Written for entertainment purposes and not for profit out of Love for Starsky and Hutch. Comments can be sent to: Dstarskangel@aol.com

Possession by the Vampire


Diane Stock

Chapter One

"Happy Halloween," Hutch said as he got into the Striped Tomato.

"Don't mention it! I can only imagine what kind of night we're going to have. You know there's a full moon to top things off!" Starsky said scowling.

"Yea, all the nuts will be even nuttier," Hutch said then radioed into headquarters that they were rolling.

"Probably why I kept having the weirdest dreams last night," Starsky said.

"What, did you turn into a werewolf or just a weirdwolf," Hutch said and laughed at his own joke.

"Ha ha, very funny. No, remember when I had that dream about Papa Theodore pricking my thumb?" Starsky said.

"Yea, don't tell me he pricked your thumb again? Starsk, there's no such thing as voodoo magic or ghosts or any other of those monsters you love watching on the late, late movie," Hutch said and shook his head.

"Hutch, you were there, you said I tried to kill you and you still can say there's no such thing as voodoo magic?" Starsky said just as a call came through sending them on an armed robbery call.

They responded to the call and once the robbers were safely on their way to jail the previous conversation was resumed.

"So, tell me what you dreamed about last night and how is it connected to Papa Theodore," Hutch said.

"Doesn't have any connection to him; I dreamed this beautiful woman came into my bedroom through the window. She was standing over me and then the next thing I know she's on top of me kissing me, then she looks down at me to show me her fangs. She bites me on the neck then disappears. So this morning I wake up and my neck feels like it's been bitten. I go to the mirror and sure enough I look at my neck and I got these marks," Starsky said and pulled his shirt collar back so Hutch could see that he indeed had two small puncture marks on his throat.

"Didn't you have a date last night?" Hutch asked suspiciously.

"She stood me up. So I have no idea where these marks came from," Starsky said.

Hutch looked at the marks; it was obvious something had bitten Starsky. "I get it; you're just trying to jerk my chain. You put those marks on your neck to try and make me think you got bitten by a vampire. Starsky is there any lengths you WON'T go to play me for a fool?" Hutch said annoyed.

"Hutch, I'm not fooling around. I really have no idea where I got these marks on my neck," Starsky said.

"Oh, come on, Starsky, you want me to believe a vampire bit you last night," Hutch said.

"I just said I have no idea where these marks on my neck came from, and I dreamed about being bitten by a vampire. She was hot though," Starsky said and smiled.

"You are incorrigible. Let's just get through this night without going batty," Hutch said and both detectives laughed.

They ended up working a 12 hour shift, which meant that they didn't get off till 4 o'clock in the morning. Starsky felt the best thing for him to do would be to crash at Hutch's place for the few hours they had before going back into the office at 9; it was times like these he was glad he insisted on keeping some of his clothes at Hutch's place.

They got to the office a quarter to nine; Captain Dobey was yelling for them to get in his office before they had their coffee poured.

"Here's your next case," Dobey said handing the two each a manila folder. He sat quietly for a moment giving them a chance to read what was there.

"Starsky, what's wrong with you?" he asked taking notice of how he kept rubbing his neck.

"Don't mind him, Captain, he's just having a tryst with a vampire; he'll be fine," Hutch chimed.

"Jealous," Starsky said.

"Cut it out you two; now is there any questions about your new assignment?" Captain Dobey asked.

"No, Captain," Starsky said.

"Then what are you still sitting here for? Get out on the street!" Dobey barked and Starsky and Hutch hit the door.

"You have another dream about your lovely vampire last night?" Hutch asked.

"Yes. Now hand me my sunglasses; this glare is killing me," Starsky said.

Hutch dug Starsky's sunglasses out of the glove compartment and handed them to him. "Uh oh, sensitive to sunlight, you know Starsk if a vampire bites you three times you'll turn into one," Hutch said and laughed.

"Look at my neck, Hutch. Tell me I'm dreaming!" Starsky said leaning over toward his friend. Hutch looked at Starsky's neck and couldn't deny that the marks on his neck were more distinct then they'd been the day before.

"Maybe you've got an allergy and that's some sort of reaction to something," Hutch said.

"Those are bites, not a rash!" Starsky said anxiously.

"Well it wouldn't hurt to see a doctor anyway," Hutch said then added, "A psychotherapist wouldn't hurt either."

"Just drop it if you aren't going to take me seriously. And I already made an appointment to see the doctor," Starsky said his grip on the steering wheel tightening.

"Okay, Okay I'm sorry, Starsk. Let's just drop it, don't want to piss you off and then have you decide to drink my blood," Hutch said, smiling to himself.

Starsky whipped the car to the curb and to a halt so quick Hutch nearly got whiplash. Starsky turned toward his partner, taking the shades off. "I said drop it!" he said coldly.

Hutch looked into the blazing blue eyes of his best friend and felt he was looking at a complete stranger. Starsky's eyes were fierce and for a brief moment Hutch got nervous. Hutch lifted his hands, "Alright, I hear you," he said.

Starsky's eyes went back to normal; he nodded, and put the car in gear.

Chapter Two

Starsky left the doctor's office with no more information then when he'd come in, but at least maybe the blood test would come back with answers. He got back to the office to find Hutch busy typing away.

"So, what did the doctor say?" Hutch asked.

"He doesn't know anything yet. He drew blood and I'll just have to wait to see if that comes back with any answers," Starsky said dejectedly.

"You look really tired, Starsk. You feel okay?" Hutch said.

"I'm tired; it'll pass," Starsky said and they went about their work.

Starsky crawled in bed that night feeling completely worn out. Sleep didn't come easily and he tossed and turned. Suddenly there was a light tapping at his bedroom window; he got up his head in a daze. He looked out the window and at first thought he'd seen a bat, then the bat turned into the beautiful woman who had been haunting his dreams. He opened the window and let her in; she had long blonde hair and the reddest lips Starsky had seen. Her eyes were the color of ice and they burned into Starsky's as if she could see his very soul. She wore a long black gown, around her neck was a medallion that appeared to be ancient, and she wore rings on every finger.

"What are you?" Starsky managed to get out before she kissed his lips. She looked into his eyes and smiled an evil smile then licked her lips revealing her fangs to Starsky. Starsky backed away from her. "No. You aren't real. Wake up, David," he said to himself and pinched himself hard. He felt the pain but did not wake up.

"Don't fight it David. I need you. I want you, David, come to me. You know it's already started; you're becoming one of us. I chose you, David. I love you," she said. Her voice was soft and sounded far off.

"Chose me? I've never met you before in my life. And what do you mean I'm becoming one of you?" he said, trying to stay calm.

"I've seen you many times and have watched you many nights. You're a police officer; you do your job very well. You have strength and speed; I find that very exciting, and you have eyes the color of midnight when there's a full moon. I love you, David, and I will have you. Haven't you noticed how sensitive you are to sunlight? How tired you are and how easily you become angry during the day verses the night? Oh, don't worry, love; you won't really be one of us till you've drunk the blood of one of us," she said and took a step toward him.

Starsky grabbed his gun from his holster that hung on the headboard. "Get away from me," he said, pointing the gun at her.

She laughed a soft cold laugh. "Go ahead, David, fire your weapon. I'm already dead," she said, and took another step toward him.

Starsky fired the gun several times; the mysterious woman stood firm. "David, I told you, I'm already dead," she said. Sirens began to wail in the distance and were getting closer. Starsky stood in horror as the beautiful blonde fell on all fours and became a wolf before his very eyes. The wolf looked at him and licked its lips, before turning and bounding out the window.

"Starsky, talk to me buddy. Starsk!" Hutch said as he lightly shook him.

Starsky opened his eyes; he was laying on his bedroom floor. "Uh, Hutch," he moaned and slowly sat up, his head in his hands.

"What happened? Who were you shooting at?" Hutch asked.

"A big dog jumped in my window. I thought it was going to attack me," Starsky lied, knowing if he told the truth Hutch would never believe him.

Hutch helped Starsky get to his feet and went over to the window; the screen was missing and it was wide open. "Starsk, how did a dog open your window?" Hutch asked.

"I opened the window; I wanted to get some fresh air. The screen is probably lying in the street below my window," Starsky said and rubbed his neck.

Hutch went to the door to tell the other officers they could go, then turned back to Starsky who was visibly shaken. "Starsky? What's wrong? Talk to me partner." Hutch went and sat down on the bed next to his friend.

Starsky looked at Hutch; his eyes were full of fear, "I think I'm loosing my mind," he said. Hutch had never seen Starsky look this afraid, not even when he'd been kidnapped by Simon's cult, and suddenly became afraid for him. He put his arm around him. "Hey, Starsky whatever the problem is, you know I'll help you. Me and thee, always," he said.

Starsky got up. "Hutch, you won't believe me if I tell you what really happened here tonight," he said, his fear and frustration causing his voice to break a little.

Hutch got up. "Maybe the test the doctor ran will give us some answers. Now, are you alright or do you want me to stay?" Hutch said, gripping Starsky's shoulder.

"No, I'll be fine; you go on ahead," Starsky said.

Hutch would have preferred to stay, but didn't want to agitate Starsky any further so he left.

Starsky closed and locked his window. He spent the rest of the evening sitting on his couch watching television, drinking coffee, his gun by his side.

Chapter Three

Starsky arrived at headquarters fifteen minutes late; when Hutch saw him he could barely recognize him. He was white as a sheet and his eyes had heavy bags under them. Hutch knew right away that his friend had not gotten anymore sleep after he'd left. He immediately felt guilty for not insisting on staying with Starsky.

Captain Dobey barked for them to come in his office. Hutch sat while Starsky remained standing, his back against Captain Dobey's office door.

"What going on, Starsky? You're fifteen minutes late this morning, and I just heard there was a shooting at your place last night," Dobey said, concern on his face in spite of the gruff tone.

"I haven't been getting much sleep lately, that's why I'm late. Last night a huge dog came into my apartment through the window and was going to attack me, so I shot at it," Starsky said.

"I understand you went to the doctor yesterday. What did he say?" Dobey asked.

"Nothing yet, they ran some test and I'm waiting for the results," Starsky said.

"I'm wondering if I shouldn't pull you off the streets till you figure out what the problem is," Dobey said, annoyed.

Starsky started to say something but Dobey put his hand up for him to remain quiet. "Hutchinson, what do you think?" Dobey asked.

Hutch did not like being put on the spot like this and he knew if he said he felt Starsky should take some time off he would catch hell; he thought a moment. "Captain, I think we should just wait until the doc gives us some answers before you make that kind of decision. In the meantime, I don't see a need to keep Starsky off the streets."

Dobey gave a heavy sigh and looked at Starsky. "What do you think? You able to continue or should I give you a leave of absence?" he asked.

"Capt'n you know what I'm gonna say. Until the doc tells me otherwise, I want to keep working," Starsky said.

"I'm going against my gut feeling on this; get out of here," Dobey said, giving Starsky a look that said he'd better not mess up.

Hutch did insist on driving, telling Starsky he felt he'd feel safer knowing he wasn't likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. They got into Hutch's old Ford and hit the streets.

"You sleep at all after I left?" Hutch asked.

"No, sat up and waited for the sun to rise," Starsky said putting on his sunglasses.

"Hey isn't that the guy we're looking for?" Hutch said catching a glimpse of their suspect.

Starsky looked. "Looks like him," he said.

Hutch slowed down; the suspect saw Hutch and took off running. Starsky jumped out to pursue the guy on foot. Hutch stomped the accelerator to cut the guy off at the corner. But the guy ran into a deli and went through and out the back. Starsky saw him and followed. He ran into the back alleyway of the deli; he was running hard and closing in on the suspect when suddenly he felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of him. He found himself leaning against the wall then his knees went out and he was sitting on the ground, gasping for breath.

Hutch was able to get to the alleyway in time to cut the suspect off at the pass, and he also was in time to see Starsky collapse against the wall of the building. He handcuffed the suspect and ran to his partner's side.

"Starsk, what's wrong?" he asked.

Starsky winced and mouthed, "I can't breathe."

Hutch ran to the car and radioed in for a patrol car and an ambulance.

Chapter Four

The paramedics gave Starsky oxygen and soon he was breathing normally again. Starsky refused to be taken to the hospital. Hutch protested.

"Starsky, this is ridiculous! Get your ass to the hospital! Now!" Hutch was furious.

"I'm fine," he said.

"You are NOT fine and you know it! Now I don't want to hear anymore argument from you! You go or I'll knock you out and take you myself!" Hutch said; he was more afraid for Starsky then angry with him.

Starsky decided it was his turn to do as Hutch wanted; after all he had taken up for him with Dobey. Now he felt he'd let Hutch down. "All right. But you're taking me," Starsky said.

Hutch's face softened a little. "Let's go." he said and they got into the old brown Ford.

Starsky's doctor happened to be at the hospital and went to examine his patient. He finished the examination and left to call his office to see if the results of Starsky's blood test were available. He returned within minutes. "Well, we got the results," he said.

"Well?" Starsky said.

"You're anemic. Your blood count is very low. It's very odd for someone to suddenly become anemic; that's why you lost your breath this afternoon running after a suspect, not enough blood, not enough oxygen," the doctor said.

"So, what should I do?" Starsky asked.

"I want to give you a blood transfusion," the doctor said.

"Will I have to stay in the hospital?" Starsky asked.

"I'd like to keep you here for a couple of days to observe you, see if we can figure out why you've suddenly become anemic," the doctor answered.

Starsky knew why he was anemic, but there was no way in hell he was going to tell the doctor what he knew to be the truth and end up in the psychiatric hospital. So he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "Okay."

Hutch poked his head in the doorway. "Is it okay if I come in?"

"Sure. I'll admit you and a nurse will be in shortly to get you situated," the doctor said and left.

"Admit you? What did they find out?" Hutch asked.

"I've suddenly become anemic. They're giving me a blood transfusion then they want to try and find out why I'm anemic. That's why I lost my breath chasing that suspect," Starsky said.

Hutch was in shock. "You mean to tell me something has been drinking your blood?"

Starsky told Hutch what really happened the night he had supposedly shot at a dog. "I know this sounds crazy, but I swear Hutch I'm telling you what happened and I wasn't dreaming. Now, not a word of this to anyone. The last thing I want or need is to end up in a psycho ward. Please, Hutch, not a word." His eyes pleaded with Hutch and Hutch agreed to keep his secret.

Chapter Five

Starsky lay in his hospital bed watching the blood drip down through the IV and into him and began to feel stronger. He was also waiting for Hutch to return. He was afraid to be alone at night even here in the hospital. He thought about her words and how she'd told him she would have him. Then he thought how he'd opened his window to her; he'd not been able to control himself. Did she really have the power to put him into a trance, making him unable to resist her? This was crazy! Maybe he should see a shrink. His thoughts were interrupted when Hutch came in; Dobey was in tow behind him.

"Starsky tell me what the hell is going on!" Dobey said.

Starsky looked at Hutch. Hutch looked at him as if to say he had not told Dobey anything.

Starsky shrugged, "I don't know, Captain. Doc says I'm anemic."

"All those burritos finally caught up to him," Hutch said and laughed.

"Don't give me that, Hutchinson. I want answers NOW," Dobey barked.

"Captain, the doctors don't even know what could have caused him to become anemic. Maybe he got bit by a vampire," Hutch said and laughed.

Starsky shot him a look that spoke volumes.

"Just get better so I can have my two best detectives back out there," Dobey said.

"And you said he didn't care," Starsky said smugly.

obey threw his hands up in disgust as he left.

"Hutch, why'd you go and say what you said?" Starsky asked.

"I was joking. Captain knows that, he wouldn't take that seriously," Hutch said.

"Yea, no more then you do," Starsky said as he leaned back on the pillows, his eyes closed. Before he knew it he was asleep. He jerked awake once he realized he was asleep. Hutch looked up from the book he was reading.

"You all right?" Hutch asked.

"I'm scared to fall asleep. I feel like the only time I can sleep is during the day, sleep safely that is," Starsky said.

"I'm here, Starsk. Go to sleep," Hutch said.

"She said she was going to have me, Hutch. She said there wasn't any point in fighting it. I shot her, and she just stood there and laughed at me. Hutch, tell me the truth, do you think I'm going crazy?" Starsky asked, his eyes misted over and Hutch could not bear seeing the defeated look on his best friend's face.

"I think you need a lot of rest. You've just pushed yourself too hard lately. Let the doctor take care of you and you'll see everything will be fine. Try to relax. I won't let anything happen to you, Starsk. Please go to sleep," Hutch said.

"But Hutch..." Starsky started to continue on but Hutch shushed him and once again told him to sleep.

Reluctantly, Starsky did go back to sleep. He relaxed in knowing Hutch would not let him down, no matter what; Hutch would go to great lengths to protect him, even dying. Starsky felt the same way about Hutch; he only hoped Hutch would be strong enough to protect him from her. Yes, Hutch would because he'd probably just laugh at her when she tried to convince him she was really a vampire.

Hutch turned back to his book, but didn't really see any of the words on the page. He looked up and looked at Starsky who was now sleeping peacefully. What if Starsky was right, if there really was a vampire trying to get to him? What could he do to protect him? His thoughts turned back to when Starsky had tried to kill him under Papa Theodore's spell or hypnosis or whatever that was; but this was different. He decided he would do some serious research tomorrow. Having come to this resolution, Hutch went back to his reading.

Chapter Six

Starsky woke up and had to turn away from the glare of the sunlight coming in through his window. Hutch was asleep in the chair. A nurse came in, took his temperature and blood pressure; both were normal. She then told him someone would be in to draw blood because the doctor had ordered new tests.

"First you give me blood now you're taking it back?" Starsky said.

"We won't be taking that much. Your breakfast should be in shortly," she said and left.

Hutch woke up. "Hey, Starsk, how are you feeling this morning?" he asked.

"Better; at least I don't feel like I've been run over by a truck," Starsky said.

"Well, I guess I'm gonna get out of here," Hutch said, getting up and stretching.

"Hey, what's your rush?" Starsky asked.

"There's something I need to get done today. Earlier I get started the earlier I get back here to your pretty face. Want me to bring you anything back with me?" Hutch asked.

"I don't know, maybe some sort of crossword puzzle book. What do you need to do?" Starsky asked his suspicion aroused.

"Just want to do some research. I want to see if I can find out anything about your blonde lady friend, if she even exists," Hutch said, smiling to show Starsky he was only teasing.

"Thanks, Hutch," Starsky said. Hutch nodded and left.

Hutch went to headquarters and went straight for the file room. He dug through all the files of closed cases and was troubled by what he found. Beginning approximately five years ago there was a string of deaths among the homeless that had been ruled natural causes. The part that disturbed Hutch was that it hadn't been particularly cold and on many of the reports the cause of death was listed as exposure. Hutch knew that no thorough autopsy would have been done since these were the homeless. Then he turned his attention to unsolved cases and there he found even more evidence of something strange was going on and had been over the past five years. He pulled several of the files that caught his attention and went to study them at his desk.

"Hutch, what are you doing? I thought you were supposed to be keeping on top of what's going on with your partner?" Dobey asked when he saw Hutch.

"That's what I'm doing. Captain, let me talk with you a minute," Hutch said, following Dobey into his office.

"All right, Hutchinson, what's going on?" Dobey asked, settling in behind his desk.

"What I'm about to say is going to sound crazy, but just hear me out first, okay," Hutch said, and began telling Dobey what he'd found in the files, then told Dobey about the mystery woman stalking Starsky, leaving out the part about her turning into a wolf. "I'm not saying I believe in vampires, Captain, but this isn't the first time we've seen this type of thing. And I don't know how else to explain his suddenly becoming anemic." Hutch finished and watched and waited for Dobey's reaction.

"Is that why Starsky has insisted you stay with him at the hospital during the night?" Dobey asked.

"Yes. I've never seen Starsky like this before he's scared to death, Captain. I figure as long as I'm not on the streets officially, I can do some unofficial research, see if I can get a bead on any new cults that might have come into town recently. I thought, maybe you would want to help me. I plan to call Huggy see what he knows or can find out, especially if I'm not going to be available at night," Hutch said.

"What do you want me to do?" Dobey asked.

"I want you to go scope out the streets. Maybe you could go to the university, there's a professor who specializes in folklore. He may be able to tell us where such a group would be most likely hiding out. Even know if such a group is in town," Hutch said.

"I'll do what I can," Dobey said.

"Thanks, Captain. Look, do me a favor. Starsky asked me not to tell anybody about this, so if you could keep a lid on what I told you. He thinks he's loosing his mind. I know Starsky better then that and he's not crazy," Hutch said.

"I hope you're right," Dobey said.

Chapter Seven

Hutch found Huggy Bear busy behind the bar at "The Pits".

"How's it going, Hutch?" Huggy greeted the detective.

"Not too good I'm afraid," Hutch said, and took a seat at the end of the bar, which told Huggy this was not a social call.

"Talk to me, my man," Huggy said, handing Hutch a beer.

"It's Starsky. He's in the hospital having blood transfusions and the doc's running tests to try and figure out how he could suddenly become anemic," Hutch said, keeping his voice low.

"Doesn't it take a good bit of blood loss to become anemic?" Huggy asked.

"Yea, Starsky seems to think he's been chosen as a meal ticket by a vampire," Hutch said, his voice becoming even lower, and he took a drink from his beer.

"You got to be kidding!" Huggy said.

"Well, something bit him, cause he's got the marks on his neck to prove it. I've been looking into some old files at the station and there seems to have been a rash of killings among the homeless that were ruled as death by exposure, but over a 5 year period? I find it strange. Do you know of any cults that have taken up residence in that time frame?" Hutch asked.

"Guess you'd have to ask around. But if you plan on talking with the homeless, well, they won't tell you if anybody's be hanging around or harassing them, they're afraid the cops will come and run them off from the places they stay," Huggy said.

"I know, that's why I want you to do the asking around for me," Hutch said.

Huggy rolled his eyes. "You sound like you believe Starsky's story."

"Look, if you could see how scared he was the other night. And he's insisting that I stay with him at the hospital during the night. Someone has scared the crap out of him, and I will be the first to say I don't believe in such things. There's got to be an explanation for Starsky's blood loss and I'm bound and determined to find out what," Hutch said.

"Okay, I'll see if I can find out anything, Hutch. Tell Starsky to be cool. Don't want to see him wind up in some mental ward!" Huggy said and went back to his work.

Hutch left the bar and started on his way to the university when he saw a familiar face. "Hey Elisha! How ya doing?" Hutch said to the old homeless man he had known for many years.

"Hey, Hutch," he said; his demeanor was sullen.

"What's the matter? Why so down?" Hutch asked.

"My friend Charles got killed last night," Elisha said, and wiped a hand across his haggard face.

"What happened?" Hutch asked.

"Devil himself came and took him," Elisha said.

"What devil?" Hutch asked.

"He was all in black; he was so much stronger then both of us put together. He ripped Charles's throat right out, was the most sickening sight I ever saw." Elisha said.

"How did you get away?" Hutch asked.

"I didn't. I mean he was on me ready to do the same when I heard the sirens. He just disappeared," Elisha said.

"Did they take Charles to the morgue?" Hutch asked.

"I guess so. Don't know. I was so busy hiding from the cops 'cause I was pretty sure they'd make me leave, and even though I did leave 'cause I was scared, I didn't want them finding me. You know how it is, Hutch," Elisha said.

"Yea, Elisha, I know. Do you remember what the guy, the devil looked like?" Hutch asked.

"He was dressed all in black and all I could really make out were his eyes. He had piercing gray eyes the color of ice," Elisha said.

Hutch pulled out his wallet and handed Elisha a five dollar bill. "Thanks, Elisha. You may have just help me save my partner," he said.

"God bless you, Hutch, and I hope that devil don't get ya or your partner." Elisha shuffled away.

Hutch went straight to the morgue. On the way he called Dobey to pull the police report.

The attendee was sitting at a desk, feet up and comic book in his face when Hutch arrived. Hutch jarred him awake then told him why he was there and what he wanted to see. The attendee led Hutch into a room where he pulled open a drawer containing a body.

"Don't know if you want to look at this one; he's pretty bad," the attendee said before pulling back the sheet. Hutch waved him to go ahead. The attendee pulled the sheet away from the old man's face and Hutch cringed at what he saw. The old man was probably older than Elisha and looked a lot frailer as well. His throat was torn out so badly that the poor guy was nearly decapitated.

"I want you to drain the remaining blood out of this man. I want a blood count," Hutch told him.

"Sure. Probably be tomorrow before any results from the test are known," the attendee said.

"That's fine. Also scrape under his fingernails. I want you to look for any evidence of who may have done this to him," Hutch said.

"He's just a homeless guy," the attendee said.

"He is also a human being, now just do your damn job," Hutch said angrily.

"Whatever you say," the attendee said, and closed the drawer.

Hutch looked at his watch; it would be dark in a couple of hours so he decided to grab a bite to eat and see if Dobey had any information for him from the police report from last night's murder of Charles.

Hutch arrived at Dobey's office and found him pouring over a file folder. "That the police report I asked you to see about?" Hutch asked.

"Yes. There really isn't anything here. No witnesses that the responding officer could find and no sign of a suspect," Dobey said.

"I talked to a witness this afternoon. Elisha, he's another homeless man who was a close friend of the victim. He was afraid of being arrested or thrown out of the place he was staying so he hid, but he talked to me," Hutch said, then told Dobey all Elisha had told him and what he was waiting for from the coroner.

"Was the professor able to tell you anything?" Hutch asked.

"Professor Grimes only is around in the evenings, so I'll have to try and call him later," Dobey said.

"That's odd. Well, let me know what he says," Hutch said.

"Huggy able to tell you anything?" Dobey asked.

"Not yet, I'll probably call him from the hospital later, see if he has anything for us then," Hutch said, and left to go see how Starsky was holding up.

Hutch found Starsky watching a basketball game on television. "How are ya doing, Starsk?" he asked, handing him a crossword puzzle book he'd picked up from the hospital gift shop.

Starsky shrugged. "Bored," he said.

"I can imagine; I picked us up a deck of cards too, if you're interested," Hutch said.

"So, did you find out anything?" Starsky asked.

"Maybe," Hutch said, and filled Starsky in on all he'd found out. He then called Dobey to find out if he'd ever caught up to the professor.

"I talked to him about thirty minutes ago. He said he didn't know of any such cults or any groups claiming to be vampires," Dobey answered when Hutch called.

Hutch then called Huggy. "Nobody's talking to me, but I can tell these people are scared. Too scared to talk to me," he told Hutch.

"Thanks anyway, Huggy," Hutch said, and hung up.

"I guess I'm going to have to go undercover as a homeless man at night if I want to find out what's going on," Hutch said.

"No, Hutch, you aren't going out there by yourself. Let's just wait till I'm out of here then we can go out there together. We'll need to watch each other's back. I don't want you to turn up like Charles," Starsky said.

"You want to play pigeon?" Hutch said, surprised that Starsky would want to, knowing how afraid he'd been.

"As long as I got you backing me up I should be fine. Nothing's happened to me while I've been in here," Starsky said and smiled.

"Yea, but the person who killed Charles wasn't a beautiful blonde, but a huge black figure who was obviously very powerful. You should have seen the way Charles's throat was ripped out; he was nearly decapitated. On second thought, it's just as well you didn't see it," Hutch said.

"Even more reason you don't need to go it alone," Starsky said, and began shuffling the cards.

"All right, if the doctor says it's okay for you to go back to work," Hutch said, and the two detectives decided to turn their attention away from the vampires for the moment and play cards instead.

Outside of Starsky's hospital room window a bat hovered, peering in at the two detectives as they played cards; after a few moments of watching it flew away.

Chapter Eight

The doctor came into Starsky's room early the next morning. "Well, I can't seem to be able to figure out why you'd be anemic, but your blood count is perfectly normal now. I'm releasing you. Just try to not strain yourself too much," he said, scribbling notes in Starsky's medical chart.

Starsky was relieved to be leaving the hospital; he didn't like leaving Hutch in a lurch for any reason. He got dressed and he and Hutch headed for Hutch's place. As they drove Hutch called Dobey. "Give us thirty minutes and we'll be there."

"Shouldn't Starsky be resting?" Dobey asked.

"Doc said for him not to over do it. I think he's fine," Hutch said and signed off.

When they arrived at Hutch's place he was surprised to find Huggy waiting for them.

"What's up, Huggy?" Starsky asked.

"Starsky, glad to see you up and around. I got to tell you guys there is something weird going on in this town especially among the underground people," Huggy said.

"Tell Starsky what you found out; I'm going to get a shower," Hutch said, and disappeared into his bathroom.

"I decided I'd go to one of the shelters and see if I could get any information from anyone there. Well I'm asking around and I get one of two answers--either I get blown off, or I'm told that the devil himself is stalking them. I talked to one of the people working there and he tells me they've been getting an abundance of folks coming in the shelter at night cause they're all scared to be out on the streets. Then, when I leave the shelter I'm feeling like I'm being tailed, so I get back to my place and there's these dudes hanging out, and they look like bad cats, so I double back and grab a cab here and I've been here all night. Even when I was in the cab I kept feeling like I was being watched and I looked over my shoulder several times," Huggy said.

"Did you see a woman? A blonde?" Starsky asked.

"No chicks, just dudes all in black," Huggy said.

"Let me ask you a question, Huggy. You believe in vampires?" Starsky asked.

"I don't know, man. I mean anything is possible," Huggy answered, shrugging.

Starsky pulled back his collar. "What do you make of these marks?"

Huggy looked and, although they had begun to heal, the puncture marks on Starsky's neck were still clearly visible. "Looks like puncture marks," he said.

"Yea, but where did they come from? I've dreamed of being bitten by this woman twice. The third time I'm certain I was not dreaming 'cause I shot her. Hutch came along with some other officers. She was gone by the time they got there," Starsky said.

"I thought you said you shot her?" Huggy said confused.

"She just looked at me and smiled. Once she heard the sirens, she turned into a wolf and jumped out my window," Starsky said mumbling the last part.

"She what? Starsky, are you sure you haven't been eating too much Mexican food or something?" Huggy said.

"Fine, call me crazy. I know what I saw," Starsky said, as Hutch came out of his bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist.

"Starsky telling you about his mysterious lady friend who happens to be a vampire and can change into a wolf at will?" Hutch asked, then continue to make his way to his bedroom to get dressed.

Starsky breathed in a heavy sigh. "I know who I will be drinking blood from first when I turn into one."

Huggy raised his eyebrows. "What?"

"She wants to make me one. She's after me, Hug. To be perfectly honest, I'm scared," Starsky said, once again sounding dejected.

"Are you sure you shouldn't be lying down?" Huggy asked.

"Keep it up, Hug," Starsky said, and gave him a dirty look.

"Well, I'm out of here. Guess I don't have to worry about vampires during the day," Huggy said and left.

Hutch came in. "Where'd Huggy go?"

"Took off, said he felt safe now that the sun was up," Starsky said.

"Come on, let's get to work," Hutch said, and they headed for the car.

They arrived in Dobey's office to find him in his usual brash mood. "How are ya feeling, Starsky?" he asked.

"Better," Starsky said, and suddenly got the feeling Dobey knew everything, and when he looked at Hutch he knew he knew.

"Good. Got a call from the coroner's office. That homeless man that was killed had some saliva around the wound and he had hair particles under his nails. The test came back as both being from the canine family, probably a wolf," Dobey said and then sighed heavily.

"Elisha said he saw a huge man, not a wolf or a dog," Hutch said, getting frustrated.

"We're going to have to go out on the streets at night and see if we can't flush these killers out," Starsky said.

"No, I won't hear of it. Not you. I want you to go home and rest," Dobey barked.

"There's no way in hell I'm sitting on my ass on this one, no way, Captain. Hutch can't be out there alone, and if these people or whatever the hell they are want me then who better to go out there and flush them out?" Starsky said; his anger waxed and waned.

"Starsky," Dobey began, but Starsky stopped him by slamming his fists on the desk.

"Captain!" he yelled, leaning in toward Dobey. Dobey looked into the detective's eyes and saw something there he'd never seen before, and it made him uneasy. Starsky's expression calmed when he got no further arguments so he stood up straight and headed out the door. Hutch shrugged his shoulders at Dobey and followed him.

"Starsky, you were a little intense back there with Captain Dobey. What gives?" Hutch asked.

"Hutch, it seems like I'm either being called sick or crazy ever since this whole thing started and I'm just tired of it. I know what happened the other night; I can't explain it, but I know what I saw was real and not a dream or hallucination," Starsky said. They once again got into Hutch's car.

"Let's get my car," Starsky said. And they headed for Starsky's place.

They got there to find a note taped to Starsky's front door. Starsky opened it and read what it said, then handed it to Hutch and blindly walked into his apartment. Hutch read it and followed Starsky through the door. The note simply read, "Soon." It was written in blood. Starsky sat down on his couch and leaned forward holding his head in his hands.

Hutch gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Starsky, don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this."

Starsky looked up. "I hope you're right. We better get that note down to the lab, find out where that blood came from."

"I think we should take it to the coroner's office, 'cause if my suspicions are correct then this might be Charles' blood," Hutch said.

Starsky got up. "Let's get out of here," he said disgustedly.

They went to the coroner's office and told the attendee they'd wait, and that they were in a hurry. It took the coroner twenty minutes to finish the test. It came back as a positive match.

"Elisha said the person who attacked Charles was a man. So we know there are more then one of them working together for sure now," Hutch said, once they were back in the Torino. "What I don't get is why not come after you in the hospital?" Hutch said after several minutes of silence went by.

"Too many people around. They don't want to show themselves to too many people," Starsky said quietly.

"Starsk, I know what you're thinking. You can't blame yourself for Charles' death," Hutch said.

"I know, that's not what I was thinking. I was thinking that they'll find me. I'm not going to have to go looking for them if I don't find them before dark," Starsky put his sunglasses on and put the Striped Tomato in gear.

They spent the rest of the day talking to more homeless people and some of their snitches to try and uncover where the group was hiding, but they came up empty handed.

"Well, it'll be dark soon. What do you want to do now?" Hutch asked.

"Eat and wait," Starsky said. His mind seemed to Hutch to be a million miles away.

Just then a call came through telling Hutch that Professor Grimes wanted to meet with him and to meet him at his office on campus. Hutch relayed back that he was on his way. "Guess we eat later," he said as Starsky turned the Torino in the direction of the university.

Chapter Nine

Professor Grimes was a tall lanky man in his mid fifties who wore horned-rimmed reading glasses. Starsky and Hutch found him with his nose in a book when they arrived at his office.

"You asked to see me?" Professor Grimes asked Hutch.

"Well, yes I was hoping you could tell me and my partner here something about a particular group we're investigating. I'm Officer Ken Hutchinson, and this is my partner David Starsky." Hutch shook hands with the professor.

"David Starsky." The professor repeated the name like he'd heard it before.

"Have we met before?" Starsky asked, catching the professor's voice fluctuation.

"No, I don't believe so, officer. So tell me who you gentlemen are looking for?" the professor asked.

"We're looking for a group that practice vampirism or claim to be vampires. We have reason to think they are preying on the homeless," Starsky said.

"Vampires, hmmm, what else do you know about them?" the professor asked.

"Nothing, that's why we're here talking to you." Hutch said, then added "I was also hoping you might be able to give us some general information on vampires."

"You mean is the folklore true? Mostly no; vampires are flesh and blood yet dead; they are nocturnal and they are immortal. You can't scare them away by holding up a crucifix or wearing garlic and they can see themselves in a mirror. Some, not all, can change their form, others can read thoughts, there are different dark gifts that some possess that others do not. They are very fast and strong. Faster then the human eye can see. Do I believe they exist, yes, but I think they are few and far between." The professor looked at each of the detectives and studied their individual reaction to what he was saying.

"Officer Starsky, you don't seem to be as skeptical as your partner. Any particular reason why?" the professor asked.

"I've had first hand experience with one of these individuals, unlike my partner," Starsky said. His gut was telling him to be on guard.

"Really? May I ask you what happened?" the professor asked.

"Let's just say I just got out of the hospital because I needed a blood transfusion and leave it at that," Starsky said.

"Interesting. So, one has chosen you?" Professor Grimes asked, looking over the top of his glasses.

"Do you know if there's such a group here in town?" Hutch asked impatiently.

"I've heard a rumor. But I don't know for sure," Professor Grimes answered.

"Any idea where they might be hiding out?" Starsky asked.

"No, but if you have been chosen then you don't need to worry about finding them, they'll find you," Professor Grimes said.

"How can you kill a vampire? Stake through the heart, right?" Starsky asked.

"Not always successful; the best way or the surest way is by decapitation and burning," Professor Grimes said.

"Well, thank you for your time, professor. If you find out about such a group and where they might be hiding out would you give us a call?" Hutch asked, and handed the professor his card.

"Sure, Officer. Glad to help the police when I can." He smiled at them, but his smile wasn't particularly friendly.

Starsky and Hutch got back into the Torino. "That guy gives me the creeps," Hutch said.

"Me, too. Do you think he knows more then he is telling us?" Starsky asked.

"Maybe," Hutch said, shrugging.

"Can we go eat now?" Starsky said, frustrated.

"Sure, what'll it be?" Hutch asked.

"I could really go for a big steak right now," Starsky said.

"Okay, sounds good to me," Hutch said, and Starsky put the car in gear.

They arrived at the restaurant and ordered steaks, Hutch well done, Starsky rare.

"You're going to die from food poisoning," Hutch said.

"Not tonight, Blondie, all right?" Starsky said dejectedly.

"Starsk, what's bugging you?" Hutch asked.

"Nothing, except that I'm being stalked by a vampire," Starsky said.

"Don't worry, partner, I won't let them get ya," Hutch said.

Starsky studied Hutch's face for a moment trying to decide if he was being teased again; he decided Hutch was being sincere. "Thanks," Starsky said.

They finished their dinner and left. "What do you want to do now?" Hutch asked.

"Guess we just scour the streets and hope we get lucky. Or I could just go home and wait for her to come back," Starsky said.

"Maybe we need to go to the hardware store and buy a machete?" Hutch asked, totally serious.

Starsky saw that he was serious. "Might be a good idea." And once again, the two were on the move. An hour later they pulled up in front of Starsky's apartment.

Chapter Ten

Starsky cautiously opened his front door and he and Hutch stepped inside; everything was normal. Starsky went to the kitchen and started some coffee brewing. He and Hutch sat in the living room and talked while they waited on the coffee.

"Hutch, you do believe me don't you?" Starsky asked.

"Starsk, I believe you believe you saw a vampire, and I'll admit I've seen some bizarre things here lately, but I feel there's got to be a logical explanation for all of it. And before you ask, no, I don't think you're crazy," Hutch said.

"I really hope you're right, Hutch, 'cause if you aren't, then I don't know how I'll handle it," Starsky said.

They sat in silence for awhile and the coffee finished brewing. Starsky got up and poured two cups of coffee and took them back to the living room and handed one of the cups to Hutch and said, "Here. I think we're in for a long night."

Several hours passed; Starsky had gone to working on his latest model ship project while Hutch read. Suddenly there was a soft tapping at the window directly behind Starsky. He turned to see the beautiful blonde standing on the windowsill at about the same time a huge figure came through the front door. Hutch never saw what hit him; the figure simply bowled him over, rendering him unconscious. The figure then turned and fled the scene. Starsky ran to Hutch's side. "Hutch! Hutch!" He suddenly felt a presence and when he looked up she was standing there smiling down at him.

Starsky stood up and faced her. "Get away from me!" he yelled.

"David, you can't run from me and you can't win any fight with me. Make it easy on yourself and your friend. If you come to me peacefully I promise no harm will come to your friend. If you continue to try to resist me I can assure you he will be killed," she said and reached out to Starsky.

He looked into her ice colored eyes and couldn't stop himself from reaching out and taking her hand. She led him to his bedroom.

"What's your name?" Starsky asked.

"Natasha," she said.

"So tell me, have you always been a vampire?" he asked.

"I've been a vampire for almost 200 years," she said as she began unbuttoning his shirt.

"Wow, that's a long time," Starsky said.

"No, not really, I'm really quite young. Now you take Arwyn, the one who knocked your friend out, he's almost a thousand years old. He is very strong and has seen so much, but I want a companion, not just a teacher. So, I decided to find someone and after over fifty years of searching I finally found someone who I feel close to, who I know will be protective of me. David, from the moment I first saw you I loved you. The first night I tasted your blood I had to flee because the rush it gave me was so completely overwhelming. You are so beautiful, and you don't have to ever lose that if you will only become my love, my dark angel," she said and kissed his lips.

"You said you promised Hutch would not be harmed. How can you be sure?" Starsky asked.

"I could never lie to you, my love. I've spoken to Arwyn and he has said he would make sure that no harm would come to your friend if you become mine," Natasha said.

"You trust him?" Starsky asked.

"Yes, you see Arwyn is my father, he made me a vampire," Natasha said.

"And he's alright with you wanting another?" Starsky asked.

"He loves me and wishes only for my happiness. Besides, he really will never lose me for we have shared each other's blood, which makes us part of each other," Natasha said, and nearly started to weep. She kissed his chest then slowly put her lips to his neck and kissed it gently. Starsky remained still, the fear rising to the surface; he was thinking of pushing her away when he felt her fangs sink into his neck. She pushed him back onto the bed. Starsky tried to push her off, but she was unmovable and his strength was slowly and literally being drained out of him.

Hutch slowly started to wake up; his head throbbed and he felt woozy. He heard Starsky groaning in pain and forced himself to get up off the floor. His legs were wobbly but he managed to stagger to Starsky's bedroom door. The scene inside stopped him in his tracks and his knees buckled under him. Natasha stood over Starsky who lay motionless on the bed. "Starsky!" Hutch yelled. Natasha turned toward him, her eyes blazing at the interruption.

"Don't move or he dies!" Natasha said coldly, her eyes burning into Hutch's. Hutch didn't move; he turned his gaze away from hers and looked at his best friend. Starsky was pale and Hutch feared the worst.

"You've killed him already, you bitch," Hutch said through clinched teeth.

"I could let him die. He's not dead yet. Be silent, Hutchinson; watch and learn," she said coldly, turning her attention back toward Starsky. Hutch started to jump her but then decided to wait.

Natasha bent over Starsky and whispered in his ear, "Do you want me to let you die?"

"No," Starsky gasped.

"I'm so glad to hear you say that," she whispered. She then bit her own wrist deeply causing the blood to flow rather heavily. She put her wrist to Starsky's lips. "Drink," she said softly.

Starsky didn't argue and drank from her as he held onto her hand. Natasha gave out a sigh of ecstasy, because for a vampire this was the ultimate pleasure. No mortal's sexual experience could hold a candle to the pleasure of this moment. She knew the only thing that could top this would be when she and David shared this experience again after his mortal death. She pulled her hand away from him, and the wound healed immediately.

Suddenly Starsky was groaning, then screaming in agony. Hutch started to go to him, but Natasha's burning eyes made him stop.

"What's happening to him? What have you done to him?" Hutch said.

"It is just his physical death; we all go through it. Don't worry, soon he will be up and walking around and may not even remember what's happening to him now," Natasha said, going to Starsky and lightly stroking his cheek. Starsky went calm and appeared to be asleep. Hutch's eyes never left Starsky and what he was witnessing was too unbelievable. Starsky's appearance was changing. His skin became very pale, almost grayish, and his hair became an even darker brown like rich dark chocolate. Starsky opened his eyes and sat up; his blue eyes had turned to violet and when he looked at Hutch they were piercing.

"Starsky?" Hutch said, suddenly feeling that he was looking at the face of a total stranger.

Starsky didn't speak. He looked at Natasha. "David, you're so beautiful."

Starsky looked down at himself. "I'm hungry," he said, his voice was low and flat.

"Yes, my love I'm sure you are. Let's go, the night awaits us and you have much to learn," she said, leading him by the hand. Starsky let her lead him.

"What have you done to him?" Hutch demanded.

Natasha and Starsky had disappeared into the night before he finished asking the question.

Chapter Eleven

She did not feel safe until she and Starsky had reached their destination, a small rocky island where no mortal would want to live. Among the rocks there were caves and caverns perfectly suited for a vampire's needs. Hidden among the rocks lay the ruins of an old prison.

Arwyn was waiting on them. "So, you have a new companion," he said, looking Starsky over.

"Yes, Arwyn, isn't he beautiful?" Natasha said.

"Indeed he is, and is his friend still among the living?" Arwyn asked.

"Yes, fortunately, I did not have to break my promise to David." She looked up at Starsky, her eyes full of love that only a vampire could understand.

"Well, you must be starving by now, David," Arwyn said.

"Yes," Starsky said. And with that Arwyn disappeared only to return shortly leading a young woman by the hand; she was crying. She looked at Arwyn, her eyes full of fear. He turned her toward Starsky.

"Do you approve?" Arwyn asked.

"Deliciously," Starsky said, sealing the young woman's fate. Arwyn wore a ring on his thumb what possessed a sharp metal claw protruding from it; he stabbed the young woman in the jugular vein with it. She lost consciousness immediately. Arwyn caught her and lay her on a nearby couch and motioned for Starsky. Starsky took the woman in his arms and began to drink from her.

"You must stop before the heart stops beating," Natasha told him. Starsky could feel the beating of the woman's heart, hear it actually, so when it began to slow he stopped. He looked down on the young woman's face and although he felt as though he might weep, he found he could not. Arwyn swept her up out of Starsky's arms into his own and disappeared once again.

"Oh god, what did I just do?" Starsky said, looking at Natasha in disbelief.

"You did what we all must do to survive," Natasha said, running her fingers through his hair.

"What have you condemned me to?" Starsky said, pushing her away from him.

"She was a whore. She means nothing," Natasha said.

"She was a human being!" Starsky yelled.

"And you are no longer a human being. You are a vampire. We kill to survive. It's difficult at first I know, but it will become second nature to you. Make no mistake about it, killing is in your blood," Natasha said.

Suddenly Hutch's face swept through Starsky's memory. "Hutch," he said in a whisper.

"Your friend is quite safe. I promised you he would not be harmed by me or Arwyn," she said.

"I've got to go to him," Starsky said, and started heading for the door.

Natasha stood in his way. "You can't go now. You have more to learn before you can venture out on your own, my love. You are a newborn vampire, please let me teach you what you must know to survive," she pleaded with him.

"Drink blood and stay out of the sunlight. What else could I possibly need to know other then that!" Starsky said.

"David, come look out the window. Tell me if you see things or feel the same things you felt yesterday," Natasha said, looking out a nearby window. Starsky went and stood by her side and gazed out the window. Everything was different yet the same; he could not deny that all the things that had seemed familiar to him were not any longer.

I have to see Hutch. I have to see for myself that he is okay," Starsky said.

"Tomorrow night, my love; dawn will be breaking soon. There isn't time for that tonight." Natasha wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his neck. "My beautiful dark angel, I love you so," she whispered.

Starsky turned toward her and looked into her ice blue eyes; he bent his head and kissed her feverishly and hungrily. "Maybe I should eat you," he said wickedly.

"After I have taught you what you need to know, then my body and soul are completely at your disposal," Natasha said. Starsky wrapped his arms around her tightly for like it or not he needed her, at least for now.

"Where shall I sleep?" he asked.

"Come, my love, I'll show you," she said, pulling away from his embrace.

She led him down a long hall then into a room that was empty except for two coffins. She went over to one; it was made of the richest mahogany wood with gold accents. She lifted the lid. "This is yours, my love, made of the finest wood and pure gold. Only the best for you, my love. From here on out, you will not want for anything," she told him her, voice soft as a summer breeze.

"And the other one?" Starsky asked.

"Mine. I thought that until you became more accustomed to your new person you would feel better sleeping near me," Natasha said.

"Natasha, I still don't understand, why me?" Starsky asked.

"I told you. I fell in love with you the moment I saw you," she answered.

"But how can you possibly say you love me? One, you aren't human and two, condemning me to this life I don't constitute as a gesture of love. More like hate to me," Starsky said coldly.

"I'm sorry you feel this way. I hope that one day you'll see things differently and can learn to love me the way I love you," she said, and retired to her coffin leaving Starsky standing alone.

Starsky looked around then decided he should sleep. He lowered himself cautiously into the coffin and slowly lowered the lid. He thought he should feel weird or claustrophobic, but he found himself feeling very relaxed and soon was sleeping soundly.

Chapter Twelve

Hutch stood watching the sunrise from Starsky's apartment, completely dumbfounded and unsure of what he should do to help Starsky. Had he really seen what he knew he'd witnessed? He watched his best friend die then get up and disappear into thin air or so it had seemed. Starsky wasn't himself and would never be again from what he had seen. Why had they not killed him? Hutch thought about all these things and his heart ached. Had he lost his best friend? And if he had what would he do, how could he exist? How could he know what had truly happened to Starsky without facing him? Would Starsky kill him? Suddenly, Hutch could not stand by any longer; he had to take some action, but where could he go who could he confide in totally, if not Starsky? He picked up the phone and called Huggy Bear, asking him to meet him at Captain Dobey's office. He then drove to police headquarters.

Hutch walked into Dobey's office and sat down. "Where's your partner?" Dobey asked.

"I don't know. Look, can we just wait till Huggy gets here so I won't have to repeat myself, 'cause what I got to say I don't think I can bear to repeat," Hutch said and covered his face with his hands, trying to stay calm.

Dobey got up and poured a cup of coffee and handed it to Hutch. "Here, you look like you need this." Hutch looked up and took the cup of coffee.

Huggy strolled in five minutes later. "Hutch, what's happening?"

"Have a seat, Huggy," Hutch said, closing the door to Dobey's office.

"Hutchinson, what is going on! Where's Starsky?" Dobey barked.

"Captain, Huggy Bear, I'm afraid we've lost Starsky," Hutch said.

"What! You telling us he's dead?" Huggy asked.

"No, not exactly," Hutch said, and breathed a heavy sigh.

"Well, what in the hell are you saying then?" Dobey yelled.

"Captain, please, this is very hard for me to tell you and I'm so completely stunned I don't want to believe what I'm about to tell you any more then the two of you are going to believe me," Hutch said.

"Well, don't leave us in suspense, man, spill it!" Huggy said angrily.

Hutch took a deep breath and then proceeded to tell Huggy and Captain Dobey what had happen the previous night. As he finished his story he said, "I looked into his eyes, and my best friend was no longer there. He might as well be dead."

"Where is he now?" Dobey asked.

"I've no idea. Like I told you they disappeared into the night so fast I never had a chance to follow," Hutch said, his eyes filling with tears. He was simply too exhausted to fight them back.

"Hutchinson, that is the craziest thing I've ever heard!" Dobey said, frustrated.

"Well, I know to wear a scarf around my neck now if the dude ever shows up," Huggy said straight-faced.

"That's not funny, Huggy Bear! Hutch, get out there and find Starsky!" Dobey stood up and pointed at Hutch.

Hutch and Huggy Bear left Dobey's office. " Hutch, I'm sorry if what I said back there hurt; I feel the same way about Starsky as you do, man. I'll help you find him," Huggy said.

"Don't worry about what you said. Look I'm on my way to see if I can track down a Professor Grimes over at the university."

"I'm coming with you," Huggy said, sliding into the passenger seat of Hutch's Ford.

They got there in record time. "I think you've been taking driving lessons from Starsky," Huggy said.

Hutch just shot him a look that said he wasn't in the mood for wisecracks. Hutch stormed into Professor Grimes office, Huggy in tow.

"You knew! You know! And now you're going to tell me! What has happened, and where can I find my partner!" Hutch had jerked the professor out of his chair and was holding him up against the wall by the lapels of his sports coat.

The professor gave Hutch a smirk. "It's too late for him; you can't save him. And I'd advise you to take your hands off of me," he said without raising his voice.

"Dude, if I were you, I'd wipe that smirk off my face before I help my friend do it for you. Now just answer the damn question before you are put in serious pain," Huggy said, moving in closer so that even though Hutch had released him, the professor was still cornered in behind his desk.

"I don't know where they live; they come to me. Arwyn does anyway. I simply keep him informed of what is going on during the day, if there's anyone snooping around looking for him," Professor Grimes said.

"You're lying. You know where they live," Hutch said pulling his .38 from his shoulder holster and pointing it at the professor's head.

"I wouldn't worry about finding your partner. I'm sure he'll come to you," Professor Grimes said, not flinching an inch. Then he started to laugh. The laugh was that of someone gone mad.

Huggy looked at Hutch and shook his head. "Let's get the hell out of here; this guy is nuts."

"No, this guy knows where Starsky is and he's going to tell me." Hutch said.

Huggy went into action and grabbed the guy by the lapels with one hand and punched him in the nose with the other.

The professor put his hands up to his face as tears began to run down his face. "Oh, I think my nose is broken," he cried, and tried to slink back even further, though there was no place for him to go.

"Talk or other bones are going to be broken," Huggy yelled.

"Okay, okay, please, don't hit me anymore! Arwyn will kill me for telling you. There's an old abandoned prison about 20 miles off the coast on an island, I don't know the name of it, but I think that is where they are located." The professor looked totally defeated.

Hutch and Huggy left to go back to police headquarters. When they got there they, along with Dobey, started studying a map.

"If you go about 10 miles off the coast of Avalon, I believe there's a small rocky island where an old prison is located," Dobey said.

"How can we get access to it?" Hutch asked.

"I'll call, see if we can get a chopper to fly you in," Dobey said, picking up the phone.

"Maybe we should just wait till dark and see if Starsky comes to you," Huggy said, while Dobey talked on the phone.

"Huggy, you mean to tell me you believe the whole vampire theory?" Hutch asked.

"Well, don't you?" Huggy asked, slightly surprised that Hutch was still skeptical.

"I don't know what to believe!" Hutch said as Dobey got off the phone.

"Chopper is out of service. They're waiting for a part, should be in tomorrow," Dobey said solemnly.

"Now what?" Hutch said exasperated.

"We could charter a boat," Huggy said.

"Let's go," Hutch said.

"Wait a minute, Hutchinson. Let me see if I can pull some strings, get the Coast Guard to take you," Dobey said, and picked up the phone again.

"We don't have time to sit around!" Hutch said and started pacing.

"Chill out, Hutch. Dobey's doing the best he can." Huggy said.

"Well, we've struck out again. I'm afraid they won't do it cause they're apparently short handed today," Dobey said.

Hutch looked at his watch. "We've got roughly six hours before dark. Let's see if we can find a charter," Hutch said.

"Wait, it'll take at least 2 hours just to get down to the marina," Huggy said nervously.

"Then I guess we'd better start moving. And Huggy, I'm more then willing to go alone if you'd rather not," Hutch said.

"No, I'll go. I want to find Starsky as much as you do," Huggy said, and they once again jumped into Hutch's Ford.

"Maybe we should be in the Torino; it's faster," Huggy said.

"You are probably right except it will take too much time to go get it," Hutch said.

They arrived at the marina at around 3 o'clock, which gave them roughly three hours before dark. They found a place to charter a boat and soon they were racing across the Pacific toward their destination. They instructed their pilot to stay with the boat till they returned, and slipped him an extra twenty bucks for incentive.

Hutch and Huggy cautiously made their way over the rocky terrain and soon came upon the old abandoned prison. They went inside. Hutch had brought along the machete, just in case. They were first met by the pungent odor of something dead.

"Hutch, this place is creepy and that smell is horrible. Let's get out of here," Huggy whispered.

"No, I've got to find Starsky," Hutch whispered back.

They soon came to a door that looked like it had recently been put up. Hutch slowly turned the knob and found the door unlocked. He slowly opened the door and sent up a silent prayer that the door did not squeak. He peeked inside and saw two coffins.

Huggy was looking over his shoulder. "Hutch, this is getting too weird," Huggy whispered.

Hutch ignored him and went inside and slowly made his way over to one of the coffins. He slowly lifted the lid. Starsky lay inside. Horrified, Hutch jumped back and the lid slammed down shut. Hutch and Huggy began backing up out of the room when suddenly the lid rose again and Starsky sat up and hissed at them, baring his teeth at them then lay back down again, the lid lowering with him.

Huggy grabbed Hutch, who had froze, and pulled him violently out the building. When they were outside again, Huggy stopped dragging Hutch. "Oh my god! What did I just see!" Huggy screamed.

Hutch stood in a daze breathing hard. "Let's get the hell out of here," he said, and they started back to the boat. Neither one spoke again until they were once again sitting in Hutch's car.

"Hutch, was that Starsky? Oh man, please tell me that was not Starsky! Hell, tell me I'm dreaming!" Huggy said, his heart still beating much too fast for his comfort.

"Huggy, I wish I was dreaming too. What am I going to do without him? How will I survive?" Hutch said, his eyes never leaving the road in front of him.

"What do we tell Dobey?" Huggy asked.

"The truth. I don't think there's anything else to tell him," Hutch said, silent unchecked tears slowly ran down his cheek. Huggy fell silent, he couldn't think of anything to say to comfort his friend or himself.


Dobey sat behind his desk scratching his head with his hands, trying to make sense of what he had just heard. He looked up. "Huggy, you saw him, too?" he asked.

"Yea, Captain Dobey, believe me it was the scariest thing I've ever seen. It was Starsky, but it wasn't," Huggy said, dumbfounded.

"I've got to get out of here. Huggy, you want me to drop you off somewhere?" Hutch asked, his voice just above a whisper.

"Yea, drop me off at The Pits," Huggy said, and they left Dobey to ponder and mull over all he'd been told.

Hutch dropped Huggy off just before dark, then headed home. When he arrived home he went to his refrigerator to get a beer. He sat on his sofa. He took several sips from the beer then put his head in his hands and wept. "Starsky, Starsky..." He repeated his name over and over again and felt a part of himself die. Hutch suddenly felt more alone in his life then ever before and it was breaking his heart. Starsky was his best friend, the only person he truly trusted totally, and Hutch considered him closer then a brother. Now he was gone and the world might as well end. He leaned back, felt he was too unsteady to stand, so he decided he would sleep on the couch.

Chapter Thirteen

Starsky woke and got up to find Natasha already up and waiting for him. "So, my love, how did you sleep?" she asked.

"Fine, up to the point where my sleep was interrupted," Starsky said.

"What? By whom?" Natasha asked.

"Hutch. Oh, maybe I was dreaming. Anyway, I was surprised how well I did sleep. I thought I would be freaked out, but it was actually very cozy," Starsky said.

"Hungry?" Natasha asked.

"Starving. Natasha, let me ask you, is it necessary to kill? I mean you said you drank from me twice and it didn't kill me." Starsky looked into those icy blue eyes.

"My reasons for drinking from you were not for survival. I did it for pleasure, like I told you before, I loved you from the first time I saw you. You see, my drinking from you was like making love. I wanted to taste you, feel you inside me. For a vampire, this is a very intimate thing. I want to do it again and have you drink from me; this is the most intimate thing two vampires can share and believe me, it is more intense then any sex you've ever experienced as a mortal," Natasha said, and felt the desire swell up in her.

"Really? Well, maybe I do have more to learn then just drinking blood and avoiding sunlight," Starsky said, his eyes burning into hers.

"Come on; let's see if Arwyn is up. I'm sure he is, he never sleeps in," Natasha said, and took his hand.

Arwyn was waiting for them in the main hall, and he was angry.

"What's wrong?" Natasha asked, sensing his fury.

"There were intruders here last night. I can smell their scent," Arwyn said coldly.

"David told me his sleep was interrupted. He said it was his friend, Hutch," Natasha said.

"This presents a problem. I may have to kill him now, and he wasn't alone," Arwyn said coldly.

"Wait, you promised me. Arwyn, let me go to Hutch, I'll talk to him. He will not bother us if I ask him. He trusts me," Starsky said.

Arwyn looked at Starsky. "That could be his downfall," he said.

"No, I'd die before I let anything happen to Hutch; that will never change," Starsky said, not fully understanding what Arwyn meant by what he'd said.

"Alright, David, you speak to him, but you make sure he understands, and that you understand, if he invades our space again he will die. Do I make myself clear?" Arwyn's eyes told Starsky he would not win a fight against him.

"Perfectly," Starsky said.

"First we must eat, my love," Natasha said. Once again she took his hand and they were moving through time and space at a breakneck pace. At one point Starsky looked down and saw the waters of the ocean under him. Was he flying? Dreaming? He did not know. He would ask his mentor about this; suddenly he felt he had much to learn.

The next thing he knew they had reached the city and were walking the streets hand and hand like lovers. But he knew Natasha was hunting for their next meal. Natasha stopped sharply at an alleyway. Starsky looked and saw two homeless men huddled together.

"See there. I think we have found a meal," she said.

Starsky could not deny the impulse within himself that desired to kill these men. "Yes, I think you are right." He heard himself say this, and for a brief moment wanted to change his mind, but the hunger in him was too great.

"Remember, my love, you must stop before the heart stops. And don't worry about overtaking them, you are much stronger then you realize," Natasha said. She and Starsky made their way down the alley and found the men were asleep.

Natasha grabbed one of the men and before the man had time to realize what was happening, she sank her fangs into his jugular. Starsky grabbed up the other one who had woke up, and before the scream he tried to let out could ever be heard Starsky had half his blood drained. A woman passed by the alley and before she had time to be fully aware of what she was seeing, Natasha and Starsky had disappeared.

They were several city blocks away from where they'd taken their first meal before they stopped fleeing. "You were magnificent back there. The speed in which you took him, oh, I was so pleased to see how well you did on your first kill. But then again I knew you would be," Natasha said.

"Natasha, I must go to Hutch. I want to go alone, please you must understand, he doesn't need to see you, okay?" Starsky said.

"So protective you are. Alright, my love, I understand; meet me on the pier an hour before dawn," Natasha said and kissed his cheek.

"Thank you, Tasha," Starsky said, and disappeared into the night.

In no time, Starsky found himself at Hutch's door. He thought of knocking then decided to try the door. It was unlocked. He sat in a nearby chair watching his friend sleep for several moments. Hutch began to stir then sat up quickly when he realized Starsky sat watching him.

"Hutch, please don't be frightened. I promise I'm not here to harm you," Starsky said calmly.

"Starsk, is it really you?" Hutch asked.

Starsky's eyes filled with pain. "Of course it's me. No, I'm not the same person I was before, but I'm still Starsky."

"What happened to you, what has become of you?" Hutch asked, still feeling uneasy.

"Why are you acting like you're looking at a ghost? < pause > Oh I see, it was really you that came to see me yesterday. What happened? Tell me, what did I do?" Starsky asked, for he truly could not remember.

"Huggy and me, we shook down that Professor Grimes character and he told us where we could find you. So we went. We find the old prison, then we come upon this room. We go in, I open your, your..." Hutch stopped unable to say the word.

"Coffin," Starsky said.

"Yea, and I freaked when I saw you and accidentally let the lid slam down. We start backing out of the room when you suddenly sat up hissing at us. You then laid back down and Huggy grabbed me and dragged me out of the place," Hutch said.

"I see, must just be an automatic reflex 'cause I don't remember anything except that my sleep was interrupted," Starsky said.

"Your sleep? Starsky, have you seen yourself lately?" Hutch asked; his fear began to calm as he could see some remnants of his friend before him.

"No, why?" Starsky asked.

"Go look in a mirror," Hutch said, and looked down, knowing that Starsky was about to get a shock to his system. Starsky got up and went to Hutch's bathroom and looked in the mirror. He backed away in fear, and fell over one of Hutch's end tables. He got up as fast as he had fallen, then went back to the mirror. He touched his face and starred at the image in the mirror. He couldn't be seeing himself. The image he saw was so different then he was used to seeing; the eyes especially, they were on fire. If he'd been asked to describe them, he would have described them as violet fire. His skin was ashen as if he'd walked through a cloud of smoke and ashes. Even his hair was different, it was darker then before and he also noticed his fingernails were longer and well shaped. He walked back and sat in the chair he'd sat in before. "No wonder I scared the hell out of you and Huggy," he said, and breathed a heavy sigh.

"Talk to me, Starsk," Hutch said softly.

"I'm a vampire. I'm dead, yet still alive. I will never die nor will I ever age or get ill. I'm no longer human, not completely anyway. I killed a man tonight, just one of the hundreds of homeless people in this city. I did it in what seemed a matter of seconds. I had to, Hutch, I was starving. I could do the same to you, except the part of me that loves you and will always love you isn't dead," Starsky said.

Hutch felt a pang of fear at the last sentence Starsky spoke. "You mean hasn't died yet," he said, unable to control his anger.

"Hutch, that part of me will never die," Starsky reassured him.

"So now what? What do I do? You just admitted to killing a man and I'm supposed to do or think what? I'm a cop. Do I arrest you? Where does this leave us?" Hutch said, standing up.

Starsky stood. "You couldn't arrest me; you'd never overpower me."

Hutch looked at Starsky then moved toward him. Starsky caught Hutch by the front of his shirt and lifted him with one arm over his head. "Hutch, don't make me hurt you," he said, then gently set him back down again.

Hutch took a step back, not knowing how to respond. "Starsky, surely you can't be all right with this; you, a killer? I find it so hard to believe. But then again, you aren't the same person anymore," Hutch said.

"I do what I have to do to survive, just like I've always done. Only now I have to do things that aren't exactly in my nature to do, and yet it is my nature." Starsky said and his thoughts drifted back to the way he'd felt as he drank the blood of the homeless man, and had to close his eyes when that rush surged through him.

"Starsky?" Hutch said.

"I'm sorry, Hutch, just got distracted for a moment. As far as where it leaves us, well, that is up to you. I can't change what I am. And before you ask, I would not dream of changing you. I love you too much to condemn you to what's happened to me," Starsky said, his voice becoming soft at the end.

"I've lost my partner; I've lost you, Starsky. We can't just pick up where we left off. So once again I have to ask, what am I supposed to do now?" Hutch said, the frustration and hurt coming out in his tone.

"We could work the night shift. I don't have to stop being a cop," Starsky said.

"What, and if a suspect threatens you, instead of shooting them you drain their blood?" Hutch asked.

"Don't you ever feel like some of them deserve what they get? And then some don't get what they deserve?" Starsky asked; his eyes narrowed when he thought of the people he and Hutch had caught only to watch them walk away due to some technicality.

"Starsky. I, I don't know what to say to you. Isn't there another option?" Hutch asked.

"Sure, I could start feeding off animals, but there isn't any pleasure in it," Starsky said, not sure how he knew what he was telling Hutch.

"Pleasure?" Hutch said shocked.

"Yes, compare it to say eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of a tenderloin steak. A greasy cheeseburger instead of a healthy salad in your case," Starsky said, and smiled in spite of his trying not to.

"Starsky, this is ridiculous; how can you make such a comparison?" Hutch asked, and felt a little ill at the notion.

"So, what are you telling me, Hutch? Are you saying you don't want me for a partner or friend anymore?" Starsky asked.

Hutch studied Starsky. "You're really a vampire?"

Starsky gave Hutch that killer smile he usually saved for the ladies and Hutch got a good look at his teeth. "Look at me, Hutch; do you think this is just some grand scheme to scare you? Go to the alleyway near Fiftieth Street, then tell me I'm not for real. Or maybe I should give you a taste of what that homeless man went through his last moments on earth," Starsky said, his eyes burned into Hutch's and Hutch had to turn away.

"I believe you, Starsk. I just don't know what Captain Dobey will say to this, I mean short of just coming out and telling him, how else are we supposed to explain to him why we can only work nights?" Hutch said.

"Hutch, you've already told him. Don't try to tell me you haven't. I can read your thoughts. I also need to warn you, don't go back to the old prison again. I can't protect you if you don't trust me; just do what I'm telling you to do. Okay? Now I have to leave; I must feed again before dawn," Starsky said.

"Well, you might as well take me," Hutch said, but Starsky never heard him.

Starsky fled as fast as he could, knowing what Hutch was about to say and decided the temptation might prove too great...

Starsky sat at a bar; he looked around the place as he sipped his beer; suddenly someone caught his eye. She was at the other end of the bar and was starring at him intensely. She was a pretty red head. Starsky eased his way to her. "Hello," he said softly.

"Hello," she said and blushed.

"Would you like to find a table?" Starsky asked.

"Sure," she said and smiled.

Starsky looked around and saw a corner booth was empty; he took her by the hand and led her. She slid in; Starsky sat beside her.

"I saw you and I just couldn't resist talking to you," Starsky whispered in her ear. The woman was drunk enough to easily be seduced. Starsky kissed her neck right below her ear and the woman breathed a heavy sigh. Starsky slowly made his way down her neck and gently sank his fangs into her; she gasped and tried to pull away, but the hold Starsky had on her was tight as a vice. Starsky held her motionless until her heart began to slow. He licked the wound clean and propped her up against the wall. He slid out the booth then into the street without getting so much as a second glance from anyone in the crowd.

Natasha was waiting impatiently on the pier when she heard the roar of an engine; there were headlights coming in her direction, she held her breath then she saw that it was a familiar car.

Starsky parked the Torino then strolled up to Natasha; he was glowing. When he reached her, he pulled her violently into his arms and kissed her lips hard, breaking the skin, causing her to bleed. He kissed her for several minutes, basking in the pure ecstasy he felt at the taste of her blood. When he stopped to look down on her the wound healed immediately.

"I take it things went well for you after we parted ways earlier," she said smiling, her eyes telling him how she burned with desire for him.

"Not entirely. It's going to take Hutch some time to get used to the idea of what I now am, but he'll come around. I want to keep doing my job, Tasha. I wasn't sure of that until I talked with Hutch," Starsky said.

"Is that why you drove your car here?" Natasha asked.

"Well, yea, and besides that I love that car," Starsky said smiling.

Natasha shook her head at him. "Some things never change, I suppose."

"I also want to move back to the city. I want to live in my apartment," Starsky said and read her mind and frowned when he realized he was hurting her. "Look, its not that I don't want to be near you; it's Arwyn. He doesn't like me; he feels like I've stolen you from him. Don't try to tell me differently, the tension is almost tangible," he added quickly trying to smooth over her hurt.

"I won't deny that I haven't felt it, too. But David, I'm just worried that moving back to the city will make you vulnerable," she said.

"To what?" Starsky added.

"David, you aren't invincible. If the wrong person or people were to find out what you are, they would come after you and would most certainly try to destroy you. You were very lucky your friend didn't take a notion to do so. I can't stop you, but please take time to really think this over," Natasha said, looking deeply into his eyes.

"I have; come on, Tasha, let's get out of here before the sun rises," Starsky said, and they returned to the island.

Chapter Fourteen

Hutch woke up from a very restless night; he was angry and confused and scared. Starsky had come to see him, leaving him with more questions then answers. One of the worst things about it was he had to decide what to tell Huggy and Captain Dobey. And if he was a killer, did he stop him? The only way to do that would be to destroy him; could he do it? Could he look at his best friend and destroy him? Hutch knew the answer; not without destroying himself. Maybe if he was a vampire too, but Starsky had already told him he wouldn't do that to him. The blonde woman might though, and she had to be where he'd found Starsky. "What in the hell are you thinking?" Hutch said out loud to himself. He went to take a shower and clear his head. He then dressed and went to "The Pits" to see Huggy Bear.

"Rough night?" Huggy said, pouring Hutch a cup of coffee at the bar.

Hutch shook his head. "You've got no idea." he said.

"Well, clue me in, did you see Starsky last night?" Huggy asked.

"Oh yea, I saw him," Hutch said suddenly, thinking he needed something stronger then coffee to get through this day.

"Well, don't just sit there man tell me what happened," Huggy said.

Hutch told Huggy everything that Starsky had said, including the part about the homeless man. When he got finished, Huggy got out two shot glasses and filled them with whiskey. "I think we both could use a shot of courage," he said, and downed his glass. Hutch poured his in his coffee.

"So, now what are you going to do?" Huggy asked.

"I honestly don't know. I still have to talk to Captain Dobey. He's never gonna believe me, and as far as Starsky remaining a cop, well how can I, or anyone, justify his killing as being okay, then him busting people doing the same thing? It's just all too much for me to comprehend," Hutch said, rubbing his eyes.

"Man, you're gonna have to kill him, aren't you?" Huggy asked, bewildered.

Hutch looked at Huggy like he was crazy. "Huggy, we're talking about my best friend."

"Yea, but how long before the Starsky we know is no longer a part of the thing walking around now calling itself Starsky." Huggy said.

"Huggy, it's Starsky; he's not completely gone, and he says he'll never be completely gone, and I believe him. I think he needs time to think about what he's going to do next. I'm sure I gave him a lot to think about," Hutch said.

"So, what exactly are you going to tell Dobey?" Huggy asked.

"I've been wondering if maybe I should wait till I see Starsky again," Hutch said.

"Dobey won't wait that long and he knows you two too well for you to get away with trying to lie to him," Huggy said.

"Yea, I know you're right," Hutch said, and drained his cup of whiskey coffee.

"Hutch, you think he'll come pay me a visit?" Huggy asked.

"Maybe, but I wouldn't worry about it. By the way, he described how he took down that homeless man; the guy was dead before he had a chance to get scared," Hutch answered and left.

Huggy decided he was going to be an insomniac from then on.

Hutch stopped and bought a paper on his way to his car. On the front page was a picture of a pretty girl and the headline, "Mysterious Deaths Plague City." Hutch read the story in full and there was mention of the two homeless men, and Hutch's heart sank when he read they'd been found on 50th Street. By the time he'd gotten to the part about the young woman's death he was glad he was sitting in his car. "Oh god, Starsky what's becoming of you? How am I supposed to explain this to Dobey?" he thought aloud. He refolded the paper and headed for police headquarters.

Hutch got to his desk in spite of the fact that his legs were shaky. He looked across to where Starsky usually would have been sitting. Suddenly he felt sick. Hutch ran to the men's room where he threw up. He stood at the sink with a wet paper towel over his face for several minutes, waiting for the strength to return to his legs. When he returned to his desk, Dobey saw him from the open door of his office. "Get in here, Hutchinson," he barked.

Hutch walked in and sat down. "What is it, Captain?" he asked.

"Did you get a visit from Starsky?" he asked.

Hutch thought a long time trying to decide what to say.

"Well, don't just sit there looking like you don't know what to say!" Captain Dobey said.

"Yes, he came to see me," Hutch said, and then proceeded to tell Dobey what had happened the night before, leaving out the part of the killings.

"Am I supposed to believe that? Ever since you told me the first time about this vampire nonsense I've been ready to kick both your butts, Huggy Bear's too! Now tell me what the hell is going on, Hutchinson, NOW!" Dobey yelled.

Hutch looked up at Dobey. "Do you think I want to believe any of this either? We're talking about Starsky, my partner, my best friend, and you are yelling at me like you think I'm playing a game. Look at my face, Captain; do I look like I'm playing a damn game? Would I be puking my guts out over some fucking game?" Hutch said, looking intensely at Captain Dobey.

"You tell Starsky to come see me the next time you see him. I need to see this for myself. Have you seen the paper this morning? That woman that was killed in the bar last night, well I got a call from the coroner's office this morning and he told me she was missing 90% of her blood. So, if this vampire nonsense holds any truth to it, then you tell me how in the hell are we supposed to stop the killing?" Dobey asked.

"We destroy them or find a way to run them out of town. Of course destroying them would be the better option and there was more then one coffin where Huggy and I found Starsky. The professor told us that they can be destroyed with fire. I say we go bomb the hell out of the island and get it over with quickly," Hutch said.

"And what about Starsky?" Dobey asked.

Hutch looked at Dobey and couldn't think of an answer. "I'm still trying to answer that same question myself, Captain," he said, and looked down and shook his head.

"Let's not go to such measures until we've done a thorough investigation," Dobey said.

"Any witnesses to the murder at the bar?" Hutch asked.

"Why don't you go down there and find out," Dobey barked.

Hutch got up and headed for the bar; maybe he could find out from someone who worked there if Starsky had anything to do with it or not, and he prayed Starsky was innocent.

He questioned the manager, then got the names and addresses of the people who had been working the night before. He started with one of the waitresses. She came to her door in her bathrobe.

"Who are you?" she asked sleepily.

"Police Ms. White. Sorry to disturb you, but I understand you were working last night when the murder took place. I was hoping you might be able to answer a couple of questions for me," he said, showing her his badge.

She let him in. "Sure, I don't know if I'll be able to tell you much. Would you like some coffee?" she asked.

"No, thank you. Did you see the victim at all last night, Ms. White?" Hutch asked.

"Yes, she was sitting at the bar, and call me Chris," she answered.

"Ms. White, I mean Chris, was she with anyone or did you see her speak to anyone?" Hutch asked.

"Well, yes, as a matter of fact I did see her talking to someone," Chris said, remembering more now that she was fully awake.

"Can you describe him to me?" Hutch asked and held his breath.

"Hmmm, let me think. Oh yea, I can't believe I didn't remember last night when I spoke to the police! He was very pale, with dark curly hair and he was very well built. He had the most striking eyes I've ever seen. I couldn't tell you what color they were exactly, but they seemed odd to me," she said.

Hutch's heart sank. "Did you see him leave?" he asked keeping his emotions in check.

"No, I got pretty busy as the night wore on. Then some woman screamed and the next thing I knew there was talk about a body being found in a corner booth. The police came," Chris said, then added, "Are you all right, officer?"

"Yea, fine. Thanks you've been a big help," he said, and left.

He got back into his car and sat behind the wheel trying to decide what to do; he decided to pay Professor Grimes another visit. He was told when he arrived on campus that the professor had called in sick the day before and could be reached at his home. When Hutch found the address he found himself sitting in front of a huge Mediterranean style mansion. He rang the doorbell but there was no answer. He went around to the back and knocked on the back door but there was still no answer. He made his way around the house to the swimming pool area; there was a sliding glass door there. He went to it and found it open.

He drew his .38 and cautiously made his way into the house, then through the house. When he'd finished making his way through the first floor he slowly made his way upstairs. He reached the master suite and went inside. There he found signs of a struggle as there was a lamp laying busted up on the floor. Hutch went to the master bath and once again cautiously looked inside. He fell to his knees in complete shock at the sight that awaited him. Grimes's body hung from the shower curtain rod, his torso was torn open leaving his insides to hang loosely from his body, spilling out into the tub. Hutch fought off the nausea and went to the phone and called the crime team and the coroner's office. When he'd hung up the phone, he sat down feeling his legs once again become unsteady. Was Starsky capable of doing such a thing? Certainly his best friend was not, not something this brutal. Hutch then remembered Elisha telling him about being attacked by the huge dark mysterious figure. There has to be another one out there.Hutch suddenly wished it was dark so he could talk to Starsky. Hutch got up and went back downstairs to wait for the crime team and coroner; he also wanted to look for any information he could find about the mysterious figure. He found the professor's study and began to look through the seemingly endless rows of books. He found nothing there then he went to the desk; under the desk he found the professor's briefcase. The doorbell interrupted him. He went and let the crime team and coroner in and to his surprised Captain Dobey was in tow as well.

"Hutchinson, what do you have here?" he asked.

"I got a disemboweled body hanging from the shower upstairs and I was just about to look through the professor's briefcase when you all arrived," Hutch said.

"Come on, let's go through that briefcase," Dobey said. Hutch led the way to the study and when he tried opening the briefcase, it was locked. He looked in the top desk drawer and found the key. Opening it up, he turned the case around toward Dobey who began sifting through the contents. Hutch began working on the desk.

"I found his personal calendar," Dobey said, and started reading.

Hutch came across an old book stuffed in the back of the file drawer. He opened it and read the title, "Possession by the Vampire." He immediately began thumbing through it and decided he would be hanging on to it, for it seemed to have extensive information on the topic of vampirism. He turned back to the front of the book and read the author's name, Arwyn Phelan. He then looked for a year published and found it was published in 1875.

"Find anything?" Hutch asked Dobey.

"Yes, says here he had plane reservations to fly out of the country last night. And the ticket is here in his briefcase. He was going to London. What have you got there?" Dobey asked.

"An old book, it seems to be about vampirism, think I'll take it and read about what we're up against," Hutch said.

"Who would do this?" Dobey asked.

"Probably the same person who killed Charles. And before you say it, I don't think Starsky is capable of such a thing," Hutch said.

"I know that, Hutchinson, but from what you and Huggy have told me thus far, the Starsky roaming the streets is not the Starsky we know," Dobey said.

"I wish I could argue with you, Captain, but I can't. And believe me, I'm gonna ask Starsky about this," Hutch said and checked his watch.

"You got an appointment or something?" Dobey asked.

"Just calculating how long before dark," Hutch said.

Chapter Fifteen

When Starsky woke Natasha was not anywhere around, but he could hear her and Arwyn arguing down the hall. When he got to the main hall he found them. Arwyn had Natasha by the shoulders and was shaking her.

"Take your hands off of her!" Starsky yelled.

Arwyn looked at him and charged Starsky as he pushed Natasha onto the floor. Starsky charged toward Arwyn and when the two collided it was audible and Natasha let out a loud scream for them to stop. She picked herself up off the floor and wedged herself between the two men. "Please, Arwyn, David, please stop," she cried.

Starsky took a step back, pulling Natasha to him. "Don't you ever lay a hand on her again!" he yelled.

"This does not concern you, David," Arwyn said coldly.

"Oh, I think it does. I have felt your animosity towards me from the get go. You can stop worrying about me, Arwyn, I'm out of here, tonight!" Starsky yelled, and turned and walked away.

Natasha went after him. "David, wait, please." She stopped when Arwyn called out to her.

"Let him go, Natasha," he said firmly.

She faced him. "Arwyn, I love him, why are you acting this way?" she said.

"He's trouble, I don't trust him. You may have made him one of us, but don't forget, before he made his living pretending to be somebody other then who he really is and that bothers me. He could easily be setting us up, and the fact that he did not defend us against his friend, well, that's bothering me, too," he said.

"Give him time, Arwyn, he's still a newborn and he hasn't fully comprehended the magnitude of what he is. He has a lot yet to learn. And he has defended us against his friend, he told him to stay away from us. David is beginning to love me as I love him; don't spoil this for me. If you do, I'll never forgive you," Natasha said, and went to catch up with Starsky.

She searched the city and could not find him; she hoped he would return to her. She went to the old abandoned train station and took two homeless people, a man and woman she found wrapped in each other's arms. When she had finished them both, she took time to place them back in the same position she'd found them and her soul ached for Starsky.

Starsky knocked on Captain Dobey's door. When he opened the door, Starsky's appearance startled him. "Starsky, good to see you. Come in," he said, and stood aside for Starsky to get through the doorway.

"Captain, I'm sorry if I worried you, but there really wasn't any reason for you to be," Starsky smiled.

Captain Dobey couldn't help but notice the longer canine like teeth Starsky now had and he could tell there wasn't anything fake about them. "Talk to me, son. What the hell is going on with you?" he asked.

"It's just like Hutch told you. Now if you just have to hear it from me, then, yes, I am a vampire. Satisfied?" Starsky asked, his voice low; he had not fed enough yet this evening and the hunger was growing inside him.

"Starsky, I believe you. So what does this mean, for Hutch and the department?" Dobey asked.

"It means I'm working strictly nights. Now, I really must go. I need to talk to Hutch and maybe pay Huggy a visit," Starsky said and left.

Dobey took a deep breath and swallowed hard, 'cause he had seen the hunger in Starsky's eyes and he felt he'd just had a brush with death.

Starsky stopped in a hotel bar. Standing at the bar, he scoped the place out just as he'd done the previous night, only tonight he wanted something more. He saw her coming toward him; she wore a flirty little dress and her blonde hair hung over her shoulders. She was smiling at him seductively; he grinned at her wickedly.

"Hello, foxy," she said to him, and placed her hand inside his back pocket.

"Hello, yourself," he said, and put his arm around her waist.

"Do you have a room here?" she asked.

"No, do you?" he answered.

"No, so you must live here," she said, snuggling in closer to him.

"Yea, would you like to come to my place?" Starsky asked.

She kissed his lips. "Oh yea," she whispered breathlessly.

Starsky took her hand out of his pocket and lead her to his car. "Cool ride," she said as he held the door open for her. Starsky swaggered around to the driver's side and slide behind the wheel of the Torino. "Thank you," he said when he was settled.

He drove up into the hills and stopped in a secluded spot. He looked at her. "I don't think I can wait till we get to my place," he said and pulled her into his arms.

"I know what you mean; let's get in the back seat," she said, and kissed his lips.

"I keep a blanket in the trunk; I could get it and we can stretch out on it," he answered.

"What ever you say, sexy," she whispered. With that, Starsky got out and opened the trunk. He found the blanket and soon she was by his side. She helped him spread the blanket out behind the car and soon they were kissing and undressing each other. Once they were undressed, Starsky got on top of her and held her arms over her head as he penetrated her. The hunger and fury within him caused him to ride her hard and she was enjoying every minute of this pleasurable pain.

She cried out in pleasure. "I could fall in love with a man like you," she said breathlessly.

Starsky didn't answer her until she climaxed and over her scream of pleasure she heard him whisper in her ear, "Love, the only thing you are to me is a meal." Then she felt his fangs sink deep into her throat. Starsky basked in the pulsating vibration of her body and the rush her blood, heated all the more from their passion, gave him. When her heart began to slow he didn't want to stop. He got dressed, neatly folded and put away the blanket back in the trunk and sped away, leaving the young woman there on the hillside.

He strolled into "The Pits" feeling more alive then he had in all the time he'd been a vampire. Huggy saw him and had to fight the urge to run. "Starsky, my man, what it is?" he said, sliding a glass of beer across the bar to him.

"How ya doing, Huggy," Starsky said, and smiled at his friend.

"You looking kinda pale; you aren't sick, are you?" Huggy asked.

"You can't play games with me, Huggy, I know you know. And I know you wanted to run out the back door when you saw me. I can read your mind like a book," Starsky said, his voice low.

Huggy's eye went wide and he opened his mouth to say something, but nothing would come out. Starsky held up his hand. "Don't worry Huggy, I won't drink your blood. Besides, I've had my fill tonight." He smiled wickedly as the rush came back to him.

"Starsky, tell me you aren't the one who killed that girl in that bar last night," Huggy said sadly.

"Wish I could tell you what you wanted to hear, buddy," Starsky said.

"Man, you cannot be cool with this! Starsky, you're no cold blooded killer!" Huggy exclaimed.

Starsky leaned in close to Huggy's face. "Go ask the beautiful blonde girl up in the hills, and I'm sure she'll tell you differently."

Huggy would have responded, but Starsky had vanished. He picked up the phone to call Hutch, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He was in total shock and horror.

Hutch was sitting in bed reading the old book he'd found in the professor's desk so intensely that he nearly pulled his gun when he heard the knock on his door. He put on his bathrobe and went to the door. He knew it was Starsky; it was the only one it could be at this time of night.

"Starsk, how are you?" Hutch asked.

"Hutch, I can't go on like this, you've got to help me," Starsky said.

"Sure, Starsk, tell me what's wrong," Hutch said.

"Hutch, I'm changing and I can't live with what I'm becoming. One minute I'm David Starsky and the next I'm this, this monster, capable of doing terrible things and I want to stop while it's happening and I fight it, but it doesn't do any good. The hunger and anger are too strong." Starsky was on the verge of hysteria.

"What can I do, Starsk? How can I help you?" Hutch asked

"I want you to kill me," Starsky said.

"What? Starsky are you serious? Tell me what happened to make you feel this way," Hutch said confused.

"I killed a woman tonight, but I didn't just kill her, Hutch. I killed her while I was making love to her, and it was the most erotic, exciting moment of my life. She was in my arms and I was in her and when she came I sank my fangs into her and I enjoyed it. Hutch, I enjoyed it, for god's sake! I'm turning into something I don't recognize as human anymore. I have no remorse or conscience about it, until long after it's over and then I hate myself for it. Hutch, please I'm begging you, help me." Starsky pleaded with his friend, the only friend he had that he trusted completely.

"Starsky, you're my best friend, how can I kill you?" Hutch asked.

"I may not be that man for very much longer, Hutch, please," Starsky begged.

"No. I can't do it," Hutch said.

"Hutch, please I have to have peace and it's the only way I'll have any peace," Starsky said.

"No. Look there has to be another way. I found this book in Professor Grimes' apartment; it's old and it's on vampirism and I've been reading it and I'm hoping it'll help me help you. If I don't have to destroy you, why should I?" Hutch said.

"How is the professor?" Starsky asked.

"Well, last time I saw him he was hanging from his shower with his insides ripped out. Want to tell me about that?" Hutch said, thankful that it appeared Starsky had not killed the professor.

"I don't know anything about it, Hutch. Arwyn, however, might know everything about it," Starsky said.

"Arwyn? Who is Arwyn?" Hutch asked.

"He's a vampire and a very powerful one at that; it seems the older we get the more powerful we become," Starsky said.

"The author of this book is named Arwyn," Hutch said, showing the book to Starsky.

"Probably him, would make sense. I'll confront him about it if I see him again," Starsky said.

"What do you mean, if?" Hutch asked.

"He and I don't see eye to eye and I've moved back into my apartment," Starsky said.

"Bet it was difficult getting a coffin in the place without attracting attention," Hutch said and halfway laughed.

"No, there was no one around when I had it done," Starsky said.

"Had it done? By who?" Hutch asked.

"Arwyn has some goons that work for him; they moved it for me," Starsky said matter-of-factly.

"What about the blonde?" Hutch asked.

"Natasha is fine, she's what Arwyn and I can't see eye to eye on," Starsky said.

"So, you are in love with her?" Hutch asked.

"I wouldn't go that far; she's my teacher now. She feels she's in love with me but what can I say, she did this to me so I find that hard to look at as a loving gesture," Starsky said.

"Starsk, isn't there a way for you to live as you are and not kill?" Hutch asked.

"Yeah, I can feed on animals or rob the blood bank, but Hutch the thrill of the kill is so powerful I know I wouldn't be able to resist it," Starsky said.

"Give me some time to get more information before you ask me to kill you, okay. Let me go through this book and maybe then we can help you without killing you," Hutch said.

"All right, but Hutch, I have a feeling you will have to kill me. I know it'll be hard, but please promise me that if there are no other options you will give me peace," Starsky said, gripping Hutch's shoulders. Hutch started to respond, but Starsky was gone and Hutch saw the beginning streams of sunrise through his window.

Chapter Sixteen

Hutch went into Dobey's office around 1 pm the next day. Dobey, of course, was not happy. "Hutchinson, what in the hell do you mean dragging in here at one o'clock in the afternoon!" he barked.

"Was up all night last night, Captain, saw Starsky again last night and spent much of the night reading this book," Hutch said.

"So, what's Starsky's story? Does he know anything about Professor Grimes' murder?" Dobey asked.

"He feels he knows who did it. The person who probably killed Charles and knocked me practically into next week; his name is Arwyn Phelan. He wrote the book I found in Grimes' study and he's also a vampire," Hutch said.

"So, did that book give you any knew information?" Dobey asked.

"Not yet, Captain. Starsky asked me to kill him last night. He says he's starting to not be able to recognize himself, Hutch said hanging his head.

"What did you tell him?" Dobey asked.

"I told him I wanted to finish going through this book and hopefully there's another answer. Captain, he's my best friend and you wonder what I said?" Hutch said, not able to believe that Dobey could ask him such a question.

"What if he is turning into something that we can't recognize as Starsky? What are you going to do then?" Dobey asked.

"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, Hutch answered angrily.

"Well, maybe he can help us put a lid on the rest of the vampires before he turns completely. Might as well use it to our advantage while we can, Dobey said.

"I've thought about that myself. But Starsky said Arwyn and him aren't getting along and he's even moved back into his apartment. Had his coffin delivered there last night, Hutch said.

"I want you to go back to reading that book; if we can save Starsky I want to do it. I can't afford to loose one of my best detectives," Dobey said.

"I don't want to loose the best friend I've ever had," Hutch said and left Dobey's office. He sat at his desk reading the ancient book and the more he read the bleaker it seemed for Starsky. There were plenty of methods to kill a vampire, yet there didn't seem to be any way to turn a vampire back into a regular person again. Hutch decided that if he could keep Starsky away from Arwyn and Natasha he could at least keep him from loosing all of his human heart and spirit.

He went back into Dobey's office toward the end of the day. "Captain, there's no way to change him back from being a vampire into a person again. However, I'm thinking that if we can keep him away from the influence of the other two then we can keep from loosing Starsky all together," he said.

Dobey thought awhile. "Yea, but what if he continues to kill? I mean he needs blood to survive, where's he going to get it if he doesn't kill?" Dobey asked.

"Then I won't have a choice, but to destroy him. Let's just concentrate on getting rid of the other two first," Hutch said quietly.

"Okay, we know where they are how do we get rid of them?" Dobey asked.

"All I need is a little gasoline and a match," Hutch said.

"We got about two hours before dark; I'm getting a chopper to take us out to that old prison," Dobey said, picking up the phone.

"We?" Hutch asked, surprised.

"Oh yea, I'm coming with you," he answered, and began talking to the pilot.

They were on the island in twenty minutes. Both men carried a five-gallon gas can. When they entered the prison, Hutch once again was met by the smell of something dead. He pressed on, motioning for Dobey to follow. Hutch found the room he'd found Starsky in previously in and went inside. He was surprised to find two coffins, but the one that he'd found Starsky in was not one of them and he breathed a sigh of relief. He pointed to the one he recognized as being there before and Dobey went to it and began pouring the gas over the top. Hutch did the same to the other coffin they both backed out of the room pouring a trail of gas as they went. When they reached the doorway Hutch pulled out a box of matches. He struck a match and dropped in on the floor. The gas ignited immediately. Hutch and Dobey stood watching the flame spread and when both coffins were ablaze they turned and left. As they reached the outside they could hear terrible screaming from the two vampires. Hutch didn't hesitate or look back, he just wanted to get the hell out of there. Dobey, as heavy as he was, didn't seem to be having any trouble keeping up. They boarded the helicopter and were off and back at police headquarters in a matter of less then 30 minutes.

Hutch left police headquarters and went straight to Starsky's place; he arrived just as the sun set in the horizon. He looked at the sunset and for the first time didn't feel it was a beautiful sight. Starsky's spare key was under the mat as always, and Hutch went in to wait for Starsky to get up. He half expected to find the coffin sitting in the middle of the living room floor, but it wasn't anywhere in plain sight. Hutch felt a pang of panic for a brief minute, then he saw that the coffin was sitting next to Starsky's bed. Hutch sat on the couch; he was exhausted from his earlier task and he was worried how Starsky would react to finding out Natasha was now dead.

"Hutch? What a surprise," Starsky said after rising.

"Starsk, we need to talk," Hutch said suddenly, wanting to get this out of the way.

"Sure, partner, what's on your mind?" Starsky asked.

Hutch couldn't help but notice how pale Starsky was; he assumed it was because he'd not eaten. "It's about Arwyn and Natasha," Hutch said.

Starsky looked at Hutch and read his mind. "They're dead," he said, his voice level.

"How did...?" Hutch began to ask.

"I can read your mind," Starsky said. Hhis voice was flat and Hutch couldn't read the expression on his face.

"Starsk, I did it for you. I can't help but to think that if you are free from the influence of those with no remorse, no conscience, then you can have peace. You won't have to lose yourself," Hutch said.

"Hutch, you just don't get it do you? I am what I am. I am a killer. I have to kill in order to survive. I'm like a wolf or any other wild animal. If a wild animal comes into a town and kills a human, then that animal is destroyed. What makes you think what I am is any different?" Starsky said, his eyes were on fire.

Hutch didn't know what to say; he stood looking at his friend.

"No, Hutch, I'm not particularly upset by what you did, but I know that when it comes to doing the same to me, you have doubts. I know you hope that things will be different, but I can almost assure you they will not be, and you will have to do the same to me," Starsky said.

Hutch had begun to weep, and a tear rolled down his cheek. "I can't do it, I won't destroy you," he said.

Starsky went to his friend and wrapped his arms around him. "I know, Hutch, I know. I've thought of nothing else, but how I'm asking you to do the impossible. So, I can only depend on myself for this, and I can only ask you to not try and stop me from doing it myself," Starsky said.

"What are you talking about?" Hutch said, suddenly afraid.

"I'm going to watch the sunrise in the morning. I think the beach will make a beautiful setting," Starsky said his voice seemed far off.

"Starsky, let me go with you," Hutch said.

"No, this is not something you'll want to see. I think it will be better if we just spend this evening together and say our good-byes before dawn," Starsky said.

Hutch looked into the eyes of his best friend and knew Starsky was right; surely if he went to the beach with him at daybreak he would most certainly try to stop him, and Starsky was in pain and this was his only way out of it.

"I've got to feed before I can do anything else. Please Hutch, wait here for me," Starsky pleaded with Hutch.

"Sure, Starsk. I'll be right here," Hutch said in spite of wanting to follow his friend. Starsky disappeared out the door and left Hutch to begin grieving.

Starsky made his way to the old abandoned train station where he found Elisha sleeping. His first instinct was to take the old man, but he thought about Hutch and his conscience got the best of him. When he left the train station and headed back home, by the time he arrived the rat population had been dramatically diminished.

He got back to his apartment and found Hutch weeping. "Hutch, please don't do this to yourself," Starsky said.

"Starsky, I should have protected you. I should have stopped her. I let you down, partner. I'm as responsible for doing this to you as she is. Starsky, take me with you. I don't want to live in a world without you. How can I live without someone to trust the way I can trust you? How can I live without Me and Thee?" Hutch asked.

"Hutch, you didn't do this to me, you did your best. I can't ask for any more from you then that, and you've always given me your best. Hutch you'll have to be strong and you are, you will get through this somehow. Now what should we do?" Starsky asked.

Hutch shrugged. They talked about all the times they'd had together and what they would have wanted for the future. Unfortunately for Starsky, time raced by very quickly and before he knew it, time had gotten away from them and it was near dawn.

"Hutch, it's time," Starsky said.

"David Starsky, you're the best friend I've ever had or will ever have. I love you, partner," Hutch said, holding Starsky close to him.

Starsky wrapped his arms around Hutch. "I love you too, now, you Blonde Blintz. Take care of the Stripped Tomato for me. Tell Huggy and Captain Dobey goodbye for me. It's been one hell of a ride," Starsky said, and was gone.

Chapter Seventeen

Starsky parked the Torino then walked out over the dunes. He took off his shoes and socks, then walked down to the water's edge. He stood feeling the cold saltwater swirl around his ankles and the sand between his toes. He breathed in the salty air and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, the sky was pink and the very first signs of the sunrise filled the sky. Starsky began to cry. He thought of Hutch and his life and how he would miss them. Starsky walked further out into the surf. Let this be over quickly, he thought to himself. The sun continued to rise and as it fully appeared over the horizon he felt his flesh begin to burn, and before he could scream he had turned to ash.

Hutch stood once again looking out the window of Starsky's apartment and watched the sunrise, only this time he stood there holding his .38 Magnum to his head. He looked at the sunrise for the last time and thought how beautiful it was, then pulled the trigger.