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Nikki Harrington

They walked out of the bar, arms around each other's shoulders.

Once outside, Starsky dropped his arm and grabbed Hutch's in a steel tight grip. He forced him over to Hutch's LTD and with a growl said, "Get in. Now."

"Starsk, wait . . ."

"I said now, Hutch, and I mean now." Before Hutch could reply, Starsky dug into the pockets of his black leather jacket and found his set of keys. Still gripping Hutch's arm, he pushed the key into the lock and pulled open the door. Then he forced Hutch into the car, one hand still in its death grip, the other on Hutch's head.

'We're goin' to my place—and if you pull any stunts, then I swear to God, Hutchinson, I'll shoot your tires out." Starsky was deadly serious.

Hutch stared up into his partner's eyes, seeing something he had never seen before, something he couldn't identify. Then, realizing that Starsky wasn't going to move before he did, he shrugged in resignation and, digging in the pocket of his own black leather jacket, found the keys and started the engine.

Starsky stood for a few seconds waiting to see if Hutch was pulling away in the correct direction. Hutch winced as the heard the squeal of tires; being in a car with Starsky and hearing the noise was one thing, but hearing it second hand was another. He glanced, unnecessarily, in the rear-view mirror and saw the Torino hugging his bumper.

At one point Hutch found that his 'tail' had been caught by a red light and he fleetingly considered not driving to Starsky's place. This thought was quickly pushed from his mind as he recalled Starsky's words about the tires and the look in his eyes as he said it. Starsky had meant it; Hutch had no doubt about it. Whether it would have meant a suspension if IA ever found out—"A detective does not shoot his gun, unless he intends to kill,"—didn't seem to matter. Starsky was totally determined. So Hutch continued to drive to Starsky's apartment. He pulled up and parked in his usual place and then, unusually, he waited for the Torino to squeal to a halt behind him. Starsky climbed out of the car, locked the door and walked to the driver's side of the LTD.

Hutch caught the fleeting look on his face, and his heart softened. Starsky had not been sure that Hutch would acquiesce—even in spite of his threat. Are you that unsure of me, buddy? The thought hurt, but Hutch was still wary, still feeling too guilty to voice it. They'd made up—he thought—before they went to see Kira, but Starsky obviously had something on his mind.

Starsky's voice cut into his thoughts. "Why didn't ya go up?"

Hutch shrugged noncommittally; he didn't feel that he should voice the fact that he wasn't sure of his welcome, because now that he'd seen Starsky's eyes—seen the vulnerability in them—he knew he was. Instead he said, "I've really only just got here."

"Okay." Starsky seemed to accept the lie. He looked weary and suddenly all Hutch wanted to do was to take him in his arms and kiss away the pain. He stared into the blue eyes he knew and loved so well and made a tentative gesture with his hand, but Starsky had turned away and was moving towards the stairs leading to his apartment.

Once inside, Starsky removed his jacket and his holster. His look at Hutch told him to do the same. Hutch swallowed and did as he was bid. Then with a swift movement that surprised Hutch, Starsky swept up both jackets and guns and dumped them in the far corner of the room. Any protest Hutch may have had was silenced with a curt, "Well?"

"Well what?" Hutch started edging.

"Are you gonna tell me what the fuck you're playing at, Hutchinson?" Starsky's voice was quiet—yet deadly. The voice Hutch heard very rarely, usually being only reserved for the worse offenders they apprehended. The use of his full name also jolted him. Starsky used it on occasions—but tonight it had a different edge to it.

Hutch became defensive. "You care to elucidate, partner?" he asked, trying to keep his tone light.

"Partner! Now that's a problematic term these days—isn't it? Oh yeah, Hutch, I know big words too, just because I don't use them often. Okay, simply put—partner." Starsky's tone dripped scorn and Hutch was chilled. "I want to know why the hell you were fucking about with both Marianne and Kira. And I don't just mean in the biblical sense, I mean why were you risking your life and our partnership? Or don't neither matter much to you anymore?"

Hutch froze. Their partnership meant more to him than anything in the world—his own life included. But still he wasn't prepared to give in and once again he hedged, "Come on, Starsky, you're getting a bit melodramatic, aren't you? Just because I . . . ." He broke off as Starsky started to move towards him, eyes blazing. Hutch had never seen a mad Starsky heading his way, even when he had played all his dumb games in the past. Even when he told Starsky about the fake amnesia, Starsky's anger wasn't that intense. Now it was. Unwittingly, he took a step backward and then another one, pausing only when Starsky did.

"You think I'm being melodramatic, do you? Let me explain a few things to you—partner." The same icy tone on the word that Starsky had adopted a few moments earlier made Hutch feel the chill of the warm room. Usually when they used the term, it was with love, affection, teasing, exasperation even—but this was being used as though it was a curse. "Your cover got blown, you didn't report in, you got beat up and didn't come home all night. You fuck the woman you are meant to be using, you bring her to your home and confess that you're a cop. Then to finish it all off you walk away from me, when I'm trying to understand you."

"Understand me? Oh that's a good one, Starsk! You didn't try to understand what I felt for Marianne, all you cared about was the fucking case." Hutch joined in the verbal war.

"All we had was the case, Hutch. No, I didn't care about Marianne; she was a loser all the way. But I cared about you. Do ya know what it did to me watching you walk out of the door that night? Do you know how scared I was waiting for you to come home?"

"Sure as hell didn't seem like it," Hutch muttered.

"What!" Starsky exploded.

"I said you didn't seem that concerned when I came back that morning. And as for walking out on you, you could have followed me!" Hutch threw the words at Starsky and watched a myriad of emotions cross over his face.

"Follow you—where? Back to her? What did you want me to do, watch you fuck her?"

"Is that what this is all about, Starsky, me fucking Marianne? Is that what it is, partner? You can't bear to think of me with anyone."

"At least you don't deny it," Starsky cut in; his words were quiet, but clear.

"Deny what?" Hutch was momentarily confused.

"That that's all it was—fucking. At least you aren't trying to pretend you made love to her. Look, Hutch, I don't give a damn who you sleep with—you can fuck the whole precinct for all I care, but I do care about your life and you risked it. Hutch, you didn't behave like a cop over the whole affair." Starsky had calmed slightly, but before Hutch could reply he went on. "And as for Kira. Well, you certainly didn't behave like a cop then."

"Since when have you been so interested in police procedure?" Hutch sneered. "Keep police manuals in the john now, rather than comic books?"

"Putting aside the cop bit then, you didn't behave like my partner or my friend, and I wanna know why, Hutch. And I wanna know now." Game was over. Starsky moved in closer.

Backing away further, Hutch found himself in the corner of the room and still Starsky was advancing. He tried to prevaricate one more time. "Come on, Starsk, she was no good. You know that. She came on to me. She . . ."

"I don't give a shit about her. I know she invited you into her bed, I know she flirted with you. Christ, that woman couldn't keep her legs shut. I know it, Hutch. I didn't care that she'd slept with you, what I cared about is that you slept with her. You slept with her after I told you that I loved her. Hutch, you fucked my girlfriend—why? Whatever was wrong, why couldn't you talk to me? Shit, Hutch, talk to me now. Tell me."

Hutch was panicking and he had nowhere to run—literally or figuratively. Starsky had now totally invaded his personal space to such an extent, that had Hutch not had his head dropped, Starsky would have had to look up to meet Hutch's gaze. He tried one last time, "Starsk, don't make such a big deal of it. Look, okay, I admit it. I screwed up over both Marianne and Kira. It happens. I'm here, aren't I? I survived."

"No, Hutch, it didn't just 'happen'. You made it happen. You let it happen." Starsky's tone was now very quiet and amazingly vulnerable. Hutch had to force himself not to reach out and gather him close to him. "And I want to know why. And I want to know now, Hutch. Or . . ." Starsky broke off and this time a flash of anguish passed through his eyes, before the steel glint returned. "Or . . . it's over."

"What?" Hutch's voice was barely a whisper. "What's over?" he finally dared to ask.

"Us. Everything we are. The love; the friendship; the affair . . . ." Starsky broke off and then with determination looked straight into Hutch's eyes and said simply, "The partnership. It's your choice partner." This time the word had none of the previous sarcasm in it, just the weariness of a man who had no fight left in him. "What's it worth? What's it worth to you, Hutch?" He maintained eye contact with Hutch for a few seconds longer and then bowed his own head and started to turn around and move away.

Galvanized into action, Hutch reached out and stopped him. "Don't . . ." his voice sounded hoarse to his own ears. "Don't talk like that. Starsky, don't you realize that the partnership means everything to me? That we mean everything—you . . . me?"

"Don't seem like it lately—does it? Oh, babe, it ain't been just you. I know that. But . . ." Starsky's eyes begged Hutch to tell him the truth. He'd played his final card—Hutch knew it. Just as he knew that this time there would be no going back. Starsky meant it; even if it destroyed him, Starsky would walk away if Hutch didn't tell him the truth. Walk away, out of Hutch's life, and he knew he'd never see him again. Two lives would be destroyed if he didn't speak.

"I want you," Hutch said simply. In the end it was that straightforward. Starsky watched him, warily, waiting for more. "I want all of you. All of you to myself. I don't want to share you any more, Starsk. I'm tired of playing the game, of chasing women, of pretending that I want them, when all I want is you. I'm tired of pretending that you and I are merely 'buddies'. I love you, David Michael Starsky, and I want you forever—I want you exclusively, babe. Me and thee. That clear enough for you?" Hutch dropped the hand that had been gripping Starsky's arm and turned away, bowing his head to the wall.

"How long for you?" Starsky's voice was quiet and broke into Hutch's world.

"It seems like forever. Right since the very first time; right since the night when I seduced you, after you got me partly drunk, trying to help me get over having to shoot that bastard Corman."

"Not sure who seduced who," Starsky muttered.

Hutch acknowledged Starsky's words with a gentle smile. "Maybe you're right, babe, but however it went down, I think I've known all along that it's you and only you. But I'm not sure that I was consciously aware of it until . . . until Van died. Her death clarified, and brought to the surface, a lot of feelings. I'd had it all with her. From the time we got serious about each other, right up until we divorced, I was faithful to her. Even when we'd separated and were fighting, I never went to bed with anyone else. Hell, it took long enough for me to go to bed with a woman once the divorce came through. If I'm honest, she was the only woman I truly loved. And when I saw her lying in my living room, dead, shot with my gun—well it was suddenly like my eyes had been opened and I knew that I wanted this level of commitment with you. So what did I do? Rather than talk to you, I pushed you away. I found even more ways to belittle you. I played more and more prove it games, until it became second nature. Every woman I saw you with I hated. I saw each and every one of them as a threat—but I couldn't say anything, we'd agreed over the years and anyway, you were pulling away too. You didn't seem to need me as much, to want me, we didn't touch as much, talk as much, even going to bed together seemed to raise more questions than answers. I . . ." Hutch broke off and stared at Starsky. "What did you ask?"

"I wondered how long before it got into your brain, ya big, blond, beautiful, insecure idiot." Starsky's expression was a mixture of amusement, pain, relief and wonder.

"You mean . . . ?" Hutch found his throat had constricted.

"Yeah, so much for agreements. I first thought of it, really thought of it that is, after you almost died from the plague, but I put that down a natural over-reaction and I tried not to think about it. But the day I finally knew was the day Kate Larrabee walked back into your life; or rather the day I came round and found you'd both been playing with water. I looked at you two and for the first time I was so jealous, so scared that you'd go off with her that it shocked me. I didn't know what to do or say. Then Nicky arrived and we got caught up in all his shit and then, well the next time I looked up, there you were making a fool of yourself over Marianne. And then . . ."

"And then I fucked Kira. Starsk, that was just about the worst thing I ever did in my life. I didn't care for her at all. She might have been a hooker for all the feelings I had for her. All I knew was that I had to keep her away from you and if that meant losing us, I'd do it. I loved you—I love you—that much, babe."

Before Hutch could say another word, Starsky pulled him into his arms and crushed him to him. For several long moments they stood lost in the healing hug, until Hutch could stand it no longer. Pulling away just enough, he found Starsky's mouth and kissed him. The kiss was everything Hutch could have wished for—but nothing like he was expecting. It was a mixture of the innocence of a kiss between friends, mixed with the passion of the operas of Verdi. The uncertainty of a first kiss combined with the surety of established lovers. As Starsky's tongue gently pushed Hutch's lips apart, Hutch moaned gently and pushed himself even harder against his partner's body.

A wave of love, desire, passion and security surged through Hutch and for a moment he thought that he was going to explode with happiness and then felt a feeling like he'd never known before overwhelm him, a feeling of all encompassing, utter and total love for one person. He loved with his heart and soul, with his own being. If it hadn't been for Starsky's strong arms holding him, he'd have fallen. Starsky simply gripped him tighter—if it were possible—and kept kissing him, his hand caressing Hutch's back. Hutch felt the power of Starsky's erection pushing against his own groin and the desire flooded through him again. Finally Starsky broke the kiss and pulled away just enough to stare into Hutch's face. Both men were still holding each other by the arms and were both breathing harder than Hutch had ever breathed after kissing someone. He watched as Starsky ran his tongue over his lips, wetting them and causing Hutch to feel another thrill of passion surge through his whole body, his soul, his very essence.

"Come on, babe," Starsky moaned, "let's go to bed."

They moved to the bed without breaking contact with each other. They stopped to share another deep, lingering kiss and then pulled away by silent, mutual assent and removed their sweaters. As Starsky dropped his carelessly on the floor and moved to take Hutch once again in his arms, Hutch found that he was shaking uncontrollably.

"Hutch, babe, what is it?" Starsky asked, concern evident in his voice. Rather than pull Hutch closer to him, he held him firmly at arm's length, staring intently into his eyes.

"It's ridiculous, Starsk, I feel like a virgin on prom night. I've never felt this nervous with a lover before, not since . . . well not since our first time together."

"Come 'ere, Blondie," Starsky said as he did pull Hutch toward him and enfold him in his arms. "In a way, it is like our first time. It's a new level of commitment, it's special. Hutch, I've never been married and, I guess I've never been faithful to one person for any length of time. You have, and maybe that's harder because you know the pitfalls. We've crossed that line tonight—we have, haven't we?" Suddenly a lack of certainty appeared in Starsky's voice.

As always, Hutch hastened to reassure, to protect, and he tightened his own grip on Starsky. "I'm yours for always, babe. Now and forever. There isn't going to be anyone else for me—not now, not ever. I want you and only you."

Starsky moaned deeply in his throat and, finding Hutch's mouth, pulled him into a long, lingering, passionate kiss that promised much and offered the world.

Hutch found himself guided backwards on to the bed with Starsky's overheated body following him. For several long moments they lay kissing, petting, caressing and fondling. Then Starsky's left hand began to move lower down Hutch's body until it reached the zipper on his pants. Hutch moaned and thrust up towards Starsky. "Please, Starsk, please. Now . . . ."

"Hush, baby, hush. All in good time." Starsky pressed his open hand down over Hutch's bulging erection, hard enough for Hutch to feel it, but not hard enough to hurt. "Oh, God, Blondie, you're so big already, you're so hard. You must be so close, try and calm down." Starsky's hand now moved more gently over Hutch's cock, soothing, cooling and bringing relief without the climax. Once Hutch seemed more under control, Starsky reached for the zipper on his pants and carefully slid it down. Then he slid his fingers inside the fly and touched Hutch through his briefs. "Hell, babe, you're soaking wet already. Feel," and Starsky removed his fingers and rubbed them over Hutch's chest, causing him to groan with pleasure and need. He began to moan. "Hush," said Starsky again, dropping his head to claim Hutch's mouth with his own. Then he pulled himself upright until he was straddling Hutch's lower body and stared down at Hutch as if seeing him for the first time. "You're beautiful, have I ever told you that? So beautiful, you're like the sun on a hot day, so golden and exquisite, you shimmer." As he spoke the words, Starsky's fingers moved over Hutch's chest, swirling around the erect nipples. "I love your chest, it's so smooth, so silky—ah, Hutch, you're like a piece of golden silk. And you're all mine. All mine. Now I've gotta see the rest of you."

Starsky maneuvered himself backwards just enough so that he could reach the band of Hutch's jeans and then with a swift, sure movement he began to push them down. The briefs followed on their own accord and within seconds they were pooled around Hutch's ankles. Amazed at his own presence of mind, Hutch began to heel his boots off. One after the other fell to the floor with a loud thud, and Starsky moved further down the bed just long enough to push jeans, briefs and socks off in one fluid movement.

Starsky stopped, seemingly mesmerized by the sight of his highly aroused partner. His eyes gazed in adoration firstly at Hutch's face, and then continued their journey down the body. With a moan, Starsky dropped his head and licked at it with the tip of his tongue. He opened his mouth, and took the whole of Hutch's cock inside in one swift movement.

Hutch bucked, and one large hand grabbed Starsky's curls while the other sought one of his hands. Hutch felt Starsky pull back slightly and was peripherally aware that his cock had caught his gag. He tried to stop thrusting, not wanting Starsky to choke or be forced to release him. But then experience obviously took over and Starsky relaxed. Starsky had barely got into a rhythm, when Hutch knew he was too close to the brink to hold back. He tightened his grip on his lover's hand and head, warning him of the impending orgasm. With the hand that wasn't being gripped by Hutch, Starsky started to caress the silky sacs between Hutch's legs. As he did, Hutch cried out and shot his seed down Starsky's throat. Again and again he pulsated, filling Starsky's mouth, reaching the point where he knew Starsky would have to swallow or drown. When Hutch had nothing else to give him, Starsky gently moved up the bed and pulled his shaking partner into his arms, running one hand through the hair Hutch knew he loved so much.

"Well, that ain't happened for many years," Starsky said, his tone slightly rueful.

"Huh?" Hutch managed.

Starsky took Hutch's hand and guided it down to the waistband of his jeans and pushed the fingers inside.

"Starsk?" Hutch's eyes widened and he looked in wonder at his friend and lover. "How?" Then he blushed at his own comment.

"It's just what you do to me, babe. Tasting you, feeling you, smelling you, knowing that I alone could move you beyond thought, beyond words. And . . ." Starsky broke off and pushed himself up onto his elbows either side of Hutch's body, "knowing that it's now all mine, you're finally mine and no one else's. I don't have to watch you walk off any more with some bimbo. I don't have to worry any more that you'll find someone you love more than you love me, someone who'll give you more, someone who'll satisfy you more." Starsky swallowed hard—he'd always told Hutch that he hated soapy scenes, but both men knew that when it came to each other, when it came to Starsky reassuring Hutch, he'd get as soapy as any person, and often more than most.

"And I thought I was the insecure one," Hutch murmured, reaching up to touch the face he loved more than anyone else's.

"Yeah, well, obviously your influence rubs off." Starsky now tried to lighten the mood somewhat.

Hutch grinned and pulled him closer to him, claiming his mouth in a long sensual kiss. Finally, Starsky pulled away with some reluctance. "Gotta get these pants off," he muttered wriggling around to try and free himself. Hutch lay and watched with evident enjoyment as Starsky finally extracted himself from the confines of his skintight jeans.

Once he was back in Hutch's arms, Starsky put his head on his shoulder and said, "I want to live with you, Hutch. How about you move in here with me tomorrow?"

For a moment Hutch found he couldn't speak, the wanting and longing was too great. Starsky seemed to know this and tightened his grip, reassuring and loving at the same time. Finally Hutch spoke, "What about IA?"

"Fuck IA, this is about us. You and me. Do you want to, Hutch?"

"Starsk, I want to, I want to more than I've ever wanted anything."

"That's it then, settled. Tomorrow we'll tell Cap'n Dobey, it's only fair. We'll keep your apartment for a while, but I think we should find a house together."

"Do you really think it's going to be that simple, Starsk?" Hutch didn't know why he was making so many objections, just that he felt one of them had to remain rational.

"No, Hutch, I don't think it's gonna be that simple for a lot of folks. But I don't care. I love you, I want you and, Hutch, I need you. I want to live with you. I don't really give a damn who knows. IA can do their worst—but somehow I don't think they will. Things are changing, Hutch, Cap'n said as much after Johnny. I don't really think the department wants to lose two good cops just because they are two men who choose to live together. I mean it ain't like we've just started this, we've been lovers for years now. There's always been talk and sure it'll increase when we do live together. But, I don't care, Hutch. Me and thee, that's all that really matters. You do feel the same, don't you?"

It was the right move, the right tone, the right thing to say. All at once Hutch's worries and fears fled as he hastened to reassure his lover. "Ah, Starsk, babe, of course I feel the same. I've always loved you—you know that—and as for wanting, oh, God, I can get turned on by you by a simple look or touch, or even just thinking about you. I need you, Starsk, I always have. You are the only person who has ever loved me for me, the only person who's always been there for me totally and unconditionally. You're right, partner, I don't care. Yeah, let IA 'do their worst.' We'll have each other."

"Good, that's settled then. Now come 'ere you big, blond beauty, and kiss me and let's go to sleep; we've gotta big day ahead tomorrow."

Hutch moved further into Starsky's embrace and into a gentle, almost passionless kiss. They settled for sleep still wrapped in each other's arms, Starsky's head on Hutch's shoulder. Their dreams that night were good ones. Their new life had begun.

—August 2000