Chapter 24

Every now and then I know
You'll never be the boy
You always wanted to be
Every now and then I know
You'll always be the only boy
Who wanted me the way that I am
And I need you now tonight . . .
      Total Eclipse of the Heart—Bonnie Tyler

      "Incredible," Starsky whispered, staring at himself in the mirror. He looked all fucked out, but that hadn't happened yet. Was Hutch trying to kill him?

      Hutch left the bed, but there was nothing he could do about it. He didn't have the togetherness to ask where Hutch was going or what he was doing. An incredible lethargy crept over him, and his body drifted into sleep. He welcomed the rest and let his eyes shut.

      Then Hutch was back, sitting behind him, lifting his head and shoulders, jostling him. He blinked and turned to him drowsily.

      "Feel good?" Hutch said, smiling.

      Starsky couldn't even answer such a ridiculous question. Good didn't begin to touch the way he felt. He struggled to nod. Hutch raised Starsky's shoulders and supported him with his body as he put a glass to his lips.

      "You need fluids, boy," he said cheerily. "Drink this."

      He was afraid it was some health elixir, but if it was it was cleverly disguised as orange juice. It tasted great—sweet and tart and cold. He hadn't even realized how thirsty he was. Good thing Hutch did. But then if Hutch was going to try to kill him in bed it was his responsibility to make up for it. He drained the glass.

      Starsky became aware of Hutch's heated erection pressing against his side. At the moment, he couldn't think of a single thing he could do about it. He felt bad for Hutch but his current condition was Hutch's fault, so he had no one to blame for this dishrag of a lover except himself—

      A light began to dawn. He tested his theory.

      "Can I sleep for a minute?" he asked.

      "Nope," Hutch said cheerily. "But you can rest. I want you to recover."

      A coil of apprehension twisted inside him, but it was the merest reaction. Which, no doubt, is just what Hutch wanted. "Gonna fuck me now?" Starsky asked.

      Hutch smiled. "Not right now."

      "But soon."


      Starsky smiled back, shaking his head. "No way I can stop you. Not in this condition."

      Hutch grinned. "Want to taste yourself in my mouth?"

      Starsky was amazed to feel a quiver of excitement flutter in his gut. Hutch had taunted him with that the night Starsky had fucked him by force. The suggestion had aroused him insanely then, but he couldn't deal with kissing a man yet. Now, he had no such compunction. "Come'ere," he ordered, holding out his arms.

      Hutch eased him back onto the bed, then slid down beside him. His kiss was soft, inviting, letting Starsky take the lead, if tiredly.

      The flavor was sharp and vaguely familiar with a hint of musk. He recognized his essence in Hutch's mouth, changing its flavor, as if both of them were living in there now. He moaned and tasted every bit of Hutch's mouth, their tongues wrestling, petting one another. It was a long, loving kiss, and by the end of it his cock started to twitch as if there was still a little life left in it.

      "Mmmm," Starsky said, approvingly. "I taste good."

      Hutch laughed. "Glad you think so."

      With a sigh, Starsky turned over onto his stomach, cradling his head on Hutch's chest. Hutch was propped up on some pillows, which, Starsky realized, gave Hutch an excellent view of his ass. Use your advantages, Starsky thought with a smile.

      He ran his cheek over the broad expanse of Hutch's smooth chest, loving the differences between them. Hutch sighed and from the corner of his eye, Starsky saw his cock bob in response.

      "Your skin's so soft," Starsky said quietly. "Love that." He nuzzled Hutch's chest, marveling at the amazing differences between Hutch's body and a woman's and enjoying that as well. He found a small brown nipple and ran his tongue over it, then delighted in how quickly it hardened. He sucked it into his mouth, nipped it lightly and heard Hutch make a sound of pleasure.

      One of Hutch's big hands slid down his spine, petting him, then gently stroked the curve of his ass. Yours if you want it, Starsky thought, knowing Hutch was remembering the offer. His touch was reverent, gentle, almost worshipful. And you want it in the worst way, don't'cha?

      Starsky shifted so he could lean over and toy with the other nipple, already hard and waiting for him. Hutch's other hand cradled his head, showing his appreciation for the teasing touch of his mouth. This was nice. He was enjoying himself. Appetizers, he thought, amused. He started kissing his way down Hutch's sternum, his intention obvious.

      Hutch grabbed his shoulder to stop him and tensed all over. "Starsky, don't."

      He looked up, surprised and disappointed.

      "I'll go off like a rocket if you do," Hutch said apologetically. "I'm right on the edge."

      "So, what were you planning? Maybe fuckin' me quick and getting it over with?"

      "Thought it might be easier on you that way," Hutch admitted. "I mean . . . if we did it at all . . . ."

      "Sorry, buddy," Starsky said, frowning. "We're gonna do this right. You're gonna take your time, all the time you want."

      "Starsk . . . !" Hutch said warningly, but Starsky was already honing in on his target.

      "Let's take the edge off this monster," Starsky said, moving over his groin. "Then we can slow this party down. Take our time. All night. All day."

      "Wait . . . don't!" Hutch tried pulling away from him.

      Starsky was getting annoyed now. "What's the matter with you? You're acting like my going down on you is the worst idea in the world."

      "It is. I won't be able to control it. And you hated it the last time I came in your mouth."

      Starsky blinked, and then the memory was there in front of him. Hutch was right, he had hated it. "Hey, come on. That was my first time and I was under the influence." Then he thought of something. "How come you don't hate it?"

      Hutch looked like he had to think about that for a minute. "Maybe I got used to it . . . . Or maybe . . . because it's yours."

      That statement went right to Starsky's groin. It wasn't a big reaction but something was definitely stirring. "Why don't you stop worrying about how I'm gonna feel about it and let me worry about that? In fact, I think you oughta just lay there and—"

      Hutch tried to stop him again. "I don't think—"

      "That's a good idea, Hutch. Stop thinking."

      "Starsk . . . ."

      He loomed over Hutch's groin, and blew a stream of cold air over his raging cock. It jumped at the sensation and Hutch hissed. "Listen, hotshot, if you think you're runnin' our sex life, I got news for you. Let me tell you what's about to happen right now. I'm gonna get you off big time. I'm gonna make you so crazy you're not gonna worry about how I'm doin' one little bit. You're gonna come like a freight train, but you're so hot all it's gonna do is take the edge off. So then you'll be all ready for a nice, long, slow fuck."

      "Starsk . . . !"

      "And that's the way it's gonna happen. You. Fuckin' me. Nice and easy, and real, real slow."

      "Stop it!"

      That was definitely an order, Starsky thought, and a rather frantic one at that. He laughed, ignored the near panicked expression on Hutch's face, and fed that big weeping red cock into his mouth.

      Hutch arched up frantically, digging his fingers into Starsky's buttock. His moan was low and restrained, and Starsky could tell he was fighting his need to come.

      Think you can resist me? Just try.

      He took Hutch in as deep as he could, until every muscle in Hutch's body was corded with tension, like a man in pain. He slid his tongue around the head and sucked gently, knowing Hutch had to be so sensitive right now too much pressure would be painful. Starsky brushed his knuckles against Hutch's taut sac, then cupped the heated testicles, rolling them gently against his palm. Hutch cried out and buried his hand in Starsky's curls, forcing his head down hard. A thick jet of bitter fluid flooded Starsky's throat and mouth, and suddenly he couldn't breathe. He forced himself to relax, to swallow, and to continue tonguing the pulsing shaft. Hutch was out of control, writhing, pumping, crying out his name again and again as he poured himself down Starsky's gulping throat.

      I'm gonna drown, he thought, then managed to suck some air in through his nose for a second before having to gulp down more of the sharp, scalding fluid. So strong! So bitter! So much of you!

      Dimly, he grew aware that his cock was half hard again, that he was breathing frantically because of excitement. He kept licking, sucking, pulling on Hutch's heavy maleness, not just to please Hutch but, now, to please himself. It's good. Goddammit, Hutch. It's good for me, doing this for you.

      The painful grip Hutch had on his hair didn't ease. Instead, Hutch pulled Starsky's head off him and only then did Starsky realize he'd stopped coming.

      "No more!" Hutch pleaded. "Please, Starsk, no more!"

      He felt bereft, lost without Hutch in his mouth. He looked up at his panting, sweating lover. Running a tongue over his lips, he said in a rough voice, "Damn, babe! I love the way you taste. I love goin' down on you!" He only now realized that himself.

      Hutch made a strangled sound and grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him over his body. Wrapping those long, strong arms around him, Hutch kissed him hard, searching for himself inside Starsky's mouth.

      Starsky pulled away for a moment, panting for air. "Look at you. You're as hard as a brick. That just took the edge off, didn't it? Just like I said. No more maybes. You need to fuck."

      Hutch pulled him back into another bruising kiss and Starsky matched him in ferocity. They devoured each other, nipping at their tongues, clashing their teeth together.

      Hutch pulled away this time. "You're hard, too."

      "Yeah," Starsky agreed, realizing that was true. His heart was pounding frantically. "Hard for you! Can't you see how bad I want you?"

      Hutch stared at him, his face full of uncertainty.

      "Long and slow and easy," Starsky reminded him. "The way I know you'll love it."

      "You sure?" Hutch's hesitancy was making Starsky crazy.

      He slid out of Hutch's grip and moved beside him, lying on his stomach. Yours if you want it. And I know you do. He didn't have to say the words. The look on Hutch's face and the tension in his body said it all.

      Gently, Hutch ran a hand down Starsky's back to his ass. His voice was strangled as he said, "I want you so much it scares me."

      Starsky grinned at the honest admission. "That's just the way I want you to feel."

      Hutch licked his lips, his eyes narrowing. He seemed to get control of himself. "Get the Vaseline." His voice was tight, clipped.

      Gonna make me participate, huh? Give me every chance to back out. Okay. I can handle it. I hope. Starsky pulled open the drawer and took out the jar. Without being asked, he unscrewed the lid and held the jar out to Hutch.

      Hutch took a finger-full of the gel and cupped his hand around it, warming it. "You've got to be honest with me, Starsk. If it's too much for you, if you don't like it. This is something we've gotta do together, and if it's not working for you then it's not working for me."

      Starsky nodded. "Okay. That's fair." He felt a frisson of fear invading his anticipation.

      Hutch leaned over his back and pressed his lips against Starsky's spine between his shoulder blades. It was tender and sweet and all Hutch. It made Starsky weak and he sighed blissfully.

      "I love you," Hutch whispered. "I love your heart. I love your fierce pride. I love your courage." He placed a tender row of kisses all along Starsky's vertebrae until he was nuzzling the small of his back. The delicate touches made Starsky warm inside, made him feel cherished. He relaxed, cuddling a pillow under his head, and peered up over his shoulder to watch Hutch worship him in the mirror.

      "Don't you love my ass?" he asked plaintively.

      Hutch chuckled and placed a sweet kiss on one buttock. "Oh yes, I most certainly do love your ass." He slipped his lubricated hand in between Starsky's cheeks and stroked up and down the crevasse, making him slick.

      It was so reminiscent of Hutch's tongue that it made Starsky throb and arch into the touch. Hutch kissed his ass again and kept sliding his fingers up and down, over and over, as if to get Starsky used to the feel of it.

      "'S good, Hutch," he said softly, wanting to reassure him of the pleasure it was giving him.

      "I'm glad," Hutch agreed. Then his fingers danced around the sensitive ring of his anus.

      He hissed, lifting his rear. It felt dangerous, but so good. He felt fear but pleasure overrode it. He wanted more.

      "Hutch—!" he breathed, looking back at him, his eyes heavy-lidded with desire. In the mirror, he was a picture of wantonness, on his belly, legs spread, slowly humping in response to Hutch's incredible touch.

      "Starsk," Hutch said, "I need more lube."

      If Hutch needed more it could only be for . . . . Starsky clutched as he found the jar in the bed. "Do you hear someone at the door?"

      Hutch smiled. "'Fraid not. You put up a sign, remember?"

      "Oh, yeah . . . ." He held out the jar dutifully. "Was that the phone?"

      "Off the hook," Hutch reminded him. "Your idea." He dipped into the gel. "All you've got to do is say stop. At any time. Promise."

      Starsky nodded and shivered.

      Hutch didn't warm it this time, just applied it directly to his anus. It felt cool and slick and good. "I love you," Hutch said as he inserted the tip of his finger inside Starsky's body.

      He groaned at the strange invasion and tensed. Hutch kissed his buttock while toying with him, slipping his fingertip in and out, giving him time to adjust. In minutes, Starsky was writhing, tortured by that fingertip. The back of his knees ached, the soles of his feet. He couldn't pretend. It was good. He was loving it.

      "You okay?" Hutch asked in a whisper, as if afraid to believe that might be true.

      Breathing hard, Starsky managed to rasp, "I want more, Hutch. More of you."

      Hutch shuddered behind him. Without being asked, Starsky held out the jar.

      He never realized how long Hutch's fingers were until one of them pierced him so slowly it felt as long as Hutch's arm. His gasp of pleasure was sharp as sensation shot up his spine and down his legs. He clutched his pillow and tried to force himself to relax as Hutch teased his opening into unclenching, into letting him work back and forth easily. He was so careful, so gentle, Starsky barely realized when he was pierced by a second finger, then a third.

      "You okay?" Hutch asked, working him steadily.

      Okay? You kidding? I'm dyin' it's so good. He couldn't say a thing, could only moan in pleasure and spread his legs wider.

      Hutch shifted his hand and pressed against something inside Starsky. His cock jerked in delight and his whole body felt as if it had been electrified. He cried out Hutch's name.

      "I'm here," Hutch assured him. "Right here."

      "Do it!" Starsky ordered. "Stop making me crazy and make us both happy, will ya?"

      He heard Hutch swallow audibly. He shifted in the bed. "Wh-where's the gel?"

      Starsky fumbled around, found it. Didn't he have half that jar in him already? If it got anymore slick in there Hutch would have to worry about slipping out.

      Hutch moved beside him, then eased Starsky over onto his side. "It'll be easier this way."

      You think? Starsky wondered.

      Hutch moved close against his back, nuzzling his ear, whispering his love over and over. As he did, he slipped his hand out of Starsky's body, replacing it immediately with the blunt probe of his glans.

      Starsky's heart pounded wildly. As Hutch's cock kissed his ass, he was flooded with a touch of fear that nearly overcame every other emotion.

      "Hutch!" he called out, needing reassurance.

      "Right here," he said calmly. "We don't have to do this. I told you that. Change your mind?"

      This is no time for you to be noble, you bastard. Just do it! He dug his nails into Hutch's hip and demanded, "Now! Do it now!"

      Hutch shuddered and obeyed.

      Starsky's eyes widened as Hutch entered him, slowly, smoothly, so very carefully. In spite of all their preparation, a painful spasm rocked Starsky as his ass locked down, causing spangles to dance before his eyes. The pain shot up his spine, making his entire body go rigid.

      "Easy," Hutch soothed. "Try to breathe. Give it a minute. It'll pass."

      A minute? he thought, panicky. As Starsky tried to imagine how he could possibly survive being torn in two, Hutch's lube-filled hand gathered up his erection and stroked him. The sensation of Hutch handling his cock while invading his body was unbearably good. All at once, his rear relaxed from the pleasure, allowing Hutch deeper penetration.

      Deeper . . . ? Starsky thought dimly, still rattled. God, no! He bit his lip to keep himself from saying that out loud.

      Hutch was incredibly patient, taking it slow, agonizingly slow, entering him inch by inch as he kept stroking his cock. Starsky couldn't imagine where Hutch got the control. By this point, Starsky would've thrown Hutch onto his face and fucked him senseless. Not that it would take that much effort, since Starsky was convinced he was minutes away from passing out.

      Suddenly, Hutch's groin pressed against his ass and he realized Hutch was fully inside him.

      Inside me . . . . Damn, Hutch is inside me!

      Hutch didn't move, just held perfectly still, waiting. The sense of fullness, the strange pressure inside Starsky was extraordinary.

      "You're so tight!" Hutch gasped.

      "You all the way in?" Starsky asked, just to be sure. He could barely get the words out.

      "I've got your cherry, babe. Right here." Hutch sounded astonished. "You okay?"

      "Hell, no," he sighed honestly. "I'm bein' fucked by a real man. You're so goddamn big."

      Hutch's response was a low growl and a long, slick stroke along Starsky's cock. The feeling was heightened by the incredible pressure filling him. The sense of fullness was intense and alien. He was being assaulted by so many new sensations he wasn't sure how he felt about any of it. Then Hutch's hand got more serious and he began to fuck.

      The combination of being masturbated outside and fucked inside was nothing Starsky could've ever imagined. He cried out helplessly and gripped Hutch's wrist.

      "Want me to stop?" Hutch asked, panting roughly.

      Starsky shook his head. "No! Hell, no!" And at that moment he knew it was true. He wasn't sure what was happening to him or how he felt about it, but the one thing he did know was that he didn't want it to stop.

      "Thank God," Hutch breathed.

      "Do it, babe," Starsky encouraged him. "The way you like best. Long . . . slow . . . oh, jeezus . . . !"

      Hutch seemed happy to grant his wish. His hips pumped steady, smooth strokes like a powerful machine, being careful but complete, as if wanting to be sure Starsky was being thoroughly fucked. And he was.

      "You're gonna last forever, aren't you?" Starsky asked worriedly.

      "Oh, yeah," Hutch promised. "You made sure of that, didn't you?"

      Seemed like a good idea at the time . . . .

      Starsky was excruciatingly aware that Hutch was rubbing his prostate raw with the heavy head of his cock on every stroke. The hand fisting him was a punishing torment Hutch seemed to really enjoy, making Starsky hotter and wilder than he'd ever felt in his life. A bubble of pre-come leaked from his slit. Hutch's thumb was right there, catching it, rubbing it slickly over his already over-stimulated glans. He was in an agony of pleasure, thrusting up into Hutch's hand and then arching back onto his cock in perfect rhythm with his lover.

      Starsky had slung his top leg over Hutch's hip, trying to spread himself wider, wanting to grant Hutch the deepest penetration. And by his reaction, Hutch was appreciating that. Starsky heard this low rumble of sound, like an animal moaning in need, and then realized it was himself, keening for the incredible miracle he was being subjected to.

      "You sing so sweet for me," Hutch breathed in his ear. His voice was frayed. "And you dance so good on my cock." He bit the lobe of Starsky's ear, making him cry out and tighten down around the flesh splitting him in half. He saw stars and heard Hutch groan behind him. "Starsk? Is it good for you? I need to know."

      He sobbed helplessly, trembling all over with the intensity of it. "Hutch! God, I'm lovin' it. Can't believe it, but I am. You're fucking me and I'm loving it. Lovin' you. My mate. My spouse. The best part of me. Show me . . . show me how much you love me . . . ."

      Hutch shuddered, and plunged deep inside Starsky as his hand tightened painfully around Starsky's cock. He lurched, crying out from the shock, as Hutch did it again.

      They had surpassed long and slow. Hutch was obviously shifting into overdrive.

      Suddenly, Starsky found himself on his belly, his arms and legs spread out, fingers gripping the sheets. Hutch kissed his neck, his cheek, his shoulder. His actions were hurried and frantic. Starsky closed his eyes, wondering if he'd survive. Go on. Whatever you need. Take it.

      Hutch plunged deep into Starsky's heat and tightness, pulled nearly out, then plunged in hard again. It was incredible, unreal, and all Starsky could do was struggle to handle it. He looked over his shoulder, glancing up at the mirror, watched the muscles rippling in Hutch's broad back and ass as Hutch took him. It was beautiful and terrifying. Watch me. Watch me please you. Watch me love you.

      He moaned, wanting Hutch to know how good it was, but incapable of speech. Hutch grasped Starsky's hand with his free one, clutching it tight. Hutch's hips pumped hard, pistoning in and out, unrelenting. Starsky's cock rode in the palm of Hutch's hand, adding more pleasure to an experience that was already unendurable.

      He was helpless in bed, a new experience, and Hutch didn't need any handcuffs to make him that way. Just his powerful cock and the strength in his body. The amazing thing to Starsky was how exquisite it was to be helpless beneath the one you loved.

      He regained his voice. "Hutch! Give me more! More of you. I can take it. Fuck me, baby. Fuck me hard!"

      It made Hutch crazy, the way Starsky knew it would. With a cry, Hutch rose up on his knees, pounding into Starsky like a man insane with lust. "Love you . . . " he gasped.

      Amazingly, Starsky felt Hutch swell even larger inside him. He shouted from the intense sensation. Hutch matched his shout, then suddenly, without warning, they both came painfully hard in perfect sync. Hutch pumped powerfully into him, filling him, driving his seed as deep inside Starsky as he could. Starsky flooded the bed, the heat and wetness of his essence a sudden surprise to him.

      The spasms subsided slowly as if their bodies needed to come down easy. It took a few minutes, but eventually they were reduced to two worn-out men desperately in need of extra oxygen. They were heaving like racehorses, drenched in sweat. Hutch enveloped Starsky in his long arms and hugged him tight.

      "I love you so damn much," Hutch swore.

      Starsky felt warm moisture splash his shoulder and turned his head. "Hutch?" He remembered how overcome he had felt after coming inside Hutch, how his emotions and regrets and fears had just crashed down on him after the incredible high of being inside Hutch.

      Hutch's big body shuddered, worrying him.

      "Don't cry," Starsky soothed. "I'm okay. In fact, I'm great." Just not sure I'll ever walk again, that's all.

      Hutch shook his head, managing to choke out, "We came so close to losing everything— Nearly lost you . . . ."

      "But we didn't. We won it all. The million-dollar prize, the brass ring, the happily-ever-after, the whole enchilada. Don't cry, Hutch."

      His sentimental partner was too overwhelmed, Starsky realized, as Hutch hugged him tight and shed more tears before getting a grip on himself. At least his emotional outburst had one benefit. As Hutch collected himself, his erection subsided and gently slipped out of Starsky's abused body.

      Starsky hissed at the change of sensation, and suddenly his anus had a whole world of complaints to tell him about. He shifted uncomfortably.

      Hutch seemed to realize the situation all at once. "Damn! I'm sorry, Starsk. Don't move. I'll get a warm cloth."

      Don't move was the one thing Starsky could actually manage. He felt destroyed and tried to figure out how he was supposed to resurrect himself well enough to work tonight. He ruefully remembered that this had been his idea.

      He heard water running in the bathroom when Hutch came out with cloths and towels and tenderly warm-soaked him. He hissed at the contact on his tender tissues.

      "Yeah, I know," Hutch commiserated. "I'm running a warm bath for you. I think you should soak for a little while."

      "You're assuming I can stand up."

      Hutch smiled. "Well, if you can't, I can always throw you over my shoulder in a fireman's carry."

      "I think my ass has spent enough time up in the air, don't you?"

      "Never enough," Hutch insisted, leaning over to place a gentle kiss on Starsky's face. Then he got that worried look again. "You okay?"

      "I oughta say no, then I might be able to milk this for some real guilt and get some mileage out of it—but I'm too honest for that. I'm sore and aching, probably the same way you were, not that you would ever admit it. But it was worth it. Just to give you that much pleasure. It was good for you, Hutch, wasn't it?" Please, let me know that.

      Hutch stroked Starsky's hair and his face went all soft. "It was so much better than good . . . . Being inside you, Starsk—no one ever gave me so much of themselves. It just made me love you so much more."

      He choked up a little at that declaration and rolled up on one hip so he could hold out his arms for his tenderhearted blond. Hutch moved into his embrace without encouragement and they kissed tenderly, sharing their love and promising more in the future. Starsky felt his heart swell and wondered if there had ever been a time when he'd felt half this happy.

      Finally, Hutch pulled away and grinned with the sappiest expression Starsky had ever seen, even worse than the one he had after busting Gunther. "Come on. Let me get you in the tub before it overflows. Then we just might have enough time for a decent nap before show time."

      That sounded great to Starsky. And it was, too.

      "What's gotten into you?" Hutch asked, but he couldn't hold back his grin.

      "You mean, besides you?" Starsky said. He was standing in front of Hutch, looking up with those captivating indigo eyes through long dark lashes.

      "If you don't stop flirting with me," Hutch said warningly, "we'll end up right back in bed and never get to the Parrot."

      "I'm not flirting with you, ya big blond beauty," Starsky insisted coyly, "I'm trying to dress you."

      "You're taking an awful long time to do it," Hutch warned, suppressing a laugh as Starsky fussed over him. "I don't know why you insisted we do this. Or was it just an excuse to fool around with my fly?"

      "I don't need an excuse to fool around with your fly. It's my fly now and I can fool with it whenever I want. Like . . . getting you dressed . . . on stakeouts in the Torino—"

      "Like hell!"

      "—in the men's room at Metro—"

      "Starsky . . . !"

      He finished adjusting the leathers and tied the black lace thongs neatly over the fly. "Hmmmm. Dunno if this is gonna work. Looks like you're barely lashed in there."

      Hutch sighed and adjusted himself. "Well, it took you so damned long I got half hard! Tell me again why we're doing this." He turned to look at himself in the mirror.

      "I told ya. It's symbolic. And damned if that isn't the sweetest lookin' symbolism I've ever seen."

      Starsky stood beside him as he checked out their forms in the mirror. It was an interesting bit of symbolism, and Hutch was surprised at how well they both looked. Starsky's black biker pants fit Hutch like a second skin, and the sleek, tight-fitting black tee shirt accented his arms and shoulders and made him seem that much more blond. The outline of his cock was plainly visible and the pants were so tight you could see the crack of his ass. I might as well be nude, he thought. He looked like one of those hyper-masculine bikers in the photos in the Black Parrot's bathroom, all muscular arms, ass, and crotch.

      "You look so hot," Starsky breathed. "Let's not go. Let's stay home. I've got plans for you."

      "After all the time you spent zipping and lacing me into these things?" Hutch protested. "Forget it. Besides, Sugar will come here after us."

      "Oh, yeah. You're right. Maybe we can get off early."

      Hutch looked at the yearning in Starsky's face and nearly lost his resolve. "You were born to wear white," he said, hearing the huskiness in his own voice.

      "Yeah? You think so?"

      Hutch's soft white leather pants outlined Starsky's narrow waist and beautiful ass erotically. The white leather vest accented his prominent crotch in a way his jeans never did. "What I think is that your religion is evident in those pants. I ought to cuff you to the bed and leave you here 'til I get back. Those guys are gonna die when they see you."

      "Hope I don't get too flustered behind the bar," Starsky said. "I never played bartender before."

      "Just make sure you know where all the cut-up fruit and the little paper umbrellas are and you'll be fine," Hutch reminded him.

      Starsky laughed. "It's pushing eight o'clock. We'd better get moving." He handed Hutch the black leather jacket he'd appropriated from the Parrot's clothes rack when he first took the job, and then slipped his own brown jacket over the white leathers.

      "You feel good?" Hutch asked.

      Starsky shot him a look. "For the fourth time, yes, I feel fine . . . for a person who had an intimate encounter with a telephone pole."

      "Very funny."

      As they walked out the door and headed for the Torino, Starsky mentioned casually, "I think this might be a great opportunity for me to pick up all those wonderful tricks of the trade you seemed to learn so quickly. I've gotta keep up with the latest in the field, right?" He smiled crookedly as he got behind the wheel of the car.

      "Sure," Hutch agreed too easily. "While you're picking up those tricks, I think I'll have a few beers with Roland and his crew. Maybe I can learn some new techniques with handcuffs and other restraints. I hear ankle manacles can be lots of fun!" He grinned toothily at his suddenly suspicious-looking lover.

      They were still teasing each other when they pulled up to the bar. Hutch thought it was amazing that the battered place had been restored so quickly. The colorful green parrot gracing the front windows was freshly painted.

      Emil was at the door and clapped them both on the shoulder and gave them hearty handshakes. He laughed at their change in attire and said, "That'll blow some minds. Go on in. They're waiting for you."

      Hutch glanced at Starsky. Waiting for us? But the comment seemed to roll off Starsky, so he paid it no mind.

      As they strolled through the bar, Hutch was surprised at how full it was. After the debacle of the false police raid, Hutch feared the business would never recover. But the disco ball was flashing rainbows everywhere, and Donna Summer's suggestive music throbbed through the bar, as men and women danced riotously with lovers and friends. Hutch found himself almost overcome with emotion and realized that in some ways he now felt as if he belonged here with these people far more than he did at Metro.

      As they got about halfway to the bar, someone suddenly let out a sharp whistle, much like the signal they had used to notify the protesters that the police were raiding. It startled Hutch and he looked around, clamping a hand protectively on Starsky's arm. Beside him, Starsky stiffened and froze, equally anxious.

      Two spotlights flashed on, roamed the room, then found them in its center, nearly blinding them. The music stopped abruptly, then restarted with a different number. Freddy Mercury's piercing tenor cut through the crowd noise as Queen belted out "We Are the Champions" at maximum volume. Everyone in the bar stopped and turned, focusing on them, and all at once a cheer resounded through the room as everyone applauded the two cops standing in their center.

      Hutch felt blood rush to his face as Starsky bumped his hip. "Can you believe this? We've been set up!"

      The crowd parted and Sugar strolled up to them. She was dressed to the nines, Bette Davis at her fiercest. Her gleaming red sequined dress was dazzling. "You're late!" she complained, grinning. "I was beginning to think you were going to stand me up!"

      "Now, would we do that?" Hutch asked, feeling flustered.

      "Considering that you both have a lot of good lovin' time to make up for," Sugar drawled, "most definitely. But you're here. So the party can begin!" She eyed their attire, suddenly realizing they'd switched uniforms. "My, my, my! Who knew the other side of you? An angel in black. A devil in disguise. Hutchinson, you are a picture. A pornographic one. And Starsky . . . why don't you come pour me a drink."

      "Be happy to . . . in a minute," Starsky said. "But I promised Hutch the first dance."

      "You did?" Hutch said, coloring even more. Before he could react, Starsky took him smoothly into his arms and began moving them around the floor, taking the lead before Hutch could do anything about it. Hutch was so dazed he just went with the flow, dancing smoothly to the rousing song.

      "If you try to dip me," he warned Starsky, "I'll split these pants."

      "Mmmm," Starsky said, grinning. "And you're not wearing any underwear."

      "That's because there isn't any room for underwear."

      "Tempting," Starsky murmured, then he pulled Hutch into a loving kiss.

      The bar erupted into another raucous cheer.

      When Starsky deigned to release him, Hutch realized he was hard, strangling in the leather pants, and flustered as all hell. Starsky smiled smugly, aware of all of those things.

      "Stop playing to the crowd," Hutch grumbled, but it was halfhearted and Starsky knew it.

      "Where's your romantic spirit?" Starsky chided.

      "Turning gangrenous in my pants," he said.

      They took a few more spins around the floor, and Hutch realized he was enjoying himself immensely. Starsky was in his arms, warm, alive, and loving him. They were in public, unabashedly showing the world their commitment to each other. It was making Hutch dizzy. In spite of the music and the noise around them, all Hutch could focus on was the dynamic man in his arms.

      The music suddenly lowered and came to a halt. The lights in the bar came up, and everyone stopped and looked around. Sugar appeared beside them like a genie. They'd stopped dancing but kept an arm around each other.

      "We've got a few surprises for you boys," Sugar said, smirking.

      "Considering the kind of surprises we've already had in this place," Starsky said, "that's a scary threat, Sugar."

      Everyone laughed, and when they settled down, Sugar said, "Oh, I think you'll find these more to your liking." She raised her arm and waved to someone at the bar, and in a few minutes, the patrons once again parted for someone.

      Hutch spotted Dobey walking through the crowd and gaped in dismay. Dobey? Huggy was beside their captain, as was another man Hutch couldn't see clearly yet. As they drew near them, Hutch realized he and Starsky were still holding on to each other.

      "Starsky, m'man," Huggy said cheerily. He was all grins, clearly a major player in all this. "Hutch, my blond brother! Isn't it a fine thing to celebrate a grand victory with all of our friends and loved ones? But I knew the party wouldn't be complete without our very good friend, Captain Dobey of the Metro Police Precinct. When I invited him to this little shindig, he insisted on bringing a friend of his."

      Huggy stood to the side and gave the floor up to Dobey. His captain looked genuinely happy to see them, and didn't seem the least uncomfortable standing in the middle of a gay bar with two of his detectives embracing right in front of him. Hutch supposed that after that scene in the prison, little they could do would rattle him now.

      "It's good to see you boys again," Dobey said, beaming. "And it's good to celebrate with you, too. I brought something for you . . . and the person who insisted on delivering it in person. Starsky. Hutchinson. This is the Deputy Chief of Police, Derek Goodwin."

      The short, swarthy, rotund man stepped forward and extended his hand. Starsky and Hutch, stunned at this turn of events, remembered to let go of each other and leaned forward to shake hands and greet him.

      "I insisted on coming with Captain Dobey tonight," Goodwin said, "as a way to show the community that the police department supports all its citizens, and as a way of making amends. And I wanted to come to right a wrong. Detective Starsky, Detective Hutchinson, I am here to officially end your suspension and return your badges and weapons. Your suspension has been removed from the books and you will receive all your back pay. In addition, you've both been granted a special commendation from the city for work above and beyond the call of duty in protecting our citizens." He brought forth their badges and guns from a briefcase and handed them over.

      Hutch stood there, staring at his familiar Python and the worn leather of his badge wallet. He had thought for awhile that he would never hold them again, that his career as a cop had been finished. He would feel like a fool if he burst into tears in this bar, but right now he couldn't speak without losing it.

      Dimly, he heard Starsky make an impromptu speech about how all they ever wanted to do was their job, and back each other up, and then Starsky was nagging him about putting on his holster. He shed the black jacket in a fog, then fitted the familiar leather over his back and shoulders, putting the jacket back on over it. A burst of applause rang out from the crowd as he slipped his badge into his jacket pocket. There was no way he could get it into these pants.

      "I'll bet this is the first time this bar has hosted a return party for a couple of cops," Starsky said.

      Hutch could only grin, then exchange handshakes with Dobey and the Deputy Chief. Sugar took hold of the Deputy Chief's arm and started to lead him toward the bar, but before she disappeared into the crowd, she looked back at them and held up her fingers in a "V." Hutch assumed it was for "victory" and grinned, nodding at her. But Starsky only groaned.

      "What's the matter?" Hutch asked.

      "Sugar. She flashed those two fingers to remind me . . . ." He looked at Hutch forlornly. "We've got to give her two weeks notice!"

      Hutch's eyes widened as he tried to imagine doing a full shift at Metro then doing another eight hours here at the bar.

      Beside them, Huggy chuckled. "Sugar's gonna have some time tryin' to replace you guys. Have some sympathy."

      Before Hutch could argue just who here needed the sympathy, Kelly emerged from the crowd and stood beside Huggy. When Huggy slipped a possessive arm around her and gave her a better-than-friendly squeeze, Hutch realized he was staring in surprise. She smiled up at Huggy, comfortable with his attention.

      Before Kelly could greet them, Starsky moved in to give her a kiss on the cheek. "Our hero! You really came through for us, lady."

      "Well, it's not over for us yet, boys," she reminded them.

      Hutch frowned. "It's not? We're going to drop the case now, aren't we?"

      "No, we're not," Kelly insisted. "There's more involved in this suit than just your immediate problem. We have to go through with it. The city owes you damages for what it did to you. If we pull the suit, it gives a message that you weren't wronged, when you were."

      Hutch couldn't argue with the logic, but— "Kelly, me and Starsky . . . we don't want money from the city. We just wanted our jobs back. We just wanted to be partners again."

      Kelly nodded as if expecting this. "Listen, guys, this isn't just about you. It's about the whole gay community. Keeping the suit active will accomplish two things. It will make the city more sensitive to the way it treats its gay citizens. And it will help ensure that six months from now, when all the positive publicity dies down, some homophobic bureaucrat won't separate you as partners or find some excuse to fire you. It's insurance for you, and Tomas, and other gay cops currently in the closet. If we win any money, you don't have to keep it for yourselves if that makes you uncomfortable. You can use it to establish a foundation, something like a gay police officers' labor organization, so that gay cops have a bargaining unit where they can file grievances and get support."

      Starsky looked interested. "That's a great idea! It'll keep the issue out there in front, so gay cops can't be harassed or singled out or looked over for promotions."

      Hutch turned to him in surprise. "Well . . . if that's what you want, Starsk . . . ."

      "Sure! It'll be a great thing to do with the money. Who knows, Hutch . . . maybe if Johnny Blaine had had an organization like that he could've gone to . . . things might've turned out differently for him."

      Kelly seemed pleased. "You guys can organize it and direct the organization if you want. The policeman's union can probably be convinced to help you. It would be a very positive thing."

      "You're such a smart lady!" Starsky said, moving in to give her another kiss.

      Huggy blocked him, placing a hand on Starsky's sternum before he could make the connection. "Hey, you've had your one kiss allotment, Starsky! Hutch, I thought you'd start keepin' a tight rein on him now. Not letting him run rampant over the populace."

      Hutch took hold of Starsky's arm and hauled his partner back to his side. "Sorry, Huggy. I'm still getting used to the job."

      Huggy's casual embrace of Kelly became more possessive. She leaned into him, enjoying the banter. She seemed more relaxed than Hutch had seen her since all this started.

      "If you gentlemen—and I use the word loosely when it comes to you, Starsky—will excuse us," Huggy said, "they're playing our song."

      The current tune was the ever-popular "I Will Survive."

      As Starsky stared in pure dismay, Huggy swept Kelly into his arms and danced off with her. Hutch had to call his partner's attention back. "I think this is our song, too, isn't it?"

      Starsky turned to him and a slow smile spread across his face. "Yeah. I guess it is."

      As Starsky fitted himself against his partner, Hutch grinned and said, "This time I'll lead."

      "You know, Hutch," Starsky said, as he spotted Tsuka and her husband, Yoshi, dancing in the crowd, "I think we finally got our chakras realigned for good. Or at least I did."

      "Oh, is that what that was this afternoon? The realignment of your chakras? Hmmm. I thought it was the earth moving."

      "I'd pinch you, but I'm afraid of splitting your pants," Starsky warned.

      Hutch grinned. "Good thinking."

      He and Starsky moved confidently among the other dancers, gliding smoothly, swaying their hips in perfect sync as they clung to one another. Starsky pressed himself boldly, proudly, against Hutch, his expression a delightedly naughty smirk. Tucking his head against Hutch's shoulder, Starsky ground his pelvis against Hutch's in the same blatantly sexual way the other gay men did. At the same time, they were aware of the weight of the guns once again hanging at their sides. Dobey and the Deputy Chief were still in the bar, possibly watching them, but Hutch didn't give a damn. His arms were full of Starsky. He was happy.

      He gazed distantly over Starsky's shoulder while holding him close, not really focusing, concentrating on the way they moved together. The lights were dim, the disco ball rotating, throwing rainbows over everyone. For just a second, he thought he saw Gillian standing off to the side while everyone danced around her. He blinked in surprise as she smiled, then was gone. A chill ran down his spine as his eyes roved the room, trying to find her apparition again. He wanted to tell her, wanted to say—

      Starsky looked up at him questioningly, then glanced around the room. "You okay?"

      It was the partner thing Starsky had reacted to, feeling Hutch go tense like that. His body language said it all. Are we in trouble? I'm here, partner. 

      Smiling, Hutch cuddled him close. "Everything's fine, babe."

      Starsky relaxed into the embrace, accepting Hutch's word, and once again they were a single moving unit.

      I should have listened to you, Gillian, Hutch thought. You were right. He really does love me. No matter what happened, that love was always there. I'm a lucky man to have someone love me so much . . . .

Now if you're lookin' for a hero
Someone to save the day
Well, darlin', my feet
They're made of clay
But I've got somethin' in my soul
And I wanna give it up
But gettin' up the nerve
Gettin' up the nerve
Is a man's job
Lovin' you is a man's job, baby
      Man's Job—Bruce Springsteen