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Paula W

            "Ohhhhh..."  Starsky turned his face into the blanket and allowed a blissful yawn to overcome him, stiffening his body, then relaxing into a contented, boneless mass.

            He looked up then, propping slowly on his forearms, and squinted at his partner, who sat cross legged next to him.

            "Feel good?" Hutch asked gently, reaching over to caress the dark curls.

            "Feels wonnnnderful," Starsky answered, blinking in the bright sunlight of the deserted beach.

            "I'm glad--I was getting worried, I thought you were dead."

            "How long was I asleep?"  Starsky rubbed at his eyes and sat up slowly.

            "'Bout two hours, but," Hutch shrugged his shoulders, "usually you're napping about now, guess your body clock is set for that no matter where you are."

            "Mm," Starsky nodded.  He tugged at his t-shirt.  "Gonna take this off.  Feel the sun."

            "Been a while, hasn't it?" Hutch asked, and leaned over to help pull the t-shirt gingerly over Starsky's head.  He reached to touch a newly healing scar, then another.  "Better let me put some sunscreen on these,"  he offered, reaching for his gymbag, which sat on the corner of the soft, musty blanket.

            Hutch scrambled around behind his partner, stretching his legs out in a V on either side of him.  "Bend your head down a little," he urged, as Starsky yawned long and hard again.  Hutch squished a bit of ointment onto his fingers and carefully began to spread it over the scars dotting Starsky's upper back.  "Figure these hurt enough as it is," he said, giving the back of Starsky's neck an affectionate squeeze as the dark haired man tensed again with  a jaw cracking yawn.  "If they get sunburned..."

            Starsky reached a hand back and patted Hutch's knee.  "Thanks for..."

            "Hey, no sweat, Starsk," Hutch assured him.  "It's just a little sunscreen.  Now lean back here so I can do your front--those surgical scars are..."

            "I didn't mean the sunscreen," Starsky said, settling back against Hutch's warm chest.  He turned his head a bit.  "But thanks for that too," he smiled.  "I just mean for...understanding why I wanted to come out here today."  He sagged against Hutch and yawned deeply, rubbing his eyes again, and brushing his ear along Hutch's warm shoulder as if for reassurance.

            Hutch leaned down, and paused a moment in his ministrations, to kiss the dark curls.  "You've been cooped up for three weeks, two in the hospital, and one at home.  Of course you needed to get out.  I'm glad you thought of this, it's perfect."

            "I know it was a hassle packing everything up...including me," Starsky said wryly.

            "Hey, partner, don't forget, this is good for me too."  Hutch ran his hands down Starsky's arms gently.  "I went for a swim while you were sleeping."

            "You did?"  Starsky reached back and felt Hutch's wet shorts.  "Wow, you did. How's the water?"

            "Cold, and wet," Hutch chuckled.  "I got manhandled by a wave--there's sand in my shorts."

            He didn't mention that he'd stood at the water's edge for a time, listening, mesmerized, to the roaring waves, and the mournful cries of seagulls, both far and near. 

            He didn't mention that he'd glanced back up at the blanket where his partner lay sleeping peacefully, and was suddenly filled with a burst of joy that came upon him like fireworks, exploding.

            He didn't mention that, then, he had dived into the surf with a whoop, over and over again, matching his strength against the power of the strong ocean waves, laughing, and throwing himself toward them for all he was worth.

            He didn't mention how, when the tide hadn't beaten him, he had relaxed and ridden a wave to the shore, his body one with the foamy flow.  He had climbed up the beach, then, his lithe body glistening from the water and the salt and the sun. 

            The experience had left him confident in his strength, and aware more than ever, of what both he and his partner had overcome, were continuing to overcome, and he had flopped down on the blanket next to Starsky.  It felt like a privilege.

            "Wish I could go in," Starsky said wistfully.  "I miss..."

            "You'll get there," Hutch said, resuming the gentle sunscreen spread.  "But you can't afford to get knocked around by the waves just yet and..." he rested his chin against Starsky's neck, "if you caught a chill..."

            "I know, I know..."

            "You'll get there," Hutch assured him.  "I promise."

            "I know, it's just...da...damn it..." Starsky's frame tensed as another yawn washed over him, and he rubbed absently at his chest.  "Hurts a little," he said, when he could speak.  "pulls the scars..."

            "I'm sure it does."  Hutch ran a hand lightly across his partner's chest, and down his midriff.  "There you go," he said. "All done.  Lay down again?"

            Starsky nodded, eyes beginning to droop already with drowsiness.  "Sun makes me tired," he smiled.

            Hutch helped him to lie down, then eased himself down on the blanket beside his partner.  "S'good for you," he said, leaning down to kiss Starsky's nose.  "Healing."

            Starsky lay on his back and closed his eyes.  He shifted his position slightly to ease the stiffness.

            Hutch leaned in again, hovering over him for a moment, then captured his lips in a feather-light kiss. 

            Although he tried his best to resist it, Starsky couldn't push back another yawn.

            Hutch yelped and pulled back in surprise, then leaned back over and cradled his partner's head with a laugh.  "Oh, I'm glad you find me so stimulating," he gently teased.  He leaned in for a hug as Starsky yawned again, this time into his bare chest.

            "I think..." Starsky began, reaching up to tug a handful of blond hair.  "I think you are amazing."

            His eyes closed slowly, as his body's demand for more sleep became an inarguable point.

            Hutch pulled away slightly, propping himself up on an elbow, and blinking quickly to dry the sudden moisture that prickled in his eyes.  He looked down at his partner, secure in the knowledge that the road to recovery, although long, was surely within the realm of probability--something that even two weeks ago, he could not have assured himself would happen.  Needing that physical contact, he moved one leg over so that his knee rested lightly against Starsky's hip.

            He thanked the gods, the heavens, the sun, the moon, and the stars, for the treasure that lay before him.  "No, Starsk," he whispered finally  "You're the one who's amazing."