When the Chips Are Down, Part One
by Sarah Problem
With thanks to Lucy

SHSVS, Episode 11, Part 1

The first thing Starsky noticed as he stepped from the cabin and past the plane's open door was the wonderful, clean smell of the midnight air. It was cool and fresh, filled with the scents of the desert and city, mixed with a bit of pine. Taking a deep lungful of it, he waited his turn to descend the plane steps and wished he could share the moment with his partner. Hutch, who had been forced to sit several rows ahead of Starsky, was already on the tarmac. The plane had been full, despite the late hour, and the passengers between them were just as anxious to get off as he was. There wouldn't be catching up with Hutch until after Starsky got to the tarmac himself.

He hoped the separate seats on the plane would be the only glitch on this vacation. This whole trip had been sprung on Hutch at the last minute, and Starsky knew his partner hadn't been happy to discover that all the arrangements had been made without his consent. Starsky wanted these few days off to go well--needed them to--and even the small inconveniences could cause more friction between them.

It had started innocently enough. They'd had a bad few weeks, working double shifts for a while when the summer flu hit the station. Street crime seemed to increase, and their court appearances hadn't gone as well as they should have. It felt as if the two of them had barely had time to take care of their personal business and get a few hours' sleep before they had been called in again. He and Hutch hadn't had a minute to spend on themselves during that time.

He had been planning a vacation for the two of them since Sweet Alice's death. He'd collected all the brochures on motels, rental cars and attractions to visit. He even had the plane tickets priced in advance and a credit card ready to pay for it all. It was to be a surprise, and all he'd needed was Hutch's agreement and the two of them would have a fun-filled vacation in Reno, Nevada, whenever they were ready. So when Dobey had given them three whole days off, Starsky had taken the opportunity and run with it.

The only problem was that Hutch had been tied up at a late DA meeting at the courthouse at the time. Starsky had tried to reach him by phone and on the radio but could not get a hold of him. Feeling the minutes tick away, Starsky had taken the plunge and booked two seats on a flight to Reno that evening. He called the motel and car rental agency from the station and put down his deposit, leaving them only a few hours to pack one large carry-on each, cash some checks at Huggy's and get on the plane.

At least he didn't blow up at me when I told him. I know he's pissed, but I had to get us out of Bay City. Since this whole trip is my treat, he can't be too upset with me. I hope.

As soon as Starsky's feet touched the tarmac, he hurried around the other passengers to try to catch up with Hutch. There were a few spotlights to illuminate their way, but the night sky seemed to dwarf them. The moon had passed beyond the mountains, leaving a heavy blanket of ebony sky above, broken only by the barely distinguishable silhouette of the mountain ranges that surrounded them and a few stars that managed to shine through. Glancing around at ground level, he could see the lights of the city twinkle around them, the various colors reminding him of Christmas or carnival lights at night. Starsky felt as if he were walking on a different planet. The differences in the smells, the view, and the sound of the whole area were that different from Bay City.

Catching up with Hutch, Starsky glanced at his face. He looked tired, uninterested in their arrival and their surroundings, despite his quick stride.

Can't blame him. We only got off duty a few hours ago, had to pack in a rush, just to sit in an airport while the plane was delayed. Then to have our seats get screwed up. Having to sit next to a crying baby for an hour and a half must have used up the last bit of energy he had. But I'll make it up to him. He'll be glad to really get a chance to unwind and put some ghosts behind him.

"Hey, Hutch!" Starsky moved closer to him as they neared the terminal entrance. "Can you smell that air? Smells even better than Las Vegas! I bet that must be sagebrush, huh?"

Hutch didn't answer, nor did he slow his pace.

It took them a couple of minutes to reach the terminal, the crowd of luggage-laden passengers slowing them down at the door. Inside the airport, it was almost as bright as day and as colorful--and as crowded--as any casino Starsky had ever seen. Against the walls were the normal chairs and trappings of any airport, but right in the middle were several long rows of back-to-back slot machines. The sounds of coins dropping into slots and mechanical levers being pulled filled the air.

They really are everywhere, just like in Vegas! They'll put those machines anywhere they think they can get some spare change out of you: grocery stores, gas stations, johns.... Guess an airport shouldn't be exempt.

He didn't realize he'd been staring until he caught sight of Hutch watching him, tired eyes regarding him with a hint of amusement that matched the slight smile on his lips.

"You going to stand there in shock, or can you manage to find our hotel? C'mon, Starsk, all I want to do is crash. Let's go!"

Even though the words were impatient, it was clear that Hutch wasn't totally put off by the impromptu trip. Once they'd gotten a good night's sleep....

Maybe there's hope for this vacation yet!

He didn't realize how worried he'd been about Hutch's reaction until the weariness of the day seemed to creep over him, and the thought of a nice, large bed with Hutch in his arms seemed like all he could ever ask for.

"Sure thing. Just let me find the rental car information and we can get outta here." He set his carry-all down beside him, glad that they had both packed light enough not to have to check in any luggage. He was reaching into his pocket for the information when he was run into from behind, almost pitching him forward, as the person behind him tripped over his bag and grabbed on to Starsky for support.

Grabbing at the falling man, Starsky was able to stop him before he hit the floor. Hutch was suddenly there, on the other side of the stranger, helping Starsky pull him to his feet.

"You okay?" Hutch asked the stranger kindly.

"Oh, my! I am so sorry! It was my fault, really it was!" The man said, looking flushed and embarrassed, pushing thick glasses back up to the bridge of his nose. The tall, thin man was dressed in a light blue polyester jacket with matching pants and a blue paisley shirt. He looked a bit harried, his thick brown hair out of place from his near tumble, and his mustache a bit mussed.

"I'm the one who's sorry!" Starsky replied, feeling badly as he realized he must have put his bag down in the man's way. "I didn't realize I was blocking traffic."

"It's my eyesight," the man explained as he brushed himself off. He waved toward his thick frames. "I need to get a stronger prescription, but I've been putting it off."

A stronger prescription? Starsky thought, feeling even worse for the guy. Those things are practically an inch thick already!

"My name's Roger, Roger Martini."

The stranger held out his hand to Starsky, who shook it politely.

"I'm Dave Starsky, and this is my friend, Ken Hutchinson. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you both." Roger extended his hand to Hutch. As his partner shook the offered hand, Starsky could see that Hutch wasn't any more anxious to draw out this meeting than he was. Roger, though, looked as if he were interested in a long conversation. "Are you two visitors or here on business?"

"Ah...vacation," Starsky answered quickly, hoping the man really wasn't interested.

"Oh, well, that sounds wonderful!" Roger said enthusiastically. "This is really a wonderful place to--"

"Oh. Uh...my friend and I really need to get to our hotel," Hutch interrupted. "Late check-in, you know, but it was--"

"Hotel?" Roger repeated, looking even more pleased than he had before. "You know, I made plans so quickly that I never did arrange for a room anywhere. And since it's after midnight I was afraid that nothing I could afford would be open. Do you mind if I share a cab with you two, so I can see if your hotel has a room available at this hour?"

Glancing at Hutch, Starsky saw him sigh and shrug with resignation. The man looked like he could use a little help getting around.

"Well, um...actually we've got a rental car waiting for us," Starsky began. "But if you want to call the hotel to check on vacancies while we're getting our car, we'd be happy to give you a lift. If not, I'm sure a cabbie out front would know who might have some rooms left."

"That sounds perfect!" Roger was grinning ear to ear now. "I'll grab my luggage and give the hotel a call. If you would be so kind as to wait for me by the front door, I'll meet you there."

Starsky gave him the number from the brochure, which he finally found in the fourth pocket he searched, and gave Roger a friendly wave as he and Hutch headed for the rental car counter.

"You know, Starsky, if you'd just learn to step out of the way once in a while--"

"Hey, it wasn't my fault! He ran into me, remember? Poor guy looks like he must be blind as a bat. And he may not even be able to get a room."

"Let's just hope the hotel is full. I'm not sure how long I can keep my eyes open, and I really don't feel like being friendly right now."

Starsky couldn't blame him. the day had been too long already, and they were both ready to start their vacation by catching up on a lot of sleep.

But Ma always said it never hurt to be kind to strangers. You never knew when you'd need their help someday. And I don't think you can get any stranger than that guy.

Almost an hour later, Starsky pulled a nondescript blue Chevy station wagon into the parking lot of the Green Chip Hotel. Roger had been able to get a room over the phone, so they had had to wait for him, as the plane was slow in getting the luggage unloaded. Then there was the delay trying to find the place, Starsky having made a couple of bad turns along the way.

After the last wrong turn Hutch stayed quiet, no longer even making an attempt to carry on a conversation with Roger, who had not seemed to notice. Even as they pulled up to the hotel, the tall man continued to babble away in the back seat, his voice re-enforcing the nice little headache Starsky was nursing. Turning off the car, Starsky sat for a moment, letting Hutch and Roger get out first.

I can't believe this! This can't be the hotel on the front of the brochure! That place looked really nice, but this place....

The hotel looked fifty years old, needed a paint job and half of the neon lights on the sign were burned out. It looked almost as old and worn as the car he was driving.

If I wasn't so tired....

But he was tired, the room was waiting for them and there wasn't anything to do but hope they could get a good night's sleep and start the next day on a better note.

Sorry, Hutch. I really had a better place in mind than this!

I'm not going to say anything. It's too late to get angry or fight. I'm just going to let it go and relax, try to get some sleep.

Hutch unpacked his bag on the double bed nearest the door, trying to ignore the stale, smoky smell of the ancient room. If it weren't for the traffic outside, he would have wanted to open the windows for some fresh air, but from the look of things they had probably been painted shut a century ago.

The room itself was decorated in the same worn out hotel style that Hutch had seen a million times before, with a mish-mash of furniture and carpeting, wallpaper and bedcovers that had never matched and never would. With their luck, they'd find the plumbing and the mattresses just as old as the air-conditioner unit that whistled annoyingly as it tried to make the night just a little cooler. Heaven help it in the daytime.

At least we don't have to worry about sharing the room with Roger. I didn't think that guy would ever shut up!

Knowing he was too tired to be polite, Hutch kept as quiet as he could on the trip to the hotel. He had heard more about the man's plans to start divorce proceedings against his unfaithful wife than he had ever wanted to know.

Finding his shaving kit, he sat tiredly on the edge of the bed. Listening to Starsky move around in the bathroom, he pulled off shoes that were now too tight. He always had trouble sitting on a plane for long periods of time, and, even though the trip had only been an hour and a half, his legs had managed to cramp up on him. The poor baby next to him had been inconsolable, and the mother had taken his advice the wrong way. He had tried to tell her that the baby's ears were probably hurting because of the change in air pressure and that if she got the baby to suck on something it might be able take some of the pressure off. She had gotten into a snit, announced that she knew what she was doing and didn't need any advice, then had tried everything but the bottle. Hutch had wondered at one point if the flight was ever going to end.

To make matters worse, he hadn't even been given a choice of whether to come or not.

I can't believe Starsky did this! How could he make all these last minute plans without consulting me? He never mentioned it to me, didn't even show me any of the brochures he'd been collecting. Then as soon as we get some time off, he commits us to this vacation. Shit, what if I didn't feel like doing anything but going home and sleeping for three days?

Truthfully, he wasn't sure what he would have wanted to do. His first impulse would have been to sleep in and spend some time at the beach, make a trip up into the mountains, take some time to visit the Museum of Art or something that was quiet and slow-paced. Spend some time away from people, away from crowds. But Reno? Gambling, crowds and bright lights?

He heard a tired cough from the bathroom, listened to the slow movements of his partner as he finished up for the night.

I'm not the only one who's tired, Hutch admitted. We've both been working our asses off; luckily neither of us got sick from being so run down.

He remembered the visible mixture of excitement and fear on Starsky's part as he broke the news to him, how the plane tickets were already bought and the hotel reservations confirmed. Hutch had been angry--and still was-- he had to admit. But it had been Starsky's contagious enthusiasm that had spurred Hutch into running home, grabbing some clothes and packing as quickly as he could, while Starsky cashed their checks at The Pits. He had let loose a lot of his anger at home, throwing clothing into the bag while yelling at the partner who wasn't there to hear it. By the time he'd gotten to Starsky's apartment, where the cab to the airport was to pick them up, Hutch had gotten rid of a lot of his initial anger.

He certainly looked disappointed when we drove up, then again when he saw the room. He's acting like someone has just told him his next birthday has been canceled.

It didn't take much to see that Starsky had had higher expectations. He didn't know what his partner and lover thought they would be getting from a budget-brochure, but this hadn't been it. Hutch's heart had softened further as he had watched that enthusiasm fade as the night progressed.

I'm here because he loves me, Hutch reminded himself, finding the anger of not being included in the planning fading away, the urge to hold Starsky washing over him. He tries so hard to please me, to do what's best for both of us. How can I stay angry at that?

The bathroom door opened and Starsky walked into the room, damp and wrapped only in a towel. His smile was forced as he nodded toward the bathroom.

"Bathroom's ready, such as it is. Don't expect much."

Hutch walked to him slowly, wrapping both arms around him, burying his nose in the crook of his neck. He could feel Starsky relax into his embrace.

"Smart move, hot shot." Hutch gave his lover's damp neck a kiss. "Saving all our vacation money for the fun stuff, instead of putting it out for a car and room we won't be spending much time in." He pulled away enough so that Starsky could see the teasing smile on his face.

The smile that flowered on Starsky's face was real this time, and Hutch felt the arms around his waist squeeze him affectionately.

"Can't take the credit, I have to admit. I really expected a lot better. They must have taken the brochure picture about twenty years ago."

"Well, it's not too bad. As long as we can get a good night's sleep, then it'll do."

Starsky winced. "But the car--"

"I like the car."

"Yeah, I know. I was afraid of that. Next time I'm going to spring for something other than their budget model."

They both laughed, Hutch feeling glad that they were both in a better mood. It would have been a long, sleepless night if they'd both been out of sorts.

"Tell you what," Hutch said. "I'll buy you a big breakfast tomorrow morning and we'll keep the car. No use trading it back in if it'll get us where we want to go."

Starsky's smile grew even wider. "Tell you what, make it a late brunch, or even lunch, and I'll learn to live with it."

"Deal." Hutch gave him a light kiss and pulled away to use the bathroom.

He took a quick shower, promptly giving up on getting anything but tepid water. By the time he was done brushing his teeth, Starsky was under the covers of one of the beds, looking like he was almost asleep.

Hutch was glad the sheets felt clean and crisp as he slid his naked body in with relief. Moving close to Starsky, who was on his back but with an arm up in invitation, Hutch curled himself up at his side. Carefully wrapping an arm over Starsky's chest, a thigh over his thigh, and his head in the crook of Starsky's neck, Hutch smiled to himself. Starsky's arm curled around him, leaving his fingers free to lightly trail up and down Hutch's back.

It didn't take much to realize they were both too tired and travel weary to do anything but sleep. At times like these, Hutch found that snuggling was better for the body and soul than a ton of aspirin or finding yourself on the winning end of an argument. As his aching and tired muscles relaxed he could feel a similar response from the body in his arms. Hutch shifted only slightly, enjoying the soft, sensual feel of curly hairs against his skin, the firm but soft feel of Starsky's hip as Hutch pressed his torso and crotch against Starsky's side. He smiled as he felt Starsky's hand card through the hair at the back of his neck, glad that his lover found something physical about him to enjoy as they drifted off.

It felt so good to have this kind of comfort--this kind of trust--that he wondered how he'd ever done without it.

I don't care where we are, or what it looks like, as long as we can be like this for the next three days.

As sleep claimed him, his last thoughts were of the warm, soft fingers playing with his hair.

Roger Martini stood at his hotel room window, watching the sparse traffic of the early morning hour through a small opening in the curtains. Never one to sleep for very long, his mind was happily busy with the new information he had gleaned upon his arrival.

He smiled to himself as he took a puff of his cigar, enjoying the taste and flavor of the Superba Corona Superba, as well as the anticipated excitement of the next few days.

Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson, the only two men in law enforcement who had ever denied me my prize. What a pleasant surprise! Here on vacation, are you? How very interesting! Would this be a coincidence, or have the local authorities found themselves in such a tizzy that they've had to call in for help? This might be a bit more fun than I had originally anticipated. Life has been so boring of late.

The thought of the two interceding in his planning was actually welcomed news. He had been afraid that this project, while important, would be a too easy success. He enjoyed a good game of cat-and-mouse. After all, where was the entertainment, the satisfaction, of a goal too easily won?

"You may have cost me the Belvedere diamonds, gentlemen, but this time I shall not take you for granted. We shall see who will be the victor in this little game, and what a magnificent game it will be."

The Baron took another puff of the cigar, mindful that he would have to ration his small supply for a few days. The box he had brought with him would now have to be spread around a bit further than his original plan called for. He let his mouth turn up in a slow smile as he blew a series of smoke rings into the air.

But at the cost of a well-played game, the small sacrifice would be well worth it. He had always wanted to find a way to play another round with the two detectives, and with the thrill of making contact, and not being recognized, he was happy to chalk up the points of the first round to himself.

If this really is just a vacation you are on, then I shall have to make plans to have you included in the game. You two will make the competition much more interesting than I had dared hope!

Carefully opening one eye, mind still numb with sleep, Hutch discovered he was in a bed. His head was under some sort of coverlet, and the small bit of the world he could see was tinted a bright orange. He knew that he wasn't home--his or Starsky's. He knew he wasn't alone, since the large warm bulk next to him could only be his lover. All he could make out was a small triangle of chest hairs, tan skin and a hint of the well-formed muscle. The rest of Starsky was blocked by a sheet. Besides Starsky's deep, even breathing, he could hear car doors slamming and voices nearby.

Okay. Hotel room. Vacation. Late night flight. Crappy hotel room.

Blinking his eyes, he ventured enough movement to find his face and rub at them. He still felt a little thick-headed and wondered if he'd over or under slept. The outside light that filtered through the coverlet could mean it was morning or afternoon, but the movement outside definitely sounded like morning.

It's a day off, Hutchinson. Relax. Who cares what time it is?

Yawning, he stretched slowly, enjoying the feeling. He was on his stomach, head facing the center of the bed. Starsky was lying on his left side. The wadded sheets between them showing that they both must have been a bit restless. Hutch lifted his hand to uncover his head, when he saw that the movement had revealed more of Starsky's torso.

Considering the way Starsky was snoring, it was a sure bet he wasn't going to wake up because a few covers were being moved.

Pulling the sheet slowly, Hutch found himself revealing more of the delightfully furred body in front of him. The bright orange light that filtered through the coverlet made Starsky's body hair glint red in places, blending the scars into the rest of his skin so they were almost invisible.

Well, Hutch thought evilly. I'll bet there's one part of him that's wide awake and ready to go!

Since they had become lovers, Hutch could probably count on one hand the number of times he'd known Starsky to wake without an erection. Hutch himself was half-hard, and now the thought of a private strip tease under the covers was making his cock even harder and his body tingle with interest.

Continuing to tug gently, Starsky's belly button was revealed. It was all Hutch could do to keep from moving forward those few inches to explore it with his tongue. It was only seconds later that Hutch found what he was looking for and could make out the outline of hard cock under the sheet. Carefully uncovering the organ, Hutch marveled at how the sight of it could make him feel so drawn to touch it.

Thick and rose-colored when full, the strange lighting seemed to make it look almost angry and desperate.

Hutch yearned to sooth and satisfy it.

Shifting a bit so that his face was closer, he reached out to touch the velvet skin. Tracing a light line from scrotum to the delicate underside of the glans. Hutch watched as the sensitive organ pulsed in response, and he heard Starsky groan sleepily.

Hutch's own cock throbbed at the sound.

Feeling the flush of desire warm him, and wanting to see Starsky's face, Hutch carefully reached above his head to grab the top of the coverlet, pulling it down slowly. The cool air of the room hit him like a refreshing breeze, and he blinked in the stronger light that flooded through the worn, thin curtains. Starsky's skin was now its healthy, glowing olive color, his thick curls the normal dark chocolate.

Looking up, Hutch could see Starsky's face. He had his right arm thrown over his eyes; his left arm was under the pillow, hugging it to his face. Only tousled curls, soft lips and stubbled chin were visible. Hutch had seen that posture before, on those mornings when Starsky had been awake enough at one point to try to hide himself from the light.

Like a kid hoping for a few more minutes before he has to get up for school. He looks so peaceful, like he's never had a care in the world.

This morning, Hutch was going to see that Starsky awoke in one of his favorite ways.

Carefully taking the hard cock around its base, Hutch gripped it carefully, pulling it gently from its firm position against Starsky's abdomen. Bringing it to his mouth he breathed across the glans, feeling the reaction in his hand as a throb. Sticking his tongue out, Hutch carefully touched the tip to the open slit, moving his tongue up and down gently.

Starsky's breath caught and he moaned, sending shivers down Hutch's spine. Hutch paused and looked up, watched as Starsky moved his arm, peering blearily down at him. A crooked, wickedly happy smile took over Starsky's face as his right hand reached down to gently rest on Hutch's head.

Knowing he must be smiling like the Devil himself, Hutch kept eye contact as he licked his lips and placed them on the head of Starsky's cock.

Starsky groaned louder, the sound rumbling through Hutch like rolling thunder on a summer's night. Carefully covering his teeth, Hutch pursed his lips tightly, and pushed the glans past his tight lips and into his mouth, as if there were barely any room for him there.

"Aaaaahhhhhh...." Starsky's fingers fumbled in Hutch's hair, grabbing at random strands as he clenched his fist.

Hutch released the cock, sucking firmly on the head to keep it in his mouth. Moving his right hand to the curve of Starsky's hip, he used his other hand to first caress and then hold both testicles tightly. He could feel Starsky practically vibrating in his mouth, neither man moving.

"Hmmmm...." Hutch hummed loudly after a long moment, moving his tongue on the sensitive spot.


Hutch loosened his hold on the soft, furry pouch but didn't let it go entirely.

Starsky's hips moved, carefully pushing his cock farther into Hutch's mouth.

Hutch kept his mouth as tight as he safely could, wanting his lover to feel the heat and pressure of penetration.

"Huuutchhh...sogoodsogoodsogood this way...ugh...uh...." Speech turned into grunts, breathing became panting. The grip on his hair tightened, the thrusting increased in speed if not in depth. Minutes passed as Hutch gave Starsky's cock his full attention.

Angling a bit so he could glance up, Hutch could see burning, hooded dark eyes staring at him, as if they were never going to let him go. Starsky moaned, watching Hutch watch him.

The wanton look in those eyes made Hutch's cock ache in earnest need, but he kept the pressure hard and tight, trying to concentrate on doing this for Starsky rather than think about his own desires.

The thrusts became faster, the control waned a bit as Starsky pressed farther than he had before, but still less than halfway. Hutch could tell he was close.

Moving his hand from the testicles, Hutch once again gripped the base of Starsky's cock, feeling the pulse of his racing heart, feeling the strain as the cock filled a bit more.

He sucked harder and rubbed his tongue against the sensitive spot a bit faster, feeling the bits and pieces of Starsky's orgasm as they fell into place inside the taut, straining body.

"Oh...yesyesyes...closecloseclose...ah.... Ahh...." Starsky was out of control now, teetering on the edge of completion and thrusting for home.

"Ahh...ahhh! HmmmMMMM...UH!"

Hutch stilled all movement, feeling the hot spurt of cum at the back of his throat, coating the back of his tongue. More spurts threatened to fill his mouth to overflowing, but he refused to swallow. Hutch's tongue had found the pulse of Starsky's heart and orgasm, and he didn't want to interrupt his pleasure. Not when he was most sensitive.

"Hutch...Hutch...that was so good...Iloveitwhenyouwakemeuplikethat.…"

As the pulse of his cock started to calm, Starsky pulled gently back, letting Hutch know he wanted to be released.

Hutch did so, surprised to feel himself gulp hastily and gasp for air. He hadn't realized he had been holding his breath.        

"Your turn." Starsky's voice was raspy and soft as he rolled to his back and stretched, looking like a panther lolling in the sun. Hutch looked up at him and saw completion and love in the deep blue eyes. The hand in his hair tugged gently, the smile turned wicked. "C'mon. Your turn to yell. Just remember we're in a thin-walled hotel room, lover boy."

Hutch's heart leaped at the wicked smile, his own cock practically yelling at him for attention. The wanton, sultry look that radiated through Starsky's whole body was too powerful to ignore. He knew he could have anything he asked for, and right now what he wanted was that hot body under him.

Launching himself at Starsky, he heard a yelp of laughter as Starsky's hands flew up to keep himself from being squashed. Hutch buried his face in the crook of Starsky's neck even as he laid his full weight on top of him, nipping at skin as he straddled Starsky's thighs. Starsky laughed, wiggling under the onslaught.

Pulling back a bit, Hutch licked his palm and grabbed his leaking cock, holding some of his weight off Starsky with his other hand. Spreading the moisture quickly, he scooted down enough to adjust his erection so that it slipped between Starsky's hairy, muscular thighs.

Bracing himself with a hand on either side of him, Hutch lay back down on the firm, hot body and thrust as deeply into that enclosed space as he could. Adjusting his angle a bit more, he began to thrust quickly, feeling the wet, slick hairs on Starsky's firmly closed thighs like thousands of tiny caresses on his heated and hungry flesh.

Ear to Starsky's chest, Hutch pulled the man to him, wrapping his arms tightly around his lover.

He knew he was making sounds with each thrust, saying things he wasn't paying any attention to. All he could keep track of were the arms that held him and the sweet thunder of his nerves as he humped, thrust and rubbed himself against that electric skin.

Completion called him, daring him to catch and hold it captive. Moving frantically, the sound of his own panting and the erotic slap of his balls against Starsky's thighs filled his ears, mixing with the sound of the heart under him.

He was desperate now, his whole body trembling, ass clenching with the tension of coming. Close to the edge, but not quite reaching it. He was losing his rhythm, losing the pace he had set, and he moaned as the edge of the cliff came within reach.

He fought to throw himself off.

As orgasm hit him, he froze, internal muscles spasmed as that warm, glorious pulsing sensation in his gut spread along tingling nerves to hit his brain with a buzz of sparks. The knot of need behind his balls unraveled as he ejaculated, emptying his body of semen in powerful spurts.

It seemed to go on forever, and he rode with the sensations as they eased, then finally stopped, leaving him feeling hot, sweaty, incredibly relaxed and weak.

It wasn't until Starsky removed a hand from his mouth that he realized it had been there at all.

Fighting the urge to sleep, he began to roll over, knowing he was too heavy for Starsky to support for very long.

Hutch looked into Starsky's eyes as they settled comfortably together. All he had the strength to do was raise a questioning eyebrow at the amused look in Starsky's eyes.

"And I thought I was dangerously loud," Starsky replied to the silent question, a grin growing on his face. "Babe, we're going to have to remember we've got close neighbors around here. I was afraid that if you got much louder we'd have the local cops at the door, thinking there was a murder going on!"

Hutch laughed, a bit embarrassed. "It's your fault, you know. I can't help what you do to me."

They both chuckled softly, pulling each other close. Hutch felt as if he could sleep for a whole day and was glad to see Starsky had the same idea.

With the luxury of satisfaction, free time and no further need for words, Hutch let himself fall into a doze as they held each other gently.

He was hungry. His stomach was almost to the growling point. His throat was dry, and he was sticky in places that weren't going to be pleasant to "un-stick" if he left them much longer. Yet Starsky really didn't want to untangle himself from Hutch. The morning wake-up had been wonderful and being able to doze back off, touching Hutch as much as he could as he drifted, had been heaven. Not having to be anywhere or have anything pressing to do for the next few days, was both exciting and relaxing. They were free to follow their noses, and Starsky looked forward to discovering how the day would unfold. But to experience the day he was going to have to get up.

Everything has its trade-off. He moved experimentally, stretching a bit to see if Hutch was awake. Can't start the day if we don't ever get out of bed. Of course, we have spent a few days in bed.

Smiling, he leaned down to give Hutch's forehead a quick kiss, then moved to disengage and make his way to the bathroom. Hutch was humming sleepily, spreading out over the rest of the bed as soon as Starsky left it. Glancing at the clock he saw that it was getting close to noon.

"You just keep simmerin' there, Hutch, while I take a shower. Why don't you think about what you want to do today? Gotta be some way we can find to get into trouble."

Hutch only grunted, not moving from his face down, spread-eagle position on the bed.

Better be a cold shower! Starsky thought as he headed for the bathroom. I stay in this room too long with Hutch lookin' all golden and satisfied like that, and I'm going to end up back in bed again!

Starsky's shower went quickly, the almost non-existent water pressure not encouraging any lingering under the tepid spray. When he was done, Hutch was already at the sink brushing his teeth. They traded places, and by the time Hutch left the bathroom, Starsky was dressed in a blue t-shirt and tan shorts. He was looking through his bag for his second sandal when Hutch passed, and Starsky leaned over to swat at the tempting ass under the towel.

"So, what's it gonna be?" he asked, hoping Hutch would have something fun in mind.

"Well, I was thinking." Hutch opened his own bag and started pulling out clothing, glancing up to give Starsky a grin. "How about we get a glimpse of the history around here? Get in the car and do a little sightseeing?"

"Uh...." Starsky tried to find the right words, not wanting to put an early damper on things. He didn't want to appear too negative, but they were on vacation. And there were all those casinos close by. "You mean, like a museum, art gallery or...something?"

"Sort of. Consider it a life-sized museum where we could get a bit of a feel for the old west, and have some fun at the same time. How about going to Virginia City?"

"Yeah? Like on 'Bonanza?' That place?"

Hutch sat on the bed as he pulled on underwear, having laid out a white pull-over shirt and matching shorts. "I saw a brochure in the front office about it and looked through it while you were getting the keys. Looked like it's maybe an hour's drive away, up in the mountains. It's really a famous tourist attraction now. They have some of the older casinos open and a real, live Boot Hill. We've got all evening to hit the strip and see some shows."

"That's a terrific idea!" Starsky threw his bag on the floor and began pulling the second bed apart. Two guys had the room, so two beds should look slept in. "I've always wondered if that place looks like it does on TV. Betcha I can get some great pictures!"

"Great! We'll stop back by the office; pick up a brochure and a map. We can ask about a good place to eat so we don't have to spend time looking for one."

They packed up their extra items neatly and debated on what to do with their guns. They had their regular holsters, but it was too hot to wear them under another shirt. They had also brought ankle holsters, which is why Hutch had left his Magnum at home, since it wouldn't have fit. Eventually, they decided to bring the guns, but would lock them in the trunk of the car during the day rather than leave them in the hotel safe--if the hotel even had one. The car was old and dented enough not to have to worry about someone breaking into the trunk for anything valuable.

Starsky had his camera ready to go. They could stop and pick up drinks and snacks for the trip when they stopped for lunch. Starsky had paid for the room in advance, so they didn't need to worry about getting back for any sort of check-in.

It only took them a few minutes to get their things together. Starsky opened the door and stood for a moment, feeling the hot, dry air flow over him like a blanket still warm from the dryer. He had heard the air-conditioner running, but hadn't realized what a difference it would make. The sky was a bright blue, with a few clouds hanging behind the bare looking mountains in the distance. Surprisingly, the heat was almost nice--making him anxious to get breakfast, or rather lunch, so they could start their adventure. He knew that later it would probably build up to be uncomfortable. If they were lucky they could find places during the day to cool off.

While Hutch headed for the car to get their guns locked away, Starsky went to the office to browse through the brochures, feeling happy and excited at the prospect of free time on a clear, sunny day.

So far so good! I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that things don't end up too exciting. I'd like us both to go home in one piece for a change.

With the warmth of the car, the lull of quiet desert driving and the tiredness of a day well spent, Hutch was dozing in the passenger seat of the rental car. They were close to the hotel, and knowing Starsky wanted to hit the gambling strip as soon as it was dark, Hutch had decided to get a nap in while he could. Starsky didn't seem to mind the shared silence any more than he did.

For getting a late start on the day, it had already been a good one. They had grabbed lunch in town, gotten some drinks and snacks along with a cooler for the car. The highway from Reno was easy to find, and the view from the mountains was one of interesting contrasts. One side of the valley in which Reno was located was walled by beautiful, wooded mountains; the other by desert mountains, covered in sagebrush and other desert fauna. When it came time to make a choice of directions, Hutch was struck by the fact that if they turned right they could end up in a forest on their way to Tahoe and all the modern conveniences, or turn left and find themselves in an old frontier town, out in the desert mountains. Reno really felt as if it existed on the edge of two worlds.

The ride to Virginia City had been interesting. The view from the highway, which switched and twisted up the side of the steep mountain range, was fantastic. They had stopped at several sightseeing points on the way up to admire the view. Several times they found themselves with a respectable drop on one side and a rock wall that hosted a myriad of colorful layers of stone and earth on the other, which kept them on their toes during the drive up the narrow road.

Virginia City itself had been a surprise. Starsky had delighted in the fact that it really was nothing like it was depicted on television. On the side of a mountain range away from Reno, Virginia City was not in a valley, but on the side of a hill. A rather steep hill in areas. There were streets that made both cops wonder how a team of horses had been able to navigate the heavy, ore-filled wagons of the past. The buildings in town had aged in the hot sun for decades, giving them a character that couldn't be faked. Some were still occupied, and others looked to be empty but in the process of restoration. The main street had casinos, small restaurants and shops on both sides. Both men had been glad they were middle-of-the-week tourists, since parking was hard to find and must be almost impossible to come by on weekends.

After parking, they had walked both sides of the main street. Hutch was impressed with how the original buildings had been restored with an eye to keeping more than they replaced. Starsky had taken roll after roll of film--many of the pictures with Hutch in them, some he let Hutch take of him, and a few that other accommodating tourists had taken of them both.

They had visited the museum, both of them sobering as they came face-to-face with the everyday items the pioneers to the area had used in their day-to-day lives. The display of an old country doctor's medical paraphernalia was fascinating and chilling at the same time. Starsky shied away from the dental display, which gave Hutch a chance to tease him a bit.

Both had been silent and subdued at the display of old coffins and horse-drawn hearses. The children's coffins, with windows in the lids so that the children's faces could be displayed at their burial, were the saddest. Hutch had even been surprised to find a whole museum devoted to Samuel Clemens, who had written for the local paper while writing some of his stories, signing those works as "Mark Twain" for the first time.

Both men had come away with a new appreciation for the pioneers of the past and had wondered out loud if they would have had the right stuff to carve out a new life in the Old West.

They each ate a snack in a small family restaurant, where they sat and read through the various brochures they had picked up. They drove away their thirst in an authentic, old style saloon, which sported its original, huge, hand-carved wooden bar and lack of air conditioning. But the room itself was so narrow and so deep, they were able to relax in the natural coolness the building provided.

All in all, it had been a day well spent. Hutch had enjoyed learning more about the city and the people who had carved their fortunes, or lack thereof, out of what had been a dry and dangerous wilderness.

Now the sun was starting to set, and they had decided on a change of clothing for the evening and to get a nice dinner on the main gambling strip. Hutch knew Starsky had his hopes set on finding a large buffet somewhere. The rest of the night could unfold as it would.

Hutch jerked awake as the car came to a stop and Starsky turned off the engine. He hadn't realized they were that close to the hotel, nor that it was almost sunset.

"Time to get cleaned up for dinner!" Starsky announced happily, reaching into the back seat for his camera bag. "After we get changed and our stuff is stowed away, we'll ask the hotel manager where the best buffet is. I bet he knows where the best slots are, too."

"Sounds good. We can--" Hutch broke off, as he saw movement from a car several spaces down to their right. Something made his hair stand on end. "Starsk...."

Keeping his eyes on the occupants in the car, Hutch could feel that he had Starsky's attention.

"I see 'em, Hutch. Looks like they're interested in us as well."

There were three men who were getting out of a car and were heading their way. The men were too well dressed to be travelers or at the hotel on vacation, and they had been watching him and Starsky as they drove in. The men didn't look concerned that he and Starsky obviously knew they were on their way over.

"They're packing." Hutch sighed to himself as he moved to get out of the car. Their own guns would have to be in the trunk.

Getting out, Hutch shut his door and leaned back against the car, waiting for Starsky who was walking around the car. As they came within speaking distance, the man in the lead nodded politely at him. Hutch nodded back just as Starsky settled next to him against the car.

"Gentlemen, I'm looking for Detectives Hutchinson and Starsky, from the Bay City PD." The tall, gray-haired man reached into his jacket pocket and revealed a detective's badge. "I assume you two are the ones I'm looking for?"

Hutch gave Starsky a guarded look, which was returned.

Why do I feel that the smart answer would be no?

"That's us." Starsky answered without emotion, holding out a hand to receive the badge that the other detective surrendered reluctantly. After glancing at it, he handed it to Hutch. "What can we do for you, gentlemen?"

Hutch glanced at the badge and the ID card that accompanied it. It was authentic.

"I'm Detective First Class Abner Reighter. These are Detectives Frost and Williamson. If you don't mind, we'd like to have a word with you two."

"Voluntarily or involuntarily?" Hutch asked, wondering how important this was and how pushy the detectives would be.

Reighter raised his hands, palms up. "Really, it could go either way. We can discuss it here, or downtown. You gentlemen know the drill."

"Great," Starsky murmured unhappily. "There goes one nice day down the toilet. You might as well come in."

Hutch unlocked the trunk and retrieved their guns. Starsky pulled the empty cooler and camera case from the back seat.

Once inside, Hutch was glad to feel the room was still cool. He hadn't realized how used to the heat he had gotten and the difference felt refreshing. He also noticed that both beds had been made and none of their bags seemed to have been touched.

They all filtered in, and no one said anything until the door was closed.

"Okay," Starsky said impatiently. "Let's get this over with. Why are you here?"

The three men exchanged glances.

"Look, gentlemen," Reighter began, sounding as if he were trying to control his anger. "We know that you're cops, but you're poaching on our territory. And, frankly, we don't need any help, haven't asked for any, and resent the fact that you feel you can just walk in and do whatever you want."

"Wait, wait!" Hutch snapped, glancing at Starsky to see that he was just as confused. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about! My partner and I have a few days off and are on vacation. A spur-of-the-moment vacation that we didn't even know we were taking until late yesterday afternoon."

"So if you want to start making some sense," Starsky continued, irritation radiating from him, "then you'd better start at the beginning of this fantasy of yours."

"You want us to believe that you're not here on a case? Or here for a personal vendetta?" Frost asked.

Hutch shrugged helplessly at Starsky before replying. "What do you want? A lie detector test? We told you why we're here. How about telling us why you're here?"

Reighter signaled for the other two to follow him into the corner for a quiet conference. Hutch joined Starsky at the other side of the room to follow suit.

"Who knows we're here?" Hutch whispered, eyes on the other three across the room.

"Just Dobey. I had to let him know where we were going. And I mentioned it to Huggy when he cashed our checks."

"You tell Dobey we were coming to this hotel?"

"Yeah, in case of an emergency. How much do you want to bet we've got a note at the office to call him back?"

"No bets," Hutch replied grumpily. "What could they think we're here for?"

Starsky gave him an unhappy glance. "Since when did I start to read minds?"

This wasn't looking good, but it could be worse. At least they hadn't been arrested or anything.

The party at the other end of the room broke up. Reighter was apparently going to be the spokesman once again.

"Seems we may have a misunderstanding, Detectives. Why don't we sit down and I can fill you in?"

Reighter sat on one bed, but the other two men didn't. Deciding to get the ball rolling, Hutch sat on the other and Starsky joined him.

"As you can guess," Reighter began, "there is a lot of money that changes hands in Nevada. Cities like Vegas and Reno rake in their share of physical currency from all over. After a while, all that paper money and the coins need to be returned to the Federal Reserve for redistribution."

"And what does this have to do with us?" Starsky asked, impatience in his voice.

Reighter looked at the two men with him, and Hutch noticed that Frost gave Reighter a slight nod.

Reighter may be the spokesman, but he's not in charge, Hutch decided.

"There's a big armored car shipment due to make the San Francisco Federal Reserve run on Friday. It's an unofficial convoy of sorts, where more than one car makes the trip loaded with coins and bills of all denominations. Last month there were several large tradeshow conventions; every hotel in the area was booked and people from all over came in loaded to the gills to gamble. The banks need to empty their vaults of the excess cash."

"And you think we're here because of all this?" Hutch knew he sounded angry, but he wasn't seeing any connection. "Why would you tie us in with this?"

Reighter reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out an envelope and handed it to Starsky.

"We've already dusted it for prints," Reighter assured them as Starsky opened it.

Starsky unfolded a sheet of typed paper, and Hutch moved close to read it over his shoulder. It read:

Plans will change. Stand by for adjustments.
Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson on the case.
Be on the look out for them.
They already know too much.

Hutch felt his eyebrows run to his hairline, wondering what in the world the note was about. He certainly couldn't deny they were mentioned by name.

"What is this? Who got this note and why do you have it?" Starsky handed it back, looking disturbed.

"We are aware of a plan to rob the armored cars before they can get to San Francisco. One of our informants--a local thief--was contacted by someone to make certain preparations for the heist. There are other local criminals in on this project, and we've been keeping an eye on them all while they make their preparations. So far they've been well paid, but it's clear that they're only being paid to set up this end of the deal. They've not been promised a split of the proceeds, or given any instructions beyond what they're to do in Reno itself."

"So you think they're the small fry, and that bigger guns will handle the actual robbery?" Hutch asked. "And I'm assuming that you don't have any idea who the big league guys are, or what they're planning."

"That's right," Reighter admitted, looking uncomfortable.

"So where did this paper with our names come from?" Starsky asked again. "And who is funding all this? You got a name?"

"This paper was smuggled to us from our informant in the group. It arrived early this morning and the information was passed around. Our informant didn't recognize your names, but couldn't tell if the others in the group did or not. Apparently they're all sitting on their hands now, waiting for further instructions."

"Any ideas on who's running this thing?" Hutch asked, noticing that Reighter hadn't gotten around to answering that question.

All three men seemed to focus in on him and Starsky, as if looking for a reaction.

"The man who is funding the heist is only known as 'The Baron'."

"The Baron!" Starsky sounded as surprised as Hutch felt.

Their past gift of Superba Corona Superbas from the thief immediately came to mind. He and Starsky had been charged with keeping a priceless collection of diamonds safe from the man until they could be auctioned off. With Huggy's help they had been able to trick The Baron, who made away with cut glass duplicates. No one had ever been able to identify The Baron, nor get a confirmed set of prints. As far as they knew, the famous thief had gotten away scot-free, only to send each of them one of his trademark cigars and a nice note.

"Why would The Baron think we know anything about this?" Hutch asked Starsky, feeling confused. "We didn't even know we were coming ourselves until the last minute."

"That's an awfully strange coincidence, wouldn't you say?" Frost asked, the look on his face saying plainly that he didn't believe either of them. "The Baron plans a large heist and you two show up a few days in advance? And, according to Captain Dobey, you are on vacation. He certainly didn't know anything about you being on a case. So I wonder why it feels as if you two have been digging around into The Baron's activities and are here to succeed where you failed in Bay City?"

Before Hutch could react, Starsky was already on his feet.

"Failed?! I'll have you know that my partner and I beat The Baron and completed our assignment in a satisfactory manner!"

"He got away, didn't he?" Frost sneered.

"Our assignment wasn't to catch The Baron," Hutch replied angrily, joining Starsky who was standing with hands on hips. "We were to protect the diamonds and we did that. And with no one getting hurt, by the way!"

"If you had been doing your job, you could have done both," Frost said icily.

"Okay, that's enough!" Reighter was now on his feet, standing between the partners and Frost. His eyes were on Starsky and Hutch. "We'll leave it at this, but I'm warning you two. You try to get in our way, and we'll take you downtown to holding until we can get your butts back on a plane to Bay City. We can't prove that you're keeping anything from us, but any interference and you're out of here. Understood?"

"If we 'interfere' it'll be in our capacity as cops," Starsky snapped back. Hutch didn't have to look at him to know how threatening Starsky looked about now.

"If someone thinks we know something, then they'll be the ones making the first move, not us," Hutch added. "We don't have any contacts here and wouldn't know where to start! All we plan to do is enjoy our vacation."

"And if something happens, we'll act appropriately, even if that means calling you guys," Starsky said, moving slightly closer to invade Frost's personal space. "But don't go around threatening us, Detectives, 'cause we haven't broken any laws and don't plan on doing so."

"I'd say this meeting is over," Reighter said, his own anger clearly in better control than Frost's, who was looking as if he'd love to go a round or two with Starsky any minute now. Digging in his wallet, Reighter handed Hutch a card. "You'd better reach us if you hear anything that could help us on this case. If we find out you had info you didn't share, we'll not only make your careers a thing of the past, but we'll make sure Dobey regrets letting you two loose as well."

Hutch grabbed Starsky's arm before either he or Starsky could say anything that would make things worse. Starsky didn't move, and the two of them stood and watched as the three men stormed out of the room, Frost slamming the door behind them.

"They'd play a better game of 'good cop, bad cop' if they had any good cops with 'em," Starsky muttered.

"It just doesn't make any sense." Hutch sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling tired all of a sudden. "We don't know anything. We didn't even know we were going to be here until yesterday. Why in the world would The Baron send that message to his men?"

Starsky, arms crossed, started pacing back and forth. "Well, you gotta know they're taking this seriously if they've called Dobey already. He's probably just as upset with us as they are."

Hutch sighed, falling backward on the bed. "Why do I get the feeling that we're going to have another interrupted vacation?"

Starsky stopped his pacing and looked over at him for a moment. Hutch watched as his partner checked the door, making sure it was locked. He then moved the curtain aside, watching something outside. Hutch heard a motor start and a car pull away. After a moment Starsky closed the curtain, then slowly sauntered over. Hutch knew that smoky look, that sensuous walk.

Smiling, Hutch put his hands behind his head, lacing his fingers. Whatever was on Starsky's mind was going to be more than okay with him.

Time to get this vacation back under way.

The sight of Hutch stretched out on the bed was enough to drain the anger out of Starsky in a second. Determined that these few precious days would be the healing Starsky felt his lover needed, he advanced toward the bed.

Blond hair almost white from the sun was spread out like silk tendrils on the bedspread. Where it stuck to Hutch's face and neck it curled, looking like gold against the tan, heat-flushed skin.

Eyes followed the warm skin down to the neck and strong shoulders, then down the muscled torso that was clearly outlined by the white shirt. Starsky could feel his own desire building up as his eyes traveled down the long form, taking in the slim hips and heavy bulge of crotch. The white shorts were tight and cut high, ending just where thick, tan thighs began. Hutch had the longest legs Starsky had ever seen. A runner's legs, they matched Hutch well.

When Starsky had first laid eyes on Hutch, he had seen a man made for movement, quickness and grace. One of the first things that had drawn him to Hutch, as an individual, was the strange mixture of strength, power, and those klutzy moments that many a time had Starsky hiding a smile of amusement. Hutch was beautiful, but not perfect. When Starsky had first realized that Hutch himself had never claimed, nor believed in "perfection," it had allowed him to see beyond the cool, pretty-boy exterior.

Hutch was beautiful inside, open in ways that weren't healthy for their kind of work, yet hard in the places that kept him going. It was those places that had taken a beating of late, crumbling around the edges, letting the painful ugliness too close to a tender heart.

Starsky moved toward Hutch slowly, not hiding the fact that he was looking his fill and liking it. Hutch looked back at him the same way, eyes drinking him in from top to bottom. Starsky's eyes found the mound of Hutch's crotch again, and he could tell that Hutch's large cock was filling and hardening, even as his own was. As their eyes met Starsky felt almost faint from the look behind the growing lust in Hutch's eyes.

Love. He loves me. Trusts me. Needs me.

Coming closer, Starsky resisted the urge to pounce on Hutch. He didn't want to rush the moment. Kneeling on the bed, he reached his left hand out to hover over Hutch's crotch, watching with growing heat as Hutch spread his legs farther apart. Starsky placed his hand on the mound gently, squeezed it softly at first, then a bit harder, feeling the excitement of such an intimate touch start his own nerves humming.

On to Part 2

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