Chapter 22

Blame it on the lies that killed us
Blame it on the truth that ran us down
You can blame it all on me . . .
It don't matter to me now
When the breakdown hit at midnight
There was nothing left to say
But I hated him and I hated you when you went away
And after all this time to find we're just like all the rest
Stranded in the park and forced to confess
            Backstreet—Bruce Springsteen

      Starsky entered the stark, white interrogation room without knocking and closed the door. A slight-built Caucasian male in his mid-thirties sat huddled in one of the chairs behind the table. The man was turned away from him, one knee drawn up on the chair, head resting on it. His posture reminded Starsky disturbingly of himself just a few hours ago, when he had curled up in self-defense against the nightmarish images Russo hurled at him. He didn't turn to look at Starsky or acknowledge his presence in any way.

      It should've all felt familiar, but it didn't. How many times had he stepped into these interrogation rooms to question a witness, harass a suspect, or work an informant? He must've spent half his life as a cop here, sometimes alone, sometimes with Hutch, doing the good-cop/bad-cop bit, or playing tennis with some guy's mind until he gave up the goods.

      But that was before he'd experienced prejudice, discrimination, and police brutality first hand. He'd never view these rooms the same again. He was a different cop from the one who'd stepped into them so nonchalantly a few weeks ago. He hoped it would make him a better cop. A better person.

      He was tired. They'd left the lockup less than an hour ago, and the amount of energy he'd expended tonight had drained him. But he couldn't put this off. K.R. wouldn't let him, and Hutch agreed that it was something he had to deal with right away. He knew they were right, but he ached with fatigue, and the bruises he'd earned from the rogue cops were making themselves felt. Hutch had to be hurting, too.

      It was hard to believe that this nondescript, mousy little man had been the lynch pin of all this trouble. Playing with the world's most dangerous man, Gunther, and his ambitious lawyer, the guy was lucky to be alive. Starsky stared at him, filled with turmoil. He wasn't ready to accept everything K.R. told him. It was too hard to believe. This was his chance to find out if this guy had buffaloed her.

      He walked around, picking a spot as far from the man in the chair as he could, so that he would be less threatening. Leaning back against the wall, he crossed his legs at the ankles and folded his arms.

      Taking a deep breath, he said, "Aren't you going to say hello, Eddie?"

      Without looking at him, the man in the chair said, "My name's Joey. Joseph Simmons. 5375 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California—"

      "You're not a prisoner of war. You don't need to give name, rank, and serial number."

      "Oh, yeah?" Joey said. "That's what you think. That's exactly what I am. A prisoner of war."

      "Well, according to the information I have, it's a war you volunteered for."

      His slim shoulders started to shake. A tear fell to the floor, then another.

      Starsky had suffered too much heartache lately not to be affected. Gently, he asked, "Eddie . . . what happened to you?"

      He was crying hard now. "You happened to me, David." He rested his forehead on his raised knee and sobbed softly.

      Starsky let him cry, unable to provide any comfort. But inside, he ached.

      "Tell me," Starsky whispered. It had taken all his resolve to get those words out.

      "You remember what it was like when we were kids?" the man who'd been the boy he'd known as Eddie asked. He kept his face turned away, not letting Starsky see him cry.

      Starsky swallowed. "I remember." I remember your mouth. Most times, I was barely aware of the rest of you.

      "It was perfect, when we were kids. You—you were so good to me. So kind, so gentle. And so beautiful. I loved you so much."

      Starsky closed his eyes. He felt again the deep shame he'd suffered when, after they were separated, his mind had replayed the passion he'd felt for that boy. He'd fostered the illusion of feelings to ensure the pleasure his young body craved. Now, it made him cringe.

      "You loved me, too," Joey continued. "At least, that's what I thought. I could see it in your eyes, the way you looked at me when I was loving you. But then . . . after they caught us . . . I waited for you to get in touch with me. Drop me a note. Something. You never did. I waited so long. For just one word."

      Joey took a deep breath to get his emotions under control. "I knew you went to California. After I finished school in Florida, after I grew up, I changed my name. I decided to be someone different. I tried to forget you and how much I loved you. But I was kidding myself. Every time I put my mouth on a man, I was putting it on you. Whenever I found someone like you, with your hair, your eyes, I made his life paradise on earth. And when they walked away from me—and every one of them did—I knew I wouldn't hear from them the same way I never heard from you. That's what happens when you grow up. You figure out your place in the scheme of things. And my place was on my knees, worshipping men who would use me and then forget me. Because you happened to me."

      On some level, Starsky believed he deserved this. But even so, he couldn't help protest. "Eddie . . . we were kids. That's all I was, a kid, hot, horny, dying for someone to touch me."

      "I told myself that a million times," Joey said. "But it didn't helped. My love for you never went away. It was just a hollow ache inside me. After college, I worked for some film studios, but knew I couldn't have any kind of career unless I came here. And, God, I didn't want to. You were here. I was terrified of what might happen if we were in the same city. But then, the studio I worked for wanted to promote me—and transfer me out here. I almost didn't accept . . . but later . . . I decided to take the chance.

      "Just being in the same city as you, breathing the same air—I felt more alive than I had in years. After I'd been here for a while, I started checking around, trying to find you. When I couldn't, I figured that was a good thing. And then you were shot."

      Starsky blinked. That's how you found me?

      "I got hysterical when I saw the pictures in the paper, with your name, and the low possibility of your survival. I asked around the bars and found someone who worked as an orderly in that hospital. For a few bucks and a regular blow job, he was happy to tell me how you were doing, whether you would live or not. He even got me your home address from your records. After you were out of intensive care, he got me your room number, and I'd act like I was visiting someone and walk up and down the halls so I could get a glimpse of you in your room. Every time I went—he was there. Your big blond. I saw how you looked at him—how you looked at each other. And I knew you loved someone else. Then you moved in with him. Hutchinson, your partner."

      Joey grew calm as he told his story. Wiping his eyes, he took a steadying breath and continued.

      "The orderly told me about Huggy Bear, so I knew you hung out at his place. I became a regular, and as you got better, I'd see you there. Always with Hutchinson. He'd touch you so often, making sure everyone knew who you belonged to."

      Starsky racked his brain, trying to recall seeing him at the Pits and he couldn't. Just another patron, Joey had been invisible, blending into a sea of other invisible faces.

      "I started to hate you with as much passion as I once loved you," Joey said softly. "If you had been straight, I think I could've handled that better. But knowing you were living as a straight cop while being with him every night made me crazy. Eventually, all I wanted was to hurt you in the worst way."

      "Through Hutch," Starsky said quietly.

      "The gay grapevine said that someone would pay good money to prove you two were gay. Most of us thought it was some kind of celebrity revelation thing, since you'd been in the paper so much. But I had proof. So I followed the rumor and met Josh Cantrall."

      Joey laughed mirthlessly. "You would've thought I'd have learned something after all this time. He was so nice at first. Paid me well. We danced around each other, but soon discovered our agenda dovetailed perfectly. I thought it was wonderful irony—ruining both of you by proving you were gay."

      Starsky's jaw clenched. "Was killing Hutch always part of the deal?"

      Joey looked up. His eyes were swollen from crying. It had been years since Starsky had seen him, but he was able to recognize the boy who had introduced him to the wonders of sex so long ago. "No. I swear. I had no idea. It was just the exposure. Proving you were gay. I had the perfect job in the film lab I worked for. Cantrall set up a dummy corporation with fake employees—he used names of people who'd worked for some of Gunther's corporations as a mask. It was this corporation that contracted to rent part of the lab where I worked. My name was never involved. Cantrall bankrolled the whole thing. He got the cameras from one of Gunther's defense contractors. I handled the technical end, making the film, editing, and distributing it."

      "Did you enjoy watching it?" Starsky asked coldly.

      Joey started to cry again. "It broke my heart. You were so beautiful. And . . . the scars on your chest so frightening. But . . . the way you loved each other. No one's ever shown me a fraction of that kind of caring in my whole life—not since I lost you."

      "How did Callahan feature into all this?" Starsky asked.

      "Accidentally," Joey said. "A lot of really nice gay guys volunteered with her. Giving her a few hours a week was a good way to meet them. But soon I came to admire what she was doing for the community. I started working for her because I wanted to help. When I got hooked up with Cantrall, he paid me extra for information I could glean from her files, but there wasn't anything there that could really help him. As I got in deeper and deeper, I knew it was a good cover for me." He met Starsky's gaze. "That's all it was supposed to be—the exposure of you as lovers. That's all Cantrall ever told me about. Until I was so involved I couldn't get out."

      "You could've gotten out!" Starsky snapped. "You could've told Callahan. She nearly got killed!"

      Joey ran his hands through his hair, grief-stricken. "I had no idea he would do that! I wasn't involved in that part. He connected with those killers through the cops. They told him who to call and how to do it so he couldn't be caught. And I didn't know about the connection with the police department until—" He sobbed and fell apart, hiding his face in his arms.

      Starsky let him cry for a minute, then asked bluntly, "Until what?"

      "Until Cantrall told me about it. How he'd connected with this guy, Wilson. How the cops hated you both so much they wanted you dead. He said it was perfect. That you were the loose cannon, and all they had to do was kill Hutchinson and then you'd be useless. Maybe even kill yourself. I panicked! I told him that was more than I'd signed on for, that I was out of it. I was so scared, I started packing. I was gonna go back to Florida, just run. So he sent Russo and Wilson over to convince me. And it was Brooklyn all over again, only all grown up, so it was that much worse."

      Starsky's stomach dropped and he closed his eyes. He relived the repulsive moment when he was held helpless by Russo for Wilson's sick pleasure. His anger evaporated.

      "I was trapped. I never knew when they might show up. Those sadistic bastards! They had so much fun with me! And I performed, you better believe it. Whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it, as good as I could do it. They let me know if I didn't dance, I'd end up busted up, dead in some dumpster, just another John Doe. I was living from minute to minute, every one of them filled with terror. Cantrall was loving it. Everyone was having a real good time. Except me. They beat Tomas just to impress me. Show me how much pain you could inflict on someone without killing him."

      "You told them Tomas was gay?"

      "I didn't want to! They told me to be at the Parrot the night they sent him in. I didn't dare not do it. I guess they weren't satisfied with what he told them about you after he left the bar. So they dropped in on me, to find out what I saw. By the time they were done with me, I would've given them my mother. When I told them Tomas was gay, I didn't think it mattered. I didn't know they worked with him. I got a bonus for giving him up. Cantrall always paid me, so I couldn't say I was being cheated."

      Starsky ran a hand over his face. "The night Callahan nearly got shot . . . didn't you have regrets?"

      "Regrets?" He barked a humorless laugh. "The night Hutchinson dated K.R., I freaked out. I was in a panic, terrified I'd been wrong all along, that neither of you were gay, that I'd sold my soul for the worst possible reason. But Cantrall didn't care if you were gay, straight, or virginal. He was on a speeding train with one track, and I was tied onto the engine with him."

      "Were you in the Parrot a lot?" Starsky asked. He had no memory of seeing him there, even now.

      He nodded. "Just to watch you. See you move. Walk around. You were always wearing that damned jacket with the bullet holes. And the more I was there, the more distant you and Hutchinson got. I could tell Whitelaw was interested in him, and that seemed okay with him. I just kept getting more confused. When it hurt too bad, I'd go back to the Pits. Neutral territory. The night K.R. was shot, that's where I was. Saw it on the news. I called her in a panic, just to make sure she was really okay. And she said one of the cops was with her. I figured it was Hutchinson again, that maybe they were really developing something. But it wasn't him—it was you. You were there, alone with her— I didn't know which end was up anymore. Until I went home and got another visit to keep me focused . . . ."

      Starsky shuddered. Russo was furious when his attempt to arrest Starsky had been thwarted. He didn't want to think about how Russo and Wilson might have taken their frustrations out on Eddie.

      It wasn't that different a story, Starsky realized. Malleable guys getting dragged into the wrong things by the sharks around them. But he'd never really understood it before. Why they couldn't get themselves out of it by walking away. By deciding not to cooperate. He remembered being overpowered and delivered to Russo to be abused however he and Wilson wanted. He tried to imagine that happening to him regularly. With no escape. No refuge. No Hutch ready to fight to the death to save him.

      Callahan told him, just before he entered this room, I don't care what preconceptions you have. You let him tell his story. The whole thing. Then you decide how to punish him. Even though Eddie had betrayed her, she would be his defense lawyer.

      "Eddie . . . I mean, Joey . . . this is some serious shit . . . " he said lamely. "There are going to be penalties—"

      "You think I don't know that?" he yelled. "You think I don't know what they are? Years locked up with men like Russo and Wilson, doing whatever they want with me whenever they want? You probably think that's appropriate, huh?"

      The reality slapped Starsky hard. Joey wouldn't last a week in prison. He'd be passed around like a pack of smokes. That's not my fault, he told himself. Is it? He didn't know.

      Callahan had said: You owe him something, David. Only you can figure out what that is. Hutch had argued with her, insisting that Starsky was just as scarred by what had happened to them, but Starsky had stopped him. He knew that wasn't true. He'd had a good life. A worthwhile career. Fulfilling relationships with women. And he'd had Hutch. Even before they were lovers, he'd had the best friendship, the best partnership, anyone could've wanted. This man never had anything like that. Thinking of the years of loneliness Joey had endured, clinging to a distorted view of their relationship and an empty longing for him, affected Starsky profoundly. It was too close to what he'd put Hutch through these last weeks.

      "No," Starsky said, "I don't want you to go to prison. I think you've already paid a heavy price for making some bad decisions."

      Joey turned away again, as if unwilling to believe Starsky's sympathy.

      "Listen," Starsky said, "we've got some serious hard evidence on Wilson and Russo." Russo would be in a neck brace for weeks, but he'd live. "If you'd testify to their . . . coercion, it would go really far to ensure strong penalties for them. We've got others willing to testify, some of the cops involved in the plot. You should know, Joey, that when you scratch a bully there's always a coward underneath. Half of them are trying to sell the other half out for a deal. Your testimony is critical, since it links Gunther, Cantrall, Wilson, and Russo together."

      "Cantrall will have me killed." His voice was low with fear.

      "I don't think so. Cantrall kept meticulous records. We're going through them now, but we're pretty sure we'll find hard evidence tying him into the mechanics that tried to hit Callahan. He's going down hard. Wilson and Russo, too. You could be the one to nail that lid on."

      "So I can end up as their cell mate?"

      It was a fair question. "Callahan's asking for immunity for you, since your testimony is so important. You don't have a record, not even a parking ticket. All you wanted to do was reveal what you thought was the truth about me and Hutch. Cantrall never told you the rest until you were in too deep. I think she'll get it. Especially . . . if Hutch and I tell Dobey to agree to it. If she does . . . will you testify?"

      There was a long pause, then Joey asked, "It means a lot—to you?"

      "Putting those guys away—yeah, that means a lot to me." So, I guess no matter how I feel about it, I'm still a cop. Wanting to do the right thing. Put the bad guys away. "They hurt a lot of people. Our friends at the Parrot. Callahan. You. They don't deserve to be free."

      Joey nodded. "Okay. I'll testify."

      He had to be honest. "You'll have to talk about your involvement. You'll have to talk about the things they did to you."

      "I figured that. I'll do it."

      "Hold out for the immunity," Starsky said.

      "Okay," he said listlessly. He looked up at Starsky again. "Can I ask you something?"

      "Sure." I owe you that much.

      "Are you? Gay?"

      Starsky hesitated, collecting his thoughts. The answer wasn't so simple. "I'll tell you the truth, Joey. After . . . after you and I separated, I never did anything with another guy. I wanted to put that behind me. Not because I didn't love what you'd done for me, but because the consequences had terrified me so much. So, after that, I definitely was as un-gay as I could be. Racked up the ladies, developed a rep as a stud. Was proud of that."

      Joey's expression told Starsky he had his complete attention.

      "Me and Hutch, we'd been together as partners, I don't know, seven, eight years, and had known each other for years before that. We were tight. He was the best friend I ever had. I really loved him, but as my friend, not in a romantic or sexual way. Until the night we were drugged. That made us, made me, realize the love we felt didn't have to have boundaries. But when that night was over, I couldn't accept it. All I could do was focus on the consequences. So I tried to pull away, put it behind us, so I could be straight again. But real love is hard to deny. Real, true love.

      "Coming so close to losing Hutch made me understand something I was too young to understand with you. That love is too precious to waste. That it doesn't matter what the consequences are, because love is enough to get you through. So, if you had asked me the night before we were drugged, was I gay? I'd have said no and copped an attitude besides. But you're asking me now. And I'm a different man than I was then. I'm in love with Hutch, and I'm happier about it than I could've ever imagined. I have you to thank for that in an odd way. But in the world we live in, if a man chooses another man, there's only one thing he can be, no matter what he might've been before. So, now the answer is . . . yes. I'm gay. I've got too much respect for the people who wear that label to deny it."

      Joey looked stricken. "Will . . . will they let you be policemen anymore?"

      "We think so. There was so much corruption involved in all this that we've become the shining examples of courage under fire. The press has been amazingly supportive. Looks like we're about to officially become LA's first gay cops. We're hoping Tomas will eventually recover enough to work. So, he'll be the third. Police department's gonna have to make some major attitude adjustments. But me and Hutch are good at adjusting attitudes. I'm lookin' forward to it." He smiled amiably.

      "I'm glad," Joey said, his voice cracking. "I—I really am. I . . . I don't know why I ever wanted anything bad to happen to you. Now that you're here . . . now that I've seen you again, talked to you . . . I could never want that for you."

      Loving someone who can't love you back is painful, Starsky thought. It can make you crazy.

      "Eddie," Starsky said, deliberately using his childhood name, "there's one other thing I wanna say to you. I want to apologize. I abandoned you in Brooklyn. Kid or not, I was wrong to do that, to leave without trying to talk to you, to find out if you were okay. I never even knew what happened to you that day . . . . I'm ashamed that I didn't try to find out. I've lived with that all these years. It changed me. And part of me has been trying to make up for it and failing. It's pretty inadequate after all this time, but . . . I'm sorry."

      Joey's face crumpled and he turned away again, facing the wall to cry like a child.

      Suddenly, Starsky was a child again, too, a confused kid filled with wants and needs he couldn't understand, but who knew when another friend needed something from him he could provide. He went to where Joey sat, and pulled his huddled form out of the chair and enveloped him in his arms, cradling the broken man against his chest. He hugged him tight, saying, "I'm sorry, so, so sorry," over and over again into his hair.



By Michael Garrity

Associated Press

   "I was beginning to think that everyone in our city government had lost their minds, especially when it came to the politically delicate situation surrounding the city's most controversial cops, Dave Starsky and Ken Hutchinson. After these guys—who've been suspended without pay since their involuntary movie debut—subdued and arrested two hired killers attempting a mob-like hit in a public place, I figured this story was dead. Any politician—and our dear mayor never stops being a politician even on his best days—would have to use some common sense and give these boys their badges back.

   "But no. We found out, after discussing the situation with their lawyer, the notorious K.R. Callahan, that the mayor's office only reluctantly met with her to negotiate the situation. Even after the shooting (in which an innocent young woman was gunned down and left to die in the street), the mayor's office never changed its inadequate offer: i.e., to allow these two dedicated cops to return to desk duty only after having been separated as partners.

   "After the unbelievable events of last night (see C.D. Phelps' article, page A1), which exposed a nest of corruption in the police department of staggering proportions, we now have to wonder whether or not the mayor's unrelenting stance reflected his possible involvement in this conspiracy. Over fifty police officers took the law into their own hands and trampled the civil rights of dozens of law-abiding citizens—some of whom just happen to be gay. This situation has practically ensured Callahan a lifetime career in civil suits based on discrimination. The mayor is answering a lot of embarrassing questions this morning. However the voting public might feel personally about homosexual issues, one thing is for sure—LA isn't ready to be the United States' answer to Hitler's Germany. We're not about to see any group of citizens singled out for persecution.

   "The Police Department's motto is 'To Serve and Protect.' Apparently, the only cops who took that oath to heart were Starsky and Hutchinson. The mayor isn't answering phone calls this morning, and there's a possibility he might step down—be still my heart. The deputy mayor is left handling an ugly, embarrassing situation, and the entire country is waiting to see what he will do.

   "It's pretty easy, Mr. Deputy Mayor. GIVE STARSKY AND HUTCHINSON THEIR BADGES BACK! Let these honest cops do the job they're good at. It's obvious to everyone these guys need to work together to be the most effective. Considering how INeffective we've repeatedly shown the police department to be, the city wants its best cops back on the street.

   "But what about the real issue here—or at least as real as some supposedly straight-laced, clean-living politicos have painted it to be? What about their personal lives? Is LA ready for two openly gay cops? It's the same question I'm ashamed to say I've been asking in these pages these last few weeks. But after last night, all I can say is, if we could find more cops like Starsky and Hutchinson, this city wouldn't care if the entire force were gay. Personally, it doesn't matter to me if those guys are making it with pink elephants. They've proved repeatedly they're willing to put their lives on the line to protect each other and the people of this city. Let's not wait until we can only return their badges posthumously. These guys deserve more from this city than that.

   "The Spartans knew the truth of it. An army of lovers cannot be defeated."


      Starsky folded the newspaper quietly as he sat in the front seat of the Torino. Dobey had made sure the media got their hands on film from the lockup camera. Michael Garrity told Callahan the cop in the film was the one who'd shaken him down and cost him his marriage. So Garrity's article didn't surprise Starsky much.

      He looked again at the front page. There was a big blow-up of one of the film frames. Russo stood there, face pressed against the bars, taunting Starsky, who had turned his back on him. The bullet holes in Starsky's jacket were plainly evident. Every article and news report, he knew, would mention them and rehash the Gunther hit. Everyone else in the cell was clustered in the back as far from Russo as they could get. The dancers all looked like frightened, vulnerable girls. The accompanying article—written by C.D. Phelps—detailed the contents of the film. She explained how the cops were so used to ignoring the security camera that routinely filmed prisoner abuse, that they'd completely forgotten it was running when they had unjustly incarcerated the people from the bar. Starsky didn't know about it either. Not every facility had one, and this one was out of his jurisdiction.

      He wondered how Russo felt about being the star of a movie he didn't know he was making. The film was grainy but Russo's bulky body was easy to identify, as was Starsky's leather-clad one. His stance was one of passive resistance, as if he were struggling against responding to the bully threatening him. Everyone else in the cell looked terrified and Starsky had placed himself—without thinking about it—between Russo and them.

      Starsky thought it was interesting how C.D.'s article never mentioned his attack on Russo or what happened after. However, there was a smaller picture of himself leading a passive resistance demonstration. He wondered how much she was enjoying making her editor eat crow. The stories about them after the hit on the bar had been too hot for him not to run them, especially since she had been an eyewitness.

      Starsky thought of that day in the locker room. It felt like ten years ago since they'd taken the last of Gunther's cartel down. Russo had called them "glory hounds," complaining that they were always garnering media attention. That would never change now. They would be forever in the media's eye. He didn't kid himself: That same media would turn on them in a heartbeat if they ever fucked up. From now on, he and Hutch would always be "those gay cops."

      What was it Helen had said to him a million years ago when she had complained about how difficult it was to be the lone female detective in a squad of resentful males? Oh, yeah. They would have to be twice as good to be considered just as competent. Fortunately for them, that wasn't difficult. Starsky planned for them to live long enough to be the first gay cops to retire with honors and a comfortable pension besides.

      He tossed the newspaper gently into the back seat. He didn't want to disturb his Sleeping Beauty. Not yet. Hutch had fallen asleep after Starsky had stopped for the morning paper on the ride home. His exhausted partner had collapsed against him, which is where he rested now, slumped bonelessly, head nestled on Starsky's shoulder, his body held securely by Starsky's right arm. Having arrived at their destination, Starsky couldn't bring himself to wake him. Hutch was sleeping so soundly, and he was so tired. So Starsky contentedly read the paper to get the pulse of the city.

      Hutch had told him about the media feeding frenzy in the courtroom, as he and Callahan presented the facts to the judge. The judge had had no choice but to witness the demonstration himself. Everyone was released with a flustered apology. Sugar milked it for all it was worth. She was thrilled to be featured on the morning talk shows. She didn't even care that her hair was no longer perfect.

      Starsky should have been drop-dead exhausted himself, but he was too wired. His mind was working like a guinea pig on a treadmill. The reclaimed memories were still so new, so raw, so immediate. He felt like he was watching a film overlaid by another film. He mentally compared the footage he'd seen of them making love with the scenes in his restored memory, filling in all the missing parts, all the intense dialog, his confused and impassioned feelings for Hutch. And the love. It was like being hit by a truck. Just as shocking, just as disorienting. He was still reeling.

      The sun was rising on a day so new that no one was stirring. It was quiet in a way LA was rarely quiet. He could hear birds singing and little else. Even the ever-present highway noise was absent; it was too early on a lovely Sunday morning.

      He looked at Hutch and felt that warmth spreading through him again. His Hutch. His.

      Hutch's eyes were tracking beneath his lids. He was dreaming. But it wasn't a good dream. Starsky could tell by the furrowed crease in his brow, by the frown beneath his moustache. It pained him. There had been enough bad dreams. He didn't want Hutch to ever suffer through another one, and certainly not on his account.

      Hutch made a small, pained noise and Starsky thought this might be a good time to wake him so they could go upstairs. But then he'd remember the dream too vividly. Starsky thought about that. Leaning over so his mouth was nearly pressed against Hutch's ear, he said softly, "You're walking on a beach. It's a beautiful beach, pristine, white. The sky is blue, bright and beautiful with big fluffy clouds. And the water's calm . . . ."

      It was warmer on the beach than the last time Hutch had been here. But it was still dark, and that made it feel chilly. He looked up at the sky. It was black, with no moon, the stars twinkling faintly under the LA smog. Then, as he watched, a thin crescent of brilliant light cut through the darkness. He blinked as the crescent grew thicker, brighter, and the sky began to lighten. It wasn't night at all. The sun had been in total eclipse, and the sky had imitated nighttime, but now the day was breaking through again. Soon, his eyes were squinting from the sunlight that grew stronger by the minute. All those nights he'd wandered the beach in darkness—had the sun been there the whole time, hidden by the moon?

      The breeze coming from the water rustled his loose white cotton shirt and pants. His feet were bare as he walked on the warm white sand. It was a perfect day. Except that he was alone.

      The sea was calmer than he could remember it being in a long time. Tiny waves lapped a few feet away, almost entreating him to step into the ocean. But he couldn't face having the ocean retreat from his advance. He wouldn't subject himself to that again.

      Something made him look out on the horizon, and he saw the ocean parting around a lone figure. It was Starsky, rising out of the sea. Hutch ached to look at him, his beautiful body, his natural grace. Starsky was nude, and water streamed from his tangled curls, dripped provocatively from his nipples, ran through the fine mat of brown hair decorating his chest and abdomen. Hutch had never wanted anyone or anything the way he wanted this man. Who could never be his.

      He waited for Starsky to masturbate under the water, sharing his treasure with the ocean, with anyone but him. But the water swirling around Starsky didn't stop at his groin. Instead, it kept receding and Starsky kept rising. Water streamed off the tip of his cock, down his powerful thighs, and his seductively bowed legs until he stood completely exposed, sunlight framing him against the blue water. Hutch was breathless with futile wanting.

      Then Starsky looked up and saw him on the lonely shore. Starsky grinned that wonderful, lopsided grin, the one he reserved only for Hutch, and it lit up his face and Hutch's soul. To Hutch's surprise, Starsky walked forward, out of the ocean. He was bound to the ocean and it would not leave him, lapping gently around his calves, following wherever he went. Hutch was immobilized, unable to come forward or to leave. He lifted his arms, held them out as he had done so many nights only to be left empty-hearted.

      But this time, Starsky walked willingly into his embrace, gathered Hutch in his arms, and held him tight. The warm ocean water splashed around them, joining them in a wet embrace, but Hutch barely noticed. His arms were full of Starsky. It seemed like a miracle. As Starsky lifted his face, his mouth partially open, waiting for a kiss, Hutch moaned and met his lips. The sun burned warm on their skin, blessing them, as the ocean swallowed them up, keeping them forever safe in the sanctity of its deep.

      Hutch blinked as the dream sensation of breathing underwater shocked him awake. He could hear someone whispering something, but then that stopped. The dream images had been so vivid, he glanced about worriedly, expecting to see nothing but water and Starsky.

      Starsky was there, but so was sunlight, air, dashboard, car seat, and the gleaming red hood of the Torino. He felt disoriented.

      "You awake?" a gentle voice asked.

      He turned, looking up at Starsky, and realized he was resting all his weight against him. He sat up and Starsky let him go. "Did I fall asleep?"

      "On the way home." Starsky was smiling, as if having Hutch lay all over him in the car was the most charming thing in the world.

      Hutch's brain wasn't working yet. "How long have we been here? It was dark when I crashed."

      "Over an hour. You were sleeping so soundly I didn't want to wake you. I read the paper."

      Hutch blinked. "Aren't you tired? I feel like I could sleep for a week." He stretched and some of the aches and pains he'd earned made themselves known.

      "I'll probably fall apart in an hour," Starsky said, "but right now I'm wired. Lot on my mind."

      That reminded Hutch of something he'd been too busy to think about after endless rounds of reports and statements. He rubbed his eyes and looked at Starsky. His need to know the answer to a single question was suddenly the only reality in his world. His mouth went dry, but he forced himself to say it anyway. "Tell me . . . what you remember."

      Starsky grinned with an openhearted joy that Hutch hadn't seen for weeks. He felt like his own heart would expand just on the power of that smile. "Like I told you," Starsky said. "I remember everything. Take me too long to tell you here in the car. Come on. Let's go home."

      Starsky opened his door and moved around the front of the Torino to open Hutch's. Starksy had an agile grace he had no right to display after all they'd been through. He took Hutch's elbow and urged him to his feet. It was only then that Hutch realized where they were. He had assumed Starsky had taken them to Venice Place. But now he stood squinting up at Starsky's house, its wooden facade warm in the California sun. Hutch thought he'd never willingly come here again.

      Starsky just kept smiling. "I remember Huggy driving us home, while we clung to each other, singing, and poor Huggy having his hands full just getting us up the stairs. I remember being full of myself, too. Knocking out Russo had been such a rush. I was excited, blood pumping, and wanting something I couldn't define. At least 'til we got upstairs."

      He took Hutch's elbow and led him up his steps to his front door. They entered the still house. It was stuffy in the closed-up building, so Starsky opened windows, letting a cleansing breeze waft through the rooms. It immediately seemed more like the comfortable place it had always been. But Hutch was still wary. Some of it was exhaustion, but some of it was the unreasoning fear that this was all temporary. Whatever Starsky remembered he could just as easily forget after a good night's sleep.

      "I remember looking at you. I think it was while we were hanging around the kitchen after Huggy left." Starsky walked around, examining everything as though it helped him recall the events. "You were staring off into space, and I came over to you. Ended up nearly falling on you. I'd started saying something about that time in Brooklyn—and then I realized what it was I was feeling." He walked up to Hutch and moved in close, chest to chest, placing his arms around Hutch in a loose embrace. "I realized how much I loved you. And then I realized how much I wanted you."

      Hutch stared, knowing his expression was one of worried concern. He had prayed for this, wanted it fiercely, to have Starsky remember what had happened that night. But now that it had happened he was having trouble trusting it.

      "It's okay, Hutch," Starsky said. "I'm not gonna forget again. I'm not ever gonna forget a single good thing that ever happened between us. I love you. I'm in love with you. I have been all along; I was just too scared to let myself know it. But I know it now. And that's never gonna change."

      Hutch felt like he was falling, like nothing around him was real. Some of it was the after-effects of too much adrenaline and sleep deprivation, but some of it was trying to adjust to something he'd wanted but never believed would happen. "Starsk . . . ?"

      "Ssssh," Starsky soothed, rubbing his hands up and down his back. "You're thinking too much, Hutchinson. It's hurting your head. I can tell you're two seconds away from complete panic. Everything's okay now. We can relax. We can be happy. We can be in love."

      Hutch could only shake his head. It was too overwhelming. He didn't know whether to shout in joy, weep in relief, or bolt from this place and never come back. He was too afraid to believe.

      "Okay," Starsky said resolutely. "I guess I'll just have to show you."

      Starsky's arms tightened around Hutch's waist as his left hand slid up Hutch's spine. Starsky buried his fingers in Hutch's hair and grabbed a fistful of it, holding his head prisoner so Starsky's lips could capture Hutch's yearning mouth. Hutch made a small, helpless sound as Starsky's mouth took him. Starsky's kiss was aggressive, strong, taking what he wanted, and what he wanted was Hutch. There wasn't a hint of hesitation as Starsky's tongue demanded entrance.

      Hutch moaned and yielded without a fight. This moment was just as electric as that shocking instant in the jail, when Starsky had kissed him in front of everyone. Starsky's tongue was slippery sweet, and its teasing, taunting presence in his mouth was intoxicating.

      Suddenly, Hutch's entire body came to, responding to what it had been craving for so long. He clutched Starsky hard, his arms tightening possessively, his hands roaming, all his motions frantic with need and near panic. He was groaning through the kiss, which was too fantastic to believe.

      He realized dimly that he was pulling Starsky so hard against him, Starsky was forced to stand on tiptoe, but he didn't complain. He just kept kissing Hutch, as though he could never tire of the taste of his mouth, the feel of his lips.

      Eventually, Starsky pulled away, panting. Hutch nearly cried at the loss, but Starsky released his hair and put his fingertips over his questing mouth. "It's okay, babe. There's lots more where that came from. Much as you're ever gonna want, ever gonna need. Can't believe I could forget something as wonderful as that. Damn, can you kiss."

      Hutch surged forward, craving Starsky's mouth. "Don't pull away," he implored. "I've been wanting this from you for so long."

      "I'm here," Starsky assured him, "but you're taking my breath away. And I've got so much more to give you. Everything I remember."

      Hutch had no idea what Starsky was talking about. All he wanted was to feel their mouths meeting, feel the incredible sensation of the man he loved kissing him. Distantly, he remembered the taste and feel of Peter's kiss, how pleasant it had been, how nice. Comparing that with Starsky's kiss was like comparing the tiny jolt you might get from a penlight battery to a hit of white-hot lightning. He wanted more lightning.

      "Hutch, wait," Starsky said, laughing. "God, I love how you want me! But I've got something for you. Something I'm aching to give you. Just wait, okay?"

      The words made no sense to a man in a fog of desire, even when Starsky slowly eased to his knees. But when Starsky unfastened Hutch's white leather pants and pulled his zipper down reverently, as though he were unveiling a work of art, Hutch finally caught on.

      He's doing the dream—Starsky's dream—only he's switching roles. Hutch's organ pulsed so hard, he thought for a dizzying moment he might actually come. His face must've shown his inner turmoil.

      "It's okay, Hutch," Starsky soothed, as he gently lifted Hutch's erection out of his briefs. "I've done this before. I remember . . . how wonderful you taste, how strong you are in my mouth, how hot it made me to do this to you. I want it so bad. Just watch. Just stand still and watch."

      As if Hutch had any other choice. He stood mesmerized, horrified, tantalized, as Starsky handled him as though it were something he'd always done. Hutch's eyes grew wider as Starsky's tongue slowly ran around the raging red head of his cock. He was so excited, his hard-on leapt in Starsky's hand. It made Starsky smile, so he did it again, moving his tongue wetly over Hutch's crown, teasing his slit, then sucking gently on the tip.

      Hutch moaned helplessly while sensations rocketed up his spine and down his legs. Then Starsky's mouth took him deeper, swallowing the head completely, then half the shaft. His hand gripped Hutch tight, grasping his barrel, stroking where his mouth couldn't reach. Hutch's legs trembled as this erotic vision in dark leather tortured him wonderfully with his mouth and tongue.

      Starsky watched Hutch as he sucked him. His indigo eyes, dark with passion, barely blinked; they just stayed focused on Hutch's face. Those eyes were smiling as Starsky made sex magic on him. He was having a wonderful time driving Hutch to the edge of his endurance.

      Hutch couldn't take it anymore. If he came, he'd be finished. He was too wild, too exhausted to have more than one shot left in him. He growled in protest, then reached down and clamped his hands around Starsky's upper arms and yanked him to his feet. Starsky complained wordlessly, but the expression on Hutch's face forestalled any arguments. Hutch knew Starsky could recognize when Hutch was at his limit.

      "No more playing!" Hutch snapped, and reaching down, lifted Starsky under the knees and around the shoulders, and carried him bodily to Starsky's bedroom.

      The surprise of being carried must've been a turn-on for Starsky, because he snarled, "Goddammit!" and flung his arms around Hutch and pulled him into another searing kiss.

      Hutch deposited him rudely in the middle of his own bed, then climbed on top of him, never letting their lips separate. They rolled around, kissing, fondling each other, both of them frantic.

      Then, Starsky pushed Hutch onto his back, looming over him. "Gotta get this shit off!" He tugged at Hutch's shirt, undoing the buttons with hands that were suddenly clumsy.

      Hutch decided cooperation was the best course, and helped Starsky strip his white vest and shirt. He wondered if Starsky was as eager as he'd been the last time, and wouldn't let him get his boots off. Then Starsky moved down his legs and pulled off one boot, then the other. Hutch pushed the tight leather pants and briefs over his hips as Starsky grabbed the leather hem and yanked them off.

      As Hutch shed the last of his clothes, Starsky stopped and stared. His expression went soft, and he seemed to be straining for words. Hutch held still, unsure of what Starsky was thinking or feeling. Finally, Starsky whispered, "Jeez, Hutch, why'd you have to be so damned beautiful?"

      Hutch swallowed and answered, "So I could make you love me."

      Starsky gasped. Then, as if they'd agreed on it, Hutch sat up and the both of them attacked Starsky's clothes, flinging them off the bed, getting dark shirt and leather pants and bikini briefs and boots off in record time. When they were done, Hutch tackled him, pinning him to the bed.

      "I've ached to feel you against me again," Hutch swore, and aggressively took Starsky's mouth in another ravaging kiss. He moaned and yielded willingly, writhing under Hutch's body, thrusting against him, searching for more sensation. Then Starsky lurched and they rolled over until he was on top. Their mouths never separated for a second.

      Finally, Starsky pulled back, sitting on his knees. He looked over Hutch as if scrutinizing a fine possession. That was okay with him. Starsky had owned him long before that first night.

      Suddenly, Starsky frowned. "Damn, babe, they really worked you over, didn't they?" Lightly, his fingers traced wheals of bruises on Hutch's arms, his ribs, his thighs. Hutch had been feeling them earlier, but now the only sensations he was aware of were pleasurable ones. But Starsky was upset by them.

      Hutch's hand trailed over similar darkening marks on Starsky's body. "They'll fade," he said. "We lived through it. We won!"

      Starsky's eyes gazed at his. "When Russo said you were dead, taunted me with how you'd been killed . . . I knew I couldn't survive without you. I went crazy. Without you . . . there's nothing for me."

      Hutch had seen the film of Starsky's attack on Russo. It had been a frightening transformation from a man who was obviously trying to control his turmoil, to a man possessed by a demon of rage and vengeance. He should've been repelled by Starsky's out-of-control attempt to kill Russo with his bare hands, but he couldn't help it. He thought it was one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen—a visual manifestation of the depths of his grief for someone he loved. Hutch hoped he would be worthy of that kind of love.

      "It's okay," Hutch soothed, pulling him in for another kiss, a gentler one, a reassuring kiss full of promise and a million tomorrows. "I'm here now. I'm never going to leave you."

      "Damn, I'm lovin' this," Starsky muttered, as he pulled away. "Gonna make you love it, too." He stretched across Hutch, reaching for the nightstand drawer.

      Hutch didn't know how much more love he could wring out of his body, but for Starsky's sake, he'd try. Starsky's reach lifted his chest above Hutch's face, so Hutch rubbed against the softly furred pectorals, found a convenient nipple and nursed gently.

      "Oh, yeah," Starsky breathed, opening the drawer and fumbling around.

      Hutch assumed he was looking for the lotion. If Starsky was thinking of giving him a rubdown, Hutch's vote was no. He couldn't afford to relax now, he'd fall asleep. And he had no intentions of going to sleep before he'd had the best orgasm of his life.

      Hutch's teeth toyed with the hardening nipple and Starsky made a hissing sound of pleasure, then crowed, "Got it! Ah, babe, now just hold still a minute—"

      Something cool encircled Hutch's right wrist with a click. His brain was too fogged with lust to really register what Starsky was doing. Hutch released his nipple and tried to see what was going on, but Starsky's upper body blocked his view. Starsky pulled Hutch's arm over his head, then reached for his other one. Starsky's tongue slithered a long, wet line up under that arm, making him sigh and cooperate. As Starsky's tongue traced a teasing circle in Hutch's palm, he hardly noticed when the other wrist felt something cool enclose it.

      When Starsky pulled away this time, it was to move his mouth slowly down over the other upraised arm, then Hutch's jaw, down his neck, and over his chest. His mouth kissed and nipped and licked wherever it landed. Hutch watched him map his body with passion, and twisted in the velveteen bedspread, the pleasure was so intense. That's when he realized his arms weren't free. Dazedly, he looked over his head.

      Starsky had handcuffed him to the bed, running the short chain of cuffs around a slender, sturdy, carved spindle in the headboard. Hutch just stared at it, as if it were the hardest thing to comprehend. Vaguely, he remembered a morning when he'd handcuffed Starsky to the bed just to be cute. Clearly, Starsky remembered it, too.

      "I think this might be a good time for us to talk about some stuff," Starsky said, grinning.

      Hutch looked at him as if he had an IQ of ten. "Talk? My whole body's screaming to come, and you want to talk? Have you gone crazy?"

      "You started it," Starsky protested. "You wanted to know what I remembered. Well, I want to tell you. But I don't want you distracting me. Y'know, Hutch, you get kinda single-minded when you're hot."

      Hutch ground his teeth and rattled the cuffs against the headboard. "You'd better uncuff me in about three seconds, buddy, or you're gonna see 'single-minded' in a major way!"

      Starsky chuckled and gently bit one of Hutch's nipples, sending him into orbit. "Just wanted to make sure I had your attention."

      I'm going to kill him, Hutch promised himself. But not before he made him scream for mercy. "So, tell me already!" Hutch snapped.

      Starsky ran his fingers down the center of Hutch's body from his throat to just above his groin, then back up. Then he did it again. Hutch's whole body pulsed with need, and being restrained only heightened his frustration and anticipation. "Starsk . . . please . . . !"

      "You've been wondering all this time about why I've been so crazy jealous," Starsky said, "even though I wasn't willing to be your lover. I remember why now." His fingers kept tracing patterns of pleasure over Hutch's body, over his abdomen, his pectorals, his hips.

      Hutch's heart was pounding so hard, he wasn't sure he was going to be able to follow what Starsky was trying to tell him.

      "That night we were drugged," Starsky said, pinching Hutch's nipple to focus his attention, "I realized just how much I was in love with you. I wanted you like I'd never wanted anything in my life. All of a sudden, all the answers I'd been looking for my whole life, were all there, wrapped up in you." He leaned over and kissed Hutch but just for a second.

      "In fact," Starsky said, "it all made so much sense to me, I couldn't understand why you couldn't see it, too. You kept resisting, backing off. It just made me crazier. I knew you wanted me, but I knew you were hesitant. So, I got the idea that maybe it was just the heat of the moment for you, just the sex, in spite of what you were saying. That you knew it would be good between us, because we cared for each other so much, but that you weren't serious. Not like me. It panicked me. To find what I'd been searching for . . . and not be able to keep it. Even as I made love to you, I was tortured with fears of what would happen the first time some pretty lady gave you the eye. I couldn't compete with that. That's why I wanted you to fuck me. I thought if I gave you that it might be enough to hold you."

      "That's why you kept asking me, demanding—? Why you got so wild over Peter . . . ?"

      Starsky's eyes bore into him. "I thought I would lose you to women—the thought of having to worry about both women and men was more than I could handle. Only, I didn't consciously realize that, once I forgot everything the next morning. But the insecurity was still there. Even though I was the one constantly driving you away. My insecurities, my need to possess you never left. Still haven't."

      So, handcuffing him wasn't just to hold him in place until Starsky could say what he needed to. It was to make a point. Hutch's heart melted. He would've never believed his over-confident partner would be so afraid of losing him. He relaxed and smiled. "You've got nothing to worry about, Starsk. You're all I'll ever want. All I've ever wanted. So, go on. Possess me. Make me yours. I surrender."

      Starsky made a small sound, then leaned over and took Hutch's mouth. Hutch yielded, offering himself completely. If Starsky needed to put him in leg-irons, bolt the door, keep him chained to the bed, that was okay with him. He'd been chained to Starsky's heart long ago.

      "I need you to be mine, only mine," Starsky whispered against his mouth, his hands roving, learning every inch of him. "No one else's!"

      Hutch writhed under his tantalizing touch and made his promise. "Yours, babe, yours. Anything you want. Forever. Always. Yours."

      Starsky kissed all over Hutch's face, down his cheek, then attacked his ear. He sucked the lobe, then licked all around the shell before suggestively probing deep with his tongue. Restlessly, Starsky's mouth moved lower, down the column of his neck, his collarbone, then over his chest, toying with nipples already hardened with excitement.

      "Starsky, your mouth! Your mouth!" He was incoherent with desire, and felt dizzy at the constant battering of pleasure as Starsky traveled slowly down his form. He rattled the cuffs, aching to touch, feel the dense curls tangle around his fingers. But Starsky needed to own him, so he stopped fighting the cuffs and accepted Starsky's need.

      "Mmmmm," Starsky purred, "my mouth . . . and your big, sweet cock . . . ." And without warning, he grabbed Hutch's organ and went down on him with determination.

      Hutch rocked helplessly, then, remembering the mirror, looked up. He could see Starsky's beautiful spine bowed over him as his head worked up and down. They were a picture of passion with Hutch's arms restrained over his head, his body stretched diagonally across the colorful bedspread, with Starsky feasting on him. He was a willing prisoner to Starsky's passion, and the picture of them like this was burned forever into his mind. It was the most erotic thing he'd ever seen.

      He watched Starsky going down on him with amazement. Except for the sensations exploding within him, he might as well be watching a fantasy, since he could still barely believe it.

      When Starsky's wet finger stroked his anus, he knew that was stark reality. He froze, his eyes widening, and realized Starsky was watching his reactions from the corner of his eye. Starsky's hand shook as he tenderly penetrated him and, for a heartbeat, Hutch thought he might come. He was helpless to stop it, as his gut churned and his balls tightened up hard. But Starsky's other hand clamped down on his shaft, preventing his release, and the orgasm roiled inside him, stalled and angry, building power.

      "I'm yours!" Hutch said helplessly. "Can't stop you. Don't want to. Oh, God, Starsky. Yours!"

      Starsky's finger plunged deep inside him and the erotic sense of being taken, of being helpless in Starsky's hands, made Hutch wild. He thrashed, pulled against the bed, but that must've turned Starsky on because he sucked Hutch harder, his tongue lashing his over-sensitized crown.

      "You do that so good," Hutch moaned. He was trembling as though his body couldn't hold all the pleasure inside it.

      "Mmmm?" Starsky hummed around Hutch's shaft, and the vibration of it traveled right to his balls. Starsky pulled off for a second, and the cold air striking Hutch's burning erection made his organ jump in protest. "You like that? What I'm doing to you? You really like it?"

      Hutch shuddered as the finger kept fucking him, slowly enough to torment, deep enough to delight. "Yes!" he gasped. Can't you tell? You're making me insane, you bastard. "Please, Starsk—" He wasn't sure what he was asking for, but he was ready to beg for it, whatever it was.

      "More? You want more, Hutch?"

      The question aroused him insanely. He writhed on the bed, moaning low, but couldn't make himself speak. It was as if Starsky had stolen his will to resist and his voice to protest or even agree. More? Oh yes, he wanted more!

      "I've got more for you," Starsky promised. He slid in another finger as he tightened his grip on Hutch's erection, forestalling the explosion that he desperately needed.

      Hutch shouted, arching up and Starsky's mouth was there, moving lower on his needy flesh. He teased Hutch's crown with his teeth, his tongue, his lips . . . the same lips that kissed him so powerfully.

      "Suck me, damn you!" Hutch shouted. "Make me come! Ah, jeezus!"

      Starsky chuckled around Hutch's throbbing cock and teased the ridge with his tongue tip. Starsky would be the one to decide when Hutch could come, and Hutch knew it. He was Starsky's, to do with as he pleased. The price of his surrender. God, he loved it!

      Hutch's body bloomed with sweat. He was breathing like a racehorse, heaving for air. I need to come so bad! Had anyone ever possessed him so completely, controlled him so ably? He stared up into the mirror, dismayed at his own appearance. Panting, he was flushed all over, sweat dripping off him in rivulets, long hair fanned out over the pillow. While Starsky, still patiently bowed over him, seemed cool, calm, totally in control. Only his head and arm moved slowly, methodically. Hutch couldn't believe the reaction that slight amount of activity was causing inside him.

      "Mmmm," Starsky murmured, pulling off Hutch's hard-on. "I'm havin' such a good time. How about you, Hutch? Is it good? You likin' this?" Starsky grinned, his eyes heavy-lidded. He ran his tongue over his lips and Hutch could see they were swollen from kissing, from sucking him. He was pure satyr, Hutch realized, endlessly inventive, and confident in Hutch's need for him. "You want more?"

      The question made him throb. When Starsky brushed his bristly cheek against Hutch's raw crown, then toyed with the slit with the tip of his tongue, the truth was ripped from his throat. "Yes! Damn you!" He tried not to think what "more" he was pleading for.

      But Starsky knew. Without taking his eyes from Hutch, Starsky promised, "I've got more for you, Hutch. I've got so much more—" and gently inserted a third finger.

      Hutch thought he might faint. He'd never experienced such a sexual rush, and for a minute, the room swirled around him as he was lost to the power of Starsky's hand.

      "You're so tight, Hutch," Starsky whispered as if in awe. "So incredibly hot inside. And you look so beautiful, lying there. Giving yourself to me. Bet you don't have any idea what you're doin' to me. I'm so hard . . . !" As if he couldn't say anything more, Starsky went down on Hutch again frantically, taking him deep into his mouth, his tongue rubbing so hard against him, he wanted to shriek.

      Put it all in me, Hutch thought, feeling his mind slip into a fog of pleasure. The rest of your hand, your whole fist, I don't care. Reach inside and pull out my soul. It's yours anyway. As if there could ever be anyone else . . . . I need you!

      The need was real, no fantasy. And it was cresting hard inside him. He'd already been pushed far beyond his endurance. But he still needed to have his hunger satisfied. Reluctantly, and with considerable effort, he shifted in the bed, turning on his side, pulling up his knees, drawing away from Starsky's mouth. Starsky seemed dazed, and looked at him confused and a little hurt.

      "Need you!" Hutch sighed. He knew he was beyond speech at this point. All he wanted was one thing. "Starsky, please!"

      Starsky crawled up closer, leaning over him on hands and knees. "What, babe? I'll give you anything you need."

      "Good," Hutch said, smiling, looking down the length of Starsky's trim body to the hardened club of his sex. "Need you. Right now. Starsky, come on . . . ." He yanked at the cuffs, aching to handle him. Instead, he shifted, slid a leg under him, so that Starsky was perched between his spread legs. Lowering himself, Starsky nestled his body full length atop Hutch until their erections nestled erotically beside each other.

      Hutch kissed Starsky quickly, not wanting to get distracted. "Do it again. Take me. I need that from you now. I want to be yours. No one else's. Ever again. Put the flesh to our marriage."

      Starsky still looked confused.

      This is a helluva time for you to get dim on me. "Starsk!" he snapped impatiently. "I've got two good minutes left in me. Fuck me, dammit! Right now!"

      "But—but I thought we'd . . . that maybe you'd, or I'd—"

      Hutch wrapped his legs tight around Starsky's waist. He didn't want to speak, to say another word. If Starsky didn't do this soon, the rocket was going to take off without him.

      "I mean—" Starsky was still stammering, "if you really want . . . . Don't we need something . . . ?"

      "Starsky," Hutch said, gritting his teeth. "You're leaking all over me! Just do it!"

      "You sonovabitch," Starsky growled, suddenly surging to the task, "you make me so fuckin' hot I can't think straight!"

      Starsky reared back on his knees, grabbing Hutch's right leg under the knee and pulling it up to get better access. Hutch felt him fumble with something, then felt his blunt moist probe rub against his anus, wetting him, getting him ready. Starsky positioned himself, the action so intimate it made him shudder.

      Then, without another word of warning, Starsky met Hutch's gaze and pierced him straight to his heart. His voice was ragged as he claimed him. "Mine! All mine . . . ."

      Hutch was totally unaware of pain as a searing, burning pleasure tore into him, blinding him with waves of delight. He blinked, watching them in the mirror as Starsky drove into him again, his strong legs enabling his cock to combat any remaining resistance Hutch's body might've had.

      "Yes!" Hutch cried out. "Yes! Yes! Oh, Starsk!"

      Starsky moaned, losing himself in Hutch's body. He drove into him, gasping, grunting, sounding like a man who was desperate to get somewhere he couldn't quite reach.

      Hutch clawed at the headboard, calling Starsky's name in a mantra of building passion.

      Starsky reared up, pulled Hutch's other leg up, then pushed forward, nearly bending Hutch in half. He was pounding into him mindlessly, racing to his goal. Hutch felt the incredible sensations building, then cresting hard. Amazingly, Starsky's organ grew larger inside him, and that was too much. Shouting in surprise, Hutch came, spraying them both as his cock erupted with the force of a firehose.

      Starsky gave a short sob, rasped Hutch's name and slammed into him one last time, his body tensing. Hutch could feel his organ pumping, filling him. It was wonderful. It was frightening. He wasn't sure he was going to live through it. Starsky clutched him, and collapsed. They were both gulping air.

      Somehow, Starsky managed to find the key to the cuffs and liberated one of Hutch's wrists. Hutch took the key from him, then shed the other cuff and dropped the hardware over the side of the bed. He'd remember that trick and surprise Starsky with it . . . next time they slept at Venice Place . . . .

      Hutch eased his aching arms down and cradled Starsky's shaking body, petting him, kissing his forehead. "I needed that."

      "Not as bad as I did," Starsky insisted. His words were half-muffled by Hutch's chest, which was where his face was buried.

      They lay without moving, trying to get more oxygen to their brains, to slow their hearts from their hyperactive state. Hutch knew they were being glued together by his own semen, but he didn't care.

      "We need to hire someone," Starsky mumbled against his nipple.

      Hutch frowned in confusion. "Huh?"

      "If we're always gonna get this crazy in bed," Starsky explained, "then we need to hire someone to take care of us when it's over. I need to wash up and wash you up, but I don't think I can move."

      Hutch kissed him gently on the head. "I don't want you to move. Not ever."

      "Ummmm," Starsky grunted. "Think we wrecked the bedspread?" Without moving, he tugged at the patchwork velveteen cover, grabbing enough of it to surround them in a soft, comforting cocoon.

      Hutch smiled, holding Starsky against him. He stared at the mirror. Starsky's dark body blanketed him, his thick curls cuddled just below Hutch's chin. His bullet scars seemed faint and Hutch stroked them with his fingertips, then pulled the bedspread tighter when Starsky shivered. "We look like a giant papoose with two heads," Hutch said.

      "Papoose?" Starsky mumbled, seconds away from sleep. "Loose as a goose . . . or a papoose . . . . Why'd'ja do that, huh, Hutch? Make me fuck you? Wanted you to come in my mouth. Then, I figured we could fuck for a long time . . . ."

      Hutch laughed and kissed the top of his head. "Glad you've got such a high opinion of my ability to perform. Maybe after about twelve hours sleep we'll try it again."

      "And again," Starsky agreed, "and again . . . . You know, Hutch, you might not want to hear this, but I plan to cut you off alcohol completely. No beer. No nothin' . . . ."

      Starsky's words were slurring more, so Hutch wasn't taking them too seriously. He was watching patterns of sunlight cut through the room, brightening the colorful bedspread and making rainbows as it reflected off the mirror. "No beer? That's cruel and unusual—"

      "Nope," Starsky insisted, snuggling closer. "You can't get it up when you've had too much to drink, Hutch. Can't risk nothin' like that . . . ."

      Hutch smiled as Starsky's body went boneless as he slipped into sleep. His organ softened and left Hutch's body. Hutch rolled them, in their plush cocoon, onto their sides, but Starsky never noticed. As the sun warmed the room, and the traffic noises and sounds of a sleepy LA rising became more noticeable, Hutch let sleep take him. They had a lot of time to make up for. He'd need his rest.

And I can't wait till the morning has come
And I know now the time is just right
And straight into my arms you will run
When you come my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone
There and then all my dreams
      will come true dear
there and then, I'll make you my own
      Moondance—Van Morrison