This story was originally published in Playfellows #6, published by Merry Men Press. Special thanks go to SHaron for scanning and proof-reading. Comments can be sent to:




Charlotte Frost


It was another Saturday, two weeks later, when Hutch had to stop cleaning the oven in order to pick up the ringing phone. "Yeah, talk to me," he answered.

"Hey, you alone?" asked the familiar voice.

"Yeah. What's up?"

"Can you come over?"

"Sure. What's up?"

"I wanna talk to you about something."

Hutch's brows furrowed. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine," came the congenial answer. "I just want to talk to you." Then the familiar whine. "Don't interrogate me over the phone."

"Sorry," Hutch chuckled. "Let me finish cleaning up. It'll be about twenty minutes."

"Fine. See ya then."

Hutch looked at the receiver as he hung it up. When Starsky wanted to talk, he usually just talked. Or showed up on Hutch's doorstep. It wasn't like him to schedule an appointment.

He couldn't help but ponder the possible subject matter of the upcoming conversation as he continued the cleaning task. His birthday was still two months away, so it couldn't be anything like that. He thought back to the previous day, when he'd seen his partner last. While Starsky may have been a bit on the introspective side, he couldn't say that the other had behaved any differently than normal.

Probably just needs me to help him balance his check book, he decided. It wouldn't be the first time. And Starsky probably didn't want to come right out and say it because he was afraid that Hutch wouldn't feel like it.

When he reached the apartment, Hutch knocked once as a warning before letting himself in. "What's a matter, buddy," he greeted as he stepped over the threshold, "your bank account messed up again?"

Starsky was sitting back against the arm of the couch, his feet on a cushion, reading the newspaper, which he now lowered. "Uh-uh, nothin's wrong."

When the other didn't elaborate, Hutch shrugged, then pulled off his jacket. He left it on the back of a chair, then moved toward the kitchen. "Got any beer?"

"Yep. Will ya bring me one?"

Hutch noted that Starsky was putting the paper aside and sitting up. Hutch got two beers, gave one to the other man as he walked passed him. He took the easy chair facing the sofa, the coffee table between them, and waited until they both had taken sips. "Well?"

Starsky settled back, crossing an ankle over a knee. "You in a hurry or somethin'?"

A shrug. "No. Just curious."

Starsky smiled without humor. "Okay," he said in an I'll-get-to-the-point tone. "I just thought we should finish our conversation."

Hutch looked toward the ceiling. He tried to rifle back through his memory of the past few days. After a half minute, he had to ask, "What conversation?"

"The one we had when we were on the gay murderer case."

Oh. Hutch's eyes darted about the room as they lowered without permission. But he forced them to look at his partner when he asked, "Why now?"

"Because I'm ready."

Starsky always had been good about getting to the point. Hutch took a deep breath. "What if I'm not?"

Starsky nodded slowly, a calculating grin creasing his features. "I think you are."

Hutch shifted in the chair, a peculiar sensation developing in the pit of his stomach. He tried to settle against the chair back, imitating his partner's stance by crossing one ankle over a knee. "Okay. So talk."

Starsky took a swig of beer, eyeing Hutch carefully. It gave the blond man the sensation that the other was in full control, and he wasn't.

But the curly man's gaze dropped when he spoke again. "I've decided something, Hutch."

The blond leaned forward, concerned by the dry tone. "What?"

Starsky seemed to stare at him for a long time, then shifted, sipping again. "You ever wonder what the point of it all is? I mean, this whole thing we call 'life'?"

Hutch had to work at not reacting negatively. When Starsky got philosophical, it usually meant Hutch was in for a period of confusion. He thought about his answer before replying. "I think I quit asking myself that quite a while back." A small shrug. "Because, you know, I never came up with THE answer." His partner didn't say anything else, and the blond ventured, "Have you... found the answer?"

Starsky thought a moment, then nodded slowly, looking at a point over Hutch's head. "I think, for myself, I have."

Hutch was intrigued. He leaned further forward. "And?"

Starsky shifted and sipped his beer. "I want to ask you something."

The statement had such a sense of purpose that the blond hesitated, then quickly replied, "Sure, buddy, sure."

"Remember, when we were in the hotel room while working on that case, and you asked me if I'd ever thought about doing it with you?"

The peculiar sensation in the pit of his stomach moved nearer to Hutch's throat. "Yeah?" Starsky just looked at him doubtfully, and Hutch reminded, "You said something like you'd 'sort of' thought about it."

Starsky nodded thoughtfully, as though he hadn't been sure what he'd said then. "Hmmm." A pause, then cautiously, "How did you feel, knowing that I had... sort of?"

Hutch had to look away, for his nerves were tingling. "Well, I, uh," he took a breath, "I—I'm not really sure. I guess I feel that everyone has their fantasies, and they can't harm anyone, so... whatever someone thinks about in their own private thoughts..." he shrugged with great exaggeration. "I guess I'm saying there's no way I could be upset about it. It doesn't hurt me." His eyes narrowed. "What the hell did that half-assed answer mean, anyway?"

The elfin grin was there as Starsky glanced toward the floor, then looked back up. "Good question." He sipped his beer, gazing to one side. Then the sky blue eyes were on his partner. "I think what I meant was that I'd considered the idea. But my mind really hadn't gotten as far as the specifics." The grin widened, and he admitted, "I've never jerked off thinking about you, if that's what you're wondering."

Hutch shrugged good-naturedly, bottle poised at his mouth. "I didn't think you jerked off at all." He drank.

Starsky thought about that, then nodded in a distant way. "I've gotta be pretty desperate before I resort to that."

It was a stupid conversation, but the blond couldn't stop himself from playfully boasting, "I haven't done it since I was eighteen."

It had the proper effect, for Starsky seemed genuinely amused. "Yeah, sure. You get laid more than anyone I know, and yet you still itch for it more than anyone I know." He wasn't quite so amused now. "So I figure you're probably milking it in between lays."

Hutch's smile gradually faded. He wondered why it mattered, but accepted that, since Starsky pointed it out, it was going to mean something somewhere down the line. He stared at his beer bottle, then sighed. "Dirty pool, buddy."

Starsky's head was tilted, looking at him sideways. "Is it? You always act like I'm the one who's mind is always on it. Well, fine, I know I talk it a lot. But it's only talk. You do it."

Hutch blinked. He tried to put two and two together, and it seemed to take a long time before he came up with four. In disbelief, he asked, "Are you saying that all this time... you've been jealous?"

"Of your women? Absolutely not."

The blond spread his hands. "Then what?"

Starsky looked away. He made a noise like he was going to speak, then stopped. He stared at the couch a long moment, and when the words finally emerged, they were rushed. "Hutch, I used to fool around as much as you did. You remember what it was like. I'd fuck anything female who threw herself at me, just because it was there. So, I know what it's like. I know what it's like to be horny for the latest conquest, and feel like a real stud when you've got what you wanted." His voice softened. "And I also remember how it feels afterwards, wishing she'd leave instead of spending the night, trying to remember her name the next morning, trying to be polite in the daylight when you really don't give a damn. I got tired of all that, Hutch. I grew out of it. So, a lot of the time, I just pretend that getting it is the most important thing in the world, when, in reality, I'd rather go without than do it with someone just to do it."

There was a sincerity in Starsky's eyes, a passion in his speech, that captured Hutch's admiration, and his compassion. But another part of him was bordering on anger, and that's the part that spoke. "So because you've 'grown up'," he mocked the phrase, "you're going to sit there and judge me."

"Not judge," the other corrected with a firm head-shake. "You asked before if I was jealous. Absolutely not. I want you to have what you want. But..." his voice stalled, and he had to place a hand on his chest, "I can't help but know what it's gotta be like. Afterwards. Later the same night, the next morning. I hate knowing that you have to be feeling all that... that emptiness. I wish... I wish it didn't have to be like that."

"So what's you're brilliant solution?" Hutch asked quickly, uncomfortable with the way he was being talked down to. "And what does any of this have to do with our conversation that night?" His speech slowed on the final words, as realization dawned.

"From that look on your face," the curly man replied, "I'd say you've already figured it out."

Hutch swallowed, wishing his beer had more than a sip left. Quickly, he admitted, "I'm not sure I can trust my instincts right now. Why don't you spell it out for me?" His heart was pounding. He'd been right when he'd first arrived: he wasn't ready for this. But, at least, they could get it out in the open, deal with it...

Starsky put his half-full bottle on the coffee table and leaned forward, hands clasped between his knees. His voice was soft, but earnest. "Hutch, what I was talking about before, about life?"

Hutch nodded, intrigued again.

"Well, when I think about it, the simple truth is, you're It Capital I. Everything that's important ties to you. Nothing else matters."

The blond's gaze dropped to the floor, wondering how it was that Starsky thought so highly of him; and yet, he didn't want to pursue the question, for some things were better left unexplained. And the beat his heart was increasing, driven by something that felt so... good...

"I mean," Starsky went on softly, "I loved Terri. I would have married her. I think it could have been almost as good with Rosie Malone. And there's been others. But, Hutch, they're all gone. And whenever one leaves, you're always there. You're the constant. The thing that never changes."

Hutch watched the nap of the rug blur, not sure if it was from being reminded of Starsky's losses, or of being the recipient of such sincere feeling.

"You know," the other continued, "you were saying once how much we were like an old married couple. And we are. We've been through it all, Hutch. We've built our careers together, built our lives together. We spend more time together than most couples I've ever known. We know each other's likes and dislikes, each other's passions, each other's irritating qualities. And we accept them, have learned to live with them. We even know all about each other's finances. We've taken care of each other, nursed each other back to health, seen each other at our worst. We know how to play together, how to argue and fight and make up. We know how to say 'I love you'. I mean," his voice peaked, then stopped, then softened, "we're as married as any two people can possibly get."

Hutch looked up then, fascinated by the speech, amazed that Starsky could have orchestrated such a mouthful so that it still made sense. Then he bowed his head, smiling tenderly, though unsure of how to respond, if there was any way he could respond.

The dark eyes met the blond's across the brief space of the room. "There's just one thing, Hutch; one thing missing in this perfect little marriage."

Hutch shifted uncomfortably. He knew, of course, what it was. He rested his forehead in his hand, the elbow perched on his knee. Starsky was trying so hard, and he wanted to let him down as gently as he could, but wasn't sure how. The resulting frustration made his voice tighter than intended. "You didn't paint a very pretty picture of sex a few minutes ago." Guiltily, he looked up to meet the eyes that had, indeed, become wounded and confused.

"Meaning what?" Starsky's voice also carried an edge.

Hutch slowly shook his head. As gently as he could, he explained, "Starsky, I can't fuck you. I love you too damn much."

Bushy brows crinkled in puzzlement. "I can't fuck you, either. What does that have to do with any of this?"

Hutch blinked, body stiffening. Was it possible that he'd actually misread everything Starsky had been saying? He stuttered, "I thought—"

"Yeah?" Anger now.

More confused than ever, Hutch held out a hand, using it to accent his words. "I thought you were talking... about you and I..."

"I was."

"I mean, about us..."

Harshly, Starsky said, "Hutch, when was the last time—the last time—you honest-to-God made love to somebody? Made love, buddy."

Hutch got it now, the point that was being made. And he was surprised at the pain that laced through his chest. And annoyed that Starsky was talking down to him once again, judging him, and had to duck his head because he knew the answer and it hurt so much. Chin pressed toward his chest, he forced out the choked whisper, "Gillian."

The other side of the coffee table got very quiet. Hutch knew Starsky hadn't meant to hurt him. But now that the pain was there, so raw, the memories flooded back. What an irony it was. He'd known that he was truly in love with Gillian because he hadn't always fucked her, and in the mornings after those nights, he was still madly in love with her. That's how he'd known that his feelings for her were something special. And only, immediately after losing her, to find out that many of the days before those nights she'd fucked other men, for money. Now, nearly two years later, it still confused him. He believed that she truly loved him, and he had truly loved her. Had she lived, he thought he could have forgiven her. But, still, he felt mocked by fate. When he'd been ready for true love, the fairly tale had disintegrated within his hands, revealing the rotting truth.

"Sorry, Hutch." Soft. Sincere.

The blond shook his head again, the opportunity to learn something important desperate to override the ancient sorrow. After a long moment, he whispered, "I've realized something." His gaze was still on the floor.


"That's when," he looked at his partner, "that's when I gave up."

"What do you mean?"

"Trying to find love from sex. After Gillian, I just took the sex. Never expected anything else. Didn't want anything else. I couldn't believe in all that love versus sex shit anymore." He took the final sip of beer.

Starsky was thoughtful. Then, gently, "I'm no shrink and that even makes sense."

"Thanks, partner."

"For what?"

"For helping me understand it."

"And—and now that you do?"

Hutch looked up from his empty bottle. Starsky was regarding him with trepidation now, as though fearing all his carefully laid plans were going to be flushed away. Hutch wasn't sure he could bear to see Starsky's fears realized. He wanted to make an effort. Now that his own soul felt a bit more cleansed, he settled back in his chair. "Tell me something."


"That night, when we were on the case, you were talking about being bisexual."


"Did you ever figure out for sure?"

Now Starsky settled back, as though grateful to have returned to the original subject. "I decided it didn't matter."


The smaller man shrugged. "It's just a label, Hutch. All it's good for is surveys and statistics."

Hutch laughed softly, proud of his partner. "Yeah."

"I do know one thing for sure."

"What's that?"

"I don't have any interest in men, in general. Like you said that night, that's something I know about myself, deep down."

"Then why did you ever think you might be bisexual?"

Starsky's eyes didn't waver, nor did his gentle voice. "Because I love you."

Hutch wasn't sure what one had to do with the other. "But the kind of love we have... it doesn't have to be that way."

"Of course it doesn't hafta be. But that's just it." The voice remained quiet, but increased in intensity. "Because of our fear of being called names, of what it could mean we may be, we don't consider that part for our perfect little marriage." He suddenly perched forward on the couch, driving his point home. "Hutch, we pay the price, suffer all the downs a relationship is supposed to have. We've been all through the bad stuff. And we're strong enough to make it through whatever other bad stuff comes along." He suddenly held out a fist, shaking it. "But we don't ever allow ourselves the one good thing, the special pleasure, that any good marriage has." The fist disintegrated. "We do all the suffering, but we don't allow ourselves the reward."

Hutch quickly looked down. His partner's intensely and desire was reaching out, threatening to draw him in. In addition to being his greatest strength, Starsky was also his greatest weakness. Hutch tended to try to give this most special of men anything he wanted.

"I mean, I know," Starsky continued, "that our relationship, as is, brings us both a lot of satisfaction. A lot of contentment. A lot of love. And lots of other stuff." He settled back again. "But, Hutch, we're still missing the—the special intimacy." Now a passionate whisper. "I want to share with you, as human beings were meant to share, in the way that God, or nature, or whatever you want to call it, intended, when two people feel as strongly about each other as we do."

Hutch tried to breathe, for it seemed he was being verbally boxed in. But he couldn't figure out fast enough if he wanted to find a way out. "Some people would say that only human beings of the opposite sex should share that way." He felt stupid saying it, knowing he was stalling. It was difficult keeping up with his partner's careful explanations, especially while sitting across the table from him. But it wouldn't be a good idea to move any closer, not until they worked this out verbally. That way, neither them could be lured by sensation alone...

"Since when has religion ever stopped you from anything?"

He wished Starsky hadn't taken his statement so seriously, and admitted, "Never."

Starsky threw up his hands, then let them fall to his knees, the resultant noise being one of finality. "I've made my speech, Hutch. For it to go any further than this, it has to be up to you." He stood and picked up the unfinished beer bottle.

Hutch held out his, watched Starsky take it, his eyes following the other to the kitchen. He was grateful for the respite from all the talk, though was uneasy with everything being left on his shoulders. He felt he should feel what Starsky felt. And, yet, the only emotions he could summon were affection for his partner, and admiration at the way the other had so carefully thought it all through. But his lower body seemed to have no interest in the direction the conversation had taken. "Starsk?" he called quietly.

The dark haired man approached with two cups of coffee. He handed one to Hutch, which the blond accepted with the assumption that Starsky felt this was too important for liquor to interfere with.

Starsky sat down. "Yeah?" he asked a bit guardedly.

Hutch wondered if the other were more afraid of him saying "Yes", or of him saying "No." The blond felt relaxed now, in control. He sipped the hot liquid carefully, then held the cup in his palm. Gently, he asked, "Don't you think you might be putting a little too much emphasis on your reaction in the bar that night?"

"No," came the firm reply. "I was thinking about it before then."

Oh, yeah. Something about kind of, sort of... but not outright fantasizing. Hutch studied the floor a moment. Then, hoping his words wouldn't cause pain, he carefully said, "I've never thought about us doing it. Not really." A gentle shrug. "Of course, after that night, and what you were saying, it was suddenly there, and I had no choice but to think about it. But..." he trailed off, searching for the best words, "But I've always been too busy feeling... I don't know, protective of you, I guess. Protective of what we have," he corrected. "I wouldn't want sex to spoil that." As soon as the last words were out, he knew he'd said the wrong thing, for it looked as though Starsky's point about sex versus love hadn't even made an impression.

But Starsky s reply was presented calmly. "You ever wonder why I was able to respond to you that night?"

Hutch's only answer was to wait.

"Hutch, you know I hate those bars. And you know I don't like, you know, getting it on with a crowd, an audience. But I was able to respond to you because I trusted you."

"But you were mad as hell at me for getting your motor running," the blond reminded.

"Only from the frustration. Because I knew we couldn't complete what you'd started." Now a deep throated whisper. "But it taught me something."

Hutch moved from his chair just long enough to place his coffee on the table, not interested in its flavor. "What?" he asked as he settled back.

Starsky gestured to his chest. "That all those feelings I get from you, all that warmth, all that stuff that I wouldn't give up for anything... I've realized that it can be... you know, intensified. In the most wonderful way, Hutch." He took a deep breath. "I know that we can't 'fuck' one another. But I—I think we're cheating ourselves—losing out on something important, something we deserve—if we don't allow ourselves to make love to each other."

His partner was so passionate about it, believed it all so thoroughly. Hutch wasn't sure that he could. And there was one particular problem that was starting to gnaw at him. "I'm not sure I can respond to you, buddy. I didn't that night at the bar."

"You explained that."

Hutch tilted his head to one side, remembering what his excuse has been, that he'd been too concerned about Starsky to give his own feelings any rein. Granted, it had been true enough. And he wondered if his inclination to protect his partner would always wall off any sexual feelings that he might otherwise experience. He wasn't sure why the two had to be separate. Certainly, with Van, the masculine desire to provide a safe haven for his woman had enhanced his desire to make to love to her. Maybe it was that, deep down, he knew Starsky could take care of himself.

Trying to tease, but realizing he was genuinely interested in the answer, Hutch asked, "Are you sure you'd know what to do once we were in bed together?"

Starsky answered seriously, though a touch sheepishly. "Well, I'm not saying I'd have the nerve to leave the lights on, especially at first." He shrugged, "Besides, Hutch, I'm not exactly lookin' to see you in your birthday suit. The stuff on the outside—that's not what I'm interested in."

Hutch furrowed a brow, wondering how Starsky was able to categorize something like that so easily, draw lines and distinctions. He wondered if that was why his groin wasn't interested. He'd been sitting here all evening, looking at his partner. He'd had an eyeful for seven years, so there wasn't much mystery there. And nudity wouldn't reveal anything he hadn't already seen a number of times. Hell, they'd been downright intimate on a physical level numerous times while nursing each other back to health.

But the intent at those times hadn't been to give pleasure, but merely to provide care, and to prevent further pain.

Maybe Starsky was right, and in all his lays in the two years since Gillian, he'd badly missed the boat somewhere. Any fuck could make his cock feel good, but his heart had been locked far, far away from any entanglement with sexual feelings. That kept it nice and simple. There was emptiness, but no pain. Pleasure, but no exhilaration.

But his heart hadn't been deprived, either. All this time he'd spent fulfilling his body's needs with one female form after another, his heart had been getting fulfillment from Starsky, the love growing stronger with each passing year. And, now, he wasn't sure a beautiful female could pry it away, even if he'd had any interest in letting her try.

Hutch felt the air around him soften, felt fragile matter within start to shimmer, threatening to turn to liquid. He wanted to capture the feeling, hold it, enjoy it, for a moment longer. He looked at his partner, who sat still on the couch, almost stiff with fear of what Hutch would say next. Stalling, the blond asked, "Think it's a good idea to really have us be everything to each other?" He couldn't quite meet the other's eye. "Have everything in one basket?"

Despite the fragile stance, the reply was confident. "I believe in going for it all. Playing it safe is for suckers."

Hutch laughed softly, not having any desire to tease further. He was effectively boxed in and was no longer concerned about finding a way out. "Okay."

Starsky's expression was worth a million bucks. "Okay."

"Yeah, let's give it a try. I'm with you."

Hutch had expected a degree of celebration, if not jumping up and down, at least blatant happiness. For Starsky had bared so much tonight, and surely it was a relief to have the issue resolved. Hell, this was the beginning of an adventure. One that, surely, could only hold good things for them both.

But the smaller man's jaw firmed, and he sat rigidly back against the couch. "Wait. There's something we have to agree on."

Hutch couldn't imagine what. "Okay," he replied cautiously.

"If we start sleeping together," the jaw firmed as Starsky wagged a finger, "there's no way in this world I'm going to put up with you sleeping with anybody else." His face became animated. "You can look and flirt all you want. I intend to do my share of that, too. But if you ever, ever go to bed with anybody else," Starsky had to pause for a breath, "I can't promise I'll be able to forgive you."

Hutch's mouth dropped open. He hadn't expected anything like this, and Starsky's passion was almost frightening.

The other was looking off to one side. "If you need time to think it over, then take it. Nothing's gonna happen until you've agreed."

Some insecure, masculine part of Hutch wanted to protest, wanted to threaten to take a long time to think about it, as a way of getting even for such an ultimatum, for trying to shackle him in chains. But another part, the part that was secure in the knowledge that he was loved unconditionally, wanted to rejoice in the restriction, for it took away the pressure of having to automatically respond to anything beautiful that came on to him, or feeling like he had to come on to anything beautiful that attempted to ignore him; took away the voice in the back of his head that said something was wrong with him if he wasn't trying to score every spare evening he possessed, trying to prove to his father what a man he was.

But it hadn't always been like that. "Starsky, I never cheated on Vanessa."

That reply was incredulous. "I never thought you did."

So he didn't think he was an ogre, after all, when it came to sex. Hutch felt some relief at that. "If I agree, then you have to, too."

The curly-haired man nodded once. "Of course."

Hutch glanced about the apartment, then shrugged. "Maybe we should move in together." He realized he was stalling again, and wasn't sure why he felt it necessary.

This time the dark head shook. "I don't think so. We need separate apartments for a front." Starsky's voice softened as is eyes twinkled. "Besides, we really do spend a lot a time together. Maybe it would be a good idea to have a place to go, where we can each get away from each other.... if necessary."

The blond's tiny small was one of admiration. "You've got it all figured out, haven't you"

Starsky nodded. "When I know what I want... I'll do whatever it takes to get it."

"And you want me," Hutch whispered. Having actually spoken the words, he found himself wondering what qualities he possessed that made the man across the room view him with such uncritical eyes. But there was another truth, too. "You know, you've always had me. I haven't belonged to anyone else since Vanessa." He blinked once, gazing at the rug, yet another truth presenting itself. "And I don't want to belong to anyone else."

Starsky presented a tender smile. "Does that mean you accept the terms?"

Hutch nodded. "Yes."

Starsky took a deep breath, looking away. "Oh, boy."

The blond chuckled affectionately. Starsky looked like the little boy he had spent so many years trying to protect. "What's the matter?"

The smaller man's mouth fell open, as his eyes darted about the room, looking everywhere except at his partner. Then a self-deprecating snort. "I—I don't know." He took a deep breath. "I'm—I'm not sure what we should do now. What happens next." He finally looked at Hutch helplessly.

The taller man felt matter within his chest begin to expand. He wondered if, after all of this, they should take a step back, allow themselves a breath. Take a day or two to be really sure, to talk more if they needed to. But he couldn't imagine what more needed to be said. And he didn't want to separate just now, with such a fragile beginning stretched before them.

Hutch lowered his eyes. For the first time in many years, he found himself looking forward to the future. For, now, there actually was one.

And, he realized with a heavy sigh, he was damned tired of them speaking across the blasted coffee table. They normally communicated with touch as much as with words, if not more so. He'd been at the apartment for nearly an hour, and they'd both been confined to their own cocoons all that time.

Being with him and not touching is worse than being apart.

"What do you wanna do?" The question was forced and afraid.

Hutch glanced up quickly. He could almost see the heart pounding in Starsky's chest. The desire to protect flared within. Whatever you want to do, he wanted to reply. But he knew he had to take the upper hand now. Starsky had done all he could.

Gently, Hutch said, "If you want to turn out the lights, it's okay by me."

"Yeah, good idea." Starsky was suddenly a bundle of energy, hopping to his feet He scattered about the apartment, flipping light switches in every nook and cranny. Eventually, the dwelling was pitch black, and an "Umph" was heard when the detective ran into the sofa.

Hutch stood, trying to adjust to the darkness. His arms reached out. "Where are you?"

Hands fumbled along them. "Right here."

The lines, planes, and curves of the other's body were so familiar. Hutch enfolded Starsky, pulling snug, his face burrowing in the strong neck. Arms went around his waist, squeezing, and the blond swayed them back and forth, the motion a gentle contrast to the firmness of their embrace.

A thick swallow emerged from the smaller man. Then the muffled voice confessed, "Hutch, I'm scared to death."

The blond squeezed harder. "I know," he whispered tenderly. "But, really Starsk, what is there to be afraid of? It's me and thee, like always."

"I know. But what if it doesn't work? I'm the one who's gotten us into this."

"Hey," Hutch scolded gently, easing his hold so he could look into the silhouette of the other's face. "We're in this together. And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. No harm done. We'll just be the wiser, that's all." When he didn't get a response, he prompted, "Okay?"

"Yeah, okay," the silhouette nodded firmly. Then, quickly, "I love you, Hutch."

Hutch pressed his lips against the nearest cheek. "I know. I love you, too." Then, voice heavy, he confessed, "Sometimes I wish there were more words than 'I love you' to tell you how much I love you."

"Aw, Hutch, you've never needed anything else." Starsky's head was pressed against the blond's chest, and his face tilted upwards. "I've never questioned how you feel, because I've felt the same way, too. And, from now on, we'll at least be able to show each other in a more special way."

Hutch's heart swelled all the more for Starsky's belief in them, and he was grateful that the fear was dissipating. He wasn't totally convinced that becoming physically intimate was going to meet all of his partner's expectations, but he wanted to believe that it would. Besides, it had been established tonight that he was way out of practice when it came to making love to someone he loved. In fact, when it got down to it, he had loved very few people in his life.

That realization made him squeeze the precious body all the harder.

"Uh, Hutch, think we should move to the bedroom?"

Hutch knew that what Starsky really wanted was to continue what had happened in the bar... lie back and let Hutch work on him. And at that thought, Hutch felt his hope that this would truly work turn into belief. If he didn't have to do anything except concern himself with pleasing his partner, then his enthusiasm for the whole idea would increase tenfold. Unless things really got hot, he wouldn't even need pleasuring in return.

"Yeah," the blond finally answered. "But you know something, buddy?"

"What?" the other breathed against his chest.

"I think you've already done your share tonight. How about letting me take it from here?"

"Uh, sure," came the hesitant reply, as though Starsky wasn't really certain what Hutch meant.

Hutch firmly stroked Starsky's chin, then maneuvered it so that it was pointing up. Still holding it, he bent and placed his lips over the other's. He kissed very gently... once, twice... then pressed more firmly.

He could feel whatever barriers remained in the other man slipping away. Starsky was already warmed up, his body ready to be molded into whatever Hutch wanted to do with it.

"Oh, man," Starsky whispered raggedly, when his lips were finally released.

Hutch chuckled softly, pleased with the result he could create. And, yet, he was also aware that his own body still had no interest in the activities. He realized, with a silent sigh, that old habits were going to be hard to break. Starsky had been taboo for so long from a sexual standpoint that it was probably going to be a while before the physical part of him learned that it was all right to let itself free. And perhaps that was a blessing, for his love for Starsky was so great that a part of Hutch feared the result when that love was allowed to express itself via the heat of sexual passion.

The blond turned toward the bedroom, maneuvering his new lover to one side. "To the bedroom, buddy." He liked the way his hand fit on the other's waist as he guided him through the darkness. They stumbled only once.

The taller man stopped just past the threshold, and turned to face Starsky. He reached to the collar of the cotton shirt, using both hands to undo the buttons. He moved quickly and efficiently, pulling the shirttail out as his hands moved downward. When both halves hung open, he debated about removing the shirt, but decided to keep it on. It would be more enjoyable to remove it later.

Starsky's hands reached for Hutch's shirt. The blond quickly stilled them. "No, let me do it all," he gently reminded.

The hands dropped to Starsky's sides.

Hutch knelt. His partner wasn't wearing shoes. He lifted an ankle and removed the sock. Then repeated the motion on the other foot. Then he stood, debating about the jeans. He liked the idea of leaving them on, but they, of course, were tight enough to be downright uncomfortable if he intended to have his partner writhing about the bed. Besides, he didn't want to strangle that particularly sensitive flesh within.

He pulled apart the snap, the motion sounding loud in the darkness. As he started to push down the hems, he commanded, "Keep your underwear on."

Starsky obediently took the waistband of his briefs in hand, hanging onto it as Hutch continued to pull the jeans down his legs. When they were pooled on the floor, the blond lifted each leg in turn, then pushed the material away. He stood, then slowly reached around Starsky, inside the shirt, and settled on the warm flesh there. He massaged firmly, circular motions that tried to cover as much area as possible. Then he pressed against the spine while at the same time lowering his mouth to the other's.

Hutch allowed himself a groan of satisfaction, for he was enjoying this, amazed once again at how malleable this special man was in his arms. His hands started rubbing, and his tongue licked along the lips he possessed, and they parted. His tongue delved in, and his partner's groin leapt forward in the search for something to press against.

Hutch abruptly released Starsky, then took his hand, and led him around to the side of the bed. The other was breathing hard, and the blond pressed on his shoulders, encouraging him to sit. Starsky did, and with further pressure, he laid back.

Hutch knelt on the bed beside him, and started unbuttoning his own shirt. He kicked off his tennis shoes while doing so, and then pulled the shirttail out of his corduroys, and let it hang open. He got on the bed on his knees, then slowly straddled his partner. A hand reached for Hutch's chest, and the blond let it rest there, enjoying the heat against his smoothness. Slowly, he lowered his body, first by dropping his forearms to the bed, then stretching his legs out behind him, finally placing his groin within the vicinity of his partner's.

He put a hand behind Starsky's head, twining his fingers in the much-loved hair, and raised it while leaning forward to kiss. As their mouths intermingled, he allowed every inch of his body to press against the other man's. This was the one thing, in all their displays of affection, they'd never allowed themselves to do before. And now it was a reality, and Hutch wanted to make every moment count, make every gesture an act of love.

Starsky's briefs arched against Hutch's cords, and the blond stroked the hair with both hands now. He released the other's lips, and gently whispered, "How you feeling?"

The other panted, "Like I'm about to explode."

Hutch kissed under the chin, then the neck. Pulling back, he said, "I'll help you with that in a minute. But I need you to do something for me." He kissed the collar bone.

"Sure. Name it."

Hutch scooted up a little, so he could look down at his partner. His eyes had adjusted a little, and he could see the outline of the rugged face. "Whatever I do to you, I want you to tell me if you don't like it, or if there's a better way I can do it to make it more pleasurable. Don't hesitate to talk to me, buddy. I need to learn how to make it good."

"Yeah, okay," came the ragged reply. "You're doin' fine so far."

Hutch moved back down, kissed along the collar bone. Then his lips broke a trail down the middle of the hairy chest. Starsky was just so damn... masculine. He'd always admired the man that his partner was, as well as loving the child within.

His mouth kissed to the left, tonguing a small protrusion. He waited until it hardened, then whispered, "You sensitive there, buddy?"

"Sort of," came the doubtful answer.

Hutch very gently nipped at the delicate skin, taking it in his teeth to suck. He loved that kind of attention—and rarely got it—but he'd heard that not all men reacted the same way. With his hand, he kneaded the opposite protrusion, tugging at it with twisting fingers.

Starsky pressed against the blond's chest. "Easy."

Hutch let go. "Sorry." His kisses in the area were now ones of apology.

Starsky's groin lunged against him again.

"Almost there, partner," Hutch soothed. He got up on his knees, to slide back more quickly. His pointed tongue drew a line from the center of the chest, down the furry trail, to pause at the navel. He swirled it around, and Starsky jack-knifed with a giggle.

Hutch sat up, a hand reaching behind to be inserted inside Starsky's shirt. He rubbed soothingly at the back, then dropped lower, carefully delving inside the underwear. The motion of his hand became more aggressive as it slid over one cheek, then another.

Starsky groaned contentedly.

The hand slowed, and a finger drifted down into the seam separating the twin globes. Hutch felt around, finding the recess, but quickly drifting past it. He would have loved to stop to explore inside, but wouldn't dare tempt it without lubricant to ease the way. As was, he could feel a slight tension at the exploration, and knew it was too soon.

He took the waistband in hand, gently whispering, "Ready for these to come off?"

As Starsky rolled onto his back, Hutch pulled at the briefs. The other assisted by moving his legs, and within seconds, they had been cast aside.

Moment of truth.

Hutch felt along a thigh, let it guide him to the torso, drifted over until his hand bumped a moist hardness. He heard his partner draw a breath.

It wasn't as intimidating as Hutch thought it might be. He felt only sympathy for its need, and spread his fingers to press his hand against the firm, smooth column. He looked toward the head of the bed, couldn't see his partner's expression, but he did feel a slight undulation beneath his hand. The hand moved to drift lower, explore furred testicles. He took the sac in hand, rolling it within his fingers. "How's that?"

"Feels good," came the nasal response. Then the groin arched. "I'm real close, Hutch."

The blond shifted until he was kneeling beside his partner, his hand now over the straining shaft. He ran sympathetic fingers up and down its length. While doing so, he leaned forward and whispered, "Buddy, I'm going to do the best I can. Keep talking to me, teach me how to make it good." He scooted back further on the bed, moving in between the legs that spread for him.

"Yeah, okay." The voice was strained.

Hutch had two hands on it now. He held it perpendicular, trying to think about all the things that made this act great, and the mistakes that were most easily made in applying it. Some women were so fantastic, and some didn't seem to have a clue where the sensitive areas were, like they thought merely putting their mouth on it was all that was needed.

Hutch lowered himself in the dark, sticking out his tongue, searching. His aim was perfect, for he encountered the seeping slit first, and felt the gasp of surprise from his partner. The emission tasted bitter and salty, but Hutch was determined not to be shy, for if women did it, there was no reason why he couldn't. Plus, he sampled his own often enough in past years that he knew there was nothing to be repelled about.

He lowered his lips on the head, noting the spongy texture. He paused to work up some spit, knowing how erotic a lubricated mouth felt. As he took in more of the length, he started to swallow, creating a sucking action. When he felt himself start to choke, he knew he could go no further, and was disappointed, for some length still remained outside.

Starsky groaned and reached down with a hand. "Hutch?"

The blond pulled back, mouth reluctantly releasing the straining member.

The other man's breath was heavy, as his fingers brushed against Hutch's along the underside of the shaft. "It feels best on the spot right there."

Hutch couldn't see where Starsky was pointing, but he knew.

"If you can," Starsky panted, "suck against that..."

Eagerly, Hutch gripped the shaft again. "Tell me when I've got it right." He brought his mouth down on it again, feeling Starsky's hand slip to one side. He maneuvered his lips around it, sucking all the while, trying to position the greatest suction against the magic spot just behind the head. He knew from his own experience how frustrating it was to have a lover sucking avidly, but not quite on the most sensitive area.

Starsky was groaning and muttering encouragement. Then, suddenly, he grabbed Hutch's hair. "Oh, God, there. Right there."

Hutch didn't dare move, but went to work, sucking earnestly, realizing a bit guiltily how exhausting this act was for the person applying it. But, unlike women, he also knew exactly how good it could feel.

Starsky was getting vocal now, upper body writhing against the mattress. "Oh, God, Hutch. Oh, baby, that's perfect. That's just perfect." His hand stroked and massaged Hutch's hair. "You're so beautiful," he whispered. "So beautiful... Man, I'm gonna come. I'm really gonna come."

Encouraged, Hutch continued milking it, waiting for the explosion, surprised that he heard Starsky yell before the bitter liquid emerged at the back of his mouth. He swallowed it down, relieved that they'd been able to do this without too much awkwardness, that he was truly capable of bringing his partner that kind of pleasure.

Starsky's body went limp as he was released. "Aw, Hutch." His hand was still intertwined in the soft hair, until Hutch forced it away by straightening. "Did it taste okay?"

The blond smiled in the darkness, doubting that Starsky's female partners were asked that. He shifted until he was again kneeling at the darker man's side, and he laid a hand on the slightly damp chest. "Yeah, it tasted fine," he whispered, scooting forward. "Why don't you see for yourself." He leaned down, took the other man's mouth in his own, purposely forced his tongue inside the twin barriers, introduced it to his partner's dancing flesh.

When he pulled back, Hutch realized that he had a hard-on. He spread his knees to allow more room, and wondered if he should discard the pants. But he felt the barrier might be necessary, and decided he could bear the torture.

He shifted until his weight was on a hip, then ran his hand up and down Starsky's chest, soothingly, realizing that the shirt was the only clothing that remained. He pushed it back against Starsky's arms, and the curly-haired man seemed to understand, for he raised on an elbow, and Hutch was able to remove the garment with little difficulty.

Starsky laid back down with a contented sigh.

Hutch's hand resumed its pattern. Gently, he said, "You liked that, huh?"

"Oh, yeah," the other breathed.

Hutch smiled in the darkness. His hand gradually drifted to a side, feeling the spring of ribs, then drifted to the back. As it massaged more firmly, Starsky started to turn toward him, and the reward was that more of the back was favored. After the smaller man had relaxed further, the hand drifted down to the buttocks. It skimmed them lightly, then teased into the center.

Tenderly, Hutch whispered, "Will you let me put my tongue back there?"

Surprise dominated the drowsy voice. "Huh?"

"I'm real good at it," Hutch promised. The finger continued to gently probe. "It can feel like nothing else."

Starsky shifted slightly, and the blond could sense his partner's unease. Hutch removed the finger, and his hand now rested on a hip.

"Well, uh," Starsky began, "I—I wouldn't want you to do anything like that without, you know, showering or somethin' first."

Hutch moved the hand up to Starsky's shoulder, squeezing with a gentleness that matched his voice. "I really like doing it. It can feel really, really good."

Voice an octave higher, the smaller man asked, "Are you thinkin' you want to go all the way?"

Hutch felt the surge in his groin. Apparently, his body was recovering from its over-protective nature. His hand moved from shoulder to face, the fingers gently brushing along the forehead, nose, and cheek. "That's up to you, partner. One doesn't have to have anything to do with the other."

"I guess I figured we would at some point," Starsky admitted.

"But it doesn't have to be tonight."

"But no reason not to, is there?"

Hutch felt a surge of tenderness. He leaned over his partner, placing his hand in the center of the chest. "Sometimes, buddy, it can really hurt."

After a moment, the other asked, "Have you done it a lot?"

"With women, yes." When there was no reply, Hutch shrugged and elaborated, "Some act like it's no big deal, some get real turned on by it, some say they want to do it until they find out that it can hurt, and still others have practically slapped me for even suggesting it." It never ceased to amaze him the differences in human beings, that the very things some people craved were a repellent to others.

"I've never done it," Starsky announced.

"Really?" The question sounded more surprised than Hutch actually felt. He'd gotten the impression, over time, that Starsky was a man who preferred the basics. His partner's greatest strength as a lover was in his ability to drag out the act until his lady was satisfied, often multiple times, before taking his own pleasure. Hutch had learned that from occasional morning-after bragging by his partner, as well as from women they'd both slept with.


"Well, actually, from everything I understand, it's supposed to feel better to men than it does to women."

"It is?" Starsky asked skeptically.

Hutch stroked the chest again, in a gesture that was purely soothing. "Yeah. It's just the way the male organs are arranged. The prostate gland is supposed to get stimulated when men do... that." He paused, thinking of his own experiences with educated women. "Haven't you ever had a girlfriend put her finger back there?"

"Yeah, a few times." The tone indicated it hadn't been anything special.

Starsky had a lot to learn, and Hutch was looking forward to teaching him. But, still... "Starsk, I imagine it probably seems to hurt more to men, too... just because of the psychological barrier that it's not supposed to happen to them. It's probably harder to relax and accept it."

There was silence, and Hutch knew Starsky was thinking it through. In the meantime, his hand continued to pet and massage, loving the feel of lax body beneath him.

Finally, the nasal tone said, "I trust you, Hutch. If you want to go ahead and do it, I don't have a problem with it."

Hutch closed his eyes, always feeling such a mixture of warmth and pressure when the element of trust came up. He leaned closer, hand resting on a shoulder. "Starsky, that may not change the fact that it might really hurt."

"But it would get better, the more we got used to it, right?"


Then we have to start somewhere."

No, we don't have to, Hutch wanted to remind him. But he didn't want to blow the event out of proportion. He'd like to think that, in time, they could enjoy it a lot... and do it a lot.

His hand rubbed again. "Do you have anything for grease?"

"There's Vaseline in the medicine cabinet."

"Not the best thing, but it'll do."

"I'll get it when I shower." But Starsky just seemed to melt into the mattress.

Hutch smiled gently, deciding there could be something said for waiting. He shifted again, stretching out his long legs, and an arm brushed against the waistline of his cords.

"Hey," Starsky whispered, "how come you have so many clothes on?

Hutch considered before answering. "I like teasing myself."

Starsky chuckled briefly from deep within his throat.

The noise sounded so... familiar, so natural. Hutch lowered himself behind his friend, who was now turned partly onto his side, facing away. He spooned his body around the smaller form, taking the trim waist within both arms. As he lay there, he felt his erection wilt, even as his heart expanded. He laughed softly in disbelief, craning his neck forward to kiss beneath the line of curly hair.

"What's so funny?" came the soft inquiry. Starsky's hands rested where the blond's clasped.

"I've got to learn to untrain myself," the taller man admitted, then buried his nose in Starsky's hair.

"What do you mean?"

Hutch pressed his groin against the curve of the other's buttocks. "My hormones still think you're off limits."

In a sincere voice, Starsky said, "I didn't think your hormones had any limits."

Hutch's hands moved up the beloved body, and his arms squeezed more firmly. "Guess again."

He felt he could lay here forever, absorbing the other's warmth. "I guess it's going to take me awhile to get used to the fact that you're mine. All mine."

Starsky chuckled proudly at that.

The blond kissed the hair again. "I love you."

The darker man sighed deeply, a grunt of contentment emerging.

One hand felt along the furred chest, stroking in small circles. "I've never felt like this with anyone." Hutch heard Starsky swallow, as though the other were going to ask for elaboration, but didn't know how to word it. The blond whispered, "Just being so close, it makes me feel like I'm at the center of everything that's important." His arms squeezed again, gently this time.

Another swallow, then a gruff, "I love you, too, Hutch."

Hutch kissed along the back of the neck. "I've never doubted it. And you're the only person I can say that about." He was surprised to hear himself say the last, for he didn't want to disrupt the mood with bad feelings from the past.

But it looked like it was already disrupted, for Starsky suddenly rolled onto his back. Hutch felt a hand settle on the side of his face.

"It's so hard to believe," whispered the sympathetic voice. "How could anyone not love you?"

Hutch leaned into the hand, then turned his lips to it, planting wet kisses. "Doesn't matter," he finally whispered back. "Your love makes up for everything... a thousand times over." He hesitated, trying to find the right words, then, "Really, Starsk, is what's between us something you ever imagined having?"

The response was firm. "No."

Hutch now reached to take the caressing hand within his own. "Sometimes, life comes up with pleasant little surprises. And, sometimes, the pleasure lasts more than a matter of moments. It can go on for years and years and years."

Now a hint of fear at how much they had to lose. "We have to keep it that way, Hutch."

The blond couldn't imagine otherwise. "We will." To accent his words, he kissed the hand he held, then drew the kisses up the arm. While doing so, he rolled over on top of the nude body, and now the gentle touches included the collarbone.

"You ever going to take those clothes off?"

Hutch paused. "You ever going to take that shower?"

Starsky wriggled beneath the long frame. "If you make it worth my time."

Hutch grunted with a hint of amusement, but the humor was gone a moment later. He had every intention of making it worth the other's time. He looked down at Starsky, noting that he could now see the eyes somewhat in the darkness. And he could detect the outline of the prominent nose... The full lips...

Hutch placed an arm behind Starsky's neck. His other hand pressed against a prickly cheek. Slowly, the blond lowered his face to the other's, and when their lips connected, he pressed with a slow, firm pressure, moving their mouths back and forth. He could feel a tingle in his groin, and it encouraged him to press harder, hands and arm squeezing more firmly.

Starsky arched against him, and Hutch slowly pulled back.

"Okay," the smaller man relented breathlessly, "as soon as you let me up, I'll take that shower."

The blond leaned back down, kissed Starsky again while fingers stroked into the dark curls. After pulling back, he whispered, "Your hair is so beautiful."

"My hair?" Starsky asked in disbelief. His hand shot out in the dark to settle upon the fine strands of his partner's. "My God, Hutch, you're the one who's beautiful. Everyone notices how beautiful you are."

Hutch ducked his head, the old self-consciousness of having the golden boy image returning. And, yet, he found himself, perhaps more than ever, appreciating that he was gifted with such features. For if Starsky found him pleasing, he didn't want to look any way else. But, still, there was nothing wrong with his lover's rugged handsomeness. His brief laugh was forced. "Ah, come on, Starsk, don't tell me you don't think you're good looking."

The finger furrowed more deeply within the blond strands. Seriously, Starsky said, "No, I don't mean that. I mean that, don't you realize how it's made me feel all these years, being next to you, knowing that others see how beautiful you are? It's always made me feel proud to be next to you. Because it made me feel like I had something that other people didn't have." He paused a moment. "I mean, sure, you have other qualities that most other people don't get to see. But the part they do see... ah," Starsky shook his head at the wonder of it, "it's like being on top of the world. People notice you, Hutch. But they can only look and not touch. I can touch."

Hutch was very still, as he continued to lay on top of his partner. He wasn't sure if he should try to say anything, try to explain how much it meant to be told he was downright handsome by his partner's standards. He'd never expected the words to mean so much, corning from one particular person.

He finally straightened, dislodging Starsky's hand. Swallowing heavily, and after a couple of false starts, he finally chose a simple reply, though it had to be stated in a gruff voice. "I'm glad you think so."

His face was taken in firm, strong hands. They held him in place as Starsky raised up and planted quick, powerful kisses all along his lips. Hutch felt his heart beat faster, and his hand was placed on the furry chest, beginning to slide down...

Starsky suddenly wriggled away. "Time for that shower." And he was on his feet, heading for the bathroom.

The blond watched fondly as the silhouette made the journey without bumping into anything. For an instant, that area of the room was illuminated, then the door closed.

Hutch sat with a knee drawn up, an arm draped across it. He really should undress, but there was still a part of him that hesitated. Perhaps, if he delayed until the final moment, the familiarity of clothes would give his partner a greater sense of security. Not that Starsky was being shy, but Hutch was certain that some part of his special man was still terrified beneath at it all—that they had taken this final step, that it was he, normally the follower between them, who had caused it.

Such a remarkable thing, that.

Hutch blinked slowly, staring at the bedspread he couldn't see. If the truth be known, he would prefer that Starsky do it to him first. That way, he would know how it felt, and the knowledge would, hopefully, help him be that much gentler when he did It to Starsky. But he also knew that if he waited for his companion to make the first move, it could be a long time in coming. Starsky had a sensitivity about him that would make it very difficult to do something so harsh, even in the name of making love. In fact, now that he thought about it, Hutch realized that even with Starsky being on the bottom first, the smaller man would not be in any hurry to demand reciprocation. Hutch himself would have to initiate it.

The blond shifted, the second knee and arm positioned to mirror the first. He heard the water go off, tried to imagine what Starsky was thinking about what was ahead, hoped the other hadn't gotten carried away with the cleansing and scrubbed himself raw.

Hutch truly enjoyed what he was about to do. He remembered, while in college, the first time he'd done it to a date. She'd called him "naughty", and the label had thoroughly excited him, for no one would expect an angelic, golden boy to behave in such a way. He had continued to behave naughtily in all the years since. Some women loved it, some just seemed amused, some wouldn't let him... Van, she had gone for it sometimes, not liked it at others. After the divorce, he was free to look for women who liked a naughty man. And had found many.

But it wasn't making love, Hutch reminded himself. He tried to force the sadness back, and examine the fact from a more objective, philosophical perspective. He wondered why he had been so content to participate in all those shallow couplings.

Because Starsk was providing all the love. I didn't need it from anyone else.

Could both pleasures really be drawn together, come from the same person, even if their coupling created a relationship that would be frowned upon by others?

That was how it was supposed to work, wasn't it?

But we can't tell anyone else. That went without saying. Though, maybe, they could drop some hints to Huggy. Maybe even to Dobey. Hutch wanted to think that a few special others could share in his and Starsky's happiness.

Can we really be happy? He knew what Starsky would say: Why the hell not?

Yeah, why not? he asked himself determinedly.

The door opened, the light went off, and thick, humid, air scented the bedroom. Bare feet were heard against the floor. "I've taken that shower," Starsky informed cheerfully. "You got those clothes off yet?"

The blond's chuckle was feather-soft, and a trifle challenging. "No."

The feet stopped. "Why not?"

Hutch held out his arms toward the voice. "Come 'ere."

The bed rocked with Starsky's hesitant weight, and then something cold and hard came into contact with Hutch's arm, eventually finding it's way into his hand.

"That's, uh," the Brooklyn accent was strong, "you know, the uh . . . the Vaseline."

Hutch stretched at an awkward angle behind him, until the jar found purchase on a bureau. As his arms came around the cool body that was maneuvering itself against him, he whispered, "We aren't going to need that yet. I'm going to make you feel real, real good first." The arms squeezed, and he pressed his face against the strong neck. Starsky's hair was damp only at the ends. "I love you so much." He was surprised at how strong his need was to keep saying the words.

Starsky grunted, settling against him. "You keep repeating yourself," he pointed out, stroking along the arms that held him.

The attempt at humor told the blond that Starsky was feeling a bit nervous. He planted a firm kiss in the middle of the nearest cheek. "I'm going to make you feel real good," he reminded in a whisper. A hand drifted down to a buttock. "You aren't just going to feel it here," his fingers danced near the cleavage, "and here," the hand quickly brushed across the soft groin, "but also," Hutch deliberately let his voice get breathless, and now a finger started at the nape of Starsky's neck, and drew a line down the spine, "you're going to feel it all along here."

Starsky shivered, and Hutch laughed gently. He reached to turn the pointed chin toward him, and slowly placed his mouth over the other's. He knew his partner probably wouldn't let them kiss afterwards, and he was desperate for one more thorough drink from this very special well.

Starsky obliged, kissing back, pressing like a man willing to be aroused again. Hutch felt his own groin twitch, and he finally, reluctantly, released the other and straightened. He placed a hand on the other's back, gently beckoning. "Lie down." As Starsky started to, the hand moved to a shoulder, continuing to press. "On your side or on your stomach, whatever's most comfortable." Hutch squeezed the shoulder when his partner became still, lying at a partial angle on his right side.

"Okay," Hutch whispered, slowly shifting behind the nude form, "you just let your buddy take it from here." He could still sense a feeling of foreboding at the unknown, and he leaned down over the body, lips near an ear. "Don't forget to let yourself enjoy it. That's the whole point." He remembered something from their conversation earlier in the evening—had this turning point for them really happened such a short time ago?—and said, "I'm going to make love to you. And it's going to be real special, for both of us."

Hutch thought he heard an in-drawn breath at the promise, and as his groin was getting more and more interested, he couldn't wait any longer. He, too, settled on his right side, and bracing with an elbow, slid down the mattress until he could comfortably place a kiss against an upturned buttock. With a finger, he felt along the tailbone, into the crevice, using only the softest pressure. He paused at the recess, stroked around it, groin surging when he allowed himself to imagine that later he'd be able to stick the finger inside.

But not now. He thoroughly wet his tongue, then scooted slightly forward until his face was pressed against the firm cheeks. He managed to bring his thumbs up and part the south end of the hemispheres. He tasted the exposed flesh, delighting in the furred, wrinkled texture, and his tongue circled around it. He felt the body in his care writhe slightly, and he held it more firmly, so he could press further.

His tongue circled the opening again and again, then wetly laved the center. He paused a second, then kissed the tightness, then leisurely sucked in the excess spit.

A gasp of surprise emerged from his victim, followed by the tensing of muscles.

Hutch licked more purposely, trying to force the other to accept the sensations rather than fighting against it. For him, there had never been anything strange about it. Besides, as far as he was concerned, the whole point of foreplay was to thoroughly explore all those places with his tongue where his cock was eventually going to go. He took great pleasure in imagining comparing textures against his tongue, versus those same textures clamped around his maleness.

And Starsky was tight. He pressed further, forcing his tongue in, dancing all about the sensitive skin. After pausing for breath, he drooled again, then sucked at the lubricated opening.

This time the noise of surprise was a choked cry, and Hutch felt the agile body shiver against him. He reached up with a hand, confirming the goosebumps along the back. It encouraged him, and he pressed more firmly, his pointed tongue darting passed the barrier to reach inside. The tongue made a sweeping circle again, and Hutch strained against the crevice, trying to keep his lubricated flesh within.

Finally, he had to pull back, desperate for air. He'd been so intent on his work that he only now realized how much Starsky was groaning.

He took Starsky's arm, tenderly whispering, "Here, put your arm under your knees and draw your legs up. It'll help me get in deeper." The other obeyed immediately, and Hutch felt a surge of affection for the trust that Starsky had in him. He paused, hand on a now more exposed hip, and said, "I can keep this up all night, partner. You're going to have to tell me when you're ready for me to stop and go on to something else." By the time Hutch was back in position, there hadn't been a response. He was pleased that the other, whose body felt both more relaxed and more excited, wanted more.

Hutch spent the next couple of minutes working his tongue back inside in a leisurely manner, pausing occasionally in his licking to plant a gentle kiss. He felt the surrounding flesh relax further, and the wet orifice was penetrated more easily this time. He felt his tongue go in deeper than before, and he began the wide, sweeping action once again, starting out slowly, than gradually letting the circling flesh build up speed. Then he suddenly withdrew and sucked firmly at the outer skin of the recess, and Starsky bucked so hard that the blond almost lost his place.

Groans, this time of disbelief, sounded from his partner, as Hutch kept his lips clamped against the slippery flesh. Finally, he ran out of air, and he had to let go. He exhaled heavily against opening, forcing another gasp of surprise. Then he withdrew for a quick breath.

This time, when he returned, he worked intently, sucking more than licking, kissing more than drooling. When his tongue penetrated yet again, he used a sharp, stabbing motion, and Starsky's hips wriggled side to side, encouraging the blond further...

"Stop!" came the heavy cry. Starsky tried to squirm away.

Hutch withdrew, breathing heavily, his erection straining against the corduroys.

The smaller man was also gasping for breath. "No more, no more. It's too much. I can't take it." His arms were still locked beneath his knees.

Hutch placed a hand on the nearest hip, feeling a damp sheen. "Okay," he whispered soothingly, then drew a deep breath. "You ready for the rest?"

Starsky's respiration was slowing. "Yeah, we-can-still-do-that-I-think."

If they didn't do "that", Hutch was going to need relief some other way. His voice strained in an effort to not reveal the intensity of his arousal. "I want you to be sure."

Starsky finally released his legs and rolled all the way over to his stomach. "Yeah, I'm sure."

The blond felt a surge of relief. He leaned against a hip. "I'm going to need to see what I'm doing, so I'm going to turn on the bathroom light."

The other made a noise of acquiescence.

Hutch got off the bed and moved to the bathroom. He closed the door partway, then switched on the light. While he wasn't any more anxious than Starsky to have the bright intrusion, his private reason for turning it on was so he could see Starsky's face when he was on top of him. If doing it ended up being more difficult than they'd imagined, he didn't want Starsky biting his lip and hiding it from him.

Hutch decided once and for all that the clothes were going to have to go. He moved around to the foot of the bed, where Starsky was sprawled in the center. The standing man discarded his shirt first, then unsnapped his pants. The lowering of the zipper sounded loud, and Starsky got up on an elbow and glanced back at him.

Hutch lowered the cords and underwear in one fluid motion. His cock sprang free, coming to rest at a ninety degree angle. After stepping out of the pants, and discarding his socks, he straightened and stroked the protrusion soothingly.

"You're so white, you practically glow in the dark," Starsky noted with amazement. "the white knight."

Hutch snorted, not sure if it were meant as a compliment. He did enjoy knowing Starsky was watching him as he moved to the dresser and took the jar of Vaseline in hand. He hoped his straining erection didn't seem too intimidating. For a moment, he considered asking something like, "Think you can handle it?", but he really had no desire to tease. And, especially, if it turned out that his partner couldn't...

He looked forward to the day when they were experienced enough that extreme arousal would be welcomed rather than feared.

He got on the bed next to Starsky, resting a hand on the lower back. "It's just going to be fingers at first, partner. If I start moving too fast, doing too much, just let me know and I'll slow right down."

"Yeah, gotcha," the other replied with forced casualness.

Hutch reached for a pillow. "Here, buddy, let's put this under you." Starsky seemed to understand the idea, for he shifted until Hutch put the pillow in place, then lowered his hips on top of it.

The blond tried not to stare too much at the firm, round flesh, raised just for him, because it was arousing him further. He settled between Starsky's legs and focused on dipping out a large dollop of Vaseline. It wasn't his favorite lubricant, for it was so thick and difficult to work with. He lowered his hand to the moist crevice, stroked the opening there with a dry finger, then gently pushed in with the greased digit. "Okay, pal?"

"Yeah, hardly feel it." The words were lazily muffled.

Hutch stroked inside, trying to spread the gel, then withdrew for more. This time, he inserted two fingers, felt a slight flinch, and paused a moment. When the compact body relaxed again, he pushed the fingers in further, feeling around, and stroked purposely along the bottom of the tract.

After a moment, Starsky wriggled slightly and asked, "What are you doing?"

"Feel good?"

"Yeah." The tone was one of soft surprise. "Especially right... right... there."

Hutch focused his fingers on that particular spot.

The smaller body wriggled again. "Man, that's nice. Where did you learn that?"

"From women who knew what they were doing."

Hutch would have loved to continue the stroking, but his patience was wearing thin. He withdrew the fingers. "Ready for the big time?"

"As ready as I'll ever be."

"Okay, let me just grease it up and we'll be all set."

"Hutch, wait." Starsky got up on an elbow and glanced back. "Can I... Can I touch it first?"

The blond paused, feeling some part of him disintegrate into goo. Gently, he replied, "Sure. Just... just be careful. I'm close."

Starsky reached back with a hand, and Hutch took the wrist, guiding it to his erection. "You can wrap it around there, but you better not stroke." The masculine hand closed around the thick protrusion, and Hutch rolled his eyes to the ceiling. He loved being gripped like that by women; and now, he found that a strong man's hand was even more enthralling. "That feels nice."

"Feels big," Starsky informed him.

Again, Hutch wasn't sure if the other were trying to be complimentary, or trying to indicate that it may be too much to take. He could feel the fingers squeezing slightly, testing the girth.

"Buddy, I'm really, really close." Hutch took a deep breath. "I'm probably not going to need to get in very far."

A shrug answered him. "Whatever, Hutch. Don't, you know, forget to enjoy yourself."

The tender swelling was there once again in the vicinity of his chest. The blond smiled affectionately, even as the hand released him. "I don't think that's going to be a problem."

Starsky settled back against the mattress. "Go for it, Blondie."

He was glad his partner's humor had returned. Hutch scooped out another helping of Vaseline, and with practiced fingers, spread it liberally over the head of his penis, then for good measure, applied a layer a few inches back. He got on all fours, pacing his hands on either side of Starsky. Breathing heavily, he said, "Whenever the pressure gets to be too much, let me know and I'll give you a breather. You don't have to take it all at once. I'm going to go in real slow."

"You got it."

Hutch placed his dry hand against Starsky's spine. "And when it does hurt, don't fight against it. Try to relax and accept it."

"Yeah, okay."

Hutch straightened and took his penis in hand. He scooted forward to press it along the crevice, and it easily found the well lubricated spot. He pushed with his hips, and the head popped forward between the slippery walls. Starsky threw his head up, and Hutch closed his eyes and waited.

"Easy does it," the blond coaxed in a trembling voice. He waited until the curly head laid back down, and then he pressed a little further. The tract was so tight, so moist, so warm. His hips pushed yet again.

Starsky grunted deep within his throat, and Hutch paused yet again, feeling beads of sweat break out on his forehead. He was halfway in, and all he had to do is undulate a few times...

"Okay," the smaller man grunted again. "It's okay now, go ahead."

Hutch bent his elbows and leaned down to rest his forehead against the strong back. In a small voice, he said, "Try not to move, okay? I'm so close, and I don't want it to end yet."

Starsky was obediently silent, his body gradually relaxing beneath the blond's.

Hutch breathed deeply a few times. He wanted Starsky to know what it felt like, and that was impossible until the other took his turn. But in the meantime... "Buddy, give me your hand."

Starsky reached back. Hutch took the hand, then guided it as he asked, "Want to feel where we meet? Where we're connected?" He placed it on top the part of him that was on the exterior of the penetration point. "Feel that?" He encouraged the fingers to slide along the shaft until encountering where they joined. "That's me inside of you." Hutch squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the sensations that his own words caused.

"Jesus, Hutch," Starsky whispered in amazement. Then, "Why don't you put the rest of it in there?"

Hutch quickly shook his head. "Too afraid to move." Deep breaths had helped calm him, and he lowered himself on top of the damp back, causing the hand to dislodge. "It feels really good," he whispered. "Real good. All nice and warm and tight and moist." But that was true with any convenient body. Hutch wormed his arms beneath Starsky, then embraced him. "Love you," he whimpered.

Suddenly, Starsky arched his hips. "Go for it, Hutch. Go!"

Nerves were suddenly at an extreme, and Hutch rammed into the lax body, watching in disbelief as his entire length disappeared inside. He was instantly past the point of no return, and he milked it for all it was worth, humping frantically to intensify the sensation when it hit.

And he was there, screaming to the wall above the bed, all the muscles in his body stretching taut, and then suddenly going lax, as he felt himself sink, sink, sink...

He groaned over and over, his damp body molding against the one beneath it. The heavy coating of Vaseline kept his organ from being too shocked at the chill when it slipped from Starsky's body.

Hutch closed his eyes and drifted pleasantly, until the flesh beneath him began to writhe determinedly.

"Huh?" he asked, then allowed himself to be dislodged to one side.

"Hutch, you were getting too damn heavy," Starsky explained.

The blond kept his eyes closed while he tried to get his bearings from sound alone. He heard a few sighs from his partner, then the sound of bare feet padding to the bathroom. A couple of minutes later, the bed rocked with the other's weight, and Hutch detected than manipulations of the sheets as Starsky got between them.

Hutch opened his eyes and found himself facing his partner, who was facing him. He could see the relaxed expression, the shining eyes, and noted that some of Starsky's bangs were plastered to his forehead. Hutch smiled tenderly. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. The question is: are you okay? I thought the roof was going to cave in with you screaming like that. I even bet the neighbors all heard."

The smile broadened. "It felt good. What else can I say?"

Starsky laid a hand on the blond's cheek. "You don't hafta say nothin'." Then, more seriously, "I love you."

His heart, which had been so mellow the past few moments, now sped up a little. "Aw, Starsk," He didn't know what else to add.

"You gonna to get under the covers? I'm ready for some shuteye."

Hutch gazed at his partner, trying to remember... "Did you come again?"

"Uh-uh. Was I supposed to?"

The blond sighed. "No. But you just seemed to get so into it, I thought you might have."

"Buddy, what I was into was you," Starsky replied firmly. "I told you to enjoy yourself. You just kept holding back. You've been holding back all night."

Hutch made a tiny shrug. "Yes and no." After a moment, he had the energy to explain, "Every time I've felt something tonight, it seemed like it went away. You know, like I said, because my subconscious or something considered you off limits."

Starsky chuckled. "I'm obviously not off limits now."

"No," Hutch agreed, shifting lazily to pull the covers back. "This was one brilliant idea you had, buddy." He slid beneath the sheets, loving the warmth created. He pulled them over his shoulder, then slid next to his partner. Their arms bumped as they tried to take each other in hand. Finally, Hutch yielded and settled his head on Starsky's shoulder, the other's arms wrapping around him.

"You know," the blond said peacefully, "it's like that song."

"What song?"

"That country song. Something about 'after the loving, I'm still in love with you'." Hutch turned to plant a kiss on the broad neck. "I am still in love with you." What a great feeling it was. Tonight, he could sleep with Starsky, wake up with him tomorrow, not have to be overly polite, not have to try to remember his name...

His eyes suddenly watered, and he blinked it away.

But not before Starsky's fingers happened to brush across his lids. The smaller man froze. "Hey, what is it?"

The blond quickly shook his head. "Nothing. I'm just glad you love me, that's all."

"Aw, Hutch." Starsky's arms contracted, and Hutch allowed himself to be pressed closer to this person who had been everything for so long.

"You know something," Hutch said when he was mellow again.


"We go back to the afternoon shift on Monday. So, we've got the rest of the night, all day tomorrow, then Monday morning to be together."

"You thinkin' you want to spend it all in bed?"

"That would be nice, wouldn't it?"

Starsky hugged him hander. "Yeah, that would be nice."


Lying relaxed, with his arms behind his head, Starsky watched as Hutch got out of bed, the blond's big feet creating a heavy "thud" as they impacted with the floor.

"Sure you can stand up?"

Hutch waved a hand dismissively. With a concerted effort, he stood, and reached to pick up Starsky's robe from the floor. Sighing heavily, he wobbled into the bathroom.

Starsky grinned, then settled his eyes on the ceiling. He supposed there was such a thing as spending too much time in bed together. They hadn't been dressed since Saturday night, when everything had changed. Now, it was the middle of Monday morning, and Hutch had some errands to run before they reported for work at two.

The dark-haired man wriggled, feeling the aches and pains from the two poundings he'd taken that weekend. The second time, it had been an admitted bit of manipulation on his part to be on the bottom again. Hutch had insisted it was "his turn", but Starsky was in no hurry to take the top role. Besides, while the peculiar sensation of getting fucked was going to take some getting used to, he relished the idea of Hutch doing it to him. In a strange way, it even made him feel more masculine, taking it from his big, beautiful blond.

They had also done the sixty-nine thing, and that was going to take some getting used to, too. It felt weird putting his mouth on a cock, even Hutch's cock. The kissing—of any part of the anatomy—was the best. Hutch liked doing that, being patient, taking his time. Starsky knew it was going to be a while before he was as skilled as his partner in a lot of areas. But the other hadn't complained. He still seemed to be on something of a high from simply knowing he was loved this much.

Starsky's eyes lowered. There were so many facets to the man who belonged to him. It was difficult reconciling them all... the teenager who had swallowed the pills, determined to die; the man who would forever long for his father's love; the cop who had been completely innocent in his own heroin addiction, but who had to suffer all the harsh consequences of the withdrawal; the man who seemed to have finally found love, only to find out it came in the form of a common prostitute; the man who would be big brother figure to troubled teenagers like Molly and Kiko; the man who wouldn't hesitate to the bust the heads of anyone he saw do wrong; the man who, quite simply, needed lots and lots of love; the man who... loved Starsky.

The curly detective's expression softened. Hutch had been saying "I love you" a lot the past few months. Of course, they'd never had trouble saying it to each other, but the blond had recently seemed to carry such an aura of determination about it. Starsky supposed that, in the years to come, there could always be an argument about who had captured whom. Granted, Starsky had made the first move, but Hutch had been loving him for so long prior to that, that the first move seemed, to its initiator, like a natural extension of what was already between them. Hutch just needed to have it pointed out.

Dumb blond.

Starsky smirked then. Oh, he knew it wasn't going to be easy. They would always have to worry about others finding out, for starters. But the biggest problems would always be those which were merely external. For any problems from within were the same ones they'd been dealing with for years. And they held no threat.

An old married couple, for sure.

Hutch emerged from the bathroom, wearing Starsky's robe and toweling his hair. "What are you lying there grinning about?"

The curly-haired man sighed with exaggeration. "About how, since we're already an old married couple, we have a lot of fucking to catch up on."

The blond shook a finger. "Crude, Starsk. Very crude."

"But true."

"Well..." Hutch shrugged his head.

Starsky couldn't keep up the banter. Seriously, he said, "I love you."

As he knew it would, the statement brought the taller man closer, and he sat on the edge of the bed. Hutch picked up Starsky's hand, kissed it once, twice... a third time. "You know, buddy," he said as he laid it back down, "we can't behave like this at work."

"No shit."

"Even if we think no one is looking."

Starsky sighed. "I know. We just have to make the best of it when we're not at work. Except," he shrugged as a thought occurred, "there's no reason why we can't, you know, do what we've always done. I mean, it's not like we can't touch each other."

"Yeah," Hutch agreed after a moment, then turned his sea blue eyes to his partner. "It's just going to be harder to know where to draw the line."

Quietly, Starsky said, "Just don't go out of your way to stop loving me, so people won't suspect how much you do love me. That would probably seem more weird to people at Metro than if we outright kissed each other."

Hutch was thoughtful, then agreed with a soft, "Yeah."

Unconvinced that the agreement was sincere, the curly man laid a hand on the blond's arm. "Hutch, this," he indicated the bed, "hasn't made us love each other any more than we already have all these years. We're just expressing it differently. So, please, don't start treating me like a leper in front of other people. I don't think I could stand it. We've never been shy about, you know, showing that we love each other. There's no reason to start now."

Hutch snorted with a gentle smile. "Yeah, you're right." He looked at Starsky, eyes dancing mischievously. "Maybe one day I will outright kiss you—right in front of everybody."

Starsky chuckled at that, and he gazed at the mattress as yet another truth occurred. "Ya know," he glanced back up at his partner, "after all we've been to each other, I really don't think anyone would think anything of it."

Hutch thought a second, then smirked. "You're probably right."