Noble Quests

Cynatnite

 

 

 

 

Hutch pushed the food around his plate with a fork and glanced over at Starsky who returned his look with a nervous one of his own.  Hutch sighed heavily and dropped the fork to the plate.  He picked up the napkin and wiped his lips.  He opened his mouth to say something when Captain Dobey and Lucinda Walsh arrived at their table.

 

Lucinda was a strikingly attractive woman with a smart sense of law.  As the assistant D.A. she was the best among her peers.  Her dark brown hair was pulled back highlighting the tiredness in her normally sharp green eyes.

 

“Well,” Starsky asked.  “How did the hearing go?”

 

Lucinda glanced at Dobey and then over at Starsky.  She then focused on Hutch.  “He got it.”

 

Starsky cursed loudly throwing down his napkin.  “That’s a load of crap!  That’s never happened with any other case we’ve done!”

 

“This isn’t most cases, Dave, and I think you know that.”  She looked at Hutch who was leaning back in his chair remaining stoic.  “Ken, I know this isn’t going to be easy for you, but I think we can get around it.”

 

“What were the judge’s reasons for agreeing to this?” Hutch asked softly.

 

“The unusual circumstances, for one.  James Gunther has pulled together one of the best law teams on record.  Everyone from the Justice Department to the agencies at the local level is going to be watching this trial like the proverbial hawk.  While I know the evidence and the witnesses are going to take a hard hit, you are the lynch pin that keeps them all together.  Casting doubt on your abilities as a police officer will not only discredit you, but it will affect the evidence gathering.  In this instance, the judge agreed the defendant’s right to a fair trial outweighed your privacy.”

 

“How?” Starsky asked.  “Hutch is a top rated cop with commendations out the…” Starsky glanced at the hard look in Dobey’s eyes.  He shifted nervously in his seat and moved his eyes back to Lucinda.  “None of that stuff has anything to do with this case.”

 

Lucinda sighed and shook her head.  “I’m not sure what they have in mind.  We have to be prepared for anything.”

 

“How much did they get, Lucinda?” Hutch picked up the glass of water to hide his nervousness.

 

“The judge agreed not to let them have complete access to your personnel file, he did allow records from internal affairs and cases specific to your personal life,” She explained.

 

“Cap?” Hutch asked.

 

Dobey sighed heavily.  “The commissioner knows everything, Hutch.  While he’s not happy about learning this just now, it’s better to not get blindsided once you’re on the witness stand.”

 

“Do I still have a job?”

 

“You’re damn right you do,” Dobey answered emphatically.  “I told him if he considered terminating you, he’d take my resignation right along with it.”

 

“That’s not the reason Hutch still has his badge, is it?” Starsky asked.

 

“Officially the department is going to stand by you,” Dobey stated.  “It doesn’t look good for the D.A.’s case if we bail on you when this comes out.”  Dobey paused.  “Unofficially, don’t either of you expect promotions any time soon.”

 

Lucinda took a drink of her coffee and set the cup down.  “Dave, the defense won’t do much to you on the stand.  Going after you will turn the jury against them which is something they can ill afford at this point.”

 

“They risk the same thing by going after Hutch with everything that happened to him,” Starsky said leaning forward.  “None of that was his fault.  Besides, Gunther’s the one on trial.”

 

“It’s a more worthwhile risk in their eyes,” Lucinda replied with a shrug of her shoulders.  “Ken’s investigation while you were recovering, laid all the groundwork for this trial in the first place.  If they can discredit him, it affects the entire case against Gunther.”

 

Starsky shook his head.  “Jesus, how in the hell is he going to get off from murdering Bates?”

 

“I’m not sure just yet.  Whatever it is, I can’t see a jury buying it,” Lucinda answered.

 

Hutch planted his elbows on the table and gave her a level look.  “They’ll find out about what Ben Forest did to me.  How do you expect to handle it, when they bring it up?”

 

Lucinda gave Hutch a sharp look.  “We bring it up before they do.  By doing that, it’ll steal whatever thunder they’ve got against you.  The murder of your ex-wife and girlfriend will only serve to get the jury to sympathize.  The defense will demonize themselves in the process.”

 

“You sure do have a lot of faith in the jury,” Starsky mumbled.

 

“We have to, Dave.  The jury will see a man who used his power and wealth to commit murder, attempted murder, not to mention his numerous operations.  The working man or woman has little tolerance for those kinds of abuses.”

 

“If that’s the jury you get,” Hutch added.  “Starsky and I’ve been in enough courtrooms over the years to know it doesn’t always go as expected.”

 

Lucinda gave Hutch a hopeful look.  “Ken, trial date is set two weeks from now.  Given the numerous delays and motions Gunther’s defense has filed, it has taken over six months just to get to this point.  Gunther will have to face a judge and jury.  He won’t have an easy time of it by no stretch of the imagination.  All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

 

“You’re not painting a very good picture, counselor,” Hutch replied.

 

“I’m not trying to.  In this job you have to be realistic about your chances of a conviction.  We filed every single charge we could find.  I don’t expect all to be a guilty verdict, but he’ll take a fall in that courtroom.”

 

Starsky reached over and squeezed Hutch’s shoulder.  “I just don’t think this is right.  He’s having to pay a price for stuff that wasn’t his fault.”

 

“Starsk, it’s okay.  I’ve handled difficult testimonies before.  I can handle this.”

 

“Sure you can,” Dobey said with an encouraging look.

 

After the dinner, the two detectives headed to the Torino.  Starsky glanced over at Hutch who was staring pensively out the window.  “Hey, why don’t we grab a beer over at Huggy’s?  You’ve been working too hard on this case.”

 

Hutch kept his gaze outward.  “Drop me off at the precinct.  I have some more work to finish.”

 

“Hutch, it’s almost nine.  You’ve been working late for weeks.”

 

“It’s just for the duration of this case, Starsk.  I have to stay on top of things.”

 

Starsky’s grip on the steering wheel tightened.  “We need to talk about this.”

 

Hutch glanced over at Starsky.  “There’s nothing to talk about.  If I drop the ball, Gunther walks.”

 

“That’s not what I mean and you know it, Hutch.”

 

Hutch sighed heavily knowing what his partner meant.  “Later, Starsky.  Just drop me off at the precinct.”

 

Starsky looked at Hutch and he saw how his partner had closed him off.  Starsky clenched his teeth together as he turned the corner.  A few minutes later he pulled into the parking garage.  He parked the car and turned towards Hutch.  “Hutch, you’ve been working too hard for too long.  Between taking care of me and this case, you haven’t taken any time for yourself.”

 

“Relax, will you?  After this is over, I’ll take a vacation.”

 

“Promise?”

 

Hutch smiled and squeezed Starsky’s arm.  “Promise, buddy.  Get home.  I expect you to pick me up in the morning.”

 

Hutch got out of the car and Starsky watched him enter the precinct.  Since his shooting, Hutch was a raging workaholic.  Between laying a concrete case against Gunther and taking care of him, Hutch was always on the go.  Starsky worried at some point, Hutch would break under the strain of it all.

 

He started the car blaming Gunther for it all.  If he hadn’t been shot, he’d have Hutch and not the guy that just left his car.  Now, it was worse.  Starsky knew his partner would work that much harder to keep some kind of control over what he couldn’t control.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Hutch nervously stood up and approached the witness stand.  He could feel his palms sweating and after swearing to tell the truth, he wiped his hands on his pants as he sat down.  Hutch stared back at the faces looking at him.  His eyes caught Gunther leaning forward in his seat as if in expectation.  When Hutch moved his eyes again, they locked on Starsky sitting in the front row just behind the prosecution.

 

Lucinda moved in front of her table with the notepad in her hand.  She began questioning Hutch’s career path over the years.  He answered various questions about his time on the police force and recited the commendations he was awarded.  When she finished, Lucinda set the notepad aside and stepped forward.  “Detective Hutchinson, I would like to begin when you were abducted by Ben Forest.”

 

Hutch nodded and swallowed the hard lump in his throat.  “Yes.”

 

“Would you please tell the court what were the events which lead up to your kidnapping?”

 

“I was seeing a woman by the name of Jeanie Walton.  We dated for a while and it became apparent she was hiding from someone.”

 

“Did you know who this was?”

 

“Not at the time.  She was deathly afraid and didn’t want anyone to know anything about her.  She said it was too dangerous for me to know.”

 

“What happened next, Detective?”

 

“She was spotted in a bar where she was working and I took her out the back.  I hid her at a friend’s place.”

 

“You told no one?”

 

“I promised her I wouldn’t.  I didn’t even tell my partner.”  Hutch glanced over at Starsky who gave him an encouraging smile.

 

“Then what?”

 

“One evening I was working late and after I called her, I left for a four day weekend to spend with her.  I got home where two or three men lay in wait for me.  I tried to fight them off, but was unsuccessful.”  Hutch shifted in his seat to get more comfortable.

 

“What’s the next thing you remember, Detective?”

 

“I was tied to a chair and blindfolded.” Hutch cleared his throat.  “They beat on me for two or three hours.  I’m not sure how long.”

 

“What did they want?”

 

“They wanted me to tell them where Jeanie was.  I wouldn’t.”

 

“Continue, please.”

 

Hutch licked his dry lips and reached for the glass of water.  His hand shook as he sipped the glass and set it down.  “They injected me with heroin.”

 

Lucinda approached the stand and looked into Hutch’s eyes.  “How do you know it was heroin, Detective?” Lucinda asked gently.

 

“By that point I’d been working the streets for a while.  I heard enough junkies talk about how it felt.  I was sure that’s what it was.”

 

“How long did this continue?”

 

“Four days.  I only know because Starsky-my partner-told me later.” Hutch’s eyes met Starsky’s soft eyes and he felt calmer.

 

“Did you tell them what they wanted to know?”

 

Hutch shuddered at the memory.  “They quit giving me the heroin and I began to experience withdrawal.”  Hutch closed his eyes.  “I did eventually tell them where she was.”

 

“Detective, how severe was the withdrawal?”

 

Hutch clenched his right fist tightly remembering.  “It’s hell on earth.  The pain is everywhere and the shaking never stopped.  My body wanted the drug more than anything else no matter how hard my mind tried to fight it.”

 

“After you were forced to tell them where she was, did they continue forcing the heroin on you?”

 

Hutch slowly nodded.  “Yes, I remember hearing her voice.  They took me to a car and when I was in the back, my head cleared a little.  I heard them talking about what they were going to do with me.  I managed to escape and by the time my partner found me, I was starting to go into withdrawal.”

 

“How long did it take for your body to adjust without the heroin, Detective?”

 

“Two days.  Starsky took me to a friend’s place where he stayed with me until I recovered enough to find out who did this to me and why.”

 

“And you learned why, didn’t you?”

 

“I found out later it was Ben Forest.  He was one of the worst crime lords in the city.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, since your recovery from your ordeal, have you had any setbacks?”

 

“I experienced some cravings afterwards for almost three months, but I never touched heroin with the intent of using.”

 

“In the years since this nightmare, you’ve had ample opportunity.  Wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“As a police officer, there were several occasions I could have, if I chose to do so with out anyone’s knowledge.”

 

“Thank you, Detective Hutchinson.”  Lucinda walked back to the table and picked up her notepad.  She glanced through it and turned towards Hutch.  “You also had an investigation cross over into your personal life, Detective Hutchinson.  Would you please elaborate for the court?”

 

“Detective Starsky and I were investigating a murder on our beat.  A mother and son with mob connections were squeezing out the competitors to increase their profits.  They were running a prostitution ring.”

 

“How did this investigation work into your personal life?”

 

Hutch shifted in his chair.  “My girlfriend worked for them.”

 

“That would be Gillian Ingram?”

 

“Yes, she came with them from Cleveland when they opened up their operation.”

 

“What did you think she did for a living?”

 

“She told me she was a writer,” Hutch answered remembering her smile.

 

“You had no reason to doubt her?”

 

Hutch shook his head.  “We were very close and I loved her.”

 

“How did you learn the truth, Detective?”

 

Hutch grabbed the glass and took another drink.  He held it in his hand.  “I got a call and I went to her apartment.  When I got there, my partner had already arrived.  He told me.”

 

“This must’ve been devastating for you.”

 

Hutch shook his head to get the memory out of his head.  “It was.  She wanted out of that life and they killed her for it.”

 

“Did you retaliate against the perpetrator for this act?”

 

“In the only way I knew how,” Hutch told her.  “He went to trial and was sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.”

 

Lucinda nodded in satisfaction at Hutch’s statement.  She was very pleased with how he was handling the difficult questions.  “Detective, would you like to take a break?”

 

Hutch shook his head.  “No, I’m fine.”  Hutch looked over at Gunther and his lawyers.  Seeing nothing, he turned his attention back to Lucinda.

 

“We have one final matter before we get to the heart of your testimony, Detective.  Your ex-wife, Vanessa Hutchinson, came to town unexpectedly last year.”

 

“Yes,” Hutch answered.

 

“Where you expecting her?”

 

“No, she called out of the blue and wanted to meet with me.”

 

“Did she give a reason for the visit?”

 

“Not at first.  We met and fought.  When I left to go to my car, she followed me out and said she was diagnosed for a tumor.  She wanted to stay with me for the night and seeing how upset she was, I agreed.”

 

“What happened that night?”

 

“We talked for a little while.  She told me she was involved in a lucrative business deal of some kind.  I didn’t know what it was at the time.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, did you have sexual intercourse with your ex-wife?”

 

“No, I did not.”

 

“What happened the following morning?”

 

“I went on my run and when I came back she was murdered.”  Hutch looked down at the glass remembering he was still holding it.  He set it down.  “I found her on the floor and I called my partner.”

 

“How was she murdered?”

 

“She was shot with my gun.”

 

“What did you learn as you were investigated?”

 

“Van was fencing a stolen diamond worth a great deal of money.  She was killed over it and I was framed for her murder.  I was cleared by the department and those responsible were sent to prison.”

 

“Thank you, Detective Hutchinson.”  Lucinda picked up the notepad and checked her notes.  She looked at Hutch.  “Now, early this year you and your partner started an investigation over cocaine coming into the city.”

 

“Yes, two showgirls were transporting it from Las Vegas to a distributor here.”

 

“Did you learn anything under interrogation, Detective?”

 

“Their pick-ups and payoffs were in Vegas.  Those were arranged at their show and they never saw the face of the individual or individuals in Las Vegas.”

 

“And the distributor?”

 

“The connection was blown due to a car accident and the suspects were too fearful to identify him even with our assurances of their safety.”

 

“Where did this lead you and Detective Starsky next?”

 

“To Lionel Rigger,” Hutch told her.  “He was offered to help eliminate the suspects by way of using two dirty cops.  Lionel had a charge filed against him at the time and in return for a deal he was willing to finger the person who was running the drugs into the city.”

 

“Did he tell you who this person was?”

 

“Judge McClellan.”

 

“This was a very high profile judge.”

 

“Yes, he was a federal judge.  Given the seriousness of the matter we knew there was a possibility Lionel would be forced to testify in open court.  He also knew there was a risk not only to himself, but his family as well.”

 

“What happened to Lionel Rigger, Detective?”

 

“We were forced to name him.  My partner and I put him in a safe house.  I was followed and my car sabotaged with explosives.  The explosion caused enough havoc to pull my partner away from Lionel.  He was executed.”

 

“Was this when you and your partner quit the police force?”

 

Hutch nodded.  “We both felt responsible for what happened to Lionel and as police officers we should have been able to protect him.”  Hutch’s eyes locked with Starsky’s.

 

“During your time as civilians, did this case come up again?”

 

“Yes, even though we didn’t realize it at the time it was connected.  A friend of Detective Starsky’s contacted us to help her father.  He was being blackmailed for information at the company he worked at.”

 

“What sort of information?”

 

“Lists of homeowners behind on their mortgages.”

 

“What purpose did this serve, Detective?”

 

“Another mortgage company was buying FHA mortgages and getting them current.  When they fell behind again in their payments, this mortgage company would foreclose on the homes and resell them at a profit.”

 

“This isn’t illegal, Detective.”

 

“Money was being laundered through the mortgage company.  By the time it reached the FHA, it was clean and no one was the wiser for it.”

 

“Capricorn Mortgage Company.”

 

“Yes, we discovered Judge McClellan sat on the board.”

 

“What did you learn next, Detective?”

 

“Allison May’s father was murdered and during this investigation, two FBI agents were putting pressure on us to back off.  We discovered the bureau chief didn’t know anything about them and we went to question the agents.  My partner and I discovered Judge McClellan was a former agent with access to possibly hundreds in the witness protection program.  He made the call for them to bully us into backing off.”

 

“What did the two of you do next?”

 

“We went to Deputy D.A. Clayburn with the evidence.  He made the call to have McClellan watched; only it was to have him killed.”

 

“Do you know who it was Mr. Clayburn called?”

 

“At the time, no we didn’t.”

 

“What did you and Detective Starsky do after Judge McClellan was killed?”

 

“We did more investigating and discovered that Clayburn and McClellan were well-connected to each other.  We discovered he didn’t make the call until after an appointment he was supposed to attend.  We later learned he never made that appointment.”

 

“What happened next, Detective?”

 

“Clayburn was making a run from the country.  A plane ticket was waiting for him at the airport which is where we apprehended him.  During his arrest he was shot and killed.  The shooter was a woman by the name of Karen Black.”

 

“What did you learn about this woman?”

 

“Records showed her working for Capricorn Mortgage Company as an operations officer.  She had no police record and two years priors, she was working overseas.  We were never able to learn more information about her.”

 

“What happened to Ms. Black, Detective?”

 

“She was murdered in her jail cell two days before her arraignment.”

 

“Detective, how did Ms. Black know the late Mr. Clayburn was going to be at the airport at that specific moment?”

 

“From whoever arranged the flight reservations.  At the time, we didn’t know who he spoke with prior to his death.”

 

Lucinda crossed her arms and looked at Hutch.  “After this you and your partner were given your badges back and you returned to work for the city.”

 

“Even though not all the questions were answered, we felt coming back was the right decision.”

 

“You returned to your positions as law enforcement officers and continued on as you had before?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What happened to change all that, Detective.”

 

Hutch took a deep breath before answering.  “My partner was shot down in the parking lot near the precinct.”

 

“Could you tell the court what happened?”

 

Hutch closed his eyes for a moment, reliving those horrifying seconds.  He opened them and stared straight ahead not even allowing himself to look at Starsky.  “We had just gotten to the car.  Starsky was on the driver’s side unlocking the door and I was on the other side.  I heard a loud screeching sound.  Metal against metal.”  Hutch flinched remembering the shriek of the metal grinding against each other.  “I saw the police car speeding through the parking lot and the man was holding an automatic weapon out the window.  I yelled Starsky’s name and got down.  The glass exploded above me and when I got up I pulled my gun shooting at the car.  I remember yelling for Starsky, but got no answer.  When they were out of range, I turned and didn’t see him.  I ran to the other side and found Starsky lying on the ground.  He had three bullet wounds and was barely breathing.”

 

Hutch quickly grasped the glass of water and finished it off.  Lucinda came forward and refilled Hutch’s glass.  The tiredness and stress was etched on Hutch’s face.  “Were there more attempts on your lives?”

 

“At the hospital.”  Hutch cleared his throat which was beginning to feel dry again.  “An intern was murdered in the bathroom and I caught up to the man before he entered Starsky’s hospital room.  We fought in the hallway, but he managed to get away.”

 

“There was a second attempt as well, wasn’t there, Detective?”

 

“Yes, in the parking garage.  Two men tried to kill me.  I managed to get the drop on them and one was killed in the process.  The second man told me who hired him.”

 

“Who was this?”

 

“Jenny Brown, the model.”

 

“What did you do next?”

 

“After his arrest I went to see Jenny Brown at Park Towers.  She was too afraid to talk and I took her into custody.  When I arrived back at the hospital, I discovered the man who had tried to kill me was dead.  He had been murdered while in custody.  I called booking and found out Jenny Brown had made bail.  She jumped her bail and hasn’t been seen since.”

 

“What did you do next, Detective?”

 

“I went to the law firm which arranged her bail to see if I could find out who posted it.”

 

“Did you hope to accomplish something by this, Detective?  A lawyer is bound by their client’s confidentiality.”

 

Hutch sighed heavily.  “I hoped Mr. Welles would see his way clear to helping me find out who gave her the money to hire the hitmen.”

 

“Did Mr. Welles offer any, Detective Hutchinson?”

 

“No, he refused.”

 

Lucinda turned and walked to the prosecution table.  Her associate handed her a sheet of paper with perforated edges.  She walked to the judge and handed it to him.  “Your honor, I offer into evidence the call sheet from Mr. Welles’ office.”

 

The judge looked it over and then to Jonathan Welles who was sitting next to James Gunther.  “Mr. Welles, this is your final opportunity to motion against this being entered into evidence.”

 

Jonathan Welles stood and straightened his dark blue suit.  “No objection, your honor.  The defense will address the document.”  Welles adjusted his thick rimmed glasses and sat back down.

 

The judge gave a nod and handed it back to Lucinda.  She walked over to Hutch and handed it to him.  “Detective Hutchinson, this is the call sheet your received from an informant which came from Mr. Welles’ office.  Is that correct?”

 

Hutch glanced over it and handed it back to Lucinda.  “Yes, it is.”

 

“Would you please tell the court what is written?”

 

“Eight calls made from Mr. Welles’ office to a private line belonging to James Gunther.”

 

“What indicated to you of James Gunther’s involvement?”

 

“They were all made within several hours of each other.  The last one was just after she was bailed out of jail.  I thought it extraordinarily high in such a short amount of time plus it was unusual given the powerful man James Gunther is known to be.  It made sense given the strings being pulled during investigating my partner’s shooting and the attempts made on our lives.”

 

“Given this information, what did you surmise, Detective?”

 

“James Gunther wanted us dead.”

 

“Why?”

 

“At the time, I didn’t know.”

 

“What did you discover after learning this new information?”

 

“I had the information ran through the department’s computers and found Gunther Industries not only owned Jenny Brown’s condominium, but also the law firm represented 13 subsidiaries.  During the search, it came to light that Judge McClellan sat on the boards of three companies which were also under Gunther Industries.  The late Deputy D.A. Clayburn also was a large stockholder and Gunther Industries was found to be making large contributions to his campaign for mayor prior to his death.  There were significant paper trails which lead straight to Gunther Industries and James Gunther, himself.”

 

“What did you surmise upon learning all this information, Detective Hutchinson?”

 

“Gunther Industries is a multi-billion dollar company and our investigations into McClellan and Clayburn made a serious impact on his west coast operations.  We estimated his losses to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars by what we did.  It was motive enough in our eyes and in the eyes of our superiors.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, by your investigating you acquired enough evidence to arrest James Gunther for his numerous crimes.”

 

“Yes, your office contacted the S.F.P.D. and it was arranged for me to make the arrest and bring him here to face charges.”

 

“When you arrived at the Gunther estate, tell the court what happened.”

 

“I was let in by the butler.  My arrival was expected.  I was shown to his office where he sat behind his desk.”

 

“What was the defendant’s demeanor, Detective?”

 

“He appeared calm and alert.”

 

“What happened next?”

 

“I walked further in and saw Trevor Bates sitting in a chair obviously dead.  James Gunther introduced him to me as if it was the most normal thing in the world stating he looked forward to meeting me.  When I stepped closer, he pulled a gun and aimed it at me.”

 

“Did you feel your life was threatened, Detective?”

 

“Yes.  I wrestled the weapon away and then arrested him.”

 

“During transport, did the defendant make any statements to you?”

 

“He exercised his right to remain silent.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, your experiences as an officer of the law grants you to give your impressions of a suspect.  Would you please describe to the court the kind of man you consider James Gunther to be?”

 

Hutch shifted his eyes to Gunther and gave him a hard look.  He moved them to the jury and kept his eyes firmly on them.  “James Gunther is a man accustomed to power and control.  He considers himself above the law and everyone else.  Whoever he deems a threat no matter how inconsequential they may be, he will use his power and money to remove them in any way he chooses with no remorse nor guilt.  James Gunther is a cold and calculating criminal who considers himself untouchable.”

 

Lucinda was pleased with Hutch’s testimony.  “No more questions at this time, your honor.”  She moved back to the table and sat down. 

 

Hutch looked over at Starsky who gave him a thumb up.  He felt a small bit of relief knowing it was almost over.

 

“Mr. Welles,” the judge said.  “I will remind you the line of questioning you will be pursuing with Detective Hutchinson, will be followed by the guidelines I set prior to this trial.  Any attempt to go beyond the scope of Detective Hutchinson’s personal life will result in contempt of court.” 

 

“Yes, your honor.”  Jonathan Welles stood up and walked around his table.  He leaned back against it and crossed his arms.  “Detective Hutchinson, that is fascinating testimony.  I’m curious, Detective.  When you were abducted years ago, who knew about your experience?”

 

Hutch swallowed the hard lump in his throat.  “My partner, my Captain, a friend and a few others.”

 

“So would five people be a safe guess?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“So why the secret?” Welles shrugged his shoulders.

 

“It would have done irreparable damage to my career and personal life.  Not everyone would have understood the circumstances.”

 

“And now?”

 

“Considering the gravity of this case, it was in the best interest of everyone involved I speak out about my experience.”

 

Welles turned around and picked up a file from his desk.  He pulled out a sheet of paper and walked to the judge.  “Your honor, I offer Internal Affair’s report regarding this matter into evidence.”

 

The judge looked it over and glanced up at Lucinda.  “Counselor?”

 

Lucinda sighed knowing she had no grounds to object.  “No objection.”

 

Welles retrieved the paper and walked over to Hutch.  “I have here the report you gave to Internal Affairs which bears your signature, Detective.”  He handed it to Hutch.  “Nowhere in this official document did you state heroin was forcibly injected into your veins.”

 

“That’s correct,” Hutch stated.  “As I explained earlier we felt it was best.  My career was at stake.”

 

“Is your career still at stake, Detective?”

 

Hutch sighed.  “No, the department is standing by me.”

 

Welles walked back to his table and set the file down.  He swung around and looked at Hutch.  “This must’ve been a horrifying experience, Detective Hutchinson.  Do you still have difficulties when recalling it?”

 

“Some,” Hutch admitted.

 

“Wouldn’t you say you were deeply affected?”

 

“Of course, I was.”

 

“Would it also be fair to say this traumatic event changed your life forever?”

 

“Objection,” Lucinda called out.  “Leading the witness.”

 

“Rephrase, counselor,” the judge instructed.

 

“How did this change your life, Detective?”

 

“As much as it would anyone, I suppose.  As time went on, I got over it and moved on with my life.”

 

“Did it affect how you dealt with other addicts on the street?”

 

Lucinda shot out of her chair.  “Objection, your honor.  This line of questioning serves to call into question Detective Hutchinson’s competence.”

 

“With all due respect, you honor,” Welles replied.  “The defense has no intention of calling into question Detective Hutchinson’s ability as a police officer.  His record to date indicates he is a fine officer.  We do however question his objectivity and judgment to date which has a direct bearing on my client and the case made against him.”

 

“How Detective Hutchinson conducted himself with regards to addicts have no common boundary with his own personal experience.  It also has no bearing on the case at hand.”

 

“I disagree,” Welles said looking at Lucinda.  “It is a fact Detective Hutchinson was addicted to heroin.  The defense is well aware of the circumstances of how it came about.  There is no getting around the fact he was forced to kick the habit as any other drug addict.  The defense is also aware this event was in no way Detective Hutchinson’s fault nor are we attempting to change the facts otherwise.  In fact, we find it to be a traumatic and horrifying ordeal.  It’s a testament to Detective Hutchinson’s character he survived and remained a police officer to this day.”

 

“Mr. Welles,” the judge said.  “Enough grandstanding.  I’ll allow the question, but if you continue on with this line of questioning, I’ll put a stop to it.  I won’t have you maligning a decorated officer in this courtroom.”

 

“Thank you, your honor.”  Welles turned to Hutch.  “Detective, please answer the question.”

 

Hutch shifted uncomfortably in his chair.  “I understood what many of them were going through.”

 

“You were sympathetic to their plight?” Welles asked turning towards his table.

 

Hutch watched him open up a folder.  “Yes, I was.”

 

Welles found what he was looking for and turned around.  “Your honor, I offer into evidence an article written by C.D. Phelps.”

 

“Objection,” Lucinda said as Welles approached the judge.  “This was not a part of the requests the defense filed with the Pritchess Motion.”

 

“Your honor, this article is a matter of public record.  It goes towards Detective Hutchinson’s own testimony.”

 

The judge looked over the article and handed it back to Welles.  “I’ll allow it.  Tread carefully, counselor.”

 

Welles took the article and handed it to Hutch who glanced over it.  “Detective, this article was written some time ago about two officers called Mutt and Jeff.  A subsequent article was written referring to you and Detective Starsky.  You and your partner were the officers written in the previous article?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“This article states you gave a drug addict money.  Is this true?”

 

Hutch picked up the glass of water and took a sip.  “Yes, I did.”

 

“Why did you give money to someone who would more than likely use it to continue their habit?”

 

“This was an informant we used from time to time.”

 

“Was this a normal practice?  Did your partner also give funds to drug addicts as well?”

 

Hutch sighed heavily.  “At times it was necessary.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, did you give drug addicts money to feed their habit because of your own experience?”

 

Hutch looked at Jonathan squarely knowing he was getting backed into a corner.  “On occaision.”

 

“Why, Detective?”

 

Hutch straightened in the chair.  “As I said before, the withdrawal was hell on earth.  I was fortunate to have my partner to help me recover.  Not all are that fortunate, Counselor.  Only the well-to-do have access to the help they need and most of these people don’t have anyone.”

 

“Except a cop who became a supplier,” Welles shot.

 

“Objection!” Lucinda said hotly.

 

“Withdrawn,” Welles said turning back to his table.  Welles picked up his notepad and glanced down.  He turned back to Hutch.  “Detective Hutchinson, the woman you loved, Gillian Ingram.  How long had you known her prior to her death?”

 

“A few months.”

 

“You stated in your testimony, she claimed to be a writer.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You had no reason to doubt her.”

 

“I was in love with her, Mr. Welles.”

 

“Of course, Detective.  Did Ms. Ingram at any time tell you what newspapers she had written for?”

 

“She said she was a freelance writer.”

 

“Did she tell you about previous articles she had written?”

 

“No.”

 

“Did she tell you what publications her work appeared in?”

 

“No.”

 

“Did Ms. Ingram at any time show you any works in progress?”

 

“No,” Hutch said firmly.

 

“I’m confused, Detective.  Weren’t you the least bit curious about what she claimed she did for a living?”

 

“She told me she was a writer, Mr. Welles.  I had no reason to doubt her.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, even with your years of experience working the streets, how did you not see the signs?”

 

“Signs?”

 

“Surely, there were indications which a seasoned police officer such as yourself would have spotted immediately.”  Hutch rubbed his forehead and Welles continued.  “Ms. Ingram produced nothing to back her claim as a writer and according to the reports she lived in a fashionable high dollar apartment complex.”

 

“I was in love with her, Mr. Welles.  I believed what she told me about how she earned her living and didn’t question it.”

 

“Your objectivity was clouded by your love for this woman?”

 

“No,” Hutch said raising his voice.  He took a deep breath to get a handle on his emotions.  He looked at Welles and clenched the armrest tightly when he saw a small smile playing at the attorney’s lips.

 

“We’ll move on, Detective. You’re ex-wife Vanessa Hutchinson came into town early last year?”

 

“Yes.”  Hutch took a sip of water and grappled with his raging emotions.

 

“How would you characterize your ex-wife, Detective?”

 

“Objection,” Lucinda said standing up.  “The character of Detective Hutchinson’s ex-wife has no bearing on this case.  She is dead and unable to defend herself.”

 

“Officer Hutchinson can, your honor,” Welles pointed out.

 

“This is his ex-wife we’re talking about here, your honor.”

 

“Objection sustained.  Her character has no place in these proceedings.”

 

Lucinda sat back down and Welles turned to Hutch.  “As per your testimony, you stated she stayed with you the evening before her murder.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Mrs. Hutchinson told you she was coming into a large sum of money.  Did she elaborate?”

 

“No, she didn’t.”

 

“Did you ask, Detective?”

 

“I didn’t know if she was serious at the time.”

 

“What was your reply?”

 

“I let her know that I was a cop and if it was shady, I couldn’t have any part of it.”

 

“Didn’t you feel as a police officer you had a responsibility to inquire if she was involved in anything illegal?”

 

“As I explained, I didn’t know whether to take what she said to heart.”

 

“In the reports it said you had been drinking, Detective.  Any chance your objectivity and judgment was clouded by the alcohol?”

 

“No.”

 

“Was it the fact Mrs. Hutchinson was your ex-wife which prevented you from ascertaining whether or not she was involved in criminal activity?”

 

“She was never involved in anything illegal before.  I wasn’t about to make unfounded accusations.”

 

“Interesting you say that, Detective.”  Welles searched through the reports and looked up at Hutch.  “By your own statement it was four years, six months and twelve days since you saw her last prior to her death.  Is it possible, you didn’t know the woman you used to be married to anymore?”

 

“Yes, it’s possible,” Hutch conceded.

 

“And when Vanessa Hutchinson dropped hints she may have been involved in less than scrupulous business dealings, you did nothing.”

 

“Objection!” Lucinda said loudly.

 

“This is your last warning, counselor,” the judge warned.  “Move on.”

 

“Yes, your honor.”  Welles walked closer to Hutch and made eye contact.  “Detective Hutchinson, when you and your partner were made aware of Judge McClellan’s activities, who did you this report to?”

 

“We went to Captain Dobey and then called in Deputy D.A. Clayburn.”

 

“At the time you didn’t realize his connections with Judge McClellan.”

 

“No, we didn’t.  Clayburn indicated to us he had just as much desire to put McClellan away as we did.”

 

“What was Clayburn’s motive for arranging Judge McClellan’s execution?”

 

“To protect James Gunther.”

 

“How did you ascertain Mr. Clayburn was in contact with Mr. Gunther?”

 

“Phone records showed several calls to Gunther’s private line from Clayburn’s office.”

 

“Yes.” Welles turned towards his desk and pulled out the phone record.  He retrieved the call sheet and brought them to Hutch.  “These are the phone records from the late Mr. Clayburn’s office.  The highlighted numbers are Mr. Gunther’s private line, is that correct?”

 

Hutch glanced over them.  “Yes.”

 

Welles handed Hutch the call sheet.  “Is that the same number on the call sheet retrieved from my office?”

 

“Yes, it is.”

 

“On the call sheet, Detective Hutchinson, it states who it was that was spoken to.  Would you please read the name for the court?”

 

“Trevor Bates,” Hutch answered.

 

“Isn’t it perceivable, Detective, Mr. Clayburn spoke with Trevor Bates rather than my client?”

 

“Yes, it is.  Trevor Bates worked for your client.”

 

“We’ll get to my client in a moment, Detective.  That call sheet, whose name is next to Mr. Gunther’s private line.”

 

“Trevor Bates.”  Hutch could already see where this was leading and his look was stern.

 

Welles took the papers from Hutch and returned them.  He turned towards Hutch.  “This shooting where your partner almost died, Detective, must’ve been a very traumatic event for you.”

 

“Any cop would find the shooting of their partner difficult.”

 

“You and your partner are close, are you not?”

 

“Yes, we are.”

 

“How close, Detective?”

 

“Objection, you honor.  Detective Hutchinson’s relationship with his partner has no bearing.”

 

“It goes to state of mind, your honor.  This unfortunate attack on Detective Hutchinson’s partner set in motion a chain of events which lead up to the arrest of my client.”

 

“I’ll allow it, but keep it short.”  The judge turned towards Hutch.  “Answer the question, Detective.”

 

“Starsky and I are best friends.  Have been since before the academy.”

 

“How did this violent attack against your partner affect you, Detective?”

 

Hutch ran his hand over his eyes and brought it down to his side.  “It never left my mind.  I thought he was going to die.”

 

“When you thought you were going to lose your partner, there was another attempt made on his life?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“This compelled you to begin investigating who wanted you and your partner dead?”

 

“I didn’t have any indication of who was responsible until the attempt in the parking garage.”

 

“A witness in the garage report hearing several gunshots.  First was a series of three shots and after a few minutes he heard two more.  Did you fire your weapon during this incident?”

 

Hutch clenched his teeth tightly together before answering.  “Yes, I did.  He was armed.  He was the first individual I had access to that could tell me who tried to kill my partner.”

 

“You threatened this person, Detective?”

 

“At times force is necessary.  I exercised what I deemed necessary.”

 

“Is it fair to say you acted on the emotion of seeing your partner shot down, the possibility of losing him and the attempt on your own life?”

 

“I acted on my training and experience,” Hutch said firmly.

 

“Detective, you had already suffered a series of violent events that day.  You testified moments ago, you partner is your best friend and at that time you were on the verge of losing him.  Did your emotions play any part in your actions?”

 

Lucinda looked up from her notepad.  “Objection, your honor.  The defense should realize that while Detective Hutchinson is a highly trained officer, he is also human with real emotions.”

 

“Your honor, as a trained officer, Detective Hutchinson should not allow his emotions and personal experiences dictate his actions and cloud his judgment.  The defense is ascertaining whether or not Detective Hutchinson was lead to my client by his clouded emotions or by evidence.”

 

“Considering Detective Hutchinson’s involvement in his partner’s shooting and his investigation into this case, I’ll allow it,” the judge explained.

 

“Answer the question, Detective,” Welles told him.

 

“There is no way of separating the two,” Hutch explained.  “As a police officer and has a human being, we have to apply a careful balance between the two in order to be able to do our jobs.”

Hutch became uneasy seeing the smile on Welles’ face.  “Detective, during your investigation, you found Mr. Clayburn and Judge McClellan were well connected to Gunther Industries.”

 

“That is correct.”

 

“You also investigated each individual business which they were tied into?”

 

“Yes, I did.”

 

“What did you uncover during these smaller investigations?”

 

“They used their influence and connections to run illegal activities from them which were directly connected to James Gunther.”

 

“The connections you speak of, Detective, how were those verified?”

 

“Telephone records and memos were confiscated from the companies.”

 

Welles picked up a variety of phone records and handed them to Hutch.  “Detective, what is the telephone number you are referring to?”

 

“James Gunther’s private line.”

 

“Is this the same number from the call sheet?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Detective, would you remind the court of the name of the individual spoken with from the call sheet?”

 

Hutch gave Welles a hard look.  “Trevor Bates.”

 

Welles took the records from Hutch and handed him several memos.  “Are these the memos confiscated?”

 

“Yes, they are.”

 

“Whose signature is at the bottom of those memos, Detective Hutchinson?”

 

Hutch stared directly at Welles.  “Trevor Bates.”

 

“Do you have any evidence which directly ties my client to Judge McClellan and Mr. Clayburn?”

 

“The telephone records go directly to Gunther’s private line.”

 

“Isn’t it possible Judge McClellan and Mr. Clayburn spoke with Trevor Bates and not Mr. Gunther?”

 

“Trevor Bates worked for James Gunther and reported directly to him.”

 

“Did any of the witnesses you interviewed during the course of this investigation have direct contact with or knowledge of direct contact with James Gunther?”

 

“Trevor Bates followed James Gunther’s orders and saw to them being carried out.  He was nothing more than a glorified secretary in James Gunther’s eyes.”

 

“Answer the question, Detective,” Welles said firmly.

 

Hutch clenched the armrest tightly with his hand.  “No.”

 

Welles smiled in satisfaction and Hutch felt a sudden urge to punch the man in the face.  “You said when you arrived at my client’s estate, you found Trevor Bates dead.”

 

“Correct.”

 

“Was there any evidence of a struggle between James Gunther and Trevor Bates?”

 

“Files were scattered on the floor.”

 

“Was this definitive of a struggle?”

 

“No.”

 

“You saw nothing else to indicate a fight between my client and the late Trevor Bates?”

 

“Trevor Bates was poisoned.  The coroner’s reports indicated he may not have even been aware of it until it was too late.”

 

“The coroner’s report also indicated the poison was ingested.”

 

“Yes, the coffee in the cup tested positive for arsenic.”

 

“Did it test positive anywhere else, Detective?”

 

“No.”

 

“Crime scene investigators tested the coffeepot?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Mr. Gunther’s home was also searched, Detective.  Was there evidence of arsenic in his home?”

 

“No.”

 

“Did you find any evidence on how this poison got into Mr. Bates’ coffee?

 

“It is my belief Mr. Gunther poisoned Trevor Bates when the details of my investigation came to light.”

 

“Where would the poison have come from, Detective?”

 

“We were never able to ascertain how James Gunther acquired the arsenic.”

 

“Detective, if you believe my client murdered his assistant without the benefit of solid evidence, isn’t it just as probable Trevor Bates brought the poison into James Gunther’s home?  After all, the events leading up to your partner’s shooting and the criminal activities had just come to light.  Trevor Bates knew his involvement would be discovered.  His career and his freedom were over and rather than facing the humiliation of an arrest and trial, he took his own life.”

 

“I find it highly unlikely.”

 

“Explain, Detective.”

 

“Trevor Bates was considered an over-achiever with four degrees.  Given what I learned about the man after his death, I don’t believe he would have willingly ingested the poison himself.”

 

“Detective, if Trevor Bates was responsible for all the events leading to this trial and if his involvement was discovered, isn’t it a foreseeable possibility?”

 

“No, Mr. Welles.  All the evidence indicated James Gunther was responsible.  Trevor Bates answered directly to him.”

 

“No matter how highly unlikely you consider the scenario to be, is it possible, Detective?”

 

“Yes,” Hutch conceded.

 

“You stated my client was calm and alert in the presence of the late Trevor Bates.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Have you in your career as a law enforcement official ever found someone calm and alert in the presence of a dead body?”

 

“Of course, but in this instance I found James Gunther’s demeanor suspect since he was aware of my arrival.”

 

“Isn’t it possible, Detective, what you saw was disbelief and shock?  Many individuals do react strangely in such tragic circumstances as these.”

 

“I don’t believe so.”

 

“What was your state of mind when you arrived at James Gunther’s estate?”

 

“I was determined.”

 

“How determined, Detective?”

 

“Very.  Mr. Gunther was responsible for the shooting of my partner.”

 

“Your honor, I ask the last statement be stricken from the record.”

 

“So ordered,” the judge stated.  “Detective, refrain from statements such as those.  Continue, counselor.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson, were you angry when you arrived?”

 

“Not at first.”

 

“At what point did you become angry, Detective?”

 

“When your client pointed a gun at me.”

 

“Have you ever had a gun pointed at you prior to this, Detective?”

 

“Yes, I have.”

 

“Had you become angry in the past when someone pointed a gun at you?”

 

“The circumstances were unusual.”

 

“How so?”

 

“James Gunther…” Hutch paused.  “I believed James Gunther to be the man responsible for the attempt on my partner’s life.”

 

“Detective, you said earlier in your testimony a police officer must maintain a careful balance between his emotions and his duty.  Weren’t your emotions guiding you more than your responsibilities as a police officer?”

 

“No.”

 

“In the past, Detective, your emotions played a heavy role in prior investigations.  Investigations in which you were as personally involved as this one.  There are recorded instances where your role as a police officer was put on the backburner because of your emotional involvement.”

 

“Objection, your honor,” Lucinda said standing up.  “The defense is maligning the competence of a highly decorated police officer.”

 

“On the contrary, your honor.  We have no doubt Detective Hutchinson is police officer of the highest integrity with the exception of instances where he was personally involved.  While those instances were no fault of his own, we assert Detective Hutchinson has allowed his personal involvement to hinder those investigations and through this pending litigation we will also assert Detective Hutchinson maliciously pursued my client because of his personal involvement when the name James Gunther entered into the investigation.”

 

“Mr. Welles,” the judge said.  “You will have ample opportunity to make your case when the prosecution rests.  Ms. Walsh, the defense has stayed within the boundaries as ordered.  Continue, Counselor.”

 

“I have no further questions, your honor.”  Welles walked back to this table and sat down. 

 

Hutch watched Gunther whispering to his attorney.  He took a deep breath and swung his vision to Starsky.  He could see the concern in his partner’s eyes, and the reassuring smile calmed him.

 

“Redirect, Ms. Walsh.”

 

Lucinda stood up and walked over to Hutch.  “Detective Hutchinson, what is the conviction rate of your arrests?”

 

“92%.”

 

“Out of those, how many of those would you say you were personally involved in?”

 

“Ms. Walsh, in most instances, my partner and I investigated murders and other cases in which violence was perpetrated against a variety of victims.  Getting personally involved is usually a must.”

 

“Out of the convictions which arose from your arrests, were any of those found to be innocent of the charges filed after their convictions?”

 

“No.”

 

“Have you in any instance latched onto a name which came up in an investigation and pursued it to get the desired results?”

 

“It’s imperative to us as police officers, the prosecution, the victims and to society to make sure we arrest those suspects we believe are responsible.  We would be negligent in our duties and responsibilities otherwise.”

 

“Thank you, Detective Hutchinson.  I have no more questions.”

 

“You may step down, Detective,” the judge told him.

 

Starsky exhaled a breath of relief as Hutch left the stand.  He watched Hutch push through the small swinging door.  His eyes widened in surprise as Hutch walked past him and out of the courtroom.  Starsky quickly stood and followed.

 

He stepped out in the hallway and looked both ways not seeing any sign of Hutch.  Starsky’s eye caught the men’s room and he went to the door.  When he opened it up, Hutch was hunched over the sink watching his face.  Starsky walked over to him and leaned against the wall.  “You did great up there, Hutch.”

 

“Is that what you call that?”

 

“Hutch, we knew the kinds of questions you would face.  Those guys have no idea what you were going through.”

 

Hutch grabbed some paper towels and dried his hands.  “They don’t have to, Starsk.  I’ve just been portrayed as an unstable erratic vigilante cop.”

 

“Nobody in their right mind is going to buy that, Hutch!”

 

“There’s a jury of twelve people who could!  Since the prosecution started their case, Gunther’s snake of a lawyer has damn near discredited every witness we’ve got.  He’s cast doubt on majority of the evidence.”

 

“This thing isn’t over yet, Hutch. There’s still a long ways to go.”

 

Hutch sighed heavily and ran his hands over his face.  Starsky stepped closer to him.  “Listen, you’re exhausted.  You’ve been working too hard and you spent quite a while on that stand.  Why don’t I take you home?”

 

 “I’m fine.  I need to go back in there.”

 

“Let’s go home, Hutch.  You don’t have to be here for the rest.”

 

“I have to be there in case something comes up that I missed.”

 

“You’ll find out later when you talk to Lucinda.”

 

Hutch shook his head.  “I’d better not.  I’m going back.  You coming?”

 

“Yeah,” Starsky sighed.  “I’ll be there in a minute.”

 

Hutch left the bathroom and Starsky leaned back against the wall.  Hutch hadn’t missed one single day of the trial and he was still working on the case as if it was still an active investigation.  Hutch’s obsession with putting Gunther away worried Starsky.  He had never seen his partner work so hard on a case before.  Starsky could only hope the trial would end soon so they could get on with their lives.

 

 

~*~

 

 

The prosecution rested their case and the defense took their turn.  During a recess, Lucinda approached both detectives in the hallway.  “You won’t believe it.”

 

“What?” Starsky asked.

 

“Welles is going to put James Gunther on the stand.”

 

“You’re kidding?  Most lawyers would never take a chance like that,” Starsky exclaimed.

 

“It shouldn’t be that big of a surprise,” Hutch told them.  “Gunther has an enormous ego and he enjoys his control entirely too much.  He would want to be on the stand to show his lack of guilt.  He’ll put on a hell of a show.”

 

“We’ll see about that,” Lucinda said firmly.  “Gunther gets on that stand and I’ll tear him apart.”

 

Hutch stepped closer to Lucinda.  “Lucy, be careful.  James Gunther knows how to keep his cool.  He didn’t get where he is by pure luck.”

 

“He’ll find out when I get a shot at him.  I’ll see you both inside.”  Lucinda walked away heading inside the courtroom.

 

Starsky looked over at Hutch who was looking thoughtful.  “What are you thinking?”

 

“I’m thinking she doesn’t know what she’s in for.  When she starts in on her cross-examination, she’ll find out that Gunther knows what he’s doing.  He’s not easily rattled.”

 

“I don’t know, Hutch.  This isn’t like what he normally does.  Besides, Lucinda’s a tough lady.  She won’t let him get away with much.”

 

Hutch didn’t reply and followed Starsky into the courtroom.  Welles, called three witnesses prior to James Gunther.  The first was Thomas who continued to work for the man on trial. 

 

Hutch wasn’t surprised at Thomas’ loyalty to Gunther and his credibility on the stand showed in the unbiased nature of his testimony.  Hutch knew Thomas had a hand in Bates’ death, but he was unable to find any evidence.  Thomas’s background was impeccable and the man was unflinching under stiff interrogation.

 

Finally the moment came.  The testimony of James Gunther had gone under a great deal of speculation by everyone involved including the media.  Hutch remembered Starsky telling him it was like having Judas Iscariot testify.  He smiled a little when reminding Starsky he was Jewish.  Starsky replied that even Jews won’t name their kids Judas.

 

Everyone looked to the witness stand as James Gunther was sworn in.  The courtroom was hushed in anticipation as he sat comfortably in the chair.  James Gunther unbuttoned his suit letting the beige tie fall slightly to the side.  Hutch took notice of Gunther’s suit seeing it wasn’t his normal attire.  The man he arrested sported custom made suits tailored specifically to his form.  Gunther now wore a suit which would be considered off the rack.

 

Welles stood and approached James Gunther.  He questioned James Gunther about his life, business activities and the various businesses he owned.  Gunther spoke openly about his net worth and financial standing at various times throughout the life of Gunther Industries. 

 

“Mr. Gunther, why did you want to testify at these proceedings?”

 

“I strongly believe one should be held accountable and answer for their wrongdoings.  I also believe if one is innocent, they should face the charges and answer them.”

 

“You are innocent of these numerous charges?”

 

“Yes, I am, Mr. Welles.”

 

“How long had you known Trevor Bates prior to his death, Mr. Gunther.”

 

“I first met him almost fifteen years ago.  He was attending Harvard Law at the time.  I was attending a charity auction at the university and a friend introduced us.”

 

“What were your impressions?”

 

Gunther smiled.  “He impressed me a great deal.  I found Mr. Bates to be intelligent, engaging and with a strong insight in the field of international banking and law.  I was quite taken with him.”

 

“When was the next time you saw him?”

 

“It was three years later.  He was working at one of the brokerage houses in New York.  It was a company I had just bought.  During the tour, I saw him and learned he had several influential businessmen as clients.  Mr. Bates had also increased their holdings substantially.  I felt this was a young man I should get to know better.”

 

“What happened next?”

 

“I offered Mr. Bates a position as my assistant working for Gunther Industries overseeing a large variety of companies and their operations.”

 

“Did Trevor Bates have decision-making authorization from you?”

 

“When it came to the day-to-day details, I left those to Mr. Bates.  He would report their progress to me when it was necessary.”

 

“When was it necessary, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“When significant problems occurred which required my attention.  If a company wasn’t making the profits it should or if there were larger issues which affected other companies.”

 

“So there were a great many details you weren’t aware of?”

 

“That is correct,” Gunther sighed.  “I believed Mr. Bates was handling his responsibilities very well.  I needed someone I could trust so I could concentrate on much larger tasks which required a great deal of time and attention.”

 

“Would you give an example, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“Yes, it would be the North Sea Project.  Gunther Industries, along with our own government and three other countries have put together an oil drilling operation.  This project is set to begin within the year and the benefit to the countries involved will be substantial.  It’s needed a great deal of my focus and time to get the cooperation necessary to put this project together.”

 

“How much would Gunther Industries profit from this venture?”

 

“The profit would be marginal, Mr. Welles.  The ones who benefit the most will be the consumer who will see a stabilization of gas prices at the pump.”

 

“Objection,” Lucinda stated.  “This project has no bearing on the case at hand.”

 

“I disagree, your honor.  The magnitude of such a project is the very reason why Mr. Gunther put such a high degree of trust into Mr. Bates.”

 

“I’ll overrule the objection,” the judge told them.  “However, I will strike Mr. Gunther’s last two statements.  The jury will disregard.”

 

“How much information did Mr. Bates report to you, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“It was mostly generalized reports about the companies and the individuals Gunther Industries was doing business with.  Considering how much information he attained in any given day, by reporting every single detail would be time consuming and monotonous.”

 

“How was it determined what information Mr. Bates reported to and what he didn’t report?”

 

“Mr. Bates was a very intelligent man and we knew each other well.  When he started in the position, he learned quickly and worked independently.”

 

“What was the condition of your southern California operations prior to Mr. Bates’ arrival to work for you?”

 

“Those operations were not doing well.  The economy had wreaked havoc in those areas and the companies suffered a great deal.  There was wasteful spending, job losses and rising inflation.”

 

“What did you do with those operations?”

 

“I spoke with Mr. Bates at length about them and he seemed to know what needed done to turn them around.  I told him to manage those operations and see if it was possible to make a profit.”

 

“What were your expectations, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“I consider myself a realist, Mr. Welles.  I felt Mr. Bates would do some good, but I didn’t expect much of a profit.”

 

“What in fact happened?”

 

“Within a year, those operations were running in the black and at a substantial profit.”

 

“What was your reaction, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“I was amazed.  I never expected that kind of turn around.”

 

“Did Mr. Bates offer an explanation as to why they were doing so well?”

 

“Mr. Bates offered several explanations which many of those I didn’t completely understand.  He being the highly educated man he was, I saw that his education was working for him.”

 

“Why didn’t you understand them, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“I am a self-taught man, Mr. Welles.  I left my education to go to work for a friend of my father’s and never returned.  Most of what I have accomplished is by coincidence and hard work.”

 

“Did you reward Mr. Bates for his success?”

 

“Yes, he received a substantial raise.”

 

“What was his reaction?”

 

“He was very pleased,” Gunther answered.  “In fact, I’d say he was extraordinarily flattered by my praises.  Afterwards he continued working harder than I had ever seen him before.”

 

“Because of the approval and praise you gave him?”

 

“Yes, it was like a drug to him.  He strived for success at every level.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, keeping in mind the work Trevor Bates was doing for you did you also know Judge Raymond McClellan?”

 

“Yes, I met him at several political functions and he served on the boards of three companies.”

 

“What were your impressions of Judge McClellan?”

 

“I found him to be a very forthright man with a narrow view of life.”

 

“Did you like Judge McClellan?”

 

“I didn’t know him well enough to say one way or the other, Mr. Welles.  We only spoke face-to-face at political functions.”

 

“Phone calls?”

 

“Mr. Bates spoke with him on occasion that I’m aware of.”

 

“In what regard?”

 

“Business.”

 

“Were you aware of the details of their conversations?”

 

“For the most part, no.  Mr. Bates spoke in passing of his conversations with Judge McClellan.”

 

“At these political functions, did you and Judge McClellan speak about business?”

 

“It was mostly small talk and the political climate at the time.  I could see he and I differed in our views so I spent little time speaking at length with him.”

 

“Even though this was a man sitting on the board of three subsidiaries of Gunther Industries?”

 

“The reports I received stated he was very capable in that regard.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, did you have any knowledge of the illegal activities of Judge McClellan?”

 

“No, I did not,” Gunther said firmly.  “If I had known of these atrocious activities of someone working with in my company using those resources, I would have seen to the proper authorities being notified.”

 

“Did you know Deputy D.A. Clayburn?”

 

“Not personally.  Mr. Bates knew him from their days in college.  He thought highly of the man and encouraged donations for his political campaign.”

 

“Did you contribute to his campaign, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“Yes, I felt I could trust Mr. Bates’ word about the good man Mr. Clayburn was.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, when did the southern California operations begin to lose profits?”

 

“Almost a year ago.  There was a sudden drop-off in productivity and profits.”

 

“Did you question Mr. Bates about this?”

 

“Yes, I did.”

 

“What explanations did he offer?”

 

“He stated it was due to the changing demographic and a variety of other issues which he didn’t fully explain.”

 

“What did you instruct Mr. Bates to do?”

 

“I told him to do what he could to turn the situation around.  The North Sea Project was in its beginning stages and it was crucial I see to the details.  I left him to see to personally oversee the operations.”

 

“Was he able to do repair the problems?”

 

“No,” Gunther said grimly.  “Many of the operations were running in the red.”

 

“What were his explanations?”

 

“He came to me and told me of two police officers who were harassing the managers demanding payoffs and causing operational problems.  Contracts weren’t being met because of the unscrupulous activities of the two men.”

 

“Did you believe him?”

 

“I had no reason to doubt him.  Mr. Bates had never lied to my knowledge at that point.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, is this when you held the board meeting stating you wanted these two individuals ‘now and forever gone’?”

 

“It was taken completely out of context, Mr. Welles.  I believed Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson to be criminals and I was angry they would use the law to cause these sorts of problems.  I instructed Mr. Bates to see they were brought up on charges after this meeting.”

 

“Which he didn’t do, did he?”

 

“No, I learned later Detective Starsky was shot at the police station he worked at.”

 

“What was your reaction?”

 

“I was astounded anyone would make such an attack in broad daylight in the parking lot of a police precinct, let alone attempt to kill a respected police officer.”

 

“Did you have reason to believe anyone associated with Gunther Industries had anything to do with the attempt on the lives of these detectives?”

 

“It never crossed my mind.  I believed it to be the act of a deranged individual or individuals.”

 

“When did you learn otherwise, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“It was the morning I was arrested,” Gunther said with a sorrowful look.

 

“Would you please tell the court the events which transpired before Detective Hutchinson arrived at your estate, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“I was in the office when Mr. Bates arrived.  He seemed upset and when I questioned him, he claimed everything was fine.  But I saw how erratic his behavior was becoming and I asked him again.”  Gunther sighed heavily before continuing.  “He began rambling and I heard him mention names but he was so incoherent, I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  The files he was carrying he threw around the room.  It was when Mr. Bates started yelling that he was coming.  When I asked who, he said Detective Hutchinson.”

 

“What were his exact words, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“Hutchinson was coming for us.”

 

“Then what?”

 

“I forcibly made him answer my questions and suddenly it began spilling out.  I realized Mr. Bates used Gunther Industries to conduct illegal activities and as he spoke more came out about the deaths of Judge McClellan and Mr. Clayburn.  I was shocked.  Then he said he tried to kill the detectives.  He hired people to actually kill police officers.”

 

“What did you do, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“I sat him down in the chair and instructed him to stay there.  I went to Thomas and had him prepare some coffee.  I was determined to get to the bottom of this.”

 

“What took place when you returned?”

 

“Mr. Bates had calmed down considerably.  He began telling me the truth of his activities within Gunther Industries.  It was amazing now that I look back on it.  He was telling me everything as if he were confessing his very soul to me.  Thomas brought the coffee and after he left, I brought Mr. Bates his coffee.  He smiled as he spoke of how eager he was to prove to me he could run those southern California organizations at a profit.  We spoke a while longer as he told me the extent of the illegal operations and how they had spread into others as far as the east coast.”

 

“What did you tell Mr. Bates?”

 

“I told him we must put a stop to all this.  I told him I would do everything within my power for him, but I couldn’t stop his arrest.  He must face these accusations and accept the consequences.  Mr. Bates smiled and asked if I could get him some sugar for his coffee.  While I was getting the sugar, he commented he had looked forward to meeting Detective Hutchinson in the past tense.  I didn’t understand what he meant by it at the moment.”  Gunther looked down at his hands and back up at the jury making eye contact with them.  “He must’ve slipped the poison in his coffee when I had my back turned.  In a matter of minutes he was dead.”

 

“What did you do next?”

 

Gunther shook his head remorsefully.  “I consider myself a strong man, but seeing what a man I had trusted so deeply had become, I was in shock.  I was in shock at the enormity of his crimes and at his death.  I don’t even remember going to my desk.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, why didn’t you call the police immediately after Mr. Bates’ death?”

 

“I was still trying to grasp the horrendous revelations when Detective Hutchinson arrived.”

 

“What happened upon his arrival,” Welles gently asked.

 

“I realized Mr. Bates’ crimes would become mine and given the publicity surrounding the shooting of Detective Starsky I was fearful of the retribution I could face.”

 

“Did you at any point attempt to explain what had happened to Detective Hutchinson?”

 

“I realized after I was arrested, I would need to consult with my attorneys given the gravity of the situation.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, you introduced the late Mr. Bates to Detective Hutchinson.  Why did you do so?”

 

“I was still in a great deal of shock and it was the first thing which came to mind.”

 

“Why did you pull a gun on Detective Hutchinson?”

 

“He appeared extremely intense given his body language.  Even knowing he was a police officer; given everything he and his partner had been through, I believed he blamed me for the violent events which were perpetrated against them.  I was fearful for my life.  He stepped forward and I held the gun up and said ‘please’.”

 

“Was it your intention to do bodily harm against Detective Hutchinson?”

 

“I couldn’t be sure of his state of mind and I acted instinctively.  He accused me of trying to kill him and his partner.  Given how he said it, I grew even more fearful.  He went for the gun in my hand and it accidentally went off.  I have little experience with weapons and this was given to me by a close friend several years ago who has since passed away which was why I kept it close.”

 

“Detective Hutchinson did no harm to you, did he?”

 

“No,” Gunther smiled in relief.  “Even with his obvious animosity towards me, I was relieved I would be able to make sure the truth would come to light.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, since these charges became a matter of public record, how has it affected you personally?”

 

“It has affected many more people much more significantly than I, Mr. Welles.  Even though I have been blamed for the crimes of my assistant, my business has suffered greatly which has cost the livelihoods of families.  Many have lost their jobs and those involved in these crimes will have hurt their families a great deal.  Mr. Bates left behind a wife and children who will be forever tarnished by their father’s crimes.  I know my innocence, Mr. Welles.  It’s those innocent ones who had no part which will pay a heavier price than I ever will.”

 

Welles smiled and turned towards Lucinda.  “Your witness.”

 

Lucinda sat at the table looking at James Gunther.  After a moment she slowly stood and picked up a file.  “Mr. Gunther, how much time did you spend with Mr. Bates?”

 

“Almost daily for several years.”

 

“Did you socialize with him on a regular basis?”

 

“At times it was necessary for the two of us to attend events together.”

 

“Did you and Mr. Bates get together for drinks or dinner?”

 

“Yes, we’ve been known to share drinks and dinner from time to time.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, I would think given the enormous responsibilities Mr. Bates had, it would require the two of you to spend a great deal of time together.”

 

“He worked for me, Ms. Walsh.”

 

Lucinda opened the file.  “These expense vouchers indicate you both met regularly for dinner.  I also have records of you and Mr. Bates traveling together on your private jet.  There are affidavits here of trips on your yacht as well.”

 

Gunther took the file and looked through the various papers.  He closed the folder and handed it back to her.  “Yes, Mr. Bates and I spent a great deal of time together.”

 

“You testified earlier Gunther Industries’ net worth is over 200 billion dollars with hundreds of subsidiaries scattered worldwide.”

 

“That is correct.”

 

“You hired Mr. Bates to handle the day to day operations involving these companies so you could devote yourself to other larger obligations.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I’m confused, Mr. Gunther.  Given the amount of time you spent with Mr. Bates, it would seem you would have more of an insight into how these companies of yours are run.”

 

“There were numerous details which I trusted Mr. Bates with.  I saw no need to inquire into them unless I felt it was necessary.”

 

“Were there other individuals who reported directly to you, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“Mr. Bates was my assistant.  Other employees reported to him and he relayed the information he deemed necessary to me.”

 

“No one else aside from Mr. Bates dealt with you directly, Mr. Gunther?  Isn’t that a difficult way to do business?”

 

“I dealt with those matters which required my attention, Ms. Walsh.  I couldn’t very well see to every aspect to which I entrusted Mr. Bates with.  Nothing else would get done and other business matters would suffer as a result.”

 

“How did you learn of the profit margins of your southern California operations?”

 

“From Mr. Bates.”

 

“Did he show you the quarterly reports?”

 

“No, he did not.”

 

“What about the semi-annual reports?”

 

“No.”

 

“Did you see any accounting reports of the companies Mr. Bates was directly responsible for?”

 

“I’m not an accountant, Ms. Walsh.  Mr. Bates received those reports and relayed to me any relevant information.”

 

“Mr. Gunther, as a successful businessman, I would think it would be in the best interest of you and Gunther Industries for you to see important reports such as these.”

 

“That is where you are wrong, Ms. Walsh.  I hired people to see to those matters themselves.  In the positions they were given, they are entrusted to see to the financial stability of the companies.  They reported to Mr. Bates and if any irregularities or problems are discovered it was brought to my attention.”

 

Lucinda turned back to her table and set the file down.  She picked up another one and walked back to Gunther.  “Mr. Gunther, earlier testimony indicated Mr. Bates spent a great deal of time with you in your office at your estate on a regular basis.”

 

“That is correct.”

 

“How many telephone lines do you have?”

 

“There are several.  My office has two.  There are separate ones for the house staff and the grounds, plus a separate line in my living quarters.”

 

“These telephone records I have indicated that one of the numbers in your office was used to call Judge McClellan, Mr. Clayburn and several other individuals named in the criminal activities Gunther Industries was involved in.  If Mr. Bates spent as much time with you as you and others allege, how is it possible these activities continued without your knowledge?”

 

“On many occasions Mr. Bates and I were doing business in the same room but completely oblivious to one another while we dealt with our individual responsibilities.”

 

Lucinda’s exasperation was beginning to grow.  “You expect this court to believe given all the time you and Mr. Bates spent together, you never had any indication of any of the illegal activities going on right under your nose from the drug running to the hitmen hired to kill two highly respected police officers.”

 

“Ms. Walsh, I can’t control what others believe and do not believe.  I can only tell the truth as I know it.  I trusted Mr. Bates implicitly and he violated that trust by using Gunther Industries and its resources for criminal activity, murder, attempted murder and many others.  No matter the decision made by this court, the repercussions of Mr. Bates’ acts will take years of recovery not only by Gunther Industries but by the individual lives he traumatized.”

 

Lucinda sighed and turned back to her table.  She picked up a file and glanced through it.  She looked up at Gunther when she finished.  “Mr. Gunther, you said the weapon you aimed at Detective Hutchinson was a gift.  Is that correct?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You kept it in your office?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Where precisely did you store the weapon?”

 

“In my desk.”

 

“Which drawer, Mr. Gunther?”

 

“The right upper drawer to be precise.”

 

“At what point did you feel your life was threatened?”

 

“When I saw Detective Hutchinson.”

 

Lucinda looked down at the file and back up at Gunther.  “Detective Hutchinson’s report states you pulled the gun up from your lap, Mr. Gunther.  Was it not in the drawer prior to his arrival?”

 

“Yes it was.”

 

“When did you remove the gun from the drawer, Mr. Gunther?”

 

Gunther hesitated briefly looking for a reasonable answer.  “I believed my life was at stake…”

 

Lucinda stepped forward interrupting him.  “Mr. Gunther, you just stated when you saw Detective Hutchinson you felt your life was at threat.  Why did you remove the weapon from the drawer prior to his arrival?”

 

“I didn’t say that.”

 

“Are you disputing Detective Hutchinson’s account of the events when he arrived in your office?”

 

“My assistant had just admitted to me his horrendous crimes, Ms. Walsh, and then committed suicide.  Given everything that happened, I was in shock and my recollection isn’t clear.”

 

“Your memory regarding previous events leading up to the arrival of Detective Hutchinson has been remarkably clear.  You testified you felt your life was at risk, but you held the gun in your lap prior to his arrival, Mr. Gunther.  Were you planning on killing Detective Hutchinson?”

 

“No, of course not.”

 

“Then why take the gun out of the drawer?”

 

Welles came to a standing position.  “Your honor, the question has been asked and answered.  Mr. Gunther has stated in previous testimony he was in shock and under duress as a result of Mr. Bates’ admissions and subsequent suicide.  His recollection of the order of events is unclear.”

 

“He hasn’t answered the question, your honor.  He recalled in great detail everything but this one crucial moment which goes to his credibility.”

 

The judge turned towards Gunther.  “Mr. Gunther, do you wish to clarify your answer?”

 

“I’ve answered it as best as I can recall.  It was a traumatic and confusing moment in my life, your honor.”

 

The judge turned to the standing attorneys.  “The answer will stand.  Ms. Walsh, Mr. Gunther’s answer is subject to your interpretation as it is to Mr. Welles.  The jury will draw their own conclusions.”

 

“Yes, your honor.  I’m finished with this witness.”  Lucinda went back to her table and sat down.

 

“Mr. Gunther, you may step down.” Gunther left the chair and made his way back to the table of the defense.  “Mr. Welles, you may call your next witness.”

 

Welles straightened his suit.  “The defense rests your honor.”

 

A hush fell over the courtroom in surprise at the defense resting their case so quickly.  “Ms. Walsh, any motions.”

 

“No, your honor,” Lucinda told the judge.

 

“Very well, this court will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9am for final arguments.  Court dismissed.”

 

The bang of the gavel signaled movement of the spectators.  Starsky and Hutch headed outside making their way through the throngs of reporters.  The reporters followed them halfway down the steps.  Starsky and Hutch took notice of their sudden direction and turned.

 

The reporters quickly made their way to James Gunther and his attorneys as they appeared on the steps.  Starsky shook his head.  “It still amazes me that guy even got bail.”

 

“He only got it because he’s under round the clock guard and could pay the enormous bail, Starsky.”

 

“It’s pocket change to him.”  Starsky started towards the Torino and pulled the keys from his pocket.

 

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Hutch said walking towards his car.

 

Starsky jogged over to Hutch and stepped in front of him. “Don’t tell me you’re going to work now.”

 

“I need to make sure…”

 

“Hutch, closing arguments are tomorrow.  Everything that could be done has been done.  There’s nothing more for you to do and you know it.”

 

“Starsky, if something happens, I need to be ready for it.”

 

“Hutch, it’s almost over.  Can’t you just leave it alone for tonight?  Let’s go out for dinner and grab some beers.  Huggy’s been missing you, Blondie.”

 

Hutch relaxed and smiled.  “More you than him, I would imagine.”

 

“What do you say?”

 

Hutch put his hand on Starsky’s shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze.  “You’re right.  I think a night out is what the doctor ordered.”

 

Starsky smiled and went to the Torino.  He held open the passenger door for Hutch.  He grinned at Hutch’s chuckle.  When his partner was inside, Starsky closed the door and hurried to the other side.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Lucinda Walsh’s closing argument before the jury lasted over two hours.  Lucinda began with Hutch’s career showing how even despite the odds, he remained a dedicated police officer with integrity and professionalism.  She went through the evidence individually tying each piece together.  Lucinda spoke eloquently how Trevor Bates followed James Gunther’s instructions to the letter from the illegal operations to the attempted murders of Starsky and Hutch.  She explained to the jury when Bates’ usefulness expired, James Gunther personally killed him.  Lucinda hammered the point home of James Gunther’s inability to answer the question of pulling a weapon on Hutch.  She forcefully asserted to the jury this itself impeached his entire testimony not giving him any credibility. 

 

Jonathan Welles closing argument last a little over an hour and was filled with their own interpretation of the events leading up to the arrest of James Gunther.  Welles told the jury no direct evidence tying the criminal activities to James Gunther existed and pointed out prior testimony and the prosecution’s own evidence was in fact Trevor Bates acting alone.  Welles used Hutch’s troubled past to assert the detective was guided by emotion and his personal involvement in such a high profile case.  Welles even hinted the arrest and conviction of James Gunther was more enticing because of his respect and stature compared to a man such as Trevor Bates. 

 

In the same breath, Jonathan Welles, praised the honesty and integrity of Hutch and then questioned his judgment and objectivity during situations in which he was personally involved in.  The defense attorney spoke of how Bates’ death deeply affected James Gunther.  In the final moments of his closing argument, Welles spoke of the work James Gunther was doing to rectify all the damage which was done by the late Trevor Bates.  He finished by displaying James Gunther to be a humble man from meager beginnings who found success through integrity and hard work.  Welles eloquently spoke of James Gunther as a man taking responsibility for the actions of someone he trusted by amending those wrongs.

 

 

~*~

 

Deliberations took eight days.  The huge amount of evidence and the detailed testimony delayed the verdict which kept everyone on edge.  Starsky knew Hutch wasn’t pleased with how the trial was conducted and the longer the deliberations stretched out, the more stressed his partner became.  Starsky attempted to distract Hutch, but he knew where his partner’s thoughts lay.  All he wanted was for this chapter of their lives to end so a new one could begin.

 

After the verdict was announced, Hutch disappeared.  Starsky searched went to several spots where he knew Hutch to frequent when he wanted to be alone.  It was late in the evening when Starsky decided to check the precinct.  He stopped at the squad room doors and peered inside.  The room was dark except for one lone light illuminating Hutch’s desk. 

 

Piles of records sat on top of Hutch’s desk and his partner was hunched over them with his hands planted firmly on each side.  Starsky paused briefly watching Hutch, his heart feeling as heavy as the burden his best friend carried.  He started to step forward when suddenly with the swipe of Hutch’s left hand, the pile of records were thrown to the floor.

 

Starsky immediately came forward and stepped close to Hutch.  He grasped his shoulders.  “Hutch, it’s okay.”

 

“No its not,” Hutch said gruffly.  Hutch stepped away from Starsky and knelt down to the floor.  He began gathering them up and looked up at Starsky who knelt next to him.  “Starsky, now’s not a good time.”

 

Starsky picked up what Hutch didn’t grab and both stood at the same time.  “I can’t think of a better time.”

 

Hutch set the files down on his desk and slumped in the chair.  He shook his head.  “Six months.”  Hutch brought his eyes up to Starsky.  “A hockey season.”

 

Starsky set the files down and pulled Hutch to his feet.  “Come on, I’m taking you home.”

 

“I ran out of clean sheets.” 

 

Starsky pulled Hutch towards the door.  “Who said we’re going to your place?”

 

Hutch was silent as he obediently walked through the door Starsky was holding open for him. 

 

 

~*~

 

 

Starsky pulled two beers from the fridge and walked into the living room.  He handed one off to Hutch who was seated on the couch.  Starsky sat across from him taking a drink from his beer.

 

He waited patiently for Hutch to gather his thoughts.  “Starsky, I knew this wouldn’t be an easy trial and I knew the chances of nailing Gunther on every single charge were pretty damn low.”

 

“He walked on all but two, Hutch.”

 

A bitter laugh escaped Hutch.  “Gun possession and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.”  Hutch shook his head.  “Gun possession alone is a misdemeanor and the assault a felony.  Most would get at least five years, but not that bastard.”

 

“Hutch, it wasn’t your fault.”

 

“Wasn’t it?  I dropped the ball, Starsky!”

 

“How do you figure that?  You’ve been working non-stop on this case since day one chasing down every lead that dropped into your lap.”

 

Hutch raised the bottle.  “Apparently not enough.”

 

“Is that what you’re gonna do, Hutch?  Take responsibility for the fact that Gunther got off with a slap on the wrist?”

 

“Lucinda worked with what she had which was my footwork and my pathetic excuse of a love life!  I’d say I practically got the bastard off single handed.”

 

“Shut up, Hutch.  Your taking the blame for something you had no control over.  Gunther had a team of lawyers nobody on their best day could get.  They took it all and put on a show for the world.  You were just a part of a circus and Welles was the ringmaster with Gunther in the center ring.  They used you.”

 

Hutch didn’t reply as he finished off his beer and stood.  He put the empty bottle in the trash and grabbed his jacket.  Starsky saw him heading to the door and jumped up to cut Hutch off.  “Where do you think you’re going?”

 

“Gunther is going to restart his operations the first chance he gets.  I’ll be ready for it.”

 

Starsky shook his head firmly.  “No, Hutch.”

 

“What?”  Hutch thought he misunderstood what his partner was telling him.

 

“It’s over.  What happened, happened and there’s nothing anybody can do to change it.”

 

“I may not be able to change it, but I sure as hell keep it from happening again!”

 

“Keep what from happening again?  Me getting shot or Gunther getting away with it?”

 

“I’m too tired to play games tonight, Starsk.”

 

Starsky suddenly realized something when he looked into Hutch’s eyes.  “That’s what this was all about, wasn’t it?  It wasn’t about putting that guy away for everything he’s done.  It was about what he did to me.”

 

Hutch’s eyes locked with Starsky’s knowing his partner was right.  There was no getting around it.  “Yeah, it was about what he did to you and it was about what I let him do to you.”

 

“Hutch…”

 

“No!” Hutch yelled.  Hutch swung around and stalked into the living room.  He turned back to face Starsky.  “I know you’ll stand there and tell me it wasn’t my fault.  You’ll tell me there was nothing anyone could do to prevent you getting shot.  I tell myself that every single day, Starsky.  But no matter how much I tell myself it’s not my fault, I know I let you down just like I let you down in that courtroom.”

 

Starsky walked to Hutch and grasped his arm.  “You never let me down, Hutch.  You’ve been the strongest man I’ve ever known in my life and you never left my side once.  You’re my whole life.”

 

“Either way, Starsky, I still have to do this.”

 

Starsky shook his head.  “No, I don’t want you to.”

 

“What?  Why?”  Hutch was confused by Starsky’s statement.

 

“It’s over for me, Hutch.  I want to let this go and I want you to let it go, too.”

 

“Starsky, I can’t just walk away from this.”

 

“The trial is over and Gunther is serving his sentence no matter how unfair it is.  I want us to get on with our lives.”

 

“We are.  We still have to…”

 

“You mean you have to.  You still want to get back at him for what he did to me, but you’re forgetting about me at the same time.”

 

“You’re not making any sense.”

 

“Ever since you arrested Gunther, you’ve been obsessed with getting the evidence, helping the D.A. put a case together and have spent almost every minute of your free time trying to make him pay for what he did.  When you weren’t taking care of me, you were taking care of Gunther, Hutch.”

 

“You’re wrong, Starsky.”

 

“No, I’m not.”  Starsky was beginning to feel his anger grow as the resentment grew.  “I’ve watched this whole thing play out from the sidelines, Hutch.  That case was always with you even when you weren’t working on it.”

 

“Starsky, I’ll take some time off before I start a new investigation.”

 

“No, you won’t!” Starsky yelled.  “Even if Dobey let you start another one, it’ll be like it was before!  I’m sick of this case and I’m sick of Gunther!  Jesus, Hutch!  When’s the last time we had a conversation when Gunther wasn’t a part of it?  Every goddamn time I turn around that bastard is in my life and I want him out of it!  It ain’t never gonna happen until you let go of it!”

 

“I can’t believe you expect me to just walk away!  What happened to going after these assholes and putting them behind bars?”

 

“I’m not like that anymore, Hutch.  I just thought after this was over, it’d be out of your system and we could put it behind us.”  Starsky stepped close to Hutch and put his hands on his partner’s shoulders.  “I want you back, Hutch.  I need you back.”

 

“Starsky, you know it won’t be like it was before.  You haven’t even gotten clearance to go back out on the street yet.”

 

Starsky searched Hutch’s eyes and tried to still his rapidly beating heart.  He licked his dry lips.  “I know that.  I want it to be better than it was before, Hutch.  I know it can be with us.”

 

“I don’t understand what you’re telling me.”

 

“I think you know what I’m telling you, Hutch.  You’ve been so blinded with going after Gunther and wanting to take care of me, you haven’t seen it.”

 

Hutch was frozen in place at Starsky’s words.  Starsky suddenly stepped forward and placed a soft kiss on Hutch’s lips.  He felt no resistance from Hutch and continued with a gentle persuasion.  Starsky felt Hutch’s mouth give and he pulled him close.

 

The soft kiss soon turned passionate giving in to long buried desires.  Both men pulled each other closer and soon found themselves on the couch.  Starsky climbed on top of Hutch and latched onto his neck.  Starsky pulled Hutch’s shirt open not caring about the buttons dropping to the floor like soft raindrops.

 

Starsky lips felt the vibrations of Hutch’s groans as he ran his hands over the smooth chest.  He moved his hips against Hutch’s feeling his hardness growing.  Starsky lips found Hutch’s and he pushed his tongue through exploring the new territory.  His body grew hard as Hutch quickly opened his jeans. 

 

Starsky groaned in Hutch’s mouth when he felt large hands pushing their way inside his jeans.  He continued moving his hips against Hutch’s ever growing cock.  When Hutch’s hand found Starsky’s hardness, his body jumped in response and surged into the hand grasping onto him.

 

Hutch turned aggressive seeking more of Starsky’s heat.  He pushed the jeans downward and Starsky lifted his body to aide Hutch’s desire.  Hutch shifted his body so he could work at getting the tight jeans off and when both men moved, Starsky lost his balance and landed with a loud thump on the floor.

 

Hutch looked down at his shocked partner who suddenly broke into loud giggles.  He smiled at his partner.

 

“That’s a first for me.”  Starsky pushed up from the floor and grasped onto his jeans.  “Why don’t we go finish this in the bedroom?”

 

Hutch sat up and was almost to his feet, when he changed his mind.  He eased back down to the couch and looked up at Starsky.  “What are we doing?”

 

“What I thought both of us wanted.”

 

“Starsk, we have to think about this.  You and I just can’t decide to start sleeping together.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Do you realize what this will do to us?  What happens if it doesn’t work out?  What about our jobs?  If anyone finds out…”

 

“Slow down, Hutch.”  Starsky sat on the couch and turned to face Hutch.  “There’s something you gotta know, Hutch.  It’s something I kept from you.”

 

“This?”

 

“When I woke up at that hospital, you were the first person I saw.  I knew how close I came to buying it, Hutch.  Hell, I did buy it.  I saw the white light, my father and did the whole tunnel bit.  But when I woke up, I knew.  And when I saw you, I knew.”

 

Hutch saw the difficulty Starsky was having in expressing himself.  “Tell me.”

 

“It was like everything before I woke up didn’t matter.  None of it.  The only thing that mattered was you and me.  Us.  I love you, Hutch.  I love you every way a person can love another.  All I knew at that moment, was that you were a part of me and I wasn’t gonna waste another minute.  When this whole thing with Gunther started and you were building a case against him, I saw how important it was to you.  I thought I would finally have ‘my Hutch’ back once it was over.”

 

Hutch relaxed against the couch letting Starsky’s words soak into his heart and mind.  “You were waiting for the trial to be over?”

 

“I wanted all of you, Hutch.  I didn’t want to share you with Gunther and sometimes it felt like he had more of you than I did.  I know it sounds selfish, jealous and stupid, but I thought when this was all done, you and me…”

 

“Starsky, what if I never…”

 

Starsky looked at Hutch solemnly.  “I’d put the line back and would never go near it again.  You’re too important to me, Hutch.  Even if you can’t return how I feel about you, I don’t want to lose you.  You’re still my best friend in the world.”

 

Hutch knew Starsky was true to his word.  Starsky was a man who would follow through with everything he said and Hutch had no doubt his partner would set his own feelings aside to preserve their friendship. 

 

He ran his hand through his hair.  “God, I’ve been so stupid and blind.  You’ve been carrying this alone while I went after Gunther.  I was doing it for you and I was pushing you away at the same time.”

 

Starsky touched Hutch’s arm.  “Hutch…”

 

Hutch got off the couch and stood in the middle of the room.  “I love you, Starsky.  More than anyone I’ve ever known in my life.  Everything we’ve gone through together is a testament of how we feel about each other.”

 

“Hutch, are you telling me that you feel the same way?”

 

Hutch shook his head and chuckled.  “Yeah, and you were right.  This mess was getting in the way.  Just promise me something, buddy.”

 

Starsky stood up and gave Hutch a soft smile.  “What’s that?”

 

“If I’m acting like a dick, don’t wait so long to let me know.”

 

Starsky chuckled.  “We ready to consummate this?”

 

“Are you proposing?”

 

“You want me to?”

 

“I thought it was leading somewhere with us professing our love to each other before we screw each other’s brains out.”

 

Starsky laughed loving the playful banter with the Hutch he had missed.  “And here I thought you were the romantic one.”

 

“Right now I’m sexually frustrated as hell.  We’ll do romance later.”

 

“You think you are,” Starsky said with a wink. 

 

Starsky turned and headed to the bedroom with Hutch close behind.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Hutch slowly opened his eyes and found himself laying face-down on Starsky’s bed.  He smiled contentedly and moved his arm to reach for his new lover.  Hutch raised his head when his hand hit an empty pillow. 

 

He turned over to his back and sat up wondering where Starsky was.  Hutch smiled remembering the passionate lovemaking between them.  It was a beautiful exploration and a night of fantastic discovery.  He chuckled remembering how he found the most sensitive areas of Starsky’s body.  Watching Starsky’s reactions was pleasing and Hutch thrived on bringing his new lover to wonderful heights of pleasure.

 

“You look pretty pleased with yourself.”

 

Hutch looked over at Starsky standing in the doorway holding a cup of coffee.  Hutch’s eyes traveled over Starsky looking at him in a new light and loving the way the white shirt hung open.  “I’ve got to admit finding out what turns you on is giving me some ideas.”

 

Starsky smiled and brought the coffee to Hutch.  He leaned down giving Hutch a thorough kiss.  “Morning,” Starsky smiled.

 

Hutch licked his lips reveling in Starsky’s taste.  He took the coffee from Starsky and sipped it.  “What time is it?”

 

“Almost eight.”

 

Hutch’s eyes widened.  “Shit, I’m going to be late.”

 

“No you’re not.”  Starsky sat down on the bed and placed his hand on Hutch’s leg.  “We’re both on vacation for the next two weeks.”

 

“We are?”  Starsky nodded with pleasure written all over his face.  “This is that promise I made a while back.”

 

“Yep.  I arranged it weeks ago.”

 

“Dobey agreed to this?”

 

“He was ecstatic over the idea.  He called a friend of his who’s got a beach house up the coast.  It’s ours for the duration.”

 

Hutch saw the satisfied look on Starsky’s face and suddenly the idea of having his partner all to himself was extremely appealing.  A honeymoon of sorts, he thought.  “When do we leave?”

 

Starsky gave Hutch a large grin.  “Today.  Come on, Hutch.”  Starsky stood up and took the coffee from him.  “Time for a shower.”

 

“No, you go ahead.  I’ll sit here and wait till you come back.”

 

“No way, Blondie.”  Starsky pulled Hutch to his feet.  “I’ve been dyin’ to get you in the shower for weeks now.”

 

Hutch laughed.  “You have?  Well, I guess I’ll just have to show you how much I enjoy showers.”  Hutch gave Starsky a leering grin and smacked him on the ass for emphasis.

 

Starsky yelped and both headed to the bathroom.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Hutch looked down at Starsky who was sleeping close to him.  He ran his hand through the thick dark curls and smiled when Starsky nuzzled closer to him.  Hutch looked back over the past month still breathless with how much closer they had grown.

 

The vacation they took was the best weeks of his life.  They had played, made love and talked learning more about one another in new ways never before explored.  Hutch was amazed.  Just when he didn’t think it was possible to love another human being more, he found his love for the man in his arms had grown deeper and more passionate.

 

He would spend his life with this man and no one would come between them.  Hutch found a new strength in Starsky’s love and in his love for him.  Both decided if the world were to discover the true nature of their relationship, they would deal with it together even if it cost them their jobs.  They valued what they had above all.

 

Hutch was content to keep the secret for the time being.  He loved having Starsky all to himself and he didn’t feel quite ready to share his wonderful secret just yet.  Right now they were just enjoying their relationship with each other and Hutch knew they would soon begin to make more permanent decisions regarding their relationship.

 

The telephone rang and Hutch reached over to answer it careful not to wake Starsky.  “Hello…Mom?”  Hutch smiled hearing his mother’s voice.  “This is awful late to be calling...”  Hutch listened to his mother and hearing the strain in her voice, his heart clenched in fear.  He moved out of the bed not seeing Starsky’s eyes begin to open.  “What’s wrong?  Is it Dad?...Oh, thank god.  I thought….”  Hutch listened quietly for a few minutes and numbly sat down on the bed.  “Oh, my God,” Hutch whispered.  He leaned over and buried his head in his free hand listening to the devastating news from his mother.  Hutch wiped his moist eyes and raised his head.  “Yeah, I’ll catch the first available flight….I will…I love you, Mom.”

 

Starsky got out of bed and knelt down in front of Hutch.  “Hutch, what’s wrong?  What happened?”

 

The tears fell uncontrollably and Hutch shook his head.  “Carolyn and Theo were killed in a car accident last night.”

 

Starsky suddenly pulled Hutch tightly to him.  “Oh, babe.  I’m so sorry.”  He felt Hutch lean in and give in to the agonizing grief. 

 

After a few minutes, Hutch raised his head and wiped his wet cheeks.  Starsky brought a hand up and wiped a stray tear away.  “Hutch, you start getting some things together.  I’ll call the airport.”

 

Hutch nodded numbly letting Starsky take control.  After packing some things, Hutch walked into the living room where Starsky was on the phone confirming two plane reservations.

 

Starsky hung up the phone and looked at Hutch.  “The next flight leaves in three hours.”

 

“Starsky, you don’t have to come with me.”

 

“Of course I do.  You’re not going alone.  Besides, I already called Dobey and got his approval.”

 

Hutch smiled sadly.  “Thanks, buddy.”

 

“You need me, Hutch.  I’m here like always.”

 

Hutch reached for Starsky and held him tightly in his arms.  “Yeah, you are.  Sometimes I wonder how I got so damn lucky.”

 

“I think I’m the lucky one,” Starsky whispered.

 

“Let’s just agree we both are.”  Hutch gave Starsky a firm pat on the back and both men left the apartment.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Duluth, Minnesota was warm this time of year even with the leaves changing.  Rather than have someone meet them at the airport, Starsky and Hutch rented a car knowing it would be much easier than to borrow one. 

 

Starsky glanced over at Hutch who was sitting behind the wheel stiffly.  He knew his partner was nervous seeing his family.  “Hutch, don’t worry.  It’ll be okay.  I’ll watch myself.”

 

Hutch gave Starsky a small smile.  “It’s not that.  It’s just that we all haven’t been together like this since my grandfather passed away.”

 

“That’s usually how it works.  Weddings and funerals are the only time most families get together.” 

 

Hutch glanced over at Starsky’s grim face.  “Yeah, I know.  I guess I’m just nervous.  Caro was always the one who made sure everyone was at ease including me.”

 

Starsky reached over and squeezed Hutch’s shoulder.  “I know, babe.  You’d tell me the crazy things she did to get a smile out of ya’.”

 

Hutch’s eyes turned moist and he stared ahead at the highway.  “She always thought the world of you, Starsky.  Every phone call she would want to know everything you were doing.  When you were in the hospital, she called every day.”

 

“I know.”

 

Hutch looked at Starsky in surprise.  “You knew?”

 

“Yeah, I knew.  You think she was doing it to find out how I was doing?”  Starsky shook his head.  “She was checking up on her big brother.  After I got out of ICU, she called to check up on me, but she wanted to make sure you were doing okay and she knew I was the only one who’d know.”

 

Hutch sighed knowing how is sister was.  “That sounds just like her.”  Hutch thought for a minute and looked at Starsky.  “Think she knew something we didn’t?”

 

“You always said she was the most insightful person you’d ever known.  Always knew right off the bat what someone was thinking and feeling.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew before we did, Hutch.”

 

Hutch silently agreed with Starsky and he pulled into the long drive heading up to the house.  Starsky’s eyes widened at seeing huge house.  “Wow, Hutch.  This place is a mansion.”

 

“Yeah”, Hutch sighed.  “It’s too big.”  Hutch got out of the car and headed to the trunk.  He looked at Starsky who raised his head to look at the large two-story home.

 

Hutch opened up the trunk and saw the opening of the front door.  Reynolds walked over to him.  “Reynolds, you’re looking well.”

 

The elder man gave Hutch a short nod.  “It’s good to see you, Kenneth.”

 

Starsky walked over to Hutch.  “Reynolds, this is my partner, Dave Starsky.”

 

“Mr. Starsky,” Reynolds said stiffly.

 

Starsky smiled and held out his hand.  “Nice to meet ya’.”

 

Reynolds was tentative as he shook the young detective’s hand.  Starsky gave him a firm shake and slapped Reynolds on the back causing him to jump.  “Hutch is the only guy I ever knew that had a butler.”

 

Reynolds remained stoic and picked up the bags Hutch sat down near the car.  “I wouldn’t have guessed,” the butler muttered.

 

Starsky and Hutch walked up to the door where they were met by Hutch’s parents.  Hutch took his mother in his arms and held her tightly.  “I’m so sorry, Mom.”

 

Margaret Hutchinson held to her emotions and to her son.  “How are you, Kenneth?”

 

Hutch stepped back.  “I’m doing okay.”  Hutch looked to his father.  “Dad.”

 

“Son.”  Richard Hutchinson held his hand out and Hutch shook it.

 

Starsky watched the exchange between father and son.  He knew there were problems with Hutch and his dad, but he would never have guessed they’d react to each other like this under these tragic circumstances.

 

Margaret came forward and hugged Starsky.  “David, I’m so glad you came with Kenneth.”

 

Starsky returned it.  “I wouldn’t let him come by himself.  I’m really sorry for your loss.”

 

Margaret smiled through her tears.  “Thank you, David.”

 

“Madam,” Reynolds said holding the bags.  “Refreshments are in the library.”

 

“Oh, yes,” Margaret said.  “Let’s go inside.”

 

They went inside and while Hutch paid little attention to his surroundings, Starsky was fascinated at the luxury and richness of the place.  He knew now why Hutch paid little attention to the finer things in life.  He’s had them his whole life, Starsky thought.

 

Starsky followed Hutch into the large library and sat next to him on the leather sofa.  Richard Hutchinson made everyone a drink.  He sat in the leather chair near the fireplace. 

 

Hutch took a nervous drink.  “Where’s Jenna?”

 

“She’s with your Aunt Agnes,” Margaret answered.  “We felt she would do better there while the preparations are being seen to.”

 

Starsky shook his head.  “She’s barely a year old.”

 

“Is the whole family coming?” Hutch asked.

 

“Yes,” Richard answered.  “Theodore’s family is staying with Benton’s across the lake.  His father has been ill lately and his mother was put in a nursing home after her stroke.  Theodore’s brother has been seeing to their care.”

 

“I don’t believe we’ll see them until the funeral,” Margaret said. 

 

“I don’t understand how this could happen,” Hutch said.  “Theo’s always been a careful driver.”

 

Richard sighed and gripped the glass in his hand tightly.  “They were coming back from a dinner with some friends.  The weather turned bad with rain coming down in torrents.  The highway patrol said visibility was poor and several lines were down which is why he never saw the light.  The accident was no one’s fault, Kenneth.”

 

Hutch could see his father struggling with his emotions.  He felt a sudden urge to go to him, but finished off his drink instead.  Hutch stood and set the glass down on the bar.  “I guess we should get cleaned up.  It was a long flight.”

 

Margaret and Starsky stood at the same time while Richard remained where he was staring at the raging fire.  “Reynolds put your things in the adjoining rooms upstairs.”

 

Starsky and Hutch headed to the door when Richard stopped them.  “Dinner is at six.”

 

“Yes, sir.”  Hutch left the room and Starsky looked back at Hutch’s father.  He then looked to Hutch who was heading up the long winding staircase.  Starsky kept his thoughts to himself and followed Hutch.

 

Starsky walked through the door Hutch left open for him.  The bedroom was huge with a small fireplace in the corner.  The dark mahogany furniture gave the room a rich look.  Starsky opened a door to the large bathroom.  “This place is something else, Hutch.”  Starsky looked over at Hutch who was opening one of the suitcases.  “Where’s your room?”

 

Hutch looked to a far door.  “It’s through that door.”

 

Starsky walked over to Hutch and put his arms around him.  “Pretty convenient for your mom to give us adjoining rooms.”

 

Hutch pulled away from Starsky.  “Starsky, please!”

 

“Hutch, it’s just us.  They’ll knock first.”

 

“Starsky, this is my parent’s house.  We’re not fooling around here.”

 

“I said I’d be careful.”

 

Hutch sighed and looked at Starsky.  “We could have this entire house to ourselves and I still wouldn’t want it.”

 

Starsky was confused.  “Wait a sec, Hutch.  You mean to tell me, you don’t want me when we’re in your folks’ house?”

 

“I worded that badly.  Starsky, please understand.  I just can’t even consider having sex in my parent’s house.”

 

Starsky suddenly burst out laughing.  “Hutch, you’re telling me you can’t have sex in your parent’s house like it was some cathedral.”

 

Hutch gave Starsky an exasperated look.  “This isn’t funny.  I just don’t feel right about it.  You wouldn’t want to do it in your mom’s house.”

 

“Hutch, I haven’t done it in my mom’s house not because I didn’t have the chance.  I was living with my aunt and uncle.  I was smart enough to make sure they were out of the house for the proper amount of time.”

 

Hutch grabbed a shirt and threw it at Starsky.  “You’re incorrigible.”

 

Starsky chuckled.  “Yep, and you love me for it.”  He opened a drawer and put the shirt inside.  “Who is this Aunt Agnes that’s got Jenna?”

 

“My father’s sister,” Hutch said sourly.  “She thinks she’s the matriarch of the family and doesn’t let anyone forget it.”

 

“Doesn’t sound like much fun,” Starsky grumbled.

 

“That’s putting it lightly.”  Hutch grabbed more clothes and headed for the dresser.  “Her motto is children are to be seen and not heard.  And let’s not forget the ever popular ‘speak unless spoken to’.”

 

“She’s really like that?  Poor Jenna.”

 

“Jenna is most likely with one of the maids, Starsky.  Aunt Agnes is one formidable woman who has some good qualities, but she views everyone who is not a part of the Hutchinson legacy a step down.”  Hutch turned and looked at Starsky who was fumbling with a zipper on his bag.  “That includes you, buddy.”

 

Starsky stopped and looked at Hutch.  “Hey, give me some credit.  I can handle a prudish woman like her.  Remember when my Aunt Mildred came to visit?”

 

Hutch put his hands on his hips.  “Starsky, your Aunt Mildred is half insane.  This is the woman that used the liquor from your place to fill her flask.”

 

“Hutch, she drinks a little.”

 

“She swore Nancy Reagan did it and proceeded to go off on a wild tangent about Hollywood tainting the White House.  She swore it was a communist plot to take over the world.”

 

Starsky sighed.  “Okay, she’s a little eccentric.”

 

Hutch bent down and unzipped Starsky’s bag.  “Come on, we have to get dressed for dinner.”

 

“Dressed for dinner?  What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

 

“How many ties did you bring?”

 

“One was all I needed.”

 

Hutch rolled his eyes.  “You can borrow one of mine.”

 

Starsky followed Hutch through the door to the other bedroom scowling about dressing up for dinner.

 

 

 

~*~

 

 

Richard Hutchinson sat at the head of the table with Margaret to his right.  On the other side was Hutch with Starsky sitting next to him.  Across sat Hutch’s cousin, sixteen year old Elizabeth and at the other end of the table was Agnes Hutchinson.

 

As dinner was served, there was the minimum of small talk.  Hutch glanced over at Starsky who was just about to stuff his napkin in the collar of his shirt.  Hutch quickly picked his napkin up and covered his mouth clearing his throat.  When he got Starsky’s attention, Hutch set the napkin in his lap reminding Starsky they weren’t at home.

 

Starsky took the hint and dropped the napkin in his lap.  He replied thank you to the maid pouring his wine.  He looked at Margaret smiling at him.  “David, it’s wonderful to see how well you have recovered.  We were dreadfully worried about you.”

 

Starsky smiled shyly.  “Yeah, I made it with a lot of Hutch’s help and the gift baskets you sent were great.”

 

“Have you had a chance to check the place out?”  Elizabeth asked.  Starsky looked over at her seeing so much of the Hutchinson family genes in her blonde hair and blue eyes.  He grinned seeing the mischievous look in her eyes.

 

“No.  It looks like it’d take me a while to see it all.”

 

“It’s almost 40 acres.  If you want we could take a couple of horses out and I’ll show you all the best spots,” Elizabeth told Starsky.

 

Hutch reached for his wine glass.  “Starsky and animals don’t mix too well.”

 

“Well, maybe the four-wheelers would work better.”

 

“Absolutely not, Elizabeth!”  Everyone looked down the table at Agnes.  Starsky decided he didn’t like her right off the bat.  Her lips were drawn in a permanent frown and she moved rigidly as possible to limit any effort she might have to make.  “You will not ride those atrocious machines!”

 

“Grandmother, it’s perfectly safe.”

 

“That is not the point, young lady.”

 

“She’s allowed, Agnes,” Richard said to her.  “Matthew and Charlene gave their permission for Elizabeth to use the four-wheelers.”

 

Starsky swung his gaze back to Agnes who sat stiffly in her chair as the maid filled her wine glass.  He watched her wave the maid off as if swooshing a fly away.  He glanced over at Hutch who was casually eating his meal.  It amazed Starsky how comfortable Hutch was with this type of lifestyle.

 

“What do you say, David?” Elizabeth asked.  “Tomorrow morning I can show you all the places where Ken used to hide out.”

 

Starsky looked at Hutch.  “You had hiding places?  How come?”

 

Hutch cleared his throat and straightened in his chair.  “Just childish reasons, Starsky.”

 

“He’s never told you!” Elizabeth exclaimed.

 

“Told me what?”  Starsky’s curiosity was piqued and he wasn’t letting this go.

 

“Elizabeth,” Margaret scolded.  “I’m sure Kenneth would rather not discuss those lessons.”

 

“Lessons?” Starsky asked.

 

“It’s no big deal,” Hutch said suddenly feeling embarrassed.

 

“Then tell me, Hutch.”  Starsky saw Hutch concentrating on his meal and he looked over at Margaret attempting to hide the smile at the corners of her mouth. 

 

Hutch picked up his napkin and wiped his mouth.  “Later,” Hutch mumbled.

 

Elizabeth picked up on the wink from Margaret and smiled.  “Well, those lessons sure helped you, Ken.  I would’ve taken the same ones if I didn’t already have a full schedule as it is.”

 

Starsky was frustrated.  “What lessons?  I can’t take any more of the suspense!”

 

Hutch turned his head feeling the blush creeping into his face.  He took a deep breath and looked at Starsky.  “If you must know, I took ballet, Starsky.”

 

“Ballet?” Starsky was incredulous.  “You took ballet?”

 

Margaret smiled.  “Kenneth was eight and seemed rather excited at first until he realized most boys didn’t take such classes.  He went to three lessons and when other boys found out, Kenneth would take to hiding on the grounds.”

 

Starsky looked at Hutch who was quietly trying to ignore everyone else.  He looked back at Margaret who spoke lovingly of the time.  “When it was time for his lesson, Ken would hide.  Reynolds, Richard and I would go in search of him.  The only person who seemed to find him was Carolyn.”

 

Hutch smiled.  “I always went to the same spot because I knew she would go there.”

 

Margaret dabbed her eyes and Starsky looked at the Hutchinson family.  He saw the pain they were in, but the memories were comforting.  He saw Richard holding Margaret’s hand tightly and smiled.  They really loved each other and Starsky was glad of it.  “Well, at least now I’ve got something to blackmail you with, Hutch.  If anybody back home knew…”

 

“Starsky,” Hutch warned.  Margaret and Elizabeth laughed.

 

The six ate silently for a few minutes and Agnes looked at Starsky.  “Mr. Starsky, did your wife support you in coming to Minnesota to be with Kenneth during this trying time in our family?”

 

Starsky glanced over at Hutch and then back at Agnes.  “I’m not married, ma’am.”

 

“Oh, I didn’t realize,” Agnes said.

 

“Agnes, I thought I told you David was a bachelor.”

 

“You may have, Margaret.  My memory isn’t what it used to be these days.”  Agnes took a sip of her wine.  “I would think a man who laid so close to death would be looking to settle down and have a family of his own.”

 

Starsky nervously played with his napkin stealing a glance at Hutch.  “One of these days, ma’am.”

 

“We have all hoped Kenneth would marry soon and have children,” Agnes continued.  “This job seems to have limited his prospects.”

 

“Our jobs do keep us pretty busy, Aunt Agnes,” Hutch explained.

 

“Yes, I’ve followed your career as a police officer, Kenneth.  It seems to me the position has had little benefit to you.”

 

Starsky and Hutch stiffened and the room quieted.  Hutch took a deep breath and Starsky put his hand on Hutch’s arm.  “Mrs. Hutchinson,” Starsky said.  “Our jobs mean a lot to us and we’ve helped a lot of people along the way.  It’s not for everyone, but we’re proud of what we do.”

 

Agnes scrutinized Starsky closely for a moment and then changed her tactics.  “I apologize for offending you, David.  It wasn’t meant as an insult to you, Kenneth or others in this chosen profession.”

 

“Thank you,” Hutch told his aunt.

 

“We just hoped Kenneth would follow in his father’s footsteps and join the law firm when he completed his education.  Perhaps if he had, Vanessa would still…”

 

“That’s enough, Agnes,” Richard said sternly slapping his hand on the table.  The dishes vibrated at the impact.  Everyone in the room froze at the tone of Richard’s voice.  “We all had high hopes for Kenneth and Vanessa when they married!  While I thought highly of Vanessa at the time, her untimely death however tragic had nothing to do with what Kenneth did or did not do with his life!  Her own greed put her in that unfortunate situation.  You will always be welcome in my home, Agnes, but not at the expense of my son.”  Richard stood and quickly stormed from the room.

 

Hutch stared at the retreating form of his father in shock.  He couldn’t believe it.  He looked over at his mother who sat proudly eating her dinner.

 

“Well,” Elizabeth said happily.  “Who’s up for monopoly?”

 

Everyone sat in silence.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Two hours later, Margaret walked into the den carrying a book and saw Starsky, Hutch and Elizabeth playing monopoly.  She walked over and studied the game closely.  Margaret sat in a chair next to Starsky and whispered in his ear.  Starsky grinned and made his move.

 

“Wait a minute, Mom.  You can’t help him.”

 

“Why not, Kenneth?  You and Elizabeth have taken most of the winnings.  If it were possible, you two would buy up Wall Street and divide it amongst yourselves.”

 

“Hey,” Starsky said.  “You know I’m lousy at this game.  You two have been ganging up on me since we started.”

 

Hutch counted his money and looked at Starsky and his mother.  “Fine, Mom can help you.  But there’s no way you’ll beat us at this late stage of the game.”

 

Margaret only smiled as Elizabeth reached for the dice.  An hour later, Starsky was gloating at beating both Hutch and Elizabeth.  It was late and Starsky offered to drive Elizabeth home.  Hutch picked up a magazine and looked at his mother sitting comfortably on the couch.  “I didn’t expect Dad to do what he did earlier this evening.”

 

“Your father tolerates little of your aunt these days.”

 

“Think that’s why he said it?”

 

“You would have to ask him.”

 

Hutch smiled knowing his mother wanted peace between him and his father. 

 

“Kenneth, there is a serious matter we must discuss and there is no right time for it.”

 

Hutch walked over to the couch and sat next to his mother.  “Is something wrong?”

 

“Carolyn was pleased having you for Jenna’s godfather.”

 

“I didn’t expect it.  She was so happy when I said yes.”

 

“Carolyn and Theodore made you executor of their estate.  They also named you as guardian of Jenna.”

 

Hutch sighed heavily.  “I’ve been meaning to discuss this with you, Mom.  You know that’s impossible.”

 

“I understood you and David were working at desks now.  Your working hours are more stable than before David’s shooting.”

 

“Well, yes.  But Mom, I’m still a cop and things could still happen.”

 

“As well I know,” Margaret said with emotion.

 

Hutch took his mother’s hand.  “I’m sorry, Mom.  I didn’t mean it like that.  It’s just that everything is different now and me raising Jenna wouldn’t work.”  Hutch stood up and stuck his hands in his pockets.  “I wasn’t planning on telling you this now of all times.  I wanted to wait a while.”

 

“Kenneth, is this about you and David?”

 

Hutch looked at his mother and nodded.  She stood up and walked to him putting her hand on his arm.  “Kenneth, I’ve known for a long time.”

 

“What?”  Hutch was floored by her statement.  “We haven’t even told anyone!”

 

“Carolyn and I have talked a great deal about this, Kenneth.”

 

Hutch put his hand to his forehead and shook his head.  He dropped it down to his side.  “Wait a second.  Carolyn told you?  When?”

 

“Months ago.  She suspected for quite sometime.”

 

Hutch laughed suddenly.  “Mom, Starsky and I didn’t get together until a month ago.”

 

“Oh,” Margaret said with wide eyes.

 

Hutch nodded.  “She knew before we did.  That’s just like her.”

 

“She’s always known, I suspect.”

 

“Mom, I know this isn’t what you expected from me.”

 

“Kenneth, I expect you to be happy.  Do you love him?”

 

Hutch’s eyes began watering.  “Yes, more than anything.”

 

“I could see how he looked at you.  When your father and I last visited, it was after your sister and I talked.  I watched David closely and I saw it.  He loves you so, Kenneth.”

 

Hutch smiled remembering the visit.  “You understand why I can’t take Jenna.”

 

“Kenneth, Carolyn and Theodore both agreed in case of their deaths, they wanted you to care for Jenna.  They both knew you would do best by her.”

 

Hutch ran his hand through his hair.  “If I don’t, where would she live?”

 

“Your father’s health hasn’t been too good lately and while we both would love to have her with us, we couldn’t handle raising a baby.  We never believed in nannies and such.  A child should be close to their parents.  Elizabeth has four younger siblings.  It would too much for Charlene.  Since Theodore’s family would be unable to, it would fall to your Aunt Agnes.”

 

Hutch shook his head.  “I can’t see her being very motherly at this point in her life.”

 

“As much as I care for her, she wasn’t the motherly sort when her children were young.”

 

“Mom, what does Dad say about this with me and Starsky?”

 

“You’d have to ask your father, Kenneth.  I won’t speak for him.”

 

Hutch gave his mother a little smile.  “I have to talk to Starsky about this, Mom.  This is a big decision.”

 

Margaret looked into Hutch’s eyes and smiled.  “I know, Kenneth.”  She gave him a kiss on the cheek and left the room.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Hutch found Starsky in the bedroom looking through a book.  He walked over to the bed and sat down next to him.  “I still can’t believe you won.”

 

Starsky gave Hutch a boyish grin.  “You know what your problem is, Hutchinson?”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“You don’t know your mother as well as you thought you did.”

 

Hutch looked down at his hands.  “Is that so?”

 

“Maybe she’s the reason the Hutchinson clan’s got money.”

 

“You know, Starsky,” Hutch said standing up.  “You’re probably right.”

 

Starsky watched Hutch cross the room and stare out the window.  He set the book down and got up.  Starsky stood behind Hutch.  “Something wrong?”

 

“So many changes coming so fast.”

 

“Hutch.”  Starsky was starting to worry about his partner.

 

Hutch turned around and looked at Starsky.  “I’m making a decision that’s going to have a major impact on you, Starsky.  It’s only fair you know what you’re getting yourself in for.”

 

“Are you saying I might want to change my mind about us?”

 

“You might want to run for the hills.”

 

“Come on, Hutch,” Starsky said impatiently.

 

“Carolyn and Theo made me the executor of their estate and Jenna’s guardian.”

 

“You didn’t tell me.”

 

Hutch shrugged his shoulders and brushed past Starsky.  “There was never any reason to.  For one thing, I didn’t count on their dying anytime soon.  When I found out, I didn’t see it being possible since I was living in California.”

 

“This is the decision?”

 

“Starsky, the only person that can take Jenna right now is my Aunt Agnes.”

 

“Don’t tell me you’re gonna punish the kid like that,” Starsky mumbled.

 

“You know how much this changes everything, Starsky.  If I take her with me to raise, we won’t be…”

 

“What do you mean ‘you’?”  Starsky walked over to Hutch.  “You think you’re doing this all by yourself?  You think I shouldn’t be a part of that because of what we are to each other?”

 

Hutch stepped close to Starsky and put his hand on his shoulder.  “No, Starsk.  I didn’t feel right laying this all at your feet.  It’s not what you signed on for.”

 

“Hutch, if you gotta raise Jenna, I want to be there every step of the way if you’ll let me.  I love you, Blondie.  I want to be there for the ride.”

 

Hutch pulled Starsky close.  “God, Starsky.  I couldn’t imagine doing this without you.”

 

“Hey.”  Starsky pulled away from Hutch.  “What about your family?  How are they going to take this?”

 

Hutch chuckled.  “Well, it seems as if my sister laid the path out for them.  She did all the work before we even knew ourselves.”

 

“Are you serious?”  Starsky laughed.  “And they accepted it?”

 

“Mom has.  I don’t know about the rest of the family.  I suppose we’ll find out.”

 

Starsky scratched his head.  “You know what this means, Hutch.  We’ll have to buy a house.  We’d have to get one anyways.” 

 

Hutch watched Starsky head to the desk and grabs a pencil and paper.  “We have to buy a place with a big yard.  Big enough for a swing set.”  Hutch smiled loving Starsky even more.  “Then we’ve got to get one of those really nice grills so we can cook out while she plays on the swing set.  Oh, and a sandbox.”

 

Hutch walked over to Starsky.  “No sandbox.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Cats from the entire neighborhood will use it as a litter box.  You wouldn’t believe how they can get into a yard.”

 

“Oh, yeah.”  Starsky scratched off sandbox.

 

They spent the rest of the evening making plans for the newest addition to their family.

 

 

~*~

 

 

 

Starsky was propped up on the bed with Hutch in his arms.  While Hutch was still resistant to the idea of making love in his parent’s house, he did give in to some wonderful cuddling.  Starsky smiled as he thought about bringing a baby home.  He pretty much gave up the idea of having kids upon realizing his feelings for Hutch.  It didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice to him.  The thought of raising a little Hutchinson brought great warmth to his heart.

 

He eased out of the bed and pulled the blanket over Hutch’s sleeping form.  Starsky quietly left the room and headed down the stairs being careful not to wake anyone.  He found the kitchen and proceeded to make a huge sandwich.  When he finished, he had doubts he could even eat it all.

 

Starsky grabbed a soda from the fridge and sat down at the table in the corner on the large kitchen.  He heard footsteps and saw Margaret Hutchinson wearing a thick robe.  “David, I didn’t expect you here.”

 

“I hope you don’t mind.  I just got hungry again.”

 

“Of course not,” she smiled.  “Richard’s grown used to my late night eating habits.”

 

“You want to split mine.  I made it too big.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Starsky grabbed a knife and cut the large sandwich in half.  Margaret grabbed a plate and a bottle of water.  They sat across from each other eating quietly for a few minutes.  “David, did Kenneth speak with you?”

 

Starsky nodded and washed the food in his mouth down with the soda.  “Yeah, he told me.”

 

“How do you feel about this responsibility his sister asked of him?”

 

“I think it’s an honor, Mrs. H.”

 

Margaret smiled.  “David, I meant how do you feel about it?”

 

Starsky smiled in understanding.  “Hutch said you know about us.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I wrote off having kids a while back and knowing that I can at least help Hutch, means a lot.”

 

“David, I would hope you see we consider you a part of the family.  You will be raising Jenna as much as Kenneth.”

 

“I know.  You’re family did a lot for me when I was laid up and Ma really appreciated the time you took for her.”

 

“Do you remember when Kenneth had that dreadful plague?”

 

Starsky would never forget it.  He still felt that same fear when Hutch so much as got a sniffle.  “Yeah, I remember.”

 

“The weather was horrid.  We couldn’t get a flight out and Kenneth lay so close to death.”  Margaret winced at the memory.  “Richard offered ten thousand dollars to a pilot to fly us, but was politely refused.”

 

“I know how bad you both wanted to be there.”

 

“It was the first time I spoke with your mother, David.  She brought us such great comfort during that time.  Richard was quite taken with her as was I.”

 

“Ma’s a good woman.”

 

“Since then, she and I’ve made a routine of speaking at least twice a week.  Occasionally, we are able to get together whenever we travel to New York.”

 

“I knew you both talked, but I had no idea…”

 

Margaret smiled.  “Rachel and I both decided since we have such stubborn sons who were so devoted to each other, it would behoove us to stay in frequent contact.  Your mother is a cherished friend, David.”

 

“Are you telling me, she knows?”

 

Margaret chuckled.  “Earlier this evening I thought it strange how everyone seemed to know but you and Kenneth.  Now, I find it not so odd.”

 

Starsky sat back in the chair thinking back about the past conversations with his mother.  All her questions made perfect sense now.  She knew and now the hints she dropped were the size of boulders.  “How does Hutch’s dad feel about this?”

 

“You would have to ask him,” Margaret said before picking up her sandwich.

 

Starsky opened his mouth, but closed it when he heard footsteps.  He turned to see Reynolds crossing to the fridge.

 

“Madam, I was prepared to fix your snack this late evening but I can see you’ve managed.”

 

Reynolds opened the fridge and pulled out a large plate covered with foil.

 

“Reynolds, would you care to join us,” Margaret asked.

 

“It’s one, Madam.”

 

“Oh, yes.  I forgot.”

 

Reynolds started to leave and Starsky jumped out of his chair.  “What you have there, Reynolds?”

 

Reynolds stood stiffly and seeing Starsky wasn’t going to budge he rolled his eyes.  Reynolds pulled the foil back and Starsky’s eyes widened.  “I don’t believe it!  I didn’t know you had burritos in this place!”

 

“Mr. Starsky,” Reynolds said firmly.  “I have been apprised of your appetite and I can assure you of one thing.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“These burritos belong to me and the one pleasure I ask to be granted by this family is that no one touches them.”

 

Starsky watched Reynolds cover up the delicious-looking burritos and glide from the room with his nose up in the air.  He looked over at Margaret attempting to hold on to her smile.  Starsky headed back to the table.  “Didn’t want his burritos anyways.  Probably got snails stuffed in ‘em.”  Starsky picked up his sandwich.  “What’s at one?”

 

“Reynolds has a strange affinity for old horror movies.  I’ve never understood it myself.”

 

Starsky dropped the sandwich onto his plate.  “You think you know a guy.”

 

 

~*~

 

 

The next morning Hutch walked into the dining room.  He eyed the buffet and crossed the room grabbing the pot of coffee.  Hutch glanced over at Starsky sitting next to his mother with Jenna in his lap.  He walked over to them and gave Jenna a kiss on top of the head.  “Where’s Dad?  I didn’t see him in his study.”

 

“He went to the stables a few minutes ago,” Margaret answered.  She looked up at Hutch hopefully.

 

Hutch drank his coffee and looked down at Starsky.  He saw the expectant look and sighed.  Hutch set the cup on the table as he headed out of the room.  A few minutes later, Hutch walked into the stable and saw his father preparing one of the horses.  He watched his father lift a heavy saddle and set it on the animal’s back.  “Mom catches you doing that and she’ll have a fit.”

 

Richard started cinching the saddle securing it to the horse.  “I won’t tell her if you won’t.”

 

Hutch’s eye caught sight of a pure white horse sitting in its stall.  He grabbed a handful of oats before going to her.  “Hey, Lady Belle,” Hutch whispered.  She greedily ate the oats out of his hand.  Hutch saw the bridle on her and looked at his father.  “Why is she bridled?”

 

Richard kept focused on his task.  “I’m taking her out to the north pasture.  It was your sister’s favorite place to ride.”

 

“I remember.”  Hutch ran his hand through the horse’s mane.  “We used to race there.  Lady Belle always won.”

 

Richard stopped and looked over at Hutch.  “She’ll graze there for the remainder of her days.  Would you like to come?”

 

Hutch looked up.  “Are you sure?”

 

“I think it’s fitting, Kenneth.”  At Hutch’s nod, Richard motioned to another horse.  “You haven’t ridden Prince in a while.”

 

Hutch went to the horse and minutes later the two men rode with Lady Belle in tow.  They arrived at the north pasture an hour later.  Hutch watched as his father lovingly touched the horse taking in every contour and texture.  Hutch got off his horse and said his fair well to Lady Belle.

 

Richard removed the bridle from Lady Belle and gave her a gentle tap on the rear with the reins.  Both men watched silently as the white horse sprinted across the field with her mane flowing in the wind. 

 

When she disappeared Richard carried the bridle and laid it across the saddle.  He grabbed the reins of his horse and began walking towards the house.  Hutch followed him and for a few minutes both men walked in silence.

 

“Did your mother speak to you concerning Jenna?”

 

“Yes,” Hutch answered.

 

“I need to know your decision.”

 

“I’m taking her with me when we leave.”

 

Richard nodded.  “I’ll have the firm contact you when you get home.  There are certain legalities which need seen to.”

 

“I know.”  Hutch struggled with his thoughts for a moment and looked over at his father.  “You know about me and Star…David.”

 

Richard sighed deeply.  “Yes, I know.  I suspected for quite sometime given the visits and phone calls.  Your mother confirmed it last night.”

 

“You don’t approve,” Hutch said stiffly.

 

Richard looked at his son.  “I would be lying if I said it’s what every father hopes for his son, but you’re not like other sons.”

 

Hutch gripped the reins tightly in his hands.  “I know I’ve disappointed you.”

 

Richard stopped in his tracks staring at Hutch.  Hutch turned back to his father unsure of why he stopped walking.  “Kenneth, I know you and I haven’t always gotten along.”  Richard walked over to Hutch.  “I always pushed you expecting more from you than your sister.  I expected you to take what I considered your rightful place in the firm and to run it when I retired.”

 

“Dad…”

 

Richard held his hand up.  “Let me say this, please.”  Hutch waited.  “When you made the decision to stay in California and be a police officer, I made my displeasure known and I wasn’t kind about it.  I thought you would tire of it and go on to law school.  Instead, you continued on.  I’ve stood by and watched your wins and your losses no matter how painful they were for you.  Our relationship suffered so greatly that I felt I could never help relieve your pain.”

 

“Dad, I know I haven’t made it easy for either of us.”

 

“You had David there with you, Kenneth.  Watching you over the years and how he cared for you brought your mother and me great comfort.  I need to know one thing.  Are you happy with your life, Kenneth?”

 

“Yes, I am.  I have the life I want and I want it with Starsky.”

 

Richard nodded.  “I respect that, son.”

 

Hutch swallowed the hurting lump in his throat looking at his father.  “Dad, all I’ve ever wanted was to make you proud of me.”

 

Richard dropped the reins and put his hands on Hutch’s face.  “I was proud when you were named class valedictorian.  I was proud when you became state champion wrestler in your weight class.  But my proudest moment was when you testified on that witness stand against James Gunther.  You told the world of the most painful moments of your life, Kenneth.  I admire your courage and honor.  A father couldn’t ask for a better son.”

 

Hutch nodded feeling the tears on his face.  Richard pulled his son into his arms holding him tightly.  “I lost one child and I’ve came too close to losing you more times than I care to remember.  You’re my son and I love you.”

 

“I love you, too,” Hutch whispered.  

 

 

 

~*~

 

 

 

The funeral was filled with memories and sadness.  The church was filled to capacity with family and friends.  After the services, the Hutchinson family gathered at the family home.

 

Richard took the opportunity to gather the entire family in the library.  Agnes sat in the leather chair near the fireplace.  Richard stood at the front of the room and glanced at Starsky and Hutch sitting on the leather sofa.

 

The room was filled with Hutchinson’s with some standing and sitting.  Richard cleared his throat before speaking.  “Many questions have been asked regarding Jenna and her well-being.  Rather than addressing them privately, I felt as a family it would serve better to announce to everyone.  It is important as a family we all stand united behind the decisions made and I expect it from everyone.”

 

Margaret stood next to her husband providing silent support.  He looked to her and faced the family.  “As many of you know, Kenneth was made executor of Theodore and Carolyn’s estate.  He has also been named Jenna’s guardian.”  Richard paused for a moment.  “Kenneth will see to the responsibilities he has been given and he will be the one to raise Jenna.”

 

“Richard, surely you realize this is impossible considering the nature of Kenneth’s profession,” Agnes protested.

 

“Many a man in his position has seen fit to raise children, Agnes,” Richard explained to his sister.

 

“Many a man also has a wife to see to raising their children which Kenneth does not have.”

 

Hutch looked over at Starsky who was watching Richard’s reactions closely.  Richard fidgeted slightly and was stilled by the calming hand of his wife on his arm.  “Kenneth will not be alone in raising Jenna, Agnes.  David will play a large role in Jenna’s life as well.”

 

Agnes gave Richard a smile.  “While I admire Mr. Starsky’s nobility, he may see fit to someday marry and raise a family of his own.”

 

Starsky’s breath caught in his throat when he looked at Richard.  He looked at Hutch who sat just as tensely as he did.  He swung his gaze over at Richard and Agnes.

 

“Agnes, Kenneth and David will see to Jenna’s well-being together.”

 

“The appearance of such…”  Agnes stopped.  She turned her head to Starsky and Hutch who were sitting close together on the couch.  Her mouth opened slightly and then her sharp blue eyes narrowed.  She swung back to Richard.  “You can’t be serious, Richard!  This is your only grandchild and you would see her raised in such immorality!”

 

“The decision has been made, Agnes.”

 

“I won’t have it!” Agnes replied hotly.  “My niece will not live among such depravity!”

“If you attempt to remove Jenna from their care, Agnes, you will find my firm worthy adversaries.  The firm is at David and Kenneth’s disposal for any challenges they may face concerning their custody and care for Jenna.  I can assure you, you will lose.”

 

“Richard, you were always entirely too giving when it came to your children, but this goes beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable!”

 

“If you seek to challenge my authority and Kenneth’s rights, you are more than welcome to do so, Agnes.  But be warned, you risk your place in this family!”

 

“I challenge your common sense and Kenneth’s morality…”

 

“Shut up, Mother!”  Everyone turned to Matthew who stepped forward.  “You’ve said enough and you don’t speak for the entire family as much you’d like to think.  Uncle Richard, Kenneth and David.  You have me and my family’s full support.  We only want what’s best for Jenna and I can’t think of a better place for her.”

 

Agnes was mortified and her face showed it.  Starsky and Hutch enjoyed her silence.  Richard was pleased with his nephew.  “Thank you, Matthew.  While I don’t expect everyone to agree privately with the decisions made, I do expect this family to stand firmly together publicly.  Any misgivings you have will be dealt with as a family and not at the club among your friends or any other public gathering.  It will be common knowledge who is caring for Jenna, but I will not have members of this family disgracing this family by idle gossip or backstabbing.  Is that understood?”

 

Starsky and Hutch looked around the room at the various Hutchinson family members who were murmuring amongst themselves.  No one spoke out against them, but it was obvious no one dared to challenge the decisions made.  Starsky looked over to Agnes whose mouth was held tightly together. 

 

After the family meeting Hutch assured Starsky Agnes would not dare to publicly challenge his father and their custody of Jenna.  His father was highly respected and considered head of the family.

 

The next few days were filled with preparations.  Starsky, Hutch and the Hutchinson family went over the detail of Jenna’s care and arrangements were made to take care of Hutch’s late sister’s home.  Much of which would be sold and sentimental items were passed to various family members with Jenna receiving the bulk of it.

 

By the time the three of them arrived in California, they were exhausted.  Little Jenna fussed over the drastic changes in her life and both men were patient during the upheaval.  With the help of the Dobey family and Huggy, they managed to adjust to the raising of a little girl.

 

Hutch found himself at times overwhelmed with the enormous responsibility, but Starsky always seemed to say the right words and offer just the exact comfort he needed.  They spent the next month searching for a house and after looking at various homes in different neighborhoods, they finally found one.

 

When they both first saw the house, they knew that was the perfect one.  A two-story house with four bedroom and two baths was more than enough room.  There was a large front porch with a swing and flowers decorated the walkway.

 

Inside was a large kitchen and front room.  A bedroom sat on the main floor with large windows to the front lawn.  They went upstairs and checked out two of the bedrooms.  Hutch went in search of Starsky and found him in the third bedroom staring out the large bay window at the backyard. 

 

“Hey, what are you looking at?” Hutch asked.

 

Starsky turned around with a large smile on his face.  “It’s perfect, Hutch.”

 

Hutch crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame.  “I know.”

 

Starsky crossed the room to Hutch.  “That tree out back would be perfect for a tree house.  We’ll have to get a lock for the gate…”

 

“Starsky.”  Hutch put his hands on Starsky’s shoulders.  “This is our home.”

 

Starsky sighed with a pleased smile on his face.  “Yeah, she’ll love it here.”

 

Hutch put his arm around Starsky and pulled him close.  “Let’s go tell the realtor.”

 

 

~*~

 

 

Six months later, Starsky, Hutch and Jenna were settled into their new home and all were content.  It was a series of firsts for everyone.  Jenna was walking and starting to say her first words.  Starsky and Hutch basked in their love for their daughter and each other.  The world was perfect for them even with all that seemed so wrong with it.

 

Starsky and Hutch settled into their desk jobs and found the quiet normal life satisfying.  They found a routine with their lives and caring for Jenna brought them closer even with the drastic changes in their lives over the past year.

 

It became obvious their relationship was known around the precinct.  Starsky and Hutch waited for the hammer to drop, but it never came.  The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy was now in force.  Dobey explained Starsky and Hutch had earned enough respect from their peers and superiors, no one dared to speak out against them.

 

They finally relented to a night out for themselves when Dobey and Edith explained all parents needed a night out.  After making an enormous list for Jenna’s care, they left her in the care of the Dobey family.  Edith smiled even as Dobey heartily reminded his men of his own parenting skills.

 

Starsky and Hutch found a quiet restaurant with an ambience both enjoyed.  They easily relaxed enjoying their dinner.  The main topic of conversation was Jenna and both were happy at how well the little girl fit into their lives.  Neither would change the life they had for anything.

 

Hutch reached for his wine glass and was starting to make a comment about Starsky’s half-empty plate when he saw the widening eyes of his partner.  Hutch turned his head and froze at seeing James Gunther walking into the restaurant with Jonathan Welles and another gentleman.

 

They were silent as Gunther stopped in front of their table.  Hutch gripped his napkin tightly at Gunther’s smile.  “Well, isn’t this a surprise.  Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson at the very restaurant I am.”

 

“Probably not much of one,” Starsky shot. 

 

“I hear congratulations are in order,” Gunther told them.

 

Hutch held tightly to his napkin and looked at Gunther.  “Oh, why’s that?”

 

“You two have bought a home together and you are raising Detective’ Hutchinson’s niece.”

 

Starsky’s eyes narrowed darkly.  “What is that supposed to mean?”

 

Gunther answered with a cold laugh.  “Settle down, Detective.  I consider myself an open-minded man.  These past months have been full of great changes for all of us, I must say.”

 

Hutch threw his napkin down on his plate.  “Is there a point to this?”

 

“I’ve recently relocated my base of operations from San Francisco to here.  I bought an estate up in the hills.”

 

Starsky looked across at Hutch who stood up from his table.  “I’ve had enough of this.” 

 

Starsky stood to follow Hutch out the door when Gunther’s voice stopped him.  “Detective Starsky, it’s so nice to see how well you’ve recovered from your injuries.”

 

Starsky’s head was turned and he stared at James Gunther for a moment.  “It just shows you how hard I am to kill.”

 

Gunther smiled.  “Yes, Detective.  I too am a survivor.  You will see that someday.”

 

Starsky watched Gunther trying to read into what he was saying.  He finally turned and left the restaurant hearing the words ringing in his ears.  Gunther chuckled and led the way to the table with a smile on his face.

 

 

 

~*~

 

 

 

Not much was said on the way home.  Starsky put Jenna to bed where she quickly fell asleep.  He walked into the bedroom where Hutch was undressing.  Starsky removed his jacket and watched Hutch who was quietly slipping on the pajama bottoms.

 

“How in the hell did he know?” Hutch gruffly asked.

 

Starsky studied Hutch closely.  “It wouldn’t have been too hard to find out, Hutch.”

 

Hutch jerked his robe on and tightly cinched the belt around his waist.  “He had a reason for mentioning it.  Gunther just didn’t say it to make conversation.”

 

Starsky sighed and crossed the room to sit on the bed.  “I know.  I don’t think I want to get in that head and figure out how it works.”

 

“First thing in the morning I’m calling Dad’s law firm to put a rush on the adoption.  I’m not giving that bastard a chance to make a move on us.”

 

“Hutch, he can’t do anything.  He doesn’t have any power where we’re concerned.”

 

“Think so?  Starsky, you know everything that bastard is capable of.  He’d love to make our lives a living hell for what we did.”  Hutch ran his hand through his hair.  “More like what I did.”

 

Starsky stood up and took Hutch in his arms.  “Hutch, that whole thing at the restaurant rattled me, too.  But we can’t let him take hold of us like this.”

 

Hutch ran his hand through Starsky’s thick curls.  “It’s not just us anymore.  We’ve got Jenna now and he could cause some hellacious problems.  I want us to be ready for them.”

 

“We are,” Starsky assured Hutch.  “The lawyers are doing their job.  Everybody knows about us now, Hutch.  The only power he’s got is what we let him have.”

 

Hutch pulled away from Starsky.  “You’re dreaming, Starsk.  James Gunther will use whatever he’s got against us.  He doesn’t give a damn who he hurts in the process or how he does it.”

 

“All I know is that we’ve got the kind of life we’ve always wanted, Hutch.  We’ve got a kid we both love and would do anything for.  All the stuff we didn’t think we’d ever have we’ve got now.  There’s nothing, not even Gunther that could take that away from us.”

 

Hutch sighed.  “I really want to believe that, Starsky.”

 

Starsky gave Hutch a smile and walked over to him.  “I’ll make you believe it, Blondie.”  Starsky put his hand up in Hutch’s hair and pulled him in for a passionate kiss.  They both melted into each other’s arms savoring the taste and love of each other.  Starsky released Hutch’s mouth.  “We can do anything together, Hutch.  Nothing will ever get in the way of that.”

 

Hutch didn’t hesitate to pull Starsky down to the bed.  As they made love, all was possible with the strength of their love.

 

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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