Inmates

Cynatnite

 

 

 

 

Hutch hummed to himself as he dried himself off with a towel.  He was looking forward to the double date with Starsky and the two stewardess friends.  It had been a horrendous week at work and he just wanted to unwind and relax.  He did so little of that as it was.  Starsky getting damn near killed had put both of their lives on hold for too damn long.

 

When Starsky had finally gotten the all clear to go back on full duty, both were relieved but wound up spending more and more time working at their desks.  Neither had the same drive and passion as before and both were content sitting opposite of each other trading banter back and forth.

 

 He grabbed the robe from the hook and slipped it on cinching the knot tightly at his waist.  Hutch grabbed his blow dryer and plugged it into the socket near the sink.  He whistled an old Bob Dylan tune as he began drying his hair.  Hutch thought he heard a noise, but the noise of the dryer drowned it out.  He ignored it and finished up.

 

Hutch switched off the dryer and unplugged it.  He heard the noise again.  This time it was the sound of book dropping to the floor.  Hutch shook his head and with the blow dryer in his hand stepped out expecting to see Starsky searching through his reading materiel.

 

What he found instead were two men searching through his things.  They swung around towards him and before Hutch could move a thunderous sound echoed through his head reverberating in his ears.  He felt a sharp bite in his shoulder sending him back against the wall.  Hutch felt a flash of blinding pain as he fell to the floor.

 

The tall dark haired man walked over to the unconscious police officer and knelt down.  “Jesus.” The word was barely a whisper.  He reached down and pulled the blow dryer from the unconscious man’s hand.  He looked over at his counterpart with thinning grey hair.  “He had a fucking blow dryer.”

 

“Andy, are you sure?”

 

Andy stood up and held it up for his friend to see whose eyes widened at the sight.  “Gib, what are we going to do?”

 

“We’ll do what we came here to do.  Start looking and we’ll fix this up before calling it in.”

 

Andy Woods nodded and set the dryer down.  He stepped over the prone body lying on the floor and his eye caught the magnum in the holster hanging up.  “Gib, get a load of this.”

 

Gibson Pride looked over from across the room and smiled.  “How convenient.”  He turned his attention back to searching through a stack of mail and stopped in his tracks.  “Andy,” Gibson called out.  He heard the footsteps behind him and kept his focus on the mail.  “Didn’t you say 1027 half Ocean Drive?”

 

“No, I said 1027 half Ocean Avenue.” Andy looked over at his partner who swung around to look at him.  He took the bill being held out in front of him and looked down at it.  “Shit.  How are we going to explain this?”

 

“I don’t know, but get a load of the name.”  Gibson nervously crossed his arms staring across at his friend.

 

Andy looked down and read the name.  “Ken Hutchinson.  Yeah, so?”

 

“So, I think this guy is a cop.  If he’s the one I’m thinking, we fucked up royally.”

 

“Who is he?”

 

“He’s the man that brought Gunther down.  Don’t you read the papers?”

 

“Are you sure about this?  There’s no way in hell anyone would believe this was a screw up!”

 

“Even if they believed it was, our hides won’t be worth a damn.”

 

Andy shook his head and looked over at Gibson who walked over to the body lying on the floor.  He could see the wheels turning in his partner’s head as he swung back around and looked at him.  “If I thought we could get away with killing him, I’d do it.  However, I’ve got a better idea.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Get down to the car and get our stash.”

 

“Gib, do you have any idea how much money you’re talking about here?”

 

“It’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.  We’ll come out of this smelling like a rose, buddy.”  The smile on Gibson’s face gave Andy a dose of confidence and he left the apartment to do his partner’s bidding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The darkness was comforting but when he moved his head, the pain hit him with a horrendous vengeance.  Hutch slowly opened his eyes mindful of the pain which was radiating through his entire body.  The light hurt his eyes and he closed them wishing the pain away.  He slowly opened them and looked up.  Hutch looked up and saw that he was in a hospital.  He remembered someone in his apartment, but he couldn’t put a face on them. 

 

Hutch tried to bring his hand up and was stopped by the handcuff at the railing.  He looked at his right hand in disbelief seeing the cuff on it.  He looked over and saw the same on the other.  He yanked at the cuffs in frustration not understanding why they were there.  He laid his head back.  “Somebody!” Hutch yelled.

 

The door swung open suddenly and Hutch sagged against the pillow in relief upon seeing Starsky.  He watched his best friend come to his side and relaxed at the gentle warmth of his hand on his head.  “Hey, buddy,” Starsky said warmly.  “How ya’ doin’?”

 

“What the hell is going on, Starsk?  Why am I cuffed?”

 

“How much do you remember?”

 

Hutch shook his head briefly not liking the fact that Starsky hadn’t answered his question directly.  “I remember thinking you had arrived early and when I walked into the living room someone was there.  I don’t know who.”

 

“You don’t remember anything else, Hutch?”

 

Hutch had a confused look on his face looking at the eyes of Starsky.  “Starsky, what the hell is going on?”

 

Hutch could see the range of emotions running across his partner’s face.  He watched Starsky take a hard swallow and at that moment fear began to take control of his heart.  “Hutch, you’ve been taken into police custody.”

 

“What?”  Hutch was in disbelief.  “Why?”

 

“There were two undercover officers in your apartment.  They had a tip from an informant about a drug buy.”

 

“I don’t believe this.  I was shot, wasn’t I?”

 

“They said you aimed your gun at them.”

 

Hutch shook his head vigorously and stared straight back at Starsky.  “No, that’s a lie!”

 

Starsky reached over and put his hand on Hutch’s arm.  “I know, buddy.  We’re still trying to put the full story together.  That’s why you need to try and remember everything that happened.”

 

“There’s more.  I can see it in your eyes.”  Hutch saw Starsky lower his head a bit.

 

Starsky took a deep breath and looked down at Hutch.  “They found two kilos of cocaine and $25,000 in your apartment.”

 

“They set me up,” Hutch whispered. 

 

“Hutch, these cops don’t even know us.  It’s got to be someone else.”

 

Hutch licked his dry lips and looked up at Starsky.  “Gunther.”

 

Starsky shook his head.  “Dobey doesn’t think so since most of Gunther’s organization is in shambles.  He’s got Minnie running our past cases.”

 

“Starsk, that informant? These guys can give him up at least enough for you to talk to him.”

 

“I tried, Hutch.  They won’t budge an inch.  They feel that given their findings, it’ll be putting their informant at risk.”

 

Hutch relaxed against the pillow and closed his eyes barely believing what was happening.  In a matter of minutes, his whole life was turned upside down.  He opened his eyes and looked over at Starsky.  “So, what now?”

 

Starsky’s look was somber as he looked across at Hutch.  “When you’re well enough, you’ll be booked.  The D.A. is going to press for a high bail, Hutch.  I’ve called Bill McCaughey who’s going to represent you.”

 

“Jesus.”  It was barely a whisper but enough for it to be heard.  “I guess heading to South America is out.”

 

“Not as far as I’m concerned.” Starsky smiled and squeezed Hutch’s hand.  “Soon as you get out, we’re hitting the streets and we’ll find who set you up, partner.”

 

“If I get bail.”

 

“You will.” Starsky’s face was confident and Hutch wished he felt it.  “I’ve already got Huggy on it and I’m going to get a hold of the reports from the arresting officers.  It’s not over, buddy.  We’ll find who’s responsible.”

 

Hutch felt Starsky squeeze his hand and he hoped some of the faith his partner had would flow into his own body.  Hutch felt cold inside as the reality of the situation settled over him like an icy blanket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three days later, Hutch was released from the hospital.  He was taken to the jail and booked.  It was a humiliating experience for him even though it wasn’t the very Metro precinct he worked at.  He was processed through as he would have booked any other suspect.  Hutch was achingly aware of the process and wondered how people dealt with the degrading experience. 

 

He was brought before a judge and listened as the list of charges were read.  Hutch felt outside of himself and wondered how anyone would think him not guilty given the evidence stacked against him.  Bail was set high, but he managed to pay it with a bit of help from Starsky.

 

They left the courthouse and Starsky drove to his place.  Hutch didn’t fight him on it.  He wasn’t ready to go to Venice Place and when he walked inside Starsky’s place, he collapsed down on the couch.  Hutch leaned his head back and closed his eyes.  He ignored the sounds coming from Starsky and a few minutes later when he opened his eyes, Starsky stood over him holding a beer out to him.  “You know, drinking is a violation of my bail conditions.”

 

“I won’t tell, if you won’t.”  Starsky had a soft smile on his face and Hutch returned it with one his own as he took the bottle from him.  Hutch opened the bottle and felt the cold liquid trace a cooling path down his throat to his insides.  He sighed heavily and looked over at Starsky.  “You can’t go with me to Huggy’s, Hutch.”

 

“I know.”  Hutch hated it, but he knew one violation could put him in jail for the duration.  He wasn’t quite ready to face the possibility of prison, but he wasn’t going to voice his concerns to Starsky.  “You’re going with me to see Bill, aren’t you?”

 

Starsky took a drink of his beer and sat down next to Hutch.  “You know I am.  We’ll get you cleared, Hutch.  Dobey’s giving me plenty of leeway to find out who did this to you and why.”

 

“Well, I’m not sure how much time will be allowable, Starsky.  I’m not even a cop right now.”

 

“You’re only on suspension, Hutch.  You’re still a cop.”

 

Hutch looked down at the bottle in his hand and gripped it tightly.  “It sure didn’t feel that way today, partner.  God, how in the hell do people who are really innocent deal with the humiliation of being arrested and standing in front of a judge like that?”

 

Starsky put a comforting hand on Hutch’s shoulder.  “They just do just like you will.  I’m here, Hutch.  This isn’t over yet.”

 

Hutch raised his head and met Starsky’s confident smile. “I know.”  Hutch took a drink of his beer and looked back at his partner.  “You’d better get to Huggy’s before it gets too late.”

 

Starsky stood up and took another drink of his beer.  He walked back in the kitchen and poured the remainder down the sink.  He walked back into the living room where Hutch remained on the couch.  “Hey, are you going to be okay?”

 

“I’ll be fine.  I don’t need a babysitter at this point.” Hutch smiled at Starsky who took a deep breath before reaching for the door.

 

“I’ll call you as soon as I know anything,” Starsky promised.

 

Hutch watched the door close behind him and he turned his attention back to his beer.  He felt his confidence slip away as soon as Starsky had walked out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

Huggy picked up the mug and headed to the other side of the bar where Starsky sat waiting for him.  He set it down in front of him and slid in the chair on the other side.  He didn’t say anything as Starsky took a large drink.  “How’s Hutch?”

 

Starsky brought the glass down and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.  He looked down into the mug and back up at Huggy.  “He’s holding his own, Hug.  I think the both of us could use some good news about now.”

 

Huggy shook his head a bit.  “I wish I had some for you, Starsky.  There’s nothing on the street about anyone looking to take either of you down.”

 

Starsky leaned forward in his chair intently staring into Huggy’s eyes.  “Someone’s got to know something!” The whisper was filled with anger and Starsky caught himself.  He exhaled the deep breath he had been holding and relaxed.  “Sorry, Hug.”

 

“Hey, man.  Don’t sweat it.” Huggy gave Starsky an understanding smile.

 

“Okay, what about this informant?” 

 

“No one knows.”

 

“What do you mean no one knows?”

 

“Starsky, I can tell you damn near any cop’s snitch you’d want to know.  But whoever the dude is, I couldn’t tell you a thing.”

 

“These cops…uh…Woods and Pride.  What do you know about them?”

 

Huggy shook his head briefly and looked over at Starsky.  “Solid cops for the most part is what’s said.  They do have a tendency once in a while to go for a few high dollar toys, but nothing to say they’re on the take.”

 

“Hutch and I’ve never even met these guys before this went down.  They work out of the 34th and Hutch’s place is in that district.  This whole thing just doesn’t add up.”

 

“Starsky, all I can do at this point is to keep rattling the grape vine to see what falls out.”

 

“We’ve got to find this snitch, Huggy.  Make that your priority.”

 

Starsky finished off his beer and tossed a couple of bills on the table before leaving.  Huggy sat there watching the moody cop.  He had never seen Starsky like this before.  In fact, it only seemed like Starsky was a walking reproduction of the state Hutch had been in not that long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch sat in the leather chair attempting to casually play with the zipper on his jacket.  He looked over at Starsky who was tense in the way he held his hands together.  Hutch sighed a bit and looked to the desk where his attorney Bill McCaughey was sorting through the case file.  Hutch’s breath caught as Bill closed the file and leaned back in his chair.

 

“Well”, Hutch asked.  “Tell me how bad it is.”

 

“Ken, I wish I could offer you some good news here.”

 

Starsky’s hand dropped down in his lap and he looked squarely at the older lawyer.  “Don’t tell me you’re giving up.”

 

“Far from it, Dave.  We can put up a hell of a fight and drag this thing out.  Maybe something will give.”

 

Hutch looked down at his hand not wanting to meet the eyes of his attorney.  “What are our options?”

 

“Given the evidence, the D.A. is pushing for the maximum should this go to trial.  Every case in your career will be gone through with a fine tooth comb and given what you’ve told me so far, you won’t be painted in the best light, Ken.”

 

“Oh, come on,” Starsky said raising his voice.  “You can’t sit there and tell me they’re going to hold him responsible for the shit he’s gone through!”

 

“Maybe not, Dave.  But you have to realize how it will appear.  The deaths of Vanessa Hutchinson and Gillian Ingram will be used in the worst possible way.”

 

“How much time could I get if I go to trial and I’m found guilty?”

 

“You won’t be”, Starsky assured Hutch.

 

Hutch raised his eyes and fixed them on Bill’s face.  “Tell me, Bill.”

 

“Ten to twenty.”  The answer was soft and plain spoken.

 

Hutch felt the wind leave him and he brought his head down.  He felt Starsky’s hand on his arm.  “Hutch, we’ll find out who did this.  It won’t make trial.”  Hutch swallowed the huge lump in his throat and he rubbed his eyes before bringing his head back up.

 

“I am obligated to present you with an offer from the D.A.’s office.”

 

“It’ll be turned down,” Starsky blurted out.

 

Hutch looked over at Starsky.  “Starsky.”  He looked back at Bill.  “What’s the offer?”

 

“Plead guilty to drug possession with intent to distribute.  You’ll get three to five.  You could be paroled as early as 32 months.”

 

Hutch could see the adamant shake of his partner’s head.  “Hutch can’t go to prison.  You know as well as I do he’ll be dead inside of a month.”

 

“Ken, should you go to prison, you won’t be put in with the general population unless you request it.”

 

Hutch ignored the look on Starsky’s face and kept his firm eyes on Bill.  “How long does this offer stay on the table?”

 

“Till trial.  After that, any and all offers will be rescinded and if found guilty, more than likely you’ll get the maximum allowed by law.  The public has little tolerance for bad cops.”

 

Hutch was thoughtful for a moment and he suddenly stood much to Starsky’s surprise.  He shook Bill’s hand.  “Thanks, Bill.  I appreciate your work on this.  I’ll be in touch.”

 

Starsky’s eyes were filled with shock as Hutch walked out of the office.  After a moment of sitting he finally pushed himself out of the chair and followed his partner.  Not a word was passed between them during the drive back to Starsky’s. 

 

As soon as they walked through the door, Starsky closed it behind him and watched Hutch pull a beer from the fridge.  “Want to tell me what happened back there, Hutch?”

 

Hutch took a long drink and leaned against the counter.  “If I was just another perp and you took a good look at the evidence sitting at my feet, you’d say I was guilty, wouldn’t you?”

 

Starsky pushed himself up off the door and walked towards Hutch.  “You’re not.  I want to know what you’re thinking.”

 

“Come on, Starsk.  You know what we’re looking at here.”

 

“Yeah, we’re looking at finding who was responsible for setting you up.”

 

“It’s been damn near two weeks now.  We’re nowhere and you know it.”

 

“I don’t know it!  The only thing we haven’t looked at is those two cops.”

 

Hutch took a long drink of his beer and set the bottle down on the cabinet.  “Well, I have looked at those two cops.  They’ve got the top arrest records in their precinct with the commendations to back them up.  They’ve made some impressive busts that have stuck.  Who did this and why is probably something we’ll never know.”

 

Starsky’s eyes widened a bit as he studied Hutch.  “You’ve given up, haven’t you?”

 

“Far from it.” Hutch’s smile was bitter.  He shoved his hands in his pockets and sighed.  “I’m facing reality here, buddy.  Maybe you should, too.”

 

“If you think I’m going to just stand by and let you get sent up…”

 

“It’s my choice!” Hutch yelled.  Hutch pulled a hand out and ran it through his blonde hair.  He took a deep breath trying to get a handle on his emotions.  “Listen, we’ve got to look at this objectively no matter how tough it may be.  If this thing goes to trial, not only will they drag out Gillian and Vanessa, if they dig deep enough, they could find out about Forrest and what he did.  You know as well as I do, that’ll be the nail in my coffin and yours, too.”

 

“Taking a deal means that any hope of beating this thing is out of the question, Hutch.  You’re career as a cop will be over and you’ll spend the rest of your life as an ex-con.”

 

“Starsky, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but we’ve got to be realistic.  There’s no way in hell I can beat this thing.”

 

“No!  I’m not giving up and neither should you.  We’ll find this snitch and…”

 

“And then what,” Hutch said holding his hands out.  “The snitch said he got word about a dirty cop selling coke out of his apartment?  What are you going to do to make him own up to it?  Play your bad cop routine?  He’ll scream police brutality at the top of his lungs to anyone that will listen and it’ll be your career they’ll be playing taps to.”

 

“I don’t give a damn about my career!”

 

“I do!  Jesus Christ, Starsky!  If this goes to trial, your career right along with mine will be stretched out for the world to see.  You could find yourself in a cell right next to mine and I won’t have it!”

 

Starsky could feel his temper taking control and he tightly clenched his fists.  “Don’t you dare play the fucking martyr with me!  I’m not letting you do this, Hutch, so you can forget it!”

 

“Is that what you think I’m doing?  Martyrdom as appealing as it may sound is not what this is about.  I’m just trying to feel my away around the dark here and 32 months in prison sounds a hell of a lot better than ten years.”

 

Starsky blinked back the tears that were trying to overwhelm him.  He rubbed his eyes furiously and let his arms drop down to his sides.  “Trial is set 22 days from now, Hutch.  Don’t make this decision just yet.  Let’s just keep at it at least until then.”

 

Starsky could see that Hutch was thinking hard.  He could see the muscles working back and forth in Hutch’s jaw.  Starsky walked over to him and gently set his hands on Hutch’s arms.  “I know you want to do what you think is the best for the both of us, Hutch.  God, I’d probably want the same thing if I were in your shoes.  Please wait.  If you don’t do anything else for me, please do this.”

 

Hutch swallowed the hard lump in his throat and looked up at Starsky.  He could feel the cry inside his chest threatening to break loose.  “I’m scared, Starsk.”  It was a whispering plea and the fear was as real as Starsky’s hands on his arms.  “I’ve never been more scared than I am right now.”

 

Starsky suddenly pulled Hutch close and held him tightly.  He felt as if he’d never touch him again and never see him again.  Letting go of Hutch was not an option right now nor ever if he had his way about it.

 

 

 

 

14 DAYS BEFORE TRIAL

 

Starsky had his arms crossed tightly against his chest as he looked through the two way mirror.  Watching the officers who had arrested Hutch he felt almost a sense of looking at himself and his partner briefly. 

 

Andy Woods was the handsome of the two.  His dark brown hair was neatly combed and the dark brown eyes glanced at him briefly knowing someone was observing them.  Everything about the guy was perfect right down to the perfectly matching shoes which blended so well with the casual clothes he wore.

 

Starsky slowly moved his gaze over to Gibson Pride.  The somewhat older man had spent most of his career on the street.  Starsky didn’t have to look at his record to know the man had seen the worst the city had to offer.  It was all in his grey eyes.  He wore a loosely fitted tie which looked as tired as Gibson Pride looked.

 

Starsky turned and headed out and when he arrived at the door he was met by Captain Dobey who leaned in close.  “Starsky, I know you’re going to press these men hard about their actions that night.  Remember, these are highly decorated officers who are considered as credible as you.”

 

“So’s Hutch, Cap.  They’d better remember that, too.”  Starsky opened the door and walked inside the interrogation room.  He sat down at the table and set the records he had brought inside down.  “I’m sure you both remember me.”

 

Andy crossed the room and sat down at the table across from Starsky.  “Hey, we were only doing our jobs, you know.  Sorry it turned out to be your partner.”

 

Starsky shot his head up at the detective who was looking back at him.  He saw neither remorse nor even regret in those eyes.  “I just want to make sure I’m covering all my bases.  If you guys have a problem with me talking to you about this, I’m sure your Captain can come down here or even IA can sit in to make sure everything’s on the up and up.”

 

“Just what are you implying, Detective Starsky?” Gibson asked roughly.

 

“Surely if you were in my position and it was your partner, you’d want to make sure every possible thing was done to insure there’s no mistake.”

 

Gibson pushed himself away from the wall and planted his hands on the table.  He loomed over Starsky and forced him to look up at him.  “There’s no mistake about finding enough coke to supply a small country and 25 grand.”

 

Starsky knew the tactic Gibson was using well.  He had used it enough during many interrogations in the past.  He wasn’t about to let either one of these guys take over this questioning.  “Let’s talk about your informant first.”  Starsky lowered his gaze down to the record in front of him.  “Any idea on where he gets his Intel?”

 

Andy looked down at his fingernails looking for dirt that wasn’t there.  “Detective, you know as well as I do, if he talks too much it’s his life.” 

 

“Being that a police officer was being fingered, I would think you’d want to make sure he was reliable.”  Starsky observed the officer closely watching for anything that might give him an opening.

 

Gibson stuck his hands in his pockets and shook his head.  “How would a snitch set up that much coke and cash in a cop’s apartment?”

 

“It’s not hard.  Some of us have got a lot of enemies.  I’m sure the two of you have your share given the remarkable arrests you’ve made in the last few years.  Someone could have pushed your snitch enough to drop the info in your laps after making sure the damaging evidence against my partner was stashed at his place.”

 

“You’re grabbing at straws, detective.”  Andy set his forearms down on the table and gave him a condescending look which Starsky hated.  “You’ve used everything you’ve got to get your hands on our snitch with no luck.  We’re not giving him up to you or to anybody.  The evidence against your partner is rock solid and there’s not a damn thing you can do to change it.”

 

Gibson smiled a bit at Starsky and straightened his crooked tie just a bit.  “Face it, Starsky.  Your partner’s a dirty cop who got caught.  You just hate the fact he buffaloed you.  Best chance you’ve got is to cut the scum loose to keep your own career intact.”

 

Starsky shot up out of the chair and grabbed Gibson Pride.  He slammed him hard against the wall and when he turned his head Andy Woods was coming towards him.  Starsky brought his leg up and a blue tennis shoe landed square in the chest of Woods.  Andy fell back against the hard floor with a loud thud.  He was dazed from what Starsky could see and he turned his attention back to Pride.  “Let me tell you something, you sack of shit!  Hutch is innocent and I’ll prove it!  The only way that dope got in his place was by someone planting it!  You and your buddy over there are at the top of a list with only two names!  You might as well plan on seeing a lot of me because I’ll be your shadow 24/7.”

 

Starsky pushed himself away from Gibson and as Woods was pushing himself up, he stepped on his back pushing him back down to the floor.  Starsky headed out the door and met his captain who was leaning against the wall.  He walked past Captain Dobey knowing nothing would be said about his behavior.

 

 

 

 

 

5 DAYS BEFORE TRIAL

 

 

Starsky pulled the Torino in behind Hutch’s beat up LTD wondering why he had been called to Venice Place.  He shut off the ignition and stepped out of the car.  Starsky hurried inside and took the stairs two at a time.  He swung the door open and froze at the sight.

 

Scattered around the apartment were several boxes and Hutch was hunched over one putting some items inside.  Starsky quietly closed the door behind him and made his way to Hutch sidestepping the boxes sitting on the floor.  He took note that several had already been filled and taped up.  “What do you think you’re doing, Hutch?” Starsky asked in a low voice.

 

Hutch picked up a stack of books and started setting them inside a box.  “I’ve marked the ones that need to get sent to my parents and the rest can go to storage.”

 

Starsky took a hold of Hutch’s arm stopping him in his movements.  “I thought we made an agreement.”

 

“We did, Starsk.”  Hutch licked his dry lips and refused to meet Starsky’s eyes.  “Everything needs to be taken care of just in case…”  Hutch closed his eyes momentarily.  He took a deep breath and continued setting the books inside the box.

 

Starsky refused to go along with it.  He reached back into the box and pulled out the books Hutch had just set inside.  “No, we’ve still got time and I’m not going to let you go to prison.”

 

Hutch sighed heavily and leaned against the back of the couch.  He watched Starsky set the books down on a nearby table.  “Starsky, I don’t want this any more than you do.”

 

“I’m not letting you give up.” Starsky gave Hutch a firm look and walked back over to the box.

 

“Stop it, Starsky.” Hutch walked over to Starsky who was pulling items from the box.  Starsky ignored Hutch.  “Starsky!” Hutch took a thick book from Starsky’s hands and set it down.  He grasped onto Starsky’s arm and held it tightly.  “You know the odds, partner.  If we haven’t come up with anything by now, we’re not going to.”

 

Starsky tried to swallow the hard lump in his throat and he couldn’t.  He wanted to beg Hutch not to let go of his arm.  He couldn’t take it if he had to.  Starsky stared down at the box still not wanting to face the grim reality.  “You’re asking me to do something that I can’t accept, Hutch.  I can’t go along with this.”

 

Hutch took a step closer to Starsky.  He put his hand on his best friend’s cheek and brought his face to look up at him.  “I have to be ready, Starsk.”  Hutch whispered it gently knowing how much pain this separation would hurt them both.  “I can’t do it without you.  I need you more than ever in my life.”

 

The tears suddenly fell uncontrollably on Starsky’s cheeks and Hutch instinctively pulled him close.  He wrapped his arms tightly around his partner and felt the pain in Starsky’s body.  “Stay strong for me, buddy.  I need you to hold on for a little while longer.”

 

Starsky took a deep cleansing breath and stepped away from Hutch.  “I’ve still got a few leads to check out later tonight.”  Starsky wiped the tears on his face away with the back of his hand.

 

“You know I have to do this, Starsky.  I don’t want you to have to deal with it alone.”

 

Starsky nodded not trusting himself to speak.  He took a deep breath and picked up the thick book.  “We’ll pack everything.  But it all stays here for the time being.”

 

Hutch wanted to tell Starsky that sending it now would be better, but he knew Starsky wasn’t quite ready to hear it.  He knew his partner very well.  Well enough to know that Starsky would fight until his last dying breath and probably even them some.  Hutch had witnessed it first hand.  He wished he had his partner’s strength.  Hutch knew he would need all he could get.

 

 

 

 

ONE DAY BEFORE TRIAL

 

 

Starsky eased down on Hutch’s kitchen floor.  He handed the beer off to him and ignored the stacks of boxes piled around him.  An unfinished game of monopoly had been pushed aside and a half empty pizza box sat between them.

 

Hutch snickered and took a drink of his beer.  “There is a bright side to this.”

 

Starsky took a drink of his beer and looked at his partner.  “Only you would find the bright side to going to the pen.”

 

“I’ll get a chance to catch up on all that reading I’ve never gotten around to.” 

 

“Yeah, maybe do all that meditating, too.  You’ll be the only bohemian con there.”  Starsky giggled a little and looked over at Hutch who was laughing hysterically

 

“Call it new age rehabilitation, Starsky.”  Hutch took a drink of his beer to keep the fear he was feeling at bay.

 

Starsky pushed the pizza box away with his foot and leaned back against the cabinet.  “I’ll come every week, Hutch.  You’ll get tired of seeing my ugly mug.”

 

“I’m counting on it, Starsk.  Just make sure you call my parents every week.  They’ll have a tough time with this.”

 

“I won’t quit,” Starsky promised solemnly.  “No matter what, your name will be cleared.”

 

Hutch reached across and gave Starsky’s knee an affectionate squeeze.  “Just be there for me, buddy.  That’s what’ll get me through this.”

 

“You know, Hutch.  Nobody’s ever stood by me like you have.  In all the years we’ve been together you’ve been the only one that’s really been there went it counted.”

 

“Where else would I be?  You’ve been through a hell of a lot, Starsk.  If I haven’t learned anything else from you, I’ve learned what it takes to survive even when things are at their worst.”

 

“I tried, Hutch.”  Starsky’s eyes began suddenly watering and the tears were now impossible to stop.  “I tracked every lead I could find to stop this from happening.”

 

Hutch scooted over next to Starsky and put his arm around him.  “I know that, Starsky.  You’ve spent everything you’ve got and I don’t want you thinking you didn’t do enough.”

 

Starsky didn’t move to wipe the tears on his face.  “I’ll wonder if I did.  We have never been apart like this.”

 

Hutch reached over and gently wiped a tear from Starsky’s face.  “We won’t be apart.  Even when you’re not with me, you’re with me.  I’ve always believed that even when I thought you were going to die.”

 

Starsky took a deep breath and grappled with his emotions.  “You’ve never told me that before.”

 

“Well, you had a hell of a recovery, partner.  I wasn’t going to burden you with the demons I was fighting at the time.”

 

Starsky swung his gaze over at Hutch and looked into his soft eyes.  “Tell me about them.”

 

“I did tell you.”

 

“You told me about seeing the shrink after the shooting, but you never really talked about it.”

 

Hutch reached for his beer and took a drink from it.  “Post traumatic stress syndrome, Starsky.  I told you that’s what kept me off the street for a while.”

 

“You never told me what it was really like for you, Hutch.  I want to know.”

 

Hutch leaned his head back against the cabinet and closed his eyes briefly.  He saw the flash of memory and he opened his eyes.  “Right after it happened I quit closing my eyes for any length of time.  I didn’t sleep much.  It would play over and over in my head.  I felt like I was reliving it again and again.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well, I was right back there at that very moment, Starsk.  We were at the Torino.  Every sound and movement was as real as you are right now.  I can tell you exactly how that car sounded grinding against the police car next to it.  I know exactly how the tires sounded running across the pavement.  I can count every single bullet fired by those hitmen.  I can feel the glass raining down on me and I still remember how it dug into my hands when I was pushing myself up from the ground.  I know every shot I fired and where it landed.”  Hutch turned his head and looked at Starsky.  “From the time it started to when I found you on the ground it took 23 seconds.  Those 23 seconds changed your life and mine.”

 

Starsky cleared his throat hating how deeply it had affected Hutch.  “Do you still have these flashbacks?”

 

Hutch shook his head.  “Every once in a while, one will hit me when I least expect it.  When they first started, they came at me like gangbusters.  Now, when they come, I let it happen.  Once I started accepting them, it became easier to deal with.”

 

“I want a promise from you, Hutch.  You’re not to keep anything from me again.  No matter what, you tell me everything.”

 

Hutch put his arm around Starsky and pulled him close.  “You’ve got it.  Since we’re on the subject of promises, I expect one from you.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Dobey’s going to assign you a new partner before long, Starsky.”

 

“I’ve already got one,” Starsky said firmly.

 

“Starsky, be reasonable about this.”

 

Starsky pushed himself up from the floor and dropped the empty beer bottle in the trash.  “I don’t want another partner, Hutch.  I’ll stick it out behind a desk.”

 

Hutch stood up and looked at Starsky squarely.  “There may come a time you’ll have to go out on the street.  I don’t want you out there alone.”

 

“You’ll be with me like you said, Hutch.”

 

“God damn it, Starsk!  It’s not the same and you know it!”

 

“Don’t you think I know that”, Starsky yelled.  “Taking on a partner is out of the question and I’m asking you to respect that.”

 

“Just don’t give me anything to worry about while I’m locked up.”

 

Starsky could see the fear in Hutch’s eyes and the anger quickly escaped him.  “You worry?  Hutch, you’ve damn near cornered the market on worrying along with guilt.”

 

Hutch smiled a bit.  “I’m selfish that way.”

 

Starsky slowly sat back down on the floor and leaned back against the cabinet.  “God, listen to me.  I’m bitching about not wanting a new partner and you’re worried about me.  I think you’ve got it backwards, partner.”

 

Hutch eased down next to Starsky and smiled at him.  “It’s just my roundabout way of saying if anything happens to you, I’ll escape and come back here to kick your ass.”

 

“Maybe my getting my ass kicked isn’t such a bad idea after all.” Starsky’s smile was sad.  He leaned his head on Hutch’s shoulder.  “I could make a burrito and stash a file in it should the need ever arise.”

 

“I think any burrito you make would be more than adequate to saw through the bars, Starsk.”  Hutch chuckled a little at the thought.  He liked the idea and he was looking forward to the countless jokes and crazy ideas Starsky would think up in the way of escaping.

 

Hutch refused to let the idea of what he was facing tomorrow be known.  The fear was almost overwhelming and the power of it threatened to explode from him.  He wasn’t about to let Starsky know how much the terror of being in prison was paralyzing him.

 

Instead they focused on the good times and remembering all the times they had been there for each other.  Both knew they wouldn’t sleep that night and they spent the remainder of the night sitting on the kitchen floor next to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was almost 9am the next morning.  The sun shining brightly over the city was almost offensive in the grim task which lay ahead.  Hutch was dressed in his suit and he had his hands crammed in his pockets.  He looked over at Starsky who stood close by.  They took the steps slowly and met Dobey and Huggy at the top. 

 

Starsky saw Bill and left Hutch to speak to him briefly.  Hutch took the opportunity to quietly talk to Captain Dobey and Huggy Bear.  “This is going to be rough on him,” Hutch said glancing over at Starsky.

 

“Not to worry, Hutch.”  Huggy put a hand on Hutch’s shoulder.  “I’ll keep a close eye on him.”

 

“We both will, Ken.  You just make sure you let us know if you need anything”, Dobey assured Hutch.  “I expect you to remember that just because you’re not a cop; it doesn’t mean you’re not my boy.”

 

Hutch nodded.  “Thanks, Cap.  Just let me know if Starsky has any problems.  I will be able to help on that end if nothing else.”

 

When Starsky walked over to them, Dobey and Huggy wisely stepped away for the last time the two friends would be alone together.  Hutch swallowed the lump in his throat and pulled out his wallet.  He pulled the keys out of his pocket and handed them over to Starsky.  “Is there anything I’m forgetting?”

 

Starsky shook his head not trusting himself to speak.  He gently rubbed Hutch’s wallet and held to it tightly.  “Starsky.”  Starsky brought his wet eyes back up to Hutch.  “I’ll be fine.  The time will fly and before you know it, you’ll be force feeding me all that rotten food you like.”

 

“I guess I wasn’t as prepared for this as I kept telling myself.”  The admission was tough for Starsky and he shoved Hutch’s keys in his pocket.  Starsky gripped the wallet tightly in his hands.  “It should be me, Hutch.”

 

Hutch put his hands on Starsky’s arms.  “Don’t say that!  Don’t ever say that to me again, Starsky.  I’m leaving right after my sentencing and I need you to be strong for me.  I won’t make it if you let this take you over.” 

 

They pulled each other close and held tightly.  Starsky squeezed his eyes closed.  “I love you, Hutch.  I don’t care who hears me say it.  I love you with all my heart.”

 

A tear rolled down Hutch’s cheek and he buried a hand in Starsky’s curly soft hair.  “I know, Starsk.  I love you, too.”

 

They held tightly afraid of letting go.  “Ken, it’s time.”  Hutch heard Bill and he was reluctant to let Starsky go, but he did nonetheless.  He touched a soft finger to Starsky’s face and stared at him.  Hutch leaned down and gave Starsky a soft kiss on the cheek before quickly walking away.

 

Starsky stood there not moving.  He was afraid to.  He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up at Huggy who stood next to him.  Starsky gave him a nod.  He looked over at Dobey who was stoic, but the emotion in his eyes gave him away.  The three men walked inside the courthouse.

 

 

 

 

Starsky stood behind Hutch who was standing next to Bill in front of the judge.  He barely heard the words spoken by the judge and the attorneys in the courtroom.  The world was out of kilter for him and Starsky didn’t know how he was keeping his balance.  The best friend he had ever known in his life would soon be taken away from him.  This was a man who was closer to him than his own brother and closer to him than any other human being had ever been.  Starsky knew no one would ever even come close to what Hutch meant to him.

 

He didn’t even notice Woods and Pride in the back of the courtroom and he never heard the comment Dobey had made to Huggy questioning their presence.  It wasn’t until Starsky saw Hutch move, that he finally started to hear.  He looked up to see an officer putting the handcuffs on Hutch.  Starsky stepped forward and Hutch swung his head back to him.

 

Their eyes locked and nothing would break the silent words passing between them.  Hutch was pulled away and Starsky’s eyes remained locked with his.  He took a step towards Hutch and he felt a soft hand on his shoulder.  Starsky and Hutch’s eyes remained locked on each other and the contact wasn’t broken until the door was closed behind the best friend of his life.

 

Once out of his site, Starsky leaned forward grabbing onto the railing which had kept him away from Hutch.  He closed his eyes and he froze at the sound of a familiar chuckle.  Starsky swung around to see Woods and Pride with smiles on their faces leaving the courtroom.

 

Starsky started towards them and he was grabbed by Huggy and Dobey.  “You sons of bitches!” Starsky yelled not caring who heard him.  He struggled against the tight hands holding him back.  The officers who had arrested Hutch stood staring at him.  “You lied and I’ll prove it, you fucking bastards!  If it’s the last thing I do, you’ll go down for what you did!”

 

The detectives left the courtroom not letting Starsky’s outburst get to them.  Starsky shook himself loose from Huggy and Dobey.  He slumped down in the chair burying his head in his hands.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky stood in the middle of Hutch’s empty apartment.  The last of his things had been put in storage and Starsky kept a few to take back to his own place.  Hutch didn’t die, Starsky thought.  It sure as hell felt like he did.

 

Seeing Hutch taken away had been the toughest thing he had ever witnessed in his life.  Before that, it had always been when Forrest had gotten Hutch addicted.  That had always stayed with him.  Even with it being the worst thing for him, Starsky was there to help Hutch through it every step of the way.  This time, Starsky had to stand by helplessly while Hutch served time for a crime he didn’t commit.

 

It made perfect sense now.  For some reason or another, those cops had set Hutch up.  But the reasons behind it remained unclear.  If it was the last thing he ever did, Starsky would prove Hutch’s innocence.  There was no way in hell he was going to let them get away with it.

 

Starsky walked out the door of the apartment.  He checked to make sure it was locked and closed the door.  Starsky moved the doorknob making sure the door was secured.  He clutched the key tightly in his hand as he headed down the stairs.  Starsky was quick to turn the key into the landlord and quickly drove away seeking seclusion away from the world just for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch secretly scanned the inmates scattered through the prison as he was being lead towards his cell.  He had been told he would be confined away from the general population, but when he arrived the warden explained that would be next to impossible given the horrendous overcrowding in the old prison.

 

He was showered and subjected to a body cavity search.  Hutch mentally closed himself off from the processing and when he had dressed, he almost smiled at the number printed on the denim shirt.  Hutch’s mind quickly leapt back to a discussion he had with Starsky over the insensitivity numbers represented.  Now that’s just what he was.

 

Hutch carried his bundle of sheets and toilet items through the open area where the inmates gathered.  He kept his eyes on the back of the guard in front of him and ignored the hoots and whistles. 

 

A million questions filter through Hutch’s mind as he started for the stairs leading to the upper levels of the prison.  How many guys he had arrested resided here?  How many knew he was a cop?  How long till someone tried to kill him?

 

The last question hung in his mind as Hutch was shown where he would spend the next two and a half years.  Thirty-two months, he corrected.  Nine hundred and forty-nine days.  Hutch opened up the bedding and started making his upper bunk.  56,940 hours and then 1,366,560 minutes.  If Hutch wanted he could calculate how many seconds he had to spend in this place.  He hoped he wasn’t already starting to get to the point of counting the seconds down.  Do my time and get out, Hutch said in his mind.  He repeated it over and over in his head as he quickly made his bunk.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky leaned his head against his fist as he sorted through the paperwork on his desk.  His hangover was horrendous from the previous night’s binge.  Starsky wanted to punish himself over his inability to keep Hutch out of prison.  Huggy had come to his place and immediately sobered him up.  Starsky felt a bit sheepish at having Huggy shove him into a cold shower.

 

He almost smiled at the riot act Huggy had read him.  Starsky was thankful for Huggy’s presence and he was glad he had pulled him out of the brief moment of self pity.  This wasn’t over by a long shot as far as Starsky was concerned.  He was going to get Hutch out of that place.  His partner wasn’t going to stay in prison a minute longer than he had to.

 

Starsky finally had enough of the headache and he yanked the drawer open on his desk.  He searched through it until he found the bottle of aspirin.  Starsky usually avoided pills if he could help it.  God knows he had enough of them shoved down his throat after he had been shot.

 

He spilled two out onto the palm of his hand and popped them in his mouth.  Starsky swallowed them down with the warm soda sitting on the desk.  When he set the can down, he looked at the empty desk across from him.  He heard the door to the squad room open and expected to see Hutch taking long strides to his desk.  Starsky felt his heart sink at the sight of a uniformed officer heading into Captain Dobey’s office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convicts of different shape and size were lazing around outside their cells.  Hutch kept his focus as he worked his way through them aiming to get back to his cell.  His cellmate was a guy that stayed gone which was just fine with Hutch.  He kept to himself as much as possible.  He was put in the laundry room to work during his time.  Hutch hoped it would keep him busy enough to force the time to pass quickly.

 

He was almost to the stairs when a large foot came down on the first step.  Hutch looked up at the large man who was moving to stand in his way.  He kept an even handle on his heart to still the quickening he was feeling.  He was met at eye level with almost black looking eyes.  The black hair was slicked back and the thick neck was half covered by a tattoo of a web with a spider creeping along the side of it.

 

Hutch had seen his type before out on the street.  These men had no heart and cruelty was a means to a pleasure.  His thick body spoke of time in prison spent lifting weights and bullying.  Hutch couldn’t help but be intimidated by him.  He just couldn’t let it show.

 

The man’s smile was cold and dark even with the bright white teeth glaring back at him.  “Well, cherry.  Looks like you’ve got ole Nacho’s interest.”

 

Hutch remained silent and unmoving as Nacho brought his foot down to the floor.  He was slow as he walked around Hutch appraising him as he would a side of beef.  Nacho brought his hands down and stood behind Hutch.  “What a nice piece of cherry you’ll make.”  Nacho’s laugh was more like a growl.

 

Hutch heard the laughter from Nacho’s buddies and he glanced around at them.  He still stayed in place readying himself if he needed to.  “Cherry, I hear you’re a cop.”

 

Hutch almost closed his eyes and he felt his heart fall into the pit of his stomach.  “I was.”

 

Nacho walked back around till he stood face to face with Hutch.  He crossed his thick arms across his chest.  “When the word came out about you, I had to check you out myself, fish.  I like what I see.”  Nacho gave Hutch his dark smile.  “Be ready, fish.  That ass of yours will be a fine addition to my stable.”

 

Hutch could barely breathe as they left him.  He grabbed a hold of the railing and pulled himself up the metal stairs.  When he reached his cell, he leaned his head on the bunk.  Four days, Hutch thought.  I just need four days till Starsky comes.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky paced back in forth in front of Captain Dobey’s desk feeling impatient.  He felt frayed and on edge.  Starsky slept little these days and his attention were focused on bringing down the cops he believed with his heart and soul who had set up his partner.  “Cap, I can’t back down and you know it.”

 

Dobey stood up and planted his hands on his desk.  “You’re too damn close to getting a complaint filed by Woods and Pride, Starsky.  You were given plenty of leeway with their case files.  You have to back off.”

 

“Like hell!” Starsky yelled.  “Those two assholes set Hutch up!  I know it, Cap!”

 

“Knowing it and proving it are two different things!”

 

Starsky took a strong step towards Captain Dobey and the look in his eyes was unmistakable.  “I’m not quitting, Cap.  They will go down for what they did to Hutch.”

 

“Dave.”  Dobey calmed down considerably and looked into Starsky intense eyes.  “I don’t doubt you.  But you have to let this go for now.  You can’t afford to have any complaints filed against you.  You won’t be any good to anybody if you’re sitting at home on suspension.”

 

 “I have to do this, Cap.”  Starsky’s level gaze told Dobey he had to do it.

 

Dobey sighed and sat back down in his chair.  “If there was any more I could do at this point, I’d do it.  I’ve pulled every string I’ve got and called in more favors than I had to begin with.  Right now there is nothing to overturn Hutchinson’s conviction.  Until there is, Dave, I have to order you to stop for the time being.”

 

Starsky pulled his badge out of his pocket and was ready to toss it on Dobey’s desk.  Dobey stopped him with a raised hand.  “Before you quit, Starsky, remember one thing.  You do more good for Hutch as a cop than an ex-cop.  This is only temporary.  When this has blown over, you’ve got my full support to begin a new investigation against these men.”

 

Starsky gripped the badge tightly in his hand.  “How much time do you think Hutch has in that place, Cap?  Think he can survive a week?  A day?”

 

“What would Hutch tell you to do, Starsky?”

 

Starsky swung around angrily and brought his gaze back to Dobey.  “God damn it, Cap!  That’s low even for you!”

 

“The biggest mistake you’d ever make is resigning, Starsky, and you know it!  We’re undergoing a serious shortage out on the street and I need you.  This department needs you!”

 

Starsky shook his head and crossed his arms.  “I already don’t like where you’re taking this conversation.”

 

“I’ve assigned you a partner, Starsky.”

 

Starsky didn’t move a muscle, but the glare was deadly.  “You can forget it, Cap.  I’m not taking on a partner.  I’ve got one.”

 

“Right now you don’t.  I need you back out on the streets.”

 

“Will I get another low blow to make it happen?”  Starsky saw Dobey lean back in his chair.  He sighed and shook his head.  “Hutch said he’d deal with me if there were problems, didn’t he?”

 

“You said it, not me.”

 

“This is just great!”  Starsky was angry about the position he was being forced into.  He heard a knock at the door and he swung around.  He opened it and looked into the face of a young light brown skinned man.  “We’re in a meeting.  Come back later.”

 

Starsky closed the door on him and turned back around.  He saw the grin Dobey was attempting to hide with his hand.  “Starsky, let your new partner in.”  Starsky sighed and walked back to the door.  He opened it up and let the young well dressed man into the office.  “Detective Armando Dominguez this is Detective Dave Starsky your new partner.”

 

Armando Dominguez stepped forward and held his hand out to his new unhappy partner.  Starsky ignored the outstretched hand and slumped down in the chair in front of Dobey.  “Cap, this is not a good idea.”

 

“It’s an order, Starsky.”  Dobey was firm in his order and Starsky knew by the tone it brokered no arguments.  “Show him the ropes.”

 

Starsky pushed himself up out of the chair and headed for the door.  He swung it open not caring whether it closed or not.  Dobey looked over at Armando who stood there silently.  “He’ll be fine.  Just give him some time.”

 

The young detective gave his Captain a nod and closed the door behind him as he left the office.  He saw Starsky leaning over his desk gathering records scattered in a half hazard manner.  Armando walked around to the empty desk across from Starsky.  “Is this desk okay?”

 

Starsky glanced up at Armando and then at the desk which was Hutch’s.  Used to be Hutch’s, Starsky corrected silently.  It took Starsky a moment to give him a nod.  He went back to the clutter on his desk and ignored Armando Dominguez who sat down at the once empty desk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a bit of a windy day as Hutch walked across the yard of the prison.  He looked over at the man walking next to him.  The guy had befriended him during lunch and after introducing himself as Rico, he began telling him all the ins and outs of survival in a large prison such as this. 

 

Hutch let him talk knowing the guy wouldn’t shut up even if he had told him so.  Some of what he was telling Hutch had already figured out in the short time he had been incarcerated.  There were the Aryans who ran like a pack of wild dogs together.  Then there were the Brothers who kept themselves apart from the rest.  Hutch had seen how they took care of their stables.  It was nauseating for him to see young inmates subjected to dress like whores and it was even worse for him to see more often than not, they seemed to enjoy it.

 

Finally, Hutch just had to stop.  He looked over at Rico who looked up at him.  “What?”

 

“You’re just full of information, Rico.  I find it hard to believe you’re just doing this to help out a new fish such as myself.”

 

Rico started to open his mouth and his eye caught the attention of an inmate who was motioning at him.  “Hold that thought.  I’ve got some business.”

 

Hutch stuck his hands in his pockets as he watched Rico cross the yard.  He observed the friendly interaction between the two of them and all he could think of was seeing Starsky tomorrow.  Hutch was feeling desperate at seeing his best friend.  He had almost called him partner, but Hutch had to keep reminding himself that those days were now over.

 

He was almost ready to head back to his cell when he heard a loud yell.  Hutch swung around and he watched as a large inmate stuck a sharp object in Rico’s neck.  Bright red blood poured from the man’s body changing the color of the white t-shirt he wore.  Hutch started towards him as various inmates quickly walked away from Rico who had fallen to his knees.  Hutch was ignorant of the gunshots fired and the commands to get down to the ground.

 

He was still several feet from Rico when he was shoved to the ground.  He looked over at convict who looked to be ten years his senior.  He had an angry look on his face as he looked at Hutch.  “You take a step near him and you’ll be taken out!”

 

“He’s dying!” Hutch bit out angrily.

 

The man’s eyes were hard looking back at Hutch.  “He’s already dead.  You go near him and you won’t be taken out because you were a cop.  It’ll be because you don’t pick your friends too well.”

 

Hutch moved his head and looked back over at Rico’s body.  The lifeless eyes stared back at him and Hutch could barely breathe.  He kept staring even as the man next to him spoke.  “Rico was shanked for ripping two cartons of smokes during his last stretch.  Cons have a long memory.  Don’t forget it.”

 

Hutch wasn’t sure how long they stayed down on the ground.  Only when they were allowed back up to there feet, the man who had given him the dire warning and perhaps even saved his life was now gone.  He looked over at the gurney carrying Rico and Hutch knew his cop instincts had no place in prison.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky slammed on the breaks of the Torino in front of an abandoned apartment building.  Starsky and Armando jumped from the car and split up.  Starsky headed around to one side of the building and Armando ran down the nearby alley.  Armando saw their suspect halfway down the alley and he sprinted to catch up to him.

 

They had arrived on the heels of a liquor store holdup and when the gunman darted out the door, Starsky gave chase speeding the bright red car after him.  Armando wanted more than to just catch the bad guy.  He wanted to prove to Starsky he was a more than capable cop.

 

He quickened his pace as the suspect jumped a fence not far from him.  Armando stuffed his gun in his holster and went after him.  Armando was on the fence when he saw the robber running across the empty lot.  He jumped down and had only taken a few steps when he slipped in a large muddy puddle of water.  Armando fell chest first into the thick mud and his hands almost slid out from underneath him as he pushed himself up to his feet.

 

Armando finally got to his feet and by the time he was ready to run he saw Starsky taking the guy down to the ground.  By the time Armando got to Starsky, the man was already in cuffs.  He stood by while Starsky pulled the suspect to his feet.  Armando felt like a rookie as Starsky gave him the once over before walking away.

 

By the time they reached the Torino, Armando had taken off his shirt, tie and jacket.  He bundled them up before getting inside.  He looked over at Starsky who hadn’t spoken a word.  As Starsky drove the car, not a word passed between them.  Armando looked out the window not really paying attention to what he was seeing.

 

All he could think of was how this guy seemed to run everything by himself.  He knew it would take time for a top cop like Starsky to accept him after what had happened with his partner.  Armando had no idea it would be this tough.

 

Starsky pulled the car up into the police garage.  Armando stepped out of the car and saw that Starsky wasn’t getting out.  “I’ll do the paperwork when I get back.”

 

Armando looked down at the bundle of muddy clothes in his hands.  “I’ll take care of it.”  He looked back up at Starsky.

 

He watched Starsky’s nod and then put the car into drive.  Armando didn’t move as he watched the Torino speed out of the garage.  “You’re welcome.” 

 

Armando sighed as he turned around and headed for the locker room to clean up.  He was more than ready for the next two days off and he hoped Starsky’s attitude towards him was better than this short time they had been partnered up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 When Hutch sat down in the chair and saw Starsky he smiled in relief.  They each grabbed a phone at the same time staring at each other through the thick glass.  He looked good, Hutch thought.  “You are a sight for sore eyes, buddy.”

 

Starsky grinned slightly.  “Yeah, you too.  You holding up okay?”

 

“I’m good.  I think there’s something to be said about an ex-cop surviving their first week of incarceration.”

 

“You know I was thinking about that…”

 

“Starsk,” Hutch interrupted.  “Are you still a cop?”

 

Starsky stopped and looked at Hutch.  He knew why his best friend was asking the question.  Starsky looked down at his left hand.  “Right now, I am.”

 

“How close are you to quitting?”

 

Starsky brought his dark blue eyes back up to Hutch.  “Oh, come on, Hutch.  I can’t just pretend like none of this happened.”

 

“No one expects you to, Starsky.  But you are a cop through and through.  If getting back into the swing of things is what you have to do to keep your job, I want you to do it.”

 

“I don’t give a damn about my job and you know it.”

 

“You may be able to look me in the eye and convince me of that, but you’re lying to yourself, Starsk.”  Hutch looked intently at Starsky desperate to keep him from making a mistake.

 

Starsky rubbed his eyes and sighed heavily.  “I almost quit, Hutch.  But I know now I can do more for you where I’m at.  If I’ve gotta do the job like always it don’t mean I haven’t given up on you.”

 

Hutch smiled.  “I know, buddy.”

 

“Well, Dobey made me take a partner.”

 

Hutch could see Starsky was pissed being forced to take on a partner he didn’t want.  “How is he?”

 

Starsky didn’t want to admit anything to Hutch, but lying to him wasn’t an option.  “He’s a kid, Hutch.  He probably couldn’t tie his shoes without help.  You wouldn’t believe how damn green his is.”

 

Hutch smiled a bit knowing how this partner must be feeling.  In fact he could sympathize given how green he was feeling at that very moment.  “You’ll show him the ropes, Starsk.  He’s got a lot to learn from you.”

 

Hutch could see Starsky wasn’t sure if he believed him or not.  He was starting to wonder if Starsky was too hard on him.  “Well, I guess starting Monday, Dobey wants to put us on some night duty for a while.  I may not get here as much as I planned on.”

 

“The job comes first, Starsk.  What kind of case?”

 

“Dirty coke.  It’s coming through some local discos and we’ve got to get a line on it.”

 

“Don’t feel guilty about it, Starsky.  You know I’m counting on you, don’t you?”

 

“I’m all out of the makings for burritos,” Starsky joked.  His grin was small, but refreshing for Hutch. 

 

“I’ll remind you next time I call.  How’s my folks?”

 

“Missing you,” Starsky sighed.  “They want to fly down to see you.”

 

Hutch shook his head firmly.  “No.  I couldn’t take them seeing me here, Starsky.  You know that.”

 

“I know it, but I promised them I’d bug you about it till you relented.”

 

Hutch smiled a little trying to keep his mood upbeat.  He pushed out the thoughts of Nacho and Rico’s dead body staring back at him.  “If you can’t make it next week, think you could ask Huggy to bring me a few things?”

 

“You’re guitar?”

 

“No, I don’t want it here.  Too risky.  I’d rather have a sketch pad and some drawing pencils.”

 

“Yeah, if not me it’ll be him.  Dobey’s wife wants to send some of her fine cake over.”

 

“The only thing you and I would agree about this place is how bad the food is.  Tell her thanks for me.”

 

“Yeah, Hutch.  I will.”

 

A loud bell went off and Hutch looked back at the guard who was motioning towards him.  “I have to go now.”

 

Starsky nodded slowly not trusting himself to look at Hutch.  He looked up finally.  Hutch had his fingertips on the glass.  Starsky slowly reached up and touched his to Hutch’s fingers.  He could almost feel the warmth from Hutch through the cold glass.  Starsky watched Hutch stand not removing his hand from the glass.  Finally, Hutch turned to leave and Starsky felt only the cold glass on his hand.

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch raised his arms as he was searched before being allowed to enter the welding shop.  As he felt the guard patting him down, he scanned the various inmates working and the guards watching their every move.  He had gotten word that an individual by the name of Malcolm wanted to talk to him.  The reason why was beyond his understanding.  Hutch could only hope this guy wasn’t looking to off him or even coming after him.

 

He questioned a prisoner who pointed to the far side of the shop where a lone man stood welding with a mask covering his face.  Hutch was almost to him when the man shut the torch off and lifted the helmet.  He stopped in his tracks seeing that it was the same man who had tackled him to the ground when Rico had been killed. 

 

Hutch got a better look at Malcolm as he carefully made his way over to him.  He now noticed a small thin scar which ran from his right ear close to the corner of his mouth.  It had an arch to it which reminded Hutch of a partially covered moon when the man moved his face.  His graying hair was cut short and when Malcolm turned to face him, the hard years of living behind bars was apparent in Hutch’s eyes.

 

Hutch stuffed his hands in his pockets careful to watch the distant between them.  “I got word you wanted to talk to me.”

 

“It’s all over about Nacho making you his mark.”  Malcolm set the torch down and grabbed a dirty rag.

 

Hutch looked a bit to his left at a passing guard and then back over to Malcolm.  “I’m sure I’m the topic of a hell of a lot of conversations.”

 

“No one will touch you even though you were a cop.  Nacho’s determined to make you his kid and if not, he’ll make damn sure you’re not anyone else’s out of spite.”

 

“You wanted to see me for this?  Why don’t you give me a piece of news I don’t know.”  Hutch was feeling frustrated over the entire situation with Nacho and the fact most everyone knew his business.

 

“The best alternative you have at this point is to take him out before he makes his move on you.  You can guarantee Nacho won’t wait too much longer.”  Hutch turned to leave.  “Convict!”

 

Hutch stopped in his tracks at the name Malcolm called him knowing why he said it.  His normally bright blue eyes glittered with dark anger as he turned around.  “I called you down here to do you a solid.  You’re not a cop anymore and those laws you value so goddamn much don’t mean shit in a place like this.  The only law that matters here is the convict law which says you take them out before they take you out.”

 

“Ever since I got here, people have been just full of advice.” Hutch pointed his finger at him as he spoke the words with vehemence.  “I heard you.  What do you care?”

 

Malcolm tossed the rag on the shelf littered with tools and planted his hands on his hips.  “I don’t.  Nobody in the place fucks with me because if they do, it’s their life.  I know about those cops who burned you.”

 

Hutch shrugged his shoulders.  “Yeah, so?”

 

“How many convicts ever get a chance at some real justice?  When you’re ready to deal with Nacho, come see me.  My price for it comes after the fact.”  Malcolm turned around and picked up the torch.  After lighting it, he let the helmet fall to cover his face. 

 

Hutch watched him turn back to his work and as he left, Malcolm’s words echoed in his head.  They were loud and clear even as he held his arms out during the pat down by the guard.  Hutch knew he wouldn’t soon forget them as he strolled out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

It had been almost two weeks since Starsky last saw Hutch at the prison.  He hadn’t been able to make his next visit because of this case and Huggy had taken care of the matter.  Starsky hated it, but he knew Hutch would be more than understanding.  What worried him the most was that as time painfully moved on; he would miss more scheduled visits with Hutch.

 

The call came over the radio about the men who were supplying the bad cocaine on the street.  Starsky started racing the bright red Torino down the street as Armando answered the call.  In a matter of minutes, they were at the warehouse before the black and whites arrived.

 

They went inside together with guns drawn and separated to hunt down their suspects.  Starsky moved in between the empty shelves carefully searching.  He got a beeline on one and started making a careful move towards him.  Starsky found the skinny guy crouched down behind a crate holding a .38 tightly to his chest.

 

Starsky scanned the room in search for the guy’s partner in crime.  He saw nothing and crept closer.  Starsky moved in behind him and just as he was on his back, the guy turned and Starsky swung his fist.  The hard punch connected and sent the guy back.  Starsky took advantage and got the gun away from him.  He turned the suspect on his belly and pulled his cuffs out. 

 

Starsky was in the process of cuffing him when he heard a click.  He looked up to see the man’s accomplice staring back at him with a lethal glare.  A gun was held out and Starsky knew from the look in the man’s eyes, he was dead.  There were no doubts in Starsky’s mind as the man began to pull the trigger.

 

He felt his heart catch when Armando appeared with his gun to the guy’s head. “Put it down.”  The whisper was firm and lethal.  The gunman slowly lowered his gun and Armando pulled it from his hand.  He pulled the man to a nearby wall and put him against it.  Armando stole a quick glance at Starsky before turning his attention back to his prisoner.

 

That afternoon, Starsky found Armando at his locker changing clothes.  He felt a bit awkward and opened up his locker which was three down.  “Thanks, for today.”

 

Starsky heard the hard slam of Armando’s locker and he shot his eyes directly at him.  He could see the angry look in the young detective’s eyes.  “Listen, I think tomorrow morning, I’ll talk to Dobey about getting a new partner.  This isn’t going to work out.”

 

“Suit yourself.” Starsky pulled his jacket off and hung it inside the locker.

 

“It’s more like you suit yourself,” Armando fired back crossly.

 

Starsky turned he head and looked at him squarely.  “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means that nobody can be your partner.  There’s not a cop in the country that can ever be your partner especially where it counts and that’s out on the street.”

 

Starsky took a deep breath.  “If you knew…”

 

“Yeah, I know about what happened to your partner, Starsky.  The thing is he’s here.  Maybe not physically, but he’s here which means I can’t be your partner.  It’s because of that fact, you’ll be put six feet under and you may just take me with you in the process.”

 

Armando grabbed his jacket and left the locker room.  Starsky sat down on the bench and rubbed his eyes.  Hutch would say the kid was right.  Starsky sure as hell couldn’t say he was wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

When Armando emerged from his house, Starsky was surprised to see him not sporting the coat and tie he had become used to seeing.  He wore a dark blue shirt with a denim jacket.  Instead of slacks, a faded pair of blue jeans fit comfortably on him. 

 

Starsky leaned against his car as Armando approached him.  He stood up and opened the passenger door of the Torino.  “I thought we could grab some breakfast before you talked to Dobey.”

 

Armando gave Starsky a nod and got in the car.  Half an hour later both men sat in a café with their breakfasts in front of them.  Starsky took a large drink of his orange juice before beginning.  “Hutch and me have been partners for a hell of a long time.  Fact of the matter is, sometimes it feels like we’ve always been partners and I never counted on the fact that it would ever change.  Trying to remember he’s not here with me isn’t easy.”

 

Armando understood what Starsky was saying and he hoped he could make his point equally clear.  “I can’t fill his shoes and I won’t even attempt it.  I busted my ass to make detective and I think I’m a good cop.  I do the job because it’s the only thing I can see doing with my life.  All I’ve wanted is for you to give me a chance to show you that not only I’m a good cop, but I can be a good partner.”

 

Starsky looked down and pushed the food around on the plate with his fork.  “I’ll admit I didn’t give you a chance.  Hell, I wasn’t going to let you, Dominguez.”

 

“Has any of that changed?”

 

Starsky stopped and looked up at Armando.  “I think we owe it to ourselves and each other to make a go of it.”

 

“Yeah, I can do that.  Just don’t set yourself up expecting me to be anything like your old partner.”

 

“Okay.” Starsky didn’t like the idea thinking of Hutch as his old partner, but this guy was right.  “There’s a few things I’ve got to get out in the open between us.  Hutch is innocent.  That’s something I know and if I get the chance, I’ll prove it.  You might as well figure, I’ll talk about him.  I’m not going to compare you to him or how he did his job.  Just sometimes, I’ll talk about him until you’re sick of hearing it.  During stakeouts, I get bored and I’ll talk about the stupidest things you’ve ever heard.  You’re more than welcome to argue with me or to tell me I think too much.  I expect you to be honest with me about everything like you were yesterday in the locker room.”

 

Armando wiped his mouth with a napkin and leaned forward.  “Fine, I’m married and have been for seven years.  I’ve got two daughters and I’ll brag about my family until you’re sick of it.  I’m Cuban American and Theresa, my wife, is Italian.  During stakeouts, I always bring food from home.  It’s in your best interest to not touch the food because if you do, you’ll be sweating jalapeños for a week.  If you’ve got a problem with me or how I do my job, I expect you to let me know.  Plus the fact, I don’t know everything.”

 

 Starsky smiled a bit curious about the kind of food Dominguez’s wife made for him.  He reached across the table and held his hand out towards Armando.  He was glad to see the smile grow on his new partner’s face.  Armando reached over and grasped Starsky’s hand.  It felt nice to both men knowing they had made their peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch on the other hand, was starting to see the war which always seemed to be brewing underneath almost every convict.  He could hear it in their voices and in their mannerisms.  He avoided most whenever possible with only one thing on his mind.  Doing his time and getting out was the theme.

 

He headed out the back to the loading dock where several trash cans were waiting for him.  Hutch lifted one up and began dumping the contents in the large bin.  Between the hard manual labor and the limited time he spent on the weights, he was getting back into shape.  He had let so much go before and this was the only good thing Hutch could see coming out of this nightmare.

 

Hutch reached for another trashcan and he froze seeing Nacho and three of his buddies ambling their way over to him.  Nacho crossed his thick muscular arms across his chest and smiled at Hutch.  “This is how it starts, cherry.  I get your cash from here on out.  What’s yours is now mine.”

 

Hutch set the trashcan down on the cement and looked evenly at Nacho.  “You’re not getting shit out of me.”

 

Nacho laughed.  The growl sent chills of fear down Hutch’s spine and he clenched his fists tightly getting a handle on his fear.  “Boy, you have some lessons to learn about being inside.” 

 

Nacho set his large hand on Hutch’s shoulder.  Hutch threw it off.  “You fuckin’ fish!  You don’t touch me!” Nacho screamed. 

 

Hutch started to swing and he was grabbed from behind.  Nacho head butted him and Hutch’s vision began blurring.  He felt a hard punch to the side of the face.  His knees gave out and then he was thrown to the unforgiving cement.  He started feeling the stiff kicks in his gut and he rolled up only to feel several in his back.  Hutch lost consciousness unsure of when they stopped.

 

The next day, Hutch lay in the infirmary healing from the painful beating.  He had two cracked ribs and his face was bloody and bruised.  He looked up at the guard Captain who was pulling the curtain closed behind him.  “Damn, Hutchinson.  You look like hell.”

 

Hutch kept still and didn’t reply to the man.  He watched him pull up a chair near the bed.  He sat down on it and leaned forward.  “Who did it?”

 

“I may be new, but I know how some things work around here.” The sentence alone was painful for Hutch’s sore face.

 

Captain Peterson shook his head and looked at Hutch.  “You tell me who did it and I can make sure it never happens again.”

 

Hutch wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all.  “The way I see it, I’ve got two choices.  I tell and I’m dead.  I was a cop and more than likely some con will try to make a name for themselves by taking me out.  I’ll take my chances, Captain.”

 

Captain Peterson sighed and rubbed his chin with his finger.  “I’ll have one of my men in today to take your statement.”

 

Hutch turned his head slightly to make sure Peterson was looking into his eyes.  “I fell.  That’s my statement.”

 

Peterson’s mouth tightened up and he stood pushing the chair away.  “You want to be known as a standup guy?  Well, you’ve got it.  Being a standup guy’ll cost you, Hutchinson.  Two weeks in the hole.”

 

Hutch closed his eyes after Peterson was gone.  He could do this.  Hutch had no doubts about it.  Three days later he was shackled and led out across the yard carrying a pillow case with a bar of soap and a towel.  He looked at where he would spend the next two weeks and sighed.  It looked to be a cramped cell built halfway into the ground.  He could have sworn it was a hundred years old from the look of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky paced in front of the prison warden who sat casually behind his desk.  He glanced over at Armando who had his arms crossed and leaned casually against the wall near the door.  Starsky swung his gaze back to the warden.  “This is bullshit.  He has no business in there and you know it.”

 

“Detective Starsky, your friend was involved in an incident and his refusal to give up the names of the other inmates involved gives us more than ample reason to isolate him in solitary for it.”

 

“You know as well as I do if Hutch talks, it’s his life.  That’s usually how it works.”

 

“Of course, I know it.  It also sends a message to rest of the inmates.  He didn’t open his mouth which tells them he won’t.”

 

Starsky stopped pacing and crossed his arms.  “Don’t patronize me, Warden.  He’s being punished for trying to keep his own skin intact.”

 

The warden stood up and met Starsky at eye level.  “Detective, there is a certain balance that has to be maintained in a place like this.  If I don’t find that balance and keep it from toppling over all hell would break loose.”

 

“Don’t give me that, Warden.  Punishing Hutch doesn’t mean a damn thing in the big picture.”

 

The Warden walked over to the large window overlooking the yard.  He pulled the curtain aside where convicts were scattered about.  “Come and look at this, Detective.”

 

Starsky reluctantly walked to the window and stared out.  His eyes scanned through the inmates.  “Yeah.”

 

“There are over 5000 inmates in this prison, Detective.  I have 230 guards currently on duty right now.  If a full riot broke out, I could get another 500 men.  If I treated just one inmate differently than the rest, I could have an uprising on my hands which will cost a hell of a lot of lives.  Your friend will get the same treatment as any other convict.  Nothing more and nothing less.”

 

Starsky stared down at the prisoners looking at the situation a bit differently than he had before.  He turned around and left the Warden’s office feeling even more helpless than he had since this whole ordeal began.  He reached his car and slid in behind the steering wheel.  He looked over at Armando who got inside just after him.  “You think I’m wrong.”

 

Armando shook his head.  “You were right, Starsky.”  He paused for a moment and gave Starsky an understanding look.  “So was he.”

 

Starsky nodded a bit and started his car.  He quickly sped out of the parking lot of the prison unhappy with the fact he had missed another visit with Hutch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch had been released from the hole for three weeks now.  He had expected Nacho to make his move, but all remained quiet.  He didn’t know whether to be thankful or not.  He spent much of his free time drawing and lifting weights when he wasn’t working.  Malcolm’s words were something Hutch thought about a great deal more so now than ever.  The convict’s talk about premeditated killing turned Hutch’s stomach.  This was not an alternative in Hutch’s mind.

 

Hutch began drawing Starsky.  He would close his eyes and remember a look which Starsky would have.  Hutch normally drew the more abstract, but he wanted to capture the realism of his best friend.  Hutch remembered how much he loved the soft grin on Starsky’s face two weeks after Terry had died.  It seemed rather easy enough to draw Starsky.  Then there was the drunken smile on Starsky’s face when they were chasing after moon shiners.  Hutch had a hard time capturing the mischievousness in Starsky’s eyes.

 

After almost a month of silence, Hutch was at the weights when he was cornered by two of Nacho’s friends.  His mouth tightened together when Nacho walked over and stood in front of him.  “Easy, cherry.  Just come a long quietly.”

 

Hutch was pulled forward and he looked around at a guard who was on the other side of the yard.  He knew fighting them would only serve to anger Nacho and his goons.  Hutch was taken inside to a locker room and when he saw the large gang of convicts wrestling with a young man, he started moving away.  Hutch was grabbed and brought down to his knees.

 

Nacho grabbed him by the blonde hair and his head was viciously yanked back.  “Look at him, cherry!”  Hutch opened his eyes and watched the struggling young man as he was picked up by several men.  “That bitch was sold to us by the Aryans for five cartons of smokes and some dope!  He didn’t want to give it up to us, so now he’s gonna know not to ever say no again!  Remember, cherry!  Remember that when I come for you!”

 

Hutch was forced to watch as the gang of men began sodomizing the smaller man.  A dirty towel had been shoved in his mouth, but the screams kept coming from him.  Hutch was let go after seeing four men take their turns with the victim.  He stumbled away knowing he could do nothing to help the man being horrifically raped.  Hutch couldn’t escape the image and Nacho’s words pounded in his ears. 

 

Hutch found a quiet bathroom and vomited in a toilet.  He closed his eyes and relived the violent scene.  He couldn’t let it happen to him.  The more Hutch thought about it, the more he swore, he would never let something like that happen to him and no one would ever touch him.  He slowly stood and walked to the sink.  Hutch turned the cold water on and ran his hands under the faucet.  He rinsed his face a few times.  By the time Hutch dried his face, he knew exactly what his next move was.

 

After a few questions, Hutch was directed to the cell he needed.  He didn’t slow down a bit when he walked inside and leaned against the wall.  Malcolm sat on his bunk playing cards with a friend.  Hutch looked at Malcolm with renewed determination.  “I’m ready to deal with my problem.”

 

Hutch knew exactly what he was saying and he knew exactly what the ramifications were.  For him there was no other alternative. 

 

 

 

 

Over the next week Starsky and Hutch fell into their perspective routines.  Starsky patrolled the streets with Dominguez and Hutch was learning from Malcolm how to take care of Nacho.  Each was a way of life in the environments they were a part of. 

 

Hutch’s mind was accepting the grim realities of prison life and he quickly discovered just surviving wasn’t enough anymore.  Taking full control was the way of not only surviving, but the way to ensure Hutch would not become a victim of a system designed to hold him down.

 

He stood next to Malcolm outside the showers as they began to quickly empty.  Word had spread in a matter of seconds once Malcolm allowed it out.  The convicts knew only one man would leave the showers as Nacho continued leisurely to wash the soap from his body.

 

Malcolm leaned in close to Hutch and spoke in a low voice.  “Remember, this is not about wounding.  You kill him and don’t let your cop gut tell you what to do.”

 

Hutch closed his eyes readying himself for the unpleasant task ahead of him.  He opened them and looked at Malcolm.  “I know.”

 

“Break the handle off when you’re done,” Malcolm ordered.  He gave Hutch a pat on the back before sending him on his way.  Malcolm knew this would be a life changing event for the ex-cop convict but dirty work like this usually was for most.

 

 

 

 

When Hutch walked into the shower room, only he could see Nacho rinsing the water from his thick muscled body.  He was covered in tattoos and Hutch felt intimidated by the graphic and violent nature of them.  He crept quietly to the radiator on the far wall seeing that Nacho hadn’t noticed his presence.  Hutch moved the loose mortar and pulled out the sharpened knife made out of a thick plastic.  The handle was wrapped in thick white tape and his grip on it whitened Hutch’s knuckles.  He started towards Nacho who was now drying off with a towel.

 

He stopped when Nacho turned around.  Nacho’s dark eyes narrowed at seeing Hutch with the weapon in his right hand.  He then grinned and chuckled.  “Cherry, I’m gonna take that shank and shove it up your ass.  After that, I’m knockin’ your teeth out and I’m gonna skull fuck you.”  Nacho wrapped the towel around his waist and came at Hutch.

 

Hutch was ready for him.  Nacho swung a large fist and Hutch ducked out of the way.  He almost fell back and caught himself in time to keep from falling.  Nacho took advantage and grabbed Hutch’s wrist.  Hutch kneed him in the gut which loosened the tight grip.  Hutch brought the shank up and plunged it deeply in Nacho’s gut.  He could feel the warm blood running around his hand. 

 

Hutch looked into Nacho’s face and saw the surprised look coming from it.  He felt Nacho’s free hand try to push him off.  Hutch then broke the handle off leaving the remainder impaled inside of Nacho’s body.  He stepped back as Nacho stumbled around holding his gut.  The blood poured from the lethal wound and Hutch knelt down.  He pulled the drain cover away and dropped the handle inside.  After closing it, Hutch looked over at Nacho who was sitting on the floor.  The life was almost out of him. 

 

He stumbled out of the shower where Malcolm and his friend Tyner stood waiting for him.  Hutch was grabbed and helped down a hallway.  He put his hands on his thighs and bent his head over. 

 

Tyner was a big guy with long light brown hair.  His thick goatee covered most of his chin.  “I thought cops had some fortitude.”

 

Hutch raised his head looking at Tyner and then at Malcolm.  “Taking someone out with a gun’s a hell of a lot easier than sticking a knife in the gut of a half naked man.”

 

Malcolm gave Hutch a pat on the shoulder.  “Come on.  They’ll be raising the alarm soon.  We’ve got to make ourselves scarce.”

 

Hutch nodded and when he finally got back to his cell he pulled himself up to the top bunk.  He pulled the sketchbook out from underneath his pillow.  Hutch opened it up at the sketch of Starsky and sighed heavily.  “God, Starsk, what’s happening to me.”  It was a whispered plea.  Hutch had killed a man in the worst way he had never dreamed possible and he felt no remorse and no guilt in the action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later, Hutch was brought before Captain Peterson.  He stood stiffly in front of him looking straight ahead well aware of the reasons and the probable actions which would be aimed directly at him.

 

Peterson nursed the cigar in between his fingers before looking up at Hutch.  “Nacho had you staked out as his property, Hutchinson.  It stands to reason; you took him out before he made his move on you.”

 

Hutch lowered his eyes and bored them at the man sitting at his desk.  “You can turn this any way you want, Peterson.  You don’t have a thing.  You’ll have dream up evidence if you want it to stick.”

 

Peterson leaned back in his chair.  He brought the cigar to his lips and then blew out a large ring of smoke.  “Never thought I’d see the day a cop would take to cons like you have.”  Peterson grabbed the phone on his desk and asked for one of his guards. 

 

When the door opened, Hutch knew the routine.  He put his hands on his head as the guard approached him.  “Two cops took their shot at me and then it was the court’s turn.  Now, you’ve got yours.  Take your best fucking shot!  I don’t give a damn!”

 

Hutch’s eyes moved straight ahead as he felt the chain fastened around his waist.  In less than a minute his hands and feet were shackled as they had been the last time he was sent to the hole.  As he was being lead out, Peterson called his name.  Hutch stopped and looked at the Captain.  A slow grin spread across his face.  “Six weeks in the hole.”

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky was anxious as he sat in the chair waiting for Hutch.  It had seemed like forever since he had seen him last.  When he found out about the six weeks in solitary, Starsky had almost busted a screw loose over it.  He was thankful Dom had been there to talk him out of coming down to the prison to find out what the hell was going on with Hutch. 

 

He straightened up in the chair when he saw the door open.  Starsky breathed a visible sigh of relief when Hutch walked over and sat down in the chair.  Starsky could scarcely believe the sight of Hutch.  He looked a bit leaner, but what had his attention was the goatee which was apparent under his mouth and around his chin.  Hutch’s hair was a little bit longer lying in gentle waves below his collar.  His look was dangerous from the way his long fingers ran through the tousled golden locks.  Hutch had a much harsher look.  Starsky could see in Hutch’s eyes, the Minnesota farm boy was now gone.  He felt a bit sad and he wondered what had gone on since he had seen him last.

 

They each grabbed a phone and Starsky could see Hutch’s smile in an attempt to get a good mood going on between them.  “Hey, buddy.  You’re looking good.”

 

“What the hell’s going on, Hutch?  I find out you got put in solitary for six weeks!” Starsky couldn’t help the worry edging his voice.

 

“It’s nothing, Starsk.  This place inspires the worst in some people.”  Hutch wanted to say it certainly was inspiring the worst in him.

 

 “Don’t bullshit me, partner.”

 

“I’m not your partner any more!”  Hutch sighed heavily not meaning to snap at Starsky.  “I’m sorry, Starsky.  It’s just that what happened had nothing to do with you.  In here, you’ve got to play the game or let it run you over.”

 

“And which are you, Hutch?”

 

Hutch looked down at the small table in front of him.  He smoothed his hand over the surface not knowing how to answer the question.  Hutch looked back up at Starsky.  “I want to know how you’re doing, Starsky.  I don’t want to talk about this place.”

 

Starsky knew Hutch was hiding something from him and this wasn’t the time or the place to drag it out of him.  He had no idea when or where it would be.  “I’m fine.  We’ve been pretty busy and Dobey threw two new cases on us yesterday morning.”

 

“How’s this new partner of yours?”

 

“Good.”  Starsky nodded and looked into Hutch’s eyes.  He felt uneasy because of the ice blue stones staring back at him.  “He’s working out better than I thought.  I guess I wasn’t giving him much of a chance at first.”

 

“Knowing you, you probably held out the Hutchinson shoes for him to put on.”  Hutch attempted a grin.

 

Starsky relaxed a little more and tried to smile back.  “I never even held them out for him.  He’s a good cop, Hutch.  You’d like him.”

 

“It’s more important for you to like him, Starsky.  Before you know it, you’ll…”

 

Starsky’s head snapped up.  “No, I won’t.”  Starsky never gave Hutch the chance to finish his statement.  “As far as I’m concerned, this is only temporary.  You’ll be back out on the street wearing a badge before you know it.”

 

Hutch sighed and shook his head.  “Starsky, what’s done is done.  Please don’t hold on to something that may never happen.”

 

“What the hell do you expect me to do, Hutch?  I can’t forget that you’re stuck in this place because of a couple of dirty cops!”

 

“I expect you to go on with your life.” Hutch leaned in closer to the glass separating them.  “Listen, you and me will always be me and thee.  I don’t want you to stop living your life because of where I am.”

 

“You’ve forced me to accept a hell of a lot, Hutch.  There’s been times I’ve wanted to kick your ass for it, but don’t expect me to move on like none of this happened.  I can’t.”

 

“Just promise me you won’t hold yourself back because I’m in here.”  Hutch looked into his eyes waiting for an answer.

 

Starsky licked his dry lips and gripped the receiver in his hand tightly.  “I can’t.”  It was a whisper and the plea in Starsky’s eyes gripped Hutch’s heart.  “I can’t promise you something that I can’t even give myself.”

 

Hutch was on the verge of telling Starsky to fuck off for his own good.  But the ringing of the bell cut any chances of him saying the words.  Hutch didn’t know whether to be angry for it or thankful.  He quickly left leaving Starsky rattled to the core.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was close to 1am when Dom arrived at Huggy’s.  He met Huggy in the middle of the bar and stuck his hands in his pockets.  “What happened, Hug?”

 

“He came in about three hours ago already well on his way and ordered my girl to keep the booze comin’.  He’s so far gone and I’ve still got another hour before I close up.  He damn near started a fight with about four other guys playin’ pool.”

 

Dom scanned the barroom and found Starsky playing with an empty shot glass with half a glass of beer close by.  “Any idea what set him off?”

 

“He said something about seeing Hutch today.  I don’t know what the hell happened, but it couldn’t have been good given how Starsky looks right now.  He drinks a beer or two from time to time, but he hasn’t touched the hard stuff since before he got shot.”

 

Dom looked over at Starsky sitting at the table and sighed.  “Damn.”

 

He started over towards him and Huggy put a firm hand on Dom’s chest.  “Listen, man, I know you think the world of Starsky, but you are treading on dangerous ground if you think about getting between him and Hutch.”

 

Dom was well aware of how Starsky felt about Hutch.  He had listened to story after story and he even wished at times he had been with them.  But he knew something had changed during this visit.  Dom hoped Starsky trusted him enough to open up to him.  “Thanks, Huggy.”

 

Dom strolled over to the table where Starsky was and looked down at him.  When Starsky looked up, he gave his partner his best smile.  “Hey, Dom.  Join me for a drink?”

 

“Not tonight, Starsky.  In fact, you’ve had enough for the both us from what I can see.”  Dom walked over and helped Starsky to his feet.  He wrapped Starsky’s arm around his neck and walked him towards the bar.  Dom steadied Starsky and looked over at Huggy.  “Where’s his keys?”

 

Huggy walked over and helped hold Starsky up.  “Check the pockets.”

 

Dom reached inside Starsky’s pockets feeling for the keys.  His drunken partner giggled and tried slapping his hands away.  “Dom, your wife is a very jealous woman.”

 

“I wont’ tell if you won’t, Starsky.”  Dom finally found the keys and handed them off to Huggy.  “Will you make sure his car gets home?”

 

“You’re not taking him there?” Huggy looked over at Starsky.

 

Dom brought Starsky up to his feet and glanced over at Huggy.  “I’m taking him to my house.  We’ve got a spare bedroom.”

 

Starsky grinned and patted Dom on the chest.  “You takin’ me home, Dom?  Thas nice of you, buddy.”

 

Dom dragged Starsky out of the bar with Huggy’s help.  They got to the car and leaned Starsky against it.  Huggy shook his head and looked over at Dom who was opening up the passenger side.  “Maybe seeing his tab for the night would sober him up.”

 

Dom put Starsky in the car and closed the door.  He looked back at Huggy.  “I know Starsky and Hutch are pretty tight.  I wouldn’t do anything to damage that, Huggy.  But I really care about this guy.”

 

Huggy gave Dom and easy smile.  “I know you do, man.  I guess Hutch’s unfortunate incarceration is having bad side effects on the both of them.”

 

Dom almost blurted out more on Starsky than Hutch, but he held his tongue.  He kept his own observations to himself as he walked around to the driver’s side of the car.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky’s eyes flickered open and he found himself in unfamiliar surroundings.  He didn’t remember how he got here and for a moment he wondered if he had somehow managed to seduce a woman during his inebriated state.  Starsky looked around at the small bedroom once more and sighed deeply.  He was at Dom’s house. 

 

He managed to pull himself to a sitting position.  Starsky held his raging head with both hands before finally standing up.  He grabbed his shirt on the dresser and slipped it on as he headed out the door.

 

When he walked into the kitchen, Dom had his back to him at the sink.  Starsky cleared his throat a little and watched as Dom swung around.  “Hey, you’re up.”  Dom walked to the table and pulled a chair out for Starsky.

 

Starsky slid into the chair slowly mindful of his hangover.  “What time is it?”

 

“Almost eleven.”  Dom poured Starsky a cup of coffee and pushed it in front of him.  He walked back to the counter and put the toast on a small plate.  He brought it to Starsky and set it down.  He opened the aspirin sitting on the table and held two of them out for Starsky.

 

Starsky took the aspirin.  “Thanks.”  Starsky popped the aspirin in his mouth and swallowed them down with the coffee.  He looked over at Dom who was sitting across from him.  “How bad was I?”

 

Dom smiled a bit before taking a sip of his coffee.  He set the cup down on the saucer.  “Well, my wife is extremely flattered.  She never realized you observed her assets in such a manner.”

 

“Oh, Jesus.” Starsky grimaced. 

 

“Were it not for your condition, I might have been jealous.”  Dom smirked as he played with the cup.

 

“I can’t believe she didn’t kick me out.”  Starsky sipped at his coffee and glanced over at the dry toast.

 

“You don’t have to worry about facing her till you feel better.  She took the kids to school on her way to work.” 

 

Starsky felt relieved at least for the time being.  He played with the toast debating on whether or not to take a bite of it.  He looked at Dom who was studying him.  “What happened yesterday, Starsky?”

 

He took another sip of his coffee and straightened up in the chair.  Starsky grabbed the spoon from the sugar and added to his coffee.  He thought for a moment before answering.  “When Hutch and me first partnered up, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we fit.  It was like two pieces of a puzzle and we always knew what each other was thinking?”

 

“You saw him and he was different?”

 

Starsky shook his head still not believing what he had seen the day before.  “I could look at him and tell you that was Hutch.  But then it wasn’t Hutch.  I could take the physical differences.  I knew that would probably happen.”

 

Dom leaned forward in his chair and rested his arms on the table.  “Starsky, he’s in prison.  Surely you realized that he would more than likely undergo more than a physical change.  His whole psyche would have to adjust to be able to survive.”

 

“It’s not the same, Dom.”  Starsky shook his head firmly.  “It’s more than that.  Hutch and me could always read each other.  We’ve had more than our fair share of ups and downs over the years.  Some of those we both wondered if we’d make it with our friendship intact.  We made it.”

 

“You don’t think so now?”

 

Starsky looked down at his cup and sighed heavily.  “I looked at him yesterday and I couldn’t tell you the first thing that was going through that blonde head of his.  When something bothers Hutch, he won’t always tell you.  But I always know, Dom.  I’ve always known and yesterday, I had no idea if something was wrong with him or if he was just being himself.  He was different, but the same.  Whatever it was, it scared the hell out of me.”

 

“So what now?”

 

Starsky looked up at Dom with more confidence.  “I’m going to prove Hutch is innocent and get him out of there.  Once I do that, everything will be fine.  He’ll get his badge back and we’ll…”  Starsky trailed off when he realized what he was saying.

 

“You’ll be partners again like before,” Dom finished. 

 

“Dom, I wasn’t trying to…”

 

“Starsky, don’t apologize.  I can understand why you’d want something back that means so much to you.  It’s a part of you for Christ’s sake.  Just remember one thing.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Even if you can prove Hutch’s innocence, he won’t be the same guy you knew before he went to prison.  Whatever’s gone on there will be with him for the rest of his life.  There’s no getting around it.”

 

Starsky took a drink of his coffee not wanting to totally accept this different kind of Hutch.  He was still scared, but he was more determined than ever to get his partner back.

 

 

 

 

 Hutch was lead through the doors in shackles.  He had been told a cop was here to see him on police business.  He knew it wasn’t Starsky since he only came on scheduled visits.  The only person he could see coming to see him that was a cop was Dobey.  Hutch wasn’t sure if he was ready to face the man who was a father figure in his own life.

 

When the door opened, Hutch walked in and he was surprised to see a young man with dark neatly combed brown hair with just as dark eyes staring back at him.  Hutch stood in the center of the room staring at him.  “You can remove the shackles,” the young man ordered the guard.

 

Hutch’s intense gaze didn’t waver as the shackles were removed.  He studied the young man intently as he ordered the guard to leave.  When they were alone, Hutch reached into his pocket and pulled out the cigarettes.  He lit one and walked over to the window. 

 

“My name is Detective Sergeant Armando Dominguez.”

 

Hutch took a drag and blew the smoke from his mouth.  “Not many cops come and see me these days, Detective Dominguez.  What business could you have with me?”

 

Dom carefully looked at Hutch not seeing the picture of the man Starsky had shown him.   The twinkling blue eyes were replaced with ones of cold ice.  “I came to see you about one particular cop.”

 

Hutch moved his head sharply at the young detective.  His breath held tightly in his chest.  “Starsky?”

 

“Yeah he’s at home right now.”

 

Hutch toyed with the cigarette in his hand relaxing a bit knowing Starsky was fine.  He wasn’t about to betray anything to this guy.  “You’re his partner?”  He looked over at Dom for the answer.  After the nod, Hutch took another drag from his smoke.  “This is kind of like paying the ex a visit.  Looking to see if I measure up to the tall tales I’m sure Starsky’s told you about me?”

 

Dom debated on going to the window to force Hutch to look at him in the eye and decided against it.  He knew his next words would more than likely anger the man and frankly, Dom didn’t trust him much.  “I want you to cut him loose.”

 

Hutch heard the firm soft spoken words and he clenched his teeth.  He slowly put his hand his pocket.  “He doesn’t know you’re here, does he?”

 

“No, I didn’t tell him I was coming.”

 

Hutch laughed bitterly and took a long drag from the cigarette.  “So you want me to break off my relationship with Starsky to improve on the one you’ve got with him.”

 

Dom felt a flash of anger and finally walked over to Hutch.  “Let’s just cut to the chase, Hutchinson.”

 

“About goddamn time,” Hutch shot back angrily.  He dropped the cigarette onto the floor and pressed his foot down hard on it.

 

“More than likely, you’ll serve your time here.  I don’t give damn whether you’re guilty or not right now.  What I do care about is my partner and he’s at his place thinking that if he gets you out of here, all will be right with the world.  You and I both know that won’t be the case.”

 

Hutch kept his hand in his pocket and turned away from Dom.  He swung back around to look at him not giving any emotion he was feeling inside away.  “Are you going to tell him that you came down here for his own good?”

 

“I’ll leave that up to you.”

 

“Keeping secrets from your partner sure as hell isn’t the way to go about proving your loyalty.”

 

“You’d know all about those, Hutchinson.  I would imagine you’ve acquired quite a few in the short time you’ve been here.  Some you’d never want anyone to know about.”  Dom saw the stiff stance Hutch was taking in the middle of the room and he knew he was right.  “Dobey is going to hand us over to the feds for a lengthy assignment.  I found out this morning when I talked to him.  We’ll be gone a month.”

 

“So you thought the timing couldn’t be better.”

 

Dom sighed and ran his hand through his thick hair.  “I have a pretty good idea what you guys mean to each other and Starsky holding on like this isn’t doing him a damn bit of good.  In fact, it’s harder than hell on him.  When you do get out, you’ll be subjected to living under the restrictions the state places on you.  As long as this is hanging over your head, you and Starsky…” Dom stopped not wanting to say the words.  He looked at Hutch wondering if he was even making sense.

 

Hutch still had his hand in his pocket.  “You said your peace, Detective Dominguez.”

 

Dom knew he had.  He just didn’t know what would happen from this point on.  “Guard.”  The call out echoed in the room.  Dom’s eyes didn’t move from Hutch’s.

 

He was almost ready to leave when Hutch called his name.  Dom looked back at him as the guard came in.  “He’ll need you.”

 

Hutch watched Dom leave the room and when he pulled his hand out of his pocket, he looked down at the palm of his hand.  His fingernails had dug in so deeply into the palm of his hand; it had actually caused a small bit of bleeding.  He could see the deep indentations from the other nails.  Hutch swallowed the hard lump in his throat as he put his hands on his head so the shackles could be placed on him not letting him forget where Starsky was and where he was not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even a month after Dom’s visit, Hutch still thought about his words a more often than not.  He couldn’t argue them at all.  Every way he looked at it, cutting Starsky loose was for the best.  His heart waged with his mind every step of the way.  Ultimately, Hutch had to concede his true feelings for Starsky.  They were every part of him.  They were in his every step, his every breath and in his every heartbeat.

 

Dom was right.  Starsky was only hurting more over his imprisonment and even with 26 months and 18 days left, Hutch knew that his status on the outside world would only hurt them both in the long run.

 

Hutch tried to put the thoughts out of his head at least for the time being.  He looked down at the cards in his hands and set them down in front of Malcolm.  “You owe me $560,000, 12 cases of scotch and 3 lap dancers.”  Hutch picked up the small notepad and scribbled the score down.

 

“Wait till next time, Champ.  I’ve still got my Porsches sitting back in Beverly Hills to wager.”  Malcolm gathered the cards up and looked up when an inmate walked in with a stack of mail. 

 

He tossed one which landed in Hutch’s lap.  Hutch picked it up and looked at the return address.  He sighed and tossed it on the small table near the sink.  Hutch looked over at Malcolm who had a raised eyebrow.  “Yes, I got another one if you must know.”

 

“You’re not even sending them back.”

 

Hutch pulled out a cigarette and lit it.  “I get the feeling you’re trying to make a point here.”

 

“And you’re too goddamn smart for your own good.  Sometimes I think I taught you too much.” Malcolm flashed Hutch a quick smile.

 

Hutch chuckled without a smile and blew the smoke out of his mouth.  He opened his mouth to fire off a retort and looked up when Tyner leaned in through the cell door.  “New fish coming through.”

 

Malcolm stood up and Hutch followed him out.  They leaned over the railing looking down at the new convicts coming through.  “Wasn’t that long ago, you were hearing quite a few catcalls yourself, Champ.”

 

“A lifetime ago.” Hutch put the cigarette to his lips and watched the four new inmates being lead through the gathering convicts to check out the newbies as well.  “Well, Tyner.  We’re waiting for the report.”

 

Tyner chuckled and pointed to the short redheaded guy at the front of the line.  “Maurice Wendell.  He’s in for molesting two twelve year old girls.”

 

“Jesus,” Malcolm muttered.

 

“He’ll be dead inside a week.” Hutch glanced over at Tyner who nodded.  He could see in his fellow inmate’s eyes someone had already made the guy for a hit.

 

Tyner leaned on the railing and glanced over at Hutch.  “Next one is Johnny Gaskins.  Doing double life.”

 

Hutch saw the dark haired young man and shook his head.  “He can’t be more that 25.  He’ll spend the rest of his life in this meat grinder.”

 

“Given the miracles of modern medicine these days, he’ll be carted out in a wooden box in about 50 or 60 years, Champ.”

 

Hutch studied the young man closely.  There was something about him.  He took a drag from his smoke.  “A young piece like that will wind up getting calluses on his knees if he’s too stupid.”

 

Malcolm looked over at Hutch noticing the interest in the normally cool blue eyes.  “He’ll be raw.  What are you thinking?”

 

Hutch just shrugged his shoulders and headed back inside his cell. He picked up the envelope with his name written on it with Starsky’s familiar handwriting.  Hutch knew if he opened it up and read Starsky’s words, he wouldn’t make it.  He would feel and no matter the feelings, it was too big of a risk.  Hutch opened the small wooden drawer and tossed it on top of several other unopened letters.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky arrived home expecting several letters from Hutch.  When he picked up his mail from a neighbor, Starsky was confused as to why there were no letters from Hutch.  He tossed the mail on the coffee table and reached for the phone.  Starsky called the prison questioning them to find out if Hutch was okay.  They assured him he was fine and when Starsky pressed to talk to him, they explained he was working and inmates were allowed to only call during their scheduled time.

 

During the next week, Starsky patiently waited by the phone expecting a call from Hutch, but none came.  When his weekly scheduled visit arrived, Starsky showed up at the prison expecting to see Hutch.  His heart sank in rejection when he was told Hutch had removed him from the visitors list.  The only thing Starsky could think of was that something was wrong with him.

 

He showed up again the following week hoping to see his name added back as it used to be.  Again, Starsky was told, Hutch would not see him.  The third week, Starsky was more determined.  He stood there waiting while a guard passed a message to Hutch.  When the guard returned, Starsky was hurt and angry by Hutch’s refusal. 

 

That evening he called Hutch’s parents and he was surprised to find that Hutch continued his weekly calls to them.  Starsky’s name barely came up in conversation with them these days which they found surprising.  Starsky then took a new tactic by talking with Captain Dobey.

 

He sat in the chair across from Dobey’s desk hoping this idea would work.  Dobey picked up the phone and called the prison warden.  The warden then called his secretary who called the clerk who scheduled the private visits between inmates and important visitors.  Detective Dave Starsky’s name was written down and scheduled a private visit with Ken Hutchinson for the following morning at 9am.

 

It didn’t take long for Hutch to find out about the scheduled visit.  A prisoner had said something to Tyner who had passed it on to Hutch.  He was very thoughtful about the impending visit from Starsky.

 

 

 

Starsky stood near the window looking out over the yard at the various inmates milling around.  He watched them wondering how Hutch was managing.  The violence and the meanness in many of them were apparent in the way they walked and in their mannerisms.

 

He swung his head over at the door as Hutch was brought inside by a guard.  Starsky was taken aback at the sight of him.  Hutch’s hair was cut much shorter and slicked back tight against his head.  He still sported the goatee, but the look was severe and gave his face a hard edge which was more pronounced than he had ever seen before.  The baby blue eyes Starsky had looked into so much were now icy blue which glittered with a callous intensity he didn’t recognize.

 

The guard started to leave and Hutch turned towards him.  “Are you going to take these things off?”  The words spoken to the guard were harsh and unforgiving.

 

The guard looked towards Starsky who stood unmoved from his spot.  Starsky gave him a nod and he carefully studied Hutch as the shackles came off.  He licked his dry lips suddenly feeling very nervous.  When the guard left them alone, he looked over at Hutch unsure of what to expect.  He didn’t speak as Hutch pulled out his cigarettes and lit one.

 

Hutch ambled to the table and sat down in the chair.  He took a long drag off of his cigarette and looked up at Starsky who was still standing.  “So do you want to tell me why you pulled me out of my work assignment?”

 

Starsky looked at the closed door and then brought his gaze back down to Hutch.  This was something he wasn’t expecting and he wasn’t quite sure how to act.  “I wanted to find out why you didn’t want to see me.”

 

“So you used your badge and pulled a few strings to arrange this little meeting.”

 

Starsky didn’t like how the statement sounded coming from Hutch.  It was more of an accusation than a fact.  He moved to the table and pulled the chair.  Starsky sat down and took a moment to get comfortable.  “I wouldn’t have had to if you had talked to me first.”

 

Hutch blew the smoke out of his mouth and leaned forward looking Starsky in the eye.  “You didn’t get the message when you saw your name pulled from the visitor lists?”

 

“Hutch…”

 

“Hutch is dead!” Hutch yelled suddenly.

 

Starsky’s eyes were wide at the furious words coming from Hutch.  “What?”

 

“Don’t you get it?  The Hutch you knew before coming to this place is gone.  He’s never coming back.  The naïve farm boy you remember has been gone a hell of a long time now.”

 

“Bullshit.” Starsky spoke the word evenly and intensely never letting his gaze leave Hutch’s severe blue eyes.  “I don’t buy it and neither should you.  You may think that the guy you used to be is gone, but I know differently.  He’s still there inside of you.  You just got damn good at locking him up yourself.”

 

Hutch shook his head as he put the cigarette to his lips.  Starsky could see the denial in Hutch’s eyes.  He saw a piece of dirt on Hutch’s neck just under the blue denim collar.  Starsky resisted the urge to reach over and brush it away.  “I’m not going to let you push me away, Hutch.”

 

Starsky watched Hutch stand up and walk over to the window with the cigarette still dangling from his lips.  “Come here.”  Starsky didn’t move for a moment and slowly stood to follow the command from Hutch.

 

He leaned against the window and his eyes followed Hutch’s which were looking out at the yard scattered with inmates.  Hutch brought his hand up and pointed one out.  “See that kid over there?  He’s near the courts about 50 feet from the guard tower.”

 

Starsky saw the young man Hutch had pointed out.  The guy looked a bit younger than Dom.  “I see him.”

 

“I’d tell you his name, but it doesn’t really matter.  He just got in less than a month ago doing double life.  He’ll never see the outside.”

 

Starsky’s dark blue eyes followed the young man as he walked around the basketball court evading the passing convicts.  He heard Hutch’s low voice speaking as he looked at the curious looking young man.  “You see, I marked him.  He’s mine.  I staked him out the first week he was here.”

 

“What are you telling me?”  Starsky looked over at Hutch whose eyes had turned into empty blue pools.

 

“There’s several names for it actually.”

 

Starsky felt his chest grow cold inside and the heaviness of it made it difficult to breathe.  He looked away from Hutch back out searching for the guy who had been pointed out to him.  He couldn’t block out Hutch’s words.  “Kid, cherry, fish…bitch.”

 

Starsky shook his head adamantly.  “No.  I don’t believe you.”

 

“I took him almost three weeks ago and he surprisingly seems to have come around much quicker than I thought he would.”

 

Starsky stepped back from Hutch.  “Shut up, Hutch.”

 

“I’m not Hutch.  I haven’t been Hutch in over six months now.  The name’s Champ and it sure as hell isn’t for the white knight habit I used to have.”

 

Starsky felt the room tilting a bit as he stood in the middle of the room.  He almost felt like he did in that courtroom a lifetime ago it seemed.  He could feel the tears threatening to overwhelm him.  “Why are you doing this?  This isn’t you!”

 

Hutch finished off the cigarette and tossed it to the floor ignoring the smoking butte.  “It’s over.  You might as well face the fact that everything we were is dead and gone.  There’s no going back to it no matter how badly you want it.”

 

Starsky stormed over to Hutch and grasped his arm.  Hutch felt Starsky’s electrifying touch and reacted instantly.  He shoved Starsky against the unforgiving wall and brought his arm up behind his back.  Hutch pinned Starsky face first into the wall and held his body tightly against his own.  “You want to know what I am now.  I am an animal which takes what he wants when he wants.  If you were a convict here right now, I would bend you over the first damn table I found and fuck the shit out of you.”  Hutch shoved his knee between Starsky’s cheeks for emphasis.  “I don’t give a damn about your pleasure.  Just mine and my own survival.  When I got tired of you, I’d sell you for a few cartons of smokes and maybe some weed.  I’d let them fuck you and not think twice about it.”

 

Starsky’s heart was pounding so loudly the noise reverberated in his ears.  He felt Hutch step away from him.  Starsky had to grab onto the wall to get his hard breathing back under control.  He finally pushed himself away from the cold wall to a standing position.  When Starsky stared back at Hutch, he saw cold empty eyes glaring back at him.  “Guard,” Starsky called out.

 

Neither man moved from their spots nor neither broke the eye contact from the other.  When the guard arrived, Starsky took a deep breath.  “Take the prisoner back to his cell.”

 

Starsky watched the guard put the shackles on Hutch for a moment.  He couldn’t even stay to look at Hutch anymore.  Starsky escaped the prison as quickly as he could unsure of anything and everything than he ever had been in his life.

 

 

 

 

 

All the kitchen cabinet doors were open from Starsky’s searching.  When looked into the last one, he saw the half empty bottle of scotch sitting in the back.  Starsky pulled it down and held it in his hand.  It was still pretty early and instead of going to the precinct, he had sought seclusion in his empty apartment.

 

Starsky heard the knocking on his door and looked up.  He set the bottle down on the counter as Dom walked inside.  Starsky crossed his arms and leaned back against the kitchen counter.  “You’re timing is pretty damn good, Dom.”

 

Dom took casual steps into the kitchen and stood next to Starsky.  He looked over at the bottle.  “Well, I heard you went to the prison today.  I thought I should see how you were since you didn’t come to the precinct.”

 

Starsky didn’t reply.  Instead he grabbed the bottle from the cabinet and stared down at it.  Dom watched him curious to know what had happened.  “Are you going to drink that, Dave?”

 

Starsky had a bitter smile on his face when he looked up at Dom.  “It’s not worth it.”  He put the bottle back in the cabinet and began closing the doors.

 

“Want to talk about it?”

 

Starsky didn’t chance looking at Dom with the way he was feeling at that moment.  “Not really.  If you don’t mind, Dom, this one time I’d like to keep it to myself.”

 

“Sure Dave.  What ever you want.”  Dom watched Starsky for a minute and looked down at the floor.  “I was thinking about something.”

 

Starsky stopped at the fridge.  “Does your wife know?”

 

Dom chuckled a little and turned to look at Starsky.  “You’ve been working pretty damn hard lately and when you aren’t working, you’ve been holed up here.  Why not hole up at my place for a while?”

 

“Dom, I appreciate the thought…”

 

“Hey,” Dom said holding his hand up.  “This does come with an ulterior motive, my friend.  Theresa and I are looking to spend some time by ourselves and the thought crossed my mind that Olivia and Anna wouldn’t mind spending some extra time with Uncle Dave.”

 

Starsky grinned a bit and leaned one hip against the counter.  “The levels you will sink to, Dom.  Using your kids to get on my good side.”

 

“Is it working?”

 

“Does Theresa have any idea about this?”

 

“She just knows about the holing up at the house part.”  Dom beamed at Starsky when he heard the low laugh coming from Starsky’s throat.

 

He followed Starsky around to the bedroom and helped him pack some things for the extended stay.

 

 

 

 

 

When Hutch was taken back to his cell, he immediately grabbed a change of clothing and headed to the showers.  He scrubbed his skin almost raw under the hot steaming water to rid himself of the filth he was feeling inside at his actions towards Starsky. 

 

He stuck his head under the shower feeling the gel slowly break loose from his hair.  Hutch closed his eyes and he knew he would never escape the look coming from Starsky, a man that he loved with every fiber of his being. 

 

Hutch was thankful for the hot water running over his face.  It was the only private place he could mourn his loss.  His tears ran with the hot rivulets of water hitting his face and running down his body.  Hutch inhaled deeply to control the sobs which threatened to break from his chest.

 

When he finally finished the long shower, Hutch dried off and dressed.  He grabbed a carton of smokes and hooked up with a trusty who changed his work assignment to the boiler room.  It wasn’t difficult considering it was isolated and most convicts avoided working in the poor conditions.

 

Hutch continued to keep to himself for the better part of a week thankful the friends he had made since his incarceration understood him enough to leave him a lone.

 

 

 

 

 

Dom looked through the park and found Starsky sitting off by himself at a picnic table.  He began strolling towards Starsky stopping long enough to grab a beer from the ice chest.  When Dom stood in front of him, he held the beer out.

 

Starsky gave Dom a small smile and took the beer from him.  Dom got comfortable next to Starsky and stared out at the office picnic his wife’s company was throwing for their employees.  “You’re missing out on all the fun.”

 

“I shouldn’t be here, Dom.  I don’t even know these people.”  Starsky took a drink of his beer and looked out at the volleyball game being played not far from him.

 

“It’s better than you sitting at home by yourself, you know.  I think I’ve seen you on a total of one date since we met.  That’s just pathetic, Dave.”

 

Starsky chuckled and looked over at Dom out of the corner of his eye.  “Another ulterior motive, Dom?”

 

Dom stood up and pulled Starsky to his feet.  “Yes, my friend.  I’ll admit it freely without your constant badgering.”  Dom guided Starsky across the grass knowing where he was taking his very lonely friend.  “Now, I don’t normally get involved in matters of the heart, but in your case I will make an exception.”

 

“Great.” Starsky rolled his eyes.  “He’s setting me up.”

 

“No, I’m introducing you.”  Dom pointed his finger at a young woman talking with Theresa.  “She may be an accountant, but she’s bright, witty, she likes the same cornball movies you do, not to mention that she is extremely attractive.”

 

Starsky looked over at Dom.  “Does Theresa know about this?”

 

“Pal, why do you think I brought you here?  You’ve got enough charm to capsize a large ship.  You’re making me look bad.”

 

Starsky chuckled as Dom pulled him along to meet the beautiful redhead.  Starsky normally didn’t go for redheads, but he found himself intrigued by the sharp green eyes.  “Melinda Carlisle,” Dom said with a large smile.  “I’d like you to meet my very charming and very available partner, Detective Dave Starsky.”

 

Dom saw the soft blush on Melinda’s face and when he glanced over at Starsky, the shy grin lit up his face.  He watched the exchange between them and sighed contently.  Dom was even more pleased to see them continue to talk and as he walked away, he looked back at the couple.  He was sure this was what Starsky really needed.

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch sat at his usual spot with Malcolm and Tyner.  Their half eaten trays of food were in front of them.  Malcolm had just paid off Hutch on a basketball game which had been played earlier in the day.  Hutch took the three packs of cigarettes and stashed them in his shirt.

 

“When are you going to invest your vast wealth in some of my other sports action?” Malcolm picked up his fork and pushed the horrid looking food around on the plate.

 

“I bet only on a sure thing.  You know that, Malcolm.”  Hutch felt a bit more relaxed than he had in a while.

 

“Only because you played,” Tyner observed.

 

Hutch picked up his carton of milk and looked over at Malcolm.  “Like I said.  A sure thing.”

 

Malcolm chuckled and Tyner gave Hutch a small nudge.  Hutch turned his head and saw the young Johnny Gaskins carrying a tray of food headed in his directions.  “Took him long enough.”  Hutch ignored Malcolm’s remark as he observed the tough saunter of the youthful convict. 

 

When he stood in front of him, Hutch gave Malcolm a glance who scooted over to make room.  “Why don’t you have a seat?”

 

Johnny dropped the tray down loudly on the table and sat down.  He picked up his fork and looked at Hutch.  “I want to know why you had me in the yard that day.”

 

Hutch almost smirked at the thick Brooklyn accent coming off the kid.  He glanced over at Malcolm who gave Hutch a flash of white teeth.  “You did a job for me and I appreciate it.”

 

Hutch reached inside of his shirt and pulled out two of the three packs of smokes.  He set them down in front of Johnny.  “I don’t smoke.”

 

“You don’t have to.  Just hold onto them.  You never know when they might come in handy.”

 

Johnny leaned forward giving Hutch an irritated look.  “You didn’t answer my question.”

 

“Yes, he did,” Malcolm told the kid.  “That’s all you need to know.”

 

Johnny took a stab at his food with his fork and pushed the food into his mouth.  “I don’t like doin’ somethin’ when I don’t know why I’m doin’ it.”

 

Hutch stole a glance over at Tyner who was shaking his head.  He watched the young man eat a few more bites.  Johnny dropped the fork down in disgust and opened his carton of milk.  “This shit is disgusting.  Someone pee in the food or what?”

 

“Do you really want to know, kid?”  Hutch saw the outrageous look on his face and almost laughed.  He kept his gaze on him but was interrupted by one of the cons who leaned over and grabbed the small bowl of chocolate pudding sitting on Johnny’s tray.

 

“Hey, what do you think you’re doin’,” Johnny blurted out.

 

“I’m takin’ this.  You got a problem with that?”

 

“Hell, yeah I do!  That’s mine!”

 

“I’m takin’ it and if you open your mouth…”

 

Hutch reached over and picked up his bowl of uneaten pudding.  He held it up.  “Here, Smokey.  Take mine.”

 

“This don’t have nothin’ to do with you, Champ.”

 

“I know.  Just thought you’d want it.  I know how much you like pudding.”

 

“You startin’ somethin’ with me?”  Smokey was starting to get riled.

 

Hutch kept the pudding held up for him.  “Nope, I just don’t want it.”

 

Smokey dropped the pudding down to the tray and grabbed Hutch’s.  After he stalked off, Hutch leaned in closer to Johnny.  “First rule.  You don’t fight over something as asinine as pudding which holds no value.”

 

Hutch stood up and picked up his tray.  Malcolm and Tyner grabbed theirs and followed him.  “Someone should write a book on prison etiquette,” Hutch replied.

 

He listened to the remarks being made by Malcolm and Tyner, but when he glanced back he saw Johnny staring back at them with confusion.  Hutch dropped his tray off and he knew this wouldn’t be the last time he talked Johnny.

 

 

 

 

Three weeks later Hutch was sitting back on his top bunk propped up on the pillow.  He was flipping through the small calendar counting the days.  He still had just under two years left on his sentence.  Rather than counting those days as he had been doing, one remained clear.  It was now 23 days.

 

Hutch tossed the calendar aside and leaned back against the pillow.  How ironic it was, he thought.  Twenty three days since he had given Starsky the scare of his life and twenty three seconds for him to almost loose his life.  Did it take twenty three seconds for him to drive Starsky away?  Hutch couldn’t count each and every movement and moment as he could Starsky’s shooting.  When he closed his eyes now it wasn’t that horrific shooting he saw.  It was the look on Starsky’s face he saw.  The fear, the anger and the disbelief all rolled into one look.

 

He opened his eyes at the sound of a slight movement at the door of his cell.  Hutch watched as Johnny Gaskins stepped into view.  He could see the green convict had already encountered someone from the dark bruise around his left eye and the small cut above the lip.  Rather than to question it, Hutch waited.

 

“The big guy you were with the other day said I should talk to you.”

 

Hutch could see an admission coming from him and he still waited.  He could see the awkwardness in Johnny’s fidgety moves.  “I need to know what I gotta do.”

 

“About what?” Hutch reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette.  He lit it while he waited for the answer to his question.

 

Johnny sighed and glanced around as if expecting someone to jump out at him.  “Listen, I gotta know some stuff about how to make it in here and I ain’t plannin’ on getin’ my ass kicked every time I turn around.”

 

Hutch sat up and put the cigarette in his mouth.  He grabbed the calendar and hopped down from the bunk.  Hutch opened the drawer of the small desk and dropped the calendar down on the small stack of unopened letters.  He turned around and gave Johnny a harsh look.  “Fine, if you want me to lay it all out for you, I will.  But there’s one thing you’d better know before I do this.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

Hutch took a long drag from his cigarette inhaling the smoke deeply.  He took step closer to Johnny and towered over him.  “You fuck me in any way, I’ll fuck you right back and I can promise you will not walk away.  Got me?”

 

Johnny nodded feeling intimidated by the powerful blue eyes which held his attention.  He breathed a bit easier as Hutch stepped away from him.  “First things first.  You are to start keeping your mouth shut.”

 

“Now wait a sec…”

 

“No, you wait.” Hutch pointed at him with the cigarette between his fingers giving him a firm look.  “The worst thing a con can do is shoot off his damn mouth.  Wasn’t Smokey taking that pudding enough of an indication?”

 

“What the hell was I supposed to do?  Let these guys run me over!”

 

“You look him straight in the eye and say ‘you’re welcome’.”

 

Johnny laughed in disbelief.  “You’re kidding?”

 

“Did you hear what I said?”

 

“Yeah, you said I should tell him ‘you’re welcome’.”

 

“You didn’t listen.  You look at him straight in the eye first.  Show no fear, show no anger and show no retaliation.  You show nothing.  The first second you do, you show weakness which has no place here.”

 

“Okay, I can do that.”

 

“Easier said than done,” Hutch whispered under his breath.  He finished off the cigarette and dropped into the large coffee can on the floor.  “When you close your mouth and keep it closed, that’s when you learn.  You observe.”

 

Hutch brushed by him and went out to the railing overlooking the inmates milling about below him and Johnny walked to stand next to him.  “You listen and you watch.  You’ll learn to interpret every move and every sound.  How the movement moves and how the sound sounds will tell you more than just asking a question which can get you killed or give you calluses on those boney knees of yours.”

 

Johnny shook his head and looked over at Hutch who was watching.  “I don’t understand.”

 

“You will.”  Hutch turned to face Johnny.  “Where’s your work assignment?”

 

“Cleanup.”

 

“Great.” Hutch’s sigh was heavy.  He walked back into his cell and knelt down under the small desk.  He pulled out the small crate and grabbed a carton of cigarettes.  “Those hours won’t work.  You’ll need to go someplace like the laundry.  Come on.”

 

“Where are we goin’?”

 

“Watch and learn,” Hutch ordered.  “No questions.”

 

Johnny followed Hutch out the cell door curious about what he was going to do and why.

 

 

 

 

The next two months passed with relative ease for both Starsky and Hutch.  Starsky became comfortable with his growing relationship with Melinda.  He liked her a lot.  They had the same likes, dislikes and their relationship was quickly growing.  Much to Dom’s surprise, Starsky asked Melinda to move in with him in less than three months of meeting.  He wondered if Starsky was moving too fast into this relationship.

 

Hutch was also spending much of his time tutoring Johnny in the ways of survival in a maximum security prison.  He would never admit it to a living soul, but he liked Johnny.  The physical similarities to Starsky were there.  Hutch knew it the first time he laid eyes on him.  But what drew him, was the subtle similarities both shared in attitudes and demeanors.  Hutch sometimes questioned his own motives of this odd relationship, but he continued on as he saw fit.

 

He began to take a deeper interest in Johnny when Hutch was paid an unexpected visit down in the boiler room.  Johnny appeared while Hutch was working on an old generator. 

 

“Hey, Champ.” Johnny sauntered in carrying a thinly rolled sheet of paper.  “I got something to show you.”

 

Hutch grabbed a rag and followed Johnny to a large table.  He watched as the guy rolled it out on the flat surface and used a few items to hold it in place.  “I got this from one of the trusties.”

 

“You have a map of the prison.” Hutch pulled out a cigarette and lit it as his eyes scanned the plans.

 

“Well, yeah.  I hear you’re one of the smartest guys in this joint and I got a plan.”

 

Hutch gave Johnny a cynical look before looking back down at the plans.  “Are you sure you want to be telling me this?”

 

“You’re the only one in this place I’d tell.  I want you to tell me what you think about it.”

 

Hutch took a drag from his cigarette.  “Your escape plan.”

 

“Of course, my escape plan.”

 

Hutch resisted the urge to shake his head at the young man’s stupidity.  “Okay, tell me your plan.”

 

Johnny grinned happily and laid it all out for Hutch to see.  He showed him how he would get into the boiler room after lockdown.  He explained how he would shimmy across one of the pipes and get into the sewer to make his escape to the outside world.  When he finally finished, Johnny looked to Hutch like he had planned the greatest escape ever thought of.  “So?  What do you think?”

 

Hutch blew the smoke out of his mouth and looked at Johnny.  “You sure you want to know what I think.”

 

“I wouldn’t have told you if I didn’t want to know.”

 

“Okay.” Hutch put the cigarette in his mouth and leaned over the plans.  “Head counts are every two hours and if by some chance you managed to fool the guards you might make it to the boiler room.  This pipe you plan on shimmying across comes directly from the water tank.  It’s also heated which means this pipe will be no less than 250 degrees which will burn your hands to a crisp.  If by the off chance the system shuts down and you make it to the sewer system, you won’t survive the escape.”

 

Johnny looked up at Hutch in surprise and back down at the plans.  “That sewer leads directly to the outside.  It empties out quite a ways from the outer wire.”

 

“That sewer is the where you will find yourself totally immersed in excrement supplied by every con in this place.  You won’t even have an air pocket and you’re looking at close to 300 yards of shit to swim through.  It empties out on a time release from what it says here.”

 

Hutch could see the irritation on Johnny’s face after shooting down his crazy idea.  He wanted to smile just then, but instead took a long drag from his cigarette.  “Did you even bother reading the fine print?  It says exactly what the specs are for this place.”

 

Johnny didn’t speak as he reached forward and began removing the items holding the plans down.  Hutch saw something in his eyes and he leaned forward.  “Did you read them?”

 

“Yeah, I read ‘em.”  Hutch could see the lie in his eyes. 

 

“Read them to me now.”

 

Johnny ignored him and started rolling up the map.  Hutch instinctively stepped forward and grasped his arm.  He froze when he realized what he had done.  Hutch had to force himself to step away and release Johnny.  He took a deep breath before speaking.  “Can you read, Johnny?”

 

Johnny stopped and looked down at the tightly rolled paper.  “I can read.  Just not very good.”

 

“How much schooling have you had?”

 

“I’m not a fuckin’ charity case!”

 

“I know that.  No one is.”

 

Johnny hesitated before answering and he gripped the plans tightly.  “The old man kicked me out at 13.”

 

Hutch gave himself a minute before soaking in the newest piece of information.  He finished off the cigarette and turned back to the generator.  “Meet me in the prison library at 4pm.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about, Champ?”

 

Hutch kept his back to Johnny.  “You should read better before you plan another escape.  Your chances at making it will improve significantly, Torino.”

 

“What’d you call me?”

 

Hutch grabbed the wrench and leaned over.  “Torino.  You’re loud, flashy and at times don’t use the brain you’ve got.”

 

“Gee, thanks,” Johnny retorted.

 

Hutch glanced behind him at Johnny.  “I didn’t say it was a bad thing.”

 

He turned back to finish his work.  Hutch could still feel Johnny’s eyes boring into his back.  He was well aware what was happening and Hutch knew how dangerous it was not only for himself, but for Johnny as well.  Hutch had no idea how to stop it and he knew he didn’t want to.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky stood over the stove working on dinner looking forward to a nice quiet evening with Melinda.  Other than his odd working hours, they had settled into a nice comfortable routine with each other.  Starsky had no complaints and he found Melinda to be a good friend as well as a more than compatible lover. 

 

He smiled a bit when he heard a noise coming from the bedroom.  Starsky knew she was intent on organizing the closet better to accommodate for both of their things.  He liked sharing his space and he loved having someone to come home to. 

 

Starsky turned his attention back to the cooking at hand not noticing how quiet it had become back in his bedroom.  He heard Melinda’s footsteps in the kitchen and reached over to raise the heat slightly on the stove. 

 

“Dave?”

 

Starsky stirred the pot and kept his attention focused on the task.  “Hmm?”

 

“Who is this?”

 

Starsky turned around and halted in his movements when he saw her holding a photo album.  He didn’t have to see the pictures to know who she was asking about.  Starsky acted nonchalant as he stepped over and looked down.  It was a photo of him and Hutch early on in their partnership together.  “It’s nobody.”

 

He started to reach for the album, but Melinda turned away still leafing through the photographs.  “I don’t understand.  There are so many pictures of you and this man.  He must’ve been important to you.”

 

 Starsky followed her into the living room.  “Just someone I used to know is all.”

 

Melinda sat down and flipped through a few more pages.  “Dave, you two look fairly close.”

 

Starsky leaned down and took the photo album from her hands.  He closed it up without allowing himself to look at the pictures.  “It was before you and me.  It doesn’t matter anymore.”

 

He headed back to the bedroom to put the album away.  Starsky put it up at the top of the closet and turned around to see Melinda standing in the doorway.  “I think it does matter.  If he was such an important part of your life, I don’t understand why you’ve never told me about him.”

 

“It’s in the past and it has nothing to do with us, Mel.  Now leave it alone, please.”

 

Starsky brushed past her not allowing her to see how seeing the brief picture of Hutch made him feel inside.  He had worked hard these past months to put Hutch and the memories of his last visit with him out of his mind.  Starsky had made a point of not even bringing Hutch’s name up.  Even when Dobey and Huggy tried to discuss the subject of Hutch, Starsky let them know, it was not a matter he would talk about.  It didn’t take long for those closest to him to see it was an off limits subject.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch caught up with Johnny in back of the laundry where he was moving several carts around.  He stuck his hands in his pockets and leaned against a metal counter.  “So?  Tell me.”

 

Johnny shook his head in frustration and shoved the empty cart against the wall.  “I don’t get it.  I tried reading it, but it don’t make sense to me.”

 

“Are you using the dictionary like I told you?”

 

“Yeah, but it’s taking me forever to get through it.  I have to start over so I can understand the whole sentence.”

 

Hutch pulled a cigarette out and lit it.  “Just keep doing it.”

 

“I’m sick of this shit, Champ.  I don’t get why you want me to read that book.”

 

Hutch resisted the urge to grin knowing what Johnny still hadn’t learned yet.  “It’s a great prison escape, Torino.  You’ll get it.”

 

“This guy seems like he figured it all out and I can’t even get to first base.” The aggravation was written all over Johnny’s face.

 

Hutch blew the smoke out of his mouth.  “The Count of Monte Christo is about a man who listens and observes.  He takes what he has learned to accomplish his objective.  You’ll find out when you get further into the book.”

 

“Has this Alexander Dumbass ever been inside?”

 

Hutch turned his head slightly to keep the pulling of the corners of his mouth hidden.  He took a drag from the smoke and looked back at Johnny.  “Alexander Dumas has never been in prison as far as I know.”

 

Johnny looked back at Hutch to say something but stopped in his tracks when he saw a tall man approaching them.  Hutch turned his head and toyed with the cigarette in his hand as if he was just passing time.  He knew who it was. 

 

Boone was a guy who was still attempting to make a name for himself ever since Nacho had departed the physical world.  There was only one way of doing that which Hutch was extremely aware of.  Boone’s arms were covered in tattoos with various artworks from crosses to swastikas.  When he smiled, a gap from a lost tooth appeared in the unfeeling smile which would appear on his face.

 

He crossed his arms and looked from Johnny to Hutch who hadn’t moved from his spot.  “Well, Champ, how’s the kid?”

 

“I hear you’ve got your hands full with the nice little harem you’ve managed to pull together, Boone.”  Hutch pushed himself away from the counter and maneuvered himself casually in front of Boone.

 

“Champ, I got no beef with you.  I’ll give you eight cartons and a dime of coke.”

 

Hutch took a final drag from his cigarette and dropped the butte onto the floor.  When he stepped down to put it out, he looked Boone squarely in the eye not even flinching at the deadly look aimed at him.  “You know my stake.  I don’t peddle flesh.”

 

“The bitch is ripe for the taking and you know it.  He’s past time to be broken in.”

 

“Boone, you should know…”

 

“You can both fuck yourselves!” Johnny yelled stepping forward.  “I ain’t for sale to nobody for nothin’!”

 

Hutch swung around and punched Johnny squarely on the face sending the rebellious young man down to the hard cement floor.  He glared down at him and pointed his finger at him.  “Don’t interrupt me ever again when I’m talking!”

 

He turned back and looked at Boone.  “I don’t barter what I don’t own, Boone.  If you ever want my action, step up to the plate and see where it takes you.”

 

It was more of a deadly promise and Hutch knew what Boone knew.  Boone was testing him to see where he stood.  Hutch also knew Boone didn’t have what he needed to make the move on him at this point.

 

He felt the air slowly expel from his lungs when Boone turned and carefully walked away.  Hutch reached for another cigarette and glanced over at Johnny who was pushing himself to his feet.  “What the hell was that for?”

 

“What I told you it was for.”  Hutch changed his mind about the cigarette and put it back in his shirt pocket.

 

Johnny was to his feet and the furious look was written all over his face.  “You two were talkin’ about me like I was a fuckin’ piece of meat!”

 

“Boone was talking to me, Torino.  Not you.”

 

“It was about me!”

 

“But not at you.  Remember that.  You pick and choose your fights.  If someone is talking about you, let them talk.  They’ll do it whether you like it or not.  When it’s directed at you, then you interpret their actions and their words.  If you go off every time someone says something you don’t like, you’ll be put six feet under by a low level junkie you don’t even know.”

 

“I’m still tryin’ to figure out when I do fight.”

 

“Exactly.  Come on.  It’s time to hit the books.  Your test is still over a month away and there’s a lot of ground to cover.”

 

Johnny shook his head still not fully understanding.  Hutch followed him out of the laundry room.  Johnny was learning even though he didn’t see it that way and he was in a rush to take it all in at once.  He was more action and there were times Hutch could see Starsky in him during their best of times.  It was becoming addicting for him, but he also enjoyed seeing Johnny’s eagerness for learning.  Hutch liked what he was doing in taking Johnny under his wing.  He knew if he taught Johnny the right things, he would survive and possibly even thrive in this hellhole rather than let it drag him down to hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch had been at the cantina when he got word about Johnny.  He dropped what he was doing and broke into a run.  He sprinted past inmates and guards alike not caring what they thought or did.

 

When he arrived at the laundry room, he stopped long enough to flip a table over.  Linens went flying and Hutch violently kicked at a leg which gave easily.  He gave it a hard yank and pulled the leg from the table.  Hutch headed to the back and he could hear the loud noises not far from him.

 

He broke through the crowd and what he saw brought his blood boiling.  Johnny was face first and spread eagled on a table with Boone directly behind him. Three of Boone’s helpers were holding him down.  The innocent convict was on the verge of being gang raped.

 

Hutch held the table leg like a baseball bat and surged forward.  He hit the first one he came to directly on the back taking him down on his knees.  Hutch was a wild man as he swung at the remainder holding Johnny down.  The lethal violence was in his eyes and in the ferocious attack on Johnny’s attackers.  He wasn’t seeing Johnny.  He was seeing Starsky.  The image was clear in his mind as Hutch attacked without prejudice.

 

He saw Boone coming after him, and Hutch swung the table leg at his knee bringing the man down to his knees.  Hutch got in behind him and brought the table leg up to Boone’s neck.  He jerked it cruelly against Boone’s neck and moved his head down to give the message.  “You go near him again, you piece of inhuman shit, and I swear you will be buried with a Columbian necktie!”

 

Hutch shoved Boone down to the hard cement and stood up.  He looked around at the gathering crowd of convicts.  He walked over to Johnny and grabbed him by the shirt helping him to his feet.  Hutch pushed him ahead of him.  He dropped the table leg to the floor and followed Johnny.

 

When they arrived at their cell block, Hutch turned on Johnny.  “Get to your cell and stay there till I send for you.”

 

Johnny started to argue and when he saw the heated look in Hutch’s eyes, he closed his mouth.  After he was on his way, Hutch headed to his cell.  He knelt down and pulled the small crate out from underneath the bottom bunk.  Hutch looked up at Malcolm who stood in the doorway.  “Have you totally lost your mind, Champ?”

 

Hutch began sorting through his stash and pulled out several items.  “Is Stanley still for sale?”

 

Malcolm sighed knowing what Hutch was going to do.  “Yeah, although if he hears this latest news before you approach him, it could drive the price up.”

 

“It’ll cost me a hell of a lot.” Hutch sorted through the cartons of smokes and some marijuana he kept for occasions when bribery was needed.  “If you do it, it might keep the asking price somewhat reasonable.”

 

“Champ, you do know what you did, didn’t you?”

 

Hutch stood up and glanced over at Malcolm.  “Will you do it?”

 

“By making the move you did, you not only put yourself at risk, you put that kid in serious jeopardy.”

 

“Don’t you think I know that, Malcolm?  I made the move and now I’ve got to back it up.  You know it as well as I do.”

 

“I also know if you walk away right now, you’ll come out of this more than likely without a scratch.”

 

Hutch pulled a cigarette out and lit it.  “It’ll be throwing him to the wolves and there is no way in hell I’ll do that.  I’ve got a choice this time.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

Hutch shook his head and ran his hand through his blonde hair.  “Nothing.”

 

“I seem to remember a certain cop damn near running me over after a visit with you some time ago, Champ.  Would he have anything to do with this?”

 

Hutch’s eyes glittered with rage at Malcolm.  “Back off, Malcolm.”

 

Malcolm sighed and looked down at Hutch’s large stash on the cot.  “Fine, Champ.  Have it your way.  I’ll take care of it.  The kid can move in an hour.”

 

Hutch grabbed an empty pillow case off his bunk and put the items he had sorted separately inside.  He handed it over to Malcolm who quickly left.  Hutch sat down on the edge of the bottom bunk.  He had showed weakness with his actions and he knew the entire situation had grown tenuous at best.  Hutch began second guessing the decision leaving Boone still capable of making a move on him.

 

 

 

 

An hour later, Johnny showed up with his meager belongings and tossed them on the bottom bunk.  He turned on Hutch who stood in the corner of the small cell taking a leak into the dirty toilet.  “I want to know why, Champ.” Johnny demanded.  “You got me moved in here and now it’ll look like you’re doin’ me to every con on this entire block.”

 

Hutch was silent as he finished and zipped his jeans up.  He turned around and washed his hands not speaking to Johnny.  Hutch was precise in his movement as he dried his hands and then grabbed a cigarette.  After lighting it, he studied Johnny for a few minutes before speaking.  “I had a choice and I made one, Torino.  Either I could have just looked the other way and let Boone and his peaches take their turns with you or I could have done what I did wind up doing.  You’ll survive in this place longer by letting the cons think I am doing you.”

 

Johnny was thoughtful which Hutch was finally glad to see.  “By doing what you did, it made you look weak, didn’t it?”

 

“Boone’s been looking for a way to get at me for a while and he may have just found it.  He took a calculated risk by coming after you not knowing how I would react to it.”

 

Johnny sat down on the edge of the bottom bunk contemplating the new change in circumstances.  “So what happens when you get out?  I’ll be here for a long time.”

 

Hutch took a long drag from the smoke and slowly blew the smoke out.  “Hopefully, buy that time, you’ll be on your own and more than capable of handling yourself.  You know as well as I do, you’re not ready to deal with Boone on your own right now.”

 

“Yeah.”  Johnny looked up at Hutch with a flash of resentment in his eyes.  “I still don’t like them thinkin’ you’re doin’ me.”

 

“Get used to it, Torino.  It won’t be changing anytime soon.”  Hutch grabbed a book from the small desk and climbed to the top bunk.  “Put your things away.  Your test is still a week away and you still have some work ahead of you before your ready.”

 

Hutch opened up the book and listened to Johnny’s movements.  He listened attentively as Johnny started talking to himself aloud.  “Get used to it, Torino.  You’re moving in here, Torino.  Start studying, Torino.  You know, I’m getting’ real sick of being treated like a little kid, Champ.  Always telling me what to do and how to do it.”  Hutch could hear Johnny making his bed and after a few seconds of silence, the youthful convict spoke again.  “You know, I heard one of the guys talkin’ that we might get a couple of video games in the dayroom.  I heard there was this one game called Pac Man.  I heard it’s a great game and I’d love to check that out.”

 

As Hutch listened to Johnny talk about the new game, a warm feeling filled his chest.  Not only was he now understanding how this climate worked in all it’s nuances, Hutch for a moment felt like he was in the same room with Starsky.  He allowed a smile to escape knowing no one would see it.

 

 

 

 

The night before the big test, Hutch could hear Johnny tossing and turning in his bunk.  He knew the kid was nervous about it and he had rambled on about it endlessly.  The truth be told, Hutch was nervous as well.  He wanted it probably more so than Johnny.

 

“Champ?”

 

Hutch looked up into the darkness.  “Yeah.”

 

“I heard you used to be a cop.”

 

“That was a long time ago.”

 

Hutch heard some shifting in the bunk below him knowing more questions were sure to come.

 

“How’d you wind up in here?”

 

Hutch hadn’t expected the question.  He hadn’t thought about the reasons or the how in a very long time.  He intentionally didn’t allow his mind to wander to it or even consider it.  “I don’t know.”

 

He hoped it was the end of the questions.  Any more and he knew he would have to think about all of it.

 

“Champ, were you a good cop?”

 

Hutch rolled to his side and closed his eyes.  “Hutch was a good cop.  That’s over now.”

 

“Champ…”

 

“Go to sleep, Torino.  You’ve got a big day tomorrow.” 

 

Hutch didn’t think he would go to sleep after the last question, but he drifted off.  The night was filled with dreams.  It was dreams of the past which Hutch enjoyed and had missed desperately.  He dreamed of the wonderful times he and Starsky had shared over the years.  It was pleasant and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

If anyone had asked Starsky how long it had been since the last time he had laid eyes on Hutch, he would say he didn’t know.  There was no reason to keep track.  Internally, Starsky knew how long it had been.  It was now 5 months and 16 days.  Hutch had a little over 18 months left on his sentence. 

 

It was easy for Starsky to track the days since he had last seen Hutch.  It was the day he intentionally and purposely cut Hutch out of his life.  It was the day he swore it didn’t matter any more and it was also the day he decided he would put all of it in the past never allowing himself to look back.

 

When Starsky walked into his apartment, he heard movements back in his bedroom.  He slipped off his jacket and set it on back of the chair.  As Starsky removed the holster with its gun in place, he headed back to the bedroom.  He was holding the holster in his hand when he stopped in the doorway.

 

A suitcase was lying open on the bed and Melinda had the closet almost emptied of her things.  “What’s going on?”

 

“I wanted to be packed before you got here.”

 

Starsky set the holster down on the dresser and walked up to the bed.  “You were just going to leave and not even talk to me about it?”

 

“No, I didn’t want to give you a chance to talk me out of it.”

 

Starsky was flabbergasted and he watched as she pulled several things from the closet and folded them putting the items into the suitcase.  “I don’t understand, Mel.  Why are you leaving?”

 

She stopped what she was doing and looked into his dark blue eyes.  “Dave, it’s not going to work out between us.  I had thought my moving in here would change things.”

 

“Why don’t you start there?  Apparently you must have thought there was a problem then that you didn’t bother discussing with me.”

 

Melinda sighed and picked up a shirt off the bed.  “Dave, I want something from you.  I realized not long ago that you could never give it to me.”

 

“Will you quit talking in riddles and lay it out for me?”  Starsky was starting to feel his patience leave him as he watched her put the clothes in the suitcase.

 

“I guess I’m selfish, Dave.  Where you’re concerned, I’m greedy.  I love you so much and I know you can’t love me the way I want you to.”

 

“Well, you certainly cleared that up.”  Starsky folded his arms and gave Melinda an expectant look hoping she would tell him the problem.

 

Melinda walked over to Starsky and ran her fingers on the side of his face.  “I want to be first in your life, Dave.  I want to be the one you think of when you wake up in the morning and I want you to be so eager to come home just because I’m here.”

 

Starsky grabbed her hand and held it tightly.  “Mel, I love you.”

 

“I know you do, Dave.  But you don’t love me enough and I don’t think you ever will.  There’s a part of you, you have locked away from the entire world and it’s such an integral part of who you are that I’ll never really know.”

 

Starsky smiled sadly.  “You’re not making a lot of sense.”

 

“Who is Hutch?”

 

Starsky’s heart stopped at the simple question and he pursed his lips briefly.  “How did you hear about him?”

 

“I found out his name.  He’s the man with you in those photographs, Dave.  I asked other people and I get the same answer every time.  Ask you.”

 

“He’s a part of my past, Mel.”

 

Melinda pulled her hand away and walked back to her suitcase.  “You may think he is, but I don’t.  You’ve kept him locked away from me and yourself since I’ve known you.”

 

“This shouldn’t matter.  We’re supposed to be building a life together.”

 

“We can’t until you let this go.”

 

“I did,” Starsky answered raising his voice.  “I let it go over five months ago before you and I even met.”

 

“No, you didn’t.  You’ve just done a hell of a job of keeping it to yourself.  Maybe you did it to fool yourself.  I don’t know.”  Melinda closed the suitcase snapping it shut.  “All I know is that I’m not first in your life and I honestly don’t believe I ever will be.”

 

“You know my job…”

 

“This isn’t about your damn job or Dom.  I know how important they are to you.  I can’t compete with a ghost or where ever this man is.  He’s got that part of you that no one will ever have and I honestly don’t believe you want anyone else to have it either.”  Melinda picked up her suitcase and walked into the living room.  She set it down near a smaller bag Starsky hadn’t seen before. 

 

Starsky watched her slip her jacket on and put her purse on her shoulder.  “I’ll come back for the rest of my things later.”

 

He stood there watching her and suddenly Starsky realized he didn’t want to fight her on this.  Starsky had a million other arguments ready and lined up in his head which he knew would probably convince her to stay.  He was letting her go and he wasn’t going to stop her.

 

Starsky watched Melinda open the door.  She picked up her suitcase and the smaller bag.  Melinda looked at him and gave him a sad smile.  She turned and walked through the door and out of Starsky’s life. 

 

He stood there for a moment and walked to the door closing it firmly behind her.  Starsky took his time walking to the couch.  He sat down on it feeling the apartment grow bigger and feeling emptier with each passing second.  He grabbed a pillow and laid down pulling his knees close.  Starsky closed his eyes but sleep refused to come.

 

 

 

Hutch didn’t question who was coming to see him or why.  He wore the shackles as if they were a part of his every day routine.  His mind was on Johnny’s test results which were due in any day.  It had been over three weeks since he had taken the test.  Hutch was anxious to know the results.

 

The door was opened in front of him and Hutch stepped through it.  He stopped at the sight of Dom wondering why the man was even back.  Hutch remained silent as the shackles were removed.  He looked over at Dom who was pulling a chair out. 

 

“Would you sit with me?” 

 

Hutch watched him make himself comfortable and took his time walking over to the other side of the table.  He sat down and pulled his cigarettes out.  Hutch lit one and set the pack on the table.  He took a drag and blew the smoke out of the corner of his mouth.  “I’d say this was a pleasant surprise Detective Dominguez, but it’s not.”

 

“Call me Dom.  Most everyone does.”

 

Hutch took another drag from the smoke and looked at Dom out of the corner of his eye.  “Why don’t you tell me why you wanted to see me, Detective Dominguez?”

 

The emphasis on the last name hung in the air between them and Dom looked uncomfortably down at his hands.  “I came to talk to you about Starsky.”

 

Hutch’s fingers tightened a bit on the cigarette and he forced himself to sit stiffly in the chair.  “Are you here to tell me he’s dead?”

 

“I need your help.”

 

Hutch brought his gaze up sharply looking at Dom.  He brought the cigarette to his lips and waited.  If Starsky was dead, the young detective would have said so.  He felt relieved at the thought.

 

“About six months ago, I introduced Dave to a young woman and they hit it off pretty good.  She moved in with him not long afterwards.  Here about a month ago, she left him.  I’m not sure why, he won’t tell me.”

 

“Is there a point to this?”  Hutch’s voice was sharp and firm.

 

“Ever since she left, he’s been closed off.  No one can get to him.  He just goes through the motions of the job.  He goes home and broods.  I’d almost say he was like he was when I first met him.”  Dom looked down at the table remembering how Starsky was at that time.  He looked back up at Hutch.  “But it’s different.  It’s like he doesn’t care about anything or anyone anymore.  I’m worried he’ll take this out on the street at some point and it’ll get him killed.”

 

Hutch nursed the cigarette visualizing the images.  He didn’t want to look at the reasons behind Starsky’s change in behavior.  All that crossed his mind was that Starsky must have loved this woman very much.  He wished she was here so he could retaliate for hurting Starsky.

 

“I don’t know what else to do.  You know him better than anyone else and I thought maybe you could help me.”

 

Hutch finished the cigarette off and slowly stabbed it into the small metal ashtray on the table.  “If I do this, you are never to come back here again.  I don’t want to see you after this.”

 

“About what happened last time…?”

 

“Do you understand me, Detective Dominguez?”

 

Dom nodded realizing Hutch didn’t want to discuss it.  Hutch leaned forward a bit and began telling Dom the one sure way he knew would reach Starsky.  He left nothing out in the words or the actions Dom would need to take.  Hutch explained to Dom he needed to do this exactly as he told him or any chance of reaching Starsky would be lost.

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny’s test results arrived in the late afternoon much to everyone’s surprise.  Hutch was thankful for the distraction from Dom’s troubling visit over Starsky.  He needed something else to keep him focused.

 

He played with the envelope in his hand fidgeting nervously.  “What if I failed?  I mean there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know.”

 

Hutch took a drag from his cigarette and stuck a free hand in his pocket.  “You’ll take it again.  It won’t be over if you failed.  It just means you need to try harder.”

 

“Well, I don’t know if I want to take it again.”

 

Malcolm smiled a bit.  “We’re not getting any younger here, kid.  Open it up and see.”

 

Johnny looked expectantly at Hutch who hadn’t budged an inch or gave an expression of even hopefulness.  He stared back down at the envelope and flipped it over.  He nervously tore it open and pulled out the letter.  Johnny reluctantly opened it up and slowly read the letter.  His eyebrows rose up and his eyes widened.  “I don’t believe it.  I passed.”

 

“Hey, that’s great.” Malcolm smiled and folded his arms.

 

“I got an 86.  I guess that’s good.”  Johnny looked over at Hutch who hadn’t spoken.  “I actually made it.  I got a high school diploma.”

 

“So what now?” Hutch looked over at Johnny holding the cigarette between his fingers. 

 

“I guess when somebody does high school they go to college.” Johnny shrugged his shoulders unsure of himself.

 

“You could be a hell of a jailhouse lawyer, kid,” Malcolm replied.

 

Johnny looked over at Hutch expecting something from him, but he wasn’t sure what.  Hutch finished off his cigarette and dropped it in the coffee can.  “There are courses offered through the prison library.  They’re tough, but with enough work and effort on your part, you could take a few.”

 

Johnny’s exhilaration dropped seeing the lack of enthusiasm on Hutch’s face.  “I suppose I could check them out.”

 

An inmate stuck his head inside the cell and looked over at Hutch.  “Champ, the generator’s going kaput and Charlie’s about ready to tear into it again.”

 

Hutch sighed and grabbed his cigarettes from the small desk.  “I’d better get down there before he does.  He couldn’t tell the difference between a wrench and a screwdriver.  I’ll meet you both in the yard.”

 

Hutch left Malcolm and Johnny alone in the cell.  Johnny stared at the cell door Hutch had just exited and looked over at Malcolm.  “I don’t get him.  I would’ve thought he’d be happy for me.”

 

“Are you kidding?  He was doing back flips.”

 

“Wouldn’t know the way he acts,” Johnny mumbled still looking down at his letter.

 

“Did it ever occur to you, kid that Champ’s not doing this just for his health?  Look at everything he’s ever done for you since you set foot in this place.  Face it, kid.  He’s the best friend you got or ever will have in your life.”  Malcolm walked over to the opening of the cell and looked back at Johnny.  “I’ll meet you down in the yard.  I expect you to win that game today.”

 

Johnny nodded and stared down at the letter in his hand.  He smiled feeling proud of himself.  It was the only thing he had ever completed in his life.  He would never have made it if it weren’t for Champ.

 

He stood up to leave and stopped short at Boone making an appearance in the opening of the cell.  His large frame filled the doorway and Johnny backed up feeling his heart fill with dread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An hour later, Hutch headed back to his cell needing to change his shirt.  He had spent most of that time getting the generator back up and running.  He had to admit he was thrilled seeing Johnny getting his diploma.  It was giving him more confidence and Hutch was beginning to feel comfortable about leaving him here when he was released from prison. 

 

Most of the inmates had already left for their time out in the yard and the cell block was strangely quiet.  There had been times Hutch had forfeited his time outside just to get a few moments of peace and privacy which was highly valued. 

 

He was almost to his cell and saw a shadow on the floor from the small light inside.  Hutch slowed down staring down at it.  He brought his head up from the floor to the bars and saw what the shadow was telling him.  His heartbeat and his breath stopped.

 

Johnny hung inside the bars with his feet dangling a foot from the floor.  Hutch rushed in grabbing his body and pulling him up.  He could feel the coldness seeping from Johnny’s body through his clothes, but wouldn’t accept the horrific truth.  Hutch yelled loudly taking notice of the thick wire biting into Johnny’s neck.

 

Two guards showed up and frantically got the wire removed.  Hutch lowered Johnny’s body to the floor and the guards knelt down next to him.  His breaths came in short gasps scarcely believing it when he heard the simple statement.  “He’s dead, Champ.”

 

Hutch brought himself upright feeling the rage of emotions flowing through him like a wild river.  He wanted to scream and cry.  Instead, Hutch turned and marched out of the cell as a man on a mission.  With every step he took, the fury seemed to double within him.  With every step, the despair was replaced with an animalistic need for revenge.

 

He threw the door open and scanned the yard.  Hutch’s vision leveled on Boone who was near the weights.  Hutch took the steps down and as soon as his foot hit the hard ground, he broke into a deadly sprint aimed directly at Boone. 

 

Hutch’s speed was noticed by many, but before anyone could give warning to Boone, he drove the murderer’s body down to the ground.  Hutch ruthlessly hit him with his fist several times.  He yanked him to his feet and flung him towards the bench press.  Boone crashed into it knocking it over and several weights fell to the ground.

 

He was relentless.  Hutch picked up Boone by the shirt and kicked him several times in the ribs with his foot feeling the rage take over.  Boone collapsed to the ground when Hutch let him go.  Hutch kicked him to his back and knelt down.  He grabbed a dumbbell and raised it up.  Hutch was ready to drive the heavy object into Boone’s head.

 

Just when he was ready to bring it down, he felt a firm warm grasp on his wrist.  Hutch turned his head and his eyes widened.  Starsky stood there holding his wrist to keep Hutch from murdering a man.  The understanding and warmth was in his eyes.  Hutch blinked his eyes and the image disappeared. 

 

He took a breath and looked back down at the unconscious Boone.  Suddenly Hutch felt like his old self.  He stared intently at the man who had killed someone Hutch had deeply cared about.  For a brief moment, he was the man he was before this whole nightmare had begun.  Hutch licked his dry lips and let his hand fall to his side.  The dumbbell slipped from his fingers and rolled away.

 

Hutch pushed himself to his feet and staggered back.  He looked around at the convicts watching him.  Hutch’s passing gaze locked with Malcolm’s briefly.  He then moved away from Boone and pushed his way through the crowd.  Hutch didn’t look back as he headed back inside the prison.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky was sitting on the couch nursing a beer bottle when Dom walked inside.  He slipped his jacket off and laid it on the back of a nearby chair.  Dom walked around the couch to a chair and sat down across from Starsky.  “It’s usually customary to knock, Dom.”

 

“I wasn’t sure if you’d answer.  You did give me a key to your place.”

 

Starsky lifted the bottle to his lips and felt the cool liquid trailing down his throat. He brought the bottle down and swung his eyes to Dom.  “Listen, I know you want to give me a nice pick me up speech, but not tonight.  I’m just not in the mood for it.”

 

“Dave, if you’ll just listen for a sec.”

 

Starsky stood up and walked away from Dom while he was in mid sentence.  Dom quickly stood and followed Starsky into the kitchen.  Starsky was at the fridge opening the door and Dom came up behind him.  He closed the door not allowing Starsky access to another beer.  “I’m telling you to back off, Dom.”

 

Dom knew this was his chance and Hutch’s words echoed in his ears.  He grabbed Starsky by the arm and pulled him around.  “I want you to listen to me, Dave, and I’m not leaving till you do.”

 

Starsky started to walk away and Dom blocked his way.  He put his hands on Starsky’s face and forced him to look into his eyes.  “You are a top rated cop who got kicked in the gut more times than anyone should ever get.  You’ve gotten to the point you don’t care about anything or anyone.  You’ve got to pick yourself back up not only for you, but for the people who care about you.  If you don’t, what’s eating away at you will go out on the street with you and that scares the hell out of me, Starsky.”

 

Dom wasn’t sure if it worked when he looked into Starsky’s eyes.  Suddenly Starsky’s eyes grew wide and he violently flung Dom back away from him.  Starsky practically ran from the kitchen knocking a chair over in the process.  Dom didn’t expect this reaction from Starsky and he had no idea what had just happened.

 

He walked out of the kitchen and found Starsky back in his bedroom pacing back and forth.  Starsky looked up at Dom in the doorway.  He reached over and grabbed Dom by the shirt and threw him against the wall.  Starsky’s eyes glittered with rage as he held Dom tightly.  “Who told you to say that?

 

“What?”

 

“What you did, Dom!  Who told you to do that?”

 

Dom realized that he had reached Starsky.  He just didn’t count on this reaction from him.  “Hutch told you, didn’t he?”  Starsky gripped Dom’s shirt tighter and leaned in closer.  “Answer me!”

 

“I went and saw him today,” Dom whispered.  “Jesus, Dave.  I didn’t know what else to do.”

 

Starsky slowly released Dom and sat down on the bed.  He rubbed his eyes and looked up at Dom.  “He told you what to say and what to do.”

 

“Yeah, I wasn’t sure if he would do it or not.”

 

Starsky swallowed the hard lump in his throat and wondered how Hutch looked.  It was on the tip of his tongue to ask Dom, but he was scared to know.  It had been months since Starsky laid eyes on him and their confrontation still weighed heavily on his mind.  “I don’t get it.  Why would he do it?  He didn’t give a damn one way or the other the last time…”

 

Dom took the moment and stepped forward.  “You have to know the truth, Dave.”

 

Starsky raised his head.  “The truth about what?”

 

Dom looked away from Starsky trying to figure out how he was going to say the words.  “I paid a visit to Hutch right before we went on that long assignment for the feds.”

 

Starsky stood slowly the glowing anger coming back into his eyes.  “You what?”

 

“I told him to let you go.”

 

Starsky lost it right there.  He grabbed Dom and flung him up against the wall knocking the wind from the young detective’s lungs.  He had his fist raised and Dom caught his wrist with his hand.  “At least give me a chance to explain before you kick my ass.”  Dom was breathing hard barely able to catch his breath.  “You were so intent on proving his innocence and by doing so you thought everything would be back to the way it was before, Dave.”

 

“I know that,” Starsky bit out through gritted teeth.

 

“What you don’t know is he said you wouldn’t let him go.  We both knew the longer you held on like that the worse it would hurt the more time passed.  Dave, I don’t know what Hutch did to push you away and he must’ve really done the job.”  Dom saw something in Starsky’s eyes and he kept on.  “Don’t you see, Dave?  It was an act.  Whatever it was he did to you, it was all a show so you would leave and go back to your life.”

 

Starsky slowly lowered his fist and released Dom.  He stepped back breathing hard and suddenly it all came back to him.  He remembered the talk they had when Hutch was trying to explain to Starsky about going on with his life.  It all made sense.  Everything was falling into place.

 

“He had to have somehow found out you were coming, Dave.  Given what kind of place he’s in, he’s probably learned enough to get inside information about his visitors.”

 

Starsky turned around still trying to get his bearings.  He swung back around and looked at Dom.  “I had to go through Dobey to get that visit with Hutch.  How did you get in there?”

 

“I’ve got a friend who works in the clerk’s office.  He’ll schedule them for me on pretty short notice.  I’ve had to do it in the past so an inmate won’t…”

 

“Won’t do what Hutch did,” Starsky finished.  He thought for a moment and walked over to Dom.  “I want you to schedule me a visit with Hutch.”

 

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?”

 

“Yeah, it is.  Just remember something, Dom.  I understand why you did what you did.  Hell, Hutch did the same thing.  I’m tired of people I care about making decisions for me and if you pull another stunt like that again, I will wipe this place with your ass.”  Starsky sat down on the bed and looked at Dom.  He smiled a bit at him.  “Don’t worry. Hutch’ll get the same speech.”

 

Dom relaxed and sat down on the bed next to Starsky.  “You scared the hell out of me, Dave.”

 

“I’m sorry about that.  I was feelin’ pretty lost there for a while.”

 

Dom looked over at Starsky and saw the familiar light and twinkles in his dark blue eyes.  It was amazing to see such a change overcome his friend.  In fact, it was downright miraculous.  Dom suddenly realized something he didn’t think his friend was yet aware of.  He could swear Starsky looked like a man in love.  Starsky didn’t even have the same look when he was with Melinda.  Dom smiled looking forward to the day he did know.  “It will probably be the day after tomorrow when you see him, but I can guarantee, he won’t know you’re coming.”

 

“Good.  There’s a certain way I want this handled and you’ve got to help me make sure it’s done right.” 

 

Starsky stood up and Dom followed him out of the bedroom.  He chuckled as he heard the excitement in Starsky’s voice.  He listened attentively as Starsky explained precisely what he wanted done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hutch had a blank look on his face as he was shuffled through the various gates.  The shackles were on once again and he frankly didn’t care.  Since Johnny’s death and his banishment of Starsky, there wasn’t much in his life he did care about.  He just went through the motions of living.  Times were becoming more and more frequent, Hutch waited for some con to make his move on him.  Death was beginning to have more appeal to him in just the few short days since Johnny’s murder.

 

The guard stopped him in front of the closed door.  Hutch glanced over in surprise as the shackles were removed before he entered.  “What are you doing?”

 

The guard finished removing them and held them in his hand.  “When you’re done, just knock.”

 

Hutch was surprised by this new protocol and he looked at the guard and then back at the door.  He reached for the door and opened it.  Hutch walked through the door and turned to close it behind him.  He looked back and saw Starsky turn around to look at him.

 

He felt the breath leave his body at the sight of Starsky and the shock in his eyes were apparent.  Starsky looked so damn good Hutch was compelled to run into his arms.  He held fast to his place in the middle of the room still trying to grasp the reality that Starsky was actually standing in front of him.

 

Starsky started walking towards him.  “Hutch.”

 

Hutch stepped back away from him trying to get a handle on his emotions.  No, he screamed inwardly.  This isn’t right.  He walked to the far side of the room remembering who he now was and where he was at.

 

Starsky stopped when he realized Hutch was running from him.  He could see Hutch was trying to grasp onto his self control.  Starsky knew he couldn’t push it with Hutch.  He reminded him of a skittish mustang.  One touch and he would run for the hills as fast as his feet could carry him.

 

He slowly walked to the table in the middle of the room.  Starsky grasped the back of the chair and pulled it out for Hutch.  He walked to the other side of the table and pulled the other chair sitting in it.  Starsky waited patiently for Hutch to make the next move and say the next words.

 

He looked over at Hutch who was taking a deep breath.  The hard look came over his face like a curtain closing on the final act.  Starsky knew it was all a façade then.  Every look and every statement Hutch made and more than likely his life inside the prison was all a lie.  When he looked over at Hutch, he saw more of the familiar Hutch he remembered before going to prison. 

 

Hutch’s hair was a bit longer than what it was before going to prison.  The goatee and the mustache were now gone.  He had an almost youthful look in that hard edged face.  Some would say it was the hard life adding age to his face, but Starsky would know it was from the constant hiding Hutch was doing to survive.  Hutch’s body looked leaner and more fit than Starsky had ever seen.  Starsky never recalled noticing Hutch’s body in this manner before.

 

He looked up as Hutch slowly crossed the room.  Hutch pulled a cigarette out and put it in his mouth before sitting down in the chair.  Hutch lit it and inhaled the smoke deeply into his lungs.  He expelled it like he was trying to force the raging emotions inside of him out.  “Why are you here?”

 

Starsky licked his dry lips almost unable to speak for a moment.  He was on the verge of blurting out ‘I love you’ but realized, he didn’t want to do one single solitary thing to scare Hutch off.  That was his biggest worry at this point.  “I know what you did and I know why you did it.”

 

Hutch took another drag from his cigarette and leaned forward in his chair.  “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

 

“Yeah, it does.  I’m not mad you did it.  I probably would have done the same thing.”  Starsky studied Hutch closely as he toyed with the cigarette.  He saw what looked like a tiny spot of grease on Hutch’s neck and resisted the urge to wipe it from his strong neck.  In fact, Starsky suddenly wanted to do more.  He wanted to envelop Hutch into his arms and into his own body.  He felt his body stir at the thought and it hit him.

 

Hutch took a drag from his cigarette keeping his eyes averted from Starsky.  “If that’s all you came here to say, you wasted your time.”

 

“No,” Starsky blurted out.  “Just give me a chance here.  Please.”  Starsky brought his love for Hutch and his body back in control knowing if he suddenly told Hutch what he was suddenly feeling and thought out of the blue, it would reverse everything he was trying to accomplish.  He wouldn’t risk it for anything.  This was not the time and it most definitely wasn’t the place to announce the wild emotions he was feeling and how his body was reacting to being in Hutch’s presence.

 

Starsky could have blamed it on the fact that it had been months since he had last seen Hutch, but he knew it would be a lie.  He wasn’t willing to lie to himself or to Hutch.  He would just take this one step at a time.  Hutch needed it more than he did.  Starsky moved his hand forward to take Hutch’s outstretched hand.  He jerked it back when Hutch moved it away.  It’s okay Hutch.  I can wait, buddy, Starsky told him silently.

 

“I know you’re not the same person before you got here.  I’d be lying to myself if I believed that.  Both of us are different than we ever were.  What I’m saying here, is that no matter how much we’ve changed, I know I can’t live my life without you in it.”

 

Hutch brought the cigarette up to his lips pondering Starsky’s words.  “You won’t like what you find.”

 

“Maybe not, but I can’t go another day without you.”

 

Hutch felt his heart crying at the words Starsky was saying to him.  He slowly exhaled the smoke trying not to let it be known how much Starsky’s words meant to him.  “What do you want from me, Starsky?  I don’t have anything left to give.”

 

“You don’t have to.  I’ll do the giving and you do the taking.  Whatever I got to do to make things right with us, I’ll do it and this time I’m not letting you put on a show like you did last time.  I won’t give you the chance and besides any show you put together for me would be wasted after the fine performance you gave last time we were in this room.”

 

Hutch wanted to smile, but he didn’t.  He looked over at Starsky and saw the earnestness in his eyes.  Hutch was too full of his own pain to see anything else which might be there. 

 

“I don’t expect everything to be right all at once.  Hell, I expect it’ll be a long time before it ever is.  I’m just asking that we take it slow.  I want to come and see you like before.  Only this time, I won’t be pushing you.  We’ll talk about whatever you want and we’ll take it as slow as you want.  We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

 

Hutch looked into Starsky’s eyes and he knew he couldn’t say no.  It just wasn’t inside him and he knew he needed something to hold onto.  Right now Starsky was it and he was what he wanted.  Hutch knew he was probably lying to himself, but he’d take a lie over the life he had been living.  He gave Starsky a nod and almost smiled at the irresistible grin which spread easily across his friend’s face.

 

 

 

 

The visits began slow and easy just as Starsky had said.  He could still see the wariness in Hutch’s eyes, but he wasn’t about to give up.  Starsky was determined to show Hutch he had nothing to fear by opening up to him.  The visits were brought back to where they began.  They were divided by glass and spoke to each other through phones. 

 

Sometimes Starsky felt Hutch preferred it rather than in the room where their relationship had fallen apart and where they began to put it back together.  Hutch had a shield not only to keep Starsky at bay, but a shield around his heart as well.  Starsky could see it more so than he ever could.  He wondered why he had missed it in the first place.  Maybe he didn’t want to see it and Starsky knew he had been in denial about the changes in Hutch since his imprisonment.

 

Their conversations consisted of small talk for the most part.  Hutch spoke of the work he did, the books he read and how he spent some of his free time.  Starsky took note of the fact; Hutch didn’t speak of any friends he may have made in the time he had been here.

 

Hutch would ask questions about the job, Huggy and various other topics outside the prison.  He never asked about Melinda even though Starsky had briefly mentioned her.  Starsky hoped to get past the safe subjects at some point, but as the months passed, he saw that it wouldn’t happen.  He could only pray that when Hutch did get out, Starsky could get past the barriers Hutch had become so adept at throwing up.

 

The other topic which weighed heavily on Starsky’s mind was the subject of the officers which had arrested Hutch in the first place.  He desperately wanted to talk to Hutch about it, but he knew it would be treading dangerous ground with his friend. 

 

Starsky had gotten a good read on what Hutch was willing to discuss and what he was not during their visits.  He was beginning to see him in that new light and by doing so, he saw more in his movements and in his voice.  Hutch had learned to disguise his emotions through his eyes, but Starsky began noticing the slightest gestures and the resonance in his voice.  He knew when to back off of a subject when it starting touching on an area Hutch was sensitive to.

 

Hutch still had eight months left on his sentence when Starsky made his silent decision.  He knew he was taking a risk by not telling a soul about what he was going to do.  Starsky was desperate to clear Hutch’s name and while he couldn’t do anything to help him on the inside, Starsky could at least do something on the outside.

 

He was careful with his moves.  Starsky first talked to Minnie who managed to get a hold of the shift schedule from the 34th precinct.  He had asked her about getting a hold of their case files for the two years preceding Hutch’s arrest, but Minnie explained doing so would alert practically the world.

 

Starsky wasn’t about to let that slow him down.  When he knew Woods and Pride weren’t on duty, Starsky would go down to the precinct and head for where the older records were stored.  After giving the sergeant on duty a story about an important case he was working on, Starsky headed inside and found the needed records. 

 

He spread his visits over a two week period careful of how much time he spent there and taking thorough notes.  Starsky hoped something would just jump out.  But he soon realized it wouldn’t be as simple.

 

It was late in the evening and Starsky was hunched over his kitchen table sorting through the various notes he had made.  He was spending most of his free time chasing down leads no matter how little and insignificant they were. 

 

Starsky looked up at his door at the weak knock coming from the other side.  He stood up and was halfway there when the door swung open.  Dom was leaning in the doorway with a handkerchief to the side of his head.  His bottom lip was split open and the bruising around his left eye was discoloring quickly.

 

Starsky rushed to him.  “Jesus, Dom.” Starsky helped him to the couch.  He ran to the bathroom and grabbed the first aide kit.  Starsky came back and sat down next to him.  He began doctoring the wounds on his face.  “What happened?”

 

“Ouch!” Dom flinched when Starsky began applying the medicine to the open cut above his eye.  “I worked late finishing up the report on the McKinney murder.  Theresa had called and wanted me to stop off at the store on the way home.  I was almost to my car when I got jumped.”

 

“Any idea who?”  Starsky grabbed a small band aide and opened it up.

 

Dom shook his head.  “All they said was that Starsky doesn’t know how to take care of his partners.  Think these are the same guys that busted Hutch?”

 

Starsky covered the cut on Dom’s head with the band aide and sighed.  “Probably.  Did they say anything else?  Did you get anything that would give a clue to who they were?”

 

“Dave, I’m not a damn rookie here.  If there was something I’d tell you.”  Dom stood up and headed into the kitchen.  He looked over at the table and saw the notes.  He turned back and walked into the living room.  “What are you doing?”

 

Starsky pushed himself up from the couch.  “They must’ve found out what I was doing.  They were sending me a message.”

 

“You’ve been investigating these guys this whole time and you didn’t tell me!”

 

“Dom, I didn’t want to get you involved.  It could cost you your badge.”

 

Dom walked closer to Starsky and put his hands on his hips.  “I’d say I already am.  Tell me what you’ve got so far.”

 

Starsky sighed and folded his arms across his chest.  “How much do you know about the case?”

 

“Just what I heard before you and I became partners.  I heard a few things here and there around the precinct.”

 

Starsky walked into the kitchen and looked down at the stack of papers on the table.  “Hutch was busted by two cops from the 34th.”

 

“The 34th?  That’s my old precinct.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Starsky said feeling a bit peeved.

 

“I didn’t know, Dave.  I knew how sensitive you were about this and I figured if I kept my nose out of it, the better for you.  Besides at the time I wasn’t even sure if he wasn’t guilty.”

 

Starsky nodded in understanding and sat down in the chair.  Dom sat across from him.  “So who are these guys?”

 

“Woods and Pride.  Do you know them?”

 

Dom nodded.  “Not well.  I saw them around before I transferred.  I know either some cops admire them or some hate them.  Could be jealousy I suppose.”

 

“Is there any chance that it was them that came after you tonight?”

 

Dom shook his head solemnly.  “I couldn’t tell you.  It was dark and they got me from behind.”  He leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment.  “I remember hearing a couple of brother cops talking one time in the locker room.  They called Woods and Pride the luckiest cops on the force.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I guess because they made the biggest drug busts.  They were always at the right place at the right time.  They must have had a hell of a snitch to get some of the busts they got.”

 

“It was a snitch that gave them the info about Hutch from the way they tell it.”

 

“You don’t think so?”

 

“Nope.” Starsky leaned forward in his chair.  “They won’t give up this informant of theirs for nothing, Dom.  Not even to clear the name of a good cop.”

 

“You haven’t told me what you’ve got so far.”

 

Starsky slapped his hand down on the table in frustration.  “Nothing.  I can’t find a damn thing.  It’d help if I had more time to get through their case files.”

 

“Surely, you’ve got some idea why they arrested Hutch.”

 

“That’s the thing that makes the least bit of sense, Dom.  If we could find out who this snitch is and what he told them, we might find the reasons behind it.”

 

“It would explain a lot.  For all you know, he may be someone who had some sort of vendetta against Hutch or someone he’s working for.”

 

“That’s what I’ve thought.  The only other reason I can see them holding out on this is if they know more than what they’re telling or just lying. That’s why I think these guys set Hutch up.  I feel it, Dom.”

 

Dom looked over at Starsky.  He could see the troubled look on his face.  “Dave, you have to take this to Dobey.  He’ll find out once he gets a look at my face.”

 

“I think I’d rather face a herd of wild elephants than to take this to Dobey.”

 

Dom chuckled knowing his partner was in for a hell of tirade from their beloved captain.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky stood off to the side near the door while Dom sat in the chair.  Dobey was pacing angrily behind his desk.  He stopped and glared at Starsky.  “How many times have I said no private parties!  You of most of all, Starsky should know better!”

 

Starsky walked to a standing position in front of Dobey’s desk.  “These guys set Hutch up.  I know it in my gut, Cap.  Give Dom and me 48 hours.”

 

“Out of the question, Starsky!  I just got word.  Woods and Pride are undercover on an important assignment.  Anything you do could jeopardize their covers.”

 

“Someone worked Dom over, Cap!  It’s because of what I was doing!”

 

“You can find out who jumped your partner, Starsky.  If it leads somewhere, you’ve got my full support.”

 

“That ain’t good enough, Cap!” Starsky yelled.

 

“It has to be, Starsky!  My hands are tied on this!  Their captain has already said if you make one more move on his men without provocation he’ll have your badge!”

 

Starsky was fuming at the words Dobey said.  He did an about face and slung the door open.  Starsky stormed out of the office, through the squad room and out into the hallway.  He stopped at the candy machine and dug for change out of his pockets.  He dropped some into the slot machine and pulled on the knob for his favorite candy bar.  When it didn’t come, he jerked on the knob a few more times.  Starsky lost his cool and then began kicking heatedly at the obstinate machine.  Finally, he stopped and planted his hands on the top of it.  Starsky dropped his head down feeling as if he had let Hutch down once again.

 

“I hope you got that out of your system.”

 

Starsky looked over at Dom who was walking towards him.  He stood up and leaned up against the wall.  Starsky chuckled and glanced over at Dom.  “You been seeing Hutch again?”

 

“No, why?”

 

“Never mind.” Starsky pushed away from the wall and crossed his arms.  “I know I’m more realistic about Hutch getting out of prison, Dom.  But he deserves to have his name cleared if nothing else.”

 

“I know that, Dave.  But surely you realize what you’re up against here.  Maybe now isn’t the time.”

 

“It’s been too long as it is.” Starsky turned and started down the hallway with Dom close by.

 

“I know it’s been a while, but there’s something else you need to think about, partner.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Well, Hutch gets out in about seven months, doesn’t he?”

 

“If his parole hearing goes well,” Starsky mumbled.

 

Dom touched Starsky’s arm and they stopped.  “Dave, if you can’t clear his name, there’s other things you can do.  Such as make sure it goes well.  Plus the fact, he may need a place to live when he is out.”

 

Starsky’s eyes grew big.  “Jesus, where’s my head at?”

 

“You’ve been still trying to get him out.”

 

“Yeah, I’ve got to talk to some people.  You know, have some people testify on Hutch’s behalf and all that.  Then, he’s got to have a place to live.  I mean he could stay with me.”

 

“Hutch has been sharing a cell smaller than your bathroom with other inmates.  I think he’d rather have his own place for awhile.”

 

Starsky started walking down the hallway animatedly telling Dom about everything which needed to be done to prepare for Hutch’s homecoming.  He had much to do and little time to do it in.  Dom watched Starsky in amazement admiring his excitement.

 

 

 

 

 

 Hutch sat on the bottom bunk sorting through his things.  Malcolm sat on the far end leaning against the wall watching him.  Hutch pulled out several items and set them near Malcolm.  He dragged out several valued items used for barter and bribery and set them next to the others.

 

“Champ, this place won’t be the same without you.”

 

“Can’t say I’ll miss it.” Hutch tossed a few things in the cardboard box on the floor.

 

“How do you feel about going outside?”

 

Hutch looked up at Malcolm with steady blue eyes.  “I’m nervous as hell.  I’m excited, but…”

 

“You wonder how you’re going to make it.”

 

“Yeah, I guess so.”

 

Malcolm straightened up and picked up a pair of gloves Hutch was giving him.  “You’ve got somebody waiting outside for you which is more than a lot of cons have.”

 

“Starsky’s been everything to me,” Hutch said without thinking.

 

“Yeah, it shows.”

 

Hutch looked up and saw the smile on his friend’s face.  “I’m not trying to make it sound like…”

 

“Who do you think you’re talking to, Champ?  I’ve been around the block a few times and the one thing I know is…when you find the one, you’ll know it.  I think you do know it.”

 

Hutch stood up and grabbed his bag from the top bunk.  He tossed it inside the box and pulled a cigarette out of the tan shirt he was wearing.  “You didn’t strike me as the romantic type, Malcolm.”

 

A sad look suddenly appeared on Malcolm’s face and Hutch knew he had struck a chord in the experienced convict.  “Well, I think we need to talk about that favor you owe me.”

 

Hutch took a drag from his cigarette.  “I was wondering when you’d get around to that.”

 

“Think I forgot?”

 

“You don’t forget anything, Malcolm.”

 

“It’s the reason why I got put in this place.  I’ll admit I screwed up.  Robbing banks isn’t exactly the best occupation.  I prided myself on the fact; I went in, cleaned out the drawers and got out.”

 

“So what happened?”

 

“I decided I needed more of a challenge and hit a bigger bank with tighter security.  Brought a few boys in with the promise if a nice cut of the action.  We got out of there quick enough, but one of them got caught and rolled over on me.  I didn’t mind really.  It’s the nature of the business and the risk you take.”

 

“Is this where those two cops come in?”

 

“Just about now.  I had a place where I holed up with my girl until the heat died down.  Those two cops of yours tracked me down.  I was more than ready to give myself up, but those two bastards had to take care of an upset woman on their hands.”

 

Hutch could see the dark shadow cross his face and he knew it couldn’t have been good.  “What happened?”

 

Malcolm exhaled a breath and looked straight ahead.  “Beat the hell out of her, they did.  Afterwards, she left and I never saw her again or my daughter.”

 

Hutch straightened up.  “You have a daughter?”

 

“Yeah, she’s seven.  I never laid eyes on her.  The whole thing scared the hell out of my girl so I can’t say as I blame her.”

 

“You know I can’t take them out.”

 

Malcolm laughed and shook his head.  “When you’re ready to deal with those cops, send someone here to talk to me, Champ.  I’ve got a plan that’ll at least put one of them in this place with me.”

 

“If it happens I will.”

 

Malcolm stood up and faced Hutch.  “That’s all I ask, Champ.”

 

Hutch finished off his smoke and started to lean down to pick up the box.  He stopped and stood back up.  “I’ve got Tyner’s number so if he calls me, I can get word to you.”

 

“Just make sure he don’t go back into the car business.”

 

Hutch held out his hand.  “Thanks, Malcolm.  You saved my ass.”

 

“You gave me a new reason for living, Champ.” Malcolm took Hutch’s hand and shook it firmly. 

 

It was as close to a hug either man would ever show each other and just as satisfying.  Hutch grabbed the box with his bag in it and walked out of the cell.  He felt strange as he headed down the stairs.  He looked around at the convicts who were sitting at the various tables and chairs.  He looked back up and saw Malcolm looking down on him from the second deck.  Malcolm smiled and Hutch wanted to smile back.  He knew Malcolm knew he was.

 

Hutch started on his way passing through various checkpoints and security.  He stopped off at a main desk and signed for the insignificant amount of money he had earned during his imprisonment.  He looked over to see Captain Peterson walking his way.

 

Hutch knew he had to walk with him to unlock the main door.  He didn’t speak to him as he grabbed the box and started walking.  Neither man spoke as they passed through the gates.  When they got to the main door both stopped.

 

“Bring it open,” Peterson hollered.

 

Hutch could hear the sounds of the locks and then he heard the buzzer.  He started to put his hand on the handle and Peterson beat him to it.  Hutch looked over at him.  “You’ll be back, Hutchinson.”

 

Hutch tightened his mouth.  Peterson shoved the door open and Hutch walked through it.

 

Hutch stopped on the steps and looked straight ahead.  Starsky was leaning against the Torino.  He wore his familiar blue Adidas with the white stripes.  His blue jeans looked brand new.  The dark blue denim fit nicely around his hips.  Hutch liked the dark blue shirt with the small tear in the collar.  The suede jacket hung open and Starsky had his hands on the car behind him.  Hutch felt a surge of warmth fill his chest as he took the sight of Starsky in.  He looked good and it felt good seeing him like this.

 

Hutch took the steps quickly and walked over to Starsky who smiled seeing him.  “I was getting tired of seeing you in two tone blue.”

 

“At least your jeans are new.”

 

Starsky looked down at the jeans.  “You noticed.  Wasn’t sure if you would since I dressed up for you.”

 

Starsky reached for the box Hutch was carrying.  “Here, let me get that for you.”

 

Hutch pulled back instinctively.  “Just open the trunk.  I’ve got it.”

 

Starsky didn’t question Hutch at all.  He pulled his keys out and unlocked the trunk.  “At your command.”  The trunk came open and Hutch set the box inside.  Starsky slammed it shut and hurried around to the passenger side of the car.

 

Hutch raised an eyebrow at Starsky opening the door for him.  “Starsky, you’re not taking me to the prom, you know.”

 

“At least let me spoil you a little, Hutch.”

 

Hutch sighed and started towards Starsky.  He stopped and looked at the Torino.  “It sure is good to see this stop sign on wheels.”

 

“She got a new paint job just for you, Hutch.”

 

Hutch got in the car and Starsky closed the door.  He watched as Starsky ran to the other side like an excited teenager getting to drive for the first time.  Starsky got in behind the wheel and turned the ignition.  Hutch felt the familiar humming of the car beneath his body.  This feels nice, he thought.

 

The car pulled out of the parking lot and started down the highway.  Hutch enjoyed just being in the car.  He leaned his head back against the headrest and watched the cars as Starsky passed them.  He finally reached over and rolled the window down.  Hutch felt the warm breeze hit his face and he sighed in contentment. 

 

“You know, Hutch.  The hunk of junk is still sitting at Merle’s.”

 

Hutch turned his head and looked at Starsky.  “You mean Merle let you keep it there?”

 

“Well, yeah.  I don’t think he minded.  He kept the battery charged and took care of it.  Unfortunately, it still runs.”

 

“You’ll have to take me over there so I can pick it up after I get my license renewed.  It expired almost two years ago.”

 

“Think you’d still remember?”

 

“Remember what?”

 

“How to drive.”

 

“Starsky, of course I will remember.  Like riding a bike.”

 

“Come on, Hutch.  You haven’t driven for a long time now.  I’d think you’d be out of practice.”

 

“Pull the car over and I’ll show you I know how to drive.”

 

“And run the risk of getting pulled over the day you get out of the clink?  I think not, buddy.”

 

Hutch could see the grin on Starsky’s face.  It was so hard to resist smiling, but he did.  He loved the insatiable look on Starsky’s face.  Hutch had missed the bantering and it was nice to be doing it once again.  He felt so good; he almost reached over and touched Starsky.  Hutch clenched his fist not allowing the contact.  He knew if he did, he would wake up and it would all be a dream.

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky looked over at Hutch as he drove seeing the relaxed features on his face.  He smiled knowing how good Hutch had to feel at his first taste of freedom.  Starsky wanted to reach over and tousle Hutch’s golden hair which hung softly on his shoulders.  His hair had never been that long before and Starsky felt a strong urge to run his fingers through the softness.

 

He knew Hutch was still holding back, but Starsky was patient.  He would let Hutch do what felt right for him.  Starsky knew given time, Hutch would begin to relax more and the guard would slowly begin to drop.  Fact of the matter was, Starsky was looking forward to the process.  He wanted to be there when each and every barrier dropped from Hutch’s heart.

 

“Close your eyes, Hutch.”

 

Hutch glanced over at Starsky.  “What?”

 

“I’ve got a surprise and I would like it if you closed your eyes.”  Starsky looked over at Hutch seeing the apprehensive look cross his face.  “Trust me, Hutch.  It’ll be okay.”

 

Hutch sighed and closed his eyes.  Starsky glanced over to make sure his eyes were closed.  “This will take a couple of minutes, so just be patient.”

 

Starsky turned the corner and in a matter of minutes he pulled the car to a stop.  He debated on opening the car door and guiding Hutch out.  Knowing he was still edgy about being touched, Starsky decided on another way.  “Turn your head to the left just a bit, Hutch.” 

 

He watched in anticipation as Hutch turned his head.  “Okay, now raise your head.”

 

“Starsky, if this is one of your jokes…”

 

“Never, Hutch.  Not this.”  Starsky watched in satisfaction as Hutch raised his head.  When he was sure Hutch was where he needed to be, Starsky smiled.  “Okay, open your eyes.”

 

He watched Hutch open his eyes and the disbelief crossed his face.  Hutch looked back at him.  “Are you serious about this?”

 

“I thought you’d like it, Hutch.”

 

Hutch opened the car door and Starsky quickly got out meeting him on the other side of the car.  He was nervous as Hutch looked up at the oversized letters.  It was Venice Place.  “A married couple moved in there after you left and I found out they bought a house a couple of months ago.  I drove by here a lot and when I saw the for rent sign a few months ago, I jumped on it.  I thought you’d want your place back, Hutch.  I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s perfect.”

 

“What?”  Starsky stared at Hutch who was staring up at his old apartment.

 

“I can’t imagine any other place I’d want to be.”

 

“Well, you needed your own place.”

 

Hutch looked over at Starsky.  “Can we go up there now?”

 

“Oh, yeah.  I got Huggy, Dobey and Dom to help put everything back together.  It almost looks like it did before.”  Starsky started to the door and held it open for Hutch.

 

He watched as Hutch took the steps slowly.  Starsky watched every move Hutch made.  He wanted to make sure Hutch would be okay with it.  Starsky had after all taken it upon himself to get Hutch a place to live without consulting with him.

 

They reached the top of the stairs and Hutch instinctively reached to the top of the door.  “Hutch.”  Starsky held the keys out to him. 

 

Hutch took the keys from Starsky.  He fingered them slightly before opening the door.  When Hutch walked inside he was amazed at how the place looked.  For the most part it all looked the same.  He listened to Starsky talk as he took in the look of the apartment.  “We got most everything out of storage and since some of your furniture was gotten rid of, your folks helped out with a new couch and a new bed.  You got a new fridge and there’s a microwave above the stove.”

 

Hutch was flabbergasted at what he saw.  He could feel his chest begin to hurt with the deep emotion he was feeling.  Hutch breathed it in to control the sensations threatening to break from him.  He turned around and looked at Starsky.  “You didn’t have to do all this.”

 

Starsky took a step forward towards Hutch.  “Hey, I wanted to, Hutch.  I think you need this.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“Hutch, there’s something else I have to tell you.  It’s not good news.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“I know I should’ve told you this before you got here and I just didn’t have the heart to tell you before.”

 

“Starsk, just spit it out for crying out loud.”

 

“It’s Ophelia, Hutch.  She didn’t make it.”

 

“What?  She was fine when I left.”

 

“I know, but I think your leaving did something to her.  She just seemed to go downhill pretty slow.  I did everything I could.”

 

“I just can’t believe it.”  Hutch shook his head sadly.  “She was so beautiful, too.”

 

“I tried everything, Hutch.  I called Huggy.”

 

“Huggy?”

 

“I know, but he told me to call Dobey’s wife.  She tried, too.  But I guess Ophelia just wasn’t strong enough.  Maybe she just didn’t have it in her to go on living without you.”

 

“Don’t feel bad, Starsky.  You did what you could.”

 

“Well, I got you something that is almost as good as Ophelia.”

 

“Starsky, you should know Ophelia is irreplaceable.”

 

“I know that, but I thought it would soften the hurt a little.”  Starsky walked across the room a crossed over into the greenhouse filled with plants.  He picked up a plant with large thick leaves.  The bulb stuck out below it.  Starsky held it up for Hutch.  “This is a…a…bruns…”

 

Hutch reached over and took the plant from Starsky.  “Brunsvigia Josephinae.”

 

“Figured you’d know,” Starsky mumbled.

 

“This is great, Starsky.  Thank you.”

 

“Thought you’d want to name her Juliet or something.”

 

“I think Shakespeare is out.  First Horatio and then Ophelia.  Two of his most tragic figures, but I didn’t think Hamlet suffered enough.”

 

“You’d know about that.  So what are you going to name this one?”

 

“Starsky, the name is easy.  Don’t you see it?”  Hutch held the plant up expecting Starsky to already know the name.

 

“How am I supposed to know?  I just water the stupid things.”

 

“Hey.” Hutch scolded.  “They might hear you.  It’s a good thing I had you take the ones who could take your jokes.”

 

Starsky held up his hands in innocence and crossed his arms.  “So tell me the name this one somehow has its name written on it that the rest of us mere mortals can’t see.”

 

“Josephine, Starsky.  She was named for the wife of Napoleon.”

 

“Oh, nice.” 

 

Hutch carefully put the plant back in its place. He headed back into the living room and checked out the new couch.  He looked up at Starsky who was following him.  “Everyone’s pretty eager to see you.  We could get together with everyone for dinner.”

 

Hutch stuck his hands in his pockets nervously.  “If it’s okay, I’d rather eat here.  I’ve been sharing all my meals with a few thousand other guys for a while.  I’d rather have a quiet meal here.”

 

Starsky stepped closer to Hutch.  “That’s fine.  It’s up to you, Hutch.  Whatever you want to do.”

 

“Actually, I’d like to try my hand at cooking something.  I want to see if I can still remember.”

 

Starsky nodded in understanding.  “Sure, do that.  The fridge has been stocked with your favorite grazing material.”

 

“I hope it’s got a few unhealthy products in there.”  Hutch crossed the room and headed to the kitchen.  He opened the fridge looking inside.  He heard footsteps and turned back to see Starsky headed for the door.  “Starsky.”

 

Starsky stopped and looked over at Hutch.  “Yeah.”

 

“If you want, you can stay.”

 

A relieved smile crossed his face and Starsky stepped forward.  “You sure about that?”

 

“Yeah, I want you to be my taster just in case I screw it up.”

 

Starsky chuckled.  “If there’s anything that you need I can run down to the store and get it.”

 

Hutch searched through the fridge and then the freezer.  “Well, I see all the makings for lasagna.  How does that sound?”

 

“Vegetable?”

 

“No, Starsky.  The real deal.”

 

Starsky breathed a sigh of relief and Hutch turned his head to hide the tugging at the corners of his mouth. 

 

“Well, we just need a good wine to go with it.  I’ll go get some and be back in a jiffy.”

 

Hutch turned back around and saw Starsky headed back to the door.  “Starsky, I can’t have wine.”

 

Starsky stopped and looked at Hutch.  “What?”

 

Hutch sighed and leaned back against the counter.  “Alcohol is a violation of my parole.  There’s some sodas if you don’t mind.”

 

Starsky smiled and headed to the kitchen where Hutch was.  “Sounds much better than a cheap bottle of wine.”

 

Hutch didn’t say anything as he turned back to the fridge.  He knew the adjustment would be tough, but he also knew Starsky wasn’t fully aware of the strict guidelines he would have to follow.  Hutch still felt like he was in prison on many levels when he thought about the conditions he would be living under for the next three years.

 

Two hours later both men sat across from each other with empty plates after cleaning the remnants from the dish of its meal.  Starsky looked over at Hutch still amazed.  “I can’t believe the appetite you have, Hutch.  The way you ate, it damn near put me to shame.”

 

“After eating what the state considers for food for almost three years, you shouldn’t be surprised.  Nice to know I’ve still got it in the kitchen.”  Hutch reached over and picked up his glass.  He finished off the soda and set it down.

 

“I was thinking tomorrow we could…”

 

“Starsky, I can’t.  I have to meet with my parole officer first thing in the morning.  It’s required by law.”

 

Starsky embarrassingly looked down at his empty plate.  “Sorry, I forgot about it.”

 

“I will need a ride.  If there’s enough time, I’d like to see about taking care of my driver’s license.”

 

“Sure, Hutch.  Dobey gave me the next couple of days off so I can be around in case you need anything.”

 

“Hopefully it won’t take all day.”

 

Starsky shifted uncomfortably in his chair and leaned forward.  “There’s something I want to talk to you about and I don’t know if there’d ever be a good time.”

 

“Anytime is fine by me.  Go ahead.”

 

“Hutch, I want to find a way to clear your name.  Maybe you remembered something when those guys were here.”

 

Hutch looked down at his plate and then back up at Starsky.  He reached inside his shirt and pulled his pack of cigarettes out.  Hutch lit one and set the pack on the table.  “I know this is important to you, Starsky.”

 

“It’s not to you?”

 

“I just got out of prison, Starsk.  I need to start figuring out how to put my life together.”  Hutch took a nervous drag on his cigarette knowing he might as well let Starsky know how it was.  “Trying to figure out what happened and why it happened to me is something I decided a long time ago I was never going to figure out.  I have to figure out how to move on from here.”

 

“How do you expect it to happen with this hanging over your head?  You’re whole life…”

 

“I know what happened to my life.  It was ripped out from underneath me.  It’s been almost three years now and I would bet while I was inside, you probably did some investigating on your own.”  Hutch looked at Starsky and knew he was right.  “If you haven’t gotten anything by now, you never will.  I know this isn’t what you want to hear, Starsky.”

 

“No, it’s not.” Starsky’s admission was painfully honest through his voice.  “Just don’t expect me to accept it so easily.”

 

Hutch took another drag from his cigarette.  “I have to dust off my bachelor’s degree and see if I can do anything with it, Starsky.  I need to put my life back together for myself and clearing my name isn’t part of that.  I’ve accepted what happened and I hope you will to.”

 

Starsky looked down at his plate and then brought his dark head back up to Hutch.  “I’m not sure if I ever will.”

 

Hutch knew Starsky never fully accepted what had happened and he knew his strong desire to reverse everything which had happened over the last three years.  Hell, maybe he would to if the positions had been reversed.

 

He took a drag from his cigarette and stood up.  Hutch searched through the top cabinet and found an ashtray in the back.  He pulled it down and looked over at Starsky who was closely watching him.  Hutch set the ashtray down on the counter and toyed with the cigarette.  He took a small drag from it.  “Starsky, I need some breathing room on this.”

 

Starsky smiled a bit and leaned back in his chair.  “Hey, you’ve got it, Blondie.  I guess I still got to have that happy ending you read about in storybooks.”

 

Hutch felt sad for a moment thinking about Starsky’s words.  He put the cigarette out and it was at that moment, a yawn escaped him.  “God, I’m so damn tired.”

 

Starsky quickly got up from his chair and walked over to Hutch.  “It’s no wonder.  You’ve had a big day.  It’s almost nine.”

 

“Hey, do you think you might want to come by here around seven tomorrow morning to make sure I’m up.  I’m not sure if the alarm clock or the phone will wake me up.”

 

“Yeah, no problem.”

 

Hutch turned around and headed for the bedroom.  He stared at the bed and almost smiled.  His bed, he thought.  He hadn’t slept in a normal bed in so long, he wondered if he’d even crawl out of it when the time came.

 

Starsky quickly went to the other side of the bed and began pulling the covers down for Hutch.  He was scolding himself for not realizing how tired Hutch must be.  Starsky glanced up just as Hutch was taking his shirt off.  The sight he saw froze him in his tracks. 

 

Starting about five inches above Hutch’s right elbow snaking its way to his shoulder blade down to almost the middle of his back was a tattoo.  Starsky’s breath caught in his throat at the sight of it and he was captivated by the darkness of it against Hutch’s golden skin.  There were several things about Hutch which wrapped itself around Starsky’s body, heart, mind and soul.

 

The tattoo was geometric and winding both at the same time.  It ended at small delicate points along Hutch’s back.  The form was Celtic and tribal at the same time giving him the look of a golden leopard with the dark brand of a mysterious fantasy etched with mystical qualities. 

 

Starsky was mesmerized by the way the tattoo came alive with Hutch’s every movement. It moved gracefully with Hutch’s physique and seemed to have a mind of its own.  Hutch’s body was more defined with the strong muscles but he had kept the leanness.  He looked so beautiful and erotic that Starsky felt his groin tighten just staring at him.

 

His throat had gone dry making him almost incapable of speaking.  Starsky’s breath was coming to him quickly and he was amazed he was even standing in one spot.  The urge to go over and run his hands along Hutch’s back to feel the texture of the now fascinating artwork was so strong; Starsky had to clench his fists to keep from doing so.

 

It took Starsky a moment to realize Hutch had turned and was looking at him.  “Starsky, I should have told you.”

 

Starsky blinked his eyes and shook his head to get a handle on himself.  “No, its fine, Hutch.  I like it.  I really do.  I just never expected…”

 

“I should explain why I got it.” Hutch held the shirt in his hands unsure of what to do with it.

 

Starsky gave Hutch a confident look and walked over to him. He saw how part of the tattoo ended in a point in the hollow of Hutch’s collarbone and another ended almost halfway of his neck.  “You don’t have to explain anything to me.  I think it looks great on you and it fits you.  Just seeing it shocked the hell out of me.  I kept thinking you had grease or something on your neck.” 

 

Starsky stuck his hands in his pockets resisting the desire to run his thumb along the dark line along the top of Hutch’s shoulder.  He loved the tattoo on Hutch, but he wasn’t about to tell him how it was deeply affecting him at this point.  “Listen, you get some sleep and I’ll be here first thing in the morning.  I’ll even cook you breakfast if you want.  I’ll fix some of that granola crap you like.”

 

Hutch visibly relaxed at seeing the smile on Starsky’s face.  “I’d really love pancakes actually.”

 

“You got it.”  Starsky turned and left.  He headed out the door with a smile on his face.  He walked down the stairs still smiling.  Starsky got to his car and looked up.  He saw the window go black.  He felt so good.

 

Starsky headed back to his place thinking about the entire day.  He knew more than ever what his feelings were.  Seeing Hutch confirmed them in more ways than one.  Starsky knew Hutch had almost smiled.  He was close.  Starsky had no doubts.  Seeing the tattoo on Hutch’s back had thrown him for a loop and it had made his entire body go rock hard so fast, Starsky had almost lost it on the spot. 

 

Wouldn’t that be one for the record books, Starsky thought.  He grinned wondering what Hutch would do knowing his best friend had almost cum in his pants just by looking at him.  Starsky was never one to be afraid of his own sexuality.  In fact he reveled in it at times and he loved expressing himself in that manner.  It felt so natural with Hutch.

 

Starsky knew their years together had played a strong role in how they felt about each other.  He had no problem in showing affection and neither did Hutch.  They had been everything to each other.  More so than most spouses.  The only thing which seemed to be missing from their relationship was the sex.

 

The thought of making love to Hutch filled Starsky with curiosity, wonderment and a strong desire he had never experienced with another human being.  Starsky would have wondered what Hutch would think if he was aware of these new feelings which were overcoming him.  But he knew the answer already.

 

Starsky remembered when Hutch had laid eyes on him just outside the prison when he had picked him up.  He saw how Hutch had started at the bottom and worked his way up.  Starsky had a knowing smile on his face wondering if Hutch realized what he was doing when he had given him the once over.  There was no doubt in his mind; Hutch was seeing him a new light as well.

 

As time went on Starsky was intent on exploring a new relationship with Hutch.  He would be patient with him.  Starsky was more than willing to wait.  He knew Hutch had an adjustment on his hands and time would settle him down.  As the walls around Hutch came down, Starsky knew it was only a matter of time and they would begin making inroads on a new level in their relationship.

 

 

 

 

 

The night brought Hutch dreams which kept him tossing and turning.  It was strange for him.  He had rarely dreamed during his imprisonment, but this first night in his own bed brought him new and unexpected dreams which tormented him and drove him crazy with want.

 

It was Starsky he dreamed of.  Hutch could see Starsky lying across a dark bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire.  He saw the same fire raging in Starsky’s eyes and he went to him.  Hutch could feel his own passions running wildly as he took him in his arms.  His animalistic desire for Starsky was overwhelming and took control. 

 

Hutch had never felt so out of control in his need and his craving for someone he loved so desperately.  The fantasy left him breathless and the desire never waned during the erotic experience.  Hutch only knew he had to have him.  He needed Starsky’s body beneath his.

 

He woke suddenly and sat up immediately shaken to the core by the dream.  Hutch was sweating and breathing hard.  The images were still fresh in his mind and when Hutch looked down the object of his desire had brought his cock painfully erect. 

 

Hutch swung his legs around and reached for the cigarettes on the nightstand.  He lit one and deeply inhaled the smoke.  He blew the smoke out praying for this to soon pass.  The last thing he needed right now was for Starsky to know what he was feeling inside.  Hutch needed him too much right now and his fear of scaring Starsky off at this point was more than he could bear.  He had done it once before and he was so terrified one move on his part, would send Starsky away once again.

 

Hutch glanced over at the clock and saw that it was six in the morning.  He stood up and headed to the bathroom.  Hutch took a cold shower hoping his raging passions would be tempered by the icy drops falling on his skin.  When he finished, he felt somewhat better.  Hutch walked to the window and pushed the curtain aside. 

 

The sun was beginning to appear and he smiled a bit feeling content at the first sunrise of his freedom.  Hutch suddenly had an urge to experience it as he remembered how in the past.  He turned away from the window and headed to his bedroom.  It was precisely 6:15 am when he left Venice Place for his run.

 

 

 

 

Starsky pulled the Torino up and jumped out.  It was exactly one minute before seven and he bounded up the stairs quickly.  He knocked on the door respecting Hutch’s need for privacy.  Starsky’s brows furrowed at the lack of response.  He turned the doorknob and slowly opened the door.  “Hutch?”

 

He moved inside when he didn’t get a response.  Starsky closed the door behind him and walked through the apartment.  Hutch was nowhere to be found.  He felt a bit panicky wondering where Hutch had gotten off to.  The door opened behind him causing Starsky to jump.  He swung around seeing Hutch closing the door behind him.  “Jesus, Hutch.  You scared the hell out of me.”

 

“Sorry, I went running.”

 

“You did?”  Starsky looked down at his watch noting the time once again. 

 

“I got up early and I couldn’t resist the idea.”  Hutch started towards the bathroom intent on taking another shower.  “I just kept running.  It was nice.”

 

Starsky relaxed and beamed.  Seeing the normalcy of Hutch was refreshing for him.  “Get your shower, Hutch and I’ll cook up those pancakes for you.”

 

Starsky took happy steps into the kitchen and as he listened to the running of the shower he was almost tempted to jump in and surprise him.  Patience Dave, Starsky reminded himself.  

 

 

 

 

Starsky’s enthusiasm diminished after taking Hutch to see his parole officer.  Noting how stiff Hutch looked during the drive over, Starsky took the time to visit with other officers in the building.  After almost three hours, Hutch finished.

 

He realized exactly what Hutch would be subjected to during his time on parole.  Starsky was grim when it dawned on him Hutch would undergo drug and alcohol testing on a regular basis.  There would be home visits by the parole officer when he deemed it necessary. 

 

His hands tightened on the steering wheel when Hutch told him, the parole officer had seen to getting him a job while he searched for a more adequate one equal to his education.  Hutch would be working on a construction site which gnawed at Starsky’s gut.  He hated the idea of it and Starsky felt Hutch’s talents would be wasted.

 

The overwhelming need to prove Hutch’s innocence took over his thoughts.  Starsky knew Hutch didn’t deserve this type of treatment and he knew by investigating on his own it would run the risk of reversing everything he hoped to accomplish.

 

By the end of the day, Hutch had gotten his driver’s license renewed and he was in much better spirits when he picked up the hunk of junk from Merle’s.  Starsky brought Hutch to his place for dinner and both enjoyed the relatively quiet evening.

 

For the next week, Hutch began to settle in his job and Starsky went back to the job of being a cop with Dom as his partner.  Hutch had Huggy and Starsky over for dinner which enabled them to catch up with each other.  Hutch was grateful for Huggy’s support during his incarceration.

 

He and Starsky went to the Dobey’s for dinner another night, but Hutch had become visibly uncomfortable during his time there.  Starsky and Dobey both noticed it immediately and the three men spent a bit of time away from the remaining Dobey’s. 

 

It was almost two weeks into Hutch’s freedom when a visit would force buried issues to the surface.  Hutch had gotten home from his job and he headed into the shower.  After finishing up, he slipped his jeans on and he was putting on a muscle shirt on when he heard the knocking at his door.

 

Hutch opened the door and came to a sudden halt when he saw who stood in his doorway.  Detective’s Woods brushed past Hutch into the apartment.  When he saw that Pride was waiting for him to move away from the door, Hutch carefully stepped away.  He walked into the living room where Woods was looking through some items on the coffee table.

 

Pride looked over at Hutch and folded his arms.  “You know the routine, Hutchinson.  Against the wall now.”

 

Hutch’s demeanor changed.  The emotionless façade Hutch had adopted in prison moved over him like the moon covering the sun in an eclipse.  Hutch carefully moved to the far wall.  He took even breaths as he raised his hands and planted them on the wall. 

 

He could feel Pride standing behind him and he could hear Woods now in the kitchen searching through the drawers.  Hutch clenched his jaw as he felt Pride kick at his feet forcing his stance wider than what it was.

 

Hutch stared at the wall intently as he felt Pride shove the shirt aside exposing the prominent tattoo.  “Look at this, Andy.  Our boy sure did get some nice artwork while he was inside.”

 

He heard the deep chuckle coming from Woods.  Hutch felt Pride slowly pat him down and he dug his nails into the wood where his hands remained.  When he was finished, Pride stepped back.  “To the couch now, Hutchinson.”

 

Hutch remained silent and he could now hear Woods searching through his bedroom.  He steadily walked to the couch and slowly sat down.  Hutch focused his attention straight ahead not allowing his anger and humiliation to show.  He wasn’t about to play into these bastards in his hands and Hutch knew he was powerless to stop them.

 

When Woods arrived back into the living room, Pride sat down on the couch at the far end.  Woods sat in a chair across from Hutch.  “We were in the neighborhood, Hutchinson.  We make a habit of visiting newly released inmates my partner and I have put away.  It’s a necessity really to make sure they stay in line and not do anything which will cause my partner and me to take action which might force them back to prison.  I’m sure you will understand our need to do this given your history as a cop before your confinement.”

 

Pride leaned forward and gave Hutch a pat on the back.  Hutch shot up out of his seat with fists clenched ready to do battle.  Pride and Woods immediately came to their feet in preparation.  Pride moved in front of Hutch and leaned in close.  “Go ahead, Hutchinson.  Do it.  Do it and you go back for five years.  We won’t have a problem sending your sorry ass back to those assholes that make you their bitch.”

 

Hutch took a deep breath.  He knew any moves he made would send him back.  He slowly sat back down on the couch.  He looked straight ahead hating himself for the sudden loss of control. 

 

Pride walked to the chair and pulled it closer to Hutch.  “Now, just so you know we came over here for more than to roust you, we’ve got a proposition for you.  Hutchinson, you were a cop for a long time and now you’re nothing more than an ex-con who can go back to prison on our whim.  We need someone with your experience and legitimacy to transport some product for us.”

 

“If by the off chance our activities were to come to light, it could prove embarrassing,” Woods added.  “We know how desperate you are to remain free and it would be beneficial to all of us if you would do this.”

 

Pride gave Hutch a cold smile.  “We’re not completely heartless, so you have a choice.  It’s simple really.  Either you can see to the transportation or you can go back to your prison buddies.  It would be in your best interest to take the job we’re offering and should you take it, you will have to make sure you do a top rated job because if you’re caught, then it’ll be back to the pen you go.  My partner and I will still walk away just like we did before when we sent you up in the first place.”

 

Hutch moved his gaze straight into Pride’s eyes.  He had just admitted to setting him up and Hutch wished he could scream it to the world. Hutch kept his silence knowing it would be pointless for him to speak.  They had made their point and he knew it.  He didn’t even look up as they headed for the door. 

 

Pride opened the door and looked back at Hutch.  “We’ll be in touch real soon.”

 

When the door was closed, Hutch stood up and picked up his cigarettes off the table.  He lit one and took a deep drag from it.  The visit was still fresh in his mind and the words were clearly etched in his memory.  He was in prison once again only without the bars. 

 

He remembered the searches made through his cell.  They were always unannounced and most guards were uncaring in the manner with which they conducted themselves.  Nothing belonged to him.  Hutch remembered how he owned nothing.  Not even the clothes on his back.

 

It was that way now when Woods had searched his apartment.  Hutch had no idea what he was looking for.  Maybe some excuse sending him back to prison.  He couldn’t be sure.  But it was now apparent these cops had an agenda and Hutch was a part of it.  Hutch felt just as helpless and powerless as he had so many times in the penitentiary.  The only control he had over anything was his heart and mind.  Showing it to anyone gave them the power and there was no way in hell he was giving Woods and Pride any more power than they already had over him.

 

Hutch had his back to the door when it opened.  He swung around expecting the cops back, but saw it was Starsky instead.  Hutch’s gaze was unfeeling as he put the cigarette in his mouth.

 

 

Starsky saw it.  He saw it in the cold stare coming from Hutch and the way the cigarette dangled from his lips.  He stiffened up knowing something had happened.  He closed the door behind him and walked over to Hutch.

 

When Hutch saw him coming, he quickly went to the kitchen.  Hutch pulled a soda from the fridge wishing it was a beer.  He opened it up and kept his back to Starsky who was approaching him.

 

“Hutch.” Starsky stood not far from Hutch and studied his silent form.  “What happened?”

 

Hutch took a long drink from the can and set it down on the counter.  “Everything is fine.”

 

“You don’t look fine.”

 

“Tired.” Hutch still hadn’t looked at him.  “I don’t think I feel like going out to eat tonight.”

 

“We’ll stay in.”

 

“You should leave, Starsky.  I’m going to hit the sack early.”

 

Starsky licked his dry lips seeing Hutch.  He looked like the guy from prison again.  His features were made of stone and his eyes were empty.  It scared him and Starsky ached to reach out and touch Hutch.  He resisted the urge to do so.  “I’m not leaving, Hutch.”

 

Hutch looked down at the cigarette between his fingers.  He brought it to his lips and took a slow steady drag from it.  “I want you to go right now, Starsky.”

 

Starsky watched every movement and the lack thereof coming from Hutch.  He could see the prison front etched across his face.  Starsky had the urge to rip it from him and force Hutch to face him. 

 

Hutch finished off the cigarette and dropped the empty butt into the can of soda.  He planted his hands on the counter looking straight ahead.  “I need some time alone.  Leave.”

 

Starsky took a step closer to Hutch until he was within a hair’s breath of touching him.  “I’m not leaving.”

 

Hutch straightened up and moved away from Starsky carefully avoiding any possible contact no matter how accidental.  Starsky met the movements with those of his own until Hutch was back against the wall.  “Back off, Starsky.”

 

The order coming from Hutch was firm and brokered no argument.  Starsky wasn’t about to retreat knowing this had to happen.  He had to force Hutch to accept him and his love for him.  It was the only way he could see to draw him out.  Even if Hutch lashed out in retaliation, Starsky was prepared for it.

 

Starsky wanted to see his anger no matter how he expressed it.  He could see Hutch was on the edge of exploding from it.  He looked into Hutch’s eyes.  Starsky saw a sudden fear overcome the liquid blue eyes.  Starsky stepped in closer to Hutch and searched his eyes in hopes of reaching him.  “I can’t.”

 

The last thing Starsky ever expected to happen happened.  The fear he had seen in Hutch’s eyes were replaced by a smoky desire that hit Starsky in his very being.  He was raising his hand to touch Hutch’s face, when he suddenly felt strong powerful hands grab him. 

 

Starsky was pushed against the wall and he unexpectedly felt Hutch’s lips on his own.  Instinctively Starsky’s mouth opened and he felt the invasion of Hutch’s tongue inside.  Immediately his body turned to liquid heat surging through his veins.  He tried to meet the passionate kiss with his own, but quickly realized Hutch had control over this meeting of the flesh.

 

Starsky moaned as he felt Hutch’s hands ripping open his shirt.  He barely heard the buttons falling to the floor.  His body jumped in response as Hutch’s warm hands found their way inside.  Starsky tried to reach for Hutch but his own needs were coming alive at the beckoning of Hutch’s hands across his nipples. 

 

Hutch finally released his mouth and Starsky breathed loudly to vocalize the effects on his own body.  Hutch’s hot moist mouth traced a burning path to his neck and Starsky raised his head in hopes Hutch would find his way down.  He felt Hutch’s hands push the shirt and jacket off of his shoulders. 

 

Starsky leaned his head back and closed his eyes as he felt Hutch’s mouth trail to the hollow just below his throat.  He groaned as he felt Hutch’s hot wet tongue play at the spot.

 

Starsky breathed in Hutch’s familiar aroma as he heard the sounds of the loosening of a belt.  When Starsky felt the tugging at his jeans he realized it had been his.  He didn’t want this standing up.  Starsky moaned loudly as the jeans opened up and Hutch’s hands delved tightly into the back of his jeans massaging his butt.

 

Starsky could feel Hutch’s hard cock through his clothes as he was pulled forward against him.  Hutch’s mouth was working on his ear and when the tongue traced the line of it, Starsky’s guttural moan escaped.

 

He realized Hutch didn’t want it like this either.  Starsky was being pushed towards the bedroom and when they were standing near the bed Hutch quickly pushed down the jeans.  He came back up and took Starsky’s mouth with his own again.  Hutch’s tongue explored the inner sanctum with a hunger that took Starsky’s breath away.

 

Hutch sat Starsky down on the bed and pushed him back against it.  He quickly removed Starsky’s shoes and removed the jeans along with the underwear exposing Starsky’s hardened cock.  Starsky watched Hutch quickly divest himself of his clothes.  He had little opportunity to take in Hutch’s body as he undressed.

 

Hutch slowly crawled onto the bed over Starsky’s body with primal need.  Instead of a kiss, Hutch leaned his head down and took a nipple in his mouth.  Starsky’s head reared back at the teeth which nipped at it.  He then felt a hot moist tongue trace the outline before taking it full force into his mouth.  “Oh God, Hutch.” The need escaped his throat before Starsky could stop it.

 

Starsky felt Hutch move away from the nipple leaving it wet and hardened.  He was breathing hard and reached for Hutch’s golden head.  Just as Starsky touched it, a firm hand grasped his wrist and brought it back down to the bed.  Starsky let Hutch have his way and gripped the sheets tightly as Hutch moved his head to give the opposite nipple the same treatment as the other.

 

The fiery tongue traced a path downward leaving a cool path of moisture in its wake.  Starsky felt Hutch’s mouth and tongue tracing one of many scars running across his chest.  Starsky felt suddenly insecure and unsure of the care Hutch was taking with it.  “No,” he breathed. 

 

Hutch was insistent as he outlined the scar with his tongue.  Starsky felt the burning whisper against his already sensitive skin.  “Beautiful.”

 

Starsky closed his eyes and reared his head back as Hutch continued with the erotic torment to his body hanging on with a need that left him wanting more.  He felt the mouth and tongue working its way forever downward and Starsky’s hips surged forward in expectation and instinct.

 

With his eyes closed he felt ever touch and every wetness coming from Hutch.  His warm graceful hands ran powerfully along his body and Starsky welcomed it.  He yearned to touch Hutch, but he remained on the bed reveling in the enthralling sensations his body was experiencing for the first time. 

 

Starsky did cry out when he felt a warm hand grasp his cock.  He raised his head slightly and was captivated at the way Hutch’s hand moved along it.  Hutch looked at him and Starsky could see the hunger in Hutch’s lust filled eyes.  Starsky gazed at Hutch as he turned his attention back to his stiff erection.

 

Starsky’s head fell back on the pillow as Hutch began the slow tantalizing movement his hand on Starsky’s cock.  He moved his body in rhythm and kept pace with Hutch’s willing hand.  Starsky felt the craving to speed the process, but Hutch would have none of it.  He growled in frustration and clenched the sheets in his hands even tighter.

 

“Oh, God!” The sudden cry was explosive as Starsky felt Hutch’s hot tongue on the underside of his erection.  He breathed in and out quickly as Hutch’s tongue explored the sensitive region.  Starsky’s body craved Hutch’s touch and his willing mouth.  He cried out Hutch’s name when he felt his wet mouth run along the sac just at the base. 

 

The teasing continued torturing Starsky who begged and pleaded Hutch not to stop.  He felt Hutch’s hot tongue trace a flaming path to the head.  Starsky gasped when he felt Hutch’s mouth descend over it covering it in one fell swoop. 

 

The surges ran over Starsky’s body like a wild hurricane speeding ever faster towards its destination.  As Hutch worked the entire cock into his mouth and moved back and forth, Starsky reached forward to grasp Hutch’s hair.  Only this time, Hutch didn’t stop him as before.  Starsky ran his fingers into Hutch’s hair urging him on.

 

His eyes were barely open as he raised his head to see the sweet torment Hutch was inflicting on him.  When he looked down at Hutch feasting on him, their eyes met and locked.  Starsky could see the hunger and desire in his eyes.  Then Hutch lowered his eyes and lowered his mouth.  Starsky could scarcely believe it as Hutch completely lowered his head all the way to the base of his cock.  When he felt the head hit the back of Hutch’s throat, he cried out feeling his orgasm threatening to explode from him.

 

He suddenly felt Hutch pull back and grasping the hard member in his hand.  Starsky was breathing wildly at the incredible sensations running through his body.  His blood was raging with molten lava and after a moment of Hutch grasping his cock, the sensations began to subside.

 

Starsky then opened his eyes and saw Hutch reposition himself on the bed.  Hutch moved completely over him like a wild panther covering his body.  Starsky looked up into Hutch’s eyes as they met each other face to face.  Hutch lowered his head and ran his tongue along Starsky’s lips. 

 

As Starsky was receiving this small bit of pleasure, he felt Hutch’s hand move between their bodies.  Starsky gasped loudly at Hutch’s firm hand grasping his rigid erection once again.  Only this time, he felt Hutch move it next to his own.  The contact between both was electric and immediate for them.

 

Starsky could feel Hutch’s hand grasping both with one large hand and holding them together.  He allowed his eyes to close as he felt Hutch begin moving in rhythm with him.  Starsky’s body raged in a hot fever as he moved in motion with Hutch. 

 

He could hear Hutch’s guttural moans through the sexual haze which had over taken him.  Starsky opened his eyes and he could see the sexual pain Hutch was experiencing for himself.  He reached up and held tightly to Hutch’s shoulders as they moved together in hopes of a satisfying climax.

 

Starsky’s needs suddenly began subsiding a bit when he realized Hutch was trying too hard to make it happen.  He reached up and gently touched Hutch’s face.  “Hutch,” Starsky whispered silently.

 

Suddenly Hutch stopped his movements and looked into his eyes.  “I love you, Hutch.”

 

Starsky saw the shaking of Hutch’s head and he still it with his hand.  “Remember when I said I do the giving, Hutch.  I’ll give you anything.  You know that, don’t you?”

 

Hutch firmly shook his head as he loomed over Starsky.  “I can’t.  I don’t want to hurt you and I will.”

 

Starsky understood exactly what Hutch was saying and he knew what Hutch needed.  “I trust you with my life, my body and my heart, Hutch.  You would never hurt me.”

 

“I did before.”

 

“You were protecting me, Hutch.  That don’t count.  I give and you take.  I want this, Hutch.  You’re holding me in your hand and I still want it as much as you do.”  Starsky felt Hutch’s hand still holding their erections tightly together.  “Do it, Hutch.  Know how much I trust you and love you when you do.”

 

Starsky watched the trepidation run across Hutch’s face.  He watched him move away from him and get off the bed.  Starsky laid his head back and took several deep breaths as Hutch left the room.  Okay, Dave.  Starsky thought.  This is it.

 

Starsky felt a bit of fear when Hutch approached the bed with a small jar of Vaseline.  He gave him a confident and trusting look.  Starsky sat up in bed and held his hand out.  He removed the lid and took a bit on his fingers.  Starsky set them down on the night stand and beckoned Hutch over. 

 

Hutch moved onto the bed and lay on his side.  Starsky spread the lubricant on his hand and reached over.  He felt a bit intimidated as he took Hutch’s large cock in his hand.  His head swung over at the deep growl escaping Hutch.  Starsky smiled in satisfaction at the lust filled blue eyes looking back at him.  Starsky spent a few minutes making sure Hutch’s rigid erection was well lubricated.  He knew how necessary it would be.

 

Starsky looked back at Hutch with total trust in his eyes.  “Are you ready, Hutch?”

 

Hutch stared back at Starsky.  “Are you sure about this?”

 

To show Hutch his faith in him, Starsky maneuvered himself on his stomach.  Starsky could feel the trepidation in Hutch’s movements.  He felt Hutch move behind him and then remained still.  Starsky was convinced of this and when he thought about it, his cock surged with sudden desire. 

 

He heard Hutch reach for the Vaseline and after a moment it was put back in place.  Starsky’s breath caught in his throat at the sudden invasion of a finger in his rectum.  He breathed in and out slowly allowing himself to become accustomed to the sensation.  After a few minutes, he felt two fingers and when one brushed against his prostrate Starsky moved back against the fingers instinctively.  He moaned feeling the pleasure work its way through his body.  When a third worked its way inside Starsky raised his head and breathed Hutch’s name.  “Yesssss!”

 

Starsky felt the fingers pull out and he felt suddenly empty.  He wanted Hutch inside of him more than he ever wanted anything in his life.  Starsky then felt Hutch’s unyielding erection and he felt the slight push forward.  It didn’t want to seem to give at first.  Starsky impulsively pushed back against it and felt the head enter.  He gripped the sheets tightly in his fists as a flash of pain went through him.  Determined to see this to the end, Starsky kept his head raised.  “Yes, Hutch.  I want you.  Please.”

 

He felt Hutch push onward and when the pressure increased he felt it then against his prostrate.  Starsky’s throaty groan came from the core of his being as he felt Hutch push farther in.  His body welcomed Hutch’s and he could feel it wrap them together as one.

 

When Hutch was all the way inside of him, Starsky felt Hutch run his smooth hands along his arched back.  He then felt Hutch leaned down and breathe into his ear.  “I have staked you, Starsky.  You are mine and no one will have you but me.”

 

Starsky’s body shook in desire at the possessive words and he then felt Hutch reach around and grasp his cock.  Then the movement started.  Hutch began thrusting himself inside of Starsky and as he did his hand moved with sync of his own body.  Starsky met each thrust with one of his own.

 

Their bodies moved together as one both taking and both giving to each other.  The tidal waves of desire overcame both and time stopped as their hungry pace continued.  With each thrust, their craving for release increased.  Each thrust was more powerful than the one before and with each one, their need for release increased.

 

A thousand waves of pleasure hit Starsky all at once as he brought his head up.  A loud growl broke from him as his orgasm exploded from his body.  He could feel Hutch wildly pounding into him and Starsky welcomed it as his orgasm began subsiding.  He moved against Hutch who finally grabbed his hips tightly and thrust into him one final time letting loose the wild animalistic climax that had been building inside of him.

 

As they each came down from the orgasmic high, Starsky’s body collapsed with Hutch on top of him.  Both were breathing heavily and neither spoke.  Hutch started to move, and Starsky grasped onto his arm.  “Stay.  I want to feel you inside of me for a little while longer.”

 

He felt Hutch rest his head on his shoulder.  Starsky sighed contentedly enjoying the fullness inside of him and Hutch’s body on top of his.  “Hutch, I gotta know somethin’.”

 

“No, Starsky.  I never did.  This was a first for me as well as you.”

 

“Then how did you know…”  Starsky felt Hutch’s warm breath against the back of his neck.

 

“Listening to other cons in prison, it’s not hard to learn a few things.”

 

Starsky chuckled softly and he felt better after hearing the words.  After a few minutes, Hutch extracted himself from Starsky who lay unmoving from the very spot where he had exploded with a mind shattering orgasm.

 

Starsky had his eyes closed feeling more satisfied than he had ever been in his entire life.  He felt the bed give when Hutch returned.  He felt a soothing sensation at his rectum and lifted his head.  “I hurt you.  It’s a small tear.”

 

Starsky let his head rest back down and smiled a bit.  “I was a virgin, Hutch.  I think it’s normal.”

 

He took note of the fact Hutch wasn’t answering him but enjoyed the tender touch just the same. Starsky moved his head to look at Hutch when he had finished.  He reached over to touch Hutch’s knee but was surprised to see him move away suddenly. 

 

Starsky pushed himself up from the bed as Hutch grabbed a pair of sweats from the drawer and slipped them on.  He saw the tattoo ripple with life and Starsky realized he had yet to touch it.  Hutch left the room and Starsky found his underwear.  He slipped them on and walked out of the bedroom. 

 

Hutch was sitting down in the darkened kitchen lighting a cigarette.  The flickering flame gave Hutch an ominous look.  Starsky walked around the table and sat across from him.  “Why are you pulling away from me?”

 

Hutch looked down at the cigarette in his fingers and toyed with it a bit.  He brought it back up to his lips and slowly inhaled.  Hutch blew the smoke out slowly and looked across at Starsky.  “When we were running the streets, did we lean on ex-cons too hard?”

 

Starsky looked at Hutch in surprise not knowing where the question was coming from.  The darkness hid any emotion he might be expressing.  “We did our job, Hutch.  We sometimes had to put the screws to ‘em to get the information we needed.”

 

“Was it right?”

 

“Hutch, I don’t understand what you’re wanting me to say.”

 

“We threatened them, Starsky.  Told them if we didn’t get what we wanted they were going back to the pen.”

 

“Sometimes there wasn’t a choice.”  Starsky leaned forward and looked at the Hutch whose face was partially shadowed.  “Where’s this coming from?”

 

When Hutch raised his head, Starsky could see the blank expression.  “I had a couple of visitors today.”

 

“What kind of visitors?”

 

“Detectives Pride and Woods paid me a visit.”

 

Starsky slowly pushed himself up to a standing position feeling his anger begin to grow in his chest.  “Why in the hell did they come here?”

 

Hutch’s face was without emotion as he looked up at Starsky.  “To keep me in line.”

 

“God damn it,” Starsky breathed loudly.  “I’ll call Dobey and we’ll…”

 

Hutch shot up out of his chair knocking it over.  “And then what?  You’ll tell him I got rousted by a couple of cops?”

 

“This is fucking harassment and you know it!”

 

“What I know is that no one will take the word of an ex-con over the word of two highly decorated cops, Starsky.”  Hutch was firm in his conviction and Starsky could see it in his eyes.

 

“You’re saying the only reason they showed up was to keep you in line.”

 

“How many times did we pay a visit to a perp who had just gotten his release, Starsk?  How many times did we tell them to walk the line or get put back?”

 

“This isn’t the same and you know it!”

 

“I don’t know it!” Hutch yelled back.  “You’d better face the fact that I’m an ex-con now and nothing will ever be like it was before!”

 

Starsky walked over to Hutch.  “Don’t you think I know that?  I know how much you’ve changed, Hutch.  It took me a while to figure it all out and to accept it, but I did.”

 

“Really?”  Hutch walked around Starsky and lit another cigarette.  He deeply inhaled the smoke and gave Starsky a dark look.  “They came into my place, Starsky.  They came here searched me and searched my place.  They are entirely within their rights to do so and they don’t even need a fucking warrant!”

 

Starsky heard how Hutch’s voice had started calmly but quickly rose to a yell at the cold facts being placed before him.  “Okay.” Starsky took a deep breath trying to see his way through this information.  “We’ll find a way to work this out, Hutch.”

 

Hutch walked away from Starsky in frustration and headed into the darkened living room.  “There is no way to work this out, Starsk.  The fact of the matter is I am an ex-con with fewer rights than a lost dog.”

 

Starsky followed him into the living room.  “There is no way in hell I’m accepting this, Hutch.”

 

“You don’t have a choice!  God, when are you going to get it, Starsky?  The only difference between now and when I was in prison is the bars.  I have no rights and Woods and Pride are my guards!”  Hutch took a drag from his cigarette and turned towards the window.  He stared at the bright lights of the city.  “My being an ex-con has changed us more than you realize.  I don’t think you’ll ever know really how much.”

 

“Yeah, it has, Hutch.  There’s no getting around it.  But no matter what, I’ll accept it all and it won’t change how I feel about you.”

 

Hutch smiled bitterly and took a drag from the cigarette.  “It probably won’t’, Starsky.  But the first visit either them or my parole officer decides to make, they may just find out that the ex-con has been fucking a cop in the bedroom.”

 

Starsky’s anger exploded and he stormed over to Hutch.  Not giving a damn about Hutch’s reaction to it, Starsky grabbed him by the arm and forced him to look into his eyes.  “Don’t you dare reduce what happened between us to fucking!  What happened in that bed between us has nothing to do with you being an ex-con or my being a cop!  It was Ken Hutchinson and Dave Starsky all the way!  What we did was put flesh to the love we feel for each other!”

 

Hutch jerked away from Starsky and rounded on him.  “You think your cop buddies will see it that way, Starsk?  This gets out…”

 

“I don’t give a damn if the whole fucking world knows and I don’t think you do either!  You’re using whatever you got at your disposal to push me away!  You’ve figured out that all the other shit you’ve done isn’t working and now you’re pulling some new tactics!”  Starsky met Hutch halfway and looked into his powerful blue eyes.  “I’m a little surprised, Hutch.  You got so damn good at finding new ways to keep me at bay; you’re resorting to stuff that don’t mean a damn thing to me.”

 

Hutch finished off his cigarette and slowly walked into the kitchen.  He extinguished the butt and moved his gaze back to Starsky.  “Any future you see for us will never happen because the fact of the matter is I am an ex-con and you are a cop.”

 

Hutch watched Starsky cross the room.  He stood in the darkness unsure of what to do at that moment.  A few minutes later Starsky emerged fully dressed.  He walked to the door and turned back towards Hutch.  “You know something, Hutch?  I didn’t like the way you said the word ‘cop’.”

 

He stood there as Starsky opened the door and left.  Hutch was on the verge of running after Starsky.  To apologize and blurt out everything he felt, but Hutch stopped himself.  In the end, what would it really accomplish?

 

 

 

 

 

Starsky knocked furiously on the door knowing it was late.  It seemed to take forever but the door finally opened.  He grabbed Dom’s arm and pulled him out onto the porch.  Dom shut the door and looked into Starsky’s eyes.  “What’s wrong?”

 

“We have to do something, Dom.  I don’t wanna do it, but I don’t think I’ve got a choice.”

 

“Just tell me, Dave.”

 

“Woods and Pride paid Hutch a visit earlier.”

 

“Why in the hell for?”

 

“To hear Hutch tell it, it was to keep him in line.  A nice little way of them letting him know they were watching him.”

 

“You don’t think so?”

 

Starsky shook his head firmly.  “My gut tells me there’s more, Dom.”

 

“Dave, you heard Dobey.  If we make one move on those guys it’s our badges.”

 

“Not them.  Hutch.”

 

“Jesus.” Dom ran his hand through his thick hair.  “He’ll go ballistic if he gets wind of this.”

 

“I know Hutch, Dom.  He’s not going to just sit on this and let these guys run over him like this.  He’ll do something.”

 

“Any ideas on what he’ll do?”

 

“I don’t know.  It won’t be anything that’ll get him sent back I don’t think.”

 

“A big risk to take.”

 

“Hutch won’t go back, Dom.  I think he’d rather die than to go back to that place.  But he’ll make some kind of move to make sure these guys don’t come after him.”

 

“What have you got in mind?”

 

“We’re going to tail him.”  Starsky could scarcely believe his own words, but he loved Hutch and this was the only way he could see in protecting him. “We’ll need to use your car.”

 

“Wait a sec.” Dom held his hand up.  “What about Dobey?  He’s got to know.”

 

“I’ll square it with Dobey and I know he’ll go along with it.  He loves Hutch, too.  Are you in?”

 

“I’m your partner.  Of course I’m in, Dave.  You know what kind of risk you’re running here, don’t you?  If Hutch even smells you, that’ll be it.  For you and him both.”

 

“If I don’t do it, Dom, and something happens to him, I’ll never forgive myself.”

 

Starsky breathed a sigh of relief at Dom’s nod.  He hated the idea of having to do it, but in his mind there was no other way.  Starsky remembered their argument and given how it had ended, he knew Hutch would just as soon keep it to himself for more than just the lack of trust on his part.  But to protect him as well.

 

 

 

 

 

After Starsky had left, Hutch sat at the kitchen table in the dark.  The events of the evening played repeatedly over and over in his mind.  But was most predominant was the strong heated sexual encounter with Starsky.

 

Hutch shifted in his chair feeling his body come alive at the memory.  He had never intended for it to happen.  It just seemed to explode from him with Starsky so close to him.  He could still smell the musk and leather emanating from Starsky which had drawn him in.

 

He couldn’t remember ever feeling as alive as when he first put his hands on Starsky.  Hutch realized he had been so aggressive in his reactions he had begun to feel the guilt weigh him down like an anchor.  But then he remembered how alive Starsky’s own body became under his own touch.  Seeing Starsky’s body react as it did encouraged him on. 

 

Hutch felt a cool butterfly flitter in his stomach remembering how Starsky had looked at him while he was sucking him.  He loved the look on Starsky’s face while he had his cock in his mouth. Hutch wanted to see it again and the thought of taking Starsky as he did brought him erect.

 

When he had taken Starsky, they had fit.  It was so hard to describe.  You couldn’t call it a piece of puzzle fitting in with another.  No, it was much more.  They fit together perfectly physically, Hutch thought.  One belonged to the other, but Hutch didn’t know which was which.  He only knew, if anyone were to come to his bed again, it would only be Starsky.

 

If, Hutch thought shaking his head.   Given how their argument had gone, he couldn’t honestly blame Starsky’s reaction.  He was a cop and Hutch had reacted to him like he had seen suspects react to him.  It was disheartening to say the least.  He had pushed Starsky away.  It was as intentional as was the last time.

 

Hutch wanted to say he was doing it to protect Starsky.  Maybe to an extent it was.  But when he looked deeper it was more of an act of self preservation.  He knew he would wind up back in prison no matter what.  There was no doubt in his mind.  Hutch would go there by refusing the offer made to him earlier in the evening.  If he became their courier, he would also. 

 

Hutch couldn’t hack the idea of moving their merchandise which was more than likely cocaine.  He wasn’t about to assist in the drugs getting onto the street which is what would happen.  When Hutch thought about it, he began wondering why they had picked him to begin with.  Why had they set him up?

 

Rather than to contemplate the questions too much, Hutch moved onto how he would ensure they were put out of business and lost their badges.  Involving Starsky was something he was unwilling to do.  He loved Starsky and he wouldn’t do anything to put his badge or life at risk.  Hutch was more comfortable putting his own neck on the line.

 

The only tactics available to take these men down were ones which couldn’t be accomplished through normal police procedure.  He had to violate his parole in doing so and Hutch knew the risk he was running, but the other alternatives lay before him were no better.  Either way, he would rather die than to go back to prison.

 

 

 

 

Starsky sat in the driver’s side of the car slid down into the seat keeping his head lowered.  Dom sat behind the wheel not speaking and keeping his own thoughts to himself.  Starsky was glad for the quiet.  It gave him time to think, but at times it was harder than hell to do.

 

They sat hidden away but with clear view of the construction site Hutch worked at.  Hutch wore tight jeans with a tool belt hung low on his hips accentuating his movements.  The sweat was thick on his well defined body which made the muscle shirt cling tightly to it.  Starsky wished for binoculars so he could observe the tattoo matching Hutch’s movements.

 

He moved uncomfortably in the seat feeling his body react to watching Hutch’s.  Starsky closed his eyes momentarily reciting baseball statistics from the Dodger’s last season.

 

“It’s been almost two days, Dave.  Think he’ll still make a move?”

 

Starsky opened his eyes and turned his head.  “Yeah, he’ll make it.”

 

“You haven’t said whether or not you’ve talked to him, Dave.”

 

Starsky sighed and leaned back in the seat.  He looked over at Dom.  “No, we haven’t talked.”

 

“Why the hell not?  You can’t let this go on, you know.”

 

“It’s complicated.” You have no idea, Starsky thought.

 

“What’s so complicated about going up to him and telling him how you really feel?”

 

Starsky’s head swung sharply and his eyes met the knowing smile on Dom’s face.  “What?”

 

“Dave, it’s so damn obvious how you feel about him.  Maybe he’d open up to you if you just laid it all out to him and tell him how you feel.”

 

“You know what’s going on?”

 

Dom chuckled.  “The way you’ve carried on about Hutch, I should’ve realized it a long time ago.  You love him and the few times I’ve talked with him, I think he feels the same.”  Dom shook his head and looked over at Starsky.  “Young love is sure as hell complicated in the beginning, isn’t it?”

 

Starsky smiled in relief.  “I guess so.  I’m just trying to get Hutch to see that he can trust me and it’s just not happening.”

 

Dom’s face turned serious and he turned to look at Starsky.  “Maybe it’s because he couldn’t trust anyone for so long that he’s forgotten how.”

 

“I thought the other night we had really gotten to that.  You know, we used to be able to touch each other all the time.  Even before I knew how I felt about him and all this happened, we could just touch each other without even thinking about it.”

 

“Dave, touching is a part of trusting. It’s something that’s going to take time between the two of you.  If I know you, you won’t give up easily.  That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

 

Starsky glanced back over at the construction site and saw Hutch headed towards his car.  He tapped Dom on the shoulder who also looked.  They observed Hutch removing his hard hat and tool belt.  After tossing them in the backseat, Hutch got into his beat up LTD and drove away.

 

Dom pulled the car behind him and carefully kept back far enough to not be discovered.  Knowing Hutch’s history, both knew it wouldn’t take much for them to be spotted.  The followed him for almost 20 minutes.

 

Starsky was feeling anxious as they headed into one of the worst parts of the city.  He could feel his heart pounding heavily in his chest knowing he had been correct.  Hutch was up to something.

 

Hutch parked the car in front of an apartment building.  Dom carefully pulled the car back at enough distance in hopes of them not being spotted.  They observed Hutch getting out of his car.  He walked to the front passenger side fender and leaned against it.

 

He lit a cigarette and after a few minutes, Hutch’s head turned in the direction of a man walking towards him.  He was a large man with long brown hair tied back in a pony tail.  The thick goatee and mustache barely hid the smile on his face.

 

Starsky’s brow furrowed as Hutch stood and met the man half way.  He watched a few words pass between them.  Hutch reached into his pocket and pulled out some bills.  Starsky watched Hutch pass the money over to him.  The man headed inside to the apartment building and Hutch got in his car and left. 

 

He reached over and grabbed Dom’s arm to keep him from starting the car.  They both got out of the car and headed inside the apartment building in search of Hutch’s contact.

 

After pressuring the manager, both headed up to the third floor where they knew the man Hutch had briefly met with was.  Starsky and Dom reached the door and each took a side.  Both pulled their weapons and Dom knocked on the door with the barrel of his gun.  “Police, open up!”

 

It was tense moment of waiting, but the door came open.  Dom went through first taking the man by the shirt.  He walked the guy into the apartment with Starsky close behind.  Starsky looked over when a woman came out of the kitchen with wide eyes.

 

“It’s okay, baby,” the man said.  “Go in the bedroom.”

 

Starsky looked over at Dom who had him against the wall patting him down.  Normally, he would have looked through the apartment, but stopped short.  They searched me and searched my place’ yelled into his ears.  “Dom, put him on the couch.”

 

Dom directed him to the couch and tossed Starsky the wallet.  “His name’s Richard Tyner, Starsky.”

 

Starsky opened up the wallet and looked down at the ID.  He was quiet as he walked over to him.  Starsky sat down on the coffee table and looked at Tyner.  “You met with someone very close to me outside a few minutes ago.  I want to know why.”

 

“You know Champ?”

 

Starsky straightened up and looked back at Dom.  He turned his attention back to Tyner.  “You and he were in prison together?”

 

“Listen, man.  I violated my parole by seeing him, but my parole officer won’t get worked up over a brief chat on a sidewalk in the middle of the day.”

 

Starsky handed the wallet back to Tyner and looked into the hazel eyes.  “Why did he want to see you?”

 

Tyner shrugged his shoulders.  “He loaned me a few bucks.  It’s tough for a con to make it these days.”

 

“You can help me by telling me the truth.  I think Hutch is getting into something that could send him back to prison.  I don’t want that to happen and the only way I can make sure it don’t happen is by me knowing what he’s doing.”

 

Tyner’s eyes grew tough and he crossed his arms.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

The thought of leaning on the guy was on the tip of his tongue.  Starsky tightened his mouth knowing he didn’t want to use the same tactic which had been used against Hutch.  “Fine.” Starsky pushed himself up from the coffee table and looked down at Tyner.  “We’ll find out on our own.”

 

Starsky left him sitting there and headed out of the apartment with Dom close behind.  He had to find out what Hutch was doing and his frustration was growing by leaps and bounds.  He should have known this guy would protect Hutch and himself.

 

 

 

 

It was mid afternoon the following day and Hutch was walking along the beach with Tyner next to him.  Since his release, he spent more time at the beach these days.  He had missed it so much during his imprisonment and there were times he didn’t feel he could get enough of it. 

 

Hutch could smell the salty air and the ocean breeze felt good on his face.  He looked over at Tyner who was next to him with his hands in his pockets.  “You sure you weren’t followed this time, Tyner?”

 

“Nope.  I was pretty careful.”

 

Hutch knew he should’ve been angry at Starsky for following him, but he couldn’t be.  Hell, he would have probably done the same thing.  Tyner had called him after Starsky and Dom’s visit.  Rather than to talk on the phone, Hutch wanted Tyner to meet with him so they could determine their next move.

 

“I shouldn’t be surprised.”

 

“Even as much as I don’t care for cops, there’s no way in hell we can do this without them, Champ.”

 

“I’m not ready to take this to them just yet.  We need to get someone to see Malcolm.  He’s got a plan.”

 

“Whatever it is, it has to be someone we trust.” 

 

Hutch was silent as he continued walking along the beach.  He heard Tyner’s deep sigh and knew there was more.

 

“Champ, the cop that goes by the name Starsky.  He seems like a righteous cop.  Think we could trust him?”

 

Hutch didn’t answer the question knowing the answer.  He stopped walking and glanced over at Tyner.  “If we’re going to do this, let’s get it done.  I’ll be getting a call soon.”

 

Tyner nodded and both continued walking down the beach.  Hutch told his friend what to expect next.

 

 

 

 

It was the same evening when Hutch pulled the LTD behind Starsky’s Torino.  He shut off the ignition and looked over at Tyner whose nervousness was showing across his face.  “Relax, Tyner.  It’s not like your going to get arrested.”

 

Tyner’s head snapped over to Hutch’s.  “Are you sure about that?  It’s not everyday I willingly go to meet up with cops on my own time.”

 

“I’ve never seen you so undone before.”

 

“Hey, let’s just get this done.  If I don’t show up for dinner, my old lady will think I really did get busted.”

 

Hutch stepped out of the car and started to head to the door.  He stopped and looked back at Tyner who was slowly getting out of the car.  Hutch had never seen the big guy so anxious.  “What’s taking you so long?”

 

“Just thinkin’ if I’ve got any outstandings that I don’t know about.”

 

Hutch almost laughed watching him.  “You act like your going into a den of lions.”

 

“Sounds better than this.  Least my chances might be better.”  Tyner walked with Hutch to the door.  “They outnumber us, Champ.”

 

“I’d say the odds are about even.” Hutch looked over at Tyner.  “You count as two.”  Hutch knocked on the door and it opened almost immediately.  When he saw Starsky’s face he grew tense.  The last time they had spoken face to face it hadn’t gone well.  When Hutch had called him to arrange this meeting, it was a tense short conversation.

 

Starsky held the door open and Hutch looked over at Tyner before entering.  They walked into the living room where Dom and Dobey sat on Starsky’s couch waiting for them.  Hutch stood near the window with Tyner just behind him.  No one spoke for a few minutes feeling awkward with the unusual situation they were in.

 

Hutch glanced over at Starsky taking the sight of him in.  He wore a dark blue shirt half way unbuttoned.  His dark blues glittered seductively and Hutch wondered briefly if Starsky was thinking the same thing he was.  He turned his head to get the rampant desires under control.

 

“Hutch, is this about Woods and Pride?” Dobey asked.

 

“Yeah, we think we might have a way of putting them out of business,” Hutch answered.

 

Dom leaned back against the couch and looked up at Hutch.  “When you say we, you mean you and your friend over there.”

 

“Not like the boys in blue have done a great job in policing their own,” Tyner shot back.

 

“There’s a thing called evidence which helps a hell of a lot,” Dom replied.  “If we got a little more cooperation maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to nail these guys.”

 

“Yeah, evidence,” Tyner snorted. “Maybe the cooperation you’re wantin’ don’t happen because of boys like Woods and Pride.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dom asked testily.

 

“Precisely what I said.” Tyner stood next to Hutch and crossed his arms.  “Those boys have a rep and they’re not well liked.  I wouldn’t be going along with this otherwise.”

 

“I can imagine most cops aren’t well liked in your circle,” Dom said with a look over at Dobey.

 

“Cops are respected who deserve it.”

 

“Ones you buy,” Dom shot back.

 

“That’s enough,” Dobey ordered.  “The two of you can debate cop/convict etiquette to your heart’s content at a later time.  Hutchinson, tell us what you’ve got.”

 

Hutch sighed and glanced over at Starsky.  He brought his attention to Dobey to avoid Starsky’s eyes.  “They’re in business for themselves.  They need someone legitimate to move their merchandise.”

 

“You.”  Starsky’s eyes met Hutch’s and he knew the answer.

 

Dom leaned forward and looked at the group.  “He’s a former cop with a record.  They can put the screws to him and if he doesn’t perform as expected, he goes back to prison.”

 

“You didn’t tell me.” Starsky stepped around the couch to look at Hutch.

 

Hutch’s eyes met Starsky’s.  “I didn’t want you involved.”

 

“Just tell us when they’re moving it.” Dobey told them.  “We’ll take care of them.”

 

Hutch turned around and sat down in a chair keeping silent.  He pulled a cigarette out and lit it.  He looked at Dobey who stood up.  “Absolutely not, Hutch!  You’re a civilian!”

 

“Why did you call us here if you’re not going to let us in on this?” Dom asked.

 

“There’s only one way this happens and we’ve got insurance,” Tyner told them.  “Besides, part of this will have to be done by us because cops can’t do it without loosing their shields.”

 

Starsky moved in front of Hutch and looked down at him.  “Hutch, how does this plan of yours work?”

 

“If this isn’t done by the book, we’re no where,” Dobey stated.

 

Starsky looked into Hutch’s eyes.  Trust me Hutch, Starsky told him silently.  He wasn’t sure if Hutch could see it or not.

 

Hutch looked up at Starsky briefly and then took a drag from his cigarette.  “I can deliver Jason Miles.”

 

“What does he have to do with any of this?” Dom asked.

 

“Jason Miles is a major dealer in the city.” Starsky was still observing Hutch.  “He’s been untouchable.”

 

“Not anymore.” Hutch stood up and walked around Starsky.  “The reason he’s been so successful at avoiding arrests are because of Woods and Pride.  They take care of the competition for him.”

 

“Nice little arrangement the guy’s got.” Tyner smirked.  “He makes sure they’ve got the low down on a competitor which helps with the profit margin.  The cops make the busts, take a cut and then they get a nice little pat on the back and a few medals for it.”

 

“How did you find all this out?” Dom asked.

 

Tyner snickered a little and looked at Hutch.  “Want to tell them, Champ or shall I?”

 

Hutch toyed with the cigarette and looked at the group of men.  “We’ve got the snitch.”

 

“How in the hell did you manage that?” Starsky asked putting his hands on his hips.

 

“Us ex-cons have our own tight little network,” Tyner bragged.  “We may kill each other on the inside, but it’s a whole new ballgame once we get outside.”

 

Dom stood up and looked at Hutch.  “He’s your insurance policy.  If we don’t go along you’ll take him and leave.”

 

Hutch looked evenly at Dom as the smoke from the cigarette rose between them.  “I have a stake in this.  If anyone tries to squeeze me out, the snitch is out of the picture.  This is a one time shot to take down two dirty cops and Jason Miles.”

 

Starsky thought for a moment and turned back around.  He looked at Hutch’s back.  “They set you up for this?”

 

Hutch turned around to look at Starsky.  “I doubt they were thinking this far ahead when they did it.”

 

Starsky looked back at Captain Dobey to gage his response.  He hoped he would go a long with it whatever it was Hutch and Tyner had in mind.  “You need us to make the busts?” Dobey asked Hutch.

 

“When the time comes you’ll need to move on Woods, Pride and Miles.  Tyner and I will make sure they are there with enough cocaine to put them away for a hell of a long time.”

 

“If this comes even close to entrapment, we’re nowhere,” Dom stated.

 

“It won’t be,” Hutch assured the group.

 

Dobey walked over to Hutch.  “Ken, you know this doesn’t necessarily clear you.”

 

“I know that, Cap.  They have to be stopped either way.”

 

Dobey nodded.  “How exactly is this going to work?”

 

Hutch looked back at Tyner and then over at Starsky.  “We’re not exactly sure, to be honest.  But the one person who already has it all worked out, I can’t go see.”

 

“Why not,” Starsky asked.

 

“He’s still got almost three years left on his sentence,” Tyner answered.

 

“You’ve can’t be serious!  What makes you think this guy is so willing to help us out,” Dom blurted out.

 

“He’s not helping us out, Detective Dominguez,” Hutch said sharply.  “I owe him a favor and this is it.”

 

Starsky crossed his arms and moved in close to Hutch.  “What does he get out of this?”

 

“I can’t say, Starsky.”

 

Starsky turned around and looked at Dobey.  “Cap, I say we do this.  Hutch wouldn’t lead us down a road that leads nowhere and this may clear him anyways.”

 

Dom crossed his arms and studied the group.  “I can’t say I’m all for this idea especially not knowing everything.  I’m in.”

 

“Fine.” Dobey grabbed his fedora and headed for the door.  “Just keep me posted on everything you and Dominguez do, Starsky.  Hutchinson and his friend will do what they need.”

 

After he was gone, Starsky glanced over at Hutch and then swung back to Dom.  “You think you might want to take Hutch’s friend back to his place, Dom?”

 

Dom looked over at Tyner and then back at Starsky.  He stood up.  “Sure, as long as he promises not to steal my car.”

 

Tyner stepped forward and looked over at Hutch.  “Think he’ll run a make on me?”

 

“Let me know if does.  I’d like to see how it turns out.”

 

Tyner chuckled and met Dom at the door.  “Think we can avoid any cop shops on the way?  If my old lady thinks I got busted, I’ll be sleeping on the couch for a month.”

 

Dom opened the door and glanced at Tyner.  “Only in you keep your mitts off my car.”

 

After they were gone, Starsky looked over at Hutch.  Both stood unmoving and the atmosphere was thick with tension.  Hutch finally turned and sat down on the couch.  He got rid of the cigarette he had been smoking and ran his hands over his face.  He looked up to see Starsky sit on the coffee table across from him.  “There’s more, isn’t there?”

 

Hutch looked him straight in the eye.  “You’ll be the one going to the prison.”

 

“Why me?”

 

“He’s seen you, Starsk.  He knows you were there seeing me.”

 

Starsky nodded a bit.  “And he trusts you.”

 

“Yeah, he’ll tell you exactly what needs done and then you’ll relay it to me and Tyner.  We’ll hold up our end so you and your partner can take down Woods, Pride and Miles.”

 

“This will be dangerous for you, Hutch.  You know that.”

 

Hutch nodded.  “I can’t live with these guys on my back, Starsk, and I won’t go back to prison.”

 

Starsky’s breath caught in his throat when he heard the promise from Hutch’s lips.  He knew exactly what he was saying and it scared the hell out of him.  What could Starsky say?  Could he honestly blame Hutch for it?  “Hutch, you won’t go back to prison.  I’ll stake my life on it.”

 

“Don’t Starsk.”  Hutch looked into his eyes.  “You and I both have no idea what’s going to happen when this all comes together.  This is a risk I’m willing to take.  It’s not yours.”

 

Starsky shot to his feet.  “Fuck that!  It’s just as much mine as it is yours!  You act like I don’t even have a stake in this thing.”

 

“Because you don’t!” Hutch stood face to face with Starsky.  “This is my life and my decision.”

 

“You’re wrong, Hutch.  I do have a stake in this.  It is your life, but you are my life, too.  If you loose out on this thing, so do I.”

 

Hutch walked past Starsky over to the window.  “If I do get sent back, this time I won’t let you wait for me.”

 

“Damn you, Hutchinson!”  Hutch swung around only to be faced with Starsky’s heated glare.  “Who in the hell do you think you are to decide for me?  You think you’re doing me a favor?”  Starsky quickly crossed the room and stared into Hutch’s eyes.  “You’ve been carrying our relationship on your back without allowing any room for me!”

 

“No!”

 

Starsky stepped closer to Hutch.  “Don’t you see, Hutch?  You don’t have to carry it by yourself anymore.  When you’re not with me, my world tilts over.  Every time you’re with me, you keep it straight for me.  I want to keep yours straight for you, too.”

 

“God, Starsky.  You can’t.  You’ll get crushed under the burden.”  Hutch laughed bitterly and ran his hand through his hair.  “If I told you how you make me feel, you’d run for cover.”

 

“Try me,” Starsky begged. 

 

Hutch started to shake his head and then looked at Starsky.  “I love you so goddamn much it scares the hell out of me.  Sometimes I just want to pull you inside of myself and never let you go.  I’d smother you, Starsky.”

 

Starsky could see the pain in Hutch’s eyes and he wasn’t sure what to do next. 

 

“Starsk, you’ve been everything to me for so many years.  You’ve been my brother, my father, my son…God, you’ve been a mate…Every part of my entire life is what you’ve been.  It scares me how much I need you.”  Hutch stood so close to Starsky it hurt.  He could smell the familiar aroma and it threatened to pull him once again.  “Starsky, I’ve missed you so damn much that it seemed like I was just going to die from it.  I feel like if you don’t touch me then I will die.  That’s how you make me feel.”

 

Starsky stood close to Hutch.  His eyes caressed Hutch’s face and then met him equally.  He slowly brought his hand up and gently touched Hutch’s face.  Starsky’s eyes moistened when Hutch closed his eyes.  He moved his thumb along Hutch’s warm cheek.  “You’re my world, Hutch.  I don’t have much of one without you in it.”

 

Starsky brought up his other hand and cupped Hutch’s face.  “Touching you makes me know that I’m alive, Hutch.  Feelin’ you touch me brings me alive.”

 

Hutch searched Starsky’s eyes and he saw the truth in them.  He slowly lowered his head and let it rest on Starsky’s shoulder.  A heavy sigh of relief escaped him as Starsky brought his hands to Hutch’s shoulders.  Hutch then stepped closer to Starsky and felt his strong arms encircle him.  He allowed Starsky to hold him tightly relishing in the warmth and safety he felt in them.  Hutch then brought his hands up and clutched Starsky’s shoulders.  He tightly held on feeling as if he would fall if he let go.

 

Starsky smiled through his wet eyes as he ran his hands down Hutch’s back marveling at the strength he felt.  “Just tell me you’re staying, Hutch.  Don’t think I want to go to bed by myself.”

 

“I’m just hoping for an entire night together.”  Hutch raised his head and smiled a bit when he saw the pleasure in Starsky’s eyes.

 

“I just didn’t want you thinkin’ I’m just tryin’ to get you in sack.”

 

Hutch tilted his head.  “Oh, I know you’re going to try that anyways.  Why do you think I stayed?”

 

“You’re not even going to play hard to get?”

 

“Not this time.”  Hutch started towards the bedroom with Starsky close behind.  “Next time you’ll have to do a hell of a lot more than just a few pretty words.”

 

When they reached the bedroom Hutch turned around and looked at Starsky.  He started to reach for him, when Starsky stopped him with his hand.  “No way, Blondie.  Last time I let you have free reign.  This time, I get to call the shots.”

 

“I guess I did come on a little strong,” Hutch smiled shyly.

 

Starsky laughed as he reached for the button’s on Hutch’s shirt.  “A little?  Buddy, you brought me to the point about a million times and barely gave me a chance to breathe.  Not that I didn’t enjoy it, mind you.”

 

Hutch let Starsky unbutton his shirt enjoying the bantering.  “Enjoy it hell, Starsky.  You were wild in that bed.  I thought you were going to shoot to the moon.”

 

“I thought I did.” Starsky pushed Hutch’s shirt off his shoulder.  He ran his hands across Hutch’s chest and smiled at the soft sigh coming from him.  “So, smooth, but strong.”

 

Starsky’s husky words moved across Hutch’s skin like satin.  He watched as Starsky stepped in and ran his warm breath across his chest.  Hutch instinctively buried his hand in the dark curls pulling Starsky close to him.  He felt Starsky’s tongue snake out and tease a nipple.  Hutch’s breathing became labored and his body leapt in anticipation.

 

Hutch lowered head and whispered in Starsky’s ear.  “If you don’t take that shirt off, you’ll loose the buttons to the one you’re wearing.”

 

Starsky pulled away from Hutch and gave him a seductive look.  “Just stay right there.  I’m gonna unwrap you.”

 

A bright flush came up Hutch’s face at the thought of Starsky undressing him.  He watched Starsky remove his shirt and when he saw the dark chest covered with thick hair, Hutch could feel his pants tighten up even more.  He loved the scars on Starsky’s chest.  Hutch couldn’t explain it.  They seemed to accentuate the dark panther like body even more. 

 

When Starsky had completely undressed, Hutch’s eyes went straight to the hard erection which was beckoning him.  He started to reach for it, but Starsky’s chuckle held him back.  “No, Hutch.  I love the way you’re wantin’ me, but you gotta wait.”

 

Starsky reached for Hutch’s pants and when they were undone, his huge cock was freed from its confines.  Starsky took the heavy member in his hand and studied it closely as if seeing it for the first time.  He looked up at Hutch whose head was back slightly and his eyes closed.  Starsky slowly got to his knees and pulled Hutch’s jeans and underwear down past his knees.

 

He grabbed the cock again and pumped slowly on it a few times and looked up at Hutch to see his reaction.  He heard the soft moans coming from Hutch and looked back at it in fascination.  “You like me doin’ this to ya’, Hutch.  God, I’m hard as rock makin’ you feel like this.”

 

Starsky then bent in and ran his tongue along the underside of Hutch’s rod.  “Oh, God.”  He smiled at Hutch’s strangled cry and continued running his tongue along the heavy member. 

 

Hutch reached down and ran his fingers in Starsky’s thick hair enjoying the softness.  His head was back as he felt the fiery trail Starsky was tracing around his cock. The fire was thick in his veins and Hutch’s clasped Starsky’s head when he felt his mouth pull a heavy sac into his mouth.  “Jesus, Starsk.”

 

Starsky raised his head up and looked up at Hutch.  He loved seeing Hutch like this.  Starsky loved making Hutch like this.  His own body was responding to the way he was turning Hutch on.  Starsky lowered his head and worked his tongue to the head.  He opened his mouth wide and enveloped the head.  Starsky started sucking and using his tongue to guide it back further.

 

Hutch’s breathing was hard and labored.  His blood was boiling as he felt Starsky’s mouth taking him.  His fingers were dug deeply into the dark curly hair making sure he didn’t force it.

 

Starsky stopped taking deep breaths.  He was breathing hard and his hand began pumping Hutch’s hard cock.  “I wanna take you all the way inside of me, Hutch.  I’ll have lots of time to learn how to do that, won’t I?”

 

Starsky slowly got to his feet and then guided Hutch to the bed.  He sat him down and finished removing the remainder of his clothes.  “Scoot back Hutch.”

 

Hutch did as he was instructed wondering what his devilish lover had in mind.  Hutch lay back on the pillows and looked down at Starsky who got to his knees at Hutch’s feet.  He saw the seductive grin on Starsky’s face.  “You know what you look like to me, Hutch.  You look like a big cat in heat waitin’ just for me.”

 

Starsky’s eyes grew provocative with want as he slowly crawled towards Hutch like a mysterious panther.  He laid his body across Hutch’s who gave a sudden intake of breath at feeling of their erections snuggling tightly together.  “Open you’re mouth, Hutch.”

 

Hutch immediately obeyed and Starsky’s mouth swooped down on his capturing it with his lips.  He pushed his tongue through and met Hutch’s tongue.  They dueled for control until Hutch gave in.  Starsky repositioned his lips over Hutch’s tongue and gently sucked it inside of his mouth.  He groaned feeling Hutch’s hands running from his back to his ass encompassing it with his large hands.

 

Starsky finally released Hutch’s mouth and began working his way down.  He suckled his neck licking with small bites along the elegant column.  He loved the way Hutch arched his neck allowing him even more access.

 

Hutch had always loved Starsky’s eroticism in the way he carried himself, but allowing himself to be the subject of it brought him to the brink.  He breathed heavily running his hands along the firm body loving the way the soft curls of hair tingled under his hands. 

 

He clasped onto Starsky’s shoulders when he felt a wet tongue on his nipple.  Hutch arched his body instinctively when he felt a sharp nip.  Then the tongue soothed the electrifying jolt he had been given.  A breath of hair exhaled from him when Hutch felt the soothing air on his nipple.  He laid back letting Starsky give the same heated attention to the other.

 

Hutch closed his eyes as Starsky began to work downwards using his wet tongue to trace a heated path to Hutch’s navel.  The hot trail left a cool soothing path in its wake.  When he felt Starsky’s tongue delve deeply inside of his navel, Hutch’s throaty groan escaped him.

 

Starsky breathed heavily as he worked his way back to Hutch’s cock.  He grasped it with his hand smiling in satisfaction when he heard Hutch call his name.  “So hard and smooth,” Starsky replied huskily.  Starsky continued pumping on the large erection and watched as Hutch’s hips met his pace.  “I loved havin’ your cock inside of me, Hutch.  God, I thought it was gonna just come out through my mouth.  Thought it was too big, but it fit me just the way it’s supposed to.  Think mine will fit you like that?”

 

Hutch groaned loudly from Starsky’s willing hands and the thought of having him inside of him.  He then felt Starsky’s hot mouth descend on his cock.  Hutch could only lay there as Starsky sucked him and he moaned in ecstasy at the tormenting ways he was being brought to the brink.

 

Starsky inhaled Hutch’s scent as he moved his mouth back and forth.  He ran his fingers along the heavy sac.  He heard Hutch cry out his name as he rolled them around.  Starsky released them and he took a moment to release Hutch’s cock from his mouth.  He brought two fingers to his mouth and wet them liberally.

 

He didn’t give Hutch a chance to catch his breath.  Starsky took his cock into his mouth once again and deepened his movements.  He ran his wet fingers down to Hutch’s perineum until he felt the tight opening waiting for him.  Starsky sucked deeply as he began pushing a finger inside of Hutch.

 

“Oh shit, Starsk.  Don’t stop.” Hutch’s hips bucked.  Starsky threw a leg across Hutch’s legs to still his movements as he continued pressing forward.  Starsky kept working his mouth over Hutch’s cock figuring out as he went how to deep throat him.  He still was unsure if he could even do it.  Starsky pushed another finger into Hutch and worked his tongue to bring even more of the hard erection into his mouth.  Starsky knew he had hit Hutch’s prostrate when his finger moved inside of him.

 

Suddenly, he felt Hutch cry out and his body humped his mouth back and forth.  The salty liquid hit the back of his throat and Starsky greedily swallowed it down like a man dying for thirst.  This was Hutch, Starsky thought.  His entire body was hard with want as Hutch’s essence came inside of him.  He felt the warmth in his belly as he milked Hutch’s cock.

 

Hutch felt his head spinning in a sexual haze after cumming so heavily in Starsky’s mouth.  He looked down at Starsky who laid his head on Hutch’s hip.  Starsky had a sated lover’s look on his face.  “You’re turn, Starsk.”

 

Starsky raised his head and shook it.  “No, Hutch.  I’m still callin’ the shots here.  It’s not over yet, babe.”

 

Hutch chuckled deeply.  “I don’t think I can take another session like that.”

 

Starsky looked down at Hutch’s erection and smiled.  “He don’t agree.”  Starsky patted Hutch’s leg.  “Turn over, Hutch.  I’ve still got some makin’ up to do to ya’.”

 

Hutch rolled to his stomach and tucked the pillow under his head.  He closed his eyes enjoying the way, Starsky was loving him.   He felt Starsky lay on top of him and loved feeling his body so close to his.

 

Starsky looked down at the dark tattoo against Hutch’s golden skin.  “Hutch, you have no idea how much I’ve wanted to touch you here.”  Starsky ran his hand along the wide expansive tattoo taking notice of the fact he could feel little difference between the smooth skin and the dark brand.

 

He studied it closely taking in every curve and point.  Starsky then lowered his head and touched his tongue at a starting point.  He traced it lovingly and he felt moved to his core doing it.  “Oh, Hutch, this is beautiful on you, babe.”  Starsky traced more with his tongue and then kissed the point where it ended.  “I keep thinkin’ how you loved my scars.  I hated them.  Thought how ugly they were, but you loved ‘em Hutch.  Like they were a part of me.”

 

Starsky used his tongue to make a path through the circular motions of the tattoo.  “They’re a part of me, like this is a part of you, Hutch.”  Starsky’s lovingly touched his tongue to Hutch’s back showing him that he loved even the darkest part of him.  “We both died.  I died in that hospital.  You died in that prison.  We just didn’t die the same.”

 

He could feel Hutch’s even breathing as he guided his tongue along the enigmatic paths of the tattoo.  “My scars and your tattoo are our rebirth.  We’re like phoenixes, you and me.”  Starsky ran his tongue along a line yet untouched on Hutch’s shoulder.  “We came back stronger and better.  Better for each other.  Better for lovin’ each other the way we were always meant to.”

 

Hutch could feel the tears burning in his closed eyes at Starsky’s soft words.  His body had come alive once again feeling the tender moistness being traced on his shoulder.  “I love you, Starsk.”

 

Starsky ran his hot wet tongue along Hutch’s shoulder.  “I know, babe.  All you gotta do is trust me, Hutch.  Trust me with the good and bad.  I’ll love ya’ no matter what.”

 

Hutch’s breath caught when he felt Starsky’s hand fit between his body and the mattress.  He moved his hips to grant Starsky greater access.  He groaned loudly as Starsky took his cock in hand.  “God, Starsk.  I’ll die if you don’t fuck me now.”

 

Hutch heard Starsky’s chuckled growl.  His cock flexed in Starsky’s hand at the sound and his body tingled with excitement.  He felt Starsky lean in next to his ear.  “Hutch, do you trust me?  Trust me to love ya’?”

 

“Always.”

 

“I want to be inside of you, Hutch.  It means giving up your control to me.”

 

Hutch couldn’t think of anything better he wanted.  “I want you take all of me.  Please.”  He felt Starsky move away from him and Hutch felt his back cry out from the nakedness it felt.  He kept his eyes closed feeling Starsky move around on the bed.

 

Starsky had the K-Y in hand and looked down at Hutch sprawled out on his stomach.  “Turn over, Hutch.”  He watched Hutch turn to his back and Starsky handed the K-Y to him.  “Get me ready for you.”

 

Hutch sat up and squeezed some out on his hand.  He set the tube down on the nightstand and reached for Starsky’s cock.  Starsky’s guttural groan brought a smile to Hutch’s face and his own erection bobbed in response.  He coated it enjoying the smoothness pleased with how hard Starsky’s cock was for him. 

 

Starsky grasped Hutch’s wrist.  “You keep doing that and I’ll blast off before I even get to the launch pad.”

 

Hutch chuckled and when Starsky pushed him to his back, he complied easily.  Starsky knelt between Hutch’s legs and brought them over his knees.  Starsky scooted in closer and pumped himself a few times allowing his fingers to be covered.  He pushed a finger inside of Hutch.  Starsky’s eyes locked with Hutch’s as he worked to stretch him.  When he pushed two fingers inside, Hutch relaxed his head back and closed his eyes.  “You like that, don’t ya’, Hutch.”

 

“Feels good,” Hutch murmured.

 

Starsky smiled as he watched the pleasure run across Hutch’s face.  He loved that look, but he wanted more from Hutch.  He was greedy for the moans of desire coming from him.  Starsky wanted Hutch to yearn for him as much as he did. 

 

He moved forward and placed his cock at the opening which was now ready for him.  Starsky pushed forward and closed his eyes at feeling the tightness welcome him.  He could hear Hutch’s labored breathing and Starsky opened his eyes wondering if he was hurting him.  “More…more…more,” Hutch breathed heavily.

 

Starsky kept pushing onward and suddenly he felt Hutch’s legs wrap tightly around him bringing him to the hilt.  Starsky groaned feeling Hutch’s passage tighten around his cock like a warm silk glove.  He felt so close to coming, he rattled off unintelligible baseball stats in his head.  “Don’t move, Hutch.  Oh, Jesus, if you do, I’ll go off like a fuckin’ jackhammer.”

 

Hutch loved the fullness inside of him and seeing Starsky barely able to maintain control was something he didn’t expect.  He loved seeing the painful pleasure on Starsky’s face.  He looked down when Starsky grabbed his own cock.  After a moment, Starsky began moving inside of him simultaneously rubbing Hutch’s cock to his own sexual need.

 

It didn’t take long for the need to take over their sexual control.  Both moved evenly with each other and it slowly built up into an erotic frenzy.  Hutch kept his legs wrapped around Starsky’s back and grasped onto his arms.  Starsky pumped into Hutch keeping his grasp on Hutch’s hard erection and each moved to an ever faster rhythm in search for that orgasmic high they had found once before hoping for the same and praying for better.

 

Starsky finally reared his head back and a guttural cry escaped as he came inside of Hutch.  He felt Hutch’s cock tighten in his grasp and as he was coming down from the sexual plane he was on, Hutch’s climax exploded in his hand.  Starsky looked at Hutch’s face and smiled at the sweat covering his body.  He wiped his hand on the sheet and knelt down allowing himself to smoothly release his cock from Hutch’s body.  Starsky touched Hutch’s mouth in a soothing kiss letting him know how much he loved him.

 

Hutch returned it wrapping his arms around Starsky’s naked body and pulling him close.  They kissed and held each other basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking.  Starsky then rolled off of Hutch to his back and laid spread eagled on the bed.  “God Hutch, that was infuckingcredible.”  Starsky sighed contentedly and looked over at Hutch.  “Good thing we’ve got a whole night ahead of us.”

 

Hutch propped the pillow behind his head feeling more content than he ever had since he could remember.  He glanced over at Starsky who smiled back at him with a sated lover’s look in his eyes.  After a few minutes of catching their breath, Starsky quickly got up out of the bed searching for his underwear.  Hutch lifted his head.  “What are you doing?”

 

Starsky grabbed his underwear after untangling it from the sheets which had been pushed to the floor.  He smiled at Hutch as he slipped them on.  “What I do after the best sex I ever had.  I’m hungry.”

 

Hutch chuckled and after finding his underwear followed Starsky into the kitchen.  Starsky was pulling down some food from the cabinets when he arrived.  Hutch’s bare feet padded across the floor and he opened the fridge.  He saw a curious looking dish sitting on a shelf.  Hutch reached over and took a finger of the odd casserole looking dish.  He stuck it in this mouth and bit down.

 

The fiery jalapeño burst in his mouth and Hutch began gagging.  He ran to the sink and spit the blistering item out of this mouth.  Hutch was oblivious to Starsky who headed to the fridge.  He was scrambling for a glass of water when Starsky shoved a carton of milk in his hand.  Hutch up ended the carton frantically gulping to get the fiery taste off his tongue.  Finally, he stopped taking long gasps.  He felt Starsky’s hand on his bare shoulder.  “What the hell was that?” Hutch asked still gasping.

 

“Sorry, I should have warned you.  Dom’s wife fixed it for me last week.  I’m one of the few people outside the family that can tolerate it.”

 

Hutch shook his head and took a large drink from the milk.  “Why am I not surprised.”

 

“Still hungry?”

 

Hutch nodded and turned around.  He leaned back against the counter and slid down to the floor still catching his breath.  Hutch looked up at Starsky who had gathered sodas, chips, cookies, and was balancing a half eaten chocolate cake on top of a pizza box. 

 

When Starsky sat them down on the floor, he plopped down next to Hutch who was still sipping on the milk carton.  “Try the chocolate cake, Hutch.”

 

Hutch glanced over at Starsky who was ripping open the bag of chips.  He then reached for the plate with the cake on it and set it on his lap.  Hutch took a small piece off with his fingers and popped it in his mouth.  He back at Starsky as he licked the chocolate off of his fingers.  Starsky was munching on the chips and Hutch loved seeing the afterglow of sex on him.  “I didn’t expect this.”

 

Starsky reached for a soda can and popped it open.  “You didn’t?”

 

“Well, I realized in prison how I felt, but I didn’t think it would ever happen.”  Hutch grabbed the chocolate cake and pulled it onto his lap.

 

Starsky took a drink from the can.  “When you got out, I hoped it would happen with us.”

 

“You did?  I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to settle down with a wife or something.”

 

Starsky shrugged his shoulders.  “I guess the reason I never found the right one was because I should’ve been looking at the person right next to me.”

 

Hutch took a bite of the cake.  “This girl you were living with wasn’t it?”

 

Starsky shook his head as he reached for a chip.  “Melinda knew me better than I did, I guess.  She’s a good woman, Hutch.  Don’t get me wrong.  She knew I didn’t love her the way she deserved.”

 

Hutch was thoughtful as he took a large bit of the cake.  Starsky stared across at Hutch wondering what was on his mind.  “You don’t talk much about prison, Hutch.  Was it as bad as the stories you hear?”

 

“Worse in some ways.”

 

Starsky took not that Hutch was focused on the cake in his lap and not looking at him.  “Hutch, I know you told me that you had never been with anybody while you were there, but I gotta know.  Were you…?” 

 

Hutch glanced up at Starsky precisely understanding his reasons for asking.  “No, Starsky.  I wasn’t raped.”  Hutch looked back down at the cake avoiding Starsky’s gaze.  “I made sure of it.”

 

Starsky had a peculiar feeling in his chest at Hutch’s last sentence.  “What do you mean?”

 

Hutch swallowed the heavy lump in his throat.  He glanced over at Starsky and looked away.  “I had to make sure no one came after me for any reason.  It didn’t matter whether it was because I was a cherry or an ex-cop.”

 

“Hutch, do you want to tell me?”

 

Hutch had a bitter smile on his face and looked away.  “You’re not going to run me in are you?”  He glanced back at Starsky and saw the seriousness in his eyes.  “There’s only one way to make sure people leave you alone in a place like that, Starsky.  When you’re the new kid on the block and you don’t want to get bullied, what do you do?”

 

Starsky lowered his eyes.  “Take out the biggest kid on the street.”

 

Hutch took a hard swallow.  “I did that.  He set his sights on me, educated me by use of visual displays and I decided that was an option I couldn’t live with.”  Hutch set the cake down on the floor next to him.  “I killed him, Starsk.”

 

“It was either that or let him…”

 

Hutch nodded and stared back at Starsky.  “Drove a shank into his stomach and I never looked back.  Word got out and no one touched me.  Some tried, but I didn’t have to go to those extremes to prove my point.”

 

Starsky leaned back and thought about what Hutch had just admitted to him.  “You don’t have to feel bad…”

 

“I don’t.”  Hutch’s hard stare across at Starsky held him in place.  “I have never felt the least bit guilty or any remorse for what I did.  It sickened me because it’s not the cop thing to do, but I wasn’t a cop anymore.”

 

“It was insane in there, wasn’t it, Hutch?”

 

“At times.  There were times I thought I was loosing my mind.”

 

“I wish you had told me.”

 

“I couldn’t, Starsky.”  Hutch licked his dry lips.  “Showing any kind of weakness will get you killed or bruised knees.  I had few choices in how I survived and having someone sodomizing me in the shower was not one of them.”

 

“Is that why you got the tattoo, Hutch?”

 

Hutch shrugged his shoulders.  “I’ve wanted to yell, scream and cry so many times in there, Starsky.  I couldn’t.  It was a death sentence.  It was a way of showing what I felt without showing what I felt.  If that makes any sense.”

 

Starsky nodded understanding a bit more of what made Hutch’s mind work during his imprisonment.  “You had to do that for so long and now you don’t know how not to do it.”

 

“There is no such thing as trust in a place like that, Starsky.  It’s as foreign as love would be.”

 

Starsky could see the sorrow in Hutch’s eyes.  He was relieved to see him not hide it as before, but knowing how hard it was for Hutch keep from expressing himself through anything was almost painful to him.  “You know you can tell me anything, don’t you, Hutch?”

 

Hutch nodded slowly and looked down.  “Just understand I may never tell you everything, Starsky.  There are some things that I can’t put into words.”

 

Starsky nodded wishing he could turn back time.  He knew no matter what happened, nothing would take away the 32 months Hutch had lived in more than just a prison for convicts.

 

 

 

 

 

When Starsky arrived at the prison, sitting at the table was the man he was instructed to see.  He observed him briefly and carefully crossed the room.  He still couldn’t figure out why this convict was willing to help them.  Starsky knew the man could see his own mistrust.

 

Starsky sat down across from him and carefully placed his hands on the table. 

 

Malcolm had a shrewd smile on his face looking at Starsky.  “Detective Starsky, you don’t look pleased to be here.”

 

“Trying to figure out why Hutch owes you.”

 

“It’s something you don’t need to know.  Just know he does.”

 

“What did you do for him?”

 

Malcolm responded with an easy smile and leaned back in his chair.  “You’d have to ask him.”

 

Starsky sighed deeply not liking these games this guy was playing.  “Malcolm Wyatt was convicted of three bank robberies.  He’s serving 15-20 but could get out in three years if he keeps being a good boy.  What I found so interesting was the fact the very cops which arrested Hutch are also the same ones that arrested you.  You thinking they set you up, too?”

 

“You didn’t come here to talk about me, Detective.”

 

“You know why I came here.” Starsky leaned in closer.  “What I want to know is why Hutch trusts you so damn much.”

 

“No such animal.”

 

“So he says, but I don’t agree since I’ve got to be here.”

 

“You want to know more, don’t you?”  Malcolm peered deeply into Starsky’s eyes.  “You don’t know everything that went on here, and you thought I’d tell you.”  He chuckled knowing he was right.  “Champ is holding back from you and you really hate that.”

 

“Okay.”  Starsky was ready to lay the cards out on the table.  “Yeah, I want to know what happened to Hutch in here.  He won’t tell me.”

 

“Let me tell you a story, Detective.  Once upon a time there were two inmates.  Inmate A and Inmate B.  Inmate A was a good guy.  The best you’d ever know.  But looking at him, you’d think he could’ve cared less whether or not you lived or died.  All the cons on the block wouldn’t cross him for nothing.  Then there was Inmate B.  Now he was tough.  Put on a good front for the world to see but inside he was just another scared con in a world he thought he could fit in.  Inmate A met Inmate B.  Now, I’d be lying if I said they hit it off, but after a while, Inmate B saw what Inmate A was.  Inmate A wouldn’t let anyone not even himself, know what Inmate B was to him.  Inmate A taught Inmate B that surviving was never good enough.”

 

Starsky didn’t understand the story completely and he looked down at his hands.  He wondered if Inmate A was Hutch.  “What happened to them?”

 

“Inmate B wound up teaching the teacher.”  Malcolm leaned forward and looked sincerely in Starsky’s eyes.  “Just remember one thing.  Tearing down the walls of this place will never happen, but if you want to tear them down from someone you care about, you’ve got to know what they’re made of first.”

 

Starsky didn’t say anything for a moment as the words sunk in.  He gave Malcolm a nod who then smiled and began telling the detective of his plan.

 

 

 

 

 

The plan was set in motion by Hutch and Tyner the following day.  They found the snitch and after some pressure and money, the guy did as instructed.  The next move belonged to Pride and Woods.

 

Starsky and Hutch waited at Venice place for the phone to ring unsure of when it would actually happen.  They were hopeful for the evening but as the sun set, the stressful situation began to take its toll on them.

 

Hutch sat at the table in the kitchen strumming softly on his guitar and he glanced over at Starsky who was on the couch reading.  He had noticed when Starsky arrived; a book bag was slung over his right shoulder.

 

Hutch set the guitar aside and walked to the window staring out at the darkening sky.  He didn’t notice Starsky looking up from his book.  “Hutch, this snitch, was he the one that put Woods and Pride on your tail?”

 

“Yeah, he was.”  Hutch kept his gaze out the window.  “He had gotten word about a new dealer from Miami.”

 

“Where?”

 

Hutch turned to Starsky and leaned against the window frame.  “Miles.  I’ve never dealt with the guy so it’s still a mystery why I was singled out.”

 

Starsky shook his head and turned his attention back to the book.  “Well, maybe when this is over you’ll find out.”

 

Hutch tilted his head to see what kind of book Starsky was holding.  “What are you reading?”

 

“Oh.” Starsky smiled a bit and looked at the cover.  “Advanced psychology.  I’ve been a bit slack lately and I thought I’d better stay caught up.”

 

“Caught up in what, Starsk?”

 

Starsky closed the book and set it aside.  He crossed his arms and looked up at Hutch.  “Won’t be long and those brains of yours will have some competition.  I’ve been takin’ some night classes, Hutch.  I thought one of these days I might get me one of those college diplomas like you’ve got.”

 

Hutch could see the eagerness and pride in Starsky’s eyes.  A memory echoed in his mind and as he stared at Starsky, he could hear the echoes thundering in his ears.

 

 

“So what now?”

 

“I guess when somebody does high school they go to college.”

 

 

 

 

He turned away suddenly and kept his focus out towards the night street wondering why the memory was taunting him as it did.  Hutch knew if he closed his eyes at that moment, a dead face would be there.  He couldn’t bear to see it.  He knew if he did, he would loose it.

 

A touch on his arm made him jump.  Hutch turned to see Starsky next to him.  “Hutch?  What’s wrong?”

 

Hutch cleared his throat.  “Nothing.” 

 

Hutch started to walk away and Starsky stepped in front of him.  “You can’t lie to me anymore, Hutch.  Tell me, please.”

 

“There’s nothing to tell.”  Hutch walked around Starsky and headed into the kitchen.  He could hear Starsky’s footsteps and he found the pack of cigarettes on the kitchen table.  When he checked them, they were empty. 

 

Starsky watched Hutch wad up the empty package and toss it down on the table.  “You’re hurting, Hutch.  I can tell.”

 

“I don’t feel anything!” Hutch yelled.  He then saw Starsky freeze at the words Hutch had thrown at him.  Hutch took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair.  “I’m sorry, Starsky.  I shouldn’t have said that.”

 

Starsky stepped in closer to Hutch.  “Talk to me, Hutch.  You can’t keep going like this and I think you know it.”

 

Hutch’s chest hurt from the pain inside of it.  He had never dared to allow himself to feel and the threat of it scared the hell out of him.  He shook his head.  “I can’t.”

 

The broken whisper spoke of Hutch’s pain and Starsky could feel it emanating from him.  “The good and the bad, Hutch.  Remember?  I’m lovin’ you no matter what.”

 

“Starsk, I…I don’t have the words inside.”

 

Starsky was desperate to help Hutch express what he was feeling and he looked up to see him taking long strides from the room.  Starsky considered following him and before he had a chance to, Hutch reappeared.  He held out his sketchbook for him to see.  Starsky was hesitant to take it from him.  He knew how personal Hutch always took his paintings as it was. 

 

He took a step towards Hutch and gently retrieved it from his grasp.  Starsky looked down at it and without thinking he sank down to the floor and leaned up against the wall.  Starsky wondered as he stared down at it, if he wanted to know what was there.  It was a hidden treasure for him, but he knew it could also speak of the unspeakable. 

 

Starsky looked up at Hutch who turned away from him.  He opened up the first page and smiled a bit.  Hutch had taken up realism which he liked better anyways.  Starsky knew it was of him as was the next two pages.  The third page confused Starsky.  It reminded him of Picasso and it was heavily distorted in the lines.  It was a person, but who it was, Starsky didn’t know.  In the lower right corner was a spider web creeping about the corner threatening to grow.  A spider with dark eyes sat on the web staring back at him as if in expectation. 

 

He looked up at Hutch hoping for an answer.  “Nacho,” Hutch told him.  “The person I killed.”

 

Starsky stared back down at it understanding with greater clarity.  This Nacho was as twisted as Hutch had drawn him.  He turned to the next page and Starsky’s eyebrows furrowed.  Hutch had started a new drawing of him, but it was angrily scratched out.  Starsky couldn’t understand it.  Rather than ask, he turned the page.  The next few pages held drawings of Malcolm and Tyner.  Then there were darkened images which were gothic and tragic in appearance.  Hutch had only allowed a few streaming bits of light onto them.

 

He looked over at Hutch who was starting to make himself comfortable on the floor next to him.  “Solitary.  I spent some time there.”

 

“That’s what it was like for you?”

 

“Sometimes.  I would close my eyes and we’d be on the street or at Huggy’s.  You and I would have to most ridiculous conversations at times.  They would go on for hours it seemed like.”

 

Starsky looked back down at the sketchbook and he could see why Hutch needed to mentally escape.  He took a deep breath and moved to the next page.  It was of someone he didn’t recognize.  His hair was thick and almost to the collar, a smile was slow in coming across the young man’s face.  Starsky thought he should recognize him, but he didn’t. 

 

He glanced over at Hutch who had pushed himself up from the floor.  Starsky looked back down and turned to the next page.  He was taken aback by the next picture.  The Torino was in the background.  Standing next to it was Starsky.  Standing off to the side and more forward in the picture was the young man in the previous picture with his hands in his pockets and head down just a bit.  He looked back at Starsky out of the corner of his eye.

 

Starsky tore his eyes from the drawing and looked up at Hutch.  “Hutch?”

 

Hutch turned away from him and looked down at the floor.  Starsky got up from the floor and held the book out in front of Hutch.  “Who is this?  Why is he in a drawing with me?”

 

Hutch’s eyes didn’t meet Starsky’s and he kept them averted from the drawing.  “Torino.”

 

“What?”

 

Hutch sighed.  “Johnny Gaskins.  He was sent in for a double murder.”

 

Starsky looked back down at the drawing and then it dawned on him.  “He’s the one you pointed out to me in the yard that day.”

 

Hutch nodded.  “I arranged for him to be there when you came.”

 

“Hutch, why is he important to you?”

 

Hutch shook his head as if in denial.  “He…uh…got his diploma in prison.  He talked about taking some college courses.”

 

“You helped him.”

 

Hutch nodded slowly.  Starsky could see Hutch’s throat working back and forth as if trying to control a heavy emotion.  “What happened, Hutch?”

 

Starsky watched Hutch step away from him and walk into the living room.  Hutch turned to look at him.  “You know something, Starsky.  No matter what anybody says, that was a good kid.  If anyone got the worst shots in life, he got ‘em.”  Starsky didn’t dare interrupt Hutch.  “His old man kicked him out at 13 years old after beating on him for his entire life.  The only thing he had going for him was his street smarts which meant about as much as me being a cop in prison.”

 

Hutch paced back and forth in the living room and Starsky forced himself to move towards him.  “You liked him.”

 

Hutch stopped and brought a steely gaze to Starsky.  “No!  I couldn’t like him!  I wasn’t supposed to!”  Hutch swung back around and paced some more.  “Goddamn stupid kid, came to me!  He came to me!” Hutch yelled swinging at a lamp.

 

When it crashed down to the floor, Starsky went to Hutch.  He stopped when Hutch stepped back from him.  “He had that damn smart ass mouth that he couldn’t keep shut!  He was always telling me stupid inane facts that made no sense!  And he spent too goddamn much time in the dayroom playing games!”

 

It hit Starsky then.  This kid reminded Hutch of him.  That’s what it was.  He didn’t speak as Hutch tightly rubbed his face.  He brought his hands down to his side and stared at Starsky.  Hutch shook his head.  “I let him get close to me and I shouldn’t have.  Torino got too close to me and I killed him.”

 

“What?”

 

“If he had just stayed away from me!  I showed weakness because of him and he died, Starsky!”

 

The fog was beginning to lift for Starsky and all was starting to make sense.  Starsky set the sketchbook on the couch and stepped closer to Hutch.  “There’s no weakness in caring about somebody, Hutch.  You taught me that.”

 

“If I had kept him away from me, he’d be alive.”

 

“What would have happened to him, Hutch?”

 

A heavy tear rolled down Hutch’s face and he looked around the room feeling lost.  “He would’ve been dead inside.  They would have broken him.  I couldn’t take seeing it happening to you or to him.  I couldn’t…”

 

Starsky gently laid his hands on Hutch’s arms.  “There was nothing you could do, Hutch.”

 

Hutch jerked out of Starsky’s reach and swung around at him.  “No!  I…I…I could’ve done something.  He was going to go to college…”

 

Hutch backed away more until he was at the wall.  He slid down in defeat and his head hung low.  “Torino was the only good thing I had in my life there.  Boone found out and he killed him because of me.”

 

Starsky went to Hutch.  Rather than saying any soothing words to him, he pulled Hutch’s head down to his shoulder.  Starsky sat on the floor next to Hutch who was suddenly overcome with racking sobs.  He felt Hutch clinging to him and Starsky prayed he was enough.

 

After a few minutes, Hutch pulled his head up.  Starsky watched him rub his eyes.  He held tightly onto Hutch’s hand.  “You okay?”

 

Hutch nodded. Starsky kept a hold of Hutch relishing the closeness between them.  “You’ve never mourned for him, Hutch.”

 

“I couldn’t.  Some of us got nicknames and I gave Johnny his.  He reminded me so much of you, Starsky.  Torino seemed to fit him and he didn’t mind it.”

 

Starsky smiled a bit.  “I wished I had gotten to meet him.”

 

“I thought I could give him enough to survive and maybe to get his case reopened.  I thought at one time maybe when I got out; someone could see the bad wrap he had gotten.  He got mixed up in with some guys who had him behind the wheel of a car while they robbed a house killing the old man and his wife.  Rather than tell who killed them, he took the wrap thinking he was tough enough to survive on the inside.”

 

“What did you do?”

 

Hutch took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.  “I found him.  He had been hung in his cell.  He was classified as a suicide but I knew better.”  Hutch’s face darkened and he looked away from Starsky.  “Boone wanted to get at me.  He knew if he took me down, he’d get a rep.  I tore out after him.  I had every intention of killing him and there was no way in hell anyone was going to stop me.”

 

“What stopped you?”

 

Hutch brought his troubled face to Starsky and he felt weak all over.  “You.  I had that dumbbell in my hand ready to drive it into his worthless skull and you stopped me.”  Hutch leaned his head back and stared straight ahead.  “It was like entire worlds stopped and even time itself.  You were there looking at me with your hand on my wrist telling me, Hutch wouldn’t do it.  Hutch would never take the law into his own hands.  It was the only time since this nightmare began I felt like I was a cop again.”

 

Starsky smiled through his tears and looked down at Hutch’s hand in his own.  He looked back up at Hutch.  “You saved me, too.  After the last time Dom came to see you there, he came to me.  It was like I was hearing and seeing you just like before.  I held onto it like it kept me from drowning.”

 

Hutch’s gaze never wavered from Starsky’s and he reached over to hold their hands together.  “I love you, Starsk.”

 

“Forever, Hutch.” 

 

 

 

Hutch parked his car behind the alley of an old apartment building.  He remembered the neighborhood where he had arrested Artie.  It almost seemed like a lifetime ago.  He leaned back against the trunk of his car, collecting his thoughts. 

 

Woods had given him explicit instructions.  Hutch remembered Starsky giving him a thumb up before walking out the door.  Hutch worried mostly about letting Starsky down.  He knew how big of a blow it would be to the both of them if Hutch were put back in prison, especially so early in this new level of their relationship.

 

Hutch anxiously looked down at his watch.  His nervousness increased when a pair of headlights turned into the alley.  Hutch stood as the dark sedan stopped behind his car. 

 

When Woods and Pride stepped out of the car, Hutch saw the silhouettes of two men sitting in the back.  The suspects the Tyner and Hutch had arranged for the snitch to inform on to Pride and Woods were secured quietly.  Hutch stared at Pride.  Suddenly, Pride yanked him around, and Hutch knew to put his hands on the trunk.  He kept his mouth shut during the quick pat-down. He turned back when Pride had finished.

 

Pride’s eyes bored into Hutch’s. “I still don’t trust you.”

 

“Relax Gib,” Woods told him.  “Hutchinson knows we’ve got him by the balls.” 

 

Pride looked at Hutch suspiciously out of the corner of his eye as he stepped to the trunk of their own sedan.  At the motioning of Woods’ hand Hutch followed both to the back of the car.  He watched as Pride pulled out two large duffel bags.  He handed one to Hutch, and the three men headed to the LTD. 

 

Hutch unlocked the trunk and set the duffel bag in it.  Pride set the other one inside before slamming the trunk shut.  Hutch started around to the driver’s side, but Gibson grabbed his arm.  Hutch stiffened.  “You be there at midnight, Hutchinson.  If you’re not, prison will be the least of your problems.”

 

Hutch kept silent as he watched Woods and Pride walk back to their car.  After they had driven off, Hutch leaned in through the front open window and flipped the headlights on and off.  He looked straight ahead and saw the set of headlights in the distance blink in return.

 

He got in the car and sped away, hoping everything would come together as it should.

 

~*~

 

Dom sat behind the wheel of the car, tapping his fingernail on the steering wheel.  He looked down at his watch, then back at the garage.  He was ready to scream at Tyner if he didn’t get back soon. 

 

The passenger door suddenly swung open and Tyner jumped inside. 

 

“Jesus, Tyner!  You scared the hell out of me!”

 

Tyner chuckled.  “Sneaking around a cop shop is no easy matter for a guy like me.”

 

“Next time, warn me.”  Dom leaned down and picked up the small receiver.  He shook his head as he adjusted the dial.  “I can’t believe we’re doing this.  With no warrant, this tape won’t hold up in court.”

 

“It’s not supposed to go in a courtroom, my cop friend.”

 

Dom saw the easy smile on Tyner’s face.  “I think you enjoy this too much.”

 

“It’s not every day you get to bug the cops with the help of a cop.”

 

Dom looked over at the door, waiting for Woods and Pride to return to their car after booking their prisoners.  “Just don’t let this get out.  I’ll be in enough hot water if Dobey gets wind of my being here.”

 

“You need to relax, man.”  Tyner took the receiver from Dom and made an adjustment on the frequency.  “Champ says anyone that can put up with Starsky’s rotten jokes, iron stomach and keep his body in one piece ain’t all bad.”

 

Dom glanced over at Tyner and sighed in relief.  Dom would never have thought he would care what Hutch thought of him.  But knowing it now, made him feel good and he didn’t question it.

 

Tyner nudged him and pointed at the doors.  Pride and Woods walked to their car.  When they were inside, Tyner and Dom looked down at the radio.

 

Pride:  God, that was too damn close.

 

Woods:  You’re telling me, Gib.  Shit, if Aaron takes this to Jason, we’re sunk.  He won’t buy a screw-up like this.

 

Pride:  You know, Andy, we’ve  been doing this for a while now.

 

Woods: Yeah, almost four years.

 

Pride:  We’ve got a nest egg and these 45 kilos are worth almost 2 million bucks on the street.  I know a guy in San Diego that would take the stuff off our hands for maybe 1.5.

 

Woods:  Our lives won’t mean shit if Miles finds out what you’re thinking.

 

Pride:  Listen, we can hook up with Hutchinson, collect the dope and call Jason.  We’ll arrange a drop-off time sometime tomorrow.  Only by the time it rolls around, we’ll be sitting on a beach drinking Margaritas, with enough cash to keep us in a lifestyle we could become very accustomed to.

 

Woods:  Hutchinson could screw up the whole thing, Gib.

 

Pride:  We’ll waste him.  A fitting end to our initial screw-up.

 

Dom watched the car pull out.  He turned the ignition and glanced at Tyner's stony face.  “What do you suppose he meant by that?”

 

“Champ was on the receiving end of a big boo-boo by stupid and butthead.”

 

Dom didn't let the two rogue cops out of his sight.  He knew the stakes had gone up more than anyone had expected.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Gibson Pride and Andy Woods arrived at the pre-arranged meeting place, but Hutch wasn’t there.  Woods stepped out of the car and peered up and down the desolate, dark street.  He glanced over as Pride stepped out of the car.  “He might have been held up.”

 

“Bullshit,” Pride snarled. 

 

Before Woods could respond, a ringing phone grabbed their attention.  They stole a glance at each other and walked to the booth on the corner.  Pride jerked the receiver up and put it close to his ear.  “Hutchinson, if you’re not here in five minutes, you’ll wish you were back in the pen when I’m through with you.”

 

“I’ll only say this once, Pride.  You be at Pier 17 at the old warehouse in one hour with half a million.  If you’re not, the coke gets a new owner.”

 

“You son of a bitch,” Pride swore.  “You think you can rip us?”

 

“Yeah, I know I can.  You don’t turn it over to Miles, you and your partner will need plastic surgery to get out of the country.  I’ll make sure of it.”

 

Pride looked at his worried partner.  “If there is so much as even a kilo short, I’ll take it out of your sorry hide.”

 

Pride slammed the phone down and looked over at Woods.  “We get the coke back and we waste him.  Come on.”

 

Woods followed Pride to the car.  They were determined to do whatever it took to get the drugs back and to make Hutch pay for the double-dealing.

 

~*~

 

 

Woods and Pride arrived at the warehouse precisely on time.  They each pulled their weapons and slowly crept inside.  They were almost to the middle when they heard low voices.  Pride was surprised to hear a familiar voice spoke over the others.  His partner also recognized the voice. 

 

They stepped out of the darkness and saw Jason Miles standing with his hands in the pockets of his expensive suit.  He was talking to one of his men when he saw Woods and Pride walking towards him.  “Did you have something to do with this, Pride?”

 

“Jason, I had no idea you were going to be here.”  Pride nervously put his gun away.

 

“I get a call telling me that my dope is supposed to be here.  You two have something to do with this?”

 

“No way, Mr. Miles.” Woods held his hands up innocently.  “I think we all should just turn around and leave right now.”

 

“I don’t know if you want to do that.”

 

All three men swung their heads in the direction of the voice.  Hutch and Tyner walked towards them.  Each carried a duffel bag.  Hutch set his bag down several feet from the men.  “Your cocaine, Mr. Miles.”

 

Jason looked first at Hutch and then at Tyner.  Tyner set his bag down next to the other.  Jason turned back to Pride and Woods.  “What the hell is going on here?”

 

“It’s simple, really.”  Hutch walked forward casually, keeping his cool eyes focused on the three men.  “Your cops busted the wrong guys and rather than own up to it, they were ready to run for the hills, netting themselves a nice little profit at your expense.”

 

“Now, that’s a damn lie!” Pride pointed at Hutch.  “He’s wanting a piece for himself, Jason!  He’s the one that called us here!”

 

Hutch motioned towards Tyner who pulled a small tape recorder from his jacket.  He pushed the play button.  No one spoke as they listened to Pride and Woods make their plans.  Jason Miles’ face turned a dark shade of red. When it finished, Miles clenched his fists.  “You think you can get away with this!”

 

“Jason,” Pride said nervously.  “This whole thing was a set-up!  Hutchinson set us up!”

 

Miles glanced over at Hutch and then back at Pride and Woods.  “This is the cop you arrested, isn’t it?”  At their slow nod, Miles chuckled.  “The two of you could fuck up a wet dream.”

 

Miles walked over to Hutch, shaking his head.  “I know about you.  Those boys had a good laugh at your expense and now you’re having one at theirs.  You see, those two had the wrong fucking address.  That’s the only reason why you’re even here now.”

 

Hutch felt a hard kick to the gut from the impact of the new information.  A wrong address had ruined his life and cost him his career.  He remained unmoving and unemotional in contrast to the raging emotions inside.

 

Miles laughed quietly.  “If I wasn’t going to kill you anyways, I’d hire you.”  Miles turned away and glanced over at his men.  “Kill ‘em all.”

 

Just after the order a sudden explosion reverberated through the warehouse.  Hutch grabbed Tyner’s shirt and pulled him down behind a large stack of crates.  The front doors blew out, landing several feet away from the opening.  Cops swarmed the warehouse.

 

Hutch brought his head up and saw Starsky chasing Andy Woods to the back of the warehouse.  He saw Dom take off after Jason Miles.  During the commotion, he noticed Gibson Pride making his way to the back.  Hutch ignored Tyner's calling out for him and took off.

 

Hutch yelled Pride’s name and followed him out the back.  He stopped outside the door saw Pride hurrying up the fire escape to the roof.  Hutch pursued his prey relentlessly.  By the time he reached the roof, Pride had hidden himself.  Hutch pulled the small weapon from the back of his jeans and kept his finger on the trigger as he started forward.

 

The moonlit night brought out the shadows from the vents leading upward from the roof.  Hutch knew Pride could be hiding behind any of them.  He stayed low as he moved forward.  Hutch heard footsteps behind him and he swung around, his gun aimed.  He froze at seeing Starsky who had also stopped in his tracks.  Hutch turned back around and he saw Starsky paralleling him out of the corner of his eye.

 

They froze at the sound of a hammer being pulled back and when Hutch turned, Starsky was like a statue.  Pride had stepped out only five feet away from Starsky.  Hutch felt his heart catch in his throat as Pride kept his weapon aimed on Starsky.

 

“What’ll it be, Hutchinson?”  Pride’s voice taunted Hutch. “Drop the gun and your former partner will walk.”

 

Hutch licked his dry lips at the ultimatum.  “It’s over, Pride.  There’s nowhere to go.”

 

Pride’s cold laugh sent chills down Hutch’s spine.  “Oh, I don’t agree.  You see, Hutchinson, while you were locked up, I managed to acquire a nice little nest egg.  I can walk away right now and still head to a warm country with no extradition treaty.  So, drop the gun.  Starsky walks, I walk and everyone lives happily ever after.  If not, he’s dead.”

 

Starsky saw the indecision crossing Hutch’s face.  “Hutch, don’t do it.”  He saw the hesitation in Hutch’s eyes.  “I mean it, Hutch!  Don’t do it!”

 

Pride smiled.  “Come on, Hutchinson.  You don’t do it and I shoot him point blank.”

 

“You do, Pride, and you’re dead.”

 

“What have I got to loose?” Pride shrugged. “If I let you boys take me in, my life’s over.  It’s either that or a nice little retirement.”

 

Hutch knew he was right.  He could see it in the older cop’s eyes.  There was no doubt in his mind.  Pride would sooner die than be put in the place where he had been himself not too long ago.  He would take Starsky with him, which was not an option for Hutch. 

 

Hutch took a deep breath as he slowly relinquished the grip on the gun.  He lowered the weapon and set it down. 

 

Pride smiled.  “Sucker.”

 

Hutch didn’t realize he had screamed when Pride pulled the trigger.  He only saw Starsky flying back and landing on his back on the unforgiving roof.  Hutch grabbed his weapon and rolled away from Pride.  He aimed it at Pride and fired off several rounds.  Hutch ignored the slump of the body as it fell.  He ran over to Starsky. 

 

Hutch ripped into Starsky’s shirt, looking for the wounds.  When he found none, he looked into his face.  Starsky opened his eyes and groaned.  Hutch looked down and saw the flak vest covering Starsky’s chest. 

 

“You didn’t think I learned the first time?”  Starsky asked.

 

Hutch was on one knee as he helped Starsky to a sitting position.  “Jesus, Starsk.”

 

“I told you not to do it,” Starsky quipped.

 

“How in the hell was I supposed to know?  You didn’t tell me you were wearing a vest!”

 

“You forgot, you big oaf!”  Starsky leaned into Hutch’s outstretched arm and chuckled.  “And here I thought you were the brains of this outfit.”

 

Hutch laughed a little and helped Starsky get to his feet.  They put their arms around each other and headed back to the fire escape.

 

 

~*~

 

 

A week later, life started to return to normal.  Everyone was please at Andy Woods' willingness to turn state’s evidence against Jason Miles.  Both Starsky and Hutch were elated to see Hutch’s name finally cleared.

 

Starsky sat on the couch with a text book across his lap. Hutch was next to him pretending to be engrossed in the TV.  These days, Hutch preferred to spend more time at Starsky’s place than his own. 

 

“You’ve been acting more like prison Hutch the last few days.”  Starsky closed the book.  “What gives?”

 

Hutch glanced at Starsky.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means ever since Dobey gave your badge back, you’ve been moody as hell.”

 

“I have not,” Hutch denied.  “Just thinking.”

 

“Oh, no.  Everyone clear out.”  Starsky laughed and Hutch rolled his eyes.  “Seriously, Hutch, I thought you’d be thrilled to get your shield back.  You’re the big hero, buddy.  You reunited Malcolm with his daughter, helped take down a major dealer, and you’ve managed to get a commendation right along with all those others that are collecting dust.”

 

“Starsky, how much longer do you think you’re going to stay on the streets?”

 

“Probably not too much longer.  I’ve been at it for too long, it seems.”  Starsky leaned back and studied Hutch for a moment.  “Are you wanting to partner up like before?”

 

“Actually, I got a call from Winston over at corrections yesterday.  I was thinking I’d like to see something good come from my incarceration.”  Hutch looked over at Starsky, waiting for his reaction.  Seeing none, he continued.  “I think I could help a lot of people by working with parolees.”

 

“That’s a great idea, Hutch.  Are you having second thoughts because of me?”

 

“No…I mean…hell, I don’t know.  Dom’s been a great partner for you and I don’t want to interfere in that.”

 

“Hutch, the way I see it, we’re getting too old for this shit.”

 

Hutch looked offended.  “Speak for yourself, Starsk.  I’ve never been in better shape.”

 

Starsky sighed, remembering the night before.  “You’re telling me.  I could’ve died a happy man.”

 

Hutch smiled proudly, loving how he was responsible for Starsky having come undone last night.  “I’ve got to admit, we both do well in that department.  I wonder what took us so long?”

 

Starsky looked down at the book and flipped a page.  “You,” he muttered.

 

Hutch yanked the book out of Starsky’s grasp. “Me?  I wasn’t the one looking for the white picket fence underneath every skirt.”

 

“Oh, now that’s low, Hutch.” Starsky laughed loudly.  “If you hadn’t been so busy analyzing and thinking so damn much, we would’ve hit the bedroom a hell of a lot sooner.”

 

“Starsky, let’s just blame it all on bad timing.  It'd be much easier.”

 

Starsky got up and straddled Hutch’s lap.  He leaned down and gently pressed his lips to Hutch’s, slipping his tongue inside.  Starsky leaned in, feeling Hutch’s large hands digging into his hips and slowly encompassing his ass.  Starsky broke the kiss and planted soft ones leading to Hutch’s ear.  “I’d rather fight.  I want to try make-up sex.”

 

“Fuck the fight,” Hutch whispered, and then moved Starsky to his back onto the couch.

 

 

 

 

 

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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