This story is the third in a series. The first story is Bound to the Law, which is in the Classics section. The second story is Bound to the Law II: Pierced by Circumstance in Late Models. Comments on this story can be sent to: Dawnrca@earthlink.net
Carlysle is dead?" Starsky repeated, in shock.
"Get dressed," Hutch ordered distractedly, his hand still on the phone. Looking around the rented house with a frown, he said, "I'll pack up the place, we need to be outta here ten minutes ago." He was no longer in his dominant personality, but Starsky did as told anyway.
As hard as it had been for Starsky to fall into the submissive role the night before after working as a detective all day, it was equally as had to relinquish the slave mentality. He kept remembering the tall, stately Carlysle with her ice blue eyes and awe-inspiring figure. She had been a dominatrix when the two detectives had met her in a mundane matter about a complaint against her, and after the first meeting Starsky had been unable to get his mind off her. Even now, with Hutch satisfying his every need as friend, partner, lover, and for the second time, master, Carlysle still entered his daydreams occasionally. Her dominant self-confidence combined with glacier-like calm and smoldering sex appeal made for an unforgettable combination. That such a complex fusion of fire and ice had been snuffed out was unthinkable.
While Hutch threw on some clothes and then ran into the kitchen to pack up the remains of their supper, Starsky dressed more slowly. He put on his pants, hissing in pain when the rough fabric first touched his recently beaten backside, then pulled the bulky turtleneck over his head. Hutch's zeal for Starsky's body was written all over his neck and chest in the form of passion marks and hickeys. Luckily it was cold and no one would think twice about his wearing such a heavy sweater. Even so, his skin was so sensitive right now, just walking into the living room caused flares of pain every time he so much as moved a muscle. This was going to get really annoying really quickly and make for an uncomfortable night.
"You ready?" Hutch called, his fair skin glistening with sweat because he'd been running around like a crazy man to tidy up. He piled the ice chest and suitcase by the door, then made another quick trip into the kitchen. Starsky took a hurried look around the house that had been the place of such intense pleasure and pain and wished they'd been able to stay longer. It was a strange longing. He'd been beaten only a scant two hours before. Why he would want to stay was a mystery, but he felt as though the minute they stepped out the front door, the spell that Hutch had cast over him would be broken.
He peered back into the hallway, wanting to be able to examine the carving on the headboard of the bed more closely, poke amongst the books on the shelves and maybe relax next to Hutch watching a movie on the state of the art entertainment system. They'd never even sat on the sofa the whole time they'd been here! The bed and the floor had gotten all the action. It was with a distinct sense of losing something precious that he went over to the door to wait for Hutch. This was all ending too abruptly, without any time for decompression. The memories of his hours tied up on the bed, Hutch ravaging him with violent tenderness, were racing through his brain. Starsky wanted to slow things down before they were forced into the maelstrom of a murder investigation.
"Take these." Hutch handed over two aspirin and some water to swallow them down with. His mind obviously still on everything that needed to be done, he paused and really looked his lover in the eye. "God, Starsky, you're in no shape for an hour in the car and then a crime scene..."
"I'll live." Starsky shrugged, grateful for the analgesics. He knew Hutch would never apologize for hitting him so hard that he was bruised over his entire buttocks and he didn't expect him to. It was all part of the BDSM scene. The punishment had been justified, and Starsky knew there would probably be more where that came from, whenever they reconnected for another 24 hours of bondage. The immediate soreness was just something he would have to deal with on his own and hide from any prying eyes. It was a private matter between he and Hutch, and no matter how much it hurt, for some unfathomable reason, he did want another day like this one had been. "Don't think about it, Hutch."
"This wasn't how I planned, little one." Hutch cupped Starsky's cheek, lingering over a stolen kiss. Starsky leaned into him, feasting on a second one. "We gotta get going." Hutch broke it off reluctantly, forehead still pressed against the curly haired man's.
"Hutch, the collar," Starsky reminded in a hushed tone. The leather band buckled around his neck was a sacred thing for the two of them, requiring more than a simple removal.
"I almost forgot. Kneel down." Hutch watched his partner drop down to a subservient position. Starsky tilted his head up to see the pride and possession in his eyes. Giving Starsky's face a gentle caress, Hutch asked, "Who do you belong to?"
"You, always and forever," Starsky whispered, surprised to find tears in his eyes. Kneeling, with his buttocks on his heels, was unpleasant with his current bruising, but he ignored the noxious stimuli assaulting him. It was Hutch's imprint on him, and therefore to be treasured.
Hutch gently unbuckled the collar, tucking it away in his overnight bag. Starsky sighed with mingled regrets. The collar had become so much a part of him in such a short time, but it felt good to be able to swallow unencumbered.
"You want the chain back on?" Hutch asked, fishing the key and silver links out of an ornamental bowl on the front hall table.
"S'where it belongs." Starsky held himself straight and still as Hutch fastened the links around his neck. As usual, the metal was cold at first against his skin before his body temperature warmed up the chain.
"I will always love you," Hutch said softly then turned to leave as if one minute longer would break his resolve.
Once they had loaded up the car and were on their way, Starsky plied his partner with the questions he'd kept banked until then. "How come Dobey asked for us? Who discovered the body? Why didn't the first detectives on the scene take the case?"
"Harry Winston should have taken the case, but he refused."
"He refused?!" Starsky asked in astonishment. "Gee, all these years an' I didn't know I could refuse a case."
"On religious grounds."
"Oh, that's a crock a'shit."
"Winston told Dobey he couldn't be impartial due to his beliefs. That people like her were--quote--'colluding with the devil'," Hutch drove swiftly through the darkness, turning on the windshield wipers when rain began to spatter on the glass. "Needless to say, what could Dobey do? He called us."
"Colluding with the devil," Starsky repeated in a small voice. "That includes people like us."
"Starsky! He's a...Christian Fundamentalist, their beliefs are different that yours and mine, but no less important than..."
"I don't need no lecture on religion tonight, thank you very much."
"No," Hutch agreed. "But if he thinks he can't work effectively to find her killer, maybe it's better that he is off the case."
"He's worked with prostitutes and drug dealers before."
"He only recently transferred from Robbery; maybe Homicide's not what he expected."
"You think we're doin'...something evil?"
"No. We're not hurting anyone and despite what some people like Winston think, it's not illegal." He glanced over at the man next to him, the stormy night so dark he could barely see him. "I love you. If you don't want to..."
"No. I do." Starsky clenched his fists, wrestling his conflicting emotions into order. "It's just, this throws me for a loop. But I guess we're the best people for the job, huh?" he asked with sardonic humor.
"Starsky and Hutchinson, the bondage detectives." Hutch laughed. "Maybe we should have cards made up."
Squirming in his seat, Starsky stared out the car window, beginning to recognize houses in the neighborhood they were driving through. They were close to their destination and despite two aspirin and a pillow to sit on, he was distinctly uncomfortable. The prospect of viewing a murder scene wasn't what made the seasoned detective wince in pain. He didn't relish seeing a dead body, but it was a part of the job he'd grown somewhat used to. That he'd just gone through 24 hours of intense sex and a prolonged whipping probably had something to do with his discomfort but more to the point, it was the fact that he'd known the victim. Not well, that was true, but he'd seen her the night before, vibrant and alive. It was disturbing to realize that he would have to give a statement to that effect. How much could he and Hutch admit to? No way could anyone know about their relationship and what they had done immediately after leaving the restaurant where they'd seen Carlysle. What if he and Hutch were among the last people to have seen her alive? Maybe they weren't the best men for the job after all.
"You okay?" Hutch's voice pulled Starsky out of his reverie.
"Sure, don't I look it?" Starsky made an intentionally gruesome face for his partner's benefit.
"Like Paul Muni on a bad day," Hutch deadpanned, putting the car into park. There was the usual chaos of police vehicles blocking the narrow suburban street and a covey of neighborly onlookers peering from behind a barrier erected half way down the road. "Guess we're expected."
Flipping out their badges, the two detectives were immediately ushered past the stony-faced patrol officers guarding the outside of the house and allowed entrance onto the porch.
Starsky stepped across the threshold, not really relishing that the first time he got to see the inside of Carlysle's abode was because she was dead. The wet dreams he'd had about what might be hidden behind those white colonial style front doors were now all blown to smithereens.
The foyer was elegantly appointed with a crystal chandelier, a Louis XIVth-style table for calling cards and a delicately needlepointed chair gracing the entry as if waiting for the next client who would never arrive. There were police everywhere, the lab crew getting in the way of detectives sniffing out clues and the photographer grumpily telling everyone else to get out of his way. A liberal dusting of fingerprint powder marred nearly every visible surface, lending dirtiness to the interior that Starsky knew hadn't been there when the dominatrix was alive. The house must have been pristinely white at one time, with delicate, tasteful accents unexpected for a woman of Carlysle's profession.
Acknowledging several people he recognized, Hutch followed Starsky down the hall that lead to the bedrooms, neither of them saying a word.
"There you are." Edgar Callahan, Winston's partner was standing between two doors examining a handful of photos. Catching sight of his replacements, he looked relieved. "Harry was pissed enough that I had to stay and wait for you guys."
"We thought we had the weekend off," Starsky said archly. His back was killing him and he hurt in places he'd never paid much attention to before. Hanging from his wrists had stretched muscles he rarely used and being anally penetrated twice in a day was distinctly painful when he wasn't used to it.
"Well, some of your immediate work's already been done," Callahan said with a slight sneer implying he thought the two of them had gotten off easy.
"Can you give us a full report?" Hutch asked with forced politeness.
"Elizabeth Carlysle, a dominatrix by trade, such as it is, was found slain by her housekeeper at approximately 3 o'clock this afternoon." He took a breath, glancing between the two detectives. "The body has already been taken to the morgue, but we took a bunch of nice vacations pics so you can see how the body looked in situ." He held up a Polaroid of a female body suspended from the ceiling by cuffed hands. A leather mask obscured her face, the slits for eyes, nose and mouth all zippered shut, which would have made it difficult if not impossible to breathe. What most probably had killed her, however, was a large ornamental Samurai sword protruding from her chest. Several other photos showed the same scene from different angles and the splatter pattern of the blood where it had sprayed over the walls and floor.
"Goes all the way through her, pinned the body to the wall behind," Callahan said callously. "Fuckin' hard to pull her down."
It was all too much. Starsky's belly had started doing flip-flops the minute he'd stepped into the woman's house, but the pictures nearly sent him over the edge. She'd been found suspended at three o'clock, precisely the same time he'd been in the exact same position, receiving eight punishment strokes with a leather strap. The walls around him seemed to be undulating like waves on a choppy sea, and he took a steadying breath to keep the bile in the back of his throat from crawling out his mouth. Needing something to support him, he put his hand cautiously against one of the wavering walls, relieved when it stopped moving enough to hold him up. He wiped sweat off his brow with a trembling hand, hoping Callahan didn't notice his odd behavior. It wasn't exactly good form for a seasoned homicide detective to pass out after seeing crime photos.
"W-who identified the body?" Starsky asked in such a relatively normal tone of voice only Hutch really noticed how truly rattled he was.
"The maid, Angela Rodriguez," Callahan answered, consulting a notepad.
"Starsk, why don't you go coordinate canvassing the neighbors?" Hutch took his partner by the arm and pointed him down the hall. "I'll poke around here; we'll get more done if we split up the work. We can compare notes in half an hour or so."
"Good plan," Starsky agreed, vastly comforted by the brief contact with his partner. He shoved his hands into his jacket pockets to hide the jitters that still wracked his body. Grateful for the chance to exit before having to view the room where Carlysle had met her end, he left as quickly as possible without resorting to a mad dash out of the house.
"So, you interviewed the maid?" Hutch asked brightly, to distract the red haired detective.
"Was the one thing Winston agreed t'do." Callahan's expression showed plainly his opinion of his partner's defections. "We'll write this up in a prelim report, the rest is yours t'keep." He handed over the photos. "Rodriguez said she usually came by mid-afternoon and cleaned. Ms. Carlysle slept until two or three most days so nothing seemed different when she arrived today. She cleaned the living room and kitchen then came down the hall. If you notice..." He walked Hutch back down to where the hall branched off towards the living room. "You can't see Carlysle's room from here, even with the door open. Apparently Rodriguez was surprised when she looked in because the bed was still made up. Her mistress..." He smirked at the word.
"Listen, Callahan, keep your dirty mind out of it and just give me the statement without the comedy act," Hutch snapped, irritated with the detective's amusement at Carlysle's profession. While it wasn't Hutch's chosen work, he shared a common interest with the slain woman and the derision wasn't making things any easier. Maybe he was too close to the case, at that.
"Ms. Carlysle," the red head amended with a sour face, "was apparently a slob--bed was usually in a mess, clothes all over, towels wet on the bathroom floor. Everything was more or less how it had been when Rodriguez left the day before."
"And when was that?"
"About seven thirty or eight."
Just before Hutch had seen Carlysle at the restaurant, he realized with a jolt. So, that put the banker type with the barrel chest she'd been with high on the list of suspects.
"What about her bl..." Hutch stopped himself before he revealed that he knew what Carlysle had been wearing last night. "Her clothes? Whatever she had on before she put on this leather garment she has on in the pictures."
"Lab guys found a black velvet dress, and a sexy little boned black corset on the floor of the closet. Bagged it for evidence."
"Okay, so the maid must not have looked in the closet? She was alarmed because the house was too clean--what then?"
Pointing to the room next to Carlysle's bedroom, Callahan continued. "She went into the office. Neat as a pin. She claims she was worried, so she went over to what was euphemistically called 'The Playroom'. Rodriguez had been told never to go in there, that the Mistress would clean it up. The door was always kept locked, but today it was wide open. She poked her head in and saw Carlysle hanging against the wall on the right, out of sight from the door cause of this armoire. Needless to say, she called the police right away. Didn't touch the body and looked like she needed a transfusion by the time we showed up."
"She knew it was her employer?" Hutch asked in confusion, examining the first photo more closely. Carlysle was completely dressed in a leather cat suit. With her head covered, it was impossible to say who it was.
"No, not until we took the mask off." He led the way into the dark paneled room, waving a hand at an assortment of whips hanging neatly on the wall. "Kinky, huh?"
"I think I can take it from here, Callahan. Thanks for the walk through." Forcing himself not to give into irrational anger at the other man, Hutch knew he couldn't give any sign that he was more than comfortable with the accoutrement of the room. "Unless you have anything else to add?"
"Take it away, maestro, be my guest. This one looks sordid and nasty."
To you, Hutch thought privately. Once Callahan had left him alone, he wandered around the playroom, his pulse quickening. What he wouldn't do to get his hands on some of the more exotic items he saw. If it weren't for the grisly nature of his visit, he'd be fascinated by the variety of bondage paraphernalia Carlysle had owned. She was almost as well stocked as Leather Jungle.
Walking slowly around the periphery to avoid getting his feet in the copious droplets of blood splattered around, Hutch eyed the gouge in the wall where the sword had been imbedded. Brownish blood was dried in smears and splotches all down the dark panel, but most of it pooled on the floor. A crude tape outline showed the position of the body before it had been removed.
Avoiding the network of strings stretched between the murder site and many of the bloodstains, Hutch examined the room from every angle, estimating where the killer might have stood and how he had done the deed. The strings would be a big help in triangulating the blood's trajectory and once the coroner was through with the corpse, they'd have a better idea of the killer's height and possibly handedness.
"Shit," Starsky swore softly, stepping into the playroom.
"I thought we were going to meet outside." Hutch hastened to pull Starsky out of the gruesome chamber.
"S'been a half an hour." Starsky planted his feet, refusing to be deterred. "Hutch, I gotta see the crime scene, or I'm not much of an investigator."
"Is it still raining out there?" Hutch asked, his voice gentle and caring, running his hand over Starsky's hair. Raindrops hung from each curl like fairy lights on a tree at Christmas. If anyone had looked in, the gesture was ostensibly to brush the water out of the dark locks, but both men needed the touch of skin to skin to reconfirm their connection. Starsky shivered with the contact when Hutch threaded his fingers through his hair, briefly massaging the scalp, then gave a yelp and pulled away when Hutch's fingers accidentally brushed against his newly pieced ear. The slightly swollen earlobe let out a renewed throb of pain for an instant before subsiding.
"Ow." Starsky rubbed his earlobe gingerly, turning the diamond in the fresh hole as he'd been instructed to do by the piercer.
"Sorry." Hutch smiled ruefully. "Let's get to work here so we get out sooner."
"Any leads?" Starsky risked looking around, taking in the whips, chains and other accoutrements of the bondage trade.
"I was just about to ask you the same thing." Hutch stuffed the Polaroids into his jacket pocket. Starsky didn't need to see anymore of them than he already had. "Any of the neighbors see anything?"
"They were used to seein' men come and go from here." Starsky raised his eyebrows with a Groucho-like leer. "Met the woman who made the original complaint. The one that brought us out here the first time."
"Did you thank her?"
"I didn't think it was good form." He shrugged. "But she hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary for Carlysle's house on a Friday night."
"Meaning she had.... clients."
"Presumably the guy we saw at L'Etoile."
"Her office is over there." Hutch pointed across the hall. "Maybe she kept an appointment diary with the client's names?"
"I'll check it out." Starsky headed to the designated office, diligently searching through the papers stacked in unsteady piles on the desk. "Not much of a filing system," he called out.
"Yeah, the maid told Winston that Carlysle is--was--a slob." Hutch gave up trying to find any more clues in the playroom and joined his partner. The office looked pretty standard, with filing cabinets and bookkeeping records. The wallpaper was a dusky rose color and the whole room echoed the rest of the house, decorated in a tasteful, feminine style. A bouquet of silk roses sat next to an up-to-date computer on the desk. Except for the gothic décor of the playroom, there was little anywhere else in the house to reveal Carlysle's profession. Then Hutch noticed the floor to ceiling bookshelves. Although many were ordinary novels and biographies, there was one whole section devoted to the bondage arts. The titles intrigued him and he wished he had more time to peruse her collection of erotic literature.
"Kinda strange, huh?" Starsky mused over that particular piece of information, "Ya'd think she'd be real neat, like compulsively."
"Like you are?" Hutch teased. Many's the time Starsky had groused about Hutch's habit of throwing trash into the back of the Torino.
"Here we go." Starsky located a small date book covered in rose print fabric. Flipping open the cover, he centered in on the pages for late January. "Terrific, she's got the names in some code." He pointed out the page for the day before which read 'P.B. at 7p.m.'
"There may be something more on this computer." Hutch touched the keyboard but he didn't have the skills to ferret out such information on his own. Glancing up at the dark haired man, he smiled."Minnie."
"Go tell the lab crew we need this computer loaded up. I think we've done about as much as we can until we come up with a real suspect." Hutch nodded with authority. "My money's on that banker guy. He was probably the last one to see her alive."
"No," Starsky stated vehemently, his conviction sudden but strong. "The one person it would NOT be was the banker."
"Who do you think, then? Colonel Mustard in the living with the lead pipe?"
"Hutch!" Starsky flared, angered at not being taken seriously. "He was her client--her slave. He wouldn't have killed his Mistress."
Really listening to his partner, Hutch paused. "You're going to have a hell of a time convincing people of that one, pal. Most people would put him first on the list just because he let her beat on him."
"Assumably." Starsky agreed, "We don't know what their relationship was like. You told me some men worship women's feet. Just because..." He faltered, unsure how to express his thoughts. "Just because you do that to me... Damn, this is going to be hard."
"How are we going to talk around what we do and still explain why we may have a little more knowledge on this subject than we should have?" Hutch longed to pull Starsky into his arms, but it was not the right place and he could see from the stiff way the other man was moving that he still must hurt like hell.
"I just feel...he couldn't have hurt her like that. Destroyed her. This was vengeful." Starsky gestured at the playroom, "I saw him last night. He worshiped her. He'd have done anything for her. You don't have dinner with a person and then turn around and stab a sword through them."
"No. When you put it that way, no, it makes no sense. But he's still going to be seen as the main suspect."
"We've got to find out his name." Starsky shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Call the restaurant, maybe they'll have a record of his name--maybe he even paid with a credit card."
"I doubt it. I'm sure Carlysle paid." Hutch started thinking in terms of dominant and submissive as Starsky was. He was probably right, the slave would not have killed the mistress. If not, then who had, and why?
"Where did that sword come from, anyway?"
"It doesn't go with the house." Starsky took a deep breath. "Lemme see those photos again."
"Starsky, you don't..."
"I need to get a good look at the sword," he insisted. When Hutch handed over the Polaroids once more, Starsky grimaced, but looked at each photo more closely. "Most of the rooms I've seen are real girly, sorta French furniture I guess--isn't this a Japanese sword?"
"I think it is," Hutch acknowledged, impressed at Starsky's powers of observation.
"So where did she get a big ornamental Japanese sword? Shouldn't it have a whaddya call it...scabbard? Did the killer bring it? Or did Carlysle collect Japanese antiques or something? If so, where are the rest?"
"Very good questions."
After talking to the other police around the house they ascertained that there were no other Japanese swords or antiques in the rest of the house. The lab crew took the computer back to Parker Center for the resident expert, Minnie Kaplan, to have a look at it and the crime scene was secured for the night.
Starsky almost protested having to get back into the car, wondering how long it would take him to walk back to headquarters. He hurt all over and only wanted a bed and Hutch to curl up next to. Still, the police professional in him knew there were many more things that had to be done that night.
"Hutch?" Starsky spoke as soon as the blond man took the car out of park. He needed some distraction to keep him mind off the soreness of his backside. "Remember what Carlysle told us the first time we met? If we wanted to look her up, she was listed..."
"'Below Caress and above Domi-trex,'" Hutch quoted.
"Whoever killed her was real vindictive, like he wanted to humiliate her. Left her pinned up like that."
"Who d'you think would have the most to gain by eliminating Carlysle?"
"Exactly." Starsky smiled in smug satisfaction.
"Looks like we need to let our fingers do the walking through the yellow pages." Hutch grinned in return.
Despite the late hour, police headquarters was a sea of humanity. Vice had made a broad sweep on one of the busier avenues in the city, rounding up a slew of prostitutes, their johns and one very loud, expressive pimp in a snakeskin jacket and leopard print tee. Starsky and Hutch had to squeeze past the group to make it safely to the homicide detectives' squadroom. Even there they were not safe from the throng since officers booking the girl and boy hustlers had taken over half of the available space.
While Hutch was using a vacant telephone to call L'Etoile to garner any information on their banker suspect, Starsky hunted down the ever-illusive phone book to look up dominatrix. He laughed slightly to himself, wondering how many other jobs would pay a guy to do that. He finally located the well-thumbed book under a stack of mug books and flipped it open to the 'D's'.
"Starsky, man, I see you took the plunge!" Sergeant Jack Tuesday, the good-natured recipient of many Dragnet jokes due to the similarity of his name to the main character's slapped Starsky on the back with a friendly greeting.
"Huh?" Starsky asked confused, looking up from the yellow pages.
"The earring. You went under the gun."
"Oh, yeah." Starsky fingered the little jewel, glancing across the crowded room at the Hutch, still on the phone.
"I admire you, guy. I've been holding back because I thought it was kind of a swishy thing t'do. But when I see somebody like you get one..."
"Me?" Starsky echoed, both embarrassed and amazed to be considered a role model for the other detective.
"My girlfriend wants me to get one before we get married--so we can wear matching diamonds." He made a face, looking like he was undecided, still debating romantic thoughts of his girlfriend against the ramifications of male friends' opinions. "Maybe I will now."
"Congratulations on the engagement," Starsky said automatically as Tuesday returned to his job of checking off the names and addresses of the prostitutes arrested.
Married? That was how Starsky felt sometimes.
Married to Hutch. Not just his slave, because that was only on rare occasions--two so far. But he and Hutch were linked body and mind. And now Hutch had given him this earring as a symbol of that love. It was like he had a piece of Hutch inside him at all times, piercing his soul.
Turning the diamond that sparkled in his left ear, Starsky focused on the fine print in the phone book. There was no listing for dominatrix, but when he looked up adult entertainers he hit the jackpot. Astonished at the sheer number there were in the greater Los Angeles county he had to run his finger carefully down the page to read them all. It was by all appearances a lucrative field to get into. Many of the ads featured a small picture of the women in question, urging men to call if they wanted companionship, exotic dancing for all occasions, and even phone conversations with live nude models. Chuckling, Starsky wondered how you could tell whether the live models were nude or not, when they were talking on the phone. It was all a fantasy, no doubt about it. When he hit Carlysle's listing, it was much more discrete, just her single name and phone number. As mentioned, Caress was on the line above and Domi-trex the one below.
"What'd Tuesday want?" Hutch asked, looking over his partner's shoulder.
"Liked my earring." Starsky copied the phone numbers out onto a fresh piece of paper.
"I like it, too." Hutch murmured into his ear.
"You wanna call these ladies, or should I?" Starsky glanced up, meeting Hutch's eyes warmly. The last thing he was in the mood for was calling a dominatrix at ten thirty at night. He'd have preferred to go home with Hutch and curl up at Venice Place with some hot coffee laced with just enough whiskey to make him sleepy and forget about the burning in his ass. With all luck the two women would be otherwise engaged and he and Hutch could knock off for the night. It was probably the height of the work hour for a dominatrix, anyway. And he seriously needed a drink.
They split the job and each called one, but as Starsky had predicted, only got answering machines. "So, that's a bust for now," he complained. "Whatcha get from the restaurant?"
"Pretty much what I expected." Hutch settled in the chair beside where Starsky perched on the edge of the desk. " Remember she said no accounts?"
"Everything off the cuff." Starsky laughed at the pun she'd made, still trying to get his mind around the concept of her being dead.
"Carlysle always pays in cash, but she does go there fairly often. The manager was really upset to hear she'd been killed. She has taken our banker friend there on at least two other occasions but also was seen with a variety of other gentlemen. I got the impression that the manager was fully aware of what she did for a living."
"It kinda showed, didn't it?" Starsky raised his eyebrows. "I mean she was gorgeous and...fierce. Like some queen or somethin'; you almost had to bow down to her."
"But you didn't notice much about her, huh?" Hutch teased.
"I wasn't..." Starsky started to protest then saw the laughter on Hutch's mouth and longed to kiss it. "You think you're pretty funny, don't you?"
"Usually, do, yep." Hutch patted his typewriter. "Start grinding out the reports and we can get something t'drink before midnight."
"Slave driver." Starsky muttered.
"Wanna get something to eat?" Hutch proposed tiredly. Starsky had taken over driving the Torino despite his discomfort, and Hutch lay back sleepily in the passenger seat.
"Not very hungry." Starsky sighed, sitting up as stiffly as possible, but he was too sore. Every position he tried reminded him of what had happened earlier in the day. That, compounded with Carlysle's murder, was wearing him down, pulling him into a well of sorrow. He was determined not to submit to depression, but the dark, cool nothingness of melancholia was seductive. Giving in would be so easy to do, to allow the images that kept flashing in his brain to take over and haunt him.
"Starsky, you in particular had a really hard day. You need to..."
"Yeah, and whose fault was that?" Starsky snapped.
"I wasn't in Malibu by myself, pal," Hutch retorted. "Let's go over to Huggy's, get something to eat and drink..."
"You always gotta tell me what to do?"
"Fine." Hutch put a hand on the door handle. "I'll get one of the black and whites to drive me home since I don't have my car."
Silent, Starsky stared straight ahead, the muscles in his jaw flexing. "Like you said, it was a long day. You want Huggy's? S'okay with me. I'll drive you back to your car later."
"How 'bout we just go back to my place later?" Hutch's voice was barely audible over the roar of the car engine.
Even though it was after midnight, the Pits was in full swing, the music so loud the strident back beat could be heard the minute the two men got out of the car. As usual, they had parked the Torino behind Huggy's bar, entering the establishment from the rear. Marty, an ex-con with a flair for burgers, waved from behind his grill as they walked by.
"Well, well, well, look who's here in the witchin' hour. Didn't expect t'see you two in here tonight," Huggy greeted coolly, hands on his skinny, purple jeans-clad hips. "Beers?"
"Got anything stronger?" Starsky asked belligerently.
"You want scotch or vodka, Starsky?" Huggy regarded him in surprise.
"Scotch on the rocks."
"Scratch that and bring two beers." Hutch took a protesting Starsky by the arm and propelled him to a back table out of the way of several couples dancing with enthusiastic abandon. "As soon as you can serve 'em up."
"Yes, sir," Huggy answered tightly, maneuvering expertly between the dancers to head for the bar.
"You're not the master here, Hutch," Starsky snarled, glad that the music was loud enough no one would pay attention to them.
"And you don't need to get drunk on top of everything else."
"I just need to kill the pain for a while," Starsky muttered, not really meaning the ache in his backside.
"Starsky..." Hutch began but was interrupted by the black man's return.
"Though you two were off spending some time together." Huggy handed over two draught brews.
Starsky immediately took a hefty swallow from one of the old-fashioned beer steins, wiping the foamy residue off his lip afterwards. "What d'you know, Huggy?" he asked, his hackles up.
"On what subject, Starsky?" Huggy crossed his arms, his face suddenly devoid of expression. "I'm a veritable encyclopedia, a font of information on almost anything you could name."
"Starsky," Hutch repeated, a warning implicit in his tone.
"I only know what you tell me, buddy," Huggy responded harshly, "and you ain't told me much."
"What do you think?" Hutch said more calmly.
Huggy studied the two men sitting so close together at the table, their bodies nearly touching despite the antagonistic vibes coming from the dark haired one, and pursed his lips, "My honest opinion?" He lowered his voice when the song on the jukebox changed to a slow sensual dance tune. "You two got something going on; it's plain to see. Love, unless my arrow's completely off the target."
Starsky visibly relaxed as if the air that had puffed him out whooshed away all at once. He turned to look at Hutch, who smiled, and then nodded at Huggy. "Yeah."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Huggy exploded.
"We were concerned..." Hutch started, placing a discrete hand on Starsky's thigh under the table. "And still are concerned how the brass would view it."
"It's not their business, but I hear where you're comin' from." Huggy commandeered a chair, his mouth quirked into a smile. "How long has it been?"
This time it was Starsky's turn to smile. "Huggy, you must pick up on the cues pretty slow--over two years."
The bar owner gaped at his friends, finally taking a long drink from Hutch's untouched beer. "You mean...?" Pointing an accusing finger at Starsky's chest he directed the question at Hutch. "You two been dancing the two humped camel for two years and you didn't let me know?"
"What can we say? We wanted to stay under the radar." Hutch shrugged, appropriating Starsky's beer with an amused glance at his lover. He drained half the stein.
"Hey, get your own," Starsky groused, taking it back so he could have the last drops.
"Then something's changed real recent," Huggy mused, scratching his head.
"You just finally caught on." Starsky stared down at his empty glass, wanting a gallon more. Enough alcohol to erase the image of Carlysle's body suspended by her wrists with a sword piercing her chest superimposed over memories of his own ordeal. The feel of his aching arms supporting the weight of his whole body and stinging slap of the strap against his back were so real he had to bite back a gasp of pain.
"Starsky?" Hutch was sitting so close he felt Starsky's flinch.
"S'okay," Starsky lied. "Another round, Hug?"
"Comin' up, gents." He promised, disappearing amongst the dancers.
"Now that Huggy knows, we're gonna have to tell Dobey something," Hutch said carefully. Starsky listened to his partner, but he was tense to the point of rigidity. "At least explain that we saw Carlysle and the banker at L'Etoile before it comes out in the papers or something."
"In the morning."
"Starsky, you wanna talk about anything?"
"Not right now, Hutch, just not now." He shook his head. When Huggy returned with the beers, Starsky drained his in one gulp and waited impatiently for Hutch to drink his.
"I can't believe you guys played it so close to the vest." Huggy held his hands as if giving the two of them a blessing, "And I never suspected a thing. But Starsky's necklace, a diamond earring...s'like you two got married or something."
"If you could call it that." Starsky stalked off, knowing Hutch would follow.
"What's up with him?" Huggy flipped his hands up in the universal gesture of confusion.
"I wish I knew." Hutch threw a few bills on the table, running out after Starsky. The Torino was already growling when he pulled open the car door and slid into the seat. Starsky put on the gas, the car taking off with such a burst of speed Hutch had to hang on to the dash.
Flicking on the light at Venice Place, Hutch faced Starsky, angry and confused. "You barely speak a syllable on the way home, you were rude to Huggy, who was really happy for us...what's going on?"
"We shouldn't a'taken this case." Starsky started ripping off his clothes with such frantic speed it hampered his movements. When the pants zipper caught on his pubic hair he swore, tears in his eyes.
Hutch barely breathed, knowing this was not the time to offer a hand and not at all sure how to defuse the bomb his partner had become. Luckily Starsky freed the zipper teeth and wrenched the fly open, dropping his pants without a thought to his nakedness.
"You're the one who said we were the best suited to investigate Carlysle's murder."
"So I was wrong; sue me," Starsky retorted, his motions still jerky and uncoordinated as he hauled the turtleneck over his head. "What d'you want, huh? I can't do this, Hutch. Not right now."
"It's obviously more than the case." Hutch tried to sound reasonable but he was thoroughly confused. "What's wrong?"
"I hurt. I can't even stand the feel of my clothes! I'm tired."
"Come to bed."
"Why? You like what you see?" Starsky held out his arms to reveal his nakedness in all its glory. Turning around like a model on the runway he showed off the long black and blue bruises on his backside. "You want some more of this?"
"Starsky, relax." Hutch sighed. "It wasn't a come on, just...it's time to get some rest. I'll rub your neck."
"Don't touch me." Starsky's anger was white hot, sucking the oxygen from the room like a fast moving fire. He backed up, keeping a distance between them.
"Starsky, why...?" Hutch's hand shook as he unbuckled his shoulder holster, needing to do something ordinary to keep himself from panicking. How had things gone so wrong so fast?
"Because you beat me with a strap!"
Time froze, the incendiary heat dissolving as ice slicked the walls of the ocean-side apartment. The temperature in the room seemed to plummet so suddenly Starsky hugged his bare arms, goosebumps pebbling his skin. He stared in horror at his best friend, the anger gone with one irrevocable sentence.
Hutch was too stunned to react in any appropriate, acceptable way. What was appropriate anyway? He had done what he was accused of, there was no denying it. But the context of the beating had changed, morphed into a whole different beast. The BDSM wasn't supposed to impinge on their real lives. It was separate and special. Only now the two worlds had collided with the impact of a multi-car pile up and they'd never be untangled.
"Oh, Hutch," Starsky whispered, white-faced.
Hutch turned his back, walking with as much dignity as he could muster into his bedroom to shed his jacket and shirt. He supposed he should come back with a snide, sarcastic remark, but Starsky's words hurt him as much as the strap had hurt Starsky.
"I didn't...I shouldn't a' said that."
"Then why did you?" Hutch's voice was so remote he could have been standing on the moon.
"I don't know." Starsky dropped to his knees, drained. "Carlysle...she was hanging there. The maid found her at three o'clock."
Totally mystified by Starsky's abrupt change of subject, Hutch looked across the void that isolated them. "What does that have to do with you--us?"
"I was like her!" Starsky shouted. "Hanging there... I thought I could keep everything apart, but I can't."
"Oh, Starsk." Hutch crossed the apartment in two strides, drawing Starsky in to his body, threading fingers in the dark curls. Starsky wrapped his arms around Hutch's thighs, never rising from his knees.
"Carlysle an' me, I keep seeing her hanging there."
"Like you were." The puzzle pieces dropped into place, and Hutch saw Starsky with his arms chained above his head. He'd looked so fearless and yet so vulnerable there, putting every inch of trust in his master. Had Hutch betrayed that trust? They'd been in a zone together; both flying with the raw emotions of BDSM, not looking ahead to what would result from their actions. Or Hutch's actions as he'd swung the leather strap, inflicting pain. Starsky had accepted the consequences, hadn't he? Why was he changing his mind now?
"I thought I could keep everything separate, but the cop and the slave are blurring together. I can feel what she musta felt, Hutch. I know how her arms hurt an' then that feeling of something slamming into her chest. I don't think the impact of a bullet and a sword would really feel that much different in the end. You can't breathe...the pain is incredible."
No matter that Starsky was mixing two different events in his life, Hutch could decipher the code. It didn't really have anything to do with Hutch using the strap on him and everything to do with the depth of Starsky's empathy with the victim.
"Come to bed," Hutch urged, pulling Starsky's unresisting body to a stand. "Come to bed, we need to talk."
"I don't wanna talk," Starsky insisted wearily, leaning on his partner. "I just don't wanna hurt anymore."
"I love you, you know that? More than I can ever say. I would..." Hutch kissed Starsky tenderly. He'd almost said he'd never hurt him, but that wasn't true. If they continued with bondage he would hurt him again. Everything was so complicated. In their regular lives, as detectives and lovers, he'd never willingly hurt Starsky for anything in the world, but in the world of BDSM, pain was a part of the game. Not the only part certainly, but one they'd already dabbled in. Could they change gears now?
"You were the master, I was the slave," Starsky said tonelessly. "It made sense this afternoon, I was that person then and now I'm not. I'm a cop but it's all too close." He laughed hollowly. "I'm not makin' any sense."
"It makes sense to me."
"Make me feel good, Hutch."
Hutch lay back on the bed, spreading his legs wide with his knees bent. "Come in where it's warm, Starsk."
Knuckling the stray tear that had leaked from his eyes, Starsky knelt between the blond's legs, reverently kissing the inside of one thigh. Hutch sighed at the sweetness of the kiss; amazed at the gauntlet of emotion they'd run in such a short space of time. There was still much to discuss, but not until Carlysle's murder was solved. He didn't want to dwell on the 'what ifs' now, when everything was so unresolved.
Looking thoroughly spent, Starsky seemed content to take his time petting and stroking Hutch's skin. His hands moved lazily down the long column of Hutch's thighs, finally coming upon the eager dick standing there as if he'd not expected it to find it. Hutch sighed with contentment as Starsky wrapped one hand around his member, sliding his hand up and down the shaft, creating a slow steady friction.
Coming to a sitting position, Hutch reached over to cradle Starsky's cock, smiling when it started to blossom with his touch. Starsky's eyes met his for the first time, hope shining out that they could weather any storm together. Unconsciously synchronizing their movements, Starsky and Hutch increased their speed, building to a simultaneous climax. It wasn't the kind with rockets and screaming bombs exploding, but a quiet, truly satisfying one that cleaved them securely together.
His arms around Starsky, Hutch relaxed against the pillows with his partner's head fitted into the curve of his shoulder, feeling Starsky's breath on his chest. "I didn't plan for the rush out of the Malibu house like that," he whispered into the curly hair. "I had more of this kind of thing in mind."
"Me, too." Starsky sighed. "You had a plan?"
"Always." Hutch touched his lips to the forehead so close by. "You were in no shape to have to go to a crime scene. I meant to do some coddling."
"Sounds like I'm some kind of cream."
"Starsky, that was way too leading, I'm not even going there." Hutch chuckled deep in his throat. "Turn over a little, let me take a look at what I did."
No longer angry, Starsky flopped over on his belly, craning his neck to see the bruises.
Hutch ran his hand lightly over the black and blue marks decorating Starsky's perfectly rounded buttocks, then kissed each cheek tenderly. "In the BDSM scene, marks like these are to show exactly who you are. A slave. One loved with all his heart by his master."
"You've seen marks like this before?" Starsky asked softly.
"Never like this. Nobody else's ever meant the same to me as yours." Hutch drew his love into his arms once again until they fell asleep, entwined together.
"Captain?" Hutch stood in the office door, conscious of Starsky's body directly behind him. Starsky was very subdued this morning but his wildly fluctuating emotions had calmed. "We need to talk to you."
"C'mon in." Harold Dobey waved a hand, still hunched over an expense report. "What can you tell me about this woman Carlysle's murder?"
As if he'd dropped momentarily back into a submissive mode, Starsky seemed perfectly content to have Hutch explain their situation to Dobey. He smiled encouraging when Hutch glanced his way.
"Captain, we saw Elizabeth Carlysle the night before she was murdered, at L'Etoile," Hutch said. Starsky was sprawled bonelessly in a chair, examining his fingernails as if they were far more important than the matter at hand. "She was with a man--we are trying to get his name, but her client book was in code and Minnie is right now trying to break into her computer to ferret out the list."
"What were you two doing there in the first place?" Dobey asked, his attention now focused completely on the two of them. "That place is a little out of your price range, isn't it?"
Clearing his throat and mentally throwing daggers at Starsky, Hutch continued. "We were...we have been..."
"Havin' dinner." Starsky finally entered the conversation. "We just didn't want anybody accusin' us of withholding pertinent information or anything."
"Did you speak to her?"
"Hutch did." Starsky smirked.
"She came over to the table and said hello," Hutch added, wondering how close to the truth they were going to have to go with Dobey. Now that Huggy knew he wasn't sure whether he was all that sangfroid about telling their boss. "She recognized us from the time we questioned her about her business. It was an innocuous conversation, nothing that could possibly pertain to this case."
"What about her date?" Dobey fiddled with a pencil absently.
"Client," Starsky corrected.
"Whatever. Did you talk to him?"
"So you two just happened to be at an expensive restaurant chatting with a dominatrix only hours before her death."
"There's no established time of death yet," Hutch pointed out.
"Yes, there is." Dobey pulled a coroner's report out from under the expense sheets. "She died between midnight and three a.m. Had duck and wild rice for dinner--no liquor found in her system and she hadn't had sex." He tapped the paper. "That's the one I find the most perplexing. Here was a woman in the business of selling sex and she DIDN'T have any with her most recent client?"
"Actually, Captain, Dommes rarely have sex with their clients." Hutch picked up the autopsy.
"Explain that to me."
"The reason we couldn't press charges against Carlysle the first time we went out there is because she's NOT a prostitute. As a dominatrix she falls into a gray area lumped together with sex therapists in most people's definition. She's helping her clients with specific...uh, fetishes and certain..." He groped for a clinical explanation that wouldn't sound like he knew more than he should.
"Needs and unusual arousal techniques," Starsky finished.
"And how do you two know so much about this?"
"Been readin' up," Starsky nodded. "Hutch got some books."
That much was true. Hutch sighed in relief, pretending to study the autopsy. The almost indecipherable medicalese used to describe the body and the nature of her wounds boiled down to killed by lack of oxygen to the brain and massive hemorrhage from the sword straight through her heart. Starsky was right; this was a murder of vengeance.
"So, you two met this woman and were so interested in her profession you bought books to read up on it, then happened to run into her again a few weeks later in a restaurant that requires the kind of clothes I don't even think Starsky owns?" Dobey growled.
"I got a new suit," Starsky defended himself. Hutch snuck a glance at him; Starsky was wearing his usual work attire, jeans and a turtleneck t-shirt.
"Just explain to me again what you two were doing there?"
Hutch raised his eyes from the gruesome passages he'd been reading, caught like a deer in the headlights. He couldn't quite come up with a plausible answer that wouldn't put them in deep shit with Internal Affairs and just about every morals clause the Los Angeles County police department had.
"Captain, this can't go any further than this office." Starsky sat up straighter, looking unusually serious.
"What's this about?"
Realizing that Starsky was about to spill the beans, Hutch almost stopped him, putting a hand on his shoulder to rein him in, but then changed it to a gesture of support. It was better to have it come out this way instead of in some sensationalized newspaper article. And the revelation that they were a couple would probably be so astonishing, Dobey was unlikely to delve any deeper into their relationship.
"We're together," Starsky blurted as if he needed to get it out as quickly as possible.
"You're gay?" Dobey asked, stunned.
"I dunno," Starsky said honestly. "Basically it's the first time either of us has been with a guy."
That wasn't entirely true, Hutch mused. He'd dabbled in both sexes in college and while married to Vanessa when they went to BDSM parties, but none of the men in his past had meant anything until Starsky.
"How long has this been going on?" The Captain had a grim expression on his round face.
"Since just after Starsky was shot," Hutch answered quietly, giving Starsky's shoulder a squeeze. Starsky reached up and covered the hand briefly with his own, then wiped his palms on his thighs nervously.
"Well. I commend you two for keeping it quiet." Dobey still looked shocked, as if they had truly rocked his world. "I never suspected a thing. You've always been like conjoined twins...but...this? Why did you decide to reveal this to me now?"
"Because we saw Carlysle. We can't lie about that," Hutch continued. "And we may have to give sworn statements to that effect, if it comes down to that."
"We could say we were there celebratin' the Chinese New Year," Starsky piped up. "It's this week. It's a very important holiday in some circles."
"Not yours." Dobey made a face. "Just as long as it wasn't a date, I can cover for the rest. Nobody, least of all IA, needs to know about the personal lives of my detectives. But you two better keep it as quiet as you have or all hell will break loose."
"We're more than aware of that," Hutch agreed soberly, thinking he didn't know the half of it. "Thank you, Captain."
"Now get out of here and solve that woman's murder. No matter what Winston thought about it, she was still a citizen and is entitled to a full police investigation."
"We agree totally." Starsky nodded emphatically until the curls on the top of his head bounced in agreement.
"C'mon, Starsk, let's see what Minnie has for us." Hutch grabbed his arm, hauling him out of the office. "You're in a better mood this morning."
"I had some help in that area." Starsky grinned slyly over his shoulder, heading for the candy machine before going over to Minnie's office.
"Yeah, I remember." Hutch laughed. They'd awakened curled around each other like two puppies, their legs in a love knot. One thing had lead to another and Hutch had found himself impaled on his partner's dick with the shower water cascading down his face. It was one of the best mornings he'd had in a long time. "Starsky, cereal and toast weren't enough for you? You need a candy bar this early in the morning?"
"I expended a lot of energy this morning; gotta keep up my strength."
Hutch leaned in very close as if examining the other options the candy machine had to offer. "If I was master every day we'd start out the morning pretty much the same as today, but there'd be some modifications in your diet, buster." As Starsky's money dropped into the inner workings of the machine, Hutch punched the button for trail mix.
"Hey!" Starsky protested, waving his hand at what dropped down into the bottom of the machine. "That isn't what I wanted."
"It's what I wanted." Hutch grinned evilly at him, popping nuts and raisins into his mouth. He fished out some brightly colored candies with a long finger. "But I'll share. There's M and M's in here."
"That's more like it." Starsky took the proffered candy somewhat mollified. He followed Hutch down the hall munching on his snack.
Minnie Kaplan was hunched over the keyboard of Carlysle's computer, a frown on her sweet face and a pencil dangling so precariously behind her ear that it fell off when she raised her head to greet Starsky and Hutch.
"How's my favorite woman today, huh?" Starsky retrieved the pencil from the floor and handed it back to her.
"Starsky, you are such a flirt," Minnie giggled, her dark eyes star bright behind thick-framed glasses. "Whoever marries you is gonna have to lock you up in chains to stop that roving eye."
"I'll say," Hutch said dryly, feeling a smug satisfaction when Starsky blushed. Minnie had hit it amazingly close to the mark. "What have you got for us, Minnie?"
"Found two lists that are probably what you're looking for. One is a regular address book with twenty five names--all men." Minnie punched a key, displaying two rows of names on the monitor.
"She musta kept herself busy," Starsky said, bending down to read over her shoulder.
"The second is a list of cute nicknames. Like you'd use for a lover." Minnie smirked. "Teddy Bear, Angel boy.... um..." She pushed her glasses up her nose, pulling a long sheet of paper out of the printer and tearing the paper along the perforated lines to make separate sheets. "Here it is. Little Tiger and my favorite--Pink Bunny."
"Geeze, ya think she called her clients that?" Starsky laughed.
"What, nobody ever called you Cupcake or Little One?" Hutch teased, getting a second blush out of his victim in under five minutes. Starsky's eyes glared at him, but he was also trying hard to keep from laughing. Luckily Minnie was still bent over the print out and didn't notice the exchange.
"Hutch," Starsky warned. "Lemme see that list, Minnie--no wait, both of 'em."
"What are you thinking about, buddy?" Hutch asked, using a much more mundane nickname for public consumption. He recognized Starsky's intense expression, that of a bloodhound on the scent.
"There must be a way to match up the two lists," Starsky mused. "Where's Carlysle's date book?"
"I'll go over to evidence and sign it out," Hutch offered. He looked back as he left, smiling at the sight of the two dark curly heads bent close together comparing the lists.
He had no worries about Starsky's loyalty, not with Minnie anyway. But the argument from the night before still scared him. What exactly did Starsky think about being hit with a strap? Had it ruined the bond between them or just changed the dynamic?
By the time Hutch returned, both Minnie and Starsky were talking excitedly and pointing out various things on the print-out. Knowing he must have missed a breakthrough, Hutch sat down next to the desk expectantly. He looked up into his lover's dark blue eyes, feeling a thrill of happiness when Starsky grinned fondly at him. "You found something?" Hutch asked.
"The curious thing about the address roster is that it isn't in alphabetical order." Minnie explained. "We think it might be the order of when the clients came to her."
"So Michael Swanson was her first." Starsky took up the recital, holding up the list of nicknames. "Gumdrop is the first name on this one. Ergo, Michael Swanson is Gumdrop."
"Ergo? Who are you? Sherlock Holmes?" Hutch teased, just to see Starsky's face light up with another intimate smile. "Let me see this. That would make Peter Delancy Sweetcheeks?" He deciphered, beginning to feel the contagious excitement.
"Isn't he on the school board?" Minnie asked to no one in particular. "But that doesn't help you figure out the name of her last client, the one on Friday night."
"Yes, it does. That's where the date book comes in," Starsky declared. He picked up the floral bound book with a flourish. It was an 18-month calendar so the book began with January of the previous year and went through July of the current year. "Carlysle hadn't been around very long before Hutch an' me met her the first week in January. So, presto--" He flipped the calendar pages until he found several notations on mid November. "See here? She's got appointments with carpenters and the phone company. Either she was movin' in or startin' up her business. Then..." He turned a few more pages. "December 15 she had 'G' at 6 p.m. with 'heavy training' written underneath."
"'G' for Gumdrop, or Michael Swanson," Hutch said softly once again amazed at Starsky's intuitive powers. Sure enough, as they compared the lists with the date book, a more complete story of Carlysle's business was revealed. Some men came only once or twice. Gumdrop was a regular. Early in January 'P.B.' started showing up, appearing numerous times ending with the last entry on the fateful night in question. Hutch was struck by the fact that P.B's first session was the exact same Saturday that he and Starsky had entered the BDSM scene. Synchronicity of an ironic sort. They were oddly bound together with the banker by their mutual fetishes.
"And P.B. would be Pink Bunny, number 19," Minnie guessed. "And his real name is..." Starsky imitated a drum roll, slapping his thighs.
Trying not to be distracted by his partner's antics and the stray thought of having his own hands on those jean clad thighs, Hutch slid a finger down the second list. "Everett Buchanon, 779 Allansdale Way. Apartment 4."
"We have our man!" Starsky crowed.