Full of anticipation, Starsky drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. He couldn’t wait until Hutch saw the object of Starsky’s desire. Hutch deserved some good news, after the exhausting week they'd had dealing with the reporter Christine D. Phelps. With her annoying questions, she had gotten on their nerves. All because the first newspaper article she'd written about them hadn’t been complimentary to the Bay City police department.


Just when Starsky was beginning to see how juvenile he and Hutch had acted, competing for her attentions, they'd finally located Rizzo, the man they'd been hunting for. After being cornered on the roof of a building, the desperate man had grabbed Christine and started firing at Starsky and Hutch.


Terrified, Christine, had lost it, shouting hysterically, “Shoot him!”


Despondent over his sister's death, Rizzo had broken down, sobbing. Starsky's gentle words coaxing him to surrender had helped prove to Christine that their job as cops wasn’t just about shooting first and asking questions later. To make up for her previously uncomplimentary newspaper articles, Christine had written a glowing piece, describing them as Bay City Heroes.


Starsky glanced at his partner. Hutch was sitting slumped and silent on his seat, looking out the window.


“Hey, what’re you worrying about?” Starsky asked, and grinned mischievously. “You’re jealous, because Christine liked me best. I saw it in her eyes that she had a crush on me.”


“You wish!” Hutch snorted, looking a bit more awake.


Whistling, Starsky turned the car around the next corner into a side street. Soon Hutch would be surprised, that’s for sure.


“Here we are.” Starsky stopped the car and got out, hurrying to the passenger’s side to open the door for Hutch. Proudly, he said, “That is our house!” and pointed across the street.


As if he couldn’t believe his eyes, Hutch slowly made it half out of the car, staring at the structure.


“That’s quite a surprise, huh? Whoo-ee!” Starsky beamed at Hutch, waiting for an adequate reaction.


Hutch had an unreadable expression on his face. “Let me get something straight here,” he said.


“Yeah?” Starsky answered, trying to ignore the annoyance in Hutch’s voice.


“You took our money?” Hutch’s smile had something lurking.


“Uh-huh.” Starsky said, not aware of having done anything wrong.


“And you put a deposit on this,” Hutch stated, still smiling just a little bit.


“We really got a deal.” Starsky rubbed his hands in anticipation.


“I thought you said it was a fixer-upper.” Hutch leaned against the car, one arm braced casually on the car roof.


“It is.” Starsky looked at the house, suddenly very aware of the peeling paint and missing steps.


“The only way you’ll fix that up is to tear it down.” As if to show how serious he was, Hutch turned around to get back into the car.


“Oh, now, come on.” Starsky grabbed Hutch’s arm with both hands and held him back. “Don’t be so negative. Come on now.” He made a wide gesture, indicating the whole house. “Take a look. It’s got potential…”


“Where?” Hutch sounded really agitated.


Starsky leaned into his partner and said with firm conviction, “Well, use your imagination. A coat of paint, a few shrubs...” He started to cross the street, dragging Hutch with him towards the house.


Stepping on the board placed over the missing stairs, Hutch lost his balance when the board snapped in half. Helplessly, Starsky watched his partner going down.


“Needs a new set of steps,” Starsky placated, trying to make up to Hutch. He stepped into the hole to help Hutch up.


“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it.” Hutch scrambled up from the dusty ground and glared at Starsky, clutching both sides of the broken board.


Looking around, Hutch stepped up onto the porch. “You know you might as well have bought a camper,” he said, leaning against the railing. The rotted wood gave way, and with a surprised yelp, Hutch fell a second time, crashing hard onto the floor.


Starsky cringed, seeing his buddy lying there. “Ah well, it’s nothing a little nail wouldn’t fix…” he said lamely.


“Or a back brace!” Hutch hissed.


Searching for words to convince his partner that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, Starsky sighed.


Hutch braced himself on one elbow, his eyes dark with anger. “Starsk, so help me, if I get up off this floor…” He tried to get up.


“Wait, wait a second.” Starsky raised his arm, surrendering. “Wait, wait, wait a second. Now. Look…” He felt trapped, still standing in the broken boards.

Hutch groaned, getting up. He stood at full height in front of Starsky and grabbed one side of the broken board to toss it away.


“Tell you what, I’ll throw in a lawn!” Starsky put in a last ditch effort.


“I tell you what,” Hutch’s tone left no doubt that he was serious. “You drive me home, and that’s it. Never dare show me such a crap again!” He pointed his index finger at the house.


Starsky looked up. The house had once seemed so promising. Hutch was right: It was in a bad condition, it needed a lot of work to make it presentable.


Starsky took a deep breath. “I know what you mean, buddy. But you must admit, Mr. Green gave us a special price. He’s a kind old man, just too old to take care of his house.”


"Yeah, it looks as if it will fall apart any moment!” Hutch grumbled, checking the loose window frames.


“That’s because Mr Green has been living with his daughter for at least a year. He didn’t want to let go of his house, but his daughter convinced him to sell it.” Seeing his partner walk carefully along the porch, Starsky felt a bit more at ease. Maybe it wasn’t a lost cause after all.


“Hutch? Let’s go inside and have a peek.” Starsky fumbled for the house key in his jeans pocket. “What I’ve seen in the pictures Mr Green showed me, it doesn’t look too bad. Mr Green told me there’s even a little shed in the back garden that can be used as a greenhouse.”


Starsky was glad to see a hint of a smile on Hutch’s face. He stepped up the porch and took Hutch’s arm. “You didn’t hurt your back, did you?” he asked, looking at the broken railing.


“I’m okay. So what about this house? Open up, master of all unmarketable buildings in Bay City.”


The banter was back, Starsky noticed it with relief. With some effort, he was able to unlock the rusty door.


“Huh, what a distinguished place!” Hutch joked, following Starsky into the dark house. “Was that a cobweb flying against my face?” Hutch pretended to brush something off his face.


“No way you can scare me today.” Starsky wasn’t going to be fooled by such an obvious trick. He stepped into the living room, which was still furnished. There was a wide couch, upholstered in what looked like brocade. The two little windows in the south wall didn’t let a lot of light in because they were boarded up.


“Look, the curtains are moving...Is somebody at home? Maybe this place is haunted by a ghost? ” Hutch shouted.


Starsky felt Hutch looking at him, and laughed out loud. “Forget it. All the windows are closed. It smells like…” Starsky sniffled.


“As if somebody has smoked in here recently,” Hutch stated, looking over the left side of the room. “Ow, damn, what’s this? A trap!” Hutch held his leg, moaning.


“What’s up?” Concerned, Starsky rushed over to his friend. “I can’t see anything…”


“Me, neither.” Triumphantly, Hutch laughed at Starsky.


“You’re mean!” Starsky said, pissed off at his friend. What a jerk, making fun of him by scaring the shit out of him.


Hutch said seriously, “I tell you, this house has everything but value. It smells, it’s dark and I’m really happy that I can’t see the furniture properly. Full of woodworms, I’m sure.”


“Wait until you see the other rooms.” Starsky opened the door to another room. “Hey, what did I tell you?! It’s bright in here. A nice big room, I could put my shelves here, and over there is enough space…”


Suddenly, he heard a yelp from the living room. Starsky stood rooted to the spot, his heart pounding from a surge of adrenaline. Hutch was playing more tricks! Well, Starsky wouldn’t be fooled again. He shrugged and ignored Hutch’s swearing.


There was a huge picture window in the back wall with a nice view to the back garden. Cold air hit his face, and he realized that the window wasn’t closed.


“Hey Hutch, one window is open. Speaking of the ghosts flying in and out…” Starsky chuckled. “Hutch? Come here!”


He heard a moan coming from the living room, and the hiss of someone speaking too softly for Starsky to hear. In a few strides, he was at the door.


Something hard pressed against his temple, and an unfamiliar voice said, “Too bad, you’ve discovered our little hiding place. Sam, what’re we going to do with these dudes?”


“No names, you idiot!” snarled another man from the corner, and Starsky heard Hutch moan again.


Starsky’s heartbeat quickened. Now he could make out Hutch lying on the floor. His legs were caught in a hole in the wooden floor. Next to him stood a tall skinny man holding a weapon pointed at Hutch. Presumably, that was Sam.


"I found these guys sneaking from the kitchen," Hutch said, his voice tight with pain. "That one tripped me and I fell."


"Be quiet!" the tall skinny man snarled.


“Guys, what’s your problem?” Starsky asked in a casual tone, trying to win time.


“Maybe we should get our stuff and leave,” the man beside Starsky said.


“Shut up!” Sam hissed. He yanked Hutch’s head back. "Get out of the damned hole. We need to get our stuff."


"My foot is caught on something, there are a bunch of thick bundles piled under the floorboards." Hutch jerked away from the man's grasp.


“Leave him alone!” Starsky shouted, wishing he could overpower the men somehow. He sensed that the man by his side was getting nervous, and fumbling with his weapon. Starsky risked a glance to one side and saw that his captor held a nightstick. At least he had no gun, but nonetheless, it was a hairy situation.


"You want these bundles? Then help get my leg free," Hutch challenged. He was leaning back against a chest of drawers, but his leg was covered in broken pieces of wood floor, trapped in the hole. "From the way you two are acting, somehow, I think this isn't on the up and up."


“Yeah, let’s get the fuck out of here, big brother!” The goon who was guarding Starsky went over to his partner, leaving Starsky behind.


"What is it you two want?" Starsky asked, moving very slowly nearer to his partner. Sunlight leaked around the boards nailed over the windows so he could see clearly enough to make out Sam and his brother, and recognize them the next time he saw them. But what the hell had they hidden in the floor? Drugs maybe?


“Carl, you dumbass! Stay where you are. We have to get that dude out of the hole!” Sam snarled.


Starsky took a deep breath. They weren’t the brightest guys, maybe there was a chance to get out of this in one piece. “I can help you,” Starsky said, stepping forward, only to face the muzzle of Sam’s gun.


“No wrong moves, or you’re dead,” Sam said. He turned to Hutch. “Get out of there!” He pushed his weapon roughly against Hutch’s shoulder. “Get up! Do what I told you!” Sam shouted, his face flushed.


“I can’t. My ankle's probably broken and caught on some pipe or a beam.” Hutch looked up searching Starsky’s eyes as if hoping that he had a plan.


“You’ll need me to get him out of there,” Starsky said dryly.


Sam looked at his brother who stood fumbling nervously with his nightstick.


“You try do first!” Sam motioned to Carl to drop his stick and move over to Hutch. “Now, get him out of it!”


Carl pulled at Hutch’s arms ineffectively.


Hutch managed to move back a foot or so, but he cried out in pain. "Easy!"


Seeing his partner suffering, Starsky stepped forward. “Don’t you get it? You need one more man to pull my friend out.” Sam only nodded, pointing his gun at the men with an impatient gesture.


“You grab his legs, but be careful,” Starsky told Carl. When the man bent down, Starsky could see his face clearly. He was still young, with an almost childlike expression, maybe he was developmentally delayed. Sam must be his older brother, and the leader in their team.


“This way?” Carl asked, reaching down to grasp Hutch's thighs.


“Yeah, you're doing great," Hutch encouraged, wiggling around to free himself. "Starsk, I think my ankle broke when I fell through the floor."


“Nobody said you were allowed to talk,” Sam interrupted, waving his gun dangerously at Starsky and Hutch.


“I’m afraid, Sam,” Carl whined. “Let’s get out of here!” Nervously, he clutched Hutch’s leg.


“Bring him up and over,” Starsky coached, holding onto Hutch's shoulder. Together, they were able to pull Hutch out.


His forehead beaded with sweat, Hutch lay flat on the floor, breathing in short gasps. "That was a bitch."


“How are you?” Concerned, Starsky, probed his partner's injured leg. The ankle was already swollen and red and Hutch's pants were ripped and dirty. Possibly a bad sprain or maybe even broken. He needed to get to the ER.


“Thanks. Everything’s okay.” Hutch grimaced, shifting to get more comfortable, moving his leg out of Starsky's reach.


“Little brother, I saw a rope somewhere in the garden. Go get it, quick!” Sam ordered, and Carl hurried outside.


Sam struck a match and lit a cigarette. In the brief flare of light, Starsky pondered making a break for it but he didn't want to leave Hutch alone with the idiot brothers. They weren't very intelligent bad guys, but they had weapons and he and Hutch had locked their guns in the glove compartment of the car.


In the dim light coming around the boarded windows, Starsky could see Sam’s face. He looked familiar.


Hutch tensed. "I think I've seen them—security footage from a bank, maybe?" he whispered.


"Damn." Starsky recalled the Chesterfield bank robbery a month ago. Two brothers. He and Hutch had assisted Robbery and gone to the crime scene because a teller had died.


Starsky didn’t dare say anything more, Sam still had his gun directed at him and Hutch. Obviously, Sam and his brother had hidden something in the house and couldn’t leave until Hutch was out of the hole. Starsky looked down into the opening but couldn’t make out if there was anything valuable in the space.


“You mean this rope?” Carl entered the house with a thick bundle in his hands.


“Now tie them up, you know how to do it!” Sam said impatiently.


His hands trembling, Carl untangled the rope and started winding it around Starsky and Hutch while Sam held his gun, ready to shoot

“Bullshit! Not this way!” Sam snarled, pointing to Hutch. “Turn around and sit up." He waved his gun in Starsky’s direction. “You, sit back to back with him.”


Starsky was about to scramble into the specified position when Carl lost his nerve. “I wanna get out of here! Let’s grab the stuff and run, Sam!”


He looped the rope around the detectives, with Hutch leaning against Starsky’s chest. He pulled the rope extra tight and tied it with a large knot. Then he bent over the hole in the floor, his arms and head almost disappearing into the crawlspace underneath.


“Don’t forget a single bill, ya hear me?” Sam sounded nervous. His gun swung loosely from his fingers as if he'd forgotten about it.


Starsky squeezed Hutch’s side, hoping Hutch could come up with an idea to overpower the goons, but Hutch shook his head. There was no chance that they would be able to get free, not in the condition Hutch was in.


Carl climbed out of the opening, his hands filled with cash.


“Gimme those. There must be more!” Sam grabbed the greenbacks and stashed them in the pockets of his coat. Carl pulled so much money out of the hole in the floor, that he had problems holding onto it all.


“That’s it!” Carl said, scrambling off the floor. Some bills still lay on the floor, but the two men didn’t seem to care. Sam turned to the door, dragging his brother with him.


“I should have shot 'em,” were the last words Starsky and Hutch heard. Sam slammed the front door shut.


Starsky shuddered. “Speaking of bad dreams – I hope this was one, and I’m waking up in my bed, and nothing has happened.”


“Sorry to disappoint you: I feel like shit, my leg is hurting, I gotta take a leak, and I feel a major headache coming up,” Hutch said, wiggling his arms.


"Ow, don’t move. The rope is cutting in my back.” Starsky winced. “Carl did a good job tying us together. Wonder where he learned that? We’re bonded forever,” Starsky said half-joking, although he didn’t feel good at all. They had to get free of the rope.


“Starsk?” Hutch turned his head, resting it in the crook of Starsky’s neck.


“What is it? Any idea how to get out of here?” Starsky smiled against Hutch’s cheek, savoring the familiar contact.


“You remember the pocket knife I confiscated from the guy at the liquor store last night? If we’re lucky, it’s still in my jeans pocket.” Hutch tried to shift to one side so that Starsky could reach his pockets but the rope was so tight that it was impossible.


“No chance. Let me try it.” Starsky was able to wiggle around until his hands were pressed against Hutch’s side.


“Whatever you wish,” Hutch answered, no longer moving.


Starsky worked his hands down Hutch’s body, the rope cutting in his flesh. It hurt, and Starsky couldn’t hide a groan.


“How can I help?” Hutch started to wiggle one way and then the other. Starsky joined in because he had to and they quickly found a rhythm to loosen the rope.


Finally, Starsky managed to squeeze his hand into Hutch's pocket and located the small pocket knife. He pulled it out carefully.


“That’s it.” Hutch inhaled deeply and relaxed against Starsky’s chest.


“Yeah, we’re almost done,” Starsky said confidentially. He was covered in sweat when he got the knife in the right position to cut the rope. Grasping the small knife handle, Starsky sawed carefully through the thick strands of the rope. Feeling it begin to fray, he cut more confidently and was overjoyed when he felt the loops drop away.


“We’re free,” shouted Starsky, untangling the two of them from the rope.


“Can’t tell you how much I like that,” Hutch said, rubbing his stiff hands.


There was a cracking noise outside, and both men caught their breath, listening. Sam and Carl were talking furtively, and there was a loud whoosh.


“They’re gone,” Starsky stated, relaxing. “You think we can identify them by checking the mug books?”


“Sam—his last. name is on the tip of my tongue,” Hutch said pensively. He held out one hand and Starsky supported him, pulling him up. "That bank robbery, I'm sure of it."


“Arghh, that hurts,” Hutch cried out, unable to stand.


“You think your ankle is broken?” Starsky asked, concerned. He crouched next to Hutch, running his hand along Hutch’s right leg.


“Leave it alone! I need to get my leg examined. Damn!” Hutch said desperately.


Starsky knew how he felt. They had been to the hospital too often. Starsky got up to check the front door. He couldn’t open the door, it was blocked from the outside. He pressed his ear to the door and heard a car drive away. Possibly Carl and Sam.


“We can get out the back window then. Didn’t you say it was open?” Hutch leaned against the wall, checking on his leg.


“You’re right, there’s no other way out.” Starsky bent down to help Hutch up, when the blond frowned.


“Do you smell something, too?” Hutch asked, sniffing.


“Yeah, somebody must have smoked in here recently,” Starsky said patiently, “we talked about that."


“No! It’s smoke, and the wall behind me is much too warm!” Hutch said frantically. “They’re burning the house!”


“Can’t be...” Starsky said but he knew Hutch was right. Through the barricaded windows, he sensed the heat of a fire.


“C’mon!” Starsky grabbed Hutch under the arms, not caring if he hurt his partner. The only thing that mattered was fleeing the fire. The back bedroom window had been open, he had to help Hutch to get outside.


He dragged Hutch to the bedroom – and stood frozen. The back of the house was already on fire. Flames were licking the window frame. There was no way out.


“Back to the living room!” Starsky shouted, putting his arm around Hutch’s waist to support the hurt ankle.


“I can walk alone,” Hutch hissed out, hobbling away from the intense heat.


Starsky coughed into his fist. The smoke was getting thicker. He used his t-shirt to cover his mouth. Looking briefly at Hutch behind him Starsky saw that Hutch had put his arm over his mouth and nodded to Starsky to move on.


Back in the living room, Starsky crouched on the floor. They had to get out immediately. The front door wasn’t an option. What about the hole Hutch had fallen through earlier? They had to try it. Starsky bent over the hole in the floor. The air, coming from the opening, was cooler.


“Hutch? C’mon, let’s try to get out from here.” Starsky said,


“Sure. Piece of cake.” Hutch coughed, and his breathing sounded labored. He crouched next to Starsky, a grimace of pain on his face.


Starsky’s eyes stung and his chest hurt. For a moment, he was afraid they wouldn’t make it.


Starsky took Hutch’s face in his hands. “Before it’s too late – I must tell you, I love you, more than I ever thought.” Starsky leaned forward and kissed Hutch on the mouth. He didn’t care about Hutch’s reaction. He had said and done what his heart told him to do, now he wanted action, a way to get out of this mess.


It was harder to breathe, and the crackling sound of the flames was getting louder.


“You follow me down in this opening. Holler if the pain is bad. Got it?”


Hutch stared at him with bleary eyes, saying nothing. Starsky waited patiently. As if having a delayed reaction, Hutch almost smiled. “Got it all.”


Starsky slid into the opening. He couldn’t stand in the space under the floor, but there was enough room to move.


“You coming?” he called for Hutch, and finally the blond moved and slid carefully into the hole.


Starsky crouched forward, along a dark path under the floor of the house. The air wasn't quite so smoky in the crawl space. Starsky could hear the crackling fire above them and he hoped that there would be a way out of the house. Hutch’s harsh breathing was a wonderful sound for Starsky; he knew Hutch was still following him, despite his injured leg.


“You’re still with me?” Starsky wheezed.


Hutch grunted, “Yeah.”


Love you,” Starsky thought, filled with fondness for his brave partner. They were crawling on the dirty cement foundation and he could see a light up ahead. Starsky felt his heart beating fast. Looking ahead he saw a faint light. Was that the safe exit?


Starsky felt like crying with relief when they crawled out through the ventilation opening.  Hutch lay flat on the ground to catch his breath.


Starsky looked around. They were right beside the house. Flames were leaping up off the roof, and Starsky had no doubt that the house was lost.


“We have to get away from the house and call the fire department from my car,” Starsky wheezed, wiping his sweaty forehead.


“Buy me a new leg first,” Hutch said, standing on wobbly legs. Supported by Starsky, they made it to the Torino to call for help.




“To summarize: we’re still alive, Sam and Carl Splatter are on the run with little chance of getting away… and I’m beat!” Starsky took a long gulp from his beer. Then he eyed Hutch’s foot encased in plaster which was elevated on the couch in Starsky’s apartment.


“How are you feeling?”


“Could be better.” Hutch looked longingly at Starsky’s beer, twisting his own bottle of root beer without enthusiasm.


“You aren’t allowed to drink beer, think of the pain meds you got for your broken ankle and bruised leg,” Starsky said. ignoring Hutch’s plea for a beer. “I remember that bank robbery on Chesterfield Avenue. I’m almost sure, Sam and Carl Splatter were involved in the assault.” Starsky frowned.


“Wasn’t it when a clerk died, he had a heart attack because of the assault,” Hutch said, snatching the beer bottle out of Starsky’s hand.


“Hey, what..?” Suddenly, Starsky smiled. “Okay, take a sip, but that’s it.” He got serious again. ”Now that they have a better description, the Splatter brothers will also be charged with attempted murder and arson.” He got up to walk over to the TV.


“You bet!” Hutch said, taking a longer sip from the beer.


“I read about a cartoon marathon on TV tonight,” Starsky said, holding up the TV guide.


Hutch yawned. “I don’t know if I’m up for that, buddy. I'll probably be asleep in five minutes. Do you mind driving me home?” He put his leg down on the floor.


“Yes, I do mind. Please stay,” Starsky said. “After this day, it’s no good for either of us to be alone. We’ve lost our new home, we almost lost our lives – the only thing I want is normalcy.” Starsky turned the TV on, every limb protesting the movement. “I feel like a hundred years old,” he admitted.


“You're telling me,” Hutch snorted, leaning deeper into the cushions.


Starsky made a beeline into the kitchen, coming back with some crackers and two more beers. He slumped onto the couch sighing deeply. “Hutch, would you ever have expected that we'd be in a house and almost die in a fire?” Starsky shook his head in disbelief, opening the two bottles.


“Here you are.” Starsky handed one bottle over to Hutch. “But don’t blame me if there are side effects due to the medication.”


“How could I? Besides, I haven't taken a painkiller since I got back from the hospital." Hutch looked at his watch. “That was one hour ago, about 9 pm. Don’t worry.” They clinked bottles and drank in silence.


On the TV, the next film started. “If that’s a cartoon, I’m the president of the United States,” Hutch joked.


“Oops, it’s Carrie. Have you seen it?” Starsky asked, contrite. That wasn't what he wanted to watch at all.


“Yeah, and watching it once was enough,” Hutch stated, taking a handful of crackers.


“If you aren’t in the mood, I understand,” Starsky said, “although, I normally have a soft spot for those kinds of movies, that scare the shit out of someone.”


“I’ve had enough of ‘scaring the shit out of me’ today, but if you want, let’s watch Carrie. I hope you won’t end on my lap, needing some comfort,” Hutch said.


“Promise,” Starsky said with his mouth full. During the film, he snuggled up to Hutch, who was already asleep.


The next movie was Psycho. Starsky vaguely remembered that the famous Hitchcock film was about an old house. What a coincidence, he thought, shuddering. He inched even closer to Hutch. The shower scene made him almost freak out, but Hutch’s snoring calmed him down. Everything was going to be all right.


It was late night when Starsky decided to get the dirt off his body.


He stripped and went in the shower stall, looking forward to a hot shower. He was about to turn on the faucet when he saw something moving behind him. He turned around, but there wasn’t anything there. He grabbed the soap, and there it was again: A huge shadow outside the shower curtain, moving nearer, ballooning out of proportion. Starsky shivered. It was only his imagination, and he had to face facts. He was overly imaginative after those kinds of movies – and after the bad experience in the old house.


He turned on the faucet. Cold water came out, then it became hotter. With an appreciative sigh, Starsky closed his eyes and let the warm water pour over him. Relaxing under the hot spray was the best. Needing the shampoo, he looked for the bottle – and started to scream: There was blood everywhere: on his body, in the shower stall, on the tiles…


“Help!” Tearing the curtain apart, he rushed out of the stall, almost sliding on the wet, red tiles.


Hutch was limping over to the couch, and Starsky ran to him. “Hutch! There’s blood all over the bathroom! I must be bleeding!” Starsk choked on his own words. “And there was a huge shadow, I’m sure he had a knife in his hand. My God, Hutch!”


He clung to Hutch, not letting go, trembling with the terrible knowledge that he was going to die.


“What d’you mean?” Strong arms enfolded him, and Starsky absorbed the familiar presence of his partner. His heartbeat slowed down and he realized that there had not been a huge shadow, it must have been Hutch.


Hutch held him close, swaying lightly because he was off balance with the cast on his foot.


“The water was bloody red, and I was sure there was a murderer's shadow,” Starsky repeated, drawing back to look at Hutch.


“I know. When I went into the bathroom to get some water and Tylenol, I noticed the red water.” Hutch smiled at the corners of his mouth.


“What an idiot I am! Of course, yesterday the city said there would be some work on the water pipes, that explains the rusty water.” Starsky released Hutch, only then realizing that he was naked.


“Wait a sec!” Starsky turned around to run into the bedroom, but Hutch held him back, eyeing him from head to toe.


“Why the hurry?” Hutch said, his eyes sparkling.


Irritated by Hutch’s look, and suddenly light-headed, Starsky croaked, “Be right back.” He went to the bedroom to get dressed. Having changed into sweat shorts, he slumped down on his bed, feeling dog-tired. They should call it a night. He'd offer Hutch the bed, his friend needed the space for his broken ankle.


“Hutch?” Starsky trudged into the living room. The TV was blaring about the latest healthy cereal on the market, and Hutch lay back against the cushions, obviously asleep. Starsky went to him, bending down. “Buddy? You need to wake up, it’s time to tuck you in.” He couldn’t resist gently stroking Hutch’s cheek.


“Huh?” Hutch opened his eyes and looked at Starsky.


“Let’s go to bed.” Starsky said, taking Hutch’s hand to pull him up. Instead, Hutch drew Starsky next to him on the couch, shifting to get more comfortable.


“Starsk, I just dreamed about being kissed…” Hutch said in a soft voice, staring at the ceiling.


Starsky knew what this was all about. “It’s Christine, huh? Yeah, she’s someone special – at least after she wrote her final article. You wanna date her?” Starsky suppressed the feeling of jealousy and disappointment. After all, he only wished the best for his partner. He leaned back against the cushions, feeling Hutch’s body close to him.


Hutch raised his hand to tilt Starsky’s head toward him. “Christine made up for that first nasty piece and she is a quite attractive lady, but she’s not who I’m talking about.” Hutch looked serious, the crease between his eyes prominent. “I dreamed about you kissing me and telling me you loved me.”


Starsky stared at Hutch. He had a snarky remark on his lips, as usual, when they were bantering. This time though, Starsky knew he had to be honest. He cleared his throat. “When the house caught fire, I needed to tell you how I feel before it was too late. “Starsky averted his eyes, feeling awkward all of a sudden. He shifted to put more distance between him and Hutch.


“Well, I have to tell you something,” Hutch said, sitting up to make some more space. He looked down, and Starsky had a foreboding that Hutch might be put off by Starsky’s kiss and his words of love.


“I know what you’re thinking,” Starsky started. “You’re pissed off by what I did. Sorry, I shouldn’t have…” He felt on edge, all tiredness gone.


“Yeah, I’m pissed off! That you never showed me what a good kisser you were before.” Hutch looked at him, his eyes sparkling again.


“You mean...?” Starsky wasn’t sure if he had heard right. Did Hutch really like the kiss? Had he realized how much Starsky loved him? Nervously, Starsky grabbed for the beer bottle, but it was empty.


“I mean," Hutch started, handing Starsky his half-filled bottle. “I love you, too, dummy, and in case you haven’t noticed,” Hutch edged closer, “I wouldn’t object another kiss.”


"To celebrate our survival?” Starsky felt like flying. In one smooth move, he put his arms around Hutch to pull him close. He kissed Hutch’s full lips again. They tasted of beer and crackers – and was there still a hint of smoke? Starsky smiled softly against Hutch’s mouth. “Hm, you taste smoky …”


Hutch only grunted, responding to the kiss. Starsky’s senses were on fire. He felt Hutch’s lips on his, the warmth of his partner’s body invading his system. He knew he was safe in Hutch’s arms. He closed his eyes, savoring the unique sensation.


“I could get used to it,” Hutch mumbled, inviting Starsky’s tongue with open lips. Starsky forgot everything around him. He met Hutch’s tongue, and there was such a sweetness and tenderness between them that Starsky moaned softly. Hutch’s arms encircled his waist, pulling him even closer.


Tracing his lips across Hutch’s cheek and neck, Starsky stopped at an earlobe, whispering, “I should be grateful for the old house burning down...”


“I don’t understand.” Hutch looked at Starsky, his cheeks flushed and his hair disheveled.


“I would have never dared to confess how much I love you,” Starsky said plainly, brushing a few blond strands off Hutch’s forehead, and touching heads with Hutch again.


“When did that start?” Hutch turned, his blond long hair tickling Starsky.


Sneezing, Starsky pulled back slightly, rubbing his nose. “When it started? Dunno. I only know that when I faced death in the burning house, I had to show and tell you how much I love you.”


“Can you tell me again, without a deadly situation around us?” Hutch asked, laying his hand on Starsky’s thigh. The warmth sent a jolt through Starsky’s body right into his groin. Starsky hadn’t expected such a reaction and squirmed on the couch.


“Nothing to worry about,” Hutch smiled, his hand moving up higher on Starsky’s thigh. “By the way, I’m tired, what about you?” He sat straighter and reached out to pull Starsky up.


“No way, you are the one hurting here," Starsky said quickly. “I’ll help you up and give you my bed so you can stretch out your leg properly.”


“There’s one condition though...” Hutch said, panting slightly.


“What is it?” Starsky said, concerned. He held onto Hutch, noticing the unbalanced sway.


“I don’t want to be alone there. You keep me company?” Hutch's eyes sparkled like a million stars.


“How could I deny you anything?” Starsky said, his heartbeat accelerating.




After a detour to the bathroom, Hutch joined Starsky in the bedroom. Starsky had pulled back the covers, and the dimmed light of the bedside lamp gave the room a cosy atmosphere.


“Get in, you big lug,” Starsky said casually, but he couldn’t hide the feeling of awkwardness. More than once they had shared a bed together, but it had been under different conditions. They had been partners, closer than brothers. Today, in the burning house, Starsky had confessed that he loved his partner much more than mere buddies did. Starsky still felt his lips burning with fire when Hutch had kissed him back. He wasn’t sure how to react, now that they were about to crawl into bed together.


“Arghh, my leg is killing me.” Hutch sat on the edge of the bed, struggling to get rid of his dirty and torn jeans.


“Let me help you.” In an instant, Starsky was by his side. “You’re badly bruised, aren’t you?”


“Yeah, there must have been nails at the opening, and when I fell through, I got all scraped up.” Hutch tentatively pushed his jeans down over his hips.


“Lay back and let me do the work,” Starsky proposed. When Hutch hesitated, Starsky added, “Trust me. You’ll feel more comfortable.”


“Who do we trust?” Hutch said with a soft smile, lying on his back.


“You got it!” Starsky said, starting to undress his partner. Hutch’s jeans were split up to the knee to accommodate the cast. Carefully, Starsky pulled the material off.


“Ouch, that looks really bad,” Starsky noticed, seeing the bruises along Hutch’s thigh. “You want me to put on some ointment? We have that stuff in the cabinet, remember?” Starsky realized that he had spoken as if his home was Hutch’s as well. But it was true. They lived in each other’s pockets.


“I’m fine now.” Hutch leaned back against the headrest, reaching out for Starsky. “It’s been a long day, and I could use some rest.” With the lamplight highlighting his fair skin and blond hair, Hutch drew Starsky close.


His earlier awkwardness forgotten, Starsky melted against his love. Everything was so familiar about Hutch: The steady heartbeat Starsky could sense under the cotton of Hutch’s shirt, the scent of his partner, reminding him of the burning house they had escaped from.


“Hutch? We were lucky not to get really severe smoke inhalation. I was really scared when the smoke was so thick and we both started to cough…”


“Yeah, it could have easily been the end of the two of us,” Hutch said, sniffling all of a sudden. “I smell smoke…”


“It’s you,” Starsky chuckled, ruffling Hutch’s hair. “But I love you anyway.”


“Speaking of love." Hutch turned toward Starsky, looking at him intensely.


Starsky felt a shiver go through his body. Hutch’s eyes were full of love – and desire? Starsky faced Hutch. Forgetting his sore limbs, Starsky gazed at the long-legged blond in all his gorgeousness. Was it the fine blond hair, now so long that it reached the collar? Or was it Hutch’s smile, so tender and encouraging?


There was an unreadable expression on Hutch’s face. Starsky decided to do what he was good at: taking action. He unbuttoned Hutch’s shirt to reveal a smooth chest.


What’s that?” Starsky frowned. Hutch's ribcage was bruised, too.


“Nothing serious, really, according to the doctor in the ER. No broken ribs." Hutch tensed when Starsky put his hand on the darker spots. "Sam tried to get me out and ended up hitting me with his gun.” Hutch made a face and shrugged.


Starsky trailed his fingers lightly over the bruises, feeling the gentle movement of Hutch's ribcage as he breathed.


“Are you okay?” Hutch ran his hand across Starsky’s chest. Starsky gasped, the soft touch making his nipples harden.


“I’m good,” Starsky croaked. He needed a distraction and leaned over to kiss a swollen bruise over Hutch's left ribs. Hutch moaned, and Starsky wasn’t sure if it was out of pleasure or of pain. Then he felt Hutch’s hands in his hair and Starsky knew he hadn’t done anything wrong.


Encouraged, he went further down, leaving light kisses on stomach and navel. This was so Hutch, his scent, his warm skin. Starsky looked up to see those light blue eyes watching him.


“Come here,” Hutch whispered, pointing to his side. Starsky sprawled next to Hutch, his hand staying on Hutch’s lean hip. “You’re incredible, full of surprises…” Hutch drove his hand through Starsky’s dark curls.


“Speaking of love, I thought, a little practice wouldn’t be so bad,” Starsky said, feeling the silky material of Hutch’s boxers under his hand. Slowly, he moved his hand up and down, exploring the skin and hipbone.


“Don’t!” Hutch yelped, almost giggling, and Starsky knew he had found a ticklish spot.

“What about here?” Starsky ran his hand along Hutch’s upper thigh, carefully avoiding the bruises.


“Don’t!” Hutch said again, but he closed his eyes, and Starsky felt a light tremble go through Hutch’s body. Obviously, it was one of Hutch’s erotic spots. Starsky chuckled, content.


Exploring higher with his hand, Starsky got courageous. Gently, he touched Hutch’s boxers and cupped the half-erect cock.


Hutch jerked. “Starsk, no…” Eyes wide open, Hutch stared at Starsky with astonishment.


“Why not?” Starsky spread his legs. “I’m all yours, too.” Surprised, he looked down and realized that his dick stood at attention, tenting his sweatpants. “Look, what you're doing to me. Even after the terrible events today, I’m crazy for you.”


“You're telling me!” Almost roughly, Hutch pulled Starsky’s T-shirt over his head. He covered Starsky’s chest with one large hand, teasing a nipple with thumb and forefinger. Moving down to slip his hand in the waistband of Starsky’s sweatpants, Hutch grinned like a boy at Christmas.


Starsky couldn’t believe what was happening. His partner was touching him in a sensual way, and he was carried away, totally aroused. When had Hutch become an object of desire to him? Feeling Hutch’s hand on his skin made him hot and needy for more. This couldn’t be right.


“Hutch, wait,” Starsky said lamely, his hard nipples throbbed and tingled.


“Why?” Hutch closed his hand over Starsky’s cock, giving it a firm squeeze.


The sensation was too much for Starsky to bear. Spontaneously, Starsky yanked Hutch’s boxers down. He almost gasped at the sight of Hutch’s gorgeous cock. He realized how deep his love for Hutch was. He loved him to bits.


He grabbed Hutch and fondled the swollen flesh. Mesmerized by his and Hutch’s arousal, Starsky worked his hand up and down Hutch's shaft, moving further to caress the balls, nestled in fine coarse hair.


“You’re beautiful,” Starsky croaked. Aroused by Hutch’s soft moans, Starsky intensified his strokes. Simultaneously, Hutch teased Starsky’s cock, tantalizing the sensitive flesh. Their movements were in sync, and Starsky soon felt Hutch’s balls tighten.


“Starsk,” Hutch hissed in Starsky’s shoulder, leaving a love bite.


“Hey, you’re rough,” Starsky managed to say, then another strong stroke from Hutch’s talented hand drove him to completion. The familiar tingling set in, and with an audible “Now!” Starsky climaxed.


Claiming Hutch’s mouth with a deep kiss, Starsky squeezed Hutch’s cock tightly. Hutch came, moaning unintelligible words into Starsky’s mouth.


Catching his breath, still overwhelmed by the strong climax he just had, Starsky relaxed against Hutch. Starsky savored the new connection they had just discovered and placed his hand on Hutch’s sweaty chest to feel his lover's accelerated heartbeat. Luxuriating in the sensation, Starsky came down to earth when he felt the sticky mess cool down on his stomach. He grabbed for the Kleenex on the nightstand when Hutch pushed his hand aside.


“I’ll do it.” Tenderly, Hutch cleaned Starsky up and then allowed Starsky to do the same for him.


Exhausted and sated, they lay side by side. Starsky switched off the lamp while Hutch pulled the covers over them.


“Tell me this is a dream,” Hutch said, facing Starsky.


“Want me to pinch you to convince you otherwise?” Starsky proposed, rubbing his cheek against Hutch’s arm.


“I’m bruised enough, thanks.” Hutch shook his head, adjusting his legs under the covers to get more comfortable.


“What a day!” Starsky sighed. “What happened in the old house seems so long ago, it could have happened years ago.”


“Yeah, it was a scary experience. I’m glad we made it out of the mess.” Hutch yawned, putting his arm around Starsky’s shoulders.


“That’s what counts – me and thee.” Starsky laid his arm on Hutch’s chest and closed his eyes. Suddenly, he popped them open and braced himself on one elbow.




“Yeah?” Hutch asked sleepily.


“What if they find out that we are…?”


“I don’t give a shit.” Hutch drew Starsky into his arms.


Starsky relaxed against his lover. With Hutch by his side, there was nothing to worry about. Everything was going to be all right.








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