A Diamond in Your Eyes

by

Rosemary

AKA Tira Nog

What would I give – to be a diamond in your eyes again?
What would I do – to bring back those old times?
What did I say – to make your poor heart turn away?
Maybe I'll just go away today . . . .

Roseanne Cash, Full Moon with Heartache


The Torino pulled to a stop before Venice Place. Another Friday night, but it might just as well have been Monday morning coming down for all pleasure it brought.

Out the back window, the summer sun was sinking into the ocean a few blocks away in a magnificent, smog-induced splatter of reds, oranges, and magentas. A violent sky, to match the violent day they'd had.

Hutch looked over at his partner's tense, sweaty face. Silhouetted against that dramatic backdrop, Starsky looked almost surreal. His black shirt was stuck to his chest like a second skin; it was so soaked with perspiration. Starsky's jeans were even more indecent than usual for the same reason. His partner looked weary to the bone.

They were both wired from the bust gone bad. The only thing worse than an arrest report last thing on a Friday night was an IA investigation. But the shot had been righteous. If Starsky hadn't blown the perp away, Hutch knew he wouldn't be sitting here right now. But that knowledge never made any of it easier to handle.

Neither of them said anything. Hutch stared over at Starsky's tight profile and wished that things were different. He couldn't remember when his life had become this stream of unending regrets, but the largest and most bitter one was sitting by his side, big as life.

"We're here," Starsky said into the silence, in that same clipped tone he'd been using for the last six weeks since Kira.

That particular regret was still too sharp to probe. Hutch knew he'd been totally in the wrong, even if he'd been just as sure that Starsky was bull-shitting them both about being in love with Kira. Why Starsk would do such a thing was beyond him, but it was clear that they didn't understand each other anymore, not with the gut-level awareness and intimacy they used to have, and that hurt him so much, every damn minute of every damn day.

But that was his problem. Starsky seemed to be coping just fine.

Tired of all the things they weren't saying, Hutch nervously ran a finger over his moustache, sighed, and asked, "Are you ever gonna forgive me? It's been six weeks. I said I'm sorry. You said we'd work around it. That hasn't happened."

"Let's not do this now, Hutch," Starsky said in an equally weary and wary tone that made Hutch want to shake him until his pearly white teeth rattled right out of his head.

"When, then? Because we gotta get past this," Hutch said.

"I'm workin' on it," Starsky shot back in that evading, pushed to the wall voice that could transform so effortlessly into violence.

Sick bastard that he was, the impending threat sent a shiver of raw need coursing through him. Hutch hated himself for reacting this way, almost as much as he hated the man at his side for making him feel these things. Still, he had no one to blame but himself. He knew that. Every mistake they'd ever made had been his idea, from day one. They both knew it.

Even so, Hutch couldn't resist pushing his luck with, "Not so's I could tell." Then, in a softer voice that he couldn't quite keep the pain from bleeding into, no matter how hard he tried, he said, "You haven't touched me without a reason in six weeks. Six damn weeks, Starsk."

At first only stony silence followed his complaint. Staring at Starsky's shadowed face, he saw his partner's eyes squeeze shut.

"Are we through and you just haven't figured out how to break it to me yet?" Hutch voiced his deepest fear. Push, push, push, until it broke, that was his motto. Only, if he broke their partnership, he'd have nothing left.

Starsky swung around to face him. "There ain't no through for us, Hutch. That ain't an option."

Hutch dragged in a deep breath and wilted back against his seat. He could live with anything short of their being over.

When he thought he had the resilience to handle another rejection, Hutch quietly asked, "Do you want to come up and talk about it? Or come by later?"

He unconsciously held his breath. Come by later was the code they used for the bondage games they sometimes played. Hell, who was he kidding? Those were all they played these days.

Once again, it had been his bright idea. He'd forced/shamed Starsky into indulging one or two of his darker fantasies. Hutch just hadn't known what he'd be unleashing at the time . . . or destroying. Sometimes it seemed that all these regrets that plagued him had started multiplying about the same time they'd started this bondage stuff.

Tonight every iota of his concentration was focused on Starsky. At his invitation to come up and talk, something like excitement had flared in Starsky's eyes, only to be dashed by the 'come by later' comment.

"I'll be back in an hour," Starsky said, pinning him with an intense, almost predatory stare that made Hutch's heart speed up and his guts contract in instinctive panic. "Be ready."

"All right," Hutch answered in a voice so raspy even he could hear it.

Knowing that he'd missed whatever opportunity he might have had to actually reach through the wall separating them, Hutch opened the passenger door and stepped out onto the still blazing pavement in front of Hélène's.

It was only his imagination, of course, but he could almost hear the suppressed rage in the Torino's engine as it roared away with a tire-squealing start.
*****


An hour later Hutch stood before his bedroom mirror, trying not to feel ridiculous as he adjusted the black leather thong he was wearing. It was the biggest he'd been able to find, but it was still too tight on him. The silver studs over his hips dug into the skin there. But, for all its discomfort, even he had to admit that it looked hot against his tanned flesh.

Taking a deep breath, Hutch shifted the hair from his neck, which was still damp from his shower, and closed the black leather, studded collar around his throat. A shudder passed through him as it fell into place.

This had been a game to him at the start, just another fad he'd wanted to try out. Not in a million years could he have anticipated the effect these accoutrements would have on his reluctant partner. Starsky had gone from 'I don't wanna do it' to possessive master in a heartbeat. But even though Starsk really dug it and got into disciplining him, Hutch sensed that something about it was still bothering his partner.

Well, maybe they'd be able to talk about it tonight, after.

Starsk had said to be ready. Realizing that over an hour had passed, Hutch knelt beside the nightstand and opened the bottom cabinet. The long links of silver chain lay waiting there like a coiled snake.

Hutch quickly retrieved them. The other toys he'd bought were there behind the restraints: a long cat-o-nine tails that looked like it could have come out of an Errol Flynn pirate movie; a slender, polished wooden pointer stick that any schoolteacher would have found familiar; and a preposterously oversized black rubber dildo completed his inventory. Hutch pulled them all out and stood back up. His handcuffs were on top of the nightstand beside his water glass where he'd left them before showering, so he added them to his pile.

He hated how much he loved this. Just the thought of strapping those damn restraints to his wrists had him rock hard, which hurt like hell in the stupid thong he was wearing, but even that pain excited him when he was in this mood. This was so wrong, but so hot, he couldn't stand it.

His gaze strayed to the bed, considering. The brass headboard was still bent from the last time they'd played on the bed. That had been fun, but after six weeks of no contact, he wanted something more . . . something extreme.

Despite Starsky's earlier reassurance that they would never be through, Hutch could almost feel the very fabric of their partnership unraveling around him lately. It was only a matter of time; he felt it in his blood. But if they were going to go out, it was going to be with a bang, with something they'd both remember.

So, he took his armful of cool metal and sex toys from the bedroom, and crossed the living room to enter his greenhouse. The scents of moist soil, rosemary, jasmine, and fragrant orchid blooms played over him. He breathed them in, allowing the familiar aromas to relax him.

He turned on the overhead light, which added a golden glow to the green jungle around him. There was a small TV dinner folding table that he used when repotting over by the wall. Shifting his burden to one arm, he pulled the table over and got the flimsy thing set up. Then he laid his goodies out on it like a surgeon's tools.

Left only with the chains in his hands, he raised his gaze to the wooden support beams overhead, below the glass roof. The two round rings there looked innocent enough. At a glance, they might pass for another pot hanger. Only Hutch knew how much deeper those rings went into the wood than the ones that supported his plants.

He hoped he'd drilled them deep enough. He'd put them up there the week before they'd drawn that assignment with Kira, so they'd never had a chance to test them out. He'd wanted to surprise Starsk with something special.

He supposed tonight was as good a time as any for that.

Taking another deep breath, he threaded the chains through the rings overhead, pulling them and adjusting them until both his arms were raised high over his head and he had to stand on his tiptoes to reach. When the chains were secure, he pulled hard on them to test their sturdiness. They held, and the rings stayed up there on the beam.

Before his better sense could catch up with him, he slipped the handcuffs over the chain, closed them tight around his wrists, and stood there waiting.

As the minutes ticked by, he became more and more uncomfortable. Hit by sudden worry, he wondered what he'd do if Starsky failed to show. The key to the damn handcuffs was in his jacket pocket on the hook on the back of the bedroom door, and the phone was in the other room. Congratulating himself on the breadth of his stupidity, he shifted around, trying to find a comfortable position in a situation that was designed for maximum discomfort.

What felt like centuries later, he heard footsteps on the stairs outside the apartment, the jingling, metallic sound of keys being fumbled, and then Hutch looked through the glass greenhouse door to see his front door swing open.

Dressed in fresh jeans and a clean red shirt, Starsky entered the apartment, holding a small gym bag in hand. His partner disappeared into the bathroom upon arrival, as was his habit.

Listening close, Hutch could hear the bang of the toilet seat being raised and then the powerful rush of water hitting water. He could picture Starsky standing there over the toilet, spraying away in a foaming gush of gold. Hutch hadn't gotten up the nerve yet, but someday he hoped to ask Starsk if he could openly watch him piss. Even though they stood side by side to urinate in the precinct john, it wasn't really the same thing. Hutch didn't dare allow himself to pay too much attention to Starsky in the bathroom in the course of their normal days, for fear that he'd embarrass them in a public restroom. He'd read about water sports and, although the idea had never turned him on before, the thought of watching Starsky do it was becoming more and more appealing every day.

That was how all this other stuff had started, Hutch realized. He'd read about these domination games and hadn't been able to shake the idea. It had taken every ounce of courage he had to broach even the bondage with his often-conservative partner. He couldn't conceive of asking Starsk to play pissing games with him. Hell, with they way they were going these days, he'd be lucky if they were still speaking in six months. Sex seemed to be the only place they were in concert these days, and they hadn't even had that lately since Starsky had cut him off cold after Kira. Everywhere else they were a hotbed of frustration and misunderstandings.

As he listened to the sound of Starsky washing up at the bathroom sink, Hutch hoped that they'd be able to change that too tonight. Maybe if the sex was good enough, they'd feel more open with each other and maybe they could get past whatever had been keeping them apart for the last six months.

A few minutes later, Starsky returned from the bathroom. Hutch drew in a helpless breath as he caught sight of that lean muscled body in its tight-fitting black leather harness and codpiece. The silver studs on the black leather glistened in the warm golden light that was illuminating the greenhouse, making Starsky look dangerous and hot. Everyone else Hutch had ever seen in this gear looked silly and pretentious, like someone dressed up to go trick or treating, but Starsky had such natural aggression that he pulled the role off effortlessly.

He watched Starsk strut expectantly into the bedroom and then freeze at the sight of the empty bed. Starsky reversed direction. Hutch could read the confusion on his partner's face as Starsky gave the living room a quick once over, before catching sight of him hanging there in the greenhouse through the glass door.

Starsky paused and Hutch could see the shadowed area at his partner's leather covered groin jerk and pulse at that first glimpse of him.

Hutch shivered at the resolve that came over Starsky's face as he walked with sleek deliberation into the greenhouse. It was a hunter's gait. He could almost see Starsk sloughing off his gentleness and the boyish playfulness as another part of him emerged and took over.

Hutch held no illusions as to which part of Starsky he was dancing with in these games. This was the Starsky that had held a rifle to Prudholm's head. The Starsky who'd blown away the two degenerates who'd kidnapped that Haynes girl and shot Hutch through a storefront door. This Starsky was a lethal predator who understood the dark places of every man's soul.

Hutch knew if he had a lick of sense or self-preservation instincts left, he'd say the word "Burrito" right now so this would stop and Starsky would let him down and release him.

Even Starsky's voice was harsher as he said, "Here you are. You think it's funny to hide from me?"

A frisson of fear-edged desire racing through him, Hutch fell into his role, lowered his gaze and said, "I'm sorry, master."

"Sorry isn't good enough. You've been a bad boy, Hutch, and now I'm gonna have to punish you."

Starsky stepped closer.

That cerulean gaze played over Hutch's bound body like a searchlight over dark waters. Everywhere it passed, it left turbulence behind.

Starsky circled him, so close that Hutch could smell his sandalwood cologne, could almost feel his body heat. Starsk had intimidation down to an art form. His every breath breathed menace into the room. He was so beautiful, and so fucking dangerous that Hutch felt like he'd cream himself inside the too tight thong.

The observation was killing him. Starsky's gaze scoured every inch of his skin.

"So beautiful, who could believe something so beautiful could be so naughty?" Starsky challenged. "And you've been a naughty boy, haven't you?"

"Yes, master," Hutch whispered, shaking as Starsky walked over to the TV table and took the teacher's pointer off its painted metallic top. The table's rusted daisy pattern seemed absurdly out of place with the sex toys on top of it.

The black rubber tip of the stick moved towards Hutch, carefully poking his right nipple. To his disgusted delight, the little pink nub peaked to immediate hardness.

"You're a bad boy, Hutch," Starsky drawled. "Only bad boys like this kinda thing."

Hutch gasped as the rubber tip played down the center of his stomach, skimmed over his leather thong, and then nudged his erection from below.

"Yes, a very, very bad boy," Starsky said, shifting the pointer around a bit and causing Hutch to whimper as it jostled his cock and balls, just the right side of pain.

The pointer moved quick as lightning from his front to his rear, and came down across his naked ass cheeks with a resounding swat that pulled a cry out of him even as it reminded him of all the times he'd been punished in his catechism class. It was wrong, wrong, wrong, but it felt so damn good. His leather thong seemed to tighten to strangling level around his throbbing erection as he gloried in the pain.

The words to that new Johnny Cougar song were running through his mind like the needle had gotten stuck on the record. Hurts so good. Come one, baby, make it hurt so good. Sometimes love don't feel like it should. Baby, hurts so good . . . .

That was how it was with Starsky. Every extreme they reached only left Hutch craving more. His sweat-sheened body shook and trembled under each blow as Starsky called to the dark parts of his soul.

"Bad, bad, bad boy," Starsky accentuated each word with a progressively harder strike to his bottom.

"You love this, don't you, you disgusting little tramp," Starsky said and the swatting stopped momentarily. "I asked you a question, boy!" Starsky snapped and the pointer sprang out to strike his stinging ass again. "You love this, don't you?"

"Ye-e-sss, masssterrr," he grated out between gritted teeth and another rain of blows came down to reward his honesty.

Hutch knew he'd feel this every time he sat down for the rest of the weekend, and, if he looked back over his shoulder, he knew that his butt cheeks would be blood red and maybe even bruising now.

Pain wasn't supposed to feel good like this, but there was something in him that just needed Starsky to let go and punish him like this. Hutch knew there were tons of psychological reasons why a man like him would crave this kind of humiliating mistreatment, but right now, he didn't give a damn about what the psychology texts said these fucked up impulses made him out to be. All he cared about was that Starsky was here, indulging him, mastering him as only Starsky could.

The caning stopped and there was sudden silence. Hutch could hear his own sobbing breaths and Starsky's fast pants.

"Tell me what you've done to displease me, you disgusting slut," Starsky commanded in a no nonsense tone that made Hutch shake as hard as the blows from the pointer had.

"I hid from you . . . ." Hutch gasped out in a rush. His eyes sank shut as he concentrated on the sweet burning in his misused buttocks.

"Penny ante. You're hiding something big. I know when you've been bad and it's written all over your disobedient face," Starsky snapped.

There was the sound of movement, and then several cool, leathery strips teased playfully over Hutch's tensed flanks.

"Aaaaahhhhhhh," Hutch sighed as the cat-o-nine tails trailed over his hips and thighs.

"I asked you what you've done wrong, boy," Starsky reminded and the whip fell hard across his shoulders in sweet agony.

He loved Starsky's power, his raw menace, and the deft hand that wielded that whip. This was a carefully orchestrated game that they'd played for the last year.

Only tonight, Hutch couldn't fall into his role and give his normal play-acting responses. He opened his eyes to boldly catch Starsky's gaze. That impudence was offense enough to get the skin caned right off his ass most times. Anticipating the punishment, he took a deep breath and said, "I fucked Kira behind your back. I knew she was yours, and I was jealous, so I fucked her like the tramp she was."

Hutch couldn't keep the relish out of his voice as he made his confession.

He saw his words hit Starsky harder than the pointer had his own ass just minutes ago. Starsky actually gasped and took a step back, obviously thrown out of character.

"That ain't part of the game, Hutch," Starsky warned, his eyes hard as steel, but angrier than any metal could ever be.

"You asked how I've been bad – that's how I was bad. I fucked the girl you told me you were gonna marry. You wanta punish me for something – punish me for that. Use that whip and take every inch of skin off my back if you need to. Do whatever it takes to make this right between us again," Hutch heard himself plead, with a frantic edge he never had when in his slave role.

"You think some twisted sex game's gonna make that right?" Starsky demanded, the whip dropping from his hand.

To Hutch's horror, Starsky turned on his heel and left the greenhouse. Hutch watched in total disbelief as those shapely, naked buttocks below the harness retreated as Starsky made a beeline to the bathroom.

Starsky was going to walk out and leave him tied up like this?

"Starsk? Hutch called. There was no answer. Desperation edging his voice, he tried again. "Starsk? You're not gonna leave me here like this, are you?"

There was a part of Hutch that acknowledged that it would serve him right if Starsky did abandon him like this. He'd known he shouldn't drag real life problems into their little games, but he needed Starsky to get past his anger over what had happened with Kira, even if it meant letting Starsky take that fury out on his flesh.

He rattled the chains overhead, but he'd secured them too well. They held tight, and the key was still in his jacket in the bedroom.

If Starsky just walked out of here and left him bound like this, he was going to have to scream until someone in the restaurant downstairs heard him and either came to investigate or called for the cops. The thought of his coworkers finding him this way was simply too mortifying to consider. Hutch supposed that the kind of humiliation and suffering discovery would bring might be considered a true masochist's dream, but he'd rather forego that particular pleasure.

"Starsk? Come back! Please?" Hutch called.

His knees nearly gave out when he saw Starsky exit the bathroom and head his way. Starsky wasn't wearing his leather gear anymore, but he wasn't dressed in street clothes, either, which instantly reassured Hutch.

Starsk had on the light blue terrycloth bathrobe that cohabited the back of Hutch's bathroom door beside his own orange robe in a blissful domesticity that Hutch had one time hoped he and Starsk might achieve.

Starsky's face was set in hard, ungiving lines as he stalked right up to him. Without a word, Starsky stood on his tiptoes, reached into his robe pocket to pull out what Hutch recognized to be his handcuff key, undid the cuffs, before stepping clear of him.

Hutch staggered as the handcuffs released him.

Strong hands clasped his biceps with almost impersonal efficiency to steady him.

Once Hutch was solidly on his feet, Starsky pulled back, tossed his orange robe at Hutch and said, "Take that stuff off," before turning to leave the greenhouse again.

The robe fell to his feet before he could catch it.

Speechless with shock and confusion, Hutch watched Starsky through the glass door as his partner took a seat at the end of the living room couch.

Uncertain if it were disappointment or relief sweeping through him, Hutch peeled the too-tight thong off, removed the collar, and left them both sitting on the TV table with his other toys.

He suppressed a moan at the pain that shot through his ass as he bent down to pick up his robe. Rising back up, Hutch took a glance over his shoulder. His butt was as red as the Torino. The irritated skin where the handcuffs had bound his wrists was giving his bottom a run for its money, he realized as he moved to pull on the robe.

Uneasy and more than a little sheepish, he forced himself to join Starsky in the living room. Gingerly sinking down onto the far end of the couch, he winced and turned to face Starsky, who was sitting there glowering at Hutch's cherub figure as though the statue were responsible for the problems between them.

"I guess an I'm sorry isn't going to cut it, huh?" Hutch finally said into the uncomfortable silence.

Starsk gave a negative shake of his head, but didn't lift his gaze from the statue on the coffee table.

"Will you at least tell me what you're angry about?" Hutch asked the unresponsive man at his side. "Is it what just happened in there? Or is this still about Kira?"

Hutch couldn't believe that Kira could have meant this much to Starsky. He'd known his partner had wanted to fuck Kira the same way he had. She had seemed like just another of the women they tussled over like two kids fighting to play with a new toy. None of the girls they squabbled over had ever meant anything to either of them. It was the competition between them to see who'd win the prize that interested them both.

But maybe he'd been wrong. Maybe Kira hadn't been just a trophy fuck. Maybe she'd been another Teri to Starsk. Hutch couldn't believe that Starsky would want to get seriously involved with a player like Kira, but he'd been so wrong about so many things this last year that he really didn't know anymore.

"Both . . . neither," Starsk said at last in a low voice. "It's everything. It's . . . us. I don't like us anymore, Hutch."

Even though the words hit him harder than that pointer had before, Hutch figured it had to be progress. At least Starsky was talking to him.

Taking a deep breath, Hutch gulped hard, trying to swallow down his fear. When he thought he could trust his voice, he asked as levelly as he could manage, "Are we talking new partner kind of not liking us here?"

Starsky swung around to face him. "I told you before, there ain't no through for us. I just – "

"Yes?" Hutch gently encouraged, his heart pounding madly against the wall of his chest as he waited to hear whatever Starsky had to say.

"I miss the way we used to be, Hutch." The confession sounded like it had been forcibly ripped from Starsky.

Hearing the hurt and confusion Starsky couldn't hide, Hutch forced his dry mouth to answer, "Me, too, babe. Me, too."

"Yeah?" Starsky perked up a bit.

The aggressive, dangerous predator who could master him so effortlessly seemed gone now. Hutch realized he was dealing with a Starsky he didn't see too frequently anymore, the little boy his lover hid from most of the world. Once he'd had the honor of being the only one Starsk trusted enough to reveal that side of himself to, but that Starsky hid from him now, too.

"Yeah," Hutch confirmed. "I know that . . . what happened with Kira kind of brought things to a head, but . . . something was off before any of that happened. Wasn't it? You've been . . . angry with me for a while."

"You . . . don't care how I feel anymore," Starsky said in a low, hurt tone.

"W-what?" Hutch stammered, beyond shock.

"I told you when we started all this bondage stuff that I didn't want to do it," Starsky explained. "And it's all you've wanted to do for the last year."

Fury blazed through him at the accusation. Hutch wanted to shout his anger out and demand that Starsky not blame him for something they'd both entered into with their eyes wide open, but that wasn't going to solve any of the problems between them. Right now it was more important that he figure out just where Starsky was coming from than apportion blame for what was wrong between them. So, instead of shouting, Hutch confined his response to a tight, "But . . . you get off on it."

"Hutch, there's a lot of stuff I could get off on. That don't mean I should," Starsky said.

Those troubled blue eyes telling him how deeply upset Starsky was, Hutch said in a softer voice, "I don't understand."

"There're parts of me that are . . . pretty scary. The violence of these games we've been playing feeds those dark parts," Starsky explained.

"You'd never do anything to really hurt me, Starsk," Hutch insisted, still not getting what Starsky was so upset about. "We both know that."

"That's not the point!" Starsky protested.

"Then what is the point? Because I sure as hell don't know what the problem is. It's a little kinky, sure, but we both enjoy it," Hutch reminded.

"I don't like who I am when we play that way. I don't like that your asking me to hurt you turns me on. I don't like looking at the bruises on your beautiful body and knowing that it was my love . . . my hands that put them there – " Starsky's words faltered. He ran his fingers through his unruly curls and just stared at Hutch in quiet misery.

"Starsk, I asked you to do those things. You haven't . . . hurt me," he said gently, moving closer.

"I know I didn't do anything you didn't want, but . . . It's like I've got this monster inside me and . . . and you've been throwing it red meat for the last year and getting it hungry for things I don't want to give it," Starsky said.

"Did you ever think that maybe I love that part of you, too?" Hutch asked, laying a tentative hand on Starsky's robe-covered arm.

"But I don't love that part of me, Hutch! I don't want it out, and I certainly don't want it anywhere near you," Starsky said.

Still trying to wrap his brain around this, Hutch asked, "You don't think that this is something you should've told me?"

"I did tell you. You didn't listen."

Hutch abruptly remembered all the 'let's not do that tonight' requests that he'd talked Starsky out of. These new games they'd been playing were simply so hot that all Hutch ever wanted was more. It hadn't occurred to him that Starsky mightn't be as enamored of them, especially since his partner got off on dominating him. It had just seemed that their tastes dovetailed in those domination games the way it did everywhere else in their lives.

"You never said anything about this monster thing," Hutch said at last.

"You telling me that you didn't know who you were playing to?" Starsky demanded, pinning him with that diamond hard gaze that penetrated suspects like glass.

Hutch averted his own gaze. He'd known. The danger was what excited him so much.

"When we play these games, it makes it harder and harder for me to control that side of myself," Starsky said softly. "It finally got to the point where I needed . . . to be with someone who would let me be the person I wanted to be. That was why I got so caught up in Kira. It wasn't so much the lady herself, but who she let me be with her. I didn't have to worry about the monster when I was with her, and . . . that felt good."

"So what you're saying is that you've been indulging the pervert you're partnered with for the last year?" Hutch sneered, bleeding inside at the thought that it was he who'd driven Starsky into Kira's arms.

"Damn it! Don't put words in my mouth!" Starsky ordered. "You think I like not bein' man enough to give you what you want?"

"What do you mean 'not man enough'? Everything you've said says that I'm sick and twisted – "

"Don't," Starsky said, laying his left palm across Hutch's lips. "There's nothing wrong with enjoying games, so long as they're just games. I'm the one that can't keep them in perspective."

Unable to believe, he pulled free of Starsky's hand and dropped his gaze to his robe-covered lap.

"Hutch, you're the bravest, most free-thinking man I know," Starsky said after an uncomfortable pause. "You're not afraid to try anything. I mean, all that new age stuff you're into – the yoga, the bio-rhythms, the health food – where I come from, most guys would be too scared of how it'd affect their street image to try any of it, because their buddies would laugh at them or beat the crap out of them, but you never give a damn what anyone thinks about you. You know that you're a strong man and you don't let labels scare you. I . . . I've always admired that about you, babe, so please don't call yourself sick or twisted because you can handle something I can't."

Hearing the truth in Starsky's gentle tone, Hutch looked over and admitted, "And I've always been jealous of you because you never needed to 'find yourself' because you knew from the start who and what you were."

"These games sorta . . . make me lose track of who that is," Starsk said softly. "I know it sounds . . . simple minded, but . . . I wanta be the man who protects you and makes you feel good all over, not the guy who leaves bruises on your skin."

Hutch drew in a shocked breath.

He'd known from day one that Starsky saw the world in a very black and white manner. There were good guys and bad guys in his partner's world, and it was only a man's actions that defined which of those two things he was. Was it any wonder Starsk was having difficulty handling their hot little games? Tying someone up and administering pain didn't jibe with Starsky's definition of a good guy.

Seeing how uncomfortable Starsky was after his admission, Hutch softly said, "That's not simple minded, Starsk. It's . . . beautiful."

To his confusion, Starsky's shoulders hunched in and the curly head lowered. It was a long, silent time before Starsky said, "I . . . feel like I've let you down. I know I . . . disappointed you. I know how much you like these games."

Hutch found himself thrown into a pensive silence as well. There was no way he could deny that he loved these bondage games. Finally, he decided to not even try. "Yeah, I love those games."

"Guess you'll have to find someone else to play them with," Starsky said with the same hopeless bitterness Hutch had felt as he'd watched his partner fall more and more under Kira's spell.

They'd spent so many years dancing around the truth that it was nearly impossible to give it voice now. The sexual revolution had brought them into each other's beds so early in their partnership that Hutch could hardly remember a time when they hadn't been sleeping together. But it had always been more with them than a sexual odyssey, even if they'd both been too terrified to acknowledge what it really was that drew them to each other. It was okay to fuck your buddy, but it was quite another thing to fall in love with him. But truth was truth, and they were where they were. Hutch had a feeling that denial wasn't going to do anything at this point but destroy what they had.

Shaking inside, Hutch took a deep breath and said, "There isn't anyone else. There hasn't been for years." When Starsky's shocked, but hopeful-looking gaze jumped to his face, he found the courage to lay it all out there in the open, "I don't want there to be anyone else."

"You . . . don't?" Starsky asked in an uncertain tone.

Hutch could tell his partner was cautiously testing the waters here, no doubt trying to determine if Hutch had said what he'd really just said.

Drawing strength from that hope, Hutch shook his head no. "I don't want there to be anyone but you ever again. It's not the games themselves that were so hot, Starsk; it was seeing that side of you – dancing with the tiger, knowing that it could rip my throat out anytime it wanted . . . it was a real turn on. But it wouldn't have been with anyone else but you."

Seeming to garner his considerable courage, Starsky asked, "Are we just talking not wanting to play these games with someone else or – "

His blood seeming to solidify in his veins at the enormity of what he was about to admit to, Hutch met those doubtful eyes and said, "I know it's not cool, and it mightn't be anything you want to hear, but . . . I love you, Starsk. In love love."

Hutch had no idea how his confession would go over in his partner's black and white world. Did good guys fall in love with their partners? Or were they only allowed to screw around with other guys? Was real love in the good guys' world reserved only for the ladies?

Starsky released a deep, jittery sounding breath and whispered, "Hutch . . . ."

His world crumbling around him, Hutch squeezed his eyes shut for a moment before saying, "S'okay. Let's just forget tonight ever happened, all right?"

Hutch was on his feet before he even knew where he was going. All he knew was that he had to get away from Starsky.

That proved impossible when his partner bounced up and grabbed hold of his arms.

"Hutch!"

He wasn't expecting either the bear hug or the frantic kiss that followed. His partner's warmth was a hard, reassuring pressure down his entire front. Starsky's mouth was sweet as ever as it took control of his own, and Hutch would happily drown there for all eternity. He was trembling all over when Starsky finally pulled back.

"I love you, too, babe. In love kinda love," Starsky specified, as if he could read every insecurity and doubt that plagued Hutch's soul. "That's what made these games so hard . . . what put the distance between us. I wanted . . . forever, but all we had was . . . ."

"Hot sex?" Hutch suggested when words seemed to fail his partner. The fact that Starsky wanted a forever in love kind of love was dancing through his blood like a million nectar drunk butterflies.

Starsky nodded and then his fingers rose to card through Hutch's shoulder length blond hair. "I can't even remember the last time we hugged like this. We used to do this all the time."

"I . . . didn't think you wanted to touch me this way anymore," Hutch said, feeling naked and vulnerable for all that he knew he'd been wrong.

"And I didn't think you wanted me to. I thought all you wanted from me anymore was . . . the hard stuff," Starsky told him in a similarly inflected tone.

"For two guys who make their living off their wits, we can be pretty dumb, huh?" Hutch asked, smiling down into that upturned face.

Then they were kissing again.

For all that Starsky might want to divorce himself from his aggressive side, it would always be a part of him. It felt only natural for Hutch to cede control to Starsky, to allow Starsky to shuffle their kiss locked bodies into the bedroom, and then lay him out on that big brass bed. It was sheer ecstasy as Starsky settled on top of him.

Hutch's robe was peeled open, his own hands fumbled Starsky belt open, and then they were flesh to flesh.

Hutch moaned as Starsky's kiss moved from his mouth to his neck, and then further south. His partner's hands weren't soft like a woman's. They were no stranger to hard, physical labor, and yet, they stroked over him with a tenderness that was fully as compelling and shattering as the punishment Hutch knew they could administer.

Hutch spread his legs as Starsky stroked over his thighs. Those masterful fingers found his balls, rolling them like a pair of dice. He whimpered at the sensations that rocked through him, the pleading sound ending in a cry as Starsky absorbed his throbbing cock in to his mouth.

Hutch watched that dark, curly head bob up and down over his thick length. For some reason, it felt like this was the first time again. Or maybe it was the first time they'd never had, one where what they were feeling for each other wasn't diminished or hidden in the name of social convention.

When Hutch was shaking with need, a heartbeat away from coming, Starsky pulled off his cock and turned to hunt through the nightstand drawer. Hutch breathed in a ragged breath when he saw the blue bottle of lubricant in his partner's hand.

Starsky pushed Hutch's knees up to his chest so that his fingers could acquaint themselves with the secret places of Hutch's body that Hutch reserved only for this man.

The gel-slick fingers slid into him with knowing ease. Like heat-seeking missiles, they homed in on that sweet spot that never failed to propel Hutch into another plane of existence.

It was no different tonight. Starsky played his prostate like a maestro giving a virtuoso performance, where Hutch's moans and grunts were the music of his symphony. When the overture built to a sweeping crescendo, Starsky removed his fingers, replaced them with the blunt edge of his circumcised cock and slid home.

They were a perfect fit. Starsky filled him until they were so close that his cock couldn't go any deeper and Starsky's balls were pressed flat up against Hutch's smarting ass. Then Starsky began to move in and out of him with powerful thrusts that owned him in a way that domination games never could.

Every time Starsky drove home with one of those primal thrusts, it would send a shiver of pain shooting through Hutch's mistreated, red butt. Knowing it would probably be the last time he'd experience that precious pain, Hutch savored it to the fullest. But the pleasure was just as exquisite as the pain, and Hutch didn't think he'd really miss it that much, not when he had Starsky holding him again, and looking at him with that possessive fire that seared his very soul.

Neither of them could ever last very long when it got this rough. Starsky came with a resounding cry of, "Hutch!" that filled the room. Hutch himself came with a gasp that showered both their chests and his own neck. Then Starsky collapsed right on top of him and Hutch's legs curled around his harshly breathing partner to bind them together.

Eventually, Starsky roused himself enough to slip out of him and clean them up a bit with a tissue from the nearby nightstand.

As the soft Kleenex wiped the semen off him, Starsky met his eyes and said in a quiet voice, "That's the man I want to be, babe. You gonna miss that other me?

Reading the genuine concern, Hutch tried to force coherency into his pleasure-blasted mind. Finally finding words, he stroked over the moles on Starsky's cheek and said, "There isn't anything to miss. That guy's right here with me, loving me like he always has."

"You got that right, partner. There ain't nothin' can stand in our way or pull us apart now that we've got the in love kinda love," Starsky promised with a tired grin.

"We've always had that, Starsk," Hutch said, stroking down Starsky's sweaty back. "We were just too stupid to know it."

"Not anymore. I'm gonna spend every day of the rest of my life reminding you," Starsky vowed.

"Sounds like a plan, babe." With a sleepy kiss, Hutch followed his partner down into sleep. Somehow, he couldn't imagine any problem big enough to shatter the perfection they'd just attained. Starsky was his, for life. It didn't get any better than that.

The End

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