Hutch stood in the dimly lit hallway, debating for the hundredth time if he should knock on Starsky's door.
I shouldn't be here. He's the one being unreasonable about all this.
But his stomach was in knots, and he had spent the last hour driving around in circles, unable to go back home. He didn't want to be there, alone.
I can't leave it like this between us, no matter how stubborn or pig-headed he is. We need to get this hashed out—
He heard something, a muffled sound that almost sounded like his name. Startled, his hand was up to pound on the door when he heard the shot reverberate through the walls.
Backing up, gun already in hand, Hutch threw himself at the door, splintering the cheap construction. He kept his balance as he exploded into the dark room, gun in front of him as he moved to cover first the small living room and then the hallway.
The bedroom door was slightly open and Hutch could see movement beyond.
"POLICE! Come out with your hands up!"
Hutch didn't wait for an answer. Kicking open the door he stopped in the doorway, taking in the scene in a second.
There were two figures, one standing at the side of the bed grappling with something, his back to Hutch. The other lay motionless. Hutch recognized Starsky's outline.
It happened in an endless second. The man at the bed swiveled around, the glint of steel catching the dim, reflected light from the street. It moved in his direction, in an upward arc that spoke of purpose. Hutch held his aim, his brain ticking off every inch of movement until it was clear that the gun was coming up to aim at him.
He pulled the trigger, feeling the savage buck of the gun in his hands at the same second the figure in front of him jerked back violently.
The roar filled the room, rolling off the walls as it seemed to follow the suspect in his backward fall onto the bed, the gun falling from the other's fingers and tumbling slowly to the floor.
Keeping his aim on the collapsed form, Hutch took one step forward and found the light switch.
In another second he was kicking the dropped gun under the bed. Fear warred with the adrenaline as he used shaky fingers to check for Starsky's pulse. He sighed when he found it, weak, but there. He checked the suspect's pulse as well, but Hutch only made the motion, knowing the man was dead before he had hit the bed. It was only then that he laid down his gun to move the body to the side and off his partner and lover.
Starsky was breathing shallowly, his pulse thin and slow. Hutch cupped Starsky's head, feeling for blood or lumps. Finding none, he moved down to chest and limbs, carelessly shoving the body off Starsky and out of his way as he did so. There was blood and gore everywhere, but Hutch could not find a wound on Starsky. He almost gasped with relief.
"Hang on! You've got to hang on for me!" He moved to the other side of the bed, grabbing the phone handset. Hutch dialed for an ambulance, feeling as if he were shaking, although his fingers seemed to know what they were doing. As the dial tone turned to ringing he planted his left palm over Starsky's heart. He had to know it was still beating.
Don't you go without me, damn it! Don't you dare!
He hurt. He wasn't sure where yet.
As the darkness began to lift, he tried to separate the pain into levels and locations. If he needed to move, to protect himself or Hutch, he needed to know what parts were working and which weren't. As consciousness demanded more of his attention he found that he didn't think he was actually dying.
In Starsky's book that was always a good sign.
He did realize that his head felt as if an elephant had stepped on it and his eyes had been burned out with hot pokers. At least warm pokers, anyway. Somehow he found his face with his hand, found that he needed a shave and his eyes were still in place.
And they felt much better with the hand blocking out the light. So he left it there while he tried to decide what the rest of his body was up to.
"Don't move too much."
A warm hand covered the one he held over his eyes.
"You'll make the headache worse."
Starsky sighed, and found that his throat was as dry as desert sand.
Hutch's hand left his and a moment later he felt the thin end of a straw on his lips. He sucked it in and groaned in pleasure as the tepid water eased his thirst. Trust Hutch to know that cold water would have only made his head hurt worse.
If that were possible. His head didn't think it was.
He lowered his hand and flexed the right one. There was an IV there. He shifted his legs a bit. At least there wasn't a catheter.
Opening one eye carefully, he searched and found Hutch's face. A large palm was placed on his chest and Starsky tried to smile.
"What happened?" Starsky croaked.
"You were drugged. There was something in the wine Taylor brought. It'll wear off."
Flashes from the past flickered in Starsky's mind. He remembered his and Hutch's argument, his not feeling well, Taylor Puckett's arrival. His memory got even sparser then. He had images come to him that didn't make any sense, along with the strong memory of wondering if he was actually going to blow his own head off with his gun.
But he could remember Taylor's voice. As he listened to it repeat in his head, more and more came back to him. Taylor had tried to kill him.
"He's dead, right?"
He watched as Hutch nodded slowly. "He was aiming for me."
Starsky had no doubt that Hutch had to pull the trigger. It was IA that would be hard to convince.
"He did the others, Hutch. Killed them all. I'm sure of it."
"He confess to you?"
"In a way."
"Dobey's not going to be happy with that kind of an answer." Hutch gave him a small smile.
"Dobey's never happy. I'll buy him lunch and he'll be fine." Starsky smiled a bit himself to see Hutch chuckle. "Am I contagious? I want to go home."
Hutch shook his head sadly. "Sorry, buddy, but you're here until they make sure they get that shit out of your system. Besides," Hutch leaned lower, his warm lips brushing Starsky's ear, "I lost my conjugal rights too many times in the past to headaches, so that's the last thing I want to happen when I finally get you home. You get rid of your headache here and I'll keep my ego intact."
Starsky chuckled, then moaned when his head paid him back for it. This was going to be a long night.
"Home. Sounds good." His voice was sounding raspy again. Hutch had the straw to his lips before he could say anything. This time the water was just as welcomed.
"I'm sorry about the argument." Not that I think I was wrong, but I'm sorry we argued.
Hutch's face grew serious. "Starsk, you were right. I was wrong. I shouldn't have said what I did." Hutch put a hand on his arm and squeezed it. "I should have trusted you more. If I had—"
"This would have happened anyway. Don't start that guilt trip without me, buddy. I still would've been alone at the apartment, and I still would've let Taylor in."
"But you had that feeling—"
"That something was wrong, yeah. But...." Starsky sighed, thinking back over the last few weeks. "He caught me off guard, Hutch. I had a feeling that those guys were murdered, but I never had anything more than that. And you were right. I was starting to question it myself. I was going on nothing but a gut feeling, and at some point you really do either have to fish or cut bait."
"But you found the murderer."
"No, Hutch. I made myself bait and the murderer found me."
"I should have had more faith in you."
"You have all the faith I need, buddy. I need you to question me, to push me into corners I may not be able to talk myself out of. You had to do that when I was losing it in rehab. You felt you needed to do that tonight. I need you to work on my weaknesses or someone else will do it in your place." Starsky reached out to tug at Hutch's shirt sleeve. "With you I know it's safe to be wrong."
"Well, you've had so much practice at it."
They both smiled, but Hutch looked a little sad. Starsky knew the argument along with his close call would bother the tall blond for awhile. He knew how he'd feel in Hutch's place.
Aw, Hutch. We'll work it out. We always find a way.
They were silent for a few minutes and Starsky felt the headache fade slightly. He closed his eyes and just enjoyed that bit of relief, wondering if it was Hutch's fingertips running softly up and down his forearm that was doing the trick.
"Starsk?" The words were soft, the hesitation clear.
"Why did he do it?"
Starsky took a moment, going back over Taylor's words.
"He thought he was saving me from a useless, desolate future."
Starsky found himself frowning, trying to pull the words together. "I think he was miserable, Hutch. When he lost his leg he lost everything. He had no family left, never married and had no one at home to boost his spirits during the bad times. From what he'd told me before, he barely hung on to life by his fingernails during the bad times. He could never go back to doing what he loved to do, could never find anything to take his job's place and I guess he never got over it."
"But why did he choose the ones he did? They had family and seemed to be coping well. Carl, Robert and Rufo had so much to live for!"
Starsky shrugged slightly. "I can only guess it's because we were the youngest of the group. I think he felt as if he were doing us a favor by taking away all the future years of misery we faced. ‘Better to have died young'."
The fingers Hutch was using to rub his forearm worked their way down. Their fingers intertwined and the two hands held fast.
"He was a victim himself, Hutch. He really thought he was doing us a blessing."
Neither one said a word, but their hands held each other's firmly.
A few minutes later, Starsky let himself float to the edge of sleep, comforted by the warm hand in his.
What a terrible shame, that some people don't even have this much.
The cemetery was beautiful, Hutch had to admit that. The weather was perfect and the scenery green and gorgeous. But no matter how bright and sunny it was when you left home it always seemed to feel cloudy when you went to visit a grave.
It's the nature of the beast. It can't be sunny or warm enough to wipe away the losses that have been suffered.
This was the fourth and last grave they would visit, Taylor Puckett's. Starsky had felt the need to visit the gravesites of Carl, Robert and Rufo and Hutch had understood. Starsky hadn't yet had the proper time to say goodbye to those men. It was one of Starsky's gifts, and his burden, that he could make friends and love so well in such a short amount of time. It had surprised Hutch when Starsky had wanted to come to Puckett's grave. All Hutch could do was be with him and let Starsky do what he needed to do.
I guess it shouldn't have been such a surprise, Hutch decided. Starsky said he was a good man, but very ill. Hutch read the bare words on the cheap tombstone that Starsky knelt quietly beside. It looked as if it were something cheap the city had paid for. No "beloved son, father or husband." No "will be greatly missed". Maybe if he had had some family, someone to care for him, they could have seen how messed up he was inside.
And while there was a small part of Hutch that felt sorry for the man, there was another part that refused to forgive Taylor for what he had done. And more importantly, for what he had tried to do.
His madness almost cost me everything. I don't think I have it in me to forgive that.
He watched as Starsky put a hand in his pocket, and, as he had three other times today, took out a small pebble and placed it carefully on the grave. A Jewish custom that Starsky had explained to him long ago. It was a way to pay respect to the deceased.
One of these days you will have moved a whole mountain of pebbles, my love. Hutch sighed. How many more can we lose before we find ourselves lost?
Starsky stood and walked back toward Hutch, arm out to encircle Hutch's waist as soon as they were close enough. They turned toward the car. Time to leave.
"Do you want to stop by and visit the families?" Hutch asked, giving Starsky's waist a squeeze before letting go. Even here they had to be careful how they touched in public. Even here.
Starsky sighed and shrugged. "No. I talked to Rufo's widow yesterday. She heard from the insurance company and wanted to know if there was anything I could do. I told her I'd call her back after I looked into it some more."
Hutch felt a flash of anger and frustration. It was bad enough the families had to suffer the loss of a loved one, but because of the insurance company's refusal to reopen Rufo's case his widow was having to make do without his life insurance. They had refused to pay the widow because the police had originally closed the case as a suicide.
Both he and Starsky had done their damnedest in the past month to get the other police departments to reclassify the cases, but even with Hutch being exonerated in the shooting death of Taylor Puckett, and Starsky's testimony to what Taylor had said, there had been no progress. They had tried to pull in all their markers, and even got Dobey to throw his considerable weight around, but in the end it all came to the same answer. They couldn't change the deaths to murder when there still was no physical evidence that Taylor had killed the others, no matter what they believed off the record. And even if they could swing that, the insurance companies could still refuse to reopen the case. So Rufo's family continued to try to deal with debts that couldn't be paid.
So after all these weeks since they had caught the killer, Hutch still felt that Taylor was hurting people.
The ride back to Hutch's apartment was spent in silence. As they pulled up to Venice Place, Hutch was struck with how much lighter his mood was and how much brighter the sun felt as he got out of the Torino.
As soon as the door shut behind them Hutch's arms were filled with Starsky, and he hugged him back fiercely. It was wonderful to feel the strength and health of the man in his arms.
May I never forget how special this is, how special he is!
"Thanks for comin' with me," Starsky breathed warmly in his ear. Hutch jumped a bit as Starsky's lips captured his earlobe and sent sparks down to his middle.
"Always, babe." Hutch smiled as he pulled back enough to look into Starsky's face. He could see that he was still affected by the cemetery visits. "You know that. Right?"
Starsky's eyes left his and he looked down and nodded, an embarrassed look hovering around the corners of his eyes. "I know. But I don't want to ever take you for granted."
Hutch leaned forward, closing his eyes as their lips touched softly. It was a caress more than a kiss, an agreement rather than something sexual.
After a long moment of enjoying the sweet caress Hutch suddenly sucked in the bottom of Starsky's lip, nipping it quickly. He smiled at Starsky's halfhearted yelp.
"It's still early yet, and we've got the rest of the afternoon as well as tomorrow off. Want to go somewhere? Walk on the beach? Go for a real early dinner?"
Starsky's eyes grew mischievous; the arms around Hutch's waist pulled them even closer. "Maybe later. Right now I need someone to remind me why I'm so damn lucky to have you for a lover."
"Oh, well, I guess that ‘someone' would be me then." Hutch laughed, feeling the pall of the day lift from his shoulders. He reached up to fill his hands with Starsky's shoulders, feeling the tenseness of the muscles there. He rubbed the shoulders firmly. "Due for another example of the Hutchinson Magic Finger Massage, are we?"
"Yes," Starsky's eyes closed as a look of contentment took over his face at the suggestion. "You always know just what I need."
Hutch felt his smile grow at the words. "Then tell you what. You go and lie down on the bed and I'll get the oil out. We'll have an afternoon snack and a big dinner later." He pulled Starsky closer, pausing the impromptu massage only long enough to give Starsky a kiss that spoke of more than just comfort. "Much later."
The look Starsky gave him then was magical in the way it made Hutch feel as if he'd said the most wonderful thing in the world.
Hutch laughed as clothing flew through the air, Starsky making a mini-striptease out of undressing. By the time he had gotten the massage oil out of the drawer and had undressed himself Starsky was facedown on the bed, a hedonistic smile on his face, looking as if he were in bliss. Hutch knew that just getting ready for a massage would have made his partner half hard and he could feel the blood starting to flow into his own cock just at the sight of his partner's body, looking as if he didn't have a care in the world.
Putting the lotion bottle within easy reach, Hutch climbed onto the bed, straddling Starsky's upper thighs. He settled himself on them, loving the feel of their mass and masculinity under his ass and the way his own cock and sac nestled against Starsky's buttocks as he leaned over to massage the broad back.
His scars look so much better than before. How far he's come since then!
Opening the bottle, Hutch poured a bit of the fragrant oil into his palm, waiting a minute to make sure it was warm enough. The smell of almonds filled the room.
Rubbing it into both hands, Hutch placed both palms at the small of Starsky's back, one hand on either side of his spine. Carefully he rubbed upward, spreading the oil as he kneaded the muscles with his thumbs, following the spine up and into Starsky's hairline. Then with his palms held flat Hutch made one, long, sweeping stroke back down his spine, loving the deep sigh that he could hear and feel as Starsky relaxed even further.
That's my boy! Let me make you feel so good.
Hutch worked the rib muscles then, kneading and soothing the tight areas until they were all relaxed under his fingertips.
As he worked he could feel the familiar flush of desire burning in his core, enjoying it spread through his body as he shamelessly enjoyed the way Starsky's body was reacting to his caresses. His own cock was fairly hard now, rubbing across Starsky's ass cheeks every time Hutch leaned over to stroke the muscled body beneath him.
When Hutch had covered every inch of back and neck, at least twice, he glanced at Starsky's face. Having turned his head to the left, Starsky's eyes were shut, but Hutch could see the hooded lids and glowing cheeks that told him that Starsky was enjoying the experience as more than just a massage.
Hutch poured more of the fragrant oil into a palm, having saved the best part for last. Rubbing the oil into his palms, he placed his hands palm-down, one on each buttock and pushed down, using the leverage to force one knee in between Starsky's thighs. The legs parted as instructed, giving Hutch room to move between them.
Starsky moaned deeply and Hutch knew how much his partner loved this part. He loved for Hutch to knead his ass, allowing the oil to drip down across his center and spread across his heavy sac. Hutch put all his finesse into working the muscles of thigh and ass, careful to be forceful up to, but not beyond, the point of pain.
Oh, babe. He found his own cock throbbing with his heart, the urge to rub himself against the oiled, smooth skin of Starsky's ass almost unbearable. The sight was tantalizing, but neither seemed ready to follow up on penetration.
Maybe one day, Starsk, we'll be brave enough to try going all the way. One day....
Starsky moaned again, his eyes open and dazed-looking. He lifted his ass a bit, and Hutch knew what he wanted.
Trailing his finger down Starsky's crack and across his center, Starsky gasped as Hutch used both hands to fondle his balls. Starsky's sac was warm and slippery, and Hutch separated the balls and rolled them gently between his fingers, enjoying the continuous moaning and wiggling that told him how much Starsky was enjoying the attention.
Hutch reached underneath Starsky for his cock and wrapped his hand around the base when Starsky interrupted.
"H-hutch! No! Wait!" Hutch froze as Starsky struggled up to his elbows. "I wanna turn around to face you!"
Starsky twisted around to lie on his back, urging Hutch to the side as he put his legs together. As he did so, Hutch couldn't keep his eyes off Starsky's cock. Thick and dark, it seemed to emerge like a sword from the thick patch of chocolate curls that surrounded the base and curled oily around his balls.
"Sit here. Here." Starsky grabbed at his arm, pulling him over to straddle him again, this time front to front. "Give me the oil!"
Hutch handed him the bottle that by some miracle had not tipped over, as he moved to do as Starsky bid.
Starsky had twisted to grab at discarded pillows, putting a couple behind his back so he was propped up. He poured some of the oil in his left palm.
"Move up a bit. I wanna touch your chest."
Hutch did so, moving up so his balls rested on top of Starsky's, and it was all he could do not to wiggle so he could see them rub together. Both of their cocks were hard now, hugging their stomachs and pulsing in counterpoint as if in an erotic dance.
Starsky reached for him, and Hutch leaned into the touch, gasping as hot hands caressed and kneaded his chest. Strong fingers outlined his nipples, circling and teasing. Hutch threw his head back, enjoying the sensation even as it made him mad for more contact.
Unable to stop himself, he grabbed at both cocks, pulling them together as their hardness tried to pull them apart. He held the bases of both together with one hand while smoothing the other over their erections, coating them both in oil.
As Starsky's fingers found his nipples and pinched, Hutch gasped and heard the echo from Starsky as he stroked both cocks fast and hard from tip to root.
"Ah...Hutch...do it! Doitdoitdoitdoit...." Starsky was panting, fingers kneading at Hutch's chest, pulling at his nipples like a desperate man.
Hutch clenched his teeth against the mixture of pleasure and pain that ran in flashes from his chest on downward, cutting a fiery trail down to his groin and straight to his cock head.
Hutch was close now, his grip on their cocks like iron and his other hand moving up and down in swift, hard strokes. He felt himself swell and harden, felt Starsky do the same as their panting and moaning combined to fill the room with their excitement and growing desperation.
Starsky gasped, hands grabbing at Hutch's arms and trying to pull him down as Hutch fought to stay where he was. Hutch could feel Starsky move under him as his hips tried to move in counter rhythm to Hutch's ever quickening strokes.
Hutch could feel the sweet tension building to explosion in his balls and his gut, tying his gut into explosive knots. Pressure so sweet it burned through him in screaming expectation. All he could hear now was Starsky's gut-deep moans, all he could feel was the pull on his cock and the slide of Starsky's hardness against his own.
He forced his eyes open, tried to focus his eyes on Starsky's face. He looked as if he were in pain, and Hutch gasped at the sight. He knew that look, craved it, needed to see the second when Starsky fell over the edge. Hutch knew it was there in the slight swell of Starsky's cock against his own.
Hutch bit his lip, needing to see Starsky's climax before letting his own happen.
It happened quickly. Blue eyes opened wide with what looked like ecstasy and astonishment for a fraction of a second before Starsky grimaced once more, his grip on Hutch's shoulders turning brutal and bruising and his hips bucking as he fell over the edge.
Starsky gasped, his head thrown back as semen was thrown from him in spurts, landing to splash his stomach and show up as stark white against the tan skin and dark chest hairs, dribbling down to slick Hutch's grip on them both.
The sight was all Hutch could stand as it pushed him over his own cliff, making him fly. He exploded, muscles and organs pulsed and strained as his ejaculate raced from him to join Starsky's, coating the hand that pulled and milked them both even as their cum was mixed on their straining cocks as well as Starsky's stomach.
He felt himself yell as wave after wave of pleasure ran through him, sending spikes and tingles flashing through his limbs, even as his gut strained to empty itself. He only heard his own heartbeat, but knew there was only one name he could have called in his pleasure. He lost all strength and carefully let himself fall forward, shifting to come to rest on top of his lover, their heaving chests pushing at each other as both gasped for air.
He was tired, relaxed and content beyond belief as, barely aware, Starsky shifted them both to more comfortable positions. Limbs in a tangle, both lying on their sides they lay in silence, Hutch content to listen as their breathing returned to normal and the gasping subsided.
Better.... The best. Each time it gets more perfect. One of these days I'm going to die right in the middle, and not regret a moment of it.
He didn't know how much time had passed as their breathing slowed and they lay in the sweaty, oily tangle that felt like the only real home Hutch had ever known. They had needed that, after today, needed the reminder that they were still alive, still functioning and most importantly, still together.
He held still as Starsky groaned, then moved just enough to grab at a sheet to pull it over them both. He was glad Starsky had made no move away from him, apparently not caring any more than Hutch did that they were both a mess. Starsky patted Hutch's shoulder, moved the sheet to cover him a bit more and Hutch could only sigh his agreement.
As he let his mind drift off, head on Starsky's chest and his torso and limbs growing even warmer with Starsky's body heat as the sheet sheltered them, Hutch could only marvel at how perfect the moment was.
Me and Thee. That's all there really is for us.
As the world slipped away from him, Hutch held on to that thought, saving it deep inside for when he might need it later.
It was the most precious thing he had ever had.
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