"Stuff like this shouldn't happen in a school," Starsky said, shaking his head as he crouched near the dead man's body, lifting the bloody sheet for a closer look. "Thank God it wasn't one of the kids who found him like this." He replaced the sheet and stood.
"The custodian's pretty shaken up," Hutch responded, glancing over at the older man who had been the school custodian since the building opened nearly forty years earlier. Popular with the children, he had been nicknamed "Grampa Joe" by students and teachers alike. "What kind of psycho kills a man with a shotgun blast to the head in a school gym? There are no signs of robbery or vandalism. All the athletic equipment is still here and there's a strongbox with money in it from Friday night's junior high basketball game still in the Athletics Office."
"As soon as you find the guy, you can ask him," Dobey's voice boomed from behind them. "And that better be soon. This is Rosie's school."
"That's right, you moved her here from the public school last year," Starsky recalled, recovering from the surprise of their superior sneaking up on them from behind. No matter how heavy Dobey got, he still had the ability to sneak up stealthily behind his men and scare a few years off their lives.
"Does Rosie know what's going on?" Hutch asked.
"She just knows the school was closed for today. Edith's taking her shopping. Who's the victim?"
"A teacher," Hutch responded. "Matthew Redmond, age sixty-one. Math teacher," he added, looking up from his notes. "I just finished talking with the principal before you arrived, Captain. Redmond was planning to retire next year. He was popular with the kids, seemed to get along all right with the parents--at least she didn't know of any major altercations."
"There are no signs of robbery or vandalism, though one of the uniforms found a window open in a first-floor classroom. The crime lab guys are checking it right now."
"Was it forced?" Dobey asked.
"Didn't sound like it. I guess the teacher who uses that room likes some fresh air, so he usually leaves it open all day and shuts it at night. He might've just forgotten it," Starsky said, shrugging.
"The custodian found Redmond," Hutch spoke up, nodding toward the stocky gray-haired man who was sitting on the bottom bleacher, still looking more than a little shaken. "He was lying right where he is now, and there's a basketball the lab boys bagged that we think he might have been using to shoot hoops. Bennett--the custodian--says Redmond used to come back in the evenings and shoot hoops. Once in a while, he and Bennett would play a little mild one-on-one if Bennett was working at night."
"Bennett--he must be the one Rosie keeps calling 'Grampa Joe'."
"Joe Bennett," Hutch confirmed. "He's been doing the after-hours work in the morning lately because his wife is ill and her visiting nurse is there during the day, but he's needed home at night."
"No signs of a struggle?" Dobey asked, as Ginny approached them after having her final look at the crime scene.
"Not as far as I can tell," Ginny said, joining them as she peeled off her latex gloves. "I'll know more later, but a preliminary exam of the body doesn't show any serious bruising around the face or upper torso. Given the splatter pattern and the position of the body, and the location of the wound, it looks as if someone just walked in and shot him right between the eyes before he knew what was happening."
"No one heard the shot?"
"The uniforms are talking to the nearest neighbors, but the school has a good-sized parking lot on one side and the playground behind it. There're a couple of houses near the west side of the building, but they'd be the only ones in earshot," Starsky explained.
"This one's top priority, you understand me?" Dobey said, pinning all of them with a penetrating stare.
"Fortunately, this is the only one I'll have on the table this morning, so I should have a report on your desk by noon," Ginny said.
"Thanks, Ginny," Dobey responded, seeming pleased with that reply.
"I'll be in touch later," Ginny directed to Starsky and Hutch before excusing herself to oversee the transportation of the body.
"What about the Gregory case?" Hutch asked, referring to the murder case that had kept them busy for the last two weeks. A successful attorney in his thirties, Martin Gregory, had been stabbed while napping on the couch in the study of his home, and so far, all they had were a long list of suspects and a long record of irate phone calls from the man's affluent parents and grieving widow demanding a solution to the case.
"Follow up any serious new leads, but I want this top priority."
"Got it, Cap'n," Starsky replied. "You seen all you need here, partner?" he said to Hutch.
"I figured we'd offer Joe over there a ride home and we need to check with the lab boys to see if they found anything around that open window."
"I'll take him," Dobey spoke up. "I like to get to know the people Rosie talks about, so this'll give me the chance."
"See you at the station, Captain," Hutch said, as Starsky and he headed out of the gymnasium and down the hall leading to the classroom in question.
The school building was aging and looked as if it could use some paint and repair. That wasn't unusual for parochial schools that continually fought the battle of insufficient budgets for things like building maintenance and updating. The school appeared to be immaculately clean and the bulletin boards outside the classrooms were adorned with a panorama of lopsided, slightly deformed student-made turkeys and pilgrims. Student lockers were freshly painted bright green, one of the school colors, and each individual classroom appeared to be tidy and cheerfully decorated for fall and Thanksgiving.
"Hey, this is one of Rosie's," Starsky said, stopping to check out a large construction paper turkey that was the centerpiece of that classroom's hallway bulletin board. "He's a little lopsided, but not too bad," Starsky commented with an affectionate chuckle.
"Well, poor kid, what do you expect? Being left-handed and all," Hutch said, stifling a grin as he resumed his trek down the hall toward the classroom where the crime lab team was finishing up with the window.
"When we get home, let's see you make a perfect paper turkey, Mr. I'm-Hot-Shit-Because-I'm-Right-Handed."
"Is that what you really want me to do with my right hand when we get home?" Hutch raised an eyebrow.
"Thanks, I do my best."
"Got anything interesting, Luke?" Starsky asked one of the technicians. A tall, wiry man in his forties, Luke was one of the crime lab's sharpest analysts.
"It wasn't forced. If the killer got in through this window, he didn't force it."
"'He?' You know it's a man for sure?" Hutch asked.
"Okay, so sue me, I'm sexist. Most of the time, ladies don't like shotgun blasts. They're too messy. I'll give you odds your killer's a man."
"Really? What kind of odds?" Starsky asked, pulling out a twenty.
"Starsk, you never win when you bet against Luke."
"Look, if it's a man, I get your twenty. If it's a woman, I'll pay you five to one. How's that for a deal?" Luke offered, smiling. There was something slightly predatory in it as he eyed the twenty Starsky held.
"I think it sounds like a great way to make a fool part company with his money," Hutch responded.
"Killjoy," Starsky retorted. "It's a deal."
"Now don't go out and arrest some woman just to win the bet," Luke joked, packing up his supplies.
"Nah. Have to be ten-to-one odds for us to do that," Starsky responded, grinning.
Matthew Redmond's home was a modest ranch-style house in a quiet suburban neighborhood not far from the Dobey residence. He was survived by his wife, Glenda, who was understandably grief-stricken and overwrought when Starsky and Hutch arrived to interview her. Uniformed officers had notified her of her husband's murder earlier that morning, and now as it neared 10:00, she still sniffled and dabbed at swollen eyes as she spoke with the two detectives.
"I know this is a cliched question, but it's one we have to ask," Hutch explained. "Do you know of anyone who would have a reason to hurt your husband?"
"No, especially not now," she said, sniffling. A petite woman with short dark hair, she was a complete physical opposite of her lighter-haired, husky-framed husband.
"What do you mean by that?" Starsky asked, frowning.
"Matthew used to teach math and coach basketball at Bay View High. He was tough, and not all the kids liked him. As he got older, he got tired of fighting the older kids' apathy, and with the drugs and drinking problems...he became very disillusioned with high school students in general. The little ones are much more willing to learn. Matthew was certified to teach at both the elementary and secondary level, so he decided to take an elementary teaching position at a smaller school where academics were stressed. The cut in pay was an adjustment, but Matthew was much happier."
"How long has he been teaching at St. Stephen's?" Hutch asked.
"Almost five years. He really enjoyed it, and he was popular with the kids. He helped coach the seventh and eighth grade basketball team on a volunteer basis."
"Were there any serious run-ins he had with kids in the high school in more recent years that you can recall?" Starsky probed.
"Not by name. There were different kids, especially some of the boys, who would get angry when they were failing and in danger of being kicked off a team...I don't remember their names. Matthew usually dealt with those situations and kept as much of it from affecting me as he could." She paused, wiping at her eyes. "Everyone at St. Stephen's liked Matthew. I just don't understand why someone would..." She let the sentence die unfinished, biting her lip. "I'll show you to the door," she said as they all rose.
"We're going to do all we can to find the person who did this, Mrs. Redmond," Starsky said as they approached the house's small foyer. "Our captain's daughter is a student at the school, and it's a special priority with him."
"What's your captain's name?" she asked.
"Dobey. Harold Dobey," Hutch responded.
"Rosie Dobey's father?"
"That's the one," Starsky said, smiling.
"I remember the name because she won one of my husband's math competitions this fall. Very bright little girl. Sweet personality." Mrs. Redmond forced a slight smile.
"Yeah, she's a pretty neat kid," Hutch agreed.
"Guess who left another message?" Starsky sat at his desk, while Hutch got coffee for both of them before going to his own seat.
"Cheryl Tiegs. She's decided she wants to be the meat in our sandwich," Hutch quipped, taking a drink of his coffee. Starsky snorted a responding laugh.
"Close. Laureen Gregory. You know, if she didn't have such a nasty streak, she'd be somethin' special," Starsky said.
"You know, Starsky, it's a good thing I'm secure or I'd find it annoying, you lusting after a sexy young widow."
"I'm not lusting after her, and why would I go out for a decent-looking steak when I've got filet mignon at home?" Starsky whispered under his breath. He was rewarded with a slight flush tinting fair skin. "Filet mignon I'm in love with," he added.
"I've always been crazy about your meat, too, babe," Hutch whispered back, making Starsky choke on the drink of coffee he'd just taken, drawing some curious looks from the detectives who were seated well out of earshot of their conversation.
"I'll get you for that," Starsky said levelly, mopping the few drops of coffee that had come out through his nose.
"You know where to find me. Now, what did the dragon lady want this time?"
"She just asked for a call back," Starsky said, handing Hutch the message. "Here. She's gotten me in enough trouble for one day."
"You just don't want her reading you the riot act because we haven't solved her husband's murder yet." So far, the only conclusion the investigation had reached was that the killer had apparently slipped in through an unlocked patio door, if in fact the crime was not committed by someone who had a key to the house.
"And the only decent suspect we have is her, which always pleases her to no end."
"I don't think she did it, even if she seems like she could." Hutch picked up the phone and began dialing her number.
"She's got the best motive and the opportunity. I like his business partner myself, but his alibi is airtight," Starsky responded, referring to the attorney who had been delivering a keynote address at a Bay City Bar Association dinner when his junior partner--with whom it was rumored he did not get along--was murdered in his home. The bone of contention between the two men was Laureen, who'd had an affair with the elder attorney shortly after Martin Gregory joined his firm.
"Mrs. Gregory? Detective Hutchinson," Hutch began. Starsky could see his partner's body stiffen as he did his best to force courtesy into his tone. "No, ma'am, we don't have anything new at the moment. We're following up on a couple of leads, and as soon as we have something new to tell--" Hutch rolled his eyes upward and then attempted to break into a flow of words Starsky could hear from his side of the desks. "Mrs. Gre--" Hutch tossed the pen he had been holding on the desk and leaned back in his chair. Finally, he made a swirling gesture with his hand as he shook his head. "Mrs. Gregory, I--" Obviously talked down again, the slow boil was beginning. A part of Starsky felt sorry for the woman on the other end when the boiling point was reached. Then it happened. "Truthfully, ma'am? You are still our best suspect, and we're thoroughly investigating your alibi for that night, which is frankly far from airtight," Hutch said tersely. There was a moment of stunned silence before another torrent of words, which Hutch endured with a sort of satisfied smirk. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Mrs. Gregory. We're very committed to finding your husband's killer, whoever she may be." Hutch stifled a grin. "I'm sorry. Or 'he'. Yes, ma'am. We will call you the moment we have something new." Hutch was quiet a moment. "That might be wise in any case, and we'll be happy to talk with him about the case any time. That's right." After a few more words were exchanged, Hutch hung up and shook his head.
"I heard most of it, but who are we going to talk to about the case?"
"She threatened to contact her attorney about our handling of the case and our 'unfair concentration' on her as a suspect. I told her it would be wise for her to call him in any case, and we'd be glad to talk with him."
"You're a wicked man, Hutchinson." Starsky chuckled a bit as he sorted through the rest of their messages and assorted other paperwork.
"Don't you forget it," Hutch said, still snickering as he opened the ever-growing Gregory file to add a few notes about his conversation with the angry widow. "Hey, I never noticed this before. Well, not much reason to notice it, I guess."
"Martin Gregory. Guess what school he went to?"
"Not St. Stephen's?"
"No, Bay View High, where Matthew Redmond used to coach. It also says he lettered in basketball." Hutch shrugged. "I doubt that's significant, but it's worth keeping in the back of our minds."
"Two people connected to Bay View High wind up dead in three weeks? Well, I guess that's not too unusual. The school's been around quite a few years, and every year, what, five or six hundred or so kids graduate and then go out into the world, not to mention all the teachers, coaches, administrators..."
"Dobey'd say we're grasping at straws." Hutch closed the file and set it aside.
"And he'd probably be right."
"Probably." Hutch frowned. "You up for making a visit to Gregory's folks again?"
"About the school?"
"At least it's something. Might give the old man something to appease him that we're working the case. At least Laureen calls us. The old man calls the chief."
"Good point. Maybe we can slide into The Pits for a bite to eat on the way back?"
"Sounds good to me."
The Gregory home was a stately mansion set on a large, well-manicured lot with a circle drive, and an ornate fountain in the center of the lawn inside the drive's arc. The house itself was a large Tudor style, its rounded, turret-like foyer giving it a distinctive look. Starsky rang the bell and both men waited the short time it took for the uniformed maid to appear at the door.
"Are Mr. and Mrs. Gregory at home, Trudy?" Starsky asked, remembering the maid's name from the three or four previous visits they'd made. The slender older woman smiled.
"Detectives Starkey and Hutchins, right?" she asked, smiling pleasantly.
"Starsky and Hutchinson," Hutch corrected, smiling back. "You were close."
"I'm sorry. Please come in. Mrs. Gregory isn't in, but Mr. Gregory is in his study." She led the way across a polished tile floor, down two steps into a slightly sunken living room. Decorated in various shades of tan, beige, and brown, the room was accented with dark woodwork and obviously expensive pieces of art. "If you'll please have a seat, I'll let him know you're waiting to see him."
"Thanks, Trudy," Hutch responded, as they sat in matching chairs in front of a massive fireplace above which hung a family portrait, painted in oils and surrounded by a heavy gold frame. It featured a much younger Mr. and Mrs. Gregory, their then-teenage son, Martin, and their younger daughter, Samantha, who was now an aspiring attorney in San Diego.
"Detectives." Mr. Gregory's commanding voice caught their attention and both men rose. "Please, sit down, gentlemen. Would you like some coffee?"
"No, thank you," Starsky answered, and Hutch shook his head with a slight smile.
"We noticed something in your son's file. He lettered in basketball at Bay View High."
"Martin was very talented," Mr. Gregory replied, looking, as always, as if his hold on his grief was tenuous. His chiseled features, white hair, and silver-framed glasses gave him an imposing air. Somehow, grief softened the rough edges and made him seem a bit more human. "Is that significant to the investigation?"
"Truthfully, sir, probably not, but a man was murdered this morning who used to coach basketball at Bay View during the time Martin was a student there," Hutch explained.
"Not Matt Redmond?" Mr. Gregory looked genuinely horrified.
"Yes, he was found in the gymnasium of St. Stephen's Academy, where he's been teaching and volunteer coaching the last several years," Starsky said. "It's a minor connection, but it is a connection."
"What possible connection could there be? My God, I can't believe that. Someone murdered him in the school? How?"
"It was a shooting," Hutch replied.
"Martin was stabbed."
"There isn't much to it. Probably just a coincidence," Starsky said. "We just don't want to leave any stones unturned. Was there anything remarkable about Martin's contact with Mr. Redmond or his time at Bay View, beyond his being an excellent player?"
"He was always a top student, and he loved sports--played football, too, but basketball was his passion. He was approached by a few talent scouts in his senior year, but of course, that was out of the question. He'd already been accepted at Princeton. Matt Redmond was a good man, though we didn't see eye to eye on Martin's future. He felt Martin should accept a basketball scholarship to UCLA and then turn pro. I felt he had a better future as an attorney. With athletics, you torture your body until it no longer endures, and by thirty, you're a has-been. Law is a bit more enduring."
"Martin got along well with Redmond?" Hutch asked.
"Very well, yes. He was tough on the kids, and a lot of them didn't like that, or couldn't measure up to it. I've always set high standards for my children, and they're used to excelling and reaching their fullest potential. Martin responded very well to Matt Redmond's approach to coaching. Tough, no-nonsense...rewards for excellence and no tolerance for failure."
"Sounds a little rigid," Hutch said, thinking that what it actually sounded was familiar. Martin Gregory's father didn't sound much different from his own father, at least in his attitude toward effort, excellence, and tolerance of failure.
"Soft coaches, teachers, and parents raise mediocre children. Children need direction, discipline, and a clear set of goals to work toward. Martin always had that at home, and he responded well to it in school."
"Do you recall anything unusual Martin might have told you about Mr. Redmond, or about other team members or students who might have had a reason to dislike Redmond or hold a grudge against him?"
"Detective Starsky, if one of those students were going to kill Matt Redmond, why would they wait seventeen years to do it?"
"We admit this is a longshot, but we don't want to leave any possibility unexplored. Well, we appreciate your time, and we're sorry to have bothered you with what is probably a wild goose chase," Hutch said.
"I appreciate you running down the odd leads," Mr. Gregory said, as the three men rose and walked to the front door. "I hope my daughter-in-law isn't causing you too much trouble."
"She's not exactly pleased with the way the investigation is progressing," Hutch said.
"If I may be candid, Laureen Fowler is a gold-digging little opportunist who is probably only sorry Martin was murdered before he was able to make more money to leave her. I never could make Martin see that. He was determined to marry her at all costs. Unfortunately, the cost was higher than any of us expected."
"You think Laureen is capable of something like this?" Starsky asked.
"Of course she is. I doubt she did it herself, but I would never be surprised to find she was behind it."
"Well, anyone with access to your son who doesn't have an airtight alibi for that night is still a suspect, including Laureen," Hutch said, leading the way out the door. They stopped on the porch, Mr. Gregory still standing just inside the door.
"While it's reassuring to know that you're following up on the obscure leads, I realize that means there are no real promising leads, or you'd be pursuing those."
"Sometimes cases go like this--slowing down for a while without a significant lead. All of a sudden, something breaks, and you make an arrest," Starsky said. "We're not giving up on this one, by any means. We're just running down all the details."
"If you have any other questions about Martin, don't hesitate to ask us. I don't trust you'll get an accurate picture from Laureen."
"We'll verify to the best of our ability any information we receive from any source," Hutch responded.
The Pits was doing a good lunch trade, as usual, and the proprietor was behind the bar, helping serve beverages. As two stools were vacated, Starsky and Hutch claimed them.
"Hey, Hug, looks like business is good," Starsky said, accepting the root beer that was automatically poured and set in front of him. Next was a cola for Hutch.
"People in this town have good taste," Huggy responded with his usual air of self-confidence. "What brings you two in here? Thought you were finding other ways to spend your lunch hours these days."
"Huggy," Starsky admonished in a voice barely above a whisper, feeling like his face probably matched the red t-shirt he was wearing beneath his leather jacket. Hutch just chuckled.
"Catching up on paperwork, mostly," Hutch said, still smiling.
"Paperwork. I see," Huggy said skeptically. "Two specials? I have a new sandwich called Afternoon Delight. I think you'll like it." Huggy headed back to the kitchen.
"I'm gonna kill him," Starsky said under his breath.
"Relax, Starsk. See, it's right here," Hutch said, showing him the lunch menu. "Afternoon Delight" was an oversized hero sandwich. "Besides, we're at the end of the bar, and with all this noise, nobody cares what he's talking to us about."
"We could've done that, you know."
"Gone home for...uh...lunch." Starsky waggled his eyebrows.
"What, and miss all this?" Hutch gestured around him at the smoky, noisy environment.
"What was I thinking?" Starsky rolled his eyes, shaking his head with a smile.
When Huggy returned with the two monstrous sandwiches, Hutch decided to put out a feeler with him about the Gregory homicide. While they felt pretty confident it was Laureen and they just hadn't found the damning piece of evidence yet, they had to keep the field open.
"Need you to keep your ears open for us," Hutch said.
"So it's not just the haute cuisine that brings you here?" Huggy feigned insult.
"Well, that, too," Starsky replied through a mouthful of his sandwich. "This is good stuff, Huggy."
"Told you you'd like it." There was a devilish twinkle in Huggy's eye as he turned back to Hutch. "So what's up?"
"You've heard us complaining about the Gregory case?"
"More than once. I thought you said his old lady did him."
"That's the leading theory, but we haven't been able to nail her for it. There's no physical evidence, and you can't convict on a theory," Starsky said, taking a drink of his root beer.
"I'll keep my ears open. Hotshot lawyer, just elected to the county commission...gotta be somebody who didn't like him."
"He was a corporate lawyer, so it makes it a bit tougher to tie back in to one of his cases." Hutch tried navigating the huge sandwich, and after one messy bite, felt he could calculate the fat and grease he was ingesting from the overload of meat and cheese in that lone mouthful.
"You never know. Those white-collar types do their share of dirty deeds. Or they hire a mechanic."
"This is a little messy for a professional hit." Hutch washed down the first bite with some of his cola.
"Not if they wanted to make it look like the wife did it," Starsky said, still munching away happily.
"True," Hutch conceded. "Just let us know if you hear anything, okay?" he directed to Huggy, who nodded.
"Consider it done. So, does it live up to its name?" He gestured at their plates. Starsky was already starting on the second half of his sandwich, while Hutch had not progressed past the first bite.
"It's great, Hug," Starsky mumbled as he chewed. "Might be my new regular."
"Not if I can help it. That thing should have a warning label on it from the American Heart Association," Hutch said.
"Do me a favor, Starsk," Huggy said, leaning on the bar toward Starsky. "Next time, take your partner to that health food joint for lunch."
"Huggy, there aren't many things I wouldn't do for ya, pal, but eating in that weed factory is one of 'em."
Starsky walked into Hutch's apartment, while his partner shut and locked the door behind them. He was unprepared for the tackle that came from behind, sending them both onto the couch, Hutch's weight pressing him into the cushions.
"Guess we know what you want for dinner," Starsky said, laughing as Hutch's hands were already busy pulling up Starsky's t-shirt. "Mind if I take off my holster?"
"I'll get it," Hutch responded brusquely, loosening the holster before pulling Starsky's stubborn t-shirt the rest of the way out of his pants. The intensity of the sensuous assault was making Starsky hard before Hutch even touched his cock. Hutch was working at getting shirt, holster, and jacket off all at once, and Starsky finally had mercy on him and raised up, only too happy to help him achieve his goal. He reached up to return the favor, but Hutch took a hold of both his hands and gently pushed them back against the cushions. Then he released them and looked at Starsky with a hopeful, questioning look.
"However you want it, babe, it's okay by me," Starsky said affectionately, and honestly. His jeans were uncomfortably tight, and suddenly, the thought of being stripped naked by his clothed partner was more of a turn-on than anything else he could think of. Hutch's nimble fingers were at his buckle now, and before long, the zipper was giving way and he lifted his rear while Hutch peeled jeans and briefs down in one smooth motion.
"Shit," Hutch muttered when he got stuck at the shoes, as if they were an unforeseen obstacle in his well-orchestrated seduction. Starsky toed off one shoe, then the other, rescuing them from the impasse so his jeans and underwear could go flying to join the rest of his clothing in a haphazard pile on the floor.
Hutch ignored the rapidly hardening cock and pushed at Starsky's thighs, encouraging him to pull his knees back and expose himself fully. Resting one leg on the back of the couch and holding the other against his chest, Starsky found himself splayed open and ready before his fully-clothed partner. Hutch hadn't even taken his jacket off. He couldn't stifle a groan as the whole scenario made him even more eager.
He'd initially thought this was all spontaneous lust until Hutch pulled a small tube out of his jacket pocket.
"You were carrying that around all day thinkin' about this?" Starsky's eyes widened, and Hutch had the good grace to blush a little, though he laughed softly even as he squeezed some gel on his fingers.
He slid one long finger inside, spreading the gel quickly. Starsky writhed on it, groaning and savoring the rapid motions while he was still so tight. Quickly, Hutch eased in the second finger and began seriously stretching and lubricating.
And he was still dressed. For a bizarre moment, Starsky wondered if Hutch had a dildo in the other pocket, because he still hadn't so much as unzipped his fly.
A brush over his prostate chased away all rational thought, and Starsky let out a cry of pleasure, bearing down on the fingers inside him. He felt like he would come any minute, and Hutch had never even touched his straining cock that was now leaking a bit of pre-come. The massaging fingers were suddenly withdrawn, and Hutch finally unfastened his belt and unzipped his fly. His cock sprang free, no underwear in sight. No wonder Hutch had worn a jacket all day, and no wonder he'd "run late" getting ready for work so Starsky wouldn't see him finish getting dressed. He'd run around all day with no underwear and managed to hide that from his usually observant partner. There was very little about Hutch's ass that Starsky didn't notice, and Hutch knew it.
Hutch coated his length with the gel, and positioned the slick head at Starsky's eager opening, thrusting inside in one long, firm stroke that dragged a scream of pleasure and surprise from Starsky. Hutch usually eased in more slowly, but tonight, he was changing the pattern in a deliciously enticing way. As soon as Starsky had adjusted to the bulk inside him, Hutch began thrusting hard, setting a fast, steady rhythm that grazed Starsky's prostate and made him scream out in pleasure, grabbing the sofa pillow under his head. He writhed and groaned with each slide of Hutch's cock into his passage, arching up to meet the thrusts.
And Hutch was still fully dressed, with just his fly open, his cock the only part of him bared. Starsky felt a ridiculous little twinge of embarrassment at being totally naked and spread open this way while Hutch could but zip his pants and look as if nothing unusual had happened. They'd made love a thousand different ways a thousand different times, but somehow Hutch had found a way to make it seem newer, hotter, and naughtier than it ever had before.
The powerful cock pulled out, and Starsky almost arched upward anyway, so lost in the sensations that it took him a moment to realize they'd stopped. Hutch was pushing at his hips, urging him to turn over. Eager to comply, Starsky got on his hands and knees on the couch, then lowered himself on his elbows. Hutch thrust into the yawning opening again, the steady rhythm of their sex echoed by the couch springs and the slap of Hutch's denim-clad thighs against Starsky's bare ass.
A particularly energetic stroke to Starsky's prostate was his undoing, and he shouted Hutch's name, coming furiously all over the couch, too lost in sensation to wonder why they hadn't even bothered throwing an old blanket down first. Hutch was still moving fast inside him, clutching his hips now with those large hands, thrusting as deeply as he could as he stiffened and cried out, spilling his fluid deep into Starsky's body.
Though he was gasping and it seemed as if he would land on top of Starsky in a heap, Hutch maintained his part of the fantasy to the end, tucking his softened, sated cock into his jeans and zipping them. He pushed his blond hair back and then crouched by the side of the couch, where Starsky was unabashedly sprawled on his stomach, recovering.
"Oh my God," Starsky gasped, still wondering if his heart would ever slow down, if his cock would ever fully calm down, and if tomorrow, he'd be able to sit down.
"Enjoy yourself?" Hutch asked impishly, unable to completely conceal the fact he was as out of breath as Starsky was.
"You're evil. Wicked. You're a bad boy," Starsky panted, then grinned. "You've been planning this all day?"
"I had the idea a couple days ago, but I was waiting for just the right moment." Hutch smiled more genuinely now, eschewing the role he'd played and running his hand up and down Starsky's bare back. "I love you, you know."
"I know. I love you, too, you big blond lug. Even if I can't move," Starsky groaned as he pulled himself back up on his knees. Hutch offered him a hand to stand up. Then he pulled Starsky's naked, flushed body against his clothed one. He covered Starsky's mouth for a searing kiss, and one hand strayed down to Starsky's ass, a long finger slipping back into the sensitive passage. Hutch's breath was hot against his ear.
"Want me to take you to bed and do it all over again?"
"You put too much vitamin E in your shake this morning? Oh, yeah, that feels good." Starsky enjoyed the feeling of the massaging finger. The thought of being taken to bed and having Hutch inside him again wasn't entirely unappealing. Hutch was moving them in that direction, kissing and licking at Starsky's mouth, finger still unevenly moving in Starsky's ass, until they fell back on the bed together. This time, Hutch left him there long enough to hastily strip off his clothes, climbing back into bed so they could continue kissing, licking, stroking, and exploring. Starsky couldn't believe he was already getting hard again, and now Hutch moved down to take the recovering cock in his mouth, sucking diligently while his hand found Starsky's balls, rolling and massaging them.
Starsky grabbed the rails of the brass headboard, thrusting into Hutch's willing mouth, his arousal fueled by the delicious sucking and the thought of what was going to happen next. Just as he reached the edge of his climax, Hutch's mouth moved slowly off his rigid shaft, and those big hands were pushing his thighs up again. Hutch stroked himself a few times, then plunged into Starsky's still-slick hole, pumping in and out, more slowly this time, letting the sensitized tissues feel each backward pull and forward push. Starsky was groaning with every movement, feeling a little sore now, but his tingling prostate was insatiable, craving every contact. He came, shouting Hutch's name just before Hutch reached his own completion, thrusting a few quick, final times.
They lay there together, Hutch moving up next to Starsky and pulling the fatigued body into his arms.
"What brought that on? Not that I'm complaining," Starsky said tiredly, smiling and kissing the smooth skin of Hutch's chest.
"Long hours, not enough time to do more than a quick hand job before sleep. That ass of yours in those skintight jeans you know damn well drive me crazy."
"Which jeans are those?" Starsky asked with very badly feigned innocence. He was guilty as charged, having spent the last few days wearing jeans that actually defied gravity, they were so tight and molded to his body.
"Like you don't know."
"Someday, I'm gonna do it to you that way. You're never gonna see it coming, but I'm gonna get ya."
"You got me, Starsk. Any time, any place." Hutch leaned in for another long kiss. "Just wanted to do something special for you, sweetheart." He kissed Starsky's forehead.
"It was great, darlin'. Just perfect. Like you."
"I wasn't too rough, was I?"
"I had a great time, you big softie. I might have to drive standin' up, but it was sensational."
"I want to see that."
"You don't think I could do it?"
"No, I think you could do it--that's what makes me nervous."
Starsky ignored the ringing of the telephone. Hutch and he were still wrapped around each other in a wonderfully warm, slightly sweaty tangle of sated flesh. His stomach growled ominously, reminding him that its needs had not been met and it was not pleased with that situation. The phone rang again.
"Shit, fuck, and damn," Hutch groaned.
"You used up all the good words." Starsky was quiet a minute. "Son-of-a-bitch."
"I knew you'd think of something." Hutch rolled toward the phone. "This better be a goddamned emergency or I'm gonna kill the bastard, whoever it is."
"Kill 'em even if it is an emergency," Starsky mumbled into a pillow.
"Hutchinson," he grumbled into the phone. "I was asleep," he responded, barely containing the irritation in his voice. Starsky looked at the clock and saw that it was only 9:00. He poked Hutch's thigh and pointed at the bedside table. Hutch recovered nicely. "I was watching an old movie. Guess I dozed off. What's up, Captain?" Hutch listened carefully. "With all due respect, Captain, why us? We've got the Gregory and Redmond--" Hutch stopped, obviously being informed why they were getting yet another call, presumably for another dead body somewhere, when they already had two major new cases pending. "I'll find Starsky. Right. We'll be there." Hutch hung up the phone.
"They found the body of a woman in her thirties on the football field at Bay View High. Apparently, there was some sort of note attached to her body."
"Dobey thought the connection between Redmond and Gregory was pretty thin." Starsky reluctantly pushed himself up into a sitting position, annoyed that he couldn't just relax and enjoy the lingering sensations of their marathon lovemaking. He was in no mood to go back on the job. "Sounds like something's goin' on here."
"I think his exact words were, 'that theory is anemic'. I guess he doesn't think it's that anemic anymore."
SHE'S NOT LAUGHING ANYMORE
The bold words were written with a thick black felt-tip marker on a piece of standard typing paper and attached to the dead woman's jacket with a large safety pin. But that was not the most extraordinary thing about the murder scene. The victim, whom Ginny estimated to be between the ages of thirty-three and thirty-six, was dressed as a Bay View High School cheerleader. The jacket and uniform looked new, or nearly new, the only visible alteration being the removal of the class year from the shoulder of the jacket.
The victim had long blonde hair, perfectly shaped features, and appeared to have a stunning figure with long, shapely legs.
"She must'a been a knockout in high school," Starsky opined, shaking his head. "What do you wanna bet we're going to find out she graduated from this place?"
"I sure wouldn't bet this week's paycheck against it," Hutch said, checking the woman's jacket pockets, frowning as he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. On it was written a name and phone number: Jason Houghton, 555-3479. "I suppose it's too much to hope for that this is our killer."
"Wishful thinking. Probably a friend of the person who owns the jacket."
"At least it's something." Hutch flagged down one of Ginny's people and after copying down the name and number, asked him to bag the slip of paper.
"I'd guess strangulation," Starsky said, looking at the deep bruising around the woman's neck.
"Where's Ginny?" Hutch looked around to find the medical examiner talking with two men in jeans and sweaters before motioning to the two detectives to join them.
"This is Mr. Nolan, the school principal, and Mr. Scott, the football coach. Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson," she introduced. After the men had shaken hands, Starsky asked if either of them recognized the dead woman.
"I think she's Patty Schuster, but I can't be a hundred percent sure," the coach said, shaking his head. "Not exactly what I expected, I tell you that." A stocky man in his mid-fifties, Calvin Scott looked every bit the part of a former football star-turned-coach.
"Who is Patty Schuster?" Starsky asked.
"Patty was the head cheerleader, oh, must be sixteen, seventeen years ago now. Maybe longer. She was real popular, a real knockout. I haven't seen her since graduation."
"Do you remember the year she graduated?" Hutch was taking notes as the man spoke.
"Hmm. You remember her, don't you, Stu?" he said, looking over at the principal, whose brow knit in concentration.
"The name's familiar. Vaguely. Had to be what, '63, '64?"
"That sounds right," Calvin responded, nodding. "This is strange. I think she used to run around with that lawyer who just got killed...what's his name? He was a big shot on the basketball team, remember?" he asked Nolan.
"Marty Gregory. Yes, I remember him. Excellent student, top athlete...a real loss. Such a waste."
"Mr. Nolan, we may need to have a look through the school records for that period of time. It could be just a coincidence, but with two deaths in the last three weeks from the same graduating class, and the death of a former staff member, we feel it's worth checking," Hutch said.
"You'll need a warrant, purely to satisfy the privacy and confidentiality rules we have to obey."
"I'm sure that won't be a problem," Starsky responded. "Either of you know Matt Redmond, who used to coach the basketball team here?"
"Sure did. Incredible, you know? A guy leaves one job because he's having trouble with the kids, and goes to work in a little private grade school and gets his head blown off. Incredible." Calvin sighed.
"What brought you out here tonight?" Hutch asked.
"I got a phone call from one of my players asking me to meet him out here."
"Which player?" Starsky asked, pen poised.
"Steve Ryan, our quarterback. He's a good kid, good player..." The man shrugged. "He said it was important, and he needed to talk to me right away, so I came. When I got here, no one else was here--well, no one but the lady over there," he said, nodding toward the corpse.
"Can you give us Steve's number?" Starsky jotted down the information as the man recited it from memory.
"He works with me on a volunteer program on the weekends, coaching inner city youth. I have to call him, or he calls me, to coordinate the times," he explained.
"Looks like this is pretty open out here," Hutch commented. "Anyone can just walk onto the field any time."
"That's right. We have a security guard, but he concentrates on the building itself. If kids want to monkey around out here, they can't hurt too much," Nolan replied. A tall, more slightly built contrast to the coach, Starsky thought Nolan fit the role of high school principal as if he'd been cast to play one in a movie.
"One more thing. Does the name Jason Houghton mean anything to you?" Starsky asked. Both men nodded, but the coach spoke first.
"Jason's one of our best basketball players. Great kid. Why?"
"His name and phone number were in the pocket of the jacket the victim is wearing," Hutch explained.
"Then I can tell you whose uniform that probably is--Charlene Isackson's," the coach added. "They've been an item for a year or so now."
"Great," Hutch said, making a note of the name. It occurred to him to question why, if they'd been an item for a year, Charlene would need to write down Jason's phone number. Hutch's best guess was that it was not Charlene's, but a different girl's uniform, and Jason was playing the field. He didn't share that theory with the two men from Bay View. Instead, he simply smiled when he finished writing and said, "We'll be in touch with that warrant."
"You may expect our fullest cooperation, Detectives," Nolan responded.
Starsky shifted again in his seat, and Hutch flashed him a wicked smile. Starsky's face colored, and it was more than the reflection of the red traffic signal.
"I should have really let you drive," Hutch said, starting away from the corner as the light changed. "I wanted to see you do it standing up."
"Are we still talking about driving, Blondie?"
"Driving...in and out and in and out--"
"Knock it off, Hutch, or Dobey's gonna have a fourth homicide on his hands."
"I bet those jeans fit nice and tight between your cheeks, with the seam rubbing right on --"
"They are tight jeans, Hutchinson, and if you keep talkin' like that, you're gonna make me damage somethin' you might want to enjoy later," Starsky shot back.
Hutch grinned wickedly as he steered the car toward Winchester Street, where Patricia Schuster Carson lived with her husband, Michael, and their ten-year-old daughter, Julie. They needed a little humor to sustain them through what promised to be a very painful notification of the next of kin.
Michael Carson took the news of his wife's death as badly as they had predicted. She normally arrived home from work just before 6:00, but tonight they'd been frantic with worry, calling everyone who might have seen her. Michael finally left their daughter with the next door neighbor and was about to start out on a driving search of the city. He was in the garage, keys in hand, when Starsky and Hutch pulled into the driveway behind him. His wife's car had been spotted by her employer, still parked in its usual spot at the accounting firm where she normally worked until 5:00 and then left for home. It had been that phone call that prompted her husband to begin searching on his own.
"I don't know how I'll explain this to Julie," he said, some signs of composure returning. The three men sat in the attractively decorated living room of the two-story home. Michael Carson was significantly older than his wife, appearing to be in his forties. He had a thick head of salt-and-pepper hair and handsome features. While the home was far from opulent, the late model Corvette in the garage and the impeccable furnishings spoke of financial comfort. Numerous family photos on the fireplace mantel and the walls spoke of a happy family life. "What kind of maniac...? Patty got along with everyone. Everyone loved her. Why would someone do a thing like this?"
"The killer left certain...messages behind," Hutch began, not sure how to explain to the grief-ravaged man that his wife had been dressed as a cheerleader with a note pinned to her jacket. "It's possible her death may be connected to some incident from her high school days."
"Her high school days?" he repeated, incredulous. "That was years ago!"
"In less than a month, three people who were closely connected to Bay View High School have been murdered," Starsky explained. "Two members of the same graduating class--Patty and Martin Gregory--and just this morning, the body of a former basketball coach was found in the gym at St. Stephen's Academy."
"You think some psycho is killing people from Patty's old school?"
"It's a theory. At this stage, nothing is carved in stone. Did Patty talk much about her school experience?" Hutch asked.
"Not really. She showed me a few old yearbooks, and Julie used to get a kick out of looking through them. They were very close," he said, swallowing hard.
"Do you know where those yearbooks are now?" Starsky asked.
"Sure. She has them in a box in the closet. Do you think there's something in there that will help with the case?"
"We don't want to overlook any possibilities," Hutch responded. "Mr. Carson, there's no easy way to say this. Your wife was dressed in a cheerleader's uniform when we found her, with a note pinned to her jacket."
"Sick son-of-a-bitch," he muttered bitterly. "What did the note say?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Carson, but we are not at liberty to reveal the contents of the note at this time," Starsky said. "It's important we have something confidential in the case that only the killer would know. What we can tell you is that it leads us to believe it may be related to someone she knew in high school."
"I'll get Patty's yearbooks." He rose and left the room quickly, his footsteps barely audible on the carpeted stairs as he went to the master bedroom to locate the yearbooks.
"Hard to believe some sicko could nurse a grudge all these years," Hutch said, shaking his head.
"The elite crowd from Bay View could be real assholes. I mean, it's tragic what's happening, and nothing justifies it, but they were the spoiled rich kids with the fancy cars and powerful fathers who could get away with anything and usually did. I went to a party with a couple friends from my school once, and thought it was a big deal because it was at some fancy house out in the same neighborhood where Martin Gregory's parents still live. Those kids were just plain mean, Hutch. They had it all, they were popular, and they were mean as hell to anyone who wasn't on their 'level'."
"I take it you didn't have a great time at the party."
"I had the wrong last name, the wrong accent, and my clothes weren't expensive enough. I didn't know anything about sailing or spending the summer in Europe...I think I was there all of about thirty minutes." Starsky shook his head. "I'll tell ya, Hutch, I was lucky. I had friends at my own school, and I was pretty confident about myself. I was popular at my high school, so I just walked out of that house thinking they were a bunch of stuck up assholes--not that there was something wrong with me. But mean kids like that can do damage to other kids. Serious damage if they see them every day and work 'em over good with names and nasty jokes."
"Probably not much different than the crowd Jack Mitchell and I used to run with. The popular kids with lots of money."
"There's no crime in being rich or popular, Hutch. It's only bad when you use it to hurt kids who aren't." Starsky didn't say any more because Mr. Carson's footsteps could be heard on the stairs.
"Patty's yearbooks are all in here. There's probably some of her other high school stuff in the storage room over the garage, but it'd take me some time to dig that out."
"This'll be a good start," Hutch said, looking through the medium-sized carton Mr. Carson had set on the floor at their feet.
"You can borrow what you need. Just...please be careful, and bring it back when you're finished. Patty's folks will want some things..." He looked stricken for a moment, then walked briskly out of the room.
"Poor guy," Starsky said, joining Hutch in poking through the box. Most of the items were standard high school souvenirs: yearbooks, a couple framed certificates from spelling bees, a few old notebooks, and some photos.
"Maybe we can get in touch with some of these folks and see if they can point us toward someone that Patty and her friends might have laughed at," Hutch suggested, paging through one of the yearbooks. The pages were loaded with the usual messages and notes from friends. Most of the kids in the pictures looked affluent. It was in the perfect haircuts, the clothes, the late model cars they posed with in some group shots. Patty was in the center of it all, usually in her cheerleading uniform, looking eerily similar to the way she did lying dead on the football field seventeen years later. The pretty, smiling blonde in the photos was, indeed, not laughing anymore.
After Hutch shared his theory with Starsky about Jason Houghton's love life, and found they agreed wholeheartedly, the two men planned to check with the cheerleading coach first thing in the morning to find out if any of the girls had reported a uniform stolen. It was unlikely Jason would be straight with them if he didn't want his girlfriend to find out, and both men were sufficiently convinced it wasn't Charlene Isackson's uniform. The fact that the phone number with the boy's name turned out to be a home telephone number confirmed their theory.
Shortly after midnight, the two men returned to Hutch's apartment. Having made a preliminary report to Dobey complete with their plan of action for the next day, they'd been excused to go home and get some sleep--provided they were back bright and early in the morning to get started.
Starsky grinned as he picked up the discarded clothes in the living room and eyed the stain on the couch.
"You know, we'd've been in real deep shit if anybody had come in here," Starsky said, chuckling a little.
"No reason for anyone to come in here. Besides, just because someone knocks doesn't mean we have to let 'em in," Hutch said, taking two beers out of the refrigerator and handing one to his partner.
"Y'know, seeing you with all your clothes on, just that big tool of yours sticking out...never saw anything so hot in my life, babe," Starsky said, sliding an arm around Hutch's waist and nuzzling Hutch's neck. He nipped at an earlobe.
"Unless it was you, buck naked on the couch with that prize-winning ass up in the air," Hutch responded, moving in for a beer-flavored kiss.
"I owe you one," Starsky responded. "Or three."
"Didn't know we were keeping score," Hutch said, chuckling into another kiss.
"Hey, that's okay, if you wanna just go to bed and get a good night's sleep," Starsky twitted, reaching down to squeeze one of Hutch's buttocks through his jeans.
"We had a nap earlier."
"And we can take another one later." Starsky flexed his eyebrows, moving Hutch back toward the sleeping alcove.
Deciding they'd had enough acrobatic clothes wrestling earlier, both quickly stripped and stretched out on the bed together, their languid stroking and kissing a stark contrast to the lusty urgency of their earlier encounter. Starsky kissed his way down Hutch's chest, pausing to lick and suck at the small nipples, taking his time building his partner's arousal. He groped for the lube that was stashed in the nightstand and held the well-flattened tube in one hand, while the other still stroked from Hutch's chest down to his stomach. When it closed over the rapidly hardening cock, Hutch groaned in pleasure and spread his thighs a bit wider to give Starsky more room.
With his hand wrapped around the base, Starsky teased the sensitive head with his mouth, licking and sucking but not really satisfying. He had plans for his lover, and a quick finish wasn't among them. He withdrew his mouth and began working at getting some lube on his fingers.
"Is there enough?" Hutch asked, his breathing more than a little ragged, as he watched Starsky diligently teasing each remaining drop of the gel to the top of the tube.
"There'll be enough slippery stuff if I have to go get the butter out of the fridge," Starsky responded, his voice equally breathless. His cock was aching to sink into that tight heat. He'd been delighted with the wild sensations of earlier, but it seemed to fuel his own desire to be inside Hutch, as if he needed to give back some of the sensation he'd received. In a remote part of his brain, he figured there was probably some deep psycho-sexual explanation of a need to reassert himself after having been thoroughly fucked senseless not once, but twice, but he ignored the thought. All he knew was he'd gotten it good and now his body wanted to give some of it back.
And he felt unbelievably lucky to love and be loved more than life itself by the person who drove him this crazy with lust. He counted himself among only a select few in the world who were that lucky.
"Gonna make you feel real good, babe," he said, still squeezing frantically at the tube that wasn't cooperating. He wondered if an empty tube of lube could have as devastating an effect on his masculinity as a failed erection.
"Where's the tube from before?" Hutch raised up on his elbows now, looking around.
"Living room?" Starsky gave up on the current tube and went to the couch, digging frantically around the cushions. Soon, Hutch joined him. The two of them, naked and fully erect, began ransacking the living room.
"Got it," Hutch said triumphantly, reaching deep into the cushions of the couch. He was bending over the back of it, legs spread, writhing in rhythm with the movement of his arm as it reached for the elusive tube.
"Freeze," Starsky said, moving up behind the perfectly presented target. "You've got such a great ass, babe. Can't believe it's all mine." He massaged the twin globes with eager hands.
"Oh, it's yours, is it?" Hutch teased, looking over his shoulder.
"You bet it's mine, darlin'. Every sexy inch of it," he responded, still massaging.
Hutch was rocking against the back of the couch now, his stiff cock rubbing hard into the throw. He handed the tube to Starsky and thrust his ass out even farther, rubbing more obviously against the couch. Starsky's heart skipped a beat at the sight of Hutch wantonly pleasuring himself on the couch, offering himself so eagerly.
Starsky coated his fingers and carefully slid two into the eager passage. In his aroused state, Hutch needed only a little stretching and lubrication to be more than ready for the main event. Starsky coated his cock and pressed the head against the slick pucker, pushing inside carefully but steadily, stilling the movement while he accepted Hutch into his body.
"I want a mirror," Hutch gasped. "Over there," he gestured awkwardly at the wall across from the couch.
"You wanna watch, too, huh?" Starsky grinned at the wickedness of it, thinking how much he'd like to see the whole picture--Hutch bent over the couch, his ass in the air, Starsky plunging in and out of him, both of them transfixed by the pleasure. He groaned at the thought and began thrusting, watching Hutch brace his hands on the couch cushions. In this position, gravity was by far in Starsky's favor, and he used his advantage to slow down and tease Hutch a little, sometimes grazing his prostate, sometimes not. He didn't want Hutch to know what to expect, and the surprised shouts of pleasure every few strokes let him know he was succeeding in that goal.
"I'm in no hurry," Starsky responded, kissing his way along Hutch's spine while he rocked inside him gently. Two orgasms earlier that evening had made him not only languid in his movements but a tad slower on the draw. He knew they'd both come eventually, but they had the endurance to make it last this time. "Love being inside you, babe."
"Love having you in there," Hutch admitted, thrusting back against him.
"Never was like this before. Never this good." Starsky rubbed his cheek against Hutch's back, gently, knowing the stubble on his cheek scratching at the skin would send a little shiver down his lover's spine. "Only you, Hutch."
"Only us," Hutch agreed. "Just you and me." Hutch groaned. "Come on, Starsk, harder...oh, yeah, right there...that's it, babe."
Unable to deny Hutch what made him feel good and unable to resist his own urge to speed up his movements and take what his body was demanding, Starsky thrust faster and harder, feeling his climax building, steadying Hutch's hips with his hands, having the absurdly amusing thoughts that if someone were to dust Hutch's ass for prints, Starsky would be busted in a heartbeat.
Hutch stiffened and cried out, his internal muscles clenching and milking Starsky as they both came, writhing more frantically as they rode the waves of a nearly simultaneous climax.
Starsky steadied himself on the back of the couch to avoid falling forward on his partner, who was busy keeping himself balanced. Easing out gently, Starsky kissed one buttock and patted the other.
"Come on, you big blond beauty. Bedtime." Starsky gave his partner a helpful pull, and Hutch stood, turning so they could embrace, their mouths seeking each other immediately.
"Love you," Hutch muttered against Starsky's mouth before kissing him again.
"Love you, too." Starsky gave him a little tug and they walked slowly and a little unsteadily toward the bed, grateful to crawl under the covers and spoon together, their thoroughly sated bodies too exhausted to move. "You ever think about how incredible it is to be this hot for the person you love so much?"
"You mean when the person whose ass you ogle every chance you get is the person you go home with every night?"
"Well, yeah, somethin' like that," Starsky responded, laughing. Hutch kissed his neck.
"Yeah, I think about it. Nobody deserves this much love, but I'm sure glad we've got it."
"Me, too. 'Night, Hutch."
"Sleep tight, babe." Hutch yawned widely, the heat of it tickling Starsky's ear. Starsky let his eyes drift shut then, soaking up the closeness and warmth of Hutch's body pressed against his.
Figuring they could accomplish quite a bit of their follow up on the case at Bay View High School, Starsky and Hutch arrived there bright and early the next morning. The principal willingly called Steve Ryan and Jason Houghton out of their classes to the office to talk with the two detectives. Since it was his phone call to the office that brought about the discovery of the body, Steve Ryan was sent for first.
A nice-looking boy with dark hair and blue eyes, Steve was average in height with a solid build. Seated in the principal's conference room, Starsky and Hutch attempted to put him at ease.
"I understand Mr. Nolan announced at assembly this morning that a body was found on the football field last night," Starsky said, and the young man nodded. "This is just a routine discussion, Steve. We're trying to speak to anyone who might have information that would help us out."
"I will if I can. I was home last night. My mom can back me up," he said, his tone not particularly uneasy or nervous.
"Did you call any other students or faculty last night?" Hutch asked.
"My girlfriend, Kelly Richmond. I think we talked for a half hour or so. I don't remember exactly what time, but it was before eleven, because I watched the news downstairs with my mom."
"No one else? No teachers, coaches, anyone?" Hutch probed. "It's important."
"No, nobody else. I had a paper to finish, and the only reason I called Kelly was because she was sick yesterday and I wanted to know how she was doing and if she was gonna be back today."
"You never called Coach Scott?" Starsky asked.
"No. I mean, I do sometimes because we work on an inner city youth sports program together, but I didn't last night. What's this about?"
"Someone called Coach Scott and claimed to be you, asking him to meet them at the stadium," Hutch said.
"Weird." Steve shuddered almost visibly. "And that's where the body was?"
"Yes," Hutch responded. "Can you think of anyone who would use your name, or would want to tie you in to something like this?"
"To a murder rap? Hey, I may not be everybody's favorite guy, but I don't think I've got any enemies like that. I really can't think of anybody. Could it be a coincidence? I mean, could someone have done the phone call as a prank on the coach, and the body just happened to be there?"
"Anything's possible, Steve. We're just starting the investigation, so we need to get all the facts before we can start making assumptions or guesses," Starsky said.
"Well, I didn't call, and I don't know anything about the dead body. Who was it, anyway? Mr. Nolan said it wasn't a student or a teacher."
"It's on the morning news anyway," Hutch said at Starsky's hesitation. "Her name was Patty Schuster Carson. She used to be a student here in the '60s."
"How'd she die?"
"Strangulation," Hutch said, quoting what was now the official cause of death, and undoubtedly plastered all over every TV station and newspaper by now.
"Man, that's rough. Never thought of this as being a real dangerous place at night. Think I'll pick up Kelly from her cheerleading practices from now on instead of letting her walk home. Her dad's got this thing about getting her a car. They're loaded but he wants her to save up for it so she knows the value of a dollar, or something like that."
"Imagine that," Starsky commented, shooting Hutch a partially stifled grin.
Jason Houghton was slightly taller and a bit leaner than Steve, and was built more like a basketball player. He had short blond hair and wore wire-framed glasses. Once they were seated, Hutch asked the boy what his sport was.
"Basketball and track," he responded, smiling a little, though he still eyed them warily.
"That wasn't a trick question, Jason," Starsky said, and Jason had to chuckle.
"Guess I'm a little nervous talking to cops. My dad'll have a stroke if he finds out I got questioned."
"If you think your father would be upset by us talking to you, you're more than welcome to call him," Hutch said. "We're not here to question you as a suspect. We're just looking for information to put a few pieces together."
"I got nothing to hide," he said, shrugging. "Shoot. Uh, I mean, go ahead."
"Do you recognize this handwriting?" Hutch asked, sliding the bagged slip with Jason's name and phone number written on it.
"Am I going to get someone in trouble here?"
"We really don't know that yet, Jason. It may or may not be significant to the investigation," Starsky said.
"That's Kelly Richmond's handwriting. She wrote down my number a week or so ago."
"And you remember that because...?" Hutch prodded.
"You obviously never saw Kelly Richmond if you have to ask."
"Ah," Starsky responded, nodding. "Why did she write it down?"
"I gave it to her."
"We figured that much," Hutch responded, smiling slightly. "But why?"
"I asked her to go out, but she's seeing somebody else. She said she'd give me a call if she could make it. She wrote down the number and tucked it in her jacket."
"Which jacket was that?"
"Her cheerleading uniform jacket. It was after a game. I think she was worried her boyfriend was going to catch her talking to me, so she wrote down the number and took off." A look of horror crossed his features. "It's not Kelly that's dead is it?"
"No, it wasn't a student. I thought Mr. Nolan told that to the students at the special assembly this morning?"
"Yeah, but I thought maybe he was lying to keep everybody calm."
"When was the last time you saw Kelly wearing that jacket?" Starsky asked.
"That night. I saw her at school a couple times after that, but not in her uniform."
"Thanks for your time, Jason. If your dad has any concerns about us talking with you, have him give us a call at this number, and we'll be glad to answer any questions he has."
"It's cool," he said, taking the card. "As long as I'm not a suspect or something."
"We're just gathering information, nothing more. Thanks for your help."
"Sure." Jason headed for the door of the conference room. "Did Kelly lose that number?"
"It looks that way," Starsky said. "Probably why she didn't call you," he added.
"Yeah, probably," Jason agreed before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.
"Ah, the interludes of the young and the restless," Starsky said, resting his chin on his palm. "I remember those days."
"I don't know how young we are, but if we were any more restless, we'd be hospitalized after last night." Hutch's remark evoked a snort of a laugh from Starsky.
"Well, I guess we need to find out from Kelly Richmond what became of her uniform and who might have had access to it."
"Hope poor Steve didn't give her his ring yet," Starsky said, shaking his head. "Never trust your heart to a fickle little cheerleader."
"Sounds like the voice of experience." Hutch laughed a little as they stood and headed for the door.
"Well, it wasn't exactly my heart I was interested in givin' 'em."
"Why does that not surprise me?"
"Oh, sure, and you dated every girl you ever went out with in high school because of her good grades."
"Of course I did. Couldn't very well bring anything less home to the folks." Hutch grinned evilly. "'Course I never took the best ones home to meet the family. Which made me promise myself that if I ever had a daughter, she wouldn't be allowed to date until she was thirty."