by Elizabeth Lowry
They strode away from Kira together, but as soon as the door of Huggy's bar closed behind them, Starsky immediately pulled his arm from around his partner—his friend, his ally, his buddy, his pal—and even gave a little push to make the statement clear.
Hutch seemed just as eager to lose the physical contact and put some space between them. They each took another step back, facing one another glaring. The setting sun cast long shadows where it could find breaks between the downtown buildings.
Starsky glowered, scowled; showing every emotion he could think of through his eyes without allowing anything close to personal pain to filter through.
Hutch met every visual cue from Starsky with one of his own—except anything resembling personal hurt.
Starsky kept his arms loose and even shook them a bit. He felt like a gunslinger in the center of town at high noon, listening for the clock to strike midday and signal fate. He could hear his own harsh breath, fast and hot, could see Hutch’s chest rise and fall rapidly, could feel them sucking the air out from the atmosphere, leaving none for either of them to breathe.
Hutch must have found something to breathe; he lifted his arms and shrugged, as if to say “what?”, and managed to clear some antagonism from his eyes.
This only fueled Starsky’s fire. He spun and tromped off toward his car--his Torino, the one thing he could count on to remain loyal--wishing he could trail concealing smoke behind him.
Hutch must have had x-ray vision; he marched right through Starsky’s smoke screen and followed him.
Starsky jammed his fingers under the door latch and pulled. Hutch shoved his hip against the door and kept it shut.
“Don’t even,” Starsky growled, glaring at the offending hip.
“I thought we were clear on this,” Hutch growled back.
“No, we’re clear on her.” Starsky jerked a thumb back towards Huggy’s. “We put her where she belongs: down, out, away from us. Down so deep she’ll never mess with us again.”
“And now that that’s done, we’re back to holding grudges?” Hutch’s eyes blazed.
“You hold whatever you want,” Starsky heaved open his door, sending Hutch stumbling. “But I’m the only one here who can hold a grudge.”
Hutch caught the top of the door with both hands, not just to keep it open but to regain his balance. “Grudges, or games?” he parried. “Who’s holding what against whom and who’s holding the dirty deck?”
Starsky gave the door a hard tug to warn Hutch what would happen to his fingers if he didn’t let go. Hutch—rather unwisely under the circumstances—kept his fingers in harm’s way.
“Back off, Hutchinson,” Starsky lowered his voice, “or you’re going to lose something.”
“Yeah?” Hutch tilted his head in mock fear. “Like what?”
Starsky’s jaw worked but his brain didn’t. So instead of a quick comeback he wrenched the door from Hutch’s grip as he slid into his car. Flustered, he managed to lock the door, start the engine, throw her into gear and pull away from the curb, while leaving Hutch frozen in place.
Hutch scraped his tires along the curb outside Venice Place, took out a splinter of wood near the building's newly installed door lock while stabbing his key into everything but the keyhole, then loosened the stairways’ handrail from the wall as he stormed up to his apartment. After that he easily entered his apartment since he hadn’t bothered to lock that door in the first place.
He threw down his keys, missing the intended surface and hitting the floor instead. He heard a seam give as he tore off his jacket. The refrigerator door bounced hard on its hinges as Hutch ordered the box to produce non-existent beer—he hadn’t been shopping in weeks. There was wine in the cabinet, but wine was too wimpy, too reminiscent of her. Hard liquor was what he really needed. Something to wrap its claws around him.
He needed something to wrap around his body and his brain. He needed—someone—to be specific. He needed…he wanted.…
Hutch covered his face with his hands.
Stupid bitch Kira screwed everything up. He and Starsky had been moving along pretty well, exploring a few new—facets—to their friendship, and then one fucked-up killer had led to a fucked-up policewoman who managed to fuck up the whole fucking thing.
It wasn’t love. Why couldn’t Starsky see it hadn’t been love between Hutch and Kira? It had been sex, pure and simple. Visceral, biological, reptilian brain sex. Offered freely, and freely accepted. No strings, no attachments, no ties for either.
Well, maybe ties to Starsky. After all, wasn’t it Freud who posited that sleeping with the person another person is sleeping with is tantamount to sleeping with that person?
And since Starsky had cut Hutch off upon the entrance of said blonde bimbo into their life, what was he supposed to do with his recently awakened enthusiasms? Not that he and Starsky had had any free time together during the case anyway, working different shifts and girls, but still….
Hutch moved his hands down his sides to work out the knots in his back. Okay, yeah, he could have said no to Kira. But she shouldn’t have asked. Not if Starsky had told her he’d loved her. If Starsky told her he loved her, and she didn’t take the opportunity to set new rules, then the old rules still applied. “I love you” meant exclusivity. No screwing around with other people. So it was her fault everyone got screwed.
Not that Hutch had summoned any rules by invoking the word “love”…. So, how else was he supposed to protect Starsky from this witch woman?
And just what kind of announcement had Starsky made, anyway?
“I love her, Hutch.”
Yeah, right. Starsky loves woman. Starsky loves woman only because man isn’t as forthcoming as woman is. It wasn’t love. It was just Starsky’s way of showing Hutch that if Hutch didn’t want him, others did.
And Hutch wanted him. Wanted him in the worst way. Wanted more than just the strong fingers squeezing his cock. Wanted more than just the wet mouth sucking him deep.
Hutch wanted Starsky to know that he loved him. Really. He did.
Damn fine way he’d shown that love lately, though.
Hutch’s hands went back up to his head, pressing tightly against his temples. Life was too mixed up lately, happening too quickly, occurring too slowly. There were too many outside interferences. Mild flirtations with Lizzie and stronger flirtations with Meredith and nights of comfortable sex with Kate and exciting sex with that cop groupie and guilty sex with Marianne and all the while feeling nothing except the vitality of the orgasm and the inevitable let-down after. All the while knowing there had been no let-down with Starsky….
Freud would say his recent sexual transactions were the avoidance of love and commitment with Starsky. But if he’d really wanted to avoid commitment to Starsky, why hadn’t he let Starsky go off with Kira?
Damnittohellfuckingkirabitchwomancunt! She screwed up Starsky, and Starsky had screwed him for it! Anger fueled his headache and backache. Starsky was so naïve as to fall for her façade and totally ignore Hutch! Starsky deserted him! Left him! And ground his face in it!
Whiskey. Hutch needed whiskey. And lots of it. Lots of smooth golden liquid to cool his lava-hot resentment.
As Hutch scooped up the keys from the floor, his head rose level to the piano top and—
—Ollie was gone. He’d brought him home from the office after an on-loan detective from Vice had wrapped a big pink bow around his neck and pinned a red paper heart to his chest and tied a red-and-pink apron around his middle. Hutch had subsequently rescued and undressed the stuffed bear, and the detective had ended up with a dose of syrup of Ipecac in his Sanka which led to a quick end to his stint in Robbery/Homicide.
If blood could boil, Hutch’s was roiling. He didn’t know when Starsky had done it, but there was no doubt. Starsky had abducted Ollie. No one else, save a few women, had been in his place lately. And Ollie was his. Ollie had clearly been given to him. Ollie belonged here.
The keys bit into Hutch’s clenched fist, but the pain went unnoticed. Fuck the liquor; that could wait. He had to rescue Ollie.
Starsky lay stiff and still on his couch, heart pounding, head aching, muscles cramping. If he moved, he’d have to think. If he had to think, he’d have to move. And he didn’t want to know where either activity would take him. If he kept his anger at a constant level, just a little beyond conscious thought, he could exist without pain or loneliness. Probably without food or water. Probably without ever dealing with life again.
But he couldn’t stop thinking. Couldn’t stop thinking of walking in on Hutch and Kira. Hutch could have stayed hidden in the bedroom, could have fully dressed himself, could have come up with an entirely plausible explanation as to why he was there.
But no. Hutch had to flaunt his position. Throw it in Starsky’s face. Hutch had to make sure Starsky was personally aware his pronouncement of love to Kira was worth nothing to Hutch, and could be despoiled in an instant.
It wasn't like they had never shared women before, but they both understood when one of them was having a relationship which was the real thing, it was to be respected. Rules had to be followed. Or at least Starsky knew that. Hutch obviously was a living, walking testosterone machine that couldn’t get beyond Neanderthal thinking and took whatever woman came into his line of sight. Starsky’s past friendship and loyalty certainly hadn’t been enough to stop Hutch. Shit, if Hutch loved him so much, Hutch wouldn’t have cuckolded him. Starsky never cuckolded Hutch. Not like that. And Starsky loved Hutch….
Loved Hutch too much, which was why Kira was the answer to a prayer. Kira offered safety…and normalcy. Attachment to Kira solved a lot of problems, answered a lot of outside questions, kept the world from prying, kept commitment at bay….
Starsky made a conscious effort to relax his muscles, trying the technique Hutch espoused, going from the toes to the head in a linear manner. Didn’t work. Too slow, too hard to concentrate.
What had they been doing with each other, anyway, all those months ago—playing adolescent exploratory games? A suck here, a hand job there, a few mind-blowing orgasms that meant—what?
And that was the problem. They did mean something. They meant closeness, and desire, and acceptance, and—love.
Starsky’s gut did a triple-flip. Starsky loved Hutch. That was a fact, a well-known fact, a long-established fact. Everybody knew Starsky loved Hutch.
But they didn’t know Starsky loved Hutch. Was in love with Hutch. And was shit-in-your-pants terrified of it. So terrified he turned his love to a woman instead. There’s your big, brave cop—opening up to one love to escape another. Half-admitting it to yourself so you can feel good about killing the difficult love because everyone would be better for it. Where’s that commendation?
Starsky literally felt frozen, and he would be just as glad if he never had to move again.
But when his door crashed open and white heat came thundering in, instinct took over. Starsky was rolling on the floor and headed for his weapon and cover before he even realized it.
“You little shitless prick,” the White Heat roared. “Where is he?”
Starsky lay prone on the floor, panting, trying to disperse the pinprick of adrenaline stuttering over his skin.
Hutch stamped around the room, shoving tchochkes aside, pulling books onto the floor, opening whatever cabinet door he came across, doing whatever made noise and upset the natural balance of Starsky’s home.
Starsky pushed up from the floor and got to his feet. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Ridiculously manly instinct gave him something to do while he stared at Hutch: he rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. “Just what—what the hell—what are you doing?” He balled up his fists.
“Aha! The bedroom!” Pointing a finger at Starsky, Hutch then swung it toward the bedroom. Hutch charged toward the room, and Starsky pounded behind.
“I knew it!” Hutch flung himself toward the bed, where an amiable Ollie sat propped between two pillows. He grabbed for the bear and snatched it into defensive arms.
“Hey!” Starsky yelled. “What the fuck are you doing? Are you crazy? Gimme that back!” He flung himself on top of Hutch, sending both of them crashing onto the bed.
Hutch bucked and rolled, throwing Starsky off the side while keeping a tight hold on Ollie. Bouncing to his feet, he ran for the door. Starsky scrabbled for stability and managed to get upright just seconds after him. He raced after Hutch, but found a noseful of wood instead of a malicious body in the doorway. When the initial injury wore off and he had stopped cursing, Starsky caught the sound of Hutch's atrocious auto making a getaway.
There was only one thing to do.
Starsky grabbed his keys.
Hutch had forgotten about stopping for liquor. All he could focus on was getting Ollie back to his fortress, where he belonged, safe from the clutches of evil. Hutch jogged up to his apartment and plopped Ollie back on the piano top, taking a step back to admire his work. Done. Over. Everything was right with the world.
“You fucking brainless asshole!” Starsky stood, panting, filling the doorway of Hutch’s apartment. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
Hutch shifted slowly until he faced Starsky. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
Starsky’s face was flushed, his lips white. “Steal my girl, steal my teddy bear?”
Hutch’s eyes narrowed. “That bear is mine.”
“Yeah, but that girl wasn’t,” Starsky shot back.
“She wasn’t yours either!” Hutch yelled. “Face the fucking facts, Starsky. Women who are committed to one man don’t go screwing around with another!”
“You face the facts, buddy!” Starsky pointed his finger at Hutch and took a step forward. “She wanted me, and you couldn’t stand it, so you seduced her!”
Hutch folded his arms tightly across his chest. “Buddy, she seduced me,” he said, his voice low, dangerous. “She wanted me. She had to have me. I just gave her what she wanted.”
“You didn’t have to,” Starsky spat. “But then you’ve never been able to keep it in your pants, have you?”
Hutch’s eyes widened. “Pot calling the kettle?” he asked.
“You fucked her all the same. And she was mine.”
“If I hadn’t you never would have learned what kind of whore she was.”
Starsky slowly lowered his trembling finger. “I loved her,” he said.
Hutch turned suddenly, facing away from Starsky. “You don’t know what the fuck love is.”
“Well it ain’t marrying a Vassar girl for the sex and status.” Starsky took another step forward. “And it ain’t taking up with a prostitute or two. And it certainly isn’t bedding a federal witness.”
Hutch’s shoulders hunched, then he took two quick steps and grabbed the post next to the kitchen. “She didn’t love you,” Hutch rasped.
Arrhythmic breathing filled the apartment. “You don’t know that,” Starsky’s voice choked.
“People who love you don’t betray you.” Hutch gripped the post tighter.
Starsky’s head snapped up. “Present company excepted?”
Hutch turned his head, speaking to Starsky. “I saved you from that woman,” he hissed. “I did it to keep you from wrecking your life.”
Starsky threw his hands up in the air and paced around the room. “You are fucking nuts! You just told me people who love me don’t betray me, then you tell me you betrayed me because you care about my life!”
Hutch released the post and whirled on Starsky. “What were you doing with her anyway! I thought we were doing something together! Then all of a sudden she’s with you all the time!"
“So what else is new?” Starsky stopped behind the couch and put his hands on the back pillows. The pillows were in trouble. “We were barely seeing each other anyway! Every case we had lately kept you in one place and me in another! Extra partners! Separate undercovers! And you seemed to like it!”
“What ‘like’ it?” Hutch yelled back. “You’re the one who suggested it! ‘Guard this witness separately, track down this perp separately;’ everything’s been separate with you for the past few months!”
“Not everything,” Starsky mocked. “We were doing some things together pretty well.”
“Not lately,” Hutch spat. “Not since you and Meredith partnered on that one case.”
“You were shot!” Starsky exploded. “Wounded! Infirm! Not in the mood!” He paused. “Although you certainly got back in the mood quick enough with that police groupie, and that model, and that Owens woman!”
“Jesus, Starsky, those were assignments! You never turned prude when it came time to sleep with a witness or a source!”
“I hadn’t slept with anybody besides Kira since Marcie! And she was a girlfriend, not a job! There’s a difference, you know!”
Hutch laughed derisively. “Then what I am, personal or professional?”
“You’re a prick!” Starsky snarled.
“And you’re a pussy,” Hutch snarled back.
Starsky suddenly heaved a sofa pillow at Hutch.
Hutch deflected it with his arm, sending it into a table lamp, which crashed to the floor. He glared at Starsky.
So Starsky threw another pillow at him.
This one Hutch caught and heaved back at Starsky as if it were a medicine ball.
Starsky ducked and twisted, keeping one hand on the back of the couch. He used it to leverage himself over the back, leaping at Hutch with a push off from the seat cushions.
Hutch caught Starsky’s flying body and they both went down on the floor. Furniture skidded along the hardwood and both bodies rolled heavily and noisily in the limited space. Arms flung, fists pummeled, legs flailed, men grunted. Knuckle bone looked for jaw bone, rib cage or undefended belly.
It was a fight fueled by hurt and disappointment as much as by betrayal. Every blow was meant to deliver as much pain as each man had delivered to the other by their choosing a woman over their partner. Every blow was meant to deny a feeling of love and revoke vulnerability. Every blow was meant to end the world and leave no problems unresolved on either side.
Real fights aren’t artistic, or balletic, or bravura. They aren’t choreographed or considered. They are messy and clumsy They are brutal and banal.
Rolling so closely together, Starsky hit the floor with his knuckles more times than he connected with Hutch’s body, and as much from being pushed against the floor than from actually aiming at his target. Hutch bruised his kneecaps against wood rather than bone, took a table edge to the back rather than a fist, scraped a knuckle along a piano rather than a jaw.
They grappled, pulling at clothing, kicking at shins, leveraging against an opposing body. Hutch popped a fist into a bicep, twisted a shoulder into a chin; Starsky planted a knee into a gut and pushed an offending body off and away. Hutch launched himself back on top of Starsky, who caught him and rolled him into the couch, only to be banged back into the floor, then lifted by his shirt, then thrown back to the floor on his side.
Hutch slid an arm under Starsky’s armpit and twisted him prone, grabbing Starsky’s left arm and pulling it back and up toward his shoulder blades to keep him immobile. He did the same to Starsky’s right arm, pressing him hard into the floor.
Hutch could barely catch his breath; Starsky gasped and struggled as Hutch sat on his butt and kept him pinned. Hutch tasted blood; Starsky tasted dirt. Bodies were spent, but anger was not.
Starsky bucked, which only resulted in Hutch tightening his hold. “Wuss,” Hutch breathed. “Wimp.”
Starsky bucked again with a great grunt. This time Hutch bounced on his butt as he straddled Starsky, amplifying his position of power. Hutch switched his grip so that he had both of Starsky’s wrists in one hand, while his other hand grabbed Starsky’s hair.
“Impotent bastard.” Hutch dug his fingers into Starsky’s curls and lifted his head off the floor.
Starsky struggled ineffectively. “Let me go,” he demanded.
Hutch held his position. His blood had turned to lava, the air in his lungs had become superheated. The man underneath him represented everything he hated, everything he despised, everything he found abhorrent in humans.
“To deliver into the hands of an enemy in violation of a trust or allegiance.”
Starsky had delivered him into the hands of Kira. Had pushed him straight into her arms. Had thrust him right up into her—
Hutch’s fingers took a firmer grip on Starsky’s curls. Just like every other fucking human being he had given his trust to, this one had taken his love and his trust and his loyalty and smashed them into shards of shame. And he was tired of it. Hutch was so tired of giving and giving and giving himself only to eventually find himself backed into a corner while he watched his father or his mother or his girlfriend or his wife or his partner or his lover deny him because something better came along. A better son a better boyfriend a better lover a better lover a better lover!
He’d show Starsky who was a better lover!
Starsky shifted painfully underneath Hutch. His shoulders were aching and his arms were pinned so that he had no leverage. Hutch’s weight on his ass kept him from rolling or bucking free.
And deep deeper deepest inside, it felt good.
It felt good to be constricted and constrained. It felt good not to be in control, not to have to make the decisions, not to have to think.
Starsky was tired of thinking. Tired of thinking of every consequence that could result from every action he took. Tired of wondering who would think what of whom if he did this or chose that. Tired of doing what he thought he should be doing instead of what he wanted to be doing.
Loving women was easy. Fucking women was even easier. Kira had seemed to offer both when being with Hutch had become too hard. Hutch had made being with him too hard.
Every stroke or caress from Starsky’s hand led to a flush from Hutch’s body, not of excitement, but of shame. What had once been easy public touch between them had suddenly become taboo. Hutch even seemed to go out of his way to put physical distance between them, until and unless they were behind a locked door.
How was Starsky supposed to interpret Hutch’s actions of late? Old girlfriend here, suspect/witness there, and whoever else he could find to throw in Starsky’s face between blowjobs. Kira had been an answer to a prayer, really. A solution to a dilemma. If he chose Kira, if he made love to Kira, if he made sex turn into love for Kira…then both he and Hutch would be free. Hutch wouldn’t have to worry about embarrassment, or shame, or consequences. In fact, neither of them would have to think about the consequences of their actions, or deal with society’s stare, or risk the worst of all—rejection of mind, body and soul.
So Starsky took his cue and gave into Kira and offered Hutch freedom.
But Hutch couldn’t stand even that. He’d had to cuckold Starsky to prove his manhood and push them both back into misery. Make them both suffer. Forsake the pleasure, invite in the pain. Push Starsky away.
Push me away, will you? Starsky thought angrily. I’ll give you push. Starsky tried once more to buck Hutch off. I’ll push you away before you can push me away and—
Even as Hutch’s weight pinned his body against the floor, a weight from Starsky’s soul was suddenly lifted.
Simple. It was so simple. He’s so afraid of me…of us…he’d rather drag us both to hell than risk grabbing for his own piece of heaven.
Starsky felt Hutch’s hand leave his head, rest on his neck, then lift away from his body. The hand then fumbled around his belly, unbuckling his belt, and pulling it roughly through his belt loops.
How far would Hutch go to push Starsky away? Hutch would invite other women into his bed. Hutch would allow other cops to partner with Starsky. Hutch would steal Starsky’s woman.
Hutch adjusted his weight on Starsky’s back and began to wrap the leather belt around Starsky’s wrists. Starsky didn’t fight the restriction, but also didn’t excuse the pain. He winced as the leather bit into his skin.
Hutch would try to do the worst thing one man could do to another—emasculate him.
And Starsky would accept it.
Then turn around and show Hutch just how emasculated he was.
Hutch wrapped the belt around Starsky’s wrists. He was shaking with anger, and the belt’s leather wasn’t as flexible as it should have been, and his hands were sweaty, and it took him some time to secure the bonds.
“You liar,” Hutch heard himself say. He shifted his weight off Starsky’s ass and onto Starsky’s thighs. “You traitor you bastard you faggot.” Hutch reached under Starsky and undid his jeans, then roughly pulled them down his hips. Intellectual response had degraded to a series of cruel names. “Bastard faggot traitor.” Fury was all Hutch could really focus on as he pulled Starsky’s jeans below his knees. “I’ll give you what you really wanted, what you've wanted all along.”
He straddled Starsky, hands on his ass, grabbing him roughly, only vaguely aware of the firm density of his buttocks. The flesh under Hutch’s fingers needed to be squeezed, it needed to be bruised. It was too soft and too weak and too pathetic. It needed to be taught a lesson. It needed to know rage. It needed to know Hutch’s rage. It needed to know the rage it had caused.
Hutch clumsily pulled down his own pants, then shoved his thumbs inside Starsky’s crack and pulled apart his vulnerable cheeks. Starsky shifted under the assault, his arms tugging at the restraints. Hutch forced a knee between Starsky’s thighs and then lowered himself against Starsky’s ass. His erection had come from nowhere, bred from resentment, engorged with bitterness.
Starsky grunted haltingly, as if trying to suppress any sound. Hutch thrust against his rigid body, desperate to find any entrance, desperate to take possession of the person beneath him and expose his failings. He rammed himself against the small opening, forcefully entering the passage, slipping out, and entering again.
The body underneath Hutch jerked and twitched, but it was Hutch who vocalized the violation. The tight and heated tunnel he slammed into both abraded and stimulated his rigid cock. Pain and pleasure, pleasure and pain. Pain from the unlubricated intercourse, pleasure from showing Starsky his sins. Hutch moaned and grunted and howled his triumph.
Starsky tried to concentrate on the feel of the hardwood under his body, the taste of dirt in his mouth, the sounds of the creaking floor. Everything but the pain radiating through his body. His ass burned and stung; it had split and surrendered. There was a sensation of being crushed, then a sensation of being liberated. One minute he had no air, the next he could breathe. He gradually became aware his hands had been freed, and his aching arms found relief at his sides.
Starsky slowly maneuvered onto his side. His ass and thighs were sticky, his shoulders throbbed, his rectum burned. Starsky shut his eyes against the pain and focused deeper. He didn’t feel—horrible. He felt abused and battered physically, and certainly his nerve endings were shrieking. But deep within himself he didn’t feel what he thought he’d always feel if another man ever did this to him. Starsky didn’t feel emasculated. He didn’t feel humiliated. He didn’t feel degraded and dirty and spoiled.
Starsky rolled onto his back, let his weight sink into the floor, closed his eyes. He felt—relieved. And in more ways than one. His cock throbbed dully, partially from the pain of being confined between the hard floor and his body, partially from the orgasm that wasn’t ready to dissipate. But it was, nonetheless, a physical relief.
The psychological relief was harder to pin down, but Starsky definitely felt as if a weight had been lifted from his soul. It was almost as if, now that they’d done it—that “it,” the “it,” the “it” they hadn’t even talked about through months of non-it, much less experienced together—now that one had fucked the other up the ass, a barrier had been breached. And since the breach hadn’t resulted in the destruction of their souls, much less the universe, there was hope that they could recover, rebuild, and restore the core of their relationship.
Starsky soothed the last of the orgasm, his hand gently stroking his cock. He’d let Hutch take him, no doubt about that. Let him. Partly because he wanted to show Hutch that now, now, after all they been through in the past few months, now there was nothing that could make him hate Hutch or abandon him. He’d made a choice not to fight Hutch, a choice made from the clear and instant knowledge that Hutch had a terrible and horrific need to trial Starsky, to deliver an ultimate test.
Starsky felt he had passed that part.
But there was another part, another reason he’d allowed Hutch to put them through this ordeal.
Starsky wanted to know what it would feel like, to finally have Hutch inside him, not just as an emotion inside his heart, but as a physical part of his body.
Which had been more consuming and more exciting than he had ever imagined, which had made him come even under these disgraceful circumstances.
Starsky used his other hand to wipe the sweat from his forehead. And just what had he expected, anyway, when he removed Ollie from Hutch’s apartment several weeks ago? Well, yeah, to make Hutch mad. But more importantly, to take something that clearly belonged to Hutch, had been given to Hutch and Hutch alone, to show Hutch that possession dishonored could be damned excruciating.
And of course, to see what Hutch would do.
Because Starsky hadn’t been sure what Hutch would do. A million different times in a million different situations, Starsky had always been able to predict Hutch’s actions, if not the precise feeling that drove those actions. But this time he’d had no clue. He truly and honestly thought Hutch would acquiesce to the love he proclaimed between himself and Kira, and they’d both reverse course and put their sexual involvement behind them.
Only Hutch had gone off on a whole different course that Starsky could only vaguely plot.
.Finally, Starsky was just sad. Sad that he and Hutch were so stubborn and pigheaded and stupid that they couldn’t look after their own wants and needs and desires, much less each others’, much less their partnership. And not their professional partnership; no, the partnership they’d committed to when they mutually acknowledged that no other co-worker, friend, relation, or romance was more important and imperative than the one they’d created from gun oil, pizza sauce, the cramped front seat of a stakeout car, and a recognition that each one filled the other’s soul.
.Starsky pulled his knees up toward his chest. His lower half complained, but allowed him to pry off his shoes and socks, to pull off the squashed jeans still around his ankles. He rested a bit after that exertion.
If their partnership wasn’t worth saving and cultivating, than what was in life? And if part of the changing nature of their partnership meant more than just covering each other’s backs when the bullets were flying…well, so be it. Career suddenly paled in the face of the paradise that might be; marriage suddenly faded as the path to happiness.
Not that they’d created much of a paradise lately; paradise was supposed to be idyllic and blissful and divine; mostly what they had now was mutual antagonism with occasional stabs at physical intimacy via the notorious BJ. And what was that all about, anyway? We can’t use our mouths anymore to talk to each other so we use them in other ways? At least some connection between is us better than none? And maybe that had been it; thought Starsky, if I couldn’t get through to Hutch in any other way then at least I could keep some kind of contact with him. Not a perfect paradise, but not an absolute hell.
But Starsky didn’t long for a perfect paradise, just one that included Hutch, and a Hutch that loved him as much as he loved Hutch. Emotionally, spiritually, romantically, and physically. Work be damned, family be damned, friends be damned, society be damned. Just him and Hutch.
But to claim even that, Starsky was going to have to go back a ways to find anything close to the oneness they’d once shared.
As Starsky’s body began to relax more and lose the sensation of captivity and concussion, he traced back the last year. A few meaningless flings for both of them, too many meaningful physical injuries, and somewhere the loss of the ability to communicate in any way other than through cold shoulders and hot cocks.
Where had the moments gone when they could sit virtually on top of each other and share a raunchy joke or a mind-numbing stakeout or a drippy enchilada or approaching death? Those moments had been paradise. A friendship that went beyond brotherhood. A trust that went beyond an expectation of duty and reliability. A closeness that obliterated any other intimacy he’d ever experienced.
And to be honest—and at this point there was no other way to be, unless repressed-based misery was what he wanted—Starsky wanted more of the physical closeness. The BJs may have been a way to keep Hutch close, but they were also a way to satisfy his deepest need—to show Hutch how much he loved him.
Starsky decided. He’d rather try and fail to become Hutch’s whole world, than go back to what they’d had before. He’d even rather try and fail then just walk away from the whole mess
And as much as he wanted Hutch, Starsky also needed to know what Hutch wanted.
Starsky managed to sit up, groaning, knees splayed.
He waited until his body adjusted to a more vertical posture, then he leaned forward, got to his hands and knees, then stood up. From his vantage point, he could just see Hutch in the bedroom, sitting stiffly on the bed. Starsky walked gingerly into the bathroom, slipped out of his shirt and stood fully naked. He stared at himself in the mirror. Even under his tan he could see the pallor of his skin, the white line around his lips, the faint beginnings of bruises over his body. A shower just seemed too difficult and lengthy to attempt. He grabbed a washcloth, got it nice and warm and wet, and cleaned himself instead.
Starsky spent some time trying to rinse the bloodstains from the washcloth, then gave up and left it in the sink. Without bothering with a bathrobe or any other covering, he walked into the bedroom.
Hutch sat motionless on the bed, one leg up on the mattress, the other hanging off the side. He stared at the wall, his hands in his lap, covering his unzipped fly. His skin was pasty, too.
Starsky sat down on the end of the bed carefully, his weight shaking Hutch, but otherwise going unnoticed.
Starsky stared a Hutch for a bit, but Hutch seemed oblivious to his presence.
“It’s okay,” Starsky finally said. The phrase was far too understated for the moment, but it was either that or a complete dissertation on the state of their entire relationship with a series of charts and graphs to illustrate the analysis..
“I mean,” Starsky searched for easy words, simple words that wouldn’t confound Hutch, “I don’t care.” He looked directly at Hutch, who continued to look past him as if he weren’t there.
“I mean,” Starsky said again, desperate for the right words, “it’s not that I don’t care; I care what just happened between us, and I want to understand it. But nothing you have ever done to me, or could do to me, will ever make me leave you.”
A tiny, tiny tear slipped from Hutch’s eye.
“What happened,” Starsky continued, sniffing, “you were mad, I was mad, we were both mad at each other.” He gestured toward the living room. “We just—I wanted to hurt you and you wanted to hurt me because we’d both been hurting each other for so long.”
Hutch began to rock ever so slightly.
“I don’t know how we let it get so out of control, or maybe I do, but it just—I don’t think it matters right now.” Starsky let his hand drop to the quilt lying over the bed. “We crossed the line, when we stopped talking and started—started—I don’t know, started being with each other. Instead of trying to figure out what has happening between us, we ignored how we were both changing—or how I was changing—God, Hutch, I don’t know what was changing except you were getting further away and I wanted you closer and I didn’t know what that meant or how to explain it—or maybe I did know how to explain it but I was afraid….”
Starsky finally took a breath. And then another. “Hutch. We crossed the line and then tried to pretend it never happened and that it didn’t matter. But it mattered, Hutch. It does matter.” Starsky stroked the soft material under his hand. “It matters to me.” His hand stilled. “It matters more to me than anything else in the world. Because you matter more to me than anyone else in the world.”
Hutch was barely breathing.
As was Starsky. “I love you. All the way. Every way. I want to love you. And I was doing everything I could to keep from feeling it or thinking it or saying it.”
Starsky pushed himself higher up the bed, closer to Hutch. He reached out and took one of Hutch’s hands. Hutch tried to pull it back, but Starsky hung on tight. “No matter what you ever did to me, no matter what you ever said to me, I always knew two things.” He stroked Hutch’s thumb with his own. “I knew I loved you, and I knew you loved me.” Starsky squeezed Hutch’s hand. “Here, now, I know I still love you. It may seem crazy, ‘cause of what just happened, but I do. And here, now, I need to know if you still love me. And if you still do, then I want to know—well,, how.”
A few more tears trickled down Hutch’s cheek.
“So you can yell at me, and you can hit me, and you can avoid me, and you can ignore me, and you can do whatever you want to do to me. I’m not going anywhere.” Starsky gripped Hutch’s hand tighter. A weak laugh emerged from his throat. “I mean, if this didn’t make me walk out on you, then pretty much nothing will.”
Hutch pulled his hand back and doubled over, sobbing heavily into the quilt. All he wanted was for the man sitting beside him to leave him and run from him and abandon him. Just go away and confirm that he, Kenneth Richard Hutchinson, was the most hideous and repulsive and unlovable person on the face of the earth. After all, hadn’t he just proved that? Hadn’t he done the worst you could do to another person, a person you loved? What else could you do to push a person away?
Hands stroked his back and tried to soothe him, but he didn’t want to be soothed. He wanted to feel hated and rejected. He wanted Starsky to leave now, while he still controlled the situation. It was so much easier than waiting for Starsky to leave of his own accord.
Strong hands caressing his back…
”Goddammit, Starsky! Get away from me!” Hutch sat up and pushed away Starsky’s hands.
“No,” Starsky said quietly.
“Are you stupid?” Hutch cried. “Are you the stupidest person in the world? What are you still doing here? Why are you still with me?”
Starsky shrugged. “I don’t want to go anywhere else.”
Hutch’s jaw dropped. “Go away!” he shouted.
Hutch fell again on the bed, continuing to sob.
Starsky again rubbed his back. “Not going anywhere,” Starsky murmured. “Ever. No matter what.”
Hutch looked up at him through watery eyes. “Why?”
Starsky smiled ever so slightly, ever so sadly. “I told you. I decided. I love you. And I’m willing to risk everything to find out if you love me.” He paused for several heartbeats, then caressed Hutch’s shoulder, let his hand stray up to Hutch’s cheek. “It may not be proper, it may not make sense…it certainly doesn’t seem to make sense to you.” A thumb wiped Hutch’s cheek dry. “But it’s what I want. And I think you owe me that much.”
Hutch shook his head. “It hurts too much.”
Starsky sat back and took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m not saying the two of us don’t hurt each other sometimes. We do it a lot of times.” He took a breath. “Too many times. I’m just saying it’s worth it. At least for me. And I need to know if it’s worth it to you, too”
Hutch’s eyes widened.
Starsky grabbed his arm and pulled him upright. “You’ll have to kill me before I ever leave you. Simple as that.” He pulled Hutch into a great hug. “And if it takes my entire life to prove to you that you’re worth it, then so be it.”
Hutch struggled, then went limp in Starsky’s arms. He was sobbing again, distraught and desperate to escape. The thought that he had value, that someone wanted him, that someone was promising him never to leave….unthinkable.
Here was a man, a man he’d tried to love and failed, a man he’d tried to wound in the worst possible way, holding him even as he proved himself beyond salvation.
Was there truly a place for him? A place for his entire self? The good, the bad, the malevolent, the kind? Even a place for the loving Hutch? Even a place for the—for the carnal Hutch? Was that what Starsky was offering to him, asking of him? Everything? Even after that most horrible violation he’d just inflicted upon Starsky—his friend, his brother, his partner, his—well, they had been intimate, and what was it going to mean if not—lover? An isn’t that what Hutch has wanted all along, and had been so afraid of, so afraid he’d tried to virtually slaughter everything he’d had with Starsky in an effort to avoid rejection?
And yet here was Starsky, offering him the dreaded everything. Forgiveness, acceptance, consummation—love.
It was a hard truth to grasp. Harder even to believe. Maybe impossible to believe. But Starsky was saying believe it, because Starsky believed it.
And hadn’t he always believed Starsky, no matter what?
Hutch pushed himself away from Starsky. “I’m so sorry,” he rasped. He held tightly onto Starsky’s upper arms, trembling as he spoke the words. “I’m sorry.”
Starsky pulled him back into his arms. “I know,” he murmured. He held Hutch tight. “I forgive you. And we’re going to make it better.” Starsky’s hand burrowed into Hutch’s crotch and felt for his cock.
“No!” Hutch squirmed, but Starsky held firm.
“Lay back.” Starsky pushed Hutch back on the bed. Hutch kept trying to push him away. “Wait.”
Starsky got up and went to the bathroom and returned with a damp cloth.
“Not now,” Hutch protested. “I’m not….”
“Yes, you are.” Starsky crawled over Hutch and held the tear-stained face in his hands. He ran the warm cloth over Hutch’s brow and cheeks, then leaned down and planted light kisses over Hutch’s face. Hutch shivered.
Starsky’s kisses moved down to Hutch’s neck, then down to his chest as Starsky opened Hutch’s shirt. Hutch gripped Starsky’s shoulders, still trying to push him away. “Starsk….”
“You’re worth it.” Starsky lifted from his ministrations long enough to look directly into Hutch’s eyes. “I’m proof.” Starsky went back to licking and sucking Hutch’s nipples.
Hutch moaned and squirmed. His nipples were tender and sensitive, and sent little bursts of electricity through his body. The feeling was—transcendent—and it was being made by the only person he truly wanted. But to give in…he was so unworthy after what he’d done….
Starsky kissed his way down to Hutch’s groin, pushing apart Hutch’s still-opened fly and tugging the pants down over his hips. Hutch lifted enough to allow Starsky to pull his pants down his legs. The warm cloth bathed his penis, cleaned it, cleansed it; washed off everything that was rank and violent and unholy and left it uncontaminated and untarnished.
Starsky then breathed hotly on Hutch’s cock.
Shivers shot down Hutch’s thighs and up his sides. A warm, wet mouth began to suck on him, a rough tongue began to lick over him. It would be so easy to give himself over to Starsky, to accept this reverence…to let himself feel as if he deserved this.
And Starsky was urging him to accept this. Every kiss from Starsky’s lips, every lap from Starsky’s tongue, every suck of Starsky’s mouth insisted that Hutch release himself to Starsky’s care. Starsky lifted Hutch’s cock and licked the underside, tracing the vein underneath. Hutch grabbed onto the quilt. Starsky licked gently around the head, circling further down, then sliding back up again. A tight fist held him fast, squeezing Hutch’s cock, then sliding up and down its shaft as if measuring its length.
Hutch turned his face and pressed his cheek into the pillow. His ass cheeks clenched as Starsky took him fully inside his mouth, sucking hard, quickening his throbbing and desire. If Starsky could do this to him, wanted to do this to him, after what he’d done to Starsky….
Hutch surrendered and felt himself lifted outside himself. Spasms took hold of his body and shot his soul up into the ether. Hutch felt uplifted, lighter and freer than he’d ever imagined. And purified, which he’d never let himself imagine.
Starsky sucked him until his cock yielded and fell, then licked him clean. A hot body crawled up to lay atop him, and Hutch slid his arms around it and held tight.
“Overwhelming,” he finally whispered. Starsky nodded against his neck. “I’m not sure—thank you.“
“Shhh,” Starsky put his finger against Hutch’s lips. “This is not a time for talk.”
Hutch nodded and accepted his partner’s command. And if it was a time for Hutch to learn that he was worth something, then it was also time to show Starsky the same.
Hutch rolled them over until he was on top of Starsky. But this time it was a willing Starsky, not just a compliant but a consensual Starsky. Hutch planted his lips on Starsky and found them eager and enthusiastic. He sucked on the lower, bit gently on the upper, and sought the warm and velvety insides of Starsky’s mouth with his tongue. Starsky sucked as hard on Hutch’s tongue as he had on Hutch’s cock, and Hutch replied with a rough caress of Starsky’s hard nipples. Starsky arched into Hutch’s body, and Hutch’s right hand slid down until it found the heat and hardness of Starsky’s cock.
Hutch stroked it with his palm, until it grew larger, then used his fingertips to hold and squeeze the sensitive organ. Fingertip squeezes became whole-hand compressions, and Starsky moaned as Hutch continued to explore his mouth and encircle his cock.
Hutch alternated hard and soft squeezes, moving his hand up and down Starsky’s throbbing cock. Starsky pressed his body up into Hutch’s, as if trying to push inside him. And while Hutch was more than willing—in fact wanted Starsky inside him—it all coming together too quick. Hutch recognized the urgent movement of Starsky’s cock and pumped the turgid flesh with a sure hand, feeling it spasm in his grasp, loving the vibration in his mouth as Starsky moaned and groaned through their deep kisses.
Hutch kept tight hold of Starsky’s cock, even as it quieted and calmed. It felt good to hold Starsky like that, to have him safe in his grasp, to know that Starsky felt safe being held in that most vulnerable of ways. He gave Starsky some breathing room, and kissed on sucked on Starsky’s vulnerable neck, while Starsky simply gave in to Hutch’s ministrations.
This could be done, Hutch thought. This could actually be possible and achievable and livable. Them, together, the way they wanted to be together; and the rest of the world be damned, they would have what they wanted!
Hutch lay his head on Starsky chest, listened to the slowing heartbeat, and allowed Starsky to stroke his head. Yes, this could be done.