was nothing I could do.  And then I heard the shot."

Starsky closed his eyes, and swallowed loudly.  "Ah, Hutch."  Then he opened them, and found a hand just inside the blankets, that he clasped.  "The door just barely opened, and I saw Carl with the gun aimed at me, just as Nancy fell against him, and I was already firing."  Starsky's voice softened.  "I think Nancy was trying to keep Carl from firing."

Hutch gasped, "She's dead?"

"No, no.  She sort of fell against him, so they both fell back.  My shot hit him solid in the chest.  Nancy wasn't hurt.  But she was screaming hysterically."  He hesitated, and then said, "She's been transferred to the psyche ward at the hospital.  She's in no condition to be questioned."

Dear God.

Starsky appeared thoughtful.  "But if he knew there was a whole bunch of cops, then I'm thinking Carl was committing suicide by cop.  He'd have to know that he couldn't fire at one of us, without everybody else firing at him."

"That's the only time he sounded scared," Hutch said.  "When he realized cops were outside.  If you're right that he was committing suicide by cop, I guess he couldn't handle a situation he wasn't in control of.  The time I was there, he controlled everything.  He treated Nancy so despicably...," Hutch closed his eyes, drawing a deep breath.  Then, "And she seemed to just... accept it."

Hutch was silent, relishing the feel of the backs of Starsky's fingers as they continued to stroke along his cheek.

Starsky asked, "What were you going to tell me a second ago?  About how it was your choice?"

"He-He had all these philosophies about pain and pleasure.  Saw himself as some kind of superman when it came to sexual pleasure.  He told me right away that he didn't do rape.  He acted like all he wanted was to have sex with me, or me to have sex with Nancy, or both of them."  Hutch heard some of Carl's relentless lectures in his mind, finding it hard to believe that all he had experienced had taken place within a day's time.  "He wasn't going to lay a hand on me in pleasure, unless I asked for it.  In the meantime, he was going to cause pain.  That's what he'd done to poor Nancy, apparently.  Hurt her so much, that she begged for pleasure from him, instead.  She seemed on board with his beliefs -- about how great pain leads to greater pleasure.  He said I could stop him causing me pain at any time, by just saying I wanted pleasure from him or Nancy instead."  Hutch closed his eyes, and buried his face in the blankets, causing Starsky's hand to fall away.  "I wasn't going to do that.  In some ways, he seemed disappointed.  In others, he almost seemed like he was glad that I kept resisting.  Like, it was going to be all the bigger payoff when I finally gave in and wanted pleasure."  Hutch hesitated.  "I-I started having trouble figuring out what he wanted -- what was giving in to what he wanted.  It really bothered me, that I might be giving him what he wanted."  He swallowed thickly.  "It bothers me now -- thinking that if I relax at all, I've stopped resisting."

"Hutch," Starsky said with compassion, shifting closer.  He circled his arm around Hutch, and rubbed his back through the blankets.  "Carl's gone," he said in a low, tender voice.  "It's just you and me here, and whatever we want.  Listen, I talked to a gay man that had had sex with Carl.  He wanted nothing further to do with him.  Said their night together of promised pleasure turned into being mostly a whole lot of pain, and he'd had to attack Carl, in order to leave of his own free will.  If you'd given in to Carl, and told him you wanted pleasure from him... well, from what I've heard, I don't have any reason to believe that's what you would have gotten, all in all.  I think he was a sadist, through and through, and enjoyed hurting people."

Hutch wasn't sure he could absorb Starsky's words.  "He hurt Nancy when I disobeyed him.  That's how he was able to briefly untie me, to piss or whatever.  I couldn't make any kind of move to escape or defy him, or he'd knock her around."

Starsky appeared thoughtful.  "But... he didn't make you have sex with him, by threatening to hurt Nancy?"

Hutch felt a flare of annoyance.  "No, I told you.  It was all about waiting until I wanted it, because of the pain I was feeling, rather than forcing me to want it."

"Okay, okay," Starsky quickly soothed.

Hutch found a memory, and furrowed his brow.  "Except... right before you came, he was saying something to Nancy about 'speeding things along' and how I couldn't stand to see her hurt.  Which was true."

"Thank God you didn't have to find out what he had in mind."

Hutch wanted to stop talking about Nancy and Carl.  He gazed at the compassionate eyes across from him.  "This is Wednesday.  We were supposed to leave...."

Starsky mouth corner curved into a smile.  "I still very much want that.  But we said things would only get heavy when we felt we were ready.  That still goes.  I think, you know, that we should just push the sex thing back a bit.  Give you time to get your equilibrium."

Hutch hated the thought of disappointing Starsky.  "I know I want you."

Starsky reached out and cupped the side of Hutch's face.  "And I want you.  So, so much.  But we've been together this long without the sex.  I don't want to rush into anything, especially if it's going to be about Carl.  Okay?"

Hutch felt as though he'd failed Starsky.  He bowed his head.  "I've messed things up."

"Hey," Starsky said in the softest of whisper, letting his hand rest on the back of Hutch's neck.  "You've haven't messed anything up.  None of this is your fault, and there's been no harm done to us."  He voice strengthened.  "We can still go away, if you'd like to get away from here.  Dobey says we're off through the weekend.  I'm just saying, let's not make it about sex.  Just... healing.  Being together."

Hutch had to admit, he felt relief at the idea of sex being put on hold.  He knew any intimacy would bring Carl into their bedroom.  And that would be the worst sort of offense.  "Not Vegas."

"Yeah.  Some place more quiet and peaceful, huh?  Let's talk about it while we eat."

Hutch started to roll onto his back, but felt the stinging at his rear, and gasped, aborting the motion.

"Easy," Starsky said.  "Doc prescribed an ointment.  He says you should be able to sit down within a day.  There isn't any permanent damage, or anything like that.  Would you be okay with me putting it on you?"

Hutch could put it on himself, but the idea of Starsky wanting to help him heal was wholly appealing.  Still, the last thing he wanted was to be face down on the bed.  "Not here.  Let's get up."

Hutch ended up leaning against the vanity in the bathroom.  He'd been hesitant to drop all the blankets, leaving him naked, but it helped that he was in the safety and security of home.

Starsky was definitely home.

Starsky stood beside him and uncapped the ointment.  "Tell me if I press too hard."

It wasn't as bad as Hutch had feared.  His rear already felt a lot better than it had this morning.  So hard to believe that that particular injury had happened a matter of hours ago.

The ointment had an anesthetic affect, which was a relief.

Hutch swallowed loudly, feeling so grateful that Starsky was treating that injury as an injury.  He remembered Carl saying something about wanting to have at his "gorgeous white ass".  It would have broken his heart if Starsky would have made some kind of leering comment, however ego-boosting or humorous its intent. 

Starsky had straightened and was screwing the cap back on.  "You okay?"

Hutch quickly nodded his head, his eyes watering. 

Starsky turned away to grab his robe off the hook.  "Maybe try this, instead of all those blankets.  But I'll get the blankets, if you want them."

It was too much.  Though Starsky's behavior was status quo for their partnership, Hutch couldn't deal with the constant attentiveness to trying to make him feel better.  He stepped away and placed his hand against the bathroom wall, next to the shower, and was alarmed when a choked sob emerged.

"Hutch."  A hand was at his robed lower back.  "If you need to break down or something, I can deal with it."  Pause.  "What do you think these big, strong shoulders are for, anyway?"

Hutch ran a hand over his face, and managed a snort of amusement, but he still felt as though he was about to lose control.

A hand was on his elbow, as Starsky beckoned, "Please don't hold back from me.  There's no need for that."  Then, softer, "Let me hold you, Hutch.  Nothing bad will happen, if you lose control.  Only good things.  I promise."

The kindness in the words were his undoing.   Hutch turned away from the wall, his eyes blurry, and felt Starsky's arms come around him, and then squeeze tight.

Hutch sobbed loudly against the top of Starsky's shoulder, squeezing him desperately.  Now that the dam had broken, he wanted to cry out his anguish at what he'd been subjected to.

 


As Starsky cooked bacon and eggs in Hutch's kitchen the following morning, he was feeling encouraged. 

After Hutch had recovered himself last night, they'd eaten a little bit, and then had gone to bed for the night, Starsky holding Hutch close, though Hutch still wanted the extra blankets, beneath the covers.   They'd both gotten a good night's sleep.

Now, Hutch appeared much more his normal self, albeit being willing to let Starsky cook their breakfast.

"Yeah, okay," Hutch said to Starsky's back, "that sounds fine."

They were going to drive up the coast, with tentative plans to hang out around Santa Barbara. 

Hutch quietly said, "I'd like to check on Nancy."

Starsky turned off the burner, and moved to the table with two plates.  He set one before Hutch.  "I don't know that that's such a good idea.  She was in pretty bad shape, emotionally, yesterday.  Why don't we wait until after our weekend?"

Hutch started in on his breakfast.  "I just feel I should get in touch with Mrs. Blake."

Starsky sat across from Hutch.  "The hospital is taking care of that."

Hutch shook his head, his expression saddened.  "I feel like I failed as an older brother, considering what she turned into."

"From everything I've heard, Carl Renton was a master manipulator.  Considering how Billy Desmond left Nancy standing at the altar, she was probably feeling like no man would ever want her.  On top of her mother probably go on and on about having a spinster daughter.  I'd say she was ripe for being manipulated."

"At our lunch," Hutch said, his voice troubled, "she talked like Carl was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to her.  And yet," Hutch closed his eyes and drew a breath, "he called her terrible names, and it didn't seem to bother her.  She relished that he'd whipped her, because she genuinely believed that great pain was necessary in order to later feel great pleasure."

Starsky put his coffee cup down.  "Man."

"She had no sense of self-respect.  I mean," Hutch stared at the table, "he was trying to offer her to have sex with me, which she was plenty willing to do."  He swallowed thickly.  "He stood there had told me that she had 'great cunt muscles' -- right in front her.  Didn't faze her in the least."

"Ah, geez, Hutch."

"He'd have sex with her, right next to me in the bed, and was calling her names -- whore and bitch."

Starsky didn't want to think about what that had been like for Hutch.  He shifted in his chair, hoping he sounded encouraging.  "Well, I do think Nancy purposely tried to stop Carl from shooting me.  It wasn't an accident that she fell against him right then.  So, I'm thinking that, whatever she was showing to him on the outside, inside she must have started to figure out that there was something evil about him."

Hutch sipped his coffee, his expression inward.  "I kept thinking I might get her to turn against Carl, and maybe she could help me escape.  That's why I pretty much cooperated with him, at first.  But I was never alone with her.  The one time I tried to catch her eye, hoping we could make a move together, she wouldn't look at me.  Carl had just hit her, and sent her flying against the wall."

Starsky was eager to change the subject away from the violence.  "Did she say that Carl was employed?"

Hutch picked up a piece of bacon.  "Yeah.  He worked for an insurance company for shipping companies."

Starsky shook his head.  "He was fired two months ago.  Was getting commission checks via creating phony clients, but the insurance company didn't want to bother prosecuting, though it added up to fifty grand, over six years.  So, if Nancy thought he was going into work most days, he wasn't.  I bet that's when he was hooking up with guys and going to motel rooms.  If he got that much money from all his commission checks, then he probably didn't need to worry about working for a while."

Hutch snorted.  "He had her so completely fooled."  He was staring at the table again, and slowly raised his coffee cup.  "I guess he was the first man that ever made her feel good, sexually, so she was completely under his thumb."   After a long silence, he said, "I don't know what Carl intended to do with me, if I didn't yield to him by Friday morning, when I was supposed to back at work.  I ask him outright once, if he was going to kill me.  He said he didn't think it would come to that, because he was so certain that I'd start to see his way of thinking, and want the sex from him."  Hutch nodded.  "I bet he's killed before."

Starsky drew a quiet breath.  "Maybe we can check into some cold cases sometime."

Hutch suddenly looked at him, as though realizing how serious their conversation had become.  "Yeah."  Then he smiled.  "I'm all for hitting the road as soon as possible."

Starsky jumped to his feet.  "Then let's do it."

 


It was a nice enough drive for a couple of hours, which Hutch dozing off and on.  He used a pillow against the seatback to take most of his weight.

They went past Santa Barbara, to El Capitan, and checked into a room for three nights, at a motel that emphasized a residential feel.  Then they decided to take a walk on the beach, before getting lunch. 

There was a group of young people playing volleyball, and they were obviously short of players.  Starsky saw Hutch look longingly at the fun activity, and some of the players also seemed to notice it, too, and ask if they wanted to join them.  They glanced at each other and nodded.

It felt like a true vacation to be so engrossed in the relaxing, physical activity.  After playing for over an hour, the group declared it was time for lunch.  One of the young men said, "We're going to have a barbecue, here on the beach.  You're welcome to join us."  One the women, who didn't appear paired up, said, "Yeah, that would be great."

Hutch had gotten bashful, and looked like he was about to reply in a polite way, so Starsky quickly said, "Thanks a lot.  But we've got other plans for lunch."

"Well, if you change your mind," the man said, "we intend to be here all afternoon."

"We'll keep that in mind," Hutch noted.

They began walking back to where the Torino was parked.  Starsky said, "I wasn't sure if maybe you wanted to have lunch with them.  But, you know, I wanted us to spend time together, this trip."

Hutch sighed quietly.  "I guess priorities have changed for us, huh?"  His tone was level.

Starsky paused to look at him.  "Are you having second thoughts?"

"No," Hutch said with a shrug.  "It's just that we haven't laid down any parameters yet."

As in, Starsky knew, whether or not either of them could still see women.  "Well, I guess that's part of what we need to talk about."

 


They went to an outdoor cafe for lunch and, while waiting for their food, casual conversation about how much fun the volleyball game had been eventually gave way to silence.

Starsky thought that, perhaps, they weren't necessarily doing themselves any favors by trying to avoid talking about sex, when it was probably on both their minds.  He decided to be bold.  "You know, Hutch, I'd rather not go out and do anything this afternoon.  I think I'd like to stay in our motel room, where we can be, you know, alone together."

Hutch gazed at him for a long moment, then presented a soft smile, along with a shrug.  "Yeah, sure, that's fine."

Starsky felt bashful under Hutch's scrutiny, and was relieved when their food arrived. 

 


They took turns in the shower, to rid themselves of sweat and sand.  Hutch emerged from the bathroom in briefs, and a robe.  Starsky was only wearing briefs, since he didn't see much point in dressing further, but he was keeping a careful eye on Hutch's reactions.

Hutch moved to the bed, and stretched out on his side, facing the center, and propped his cheek in his hand.

Starsky smiled and moved to the other side of the bed.  He got on the mattress, and mirrored Hutch's pose.  He said, "You know, after what we've decided, that we haven't even kissed yet?"

Hutch smiled back.  "Yes, I'm aware of that."

"Think it's time to test the waters?"

"Very much so."

That enthusiasm made Starsky feel good.  He came closer, to hover over Hutch.  Feeling like he was beginning another chapter of his life, he leaned down to the plush, full lips, closing his eyes.  He tasted a hint of minty toothpaste when contact was made.  He pressed.

He was sinking, sinking, sinking, and let his upper body rest on Hutch's, careful of the area where Hutch had been punched.

He felt a hand brush against the side of his hair.

When Starsky needed air, he pulled back.  "Oh, man."

Hutch was still smiling.  "Yeah."

Starsky realized that he was partially on top of Hutch.  Worriedly, he asked, "Are you okay with me being on top?"

Hutch's eyes went to the ceiling.  Then back to Starsky.  Unhappily, he asked, "Are you going to question every little thing?"

Starsky thought about that.  He decided, "I'll not question every little thing, if you look me in the eye and promise me that you'll tell me if you want me to know something.  Or need me to know something."

Hutch appeared thoughtful a moment, and then glanced away.  "I promise."

"You're not looking me in the eye."

Hutch sighed, and looked directly at Starsky.  "I promise.  So, quit thinking I'm going to run away screaming."

Starsky smiled warmly, glad to see the assertiveness after Hutch's ordeal.  "'Kay."

He lowered his head and reconnected their lips once again.  Within a matter of seconds, Hutch rolled them both over, so that he was on top, with the mattress taking most of his weight.

Starsky felt his heart accelerate with greater joy at Hutch's enthusiasm.  He was also becoming very much aware that he'd only had sexual relations with himself, in the month since Melanie's death.

Damn, this felt good.  Being with Hutch.  Sharing this special expression with Hutch.

Hutch pulled back and rubbed his hand along Starsky's bare chest.

Starsky drew a regretful breath.  "My motor's running."

Hutch gazed at him lovingly.  "Then let it run."

Oh, man.

With that permission, Starsky rolled them over yet again, so that he was on top, though he was careful to keep most of his weight at Hutch's side.

Hutch took Starsky's hand and placed it against his groin.

Starsky felt movement beneath the cotton, and that excited him more.  He kissed Hutch lavishly, and ground against a convenient hipbone. 

When he pulled back again, Starsky gasped, "So much for taking it slow, huh?"

Hutch grinned at him, and then reached inside Starsky's underwear.

Starsky's closed his eyes worshipfully as a large hand gripped him.

His own hand pressed against Hutch's groin, and Hutch muttered, "Let me do you."

Starsky wasn't in any position to argue, especially when Hutch pushed at his underwear with his free hand.  Starsky shifted and pushed the clothing all the way off.  Then he knelt up, his erection bobbing at his stomach, and looked at Hutch questioningly.

Hutch indicated his stomach, where he had pushed the flaps of his robe away.  "Can you....?"

Starsky quickly straddled Hutch's hips.  That big hand gripped him again, and stroked.  Then it went away, and Hutch spit into it liberally.

Starsky had brought lube, but he didn't want to disrupt their momentum to retrieve it. 

Starsky whimpered when he was gripped again, this time with a hand that was moist and sure.  He undulated back, and quivered at the way the grip tightened around him.  He closed his eyes and threw his head back, and began pumping in earnest through the canal created.

It wasn't what he had imagined for their first time, but now he only wanted to yield to the plateau that awaited.  He grunted rhythmically, to encourage the escalating sensations to continue.

Then a strong hand gripped his buttock.

That sent him over the edge, and Starsky cried out, as his seed spewed forth.

He gasped for long moments, and then collapsed at Hutch's side, feeling like a pile of goo.

Hutch's arm came around him.

"Mmm," Starsky approved, after recovering his breath.  Then he staggered up onto an elbow.  "You've got magic hands."  His smiled widened.  "Now, I can focus on you."  His hand crept down to Hutch's covered groin.

Hutch shifted away.  "Not now."  Hutch reached to the opposite side, and pulled at the bedspread.  He brought it up, until reaching the edge.  Then he pulled it over himself.

Starsky watched him with concern.

He didn't remember the bedroom at Carl's as having been particularly cold.  But then, his own mind had so many other concerns, that he wouldn't have necessarily noticed.  He hadn't yet said anything to Hutch about his desire to be wrapped in blankets, for he hadn't wanted to sound critical or disapproving.

Hutch smiled at him, as he snuggled down into the cocoon of the spread.  "How about a nap, huh?"

Starsky could do that, and he thought it likely that Hutch in particular needed it, after having his physical exertions on the beach, so soon after his ordeal with Carl and Nancy. 

As Starsky moved close to rest his head against Hutch's chest, he tried to ignore his concern that Hutch hadn't been interested in reciprocation.

 


Hutch woke to Starsky's voice on the telephone.

"Half an hour?  Okay, that's fine.  Yeah, put it on the bill.  Can you transfer me to maid service?  Thanks."

Starsky was wearing a robe, and had his back to Hutch.

"Yes," Starsky said, "this is room 123.  We'd like a couple of extra blankets, please.  Thanks."

Hutch swallowed thickly, his love of Starsky's compassion competing for a self-conscious awareness that he was being silly about wanting to be covered up, especially in a way that simply getting under the bedding didn't satisfy.

Starsky hung up, and glanced over his shoulder to see Hutch awake.  He then turned, with one leg on the mattress, revealing that he'd put his underwear back on.  He appeared bashful.  "Hey, uh, I really appreciated that, buddy, but it's not exactly what I'd had in mind for us."  He moved closer.

Hutch said, "You needed it, and I'm not interested in keeping score."

Starsky nodded.  "Okay."  He placed his hand on Hutch's thigh, above the covering.  "I figure we'll probably want to talk about things... how we want our lives to be, from here on out.  I ordered some sandwiches and drinks."

The words sounded heavy.  Hutch drew a breath.  "Maybe we should just take things as they come.  That's always worked pretty well for us."

"I know.  Still, I think we should establish a few things right off the bat, as far as how we're going to be in front of other people, and stuff like that."

Hutch rolled backwards, and felt the discomfort of his backside.  He quickly scrambled from the bed, having to drop the bedspread, in order to do so.  He pulled his robe tight around himself.

Starsky was watching him.  "How about I put some more of that goop on you?"

Hutch shrugged.  "It really doesn't hurt that much.  Just catches me by surprise."

"Still, it can only help, right?"

Hutch considered, knowing how much Starsky did indeed want to help.  He went over to his suitcase and found the tube of ointment.  "Yeah, okay."

Starsky asked.  "You want to be standing up again?"  He indicated the sofa.  "Or would you like to maybe lie across my lap?"

Hutch considered that, realizing that he didn't feel quite as vulnerable as he had last night.

There was a knock at the door.

Starsky moved to it.  "That was fast."  He opened the door, and a maid stood there, with a stack of blankets.  He accepted them with thanks.  He placed one of the floor, beneath the coat rack, and brought the other to the sofa.  He started to unfurl it.  "Want to lie down across my lap?"

Hutch already felt more eager for that idea.  After Starsky was seated in the center of the sofa, he handed Starsky the ointment, and then moved to settle himself, face down, with his hips draped across Starsky's thighs.  It was quite an exposed feeling, even with the robe.

"There you go, buddy boy."  The blanket was spread over him, and then was tucked around him on the far side.

Hutch felt emotion well up.

"Let me do this, and then we'll see what's on TV." 

Starsky lifted up the blanket on the near side, and pushed it back a little.  And then he managed to coax the robe back from Hutch's rear.

There was a feeling of exposure, and then Hutch felt the thick cream drop along his skin.

"Tell me if I press too hard."

It was the same thing Starsky had said last night.  Like last night, Starsky's hand moved around his buttock, spreading the cream.

"You can be firmer than that," Hutch said.

The hand rubbed the healing ointment in more assertively.  "You do look better back here," Starsky informed him.

A moment later, Starsky pushed at the coverings, and started on his other buttock.  "Doin' okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," Hutch said, hearing the uncertainty in his own voice.  He liked what Starsky was doing, and wondered how to explain himself.  Then he blurted, "Carl never touched me, you know.  Just to belt me a few times, and tie and untie the straps."

"Uh-huh," Starsky said levelly, his hand continuing to move in a soothing motion.

Hutch's heart beat faster, as he felt the temptation to crawl into a hole.  "The worst of it -- " he abruptly choked on his own words.

Starsky's hand slowed, the motions becoming more loving, now that Hutch's butt felt relatively numb.

"The worst of it," Starsky prompted in a near whisper.

Hutch drew a heavy breath.  He was in awkward position, across Starsky's lap.  "Let me up."

Hands went away.  The blanket was pulled at where it was tucked in.  "Okay."

Hutch quickly staggered to his feet.  He took the blanket and wrapped it back around him, outside the robe, and paced away from the sofa. 

He found the courage to turn around to face Starsky, but squeezed his eyes shut.  "I was like an older brother to Nancy.  I-I was strong.   And capable."  He forced his eyes open, and saw Starsky's compassionate gaze.

Starsky nodded.

Hutch's heart beat faster still.  "A-A-And from the moment I woke up, I was naked.  And there was Nancy coming in and out of the room, seeing me.  Seeing me helpless and... naked like that."

Starsky's expression softened.

"And then, and then, there was a point when Carl told me to turn over, so my ass was exposed.  I told him no at first, and he hit Nancy so hard that she went flying against the wall.  So, when he untied the straps, I-I-I turned over.  And then he tied me back up."  Hutch closed his eyes to draw a few deep breaths, hating how he was back in that room again.  "And then he told her to bring him a riding crop - 'the one that hurts the most'.  She left the room and came back...."  Hutch rubbed at his face, and turned away, wishing he could hide himself somewhere.

"Tell me what happened next," Starsky's quiet voice commanded.  Then, so gentle, "If you can."

Hutch kept his eyes squeezed shut.  "He started wailing away at me with that thing.  As hard as he could.  And Nancy was watching the whole time.... seeing me getting my ass whipped.  I yelled at him to stop -- pleaded -- and he just hit me harder."  Hutch took a couple of more deep, steadying breaths.  "And when he was finally done, he had her suck his dick, right there next to the bed."  Hutch stared at the floor, his voice trembling.  "I would have given anything for her to not have witnessed him beating me like that."  The carpet got blurry, as he stared at it.

He was surprised to feel a tear run from his eye, for he'd thought he was out of tears, after last night.

Then arms were grasping him, a soft, sorrowful "Hutch" whispering at him, as he was fully enshrouded with love.

He laid his head on top of Starsky's shoulder, relieved that he had, indeed, run out of tears, though his breath was still hitched.

A hand rubbed along his back, through the layers of cloth, while another pressed his head closer against Starsky.

He was being swayed back and forth, as soft words whispered, "I'm so, so sorry.  It's gonna be all right, Hutch.   Promise.  You don't have to be tough and strong for me."  Softer still, "Just let me hold you."

Hutch was eager to do just that.  He let Starsky take most of his weight, even while aware that he was starting to get hot, from having too much covering. 

"Babe?"  Starsky grasped Hutch by his good cheek, becoming him to look up.

Hutch raised his head.

Starsky looked at him with intense blue eyes.  "I need you to need me, buddy."

Hutch digested that.  He remember having said that same thing to Starsky, when Starsky had hidden himself away, following Melanie's death.  Hutch then realized that Starsky was deliberately referencing that past exchange between them.

Hutch managed a snort, with a hint of humor.  "You don't have to worry about that."  Then, as his throat closed, "I need you so much."

Arms tightened around him again, swaying.  "I've got you.  I'm right here, and we're always gonna be there for each other."

Hutch let himself rest against Starsky for a few more moments.  Then he confessed, "Hot."

Starsky released him.  "Okay, hang on."  He pulled the blanket away from Hutch, and let it drop to the floor.  He took him by the wrist.  "Come on."

They returned to the sofa, facing each other.

While Hutch loosened the front of the robe, Starsky squeezed his shoulder.  "Hutch, I'd have to think that, whenever Nancy is well enough to think things through, she's going to have plenty of her own humiliation to deal with, rather than thinking about yours.  You know?"

Hutch nodded his head, appreciating the words.  "Yeah.  I just hope she can forgive herself."  He met Starsky's eye.  "I forgive her.  She had no idea what she was getting into, when she met Carl."

"Yeah.  No kidding.  And never mind that, I think she truly saved my life, when I was coming through the door."

Hutch rested his forehead against Starsky's.  "Yeah."

There was a knock on the door, and then the call of, "Room Service."

 


Within a couple of hours, they were enjoying a hike in the Gaviota Peak park area.  Hutch had wanted to get more exercise, rather than being holed up in their room, and Starsky was agreeable to anything Hutch was enthused about.

The moved along the trail at a casual pace, so that they could talk easily, and much of the conversation revolved around their new lives.

Starsky said, "I guess it would be a big step for us to move in together."

Hutch nodded.  "That needs to wait.  We need to see how day-to-day life might change.  If we do move in together, I'd think we'd want to get a bigger apartment."  He drew a regretful breath.  "I mean, for starters, we'd have to make it like we're living together to share expenses, or something."

Starsky sighed.  "Yeah, I don't think we can do anything overt, for the sake of our jobs.  We've got to keep up the pretense, for pretense sake."

They paused, having gone up a brief hill, and Hutch rested his elbow on Starsky's shoulder.  "Unless we decide to do something else instead."

Starsky grunted.  "I can't imagine what.  But I guess we'll cross that bridge, if and when we come to it."  He sat on a boulder, and released a heavy breath.  "I'm bushed."

Hutch smiled and decided to take a seat beside him.  Thankfully, it felt only mildly uncomfortable on his rear.  "We can start back."

"Sorry that I'm a bit out of shape."

Hutch sat with his elbows on his knees, decided to ask something he'd wondered about.  "Hey, uh, so why don't you tell me how you got us to this point."  Starsky opened his mouth, and Hutch clarified, "I mean, I know it was because you didn't think you could do the relationship thing again, after Melanie.  But still, buddy, it's quite a leap to decide you want to start a life with your male partner."

Starsky was thoughtful a moment, and then shrugged.  "Like I think I told you, it just came down to a matter of who I loved the most.  And you always came out on top of that list. Once I started thinking along those lines... I don't know, it just didn't feel like something horrible or degrading.  Or unacceptable.  Once I warmed up to the idea, it got downright exciting.  And then I wasn't sure when I was going to say anything to you, but then I had the perfect opening when you were talking about the lunch you had with Nancy.  Besides," he laid a hand on Hutch's back, "you didn't seem to have to think about it long, yourself."

Hutch shook his head.  "No, I guess I didn't.  You seemed so calm and sure of yourself about it, and when I thought about the sex part, it just seemed... right.  And, yeah, exciting."

As Hutch leaned back on his arms, Starsky hesitated, and then asked, "Hutch?  Are you afraid of, you know, 'letting go'?'

Hutch drew a quiet breath and straightened.  "I think so," he admitted in a low voice.  Then he snorted.  "I guess it's pretty silly.  It's just...."

Starsky ran his hand along Hutch's thigh.  "It's not like you don't have good reason, considering all the head games he played with you."  He hesitated again.  "I sort of feel that when we get back, I'd like to try to seduce you.  But I don't want to do anything like that, if you're going to feel pressure to... you know, perform, when you'd rather not."

Hutch managed a soft laugh.  "I think the pressure is going to be there, anyway, as long as we're alone in a room together."  More seriously, he said, "I know I can't be afraid of... the release, I guess.  Otherwise, he wins." 

Starsky was thoughtful a long moment.  "You know, if you'd like to take charge and be on top, so to speak, for everything, at least until all this is behind you, I don't have a problem with that." 

Hutch's heart beat softly at Starsky's offer.  He wondered if he should consider it; instead, he said, "It's-It's not really the being on top thing.  It's not about dominance.  It's more about having the willpower to hold out, to not want the pleasure that he was trying so hard to make me want."

With satisfaction, Starsky said, "Then we're back to me wanting to seduce you, and give you nothing but pleasure, in a way that has nothing to do with him."

Hutch felt butterflies stir in his stomach.  He grinned.  "That's a notion that's difficult to resist."

Seriously, Starsky said, "I want to make it so good for you, Hutch."

Hutch quickly stood, feeling serious himself.  He reached down to Starsky.  "Come on, let's head back."

 


When they entered their motel room, darkness had fallen.  Hutch reached for the light switch, and Starsky stilled his hand. 

"Leave them off," Starsky ordered quietly.

Hutch was intrigued, and wondered if they were going to forego showers this time, after the hiking activity.

Starsky whispered, "You don't have to do anything, Hutch.  Nothing at all."  He stepped closer, and Hutch felt the heat of him, smelled the lingering sweat.  "Nothing is gonna make me happier than being allowed to show you just how much I want to love you."

With that, Hutch's hands were squeezed, and then lips pressed richly against his own.  Hutch eagerly returned the kiss, even as he relished the words that Starsky just wanted to love him.

When Hutch thought that he might happily fall into an eternal abyss, their lips locked together, Starsky pulled back and gave the gentle command, "Stand still, and let me do this."

Hutch did so, filled with curiosity.  Then the hands released him and began to unbutton his shirt.

He was being undressed.  After his shirt had been tossed aside, Starsky knelt and, one by one, removed his shoes and socks.  Then Starsky stood, and his hands were at the waistband of Hutch's shorts.  The unsnapping sounded loud in the darkness, as did the lowering of his fly.

It wasn't until those shorts were slid down his legs, along with his underwear, that Hutch realized he had a full erection.

Starsky was kneeling again.  "Step out of them," he whispered.

Hutch did.

Hands moved up the inside of his legs in a slow, worshipful motion.

Hutch drew a sharp breath when they stopped at his upper thighs.

He felt moisture lap at the head of his penis.  Then the head was enclosed in a wet cavern.

Hutch gasped at the intense sensation, and clasped the side of Starsky's face with one hand.

The wetness went away, and Hutch whimpered.

"I know, Hutch."  Gentle whisper.  "I'll do you right and proper.  I just had to get a taste.  You've no idea how much I've fantasized about sucking your cock."

No, he had no idea.  Hutch felt his legs quiver.

He saw the silhouette of Starsky rise.  His hand was clasped.

"Come on, beautiful."

He was led over to the bed.  "On the mattress, however you're most comfortable for me to spend a long time sucking on that huge, gorgeous thing."

Hutch's breath quickened.  He got on the mattress, and rolled onto his side, as he'd been earlier this morning.

In the darkness, he could see the motions of Starsky undressing. 

He couldn't believe that this was happening to him.

The mattress rocked, and then Starsky felt for him.  His had ran down Hutch's side.  "Just relax, baby."  It was a loving whisper.  "Just gonna enjoy myself for a while."

Hutch's center strained as Starsky got settled.

Then it was mouthed.  And then enclosed.

Hutch gasped.

He placed his hand on the back of Starsky's head, holding him in place and Starsky's tongue eagerly explored.  Just when Hutch thought he couldn't stand the tantalization any more, a firm tongue clamped on to the underside of his sensitive head, and sucked avidly there, while one of Starsky's hand rested on Hutch's hip.

In the darkness, while Hutch held his breath, there was only noises of suction and contentment.

It wasn't a chore.  Wasn't a favor.  It was Starsky eagerly and patiently loving him.

It all felt so good.  The physical sensation, and the fact that he was so thoroughly and completely loved.

A sob escaped.  And then Hutch was releasing, crying out, letting the wave of profound pleasure engulf him. 

When he recaptured some degree of awareness, he wasn't enclosed any more, though a hand still rested on his hip.

In the darkness, there was a loud swallow.

Hutch let out a long, airy sigh.   Then he said, "I love you."  It seemed grossly inadequate for what he was feeling.

Starsky shifted up alongside him, a hand coming to rest on Hutch's stomach.  "You've filled me with your love, buddy boy.  Taste."  With that, Starsky lowered his head, and their lips got reacquainted.  Hutch tasted himself in Starsky's mouth.

When Starsky pulled back, Hutch reached for his groin, but his hand bumped into a thigh.

"Uh-uh," Starsky said, taking the hand.  "I don't want you to do anything tonight, Hutch.  I'm just going to make use of those big, strong thighs of yours."   Voice rough, he added, "And then I can hold you while I love you.  I admit I've been a little jealous of those blankets you've been carrying around."

At the mention of blankets, Hutch then realized that he'd been made love to, and achieved a wonderful, satisfying release, without Carl having entered his mind.

He swallowed to clear his throat.

"Okay," Starsky whispered, from where he was spooned behind Hutch, "let's try this.  See if you can keep your legs together."

Hutch wanted so much to do whatever Starsky wanted.

He felt turgid flesh, enclosed in soft skin, poke at the back of his upper thighs.  After a moment, there was a thrust, and then the flesh forced itself between his legs.

The flesh was lubricated with spit, and Hutch enjoyed the slickness as it thrust back and forth between his closed limbs

Starsky grunted agreeably, and his arms went around Hutch, holding him close.

Hutch tried to press his legs closer together, in tune with the thrusts, and Starsky made a noise of approval.  He then began to make noises of effort, and pressed his face against the back of Hutch's shoulders.  "I'm so close.  Really, really close."

The undulations continued.  Just when Hutch thought that Starsky couldn't reach completion this way, the arms around him tightened even more, and Starsky was growling deep in his throat.

Hutch then felt moisture splatter onto his thighs, while Starsky cried out.

Hutch relaxed, closing his eyes, and letting his legs shift, as he drifted on a contented plane.

"Mmm," Starsky murmured.  He kissed Hutch's back.  "Being close to you is the best thing that's ever happened to me."

That one sentence seemed to mean so many different, wonderful things.

They lay still for a moment.  Then Starsky shifted with a grunt.  "Gonna turn on the light."

Behind Hutch, a lamp came on. 

With an airy sigh, Starsky staggered off the bed, and went around to the other side, where the bathroom was.  He turned on the light there.

Hutch reached down to his thighs and felt the cooling semen.  He scooped some up in his fingers.  Just as Starsky emerged, using a towel, and tossing another one to Hutch, Hutch licked at his fingers.  It was a different flavor than his own, but something he definitely wanted to worship, since it was proof of his love's pleasure.

Starsky watched him, as he continued to pamper himself with the towel.  "There ought to be a law against someone looking as sexy you do."

Hutch managed a grin, even as emotion welled up.

Starsky tossed the towel aside.  "Want to join me in the shower?"

 


Afterward showering, they dressed in underwear and robes, and finished off what they'd left in the refrigerator from room service earlier in the day.  Then they decided to watch TV.

Starsky set the channel on a drama, while Hutch lay with his head in Starsky's lap, facing the television.

During a commercial, Starsky ran his hand lovingly along Hutch's bare chest.  Gently, he pointed out, "'There's nothing wrong with you, Hutch.  What happened yesterday hasn't stopped you from letting yourself be loved."

Hutch managed a brief nod, for emotion was welling up again.  What defenses did he have against the intensity of Starsky's love?  It was so over-whelming and all-encompassing.

Starsky drew a breath, as his hand rubbed more slowly across flat nipples.  "I'm feeling really, really possessive of you, Hutch.  I don't want anyone else to have you.  I don't think I could stand knowing that you might share yourself with someone else."

They hadn't talked about this yet.  Hutch lay quietly, eyes on the TV screen that didn't register, trying to anticipate what ultimatums might mean for them.  It all felt so wonderful now.  What about two months from now?  What if someone beautiful and willing gave him an inviting smile?

A hand now rested on the softness of his belly.  Waiting.

Hutch rolled onto his back.  The back of his mind paused a moment to wonder how Starsky had been in his life so many years now, and it was only today that he had become acquainted with the depth of Starsky's passion -- for him.

Starsky tilted his head, and said, "It's not like I can force you to agree to something that you aren't sure you want."

"I'm sure," Hutch said quickly.  He then immediately confessed, "I'm also scared."  He clasped his Starsky's arm.

Starsky took that hand, and entwined their fingers, as his expression softened.  "It's just us, Hutch.  We've always got ourselves past tough times.  We've just got to trust in me and thee, like always."  His mouth corner twitched.  "Which doesn't change the fact that I'm scared, too."

That made Hutch feel protective.  He squeezed Starsky's hand.  "We come first, like always."  That vow made him feel more secure.

Starsky nodded.  "So, we're agreeing, it's just us, exclusively?"

Hutch's heart beat faster, as he gazed into Starsky's eyes.  "Yeah."

Starsky swallowed, as he gazed back.  "Oh, man.  Merry Christmas to me."

Hutch managed a smirk, as he rolled to face the television again.  There was no doubt in his mind that he was the one getting the better deal in their partnership.

He realized he'd started to drift off when Starsky's words brought him back to awareness.

"Hutch?"  Fingers brushed along the back of Hutch's balls.  "Would you be okay with me playing with you back here?  Not to lead to anything, but just to see how you... you know, respond to being played with?"

Hutch couldn't imagine saying no to anything Starsky wanted to do to him.  "Sure."

 


Starsky was in a state of utter fascination.

He and Hutch had been lying on the sofa for a good hour, save for the moment Starsky had gotten up to retrieve the tube of lube he'd brought.  They were supposedly watching television.

Right now, Starsky had no idea what was on the television.  Instead, he had Hutch's lower butt cheek pulled aside with one hand.  He watched, in amazement, as the lubricated ring finger of his other hand disappeared inside of Hutch.  Just as the slightly thicker knuckle started to enter, Hutch's hips raised up, grasping it.

There wasn't any tension in the muscle, but only acceptance.

Starsky gently moved the finger in and out, wishing it was longer.

"Mmm," Hutch murmured, his whole body relaxing even more.

Starsky wondered if he was going to disrupt the mood, with asking what he was eager to know.  "Hey, uh, Hutch?"

"Mm?"

Starsky bent the finger, as he slowly pulled it out, noting how anal walls reluctantly let it withdraw.  "Have you been played with a lot back here?"

There was a shrug.  "Occasionally.  You know, sometimes a date would sort of stick her finger back there."

"Just occasionally?"

"Yeah."

Starsky used the tube to lubricate his middle finger.  "What about when you were married?"

A harsh snort.  "Van wouldn't do anything back there, or let me do anything to her.  It was 'icky'."

Starsky pulled the lower butt cheek aside again, cautioning himself to not get overly bold.  He stroked the wrinkled skin with the newly lubricated finger.   Then he gently, gently, pushed at the bunched muscle.  The tip of his finger slipped inside, and Hutch's hips rose, encouraging more of the digit to sink into him.  Starsky bent the finger, just before the knuckle could be swallowed up, and felt a quiver go through Hutch at the additional thickness, while a little gasp emerged from Hutch's mouth.

"What are you doing?" Hutch asked, amazement in his voice, as his hips still slowly undulated to encourage greater penetration.

Starsky happily replied, "Having the time of my life, playing with your asshole.  For someone who says he's only mildly experienced, you're sure okay about me putting fingers in there."

He felt a shrug.  "I know you're not going to hurt me."

Starsky had the middle finger in as far as it could go.  He rotated it around, wanting to stretch the opening so he would be able to fit two.  "Buddy, I know you wouldn't want to hurt me, either.  But, trust me, you get those big long fingers of yours, to say nothing of that gigantic, gorgeous cock, anywhere near my tight ass, and there's going to be a lot of tension, because I'm going to expect it to hurt."

Hutch's hips had risen up off Starsky's lap, trying to keep the finger from leaving.  Hutch gasped, "Then let's not worry about doing that, unless you decide you want it."

Starsky felt blood fill the capillaries of his cock.  They had just decided who was going to be on top, at least most of the time.  Still, he had no intention of pounding Hutch's ass, until he was absolutely certain that Hutch skin was no longer tender.

Hutch undulated against Starsky's leg, his own turgid flesh demanding attention.

Starsky removed the finger with a sigh.  A double-digit penetration was going to have to wait.  He wiped off his hand with a towel.  "Come on, let's get up and move to the bed."

When they were both on their feet, erections bobbing, Starsky took Hutch by the wrist to lead him to the bed.  He smirked, "At least we know that, now, the term 'let's watch television' will have a whole different, wonderful meaning."

 


They sucked and rubbed, and then fell asleep, cuddled together.

When they woke Friday morning, they kissed and rolled around on the bed for a prolonged time, before finally seeking climax.  Afterward, they slept a few hours more.

It was close to noon when they woke again.  They ordered room service.  Afterward, Hutch said they should go to a movie.  Starsky suggested they see a movie later that night; in meantime, he wanted to "watch television".

 


On Monday morning, Hutch sat at his desk, carefully reviewing his report of what he had experienced last Tuesday and Wednesday.  It was sobering, though in another way, it felt distant, despite having happened less than a week ago.

Hutch knew that the distance was because of Starsky.  Thanks to his endlessly loving partner, he had so many more wonderful things to think about, than what Carl had subjected him to.

Starsky walked into the squadroom with a file folder in hand.

Hutch ducked his head, feeling his heart beat faster.  How is it he had been partnered with this man for some eight years, and now he felt breathless from merely looking in his direction?

He makes me feel good.  Such a simple thing, and yet so true, on so many levels. 

Starsky paused on his side of the desk.  "You done?"

Hutch signed the report, and then handed it to him.  "Think so." 

With concern, Starsky asked, "Am I going to be surprised by anything?"

Hutch shook his head.  "I doubt it."  He was pretty certain that he'd shared all the major details at various points, since Starsky had rescued him.

Starsky sat down, his mouth firming, as he began to read.

The phone rang and Hutch reached for it.  "Hutchinson."

A hesitant, mature female voice said, "Ken?"

Hutch tried to place the voice.  "Yes, this is Ken Hutchinson.  Who's this?"

"This is Mrs. Blake, Nancy's mother."

Hutch felt his stomach tighten.  "Mrs. Blake, hello."

Starsky looked up worriedly.  He glanced at the line that was lit up on Hutch's phone, and then pressed the equivalent line on his own phone, while bringing the receiver to his ear.

"Ken, I was told you were out of town that past few days."

"Yes, that's right."

"I arrived in Bay City on Friday."

"Then you've seen Nancy?"

"Yes, Saturday and Sunday, and I'm going back today."

"How is she?"

There was a deep breath.  "She's still in shock, I guess.  She's very traumatized.  She can speak and make sense of some things, but," Mrs. Blake started to cry, "I knew that damned Carl was bad news!  I should never have left town.  What he did to her... the scars...."

Hutch swallowed thickly.  Gently, he said, "Please don't blame yourself.  Nancy doesn't need that right now.  She needs your strength."

"The police say that she and Carl kidnapped you!"

"Yes, but I don't blame Nancy.  She was a pawn for Carl.  I'm sure the DA won't be trying to press any charges against Nancy.  She's a victim, too."

"I'm making arrangements to having Nancy transferred to an institution in Duluth, so I can see her every day."

"Let me know if there's anything I can do to help with that."

"Thank you, Ken."  Mrs. Blake sounded weary.  "Have you seen her?"

"No, not since we were rescued.  I-I'd like to see her, before you take her back home."

"I'd like to see you, too."

Starsky waved a hand at Hutch, and then tapped himself on the chest.

Hutch said, "My partner, David, is here, and he'd like to come, too.  He's the one that rescued us."

"Certainly, I'd like to see him again.  I'd love to see you both."

"Uh, since we were out of town, we have a pretty busy day.  Would five o'clock this evening be too late?"

"No, that's fine.  I'll be here all day, regardless."

"All right, Mrs. Blake.  We'll see you then."

 


Starsky's jaw was grim, and his fist curled, as he, Hutch, and Mrs. Blake walked down the hall, after having visited with Nancy in her room.  Since she'd been dressed in a hospital smock, Starsky had seen the scars on her back.  He'd also witnessed her trauma.  She hadn't been able to look Hutch in the eye, since her shame was so great.  It brought home to Starsky just how vicious Carl could be.  

Mrs. Blake was saying, "I'm still not sure that she understands that she'll be flying out of here tomorrow afternoon.  It's hard to know how much she comprehends."

That was definitely true.  Starsky had tried to thank Nancy for saving his life, when Carl had intended to shoot the first cop that came through the door, but he wasn't sure that Nancy understood what he was saying.

What he did know, as he watched Hutch and Mrs. Blake walk slightly ahead of him, is that he wanted Hutch for himself.  He wanted to comfort and nurture him.  Love him.  Support him.  He'd always done all those things, and now he wanted to continue all those things, all the more.

He wanted to claim Hutch as his own.

Hutch was ready.  He was no longer tender, and Starsky's fingers were already well familiar with Hutch's insides.  He could cause Hutch to make little, ecstatic sounds, while gasping for breath at the motion of Starsky's knowledgeable and stimulating digits.

The largest digit you have yet to experience, buddy boy.

They had reached the reception area of the mental ward, and Hutch paused in his stride.  "Well, Mrs. Blake, how about if we take you to dinner, so you can get a break from here for a while?"  His glance took his Starsky.

Starsky hoped he was successful at keeping his expression neutral, for the sake of politeness.  He didn't want to go to dinner, especially not with the talkative Mrs. Blake.

Mrs. Blake sighed.  "Thank you, Ken."  She placed her hand on his arm.  "But there's quite a few relatives who are expecting phone calls from me.  I need to let them know about the arrangements.  My motel is just a few blocks away.  They have a decent little restaurant there."

"All right, then.  How about if we drop you off?"

"No, they told me her doctor would be on the floor in about fifteen minutes, so I want to wait for him."  She smiled at them both, and clasped Hutch's hands.  "You two can go on.  Really, I'm fine.  But thanks so much for coming down here."

Starsky wanted to speed things along.  He squeezed the clasped hands of Hutch and Mrs. Blake.  "You take care, Mrs. Blake."

Hutch said, "The next time we're back that way for a visit, we'll be sure and see Nancy."

Starsky blinked.  We?  He'd never been to Minnesota.  But Hutch was assuming that the next trip would include him.

Starsky tried to swallow, to clear the obstruction in his throat.

Hutch and Mrs. Blake hugged for a prolonged moment.  Then she hugged Starsky, squeezing him tightly.

Finally, they parted, Starsky leading the way, adrenaline pumping through him.

Once they were heading for the Torino, Starsky pushed his keys into Hutch's hand.  "You drive." 

Hutch gave him a puzzled look.  "Why?"  They were now at the car, and he unlocked the driver's side door.

Starsky shrugged, not sure how much he wanted to say out loud.  After he was seated in the passenger seat, he didn't feel any more relaxed.

Hutch started the motor, and then looked over at Starsky with concern.  "Are you all right?"

"It's just --"  Starsky decided against a roundabout explanation, after seeing what Carl Renton was capable of.  He muttered, "I want go home.  And fuck you."  He met Hutch's gaze.  "My place is closer."

Hutch's gaze lowered to the gear shift, as he put the Torino in reverse.  He turned his head to look behind them, and backed out of the parking spot.

Starsky rubbed his hand across his face, and realized that he was trembling.

Once they were moving through traffic, Hutch reached over and put his hand on Starsky's thigh.

Starsky took a deep breath, and let a feeling of relief go through him that Hutch was on board with this.

 


As soon as the door to Starsky's apartment was shut behind them, they wrapped their arms around each other in a searing kiss.

That only heightened Starsky's need, and he tore his lips away to insist, "Bed."  He turned to the bedroom, walking briskly ahead of Hutch.

Starsky was already removing his shirt when Hutch entered.  "Undress," he demanded.

Hutch obeyed.

When all clothes had been dropped to the floor, Starsky licked his lips, while trying to catch his breath.  Now, he wasn't sure what he wanted.  Hutch stood naked, with his cock bobbing in the air.  Starsky wasn't sure that there was anything he enjoyed more than having that pale flesh stuffed in his mouth, and giving it the completion it deserved.  It seemed a waste to ignore it for now.  And yet, he had a greater need.

Starsky parted his legs, and indicated the space before him.  "On your knees."

Hutch took the few steps necessary to bring him before Starsky, and then slowly knelt, his eyes on Starsky's, as though waiting for further instructions.

Starsky wondered how close to the edge he could allow himself, before he reached a point of no return.  He took his stiff cock in hand, and lowered it.  "Get it hard enough to fuck you."  It was already hard enough, but Starsky didn't want to deny Hutch's open need to please him.

Hutch's tongue darted out, and he laved at the head.

Starsky quickly grasped Hutch's jaw, stilling him.  He took a few steadying breaths, making sure he had some degree of control.

Hutch's eyes rose to look up at him, once again.

Starsky could only answer them with his heart.  "There ought to be a law against somebody being as good looking as you."  If he gazed into those eyes long enough, he would come from the sheer visual stimulation.

Hutch blinked, and appeared uncertain of what to say.

Starsky spared him.  He gentled his voice.  "I know how you love the feeling of being stretched out, Hutch."  Starsky indicated his well cut ridge.  "When I push inside of you, I'm going to be real slow about it, so you can feel yourself being stretched, especially at the widest part."

Hutch closed his eyes and rubbed his cheek against Starsky's cockhead.

Starsky had to still him once again, for Hutch's worshipful motion was so stimulating.  He cupped his hand under Hutch's chin, and then brushed the tip of his cock along Hutch's mustache, enjoying the sight of fluid being left on the brief hairs.

Hutch's tongue darted out, and tried to lick at the hairs.

Starsky growled, "You're too damn sexy for anyone else, Hutch.  You're mine."

Hutch nodded, his eyes meeting Starsky's.  "I'm yours."  His voice choked.

Starsky felt himself soften , but only inside his chest.  He felt he needed to warn, "I'm not going to try to get you to come while I'm fucking you.  Instead, after I've sprayed my love juice inside you, I'm going to suck on your cock for two solid hours."

Hutch's mouth fell open, revealing an enticing cavern that Starsky tried to ignore.

"I love sucking your cock, Hutch."

Breathlessly, Hutch said, "I want to fuck."

Starsky quivered as he silently agreed that it was time for the foreplay to end.  He reached to the nightstand, and pulled out a new tube of lube.  He wrestled a moment with breaking the seal, and uncapping it.  "Stand up and spread your legs."

As Hutch obeyed, Starsky knelt.

He squirted lube along his fingers.  He couldn't resist giving Hutch's stout erection a kiss in passing, and then felt for the opening that he was so familiar with.  He started with one finger, but almost immediately put in another.  While "watching TV", he had gotten to the point of having three fingers inserted, and could move them around somewhat, and he'd gotten pretty good at stimulating Hutch's prostate.  But now, he didn't want to open him too much ahead of time.  He wanted his cock to do that, because that's what Hutch would enjoy the most.

When he pulled his fingers out, Hutch asked, "How do you want me?"

Starsky hadn't thought about that.  He dropped the tube to the floor, and leaned past Hutch to wipe his fingers against the bedspread.  Then, he stood, taking Hutch by the arm with one hand, while reaching to grab pillows with the other.  "Let's try this."  He put one pillow on top of the other.  "Maybe you can drape your gorgeous self over those."  More softly, he said, "I want to lie on top of you.  Cover you."

Hutch got on the bed, on his knees, and placed his hips over the mound of pillows.  He wriggled a moment, in a way that Starsky wished he could film, and then went still when he was apparently comfortable.

Starsky grunted approval, and knelt on the bed behind Hutch.  He placed his hand on a buttock, and rubbed along it lovingly, while bringing up his erection with his other hand.  "Real slow, baby."  That's what he wanted to do for Hutch, more than anything.

He pressed against the moist opening, and it yielded easily.  Starsky took great care to only insert as much as he had to, to keep from slipping out.  Then he barely pressed again, watching in fascination as Hutch's hips raised slightly, to swallow up more of his thickness. 

Starsky wasn't sure that he'd ever been so welcome into someone else's body.

He let himself sink, until he could sink no more.  Hutch relaxed completely beneath him.

"Oh, God," Starsky murmured, his cheek resting against the back of Hutch's shoulders.  "Want to stay like this for a long time."  Though he didn't think building sensation would let him.

"Yes," Hutch whispered.

Starsky barely undulated, to relieve the sweetest of aches.  "My cock is the happiest body part on whole planet right now."

Hutch breathlessly corrected, "Second happiest."

Starsky rubbed his cheek against Hutch's skin, wishing that his entire self could fit inside his love.

After a moment, Hutch said, "When you're ready, you can pound really hard, if you want."

Of course, with those words, Starsky could think of nothing else.  He began to undulate, and slammed against Hutch's braced body, which drove him in even deeper.

 


Hutch realized that he was grunting in contentment, as he shifted around, alone in Starsky's bed. 

It felt so good, to be so thoroughly loved.  He had never had sex with anyone who possessed such intense passion as Starsky.  He didn't have to worry if he was pleasing Starsky.  It was always so clear that he was.

Of course, his cock hadn't been sucked anywhere near two hours.  Maybe two minutes, for Hutch was so on edge after the delicious pounding from Starsky's talented maleness, that all it had taken was Starsky's enthusiastic mouth to enclose him, and he was over the edge.  After they had both caught their breaths, they had rolled around on the bed for some time, kissing and fondling, before eventually drifting into sleep.

The clock said that it was going on nine.  Hutch got up and found his underwear.  After pulling the briefs around his hips, he emerged from the bedroom.

Starsky was at the edge of the kitchen, with a drawer open.  He glanced up.  "Hey ya, beautiful." 

Hutch approached the kitchen, and then realized Starsky was sorting through the drawer where he kept photos of people that were most important to him. Melanie's picture was on the counter.  "What are you doing?"

"Just rearranging some things."  Starsky opened the file folder of pictures, and grinned at Hutch.  "I wanted this one on top."  It was the photo of them on top of the Torino, with their arms around each other's shoulders.  "As contented as we were with each other, I don't think we ever woulda guessed where we were headed."

"That's for sure," Hutch said.  Then he took Starsky by the chin, turned his head, and planted a kiss on his lips.  He grinned.  "I, for one, am very happy with where we've ended up."

Starsky lowered his eyes bashfully.  "Me, too."  He closed the file folder, and then closed the drawer.

Hutch reached for the photo of Melanie.  "You forgot this."

Starsky shook his head, sobering.  "Uh-uh.  Melanie and I had fun together, and I'm so sorry about what happened to her, but she didn't fit in with the special people."  He took the photo and tossed it to a nearby desk, where there was various opened mail and newspapers.

Special people.  Hutch was one of those.  That was hardly a newsflash, but it still made he feel warm inside, especially since Starsky was one who let so few into his inner circle.

When Starsky turned back around, Hutch placed his hands on his shoulders and asked, "What are we doing for dinner?"

A mischievous light appeared in Starsky's eyes.  "Depends on what kind of nourishment you're talking about, exactly."

Hutch snorted, but chose not to be baited.  "I say we go out to a nice dinner.  Like, to celebrate.  And then we can come back here and have our way with each other."

Starsky nodded.  "Okay.  I guess we should shower up first, huh?  It'll be faster and save water if we do it together."

Hutch considered that.  He wasn't sure about the 'faster' part, since they were likely to get distracted.  But then, there wasn't any reason to not get distracted.  He took Starsky by the hand.  "Okay, communal shower, it is."

Starsky eagerly followed.

 

 

 

END