Chapter 10

Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don't know what to do
I'm always in the dark
We're livin' in a powder keg
And givin' off sparks
      Total Eclipse of the HeartBonnie Tyler

      This is nuts, Starsky thought, as he draped the folded dishtowel over the dish rack. I feel like little Sally Homemaker. He'd washed, dried, and put away all the dishes, straightened the living room, hung his clothes up, made the bed, and done the laundry. But now it was eleven-thirty at night and he'd run out of things to do.

      I've grown too dependent on Hutch to keep me entertained. Over the last year, they'd been practically inseparable. Hours were filled with conversation, games, or just the comfort of each other's company. I'm not used to being alone anymore. It feels weird. This is dumb but—I miss him, and he's only been gone a few hours. He glanced out the windows facing the street, as if he might catch sight of Hutch coming home, then moved away disgustedly.

      It's way too early. He won't be home before dawn. May as well go to bed. No doubt Hutch would wake him, stumbling over furniture in the dark as he tried to sneak in quietly.

      Wonder how he's doing with the lawyer. Wonder if they're back at her place by now. Wonder if they're— He cut off that train of thought brutally.

      Taking his freshly laundered pajama bottoms and clean towels into the bathroom, he hung them behind the door. But before he could start undressing, he heard a familiar, melodic whistling coming from the staircase. A key turned in the lock and the door swung open.

      Hutch grinned at him. "Hey! You're still up!"

      "Hey, yourself," Starsky said, grinning back automatically, "you're home!" He felt a flush of relief seeing Hutch again, as though they'd been separated for days, not mere hours.

      As Hutch headed for the refrigerator and a beer, he slowed down and looked around. "Wow! You must've been really bored, Starsk. The place looks great. Thanks!"

      "Well, it was a little quiet without you. Had to find something to . . . ." He trailed off suddenly, as he spied the time on the antique clock. Eleven forty-five. A successful Hutchinson date should've brought him home closer to six a.m. A rash of confused feelings swept over him. "So, uh, how'd things go?"

      "Great!" Hutch said too cheerfully, hoisting his beer as a salute. "Interesting lady. We started the evening doing cop work! She had to talk with some 'source,' down on hookers' row. I played back-up. It felt good in a weird way."

      Starsky experienced a stab of jealousy. Hutch was out playing cop without him? Backing up some lawyer?

      "Afterwards, we ate at the Pits."

      "You ate in the Pits?" Starsky said in a small voice. Without me? I couldn't even get up the nerve to go in without you!

      Hutch shrugged. "Yeah. Why?"

      "Didn't—didn't it feel kinda . . . creepy, goin' back in there?" Starsky couldn't believe Hutch had actually managed to eat there. He was startled at the envy that swamped him.

      "A little. But I figured no time like the present. And I felt more comfortable taking Kelly there than some new place. I knew Huggy would run interference if need be. Huggy told me he saw you. Anyway, Kelly and I had a nice meal and we found a lot of things in common to talk about. I like her a lot."

      Starsky nodded, forcing his mind back to what Hutch was really saying. His partner's all-too-easy patter made everything clear. "Oh, yeah? Well, either she's the fastest women you've ever gone with," he made a deliberate show of checking his wrist watch, "or, buddy, you didn't score. You barely had time for a decent meal."

      "Is that all you ever think about?" Hutch said with his usual impatience. "It was our first date! She's a special lady, not the kind to—"

      "You never even put the moves on her, did you?" Starsky pressed, his voice emotionless. He was too confused to push Hutch, but felt obliged to push, if only for Hutch's sake. To complicate things, part of him was relieved nothing had happened, though another part was furious. He didn't know which part to listen to.

      Hutch sighed tiredly and his body sagged. "I did what you wanted. I went out with her. I even had a good time. I think she did, too."

      Starsky closed his eyes. He was so used to Hutch-speak he needed no translation. "She knows you're not interested. She figured it out."

      Hutch held out his hands, half conciliatory, half argumentative. "What do you want from me? I went. I tried. I couldn't pretend to want someone I didn't really want."

      "You've managed before," Starsky shot back with more anger than he realized he felt. Maybe it wasn't anger. Maybe it was fear. "You've nailed suspects while undercover." And bragged about it the next day!

      "Kelly's not a suspect, dammit!" Hutch fired back. "She's not some one-night-stand I could use and toss away, either, just to make you happy. She's a good person. She's a friend. She deserves better than to have someone use her for rehabilitation therapy."

      Starsky shook his head and turned his back. He needed to think. He hadn't allowed himself to consider this possibility that, when faced with a warm, living, breathing woman, Hutch wouldn't be able to muster the interest! Running his fingers through his hair, he tried to figure out what to do, how to fix this. His brain was buzzing with white noise.

      And the most disturbing thing of all was the part of him that was really, really glad things had happened just this way.

      No! That's not true! I hate it that he didn't fall for her, hate it that it didn't work out.

      He closed his eyes and was startled when Hutch's voice sounded right next to him. He looked up to find him handing over a beer. Starsky took it automatically.

      "You owe me ten bucks," Hutch said.

      Starsky blinked and took a sip of the brew. "What the hell for?"

      "I gave you five when Kelly accepted my offer of a date. But she only did it hoping to get of getting closer to you." Hutch finished the last of his own can, crumpled it, and tossed it into the trash. "She asked my permission to ask you out. Gracious being that I am, I granted it. She's got the hots for you, friend. Just like I originally bet you. So, you owe me my five back, and five more. I'll collect it when she asks you."

      "She asked your permission to ask me out?" Starsky said feebly. That can only mean one thing. She knows how Hutch feels about me. Either she guessed it—which is bad enough—or he confessed it—which is worse! He wanted to groan in frustration, wanted to throttle his screwed-up partner, wanted to—

      His brain suddenly skidded to a halt. Wait a minute. "She wants to ask me out?"

      "I was wondering when the main message would work its way through your scrambled little neurons," Hutch said smugly. "And here I thought the lady had taste."

      "You—you said I'd go?" Starsky felt like he was sliding across the thinnest of ice.

      "I indicated that the chances of your saying yes were extremely good," Hutch admitted. "Considering that, as you pointed out, she's probably the only woman in LA who would even be interested."

      Starsky felt like his tongue had turned into a giant sausage in his mouth, that he couldn't find anything sensible to say. "And . . . that's okay with you? If I go out with her?"

      "Didn't I say I said so?" Hutch was starting to sound a little frayed around the edges, like his good nature was finally unraveling.

      He walked aimlessly around the apartment, poking at his plants, at his knickknacks, anything, so as not to look directly at Starsky. "I'm not your mother, Starsky. I don't need to give you my blessing. I suggest you grab the opportunity while you can. And try not to screw it up. This isn't some lady cab driver, or—"

      "Answer the question!" Starsky said, raising his voice. Hutch stopped dead and stared at the floor. "Are you okay with this? Really? Me going out with her? Hutch?"

      Hutch paused two beats, then swallowed. "What do you want from me, blood? Go out with her, Starsk. Have a good time. It's gonna happen sooner or later, may as well be with someone I like. I trust her. That's the best blessing I can give. I'll be okay. I mean it."

      That cost you a lot, Starsky realized. I can't even guess how much. All because Hutch loved him. Hutch had to get over this, he had to.

      "Look, uh," Hutch muttered, still not looking at him, "I'm beat. Why don't we worry about this in the morning?"

      Starsky nodded, then mumbled agreement when Hutch glanced at him for an answer. "I was going for a shower when you walked in."

      "Fine. I'll go after you." Hutch moved into the bedroom, shedding his shirt as he went.

      The shower gave Starsky time to think. He only made one decision, but he knew the one he'd made was going to cause enough problems, at least until Hutch got used to it.

      By the time Hutch emerged from his own shower, Starsky had the couch made up, and was ensconced under blankets across its length.

      Hutch froze as he moved around the couch and caught sight of Starsky's reclining form. Slowly, he pulled the towel off his damp head, leaving blond strands sticking up everywhere.

      Starsky wouldn't look directly at him, trying hard not to remember the blond hairs he'd pulled off his pillow earlier that evening. Just accept it, Hutch, and go to bed. Don't say anything. Don't make it harder than it's gonna be on both of us. 

      But Hutch wasn't good at keeping his peace. His jaw tightened and he said softly, "Are you punishing me for not going to bed with Kelly?"

      "No," Starsky insisted, just as quietly. "I just think—I think we're both gettin' confused, and sleeping together isn't clearing up the issue any."

      "So, you're punishing me for going to bed with you. You're punishing me for last night."

      Starsky sighed wearily. "If I was doing that, I'd be punishing us both. That's not it, Hutch, I swear. I meant what I said. It's gonna get harder for us every day. We're gonna start working at the Parrot tomorrow, we're gonna be in the public eye. Worse, the gay public eye. We gotta remember who we are, Hutch, who we really are." Starsky felt tired in body and soul. "Look, I could'a gone to Huggy's or a hotel. I'm still here. But we need the space. We both do."

      Hutch didn't say anything for a moment, then finally said, "Okay. Sure. Fine. But when your head gets clear on this, partner, just make sure you keep me updated on what else I might need. I wouldn't want to make any more mistakes."

      Silently, he turned off the lights and moved to his own bed, leaving Starsky alone in the dark. Listening to the soft sounds Hutch's mattress made as his big body settled against it, Starsky felt as if he'd mortally wounded someone whose only crime had been to have the courage to share his open heart.


      Hutch came awake with a strangled cry, wrestling with the sheets. It was seconds before he was sure of where he was.

      My bed. Not the beach. My bed. My place.

      This time, the beach had been a cold, forbidding place. The sun was obscured, the sky growing ever darker, with ominous rolling clouds and a wind that had whipped the ocean into a threatening mass of crashing waves and frothing whitecaps. Hutch had stood on the sand and watched the water smashing into the beach, eroding it, damaging it. But no matter how close he walked to the shoreline, the water never touched him. It surged all around him, even behind him, but his feet stayed dry.

      Bet a shrink could do a helluva job on that one, he thought, trying to catch his breath. Chilled from a slick sheen of sweat, he was half-erect. It's just adrenaline, he told himself. There was nothing arousing about the dream. Instead, it was lonely, depressing. He touched himself through his pajama bottoms to ease his flesh.

      Then a sound from the living room brought him fully alert and off the bed before he'd even thought about it. He was only five feet from the couch before he halted.

      Starsky cried out again in his sleep, but this time Hutch recognized the sound.

      He's not in pain, he's not in danger, he reminded himself impatiently. He's dreaming, just like you were doing. A bad dream won't kill him. Go back to bed.


      Hutch tried to obey his own order but froze when Starsky murmured a word—My name?—then cried out again, sounding anguished.

      He turned back, trying to make out the shadowy form tossing on the couch. He could see one of Starsky's arms thrown across his face, covering his eyes. His other arm was against the couch, his fist clenched. One knee was raised, tenting the covers. Hutch moved closer, unable to bear his pain, even imagined.

      Let it go, he told himself. It'll only last a minute. Go on back to bed. He doesn't want your comfort. It'll just make everything worse.

      Starsky tossed violently, crying out harshly. The wrenching sound tore at Hutch.

      "Starsky!" he called sharply. "Starsky, wake up! You're dreaming!"

      "Oh, God, Hutch, please . . . !" Starsky gasped softly, still dreaming. In the dim light, Hutch could see him touch his groin. He was erect.

      Dammit! Hutch swore silently. He was incapable of walking away now, but he couldn't endure Starsky's disapproval or worse, his rejection. It had taken him hours to go to sleep, hours where he had lain with his back to the living room and ached. Just for his presence, just for the privilege of having him near me. Hutchinson, you're pathetic!

      Starsky released a moan with no pleasure in it. Hutch couldn't stand by. He leaned over, touched Starsky's shoulder, and shook it gently.

      "Come on, buddy. You're dreaming. Wake up now, let it go."

      Starsky came awake with a shout, jerking upright, his eyes wide and searching. He was panting, nearly panicked. Flailing wildly in the dark, he corralled Hutch's arm.

      "Hutch, that you?" he whispered roughly.

      "Who else?" Hutch asked quietly. He squeezed Starsky's bare shoulder. "Are you awake? Do you know where you are?"

      Starsky looked frantically around the room, but when Hutch tried to pull away to stand up straight, Starsky latched onto his wrist, tugged him down on the couch beside him, and leaned heavily against his side.

      This is downright cruel, Hutch thought. Starsky was still too groggy to know what he was doing. Hutch tried to ease away. "You'll be okay now. Dream's over. Relax for a minute and then go back to sleep." Hutch tried to leave the couch, but Starsky clutched him.

      "Wait, wait! Hutch?"

      "I'm right here," Hutch said. While telling himself he shouldn't, he tentatively slipped an arm around Starsky's back and rubbed his palm gently down his bare spine, hoping to relax him. He was drenched in sweat.

      "Damn, you're soaked. What's goin' on, huh?" Hutch tugged at the tangled covers and managed to wrap a blanket around Starsky's shivering body. Unable to do anything but respond to Starsky's needs, Hutch drew Starsky against him, tucking Starsky's curly head under his chin. Hutch wrapped both arms around Starsky and rubbed his back, wanting only to warm him. Starsky curled up against Hutch, as if this were the only place he could find any warmth.

      "Hutch . . . ?" Starsky gasped shallowly.

      "I'm right here," he assured him quietly, absurdly grateful to be allowed this simple, caring gesture. He's got me trained like Pavlov's dog. One whimper and I'm all over him, checking for bruises, for signs of life. I'm hopeless! "Wanna talk about it?"

      Starsky just pressed harder against him, saying nothing. Hutch could sense Starsky's erection, like a short, thick limb standing angrily against his belly. Hutch struggled to ignore what couldn't be ignored. His own cock nodded and started to swell as if in response to some silent mating call. If he notices, it's bound to piss him off, Hutch thought worriedly, his body tensing.

      Shaking his head, Starsky muttered, "Can't talk about it."

      You can't even bear making love to me in your dreams? he thought bitterly. But all he could do was rub his friend's back to help ease him. "Try to relax. It's just a dream. It's over."

      Starsky was still trembling as he murmured, "It's more than a dream, Hutch. Lots more. Maybe it's wishes I don't wanna let out. Maybe it's what I really want from you." He paused, then wet his mouth. His voice was strained. "I don't like it. I don't like what it says about me, what it says about the way I feel about you. I don't want it to be that way with us."

      "Then it won't be," Hutch assured him, rubbing his cheek against a mass of dark curls. He didn't really understand what Starsky was talking about, but he wanted to say something to alleviate his worries. "Things can be however we want them to be. It's up to us. You just had a dream. It's over now. It won't come true."

      Starsky lifted his head and even in the darkness, Hutch could see the liquid in his eyes, the worried expression. "It's already true. I'm pantin' like a marathon runner, and I'm hard as a pipe. I'm wanting you and you know it. I can't sleep twenty feet away from you without having nightmares, without dreamin' about—" He shut his mouth so fast his teeth clicked.

      "What the hell did you dream?" Hutch demanded, clutching his arms. He had to force himself not to shake the truth out of him. "Do I hurt you? Force you? What are you scared of?"

      "Yeah, it's you," Starsky whispered. "But no, you don't force me. Even in my dreams, you could never hurt me." He swallowed hard and touched Hutch's cheek so tenderly his heart lurched. "You—just love me. As much as I want, any way I want. You give me everything . . . ."

      Hutch could barely speak around the hurt and anger in his throat. "And my loving you, my giving you what you want, even in your dream, scares you so bad you scream in your sleep?"

      Starsky shook his head and grabbed a fistful of Hutch's hair hard. His voice was a growl. "Don't you get it? What scares me is how good you make it for me. You make me so crazy for you I take everything you give me and want more and more. I never give anything back. And that's okay with you. You just keep giving. It's happening already, happening now. Look at me, how crazy I am. But you couldn't stay away. You had to come to me, had to give—"

      "Don't," Hutch begged, wrapping his arms tight against him. "Starsky, please. It's just a dream. Don't read so much into it. What did you want me to do, leave you screaming in the night until the neighbors call a cop?" Unable to stop himself, he stroked his dense curls, guiltily relishing the body contact. "You would've never had the damned dream if you'd've come to bed. Or, if you had, I could've rubbed your back and eased you out of it. You're not used to sleeping alone, and we've got so much going on—"

      "You know what'll happen if I get back in that bed with you," Starsky whispered.

      Hutch bit his lip to keep from pleading, groveling. He was completely erect himself, so hard he hurt. They clung together as if they were trapped on a raft, fighting for their lives.

      "I know," Hutch whispered back, afraid to say more.

      "If we get in that bed," Starsky said, as if he were compelled to lay it out, to make sure there were no misunderstandings, "it'll be just like last night. You'll make love to me. And I'll let you. I'll take whatever you wanna give me, and I won't give nothin' back. Just like in the dream."

      Hutch closed his eyes. "That's not true. What you gave me last night was wonderful."

      "That was all I could handle. How can you settle for so little? How can that be enough?"

      "You satisfied me, Starsk. Why shouldn't that be enough?"

      Starsky shook his head. "You don't know me this way, Hutch. I can be selfish in bed. I'm not in love with you in the dream! Just like I'm not in love with you here. You're my partner, my friend, and I love you, but I'm not in love. But it doesn't stop me from taking everything you give me. And that's not right. Not when you feel the way you do about me. You deserve better. Especially from your best friend. From someone who says he loves you.

      "I know you're not in love with me," Hutch said quietly. "But you do love me. For now, that's enough." He'd hit his limit. He was trembling with need, his cock screaming for him to do something to bring it relief. He slid his hand over Starsky's thigh and ran his fingertips over his straining organ. Starsky gasped as if he'd never been touched in his life.

      "Come to bed," Hutch ordered, tired of arguing.

      Starsky didn't speak, yet couldn't seem to pull away. Hutch extracted himself from his grasp, but managed to keep up the gentle fingertip massage as he stood. He could feel the wonderful heat and hardness of Starsky's maleness bob and jump under his deliberately seductive touch. His mouth watered. He slipped his other hand under Starsky's arm and tugged.

      "Come on. Come on now. It's late. Starsk?"

      Starsky rose and flowed into Hutch's arms in one sudden move, pressing himself so hard against Hutch, he nearly knocked him off balance. Hutch held him tight, leading him back to bed, and Starsky moved with him clumsily, like a sleepwalker.

      "Easy, babe," Hutch soothed. "Easy now." His heart was pounding so loud he could barely hear. He was wildly excited, his brain racing so far ahead he couldn't keep up with his frantic thoughts. He wanted to weep, wanted to shout with joy. Starsky was coming back to his bed.

      And, just as Starsky had predicted, Hutch wanted to give him everything.

      They climbed into the bed together, breathing in sync, sucking wind as if they'd run a mile or made love for hours instead of just starting. Hutch's hands shook as he knelt over Starsky's supine form and reached for him. He grasped his heavy cock boldly through the thin blue pajama bottoms and watched Starsky's eyes roll up, then close blissfully. His moan was pure pleasure, as he arched and thrust under Hutch's hands; Hutch's heart expanded with a dark joy.

      I can please you, Hutch thought, feeling smug. I can please you so much you can't stand it. He stroked slowly, teasingly, feeling a bead of moisture soak through the cloth as the mouth of Starsky's cock shed a tear.

      Starsky was shaking, his hips rocking, his back arching as he thrust into Hutch's grasp.

      You're so hot, Hutch thought, dazedly. So hot for me.

      Starsky cried out, and the sound was just like the one he'd made in his sleep. It made Hutch ache, made him worry. He knew Starsky was still fighting the pleasure Hutch gave him.

      "Don't be afraid, Starsk," Hutch coaxed gently, as he continued his stroke. "It's just me. Just Hutch. We'll be okay. Just enjoy it."

      Starsky opened his eyes, his gaze somber. "I am afraid. You make it so damned good, Hutch. It scares me."

      "Shhh," Hutch murmured. "Stop thinking. Just feel it. I want to make it good. As good as I can. Let it happen. Enjoy it. Just relax."

      Carefully, he untied the drawstring at Starsky's waist, then used both hands to pull the pajama bottoms off him. Starsky helped as much as possible, then cried out in protest when Hutch knelt beside him and took his erection in hand.

      There were so many emotions battering Hutch's brain, his heart, his body, that he felt dizzy. Dizzy and hungry. He ached to kiss Starsky, to press his lips hard against Starsky's wet, parted mouth, to plunge his tongue inside and enjoy the deep, soulful kisses he'd shared with Starsky only once before.

      But instinctively he knew that would not be permitted. Kissing was too intimate. Hutch wet his mouth, wanting it so bad he could barely see straight. In a desperate attempt to sublimate his own need, he bent low and wrapped his mouth around one of Starsky's nipples.

      Starsky's reaction was incendiary. He bucked wildly and grabbed a thick handful of Hutch's hair as he shouted. He babbled Hutch's name over and over, pressing his head harder against the nipple he had become attached to. The texture, the feel of the hardened bud in his mouth made Hutch crazy. He sucked it hard, then gently, then hard again, bit it once sharply, then licked it lightly as if to apologize. Slowly, he rubbed his moustache across the tiny bud, back and forth, just to tantalize.

      Starsky was moaning rhythmically, his whole frame tossing in a frenzy of desire. He whispered Hutch's name then called it out loud, then begged, pleaded for him to stop, only to insist the next minute that he wanted more. He was frantic, senseless. He was loving it.

      Hutch abandoned the nipple abruptly only to lean across his chest and fall on the other one, treating it just as badly. Starsky's hands started moving, one grasping the back of Hutch's neck, the other digging its nails into his spine.

      He moved his mouth lower, tonguing the soft, dark hair that swirled in patterns over Starsky's chest and belly. He pulled the hair with his teeth, wrote his name with his tongue-tip over Starsky's ribs. All the time, Starsky moaned, gasped, and cursed his pleasure.

      Fine, thought Hutch with a vengeful glee, don't kiss me. Don't touch your mouth to mine. I can think of plenty of things to do to keep my mouth busy while you're not kissing me.

      He found Starsky's navel and plumbed its depths, nipping around it the way Starsky had nipped his a few nights ago, though hair kept getting caught in Hutch's teeth. He placed small hickeys over Starsky's hips and lapped his way over the crease of his legs. Starsky's moaning sounded like keening now.

      Starsky's unique musky maleness filled his senses, exciting him even more. His scent triggered memories, expectations, and desire like nothing else could. It triggered hunger, a bone-deep starvation that Hutch feared could never be satisfied. He couldn't wait anymore, couldn't hold back his raging need. Without thinking or planning, Hutch grabbed hold of Starsky's furious erection and fed it to his hungry mouth.

      "NO!" Starsky shouted, as if Hutch had finally pushed him too far, but Hutch didn't care. He was bigger, stronger, in a more advantageous position; and used it for his own benefit—and Starsky's. Swallowing Starsky's cock deeper, he sucked hard, running his tongue over every inch.

      "No, Hutch, no!" Starsky protested, but his complaint was weaker, less sincere. "Don't do this, babe, no, oh God, not this, don't . . . ." His head tossed frantically on the pillow, his body rocking, hips thrusting hard, seeking Hutch's heat and wetness. His cock made a liar of him, and Hutch was glad when it did.

      Go on, Hutch thought, deny me your kiss. But that's all you'll deny me. It's all you can stand to deny me.

      Hutch devoured him, taking him deeper. He couldn't believe how hot it was making him, how wonderfully sexual it felt to do this to Starsky. He knew Starsky was loving it, too. Knew he could barely handle it. Hutch knew, too, that he could make this last a long, long time.

      Oh, God, I love you. I could do this to you for days, please you like this. You're so delicious, so sweet against my tongue. I'll love you so good, so hard, I'll make you mine. And that's exactly what you're afraid of, isn't it?

      Hutch settled in for the long haul, making himself comfortable. He lay down on his side, his spine facing Starsky's head, his left arm supporting his weight over Starsky's groin, his right hand still holding Starsky's beautiful hard-on, squeezing and releasing it in an arrhythmic pattern that Starsky couldn't predict. He could control Starsky's pleasure this way and that pleased Hutch even as it shook Starsky to his core.

      After awhile, Hutch lay across Starsky's hips so he could bring his other hand into play. Using the same maddening fingertip massage that had lured Starsky to his bed, he stroked his strong thighs, lean flanks, and the sides of his beautiful ass. Hutch's left hand crept between Starsky's powerful, spread legs, tracing delightful patterns on the inner flesh that made Starsky's taut muscles jump and flex. Starsky's soft moans were like a pleasure song that made Hutch's blood rage, made his own cock bob and pulse. He wouldn't think about the future, wouldn't think about the turmoil this would cause Starsky. He couldn't. It was his turn to be selfish in bed, and all his pleasure lay in giving everything to his partner.

      When you're in this bed you're mine, Hutch thought, hating his own need. You're mine when you're in my mouth. Even you can't deny that.

      He sucked and licked and pleasured Starsky's burning flesh as if he were competing with every lover Starsky ever had and still found his own technique wanting. He toyed with his sensitized shaft, tormented it wonderfully, and used his moustache to torture Starsky's flaring glans.

      "Hutch!" Starsky gasped, his hands flailing against Hutch's back, his hair. "Babe, please! Let me—let me—oh, God!" He grabbed the waistband of Hutch's pajamas and tugged it down, exposing his ass. Starsky's palm was sweating as it tentatively stroked Hutch's buttock.

      The delightful touch took Hutch by surprise, the pleasure such a shock, he jumped. He nearly bit Starsky in his excitement, but instead only tightened his ass. He shut his eyes, his need so strong it rattled him. No woman had ever accomplished so much by doing so little.

      He was ready to beg Starsky to touch him, to pet him, any small gift he might deign to grant, but instead wrenched his mind away and concentrated on his own performance. Starsky's hand kept wandering over the soft skin of his ass, distracting him. He tightened his mouth around Starsky's flesh and tried to ignore his body's reactions to the gentle stroking.

      "So nice, Hutch," Starsky murmured. "So good for me."

      The praise was so welcomed, Hutch moaned and took more of Starsky inside him. The pressure against his lips, his tongue, his palate was wonderful and strong. Starsky's maleness was so hot, so demanding, that Hutch could only adore it with his mouth.

      Starsky's fingers crept daringly over the cleft of Hutch's ass, making his body quiver, turning his bones to liquid. Hutch closed his eyes, afraid to let Starsky know how much that delighted him, afraid to let him realize how far Hutch might be willing to let him go. Starsky's fingers crept lower, their touch more deliberate, more tantalizing, more possessive. Hutch was in thrall, making soft sounds around Starsky's cock. The vibrations of his moans must've added to Starsky's pleasure, because he pumped harder into Hutch's willing mouth, demanding more. He knew Hutch would give it to him, too, and he did. Soon, Starsky's broad cockhead pressed against the back of his throat and, without thinking, Hutch swallowed hard, deep throating Starsky so suddenly, he cried out in stunned surprise.

      Mine, Hutch thought triumphantly as Starsky's cock filled him, you're mine now.

      Starsky sang his delight even as his traveling hand slid under Hutch's ass and between his legs to torment his balls. Starsky's long fingers tickled Hutch's sac as if discovering something knew and unexpected. Hutch's balls drew up tight, the stimulation wrecking his concentration, destroying his resolve. He heard himself whimper under that touch.

      Starsky purred in answer, and Hutch's heart trip-hammered crazily. His hand stroked Hutch's sac, teasing it provocatively, wickedly.

      You can handle that, can you? Well, I don't know if I can. Your touch is so good! Hutch moaned low, passionately. Your hand. Oh, God, Starsk, your beautiful hand!

      As if Starsky could hear his thoughts, his fingers traveled higher, his arm sliding further between Hutch's thighs until Starsky's palm enveloped Hutch's pulsing cock.

      He cried out in shock as Starsky took possession of him. As if anticipating that, Starsky gripped a handful of his hair and forced Hutch's head lower onto him, whispering a desperate, "Please!" as he did.

      Hutch struggled for air as his own excitement soared. Starsky filled him roughly, fucking his mouth, taking what he craved, even as his skillful fingers pumped Hutch's burning cock. Hutch's legs tightened convulsively around Starsky's forearm, letting him know just what effect he was having.

      As he found himself suddenly controlled by the man he'd been managing just a few seconds ago, Hutch cried out around the swelling maleness rudely taking him.

      "Come on, Hutch," Starsky ordered, his voice low, harsh. "Come on, do it. Isn't this what you wanted, to make me crazy, to make me totally nuts for you? Congratulations, partner. You got what you wanted." His hand tightened in Hutch's hair as Starsky's body trembled.

      You're losing it because it's so good for you, Hutch realized, awed by the hunger he'd released, yet gratified, too. If I've got to send you off to a woman's bed, I'm going to give you something to remember me by.

      Starsky thrust harder, deeper between Hutch's lips. Starsky's breath roared harshly as he kept the same pace with his hand. The tightness of his grip and the length and speed of his perfect stroke enflamed Hutch's every nerve. Starsky was touching him, touching him. Willingly giving him pleasure. His brain was on fire, his every cell reaching, yearning for Starsky's erotic caress. A thick bubble of pre-sem surged through his cock, and Starsky's thumb captured it, using it to make his stroke slippery.

      Hutch shuddered violently. He would've begged or cried out if his mouth wasn't full of Starsky's raging cock. He felt the glans swell as it slid down his throat, then his mouth tasted the salty flavor of man as Starsky dripped pre-sem himself. It wasn't as strong as semen or as bitter, and in the flush of Hutch's desire it tasted all Starsky. It tasted wonderful.

      "Oh, God, Hutch, stop!" Starsky suddenly ordered, his voice a staccato bark. He stiffened, his legs going rigid, the hand in Hutch's hair clenching spasmodically, then roughly trying to pull Hutch's head back. "Don't, Hutch, don't! Dammit, I'm gonna come!" He pulled his hips back, trying to slide away from Hutch's mouth.

      No, you don't! Hutch thought. Don't tease me with your taste, then pull away the feast.

      "Hutch, quit!" Starsky demanded, his hand spasmodically tightening around Hutch's glans, making him see stars.

      Even the pain excited him, as he took Starsky's cock all the way, sucking, licking frantically. His hand enveloped Starsky's tight, shrunken balls and rolled them deliberately. It was apparently too much for Starsky to take. With a roar, he shoved deep into Hutch's mouth, as the hand pulling Hutch's hair suddenly reversed and shoved down. Hutch moaned as warm, viscous, bitter fluid flooded his mouth and throat. He swallowed gratefully, trying to breath, trying to give pleasure without choking.

      Starsky pumped jets of thick semen, filling Hutch, forcing him to swallow, until Starsky's body went lax, shuddering with aftershocks. Finally, his cock began to shrink, and Hutch released it with a gasp of his own, as his stiff jaw protested its abuse. His lips were numb, the tender tissue on the inside of his mouth swollen. He felt thoroughly ravaged, and loved the feeling, memorizing it, relishing it.

      Okay. Now, you can go to her, he thought smugly. He rested his head against Starsky's belly, sucking air to make up for all he'd lacked.

      Slowly, breathing roughly himself, Starsky sat up, gently easing Hutch's head onto his thigh. He was still holding onto Hutch's erection, now painful in its need. Hutch couldn't make himself care, though. He could still taste Starsky, and the profound emotional reaction he was having to that threatened to shatter him.

      "Hutch, why'd you do that, huh?" Starsky asked tiredly.

      He could only smile, feeling proud, feeling strong. Strong enough to give you everything. He rolled onto his back so he could see Starsky's expression in the dim street light.

      Starsky looked bewildered, a little besotted, and totally sated. I did that for you, put that look on your face. You loved what I did to you.

      Starsky released Hutch's cock and used his hand to guide Hutch onto his back. His cock stood proudly, nudging his belly with his unsatisfied need. Still, Hutch really didn't care. He'd gotten Starsky off in spite of his reluctance. He'd made him scream in pleasure. He'd drunk Starsky's seed. Whether you like it or not, we're lovers. Even if that word scares you. I made love to you, made you want what I gave. It was good for you. I don't even have to ask.

      "Real pleased with yourself, huh?" Starsky asked. There was no anger in his question.

      Hutch didn't answer, he didn't need to—Starsky could read his expression as easily he could read Starsky's. "You're never sleeping on that couch again," Hutch said. "Don't even think about it." It was an order, given plainly. Once in bed, Starsky could direct his every move, but Hutch would make this one demand.

      "No," Starsky agreed, "I guess I'm not." His fingers traced Hutch's swollen lips, and Hutch's tongue slipped out, licked the tips. "You were makin' me crazy, Hutch. I never felt that way before, never acted so wild—" He stopped, then moved his hand over Hutch's mouth. "Lick my palm," he said. It was a command.

      Hutch didn't have to be asked twice. He lapped Starsky's long-fingered hand delicately, tracing patterns on it. It was the hand Starsky had been stroking him with. He could taste himself on it, combined with Starsky's own sweat. It was nice.

      "Make it wet," Starsky said, "really wet."

      Hutch obeyed happily. Then Starsky's hand moved away, shocking him by taking hold of his hard-on. He groaned in surprised delight.

      "You were just gonna lay there and will it away, weren't you?" Starsky said wonderingly, stroking his cock slowly, smoothly. "You wouldn't even ask me for this little bit of pleasure for yourself. Why?"

      Hutch shook his head, not even sure. What he'd just been granted had seemed so much, he couldn't bring himself to ask for more.

      "You let me come in your mouth," Starsky said in amazement. "Then you swallowed it all. How could you? How could you let me?"

      "I liked it," Hutch confessed in a whisper, worried about Starsky's reaction. "It wasn't the first time with you! And I loved pleasing you. Your taste is so strong, so much you—"

      "Hutch!" Starsky said, his brow furrowed, his voice worried.

      "It's okay," Hutch said, his voice merely a sigh. Starsky's stroke was debilitating him, destroying him. He could barely breathe, barely think. "I'd never ask you to—"

      "No, of course you wouldn't. You wouldn't even tell me you hadn't gotten off. Damn you, Hutch. Let me give what I can, will ya?"

      "Okay," Hutch agreed weakly, his hips pumping slowly, rhythmically into the intoxicating touch. "That's good, Starsk." He moaned softly, loving the sexy stroking.

      "I'm glad," Starsky said, placing his other hand over Hutch's mouth. "Come on, lick it. Make it wet."

      Hutch complied slowly, unable to concentrate as much. This hand joined the first, concentrating on his glans, Starsky's wet palm rubbing him into a frenzy as the first hand stroked with agonizing slowness. With both hands working him, Hutch humped harder into the maddening touch. Starsky's hands were loving, and so incredibly erotic. Hutch cried out, his buttocks tightening, his hips arching.

      "Is it good?" Starsky whispered, leaning over him, watching the play of emotion and sensation travel across his face.

      Still resting on Starsky's strong thigh, Hutch's head tossed helplessly. "You're so good to me. I love—" He bit the words off sharply, clamping his teeth on his lower lip.

      Starsky looked sad. "Say what you want, babe. Say what pleases you. There's little enough I can do for you. Don't be afraid to be honest."

      His balls tightened suddenly, and Hutch knew it would happen soon, could feel the surge gathering in his groin like a storm.

      "Oh, God, Starsk!" Hutch called out helplessly. "I love you! I can't help it! I love you!" He erupted like a geyser, feeling like his body, his brain, was flooded with such intense sensation that it might kill him. He pumped hard as Starsky tightened his hand, stroked him powerfully, granting his every wish, even the ones he didn't know he'd made.

      "That's right, baby blue," Starsky crooned, "give me all that sweet stuff." He sounded relieved, breathless. He sounded pleased.

      The delightful spasms slowed, eased, leaving Hutch trembling. He met Starsky's gaze and realized that it finally seemed peaceful.

      He reached up, brushed his knuckles against Starsky's cheek. "Thank you," he whispered.

      "For what?" Starsky asked, sounding baffled.

      "For letting me—"

      Starsky placed his fingers against Hutch's lips. "Don't. Don't thank me for letting you love me. It's a privilege having you love me. A gift I don't deserve. I should be thanking you. Hutch—your passion, it's—it's beautiful, y'know? You make me crazy. I just wish I could . . . ."

      Fall in love with me. It was Hutch's turn to press his hand against Starsky's mouth. "What we've got is enough. I'm happy. You know—'whatever gets you through the night . . . .'"

      Starsky nodded, but he seemed sad again. Taking a corner of the sheet, he wiped the spatters of semen off Hutch's belly. "You might be right about the Indians. 'Bout the way they handled dreams. I'm not gonna dream tonight. I'm too wiped."

      Hutch nodded, feeling totally destroyed.

      "Come on, babe," Starsky whispered, coaxing Hutch back up to the pillows. He complied, if slowly. Starsky took charge, rearranging the bed clothes, settling Hutch under them before moving behind him, curving himself around his spine. He held Hutch's back against his front and enfolded him in his arms. "Time to sleep. Time to rest. Man, I'm totaled."

      Hutch smiled. I did that to you. And you loved it.

      Starsky hugged him companionably, pressing his bristly cheek against Hutch's shoulder. As his eyes drifted shut, he heard Starsky murmuring in sing-song as he snuggled against Hutch's body, "Whatever gets you through the night, well, it's all right, yeah, it's all right . . . ."

      Josh Cantrall had just snapped his briefcase shut when his phone rang. The single aide who still worked for him had long since left. Cantrall glanced at the clock. Too late to be hearing from the old man. It's nearly midnight. He could let the service get it, but . . . .

      "Welles, Kelly, and Hodson," he said quietly. He could always pretend to be the service if it was a nuisance call.

      "It's me," said the tinny voice on the other end.

      Cantrall strained to hear the soft-spoken voice, glad that he'd answered himself. He waited for information. It was the only reason this one would be calling.

      "She's going to be a bigger problem than Gunther thinks," the voice muttered. "The mayor's office is in an uproar. Everybody there's freaked out now that she took their case. They're already talking compromises. They sure don't want to go to court with her after last time."

      Cantrall's jaw clenched. He couldn't convince the old man Callahan was their biggest obstacle, but Cantrall wasn't from the same generation. He'd gone to law school with women just like her. He knew how formidable a committed female could be in court. All Gunther could see was a little lady, a secretary, or an aide. Just another female waiting to find the right, well-placed husband so she could stay home and breed. He was wrong. This new generation of women had other agendas.

      "And now," the voice continued, nearly whining, "she's dating them."

      "What?" Cantrall said distractedly.

      "I said," the man complained, "she's dating them. One of them was with her tonight. The blond. I saw him."

      "Well, they're her clients. That doesn't mean anything . . . ."

      "Yeah, it does," the voice insisted. "I watched them. He was treating her like a date. A hetero date. I can tell the difference."

      Cantrall digested that. It was worrisome. If she had an emotional attachment added to her already driven social conscience . . . .

      Suddenly the voice on the other end of the phone erupted in anger. "You said they were gay! You were positive! That's the only reason I agreed to—"

      "You were paid," Cantrall interrupted, his voice modulated, calm. "You were paid well. Don't tell me you only did it for the principle. You held out your hand. I filled it. I can again." He waited. The protest was bitten off at the source. "Besides, I think you're jumping to conclusions. Just because they went out together, doesn't mean anything. Those two cops have been lovers for years. Since they were in the Academy together." Gunther had too much evidence on that. It had to be true. That had been the whole rationale behind their attack. Two deeply closeted gay cops hiding their long-term affair behind sham relationships. Two cops so macho, no one would ever dare accuse them.

      Cantrall considered what it might mean if Gunther had been wrong. If they'd been straight all along. Was it possible? How could it be? How many straight men spent so much time together, sharing clothes, food, a bed? How many straight men touched so often or so casually? Those two had no personal space between them. And why would they stay together after what happened to them? Two straight men would've broken up over that, if for no other reason. No, those two were a couple. You could see it in the damned courtroom!

      But if Gunther was wrong about that, then he might be wrong about . . . .

      "I'm warning you," the voice said, sounding stronger, more secure. "Callahan's gonna whip the city's ass over this. She's gonna get the media on her side, just like she did the last time, and those two are gonna come out smelling like roses. The city might have to pay damages. It'll be like winning the lottery. And they'll still be together, working together as cops. You're gonna lose, Cantrall. You and the old man."

      "You just do your job," Cantrall said, but without his usual confidence. "Keep doing it, and keep calling me. Your information is still important. And don't worry about Callahan."

      I'll worry about her. I'll have to. She's my problem now.

      Without another word, Cantrall hung up the phone.

Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart
Turn around, Bright Eyes
< span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language: EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">            Total Eclipse of the Heart—Bonnie Tyler